Another drought & I’m out.

I told Jason after 2011 that if we ever go through that again, I am leaving Texas.

Well, here we are eleven years on and it’s looking pretty 2011-ish. While we did have a few heavy rain events this spring, it wasn’t enough overall. We are only considered “abnormally dry” according to the U.S. drought monitor, but everyone in Texas knows when June hits, the tap turns off unless you get a hurricane or tropical storm. And to add insult to injury, our temps have already hit 100 and remain in the high 90s, so I am calling this month Jaugust. And I’m sure next month will be Juaugust, then August, then Saugust.

So that’s why I am going to go back in time to our winter/early spring garden, in far less crispy times. I think we had a nice fall/winter garden and I hope you will enjoy the mini-tour.

I find that fall and winter gardens are easy to do for our area, with the occasional annoyance of having to cover your plants during freezing temps.

January/February tend to be our coldest months. It would be best to plant in mid to late September, but as I said before that’s the month I call Saugust and my least favorite because it’s still hot and soooooo dry. Honestly, who wants to plant in hot dust? Not I. So I usually end up waiting until mid-October when we get some rain.

So below is a pic from December, when I had my beds wrapped and Team Cilantro was in full force. It reseeds itself yearly, so I let it do its thing. The cabbages are Bonnie’s Best hybrid that were transplants. You can see that some cabbage worms made small holes, but these are quickly taken care of with a Bt spray. I use the Monterey brand and I had the RTU (ready-to-use) kind. I won’t be without this spray! It kept my kale happy and worm-free from spring through the next spring.

The next pic is of some more cabbages, carrots, and one of our very favorites: kohlrabi. If you like broccoli and cabbage, you will love kohlrabi. Even if you don’t like broccoli or cabbage, give it a try. It is milder that either of those two and is SO GOOD just steamed until tender. I don’t even add salt. But definitely peel it unless you enjoy chewing on twigs/shoe leather.

Cabbages, carrots, kohlrabi

Now I love this kale! It is called Black Magic. It just produced seed this month (June; and it’s in its second year now) and it tastes great! I use it in soups, casseroles, stir-fries, salads, smoothies…anywhere you can stick it. Just cut out the rib and slice it thin to use. Trust me, it hides easily in everything and has a great taste. We also roast it sometimes, and yes, it makes great kale chips, too, if you enjoy those.

Broccoli! We love it. This broccoli is looking a little sad and wilted because it had been covered and when I took off the cover, the humidity it was used to dropped rapidly. I ended up re-covering it slightly to help it. I got these as transplants and I think it’s Lieutenant. I used to use Packman and they did away with that. Then Green Magic and they switched again. I also had Artwork, but I haven’t found that in a couple of years. This is why it’s so important to know how to grow your own! Growers aren’t always going to have what you want.

Admittedly, I am proud of the following cabbage. It’s some of the first I have grown from seed. This is an heirloom called Red Acre. The heads ended up being nice and dense and very tasty.

Snow peas….I babied these peas. I planted them too late in October, and they grew and grew and grew and I covered, uncovered, and re-covered about 10 times. You can see I even added some Christmas lights/party lights to keep them warmer while under cover. They survived all of the frosts and cold, but ultimately died due to a fungal infection in mid-spring. I did get some pea pods, but it wasn’t worth the hassle. So this fall, I’ll plant earlier and hope for a late fall harvest.

Peas n’ Strawberries. My strawberries got very confused with the very mild winter and produced like crazy. The bad part is that they were mealy and weren’t good over the winter months. If they did this again, I will definitely pinch off all blooms and let the roots/plant grow instead. By this spring, they were tasty. Here in East Texas, you really are supposed to plant your June-bearing strawbs in fall. But good luck finding plants! I had these overwinter and reproduce like mad, so I planted the babies EVERYWHERE. And this year I found a variety that tastes way better: Seascape. Now we are only supposed to plant June bearing strawbs, but these are considered “everbearing”. Whatever. I am going with this to see how it turns out. The berries are bigger and far tastier than these other ones, which I THINK are Allstar.

A December harvest: It’s scant, but it’s food. We enjoy eating the leaves of broccoli as well as the stalks; just peel ’em! No reason to let either go to waste. Throw the thinly cut leaves into a stir-fry or a soup. Also, you do know that broccoli as we know it is the unopened flowers of the plant, right?

Thanks for taking a little detour with me today! Now it’s back to reality and back to dreaming of a well or a cistern for the garden…

Hubris and Humility in the Garden

After my lame summer growing, I kicked it into high gear for the fall garden. I started my seedlings early, I got the beds composted and ready. I was on top of my game this year! Finally!

In September, I happily planted my garlic in the ground. Earliest ever! I planted my greens! Beat my record for planting by a whole month!

This would be the BEST. FALL. GARDEN. in the history of my fall gardens!

But then, it went south. I can just tell you that just when you think you have gardening all figured out, it is gonna throw you a curveball.

The garlic I ordered struggled to root. The turnips and some of my rutabaga never germinated. My carrot seeds laughed in defiance; they mostly failed to germinate at all. Then it was time to plant the seedlings that I had loved on since August.

Something was way wrong.

It took several days, but then it hit me: I had started my seeds in Miracle Gro potting soil. That’s all the store had. On top of that, because I forgot I had used Miracle Gro soil, I had been fertilizing, too! UGHHHHHHHHHHH. Talk about a root killer! So that was the issue with my indoor seeds! Too much love. Never plant seeds in MG potting soil. Just don’t. Use a seed starting mix with no fertilizer. I found some at another store and loaded up. The oldie made a newbie mistake.

As far as my carrot seeds, after doing research, I found that they lose germination quickly if not kept cool/frozen, and mine had sat out for about a year. The turnip seed was six years old and who knows how well I had stored it? The rutabaga? Also old seed. The garlic? Not sure. But I have a story about that.

I asked the seed company on Facebook if this particular garlic took longer to root. I usually only do the grocery store garlic, which I believe is the variety California Early White. For whatever reason, the Sicilian Artichoke garlic just seemed to not want to put out roots. So as I said in another post, I dug up the cloves, took them inside and replanted them in a seedling mix. This brought more success, but still some struggled to root. So fairly immediately the company replied to me on my Facebook post, and asked how I had planted it and what my soil was like. I replied, and then just a few minutes later they said that they would send me replacement bulbs. This was completely unexpected but very much appreciated because not many companies stand behind their products like that. So for that reason, I will very much recommend using Willhite Seed out of Poolville, Texas for your seed needs. Before you ask, yes, they do sell non-GMO seed. I have had no other issues with the other seed products I have bought from them.

Back to my failures:

The seedlings that I did plant outside are slowly making it. Probably because now they are in good compost and not sitting in a chemical/salt-laden cesspool. After a couple of nights under a plastic cover, they have really begun to thrive. Especially the carrot seeds; I’ll remember that for this spring! The turnips never came up: Old seed. The rutabagas did start coming up after the plastic cover was in place. The garlic is now coming in. The grocery store garlic came up easily and I planted it all over the yard, in various beds. I mean, can you EVER have enough garlic?

The garden is looking better, despite my “help”. Plants are amazingly resilient.

Update: Most of the transplants have made it. LESSON LEARNED!

I don’t have a pic of the garden right now, but here’s some adorable metal plant stakes that my “big sister” got me for my birthday!

A Fall Garden

After my summer of B.L.A.H. (see last post), and feeling the pressure of the current supply chain crunch, I’m all into my fall gardening. We are in gardening Zone 8a; a very nice zone for fall and winter gardening. It always has surprised me that more people around here don’t do much fall gardening. And no, mums don’t count. Most people plant for the summer garden, and that’s great and all, but fall/winter are very productive, too.

This year, I’m trying out a few new varieties of veggies, mostly from Seed Treasures and Baker Creek. Some of the new things in the starter “greenhouse” are: Red Acre cabbage, Goliath broccoli, Chijimisai greens, Purple Lady bok choi, Chinese Pink celery, He Shi Ko bunching onion, and Sweet Spanish onion (from seed). Brassicas and greens do especially well for us during fall/winter, and they are so good for you! I use all the parts from my cabbages and broccoli; even the leaves. They are great in soups and stir fries, and very easy to dehydrate for later use.

I start most of my seeds inside in a cheap little “greenhouse” that I got from Tractor Supply. It has 4 shelves, and on the top three, I have a seed heating pad and two grow lights per shelf. The heating pads are from Amazon, and I have used Wal-Mart’s linkable grow lights. Right now, the temps inside are such that I don’t turn on the heating pads, but I will in December, especially, as I start my seeds for February plantings.

I use plastic containers from leftovers and salad mixes, mostly, with a soil-less seed mix. I am bad about planting stuff too deep, so this year I was extra careful, and only had to replant a couple of things. I found that spinach is especially picky and so I barely even covered it, misted it daily, and it all finally came up the second time around. I leave containers covered with a clear lid (or even Saran wrap) until the first true leaves come in, then I remove that.

I should have planted two weeks earlier to get everything to the right size for transplanting (I really want everything in by this week), so I’d recommend starting your seeds for most fall things no later than the last week of August if you are in my zone.

Some things you don’t want to transplant, like carrots. In the outside beds, I planted these seeds: Kohlrabi, turnips, two kinds of beets, radishes, chard, carrots (4 types), potatoes (an experiment), and garlic. Kinda miffed at the garlic.

I ordered garlic for the very first time and it was PRICEY stuff. With shipping, it was $25 for TWO HEADS. Yikes. Anyway, I planted it several weeks ago and….nothing. I got impatient and dug some up on Monday. Several had rotted, five pieces had rooted, and the rest were just sitting there and had done NOTHING. I replanted the rooted ones, chunked the rotted ones, and took in the ones that had done nothing. Earlier this year, I had rooted some garlic indoors and transplanted it later on and it did well. So that’s what I’ll do again. I have the ends of the pieces barely in some soil and I’m making sure the soil doesn’t dry out. Since the container is clear, I will be able to watch the roots develop and I’ll transplant them when I see good roots. Angry at the garlic priced like gold, I went to Wal-Mart and grabbed a sack of garlic like I usually do, and planted it all over our gardens. It doesn’t need covering when the cold comes, at least not here, so you can plant it wherever it will get full sun. UPDATE: A week later, about seven more cloves of garlic had rooted. YAY. I planted it yesterday.

What’s in your fall garden?

Cannin’ and such – The end of summer 2021

Here is a short list of things I don’t like:

  • Humidity
  • Oppressive heat
  • No rain
  • Wasps
  • Fleas
  • Stinkbugs in the garden
  • A summer cold

And here is a short list of things that always happen during Texas summers:

  • Humidity
  • Oppressive heat
  • No rain
  • Wasps
  • Fleas
  • Stinkbugs in the garden
  • A summer cold

At least I can say that summer 2021 DID have more rain, at least through early July. Plus, we didn’t have but a few days of 100+ degrees.

I was not inspired this year to do much in the garden. Last year, I grew stuff like there was no tomorrow (and frankly, who knew?). But this year was the summer of B.L.A.H. (Being Lazy And (probably) Hormones (because frankly, when do they NOT rule our lives?).

Even so, I did get some things accomplished.

I planted enough cucumbers to make almost a years’ worth of pickles. I made a few “spicy” jars this year.

We grew some apples! You don’t hear about Texas apples, do ya? But it can be done! Despite me running over the tree two years ago on the UTV, our tree survived!

Our muscadines produced really well, due to all of the rain we got this year. I still had about 21 pints of grape jelly from 2020, so I couldn’t figure out what do. Then, it hit me: JUICE. Who doesn’t love grape juice? Well, duh. So if you are into making jelly or juices the ONLY way to fly is to get a steam juicer. Throw the fruit in, add water to the bottom pot, heat, and POOF! You get beautiful juice that can be canned as is, or made into beautiful jellies. Don’t even touch the fruit on top; don’t squeeze it with a spatula or you get ugly jelly, like I did in 2020. It puts sediment into your juice and makes it cloudy.

This picture is when I was juicing “Carlos” bronze muscadines. They are amazingly sweet and remind me of those expensive “cotton candy” grapes.

On the left is the finished juice of the “Carlos” grape, and on the right is the finished jelly of “Noble” – a purple muscadine. See how clear the juice/jelly is? So easy with the steam canner. Worth every cent. (Mine is no longer available on Amazon. As of 9/23/21, they have a Roots & Branches brand for $69 that looks nice! It’s one quart smaller in capacity than what I have, but I paid over $125 for mine, thanks to the 2020 canning frenzy)

And in the Weird files, which, admittedly, are very thick over here on the farm, I had a mystery squash come up in my orchard along the fenceline. It grew all over my grapes and I just left it to see. Well…it was a spaghetti squash! What the heck! I could have planted a million of those seeds and probably never grew a vine as nice as this one. I think we got 6 squash from it and they are delicious. So I think I’ll plant some sketti squash next to my grapes on down the fence next spring. Why not? A little cabbage worm ate off some of the skin, which is what you see here, but it didn’t hurt the squash at all.

So maybe it wasn’t my most productive summer ever; oh well. Now I’m just ready for the rains to come to break the official spell of dryness that always hits us in September. Meanwhile, the insane amount of seedlings I have started for our fall garden are sprouting and growing. I have promised them that I’ll not fail them when it comes time to get them in the ground.

Goodbye, summer of B.L.A.H.! Here’s to a productive fall!

Showers N’ Flowers

Today I am sitting at my desk at work, contemplating why I even attempt to re-ink a stamp. The frugalista in me says, “Why buy a entire new stamp when a bottle of ink is three dollars?” The realist in me says, “Every time you re-ink a stamp, you end up looking like you were booked and fingerprinted MULTIPLE times in the county jail.” I now have ink on my desk, my face, all of my fingers, my pencil cup, my mouse, and the book I was reading. Luckily, I wore a black shirt today.

But let us discuss more pleasant and pretty things. My yard, for example!

This spring was chilly all the way into the first of May. Not that I’m complaining, HOWEVER, my corn I planted never came up and my cream peas were lackluster. My tomatoes were sad and took forever to grow. Even so, now that it’s warmed up, things are filling out. Let’s take a look around:

View from our porch. It rained today for the first time in a MONTH, PTL! I was already tired of watering.  Yarrow and daylilies are at the forefront:

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View of the house. The front porch will eventually be screened in the front, and closed on the sides with big screened windows. I call it my future three season room. You can see that the blanketflower (on bottom left) really took over. It is all over our yard now.

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Front left side of porch. From left: Indian hawthorn (covered in blackberry I can’t kill), blue/black salvia, daylily, and then my lemon trees I grew from seed five years ago. Also, a couple of geraniums.

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View of what I call “The Salad Bowl”. Jason leveled the front yard, and this required making a hill around the driveway. I have really been working on this hill with tomatoes, wildflowers, asparagus, and Drift roses, among many other things. Trying to keep it covered to prevent erosion. Also, it is 100% ‘sugar sand’, so I am slowly digging out sand and replacing with compost. The flat ground is where we will plant big thing like corn and okra, and you can also see my sad peas and my rows of green beans. The flowers are brown eyed Susans, which I love!

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Raised metal bed that Jason built. The plan is to trellis indeterminate tomatoes here. This is a 10′ bed, but a 20′ is in the works. I will put anything vining or trailing on these.

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Prime-ark Freedom blackberries! Only 2 yr old vine and producing tons of huge fruit. I love this berry!

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Backside of the ‘rose garden’. Time to clean up the old bulb leaves. Once they are brown, they are fine to remove.

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Iris bed with orange, purple, and white irises. Also have some daylilies and crocosmia planted.

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The ‘rose garden’, with a few unidentified roses, but also has “Trumpeter”, “Electron”, Mutabilis, “The Fairy”, and “Dolly Parton”. I put assorted impatiens in the empty spots just to fill space.IMG_20180520_190023805

Another view of the iris bed. You can see the lighter green crocosmia taking over, but it’s so gorgeous here in a few weeks, who cares? The little tree on the right is a lemon tree that I planted from local seed. There are two lemon trees in Jacksonville that I know of, and both are ancient. I got seed from both trees about five/six years ago, and one tree is just now fruiting! We are sooooo excited. BTW, the Coors can you may see isn’t mine; it’s for the slugs. Yes, I am a bootlegger for slugs. Only kidding…slugs are apparently addicted to cheap beer and they will come by the hundreds to a beer-filled dish only to party and subsequently perish. Try it for yourself if the slugs are driving you crazy!

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Hope you enjoyed the tour! In the next month, things will start getting crispy out there and I’ll only come out “when the sun hits the pines”, which is to say, either before sun up or after sundown!

 

Another way to look at weeds

If you have ever gardened, it’s a known fact that if you don’t cover the soil with something (like mulch), God will cover it for you. Normally, this will be done with weeds.

But what is a weed, anyway? It is simply a plant in a place where you don’t want it. They are certainly not all bad, and in fact, many are very nutritious for us. We can look at them with utter hatred, or we can choose to make something positive of the situation. In my case, I see them as free chicken food from Mother Earth. Or, as I call them collectively, “chicken salad”. Every day, I have been going out to get my sunshine dosage (more on that later…I get seasonal affective disorder, I am pretty sure), and as I’m basking in that wonderful warmth, I silently thank God for each weed. Each one helps my little flock to stay healthy through the winter, and in turn, they produce healthier eggs for my family. This makes us healthier, too.
I think far too much when I’m weeding.

I think how weeds, just like the obstacles and trials in our own lives, can either be met with contempt, or they can be used to better us; to strengthen us. We may not be able to choose whether or not we get a yard full of weeds, but we can choose the attitude in which we greet them. As it is with life, our attitude towards the negative things we encounter is our choice

Now go out there, put on a big smile, and pull up some chicken salad. Happy Thanksgiving, friends. 

Front Yard Do-Over (Again)

August 2008: This is the front yard the day we bought the farmhouse. To the left there is a holly tree, which we immediately removed since: A. I don’t like giant holly trees and B. It had a huge hole in the trunk and would be weak anyway. On the right was an odd little tree that resembled a ginkgo. It was not a ginkgo, but we did end up removing it for some reason or other. Normally, we don’t take down trees at all, but…

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March 2009: Where the front garden all began. You can see that we fenced it in and were in the process of doing raised beds. There are lettuces, broccoli, onions, and cabbages planted here. What you may also see is that we did not remove the grass, which turned out to be a VERY BAD decision. I assure you, you will NOT WIN when battling Bermuda grass. Do yourself a favor, save your sanity and START WITH A BLANK SLATE.

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May 2009: You can see that the lettuces and broccoli are done. The cabbages, as you might notice, are completely eaten up by cabbageworms. Hurrah. Not. Also note that we had a nice watering system that misted all of the beds. Also note that the grass is growing at a rapid pace.

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January 2011: If you read my yearly reflections, you will know that I am always saying to live simply and not take on more than you can handle. Well, here I am, not following my own advice. Even though my front garden was crazy with grass and not well kept, I decided to plow up and landscape even MORE yard! Go me!

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August 2012: Three years of battling Bermuda grass has driven us to the breaking point. It has invaded my beds and even grown into some of the wood. We have the tractor in place to remove the raised beds and we ended up burning them. It was a happy/sad day!

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Here is the front space that we created back in 2011. I seeded it with a wildflower mix and a poppy mix. See the lovely grapevine on the fence? Something ate its roots not long after this photo was taken and the entire plant collapsed in two days. I still weep for that grapevine. This is early summer, 2013.

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These beds were also seeded with wildflowers. You can see my onion patch here, too.

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June, 2013: You can see that the grasses have been trying to grow back. Also, note the blackberry bush in the lower left corner. It honestly made the nastiest blackberries I have ever had the displeasure of eating. They had to be dead ripe to get any sugary taste, and even then, it left your mouth with a bitter taste. Gag. It was labeled as Rosborough. Nope, never again. I finally tore it out in 2016.

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Shpring has shprung! This is April 2014. I love the wildflowers, but they are just hiding the fact that I don’t really want to deal with the yard at this point. Trust me, there are a ton of grasses in there that are already seeding…

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April 2015, from our bedroom window. Love love love me some irises!

 

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A favorite orange variety, given to me by an old schoolmate! I adore this iris and it is very hardy. I divided it this year (2016), so I hope for a LOT more!  In the background, you can see oregano, then Lamb’s Ears, and….more irises!

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Spring 2015:

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Looking awfully grassy out there….No garden beds 😦

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June 2016: The Brown-eyed Susans and Indian blanketflowers were absolutely insane this year. True, I had no real gardening beds (other than those right by the house), but I couldn’t tear these out…yet.

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September 2016: The breaking point that has built up for eight long years! It’s time to do this dadgum yard RIGHT! One of the major issues was that it was never properly leveled, so you were always walking up or down a slope. After a few hours’ deliberation and some quick sketches, Jason and I decided to do this right so we NEVER HAVE TO RE-DO THIS AGAIN. Time for the “reno”!

First, you take a backhoe:

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And you start to work on the leveling. It is really impossible to tell here, but that little scrape-out is about 3 foot tall or so! And then…

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You raze that sucker and get it as flat as a pancake! Notice, almost no weeds…Praise the Lord!

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We left this cornerpost because it supports a big climbing rose I have. The apple tree is actually going to be removed as sadly, it is too blighted to keep. Darn it.

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And, welcome to our desert garden!

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Now, for this shot, I had to get in the bucket of the backhoe and Jason lifted me up. Did I mention that I HATE heights! Whew. The asparagus bed to the far right was removed and we put it along the newly created arch next to the driveway. I call this garden the “Salad Bowl” because of its shape!

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Here you can see that bowl-shape I was talking about. And here we have laid out our beds to run east to west. I can see everything from my front porch! Woohoo!

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All my cute little beds…

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To keep me from losing my mind, we gathered all the pine straw we could to cover up the sand. I wish you could have seen how much came in through my front door in that first week…yuck. I hate a sandy floor! And you can also see the four ornamental beds I have created in the very front of my house. We used logs from our woods to make the edging. It’s still a work in progress, but I did relocate almost all of my roses to the beds on the left, and then a lot of irises to the bed on the right. The crepe myrtle coming up in the bed was a volunteer. We have more baby crepe myrtles than anyone I’ve ever seen. We have relocated many to the chicken coop and some more to the front yard. This particular one is a nice pink color. I have no clue where it came from!

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Sanity has been restored! Here we are in October 2016! It’s pretty amazing because so much has already grown up in the two weeks since I took this picture.The roses have really started filling out, and I planted tons of bulbs and some daylilies.

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I hope you enjoyed the tour through time! If you take away anything, just remember that Bermuda grass is the devil and you’d better rip all that hot mess out before you get to planting! And yes, it goes deep underground. Had we done that to begin with, I’d have a really lovely eight year old garden now. Oh well! Live and learn!!!

Until next time!

I don’t want to be a farmer today.

On February 10th, we had a pretty catastrophic thing happen at the farm.  Over the course of approximately four hours, we received 3.40 inches of rain.  It was a deluge…absolutely torrential.  Admittedly, I did sleep through the majority of it with the exception of about 4 seconds at 4 in the morning when I peeked through my blinds to see rain falling so heavily that the entire world appeared white.

When I got up that Sunday morning, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, the grass was green….and my front yard had washed downhill.  The front yard that we have slaved on ever since the day we moved here.  For any new readers, you may want to take a look back at my posts about the Bermuda grass situation.  In a nutshell, the yard which we had decorated beautifully with a fence, gates, landscape timbers and 15 raised beds was razed flat to the ground because it was infected, YES INFECTED, with Bermuda grass.  After four years of battling the grass, we finally had enough and tore it all out this past September.   For many weeks, we sifted soil by hand to remove any remaining grass and we added countless bags of mulch anywhere that we didn’t want our plants to grow.  I have boiled down the process to a few sentences, but it took many  months of work to get where we are today.  Or at least where we were Saturday, because on Sunday about a quarter of my mulch was gone and my newly seeded wildflower bed was all but washed away.

As I was looking at the damage done, my eyes fell on my arugula/Asian greens seedlings.

Wait.

Where the hell are my seedlings?  I frantically bent down, and performing some immediate Front Yard CSI investigative techniques, I discovered that the greens had been mowed down by a wild rabbit.

Great, so not only did my garden get hit by a flash flood, but now the seedlings that I had been waiting for since January got completely assaulted by a buck-toothed, garden-destroying furball.  It was just too much.  I should also add that I was in the murky depths of a hormonal fog.  So I was on the verge of tears standing in my garden, trying to take in the destruction that lay before me, trying to decide whether to give up, cry, or find some stray dynamite and do the entire thing in.

In the end, I got over it.  Jason vowed never to touch it again, and so far, he hasn’t.  He would love nothing more than covering the entire thing in about 10 inches of mulch and saying to hell with it.  Myself, on the other hand, being the type who is either absolutely insane or loves self-punishment, decided to keep forging ahead and take a clue from Mother Nature.  A good lesson here is to never work against Her.  Bad idea.  This time, I noted where the run-off had been the worst and just worked around it.  Why would I plant or put mulch there if they’re just going to get swept away?  Now I officially have my very own “Horseradish Island”…my way of working with Nature by allowing water to run around my horseradish bed in a natural, teardrop-shaped form rather than trying to keep a 4×10′ rectangle.  I also added some rocks to the upper sides of some of the beds to prevent any further erosion.

I ended up not crying, and not setting off any explosives.  As for the rabbit, two weeks after the flood, Jason called to tell me that a certain little furry enemy of ours was lying dead in the ditch beside our house.  I like to think of it as Mother Nature’s peace offering.

I accept.

All good things…

…as they say, must come to an end.

I have never written a chicken obituary/memorial before, but I figured that I owe one to this particular bird.  The other day, as we were coming home, Jason spotted a familiar chicken that we all know and love….in the middle of the road.  Quite flat, actually.  I am glad I did not see it.

It was not THE Wayward Jones, but rather her sister, who apparently, even though she was warned of the dangers of hitchhiking and living loosely, still ventured too close to the road.  I COULD mention the age-old joke here…but out of respect, I won’t theorize why the chicken crossed the road.  Actually, now I suppose we’ll never know.  Anyway, Ms. Jones was interred September 17th, 2010.  Casseroles, chicken scratch, and donations to P.A.R.C. (Persons Against Runaway Chickens) will be accepted.

In other news, it is finally cooling down enough that I have made progress around the farm.  Tonight, we have been working on adding a top to the chicken yard.  A couple of weeks ago, I found the headless body of one of my barred Rock hens, which is indicative of a raccoon murder.  Let me say here that I do not like raccoons.  Sure, they may look all cute and fuzzy, what with their little people-like hands, thick fluffy coat, and ringed tail.  But behind their mask lies a cold-blooded serial killer.  Let’s not mince words here.  I won’t go into detail about what I would like to do to the ‘coon, lest you think I am just a cruel person.  So, to avoid further bloodshed, particularly for the ‘coon, we are putting a ‘lid’ on the outdoor run out of wire.

I have been lazy in my garden.  I haven’t pulled weeds in weeks and haven’t really cared to.  Jason made the comment the other day, “Nice bed of Bermuda you’re growing here.”  I couldn’t argue.  If I were TRYING to grow Bermuda, it couldn’t have looked much better than the thick, jungle carpet that has now dominated my old lettuce patch.  BUT, now is the time to plant, so I hope to take new pics and show you what will be in store for winter.  I am planning on having a really kick-butt winter garden this year, mainly by really utilizing row covers and my chenilles.

In farmhouse news, it’s really nothing new.  Please, please, please, if you do repairs on your house, have them (or do them) professionally.  And for crying out loud, please don’t use the cheapest parts you can buy.  Our poor heat pump/blower was apparently brought over on the Ark, and probably the same model used by the ancient Egyptians.  Ok, maybe those time periods don’t coincide.  Whatever, you get the picture.  Our kitchen faucet is leaky, the kitchen sink is made out of white plastic (what masochist picked THAT out???) and the supposedly new septic tank is overflowing.  Not complaining, just venting.  Anyhoo, it boils down to I am about to have to spend a good chunk o’ change to have a new heatpump installed, so that we don’t freeze to death this year.  I mean, last year, our house was at 58 degrees.  I’m sorry, but I don’t care to live in a meat locker.  Thank the Good Lord for all my quilts.  I looked like some sort of strange chrysalis all winter last year, wrapped in about 14 quilts, along with thermal underwear, a full set of clothes and 2 layers of socks.  I didn’t go anywhere without my throng of quilts.  THIS YEAR (I’m pulling a total Scarlett O’Hara here), with God as my witness, I will not freeze again!  We are going to insulate the house.  I hope they blow 5 feet of insulation in the attic.  I want so much insulation, it is scraping the rafters.  I want so much that it is spilling out of every vent and pore of this house.  I can’t say enough about good insulation.

I think I will end my post here.  Hopefully, next go ’round I will have some sort of interesting pictures for you all.

Gettin’ my goat…

Lately, we have been having ‘problems’ with our goats. Oh, they’re perfectly healthy and robust, but unfortunately, they all seem to suffer from some sort of co-dependent paranoia/eating disorder that if I do not come and feed them every 10 minutes, they are at the fence (unfortunately which can be seen through my back door) and scream at the top of their goat lungs. An incessant, “BAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAA” from early morning to nightfall.  It is to the point that my husband is ready to gut and clean every goat and have a giant, citywide barbeque.  So much for the peace and quiet of the country. We currently have eight goats; I am trying to get that to two or three to quiet the decibel level of “Baa”.  Oh, they have full access to about 12 acres of brushy, goat-friendly goodness, but they’d rather take a hand-out.  Reminds me of some of the people in this great nation.  Anyway, maybe that’s why I find it doubly irritating.  I don’t know.  I did just look and the goats were all where they are SUPPOSED to be, which is in the woods.  Maybe they will learn, yet.  We shall see. 

In farm life, yesterday, we had a couple of ‘our guys’ come and help us burn dead wood out in the goat pen, clean out the goat pen and apply it to my garden, and haul bricks to our pathway we are constructing in front of our house.  It was really great to have 4 extra hands!  I found one of my up and coming Rhode Island Red hens with her rear end virtually pecked to a bloody mess (ah, the fun you can have with chickens) so, I had to put her in a separate cage, clean and medicate her chicken bootie, and see how she does.  She’s a lot better this morning.  If you didn’t know it already, chickens will ruthlessly peck most anything that is red, blood especially, to the point they will kill a fellow chicken.  It can be extremely annoying and frustrating.  That’s why many chicken brooder lights are red, so that they cannot distinguish one red area from another.  So, I’ll have to turn back on the red light, I guess.  Oh well.  They are almost ready to put out with the big guys. 

So, screaming goats and doctoring chicken booties aside, yesterday was a really good, productive day!