Monthly Archives: May 2014

Rainy Morning Ramblings…

Ever have one of those mornings where all you want to do is sit? I look around and see the kitchen table scattered with books, Wal Mart bags of groceries still needing to put away (hey, props for getting the cold stuff in the fridge right away), various soaps to smell and wrap for sale, papers galore (mostly soap recipes and “to do” lists that never got checked off because a newer better list was made when they got lost), and various cups and bowls (why we can’t each use our own same cup for the whole day traces its roots back to germaphobe tendencies).

But…the windows are all wide open and the rain is steadily falling and creating a rhythmic song that dulls my sense of sight and heightens my sense of hearing.

Rainiy morning view from our kitchen table...

Rainiy morning view from our kitchen table…

Disengaging my eyes, my ears take over and set my head against a lose fist with elbow propped up on one small open spot on the table I cleared just seconds ago.

Notebook and pen…check.

Cup of coffee…check

Engage coffee break… check! What am I taking a break from you ask? I don’t know… it was tough coming down those bedroom stairs and I gave the dog a bone. That totally deserves a break.

Axel bellows a few deep man dog barks (he’s only 6 months old, how can he do that?) to break me out of my rain induced trance to which I respond, “Axel stop it.” I don’t even know what he’s barking at because I don’t want to get up (go go gadget lazy legs). It’s probably the cat. The cat who was supposed to head outside last week to join the Mouse patrol but was given extra time in the house due to stormy weather and the thought that she may get too scared. Ummmm… the storms haven’t let up in 5 days! Is this cat controlling the weather?

Bah, I’m out of coffee… that does require one to get up and do something… get another cup… I’ll be right back.

I’m back… Epic doggy mommy fail. Axel was calmly sitting by the door waiting to go out. Now I feel bad that I told him to be quiet as he was doing just what we had trained him to do when he has to go potty. See, even professional dog trainers fail on occasion. Luckily he can hold it longer than 5 seconds nowadays and I was instantly forgiven with a pat on the head and opening of the door. He saw it was raining, looked at me, looked back at rain and was quite surprised when I shoved his big butt out the door. Quickest potty ever and he was back in.

I like to make lists so I begin another “to do” list when I sit back down… ugh all that moving was exhausting on a morning such as this… rain do you somehow steal every ounce of energy I stored up over the night? I don’t care, I’m good with that (perhaps that is the lack of energy talking?). Boys are still sleeping (in the living room… who knows how late they stayed up as they are both in really good books right now which they refuse to put down). Our youngest is reading a book full of Minecraft stories and our oldest  is launched into another World of Warcraft novel. They crashed in the living room last night so I get to watch a sweet Axel lay and “guard” them while they sleep… cute.

Axel chillin' with the boys while they sleep

Axel chillin’ with the boys while they sleep

My “to do” list is done and just for fun I put a few things on there that I did yesterday so I can have a few things already checked off…it gets some momentum started (no, it’s not cheating… ok yes it is, I don’t care, the rain made me do it.)

Next up, I have to brave the weather and head out to tend to the animals. The goats are probably happily munching hay in the barn, horses are probably standing in the middle of the rain because they refuse to go into the barn during inclement weather, dogs are in the entryway because we think they don’t like to be wet (unless they are swimming), cats are all hiding for the same reason, I bet rabbits are doing what rabbits do (eat, drink and poop) and the chickens are probably waiting to be let out to pick through the treasures they find in the woods. Ooh, we have a new member of the farm! We started our guinea pig colony yesterday with a beautiful white long haired female guinea pig named Zelda! She’s super shy but sweet as can be and loves garden fresh lettuce!

Have a great day folks and thanks for reading my rainy day morning ramblings.


I Wonder…

My mom's engagement (to my dad) photo. SHe was married a second time about a year before she died.

My mom’s engagement (to my dad) photo. She was married a second time about a year before she died.

I’ve lived on this earth longer than my own mother did and I’m only 35 (at least I think I’m 35… right around there at least. After 20 I really stopped keeping track…born in 1978, you do the math.) I had 9 years with her and that’s longer than some have with their mothers but still seems not long enough for me. With each day the memories fade, her face is the one I see in the pictures I have and she’s changed… no longer the tired, hurried, stressed out single mother of two but rather an epic superwoman who never raised her voice, made amazing well balanced suppers, gorgeous hair and perfect makeup and whisked us away to fantastic summer vacations.

Truth be told I only remember one vacation with my mother (with our whole maternal side of the family in fact) and on that vacation she let us watch “Elephant Man” and she chased a bat around our cabin with a tennis racket screaming that we may all die from rabies. I had nightmares for years!

Perhaps the fading memories have always given me the opportunity to wonder… I do an awful lot of wondering and have ever since the day she suddenly died.

I wonder if I’ll ever see her again in heaven, knowing that I won’t care as I’m enveloped by the awesomeness of God which will sustain me completely… I still wonder.

I wonder if she knows that I only searched the crowds for her face for 20 years instead of a lifetime and if she’s disappointed about that.

I wonder if she’s mad that I haven’t cared enough to visit her grave more than once in my life and that I didn’t take any flowers…

I wonder if she knows that I found out what her favorite flower was only a year ago…

I wonder if she knows that in her death she created a bond between father and daughter that never would have come to be without her leaving…

I wondered for so many years what I did wrong to make her go away…

I wondered for too many years why God was so mean to take a little girl’s mamma…now I thank God for taking her.

I wonder if I’m wiser than she now that I have lived more years… I highly doubt it.

I wonder if she knew that I noticed how kind she was to people but at the same time how she could be one heck of a sarcastic little stinker…

I wonder why she never talked about Jesus to us and why I never saw her reading a Bible.

I wonder what her touch felt like because now I forget… her arms around me… a snuggle in the bed we shared for so many years because I didn’t want to sleep alone…

I wonder if she watched and heard from above as my brother looked at some kids playing and simply said, “I wonder if they know how lucky they are to have a mom”… good to know I wasn’t the only one wondering. I wondered the same thing but never would have said it out loud.

I wonder if my mom knows that I have horses and it was those years hanging out at the stable while she rehabilitated abused horses that sparked my intense and deep love for these animals. I wonder if she sees how free I am when I ride… free of sadness, free of missing her, free of guilt and totally connected with her very essence. I wonder if she would bury her face in the neck of a horse and breathe deeply, thinking there’s no scent so amazing and intoxicating. Yup, I do that.

I wonder if she knows I still vividly remember sitting on the floor in front of her while she rocked in an old wicker rocking chair and read my brother and me snippits of her diary. We always begged for more but she would never disclose the personal stuff… I wonder if that diary (reached novel proportions) will ever show up. I wonder if that sparked my love for writing…

I wonder if she thought I was silly when I stood on the stairs leading up to my bedroom the day we left to go to my dad’s for the weekend (we usually spent it at my grandparents with dad visiting us there) begging her not to make me go… it was the last day I saw her.

I wonder if in her death she knew that she created a bond between a brother and sister that few siblings will ever know.

I wonder why in the world she ever let me pack my own suitcase for the weekend trips to my dad’s house and why she ever bought me red tights and pink dresses (I seemed to love that combo together, ugh!).

I wonder if she knows that through her divorce she taught me to hold on to my own marriage tighter than anything else in life. I will never get divorced, about that I do not wonder.

I wonder what she loved so much about Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” and why I love it too.

I wonder why she never got me past the very first piano lesson book when she was always an amazingly talented piano player (the word pianist still always makes me giggle).

I wonder if she knows how many times I have listened to the recording made of her playing piano and singing in my grandpa’s church, just goofing around and having a good time with me, her sister, and her mother…

I wonder what kind of a grandmother she would be to my own two sons… would she insist we visit Wisconsin more often… would she come spend weeks in Indiana with us? I wonder if they would realize that I got me scatterbrained antics directly from her…

I wonder if she knows that the thought of her watching me from above kept me from doing a lot of stupid things growing up… now I simply wonder if she is in heaven…

I wonder if she knows that I have no idea the date she died, no recollection of her funeral, and I was coaxed out of grieving under a bed by a simple roll of pennies…

I wonder if she cares that I don’t celebrate her birthday with a big cryfest and some years don’t even really think of her on May 10th. She will always be woven into the very fabric of my life and being but I sentementality is not one of my strong points…

I wonder if she knew that I always respected her for working 2 and sometimes 3 jobs to support my brother and me. She’d take us with her to the laundrymat she worked at in the evenings and we’d do our homework, eat junk out of the vending machines and have races in the laundry carts. Those were actually really fun times!

I wonder if God shared my prayers with her…

Wow, I cetainly seem to wonder a lot. Mother’s Day is hard and glorious at the same time for me. I celebrate my own motherhood with two amazing sons but wish I could wrap my arms around the woman who gave me life and hear the story from her lips one more time about the day she welcomed me into the world and the crazy amount of hair I had. Hold your mothers close if they are still on this earth 🙂

Letter from mom sent to me at camp :)

Letter from mom sent to me at camp 🙂


The Mosquito Repelling Plant Arrangement

Finsihed product... marigolds and basil with a little mulch to help prevent soil from splashing over in heavy rain

Finished product… marigolds and basil with a little mulch to help prevent soil from splashing over in heavy rain

So you want to relax and enjoy a good book, some good company, or even watch the kiddos splash around in the pool or sprinkler but you are sick and tired of getting eaten alive my mosquitoes… Never fear, the Mosquito Repelling Pot is here! Anyone can easily make these pots full of all sorts of plants that naturally and EFFECTIVELY keep mosquitoes at bay. I tried these last year and they WORKED!!I will list several plants and feel free to mix and match according to what you like and what you can find. For many variety pots I like the “thrill, spill, fill” potting method. The folks at One Kings Lane describe it well when they say “It’s nice to feature a tall plant (this is your “thrill”), fronted by both an abundant midsize plant (your “fill”) and a lower-growing plant that creeps so it “spills” over the edge.” I planted a couple pots now with plants bought at a local nursery and Lowes and plan to start some more pots from seed to enjoy midway through the season and beyond. Some plants will continue to grow throughout the whole season while others (such as marigolds) will lose their blooms after a while and become less effective… enough talking about it, let’s get started!

I’m a big fan of planting things I will use as well which is why you will see basil in almost every one of my mosquito repelling pots!

Basil: Great mosquito repelling plant and absolutely divine to eat! Nothing is better than a little bruschetta with a nice wheat cracker or some fresh soft mozzarella, chopped basil and kalamata olives on olive oil toasted baguette…YUMMMM! Please make sure to put some basil in your pots! It can be a tall growing plant if you don’t prune and eat it so think about that when “placing” in your arrangement. Prune basil by snipping off the new bigger leaves (leave those huge lower leaves as they are the “solar panels” for the plant).

Cascading Geranium: Prett bug repelling plant, will cascade over its pot and add a delicate floral scent to your potagerie.

Cascading geranium
Cascading geranium



Pot of marigolds by our front door... makes a barrier mosquitoes don't want to pass!
Pot of marigolds by our front door… makes a barrier mosquitoes don’t want to pass!


Marigolds:  Hardy annual (replant each year) plants which have a distinctive smell which mosquitoes, and some gardeners, find particularly offensive. Marigolds contain pyrethrum, a compound used in many insect repellents. I love incorporating these in almost all of my mosquito repelling pots as well as throughout my garden (see gardening tips on our Simple Hobby Homesteading Facebook Page).





Citronella: The star of mosquito repelling this plant can get to almost bush like

Potted citronella... more "manageable"

Potted citronella… more “manageable”

proportions (great if you have the room) if not potted. Can be hard to find though Lowes and Home Depot often carry them as well as many nurseries and green houses.

Citronella planting in ground... bushy and beautiful!
Citronella planting in ground… bushy and beautiful!

Citronella geranium is a drought resistant, tender perennial. It also makes a great container plant. You can rub this plant on your clothes to repel mosquitoes


citronella grass

citronella grass

Citronella grass is a coarse, clump-forming tropical grass that can grow 5-6 ft (1.5-1.8 m) tall. The stems are canelike and the leaves are grayish green, flat, about 3 ft (0.9 m) long and 1 in (2.5 cm) or so wide. It does not spread by runners, as some grasses do, but the clump increases in size as the plant matures.horsemint

Flossflowers (aka Ageratum)

Flossflowers (aka Ageratum)

Flossflowers (aka Ageratum): Emits a smell which mosquitos find particularly offensive (score one for the humans!). Ageratum secretes coumarin, which is widely used in commercial mosquito repellents (fun science fact for the day). I have had trouble finding this plant and am still searching. I think I may try to grow from seed!

Catnip: Ugh this one has caused me problems. Yes, it’s an AMZING deterrent for mosquitoes but our cats will not leave the plants alone (go figure!). Soooooo… though I love this one for its properties until I can grow it i some sort of cat proof cage I will have to leave it out of my pots for now.However, I do really love catnip because it is very easy to grow. This perennial (will come back year after year) herb is related to mint, and grows readily both as a weed and a commercially cultivated plant in most areas of the US. It grows especially well in southern Indiana 😉

While catnip will repel mosquitoes in close proximity to the plant, some people apply crushed catnip leaves or catnip oil for more robust protection (you daredevils you!). With that being said I must provide a WARNING… see note about cats above… if you crush these leaves on yourself and come out to my house (or within ten feet of any other cat) you will be molested! I’m not condoning the cat’s behavior, it is wrong wrong wrong and

Catnip... excuse for cats to invade personal space and act crazy!

Catnip… excuse for cats to invade personal space and act crazy!

probably punishable under some law somewhere… but they seem to get away with it which is an injustice to all humans everywhere who have ever been subjected to a cat under the allure of catnip!In August 2010, entomologists at Iowa State University reported to the American Chemical Society that catnip is ten times more effective than DEET, the chemical found in most commercial insect repellents (another win for humans with the war against mosquites).


Rosemary: Another great culinary herb that has been shown to deter mosquitoes. Ooh how I love rosemary! It is a hardy plant but like basiul it needs full sun. Rosemary can be

potted rosemary

potted rosemary

tough to grow from seed but does great in pots and grows quickly. Plant it in a pot with some basil and other great herbs and keep it in a sunny spot by your front door for instant culinary masterpieces!

Nice big rosemary probably about 3 or 4 years old

Nice big rosemary probably about 3 or 4 years old

All righty, I’ve given you a few to get started with 🙂 Anyone else have any that they know are great mosquito deterrents? I love to get many of these in pots so I can move them about as I want… some days I want to read by the garden while others I want to head out and do some fishing at the pond. Have mosquito pot, will travel! I keep thinking it sounds like I’m carrying around marijuana… I am not (unless you count the catnip as kitty marijuana…). I really like to get a couple pots by where the dogs rest and relax to provide some relief for them.Here’s a couple I did in about 20 minutes yesterday with some plants I happened to have on hand… it really does not take very long at all!

Katja says Hi :)

Katja says Hi 🙂

10 may 2014 077 10 may 2014 070

Seinfeld Gardening Post

Is anyone else irresistibly pulled to the vegetable plants at every single store they enter? No? Ok, me neither then…

Go ahead Wal-Mart, put them on the far end of the store (I’m a creature of habit and always park in the same place…opposite end of greenhouse area), I’ll still find them, pick through them, and bring a few home every single trip! Yes Robin’s Nest, taunt me with your “Tomato plants ready!” sign… I may stop to just “look around” and in turn tell me kids they may need to walk home so I can fit my pallet of produce plants into the minivan. Rural King… your chicks no longer hold their allure… you’ve got cabbage and strawberries that beckon to me now (who am I kidding, I still go and check out the chicks and usually come home with a few).

The nice thing about growing your own produce us that it really does taste so much better… maybe it’s the work and sweat equity in planting and tending or perhaps the delayed gratification in watching something grow for weeks or months and then being rewarded with a treasure of produce that you raised up but growing your own food just makes it taste better!

It’s easier than you may think to grow your own veggies. I have gotten quite creative over the years. From Aerogardens to pallet gardening I have tried almost everything and still employ several interesting methods of planting and growing. We are in southern Indiana so cole crops (your cool weather loving stuff like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, etc.) should really be in the ground already. If not, that’s ok, get them in the ground as soon as you can or wait for that grouping to plant late summer, early fall,

Here at The Shepherd Hobby Farm we do some pallet gardening, regular in the ground gardening, raised beds and container gardening. I think I’ll tackle each one on a different blog day to keep this post relatively short.

Every couple of days I will also be tackling new gardening projects so feel free to tag along and give suggestions, ideas, advice, whatever! I’ll link the blog post to each project listed below as they are accomplished… Let’s do it, get those hands dirty! Feel free to post your creative gardening ideas for everyone to see and shamelessly copy. Sorry for the post really about nothing (maybe I should call it my Seinfeld post?) but I wanted to check in and let you all know I’m still here even though I haven’t written much lately.


  1. Lettuce bowlsimages[9]
  2. Cucumber trellis over lettuce I main garden
  3. Chicken chunnels and hen house around garden
  4. Trim and weed black berries
  5. Trim and weed black raspberries
  6. Plant mint garden
  7. Plant pallets
  8. Tomatoes
  9. Peppers
  10. Transplant asparagus
  11. Mosquito repellent bowls – Ready to be read! (click on “Mosquito repellent bowls”)
  12. Raised  beds (4)
  13. Add another compost bin

untitled imagesCA1KT3J6

Ok, I actually feel kinda guilty that absolutely no gardening wisdom was imparted to you all so let me share a tidbit of one of my projects so you all can get the stuff and do it with me tomorrow… Mosquito repellent baskets! I’m doing it, I’m making more of them this year! I like to get a large shallow round planter or those shallow round hanging ones (and large planting pot will do… by large I mean 2 to 3 gallon size. In this planter I will be planting various plants that not only grow well together (companion planting) but also repel mosquitoes and can be used by me in the kitchen or with soaps…


I will be planting basil, marigolds, catnip, rosemary and lemon scented geraniums in my pots around doorways, windows, and where my dogs and cats like to rest! If you can find citronella grass snap it up in a heartbeat… it’s hard to find around here… it is the star mosquito repelling plant!