Friday, May 31, 2013

WHAT LIES BENEATH

Mystery hole dug under building
2nd Family tells me this COULD be the result of one of their dogs that chased an animal under a shed on our property.  OR it could be one of any number of animals, none of which I'd like to encounter face to face, or face to snout or face to beak or face to rabid foaming razor sharp teeth filled mouth.

it's too big to be a mouse or a rat, so I'm guessing skunk or raccoon or opossum or something else.

Yeah, 2nd Family's dog, that's what I choose to believe.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, PURPLE EVERYWHERE

Lavender gotta love purple, image courtesy of Davesgarden.com
How cool would it be to put all the same color in one spot.  Even the chair in this picture is a shade of purple that fits in with the rest of the flowers.  This one is just so pretty.

What inspires me about this picture is having areas on the property that utilize one color palette, even in the furniture and decor you put around it.
This purple is so vibrant and I can just imagine how nice it would be to sit there for a bit and relax with a nice glass of wine.

Have a great Thursday,

Be inspired!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

GIVING UP THE GARDEN TEMPORARILY



It was a hard decision to come to, but alas, after this long weekend, I have decided to let the garden go (except for the herbs) this Spring/Summer growing season.

I've always said this blog would highlight it all, the success and the failure, the good and the bad.  This is the failure.  And the bad.  We've often thought of this farm as a multi year process and I just sometimes get ahead of myself.  Just like when I'm at an all you can eat buffet, my eyes are often bigger than my stomach (three plates later of course).

Anyway, I think I jumped the gun on wanting to get things growing before I had thought about it and planned it all out.  I built the beds which took some time.  Then it took time to get the soil delivered because of our rural location.  Then the fence took some time to plan and after it was finally built, seeing it got me all excited and so I just started planting, without a care in the world.

Oops!

Not being there on a daily basis, I had to come up with a way to water and I came up with this temporary solution for watering, a sprinkler on a timer.



But it didn't work as I had hoped.  There is a spot beside one of the beds that stays in standing water that quickly becomes stagnate water and makes it impossible work around and mow or edge, not to mention it attracts mosquitoes.  Then, if it's windy when the sprinkler goes off, the beds don't get watered consistently. I turned off the sprinkler for a few days to see how things would progress but then they started getting crispy.

I realize now that I really need a better watering system.


We've heated up so fast here, there is not much time now to try to plant anything as a seedling, we're in the 90's more often than not.  To say I was bummed about it would be an understatement, see above, but it's no one's fault but my own.



I should have built all the beds and completed the garden, not just six.
I should have checked for low spots and leveled the ground.
I should have installed a better, more reliable watering system.
I should have planted when the weather was cooler.
I should have made sure the soil was nice and nutrient rich.
I should have figured out a way to control the grass in between the beds.

Should-a, would-a, could-a!



The good news is the herbs seem to be holding their own, so that's good!

What I need to do now is concentrate on the infrastructure of the garden.  Just like we couldn't stay in the house for extended periods without having electricity and hot water and a bed to sleep in, and a refrigerator and stove to have food, I shouldn't have planted vegetables until everything else in the garden was set up and ready to go, including water and properly conditioned soil.

SO...my next goal is to level the ground in the flooded spot.  Then I need to put the other raised beds together.  After that, I need to figure out something for the grassy areas.  And lastly I need to get a drip irrigation system installed.  I'm already researching those.  The good part is that I will get to keep the automatic timer, which has worked very well by itself.  I bought it at Home Depot, but they sell them on Amazon as well.  This is the one I got:
DIG Hose End Timer.  I just need to make sure the water gets to where it needs to be instead of everywhere else.



Luckily, our climate gives us a second growing season.  I can plant tomatoes and many other plants in September and have a great Fall crop.
But only after I have addressed the other issues. 


It was a tough decision this weekend.  I won't say it didn't make me a little bit depressed, discouraged and somewhat defeated.

But I didn't let it get me down too long.  I just have to focus on what will make the garden work best, and work on the yard around the house.


 But then I look at this and realize that I have all this future potential.  Better to do it right now and get the groundwork laid properly (pun intended) and give the plants the best start next time around.

Onward and upward!

p.s.  More on the rest of the weekend in the upcoming days and I'll catch up on your comments and reply to them all as well.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

THE CARDINALS HAVE ARRIVED

Red Cardinal on fence
No, not the baseball team.  No, not from the Vatican.

The birds!  All of a sudden, red Cardinals are all over the farm.  Not sure why we're a gathering place but they sure are pretty to see.  The red color against all the greens of the yard is so nice.  Wherever they land, it looks like a red flower has bloomed open!  They are flying flowers!

I need to find out what they like to eat and make sure they have lots of it so they'll stick around.  I'm off one more day for a longer holiday, so the weekend update will come tomorrow (or maybe later tonight).


Sunday, May 26, 2013

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, MEMORIAL DAY THEMED


For today's vintage poster, I wanted to find something that tied in with Memorial Day and I found this one.  Thinking of those that have passed this weekend and thanking each of them for everything they've done.

Been doing stuff at the farm, had some company visit the farm for the first time.  Today we are in town, have some BBQ ribs cooking in the oven right now.  Will go back to the farm tomorrow and do some more things that I didn't get to yesterday and this morning.

Hope you are having a nice weekend.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

WHAT DAY IS IT ASKED POOH

I've always loved Winnie the Pooh and this quote is so sweet.
It's also the way I feel every time we're at Seda Bolsa...



"What day is it?" asked Pooh.

"It's today." squeaked Piglet.

My favorite day!" said Pooh.

                  -  A. A. Milne
______________________________________________________

Limited posting this weekend, taking a few days off to enjoy the farm, do some shopping, some planning, spend some time on the zen machine, visit with friends and family, see a movie or two and definitely daydream a lot.

Just like Pooh!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 24, 2013

NEW TREE DISCOVERY


There are still parts of the property that I haven't had much chance to explore because they've been covered up in brush, etc.  I was mowing last weekend and because some of the grasses and/or weeds had died during the Winter, I was able to mow up into a part I haven't done before.  I hopped off and and moved some brush out of the way and discovered this cool, old, mesquite tree.

I can't wait to clear out around him/her.  It won't happen soon, too many other things going on with the garden and soon to be flower beds, but it will be something I can add to the list of things to do later on.

He/she could be Barnabas' younger (and shorter) brother/sister.

I'll have to clean him up later on.  Maybe a project for next year.

I love old trees.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, BISTRO SETS

Red bistro set image courtesy of Charlestongardens.com
Something I've always wanted is a bistro set.  I know we'll have a picnic table, and some other table and chair sets at the farm, eventually of course, but I've always wanted a small set like these.  It just seems like a nice spot, wherever you put them, to just sit, have a cup of tea (or coffee) or some biscuits and homemade jelly or jam.  It would be so relaxing.

I was always partial to a red set but I love this yellow.  I won't buy THESE of course, they are way too expensive.  But hey, with a cool bistro table and chair set and a can of spray paint, I could do wonders!

Be inspired!

Yellow bistro set, image courtesy of Charlestongardens.com

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

STARTED THE NEXT BATCH OF VANILLA EXTRACT






Forgot to blog about this one:
Last weekend let us get a few more things done to prepare for baking this Fall.  One of the things we needed to do was to get another bottle of our homemade vanilla extract started.  Click on the link above to see how to and other details. I ordered the beans, bought the vodka and put them together.






Voila!
A nice big bottle of 'future vanilla extract'.  I turned the bottle around to show you how it's full of vanilla beans.  Now I'm just shaking it every few days, keeping it in a dark place and waiting until November.

For instructions on how to do this,

CLICK HERE

Enjoy!

Monday, May 20, 2013

THINKING OF THOSE IN OKLAHOMA


Yet more loss for our country.

Oklahoma is my home state, I was born in Oklahoma City.  I still have relatives there and it's the home of several of our blogging friends of the farm.

We are sending thoughts to all of those affected and praying that no more storms come through.

SEEDS OF THE MONTH APRIL AND MAY

Seeds of the Month for April 2013
Seeds of the Month for May 2013

It's time yet again!  Seeds of the Month from Mike the Gardener have arrived 
and given me a surprise in the middle of the week.  What I didn't realize is that I failed to post last month's delivery as well.  So for May:

This month's seeds are:

Cucumber, "Lemon"
Squash, "Dark Green Zucchini"
Cress, "Curly"
Melon, "Rocky Ford Green Flesh"


And for April:

Pepper, "Anaheim Chili"
Bush Beans, "Golden Wax"
Basil, "Lemon"
Tomato, "Homestead" (I'm growing this one now!)

As usual, I'll ask for comments from anyone who has grown these varieties and has any recommendations or suggestions.  I use this post and your comments to research back on them later in the year when I plant/sprout seeds.

Thanks ahead of time!

Seeds rule!!!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, LEND A HAND ON THE LAND

Lend a Hand on the Land vintage poster, courtesy of UK National War Archives
Here is a really neat poster from WWII.  They asked citizens to help farmers, since so many men were away at war, so they reminded those still home that no matter what their main job was, they needed to help out with the harvest of food and grain.  They asked for volunteers to sign up and help.

What a great idea even today, if we could have people come help out with farming.  Of course, I'm sure Monsanto and the like would NOT agree with that.

Hope you are having a good weekend, we were at the Ironman competition yesterday, so today is catch up day at the farm.  As you read this, I'm riding around on the Big Green Zen Machine (i.e. my John Deere mower for those new to the blog).  It's hot today, 90 degrees, so I'm hoping there is a breeze.

More later!

WE HAVE AN IRONMAN IN THE FAMILY


Well, we just got home a bit ago.  "Miss P", completed the Ironman competition with a time of about 15 1/2 hours.  We stayed until she crossed the finish line.  What an exciting time it was.  We thoroughly enjoyed cheering on not only her, but all of the runners as they came by, it was amazing to see the athletes.

It was her first (and last she says) Ironman.  She wanted to prove to herself that she could do it and she did.  She swam 2.4 miles in 1 hr 15 mins, then biked 112 miles in 7 hrs 58 mins, and then ran 26.2 miles in 5 hrs 54 mins.

A-maz-ing.

I can't even fathom what they go through. She ended with a smile on her face and didn't seem overwhelmingly tired, though I'm sure it's probably hitting her just about now (assuming she's even still awake!).  Many people collapsed as they crossed the finish line, and more than a few were put in wheelchairs when they finished.  We saw one guy in a car as we were walking around who had finished the race and was leaving.  He was trying to reach his door to pull it closed but didn't have the strength to reach it (2nd Man's brother stepped in to help).  It is definitely a competition that will test the limits of human endurance.

We gave her a big hug at the end and she said "But I'm all sweaty and dirty".  Like we cared, ha.  Plus, how many times can you say you hugged an Ironman?  Congratulations Miss P, we are very proud of you!




Friday, May 17, 2013

WHEN PETS COME TO VISIT



I love an audience, and every time I'm out at the farm, 2nd Family's animals come to visit.  Usually it's one of the dogs but the other day it was their horse, "Artax" that came to say hello.  Of course, I think the fact that I usually have apples with me was a factor.


Then I looked in the green grass and saw their sweet black and white kitty "Neo".  He rarely comes up to visit but I was happy to see him. I told him he's welcome to hang around and enjoy an all he can eat mouse buffet, so hopefully he'll do that.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, FLOWER GARDEN AND BIRDHOUSE

Flowers in a garden, photo courtesy of Southernliving.com 
Blogger and/or Google is giving me issues today, so I'll have to keep this short.  I can't access my photo file in the cloud and had to find a random photo online that would inspire me.  I thought I'd spice things up with some color and variety and I definitely love the colorful flowers in this picture.

There's even a birdhouse right there in the middle.  Probably not very hospitable to birds, but who knows.  It sure does look pretty!

Enjoy your day,
Be inspired!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WHAT IS THE NEW PATH




When I was at the farm recently, I noticed that this had been done to the property behind us.  They had scraped a path all along the fence line (this is a 300 acre property by the way). To be honest, I wasn't exactly sure what it was for.

At first, I thought maybe it was for the cattle that are normally kept there in Spring and Summer, to keep them walking around the perimeter of the fence? Or maybe for farm equipment to easily drive the property?  Or maybe it was so they could more easily check the fencing in case a section of it comes loose or fails?

I found out it's actually a firebreak!  In case a wildfire broke out on the property, it would, theoretically anyway, burn to the edge of this and not spread to neighboring properties (i.e. ours).  This would allow the firefighters to keep it under control and hopefully knock it down. This is required by the county for large properties without residences on them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

FINALLY RIPENING


Dewberries ripening
Yay!  I was at the farm over the weekend and saw that the Dewberries are FINALLY ripening.  It's been an odd year to say the least.  I think the rains recently have helped.  They aren't as big as in years past, and I'm not sure there will be enough for a berry picking party like last year, but they are definitely coming. We should be able to freeze up some more this season and I hope to experiment with dewberry jam/jelly.  I think they have another week or two to be at full ripeness but I might start harvesting some this week.

I just love that at least these edibles come in by themselves every year and I don't have to do to a thing to help.  No watering, no planting, no pruning, no fertilizing...it's just Mother Nature working her magic.  Gotta love it!

Click HERE to learn a bit about the Dewberry.

Closeup of ripening Dewberry


Monday, May 13, 2013

TOO MUCH WATER


Is that even possible?  I suppose it is when you have low spots. 

First the good news, the fruit trees all seem to be doing well, still putting on tiny fruit, new leaves, getting taller, and now the figs are starting to do their thing.


And the raised herb bed is doing wonderfully as well:

Raised bed with Herbs
They are growing and thriving.  In fact, we harvested some to bring back into town to use.  I think the herbs are happy.

What doesn't seem to be happy however are some of the veggies!


Lost a tomato plant.  This is one of the Homestead 24's.  Now in all fairness, this is one that had broken off from the mother plant and I had rooted it.  It grew a fruit so it was doing well, until I put it in the ground.


Then one of my Asian Eggplants is this happening to it's leaves.  It's grown over the last week but not sure if this is a sign of something.  The leeks and other plants in the bed are doing ok I suppose and I have to remind myself that they've only been in the ground a week.

But over this last week, we had almost 4" of rain at the farm.  To add to that, the sprinkler still goes off automatically three times a day.


So all of that combined has created some standing water spots around the raised beds as you can see above.  I'm not sure if that's creating a problem or not, but it worries me.  Of course, in a couple of weeks, it might be bone dry and could be for weeks at a time, but until then, I'm not sure what is going on.

So a) any suggestions on those plant problems?  And b) what is the best way to stop that standing water?  I thought about poking deep holes in the ground around them?  Should I add sand around the beds that have low spots?  Or is regular dirt better?

The soil out there has a lot of clay and in the low spots, it collects.

Fingers crossed.  I guess this is how I learn, trial and error. 

Thanks in advance!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY, JOIN THE WOMEN'S LAND ARMY

Image courtesy of Australia War Museum
On this Mother's Day, I wanted to find a poster that reflected farm life and green living while paying homage to the wonderful contributions women have always made to society.

During WWII, when it was a men only army of course, women were tasked with keeping things going at home and so Britain and other allied countries (this one comes from Australia) started the "Women's Land Army" to have women work in the farming industry to replace the duties of men called to war.
I dare say they probably did a better job!

2nd Man and I have both lost our Mom's, long before their time, so on Sunday, we honor Mom's of everyone everywhere.  We know our Mom's (and Dad's) are always up there, smiling down on us and guiding us in our decisions.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all of you out there!


Friday, May 10, 2013

THYME TO NAME THE GARDEN


The contractor that built the fence did this as a surprise for me
(have I mentioned he was awesome?).  He thought I might want to be able to put a sign up that names the garden, so he left these two posts longer for me.  They are of course set in concrete so they aren't moving.  Then he even gave me a piece of pre-cut wood that fits much like my graphic above, just a little overlap on each post.  So now I have a quandary.

What do I put on the sign?  The name of the farm would seem obvious but then again, Seda Bolsa is the name of the whole farm, not just the garden.  So do I just get some lettering, keep it simple and write "GARDEN" across the top?  Or something like "VEGGIES HERE"?  Or some clever play on words?

Anyone ever name their garden plot?


Thursday, May 9, 2013

INSPIRATION THURSDAY, OUTDOOR CHESS

Outdoor Chess, image courtesy of southernliving.com
A few years ago, when we first thought about getting property, I stumbled onto pictures like this.  People who had put in their own outdoor chess and checkers game boards.  It can be done with grass or slate tiles or gravel or just about anything your imagination could think of.

Of course, when I first saw it my first reaction was, "well that would take up a good sized part of the yard".  But then I imagined that if we had a farm with lots of acreage, we could do something like this anywhere that suited us.  So that's why I saved this picture...someday, it will be on my to do list.  It's not a priority this year for sure, many other things I need to get started, but in a couple of years, I could see myself doing something like this.  And really, it doesn't look like it would be TOO difficult.  I think. 

Enjoy your day!
Be inspired!

Update:  Several of you asked about chess pieces, there are some out there, just google "outdoor chess pieces" and there are plastic ones, wood ones, expensive ones and affordable ones.  Of course my first year after we do something like this, I could always use frisbees and play Checkers!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

RAISED BEDS LET THE GARDENING BEGIN


Now that the garden is FENCED IN, it's time to get the plants in the dirt.

Well, OK, half of them are planted.  We've got six raised beds in total for this first growing season...four 4'x4' squares and two 4'x8' rectangles.  I'm not going the square foot gardening route entirely, but I'm using it as a guideline, as a few of you so kindly suggested.  In other words, I'm not sticking to it religiously but instead using it to keep myself organized in the garden and still hopefully get a bit more stuff out of the smaller space.  This is, after all, my first attempt at large scale gardening.

So here is what I got planted last weekend
(many of these growing in town until they could get taken out there):

4x4 Raised Bed Square Foot Garden
In the first 4x4 square, I planted two Asian eggplants.  We've had great luck with the Ichiban we had in town, so we are hoping for some more this year.  Also put a Big Bertha bell pepper in the middle.  We'll probably leave them on the plant to turn red so we can roast them.  I used two of the squares to plant the leeks, ten of them in total; six in one square and four in the other, just to see how they do.  In another square I planted some carrot seeds.  Next, I planted six white icicle radishes that I found at the feed store (it's an heirloom variety) and next week, I'll be planting beet seeds.  For those, I'm going to use the seeds that sweet Melissa from Sky Minded & Ever Growing sent to me earlier in the year.  She sent some other seeds to me as well, but I'm saving those for the late Summer crop.  

4x8 Raised Bed Square Foot Garden
In one of the larger raised beds, I planted tomatoes and peppers and a surprise.  We have six tomatoes, all heirlooms.  Golden Jubilee (yellow), Cherokee Purple, two Homestead 24's, Marglobe, and Moby Grape.  I read that tomatoes can take up more than 1 square foot so I spaced them out sqaure foot style and gave them each 4 square feet each.  That left a spot in the middle and two spaces on the ends of two square feet each.  I put a Poblano pepper on one of those ends, and a TAM JalapeƱo pepper on the other.  In the middle, I put a Tomatillo plant.  I started growing it in town and it already has two tomatillo husks puffed up. I've got to work on my trellis next in case they get out of control in a month or two.

I was hoping to get Melissa's "Yellow Taxi" seeds sprouted in time for them to be our yellow tomato, but I ran out of sprouting time with all the other stuff I was doing earlier earlier in the year.  I will however, do that for the Fall garden since we are lucky here to have a 2nd growing season in the Fall. 

4x4 Raised Bed Square Foot Herb Garden
And lastly, I got the Herb bed finished.  I planted them, as best I could, from highest growing in back to lowest in front (this picture is taken from the side).  Many herbs can be tall but if you keep harvesting them, you can keep them shorter, so I tried to take that into account as well.  There are sixteen herbs total, just planting one per square foot.  Again, some can be planted with more than one to a square, but I decided to just use the square foot plan as my organizing method to plant and keep them separated.

We've told 2nd Family that they are welcome to help themselves to fresh herbs any time they need them since we aren't there for a few days at a time.  They do, after all, supply us with fresh eggs most of the year, fresh herbs are the least we can do.

So there you have it, half of our total veggie square footage is spoken for.  We have a total of 128 square feet, and this is using 64 square feet.  I'm planning the other three beds this week.  It will involve squashes, beans, okra and other things. Of course, I want to grow it all, but I'll keep it manageable for this first time around and see what happens.

Fingers crossed!
Now let's get growing!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

RAISED BED GARDEN FENCE UNVEILING

So the garden fence, a year in the deciding, months in the planning, and a couple of weeks in the building, is finally complete.  We love it!  Hope I don't bore you to tears with all these pictures, but I figure you've all been along for the ride through all my fence decisions and garden planning and so here it is: 


Of course, you all remember when I built the beds back when it was cold. Then we had the dirt delivered to fill them.  Then I started planning the fence.  The first thing I had to do was plan the size, taking into account future expansion.  So I settled on 36' wide x 44' long, with two gates.


We had the contractor come out and set the four corner posts so that I could decide if I was happy with that spacing and size.  I was.  Of course, then it had to rain for a week, so things were delayed.



Finally the weather cleared up and he dug the holes for the fence posts.  Here they are put in the ground, again to give us an idea what it would look like, height, etc.




Next up, the posts were all set in concrete and the top railing was put on.  It was starting to come together!

Then came a decision. Did I want thin, ornate pickets, or something else?  You all know about my love of fences of all types.  I decided that thin pickets were just too 'formal' looking.  So I opted for this, a wider than normal fence picket, making it easy to replace/repair, spaced 2" apart.



More rain came the following week but finally, here it is.  Finished!!  I had to wait to take photos until after I mowed and edged so that it was looking it's best, ha. This is the view from just off the porch looking toward the garden.



This is standing inside by the front gate entrance looking toward the back gate.  Notice the vast large amounts of space I still have.  I've planned out the remaining raised beds, phase two this Fall, and phase three next Spring.



In this one, I am standing at the back corner looking toward the front.  You see those two poles at the front gate?  The contractor did those for me as a surprise, giving me a space to put a sign for my garden!



This is near the front corner, looking back toward the house so you can see where it is in relation to the house. I'll get my exercise going back and forth to the garden, that's for sure. 




Here is another angle looking toward the front.  You can see the six raised beds, safely encased in their new fenced home.







The view here is while standing over by the "nosey cows" fence, looking toward the back of the garden.





And this is it from the side, just a clean, long line of nice fence pickets.



This was a last minute decision when I was standing in the 'future' garden site.  I realized it would be nice to not have to walk all the way around the perimeter of the garden to go get a tool, or bring something in, etc.  So I made sure it had a back gate, and just located it opposite the front one.

Here is one of my favorite photos.  So much so, it is now my wallpaper on the computer at my office.

It's inside the garden of course, looking toward the back.  I can see my nosey cow friends, the blue sky, the wispy white clouds, the green grass and trees, the new fence...it's our own little piece of heaven, coming true.