Archives For Gardening

Once we had seen Hershey, it was time to get on the road again.  Our next stop was the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

Pretty much everything that we had done up to this point in the trip was for the kids and myself.  Ken was just along for the ride (and of course, to supply the cash.)  He gave very little input about our activities mainly because he hates to make those kinds of decisions and plan those details.  That’s why he keeps me around!  He just likes for me to tell him where to take us, and he’s happy to oblige.  However, our next stop was the exception.  This was the one stop during the entire trip we made just for Ken.

Ever since we bought the property in Ashville, Ken has been reading all kinds of books on property and gardening, chickens and land, and it just so happens that we were going to be driving by a farm that was owned by Joel Salatin, one of the authors of some of the books he’d been reading.  You might recognize the name if you’ve ever seen the documentary Food, Inc. He’s the farmer with the big glasses.

Anyway, Ken suggested that we stop by Salatin’s farm and visit a working farm (as in, a farm that doesn’t share a parking lot with Target).   In fact, in his book Salatin actually encourages people to do this.  So don’t worry…we weren’t going to be trespassing stalkers.  In a weird sort of way, we felt invited.

I’m not sure what we really expected to see when we got there.  It was a functioning farm.  So I knew there was going to be a good bit of poo lying around, but I guess I still had a romanticized idea of what farm life would look like from occasionally perusing the Pioneer Woman’s blog.

And while Salatin’s farm was beautiful in its own way.  Really and truly, it was a mess.

Continue Reading…

Farm Update

Leigh —  June 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

Whenever you read the title “farm update,” I want you to imagine the Green Acres theme song playing behind it.  I’m not blog savy enough to actually make that happen.  So instead, I’m relying on you and your imagination.  We don’t actually have any green acres on our property.  It’s more like sticker bushes and briar patches, but they don’t make a theme song about moving away from suburban life to live in the woods.  So Green Acres will have to do for now until somebody offers to write me a theme song.

There’s really not a lot to update at this point.  Our biggest news is that we got an address yesterday!  We now officially have some numbers, so people such as firemen and Alabama Power can find our obscure forest.  That was the first step before we could move forward with anything else.

The first improvements we want to make on the property is to have a driveway cleared and get some electricity run.  Since we know it’s going to be a while before we will actually be living out there, we would really like to be able to take the motorhome to camp some and start becoming better acquainted with the lay of the land.

Here on the home front, things are getting done as well to get the house ready to be put on the market.  This will be a new experience for both of us.  When we moved out of our first home, we were lucky because we were able to skip the whole realtor process and just sold that house to a friend.  So this is uncharted territory for us.

Continue Reading…

Recently I was forced to take a little break from blogging thanks to some hackers that decided to take down my site.  Over the years, I’ve had the occasional hiccup from a hacker or two, but this time they really out did themselves.   To hear my husband tell it, it was quite an ordeal to get the site back up and running.

You know the old saying, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? I’ve found that it’s true in life as well as websites.  Ken spent many hours getting the site going again and added some other measures of protection.  Hopefully his hard work will last us a while.

While on my spontaneous hiatus, a lot happened in the McKibben house.  Some things I’ll tell you about over the next several weeks, and some things I’ve already forgotten because I didn’t blog about them. Thanks a lot, hackers!

The first piece of news I have to share (and probably the biggest) is this:

Land for SaleAfter a year of looking at different properties, we finally bought a piece of land!  “Our farm” as the kids like to call it…even though in it’s current state it feels more like a patch of woods than a farm.  But it’s got oodles of potential!

It’s 15.8 acres of forest with two creeks located in Ashville, AL which is about 40 minutes from where we currently live.  In my mind that’s far enough to be in the middle of nowhere, but not completely cut off from our current life.  Plus I love the little town of Ashville.  It’s small and quaint and reminds me a lot of Trussville before the Target and Walmart sprawls took over.

We’ve been talking about making this sort of move for quite some time.  Ken and I both have our reasons, and the kids have theirs.  Ken likes the idea of less government in a small town and getting the heck out our bankrupted county, and I like the thought of my kids having a simpler life, one that’s not dominated by sitting in front of  a screen, but instead time spent building forts in the woods and playing in creeks. In other words, a childhood filled with time outside and being a part of this beautiful creation. The kids…well, they really  just want more pets.  Whatever our reasons, we are all excited about this next stage of our life.

Everyone keeps asking us when we plan to move out there, and there are still a lot of unknowns at the moment.  The biggest one being when we can sell our house.  There is no way of knowing how long that will really take.  I would love to believe that we might be one of those stories you hear of folks who sold their homes within a month, but the pessimistic side of me believes it will be a long and drawn out process.  Only time will tell.  But until then, we plan to take the motorhome up to the property and camp on the weekends just for fun.

I am happy to have a little place here on the internet to share our progress as our new home changes from forest to farm.  I still don’t know the master plan, what it’s going to look like, or even the time frame.  We are still in the research phase at the moment, but the first step has always been to acquire some property.  Now that we can check that off the list, we can move on to step two!

Yea for step two…whatever it is!

Meet John

Leigh —  February 3, 2013 — 8 Comments

Meet John.  We’ve only known him for a short while, but already he owes us one.

I’m sure we’ll be telling the story of how we met John for years to come, not because he’s famous or anything, but more because the way we met him is pretty crazy. Continue Reading…

#9. Plant a Garden

Leigh —  April 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

About five years ago, my sweet husband created this blog for me.  He was sure that I was going to love having a space to journal about my babies and record our photography even though I told him over and over again that I didn’t have time for it.  He created this web site anyway.

So maybe he knows me better than I know myself.

For about two years, he’s been trying to convince me to have a garden.  He’s sure I will love it, but I have protested and brought back my tried and true excuse.  I don’t have time for it.  He researched it anyway.

He found this book and bought it from Amazon:

The famous ALL NEW Square Foot Gardening book has been revised with Mel's 10 major changes to the system to make it even easier to grow your own food in your backyard.

Apparently square foot gardens are not a new idea, but they are new to us.  This method really seems to makes sense to me.  I don’t have to work in my soil worrying about Ph and other things I know nothing about, and I only grow what I need.  I thought he was moving in the right direction.  When he told me he would build the box for me and help with the planting, I finally conceded.

People spend years trying to get the right soil balance for their gardens.  I literally spent one day driving to different nurseries and buying all the soil (plus a few flowers to plant in containers on the deck).   Already this gardening thing seemed easier than I was expecting.DSCN0057

Then we spent a Saturday making the boxes.  I use the term “we” very loosely here.  I really mean Ken.  I helped stain the outside and I made sure he had a drink when he was thirsty.  That was pretty much my involvement of the building process.  DSCN0055

This guy is committed to trying to get me to garden.

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Next we laid down a big tarp and started mixing all those bags of soil together.  The kids really got into this job. Even though we told them they were basically shoveling cow and chicken poo, they didn’t care.  I’m afraid the phrase “Don’t lay in it!” had to be said more than once.

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Also, I should tell you that this is pretty much the way Edie’s hair looks when are at home.  That girl can sport a fro! Normally, I would have brushed her hair before I dared pull out my camera, but this point and shoot is making me do crazy things! It’s changing me, I tell ya’!DSCN0061

Next we hauled our boxes to the back yard and filled them with our dirt.

DSCN0079That was pretty much a full day for us…making the boxes and mixing the dirt.  So we waited until Sunday afternoon to attach the grid and plant our seeds.

DSCN0108While Ken worked on making the grid, Edie and I got the seeds ready.

DSCN0095We are planting tomatoes, corn, spinach, bell peppers, sweet peppers, carrots, onions, watermelons, strawberries,cucumbers, green beans, many kinds of lettuce, basil, cilantro, thyme, and oregano.  Plus some morning glories, sunflowers, and marigolds to make it pretty.  I love that we can plant so much in such a little bit of space.  We haven’t proved that this method works yet, but if it does, I might just become a gardener.

DSCN0104Edie picked out our labels for us.

DSCN0109Next, we laid out where each seed was to be planted.

DSCN0117Then we stuck them in the dirt!

DSCN0187It’s been twelve days since we planted everything, and our seeds have all come up (with the exception of the oregano).  We didn’t use seeds for the strawberries, peppers, and tomatoes because it would have been too late in the season by the time they started producing fruit.  But the plants that we planted seem to be thriving as well.

DSCN0184We go out every morning and water the boxes.  Since we are new to this gardening thing, we are pretty much following the book step by step.  It recommends using cups for watering, and so that is what we do.  This really is better for the kids anyway because they can actually water the garden instead of watching me do it with the hose.  Edie has really taken a lot of ownership of this project which has been fun to watch.  She can hardly contain herself when she finds a new seed sprouting.  Seriously…think Christmas morning.

DSCN0177One last picture of her sitting by her garden.  I’m hoping that her enthusiasm will overflow into her actually eating some of the fruits of our labor.  Hopefully, we’ll know soon!