Suburban Homesteading in Southwestern PA

By Stacy Artis

Just one more month until school starts.  Where has the time gone?  This summer has been more laid back for us than most and yet it seems to have passed more quickly.  Hmmm.  How in the space-time continuem does that happen?

Speaking of the end of summer....things are gearing up at work to get ready to bus the kids safely and efficiently.  I had my physical yesterday.  It went well except for another reminder that middle age is just around the corner.  They found my blood pressure to be borderline high.  Nothing to panic about yet.  I'm to check it a couple more times in the next week and then if it remains borderline, call my primary care physician.  In the meantime, I'm to avoid salt.  Ouch!  I love salt.  Always have and when I crave a snack it's nearly always a salty one.  Salt is to me what chocolate is to some women.  The good news is I had decided to get back on the diet wagon earlier in the week, so the added restriction will be one more healthy step.

Megan's 11th birthday was last Friday and we celebrated with a family party on Saturday.  About 20 came for pizza, cake, ice cream and swimming.  Meg had a great time and most of her gifts were clothes.  My mom also promised her a shopping trip this week and she got a good bit of cash, so she will be in good shape clothing-wise to begin her first year in the middle school.  It really helped out with money being tight and her having outgrown virtually everything from last year.

Sunday we drove to Adrien in Armstrong County.  It is not quite a two hour drive.  We took Matt to visit one of the boys that was in his cabin at camp.  He said he'd confirmed the visit, but the boy and his family weren't in church.  We had a nice time anyway.  It was a beautiful day and a nice drive.  We met some new people, found a place to have lunch, poked through a flea market and spent some time browsing through Barnes and Noble (I found a book on raising chickens in an urban setting that I've got to go back and get).

For the most part our weather has been beautiful.  Sunny, with temperatures staying right around the 80 degree mark.  The humidity is what has been fluctuating.  Some days it's so high I can't believe it isn't raining!  I've been having to water the flowers and plants for the first time all summer and will have to add water to the pool today if we don't get the showers the weatherman says are possible.  We could use it, but I'd rather it held off till later.  The grass is getting high and Matt and I plan to get our yard and my mom's mowed.  I'm really wanting to get it done, too, so I can put the clippings around the plants in the garden.

Pulled the last of the onions out of the ground last night and Tim put them with the others on wire shelving in the rafters of his workshop.  Picked the first four strawberries.  Not much but I'm tickled.  I only planted a dozen little half-dead plants that I really didn't think would make it.  They are starting to put out nice trailers.  The tomato plants are loaded with fruit, but no ripe ones yet.  We've picked some green peppers already and the hot ones are ready to pick.  And they are hot!  Blister your mouth, numb your lips, hot.  Not at all what I wanted.  I'm really disappointed that the plants were mislabled when I bought them.  Now I need recipes to use them up.  Maybe for salsa and that type of thing.  We have friends that love hot stuff and it would make good Christmas gifts.

My wish for a good deal on cucumbers came true.  An older man we know who still plants his garden like his family was living at home and running the farm, gave us a whole lot of cukes for free!  I have two batches of Crystal pickles started, we've been eating cukes sliced and in salads, I shared them with the neighbors, the chooks have had a taste and I still have some.......with the promise of more to come if I want them.

Now that the chickens are finally letting their feathers grow in we're pretty sure we have at least three roosters.  Those will be heading to the soup pot in maybe another month.  Tim has drawn up plans and is going to get started on the second coop and run so we are going to go ahead and order more chicks.

Matt should be home from his friend's soon (he spent the night) so I'm headed out to start on the grass.

Carpe diem!