Friday, March 20, 2009

Farmgirl has left the farm

And we're off! Our adventure has begun. Aidan and I are on our way to Port Arthur, Texas today to spend the next week and a half working with Habitat for Humanity.

Aside from eleven days of communal living, locker room style showers and lots of Wonder Bread sandwiches, I will be leaving all electronics behind. Except for my trusty camera, of course. That, as you know, is attached to me. Always.

Those of you who know me will appreciate this next photo. Even if you don't know me, you still might. This is a picture of the accommodations where we will be sleeping. Aidan took it with his cell phone when he was there last spring break:


Until March 31st then...

Hat photo dedicated to my blog friend, Mim. :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Have you had your Tetanus shot lately?

My seventeen-year-old son, Aidan, and I are going on a trip over Spring Break. Our trip's destination? Various building and construction sites where tools, nails, sharp objects and lots of dirt will be. Recently, Aidan went to his doctor for his annual physical and the doctor recommended he get a tetanus booster. This got me to thinking, "Hmmm...when was the last time *I* had a tetanus booster?"

I had absolutely no idea. So, I made an appointment for MY physical and to get a tetanus booster shot:

It turns out, I should have gotten a booster a long time ago and not just because I'm going on a trip. Did you know that tetanus spores can be found in the soil and in the intestines and feces of many household and farm animals and humans? I sure didn't. Not ever having given it much thought, I assumed tetanus was something people got from puncturing themselves on something rusty - I hadn't really considered anything beyond that.

It's no big surprise that I hadn't gotten a booster shot (or a physical) recently, though. I seriously hate going to the doctor:

But with tetanus as my motivator, here I was. Having now done a bit of reading on the whole tetanus scenario, I've learned that when people work on farms and ranches where they come into contact with animal wastes, they have a higher chance of getting tetanus.

--> If you garden, you should also get a tetanus shot. The tetanus bacterium can live in the dirt.
-->If you have a dog, you should get a tetanus shot. If your dog (or any dog) happens to bite you, it can be transmitted to you that way.
-->If you deal regularly with manure and farm animals, which I do, you should REALLY get a tetanus shot.

Various ways that tetanus bacteria can be passed on to people is from puncture wounds, such as those received from stepping on a nail, or from cuts or scratches from barbed wire, splinters, animal or insect bites, self-piercing, self-performed tattoos, and injecting drugs.

My doctor said I looked like a very healthy person and sent me off for my tetanus booster shot. Look at what a good girl I am:

The nurse giving the injection was a good girl, too, because she let me photograph her through the whole procedure. I think she thought I was weird but, still, she let me do my thing:

On a perfect day, I would have been finished and gotten to go home, but the doctor had also asked for some standard lab work to check my cholesterol, blood sugar, whether I'm anemic, etc. Off I went to the lab:

I *always* have to wait for what seems like hours at the lab:

Leafing through a magazine, I did find this delicious sounding tortellini recipe that I want to try:

Yum. Now I'm waiting *and* hungry:

Another magazine. Look! This bottled product is going to fight my wrinkles without damaging my skin. Now that IS good news:

At last, my name was called. The phlebotomist who took me in back looked like she was about twelve. Seriously. This seems to be happening more and more often to me. But, as long as she knows what to do with this stuff, and doesn't hurt me, I don't have a problem with her being twelve:

She was less amused by my camera than the other lady, so I was quick about it:

Then she told me there was one final test still needed:

"You know what to do, right?", she asked.

"Right", I said.

I'll keep you posted on the results.


If you would like to learn more about the tetanus bacterium and the immunization, please visit the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases site on tetanus by clicking HERE.

It has a great overview on what tetanus is, its transmission modes, and who should receive the vaccine.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My version of seed swapping

Right now, the blog world is filled with stories of seed swapping adventures. I have been in heaven reading them and seeing all the tantalizing photos. I personally love getting packages and envelopes in the mail, but I also love seeing *pictures* of packages and envelopes that other people get in the mail! Especially when they're filled with seeds.

See these drawers? One of them holds my secret seed stash:

I'm probably breaking every seed-storing rule in the book by keeping them in here:

When my friend, Marcee, came to visit me in January, we spent some time looking through pretty seed catalogs and talking about what we wanted to grow in our gardens this year. Now, while I didn't have any of my own, personally saved seeds to share, this didn't prevent me from sharing some of my pre-packaged seeds with her:

She chose a few that she thought she might like to plant and I packaged them up. I like the thought that, even though we're on opposite sides of the country, we'll be planting some of the same seeds:

Marcee then participated in our "swap" by sending me a lovely package of Zinnia seeds for my birthday. I can't wait to plant these!!:

We fell in love with Zinnias last summer when we came upon a small farm by the road:

A tremendous thing about the blogging world is the way people share information and tips. A wonderful blog that I am enjoying and learning a lot from, Chiot's Run, recently blogged about WinterSown. By simply sending a self-addressed stamped envelope with your choices (from a list they have posted), this seed sharing site will send you a selection of trial-size heirloom tomato seeds for FREE. Of course I jumped right on this:

When I received my envelope, I even received a personal note along with tips on saving my own tomato seeds in the future:

I was so excited when my envelope arrived! This is what was inside:

Ten varieties...:

of heirloom tomatoes...:

some of which I have never even heard of before:

...and they even threw in a small package of carrot seed just for fun:

Maybe next year I will have my own homegrown seeds to swap, but I think I did ok this year for a first-timer.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A sad story about gourds

"What?" you say..."A sad story about gourds? That can't be possible. Nothing about gourds could be sad. You simply cannot tell a sad story about gourds."

So, if you truly believe this, I'm here to prove you wrong. I know this sad story exists, because I've lived it. It has taken me a while to be able to tell it, but this is my story.

I am a wannabe birdhouse gourd grower. Ever since I'd seen those sweet birdhouse gourds highlighted on two of my favorite blogs, Children in the Corn and Sunny Side Up, I'd been anxious to grow them myself and turn them into something lovely for the birds.

With great anticipation last spring, I planted three birdhouse gourd plants. They were, without question, the healthiest, most thriving thing in my garden! I'd never seen a vine take over the way these things did. They grew bigger, stronger and hardier than anything else, growing beyond the trellis I had staked them to, twining into my garden fencing...:

and up into my apple tree:

They competed with my green and lemon cucumbers for space:

and sunshine:

At the height of the season, I had approximately 35 gourds growing, developing, and talking to me as I walked by. Visitors to the farm would question, and occasionally joke, asking me what I was could possibly do with ALL those decorative gourds. "Make birdhouses", I'd say quite simply.

Of course, the bigger my gourds got, the more excited I became. Querying on "birdhouse gourd", I found the most delightful things people had done with theirs.

There was the "simple pear look" that I wanted to try:

And the "disguised as a sunflower" birdhouse was quite clever:

For those birds in my garden able to read, here's a great way to welcome them:

And if I were of Dutch heritage, of course, I could totally work that into my decorating theme:

But - and here comes the sad part - I learned something about gourd vines. They, apparently, don't like to be trimmed or cut back. When the vines in my garden grew too heavy for my fencing and up too far into the trees surrounding my garden, I cut them back. The gourds still developing on the remaining vines shriveled and wilted. At the end of the growing season, this is what I wound up with:

Yes, that's right, one, single lovely gourd and two ridiculous mini versions.

"Ok," I thought. "So I only will get one gourd this year. That's ok. It will make a funny story." Then the December ice and snow hit. For some crazy reason, I had left the gourds outside under our covered porch, thinking this was a good place to dry them. Had it remained dry, they probably would have been ok. But the moisture was too much for them and by the time I realized what I had done, it was too late.

I brought the big guy in and tried to apply first aid. Sadly, the rot quickly set in:

It started to sag and collapse practically before my eyes. So much for my dreams of creative birdhouse gourd decoration.

2008 Birdhouse Gourd Tally: 0
Now, isn't that sad?

Yet, despite the tears, an optimist I remain and I will try to grow them again this year. What I'd really like to make is this:

It's a birdhouse gourd TEE PEE! I think this looks like fun. It's very similar to the bean tee pee that Sarah and her kiddles made last season over at It Blows Here.

Wish me luck.