Saturday, February 25, 2012

Yesterday was cold and windy all day long.  Typical Spring weather here.

We finished our errands yesterday morning.  We had to get chicken feed and I also found a pretty good, if limited, source for garden seeds.  It was our local MFA.  I bought  spinach seeds but will go back shortly to get sweet corn seeds.  They never restock so I don't want to wait too late to get the corn.  I will still have to order heirloom or exotic seeds if I need them.

I realized that I have become a sort of seed snob over the years thinking that the only good seeds were from garden supply centers (not big box ones) and mail order specialty places.  Well, Springfield lost its bulk seed source when Hummert closed its doors.  I bought broccoli seed and cauliflower seeds and I think a package of lettuce seeds at Wal Mart about a week ago. Egads!  I had vowed to never ever do that.  Well, I planted 4 large size 6-packs of the broccoli and cauliflower  and  put them under cover under the lights on the back porch.  They came up in two days time!  I was impressed.

An added plus was I  didn't pay extra shipping.

Last evening A and his buddy finished my yard work and I am completely delighted and told him so.
I now have both sides of the drive pruned nicely.  I am sure some things will come back and some won't but that is part of gardening.....nothing (but Bermuda Grass and Elm Trees) lasts  forever.

DH took him to the back of the farm and showed him the fencing work he wants done and he will call when he  can get to that.  He told DH he found another downed tree that would yield 1.5 to 2 cords of wood so we added that to the list.  He cuts it up, splits it and hauls it  down to the wood stack.  I built a super warm fire yesterday using some of the dry wood he had already done.  It held all night so I just added another stick this morning and opened the damper and the fire was roaring in no time.  It was 24° out so it felt really good. 

This morning is bread making day.  I am going  to do the Hodgson Mills  recipe that has an extra rising and makes a very fine textured loaf (3). 

I am making a To Do List.  It helps keep me focused on what needs to be done.

To Do List

Spray dormant oil  on orchard
prune fruit tees
clean up berry patch and asparagus row
get tiller and mower up and running (DH's job)
Plant: lettuce and spinach and a few early cabbage seeds
Buy: carrot seeds, corn seeds
till new garden and clean off panels
Build cattle panel fence around garden (hope A can do this)
Pain smokehouse and milk parlor (A)
Shop for shrubs for  various places in front yard:  spirea, mock orange. maybe a crab apple  
Redo chicken yard fencing.

Miscellaneous Tip:

Store hair spray with the lid on upside down and it will never clog and you can use it until the last drop. The sales clerk volunteered info this the last time I  bought my favorite Paul Mitchell spray that was in an extra large can....  Bless her.  I have lost entire cans before and half cans and  worked with the spray tip to unclog it more times than I care to recall.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Renewed Front Shrub Border, Cows , First Daffs

I started this on Wednesday, the work was done on Thursday and Friday.

 The weather couldn't have been better, it was shirtsleeve weather both working days.

This was errand day but we gave up after two stores and just come home in time for lunch.  We will finish tomorrow and, thankfully, they will all be local.

I wanted to be here because A(our helper) will be here to finish with my shrub border and some other small chores in the yard.  I have a limb that constantly knocks me half off  the mower that I want removed all the way to the trunk of the tree, another smaller shrub border on the west side  to remove and I think that will catch up all the things I can't/don't want to do.

He did a fantastic job yesterday on the overgrown front shrub border that is east of the drive.  It faces south.  I found out he also works for a landscaper!  Is this boy a dynamite find or not....He  also does painting.  Hopefully we can get him to do the outbuildings shortly.

I took some before and after pictures.  The good thing is I don't think it is going to look quite as 'naked' as I thought.  I left some things completely untouched, trimmed some and removed the weed trees.  He and I decided to leave one that I thought was a wild cherry but he says it isn't.  I am hoping it is something  that I read was a food for a certain butterfly larva.  He will tell me what it is when it fully leafs out this spring.  This is the bark of the tree:

This is taken from the south side or the road  and shows the corner next to the drive.  The top is before and the bottom is after cleaning,

and this is the east edge  where there was a completely overgrown chaenomeles (flowering quince), the old red version that bloomed very little and surrounded by rugosa roses gone wild.  This is the quince,
The area is now completely clear.  I do see small sprouts of the rugosa rose, Therese Bugnet, coming through.  I didn't want to loose it.  It has a lovely double medium pink bloom and the smell is wonderful.
I failed to get a picture of the new area.

 We got 15 eggs yesterday.

 I took this shot that should have gone with my "feeding the cows" episode, but failed to include it.

I took this from the west porch and it is about 6 acres away using the zoom lens.  This is the herd eating the new hay.

 and last but certainly not least, I noticed two days ago two clumps of daffs have opened:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Catch-Up Post - Feeding Cows and Chickens - Hay

5 AM, (yes, I am sleeping better) 41° and is supposed to get  near 60° today.

Our 'helper/farmhand' called last evening and will be here around 2:45 PM to trim/cut down the front hedge on the east side of the driveway.  I will be on hand to show him what to cut.  Some things will be cut completely and treated with diesel over the stumps and others just cut back to 18 inches or  so.  I will have him cut the rugosa bed down completely, hoping it will come back fresh this spring.

The lilacs will be tricky.  I just want the dead limbs removed.  If you cut a lilac down, it will come back but will take a very long time to bloom again.  The rose of sharon  will be cut to the ground, you can't kill these rascals.

It will look naked for a couple of years but there is so much wild stuff and dead in it now that it doesn't look good.

I hope to remember to take before and after pictures.

I have been doing my every three-day milkings.  Willow is down quite  a bit.  I think it is the new hay.  We will put a different variety out next time.  This means more frequent milkings....every two days for a bit.

The chickens are doing great.  We have 20 hens and some are quite old.  I know the Barred Rock is one of the oldest yet I have seen her on the nest.  The next oldest are the Buffs and they are laying daily.

We got 15 again yesterday and  I just have 9 'new' girls so the older ones are doing great.  The fewest we get is 9 and the most has been 15.  I am going to start collecting during the day to keep the eggs cleaner.  Also, its fun to see who is doing her thing.

I am still tossing them henbit.  I went out to pick up eggs (9 so far)and there wasn't a bit of weeds left.

DH got the bull up and I gave him a off-label amount of liquamyacin.  He is already coming to the feed trough to eat and before he was not.  I will probably give him one more shot Thursday.  The good think about what I am using is it lasts for three days.  The secret is to have a very sharp needle and a large syringe.  I divide the dose in half and inject in two different sites.  Once again, I am very thankful we have the working area with the squeeze chute. 

We are still having spring babies born, one just yesterday .

Our last load of hay is coming today.  I sure hope it is the last!  At least we have a source that seems very dependable and this hay is net wrapped which is a very good thing.  Less waste with the netting.
I hollared at the guys and told them to say cheese!  The tractor guy is mine.


It is a fabulous day 66° with a little breeze.  I won't mind working out with A. on the shrub border.  I took some before pictures and sort of planned what I want done.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Catch-Up Journal - Valentine's Day Baking

I am having blogging issues.....again.

I had a rather lengthy post and I thought it would be saved automatically like was not!
I never hit publish either.....

I will try again.

Happy Valentine's Day!  

I decided to use a dozen of the eggs and made an angel food cake and the 12-yolk lemon sponge is Valentine's Day after   all and you know I don't need much of an excuse to bake!      
We are routinely getting a dozen eggs a day.  What bounty!

The past week was pretty routine.  We did get about 2 inches of snow but most melted off today and rain is due next.

Our new hay was delivered,
We still need about 20 more bales and we are looking.....

I went to the doctor for a routine follow-up on the polymyalgia rheumatica.  He wants me to stay on the Prednisone for two more months but I am down to 1/2 pill a day, 2.5 mg.  I had a good discussion with him about recurrence of the PR and the negative side effects from the Prednisone but he says I am on the lowest dose and therefore, should have the lowest possible side effects.  I sure hope he is right.

Does  anyone need barn cats??? Here is what greeted me this  morning when I went out to milk.  DH has just fed them or they were waiting for him.

Well, let's see if this one publishes......

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Daily Journal

The last few days have been pretty uneventful.  Weather has been cool and real amounts of rain  so far.

I have spent some time checking and researching hay.  I am happy to report we have found 38 round bales and have our favorite part-time farm hand (a local neighbor boy still in high school) looking  for 20 more.
He found the hay for us and it is through a man his family has known for years.  That is always a good thing.  He just brought by a bag of a sampling of the hay...the bale was so tight he couldn't dig in very far but it smells wonderful, and is very soft.  It bends rather  than breaks.  It is orchard grass with some red clover in....better than what we are currently feeding.  The price is market price delivered and we are glad to get it.

We are still considered newcomers to the community since neither of our families are from this area.  Also we are not really having found this young man has been a blessing for us.  We found him originally through Craig's list selling wood, a very serendipitous finding.

So far, he has  cleaned out the sheds, cut some wood that was down on our place.  I recently booked him to cut down or back our very overgrown front shrub border.  Next I will get him to paint the outbuildings.
I hope to get all this done before he heads off to college.

The hay has been a worry so I am relieved to have it taken care of.  We plan to just use this young man for all our needs on the farm.

I had the usual thing of people not calling me back as promised.  One man wanted to buy bred heifers...I told him I didn't have any for sale....maybe his real interest.  Who knows.  He sounded to promising about finding us the has now been 24 hours with no call.

The chickens are stunning us.  Another day of 15 and a day of 12.....we are loving it!
Here part of the flock are enjoying henbit.

The dinner at Bolivar was good and we all brought home leftovers. This is another pet peeve of mine....why do they serve such humongous amounts.  We all could do with half the amount and half the price.  Now there is a new concept!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cinnamon Bread and more Rain

Well our big storm prediction turned out to be just 3/4 inches of rain.  But we are delighted.  My sis in Iowa was getting some snow and she was happy about that too.

In fact she called this morning and we got wound up.....I forgot I was supposed to milk until she ended the call and it was 9AM!  No problem.....DH had Willow up and I just milked a little late.  She gave her normal amount.  I won't have to milk again for three days.

I don't know why....maybe the cool, cloudy day but I have been thinking about raisin bread and baking. I used to buy it often before I started making our bread but I don't think I have made it in many years. During our conversation (Sis in Iowa) I asked her what she thought about using our favorite sweet roll recipe only making in a loaf rolled up with the filling inside.  She thought it would be great and suggested I mix the raisins directly in the dough instead of on top of the rectangle with the filling. Since I introduced this recipe to her, it has become her  favorite sweet roll recipe too.  I got it from the internet (Thibault's Table) but it was originally from Joy of Cooking.
 I think I have already posted it.  Trust me on this is a fantastic recipe.

The bread made such a large loaf I decided to do it sort of free form with no pan.  It held its shape very well.  I think I could have made two small loaves and used the bread pans.  We have had a sample slice.  It makes such a tender moist I am thinking about making just a loaf of bread using the recipe sans filling and fruit.

I also added the zest of an orange and diced very fine some of my candied orange peel.  I love to nibble on the orange peel.  It has been made since fall is is very tender and chewy.  It gave the bread just a hint of orange flavor.  I mixed the peel in the dough too.

Usually the icing for breads calls for just milk and powdered sugar, but I add vanilla and a tiny pinch of salt to mine.

The girls set a record last evening.  We got 15 eggs!  That means some of my 'senior' hens are laying again.  It is really fun to gather eggs now.

Tomorrow is DH's birthday.  His Mom is taking us out to eat.  We are going to a popular place in Bolivar, not fancy but just good country cooking.  


We are running low on hay so now the current project is trying to find hay......I may have to order a semi-load in from up northwest....that will be some serious money.  Beef hay now costs what dairy hay cost us back before 2004.  Inflation has hit everything except peoples income!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Growing Garlic

I had another almost sleepless night.  I am hoping stopping the Prednisone will help with that problem.
We got pretty cool overnight, 30° but today is supposed to be in the 60's.

I actually did go out late yesterday afternoon and planted 25 feet of sprouted garlic.
All I had to do was push some mulch out of the way here and there.  This is on the north side of the south garden fence.  I picked a section where the clematis and roses won't cast much shade on the garlic.  I am happy to report the ground was in beautiful condition and very moist.  I just drug a hoe down the row and then pushed the individual cloves into the soil.

I notice that some of the garlic has sprouted and some has not....none has rotted.  I need to do some research about how to store garlic over the winter..  If any of you know, please share with me.  I haven't raised garlic for very long and am just finding my way.  I don't know if this late planting will make either, but the garlic was sprouted and I hated to loose it. 

While out back, I gathered the eggs...9 slightly soiled.  I need to clean out the nests this morning....again.  This is an endless job since many choose to roost in the nests and leave their calling cards behind.
I also pulled some henbit and dead nettle and tossed to them and shelled  two ears of corn from my field corn crop and tossed it.  I think the corn kernels are a little too big for them.  I hope this will improve the color of the yolks that get a little pale during winter.

Today's plan is to do a little housecleaning.  I have some points accumulated on Amazon so I may have to do a little shopping too.  Life is good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cleaning the Milk Parlor - More greenery outside - Scones and Lemon Curd

We are still having warm weather here.  Yesterday it was cloudy most of the day but nice and warm.
I milked and then decided to stay in the barn and begin the organizing of the Milk parlor.  I worked just an hour and got a lot done but suffered the rest of the day for being on the concrete too long.

I put up the new shelf so now I have everything up off the floors and pretty well sorted.  I still need to sweep and clean some things.   This is the room in the barn with the ss sinks and the old frig where I process my milk.  It is just in front of where I milk Willow.  The old bulk tank still sits in the middle of the room and I wish it were gone!  Then I would have a roomy 12x12 area.  I need to check into that this spring.  Surely there is a market somewhere for this equipment that DH should have sold years ago!

I couldn't resist the urge to try scones with the rest of the lemon curd.  I made them for breakfast yesterday morning and we finished up the lemon curd.  We both like it very much.....I did add a little bacon on the side.

I saw lemon curd advertised somewhere, a very small jar, for $!  That would make a lemon pie worth a lot of money.

The other day Kris showed her sprouted potatoes she is saving for is a bag of mine I had on the back porch and I found a lot more in the milk parlor during my cleaning process.

These will have to be cut first but I have a lot in the barn that are sprouted tiny potatoes and will be planted whole.
I may I will buy some red potatoes and some Yukon Golds to let sprout too.


Here are some more greenery pictures I took the other day.  Note the 'ground cover' around the base of the rose of sharon....if you can't beat em, join 'em!  Henbit has been the bane of my gardening existence since moving here.  I have sprayed it, pulled it, cut it down and tilled it in.....and it is more lush than ever.  It occurred to me walking around and seeing it on every bare piece of ground that it grew similar to my purchased lamiums......I think I will just throw in the towel and let it be and consider it as native ground cover.  I do plan to weed whack it into semi submission before it blooms.....

The roses have never lost all their leaves.

and many have 1 inch long new growth on them.

I love self-seeding anything.  When you have a lot of space to cover, these are wonderful plants.  One that takes this a little too far is malva sylvestris and it has a long taproot like its cousin, hollyhock.  This makes it very difficult to eradicate so mostly, I just let it grow where it will.
I have these vibrant green clumps everywhere, even in the vegetable garden (those will have to go!)

I always leave Annabelle's bloom heads on so I can enjoy them in the winter.

(note: more native ground cover here)
Speaking of self-seeders.......... this is nigella damascena.  She has covered more territory than ever before.
and I have several patches of her in other places.  This is just the white variety.  I wish I had the blue one too.
The catalogs always say that foxgloves will self seed if they find a happy place....after years of growing these biennials, I think mine finally have.  It could be a neighboring salvia but I think it is foxglove.  Time will tell.

The shastas have stayed green all year too.

I found one lonely gaillardia,

and here is my favorite 'real' ground cover.  This is one of the lamiums.

another bed of nigella,

For me, snaps are practically perennial.  There are three or four snaps in this group.  They started life as the heirloom blood red one, but have morphed into various colors....maybe self seeded from the mother plant.

This next is lychnis coronaria,rose campion (fuchsia one).  I am amazed how it self seeded on this stump and  grows and blooms.

It is another rampant self-seeder.

The nepeta Walker's Low is greening up.  I need to divide it this spring!  I think I said that last year too.

and another plant that self seeded all summer and stayed green all winter (so far).  I wish this was the purple one, but it is the white.  Hesperis matronalis or Dame's Rocket

I have very few tulips because of the varmints eating the bulbs.  I thought it was moles but a very knowledgeable gardening friend said  they don't....that it is most likely gophers or voles.
These are safe because they grow in a raised narrow planter right on the patio by the back door. I keep tossing leaves over them and need to do it again.


I am happy to report they are keeping  us well-supplied in eggs.  We got 10 yesterday.  I am getting a rainbow mix of eggs.

This picture is for Ilene.  This shows a pullet egg next to a normal sized one.  They will be smaller for a short time but soon catch up.