Sunday, April 29, 2012

Front Ditch Project

It is a very dark morning here, just light sprinkles so far.  We fear it is going around us from north to east which is whats happens so often to these storms.

From April 2012 Blog

I will be heading out to milk in this very shortly.

I have talked before about our front ditch that is no longer mowable and barely trimmable since they resurfaced the road and made the incline so sharp.  I decided to plant some vigorous self-seeders and spreaders and let them fight out the weeds and grasses and hope the prettier ones win.  I am happy with how it is working so far.

I already had the pink flower, oenothera speciosa, a wonderful self-seeder, the iris were already planted and I have a good stand of both major and minor vinca.  There is also some Dame's Rocket started.

This is the west end.  I  did do some trimming up on the yard level that you can see by the different color on the grass.

This is a particularly heavy patch of the oenothera right at the pavement edge.

I wish I knew how to show a view of the entire front ditch by stitching the pictures together.....but I don't.

There are still lots of grasses and a few broadleaved weeds that I will dig out by hand before they seed,but pretty much I am leaving it alone.  I have some lemon balm to move up there and more sprigs of the vincas.

I was happy to the see the two Bonica shrub roses are coming back from the stumps.  They were so dead I had them cut to the ground....another benefit of buying own-root plants. 

This is a great shrub rose, but no fragrance. I did have some RRD which is why I removed interesting so see if the new growth will have it too.

Lightening is getting fierce so I am going to publish without proofing!  Good luck.

I am unplugging the computer now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Misty Morning

This is the view at the entrance to the drive yesterday morning. 
This is looking south across the  road to the neighbor's field.  It all burnt off as soon as the sun came up but it was quite beautiful while it lasted.

We finally got our heifer (dud) off to the processor last evening.  I was very proud of DH, he hooked up the trailer and moved her back to the loading area and loaded her into the trailer all  by himself.  Usually I am out there helping.  I enjoyed the new method!  Mission accomplished.  She weighed 1235lbs and was corn fed exactly 90 days so we should be enjoying some really good beef in about 14 days.  They remarked that we had a lot invested in her and we do but think of what all that meat would cost at retail!
That is one of the reasons we moved to the country way back when.  We wanted to raise our own food....and we mostly do.

Our fencing boys didn't come.......but called and will finish today.

I took a couple of pictures of the orchard and new garden area while the mist was still on but you can see the fence (cattle panels) in the background. This cattle panel fence is the one we did.


and this is the drive-through gate they are hanging.  You enter from the paved barn lot area.

I was all set to begin trimming...........couldn't start the blasted 'easy start' thing.  Not to waste the morning entirely I finished thinning the peaches on the two young trees in the orchard and propped up two heavily laden branches on the old half peach tree in the backyard garden.

Today I hope my 'helper' can get the trimmer started for me.....if not, I will begin planting some things in the garden...or maybe get both done if  the stars are aligned properly.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Busy Week

Warm weather has hit!  too warm, but what can you do?

First, I went back on Clariton (generic) yesterday and either the pollen count was way down or the medicine helped.  I didn't have a coughing fit after coming in and no wheezing either.  Hallelujah!

We have been busy working a couple of hours here and there fencing the orchard with cattle panels and I am happy to report we are done.  I am very pleased with it.  The other thing is our farm worker is working again and has almost finished the field fencing and is now hanging a new drive through gate into the orchard for us.  I had quite a battle with my farmer as to where  it would go.....I won.  It think he saw the advantages of where  I wanted it.  I will try to get a couple of picture today.

I have been working on thinning the peaches and propping up branches on my old half peach tree.

Even though the weathermen are saying we can plant tomatoes now, I am not planting my main crop.  I  have been gardening in the Ozarks too long to listen to them!  I have enough plants that I will do 5 or 6 just for fun.

I am also planting some tomato seeds directly at the end of a row like my elderly (now I am one of those!) neighbor did way back in 1971. 

So far, the blackberries and raspberries are looking promising.  No Japanese far.

I mowed part of the yard yesterday and was going to do some trimming but had a slight accident with the mower and decided I would wait for another day.  My mower is a zero turn with the two handles type and if you get it lodged just so under a tree limb or just keeps on going if you can't pull the handles back to put it in reverse.  I lodged it quite nicely under the cherry tree and rammed some ends of trimmed branches into my chin and mouth.  No permanent  damage just a cut lip and scratched up chin, but was bleeding so I quit for the day.  DH says the next mower will be the tractor type......I try to mow too close so I won't have to trim so much.....He may be right.  He also thinks I should wear a face mask like catchers do....he may be right about that too.

Here are a few pictures from the compound.  I thought it might be nice to show some long shots for a change, a sort of tour of the yard.

This is taken on the east side of the house looking north to the Humming Bird Bed and beyond.

Standing on the back porch step looking northward again toward the New Bed and Back area.

As you can see, I leave my tools handy....

Walking back to the New Bed that I am trying to reduce to just a small border of things.  Peony and iris are currently blooming with daylilies and lilies to follow.

and always the cats.

I walked on north to the garden gate and turned south and took this looking back to the house.

That clump of iris should be pink but came out white....

I will do some more touring from this point again soon.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 15-20, 2012

Today is a cool, windy drizzly day and I am not going outside.  This will be a good time to catch up on my daily doings and blog.

After looking at my written notes, I realize I have done very little.  My allergies are still bad.  I  decided to stop all antihistamines.  My body doesn't react well to most drugs....and the latest was one of them, Zyrtec.
I am just going to tough it out.....a small glass of wine will stop my coughing far it has just been one a day....but more may be required.

I did get the orchard sprayed finally and included the roses.  I love my two heirlooms but they are susceptible to blackspot.  They are blooming now and the scent is wonderful.

Wednesday was another inside day.  I made bread pretty much all day long.  I made a batch of a 10 grain bread and one of the double rise white bread.

I made 6 loaves (one in back in plastic bag is sliced and ready for the freezer).

Thursday.  I braved outside for milking and we started fencing the orchard with cattle panels.

Sadly, our wonderful handyman turns out to be  like all the others.....he began mowing yards and we think we likes sitting on his fanny to the tune of probably $25 per hour or better.  He has been sending his buddy over for a couple of hours now and then to finish the field fencing project.  We are getting pretty fed up so we started the orchard fence ourselves.  It will just take us longer  (maybe!) than him but we will get it done.

I was able to last a couple of hours before my ailments kicked in and I went inside.  Today is too wet to work on it, so it can wait.


My hosta bed started life as a holding bed for tiny hostas and morphed into the permanent bed.  I can only show it in early spring because it gets ungodly looking in the summer due to slugs and heat.

This view is taken at an angle because it is located behind the smokehouse and between the garden fence and I can't take a direct shot because the path is about 4 feet wide.

Besides hostas, I have giant solomon's seal, a seedling Golden Rain Tree (I am leaving for more shade), a persicaria polymorpha and several different varieties of hosta.

I see I failed to mention a few of the wild violets are in here too and a white Siberian Iris and a daylily...wonder what else is lurking back there?

The Jack Frost Bed

This is right by the back porch door.

The poor hellebore plant is now buried under the variegated Solomon's Seal.  I need to move it to a new home.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rain at Last and doubled peaches

Well, two days have slipped away from me without posting.  The very good news is over Friday and Saturday, we got 1.5 inches of much-needed rain!  I think today is supposed to be another day of rain with possibly severe weather this afternoon.  We are hoping the severe part doesn't happen for any of us in Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa and western Missouri!

All I did outside yesterday was milk.

After our strange season last year of little rain and excessive early heat, I have noticed several things different in the garden.

The hesperis matronalis, aka Dame's Rocket  is much taller....of course the purples and whites have crossed which I expected but I didn't expect another foot of growth which made them taller than I wanted in their present place.  Also I never noticed fragrance on the white ones, but do this year???

Another thing is while thinning peaches I noticed a lot of doubled fruit.  I did some research and find it is caused by excessive heat the previous year when this year's fruit is forming! 

I lost more things over winter this year than ever before.....two apple trees, Little Lamb hydrangea and my  sassafras seedling tree.  Maybe too dry?

When I get near the chickens,  they come running wanting their daily greens!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Allergy Break - Catch up Time

Allergies have been very bad for me this season.  If I am outside very long, I pay by coughing jags that last for hours.  I am off to find some Zyrtec today.  It drains your energy rapidly  thus no blogging.

The weather has been very cool and finally we got a shower this morning.  They are predicting chances of severe (tornadoes) weather for Sunday.  We will be watching that closely!

Just catch up in general, I have been doing daily house chores, mowed the yard again and began cleaning out the garage wall bed.  I am about ready just to take the trimmer to the rest of the thing and mow it all down. About halfway through that is when the allergy thing got so bad, I just gave up outdoor work until some heavy rains can wash off these oak and ash trees.

I got the lettuce transplanted into the garden and the flat of broccoli and cauliflower.  It was so dry I decided to water.

In my daily tour of the yard, I discovered something I didn't know.  Cilantro self seeds very nicely!  I am delighted about that.They are the little round leaved ones near the pot of hen and chicks and the base of the brick planter spreading to the right and up.

I had planned to go out to trim yesterday in spite of the allergies, but it was just 51° and windy so I stayed in instead.

I pulled a package of crushed peaches out of the freezer and made a batch of jam. I freeze in 5 1/2 cup portions which is what the recipe calls for which makes it very easy to finish the batch.

Enough for now.....heading out to find Zyrtec.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Irish Soda Bread and other odds and ends

Yesterday was a perfect spring day, sunny but cool.

Kris  on her blog, The Gardens at Melissa Majora has written a couple of times about making Irish Soda Bread.  For a long time, I have  wondered what it tasted like and wanted to try it simply out of curiosity.
Well, her last blog  about it pushed me over the edge.  It was really too wet out to pull weeds or mow so I set to work in the kitchen.

I did some online research and found that Kris' recipe is the authentic Irish bread, no shortening (that worried me!) and no added ingredients except flour, buttermilk, soda and salt.  I did add 1/3 cup sugar which wasn't original but we like a bit of sweet in our bread.

You can find her recipe on her blog, look at the side bar and click on Chef's Table.

Here is my experience as a first time baker of this extraordinary bread.  It is very simple to make and takes very little time.  I did have to add additional buttermilk to get what I guessed was the right consistency, something a little stiffer  than biscuit dough.  I baked mine in a 1.5 quart casserole and it didn't bake evenly as you can see by this photo.

Also it took longer with my oven, in fact,  I thought it was done and cut it in half and found a small doughy center so put it back in the bowl and cooked until done.

After checking with Kris, I find she cooks hers on a flat sheet so the bread can tend to flatten out and wouldn't be quite so thick in the center.  Also I read where traditionally it is cooked in a dutch oven or heavy covered pan.  I think I will try my clay cooker (Romertoff) the next time.

The crust is quite hard.....very tasty but hard.  Again, after research I see Kris puts hers in a plastic bag while still warm and so it sweats a bit to soften the crust.  The Irish used a dampened kitchen cloth.

The texture is quite fine and dense and the flavor is very good. DH and I both liked it very much.

If you add raisins it is called spotted dick or spotted dog.

I will be making some using either raisins, dried cranberries and orange zest next. Traditionally is was spread with butter or jam and eaten with tea or coffee.  I made a sandwich with a slice and thought it was a bit too sweet, I enjoyed it.  The texture works well as a sandwich.


I went out late in the day and spent 1.5 hours cleaning the cellar bed.  Today DH will haul off the debris.

I have a small spot on the back side that I will plant something in....maybe 4 x 3 feet.

In bloom in this bed:  Lunaria, Henryi clematis,  finishing white flowering quince.  To come iris, daylilies, asters and sedums.

I hope to do the grass bed next.  Of course, I didn't get the grasses burned off so now I have to do the laborious cutting.....not a good thing.  I have lost the north side with iris to the dratted brome from the cellar.

Daily Chores

I will milk this morning.

I have to bake three pies today for Easter dinner tomorrow at MIL's (a family issue that we thought was no longer an issue!)At least I have three crusts in the freezer.  Two chocolate and one pecan are ordered.

I will also make my refrigerator rolls this evening and bake them in the morning for the dinner.

Happy Easter!

Camera is Working! The Front Ditch

 April 6, 2012

Well, we got our cool down!  It was 41° when I got up and the high will be lower 60's. 

I let the camera dry still  shows wet marks on the viewer but the picture seems to be clear.  Thank you Lord.

I stepped out on the porch (still in jammies) and snapped this test picture around 6:30 this morning.  All looks OK.

I did order a new lens is exposed if you don't use the cap and the lens is the best part of the camera.

I took  a few pictures day before  yesterday.

This the variegated money plant (lunaria variegata).

It is growing out by the chicken yard behind the trunk of an old apple tree....appreciated only by the gardener (me).  I think I will collect seeds and see if  it comes true.

The Front Ditch

This area has always been a problem, before the road work it was a string  trimmers took me well over an hour to do both sides of the drive.
 I know looking at the angle of the photo will make you dizzy but it shows the entire length of the west section from the drive.

I have decided to quit mowing it!  I have several large sections of vinca  major and minor  started and hope to keeping plugging in various spreaders that I have and let the green stuff fight it out.  I will keep saplings and dock and thistles removed.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 4, 2012

A slightly cooler day.

We got the birdhouse if  the birds will just come.  If not, it looks nice anyway but makes a pretty expensive garden decoration!

The rest of the day was visiting with MIL.

April 5, 2012

Really cool today and overcast with a slight mist.....not measurable rain.

We made a run to the local grocery and the library and DH worked out while I read.  Our farm help canceled because of the drizzle.......

Yesterday I caught this picture after chasing the butterfly over the back yard and it finally landed on a maple tree. This is the first Tiger Swallowtail of the season here.

and one of our many yellow cats.  I think the spot on the eye is an apple tree petal just falling,

Speaking of pictures, I may have killed my good zoom Panasonic......the internet was gone again this morning and I had to pull out the table with the computer on it and do the unplug routine....I bent over the desk and knocked over a full cup of hot coffee on the it tells me I have to remove the lens cover to go on.............there is no lens cover since that fell apart a week ago.....I will let it dry for a few days and see what happens.

I still have my little Canon but the zoom isn't great and it doesn't have IS.  I have been looking longingly at the newer Canon with the powerful zoom...........this may be the year!

April 3, 2012

It was slightly cooler this morning. Up around 4:30 AM. The day is cooler so far too because of the
clouds.. We sure hope the predicted showers hid us.

I milked Willow this morning. She was down almost a quart. She is pretty far along in her lactation so I am not too surprised. I think the young Jersey heifer, Jewel, was in heat for the first time yesterday which is normal. Jersey's come into heat earlier than the bigger breeds and she is fully 7 months. She won't get bred for another 8 months.

I mowed around the veggie garden this morning and also cleaned out (pulled and trimmed weeds) the Grace bed (smoke tree Grace) and the Well House Bed where the old lilacs are and my China rose is blooming. She is called Old Blush by some and Parson's Rose by others. No matter the name she is the longest lived rose in my garden!

This is my antique iris from a neighbor,

I trimmed around the sheds and the Elm tree in the east yard. Tomorrow I hope to tackle the Cellar and Grass Beds....not looking forward to that because of the brome (I think) that has self-seeded from the cellar. It does not pull easy like the cheet and henbit do.

Our mild winter was very favorable to the Bermuda Grass which is now poised to take over the northside of the glyphosphate or not to glyphosphate that is the question.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Garden Questions to Ponder

4:45 AM; still very warm here .....  and dry.

Yesterday was not a very productive day.  After building up a real sweat standing in the early morning sun loading 24 feet of string on the trimmer, I was ready to quit.  I did force myself to trim all around the well house (it was about a foot tall) and the milk barn and some here and there spots.  The next time I load the trimmer, I will do it manually instead of using the jokingly called 'self-load' feature.

There are a few spots  in the yard that are worrisome to me and I want to do more or change some things.

This first is the HB bed that should be renamed because most of the red flowers are no more.  There are two seedling trees growing in the bed.  The one you can barely see is a sassafras tree, a gift from the birds.  I love the tree and do want to keep it.  The other one or two (may just be a multiple trunk) is one of the numerous kolreuteria paniculata (Golden Rain Tree) seedlings.  I also like this tree but it does reseed with a vengeance everywhere from the tiny little lanterns.  Dirr also likes it.  It also may be too close to the sassafras tree.

Yesterday was filled with small chores and errands; not a lot accomplished really.

First thing after DH finished checking cattle and I did my routine housework, we went to town for the string trimmer line and I picked up some orchard spray.  I want to try to do some minimal spraying on the fruit trees.

When we got back, it was already too hot for me to do any trimming, but I did get the string lined out.  DH set the sleeve in concrete for the birdhouse pole.  I hope I put it in the best location.  I decided to put it right in the middle of the east end of the garden.  This way it won't be too near buildings or the line going to the garage (power).  I hope we can get the house installed today.

I am milking this morning.

A very weird thing happened recently and we still can't quite figure it out.  I made a cushion for our porch swing an also one for a lawn chair.  When the company was here we all sat outside on the porch and no one even noticed the cushions were missing.......

While I was cleaning out the migrated berry patch that is right in front of a drainage ditch that is filled with weeds and is never mowed, I noticed some strange light colored thing in the ditch.  I kept staring at it trying to figure what it was and finally it dawned on me.  It was the porch swing cushion!  All I could think of was wind which would have to have lifted it off the porch and then sailed it across the garden through fruit trees and dropped it in the ditch.  It doesn't really seem feasible but the dog has never messed with anything like that before.   It is one of those things you just have to forget where on earth is the chair cushion?

I hesitate to show this picture. It doesn't speak well of my gardening habits.  This is the berry patch that grew by underground runners and I just let it go.  The cushion was found to the left of the patch and down in that grassy area that is the old drainage ditch from the milk barn.

Back  to the patch explanation.  It is pruned and I can walk through and around for picking.  I hope to cut back the weeds on the ground but it will be tricky not to cut down a berry plant.