Saturday, August 13, 2016

Alpaca MVPs

Prairie School Farms is about everything from alpaca farm visits to vintage, chippy furniture and unique home decor to hand painted signs and about a thousand other things in our dining room and tucked in storage until our building is renovated. No matter our adventures, the alpacas still are the MVP of our little farm.
 
One of our neighbors is a project leader for a local 4-H club. She had a small group of 4-H members who were working on fiber arts and they wanted to learn more about alpaca fiber.
 
She and the members were super gracious when our offer for a guided farm tour turned into a self-guided farm tour because Jeremy needed to be at the building to work with a contractor and Emily needed to be at work.
 
 From the tone of the sweet thank you card, I think the visit was still a success! We are hoping to see some of those alpaca selfies. We think Kobe was a camera hog.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Plant geek: slight succulent obsession

This plant geek is firmly on the succulent bandwagon.

 Almost every style blog, retail outlet, and garden center has succulents as the star.

We are huge fans of the ease of care and the wide variety available. From the tiniest to the largest in all different shapes and colors, we love how they look.

We started a few cuttings from some of our existing plants. These cute little vintage clay pots are so sweet.
We also planted an arrangement in a galvanized container that we found. We have a whole collection of these galvanized pans and they are the perfect depth for succulents.
 Here is a better view of some of the plants we selected.
We were also surprised to see one of them blooming! Look at these delicate little blossoms.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Plant geek: coneflowers for days!

 When we first bought our house, the landscaping was virtually a blank slate. We were lucky enough to have established trees, but the rest of the place was taken back to almost nothing because of the reported overgrowth of the yard when the renovation started. We tackled the chance to plan what we would plant in the existing beds and where we might install additional flower beds.

One idea I really valued was incorporating plants native to Kansas. This ideas was part sentimental and mostly practical. I grew up in the country and we rarely watered our flowers and plants, let alone our lawn. If you were plant, in order to survive, you needed to be hardy.

I carried that same philosophy forward. We have little time to water plants frequently and it seems like a waste of money to constantly water.

I had this dream of planting the native flowers and Jeremy really wanted something that would add some color to the south side of the driveway. The answer - a mix of native plants that have morphed over the years. Remember, only the strong survive. More accurately, only the plants that were planted in a place with the right amount of sunlight and moisture survived. Gardener's error or luck plays a large part in the failure (or success) of anything we have done.
 The coneflowers this year have been spectacular! I am not sure we have had blooms in this deep purple color.
 A perk of these native plants is their ability to attract insects and birds. We usually have bees and butterflies surrounding this bed. On day last fall, I saw a small bird picking the seeds of out the center of blooms.
This summer, we have been overrun with iridescent insects. They are strangely beautiful and also unnerving because they like to dive bomb you when walking through the yard.

Other than the occasional weeding and thinning out of the beds, these native plants are low maintenance and offer a lot of beauty.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Plant geek: summer blooms

There is a plant that I watch for any signs of the first blooms. The vigil begins in early summer and continues until the first buds begin to appear.

In the right year, with just the right conditions, the plant will go from loaded with buds to a riot of blooms in what seems like a single day.

The flowers end up being a little larger then a saucer or dessert plate. They feel very old fashioned with the simple white with a red center.

We planted these along our walkway from the garage to the house and they are the perfect way to begin and end each work day.

 I think they are a hearty hibiscus. (I always vow to do a better job of mapping what we plant. This is mostly wishful thinking because I never record my notes in the same place. Something to aspire to.)

I thought it would be fun to show the blooms in various stages from bud to full bloom.


You can begin to get a sense of the color and shape of the flowers.
And then, the blooms!


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Plant geek: A perfect gift

 One of the best perks about owning Prairie School Farms is the great people that we meet.

Jeremy had listed a furniture piece earlier in the summer and a couple about our age came to the house to look at it for purchase. When I got home from work that night, he told me all about them. It seems that we might have meet our doubles - we had so many interests in common.

Fast forward to a second visit for a second furniture piece. When I got home from work this time, there was this sweet little teacup and saucer planted with succulents - a gift from the couple.

The deal is done - we have to be friends now! If you bring me a gift this perfect then I know it is meant to be.

This plant geek is sold!
This is where the plants found a home - under the cloche in our dining room.
I love this whole arrangement with photos of family and gifts from friends.


Friday, July 22, 2016

What do normal people do on a Sunday?

 We often ask ourselves, "What do normal people do on a Sunday?"

We think that they might watch golf or take a nap or go to the lake or read a book in the air conditioning.

Not us.

Nope. Not happening.

We decide that it is a great day to clean up the flower bed on the north side of the garage and to disassemble giant sections of reclaimed gym floor - in 90 plus degree temperatures with high humidity. A true sweat fest.

We rescued this gym flooring from a barn a few miles from our place. A couple was cleaning and organizing some items before their auction and Jeremy bought a few things from them. They also let us crawl through their barn to see if there were other treasures we would want to purchase. Near the back were these giant (and heavy) sections of gym floor from one of the schools in Olathe. We took a chance thinking we could reuse the solid wood slats for projects.
 The reclaimed wood is amazing! Jeremy has been able to reassemble it and use it for bases for signs and laser engraving.
The disassembling - not so amazing. A hammer, crowbar and grinder are required. Fun times on a Sunday afternoon!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Prairie School Farms new home

This building has been in my heart since we first moved to this area. I have dreamed about it and wondered if there would ever be the chance that we could have a connection beyond the casual architectural crush.

Several weeks ago, we learned that it might be for sale. After some negotiation and a lot of planning, we are happy to announce that Prairie School Farms has a new home!

Located at the corner of Fifth and Main in Westmoreland, we have this historic gem - two stories with so much potential to hold all of our dreams.

We may or may not be channeling Chip and Joanna. I have used the term "shiplap" nearly 400 times. We have already started the cleaning and demo. Today included six truckloads of trees and branches - five of them by Jeremy alone. Any person with a strong desire to put on some work gloves and help with garden clean up is welcome.

The building was constructed in 1885 and was reportedly a blacksmith and livery shop. We have a copy of one of the original photos from when the livery was operational. The building has the initials GAR on the front and from our preliminary research it stands for the Grand Army of the Republic and was built for Civil War veterans who fought for the Union. The building must have originally been built as a lodge or chapter house for the veterans.

We are working on plans to make the ground level into a retail space.

The large double doors in the right of this photo are amazing. We are trying to find a way to have these recreated or preserved. We are planning to have a pergola on the side of the building with these doors leading out to the space.

The second floor has a large space for entertaining and a second portion that we will use as a B&B.

Wish us luck on the adventure ahead! We have some plans for renovation and big dreams for this space. Our little studio has already been sold, so we will be packing and moving very soon. Watch for a grand opening in Spring 2017!