mandyholbert

A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

At least lightning doesn’t strike twice…Right? July 31, 2012

It all started with a lightning strike…

Our dogs are contained by an invisible fence.  When the lightning struck, it fried the fence, so obviously, it didn’t work any more.

This meant the dogs could now get to the garden that contains the rabbit hutch, and the dogs seized the opportunity.  I barely saved the rabbits from becoming a snack, and I moved them temporarily to the garage until we could repair the fence.

The fence is finally repaired.  The dogs are back where they belong.  The rabbits are back where they belong (and are enjoying weeding the garden for me again).

However, in the meantime, one of the chickens crossed from the back yard where they are safe to the front yard where they are closely observed by very interested dogs and then to the driveway where they are in the territory of dogs who have felt unnecessarily teased by the presence of chickens just out of their reach.

A dog ate the chicken.

We learned that hamsters are nocturnal.  Ours enjoys running in its ball all night long.  Not that it keeps me awake or anything.

Meanwhile, the goats got sick.  Very sick.  They had awful diarrhea and we had to sanitize everything and nurse them back to health.  “Poop” is not a strong enough word to describe what I scrubbed from their bottoms.  I straddled them backwards while Ronnie held their heads and comforted them while I cleaned caked-on sh*t from their behinds, legs, and tummies.  It. was. disgusting.

They’re better now.

But, Sparkles, our cat, is missing.  We haven’t seen her in several days.  Kendra is out looking for her right now.

So, currently, we have two dogs, six five chickens, two rabbits (thank goodness!), two goats (that was a close one, too), four toads, a tree frog, a hamster, and a missing cat.

Why do we have animals again?

 

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How does your garden grow? June 11, 2012

Filed under: family,gardening,parenting,photography — mandyholbert @ 6:52 pm
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I haven’t done an update on the garden lately, so here’s a few photos I took today:

a bloom on a strawberry plant

a strawberry

the first cherry tomatoes of the season

the grapes are getting bigger

the blueberries are almost ready!

Darth enjoying some pesky kudzu

the laurels are blooming for the first time in years

day lilies

hydrangea bloom

the chickens are getting much bigger

this is a transplant from my mother-in-law’s yard – not sure what it is, but I love it

 

Old MacHolbert had a farm… May 24, 2012

Filed under: family,food,gardening,photography — mandyholbert @ 8:57 pm
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Just a quick look at what is happening in the garden this evening…

a baby peach

blueberries will be ready soon

tiny grapes

 

cute little bunny nose

artwork in the strawberry box

hello, little goat

chickens are getting bigger

butterfly bush bloom

 

 

 

My Gardening Playlist May 13, 2012

Path to our garden.

Most of the time when I’m gardening (or just sitting in my garden enjoying it), I like to listen to nothing.  Well, at first I hear nothing, and then the longer I sit and unwind, the more I hear.  The rabbits nibbling on crunchy veggies, the birds flapping and chirping near the feeder, the breeze blowing through the trees…

But, sometimes, I listen to music.  I’ve put together a gardening playlist.  Here it is.

1.  “Homegrown Tomatoes” by Guy Clark – Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes, what would life be without homegrown tomatoes.  There’s only two things that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.

Grape tomatoes on vine

Grape tomatoes on vine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guy Clark’s matter-of-fact, simple ode to my favorite veggie makes my mouth water as I think about the tomatoes that will soon be hanging from my plants.  It definitely makes the weeding worth it.

2.  “Spanish Pipedream” by John Prine – Blow up your TV, throw away your paper, move to the country, build you a home, grow a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, try to find Jesus on your own.  Well, we still have a TV, but we did plant a garden, we eat our own peaches from our trees, and we have all found Jesus.  Great song.

3.  “Hard Worker” by The Avett BrothersI got up early to sing.  I’m a hard, hard worker, I’m workin’ every day, I’m a hard, hard worker, I’m savin’ all my pay.  This one just reminds me that hard work pays off.  Whether sweating over a garden or spreading mulch or building a fence, I’m a hard, hard worker every day.

4.  “I’ll Fly Away” by Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch – Some bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away.  To that home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.  Being outside, digging in the dirt, considering the intricacies of nature, I can’t help but reflect on the Creator.  My heart always seems to end up in a spirit of worship when I’m in the garden.  Put that together with the twang of bluegrass and these two beautiful voices, and you have a perfect gardening song.

5.  “Where the Green Grass Grows” by Tim McGraw – I want to live where the green grass grows, watch my corn pop up in rows, every night be tucked in close to you.  Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed…  Maybe this one’s a little cheesy, but I’ve never been ashamed to like cheesy.  Country music tends to appreciate the simple things in life.

6. “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor – Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine?  Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

Clouds breaking up after a rainy morning in th...

Clouds breaking up after a rainy morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo taken from the Deep Gap overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina, with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 I would love my garden no matter where it was, but it happens to be in one of the most beautiful places in the world – the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.  It’s where my heart is, and nothing beats looking up from the weeds I’m pulling to see the mountains that surround us.  Perfect.

7. “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” by Darrell Scott – It’s a great day to be alive, I know the sun’s still shining when I close my eyes, there’s some hard times in the neighborhood, but why can’t every day be just this good?  Every day is a good day when I’m in my garden.  Well, maybe the day wasn’t good, but it is once I can go to my garden and let go of the day’s stresses.

8. “Ice, Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice – All right Stop, collaborate and listen…Just kidding.  Just wanted to make sure you’re still with me.

9. “A Little Bit of Everything” by Dawes – Oh, it’s a little bit of everything, it’s the mountains it’s the fog, it’s the news at six o’clock, it’s the death of my first dog.  My husband and I discovered Dawes on WNCW 88.7 when we were building the tree house by the garden.  We listened to this disc over and over while we worked.  This is my favorite song out of all of them.

10. “Poor Boy Workin’ Blues” by Dailey and Vincent – Work the soles right off of my shoes, I’ve got the poor boy workin’ blues.  This one is Ronnie’s contribution to the playlist.  Truthfully, any good playlist in this area must have a true bluegrass classic.

There’s my gardening playlist.  What songs would you add?

 

Our Family Project May 1, 2012

Filed under: family,gardening,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 6:48 pm
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Our project may not be Southern Living or HGTV worthy, but it’s coming along.  Here’s what we started with:

This was the beginning of what we have dubbed our “garden project” which led into the “tree house project” – only to be later combined into one grand plan of making both projects one big entertainment area for our family.  It has taken a lot of hard work, and we’re not finished, but we got so much done over the weekend that I’m just itching to share it.  Here is a look at what we have accomplished so far.

This was the start of the garden – we fenced it in and Ronnie built the planter boxes.  The kids painted the fence (well, they helped me paint it).  Next, we decided to put an arbor over the entrance.  We made the garden rabbit-proof with the wire (which was a terrible, hot, tedious job) and we moved the rabbit house in to house our pet rabbits.

Ronnie built the exact swing set I imagined, and we planted our first vegetables and flowers.

With the garden finished, we started on the tree house.  Since it’s so high off the ground and Max is such a little, adventurous guy, we decided that a ramp would be the safest way to access the tree house.

The tree house was plain old hard work.  Ronnie and I did the whole thing together.  I told him what I wanted, and he not only made it happen, but also taught me how to use all the tools and think like a carpenter.  Here’s what we have right now:

Now we have a garden and tree house.  What we are working on right now is the area surrounding both.  Here’s our progress from the past couple of weekends.  We are tired!

We still have so far to go!  The next step, of course, will be grass everywhere that is currently dirt.  We’ll build a fire pit in right between the garden and tree house.  I have an idea for an outdoor chalkboard for the kids to draw on.  The tree house will have a mail box.  Oh, and the tree house will look like a true house in a tree when it’s finished.  We’ll have strands of lights suspended from the trees.  Oh!  And the obstacle course!  How could I forget?  The kids will have an obstacle course through the woods.  And a zip line coming off the back of the tree house.

We still have so much to do, but look at how far we’ve come!  Nothing makes me happier that walking out to the garden with Ronnie, watching our bunnies hop in and out of their hutch while the kids laugh and swing and run up and down the tree house ramp, and just being a family.  There’s absolutely nothing like sitting back and enjoying the fruits of good, hard, honest labor.

I can’t wait to go back out and work my butt off to finish.  It will most likely take years.  And I’m okay with that.  I have so many ideas, and my husband has the know-how.  And the willingness to teach me.   And the patience to let the kids help.   And the willingness to come home after a long week at work to put in an even harder weekend.  That’s just who we are.  And I couldn’t be happier.

 

Thursday Reflections March 29, 2012

Filed under: family,food — mandyholbert @ 9:07 pm
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My middle sister who lives next door to me and owns a dog named Zeke – I’ll call her Vickie to maintain her anonymity – told me this was going to be a hard week *sigh* *mean face* *sigh* (she was kind of mad at me).  She was mad because we decided to move the dogs’ invisible fence Monday night, which she thought meant she would spend the whole week training Zeke on the new boundary.

Well, it’s Thursday, and it’s been a pretty darn good week.  The dogs are trained.  That allowed me to move the rabbits out to their new home in the garden without fear of the dogs eating them.  That in turn allowed me to get our new six baby chickens out of my kitchen and into the garage.  And I did all of this without our cat killing anyone involved!

I discovered a nest full of eggs in the bird house in the garden.  The blueberry bushes and grape vines have new growth.  The hostas have popped up and filled out.  The honeysuckle is blooming.  And I don’t have chickens in my kitchen.

It’s spring, and I can’t wait to get out there and get my hands dirty.  To grow vegetables and prune the flowers.  This week has me so looking forward to the next few months.  Months that will be spent outside with my family and our little farm we seem to have started.

I’m sure there’ll be stories about these chickens.  They pretty much freak me out.  But, until then, I’ll enjoy watching them like I enjoy watching our two little bunnies hop around.  Yep, it’s been a pretty good week.

 

Mud Wrestling, Rabbit Chasing, Dog Carrying, and Other Redneck Activities March 10, 2012

Filed under: family,humor,pets,Silly Situations — mandyholbert @ 2:07 pm
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I’ve been pretty sick, and today is a beautiful day.  I thought it would be so nice to take my rabbits out to the garden and let them hop around.  How relaxing.

Here’s a few things you should know before you read what actually happened:

  1. The rabbits belonged to my cousins.  We have owned them for about a month, and they have been living inside our house for that time.
  2. I have been sick.
  3. Ronnie found a truck he wanted to buy.  The seller was bringing the truck to our house this morning to make sure it would pull our camper okay.
  4. I have been sick.
  5. Nickie, my sister and next-door neighbor, had a long week and planned on sleeping in and loafing on this beautiful Saturday morning.
  6. Our garden is fenced in to keep wild rabbits out and to keep our pet rabbits in.  The rabbit hutch is in the garden.
  7. I have been sick.

Okay.  Here it goes.

I put the rabbits in a box to carry them out to the garden.  Ronnie walked out with me.  Once out there, I put them in the fence thinking they would hop around and explore and wiggle their little noses and fluffy tails and just be cute.  As soon as I let them loose, the man in the truck pulled into the driveway, so Ronnie went to hook up the camper.

Everything was fine until Roxy and Zeke (our dogs) realized I had rabbits out there.  They immediately started running circles around the garden scaring those little creatures half to death.  The gray one found a hiding place and stayed put, but the black one started running and jumping and acting like it was being chased by two giant, salivating canines who wanted nothing more than to gobble it up for a snack.  Oh, wait a minute…

Anyways, the poor rabbit jumped at full speed directly into the wall of one of my planter boxes and knocked itself backwards.  It just never was the same after that.  It tried to keep running, but there was a serious and notable lack of direction in his fleeing – towards the dogs, away from the dogs – you get the idea.  Meanwhile, I can see that Zeke is finally realizing that all he has to do is jump over the fence to catch the rabbit.

I changed my strategy which was failing miserably.  Instead of trying to catch the rabbit, I left the garden to try to catch my dogs.  I got Roxy first.  She was so intent on her visions of Roasted Rabbit that she wrestled right out of the collar I was holding her by.  I had to tackle her (in the mud) and hold her in a headlock while somehow trying to catch Zeke who was seconds away from jumping the fence.  I grabbed a fistful of Zeke and dragged him over to me.  So, there I sat, covered in mud trying to hold two dogs that were still intently tracking the rabbit who had not yet slowed down.

I yelled for Ronnie to call Nickie (he did have company over, after all).  Nickie came out of her house and called Zeke.  That dumb dog almost bit me trying to get out of my death grip to pretend to go to Nickie so it could really kill my rabbit.  I think I started crying then.  (Remember, I’ve been sick.  Really sick).

To make a long story short, Nickie carried the dogs one by one up to her house to lock them on her front porch.  I went in the garden to get the black rabbit who had completely given up.  It was just lying there without moving.  It didn’t even move when I picked it up and put it away.  I would have thought it died of a heart attack if I didn’t feel his little heart still racing.

Well, here are a few more things you should know:

  1. The guy with the truck asked Ronnie if I was okay.  Ronnie said, “yeah, I’m sure she’s fine,” and kept hooking up the camper.  The guy, obviously a little bothered, pushed back a little and said, “are you sure?  I think she’s crying.”  Ronnie answered, “she just freaks out sometimes.  She’s okay.  She’s just really attached to her bunnies.”
  2. Nickie was not dressed when she was summoned to help me.  She threw on clothes and flip-flops and ended up running out the gravel drive-way barefooted to help me.  Roxy weighs over 60 pounds.  She carried her all the way home.  When she carried Zeke, he put one front paw on her shoulder and the other on her head.  He enjoyed being carried.  She got rather muddy.
  3. Nickie was a little bothered that she looked like an idiot in front of some guy she didn’t know.
  4. Our next-door neighbor, unbeknownst to me, was outside watching the whole episode unfold.

Nickie and I, once we had all the animals situated, sat and talked about how redneck and stupid we must have looked – her running around lugging huge dogs back and forth (while barefooted) and me yelling and crying and chasing rabbits and mud-wrestling dogs.  At least we didn’t know the guy with the truck!

When Ronnie and the guy got back from the test drive, Nickie and I went to check out the truck.

The guy looked at Nickie and said, “Hey!  I remember you from high school!”