Monday, August 22, 2016

Surprise!

We had an interesting weekend. 

The garden is especially bountiful right now.  These are the things that I brought in this weekend.

Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Carrots, Corn, Cantaloupes & Kohlrabi

We had our first fresh corn on the cob.  I also made and canned pasta sauce using almost every ingredient from the garden, with the exception of celery.  This is the recipe I use:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/simple-tomato-sauce-recipe3.html

L's cantaloupes are getting ripe!  We've picked 5 so far, and they are delicious.  We've never had luck with melons in the past.


Speaking of melons, I usually let the ladies clean out the watermelon rinds once I cut out the flesh.


They do a pretty good job.

 
On Saturday evening, we went out for dinner with the girls and my parents to celebrate our August weddings 3 days apart.  When we returned home, we found my parents house full of our friends - my mother and my friend secretly planned a surprise party to celebrate our 25th anniversary. 

 
JP was not surprised.  He was suspicious from the moment my mother invited us several weeks ago.  He went so far as to call the restaurant right before we left home to find out if there were reservations for a large party.  Lacking a reservation, he says he figured people would be there when we got back.

I was gullible enough to have no such concerns, and I was duly surprised.  We had a lovely time visiting with our friends and neighbors. 

My mother gave us this tea set that my grandmother gave to my parents for THEIR 25th wedding anniversary.
 

The last thing that surprised me this weekend, was this little hummingbird that perched on the fence of my flower garden for about 15 minutes on Saturday morning.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Projects

We have a few long range planting projects on going at the moment.  Some are doing much better than others.

The ground cover that I planted behind the pool is finally doing what I'd hoped - keeping the bank from eroding. 


My moss "garden" continues to spread, I even added another stepping stone this year.  It too is working as planned - to add color and interest to the entrance of the house.

 
We planted clover after moving the chicken run, and it is coming in well.  We will move them back in the spring, and re-plant THAT area in clover too.


I found a volunteer pumpkin plant in the old chicken run.  It has 4 or 5 decent sized pumpkins on it!

 
We are trying a new method for growing potatoes this year.  I made a bag out of landscape fabric, and planted potatoes.  As they grow, we continue to add soil, so the plants get taller, and supposedly grow more potatoes.  At the end of the season, JP plans to scoop up the entire bag with the tractor, where we can cut the bag and easily harvest taters.  We had to put the fence around it, as the kitties thought it made an awesome litter box too. 

 
JP wanted to plant a wildflower bed down near the bees.  He researched on line, and bought a mix that was supposed to be indigenous to SW Pennsylvania, and resistant to deer.  There are finally a couple of flowers blooming there, but it appears to have come up mostly grass.  Also, the deer have been eating off some of the flowers.  Grrr.


I finished with the wood chips on the garden path several weeks ago.  It doesn't look much different since the last pictures that I posted, but I did mow the remaining grassy areas last weekend, and it only took 5 minutes (vs. the 40 it has taken in the past.)

We began another project this evening - JP pierced L's ears.  She has been working up the nerve to do it since December.  She won't let me take a picture this evening, so I'll have to post a sparkly picture later.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Silver

Just in time for the Olympics, JP & I have scored a Silver of our own - this week we celebrated our 25th anniversary.  We were able to get away to the city overnight, thanks to my parents who gave us the great gift of taking care of the girls.  We watched a baseball game from our hotel room.


We strolled around town, and walked to a fancy restaurant for dinner, where we dined with a hometown hero.


We even got to watch fireworks from our hotel once it got dark outside!


In the morning, we walked to get coffee and bagels.

That evening, the girls, a friend, and I went to the fair.  J was roaming with her friend, so L & I got to take in things we don't normally see - like the veggies and canned goods.  It was not very crowded, so we took multiple rides in the Ferris wheel.

 
We watched the truck pull for awhile, we could even see it from the Ferris wheel later on!

 
We ate fair food, and L fed the baby zebra.


I woke the girls up at 5:30 the following morning to head out on our mini-vacation.  We were on the road by 6 AM!  The girls had been begging to go to the beach, but we didn't have time to drive the 8 hours to the shore, so we went to Presque Isle on Lake Erie.  The weather was hot and humid, but it was lovely.


We visited 2 different light houses.

We saw an IMAX movie about space, looked for beach glass (didn't find any), played in the sand and water, and had a very nice time.

I forgot to mention that last Friday, the girls and I loaded up the bikes and drove up to our favorite park, where we ate a picnic lunch,

...rode our bikes on the bike trail,

 
...and played in the creek.

It was a lot of fun!

In between all of these activities, I've been doing this:

 
The peaches are now all canned, but I've been doing tomatoes every other day!

Tonight we are exhausted, and it is overcast outside, but tomorrow night we plan to stay up late to look for meteors as it is time again for the Perseid Meteor Shower, and it is supposed to be exceptionally awesome this year!

I hope that your summers are winding down as nicely as ours!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fearless - Part II

I used up my remaining wood mulch in the flower garden on Monday morning.  Look who followed me up the hill and was sleeping in my pile of mulch!

 
Actually, both of these guys were in my mulch.

 
I found this snake skin in my flower garden a few minutes later, so that snake is even bigger now than it used to be.


Country living...meh.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

This Week on the Farm

Last weekend, I pretty much finished up putting wood chips on the garden paths.  A very small pile remains, but I've run out of landscape fabric.  Almost everything got covered that I hoped to cover, so I'm happy.  I even re-seeded the lawn where the big pile of wood chips killed off the grass.  It has been rainy enough this week, that it is already starting to grow!
 
I didn't spend much time in the garden this week...giving myself a break (even though there is still plenty to be done in there!)  Instead, I worked in my flower garden.  I got everything weeded and dead-headed.  I also thinned out some of the plants, and transplanted my yellow rose bush.  I even started to mulch in there, and was able to set out 2 of my newly painted piggies.
 

I also dug up the grass around the lamp post, and re-stacked the rocks around it...looks much better.


I do have to go down to the garden every couple of days because the tomatoes are going crazy!

 
There are hundreds of tomatoes hanging on the vines, and some of them are HUGE!
 
 
Everything else is doing well too.  L's cantaloupes have about 7 good sized melons growing, the first planting of corn is beginning to tassel, and the portulacas that I planted in the upper tier of the strawberries are blooming.
 




 I went over to pick Mom's tomatoes too, and noticed that they have some grapes on their grapevines!


This weekend, we also managed to mow in the chicken run before it let loose and poured almost an inch and a half of rain on the ridge!  (No rain on "Rain Day", the day before, it was the one dry day this week!)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Fearless

I went out early to work in the garden this morning.  With the thermometer hovering around 90* these days, I did not want to be out there once the sun was up and blaring.  I SO want to be finished with this wood chips on the garden paths project, it is so much more huge than I anticipated!

2 weeks ago, JP used the tractor to transfer about 2/3 of the remaining pile of wood chips inside of the garden fence, which has made it infinitely easier to transport it to the paths.  This morning, I was nearing the very bottom of this inside-the-garden pile, and as I scooped up a pitchfork full, this guy appeared:

 
Interestingly, I was listening at the time to an "Invisibilia" podcast called "Fearless", which was discussing the way that snakes move.  It's very interesting, if you have time to take a listen.

Gingerly, I tried to pick him up with the tines of my pitchfork to remove him from the immediate area I was working in.  He slithered through the fence, and up the hill towards my flower beds, and I was a bit shocked to see how big he was - probably 3 1/2 or 4 feet long!

 
I also noticed (after blowing up the picture) that he appears to have recently eaten.

 
Before heading in for breakfast and a shower this morning, I managed to pick these lovely fruits from the garden.

 
Snakes and fruit in the garden...sounds somewhat like a Bible story that I heard somewhere...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Kitty Komfort

Cats seem to be bred for being 2 things:  1) Creatures of Comfort - they seem to gravitate to the best chairs, lovely shady spots, and other comfy areas, where they spend infinite hours dozing, and 2) Cold Blooded Killers - if you've ever watched cats stake out a bird feeder, or be the recipients of their "gifts" of dead rodents on your doorstep, you'll know what I mean.

In the past couple of days, I've noticed our two kitties in some unusual spots - not unusual for cats, but simply that I haven't seen them there before.  They used to doze all summer long in the shade of my flower garden, but they also used to use my mulch in there for a litter box...ew.  Now that they have been banished from the flower bed through the use of much chicken wire, they need to find new resting spots, I suppose.

During the winter, they soak up the heat in first the Kitty Kastle, and now the Kitty Kooler.  They are almost always close to the house during the day, but during the long summer days, they can be hard to find.  This has made me a bit frustrated lately, as I have been trying to take Lizzie to the vaccination clinic at Tractor Supply for a rabies shot for 2 months.  She is never around on Saturdays between 1 and 2:30.  That may be why I was surprised to see her in the garden with me this morning!

Soaking up the sun on the picnic table on our veranda
 - notice that they are both snuggled up to the
pillow and hammock!

Lizzie was sleeping in the carrots but came
out as soon as she saw me with the camera!

She was sleeping amongst the tomatoes as well.
 
Last night I caught Ernie curled up in the hay mow in the barn!