Thursday, December 31, 2009

Planting & Plotting...

I managed to get one indoor seed tray planted yesterday with some good ol' garden sage, echinacea, boneset, and yerba del lobo. I also managed to get two outdoor nursery flats planted with arrowleaf balsamroot and compass plant. I still need to get my two remaining (indoor) seed trays planted with parsley, more clary sage, thyme, and oregano; and agave and peruvian torch cactus. In the seed tray that I planted roughly one week ago, I already have heimia, yerba del lobo, centaury, and mullein sprouts! Still waiting for the cinnamon and maravilla seeds to germinate. Can't believe that in February I already have to begin transplanting my perennials outdoors (this according to the OSU Extension's Gardening Guide, which has yet to fail me).

I am also plotting my herb garden for this spring. I still need to finish the fourth and final raised stone bed, but that hasn't stopped me from planning out what to plant in it this spring! :) At the rate I am going, all four beds will be entirely filled up this year! I may need to build a whole new herb garden to house my other plant babies over the years! :P

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Plant Babies!

It's been less than a week, and already some of my Yerba del Lobo, Heimia, and Mullein seeds have sprouted! I am really looking forward to watching the rest of my seeds germinate over the weeks! I am trying to summon up the energy to finish planting my other three germination trays (gotta stick to "The Plan" for January - see posting below), but a nasty head cold has laid me low.

Speaking of January, I am excited to begin a new (and hopefully better year). 2009 was fraught with stress and heartbreak, though it had some good times too. I am ready for an upswing though, and I just think that 2010, with its beginnings engulfed in the Blue Moon, will be just that! What good luck that a blue moon falls on New Year's Eve! To me, that simply
has to mean positive things. Traditionally, the blue moon is a time of rare occurances and mystical happenings, and is supposed to be the time (along with New Year's Eve - a fact that I find ironic) when you look back on your past accomplishments and failures, and set new goals for yourself. I figure that, based on this, the goals I set myself for 2010 (goals, mind you, not resolutions) should have the extra oomph! from the blue moon's happy glow. Ryan and I need all of the positive energy we can get!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Plan

In an effort to become better organized than my normal chaotic gardening style, I have written up a 5-month-long schedule of planting. I only have 4 seedling heat mats, so I am constrained to germinating only as many seeds as will fit in 4 trays this winter (another reason it was wise for me to plan everything out!). Using Horizon Herbs germinating hints and the OSU Extension's Gardening Book as guides, I have devised my method of attack. While some may be surprised at the planting times of certain items, you must remember that Ruch is a strange micro-climate in Southern Oregon. We are often times warmer and drier in the winter than the surrounding communities, and cooler (by about 10 degrees!) in the summer. Previous experience has taught me that I can transplant certain species outside earlier than people in, say, Medford or Selma, can. Our climate even differs from Applegate - a mere 7 miles away! Last spring, I was able to set out my tomatoes in April and have no ill effects, whereas friends in Applegate were unable to plant theirs outside until early JUNE! So you see, Ruch is a strange little gardening vortex...
In any event, here is my To-Do List for January:

JANUARY
INDOORS
Tray 1 -
Already planted with Yerba del Lobo, Heimia, Mullein, Cinnamon, and Maravilla.
Tray 2 - Peruvian Torch Cactus and Century Plant (Agave)
Tray 3 - Parsley, Clary Sage, Echinacea, Mexican Tarragon, Boneset
Tray 4 - Garden Sage, Oregano, Thyme, Chives, Boy Choy

OUTDOORS
Direct Seed Anise & Angelica
Tray 1 - Arrowleaf Balsamroot
Tray 2 - Compass Plant
Tray 3 - Fraxinella

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

For Those Long, Cold Winter Months...

After almost three years of procrastination (yes, I am THAT good), I finally managed to make it over to the library and obtain my library card! While I was there, I discovered that the Ruch Library has quite a respectable medicinal herb section! One of the books I stumbled across, Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, by Michael Moore, is seriously one of the best stores of knowledge I have ever seen. I read the book cover to cover, and am now biding my time until I can afford to buy all three of his books! They are a must-have for any serious (or even amateur!) herbalist! So Michael Moore is my recommended reading for this winter.

I recently put in an order for some new varieties of herb seeds to add to my ever-expanding garden this spring: Arrowleaf Balsamroot, more Chaste Tree (for landscaping around my herb garden), Greek Mullein, Compass Plant, Peruvian Torch Cactus, Heimia, European Centaury (I'm already growing yellow gentian, and just thought I'd add another bitters herb to the mix!), and Agave. I'm really looking forward to this spring, and all of my fab
ulous plants!

Speaking of plants, my cactus seedlings are doing quite well, and have started to develop their "true" leaves. I had limited germination on my Dragon Fruit cactus (still trying to figure that one out - but they did seem, out of all three, the most susceptible to mold), but my pitajaya and San pedro seeds demonstrated explosive germination. I was planning to order more Pitajaya seeds fr
om HH, but it would appear that they are currently out of stock. I'll try and post some pics of my cactus seedlings soon.

(Cactus seedlings at roughly 4 weeks)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's a Pokey Kind of Love

Well, the cactus seed germination is through the roof! Which means YAY!: I'm not a complete and utter incompetent (this is always a good thing)! I went ahead and sowed germination tray #2 with the remaining cactus seeds. Only managed to fill up ~1/2 of the tray, so I suppose I will need to get some more cactus seeds (oh shoot! What a crying shame! *laughing*). I want to try growing Giant Saguaro from seed - there is something ironically fulfilling about the idea of growing a plant that will outlive me. So instead of raising kids, I'm raising cacti!

Today I transplanted my assorted basil, clary sage, brandywine tomato, hibiscus, and boneset sprouts into larger pots. It's so nice to have lovely green plants growing even in the dead of winter! At least I know that I will have a heck of a start on spring.

Still waiting for my pineapple tops to root. I believe my two Dragon Fruit cactus cuttings have finally rooted, and one out of three of my Selenicereus grandiflorus cuttings have rooted. No signs of life on the avocado seeds yet, but I have heard that avocados are notoriously difficult to germinate (and when they do, require a long time to sprout). We shall see...Fingers are crossed!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Apothecary Farm Holiday Song


Jingle Bells!

Suede Boots Smells!

The chicken laid
an egg.


Punkin thinks


That Zilla stinks.


And the donkeys say

"Oy Vey!"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

EUREKA!
Well, after being absolutely terrified that I was a raging incompetent in my first attempt to raise cactus plants from seed, I now know that I have been successful! I have four confirmed cactus sprouts (1 pitajaya, 1 dragon fruit, and 2 san pedro), and three seeds that are in the process of sprouting. It's been less than a week since I planted my seeds! I used the recommended soil components, and provided both bottom heat with a heating mat as well as an overhead grow light, and plenty of humidity. I have heard that most people trying to raise cactus from seed have a problem with "dampening off" (i.e. mold), and I did as well. You have to surface sow the seedlings, as well as keep them very moist. This is unfortunately the perfect environment for mold to grow. What I did to save my seedlings was to brew a very strong batch of chamomile tea (2 cups boiling water over 1/4 cup dried chamomile flowers - cover, and allow to cool, then strain off the flowers), and sprayed my seed tray. This killed off most of the mold. However, there were still patches of it here and there. So, as none of my seedlings had yet begun to germinate, I allowed those portions of the tray to dry out for a bit (about half a day). Then, I re-dampened the soil, and voila! No more mold problems. My germination took off shortly afterward. I have heard from HH that sometimes allowing your soil to dry out and then rewetting it can help with the germination of cactus seeds.

I will post pictures as soon as my "babies" get a little larger (the macro function on my camera doesn't like to work very well).

I still want to get a few cuttings of San Pedro from Horizon Herbs...maybe after the holidays when things calm down around here?

Speaking of cactus plants, my Christmas Cacti are in full bloom right now (I have five of them scattered around the house)! I have never before possessed a Christmas Cactus plant, and I think that they are GORGEOUS! The one in the library is especially beautiful. I enjoy having them around, because in the winter time (when there are no outdoor blooms to cut and arrange in vases in the house) I can set the plants in pretty pots in guest rooms for a little color/decoration!


Aren't the flowers just beautiful?


Sunday, December 06, 2009

And the Freaky Cacti Fetish Continues...

So I am branching out and attempting to grow freaky cacti from seed. This is a whole new area of gardening that I have yet to explore, and I am pretty excited! Placed my Horizon Herbs order for seeds of three different (and fascinating!) cacti varieties:

Hylocereus undatus
(The Dragon Fruit cactus that I have mentioned in earlier posts)

Echinocereus triglochidiatus
(Also known as the Pitajaya Cactus - produces tasty fruit!)

...and the cactus that I am the most excited for...

Trichocereus pachanoi
(The San Pedro Cactus, which apparently makes a fabulous house plant!)

Here is another link with information about the San Pedro Cactus.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Year At A Close...

Hard to believe (okay, impossible, really) that the year is already almost at a close. There is so much that I wanted to accomplish, and yet ran out of time for! Even with winter hitting, I am already looking ahead to spring and planning my garden and heirloom apple orchard. This month, I need to get all of my culinary herb seeds germinating in preparation for transplanting in February (according to my OSU Extension gardening guide). In January, I need to begin getting all of my cold weather vegetable seeds germinating. January is also the month of pruning and grafting. I still need to order my omega tool and rootstocks. Ryan and I are going to put a 32-tree heirloom apple orchard in the back of the property (where George, Judge, and Winchester are currently living). We will be be using scion wood from our own 15 heirloom apples trees already found on the property (Arkansas Black, Winesap, Fireside, Cinnamon Spice, Chenango Strawberry, & Cox's Orange Pippin)), but I will also be ordering some scion wood for Ashmead's Kernal, Calville Blanc d'Hiver, Pitmaston Pineapple, Wealthy, and the White Pearmain. I am so excited to have an heirloom orchard! Besides apples, I will be planting my grape starts (that I began last February from cuttings taken from Longsword Vineyard (thanks, Matt!!)), and taking some cuttings of my heirloom roses (specifically Duchesse de Portland & Harison's Yellow), honeysuckle, and fig trees for propagating new plants. So January will be a very busy month! In February, I am already going to be direct-seeding cold weather vegetable crops into my raised beds, and tilling my large garden plot in preparation for a large scale planting in March. So much to do!...

Thinking ahead to next year makes me also ponder what goals I have in mind for 2010. I hate making New Years' resolutions, but I DO believe in setting obtainable goals for yourself for the coming year. Here is my list:


1. Increase the size of my dairy goat herd (pretty easy, since I have 5 does due in February & March - fingers are crossed for lots of girl babies!!)

2. Finish building my 4th raised bed in the herb garden

3. Finish landscaping the herb garden

4. Plant one or more fig trees over Jugi's grave

5. Have an amazing summer with the B&B business! Pay off 2 out of 3 large debts associated with moving to Oregon/getting the B&B up off of its feet

6. Get a cheese press, and have Ryan make hard cheeses for eating in Winter 2010

7. Increase yacon crop (possibly 2 separate harvests in May and November: growing my yacon indoors this winter, harvesting it in May, and then setting it out again for another harvest in November)

8. Graft 100 heirloom apple trees (and pray for a 70%+ success rate)

9. Begin landscaping the "Innkeepers' Backyard." My goal is to have it looking pretty (if not exactly finished) by the summer solstice in June, so that I can have a Solstice/BBQ party in my yard!

10. Build the outdoor dutch oven in the "Innkeepers' Backyard."

11. Increase advertising for the B&B

12. Increase types of medicinal herbs found in my herb garden

13. Grow more freaky cacti (from seed!)

14. Help Ryan to convert the larger Apothecary Suite closet into a walk-in library

15. Begin converting the Solarium into a real conservatory.

16. Finish building planter boxes for the Secret Garden & plant more grapes, etc. in that area

17. Obtain my nursery license and begin making plant sales

18. Visit my heart sister, Elaina, and her (*fingers crossed*) baby!!

19. Spend more time with my husband & appreciate the beautiful moments in life

20. TAKE A VACATION!!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Try this fantastic cranberry relish next year!

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups fresh cranberries
1 apple (Fuji works well)
2 carrots, peeled
1 large fennel bulb (reserve tops for garnish)
1 medium yacon tubers, peeled
1 cup sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Combine and coarsely chop in a food processor. Garnis...h with fresh fennel leaves.

Enjoy!

This relish has a refreshingly sweet and crunchy flavor with a cleansing hint of anise at the end. Delicious!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fall

My saffron is blooming! This is the first year I have tried growing saffron, and I am very excited & pleased! I planted roughly 22 bulbs, and here is a shot of my first flower:

I also finished bringing in the Yacon harvest last week (it's currently "curing" in my enclosed porch). It was a small but promising harvest - I am looking forward to next year's crop:


Thursday, November 05, 2009

This isn't "GoodBye," It's "I'll See You Later..."

We put Jugi to sleep last Tuesday. I looked at him on the previous Thursday and I realized that it was time. I told Ryan we couldn't wait much longer. We called the vet on Monday (after playing a bit of phone tag with the vet doctor), and they said that they could do it the next day. Ryan put the phone down for a moment and asked me, "Are you ready for this?" I told him, "How can I EVER be ready for this??" The vet came, and had to sedate him twice in order to get him to calm down enough for the euthanasia injection. With so much sedation, poor Jugi had a hard time breathing, and he couldn't see me because his eyes were so hugely dilated, but I talked to him and petted his forehead the entire time. When he stopped breathing, I said to him, "I'll see you later, k?" That was when I let myself cry. I had promised him the night before that I would not cry during the whole procedure, because I knew it would sadden him and he needed me strong. I kept that promise, though it took every ounce of determination...and the minute the vet and assistant left (because we had it done at home, in the livingroom, with him looking out from his favorite view point window), I started bawling into Ryan's arms. The vet and tech had cried when Jugi stopped breathing. I was actually immensely thankful for that - it was comforting to know that they had not performed this procedure so many times that they were immune to the heartbreaking sadness of it. We buried him in the middle of my herb garden, with a large stone marker. The house feels so empty without him now. I keep thinking/expecting to see my beloved Sun God, and then I remember that I no longer have him. After spending about an hour crying, Ryan and I opened up the best, most expensive bottle of wine in our pantry, and drank to Jugi's honor. I have not had a half bottle of wine at one sitting in years...I definitely felt its effects, but at the same time, I needed something to take the edge off of the pain. I spent the entire day with him before the vet doctor showed up. We sat together, and he crawled into my lap and I petted him until he fell asleep. We gave him a final day in his beloved Solarium. I did everything I could to make his final days so full of happiness and love. In some ways, this situation was a blessing - it allowed us to say goodbye. I will always be thankful for that.

I am including some pictures of Jugi in his final day(s). These pictures, though they sadden me because he is obviously ill and suffering, make me smile because I know he is happy in them - even if it was just for a moment. Elaina phrased things best when she commented on that picture of me, Ryan, and Jugi. Tuesday I put her words into actions, and I enjoyed every moment I had left with my kitty. I know there will be other kitties in my future, but there will only ever be ONE Jugi...


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Reign of Jugi:
July 17, 2005 - November 3, 2009


The reign of "Foo" lasted for far too brief a time: July 17th, 2005 - November 3rd, 2009. I still remember going into the Petsmart in Salt Lake, in order to buy cat food for a different kitty that I was pet-sitting, and seeing that little strawberry-milk-mustache in the pet carrier. Petsmart was having their big cat adoption event. It was love at first sight for me. I asked if I could take Jugi into the glass "meeting room" where we could interact. He spent the entire time completely ignoring me, and trying to figure out how to escape. I knew then that he was the perfect kitty for me. My aunt paid the adoption fee for me as a belated birthday present, and I took my new kitty home. I remember accidentally banging the carrier against the kitchen door as I brought him in ("Welcome home, Jugi!" *smash* "Ooops! Sorry..."). That first night he claimed the foot of my bed (setting in motion a trend that would continue almost every night for the rest of our time together). I wasn't used to sleeping with a kitty at the foot of my tiny futon bed, so during the night I accidentally threw my legs over him in my sleep. I was quickly awakened to the feeling of having my feet bitten repeatedly by a very annoyed kitty.

I love you, Jugi.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Mourning Moon...

So how is this for irony?: Today is the full moon for November, and it is commonly referred to as the "Mourning Moon." The description I have for it is: "In November, turn within and let inner growth be the focus of the journey through the underworld. Learn, study, reflect, and grow. In this time of mourning and loss, let the quietness of home and hearth sustain you, for in safety and familiarity there is hope to see us through the long dark winter."

Touché.

*sigh*

Friday, October 30, 2009

Elaina phrased it best...



"I think there is an excellent lesson to be learned from Jugi in that picture. Devote yourself wholeheartedly to the moment, recognize that it is good, and enjoy it with all you have. "

Beginning today, I am going to put her words into practice.

Anecdotes from the Reign of Foo

I was searching through my old emails, trying to find some pictures of Jugi (Foosa-Wu, Conqueror of Worlds, Emperor God Cat) from our first months together. I came across a few emails with amusing stories of incidences I had forgotten about. I am trying to put together a scrapbook of all of my pictures of our dear fur baby, and I am definitely going to include some of these stories with them! This is my project for after he is gone, because it will force me to look at memories of all of our HAPPY times together.

On a heartbreaking note: As an update, it IS cancer, and a very aggressive one at that. In less than two months, Jugi went from being happy and healthy to emaciated and barely able to breathe. The vet discovered that he has a large tumor growing around his larynx, squeezing his air way thinner and thinner. Due to how quickly this thing developed, we don't have very much time left with him. It absolutely devastates me: Jugi was my first kitty (my first animal actually - he was with me before the farm, before I met my husband even!). I don't have children, and I have hardly any family. Thus, Jugi is my family. Through the trials and heart aches of dealing with my own "blood relatives," I have come to learn that family isn't necessarily something you are born into; family is something you create for yourself out of the individuals who make a place feel like home. When we raced Jugi into the vet last Monday, there is a moment I will remember for as long as I live. It was one of those moments where time stops, and I remember thinking to myself, "This is an omen." It was when they had taken him into the back room to put him on supplemental oxygen to help him breathe. The doctor wanted to take some x-rays, and took off his collar so that his metal tag wouldn't show up in the x-rays. She came back into the room, and handed me the collar. And that is the moment I will always remember. That feeling, and the sight of a kitty collar with no kitty. That was when I knew.

I realize that there are some people who view animals as "sub-human." They don't qualify them as being intelligent or spiritual enough to have emotions or count as family. I feel terribly sorry for those people. They are missing out on something amazing. I have always treated my animals as beautiful, intelligent beings, entirely capable of communication with me and most definitely possessing souls. Just because they can't speak my language does NOT mean that they are unable to communicate their feelings and needs to me. I have always treated Jugi (and my myriad of other animals) as equal. Yes, I know that I am technically their "caretaker," but therein lies the difference: "caretaker" versus "owner." I do not OWN my animals. I take on a responsibility to care for and look after them. In some ways it's like being a foster mom. And as far as intelligence levels: Goodness, most times I will happily admit that on any given day Jugi is generally far more intelligent than I am! *laugh*

I am going to miss my plush monster more than I can ever put into words. This house will be empty without him - it will NOT be "home." I am dreading the loneliness of missing him. I know that I will have my memories of him to treasure always, but that doesn't mean that I am not going to miss him like crazy. Jugi is the curve that forms one half of my heart. Losing him is losing something of myself. I feel like I have been a better person because of loving him.

And on that note, on to some happier memories...

~
We had a pretty decent snow storm here last night.  Nothing by Utah
standards, but for my fellow Oregonians, you would have been enchanted (as I
always am!)!! I woke up to white this morning, and there was a light but
steady snowfall all day. It's that wonderful powdery stuff that makes you
feel like a fairy in a snowglobe. I will admit to frolicking around in it
anytime I was outside, much to the amusement of several onlookers in the
Albertsons parkinglot. I went into work for most of the morning/early
afternoon, but got such a headache from being sleepy and battling with those
wretched maps (I do drafting work for EGI, and would SO much rather be out
in the field!!), I left and went to the grocery store, and then on to pick
out my Christmas tree! Now, granted, Christmas is not my holiday, and I
hate how everything is soooo bloody commercialized now (and the true meaning
of the holidays has been pushed to near extinction), but there is something
about snow and wintertime, holiday lights, and the scent of fresh evergreen,
that just brings true joy to my life (and the childlike delight always
hiding just below the surface). This year is extra special for me, because,
though I miss not being able to be with my family for the holidays, I do get
to enjoy the experience of my very first Christmas tree (on my own)!! It's
been an exciting day - can you tell?? *grin* ANYWHO, I tried to pick out
the lightest tree they had, as I am only one tiny little person.
Unfortunately, as you can see from the picture, it's bigger than I am, and
almost weighs more than I do! If you could have been there to watch me get
that thing in and out of my car (which now needs a THOROUGH cleaning), you
would have laughed your fool head off (I am still covered head to toe in
tree sap!). Anywho, I managed to get it into my apartment (and it only fell
over on me once! - you would have died to see me sprawled out on my
livingroom floor with a tree on top of me and probably only my legs showing
from underneath it). I set it up in my little tree stand, then put on my
Celtic holiday music, and set to work decorating (well, more like bouncing
around the livingroom in pure childish joy, while occassionally stopping
long enough to hang up an ornament). Jugi watched from the couch, meowing
every now and then in comment over the placement of an ornament. As you can
see from the picture, Jugi tuckered himself out after the VERY draining task
of chasing a ladybug (off of the tree) around the livingroom until I finally
caught the buggy and set it loose outside (I am guessing it has now died of
hypothermia). Anyway, I finally finished decorating my tree, and the pic
with me in it (all sweaty, but glowing in pride) shows another shot of my
work.
So that was my day in short! :)
Otherwise, the semester is fast coming to a close (and I have waaaaaay more
studying to do than I will ever find time! - I just keep telling myself,
"Remember what Britt always said - 'C's get degrees'"). I have a final
midterm for my geochem class this Tuesday, and then several final projects
to finish and present the following week (and I have to finish some
evaporite sequence XRD analysis Tuesday afternoon - after the midterm - and
then go into work that night...ACK!). I actually only have "two" real
finals during finals week, which stinks because that means most of my stress
comes a week EARLIER than normal (as that is when all of the projects are
due). Anywho, I am also debating on how much of a masochist I am next
semester, and if I should go ahead and take ODE's (Ordinary Differential
Equations) and Physics 1 (again) together, or if I should drop one and save
it for next fall? I am still going to be trying to work nights and
weekends, so I am thinking that both classes together would kill me if I am
working too. Anywho, bleh!
I had a very nice thanksgiving spent with my wonderful friend, Elaina, and
her family (they have adopted me!). I spent most of Thursday
afternoon/evening over there, and Friday and Saturday with friends and Ryan
(god I love procrastinating on anything constructive!).
The best news of all (in my opinion) however, is that Ryan and I are moving
in (to my apartment) together in January! I am madly excited, and it will
be so wonderful to be with him. I keep meaning to send off a picture to
everyone, and I keep forgetting (sorry!). I promise I will get one out to
you all soon. Ryan told me to describe him as "tall, dark, and handsome."
*grin* I will agree with that! :)
Well, it's late, and I should get back before Ju decides to go tree
climbing. Love to you all! And for those of you in Oregon, I will regret
not being able to see you this year. I should be out (hopefully) sometime
this summer, so perhaps then?
Take care, and have an absolutely fantastic day!
Always,
Jillian
~

Finals sucked.

Here is a picture of what Ryan came home to last night (I got in about 15 minutes before him, after five straight hours of physics and math finalspractically back to back). I had my comfort toy dragon, Dido playing, and my comfort/protective foosa. Ryan said that Jugi looked at him as if to say, "She's had a LONG day. If you approach slowly and cautiously, I MAY let you near her."

The other picture is one of Jugi in sympathy exhaustion for me (or so he claimed).

Love,

Jillian

:)


~~
And of course there are a lot of other fond memories that are not contained in emails - stories like the time Jugi decided to climb up the chimney, and I ended up with a black cat instead of a white one! The ensuing bath left soot stains on the CEILING and clogged my shower drain for months afterward...or the time that Jugi (still unaware that kitties have poor traction on hardwood floors) was attempting to race around the house and then take a flying leap up onto the bed but INSTEAD (because he couldn't get the traction to leap) ended up flying under the bed and ricocheting off of the wall (poor thing...I was laughing so hard after I made sure he was ok!). Or the time he and Ryan were playing their usual pranks on each other (I'll never understand men!), and Jugi jumped up onto the bed, turned his rear end towards Ryan's face, and gave my husband an at-home "glaucoma test." You can't buy memories like that...*chuckling*


Here's to you, Jugi. We love you.



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Word Salad and Other Hazards

So conversations between my husband and me can be rather entertaining during his lunch breaks! Usually, around this time, both of our energy levels have plummeted, and we are tired and punchy. Here is a portion from yesterday's conversation:
*P.S. - I have been harassing Ryan about buying me a riding donkey - or stilts for Frieda - for YEARS now!*


Ryan: "So is there something small I can buy with our merchant card (so we don't get the monthly service fee)?

Jillian: "You mean like a RIDING DONKEY??!"

Ryan: "That's not something SMALL!"

Jillian: "Well, what about a LITTLE riding donkey?"

Ryan: "You have one. She's called FRIEDA!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Plant Parties...

A very interesting idea out of a magazine from the 70's on house plants. As an individual with a love of rare and exotic specimens (and who is quickly raising/accumulating far more plants than she will have the space for), this sounded like a good idea! It's along the same lines as the Avon/Tupperware/etc. parties. Only with plants. The good news is that if I did decide to re-popularize plant parties, there wouldn't be anything normal or boring about my available plant stock! ;)


Friday, October 16, 2009

I think it's about to attack the Enterprise...?

So I have decided to branch out into growing freaky cacti. No insult intended to the cacti - they only appear freaky to the uninitiated human! Yet again I have discovered the joys of bartering via craigslist (once again after filtering out the weirdos). This time I have managed to barter (1) cord of firewood for plants, split (no pun intended!) between two different parties. One very nice gentleman will be giving me an established plant of the fabulous Night Blooming Cereus. The other (also very nice) gentleman will be giving me two established plants of Cereus, and many cuttings (to begin my own plants!) off of his Dragon Fruit/Queen of the Night cactus plant.

Each will receive a 1/2 cord of firewood delivered to them in exchange. Who ever would have guessed that having four wretched house-denting oak trees could be such a positive asset (well, after they were cut down and chopped into firewood)! I am nearly bouncy with joy at the aspect of having REAL house plants! I told Ryan that I get very tired of having to constantly change out flowers in the vases around our house/B&B. And what will I do in the winter when there are no flowers??! Now, instead of vases on every table (which, in the summer, I am sure I will still have a few vases full of roses - only now I won't need quite so many to decorate with!), I can have freaky (but fascinating!) cactus plants! Honestly, this is much more fitting...
:)

To see pictures that other people have taken of these fascinating plants, click on the links below:

Night Blooming Cereus

Dragon Fruit / Queen of the Night

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's Growing on the Farm this Winter?...

Winter time is when the rare and exotic (for Oregon, anyway!) plants come out. Spring and Summer are usually entirely focused on culinary herbs and fruits and veggies for the garden. Late Winter/Early Spring is the time for grafting projects. Early Fall to Early Spring is when I start germinat
ing my rare/medicinal herbs and trees. I managed to barter via craigslist (which is a GOLD MINE if you can filter out the weirdo's) for two fabulous metal halide grow light systems (and made a wonderful new friend as a result of one trade!), and now I may have tracked down a person to barter with for some Night Blooming Cereus cactus, with a possible lead on where to track down some carrion flower plants! I am very excited! So, thanks to a loan from a very generous friend of two T5 flourescent lights to get my seedlings germinating (once they are big enough to be repotted, I switch them over to the metal halide lights), I currently have sprouting in my flats:
Mbuluki
Carob
Dessert Willow
Balm of Gilead (the actual herb, not the tree that commonly goes by that name)
Licorice
Balloonflower
Burning Bush
Yellow Gentian
Juniper
Bayberry
Baical Skullcap
Marsh Mallow
Empress Tree
Purple Coneflower
Gravel Root
Agrimony

Our Solarium is still being repaired, so in the mean time my little plant babies are housed on tables in my livingroom! I suppose it's a good thing that winter time is the slow season for the B&B business!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Life's Little Mysteries...

On a day when I was feeling a little blue at the winter lull, I received the sweetest (most random!) email from a woman working at the Santa Clara (CA) Chamber of Commerce. Here is what she wrote:

Hi, Ryan & Jillian,

Clicked on the link in todays edition of Travel Oregon & just spent my lunch hour reading you fab website & looked at ALL your pictures.

You have created a beautiful environment for yourselves & to share. Great decorating taste, too! Especially astonishing given your ages! Take care!

Good things happen when you least expect them. I need to remember on days like today that we have accomplished so much, and that there is no reason to be blue!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Donkalypse...

Donkeys are the type of animal that require a strict routine - and I mean strict! If you are off by even one minute, they will scream and carry on as though they are mere moments away from death and starvation. I love my donkeys! Donkeys are also one of the most thoughtful creatures in the universe. Every now and then, Cappuchino will quietly walk up to the house (our bedroom/bathroom window is roughly 20 feet from their pasture fence) and bray at the top of her lungs around 4:30-5 am. This is to make sure that we get up in time to feed her. She's really just helping us stay on schedule. I really do love my donkeys.

For the past 6 months, we had been feeding the animals every morning at 5:30 am sharp. Then, as winter set back in and the mornings grew darker and colder, I switched to feeding them at 7:30 am on the weekdays. The donkeys do not appreciate this one little bit. This morning, for instance, Cappuchino brayed at 4:30 am, trying to tell us that we should still stick to the old schedule - which worked better, according to her! Frieda was next, doing her demonic scream about 5:45 am. I love her. In any event, it's now 7:26 am - I have managed to hold out - but I need to go feed the donkeys soon before they manage to chew their way through the fence and overtake the hay pile.

It's off to morning chores!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Light at the End of the Tunnel...

I moved 7 (large wheelbarrow) loads of logs & mulch yesterday, and 7 loads of logs today. There are only three large logs left that need to be cut and moved, and then I can begin the task of rebuilding my raised bed! My licorice and saffron want their home back! With all of the mulch created from our recent tree removal, I have been able to mulch the walkways around my raised beds, so everything is beginning to look very nice. Spent last weekend weeding my medicinal herb bed, and may try to weed my culinary bed this weekend (it needs it!). The sunflowers are about ready to be harvested, and I have marshmallow and Empress Tree sprouts coming up in the nursery flats. Going to plant some juniper and bayberry seeds in outside beds soon too. Next big project: disassemble the old goat shelter and begin landscaping that area and the Secret Garden (which was basically massacred during tree removal)...there's always something to do around here.
I am going to be undertaking a large grafting project this winter: grafting 100 heirloom apple trees for our new orchard. I will also be propagating some heirloom roses, fig trees, and honeysuckle from cuttings. And here you thought winter was such a dull time of year!!
Have a pot of stew simmering on the stove right now: local organic beef, barley, and garden onions...can't wait for dinner! - Moving logs all morning is hard work!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hurry! Offer Ends Soon!...

Take advantage of the fabulous $84-per-night rate for the Duchesse de Portland Room! This price includes a private bathroom, delicious 2-course breakfast served on antique china & containing ingredients straight off of our dairy farm & garden, as well as access to our 800+ book library! The offer expires at the end of September, so you'd better hurry!

(And don't forget that the Apothecary Inn boasts 40 original oil paintings, sketches, and watercolors proudly displayed throughout the inn for your viewing pleasure!)
Progress...


Slowly but surely we are getting all of the logs cleared away from beside the Solarium. It's hard, back-breaking labor, but it needs to be done as quickly as possible! I want to get my third raised bed put back together so that I can (re)plant my madder, saffron bulbs, and licorice (all of which I had to dig up and put into pots for the tree removal last week). I recently planted some juniper and bayberry seeds, and will plant more in the coming weeks. I look forward to someday in the future being able to make my own bayberry candles! During a visit to Horizon Herbs yesterday to purchase some bloodroot rhizomes and more seeds, Ryan fell in fascinated love with a type of tree referred to as an Empress Tree, so we picked up a package of seeds for that as well. I have planted a few to see if I can get some to germinate before winter. Speaking of plants and winter, our contractor finally ordered the replacement parts for my Solarium! Instead of putting glass panels over half of the ceiling (and regular roof on the rest), we are going to make the entire ceiling be composed of glass panels. This will greatly improve my off season growing abilities, though it does mean that the house will tend to be hotter in the summers (but that's what heavy curtains and ceiling fans are for!). I am looking forward to having my Solarium back to normal!

Went to the town-wide Ruch Yard Sale (put on by the local Fire Department). It was an absolute blast, and we got some great deals! I managed to snag two original oil paintings (one is by a local artist of - I am pretty sure - McKee Bridge!), one sketch, and one original watercolor. Ryan picked up numerous tools and parts, and I also got about 100 1-gallon planting pots, which I was in desperate need of for my grafting project later this winter!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Planning For the Future...

I have wanted to put in an orchard on the back portion of our property pretty much ever since we moved here. The problem was that it already had a large shelter for animals, and the three boy llamas seemed to enjoy being over there. Now that we have the barn, I realized that I can move llamas around! We are going to move Dixie and Gloria into the angora pasture, and Marci will go in with Jeriko and Moonie (over by Punkin's pasture). Winchester, George, Judge, and Sweet Pea will go into the new pasture (we finally got the metal shelter set up and reinforced over there) next to the Apothecary Suite deck. Then, we will disassemble and move the old wooden shelter out of the back pasture, cut down the old oak tree (which needs to be removed anyway), and begin planning the orchard! I am going to graft apple and peach trees this winter on a large scale (as well as propagate some fig trees from cuttings!). This means we will have to wait a bit longer for our trees to "take" before planting, but it will be cheaper and SO much more worthwhile (as I will be able to tell people, "Yes, I grafted those trees myself! I remember when they were just pieces of rootstock and scion..." *dramatic sniffle*). I am really excited!! We are going to graft scion from all of our current heirloom apple trees (Cox's
Orange Pippin, Arkansas Black, Winesap, Fireside, Chenango Strawberry, & Cinnamon Spice), and I am also going to purchase some Ashmead's Kernal and White Pearmain. We want to raise exclusively heirloom apples. As I mentioned, we are also going to throw in some peach & fig trees! I honestly can't express how happy I am to begin this endeavor! It will be truly amazing to watch everything grow and take shape!

You Never Know What Will Hit You...

So we've kept on the quiet side (mainly because I think I'm still in a bit of shock!), but last week - during a particularly bad freak windstorm - we had a large (3 foot + diameter) oak tree fall on the living room area of our house...and by living room, I mean above my head (I was sitting on my couch at the time!!). The oak tree that sits between the Solarium and the deck cracked in half during this wind storm, and the top half hit the roof, and then slid down and crashed into the Solarium, almost completely obliterating it. I will never forget how LOUD it was! It sounded like a bomb exploding on the roof! I remember thinking, in the half-second before it hit the house, "Geez, that's probably 50 mile per hour wind! I hope the tree doesn't drop a branch on the roof!" And then WHAM! Some days, I wonder who I've pissed off...this tree incident was preceded by me slicing my finger open with a very sharp serrated kitchen knife (still haven't healed from that), as well as grating off another (tip of my) finger - same hand. Try preparing breakfast for guests when you're down to three working fingers!! Anywho, with the tree, the damage could have been a heck of a lot worse, so we were actually lucky. Because of the structure of our house, our roof is very strong, and the force of this enormous tree only cracked one roof joist (it's a three foot long crack though...pretty impressive!). The metal roof is completely messed up, and we will need to tear the entire roof off of that side of the house...and the Solarium will pretty much be entirely replaced. The tree crashed through the Solarium roof, broke the top windows, and completely bent the metal structure in and back. I'm actually secretly pleased that the Solarium will most likely be replaced...thankfully, we have amazing home insurance, and are completely covered! The remainder of the tree, as well as three others near the house, are going to be removed this Monday & Tuesday. The truly ironic part is that we had been planning to have these trees removed this month!!! I guess the oak just beat me to the punch...har de har har.
Frieda's Big Adventure
(First Published Summer 2008)


I found this the other day, and it brought back some fond memories of my darling donkey and me!...

Frieda wanted to go for a walk, so I put her halter on yesterday morning (while Ryan worked on some farm-related projects), and took her out of the pasture. She stopped at every spot of fallen hay particles to munch, so it took a while to get even a few feet. I let her be her donkey self - after all, neither of us were in a hurry. We hadn't seen each other all week, and I wanted to get in some quality time with my darling donkey. Finally, we started walking past the boutique, and Frieda's reflection freaked her out. The minute she noticed it, she jumped back as though it were about to attack her. Then, she carefully walked up and sniffed it. Finally, deciding it was not (at the moment) dangerous, we continued on. We walked a bit past the garage, wherein she spotted the llamas. In typical donkey fashion, she planted all four feet down, put her ears back, and did the "I do NOT want to have anything to do with those giant death monsters!!" stance. I managed to coax her, after a minute or two, to walk a few more steps. At this point, Gruff and Bartholomew raced up to the fence line to say hello. Frieda immediately bolted in fright, remembering at the last minute that yes, I was attached to the end of her lead rope, and stopped just short of having me fall on my face. She gave me a slightly apologetic, slightly "Can we go HOME now??!!" glance, and I sighed and told her that we could. She practically dragged me back to the donkey pasture, again frightening herself when she saw her reflection in the sliding glass door of the boutique. She was happy to be back in her safe, not-so-scary pasture. And that is my dearest donkey's Big Adventure for the week!

Frieda is also terrified of hawks.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Yes, Jillian, There IS A Santa Claus!

Dear Santa,

I have tried to be very good this year. Please send me an Omega grafting tool and some EMLA 7 Apple Rootstock, as well as a burr grinder (so that I don't have to keep going deaf attempting to use our old Magic Bullet). Ryan would like a cheese press, and please send some tuna for Jugi and some tasty molasses & apple cookies for Frieda. Thanks, Santa!

P.S. - If you could also send some spare elves to help out with the winter farm chores, that would be very much appreciated!!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Another Fabulous Review for the Apothecary Inn!

First, a note on ratings... I rarely give out 5 stars. 4 stars means I am VERY happy with a business, as is the case here, and highly recommend it.

I came across this place from a Craigslist search, and it's a great find. First, I'd suggest checking out their web site for much information about the B&B and what they are about... that will save me some explanation time:

http://www.apothecaryinn.com

- Property/Location
The property is great. It really is a working farm, with a variety of animals on the property, plus a couple of different gardens including an herb garden where some ingredients for their breakfasts come from. They also raise chickens, so the eggs are farm fresh. The are maybe 20 minutes or so from downtown Jacksonville, an easy drive. They are right in the middle of Applegate Wine Country, with many wineries very close by (including one right next door). There is a river nearby with a very nice swimming hole if you come in the hot summer, and it's a worthwhile diversion. Also nearby is Howling Acres Wolf Sanctuary, though that is maybe 20-25 minutes away.

- Rooms
We stayed in their more expensive room, which includes a hot tub on the deck.. and we used it every night. It was great... we were there in the summer, so it was too hot to get in during the day, but when it cooled off it was terrific. One of their Llamas would watch us from afar in the tub, which was funny. The bed was quite comfortable and the sheets and bedspread were very high quality. It was also furnished beautifully. There is a common room that is a sitting room with a nice library of books plus comfortable chairs to sit in, also furnished very nicely.

If you stay, be sure and look at their before and after photos of the property, they have done a beautiful job with it.

- Breakfast
In a word... great! We were there three mornings to enjoy breakfast, and it was always very good. It always included ingredients from their farm or garden, and it was always something unique and delicious.

- Hosts
Both Ryan and Jillian were warm and easy to be around. They were always busy during the day doing farm chores, and in the morning right after breakfast were very helpful with ideas on interesting things to see/do (the told us about the great swimming hole on the river) and wineries to visit.

If you come during the summer months, be sure and take in a show at the Britt festival in downtown Jacksonville, and/or a play in Ashland (maybe 45 minutes away).

I would stay there again, it was a great experience. Though we were headed to the Oregon coast after our stay and were excited to see the coast, we also were a bit sad to go. Well worth a trip.

See actual review on Yelp.com

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Musings on Future Plans for the Farm...

As the season begins to wind down into autumn and on to winter, it makes my mind turn towards the many projects we have planned both for this winter and next spring. Winter is a fabulous time to sit in front of a warm wood stove with a mellow lap kitty and plan out your projects for the coming spring! We are milking our does once more this month, and then they will be officially "dried off." September will mean breeding five of our does, which is always a bit of a crazy time trying to organize that! I am really looking forward to having 5 does on line next March...every year we get a little bit bigger on production, and a little more organized (imagine that!). Ryan plans to finally break down and get a cheese press this winter, so that he can begin making hard cheeses next year. We had bartered for a cream separator with one of our neighbors earlier in the summer, so I have been able to enjoy fresh cream and butter this year! I am going to miss our goats milk during the cold winter months! Though, I do have to admit that I dread baby season every year...all those nights spent staying up watching the barn camera, praying that there are no complications (I don't care how competent you are at assisting with deliveries - neither Ryan nor I relish having to stick our hands into goats...it does not rank high on my list of things I enjoy!)...this year we only had to assist with one goat. We lost two kids, which was terribly sad (one was a twin that was born so small and weak there was no chance of survival, despite our best efforts, and the other baby even the vet couldn't figure out what was wrong) - the other reason I don't look forward to baby season. I love goat babies, but I can't help feeling my stress levels rise at the thought of 5 goats kidding...it's worth it though, in the end - it always is! This year we will be breeding two first timers: Citrine and Poit (who was our first nigerian dwarf kid born on the farm!).

We extended our small orchard this past spring by planting 12 heirloom apple trees. I told Ryan that I want to start a small fig orchard, so we are planning on putting in at least 5 more fig trees (there are already 4 on the property) next spring. We will also put in a plum tree and two peach trees. Ryan is going to extend his hops garden further out (we'll be removing some diseased fruit trees from the back of the orchard this winter to make space for more hops). And speaking of trees, we are also getting three more trees removed from near the house (those three scary oak trees that are leaning over the Apothecary Suite). We are trying to wait until the end of tourist season, so that we don't have to lose out on a weekend booking to get the trees removed.

We are going to be putting in the final raised bed in our new herb garden as soon as the weather cools down again. Then, we will take down the old baby goat shelter, and landscape that area into a walkway leading to the future trout pond. We will probably begin work on the trout pond next spring. We have plans to expand our garden even further...each year we have more and more ideas about how to best utilize our space for maximum garden production! I have finished transplanting all of my plant babies into the new herb garden, so that they can get their roots established before winter. In about two weeks I will be putting in 24 saffron bulbs as well. I also ordered my fall herb seeds, so I will be planting juniper and bayberry (to name a few) soon. I have had the WORST time tracking down bayberry wax for candles, so I finally decided that I would just grow my own!

Even though the days are still incredibly warm, you can feel the chill in the air at night. It's time to begin thinking about getting a good pile of wood for the fireplace soon. Chopping wood in the snow (which I had to do about every other day last winter) is NEVER fun. I want to make sure that we have enough wood piled up that I don't need to do that! Someday, I would love to put a wood stove insert where the fireplace is located in the living room - then the house would REALLY stay toasty all winter long!

Well, I suppose that's enough musings for now...my coffee is finished and I guess that means back to work for this little farmer!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Country Comfort"

(Thank you, Bruce & Nancy, for this wonderful review! We're so happy that you enjoyed your stay with us!)

"We stayed three nights at the Apothecary Inn and enjoyed our breakfast meals each morning. The feeling inside is like taking a step into a gallery of collections of art and antiques and color. These hosts have put together a visual experience of the past .Outside the inn they have also raised miniature donkeys and goats on the property. On the surrounding grounds you can see where they grow the fruits and vegetables that are on your breakfast plate each morning. We had goat yogurt , homemade granola , fruit bowls, fresh muffins, petite baked coffee breads. We stayed in the smaller room which had a long cast iron bathtub--perfect for a relaxing soak complimented by homemade soaps and oils. My husband and I enjoyed the bath each evening , as we were on a working vacation in nearby Williams.The host Jillian and Ryan were very hospitable and took great care of our needs. We will definitely return back to stay at this inn."

Want to read our other reviews? Check them out at Trip Advisor!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Jacopo, Fall Harvest, Etc.

Jacopo is doing VERY well! She still needs to fatten up on her mom's milk, but she is a bouncy little terror with personality to spare! I love Zatarra (our other 2009 miniature donkey foal), but Zatarra doesn't have anywhere near the personality that "Jaca-poco" (her farm nickname) has! Jacopo has taken a liking to me, and comes running up to me whenever I go into the stall. Yesterday she even tried to follow me out when I was leaving! I love her!! As soon as she gets a little bit bigger, we are moving her in with Cappuchino & Zatarra, and combining two pastures into one large pasture (so that they all have room to play).



I can't believe it's almost September, which means Mabon - The Harvest Celebration! Interesting how you come to understand & celebrate the old pagan holidays when you are so attuned to the seasons as a farmer...I actually really enjoy this fact. My entire family (okay, all four of us) has been helping me to bring the beginnings of the harvest in! My enclosed patio has turned into a hodge podge of seed drying trays...I keep blatantly hinting at Ryan that he needs to get my new harvest/herb room built! He is going to build me tall shelves with pull-out trays for storing and drying seeds, and I am going to ask him to build me a book shelf along one wall and an apothecary-type of cupboard along another (hey, the Apothecary Inn gets an apothecary cupboard! Har de har har...). Our garden harvest (in regards to produce) wasn't as large as I had hoped, but I have come to see this year as more of a focus on saving seeds for next year's (bigger and better!) garden. We have already finished bringing in and drying the quinoa. Now we are separating the tiny grains from the rest of the plant, which is tedious work. Then, we will need to wash the grains repeatedly to get the coating of saponin off of them. My calendula finally went to seed (Calendula is FREAKY the way it goes to seed!), and is drying on dishes.

We finished harvesting all of the dill seeds, and I am on my second seed harvest of epazote...so much epazote...the basil seeds are drying, and I also have shallot seeds! Ryan and I are taking all of the black beans we picked this year and using them as seed beans for next year. Like I said, we are saving enormous numbers of herb and vegetable seed! My watermelons and squash are almost ripe, and I will be harvesting my oca and yacon in another 2 months or so. Next month, Ryan and I are planting 24 bulbs of saffron (roughly a year's supply of saffron for 1 household - though I doubt we'll use it all ourselves!), and I am also trying out some Salsify (the root is supposed to taste like oysters). We planted our fall crops of arugula, fennel, and kohlrabi - to name a few - at the beginning of the month. I am also busy drying medicinal herbs for storage through the winter, and kicking myself for not having my calendula/comfrey salve ready after my latest kitchen knife accident! Ah well...Ryan and I have decided to start selling our excess seeds under our Apothecary Farm name. I keep telling him I want to get a nursery license someday and start selling plants and such on a larger scale. I'm practically there anyway, and at the rate we are going it may be a necessity soon! :P

And of course harvest season means canning season! (As well as beer-making/liqueur-making
season!) I am going to pick another couple of gallons of blackberries tomorrow, and I need to pick a few more flats of peaches for canning/preserves before the season ends. My peach-rosemary jam, and my blackberry-basil-cinnamon jam have been in high demand at the B&B. It's been selling like crazy, and I can barely keep it in stock!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

APOTHECARY FARM JACOPO!

Circle C Chicklet gave birth to a beautiful foal last night at around 8:30 pm. This foal is charcoal gray with no light points. The name "Jacopo" comes from the Count of Monte Cristo. Our other miniature donkey foal from this year is named "Zatarra."

This marks the end of '09 baby season! We made it!! HURRAY!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Eight Hundred Books & Counting...

Ryan and I had a blast last weekend at this huge warehouse sale full of thousands of books! Apparently, these people bought out a used book store, and now, years later, were themselves trying to get rid of their stock. All hardcovers were $1, and all paperbacks were 50 cents! It was like going to heaven for Ryan and me!! We didn't have much money, so we couldn't snag as much as we wanted ("We'll take it ALL, please."), but we did get about 12 books on antiques, a gorgeous hardcover edition of Les Miserables, some classics not yet in our collection, a history of art, and many other interesting books. I also snagged two "collector" books (there was a fortune in antique books alone at this sale). One of them was printed in 1898, and in the inside front cover was signed by someone w/a quill pen and dated 1902! The other antique book I picked up was a school book on astromony from the early 1900's. It has a gilt-stamped picture of the sun on its cover. I love books...can you tell? ;) In some ways I hate having to run a professional B&B (and thus keep the house clean!), because there is nothing that makes me happier than having piles and piles of books in the livingroom, and sitting on the couch reading through each one. I guess, if given the opportunity, I would happily become one of those hermit-scholars whose house was crammed top to bottom with piles of books! I think I'm seriously on my way there at any rate...

In other news, we moved Madame The Chicklet (or "Chick-le-potomus" as Ryan likes to call her) into her foaling stall yesterday. Poor thing was totally freaked out at being separated from the other donkeys, but Cappuchino (Chicklet's best friend in the next stall/pasture) was over-joyed to see her buddy again. It was really cute. I am excited for Chicklet's foal ("Jacopo") to arrive!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

After Many Deep & Profound Brain Things Inside of My Head...

The above title is an example of irony, as it's 6 am and my coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

Even though today is Ryan's day off from work (and we don't have any B&B guests to worry about), we are still up early in the morning. The reason: we promised my Grammy we'd take her yard sale hopping today (or "slumming" as I like to refer to it) to get her out of the house and away from Grandpa. She's hoping to find a dresser, and Ryan and I are hoping to score so
me more books for our library.

I have started making some "Healing" salve this week. I have been harvesting calendula, comfrey, and chamomile in large amounts out of my garden this month, so yesterday I put 2 parts calendula/comfrey and 1 part chamomile in a jar with olive oil and set it in a sunny window. I will leave it there for three weeks, at which point I will strain out the herbs, mix it with Beeswax and a little Vitamin E, and have a wonderful skin-healing salve! I also need to get started on making my herbal shampoos (ro
semary) and facial toners (sage & apple cider vinegar). So much to do during harvest season! Speaking of harvesting, Ryan and I harvested our first crop of asian pears yesterday. So exciting! I love being able to live almost entirely off of our land!!

Well, on another note, Ryan and I made the first step toward expanding our art collection!! Those who have been to our B&B realize that we collect original oil paintings. I inherited an enormous number of original oil paintings from relatives several years ago, and Ryan and I have always said that we want to continue adding paintings to our collection. Because we are generally stretched to the wire money-wise, we really haven't been able to afford more than two paintings in the 3+ years we have been together. There was the oil painting of the old barn that Ryan bought for me for our first Christmas together! There's a sweet story in that painting: on one of our early dates, he took me to an art gallery (because I do so love paintings), and walked around with me and asked me which paintings I liked best and why...well, several days later, he went back to the gallery and bought the only painting that I liked that he could afford (he spent his entire paycheck! Lovestruck, anyone?) - a small oil depicting an old barn. He even got a chance to meet the artist while he was paying for it! So that was the first painting we bought (it now hangs over our bed in our "Innkeepers' Quarters"), and the second was a beautiful painting of a milk can with flowers that I saw & fell in love with at an antique store. Ryan didn't adore it the way that I did, but he let me buy it anyway. That one now hangs over my computer desk. Those were the only two paintings we had purchased thus far...well, last week Ryan and I went browsing at the Antique Mall in Medford, and fell in love with a GORGEOUS 7 foot long oil by YW Leung. I will forever remember the moment: I had been awestruck by the painting from the minute we walked into the booth. Ryan had been so focused on an antique knife on a stand under the painting (just like a man! *laughing*), that he didn't even notice the artwork. He said, "I love this knife!" and I replied, "I love this PAINTING!" At which point Ryan stepped back and looked up and gasped. That is the moment I will always remember. We both decided that we absolutely had to have it! This was the first time in our life that we BOTH loved a painting (it's usually just one or the other). The enormous oil is of a fleet of Chinese ships at sea, and the artist used reds and oranges in such a way (so it's either dawn or dusk) as to make it appear as though the ocean was on fire! And the painting is done in the style that I ADORE (the same as the "Three Ballerinas" in our dining room): big, thick brush strokes that look like chaos when you stand close, but from afar show an enormous amount of detail! The picture is going to look breath-taking on our deep red livingroom wall!! Anywho, the price was more than fair, but even so, we had to put it on layaway and will be making payments on it. I can't wait to bring it home!