Monday, November 30, 2009

Heavy Frost

We have a really heavy frost on everything this morning.

Unfortunately it was milking morning so I bundled up accordingly. The only thing that got cold was my feet. I am thinking some new Muck chore boots are in order. I slipped on my sis's pair when we visited her and they were simply wonderfully comfortable.

Frost was on everything in sight. The two irises that were blooming were covered.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Aftermath

It always takes me a few days to get back to normal and into my routine after a holiday. I have the kitchen and dining room back to normal and DH, aka my personal laundry man, has the laundry all caught up. The guest bedrooms will take further attention. We have a small house and even with three extra people it seems crowded....

We did enjoy great weather Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Our daughter and granddaughter and I took the ATV for a ride over the farm and got to see the cows up close and personal. Grand and daughter did quite a bit of walking, but my foot was 'acting up' so I rode. I always enjoy that because I don't make myself tour the back of the farm as often as I should.

I was pleased to see the cows in lots of deep grass.....still.

Gardening: I have been notified that my seed orders are being shipped. That sets an early record for me!

The daylily seedling under lights are growing rapidly. I will start feeding them a very low strength fertilizer soon. Two of them didn't germinate, Double Joann and the cream with a burgundy eyed one.

I found two surprises this week outside. I have a lavender growing in the old well planter by the pink rose. I forgot I stuck one left over in there. It is looking good. Then after the frost killed back the hostas.....there stood a turned over jar and beside it was a rose cutting..........have no idea which one it is. I vaguely remember planting it. Could be the Aloha because I try to take cuttings regularly since it is susceptible to RRD. The leaf doesn't look like it though. Should be fun to watch it bloom next summer.

Lavender bonus plant

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Up at 4:30 am this morning and enjoying coffee with my computer. This is my favorite time of day. DH is still sleeping; let the cat in (before she scratched my newly painted door) and she is napping near me on a dining room chair cushion.

The cold front hasn't arrived yet and it is still 51° outside and no rain yet. My painting got nice and dry and I was able to remove the tape from the windows on the door panes.

I took an early morning tour of the yard and garden yesterday morning and found a few blooms here and there.
A first year seedling echinacea was blooming. The new plants always look much better to my eye than the older ones. The leaves are larger, deeper green, just altogether healthier.
new echinacea

There were a few rudbeckia blooms from self seeded plants this summer, the two fall blooming iris Suky and Dashing are still very nice and one pink one that seems too tan to me is blooming. I have some seedling nicotiana sylvestris blooming. They seem to love the cooler weather. I have seedlings of them all over like ground cover.

Speaking of groundcover, the lamiums have been outstanding this year with blooms scattered all season and some are still in bud. I think they must like the cooler and wetter weather that we have had.

Most of the leaves are gone from the trees but I am still enjoying the color in the Ash Tree Bed . It is filled with lots of self seeded things like kolreuteria paniculata, euonymous alatus, and virginia creeper. This is the bed next to the drive that has the large Black and Blue Salvia in it. This picture is from the north side. You can't see it, but there is one small dark pink bloom from the clematis that climbs up the barberry.

ash tree bed

The buddleias are putting out new growth along the stems and the 'Honeycomb' variety is blooming.Honeycomb bloom

The garden still has a short row of turnips producing. I had thought it was a going to be a complete bust. I hadn't grown them before and failed to thin them properly soon enough and almost plowed the whole row up.
Glad I didn't. I have had three messes so far and will have a couple more........probably.turnips

There are also lots of volunteer potatoes....I left many in the ground because as soon as I dug them, they began to I will see what I get from these 'early planted' ones.turnips and volunteer potatoes in garden
The bad news is every bare spot on the ground is thick with bromus tectorum/cheat and one of our native lamiums, either lamium amplexicaule/henbit or lamium purpureum/deadnettle. At this stage I can't tell which. I hope a hard freeze will kill all of it or I will have a serious job ahead for spring!

Today is bread making day. Also have plans to look for some straw for bedding for the the milking shed and since my hens are currently on strike, check out a local source for eggs.

Monday, November 23, 2009

We have had a few days of very nice weather so I have been busy outside repainting the back door and parts of the wellhouse. The back door was scratched badly by our cat who thinks she is a dog....scratches to be let in and stands at the door to be let out.

I got the oil base primer on and today will get the topcoat. They are predicting a change in the weather to colder and rain so I want to get on it very early today.

I did at last get all this year's seeds sorted and did an inventory of tomato seeds. I want to place any orders very early because everyone anticipates a run on seeds. I had to wait too long last year on my onion seeds so I will order those today.

From Saving Seeds

after listing all the tomato seeds, I will try to control myself and just order a couple of new ones that Dr. Carolyn Male recommends in her book "100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden".
From Saving Seeds

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We have been having some very disagreeable weather with drizzly rain for three days and highs in the 40's. Total accumulation has only been a little over l inch.

We have finally got the dining room back together and the computer/office corner done (I think). May change it some. Rehung the shades and sheers on two windows so they would be at the top of the wall like the other two.
It looks much better .They all match now. We are really happy with the refinished floors. I have been doing the fun things like washing all the dishes that were in the china cabinet and the hutch and putting them away. Then cleaned out the two drawers in the hutch. This is the cleanest the dining room has been since we moved in in 1991.

Milk Cow: She really misbehaved when I milked yesterday morning. Moving around a lot and finally got her foot into the bucket of milk causing me to loose about a quart. I smacked her on her front foot....doesn't do any good but I was mad.....I am writing the date on the calender. It may be a heat thing or she could already be bred since she has had the company of one of the BA bulls since she calved. She really would rather nurse the calves than have me milk.

Gardening: Inside. The daylily seeds are beginning to sprout. I have a mystery going.One section that should be Grape Magic sure doesn't look like daylilies. Wonder what seeds I labeled wrong? They all looked like daylily seeds when I planted them. Maybe when the true leaves develop, I will know.

Food: and gardening. I cannot grow rhubarb and love rhubarb pie and preserves. I have given up and now my sis in Iowa brings me a few packages each year. I just cooked down a bag with additional sugar and had the preserves with biscuits this morning. Delicious!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Milk Cow

We retired to dairying back in 1993....not a wise thing to do, but we did it nevertheless. We had some ups and downs, but in the end, I look back on it with pleasure and still miss milking.

We sold out in 2004. I joined Keeping a Family Milk Cow Forum and the more I read, the more I wanted one! Now I was not a virgin when it comes to owning a family cow. When we first moved to the country way back in 1976 and the children were young, I had several (one at a time). So I knew what I was getting into.

My plan was to just milk when I needed milk for my husband and me and let her calf have the rest. As events occurred, the plan was modified some.

I found my cow through the KAFC forum, very close to us. She is a registered Milking Shorthorn. When we went to see her, she had a large beautiful roan colored heifer calf (also pure milking shorthorn) on her. The calf was certainly big enough to wean. My husband fell in love at first sight and wanted her too. So, we ended up buying both. The cow was named Willow and her calf Annabelle.

The plan worked great...then one morning very soon after buying her we found an orphan Black Angus calf in with the beef herd. I sure didn't want to start bottle feeding, so introduced it to Willow. It took a few days, but finally Willow accepted it wholeheartedly and gave enough milk for all three of us.

Time passed... I weaned both calves, rebred Willow to one of the BA bulls. I turned her dry....she calved without any difficulty with a beautiful, solid red heifer calf I named Ginger (for obvious reasons). Then,within a week, we had another orphan BA calf! I thought it must be the same cow, but the calf was too early for that. It was a very aggressive and hungry calf.....same thing happened again. Introduced it; Willow butted it a lot; I tied her up; she still kicked and resisted......slowly she accepted it. At last I didn't need to tie her up, just let her into the calf pen and both calves attached themselves to her with very little objection. I do feed her some grain morning and evening. I want her production to stay up. The adoptee is a bull that we named Ferdinand (a great suggestion from another forum friend).

Ginger was born in late summer. She was solid red but as time went on she began changing color. First the area around her eyes got very black and she looked like a raccoon, then the top of her head, then her rump. Just this week, I saw what looked afar like steaks and spots of dirt on her side. Nope, it is black streaks. It will be interesting to see how she finally ends up. I hope more brindle develops. I love brindle cows.

As a newborn, she was a very solid, red, some brighter than her mother,First Picture, one-day old  Willow and Ginger
and now two plus months later, she is showing new color, taking more after her Black Angus daddy.
Ginger nursing at 2.5 monthsGinger's black face (with milk slobbers)Ginger, 2 1/2 mos with streaking showing upand her very black rump,Ginger's black rump

She has been a perfect cow for us. Not too much milk, but enough to raise two calves and keep us in milk. I do wish she had more butterfat, but Jerseys do come with their own set of issues.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Good Friday morning.

Well, one day closer to the floor being dry enough to move the furniture back. Still lots of smell from the oil varnish they used.

We did get the shades rehung last night which was nice. I had washed the windows earlier. We live close to the road and the windows are large. I am paranoid about having windows covered at night.

Today I will paint the trim next to the floor and by Sunday, the furniture will go back.

I took a tour of the yard and found a few things here and there still blooming.

My favorite this time of year is the dwarf nandina. I love the huge clusters of red berries.

This has been a surprising year for the reblooming iris. I think they must thrive in cool weather and lots of rain. Two varieties have really done well here: Dashing and Suky.

I found one single bloom of rudbeckia that still looked good.

and of course, the petunias are still going strong. I am afraid they will finally freeze hard before the seed pods ripen. I am trying to save a few for friends.

This is my morning to milk. It was supposed to be yesterday but the two calves got to her before I could separate them....they are too large to manhandle so I rescheduled.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yesterday was a productive day for me. I worked up another Long Island Cheese Squash that I thought was beginning to go bad. I didn't need it, but I have inherited my Mother's frugal ways and can't stand to waste anything. I will share with the family. They will like that it is in little bags ready to use!

I did some cleaning on an outbuilding so I can have the floor to work on another project involving some old storm windows.....if I can get my husband to help.

The floor crew didn't put on the final coat until late in the day, so the windows were not opened and we are practically asphyxiated with fumes. I was up early and opened several windows and turned the furnace on. The floor feels dry to the touch but I won't do much in there for a couple of more days and no furniture until next Monday. I does look nice.

Carpeting is starting to sound better for the living room and our bedroom!

I mowed all the leaves in windrows in the yard and if we don't get too strong winds it should remain as mulch for winter.

Our resident indoor/outdoor cat who came to us in a strange way has been gone for several days. We finally decided she was not coming back; opened the back door this morning and there she was. She ate forever and is now bedded down on our bed. We first met her at the city park in a nearby town. We were walking and she came up to us and rubbed on our legs and asked to be petted which we did. Then she darted across the street into a residential area and we went home.

Several days later we were walking on our road, got to the corner (rural area, 5 miles from the park) and there she was! I told DH it was meant to be and he picked her up and we carried her home. There is more to the story.........she was a young cat and came in heat. I have never had a female cat that wasn't spayed so I didn't realize they were in heat for several days and just kept her locked up 24hours......the end result was she got bred. In my naivete I decided to let her keep the pregnancy thinking she was so young she would just have 2 or 3 kittens.

She had 6 in the middle of my spare bedroom comforter; raised all of them. Our daughter took two and we kept the others and had all including Mama spayed and the one male neutered. When she weaned the kittens she totally wants nothing to do with them. She will not eat with them, lay about with them, nothing Nada.

She comes to the house and scratches on the back door when she wants in. You should see my door. She also goes to the door when she wants out, but in between she disappears for a day or lots more. We have no idea where she goes.

The 4 remaining kittens are now barn cats (that we feed, of course) and wander the farm at their leisure. Lord knows we have enough mice and field rats to keep them entertained.


There are still a few stragglers hanging on, petunias, the old-fashioned vining kind and some variegated ones.

From Fall 2009

Fall blooming iris Dashing,

From Fall 2009
I thought it was a double bloom but there are two separate blooms here,
From Fall 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bread Day

Yesterday was bread-making day. I had recently bought some freshly ground Wheat Montana flour that I wanted to try so yesterday was it!

I used half new flour and half AP flour. I liked the results. I modified my Honey Wheat and Oat bread by using raw sugar and milk instead of water.
From Food

The fumes from the oil based poly on the floor are starting to get to us.They didn't open the dining room windows when they started. I asked if it was too late; it was...they were afraid of rain. I don't know why they couldn't see that two of the windows were covered by porches. I slipped in this morning very early and opened both of them. The poly was really slow to dry yesterday and still has some iffy spots today. We are pleased with the way it is looking though.
From House

Another nice day is promised. I will be working outside.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Little bit of gardening finally

Too much time has been spent inside lately. Yesterday I finally got the daylily seeds I had collected planted and under the lights on the back porch. I did Double Joann, Chorus Line (or another pink?), Grape Magic (the longest blooming for me), a pale yellow cross of my own, and Joan Senior. I have lots of Hyperion seeds, but sure don't need more. I still have a "nursery" row in the garden to be moved. They are well past the nursery stage, monster plants that would fill a bushel basket.

This plant light stand has served me well. I can grow 12 flats under the lights. Each light unit has (4) 48" fluorescent bulbs, some grow lights, some not.

While I was out surveying my 'kingdom' yesterday, I got a couple of picture with the zoom (so not the best) of our state bird, the Eastern Bluebird.
From Birds

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Absent for a While

We were gone for a few days so I am behind on everything including my beginning blog.

We had a wonderful time, but are glad to be home again as always.

The weather has changed finally and we are having perfect, sunny fall days with temperatures near 70° and cool nights. I have lots to do outside but on the spur of the moment we decided to have the dining room floors timeout to unload china cabinets, drag all furniture into other rooms remove curtains, all the things you have to do. We were lucky they could start immediately and should be finished and ready to put furniture back next Friday.

The major issue was the corner of the dining room was my office! I decided I didn't want to be computerless for 7 days so headed off to find an extension for my highspeed cable. Of course couldn't find one with a male and female end so had to hook into the router in the dining room and then on to the computer. Works fine but I had to tape the cables and router up off the floor so the guys could do the second coat Monday.

At first I had set it up in the living room but that's DH's domain....wasn't going to work for me. Today I unhooked it all and moved to the domain. It isn't perfect but it is working.
What I wouldn't give for an office. I have my eye on a small front porch which would be perfect..........if enclosed.

The temporary office:
temporary office

The yard and garden aren't getting much attention, but I did see that my little patch of garlic has sprouted nicely.
New garlic planting

I noticed this right outside the back door a few days ago. Not a Halloween joke. There is an old cistern that previous owners made into a brick planter after filling it in....lots of holes and rocks under there. I have seen black snakes crawl under it before. I guess one shed his skin the dead basil bush growing in it. I didn't know they shed this late in the season.