The JARR Farmhouse Revisited

 

What a difference three months can make! For everyone considering, attempting, or winning at urban homesteading, here are some things to consider from “a house of four women who are completely unqualified farmers” but are having a go anyway, sharing inspiration and creative tips for container gardening and other homestead adventures direct from the southern California quarantine.

In April, the planter beds and containers were set up, the soil prepared, and the sowing commenced. See the previous post for our “before” photos. A lot of new skills came into play during May, June, and July, and now it’s time for the summer harvest. Let’s see how the ladies managed.

  1. Remember this lil chick? She was a dude. Four hens came home. One was an imposter and crows now.

    Are we planting flowers or fowls?

    Claudius Maximus Caesar is a lavender orpington. Attitude sold separately.

    Pika is a pheasant cochin, Mochi is a blue leghorn, and Boo is a blue plymouth. They trade manure and eggs for leftover garden produce and bugs. Win, win.

  2. Chickens here require a coop built like a maximum detention facility. Suburbia is no barrier to critters like coons, possums, snakes, weasels, bobcats, coyotes, hawks, skunks, and toddlers, all of whom love to ruin months of hard work in a single night. Build it, and they will come. Search my blog for other stories on chickens.

    Extra points for cuteness. This went inside a larger, chain-link enclosure.

  3. Speaking of extra, the watermelon patch has taken over most of the yard. The first five seeds were planted in April. Nothing happened. They planted another five seeds in May. Nothing sprouted. They bought watermelon seedlings and then it rained. Fifteen watermelon plants later, they could open a corner farm stand and sell melons if they wanted to. For now, they are making friends and influencing people with them. Smart business ladies.

    Summer picnic time!

  4. That one rain is a good reminder about SoCal: we have to water our yards and gardens. We live in a desert. But we are in denial. The spring months were unseasonably cool but by the end of July, the hot spells rolled in. Either way…we have to get out there and water the garden or lose everything. Here you can see the block planter with herbs gone to seed, the shelf planter with greens gone to bunnies (they jump? who knew?) and only part of the rioting watermelon patch.

    Planter mosh pit.

  5. Rows of corn planted along a fence grew to different heights, based precisely on how much sun vs shade they received during the day. Lesson: more sun = taller corn. Taller corn = more ears.

    Growing gold.

  6. The pumpkins fared well, although we are nowhere close to Halloween. Lesson: plant them in the summer for a fall harvest. Also: chunk them into the InstantPot and make homegrown pumpkin pies now because yum.

    Smallish but tasty.

  7. The rest of the garden grew nicely. The cucumbers and peppers are ready. Fresh salad greens came through quickly around the end of May and were afterward left to the bunnies. Late July is when tomatoes are bursting. The butternut squash were delicious.

    Chili pepper poppers, anyone?

    Little cuke cuties!

    Cheery cherry tomatoes!

  8. Last, but not least, we had a peek at the fruit trees in pots. I was a bit skeptical, but here’s proof that you don’t need a yard to harvest trees. These would fit on an apartment balcony.

    Meyer lemon tree. Harvest in winter.

    Mission figs. They will turn a glorious purple later.

Rock On, My Peeps

 

There came a moment in the spring of 2020 when all of the planet took a time-out. In this sabbath hush, the earth could be heard breathing. In order to better hear it, everyone stepped outside and walked the dusty soil, admired her fragile blue-green beauty, felt her pulse, and embraced all humanity as family.

Okay. It may have been a tadsy bit difficult to continue our faith in humanity. To trust that others will also think of others. To believe that tiny gestures of faith can change the world.

Here in San Diego, I discovered evidence that many gave it a go. And I salute them.

We are blessed to live next to some fabulous hiking trails and we wander them almost daily. A favorite walk of mine is a nice, flat 5K that is wide enough to let me take evasive action if I see snakes or non-mask wearing humans. Hubby always wants to hike in new different directions. He says he is bored with the same old gorgeous view and needs a fresh one. He wants to walk the wild side and go uphill. As if life wasn’t already uphill both ways in four feet of snow.

And so, my favorite walk, in imminent jeopardy of becoming “boring”, was saved when the art began to appear. Paintings left along the path, mysteriously detailed on rocks. And just as mysteriously, disappearing again. I was fascinated and had I not taken photos, would not have proof they were there. It was like discovering my own whimsical outdoor art gallery and it brought a smile to my face every time I uncovered one.

Turns out, these little gems were shifting around on purpose. Just like a Bible school project I’d covered in a newsletter last year, they were part of a larger movement where rocks are painted and then left for people to find and hide again as way to inspire communities with random acts of kindness, like rainbows or teddy bears in the windows did.

It’s a shame they had to move, though. I’m sure the art was relocated to another trail to inspire the next person. Ahem.

So it works, people. But they are gone and nothing has replaced them, and I wonder whether you would be interested in painting a few for me? I have two left thumbs but I sat down and made a couple of little trail buddies, although everyone knows I am not to be trusted with paint. Or glue. Or glitter. It mostly stayed on my hands…

Help a girl out. Let’s change the world.

If I can do it, anyone can!

I could attempt this abstract. I’m calling it “The Purple People Eater”.

Oh. My. Word. Cuteness.

A classic, with a message for our times. There are a lot of unsung heroes among us.

Mandala, inspiration for intentional, thoughtful steps forward.

My spirit rock. Inspires automatic social distancing while maintaining a sense of humor.

Alright, who invited the Canadian?? 

The strawberry is what’s left of an entire fruit salad, which was my favorite. There was also a hotdog here at one point. Hard not to reach for these treats!

This one I call, “Sally Sweet”, portrait of a tough gal full of vision and endurance who carries the sunshine with her. Be like Sally.

The Toilet Paper Explained

A long time ago (beginning of March), in a galaxy far away (across town), I made a run to Costco (Ground Zero). This is usually Hubby’s job but my super efficient self had to get gas anyway. I pulled into a front row parking spot that sunny morning, congratulating myself on arriving before opening hour and turned on the radio for a rare five minutes of relaxation. I thought it was odd to see a crowd gathered near the warehouse doors on a Tuesday, but with Costco you never know. I shrugged a couple of minutes later, gathered my shopping list and headed over to stand with the happy campers and stare at the rollup doors the way my cat stares down a can of tuna.

The woman closest to me gave me funny look. Not a happy one. Like maybe my fly was down or I had mustard on my face. I looked around and realized that she was the line leader for everyone there. Behind her stretched a trail of people gripping empty shopping carts down the entire length of the building. Huh? Since when does everyone get in line? Costco is famous for the wide open cattle range that it is. Every man for himself. It works.

Not on her watch.

I glanced to my left and a gentleman stood there with an amused smirk and crossed arms and I copied him and got myself comfortable. People are weird.

“I’m not getting in line,” I told him. “There’s enough stuff for an army in there, what’s the rush?”

At opening time, another amazing thing happened. From the exit door, three employees walked out and, facing the line of customers, held up their cell phones and began to shoot video. They shook their heads in disbelief as the line began to move into the bowels of the store. The employee who opened the door began calling out to the passing people, “Take your time, folks, there’s plenty for everyone. Be polite, please. Thank you for staying calm.”

What in the world? It must be quite a sale. Too bad whatever it was wasn’t on my list.

With one raised eyebrow, I followed the last of the line into the store. No. That’s not true. I waited for the end of the line to show up and it didn’t. The whole parking lot was migrating towards me now, so I just waved my card and conducted business as usual. All aboard.

I zipped up the sidelines where no shoppers ever linger. I’m no amateur. Tossed the goods into my cart without skipping a beat, which is how I always shop. Get in. Get out. Tea time.

I came skidding around a corner five minutes later, halfway done, and darned if the line was still in formation and stretched in the opposite direction, the length of the warehouse. Perfectly serious faces, perfectly empty carts.

“Excuse me,” I mumbled at the line. I was monitored from all directions as they let me through.

“Get some more troopers back there,” an employee hissed into his walkie, scuttling by.

I craned my neck in a brief attempt to understand when Karen plowed triumphantly by, her cart full to overflowing with…toilet paper. If you are unfamiliar with a Costco-sized package of toilet paper, just know that it takes only two to prevent all further items going into your cart. These tissue towers won’t even fit under the cart. Karen had three and the front basket where the babies go was stacked with sanitizing hand wipes. The look on her face implied she was only warming up, but where was she going to put her groceries? Down her bra?

The next man went by with a Jenga-worthy stack in his cart and I heard him say, to no one in particular, “I own a business.” His tone was defensive.

Then a little old lady passed me and saw my shocked face. She only had a single plushie in her cart but said apologetically, “Well, I don’t really need any but if this is the way things are going, I may as well get me some now.”

I had no clue what was going on. I did not get this memo. I was a little freaked out.

I flung the rest of my groceries into the cart and dashed to the check-out where I had the place to myself. That alone is a creepy experience. The clerk behind the beep beep machine wore a resigned look. One braced for the inevitable. Long suffering and just a bit in shock.

“What?” she said, scanning items, “no toilet paper?” I gripped my cart in an effort to remain calm. Was I making a terrible mistake?

“What’s happening?” I asked her under my breath, not sure I wanted to know.

She stopped scanning and just stared at me. There was no one else in line. She leaned forward and said, “Well, I’ll tell you. Last week, three of our trucks were stalled out east due to bad weather. Happens all the time. These just happened to contain our toilet paper. So, for a couple of days, there was a big empty space where it goes.” She stood taller. “It’s not like we weren’t going to get it any minute, we had to keep the space open.”

I thought for a beat. Costco never has empty spaces. Product is continually shifted to maximize sales.

“Anyway,” she continued, as she swiped my items from left to right, “A rumor went around that there was a shortage. So when the trucks finally arrived, there was a run on it.” She paused. “I get it if people were out but I mean, you can buy the stuff anywhere. We all decided they must just love our brand or whatever, but it’s happened every single day since. Cleaned out faster than we can put more on the pallets. No reason why. We have plenty. We won’t run out.”

She looked towards the cattle drive and shook her head. “Do you need boxes today?”

I declined her offer, thanked her, and bolted.

I was almost to my car and a lady went by and laughed, “What? Where’s your toilet paper?”

I was prevented from replying because three different cars were inches from my body, poised to take my spot as soon as I pulled out. The parking lot resembled Disneyland on a get-in-free day. A steady surge of humanity kept flowing into the warehouse, trapped in the toilet paper tractor beam.

At this point, you have to know some things. One, I did not in any way need toilet paper. And two, I was contemplating unloading my groceries into my car and going back for some because I didn’t want to get left behind. I felt deprived, anxious, needy, and fearful of the future.

“What if? What if?” asked my mother’s voice.

Well, I answered, “if we need some, we’ll buy it at the 7-11 on the corner. If the planet runs out, squirt bottles for everybody.” It was time to go home.

Ewww,” said the voice.

“The Europeans are way ahead of us as it is. Hush.” I sat in the car and took a nice deep breath. “And if we didn’t need any, then everyone here is going to feel a bit silly a month from now.”

Ahem.

The Bottomless Bookshelf

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

C. S. Lewis

Originally published in September, 2016, the following “recommended booklist” was a collaboration in progress until I created my Facebook Group, “Jolie Tunnell’s Earlybirds“. I wanted to set up a place where we could, together, create an interactive, ongoing list of favorites to share and a one-click way to pursue the books online.

Please come over and join the party! I check it every day and add fun things all week long.

If Facebook is not your jam, please add your favorite titles to the comment box below, with your opinion if you like.

Thanks for visiting. Don’t let your tea get cold. Happy reading.

Fiction, Chick Lit/Romance

  • Alcott, Louisa May: yes, girlfriend, warm my heart
  • Allende, Isabel: “magical realism”? Zorro is awesome
  • Austen, Jane: P&P forever! Team Darcy
  • Bronte, Charlotte: Jane Eyre, great book, heroine needs to pull it together already
  • Chevalier, Tracy: Girl With a Pearl Earring
  • Evanovich, Janet: all numbered Stephanie Plum books
  • Golden, Arthur: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Griffin, Emily: I’ve enjoyed a few
  • Jackson, Helen Hunt: Ramona
  • Kinsella, Sophie: the Shopaholic Series
  • Meyer, Stephanie: I know, I know…don’t judge. Team Edward though
  • Mitchell, Margaret: Gone With the Wind
  • Penman, Sharon Kay: historical, medieval England and France
  • Ripley, Alexandra: Scarlett. Because we want to know if he gave a damn
  • Rowling, JK: she’s my hero
  • Tolkien, JRR: because of course

Humor

  • Barry, Dave: the man’s hysterical
  • Bombeck, Erma: the lady’s hysterical
  • Bryson, Bill: A Walk in the Woods
  • Larson, Gary: The Far Side cartoons
  • Lawson, Jenny: Furiously Happy
  • McManus, Patrick: backwoods humor
  • Twain, Mark: every single thing he ever wrote
  • Watterson, Bill: Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, must read

You Thought These Were Kid Books: Wrong

  • Bagnold, Enid: National Velvet
  • Barry, Dave & Pearson, Ridley: Peter and the Starcatchers series
  • Burnett, Frances Hodgson: Secret Garden, A Little Princess
  • Burnford, Shelia: The Incredible Journey
  • Carroll, Lewis: Through the Looking Glass
  • Farley, Walter: Black Stallion series
  • Goldman, William: The Princess Bride in book form knocks my socks off
  • L’Engle, Madeline: her books are actually multi-level
  • Lovelace, Maud Hart: Heaven to Betsy series
  • MacLachlan, Patricia: Sarah Plain and Tall series
  • Milne, AA: The House at Pooh Corner, etc.
  • Montgomery, LM: Anne of Green Gables series
  • O’Brien, Robert: Mrs Frisby & the Rats of NIMH
  • O’Dell, Scott: Island of the Blue Dolphins, Zia
  • Sidney, Margaret: Five Little Peppers & How They Grew
  • Sewell, Anna: Black Beauty
  • Spyri, Johanna: Heidi
  • Suess, Dr: UCSD dedicated to this guy
  • White, EB: Charlotte’s Web, Trumpet of the Swan
  • Wilder, Laura Ingalls: Litte House on the Prairie series
  • Williams, Margery: The Velveteen Rabbit, be real
  • Wyss, Johann: The Swiss Family Robinson

Great Literature

  • Cooper, James: The Last of the Mohicans. You. Will. Cry.
  • Dickens, Charles: all of him, A Tale of Two Cities is my favorite
  • Dumas, Alexander: this series blows me away every time
  • Homer: The Odyssey
  • Hugo, Victor: The Hunchback of Notre Dame sadness
  • Kipling, Rudyard: he who makes India look like an exotic flower
  • Melville, Herman: Moby Dick, I even liked the chapters on whales
  • Scott, Sir Walter: Ivanhoe YES YES YES
  • Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis: Jekyll/Hyde, Treasure Island, Kidnapped
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Mystery, Drama, Horror, Tense Fiction

  • Caine, Hall: The Bondman
  • Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness
  • Courtenay, Bryce: The Power of One
  • Doyle, Arthur Conan: Holmes is a master
  • King, Stephen: excellent formula writer, hard to critique his predictability when it made him rich…
  • Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein, original in claymation
  • Stoker, Bram: yep, the original Dracula was pretty good

Poetry

  • Silverstien, Shel: Where the Sidewalk Ends, etc. The Giving Tree is epic.

Philosophy, Psychology, Business

  • Adam, Grant: Originals, how non-conformists move the world
  • Blanchard, Kenneth: The One Minute Manager
  • Brown, Brene: Daring Greatly, Rising Strong
  • Canfield, Jack: Chicken Soup for the Soul series, there’s almost too many of them
  • Carlson, Richard: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
  • Carnegie, Dale: How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • Covey, Stephen: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Duhig, Charles: The Power of Habit
  • Gilbert, Elizabeth: Eat, Pray, Love (good), Big Magic (meh)
  • Hatmaker, Jen: For the Love
  • Klein, Gary: Seeing What Others Don’t
  • Johnson, Spencer: Who Moved my Cheese?
  • Og, Mandino: The Greatest Salesman in the World
  • Rubin, Gretchen: Better Than Before
  • Tharp, Twyla: The Creative Habit
  • White, Kate: I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This (for Gutsy Girls)

Nonfiction Adventure

  • Corbett, Jim: Man-Eaters of Kumaon
  • Dineson, Isak & Blixon, Karen: Out of Africa
  • Gibson, William: The Miracle Worker
  • Herriot, James: All Creatures Great & Small series
  • Hillenbrand, Laura: Seabiscuit
  • London, Jack: all his wild and snowy stories
  • Mortenson, Greg: Three Cups of Tea
  • Thomas, Lowell Jackson: With Lawrence in Arabia
  • Washington, Booker T: Up From Slavery

Fathers Day Hotline 2020

Good morning and welcome to the First Ever Fathers Day Hotline.

Please listen carefully as we have never tried this before.

If you never listen, please press buttons at random.

We understand. Drive this like a remote control race car down the Santa Monica freeway. Your Fathers Day, your rules.

If you need a pat on the back, please press one.

If you’re not sure how to explain your Dad job, please press two.

For a better understanding of this delicate interplay of fatherhood, please press three.

If you need a reminder that this dad gig is for life, please press four.

For a quick supply of Dad Jokes, please press five.

If you’re wondering whether or not to get a “Dad Bod”, please press six.

For a list of things Dads should never say, please press seven. (For things husbands should never say, press seven and a half. You’re welcome.)

If you’re raising daughters, please press eight.

If you’re raising sons, please press nine.

Thank you for calling the Fathers Day Hotline. Enjoy your family. You are their Hero.

How To Pick Your Perfect Pandemic Pet: A Quiz

So far, this year has been the strangest ever and I find myself doing absurd things and passing them off as normal. For example: I have a kitten now.

Pre-pandemic saw me pet-free for a solid twenty years. Why have animals when you have five kids, amiright? Post-pandemic finds me desperate to keep those kids somehow occupied long enough for me to throw a frozen pizza into the oven and open a bottle of pinot grigio. Do NOT talk to me about how these kids are in their twenties. Some things never change.

The kitten was an impulsive decision made in a fifteen minute window wherein I was not thinking clearly but I have to admit, my kids are flocking around this little fluff ball and our long afternoons are now filled with entertaining shouts of, “Look out, it’s crawling under the dresser!” “What’s that in the litter box?” and “Is it supposed to claw my hand into shreds while it drinks the bottle?”

I’m sure I’m not alone when I ask the question: What was the right pet for our family? And is it too late?

If you, too, are feeling like 2020 is the perfect year to bring a new pet into your home, take this handy quiz to discover if you are crazy which pet is your purr-fect pandemic partner.

PICK-A-PET QUIZ

1. Once the work from home orders lift, will your new pet still be able to bite your toe/climb into your pocket/beg for treats whenever the mood hits? What level of interaction do you anticipate having with your pet?

 
 
 
 

2. Look around you right now. Are you quarantined in the city? The country? Your parent’s basement? How much space can you devote to the new tenant?

 
 
 
 

3. Grocery shopping for kibble, mealworms, or live rats might be fun, but either way the food to poop ratio breaks even. How much scat do you want to work with?

 
 
 
 

4. Pets are living creatures. Usually. How many dollars have you put aside for vet bills, so the pet will remain that way?

 
 
 
 

5. What, in your opinion, is the perfect name for your new pet?

 
 
 
 

The One For Vi

I know four ladies in the same family, each a generation apart from the next, something like dominoes or nesting dolls, each individual contributing to the larger fun of the game. They are each a hoot.

But would not necessarily be pleased that I told you so.

Particularly Vi, the oldest of the bunch. If you take Vi out to breakfast she will pay. She will ask the waitress to make her coffee extra hot and send it back if it’s not. She takes her coffee the way she takes her life in general: bold enough to make you sit up straight and pay attention. None of this sugar and milk nonsense.

These four generations of ladies share a common denominator or two, and the most entertaining one is their general stubbornness, or as I prefer to call it, “the determination to go forth and conquer”.

I have a separate relationship with each of them and whether I tell a story on the one year old or the 84 year old, the other generations smile and nod and insist “isn’t that just like her mama!”.

Yes. Yes, it is.

In 2014, Ronda, Vi’s daughter, asked me to write something up and speak at Vi’s funeral services. Not that Vi was feeling poorly, mind you. But Ronda wanted to be prepared. In 2015, Vi asked me if I would write up a little something for her funeral. Not that anything was amiss. But you never know.

I laughed and offered a compromise. “Vi,” I said, “Instead of waiting till later, how about I write about you now? That way, you can make sure it’s accurate.”

This pleased her, of course. Not that my writing is objectionable.

Vi was in hospital frequently over the last few years because her blood pressure refused to cooperate and it sent her into fainting spells. I asked her to make me a blog about her experience there. She was delighted at the prospect and was as helpful as possible. She would tell me all of the horrible things the doctors did to her each day and finish with, “You know you can’t write that, right? Don’t you dare put that in your blog.”

“But Vi!” I insisted, “I can make you famous! I can make you a rock star!”

She laughed but she wasn’t buying it. She retained full veto power and wielded it from her perch on the pillows until there wasn’t a hospital story left.

I’m still not sure what, exactly, a smart lady like Vi saw in a silly thing like me, but I suppose if she was willing to have me in her hospital room while total strangers worked her over with instruments of torture, she considered me “in”. With a wink and a nod one day, she informed me that calling for an ambulance brought dashing young men right into her house to tend her with first class service. “So much nicer than driving yourself,” she insisted, “that’s the way to go.”

I might try fainting myself sometime, to see how that works.

Vi’s family was everything. We passed the time talking about them. She took great delight in the fact that I was a nanny for her great-granddaughter and listened forever to my stories about “that little toot”, as she called her.

I finally wrote her blog, “Elderflowers and Rosebuds”, to celebrate the connection between generations and the love and hope that is passed down from grandparents to toddlers. It was a subject we were both passionate about. Please read it.

Vi passed away last week at 93 years young. The eldest of these four precious women went on her own terms, in her own bed at home, and will be missed dearly. There has been a lot of loss lately, in case you haven’t been watching out your window. And no one is having funerals.

We all need somewhere to put our grief. Here is my little piece of comfort. Feel free to add yours below.

Knock Knock

Do you know what happens when you self isolate at home? You spend a lot of time staring out your windows, looking for freedom. Instead, you notice things you never noticed before. And because you have the clear understanding that you will continue to stare out this particular window for literally ever into the murky future, you discover something that bothers you. A tiny thing that makes you crazy as time marches on.

You will have to make it go away.

We have acorn woodpeckers that use our palm trees as long term storage facilities. They fly in with a single acorn in their beak and proceed to ram said acorn into the tree. As hard as they can. Wherever it will fit. I don’t know why the acorn isn’t accidentally rammed down their throat in the process or why they don’t have a profound headache afterward. When we trim the palms, bushels of acorns fall out of the frond pockets, exploding like a piñata (Exhibit B). These birds will spend the following days patiently retrieving every single acorn from the ground and ramming it right back into the trees.

I like birds. I’m happy for their stash. If things go south, I will rob their cupboards and make acorn griddle cakes like the native Kumeyaay tribes. But this spring, they went a step too far and began ripping a hole right into the trunk. A big hole, a bird-sized hole,  a community-sized hole with a billiard room attachment (Exhibit A). And this tree is miles tall.

The internet told me to hang sparkly things in the trees to discourage the birds, but all I had at the moment I snapped were shopping bags. I lifted the bags up on the end of a pole and hung them in the shortest palm. They flapped around in the breeze and the woodpeckers spent 24 hours cussing me out before remembering the malls are closed. Then they went back to business.

I replaced the bags with a surprise birthday party. 24 hours later, they were out there singing along with me and doing the limbo rock.

I replaced the birthday party with Christmas decorations. The floating tinsel kept them away for three days before they decided to fill the trees with presents.

I replaced Christmas with floating mylar balloons on a looooong string. This seemed to do the trick. By now, the woodpeckers were out of cuss words and stopped working on the giant hole. But the helium won’t last forever.

If they come back, I have CDs of really bad movies ready to hang. After that, honestly, I’m going down to the local JiffyLube and borrowing their floater guy. You know the one:

Oh yeah. This’ll work. Dance Party.

The woodpeckers have a lot of housing and cupboard options, including Hollywood. Don’t feel sorry for the little vandals. They sit at the top of the cypress tree and laugh at my shortness and wonder when I’m throwing the next party.

I wonder how they feel about disco balls? Lasers? Fog machines? I know a guy with a drone…

Who’s there?

This means war.

Hot pockets. Piñatas full of acorns. Thousands of acorns!

Logical. Everybody hates shopping. Will keep you from pinching free samples.

Fine. Happy Birthday from the ground!

This Is Not Your Happy Place!

Mother’s Day Hotline 2020

Good morning my dears and here are some cheers for the Mothers Day about to arrive.

No need to fret that the mall’s not open yet or the family has nowhere to drive.

Buying diamonds online is so unrefined, though flowers from the lawn might do.

But laughing is free and we always have tea, so relax with this bit just for you.

Good morning and thank you for calling the Mother’s Day Hotline.

Please listen carefully, as our menu has definitely changed. Who are we kidding?

The planet has definitely changed.

If you were the perfect mom….until you had kids, you’d better press 1.

If you feel like crying along with your toddler, press 2.

If you just need to unwind (un-wine?) with a girlfriend, press 3.

If you need to explain “boredom” to your middle school kid, please press 4.

If “distance learning” is now part of your life, please press 5.

If you are raising teenagers, please press 6.

If you need a heartwarming reminder that it will all be okay, press 7.

If you are the kid and need ideas for your own mother, better press 8.

If you are parenting fur-babies, please press 9.

If you need a reminder that you are rocking this mom gig, please press the pound key.

Thank you for calling the Mothers Day Hotline. Enjoy your tea. Be kind to yourself. Breathe. You are loved.

(We’re having a special this year on last year’s Hotlines! To access previous Mothers Days, please press here: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016)

The JARR Farmhouse

The JARR Farmhouse comes to us from “a house of four women who are completely unqualified farmers” but post regularly on Instagram anyway, sharing inspiration and creative tips for container gardening and other homestead adventures direct from the southern California quarantine.

If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air to take your mind off the kinda-spooky-never-ending rain, the longer-than-humanly-possible house arrest, and the you-don’t-know-who-coughed-on-that produce aisle, look no further.

Whether you have a jar of dirt or an acre of land, you too can grow fresh produce with a little ingenuity and patience. The way these ladies figure it, if they can do it, so can you. The idea behind this style of gardening is to keep pests to a minimum and the planters movable.

Here are today’s tips for tomorrow’s harvest.

Cinderblock containment.

Cinderblocks make fast, easy garden boxes. Plant flowers (marigold, chrysanthemum) and herbs (rosemary, lavender) that repel pests in the holes and fill the center with your soil and root plants like potatoes, ginger, and onions. Using cedar wood shavings as mulch is also a natural pest deterrent. If gophers are a problem in your area, lay down a sheet of welded wire first, then edge with blocks and fill with soil. If you need to add a cage to keep the deer, rabbits, birds, or raccoons out, the cinderblock is a sturdy base for your tent poles and chicken wire.

Cinderblock and planks.

Green goodness.

Add a few planks to the cinderblock and take your planting vertical. In the base is your watermelon and pumpkins (they will grow out beyond the base) and layered on the benches are a variety of containers. A smaller version of this idea is placing the containers in your sunny kitchen windows. Most pests have a hard time reaching anything up high like this. Leafy salad greens don’t require a lot of root space and can be planted in more shallow containers. Root crops like carrots, radishes, and beets need more soil to grow in, so choose deeper pots. The ladies plan a trip to the second hand shop as soon as it opens to scout for fun containers. Personally, I like teapots and old work boots as planters. You do you.

Climbers need a grip.

Any of your climbing viney crops, like peas, cucumbers, and runner beans are planted next to anything that will hold their weight when they produce. It can be a simple as this twine lattice or as sturdy as a chain link fence you have along your yard. You can repurpose everything from an old ladder to a pallet for your climbing garden.

Wheelbarrow berries.

Nobody loves strawberries more than slugs and snails. An elevated planter, without obvious paths to the prize is a genius solution. Strawberries are also happy in hanging containers and don’t need much room. Keep your delicacies safe from tell tale holes and eat the berries yourself!

Sprouting jars.

Chia, barley, and wheatgrass seeds lend themselves to making sprouts in jars. They make a great salad topping and green smoothie goodness. For tips on sprouting, see my blog here.

Mobile munchies.

Some plants demand containers. Really. If you are unsure of your eco zone, especially if you are chasing the sun as the seasons turn, putting your tree in a pot makes sense. This is a dwarf nectarine. Move the pot to meet the sunshine or avoid a heavy frost. Most varieties of berries and mint are downright invasive if not kept in a pot. You were warned.

Coming soon…!

No way am I leaving without showing you this little fluff. In a future blog, we will devote ourselves to chickens and other critters, the other fun parts of The JARR Farmhouse as it evolves. Have yourself a happy little garden, even if it’s a pansy in the window. Be sure to follow @the_jarr_farmhouse on Instagram to watch the crops come in.

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. Genesis 1:11