Monday, May 31, 2010

Company has gone home; Willie is Gone, Lilies

It is a very hot Memorial Day, 84 degrees.

Our company left this morning around 9 AM. I spent the rest of the morning resting in my nest in the kitchen.....then decided I better mow so I could get on the gardening early in the morning. Time is running out on me. Most of the yard is shady so it wasn't too bad.

I made Ilene's Hot Milk Sponge Cake and it was a big hit. It is a small cake and I should have doubled the recipe! It is a keeper.

I think I have talked about our Indoor/Outdoor cat who found us. We named her Willie after the town where she first approached us. She is the first indoor cat we have ever had; she would scratch to be let in and come and stand in front of us when she wanted out. She liked spending her nights outside when the weather turned warm. A few times she would be gone for a couple of days but then we would hear her scratching at the back door to be let in. This last time she was gone two days and DH returned from checking the cows to tell me that he didn't think she would be coming back. I won't be graphic but remember we live in the country and there are varmints around.....We are both saddened and vow to never let one inside with us again. Her last year's babies are still here with us and visit on the porch each day. So far, they have not roamed like Willie did. Then, of course, there is the barn cat who showed up this spring and gifted us with three babies the first of May. I refuse to make pets of them.


I was able to squeeze in tilling the new plot just enough to get one row of tomatoes planted. I was happy with the quality of the soil and the scarcity of rocks....I should have tilled it all and let is lay for a few days, but since I am so late, I am just tilling and planting and letting the weeds die around the plants. It looks ugly the first day or two, but now looks normal. The goal is to get it finished this week! All else will have to wait........except the strawberries. I will pick them each evening and process the next morning. The cherries are ripening quickly too. This is a busy time of year.

The lilies are beginning to bloom. The first is Dani Arifin. The tall airy plant in the backgound is garden heliotrope.

From 2010_05_28

I see there are dark blotches on the blooms; I don't believe they had them last year. Curious

I see the papaver somniferums are blooming. It is always exciting because they cross a each year and I never know what will show up. I have a very full frilly red and lavender one. I will try to take pictures soon.

The Annabelle (hydrangea) bed is looking great. I seem to be mostly blues and purples in the flower beds this year. I never realized that before.


I got to really break in the new sink and lights and DH (Mr. Laundry Man) got to use the new dryer. He reports it works much better than the old one. I love the sink and new faucet. I discovered the brushed finish on the faucet does not water spot like the shiny one did. The sink just requires a wipe down to keep it looking good. The stove actually worked great.

I got the clothes line back operating and my MIL brought me out her clothes pins so I am all set to hang out lots of laundry with the pretty weather. I am wracking my brain to find a location in the yard where I can have a larger set up. I just have one short line now; the retractable kind.

Ladies,here is something you can look forward to (I hope), my husband has become very domesticated since retirement. He does all the laundry and does a fantastic job of it. He was the manager of a commercial laundry in his other life and also ran the military laundry at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He can get stains out of anything. He makes the coffee (and carries it to me); he unloads the dishwasher; he sets the table. This is a man who didn't know where the coffee was kept for most of our married life. I did not demand the change or suggest it. It just slowly happened. Thank you Lord.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More Gardening and Kitchen dryer and Flowers in Bloom

It's another beautiful day. Sunny and in the 80's.

I got outside fairly early, around 7 AM and got more gardening done.

Planted 5 rows of Peaches and Cream Sweet Corn
Hoophouse planted with my regular Kwintus pole beans
l row of Pink Eye Purple Hull peas (a first for me, but Mom always planted them)
Laid off row for okra which are soaking 24hours in water. will plant tomorrow
Laid off row for peppers will try to plant later this evening.

I am not so worried about being late with tomatoes. I found about 20 plants sprouted and blooming amidst the weeds in last year's patch. I weeded around them and will soon mulch them heavily and hope for the best. None were hybrid so should make some good tomatoes. I think I can maneuver, with DH's help, a cattle panel to tie them to....they are in a fairly straight row. This was an unexpected bit of luck for me since I am so late.

I will still plant the rest of the plants in the new patch out back. There are so many weeds sprouted in the newly plowed ground that I will just till a row at a time and plant. Still hope to get in the op corn and squash and melons back there.

The plumber/electrician was here all day, but did get everything done and we are (I am, DH could really care less except for the lights)very happy. I love how the sink looks and have a lot more lighting now. I took some pictures in the dark to show the lights.

From Kitchen
This is the southeast corner and this is the northeast corner
From Kitchen

Here is a better picture of the sink. I was afraid it might stand out way too much, but I think it doesn't nearly as much as my hated white (when scoured) sink did.

From Kitchen

and this is for Ilene. Here is the towel bar at the end of a cabinet run. I had enough space before the door to have it and the added plus was the furnace vent under so the towels stay nice and dry.

From Kitchen


This is the first of the papaver somniferums to bloom. It started out a more salmon pink but is now a gorgeous shade of soft pink.

Another clematis that I can't praise enough is Viola. Unfortunately this year the persicaria is hiding it from view until you walk on the path behind.

The surprise from yesterday was, the dryer quit working! Isn't that always the way. The minute you spend extra money for something, something else rears its ugly head...this time the dryer. It has been a faithful appliance for us. It is 8 years old and when we had the dairy, it was run three times a day most days and 7 days a week. They are bringing out a new one tomorrow late.

Keeping my fingers crossed nothing else fails.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another Catch Up Post

I started to post three different days but always got sidetracked and they are so out-of-date I will just begin new.

Weather has been way too hot. I have tried some gardening but give out around 10 or 11 AM. Heat really bothers me much more than it used to. I did get the kitchen garden re-tilled. Planted a row of tomatoes, my Prosperosa eggplants, the flat of calendula that is played out by now but I put it in the ground anyway. Cleaned out the cabbage rows, potatoes and onions and mulched.
I am still way behind but such is life!

I will probably loose most of tomorrow. Finally after two or three phone calls, the plumber is coming out to replace my hated white sink and put in a new faucet. We are also replacing the undercounter lighting which was very small weak fluorescent fixtures with xenon that he tells me will be twice as bright. We are also adding two new ones at the deep corners. My eyes (like my hips) aren't what they used to be....on cloudy days I think the kitchen counters are way too dark. We also worried about the wiring the carpenters did on the lighting....we keep burning out bulbs and get some flickering. I think they learned as they went! DH has always been worried about them and won't leave one on at night for a night light because of it.

This man says he can do carpenter work too. I am keeping him in mind for the back porch project. He is just a little too talky for my taste and I am always wary of that....I will know more after he finishes this current project. It is through our regular mechanical company so I know they will stand behind the work.

I hope the sink and faucet don't stand out glaringly in the kitchen.

Cow and Calf update:

Cow died
Calf is now in the barn and (don't faint, I almost did) DH is bottle feeding it twice a day! I am keeping a close eye on this little project since I don't think he has ever done it before.

Grass is waist high on the farm and DH has begun brushhogging, but he isn't supposed to be out in extreme heat so I think we will try to locate someone to do the whole farm and get it over with.

I have two shrub roses in bloom which I love. The pink one is very fragrant and came to me indirectly. A grandiflora rose was grafted on it. When she died this came forth and I like it so much better even though it only blooms once.
The next is a Canadian rose, William Baffin. No fragrance and just sporadic reblooms but a healthy vigorous rose. DH complains it is too close to the gate and so I let him cut it down every year or so. It rebounds with a fury!

and last is a climber, Awakening, an improved version of New Dawn (so they say) It has been planted a few years but is just now blooming nicely. I have it on the front porch which is not the best location. She is much too rampant and I have to cut off long branches that come across the steps. No one uses that porch which is good! I detect no fragrance and didn't on the New Dawn I had either.

This time of year when it rains too much and I have company (which I dearly love) and I start getting behind I get both panicky and depressed. I must develop a new attitude. What gets done is good and the rest can wait. I have to keep telling myself it isn't the end of the world. All will get done eventually.....or not.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Rainy Wednesday

This is beginning to get old! It has also been unseasonably cold. We actually turned the furnace on a few minutes ago to take the chill off.

All I have done since I posted last is mow and trim. I did trim both ditches in front which I said I couldn't do since they had reworked the road....I couldn't stand the brome and fescue going to seed out there so attacked it with my trusty Stihl trimmer. That is a recommendation for Stihl! It is my old faithful tool.
I managed to get slightly unbalanced and fall toward the road with one foot burying in the muddy bottom of the ditch....but got it done.

I did some more trimming this morning and finally managed to get two Early Girl tomatoes planted. The ground is still too wet.

Mid morning we took a vet break. A cow was down and we thought she was going to said she has already calved and either had milk fever (I don't think so, no cold ears at all) or grass tetany which we have never had before. He gave her almost two bottles of a calcium phosphorous mix and she finally tried to get up. We rotated her (with the ATV and a halter) up on her chest and just left her there. Her udder is huge. No signs of bawling calf and her ear tag was so dirty
I couldn't tell which one she was. DH will keep an eye on her and one for a stray calf. Surely it will be bawling by evening. Ahhhh, life on the farm.

I take it in stride now but when we first moved out to the country every thing like this and there will be lots of them, drove me crazy.


The Buff Beauty rose out front is surviving all the rains and I think they are helping the foxgloves do well. Now nigella (self-seeded little white plant) has joined the group.
From Gardening 2010

This grouping is just to the left or west of the Buff Beauty rose and completes what I call the Dining Room Foundation Bed.

From Gardening 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Rainy Saturday

I will start off by showing a picture I happened to take before the rains! Probably the only one I may have of the peonies. Iris and peonies are now laying on the ground after two days of heavy rain. I have had over 3-1/5 inches so far and it is raining lightly this morning.

From Gardening 2010

I have not been doing anything very productive but did read two detective novels which I enjoyed very much.

My tomato plants will be tree size by the time I can get them planted and the two vines under the lights are now beginning to twine up the light fixture! I will get the vigna caracalla into a pot this weekend which is how I will raise it. I hope I have gained enough time it will set seed this year. The other vine is purple hyacinth bean and I may just 'mud' it in sometime between rain.

The roses are starting to bloom. I have been really working on my two heirloom roses, Reines des Violette and Baronne Prevost. They have been so sorry looking for two years now that I thought they were going to die. Thanks to the Antique Rose Forum, I found that they need a more acidic soil so I am feeding them regularly to correct that and just bought some fertilizer that has iron in it for them. At last I am not ashamed to post pictures of them. They still have a way to go but are much improved.

This is Reines des Violette. I have to take shots from the side because there is not enough space between the fence and the smokehouse to take a full on frontal picture.
From Gardening 2010
and Baronne Prevost:
From Gardening 2010
and here are blooms close up:
From Gardening 2010
From Gardening 2010

and this is of Reines des Violette:
From Gardening 2010

Both are extremely fragrant.

I will come back to show others in a later post.


The other day I had five Baltimore Orioles at one time show up for the grape jelly! That set a record for us. I couldn't get them all in one picture, but I did capture the male and female at the jelly dish. (refilled the dish right after the picture)
From Birds

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Blooms

We have been missing all the serious storms but are getting lots of wind which isn't good for the flowers.

I was so busy yesterday, I decided to stay inside today. It was bread-making day anyway. I made two loaves and used the third for burger buns. DH wanted them flatter and wider; wider worked well but I think I went overboard on the flatter. He likes how they look. Taste is the same. I used our favorite honey, oatmeal whole wheat recipe.

We got the new plot hot-wired yesterday. We anxiously checked all afternoon to be sure the cows were respecting the hot wire and they were. When I went out to check this morning, fence was down and it looked like a cow or two had been inside the garden area. They hadn't bothered the newly set trees! Made some minor improvements and so far today, it is working. It takes a few days to get their respect.

I am still waiting for the part to repair my oven...and on an electrician who is supposed to come out and look at my under-counter lighting in the kitchen. I didn't put enough units in and want to improve it. Waiting for repairmen seems to be a permanent part of my life these days.

What Is Blooming Now

The first daylily of the year is blooming. Bev on her blog has one in bloom that looks exactly like mine. I have bought a few that were just labeled yellow or red at a local nursery so I have decided to call mine Saratoga Springtime.
From Gardening 2010

The roses have begun blooming. My favorite Buff Beauty is wonderful this year. My camera does not do justice to the beautiful apricot color. It is very fragrant and is planted at the corner of the foundation of the porch we sit on. I was hoping for fragrance and we got lovely wafts of it's scent this morning. I have a couple of other fragrant plants that I am moving to this area, Fragrant Lilac iris and garden heliotrope which is in bud now.

This picture shows the color better:

I had a senior moment with the foxgloves planted near the rose. Last year I had apricot colored ones, maybe Sutton's Apricot. They are biennials so you must grow new plants each year to have annual bloom; they do not self seed for me. I evidently planted digitalis purpurea seeds instead. They actually may work better because they are in bloom with the rose and last year the apricot colored ones were a little late for the rose's prime bloom.

and last the Well House Bed, a long shot which is all I will be showing because I haven't cleaned out the center of the bed and it is a jumble of weeds and dead stalks. Note how I have let the clematis fall off the trellis....bad gardening!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

From Willow and other cows

This is another approach to getting breakfast!

Good morning. We had another cold night. I don't think it will be quite as cold here as predicted. They were even talking frost in some low spots....right now we are at 44°.

Monday will begin the warm-up again. We have a chance of rain every day next week. We can use it.

Just to be safe, we brought the flats of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants back inside last night.

Milk Cow

Willow calved last August 23. She was with the bull from that time for a few months but I have never seen any signs of heat or breeding. I thought we better take her to the vet for a preg check to be sure. She is right on schedule; he says she has a 7-month calf inside. So I will milk another 5 weeks or so and turn her dry for a rest. I will miss the milk!

Fruit Trees

I have thinned a little more on the two peach trees....finished.

I am still clipping some fire blighted tips off the Grimes Golden and Lodi trees. Not good.

The little plum tree that is so loaded with fruit needed more attention. It is laying on its side from a previous storm and usually looses most fruit due to late frosts. This year it is simply loaded. Each one must be pulled by hand to thin. I am trying to get them about 3-4 inches apart and left some little clusters together.

I pull a few more every time I am in that end of the garden.

Now if a wind storm or hail or a tornado doesn't happen, we should at last have some fruit!


Maybe three years ago I had to move most of my iris that were standing in water after some long heavy rains. Then we had a late frost one year after that nipped many in the this is the first year some have reappeared that I thought were lost....most not in proper settings! I was so desperate to get them all back in the ground that I began just putting them in any bare spot I could find.

This dusty rose had been out front in the ditch surrounded with oenothera speciosa, a pink native. I like the combination. I think I still have one left out there. I will relocate this with some oenothera after it finishes blooming.

From Iris

We are having DH's mother and dad out for dinner to celebrate Mother's Day. I am making a chicken lasagna with white sauce for dinner with a salad using my Bibb lettuce with dried cranberries and toasted almonds...maybe some crumbles of bacon too. Dessert will be her favorite of peach cobbler. I will make the cake like topping instead of our family favorite of pie crust.

Friday, May 7, 2010

From Collages

I got a new tripod yesterday for my camera! I love far. I have it setup right by the computer which is by the window facing the 'bird' porch. I caught the Cardinal thinking about grabbing some grape jelly but he just couldn't get up his nerve; the female is much bolder. It was a little windy....he was having a bad hair day!

We had a very successful morning. I had set a goal of just getting the five new fruit trees planted.........we did. This was the first time I had dug in this new ground that DH had plowed up for me a few weeks ago. It wasn't too rocky and worked up decently. It is nice to have fruit trees in a row in an orchard setting. I can actually mow around and up and down the rows! What a treat.

I thinned on the peach tree again this morning. That seems to be an endless job except I am calling an end to it. I have been using a step ladder and I have reached as far as I dare with it. Now it will just be a matter of trying to keep up with the spraying schedule.

We are having a slight cool period for three days...after that I will begin gardening seriously....lots of plants to get in the ground...4 flats. Have yet to do pole beans, squash, cucumbers, etc........

I had a nice surprise this morning. I always scan the yard for new flowers and spotted a brown iris over in the cellar bed........I don't remember ever buying one but it must have come from a local iris farm that has been closed for two or three years now. I have not ordered any....I know. It is a beauty but in the wrong place, naturally.
From Iris

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It is 78° today and just a perfect spring day. A cool front is expected soon with a low of 43° by Friday night.

I got the trees sprayed...had to do a little wand repair first but then things went smoothly. I have a 15 gallon sprayer that probably sprays 20 feet into the air. It runs off a battery and I load all in my garden cart and can get to all trees this way.

This morning we loaded calves for the sale barn and were very happy with the prices. I guess we are the only class of farmers (beef) that are getting really good prices right now.

I didn't go to the sale barn with my husband. They have very hard seats and sometimes it takes hours...didn't think I could tolerate that. I tackled the huge Light Pole and New Bed. I had just let the perilla become a ground cover and it worked pretty well keeping other bad weeds down. I found 5 self seeded corianders which pleased me. I didn't know they would do that, also lots of dill and more larkspur. I won't know what type until they bloom. I know I scattered lots of seeds. There are lots of poppies (papaver somniferum) all over the bed.
I also discovered the New Zealand spinach self seeded. I didn't care for it so may chop it out later. I have enough bare spots now that I will sow directly some Yvonne's salvias and more annuals.

Back outside now to thin more fruit trees. I used the ladder this time to reach the tops of the trees but the sun was in my face so will have to finish in the morning. I am sure I missed some.

The plum tree is a mystery to me how to handle thinning. The fruit growing in little clusters of three with long stems like cherries. I finally just pulled my closed hand along a limb removing the less attached ones. Then I did it by hand. I saw some with yellow stems which makes me wonder if the tree would be self-thinning if I had waited until next month. I removed maybe half but still have lots of tiny green fruit left. I found an Elm sapling that I need to remove.
Plums trees have very brittle limbs, especially the tips. I broke off a few in the thinning process.

The new tripod for my camera came yesterday. I am loving it. I have it set up facing the porch where I can see the birds while at the computer. It moves smoothly and I can pinpoint any spot I want. Then zoom in for the shop. I can then take the picture without any movement of the camera at all. I took several of the Baltimore Oriole. I was able to take 25 shots in less than a minute.

This is a House Finch thinking about trying out some of the jelly:

From Birds
And the resident Baltimore Oriole male.

From Birds

More and more iris are opening. I still have a few remaining ones I am waiting on. The latest was a lovely sky blue from my sis that will now be known as Char's blue.
From Iris

I have a very fragrant one from Schreiner's called Fragrant Lilac and it is. I planted a small clump at the edge of the Light Pole Bed. It was near where I was working yesterday weeding and the scent was almost overpowering. I thought I had a single shot of it but don't. This is just part of the long Driveway Border with a few of the iris and a peony about to open. The fragrant iris is the lavender one just to the right of the Light Pole (wasn't that clever to name the bed that).
From Iris

Side Note: The part for the Jenn-Air (replace with expletive) range still has not come! I emailed the company yesterday with the history of the stove. It won't do any good, but I feel better.

Today's plan: Plant the five fruit trees. If I get nothing else done, this will be enough. My trusty assistant will be called in to help with this.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I have been busy the last few days so will do a quick catch up:

I got all the tomatoes that needed it re-potted and left in sunny window in barn to recover.
Carried all plants out to cold frame to harden off.
Finished cleaned the weedy end of Garage Wall bed and rear iris bed.
Thinned more on peach trees

Made bread

Took time out to order a tripod for the camera and a mattress topper hoping it will allow me to sleep on our firm mattress again.

Harvested asparagus and poke and first head of Bibb Lettuce

Went to in-laws for Saturday dinner.

OK. I am up to date.

Yesterday after milking we headed to nearby town for errands. Needed salt blocks and chicken feed. Also hit the vets (again) for meds and a shot for the dogs itching and ear infection troubles.
Returned books to the library and stopped by our small grocery for a few items.

I squeezed in a couple of hours of outside work before fixing lunch.


I dug up a bushel basket size of Hyperion Daylily from the "nursery" row in the garden. I divided it into 5 different nice sized pieces and planted two by the orange Westerland rose on the west side of the house foundation and the rest between two bushes in the shrub border out front.

I also dug up three pieces of the salvia with the large wrinkly leaves and tall spiky blooms to put around the rose. I think the blue will look good with the orange blooms.

Time out for lunch. Fried chicken,mashed potatoes, green beans and a salad. I put the rest of the legs and thighs on to simmer for later chicken and dumplings.

Rest break and then I decided to finish mowing the east and back yards and be finished with all mowing until next time. I like to take a minute to appreciate the freshly mown grass.

From Gardening 2010

I noticed the corner planting out by the new dusty road needed my attention.
The iris is an unknown I got at a local iris farm which has since closed. It was run by two senior ladies....I have always thought I would love having a small iris farm. Back to the point; I love the iris is is a dusty pinkish rose. I have planted around it clary sage which has self seeded nicely. This year the falls and standards are very wrinkly, like they have been crushed and released. I don't remember them being that way at all. I took a picture to show the texture. It doesn't seem to be damage.

From Iris

and this to show the shape of the bloom (note the white, dusty road in the background).
From Iris

They have sprawled year I must make some supports for them. They are very tall and probably an heirloom which I love.


The Orchard Orioles have returned, at least the male. I think I have also seen the female Baltimore Oriole. The porch is like a bird sanctuary. I doubt we will be able to enjoy the porch least until the viscous little wrens leave.

This is the male Orchard Oriole:
From Birds
and again. This picture is too dark, but I love that it shows his slender body and how dark he is compared to the Baltimore Oriole.
From Birds
and the female Baltimore Oriole,
From birds

The plan for today:

Finish hotwiring the new plot and hook up charger. Getting close to planting time.
Spray fruit trees. Must do.

Make Mom's dumplings with chicken for lunch/dinner (I call it lunch even though it is our large meal for the day).