I am definitely a country girl that loves to garden, quilt, preserve, hunt, and read. I love my family more than anything in the world. I live with my husband of fifty years. We have a son, daughter, granddaughter and grandson. We live on a 500+ acre farm in Virginia with about 75 cows & bulls, thirty chickens, and three dogs.
It only took about two hours this time and some back breaking arranging of the farm rock I use for steppingstones. Everything is looking good, just need some sunshine and rain to make it grow and look good. Some perennials didn’t do as well as expected due to the hot-cold-hot-freezing weather changes but I’m hopeful for good summer growth and probably a fall layer of leaves to protect everything. Moving the leaves out is a pain but so worth the effort.
The orchard grass is tall, blooming and ready to cut!!! Today is the first day of 2023 hay season and hubby was ready!
During the break he told me there were three little ones hidden in the grass but moved before he got too close. Sometimes they’re just a few days old and can’t move quickly enough to get out of the way of the haybine.
The second meadow had three or four fawns but all managed to avoid the tractor and equipment. Their mothers came to the fields as soon as the tractor was out of the fields. Tomorrow morning the tedder will go into the field to fluff the hay. Friday will include raking and baling. If the rain misses us tonight, we will have started hay season with no hiccups.
Yesterday was a very busy day for me. Up at 6:45, fixed breakfast, cleaned up kitchen, made the bed, took care of greenhouse and chickens and then the real work started.
I started in the corner where the TV sits and took down all of the curtains and washed each window set at a time. I then hung them out in the sun to dry. I love seeing fresh laundered cloth flying in the breeze!
I had mopped the floors the day before but did a quick mop after all was said and done. The walls were wiped down, the brick hearth vacuumed, the seating all vacuumed top to bottom, all of the wall decor taken down & wiped clean, windows washed inside and out & their screens, ceiling fan and vent cleaned, and all the wood furniture taken apart, waxed and put back together. The wood stove will be polished by the end of the month. Everything smelled so good and looked clean, not a spider or cobweb to be found!! I didn’t even have to iron the curtains this year because the breeze we had whipped out all the wrinkles.
It took a good five hours to clean and then I headed outside. The brooder house was cleaned out. The chicken house was cleaned out and now I have a wheelbarrow full of manure for some spot. The yards were mowed with hubbies help and then dinner was made. After dinner I took to my front porch swing and read for about an hour. It was a very productive day!!!
It will get a layer of mulch shortly and the bed will be done for the year. It gets full sun and I water it from the pond. Now I just wait for the blanket flower to perk up and show it’s beautiful blooms.
What an awesome day!!! My friend Carol came from Christiansburg, and we spent about six hours together talking, laughing, eating, celebrating her birthday, shopping and everything girlfriends do!!!
She got here around 11:00 and I gifted her a cookbook from the small town I grew up in, Paint Bank, VA put together by the Paint Bank Ladies Auxiliary. My family members contributed to the book along with other residents of the small town. After getting her gift, we wrapped up because it was quite chilly, loaded up in my Toy (Camry) and took off for Fincastle and Daleville, VA.
First, we stopped at one of my favorite shops in Daleville called Ikenberry’s which is a country story with lots of extras and I never leave without buying too much. I love to go in the fall for apples and pumpkins but they’re open year-round with a wide assortment of candies, vegies, fruits (peaches on this trip), butter, cheeses, dried beans, ham, all sorts of meats and flowers and all the goodies that go with flowers. If you need an extraordinary gift this is the place to go.
After lunch we had one more stop at Heritage Family Market where we filled our baskets full of all sorts of cooking/baking goodies and this is where I get my wonderful bacon and the seasoned flour. They were out of it, but new shipment comes in on Wednesday and we’ll go back. This family can fix you ANY sandwich your heart desires and on their homemade breads!! Order a sandwich, grab a bottle of tea and step out back to their gazebo and have your lunch in the peach and fresh air of Daleville!!!
We had a wonderful lunch outside of Tizzone’s, our first time there and loved it. My children and grandchildren are always raving about Tizzone’s and now I know why!! We went to Tizzone’s between the two shops and enjoyed our meal outside with no disturbances!!!
Carol and I had another wonderful day together and I’m sure we’ll be together again very soon, either on her turf or mine. She loves coming to the farm to chill and soak up the farm atmosphere and can you blame her!!!!
I didn’t have my camera with us and couldn’t get the businesses to respond to permission to use their website pictures. Hope you enjoy the post anyway!!!
Our favorite dessert is fried apple pies or a big fresh apple pie! Recently I made up a batch of the fried apple pies which we had for snack and breakfast.
They are very simple to make and all you need is five canned biscuits. I use the small cans for this, and they roll out just thin enough to handle easily and fill with your favorite apples.
Roll out the dough, drop a couple spoonsful of apple mixture in the middle, fold the dough over and press edges together with a floured fork. It very easy! Get your oil hot at 375* (I have a deep fryer, but you can use a large skillet, the oil has to cover the pie to cook thoroughly.)
Let them cool and then place in an airtight container and place in cool area. Mine don’t last long enough to spoil!! They’re so good!!! For a special dessert for guest, place in a bowl and top with your favorite scoop of ice cream (mine is butter pecan). I use the same recipe for fried peach pies.
I so enjoy my flower gardens but this one has and is my biggest challenge. That being said, I have a good reason which is the huge maple tree beside it that soaks up all of the moisture in and around it. It’s well over 50 years old and it provides a wonderful shade throughout the summer and it’s why my bell garden doesn’t do as well even though it is full of shade loving plants.
For several years I’ve planted columbine seeds with only a few actually surviving and the colors are quite vibrant but there’s not enough.
I add growing medium every spring such as compost, Miracle Gro, and would add more but for losing the plants that do return every year. I’m thinking that this fall I should dig up the growing plants, turn over the soil, add manure, ash, and new compost and turn over again.
The roots of the maple tree are everywhere making it hard to dig in and change. I’ve even thought of just turning it back to lawn grass which grows well here in the shade. All of the existing plants get two hours of sunlight in the morning and four in the afternoon. They’re watered 2-3 times a week. The following photos will show the poor quality of the soil but when I move anything out of the shade of the tree they do better. The following photo of the Lily of the Valley picks up the quality I’m talking about.
I’ve placed rocks from the farm as steppingstones and markers of certain plants in rows. What you are seeing now are the columbine and how sparsely they’ve grown. I would prefer a full bed of them and most of what I have were grown from dropped seeds. They are blown all over the bed and in the spring, I replant their second spring. Some make it while others don’t depending on the weather.
These are bleeding hearts, two types, and this is the first year, after planting three years ago, to bloom. All of the flowers I’ve mentioned and shown are shade lovers. They get some morning and some afternoon sunshine. All bloom at different stages of the season. I will probably have to move the ones on the right and left to give them more room to grow and flourish. This was my plan in the beginning but planted closer to each other than I should have to see if they would even grow.
Behind the bleeding hearts lies the tall phlox which will bloom in June through August. They’re beautiful and drop seed each summer for more bloom the coming year. It has a large cluster (size of my fist) of blooms in a beautiful pink/purple color that makes me smile. They’re very easy to grow and I have them in several places in the yard.
Behind the dinner bell I’ve planted cleome, also known as spider plant, in a beautiful pink and white flower that grows to four feet tall. They have huge blooms and also drop seed for the coming spring. I’m more worried about these than any because two days after planting the chickens got in the yard and before I could find them there, they managed to dig every plant up and scatter. I saved about half of them but it’s still iffy that they make it.
In this photo you can see a small area of the maple tree which is four to five feet wide and the background of the bed covered in daylilies that spread like wildfire!! A friend of mine is visiting today and I hope Carol can advise me on what to do with this bed to make it flourish!!!
I’ve got my new herb garden set up and planted some of the herbs from the greenhouse.
I planted some oregano and lemon balm last year that came back and are doing quite well. They are pictured about midway in this photo. The white placards down the outer box name each herb that has or will be planted. The herbs I’m trying this summer besides the oregano and lemon balm are Opal basil, summer savory, thyme, marjoram, sage, Italian parsley, Italian basil, dill, lemon balm, tarragon, lemon basil, lavender, cinnamon basil, lemon savory, rosemary and fennel. I spoke of these in an earlier post about what was growing in the greenhouse. I’ve since added cilantro, chives, and chocolate mint.
During the summer reading I hope to add to my knowledge how to harvest, dry and save the herbs for my cooking pleasure.
I will update the progress of the herb as the summer passes.
Forty-degree nights definitely don’t mean summertime but when the porch swing goes back in position summer is not far off.
She got a board replaced and a new paint job. She got new chains. All she needs now if a soft cushion, some corner pillows and a warm quilt or blanket. I’ll make those pillows and cushion sometime this week.
The entire family loves swinging and can’t wait for the grandkids to join me this summer for some easy visiting on the front porch!!
Can’t wait for friends to visit so we can sit together catching up on happenings in our mutual families!
They’re four years apart and love each other very much. They’re smart, caring, hard workers, loving parents, and will fight anyone that tries to hurt the other!!! I couldn’t be more proud of both of them! I was lucky to be in my twenties when I had both of them and we played together all of their lives, even now. They are comedians, scholars, farmers (each in their own way), country, and no kinder adults than you would ever meet unless you hurt one or the other.
They’ve given me two beautiful grandchildren and I’m so proud of them as well!
I had a marvelous Mother’s Day with them all except Declan. We may see him sometime in June.
Shawn, Heather and Victoria, I love you all and thank you for making my Mother’s Day the best ever!!!
I’ve recently listened to someone very close to me about how hurt and upset they’ve been about negative conversations and hurtful remarks that were truly uncalled for. That conversation is the reason for this post and if you follow my blog, you will know who you are.
There have been people in my life very much like, no, exactly like, this that are controlling, negative, power seeking, and rude. They are tiresome. Their opinions are gospel. They are mean. They are toxic! I have moved on and my heart and soul are so much better off without them.
The less you respond to negative people the more peaceful your life will become. Toxic is when you are rude and negative. Toxic people acting as a victim is the saddest most negative act EVER! When a toxic person can no longer control you they will try to control how others see you. TRUST OTHERS TO SEE THE TRUTH! Those others know who you truly are and will learn quickly how the toxic person is trying to turn on.
Forget them and get on with what is a beautiful world without them!!!
There will be toxic people in your life that you have to let go of. The only way to win with a toxic person is to not play. Truly toxic people will never be worth your time and energy, and they take a lot of each.
I love this quote by Daniell Koepke–
Positive and heartfelt thoughts will make you the better person and a joy to be around!!!!
My strawberries are full of bloom and have tripled the bed in three of the beds. There won’t be enough to freeze but hopefully there will be enough for fresh strawberry bread, muffins, milk shakes or in a fresh salad.
I grow mine in big tractor tires that have no other use. I can get 10-12 plants in each tire. They easier to work on when they’re raised a bit off the ground. The black tires warm the dirt inside that makes for a bit of a early harvest. Last year the deer got the strawberries before I did or the birds and this year a chipmunk has taken up residence in one of the tires. Sadie will take care of them for me.
I made tops out of some of the old fence wire we took down to keep the deer from devouring all of them. We have two does and three last year fawns that bed next to the greenhouse every night.
Strawberries are easy to grow when you can keep the critters out of them. Fresh strawberries are delicious and good for you as most fruit is. Above the strawberries and behind the greenhouse are three tires with blueberries that are starting to bloom even after two weeks of freezing weather. We still may harvest enough fruit for a few milkshakes or some homemade ice cream, but that’s another post for the future.
I’ve took a good look at the cellar shelves, and I do have a little canning I must do this summer. We’ve planted the potatoes and onions so all we do is wait for them and a productive summer.
The list isn’t long, and all depends on the weather and how well the garden grows. The top of the list is green beans, and we’ll need at least six canners of seven quarts. It will be at least the end of May before they go in the ground leaving me a late July or early August to get those canned. We usually have good luck with growing beans here and we are cutting back some this year. They’re so easy to can! I’ll have my instructions on my canning/preserving page.
The list for preserving is fairly long but not anything unusual. It includes green beans, corn, pinto beans, sauces (i.e., barbecue, tomato, pizza and spaghetti), pickle relish, carrots, sweet green and banana peppers, sweet potatoes, squash and pumpkin. The squash and pumpkin will be winter hardy and stored in the cellar in baskets on the floor. I have plenty of pumpkin already canned and the sweet potatoes will be bought at a farmers’ market because I never can find the plants early enough to get them grown and cured before first frost. This is my normal preserving along with any fruit we harvest. This year we had four heavy frosts and two freezes while the fruit was blooming and I’m very thankful I canned all of it last year.
Hopeful to fill like I did in 2021 and 2022!!! Mother Nature will help make that happen.
Here it is the end of April, one week cold & wet, next week hot and short sleeves. Imagine if you can how this can mess with nature. Our hive that came in wild last summer has thrived well through the winter and as soon as the dandelions bloomed, they had their first swarm.
This week we had a 70-degree day, dandelions were blooming again, and we had another swarm. Apparently, the queen came out a little too soon and wasn’t able to fly well enough to swarm off and her swarm landed on the new hay tedder in front of the hive.
On Saturday we had a repeat of Wednesday but this time something went very wrong. The bees swarmed and apparently something happened to this new queen. The swarmed landed about six feet from the last but was widely scattered in the grass. They seemed lost and not able to find the queen. We watched for about an hour and the workers all went back in the hive. Eddie said that being a young queen her wings might not have been developed well enough to fly any distance or the queen left in the older hive sometimes will kill the new queen to keep her workers with her. I can believe this may have happened since the hive had just swarmed two days before.
This was a good thing because we are out of hives. The rainy weather and the cooler temps we hope will prevent another swarm. It’s crazy that they raised another queen so fast, and Eddie is thinking there may be more queen’s ready to hatch. We will see!!!
Cooler weather coming this week so stay warm and stay busy!!!
The Barnevelder is a Dutch breed of domestic chicken. This is the first year I’ve raised this breed and they are supposed to lay dark chocolate brown, large eggs. However, the more eggs a chicken produces, the lighter colors they’ll be. Most hens weigh 5 to 6 pounds while roosters weigh between 7 and 8 pounds. So, they’re a little bit larger than the average chicken. They grow into gorgeous chickens. They prefer cold weather over hot and humid months, and they’ll get that on our farm.
The chicks are in an aluminum bathtub on our screened in back porch and their bedding needs to be changed daily. Their water and feed are replaced twice a day and man can they eat!! The worse part of raising babies is the down that comes off as they are growing their feathers. The down dust (baby fuzz) is EVERYWHERE!! Today and maybe tomorrow they will graduate to the large brooder coop outside.
One more thing, since we are still having cold temps in the mornings, below freezing, I will keep a tarp to cover the front of the brooder house after the sun goes down and take it often as soon as it warms up each morning. They will get the morning sun to help that as well.
Hope to have a couple more breeds to join the group by the end of June. Always plenty to do around here.
Eddie and I were very busy making changes in March to my greenhouse. One roof panel came loose during the winter under the shade cloth. One vent window kept coming apart. The small solar exhaust fan in the front peak was too small to do the job of taking the heat out last summer. We were trying to think of new ways to keep it cool because so many times the midday heat rose to over 90 degrees. I didn’t lose anything but was constantly watering and blasting the heat out with a commercial fan that my son-in-law loaned me, and it was a huge challenge, but things still grew for me.
We replaced the roof panel, repaired the vent window, removed the solar fan and did some rearranging of the tables to help with saving the seedlings and plants. I bought an oscillating fan to place in the back of the greenhouse to move the air around and push it to the front of the greenhouse. The back of the greenhouse receives the hottest of the air from the western sun every day that it’s not cloudy.
I bought an exhaust fan to replace the solar fan that is three times the size of the old one.
This fan has a timer with an auto cycle On/OFF at your desired temperature and humidity level and 24hour timer. I have it set at 75* and it’s already working like a charm.
Our son came by last Saturday and set up the timer which was actually very simple, and we could have done it, but he knows electronics and we thought “Better safe than sorry”!!
The next thing we did at his urging was we cut a panel on the northside of the greenhouse, close to the ground and put a screen in it. We saved the cut panel and clip it back on the wall in late afternoon when evening air cools and take it off in the mornings when it warms up.
We’ve been using our chick heat lamps since I opened the greenhouse to keep it warm at night and help the seedlings to grow. It worked great until this weekend when the cold dropped to freezing again and Eddie put a small propane heater in the greenhouse Saturday, yesterday and we’ll probably use it a few more nights as long as the cold is here. The lamps work great but when the air is cold outside, and wind is blowing they’re just not enough.
The herbs are planted, and I also planted some flowers last week. They are balsam, geranium, Bells of Ireland, dusty miller, blanket flower, delphinium, gaillardia, money plant, marigold, zinnia, moonflower (every year), Hosta, cleome, calendula, black-eyed Susan and balloon flower.
The first thing I started were the few vegetables that I will need to can this summer. Mr. Stripey tomatoes, Heavyweight and Super Shepherd sweet peppers, banana peppers, San Marazano tomatoes, romaine lettuce, Stonehead, Flat Dutch and Red Empress cabbages, and carrots. I’ve never been able to get carrots to grow in the garden because the soil is too heavy (I think) so this year I sowed some in a large black plastic cauldron in the greenhouse just see if I can get one. The potatoes and onions will be planted as soon as the weather gets to “normal”!! After that we’ll plant directly into the garden to include corn, green beans, yellow crookneck and Delicata squash, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, cantaloupe and watermelon. I haven’t decided where to plant the sunflowers yet if I plant any. The chickens sure do love them.