Southeast Yard Cleanup

Two hours later and a blister between my thumb and pointer but it’s done. The southeast yard looks pretty darned good, I think! All it needs is some warm days, lime and fertilizer.

No leaves, no limbs, no weed trash! It looks so better! The bare spot along the house wall is full of Hosta’s already budding out of the ground.

The big flat rock at the bottom step of the back door has been hauled off to be used somewhere else on the property.

This was a danger for anyone that came out the back door, especially when there was snow or ice.

I’ve got a nice flat bed in front of the chimney for a bunch of zinnias, and I made sure they wouldn’t be in the way of the chimney sweep (my husband). The bricks have been taken to our brick pile. They were placed at the bottom of the chimney clean out but they’re not needed there now.

No leaves, no limbs, no weeds trash! It looks so good!

In the corner of the chimney is a wooden nail keg holding hen & chicks given to me by a wonderful friend and they seem to love that spot where the sun hits them first thing in the morning.

The base of the nail keg is surrounded by Siberian Iris which I have to thin every year. It’s amazing how spread.

Last summer I started a hen & chicks garden in the old stump at the back fence of this part of the yard and it survived the winter which was mild to say the least.

Last summer I cleaned out the center and put some rich dirt in the stump. I pulled babies from my main hen & chick crock and they’re doing great. Another year and it will be full of Hens & Chicks with stringers falling over the stump and rocks. This spot gets morning and evening sun.

I have bird nesting spots all the around the building to the left which used to be a milk house when dairy cattle were on the farm. Now the building is used to store all of my gardening tools, small firewood for the kitchen woodstove, lawn ornaments stored for the winter and 20-30 bags of leaves in the fall/winter season for the chickens and the dog bedding. On the outside of the building are the nesting spots of Carolina wren, house finches and sparrows.

This old shoe that I found in a closet was put up three years ago and the finches love it. They raise at least twice a year. I noticed new feathers lining the outside of the nest while I was cleaning the yard. The birds couldn’t wait until I got out of their space.
This new bird house used to be a bird feeder that Uncle Holl had put up but the birds like it better for nesting.
I put up this old colander that I found last fall and hoping they use it too. The overhang of the roof is great for these houses. Protection from the sun and the cold seems to be a preference.

Next stop, rose garden and front yard which are both the worst of all. I don’t think I’ll be working on it today unless the wind lays and it warms up a bit, so I’ll concentrate on the inside of the house.

Southwest Yard Cleaned Up

Spring cleaning outside as well as inside the house will be happening the next two weeks.

Our yard is a mess from leaves, twigs, dog bones and any kind of debris that occurs over the winter months when I don’t get out to keep it clean.

Yesterday was beautiful and while hubby was busy with his chores, I started cleaning the southwest corner of the yard. It only took about two hours, but I got it done and it looks really nice. Now it ready for some lime and fertilizer because it has lots of moss and the grass is patchy.

No debris and bird feeding station has moved close to the yard but outside the yard. I will hang a hammock or swing at the bird feeding station.
With the bird feeding station in a new location, I should be able to hang laundry outside and give the bed linens a good airing. Sadie is looking for a couple chipmunks that have wintered in the backyard with the birds.
I love a clean yard!!

Next area is the southeast yard on the other side of the house, and it should take about an hour. Depending on the weather this should happen tomorrow.

Budding & Bloomin”

These two trees are red plums and they’ve tried so hard to bloom and keep getting bit back by frost.

All of the peach and cherry trees have budded and killed. Fruit from them this summer will be a miracle.

We have three pear trees fully budded and should have been killed by our 9* and 19* temps Sunday and Monday. We’ll see!!

What’s really weird is the apple orchards, most trees are just started budding and one crabapple in the orchard beside the house is in full bloom and leafing. It’s always the first to come out. The early blooms are great for the honeybees on these unusually warm days in March.

Then this week one of the peach trees rebloomed but I think next weekend, end of the month, cold temperatures are coming back.

Peach tree bloom in March.

Guess we’ll just wait and see what Mother Nature provides!!

Pruning Grapevines

Spring is here according to the calendar but not quite for a gardener and farmer in our neck of the woods.

What a tangled mess it wove!!

What a mess! I need to do some research on one end of this concord vine because it has had lots of new growth, huge leaves but no grapes. The other end just started producing two years ago and it’s a red grape. We have several arbors of grapes mostly blue and one small vine that wraps around our woodhouse that has wonderful white grapes every year. They’re not huge nor are the other grapes but they’re all super sweet. I also need to figure out how to get the grapes to grow bigger. All of them now are about the size of a marble. I want some about an inch around. Any suggestions?

Much neater than before.

I didn’t cut it back as far as I usually do because for some reason the last two years we got a huge amount of new growth and leaves but not many grapes. We’ll see if this thinning is better for grapes than years past.

Transplanting Asparagus-Part Two

This is a continuation of a previous post.

The mass of asparagus roots has been dug up and transplanted and moved.

Hubby helped me dig it up because I couldn’t get the shovel to go in the ground at this spot. He dug up 14 large clumps and I dug the holes inside the garden fence for their new home. I’ve never seen such a tangled mass of roots in one little two-foot space. Last year it produced quite well but was overshadowed by the pear tree on one side and the grapevines on the other side.

We didn’t space any certain way when we transplanted and because other groups along the fence are doing quite well, we just filled in those space with about 10 – 12 inches between and buried deeper than the root balls.

I’m not sure we will get any produce from these transplants this spring or not but I’ve covered them with a little chicken litter and watered well. Now we wait!!!

The soil is really good in our garden but we constantly amend during the cold months with ashes from the stove and all of the litter from the chickens and rabbits (when we have rabbits).

After we finished this I pruned the grapevines and hauled the trimmings from them and the plum trees to our special spot to die, decay and make another rich place for planting. It’s also a good hiding spot from the hawks for the wild rabbits and squirrels.

Much neater than before.
The rhubarb patch is sprouting. It’s usually the first thing we harvest.

Next will be our very messy yard but it will wait until this next wind/rainstorm passes through.

A New Piece of Equipment

As soon as you think you have everything you need in the way of equipment something breaks down or wears out. Such is the case with our hay tedder. What’s that??? Well, it’s a piece of equipment that speeds up the drying process of the hay that has been cut and that usually saves at least one day, sometimes two, depending on the heaviness of the hay. The most important function of the tedder is it fluffs the hay to let air flow through the rows of cut hay, and it also brings the bottom of the hay to the top and exposes it to sunlight, which leads to faster, more uniform dry down.

Our wore out tedder is a single row machine and since we had a good last sale of our calves for 2022, Eddie decided to buy a double row machine to make things go even faster. She’s a beauty and she’s ready for the hayfields.

Our daughter, Heather, will more than likely be using this equipment if it’s cut on her day off from her off the farm business. She loves working on the farm with her Dad.

The hay tedder is also a fantastic tool to dry hay when we get an unexpected shower after the hay is cut or if a fall cutting gets frosted after it’s been cut. We let the sun dry the top and flip with the tedder to dry what was on the bottom.

We’re always looking for ways to improve our farming work and time and make life just a tad better. Now we just need for Mother Nature to do her part.

Trees From Seeds Experiment

These are some of the seed planted and sprouted in 2022.
From top left clockwise, we have chestnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.

These are a few examples of trees I’ve started in pots in the greenhouse. Some others are apples, cherries, peaches, English and black walnuts, grapes and plums. Now before getting too excited, the apples will not come out true to the tree I got them from, but we get them started and then use them for root stock.

Three years ago, I started several apple and plum trees from the seeds from fruit trees on our property. I’ve also used seeds from apples and plums I’ve purchased at the farmers market when we didn’t have any fruit due to frost. I’m afraid this will be true again this year due to the warm January and February weather we’ve had. Those apple trees were planted last spring in one of our smaller orchards and probably next year we will graft them if the rabbits, deer and vermin don’t eat their bark or roots first.

To plant the nuts and fruit, I take the seeds from their parent and store in the refrigerator until the following spring. If the nuts have shells which most do, I crack the seed out of the shell and place in a four-inch pot that has fresh, moistened potting soil in it. I cover the seed and keep the soil moist but not wet throughout the summer months into the fall. If they sprout, I take them into a protected room in the cellar of another house on the property, wet them down and leave until the following spring after any expected frost. Most of the ones that have been through this process will grow another 6-8 inches in the small pot. In mid to late summer, I transplant them into 10–12-inch pots with new soil added, fertilize lightly and start introducing them to the out of doors until fall arrives and then they go back into the cellar one more winter where they go dormant again. The following spring, they are brought back to the greenhouse to sprout again and midsummer they will be planted in an orchard to get a good root system going prior to winter. We water them well throughout the summer and fall until weather turns cool and then they’re on their own and hopefully thrive.

Last summer three almond trees were planted behind my greenhouse. At the moment I have about thirty seeds, mostly fruit, in the cellar waiting to move back to the greenhouse. It’s very gratifying to grow this produce from seed just like we do in the garden.

Pie Day

Yesterday was Pie Day and I didn’t know until last night. Well, I made four pies yesterday just because!!!

My favorite is lemon meringue and old-fashioned custard pie. I’ll put that recipe on the cooking page too.
It took me no time to put the recipes together and since it was too cold and windy to be outside, I cook!!!

Transplanting Asparagus

The first thing I want to tell you is this is NOT out of the ground yet!!! With all the sunny warm days we’ve had I’m a little surprised but it’s way too early for anything out of the garden or around it. Though, you couldn’t tell it with all the trees budding out and the lilies pushed six inches out of the ground. We had a hard frost the last three morning and I’m expecting all of those buds to drop to the ground.

I’m kind of glad we’re in for colder weather for about 10-14 days because I haven’t got the asparagus transplanted. I have a small patch outside of the garden between the grapevines and the pear trees. It has to fight to survive in that spot so I’m going to move it.

Now, let me tell you that I’m not a Master gardener or any kind of expert at anything. The posts that I write are the way I/we do on this farm. It’s not saying they won’t work for everyone, but it does for us.

All of the asparagus patches on our farm originated on a fence line as is the case of the one I want to move and were started by wild birds. In the fall, they eat the red berries from the dying plants that grow wild all along our state road and then the bird will fly off to a fence post and leave their droppings. Those droppings contain the seed after the bird has digested the berries which are full of teeny, tiny seeds. Wallah, we get asparagus!!!

This patch I want to move fights for nutrients against the fruit tree and the grapevines and is losing the battle. I’ll prepare a bed against the interior of our garden fence and fill it with lots of nutrients from the chicken litter and crushed eggshells so that the asparagus will have lots of grand nutrients all its own. I’ve done this with all of the eight spots I have along the west fence of the garden. It’ll be next year before it produces well but then again, I may have asparagus this year since it’s been producing for about four years in the bad spot.

This is a closeup of the transplant! Looks like a bunch of dead weeds and sticks but that what it looks like in the winter months.

Asparagus is not something I can or freeze because since its makeup is mainly water it will turn to mush just like it does if you overcook it. We love it fresh and as long as I keep it picked off, watered and weeded it produces most of the summer. I guess that why we so look forward to it in the spring. Next step, move it next week while it’s cold. I’ll prepare the bed for it tomorrow.

Bull Lot Fencing

We started on the bull lot fence Monday and got all of the bad wire fence down and the broken posts pulled out. The new posts have been placed and the wire tighteners on the end posts. The brace post where the gate entrance is, has been put up and then we had to stop. The weather isn’t that cold, but the winds are blowing at 20 – 40 miles an hour. We just can’t tolerate that now. Here’s a few pictures of what we got done in about two hours.

Brace post at the lot entrance.
We placed treated posts but there are still a few of the old locust posts that are still firm in the ground.
The lane between the bull lot and the pond field will have mostly four strands of high-tensile wire with a single barbed wire at the top.

If Mother Nature allows it, we hope to have the wire strung and nailed on next week.

I love working outside with hubby and accomplishing as much as we do at seventy+ years old.

New Fencing in a Pasture Field

This fencing had to be torn out. The old wire was cut loose in sections and piled in the field to keep it all together for disposal. The left side of the fence is our field and right side is the neighbors.
Our big tractor was used to pull these old locust posts out of the ground.
These piles of old wire and posts will be taken to another location on the farm for burning. We’re very careful to get all wire and metal out of the field that the cows may step on, get wrap around their feet, or eaten. Cows will eat just about anything!!
This gives a good look at how old and rusted the fencing was. This is a yearly chore all over the farm and maybe someday we’ll have it all replaced!
Our long field on the mountain had lots of broken posts from the bulls fighting and the wire was very old and rusted. We started replacing it in January.
We hauled all of the tools needed to do the work in our Side x Side.

We just put up the new fence and it looks awesome but I’m afraid the bull next door (leased by another farmer) isn’t satisfied with his herd and has been trying to push the new posts out of the ground to get to our ladies. The leasing farmer may be putting up a new fence again.

Locust Firewood for Next Winter

The last two weeks Eddie has been cutting next year’s winter firewood at a friend’s place down the road. Our friend had about twenty locust trees hanging over his hayfield. He told Eddie he could have it if he cut it down, cut it up and cleaned the limbs from the field. Locust is a really good heating wood, and we don’t have a lot on the farm. I wasn’t allowed to help with this as it was green trees that were covered with poison oak, and I am very allergic.

First load of locust firewood.

He brought in seven eight-foot truck beds full. I didn’t even help unload it. He hopes that it will dry quickly, and the bark will fall off before we get ready to split it. It’s extremely heavy because the trees were still alive.

This is the fourth load, and the pile is getting really big.
Final load is home and ready to cover because ice and rain were predicted to come.
One end of the pile is large pieces to be split at least into fourths. This upper side is the smaller limbs that he cut up.
All covered up until we have a week of sunny days. We’ll keep putting the tarp on and off until the heat of the summer arrives. Heavy posts were added to try to keep the wind from tearing it off.

It’s a great start to our wood supply but this year we have used up nine of ten loads and its only February. We will be on the search for down and dead wood to finish out the season and to add to next year’s warmth.

Polar bears, climate change, and the right to be cold

I was given permission to repost this from a friends blog. With the weather we are having, I thought it most appropriate~~

Robby Robin's Journey

Today, February 27, is International Polar Bear Day, and since polar bears are my very favourite wild animals (along with tigers, whose special day is in July), celebrate them I will! (I acknowledge that today is also National Cupcake Day, but I’ll leave that celebration to others.)

My husband and I (and my brother and SIL) were privileged beyond all measure to have been able to spend some quality time with polar bears in their natural habitat back in August 2015. We were on a National Geographic ship in the Canadian High Arctic, having spent hours at the ship railings with our binoculars, trying to spot just one elusive polar bear on the expanse of sea ice off in the distance. It’s the Arctic version of looking for elusive wildlife in the savannahs in Africa. Patience is indeed a virtue.  We had given up for the afternoon and were heading…

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Pruning Plum Trees

I’ve been adding fruit and nut trees to our farm for several years and so far, they’re doing well. We’ve added apple, peach, plum and cherries. Last year I even got some almond and chestnut trees going. The cherries are tart and this year I want to find some sweet black heart cherries. Hoping to start some peach and hazelnut this spring. All of the trees need to be pruned but we’ll start with the plum and grapes.

This is one of two red plum trees we have at one end of the garden.
The second as well as the first are in dire need of a proper pruning. They both were supposed to be green gage trees but their first blooming and producing proved that to be wrong. We got large red plums that are super sweet. Good but would have preferred the Green Gage. I’ll have to get some seed from my Aunt Carrie.
Eddie pruned one and I took the other one. My pruning was a bit more drastic than his. The trees are already full of buds and we will have freezing weather in March and April.
You can see the buds and the trees are loaded. I doubt we’ll get much fruit because February is not the usual budding time.

I just don’t understand what is going on with these crazy weather patterns. Ice and rain one week and the next rain and 50* – 70*. It just doesn’t make any sense and it’ll be a challenge to get any fruit in 2023.

Family Cookbook

I’m not sure what happened to all of my mother’s cookbooks when she died. There were two that I would love to have had but hope they’re still in the family. That being said I’ve spent some time trying to put my favorite, tried and true, recipes all in one spot for my two kids. They can do what they want with them but they’re all in one place in my kitchen.

Hubby made me a wonderful recipe box a couple years ago to put our favorite recipes in and it’s getting full. I’ve been going through it to pull any duplicates and some recipes are new to try so I put a check mark on the cards that are tried and true.

I gave hubby the measurements of my cards and he made the box from barnwood found on the farm.

I’ve gone through or in the process of going through all of my cookbooks and marked the recipes with a sticker that I want to try or once tried and liked, they’ll go on cards in the box, too. Some cookbooks I’ll keep forever, such as, a gift from a friend that used to live in Georgia and the other is a Virginia Farm Bureau cookbook that I was given when I worked for them several years ago.

Country Treasures is the VFB cookbook. You can tell by the edges of the book it’s used a lot.
Dianne Brown gave me this book when she lived in Georgia. Glad she’s back in Virginia.

I also have three binders full of recipes that friends have sent me or that I found on Facebook that look good. I’m always looking for new recipes since I love to cook.

These are the ones I’m cleaning out in my free time!

The other two cookbooks are one that my kids bought their dad called Redneck Grill and my, used a lot, Ball Canning Book.

My go-to book during canning time.
There aren’t a lot of recipes in the book but the ones that are in it are great!!!

My mother was a member of the Paint Bank Women’s Auxiliary and they put together two cookbooks a few years ago to raise money for the Paint Bank Fire & Rescue. They are in reprint, and I will have both of them very soon. All of the ladies in Paint Bank were awesome cooks.

These books have recipes of my Mom’s, my aunt’s, my sister my friends and even some of mine. Ladies all over Paint Bank contributed.

My Sewing/Creating Room

After the books were removed from my sewing room, I knew I needed to clean out the small closet in that room and paint it. It was perfect for more organization.

This is the closet before I started pulling out, cleaning, painting and putting up shelves. It had a lot of upper space perfect for shelving and it was 40 inches wide.
This cabinet set in front of the closet and was FULL of books. They all went to the library in the foyer. It is now full of crafting and sewing supplies.
It’s all pretty and white and doesn’t need a light to see where everything is but I may put a touch light just in case I need to be in the closet at night.
It’s perfect for the large baskets of crochet, yarn, embroidery, quilt batting and more without being crowded.
To the left of the closet is my treasure of quilting books and magazines.

This is the built in shelving unit to the left of the magazines. I have all sorts of crafting items in their own box and labeled.

I have two bureaus full of fabric in this room sorted by color for each drawer. On top of the chest is a monitor and dvd player for instructional videos.
The second chest full of fabric. I’m not a hoarder but I do love having lots of fabric for different projects. The bad part is I haven’t used much of it and hope that someone in my family will carry on my creative gene.
Between those two chests is my embroidery station. It’s being used less than anything but I’m making a quilt from this embroidery project. Takes time!!!
On the next wall is my cutting table and under it and on both ends are more fabric sorted by color.
In the middle of the room is a crafting station. I made a special cover to go over it that has pockets for tools used on this table.
In front of that worktable and beside the closet is my wonderful Brother sewing machine. I placed it and the embroidery machine in front of the two windows in the room to have perfect light for anything I made be working on.
As if I didn’t have enough to keep me occupied, this is a weaving loom. Two very special friends bought this for me when they went to a quilting show that I wasn’t able to attend. I still haven’t made a rug yet, but it’s started. I just need to be brave enough to try something new!!! Mary & Dianne do you remember this?

So now you’ve seen a couple things I’ve been up to and a lot of things that are waiting on me to find the time!! I didn’t show the pile of mending and re-fashion I’ve got waiting !

Library Cleaned Up & Organized

I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning up and cleaning out! I started with the upstairs foyer where I have my own little library. I had books in four different rooms and decided to go through them and keep those I haven’t read and those that I can read over and over. The rest will go to friends, local library and Goodwill.

The shelves are still full, but the other rooms are empty of books except for a few I have to read the next few months beside my armchair.
I’m an avid reader of all books but mainly fiction. Some of my favorite authors are Jean Auel, Jennifer Chiaverini, Danielle Steele, Nicholas Sparks, Karen White, and so many more.
All of these boxes are full of books to go out of the house.

Oh my, I just realized I still have a shelf full of books in our storage room on gardening, landscaping, decor, crafting, beekeeping, and heaven only knows what else. Guess I better find some big boxes because I know there’s a lot of those that will have to go!!!

Canning Potatoes Again

My morning has been spent peeling more potatoes to can. The first canner is on and out of a five-gallon bucket I have twelve quarts of chunk potatoes. Here’s a pictorial of my morning:

Sterilize the wide mouth jars
Fourteen quarts ready for potatoes.
Peeled a five-gallon bucket of small to medium-sized potatoes.
Took me an hour to peel them. Eddie had already washed them for me.
Wash again after peeling and cut into chunks.
Fill the jars and season. This batch was given a teaspoon each of salt and onion powder.
Pop on the lids and add the rings tightening them as I load them in the canner.
They are in the canner under 10 pounds of pressure for 35 minutes.

I’m trying to use up as many of the last year potatoes as I can because Eddie will be buying new seed this year and not use any of the leftovers. Sometime this week I’ll do a couple more canners, but they will be diced and canned in wide mouth pint jars and should process around three to four canners.

I use the chunked potatoes in stew, soup, and baked with carrots and meat in the oven. Everything will be fully cooked, and we’ll have a meal in about 20 minutes.

Smoked sausage and chunked potatoes
Chunked potatoes, carrots, celery & onions baked in the oven.

The diced potatoes are fantastic for a quick pot of potato soup or pour a jar in a medium-sized pot and add a can of corned beef, diced fine onions, and a cup of milk, season with salt & pepper, stir and heat through. You have a great meal of corned beef hash and, of course, fresh, hot, out-of-the-oven biscuits!!

Two New Dishes for January

These recipes and a couple more can be found on the cooking page of this blog. Hope you enjoy if you try and let me know what you think. Venison tips/cubed steaks & gravy and Crockpot BBQ Chicken are two new recipes I came up with in January. One of the items on my bucket list is to try one new recipe each month.

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