Sunday, May 13, 2018

Slowly, slowly.......

First let me wish all you Mothers out there a very Happy Mother's Day!  Mine as usual was very quite.  I got my usual calls from both our son and daughter and our oldest granddaughter also called.

The early morning was cloudy and breezy and I worked outside almost three hours.

So far I have planted lettuce,  Chinese Cabbage(three kinds),  spinach, two kinds of Asian eggplants (the long skinny ones purple and lavender striped), potatoes that are up about a foot tall, all the tomato plants (I have  lost track of how many), two kinds of sweet peppers and two varieties of pole beans.  I also broke  my rule on sweet potatoes and planted 6 Beauregard's in a short row by the  east end of the garden.

This is the month for iris and early clematis.

I was afraid  I had lost all of these pretty pale blue or lavender ones but these survived on the north side of the miscanthus.  I call it Barb's iris after one of my sweet neighbors who died shortly after telling  me to please come get some. Sure glad  I did.

My one red iris that I have been planning to move  for 3 years now...............
I enlarged this because I just noticed the alba roses are beginning to bloom (the pink in the background) and I hadn't even noticed....I did smell something wonderful but thought it was the locust tree that is blooming.  Note I have just cleaned  the front of the bed.......I am moving slowly along.  The iris is Fragrant Lavender and smells like  grape soda.

  I am finally braving a photo of me at work.  I wish I could Photoshop about 50 more pounds  off but alas it is much harder than that!  Working on that too.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

This and That On the Farm

We have been having some abnormally hot,  windy and dry weather here;  does not bode well for the season ahead.

I am not feeling very ambitious this morning but I did manage a walkabout in the yard and took photos.  I will try to keep  them in order of the walk so you can get an idea of the layout of things, if not,  I hope you just enjoy seeing my little domain.

Beginning with the allee  in front of the house: This was created some years ago when an arborist told me the trees along the street were mostly hollow and would be dead  at some point and I should start new ones.  I did and it is a mix of threes and  shrubs with a flower plant or two thrown in.

Have I mentioned  we are having the screened porch enclosed as a sun room?  We are already enjoying it more than the screened version. Another reason is the cats (I raised the mama and her  4 babies out their) completely destroyed the screening.

This shows how it will look eventually.

The work on the sun room is going at the normal, work one day, don't work for two weeks, rate.
This is about midway through allee in front of new office.

We are walking west now at the corner of the front of the house heading around it. To the right is the earth  berm at the foundation  where I have started a hosta bed for ground cover along  with the vinca major vine.  I think most of the hostas survived the  winter.

Okay, enough of that.

I have been working outside part of each  day trying to catch up.  It is going very slowly  but I am making progress.

More about that in another post.

Here is a teaser picture:

How many kittens are there?  It is not that we didn't have enough cats to begin with....I  think 7 last count....before these surprised us!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Catch Up Time Again.

It is now 6:07 in the morning.  Been missing from the blog for a while.  Lots happening on the farm in the Ozarks.

First, the weather has settled in and it is going from very cool spring to summer temperatures....up to 80° with the accompanying severe storms in  some areas.  We have escaped so far and we are grateful.  We have been lucky to receive almost an inch of rain per  week.

The most wonderful  news  is my dear Sis and her husband from  Iowa came for a two-day visit!  I was shocked when she called told me their plans.  For a couple of years now she has told us they wouldn't be traveling this far again.  It is a 6-hour trip. 

We had the best visit.  She is a cook (as I have mentioned) and a gardener.  One day we cooked a new chicken recipe together; never cooked a meal together before and one morning as we were touring the yard, she said "get me a pair of gloves and get the tools together.  Let's clean a flower bed!"  I tried to talk her out of it but she persisted.  We completely cleaned the Kerria Bed.  She has severe macular degeneration and gardens (weeds) mostly by touch.  What  a picture we made:  her crawling around on her knees and me chopping with a hoe (I can't bend down because of my right knee).  It reminded me of pictures of Grandma and her sisters all garbed up to go gooseberry picking in the wilds of the Ozarks (a bluff above the James River if I remember correctly) so I had Max take some 'candid'  photos of us.  What a laugh.  I sent copes to her and  threatened her life if they ever appeared on Facebook..........she promised me.  We both treasure them.  I was wearing a very loose gardening apron (which I  may never don again!) and the wind  was blowing very strongly.  I look like a gray haired 9-month pregnant old lady.


Same  old; same old.  Grass is finally growing with the warmer temperatures.  We have had to graze  some hay fields but at least we didn't have to buy anymore of the very expensive hay.

Here are the cows we keep up close in the west lot:  The Jersey is my temporarily retired milk cow and the horned one is her daughter.  Not sure if the darker red one is Willow my permanently retired milk cow who hates me.  The black heifer's heritage escapes me  at the moment.


My cooking has been uninspired except  for the honey-garlic chicken recipe from Facebook or Pinterest (not sure which) that Sis wanted to try.  Everyone liked it a lot except for my DH who isn't very open to new dishes (to say the least).  Yesterday was bread baking day (you know I love those days).  This was a mixed recipe.  I had about a cup and a half of white wheat flour and oatmeal flakes.  I ground this fine using the food processor and then used a mix of bread flour and AP flour, a mix of olive oil and butter, honey for the sweetening. and it turned out nicely.  It toasted well which is a prerequisite for me.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

It's Raining!

It's not a heavy rain, but it is steady.  One half inch so far and more promised.

I weeded the strawberry  bed yesterday and it needed moisture badly.  I may still water if this rain isn't enough.  Speaking of weeding............what a  job, but I got it done!  The plants are not very tall but are loaded with white blooms.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that our frosts are finished.

I have the tomato plants and cabbages hardening off on the screened porch (the carpenter still is a no show to enclose the porch.)

I also mowed the east yard for the second time. 

I took this picture through he morning rain out the office door:
  The red bud is now blooming and the lilac is still looking good.  That small bed in the lower left has a viburnum just leafing out, jonquils that are done and daylilies coming on.

and my favorite tree because of the apricot colored peeling bark,  betula nigra.  When it leafs out the bark won't be so noticeable but then it completely screens  the front of most of the house from the road.

Plans today are making English Muffins...... 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Change of Plans.......

....on several levels.  Today was to be Max's work day with a young neighbor boy (19).  I usually fix lunch for all of us the day he works. So, yesterday I made a loaf of banana bread and  this morning I made hamburger buns.By the way this is an excellent recipe if you want buns to be very soft almost like  store ones. These are what my DH likes so it will be added to my files.  It is from King Arthur Flour recipes as Beautiful Burger Buns.
Received a phone call; helper  not coming, Friday instead.

I had planned to work outside.  Went out early and it was mid-50's and blowing very hard.  Not pleasant; there will be another, better day.
OK.  So changed plans.  We went for more bird seed instead.  I wasn't going to feed them in warmer  weather,  but I miss seeing them out the window over the sink.

One thing you have to be on a farm (and maybe anywhere) is flexible.

I moved the Chinese cabbages back to the screened porch and also the tomatoes.  I was able to keep them out  of most of the wind.  Just brought  them back in after several hours out.  It will be near freezing again tonight.

I did my tour of the yard earlier (in  the wind) and will share a few.

 This is a flowering crabapple in the east yard. It is just a couple of  years old.
 I still have several clumps of daffodils blooming.  These are out by the front ditch near the road.
 They are mixed in with these in the same location. the green to  the left  is a very thick stand of old-fashioned lilac that are loaded with buds.  I wanted to thin them but my Sis wanted me to leave them alone and see how they do this year.  The regrowth is due to a very severe pruning a few years ago.

These next two are just to show I have been doing some work!  This is the bed outside the kitchen.  First one is cleaned  off.  ( I planted 10 Asiatic lilies on the edges and a circle of  oriental lilies around the base of the bird feeder (skinny black pole just off center)

and this is the end not yet worked on.  Most of the greenery will stay but a few weeds and stalks  will not.

This clump is almost finish.  They are in the front yard near a very scraggly forsythia and a self-seeded burning bush.

One more showing the two spirea prunifolia plenifolia near the shop.
You can tell by the very spotty grass that I am not a grass person. The previous owner was and I am ashamed of myself that I have let this go.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Day of Rest and Monthly Posting

The weather turned gray, windy and just 49 degrees; it is now raining.

I decided to not go to the milk parlor and finish cleaning and prepping the planting materials.

Instead  baked a  pumpkin pie, the first dessert baking  I have done in some time.  I tried a new technique for me, blind baking the pie shell.  I have never done that but have not liked  my  bottom crusts for some time.  They didn't seem done enough.  This new technique worked and I will be doing it from now on for custard pies; maybe even fruit pies.    Not having dessert for a long while made us really appreciate this one!


March 29, 2018

Another cool, dark, rainy day in the Ozarks.  So far, we have had 3.75 inches of rain.....much appreciated but now I want warm sunshine.  We are never satisfied are we?

Mama Pea and I can carry on an egg-bragging.  I don't have any waterfowl but my heirloom girls are really doing great.  My Dominique's are beginning their third laying year and are surprising me with the output.  I still wish I had a really dark egg layer like Marans...if I ever run across them............I may have to have a couple.

April 16, 2018

 Another catch up post.

We have had more up and down weather, actually 86° one day and down to freezing the next.  I am ready for that pattern to settle into a  slightly normal pattern.

I did manage  to get some outside work done.  Partially mowed  the east lawn around  the first of the month.

Planted a 20 foot row of  potatoes and cleaned more henbit from flower beds and garden fence row.  The hard freezes don't faze it at all.  I try to pull and toss lots of green weeds to the hens every time I get a chance.  I even turned them into the garden proper one day since I have no seeds planted.

In the background is my Gravely with the garden cart serving as  a yard tractor.  I load up all tools and other necessary things to go to  the work area.  It saves me lots of steps and I need all the help I can get.

Growing under  plant lights on the back porch:

Several varieties of tomatoes,  three kinds of the fluted Italian ones that  I have never grown before.
eggplant (the long skinny purple and white striped)Listada de Granda, red and yellow cheese peppers,
three kinds of Chinese cabbage, garden heliotrope, another  variety of heliopsis to grow beside  the  plain yellow one I have had for years at the east end of the garden.

My plant light stand fixtures are slowly dying.  I don't know if they are 'fixable' or not.  I am sure it is the ballast.  The replacement fixtures are almost  $90 so I won't be doing that (I don't think).

In bloom:

the redbud tree is showing pink
my hybrid lilac 'Isabella' (not fully yet)

Several varieties of daffodils
These are growing outside  the milk parlor (aka, potting shed and anything  else that needs shelter while doing.  I have heat and water in there.

The forsythia have  finished and the ordinary lilacs are  budded but not blooming. 

My next outdoor project has to be chainsaw pruning before things  get fully leafed out and I can't see what to do.

Max and his helper were going to do  some fence repair but it is just going to be in the 40's so we are canceling until  a (hopefully) warmer  Wednesday.


The last two breads have been  oatmeal bread, recipe from King Arthur flour but using my mixer technique.

Still not doing desserts for us.  I did make Ina Garten's Oatmeal and Raisin cookies for the neighbor's visit and  then he didn't come down.....drat, now we  will have to eat  them.
It's a very good recipe and I have added  to my files as a favorite.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Busy Morning on the Farm

Well, I have gone almost a month without posting.....shame on me.

It is spring in the Ozarks, still not past a danger of frost but settling in much warmer.  We are dry but are hopeful heavy rains will visit us next  week.

I haven't mowed yet and grass in the yard and field is coming along very slowly.  I hope heavy rains will correct that.

I have been busy trying to get ready for gardening season.  I sorted my seeds according to what needs planting under lights now and next month.  I checked and have enough potting soil to fill all containers.  I might actually get that done this weekend.

I have re-tilled  my tiny little garden plot that I now  call the cat's favorite playground and litter box. They  run and bounce on the soft soil and roll around in it.  They are fun to watch.  I may not find that so amusing when I plant seeds.........may have to use temporary covers of some sort.

Next job was getting my dedicated rose bed started.  I have almost sworn off roses because of Japanese Beetles and RRD (rose-rosette disease) but they are so irresistible that when Lowe's had a rack of them out front I couldn't resist!  They know how to market them!  I bought 6, let's see if I can remember them:  Olympiad, Medallion,  Mr. Lincoln, Tropicana, Queen  Elizabeth,  and  Love.  (I actually did it).  I have copper markers by each one knowing that in a week or so I won't remember.

I will to under plant the roses with some perennials. The plan(hope) is having them in one location will make me take better care of them.  I will also have to walk past them going to the garden almost daily which will be a good thing.  Most are chosen for fragrance.

I have lots of daffodils in bloom,
 This was before I pruned the rose, Aloha and below is after:

I pruned most of the clematis the two needing it the most are the Type 3 that should be cut  down to 18inches or so each season.

I have two type 3 planted on the right side of the panels. they were hanging over the chicken yard fence to the right of the barrel.  

The prunings

Just two or three more to do and they are Type 2 which don't require much at all. 

I am done for the day!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Morning at the Homestead

I am getting back in the habit of taking a very early morning stroll about the immediate homestead.  Max will be happy to note that I am also letting the girls our to graze!

He had warned me that the Light Brahmas are prone to fly up on him............that would unsettle me to the point of flight!  However, they didn't bother me at all. He said it was because I was not carrying any feed with me (which I will now never do).

They immediately began pecking on the ground around my feet.  I found out later that DH had scattered some bird seed to call them in last night.

Once that was cleaned up they spread out.  Note there is still some standing water in the run.

I was near the small group of cows that we keep near for feeding grain and whatever.....I have lost track of the reasons.

Cattle this time of year look mangy.  This is due to lice which will disappear as soon as the sun starts shining on a regular basis.  They will also loose the longer hair and slick up and look much prettier.

This is most of the group at one of the new (expensive) bales of hay we had to buy.

Add caption
We have a few with horns due to the introduction of the Jersey genetics.  At some point we will have the heifers dehorned and sell or butcher the horned bulls.  See the new baby.  He was born to a poor old, crippled cow that will not get better but she still bred and calved.  We will hopefully not get her exposed to a bull again and sell her.  I am embarrassed for anyone to see her.  The dark red and lighter one to her right are the retired milk cow and the temporarily retired milk cow, the Jersey.

I think that is her baby next to her with the horns.....she will get dehorned.

The Yard

First the clump of daffodils that were the first to bloom,

I saw another lonely little clump back by the gas tank, but most are in the bud stage.
I like how Mother Nature mulched lots of things with windblown leaves.  I never ever rake leaves.

Some perennials are sneaking through the mulch but I fear for my new roses.  They are dark black.

                                                       The above is daylilies in Kerria Bed

                                                                   Sedum near smokehouse

                                                         Variegated sedum in Kerria Bed

This is a new salvia I planted late last fall.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Skunks Are Back!

Every spring for about three years now we have had a mama skunk burrow under the back foundation and have her babies.................sometimes the  smell that gets into  the house is really strong.  I have lost count of the cans of Febreze air freshener we have used.  Well, drat!  she is back.  I have worked over the area trying  to keep her out.   We laid down heavy wire mesh and fastened it down  with 6 inch landscape pins,have used  pieces of fire wood and various other stakes and things.  It seemed to work last year. Max has laid down three bales of straw over it all next to the foundation.

Not to be outdone,she went behind the straw and in  the 6 inches between the foundation and the first layer of heavy mesh and behind the straw bale dug down a sort of slide- in hole.  Two  days ago I worked on that, didn't help.  Yesterday I did some more and it seems to have worked.  I could hear her digging....I need to check in daylight to see if she made it through.  They never give up.  I am convinced it is the same skunk.

Traps will be set today.

Office is finished except for some decoration.  The carpenter took last week off..........working  somewhere else.  I may call him today.  He still hasn't finished the back porch area outside.

We have had some pretty heavy rains over the last week and it rained lightly yesterday afternoon and is misting now.  I am ready for it all to dry up and let the ground get workable.  Things have really greened up and I have one tiny daffodil in bloom.  It looks very lonely out  there by itself.

 I added this just because......Little Tommy followed me around while I was taking photos.

 Chicken yard was hazardous; I nearly fell because of the mole runs.  They were running like underground steams and I buried in one.  DH told me it was because I didn't know where to walk hinting  that I don't do the chickens often!  He is right.

 This is the west calf lot with water standing in every low place.

 The kittens all followed along.  I didn't  know they would wade!

The west yard, another mole run hazardous area.  I see I will have to pick up sticks before mowing.


Not much interesting going on but we decided the last sourdough bread was going to the chickens.....not be making that recipe  again.  (to be honest, it wasn't a fair test, as usual, I made a few modifications that may have caused the heaviness.).  I never feel it is a waste because the chickens will eat anything!

I did use up my left over mayonnaise before the expiration date and made the Hellman's Mayonnaise chocolate cake.  The  chickens will not be getting that (most will go in the freezer for unexpected guests or when Max gets a craving).

We both thought it was the darkest cake ever but it was very moist and tasty.


We are getting lots of good eggs.  I am very happy with these girls.  I thought they wouldn't lay before the longer days of spring and summer but we are getting more than enough for our needs and I have accumulated about 5 dozen for others. 

Saturday, February 10, 2018

More Progress

Another cold front has arrived bringing a very light misty 'freezing' rain.  It is 22° now and will get down  to 18 tonight, not too bad if we  don't get anymore  ice.

Busy, busy day yesterday.  First of all DH told me we were getting low on hay and needed about 100 more I spent two day or more searching via the internet and finally located some not too far away.  Then the communication began (nothing is ever simple), about each person's schedule.  DH located some that could be delivered soon.  So we took that too, way too expensive for beef cows but they have to be fed.  Our late fall drought set everyone back about 2 months on grazing  days so hay is almost non-existent here now.
The other hay can remain stored and be moved in several trips by some local boys.

Then the  carpenter did finally come and he was here almost all day.  At 1 pm, the insurance agent arrived to discuss new policies combining autos and farm owners.  He was here two hours....meantime our local surrogate grandson(who will be helping with the hay hauling) stopped
by.  I offered him lemon cake and milk.  While he was eating the carpenter came in the kitchen with a question and so I offered to make his lunch.  He accepted.  So now within l0 minutes of the insurance agent arriving I am making a grilled cheese sandwich (also lemon cake and 2 glasses of milk).
Amidst all this the phone rang several times regarding hay and my Sis whose refrigerator died.
Agent arrived, now have three people under foot.  Kolten left, carpenter went back to  work and  I spent two hours talking about insurance, not my favorite subject!  Max was busy unloading hay and coming in a couple of times for decision making.

All is now quiet on the farm and I am loving it.  Max is  doing  chores and then going to the neighbors and setting out a bale for him.  His tractor wouldn't start this morning.

The good news is I discovered this strange man who is doing the porches is very skilled  in simple furniture.  Here are the two examples so far.

We will stain them  golden oak and finish with several coats of polyurethane.  I have decided to let him do it.  I may change my mind if the weather stays bad.

I think I will have him build a long, narrow table  for my kitchen.  My antique table is 45" square and is too wide for the  space.  I have to make people move if they are seated in front of the stove.  He said 30x60 would be a standard size and he is excited about building it.  I think he enjoys that kind of work more so than the rest and seems very proud of it.  I was really surprised when I saw what he had done.  I have lots more ideas about various projects inside for him.........


I tested the new Bosch Universal mixer on making an angel food cake and the lemon sponge cake using the leftover egg yolks.  While they turned  out, I wouldn't try to fold in the flour in the tube shaped mixer bowl again.  I think I should have dumped the egg whites into another round bowl and proceeded.  This cake  didn't turn out nearly as high.  I think I deflated the egg whites some in the folding process.  I am not in love with this mixer..........yet.  You think I could find room on my kitchen counter for another appliance? Max will not be pleased.

Yet another cat has slipped in the back door as Max was leaving and is hidden somewhere.  I will probably have to let his Momma in to find him.