Friday, April 24, 2015

Look Who's Nesting in our Driveway!

First, Happy Belated Earth Day! It's an important date to celebrate each year to remember where we came from and how we continue to improve. We have our own little Earth Day celebration happening right in our driveway this year by one of the cutest shorebirds in our area. Early this spring we witnessed two Killdeer hanging out in our driveway A LOT. A couple weeks ago we noted a depression in the rocks and then a few days later we discovered this:

Wow! A killdeer in our driveway is a first for us and we are completely pumped! Steve captured a video of one of the parents with the first egg. (Get ready to get a little dizzy with all the jiggling, we will work on that.)

I walked a little too close to the nest at first and witnessed a very cool warning display:

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology puts the killdeer nest in their top five interestings nests in North America and we agree!

We worked to protect this nest by blocking off our driveway and the nest, which is located to the left of the wood log on the left side of the drive. There are currently four eggs in the nest and according to the Cornell Lab incubation will last 22-28 days.

Fingers crossed for successful hatching!

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Common Milkweed LLC

It's really happening! As we intimated in prior posts, we are beginning our next big adventure - our very own business. We read a lot these past few months to determine which is the best business structure for us and decided on an LLC. Thanks to Steve for really tackling this thought process!

We recently submitted our paperwork to the state and received our confirmation. We're official!

We know many of you are wondering what we are doing, so here is an overview of The Common Milkweed.  We are creating a business with many facets because that's who we are and what inspires us. If you've read this blog for any period of time, you know we love nature and want to help our planet in any way we can so a big piece of our business will be native plants. We are starting small, but over time will offer many different native plants of the Midwest.

We want to share the beauty of these plants and encourage their use in the home landscape to benefit people and wildlife.  Just looking at these photos makes our hearts so happy! Look at the colors and the diverse creatures that benefit! It's an incredible web of connections to witness.

We are also going to dedicate a significant portion of our time to our nature-based handcrafts. Steve is an incredible wood worker using all sorts of reclaimed wood and is already known for his fabulous tree cookie stools with honeysuckle legs. I have some brand new soap ideas that I will share this summer.

Where will we sell? As of right now, we will sell from our place in Morrow County, OH, online at our website (coming soon!), The Dawes Arboretum Handmade Goods Market in late fall, and a few mid-summer/fall Clintonville Farmer's Markets. We may expand this list and will post any new additions when we know them.

What inspired this transition? Quite a range of factors really, but here's a synopsis.

1 - We love to be together.
2 - We love to be outdoors.
3 - We love to grow plants.

4 - We love to make things with our hands, in the simplest way, with the least impact on the Earth.
5 - We love to hike and explore.

6 - We want to be in charge of our time and our schedules.

These past few years we've met a handful of people living alternative lives and this answered a call in our hearts we couldn't really explain until that moment. A friend from high school wrote a thought for me on a mix tape long ago and it said: "Reject Conventionalism and LIVE." That spoke to me then even though I didn't really understand why. There are many ways to live and we know this path isn't for everyone, but this is the path we choose to create the life we want. Afterall, it's our one and only precious life!

Thanks to our parents who taught us we can do anything we set our minds to and to our dear friends who engaged in those conversations that ignited the fire! Here's a few resources that help(ed) inspire us:

The Good Life Lab & Holy Scrap Hot Springs

How to Quit Working Show

Extra Pack of Peanuts

And I Shall Have Some Peace There

The Dirtbag Diaries

Cybermonk's Thought of the Day

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Mini Wildlife Observation Platform Made of Pallets For Free!

After spending a huge amount of time creating a small wetland for wildlife we decided to add a small observation platform so that we could enjoy the sights and sounds of the plants and animals that we've attracted.

After salvaging materials from pallets that we got for free from Jennifer's dad...

...we simply placed a salvaged 4x6 on the ground to make-level two pallets that would form the deck frame:

We then disassembled enough additional pallets to provide us with the boards we needed to fill-in the gaps:

Next we added our little bistro set and screwed it down to the platform as it's often windy here and we did not want anything blowing into the wetland:

That's it! Easy-peasy. Other than half-a-box of nails, we spent nothing on this project. Free pallets for all, we say!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Harmonious Hens and Spring Rains

It really feels like spring here and we all are loving it! Our three hens are relishing all the open ground to explore and peck around. These three are pals - absolute pals! It's incredible given what we went through before. L.G., unbelievably, is head hen now. She went from bottom of the pecking order with our last flock, to a lone chicken, to one of three in our motley, rescued crew. It undoubtably helps that all three are injured or deformed in one way or another. L.G. (Rhode Island Red in the background) is missing tons of feathers, continues to deal with her crookneck and has one crooked toe, but she lays monster eggs and leads the other two hens. Anna Lee, on the left, daily deals with her dog injured leg, but is mobile now thanks to Steve's fix and some toenail clipping. Emmylou on the right navigates her route each day with one set of toes that are entirely curled to the side.

She's so sweet now though and often prefers to stand on the crooked toe foot. If we got her young enough, we probably could have fixed this problem, but it's too late now.

The girls love to forage for worms and other insects in the farm field behind our house. We continue to get lots of welcome spring rains.

So much fell last week that Steve dug a make-shift drain for some of the water passing through our garden. You can bet we are going to channel that water into a new wetland sometime soon! Our other constructed wetland is behind Steve in this photo. Look how happy he is to play in the can tell he's a Dirt Dauber.

All this rain makes incredible things happen in the Midwest in spring. The soil saturates and vernal pools fill with water prompting an annual amphibian migration to procreate and then head back to their woodland homes, all before the dryness of summer. It's one of our most favorite natural happenings! We hiked at Mt. Gilead State Park last week and this one pool was loaded with wood frogs. Awesome. There are also some spring peepers calling and a western chorus frog or two. Check this video out, the wood frogs make that low quacking sound. Happy April!