Friday, April 29, 2011

Today turned out to be a very nice day--windy but very warm.

I milked first thing; it went well. I got very quickly 2+ gallons.

At 7:30 I began doing some trimming and pruning. I did the buddleia by the corner of the garage and pulled weeds from the iris there. Then did the bed up to the garden fence where the H.F. Young clematis is beginning to open. The variegated iris, Batik is blooming in front and another blue on the garden side.





I trimmed around the trees and shrubs, loaded a bale of mulch hay on the garden cart to use tomorrow, and planted two Sky Pencil hollies at the corner of the porch for an accent. I should have had the third one but didn't plan to use them this way. I need something to camouflage the wiring and telephone box.

I was surprise to see more iris blooming. Spiced Custard in the garage wall bed that has not been weeded....so just a close up of the bloom,



Clarence is blooming in a couple of places but I didn't get a picture.

We now have three hummingbirds back feeding, 2 males and l female. We do enjoy watching them.

I tossed the setting hen out into the big chicken yard with water and feed...I will shut her up each night. I will do this until she quits making the mama hen sounds.
I still have one on a few eggs but I am not optimistic about that one either.

Mowing and Trimming- Garden- Food-Chickens

Yesterday was our first sunny dry day in a very long time and I made the most of it!
I had to wait until late morning to begin mowing to let the grass dry out.

Before going out I made our favorite Ham and Potato casserole which is just layers of sliced potatoes, onion, cheese and ham chunks. I spread a thin coating of cream of mushroom soup over each layer. I end with cheese on top. I usually pour about a half cup of milk over it all, cover and bake until done at 400 degrees. I made a salad of wilted lettuce and chocolate pudding for dessert. I make chocolate pie filling, only use the whole egg. DH always says that is his favorite dessert.
So with dinner in the small oven, I began mowing.

I thought once I quit mowing the front ditch (too steep now with the new road) that my days of being pulled out with the tow rope and the ATV were over...........not so! The west yard was like a sponge leaving muddy tracks in places and when I got near the fence I dropped down about 6 inches.....so DH had the pleasure of pulling me out again...he didn't even complain.

After I mowed, I had some time to begin trimming with the repaired trimmer. I love the new head...you just tap the ground and it sends out new string. I didn't get much done but hope to finish tomorrow.

The garden is looking good. At last the onions are standing up straight and the potatoes are showing in the row. I have a good stand of lettuce and need to thin it soon....when I don't sink down. I will find some short boards to lay down to walk on if need be or thick slabs of mulch hay.

There is a row of beets on the right side, but you can't see them in this picture.

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I planted the lettuces and radishes under a small hoop frame (only one cattle panel)and planted them very thickly since I have had trouble with germination for a few years..........it looks like every single seed came up. Thinning or transplanting is in my future.


The garlic has huge, lush tops this year; maybe it likes moisture! I will just show this clump of a volunteer. The other row is too weedy! It needs hoeing, but is way too wet.



In bloom right now in my garden:

Honeysuckle on porch
purple and white hesperis
a few iris
three clematis
lunaria

Random Flower Pictures

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Iris 'Suky'
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an unknown iris

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DH had spent the morning taking a tire off one of the tractors and taking it into town to be repaired....then back home and putting it on again. He didn't get to work on fence again; the helper had to put a starter on his car. He will be here this morning and they can get that project done.

We decided to give up on the middle setting hen! We tossed her off the nest and threw those filthy and stinking eggs over the fence. I put clean straw in the nest box. We decided to turn her back with the flock. They attacked her like she was an alien! When they cornered her and she had her head down near the ground, I decided enough was enough so put her back in the other side. Last evening when I checked she was back on the empty nest. I need to find a cage and put her under it with the others until they get used to her again. We will leave the other one on the nest a while longer but may do the same to her. The setting hens was not successful!

I tossed them all a bucket full of grass clippings; they have already cleaned the run of green.

We got five eggs.

I will be milking again this morning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wet, wet, and cloudy and dreary!

My little corner of the world is very wet.....and dark and drear. Oh, did I mention cool......50° this morning.

No rain yet to day, but no sun and intermittent thunder and very breezy. I am betting rain is in our near future.

DH has the 'helper' of the barn crew helping him cut up a larger tree down somewhere on the farm....then I think they have some fence mending to do. I hope they get it done. 40 head of the neighbor's cows have been getting some free grass from us and I am not pleased! They don't take care of or feed anything so the animals are half starved and will push down or jump a low fence to get to grass. Also the helper needs gas money so this will help him out.

I planned to mow but it is much too wet so I transplanted tomatoes and basil. The tomatoes had the least roots I have seen. Don't know what that is about. I have enough basil to supply Greene County. I plan to plant it all and try drying some. Basil is my main herb in cooking.
So one flat became three I still have space for 3 or 4 more flats on the light stand and don't think I will need them.

DH requested oatmeal cookies yesterday so I made anther batch of Flower Lady's Create a Cookie recipe. I used, coconut, English walnuts, craisin and some raisins. Just took the last ones out.

I milked Willow for the first time in two weeks yesterday morning. I figured it would be a three-ring circus, but she went into the barn with a little prompting and began eating immediately. She let her milk down and I got two gallons very quickly. She cleaned up her feed; a first for us in the barn. I am now going to just milk when I need milk and let the calf nurse her once a day until dry up time of May 29. I made 9 cups of yogurt with part of the milk yesterday so now I am supplied again.

Garden Pictures

Over the years due mostly to mowing and trimming, I have almost lost my purple hesperis matronalis. I still have a few in the front ditch area. I am no longer mowing that ditch since the new road so will let it all go to seed. I want to get it started all along the front ditches and just let the flowers mix with the weeds and see who wins!


The Grass Bed has fully recovered from my 'burn-off'. A few of Barb's iris are blooming,



and the salvia Black and Blue in the middle that was started from a tiny rooted piece that I broke off and just stuck here has spread to about 3x3 feet.


The recovered scorched sedum,


This is a clematis that I didn't get trellised quick enough so it has become a ground cover clem. This is in the Kitchen Window/Foundation Bed.



Clematis Nelly Moser has never quite recovered from a severe pruning I did a couple of years ago, but the flowers are huge
.I took a picture with my hand to give you some idea of the size.



I wish I knew how to remove the unattractive fly, but don't. I never notice these things until I download the pictures.

I didn't get it tied up properly this year so it is lopsided on the trellis,


If we can just get some warm sunshine, the iris and clematis will be popping. This is the first year all the peonies are loaded with buds but it seems to take a long time for them to open....usually around Decoration Day.

Roses are budded, white hesperis is opening and the weigela is almost fully opened.
The heavy rains are not helping blooms.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Catchup- Easter Weekend

We awoke to a rainy and cool morning and it looks to be that all day long!

I have been absent for a few days. We went to St.Louis, actually the O'Fallon area, to visit our son and his family for the Easter weekend. It was a rainy and stormy weekend. We were just 25 miles from Lambert Airport and when the storm is moving at 60 plus mph, that isn't far. We spent the evening in the basement. The devastation in nearby communities was horrible. I feel so sorry for those folks. We were all spared, but it was a close call.

We missed seeing our grandson play baseball because of the weather, but will try again in May. He plays tournaments every weekend.

It was wonderful to visit with them. Our son took his Dad and two of his children to a Cardinal game and they had wonderful seats under roof so when a brief rain came up they were fine. My DIL and I stayed home. She wanted some help with perennials in her front and east beds. I introduced her to Bluestone and talked her into waiting for me to dig up some of mine for her. She did put in a pretty heft order for shady and semi-shady plants. I sure hope they do well for her.

We came home to just one inch in the gauge, but it rained overnight another l inch and is raining lightly now. I need some sunshine!!
We got in late in the afternoon and so I didn't take an extended tour of the yard, but did notice a few iris had opened and the white hesperis. Also I can see the white clematis, Henryi, in the cellar bed is in bloom.

I collected 15 very dirty eggs. The chickens seemed quite content in their new run and all was well. The cows were happy and content; all this rain is a very good thing for pastures.

Random Flower Picture


The oriental poppies are beginning to bloom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finished Outside Projects

I have been missing in action for a few days; in and out with yard work and the men doing the work on the barn, minor roofing redo and new chicken run.

The weather has been very cool here, but no rain. They are still saying heavy rains all the rest of the week, up to 5 inches. We will see.

I will start with the Barn Project. We had all the front doors rebuilt including framing and one (not shown) on the west side. We are very happy with the results. It is all treated lumber and will be let age gray.

This is the front with all the doors closed. The Dutch doors can be opened individually but are designed to be opened as one unit. There are latches to hold the top half of the dutch door open.



That's my mulch hay DH has thrown down out of the loft door. I break it off in flakes and use it a little like paving stones. It lasts a long time like this. I plan to mulch each side of the two rows of strawberries soon.

The chicken run is what excites DH the most....he won't have to lock up the chickens anymore! There are always a couple he has to chase around the plum tree to get then inside if it isn't dark out. The weight of the world has been lifted from his shoulders!

It is pretty spiffy and so much better than what we would have come up with. Most of the lumber was saved from the old pole barn that the tornado took out. We did buy new chicken netting for it. The top is also covered. The chickens can go in and out without us having to open a door to let them out You can see where they cut a door in the wire end of the chicken house for them. It is all tall enough we can walk into the run if need be...or to toss scraps to them.


The inside door to the run is just inside this front door to the left.


The helper is coming back tomorrow to do some finish up touches (like a brace under the center bracing/roost) and a few other things.

They also fixed a bent barn door track on the old chicken house so we can now slide that door open again. He will grease that tomorrow.

I am always happy to get things done and done properly (meaning by someone else!) but also very happy when they are finished and gone!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Bread - gardening- Setting hens

The last two days have been very nice days with the weather being perfect, sunny, breezy and warmer.

Yesterday was bread making day. I was all set to make whole wheat sandwich bread but saw a recipe for Sweet Potato Bread that caught my eye. I knew I had some mashed sweet potato left over in the refrigerator and thought this would be a good use for it. It was. We both like the bread very much. I apologize for the quality of the picture....don't know what happened but it does show accurately the color and texture of the bread. It was a two-loaf recipe. I need to make hamburger buns soon.



Late in the afternoon, I finished up the early garden planting. I planted two kinds of beets, Early Wonder, and Lutz which is a winter keeper type that I have never grown before; a very short row of Dwarf Blue Kale and I tilled the new strawberry rows.

Still only two snap peas up????that doesn't look promising.

Plants under the lights are looking good.

Setting Hens


Well, this has become a mini fiasco! You would think something so simple and natural would just be easy....nooooooo! At least not here. I had an arrangement that I thought was working well. But then my helpmeet got involved....he left the little door between the setting hens and the others open for a couple of days! So, other chickens had been laying in the nests too....caused one setting hen to change nests...long story/short: I have now put fresh eggs under one and left the other on some very dirty eggs that I don't think will hatch. I have them locked in and told said helpmeet to not touch the doors! I have no idea when hatch will happen or if it will. I think the hen that moved is laying again to accumulate more eggs in her nest. I started with 7, she had 8 last evening. I will just leave her be.
Only time will tell.

The eggs are fertile.....I gave the old eggs to the dog and observed. They had been chilled when she moved to a new nest.

Random Picture


This is a seedling lilac that I noticed a couple of years ago. It is now blooming. I like the location and will just leave it here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cold, rainy Saturday Morning - This and That - Some first blooms

Yesterday was cold and dreary and this day is starting out that way too.

It is now 37°. It looks like we got some more rain during the night and it is still windy.

I took a few pictures of new blooms yesterday.

This clematis has been planted for several years and I think last year was the first time it bloomed to amount to anything. It is very early....I don't know the name.

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and this clematis is growing on the garden fence. It is loaded with buds but only one open so far,


This is self seeded lunaria (money plant) blooming amidst the weeds in the cellar bed,



I think this is Wide Brim hosta that is being choked by violets. It is a small hosts and needs rescuing.

and this is the little planter behind the back porch door that I am going to call the 'Jack Frost (brunnera)' bed.,

and the Humming Bird bed,


DH just reported that one of the very dimwitted hens has moved to another nest and left her eggs to be chilled overnight! Yet there are eggs under her. I know what has happened. DH has shut up the chickens for a couple of nights and he does it much too early....someone has laid in the new nest late and the hen just chose the wrong nest when she got down to eat and drink. Oh, for a couple of banty hens.....they are the best mothers in the poultry kingdom.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Barn Project

I wrote some time ago and showed the doors on the old style barn. Well, we found someone who bid a reasonable price and he started this week, Wednesday.

Here are some before pictures.

The barn faces the south and there are three door or were at one time and a loft door where DH's pitches down my mulch hay.

This shows the heavy center door and the rotted and damaged loft door.

This is the east door way. We have been keeping a cattle panel tied here.


He has started framing and building the west door already,


I like the detail of the way he is building the door. Notice the brace is cut at an angle in the corners.



I think they have left for the day so we went out to see how things are looking.

This is the center door that opens to a hallway the length of the barn. There are individual pens down both sides where I used to bottle feed the Holstein baby calves.

This door will be solid.

He has already patched the rotting wood above the door. He thinks he can find a piece of the yellow barn siding to match. If not I will paint a piece.

and this is the west door into the pen where I used to milk Willow.


All is built with treated lumber that will have to age for a year before painting and I may not paint! I told him I didn't want a 'cutesy' barn look. I want it to look like a normal barn used by farmers who did not go in for fancy hardware or t&g
barn doors like he suggested. I just want it sound and usable.

I am very pleased so far.

I have to be amused at us.....we were both city people. Since moving out in 1976, we have slowly become 'farm people'. The farm comes first before the house even. Here I am needing, no wanting, new living room furniture and carpeting but I want all the outbuildings up to snuff first! DH could probably have been swayed in either direction.

Weather - planting - under lights- barn work begins

Good morning. I do hope all are safe and well after last night's storms.

We got rain and lightening but no severe weather and are thankful for that.

The next couple of days are going to be pretty cool again, 50's and 30's.

Yesterday was a nice day, but very windy. I didn't do too much outside.

I did plant the two roses in the Garden Fence Border. I am the only one who will see them there but so be it. It is the perfect spot for them with lots of air circulation. I see one clematis back there is about to open a bloom. It seems very early.

I was going to plant beets, mustard and kale and a few other early seeds, but my water bottle that I carry seeped over several seed packages and drenched them. I laid them out in a tray in the sun and they dried quickly. I may have ruined them unless I plant them all this year.

I decided to tour the yard and see what new was happening.

You all know how many violets I have; well this area has increased a lot over the years. I was mowing all but those nearest the shrubs down; then it occurred to me that I had my own "English meadow of bluebells" or meadow of violets and I didn't mow it this year so far. I like how it looks.
From gardening Spring 2011

Finally the 'Grace' smoke tree is leafing out. I think I should cut it way down to make it shrubby but I haven't yet. The morning sun shines through it and the leaves are the most gorgeous red; the picture doesn't do the color justice.

I noticed the old-fashioned lilac is not blooming nearly as much as usual and the two blooms I did see seem to be several welded together:



This is the Korean Lilac and it is blooming perfectly normal as usual:


I see I have a pure yellow sport growing on the variegated euonymous that I think started life as Emerald and Gold.



I think I will try to cut it out and root it.

and the pot of Virginia Bluebells still hasn't found a home,



The redbud tree in the 'Grace' bed. I love how the blooms just seem to be glued on the trunk,


More to follow. I want to take pictures of the barn where he is working and the plants under the lights but it is still very dark outside. I will try to do a follow-up this evening. This is enough pictures at one time anyway.

Off to clean up the kitchen after our 4-grain pancake breakfast.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Perfect Spring Day

and we don't have many of those in the Ozarks! There is no wind! It is 64° and the sun is shining.

A perfect day for working outside and I did for three hours this morning.

I had a backsliding moment this morning early and decided I didn't want to milk and just dump the milk. Everything I own is filled with milk. I have made a gallon and a quart of yogurt and a pound of mozzarella so I decided to let Willow's calf nurse...........probably a mistake. When I separated them this morning she had bawled continually. At least now when I do milk she can't get so antsy for the calf that I am in danger. She is safely confined in the stanchion. So be it!

The dogwood by the drive is now in full white stage of bloom. I am always amazed at how quickly things progress this time of year.


The 'broken' oakleaf hydrangea 'Snowflake' is surviving so far. I remember to water it every time I fill the bird bath. That location was a good idea.



I think the uprooted apple tree is still alive too, at least it is green under the bark....but no buds yet.

I spent the morning planting the order of bulbs I got from the neighbor boy (a school project). I planted 14 glads, 2 Stargazer lilies, and 6 dwarf lilies. I am anxious to see what I have.

Next I cleaned the foundation bed, east and south sides. Mostly dead nettle, and maple and elm salings. I also pulled a lot of the honeysuckle purpurea (which isn't fragrant like they said). I may be forced to more drastic measures on it.

This is the cleaned corner of the bed outside the dining room porch. I think I spotted a couple of 4 O'clock seedlings. Rudbeckia is back, feverfew, and the poppies have self seeded here and there. The Jackmani Superba clematis that I accidentally whacked off last year is back! Everything looks promising.


This is a long view of the front foundation bed. The tall blooming shrub is a viburnum, very fragrant.

and a closeup of the bloom,


I filled my garden cart with weeds which I will toss on the compost pile.


I also did a final cleaning of the Grass Bed. I cut the white buddleia down to about 18 inches, saw some green tips starting. I see the Black and Blue salvia is returning..........and poke. I will bring out the big guns for that (diesel). The burned off grasses are up about 12 inches now and the iris don't show the scorch anymore.

List of flower beds:

Cellar Bed - partly done
Grass Bed - done
Foundation Bed - done
Hyperion bed (in front yard with Little Lamb hydrangea) - done and partly mulched
Garden Fence Border - done
Humming Bird Bed - mostly done (need to kill out a rampant native eupatorium)
Ash Tree Bed - required very little just chopped a weed or two
New Bed - needs serious attention
Driveway bed- likewise (thinking of doing away with these two beds)
Garage wall Border - Dreading this one
Concrete Ramp Bed - drastically cutting this one back.
Annabelle Hydrangea bed - needs mulching to kill out henbit, chickweed and deadnettle
Yellow Iris in back fence bed - ignore!

The trimmer is being stubborn; we are putting in a new plug and hope that fixes the problem. It is a Stihl and usually it is trouble-free and was a week ago.

6 eggs yesterday; the two girls are still on the nests.. Hatch day should be around the 24th of this month.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fruit Trees - gardening - Cobbler

We are still waiting for the promised storm...just want the rain, no storm please.

I see others were not so lucky last night.

It is very hot and very windy today.

I milked early around 7:30 and that went quite well. I am running out of storage for the milk....I am thinking mozzarella soon!

After milking I finally got some lettuce seed planted with a few radishes to mark the row. I planted Lollo Rossa, Cimmaron, and a French one. I stretched a piece of polyspun over the planting and weighted it down with bricks. This will keep the cats out and if we get a hard rain, protect the seeds from being washed up or beat into the ground............I hope.

DH helped me and we planted the half-price Liberty apple tree with a deep stake (steel t-post) and the RedGold nectarine tree (with a stake) all in the orchard.

I still have a Stanley prune plum, a Black Gold Cherry, and a Harlayne apricot (I never give up on those delightful little things) to plant. The apricot is such an attractive tree I thought about the yard, but then knew it shouldn't be out by the road where it would be a mighty temptation or where I might want to leave a ladder standing. I think I will do another row on the West side of the new garden. The trees will receive some shelter from the north winds from the existing buildings and they won't shade the garden. I learned from planting 10-foot corn on the East side last year. It took until noon for the sun to hit the tomatoes.

We came in early because the winds were so strong they almost blew me down a time or two. I heeled in the fruit trees in the kitchen garden and we put away all tools so we won't get caught dashing around in a storm.

I made a blackberry cobbler this afternoon, once again, using my frozen pie crust. I made it rustic style and just folded the bottom crust over the fruit; no top crust.

I almost waited too late to get a picture.


I accumulated 3.5 pints of very thick cream and made 1.5 lbs of butter that I froze in 1/4 lb. packages and then stacked in a container. This should help with measuring it for cooking.

Random Bird Picture



She is one of the oldest girls in the flock.

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