Monday, August 21, 2017

Rain, rain and more Rain

It's a beautiful Saturday on the farm.  We have been getting lots of rain, almost daily.  Another 5 inches this past week.  Everything is green and  growing....including the weeds.

I have been trying to get out each morning and work an hour or 3 but some days it was raining  and others it was just too wet to even pull weeds.

This morning I did get some  things accomplished.  I started getting the hummingbird bed  outside the kitchen weeded and cleaned.  Several zinnias and nicotiana were finished and needed to be pulled.  I am rethinking the bark mulch.  My vigorous weeds come right through it and  it will need replacing yearly....very  labor intensive and costly.  If I just had a few simple beds near the house, it might be workable but for cottage-style or  country gardening I don't think so.  Of course, I still have 30 or so bags that I will use but mostly at the base of specific plants like roses or clematis.  The rest will be used in the narrow garden  fence border.

The garden is almost  finished.  The determinate tomatoes are done and I have very few of the other kind.
Still waiting  on the late pole beans.  I have canned a few pints of tomatoes.

We have been having fun capturing the beast menagerie on the game cam.  That seems to be the only way we can capture them.

 Here was a surprise:  An armadillo

 Of course, we knew there would be possums:

 This is our least favorite rascal, the groundhog enjoying one of my apples.

 Mama raccoon with two young.
These were all taken out back in my garden behind  the house.

It is now August 21, Monday.  The eclipse is over.  We never got the full whammy but about 97%.  It stayed much lighter out than I thought it would.

We got another 3 inch rain overnight.  We are beginning to smell swamp-like outside.  I seem to be very susceptible to mold and have been coughing and wheezing like crazy.  Today I  decided to stay inside.

I made another batch of peach jam.  This is the second batch and they look completely different. The first were made from very small dark peaches and I used some old pectin that had darkened with age.  Made for a  very dark  jar of jam.  It tastes fine but not so pretty to look at.

The one this morning  was made from a very large pale peach that was still a bit tart.  I also had some newer pectin and it looks like peach jam should.

The tomatoes are about finished.  I have a couple of plants that should hold us for fresh tomatoes until frost.
The determinate ones and done.    I have canned a few pints and have two trays (l0x21) yet to do.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Miscellaneous News from the Farm

The weather here today is just perfect.  Sunny, and  was 58° this morning and the high will be mid-80's.  This is the cool snap  that followed a glorious 2.5 inch  rain a  couple of days ago.  We were very dry before that.

I finally have my screened porch back!  We moved the two kittens outside to join the other outdoor kitties.  The are loving it.  They about destroyed my porch, tore loose a corner of the screening, left hair all over the say nothing of the daily litter pan chore.  I enjoyed my morning coffee there for the first time in a long while.

I can't remember where I left off last so will  just tell you what comes to mind.

First of all, I was very pleased with myself  that I was able to  go out  each morning and begin trying to get the weeds under control.  Max and I both had 2 week summer colds that really hit us hard.  I only did what was absolutely required (none of it outside).  The strawberry bed and  the compost area were wall to wall (or fence to fence) with 4 foot tall crabgrass and  lamb's quarter and the odd red-root pigweed.  It required a grubbing hoe and then yanking out the huge clumps.  I got it done after about three days.

This is the compost area before weeding:

and after:

The small hoop is covered with another favorite pole bean, Trail of Tears.

The east end where I planted eggplant was almost as bad.  I hadn't seen the eggplants in them  cleaned up.  I have tiny fruit setting.  Every bug in the universe seems  to love  the foliage of  them.

Tied up the very promising row of tomatoes.  Varmints (ground hog) got all the pears again.  Next will be the  apple tree as soon as it reaches their peak of sweetness.  I didn't plant sweet corn this year but finally caught the nearby truck farm for their harvest and got 4  dozen beautiful, delicious ears for the freezer.

I finally got the blasted Stihl trimmer going and did the east front ditch and the area abound the well house.

Max is still on a soft  foods diet which means no bread unless it is softened with
broth or a gravy of some  sort.  After trying 'store' bread again, I decided I would still make my own even if it just for me.

This one is whole wheat (actually half and half).

Some flowers are still blooming well:  zinnias (all self-seeded), garden phlox and old fashioned petunias. These petunias are my favorites.  I hope they will re-seed and stay with me for several years as they usually do.

There were lots of butterflies on the flowers this  morning.  I was really happy to see that.  So far, the only bees are the carpenter bees.

And one last cow picture (they were in the lot west of the house laying in the early morning shade:

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Cow Day

I asked DH  to take  some pictures for me and he  did his usual great job.  He takes lots of pictures but it is fun to review them  with him.  Some of these animals I have never seen!

 This is Annabelle, she was bought along with her mother Willow.  She is a pure-blood milking shorthorn who has never been  milked.  She has raised a calf each year we have had her. 
 This is her 2016 calf.  My all-time favorite.  He is a roan colored bull who will join our beef herd as a sire.  He is out of another shorthorn/Angus bull.  I love his color.  Shorthorns can have many various markings of red and white.
 More of him, he is already showing great interest in his work!  the black and white is the neighbor's calf who has become a rather permanent member......Max doesn't  mind; I am beginning to.
 This is our senior herd sire.  Max is on the ATV taking the picture.
I enlarged this one because I wanted to check the large animal on the foreground right.  I thought it was the bull......I was wrong.  This also shows some perspective of the hern and the field.  Still have lots of grass and
white clover.

We are liking seeing all the reds we are now getting due to the influence of Willow and her offspring.

That's all from the farm  today.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

More Rains

Hard to believe our weather.  We have had two different rains  since the trip to town and the downpour.

They must have been significant because I now have 3 inches in my rain gauge (an empty tomato can).  As you can see in the photos we are overrun with white clover in the yard.

 This was taken standing on the patio looking north to the garden.  That is old fashioned petunias I have mulched.  I am hoping they will reseed here.  I think this is the white Rainmaster.

Not much to comment on here (please ignore the trash can, Tuesday is pickup day.  I am leaving the dead peach  tree for a while so I have a place to hand baskets or feeders.  This is taken from the patio looking south toward the front ditch and road.   That large bank of green in the upper right is my fairly new locust tree and some seedlings that I have let grow.  They screen the patio area completely from the road.
The entire yard needs mowing but has been too wet the last two days to do it. 

Max has turned to cows back into the east hayfield.  I love seeing them standing belly deep in that lush growth.  I will get out early tomorrow morning and take some pictures.  You have to be early because when the sun gets up they head for shadier area.

Happy Tuesday.

P.S.  I thought of something I wanted  to share.  When I took the first pan of cupcakes out of the oven, I flipped  the pan upside down on the kitchen floor!  They were still hot and very they disintegrated on the rug.  I was able to redeem 4 that stuck to the pan.   Thankfully I had two more pans to go.  So goes the ups and sometimes downs in my kitchen.  I had a bit of a clean-up to do!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Another Trip to Town

We were hoping we were through with running to town for errands or anything else.  We don't count our little trips to Willard which is about 5 miles.

But we received a call regarding Sylvia's estate that required Max's signature so off we went.  While we were waiting in the office, a small shower came up.  By the time we left it turned into a full-blown gale with winds and rain so heavy some were pulling off the streets because visibility was so poor.
We kept on trucking but had problems reading street names for our turns....We passed by a car wash that we later heard  lost their roof to a neighbor's house behind them.  Could have happened as we drove by since we were getting pummeled with leaves and twigs at the same time.  I even remember the street name as we drove by since I knew we were getting very close to our turn.

Good news though we got about an inch of rain at home and no damage that we have found so far.

Inside  Work:

This morning I am baking.....2 loaves of Oatmeal Sandwich Bread and a pan of cinnamon rolls.

Our daughter and family are coming down tomorrow to pick up their cats (yes!) that we have been babysitting for three weeks.  I always try to have her at least one loaf of their favorite bread ready.  I might even share the  sweet rolls.........

pics to follow:

Both are done.

This is King Arthur's Toasting and Sandwich Bread.  I doubled the recipe. 

That is the sweet rolls rising in the container to the left.

This recipe is the one from Thibault's Table and originally from Joy of Cooking book.  I made them smaller this time.

I have to fess up.  I have been using flour from an Amish store in Buffalo.  It is in bulk and so much cheaper I am shocked.  They don't carry bread flour, but I have been using l cup of the high gluten flour in the recipes  and their Pollyanna Flour (an unbleached white flour)and all else the same.  I am very happy with the results.  I still believe firmly in King Arthur's flours and will try them again to do a test. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Day in My Life

Yesterday was a busy one....errand day always is!  It is also  my least favorite way to spend  the day.

Yesterday was our hottest so far at 92° and very humid. 


After several delays due to breakdowns and rain, they finally finished this y ear's hay crop.  The last 18 acres got rained on but will be  usable.  He has yet to remove the bales from the field for us.

Brush-hogging is coming along with about 40 acres yet to do.  Young man is coming this evening to begin on that.

I have been very impressed with the re-growth in the cut fields.  I have actually be doing my 'used to do' work of spraying fence rows and actually getting out of the yard and onto the farm itself.  The east field is almost knee-deep in clovers again and could be re-cut.  We will just graze I think.  Max is finally talking about selling the cows and just buying calves to graze each spring then sell in fall before winter and hay feeding begins. I support that idea (so far).  We change our minds almost daily.

My BIL has had and is still ongoing some very serious health issues which made us start thinking very seriously about our daily farm chores.

Off the Farm

Errands began around l pm.  We had our regular grocery run, then my make-up store (Merle Norman), a farm supply store (of course) and another quick stop at a second grocery (I forgot an  item or two).  By the time  we got home we were exhausted.

Yard and Garden 

 I finally got the trimmer  started.  It seems if I follow directions, it floods the thing.  I waited some  time and tried again without priming the motor and it started right up. Be interesting  to see how it goes this morning.

I was able to do a little trimming but still have a lot to go.  Have you noticed I am not mentioning my yard crew?  That failed  as I knew  it would.  The young man who we have known forever still works for  Max and me when his time is available.  The other 'landscape specialist' (so-called) has better fish to fry. 
His method of edging is not going to be much of an improvement in my style of gardening.  I may look a little more  finished at the edges but maintenance is still required.  The permanent mulch thing isn't too successful here either.  I have very vigorous  perennial things such as violets,  lambs quarter, poke, plantain and maple tree seedlings that come up through the mulch.  I will  still keep the garden fence border mulches but will not edge it.  My best method is intensive no weeds can survive.  Makes it easy to pull out the odd one amidst the flowers.

Gardening like life is an ongoing,  changing process.  Age is making me introspective and hopefully adaptive!

A few pictures more:

This is a Texensis variety of clematis that is now growing on the ground beneath the edge of the kerria japonica. 

 This is a cheap dahlia I got from either Lowes or Walmart several years ago and leave in the ground.  (not the Japanese Beetles appreciate it too)
 My Oakleaf Hydrangea which gives me a lot of bloom over a long time in spring.  The Limelight will follow later in the summer.
 This is just to show what kind of gardener I am.  This is laughingly called the herb garden with parsley blooming. (I do save the seeds).  Note the garlic seed heads near the trash can.  They must go!
 This is to show what I mean by intensive planting.  Edge of new bed with violets,  daylilies ,sedum, and salvia  farinacea right next to a monstrous clump of flags.  A couple of roses are close behind.
 My favorite combo this year:  salvia farinacea, rudbeckia, phlox , all self seeded. 

 May have shown this yesterday, but it got included with this group moving.  A stray phlox seedling,  much paler than the rest.  That is more ss salvia in front of it and is just to the right of the rudbeckia group.

 Just loved the yellows  and blues so included it again.

All for now.  It is 6:11 am and Max is ready for his oatmeal.

Have a wonderful day.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Daylilies Survive

I have been trying  to keep  up with my  favorite blogs but haven't attempted to post.  My friend down south
who blogs as Seed Scatterer
did a post dedicated  to her daylilies.  So, I am copying her idea and  showing mine.  I can even remember some names.

Daylilies on the Farm 

The weather here has been wonderful recently.  The rains have stopped and the temperature dropped just a little.  Of course, that means the dew was so heavy I kicked up water as I did my walk-about with the camera.  Still no butterflies and very few honey bees.

These have survived with benign neglect if there can be such a thing in gardening.

This may be Bama Music it is in front of the screened porch amid lots of  variegated grass.

Fairy Tale Pink

Grape Magic (really more purple than this)

Indian Giver ( I moved this one so it had room to develop....not working will move again)

Not sure of this one.  Should be more pink but in my soil pink equals peachy.

My darkest red, Ed Murray,  meant to be planted  with gaillardia....yet  to happen.  Now surrounded by beggar lice and various other weeds.

The above two are Kwansa (called ditch lilies hereabout) I have hopes of planting them in my front  ditch where they can go wild.

  This is Leonard Bernstein in the bed outside the kitchen.  I have it in the cellar bed also.


Throwing this one in because it was next to Ed Murray and was so wonderful this year.  Up to my shoulder and long blooming.  I have no recollection of planting it here, but now have it in 4 places so I must have.

OK.  Enough.  This will be my last.  I think it is Pandora's Box.  I have more but will do them another time.

Errands await.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Another Rainy Day

We are over l0 inches and  counting.  It is raining very steadily now and is supposed to all day long.  We aren't  in a flood zone but so many in the southern Ozarks are.   My heart goes out to them.

I am still feeding kittens  and teaching them to use the litter pan.....I never knew what I was getting into with these little beasties.  They are doing well and still sleeping most of the time.  They will be traveling with us to KC this weekend.  What fun!  We are going to our granddaughter's high school graduation. Fortunately they are a 'cat' family and welcome them.

I am having a good time  baking and cooking for the pre-grad party.  I have missed baking.....yesterday I did our normal honey, oatmeal bread.  This time I made 4 loaves instead of 3 that the recipe calls for.
This is just for family use.  I am taking a double batch of my standard refrigerator rolls, two batches of cookies (maybe more), and a large batch of barbecued meatball (small size  for hors d'oeuvres).  It is good weather for cooking inside.

Yesterday was a lovely, sunny day. We took the opportunity to mow and didn't bury the wheels in the soft grass. I have seen more butterflies in the last sunny days than I saw most of last year and a better variety.
So  far,  We are hoping that is a good sign for the rest of the year.

 I hope I am right on these, if not, please tell  me.  A Red Admiral
  A Giant Swallowtail

The rains have not improved my poor blooming things.

The Native tradescantia has held up well.  It is a ditch plant here so I guess it has to be tough.
We spotted a Rose Breasted Grosbeak a few days ago.  We haven't seen one here in years.  Also the hummers  are back for a week now.  So far, just counted 3, but hoping for more as the weather warms.  I have a honeysuckle in bloom so they can supplement their liquid diet.

More in bloom:

The first is a red peony in  the Well House Bed.  It is gorgeous, but no fragrance at all.

This is iris Swingtown near the almost bloomed clematis Hagley Hybrid

This is my lost red iris among the weeds in the cellar bed....I need to rescue it!

I need to  go start cooking.