Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garden at SHAPE Eco Farm Begins



Now that we are all moved into our home in Wake Forest, we have now begun to focus our efforts on the garden. Setting up a fence was a must because of the deer that reside on our property as well as the bumble bee eating cat and the rabbits that would have a feast. The fence posts are 10 feet tall and buried 2 1/2 feet into the ground. It took a total of 12 fence posts to construct the fence as well as deer proof netting that we secured to the fence posts. To keep the critters out, we bought chicken  wire that is 2 ft. x 50 ft. and cut it in half so it would be 1 ft. and cover a grand total of 10 ft. Mesh hardware cloth would have been ideal except it is pricey. Our chose was the more economical one.

16-IMG_3500 - Copy

This is what we used to go along the bottom of the fence netting.


Digging the holes for the fence posts was an entirely different story. It took both my dad and boyfriend to get the task done. Dad tried it solo, but the electric post hole digger had a mind of its own. Upon hitting a root it took off out of the hole and starting spinning dad around with it. The machine also lost 6 screws along the way and the gas tank fell off. It finally conked out and resulted in finishing the last stretch with the old-fashioned do it yourself post hole digger. 

 05-IMG_3481 - Copy   

We decided upon certified compost and had it trucked in.

07-IMG_3485 - Copy

There is enough dirt for the vegetable garden and flower garden.

11-IMG_3490 - Copy

Dad helped me get the compost onto the rows.

08-IMG_3487 - Copy 09-IMG_3488 - Copy 

I spent April 5th shoveling and raking out rows so we could put the compost on top. I have 5 rows that are each about 40 feet. The other side of my garden is for herbs and flowers. My future blog entries will show that side. For today the focus is on the vegetable garden.


I planted the first row with tomatoes and eggplant. I planted peppermint as a companion plant to keep away the cabbage white butterfly that eats vegetables. The down side is that tonight is supposed to be a low of 33 degrees! The weather is not on my side this year. Can someone tell the weather that it is April 15? Thank goodness for frost blankets. I’ll keep everyone updated after a long break I took from blogging. Things have been busy and now I have plenty of post worthy blog material.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Progress on SHAPE Eco Farm



The progression on creating SHAPE Eco Farm continues slowly, but steadily. The weather and snow that has hit North Carolina has made things slower. The bright side is that we do indeed have our house on site though there is still much work to be done. My mom has been doing some serious painting and the work men are supposed to finish the upstairs which will be my domain. The upstairs flooring is very unique. It is foam tiles which inter-lock like a jig-saw puzzle.

While work on the inside has been taking place, we’ve also been working on the outside. Our path outside went from wood planks to a mulch path outlined with bricks which my mom created herself one bucket load at a time. We also created a temporary patio out of left over bricks. That is part of sustainability and being an eco farm; using what you have.


This is the before shot with my brother standing on the path. The first photo above is the new and more professional looking path.


This is the temporary patio with our fire pit. I had the job of loading bricks into the wagon. A tiring yet rewarding task. It was quite fun letting gravity help bring the wagon down the slop. The first time I tried moving the wagon down the steeper hill which wasn’t the wisest of things. I was in front of the wagon and of course the thing picked up speed as I tried to slow it down. Thankfully, I didn’t get run over by the wagon. Now I better understand the song “Grandma got ran over by a reindeer” except in this case it would have been “Elizabeth got ran over by a wagon.”

Okay confession time. My brother decided to take a turn taking the wagon down the hill. By then I had started taking the longer route which was not so steep. It is quite obvious that the hill is too steep, but with the previous account I shared, I figured it was worth a try. Anyway, my brother didn’t think anything of it and started down the steep hill.  As I stood back in silence, he started down the hill. Well, of course the wagon picked up speed and almost tipped over, but no damage was done.


Working together to shovel gravel and fill in exposed clay.

08-IMG_3220 09-IMG_3227

My dad’s new toy call “The Beast.” A rather noisy gizmo that is worthy of such a title! We were armed with head gear and eye protection. A machine like this one could literally burst or damage an ear drum. Well, maybe burst is a bit dramatic, but boy does it hurt if you take of your head gear for a few seconds! Even with head gear my hears were ringing a bit that night. I felt like I had just returned from an airplane flight.


This is me taking a turn chipping. The mulch has many uses and using “The Beast” is a great work out. I’ve made a game of it trying to make the pile large. One commandant for using the machine is “Thou shalt not force large logs into the machine.” My dad learned that lesson and we had to disassemble it, but that is why they make the slot removable. For stubborn people like us who think they can cramp a too big of a log through the mulcher.

Keep a lookout for updates on our farm which I’ll post within the next few weeks as more action takes place. Thanks for joining me on this journey full of lessons and stories.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Elizabeth’s Secret Garden 3rd Book on Traveling Across United States

               BookCoverImage for blog

December, 2013, I completed my New Year’s resolution which was to self-publish my third book. Writing three books has and continues to be a journey.  It takes a lot of work to start from scratch and create a book worthy of being published. For my book, I traveled to several states, compiled a photography collection, gathered information, went on private tours to get behind the scenes information, and now I’m learning all that is involved with promoting my book. All my blog readers, friends, and family are who have inspired me and kept me going. Writing requires dedication and without all of you, I simply couldn’t stay motivated. The purpose of this entry is to give you a sneak peak into my book with the hope that you would support my work by purchasing a copy. The money I make will help cover my expenses.

Purchase my book for $9.95 https://www.createspace.com/4583290 


As I traveled across the United States, I was able to experience so many dynamics of nature. From water falls, to wildlife, and unique natural formations. My book assists the reader in fully experiencing the natural attractions through colorful photos and my personal accounts.

Niagara Falls

Popular travel locations like Niagara Falls, Lake Tahoe, and Yosemite are included in my book. Facts gathered from research help to make my book educational and informative.

Rabbit Run Farm

I was able to go on a private tour of Rabbit Run Farm and learn all the cool advantages of growing hydroponically. The neatest part is there is no need for dirt just mineral nutrient solutions in water. The nutrients are fed directly to the roots causing the plants to grow more quickly. Plants grown hydroponically can grow in gravel, sand, water, and even air! After writing an entry about Rabbit Run Farm, they listed the blog entry I wrote about the farm on their press page. http://www.rabbitrunfarmllc.com/Rabbit_Run_Farm,_LLC./Press.html

US Botanic Garden1US Botanic Garden2

My book contains 19 different gardens, butterfly conservatories, and farms. The total pages count is 54 which includes 38 tours of state parks, national parks, gardens, butterfly conservatories, and farms. There is so much to discover within the pages of my book.

You can also show support of my book by simply clicking the Facebook generated “Like” button or sharing my book through social media. Thanks for your support and now I just have to decide what my 4th book will be about! https://www.createspace.com/4583290

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Maggidan's Minis Animal Farm



My family has taken an interest in farm animals since we are in the process of creating SHAPE Eco Farm. Our farm is a family project and has a goal of sustainability. Since we want to leave as many trees standing as possible, miniature animals just seemed to fit in with what we are doing. Surprisingly, we met Dan Dawson at the postage office and then set up a trip to Dan Dawson and Maggie Leman’s farm called Maggidan’s Minis. Their main focus is Pygmy Goats, but they also have a few Giant Flemish rabbits. As you will see below, the rabbits are worthy of such a name.


Maggie and Dan have been raising Pygmy Goats since 1992 and they are registered with The National Pygmy Goat Association or NPGA for short. They started showing their Pygmy Goats that same year at the North Carolina State Fair and have some champion goats as a result.

Maggidan’s Minis Website  http://www.maggidans.com 

07-IMG_1997  12-IMG_2001

Dan had to chase down the Flemish Giant so my brother could pet it. Joshua’s ambition at our farm is to raise rabbits. He will probably start out with a smaller breed, but it gives him something to work towards.




Flemish Giants

 17-IMG_2009 18-IMG_2014




Pygmy Goats are social animals and should be kept in groups. Failing to do so could result in a stressed goats and an awful lonesome one too. There are a few things to keep in mind before you dash off to buy one. First, (and very wise step) be sure that livestock are allowed in your city limits. You may rationalize that they are pets, but your neighbors or home owner associations may believe other wise. Second, protection, protection, protection. If you have animals, predators will come and it is best to take necessary action. Also important is providing good quality hay even though grain is the easier route think of it as candy and not the main dish. Mineral supplements are also needed just like we require vitamins from our diets or in a supplement form.

Once you get the basics covered, you can enjoy your new pets. They supply healthful high butterfat milk for those who want to try their hand at it. As a matter of fact, Dan Dawson invented a hand-milking device. The goat’s milk can used for baking and even soap making. If you’ve been wanting a farm animal, but want a smaller breed, you may want to look into raising some Pygmy Goats.


Monday, January 13, 2014

The Start of a New Adventure, SHAPE Eco Farm is Born


My family has begun a new endeavor. The creation of a sustainable farm where we will live, offer classes, workshops, and experience homesteading. Everyone has dreams, goals, and ambitions, but what if those dreams actually happened. What if the future became brighter because you decided to step out in faith. When we act on a dream, we never know what will happen. We may face uncertainty and fears, but how can we be successful unless we try? Once we take that initial step, the succeeding ones become easier. My seminary teacher used a simple illustration. She said faith is like a flashlight. The beam is short and we must take one step at a time, but as we follow that light it will lead us safely to the other side.

Being a city girl, I never dreamed of actually starting a farm. Let me repaint what you typically see as a farm. It is not a clear pasture land with just animals or a monoculture of row crops. It is a 5 acre piece of land with a home for our family of 5 and a barn. We will be starting a garden and we’ve already started a fruit orchard. We will be raising chickens and rabbits. We are not farmers and are definitely not pros at this, but we want to help out the community by offering a place where kids and adults can experience a taste of a farm with a more urban approach.


Our home was not built on site. It was brought in on wheels. Yes, you heard that right. Our home was made in a factory. Not your typical picture of home construction. It is a modular home brought by truck in three sections. Each section is lifted by crane and sat on a foundation. It is not a task to be taken lightly and by no means a stress free experience. To see your home flying through the air is one of those once in a life time experiences.


Our home was moved by a “House Tug”. It was a remote controlled gizmo that maneuvered our home up a steep driveway. It did get stuck in the clay and had to be moved by crane.


To get the trailer up the driveway, the workmen laid out boards.


It was a tight fit and it seemed to be with not an inch to spare.


Up, up, and away! The second section was lifted up even higher than the first. It then had to be spun all the way around so it would be going in the right direction.


With the plastic drawn back, you can see right inside the house.


Section number two being laid down. The last section was my brother and sisters bedroom.


Our home is on the foundation and as you will notice the door is very high. We had to use a ladder to get in!


My brother and I got to sit in the crane that took our home for a spin.


The view of our front porch.


They covered our home to end the day. The tarp is necessary until they pop up the roof and complete the work. Yes, the roof literally pops up. That is the neat part of a modular home. More is yet to come!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pottery Exhibit with Tina Granville



I had the privilege of viewing the pottery collection of Tina Granville. Part of her inspiration of working with her hands came from her father who was a skilled brick and stone mason and was often in his workshop fiddling with a project. What started out as hobby has turned into a teaching position. It all started in January, 2001 when she attended an art class at Sertoma Art Center with a friend. She has done a variety of crafts, but she found her niche in working with clay as a potter.


This is my sister Andrea with her teacher Tina Granville who has been a teacher at the Sertoma Art Center in Raleigh since 2005.


Tina sells her work at a couple different venues and has traveled to several “pottery camps” as she likes to call them. The places she recommends for courses besides the Seratoma Art Center is Penland School of Craft in Penland, NC and Haystack School on Deer Isle, Maine. The craft sales she has attended include the Oaks Pottery Fest in Wake Forest, NC which is on the second Saturday of September and the Holiday Home Show later in November/December. You can also purchase pieces from her on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/tlgpottery You can also e-mail her at tlgpottery@gmail.com. You can tell her that Elizabeth Mann of Elizabeth’s Secret Garden recommended her work!

03-IMG_1932 04-IMG_1931

Tina loves to make useful, simple, and beautiful pieces of pottery. Her favorite part is throwing pieces on the wheel. She loves how a ball of soft clay can turn into a master piece. It is all up to the potter to decide. So whatever you do get creative and don’t be afraid to express yourself! It may not always turn out exactly as you originally planned, buy hey that is the joy of it all. Some of the greatest inventions come from mistakes! Every baker learns that.

07-IMG_1928 08-IMG_1923

For the pet lovers…


All ready for Christmas!




Lastly, I asked Tina Granville what advice she would give to beginning potters and budding artists. She said, “To practice, practice, practice. Get into the studio as much as possible outside of class time.”

Special thanks to Tina Granville for letting me do an interview.