Friday, July 31, 2015

Full Moon Innuendo

By Yulia

Did anyone else have trouble sleeping last night? With the full moon and all...the crazies like to come out and roam the streets. The crazies in our heads also tend to get especially restless and bother us. We've noticed that during the full moon the dogs in our village are more vocal than usual: a whole range of agitated canine sounds echo in the area. There are deep baritone barks and pesky, high pitched squeals. I wonder: what are they getting at? Although, with all honesty -- they're always loud, always...
The light from the moon was shining through our bedroom window. With our eyes wide open, we stared at the moon. "What a peaceful and quiet night! And it's a full moon, too...strange" we uttered, in complete awe. Strange, indeed, it was, for we couldn't hear a single dog or barely any other noise out there under the moonlight. As soon as we found ourselves drifting into sleep, our dog Toma decides to go at it. Her persistent barking had Michael go outside and check it out. For Toma, barking at anything and everything is an essential part of a daily routine. She, undoubtedly, let's us know when  there's someone by our front gate. And if anyone dares to open the gate (which is rather difficult, because of the old locks) without our permission, Toma is ready to do more than just bark. This is exactly what had happened last Christmas. An impatient group of adolescent boys and girls were trying to enter our house to sing their carols. Before we had a chance to unlock the gate and let them in, one of the boys managed to open the driveway gate and let everyone in. At that point, Toma started jumping at the boy and nipping at his leg. Michael quickly came out and put her away. Oddly, the teenage boy wasn't bothered by any of it even a bit. Would Toma go as far as bite someone? We don't know. She never has. But, frankly, why would anyone try to force their way in with an angry dog on the other side of the fence to do some caroling. I do have to say, though, Toma is the most gentle and loving dog. She's never, ever aggressive towards us or any of our friends or family. And she gets along with the cats just splendidly, especially Levko. They play together, they take naps together, they chase one another. Best buddies there are!
 One of Toma's favorite hobbies is to nibble on Levko's neck. The poor thing has to walk around with his neck constantly gelled up from dog saliva. But Levko doesn't mind it, at times he even asks for it. Here's a short snippet of their playtime together. This is some footage that we managed to sneakily film through the window. It's only over a minute long. If you can, watch it with the highest quality a/v:
Going back to what was happening last night. After being gone for some time, Michael comes back inside to report on the scene. Apparently, a whole chain of events was taking place out there: Toma is barking at a white dog who is in the middle of the street barking at a hedgehog, another  man down the street is also yelling at the white dog who is barking at the hedgehog. Got it!? As I said -- during the full moon all the crazies come out. 
Although, we've been in crazy, philosophical moods lately, some things are getting done. Our mudroom is finito, well at least from the outside. We've laid some tiles on the floor, but the internal walls aren't done yet.  And, of course, as you can see, continuing with the new siding on the rest of the house.

The tiles inside the mudroom:

Oh, and the sad news is that one of our apple trees was broken in a storm last week. :(

Some trees are getting broken, while others are producing some marvelous fruit. These are cherry plums XXL. Normally, they're about 3 times smaller. These are not very popular in the States, but around here they grow everywhere.  Michael loves them, me not so much, but this variety that we planted last year tastes much like a plum. :)

Well, this is it for today. The sun is setting in the west.

 The sky is pink tonight. It will be a cold night.

Hello and good-night from Ukraine, everyone! 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

We need more time...

By Yulia

It has been a while since the last time we have written anything on our blog. Well, there has been a lot happening here lately. Here it is, in a nutshell: working on the new siding of the house; putting in a mudroom, working on the computer (this one is for making money! :)), taking trips to Lviv to get more building/renovation supplies (the traffic is crazy in Lviv this time of the year!); weeding, mulching; harvesting; cleaning out the sheds (there's a lot of junk here!); not to mention the basics -- preparing food, maintaining the house and maybe resting sometimes. I think the next post we do, it will be about our daily routine, so you can get a feel for what our day looks like.
 Yes, we do need more time. Now, that the days are the longest of the year, ten o'clock comes without us even knowing it. There is so much to be done...Well, there is so much that we want to get done! Instead of words, we have for you a lot of pictures and very little words. Like I said -- no time! 
For the past week we've been sleeping outside in this tent that we set up next to our outside shower cabin. This is actually not a sleeping tent, but a camping kitchen. It's 3 by 3 meters and 2 meters tall. The idea was to get something big enough where we can stand up fully and don't feel claustrophobic with the ceiling being very low. However, my  main requirement for the tent was the night sky. I wanted to be able to see the moon and the stars. Conveniently enough, all four sides of this tent roll up and we can sleep with just the mosquito screens zipped up. It's an amazing feeling to breath the fresh air and to feel the earth beneath us all night long. We also found out that it helps us to wake up earlier without an alarm. We set up this tent for my birthday, so I could spend the night under my birthday stars alone. We'd like to make this a new birthday tradition.
Good morning! Most of our days start with some fresh fruit/berries and/or green juice. 
       The juice that is made consists mostly of freshly harvested greens from our garden, such as collard greens, kale, orach, spinach, cilantro, parsley, mint (chocolate mint is our favorite, thank you Teri from Runnymede Farm!) and a variety of lettuces. I also add a whole pealed lemon, some ginger root and a few apples to make a seriously delicious green juice. It is a great start of the day! Yes, it does take some time to prepare it and even more time to clean the juicer afterwards (my least favorite part of the process!), remember, we still don't have running water in the house -- but nothing else compares to freshly made juice, in our opinion. One last tip: make sure to use a good juicer to get the most out of your greens/fruits/veggies.

    Yay for our strawberries that have been feeding us for about three weeks now! We're having a good harvest this year. Pictured above is one of our first harvests resting on a burdock leaf, nature's disposable plate.
We have a few varieties of strawberries growing in our garden. This variety is one of the best. They are  sweet and extra juicy. Also look pretty darn good!

The lavender is in full bloom. I've collected a few bundles and hung it in our bedroom above our bed. Later in the season some lavender sachets will be made with it. 

Honeyberries. Their taste is very similar to blueberries. These were the earliest berries in our orchard. I would definitely recommend growing these, especially for those in more northern climates. These bushes are very decorative, fast to produce and are not afraid of late spring frosts, not to mention, the berries are tasty. 

It's our first time growing these purple shelling peas. They sure look pretty, but I find their taste to be too bitter for my liking. Michael, on the other hand, loves them and finds them only slightly bitter. Different people -- different tastes. BTW, it is the pods that are purple, the peas inside are still green. 
Peony flowers are always so fleeting. Their blooms don't last very long, but they smell wonderful!  
   One of our neighbors was cutting down his old ash trees. He had a few huge ashes that he decided to sell in Lviv for boards. The thinner branches were chopped to be used as firewood and some of it was shared/sold to the neighbors. Another neighbor brought us a carriage full of that firewood for a total of $5. The wood needed to be chopped, so it gave Michael a good opportunity to try out the chainsaw. The good thing about ash trees is that they can be be burned as firewood green. This is also one species of tree that is popular for coppicing. They are fast growing and rather abundant in our area. We've collected a few self-seeded ashes on our property and will be planting them for that specific purpose.  

Work on the outside of the house continues. On to the next step: mudroom installation. The mudroom will be placed at the top of the concrete steps. As a side note, do you see that gray blob on the right by the foundation? That's Levko sleeping his young-cat life away. 

 The animals are supervising the project. 
 Levko is Levko, who is always Levko, becuase he's a Levko! Levko, why do you clean yourself so much, and yet remain a grey dumpster cat? (Joking...we love him!)
Inside the mudroom construction. Laska has found a good spot for resting.


Working (at) it.

A lot of progress has been made on the mudroom, as you can see. And I am sure you can also see how uneven the walls of our house are (look at the line where the mudroom meets the window).
Harvested some linden blossoms. They will be dried and used for tea in the winter time. Our two linden trees are loaded with blooms this year. Their intoxicating aroma fills the air. The bees are in seventh heaven and so are we.
We like lilies. These are part of our herbal path. We often see bees and bumblebees taking a dip in their pollen.
Catmint is loved by the bees!

Another bee favorite! A Veronica species. 
Pink yarrow that was planted last year is starting to flower. I got the seeds when we were in the States driving to or from the West coast somewhere along the way. Good memories.

A snapshot of some of our veggie plots. The brassicas: purple sprouting broccoli, romanesco broccoli, collard greens, Tuscan cabbage, early green cabbage. Also, purple onions, Chinese Hilton cabbage, stock celery, dill, carrots, beets and self seeded tomatillos and borage everywhere. 

Some self-seeded cilantro in flower.
Our tiny gooseberry bushes will also be feeding us this year. These will turn red once they are ready.
Roses by the house. The previous owner was a rose connoisseur. We have a few different varieties.
A pleasant surprises out in the orchard -- fireweed.

Another surprise: St. John's Wort

Thelma Sanders sweet potato squash and red decorative sunflowers next to the compost boxes are doing really well.
 Toma: Arhhh, I'm so tired from weeding....!

 The herbal walking path. Not the best picture, but you get the idea. It has a lot of different herbs and flowers.

We hope you don't find these images too boring. This makes up the majority of our world today. It is our little sanctuary of sanity in the world oh so crazy. Дякуємо за увагу! ;)

NOTE: Some of these pictures are a bit outdated, since I started writing this post about two weeks ago, but never got around to finishing it up.