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 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


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!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Been Busy

I haven't posted much this summer, not because nothing is going on (although it's been a nice, laid-back summer so far), but because I've been spending an inordinate amount of time in the garden.  I've used approximately 1 1/4 dump truck loads of my free wood chips on the garden paths so far.  It's looking pretty good, even if I must say so myself.

Unfortunately, I discovered that there must be some poison ivy mixed in with the stuff.  Now the routine is:  work on moving wood chips while wearing washable cotton work gloves, strip down immediately upon entering the house and wash all clothing and gloves in hot water, take super soapy shower, wash phone & earbuds with wet wipe, wash garden clogs outside.  It's a pain, but I haven't noticed any new spots of poison for almost a week.

I finally have the last of the planting done, although it will soon be time to pull out the peas and replant for a Fall crop.

Today I picked rhubarb, kohlrabi, a couple
 of tomatoes, the first cucumber, and the
last handful of blueberries

L's garden beds are doing especially well, probably because they get weeded, watered and mulched regularly, unlike the rest of the garden.

Baby cantaloupes in L's garden
L's peppers
One of these days I will get around to weeding and mulching my flower bed.  It is looking pretty colorful at the moment.  My blue Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) is particularly striking.

It hasn't been all work and no play, however.  The girls and I have been trying to take a fun outing weekly.  So far we have been to get free donuts for Donut Day, mini golfing, to see "Finding Dory", to the Science Museum, to Oglebay Park, and to the Zoo.  It's been fun!

The girls feeding Lorikeets at Oglebay Park.

This afternoon, we had a get together with a few families of our friends.  The host outdid himself with delicious homemade rolls, cinnamon rolls and grilled Cornish hens.  Now I am digesting and being lazy.  It feels fabulous!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Where's the Bear? #85

The last time anyone saw the bear, he had fallen from the "giraffe tree."

I searched for him today, and found this:

It doesn't look good, folks!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth!


We have had a long weekend full of adventure.  It began with JP's mower breaking down twice during his normal 5 hours of mowing on Saturday, adding 2 hours of driving to get parts, and making the task take about 11 hours total.

On Sunday, we had 2 families of friends out for a cook out and pool party.  We had delicious food (as always), as well as corn hole competitions, a bizarre volleyball/karaoke mash-up involving a beach ball and frequently the roof, a hike, and fireworks for the finale.  It is always so much fun to hang out with our friends!

Today, we ventured South to see another friend's festive tractor display.

This afternoon has been movie time, as the rain has kept us indoors.  That has been a wonderfully relaxing finish to a busy weekend!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Worth It?

Yesterday, in honor of "Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day", I decided to try to make a recipe for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream that John showed me.

It was very involved.  First you have to make a salted caramel that is broken into little pieces after it cools and hardens, which are mixed into the ice cream at the end.  Then you make another caramel, into which you stir butter, cream and milk, and finally 5 egg yolks.  The entire mixture is cooked to 165*, and then strained and cooled.  When it is completely cooled, it can be frozen in an ice cream mixer. 

I took me about 1 1/2 hours to make the ice cream base yesterday, not including washing up all the dishes and bowls.  We tried it last night and it was INCREDIBLE!

I was looking forward to having the rest tonight, but almost cried when JP broke the news to me this morning that I  had inadvertently left it out on the counter all night long.

I will probably make it again, but not for a while.  I have to work through the heartache first.

In the meantime, I have been working hard on getting the pile of wood chips into the garden.  First I mowed everything well, and used the weed eater all around.  Then I have been placing pieces of landscaping fabric, and covering that with at least 3 inches of the chips.

It is hard and slow work.

I have nearly worn out my leather gloves in the process!
At this point, my feet, back, butt, shoulders and arms are killing me, but I have finished between every row (that makes 15 paths), and around 2 sides of the square strawberry bed in the middle.

There is only a small portion of the pile left.

I wonder what the chances are that the tree trimmers will bring another load?

All this it worth it?  It's easy to think that it is not when I am so exhausted and sore, but I think in the long run it is.  Down the road, I won't have to push the mower in the garden as much.  And I will be absolutely sure to put that excellent ice cream back in the freezer next time!