Friday, April 30, 2010

Introductions.

This year we added a few new members to family, so i thought some introductions were in order. :)
When we lost our dog Sampson in the fall, i knew we were going to get another dog eventually. i was not in a big hurry for this, still dealing with the loss and not wanting to have to train a puppy. i had been online researching dog breeds, as much as i loved our dog i was not sure i really wanted another beagle. They are not the smartest of dogs and they are very prone to wander. According to the research i had done, we would do best with an Australian Shepard, Blue healer or border collie.
One afternoon, while browsing through the classified for dairy goats i came across an ad for a free puppy. The ad was for a 6 month old Border Collie, great with kids, knew basic commands, all around great dog. Something about the ad, made me feel like we really needed to jump on it. So Kenan called the number, explained that we lived in the country, had goats, chickens and children and would love to give this puppy a home. The folks who had the puppy, explained they found her abandoned, tied to a dumpster. They lived in a trailer and didn't have enough space for her. They also told Kenan they had someone coming out to look at her within the hour, and had over 16 calls on her already. So we accepted the fact that we would not be getting the dog.
Then out of the blue about an hour later, the phone rings. The folk with the puppy, said they just had this feeling about us and they really wanted us to have her. So Kenan hopped in the car and drove all the way out to Blacksburg to pick the puppy. We had no idea what a blessing she would be to our family.

This is Sookie. While trying to decide her name Sage, decided her name was Sushi. Kenan then suggested Suki (avatar), which immediately worked for everyone. Our family being a bunch of Avatar fans. i decided to change the spelling to Sookie , because i'm a Gilmore Girl Fan and we had two cats named Kali and Sati...and i just didn't want another 4 letter name that ended in i. :) She is a short haired Border Collie, extremely smart and has been a wonderful addition to our family.

The next newest member is Delilah. When we first moved to Virginia 10 years ago, i told everyone i wanted a dog named Sampson and a goat named Delilah. :) We got the dog the first year were here, but it's taken 10 years to find my Delilah. She is a Pygmy-Dwarf Nigerian cross, she was 4 months old when we brought her home, so she is not quite 6 months now. We are hoping she will provide us with milk one day. i have seen some mixed reviews about milking Dwarf Nigerians and Pygmies. Some claim they are great milkers, while others claim the teets are too small to milk. Right now we are still getting use to just being goat owner. We won't breed her until next year, so it will be quite some time before we know if we can milk her. i expect that once we get used to keeping goats (it's a constant learning process) we may add a few more dairy goats to our herd. ;)

We are really enjoying them both. Goats have so much personality. Casper having been raised in the house over the winter, is a bit of a spoiled brat. Delilah was extremely skittish when we first brought her home. However, she is becoming a very sweet and friendly little goat. She runs to greet us and sniff our hands hoping we brought treats. They love treats. We give them a few carrots from the garden, lemon balm, comfry, blackberry leaves and a couple of corn chips now and again.




The last introductions are for these three sweet little peeps (although i know they were mention in the last post). They are all unnamed so far. The first little peep is an English game bird. In the last picture, the fluffy yellow peep is a Rhode island red-English game cross and the one to the left with the reddish fluff is an Americana-English game cross. We are pretty excited to see how the crossed breeds grow up. Our RIR and Americana are both great egg layers, but they have very little personality. The English game birds have great personalities...but they are not regular egg layers, they love to hide their eggs, and they love to set on their eggs. So it will be interesting to see what we get with them. It is always fun watching the tiny peeps change, as their feather come in and we figure out if we have hens or roosters.

We have had a lot of change already this year, and although i am not always the most open to change i do believe in constantly moving forward. Each year, we move closer to our dream. We progress little by little, sometimes there are road blocks, sometimes we back step...but we always keep moving.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Everyday learning.

We are extremely blessed to live in a area that is rich with nature and offers a plethora of experiences for learning. Although, i send my son to school where he reads about and studies the life cycle of Frogs and butterflies. At home he gets to experience it and learn first hand.

Every spring, we collect tadpoles or frog eggs when ever we can find them, and bring them home to watch them transform into frog.


Kenan found these guys and brought them home for us. They had just hatched from their eggs and were extremely tiny. We've been enjoying watching them grow.
Tadpoles are very easy to keep. i have them in an aquarium, filled with a couple inches of creek water, and a couple handfuls of 'creek gunk'. The dead leaves, and other rotting organic matter where you would normally find tadpoles hiding. The like to hide under he leaves, and they eat the organic matter as it breaks down. i also give them a sprinkle of fish foods flakes now and again.

i'll be posting more pictures as they grow, and begin to develop legs and lungs. We release them down at the creek once they become frogs.

Every year we gather Monarch caterpillars off of the milkweed plants that grow on the edges of the road. We rescue them from the county mowers that come by and mow everything down. We have enjoyed watching the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. We have even witnessed caterpillar eggs hatching, from eggs attached to milkweed we have brought home. The process never seems any less amazing.

Last year, we found a swallowtail caterpillar munching happily on my carrots. So we brought it in to raise, and release. i blogged about it here on my family blog. That was the first time we had raised a swallowtail, and it was interesting to see the difference in the chrysalis.

This week we stumbled across a little caterpillar and brought him inside to identify.


We were excited to find out that our little caterpillar is a Great Spangled Fritillary. These butterflies are extremely common around our yard, but this is the first time we've found a caterpillar. We did a bit of research and found that it's host food is Sweet violets, which we have growing in abundance. So we decided to keep him inside, and watch him grow.
i created a semi-natural habitat, but planting some sweet violets in the bottom of a large pickle jar. i also added some dried leaves, and a few rocks and sticks. Unlike the monarchs and swallowtails, these fritillary butterflies create their chrysalis underneath rocks and logs. He seems quite content in his new home, munching away on the sweet violets.


What would spring be without new little peeps? We have been raising chickens for around 4 years now, and it has been such a wonderful learning experience for everyone. The kids have experienced the cycle of life, with brand new peeps and also death. We have many predators in our area, so loosing a chicken although heartbeaking...is part of life. The kids learn basic animal care and responsibility, feeding, watering and helping to collect eggs. They also learn first hand where the eggs come from (no, not the supermarket), and get to experience baby chicks hatching.
Everyday, we step out our door and are amazing by the world around us. We identify new weeds, wild flowers, butterflies and bugs. We plant things, and grow things and we never stop learning.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What's growing, early harvest.

Now that spring is here, i have not been blogging as often as i would like to be. i have been busy in the garden, taking pictures and chasing butterflies. :) Most folks in our area do not plant their gardens until Memorial day, the exception being that peas and potatoes can go in on Good Friday. i always have a difficult time following this rule, as soon as the sun comes out i am ready to start digging!
Every year i try to stretch our growing season as much as possible.



This lovely Swiss Chard was planted in the fall, and managed to survive an unseasonably cold winter. We have already begun to harvest it.


Our lettuces, carrots, onions and spinach were also planted in the fall, and are doing great. We've been enjoying fresh organic salads for several weeks now.


Asparagus and rhubarb were a few of our first harvests early this spring. When my mom was here visiting, we gathered enough asparagus for dinner, and she made a delicious rhubarb crisp.


Peach trees, apple trees, blueberries and strawberries are in full bloom. Our berry patches are spreading like crazy, i've been digging up runners to transplant and give away to neighbors and friends..

i've been working on transplanting our strawberries into a new bed. They took over the area they were in, but i can not keep the chickens out of them. So i'm moving them closer to the house, into a smaller area that i can keep covered with poultry netting and regulate the water a little better. i'm excited to see how they do. The plants look great and they are flowering and full of green fruit.

We planted our peas and potaotes on Good Friday, as all the locals advise. We planted 50lbs of red potatoes again this year, and are still eating potatoes from last years garden! They stored well over the winter down in the basement.
i'm eager to plant sweet pototes again, we got a great crop last year and they are such a beautiful plant to grow. We just need to work on our storage method. i don't think we 'hardened' them correctly, and they ended up rotting in storage. It may just be that it was an extremely cold winter,but we lost over 40lbs of sweet potatoes.

We have our broccoli planted, and are harvesting spinach, kale and arugala now. i'm am eager to get more things in the ground, but have learned my lesson from years past. So i am trying really hard to be patient. :) The kids have been helping me get our seeds started, and they will have their own garden again this year.

You may have noticed i've been slacking on our family blog. i will probably be combining the two eventually, as trying to keep up with both is too time consuming. So you will probably be seeing more personal blogs here, and lots of pictures of course. i will still be posting about crafting, and featuring other artists as well.






Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dragonfly's Hollow Artist Feature

Artist Feature, Nancy McLaughlin from Dragonfly's Hollow.



Those of you who have been following my blog for a while, know how much i love dolls. i have been making rag dolls for over 10 years, and in the last couple years have fallen in love with Waldorf style dolls. i have only attempted two ever, one for my daughter Sage and one for a friend. Although they came out okay, i am constantly browsing Etsy and drooling over all of the beautiful Waldorf dolls. One of my favorite shops to drool over is Dragonfly's Hollow.

Nancy recently held a doll Giveaway on her blog, and out of almost 800 entries i was the lucky winner! Wow, right?!? i still can not believe it!!



This is the beautiful doll that i won. Her name is Summer and the pictures do not do her justice. i am saving her for Sage's B-day (Summer solstice), so i can't post any picture of her and her new doll yet. ..but i will!

Nancy, the artist behind these fabulous dolls is a homeschooling mom of 6, ranging in ages from 14 to 5. Nancy believe's that children's toys should be durable, made from the best, natural materials and priced reasonably. Each is made with the fullest intention that they will be played with and loved. Inspired by the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, she believe that the most gorgeous Waldorf doll ever is the one that is stained and worn because that doll is a lifelong best friend and companion :o)



"My children are my muses. They are an abundant source of enjoyment and creativity for me. Everything I make I make with the mind that I am making it for my own children."


These dolls are of the highest quality. Made with interlock knit fabric, stuffed firmly with clean, carded wool and hair made with a variety of yarns. Each one is so unique, and they each seem to possess their own personalities. The features are hand embroidered with cotton floss.

Dragonfly's Hollow dolls are heirloom quality yet sturdy and soft enough for everyday play.



Besides the wonderful dolls, Dragonfly's Hollow also sells these incredible outfits to transform your doll into a fairy or mermaid.

You can shop for Dragonfly's Hollow Dolls on Etsy. New dolls are listed in the Etsy shop every Friday evening at 8:00 pm central. These dolls are available on a first come first served basis. (They go quick!!)

You can follow the Dragonfly's Hollow Blog here .

You can connect with Dragonfly's Hollow on Facebook to find out about new dolls and uploads.

Star SunFlower Studio Winners announced!!

Hi folks!! i am pleased to announce the winner's from the Star Sunflower Giveaway!!
i used Random.org to pick the winners!

First place winner (Your choice of item) is #66

Sara said... Hi! I love Su's "Sparkley Earth Starwheel"!! I have worked with peyote stitch and beading, too, so I totally appreciate the detail and vision it takes to come out with something so lovely! My email is sarafinap@verizon.net, if I am fortunate enough to need to be contacted =D

Second place winner (Su's choice) #7
Off-Grid Homestead said... ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh everything is sooooooo pretty!!
My fave is Sunshine starwheel!!! Backporchboutique@gmail.com
Third place winner (Su's choice) #14

Lara Katherine Mountain Colley said... Okay, got it now and am separating the entries out. I added her to Mountainhearth's favorites on Etsy and I love the Misty Twilight necklace!



i'm sending emails out now. You have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen.
Thank you again to everyone who participated!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chasing butterflies...

So, after what seemed like a never ending winter, spring has finally arrived. We have been enjoying good weather for the past three weeks, and i can not tell you how glad i was to see the snow finally leave and see the butterflies return.

The first to be spotted was a Comma butterfly, to quick to have it's picture taken. The second was a Mourning cloak, who also managed to elude me.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was the third to arrive, and the delicious smell of peach blossoms kept it here for some time. Giving me many gorgeous photo opportunities.


This little butterfly is a new one for me. i haven't gotten him identified yet, but i believe it to be a checker spot.


The pearl Crescent is a common visitor in our yard & garden.


i believe this is Horace's Dusky wing, although many of the Dusky wings looks quite similar.


A female Eastern Tiger swallowtail. The males are always yellow, but females have a yellow and a black form.


The Eastern tiger swallowtails are everywhere right now. The are on blooming lilacs and hawthorns, landing on dandelions and blooming ground ivy. Although i have a million pictures of them, every time one flutters by i grab my camera.

These early spring days are may favorite. Sitting outside watching the birds, soaking up the sunshine and chasing butterflies.



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Star SunFlower Studio Artist Feature and Giveaway! CLOSED

i am pleased to announce Su Smith as my featured artist!

Su is a long time friend, and inspiration. She is the one who first introduced me to peyote stitch bead work, and inspired me to really get into sewing and marble/stone wrapping beadwork.
Su made many of my all time favorite dresses (tha
t i still own!) Her work is incredibly detailed, high quality and beautifully made.


Su is into all things crafty! She has been beading and sewing as a profession since 1993. It all intensified when her roommate asked her to go on Dead tour and guerilla vend with her on Shakedown Street.
Su has also vended at several Michigan music festivals including Bliss, Farm Fest, Blues Sunday and Spirit Of The Woods.

"I’m inspired by planting seeds and singing songs, local wild edibles and medicinals, bottles, trash, dryer lint and sometimes cat tail fuzz for stuffing, jars, twigs, sticks, marbles, beads, scrap copper electrical wire, gemstones, sacred geometry, spiritual endeavors, being a busy bee, community cooking fires, pot lucks, drum circles, and the pheonix rising up from the fire to the luminous lovelight of the One."




"One of my passions is to utilize things that the masses typically throw away and turn these disrespected items into useful, respected functional artwork."




Want it? You can purchase Su's work here and here.


Win it! On to the Giveaway!!


Su, has generous offered three items up for grabs!

First place winner will receive their choice of any beaded item from Su's store or Etsy shop.

Second and third place winners will receive a surprise beaded item, picked out by Su.



**Mandatory Entry**


Go to the StarSunflower Studio Etsy Shop and have a look around then leave a comment here telling me what item you love the most! Please be sure to leave your email address, or make sure it's visible on your profile. *You MUST do the mandatory entry! Bonus entries will not count, if mandatory entry it's not done first!*

**Bonus Entries**
Bonus entries are not required. However, you may do one or all to increase your chance of winning!
{Please leave separate comments for each entry or it will not count}


1. Check out StarSunflower Studio Website and tell me your favorite item. {1 entry}
2. Add StarSunflower Studio to your favorites on Etsy. {1 entry} (leave your etsy user name in comment)
3. Subscribe to the StarSunflower Studio Newsletter {1 entry} (right column half way down)
4. Follow The enchanted tree blog publicly on google friend connect {1 entry}

5. Become a friend of Su Smith on Facebook {1 entry } leave facebook name in comment
6. Become a fan of The enchanted tree on Facebook {1 entry} leave facebook name in comment
7. Blog about this giveaway and leave me a link to the post {2 entries}
8. purchase an item from Star Sunflower Studio Etsy shop or Shopping cart {5 entries} must be verified.
**Rules**
  • Giveaway ends Friday, April 23, 2010 at 11:59pm EST
  • Winner will be chosen via Random.Org., and contacted by email
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the email or another winner will be chosen

Mountain Hearth Giveaway winner!

Out of 86 valid comments (i had to delete a few posted after the contest ended.)


The Winner of the Mountain HearthSpring Fairy Giveaway is #61 pink026

True Random Number Generator


61

Powered by RANDOM.ORM


pink026 said...

I love the runaway bunny felted wall hanging! I reminds me of Easter and being at my grandma's!

pink026@yahoo.com

March 31, 2010 8:45 AM

Winner has been confirmed.

Thank you all for entering and check back for more fun giveaways coming soon!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010