Tuesday, September 30, 2014

THE OLDEN DAYS


So, I'm in Target the other day at lunch...was roaming about in the kitchen/housewares section killing some time.  I saw a woman pick up one of these cheese graters and the little girl riding in her basket looked at it, curiously, and asked what it was...

Ye Olde Cheese Grater
The woman said that "in the olden days it was how people had to make grated cheese".  The little girl scrunched up her face and went back to the distraction of her Mother's smart phone.

THE OLDEN DAYS?
Seriously?

Have we changed that much as a society and prepackaged shredded cheese has become so ubiquitous that the next generation will not know how to take a block of cheese and shred it by hand?  I'm not yet 50 but one of my fun memories is actually begging to be the one to shred the cheese for some dinner casserole my Mom or Grandma was making.  I loved watching that solid block turn into fluffy mounds of cheese heaven.  I enjoyed shredding it and not pulling it up until it was overfull (or Mom said 'OK, that's enough') and then watching all the cheese fall onto the plate.  It always seemed like way more than was possible.

We have two of these "olden days" graters, one in town and one at the farm. Isn't it the ultimate in non-electric utilitarianism?  What's next, knives are from the days of yore?  Ancient antiquity manual can opener?  

What about you...anything you use that someone else might say is from the olden days?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

RAIN AND SKIN OH MY


It was a wet weekend...well, a wet Saturday.  Nothing 'outside' got accomplished but there were some inside chores done and that's always a good thing.  Sunday, today, we had to stay in town and run errands for here.  

Now for the one bad thing:


Found a shed snake skin under the sink in the bathroom!  I didn't get a picture of that because, quite frankly, my heart stopped and all I could wonder was where it was.  Running to get the camera was the least of my thoughts.  And hey, we have 11 acres now, the bathroom was not immediately necessary, LOL.  And here is where the story gets better worse:

2nd Family told us that they recently found a live snake under their kitchen sink...a COPPERHEAD!  She quickly shut the cabinet door, put something large and heavy up against it and went to get her husband.  He got a long snake grabber type stick, and his gun and they slowly opened the door.  IT WAS GONE!  I asked them which hotel they stayed at that night but they just chalked it up to life in the country.  Hubby was going to crawl under their house and check for openings.  He suggested I do the same.

I'm still writing down hotel numbers for the speed dial...

No, no...I'll crawl under there, when it cools down of course and see what I can find.  The farmhouse sits up high so it's easy to get underneath.  For a few minutes I thought, "well, snakes eat mice so it's not the worst thing..." then when I heard they had a close encounter with a deadly snake, no.  I'm ready to do whatever it takes to get rid of snakes.  I'll trap the mice, that we can handle.  Snakes in cabinets?  Not only no, but HELL no!

Does snake repellent work?
ANYONE?  IDEAS?


AMERICAN CHOCOLATE FUND, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

American Chocolate Fund, vintage poster image, courtesy of  Imperial War Museum archives
Now this poster image is one we had NO idea they did.  An American Chocolate Fund for the the US forces in France.  It dates from WWI.  I don't really know the history behind it but from what I could find, it was not too unlike the campaigns today to send 'treats' to soldiers serving overseas.  There was actually a movement to send chocolate and tobacco.  

"The comforts of home" as they say...

Hope you all are having a good weekend.  We've been foiled by rain, yesterday, today is better but of course today we have in town errands to do.  More later, including comment replying...thanking all of you for your nice words on our blog anniversary yesterday.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

BLOGOVERSARY BLOGIVERSARY BLOGAVERSARY

Today, it's off to the farm to spend the day working in the garden, cleaning up the annoying grass runners that have taken over the first 1/3 of the garden.  Since I've already been on the big green zen machine the other day during the week (after the land closing), the garden will be the next target.

SO while we're at the farm working on things...


Four years ago, I sat down at the computer and started typing.  I wondered if anyone would even be interested in watching our progress as we made plans to buy some land with an old house on it?  Then, would they come along as we started working on it, not knowing how the journey would progress?

Four years later, here we are.
Some stats:

489 FOLLOWERS (come on 500)
1,850 POSTS (including this one)
15,746 COMMENTS (and counting)
2,451,900 PAGE VIEWS (this one still amazes us)

Fixing things up at the farm is a slow process, some of the time it's successful, and other times, not so much...but that's what we expected when we set out on the journey.  We are just grateful that all of you have come along for the journey and keep coming back.  It's been a wonderful journey, we've made so many friends we didn't know we could have and we love all of you!

Here's to many more years, hope y'all will stay along for the ride!
The best is yet to come!


We're still not sure the correct spelling of a blog anniversary, LOL!

Blogi?  Blogo?  Bloga?
Whatever it is, thank you all!


Friday, September 26, 2014

SWEET LITTLE GIFT





Just had to share this so that she would know how much we like it.  

A very special friend of the farm sent this to us.  What a pleasant surprise!  The neat thing about this little pig is that he is made out of spoons.  It comes via a crafter on Etsy.

Of course, the fact that it was also personalized with the name of our farm (Seda Bolsa) makes it even more special.

Thank you very much!  As you can see, it's hanging on the wall, just as we walk in the front door, where we hang our keys.  We will always treasure it!


Tomorrow is a milestone day for the blog, more on that tomorrow.


GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY, FELINE FRIDAY


Big Lou, the guilty or not guilty cat
We haven't shared a picture of this guy before.  He is a feral cat that lives in the backyard in town.  His name is Louis (the neighbor across the street named him), we call him Big Lou.  Sadly, as much as we interact with him, he just won't let us touch him.  He has been trapped and neutered once upon a time and so he doesn't roam around like other strays.  He likes to hang around in our backyard and the yard of the lady across the street.

I think he really did knock this over, as he was jumping down off the fence where he always does, but really, we must have 20 more clay pots where this one came from...it's not the end of the word.  He did have that kind of guilty look though, like he wanted us to think it wasn't him.  

More later today!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

FARM FOUNTAIN, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Fountain, by artist http://blandhoke.blogspot.com/2008/01/till-fountain.html
Sometimes, the inspiration we find comes from someone else finding it for us.  Case in point, this picture that Linda, a 'Friend of the Farm', found for us.  She knows us well, we love it!  This fountain is SO cool.

You know what it is?  Look at it sideways.  It's a disc tiller for a tractor!  The artist took a rusty farm implement and made it into a fountain.  Cool huh?  

I don't know much about disc tillers but this just fascinates me and since we'd love to have a fountain at the farm, someday of course, re-purposing something like this would be such a great idea.  Thanks Linda for finding the photo for us!

Be Inspired...


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BIGGER IS BETTER

HUH?  FOR SALE?  SOLD?  WHAT?

Buying rural land
No no, we didn't sell, we actually bought!

It's been in the works for the last couple of months but I didn't want to bring it up for fear of jinxing it.  Our blog header has always said it will document our "journey to 10 acres in the country".  That was actually rounding off.  We actually owned about 9 acres.  There was another section of land that we hadn't purchased yet and we've been planning for it the last couple of years.  We actually thought it might end up being another couple of years but we were asked if we wanted it sooner rather than later and we said yes!  It meant we had to put off some projects, such as the new roof for example, because we had to use savings for the down payment of course.

This is land we've already been using, or at least had access to, and were told to just treat it as if it were already ours.  So I've been mowing it and including it in our adventuring around the property.  In a way, this is just a transaction that's a necessity for legal purposes and we won't have a new spot on the property to play with or explore.  But hey, at least we know now that it's ALL OURS and more than anything else, that's a good feeling. 

Buying raw land isn't quite as easy as you might think.  Trying to refi the house and existing land was not something they (the bank) wanted to do, we hadn't owned it long enough for that...plus they don't really like raw land at the big 'national' bank chains.  Paying cash for it was not something we could do either. Land in these parts is going for quite a bit per acre.  We were told to find a rural bank in a small town near the farm.  We got a great referral from the survey company and the process has been great.  With no buildings or structures or utilities, they pushed it right on through.  We just had to make sure that the appraisal was at or higher than the purchase price (it was).  The financial terms on raw land are a bit more than on land with a home already on it; a bit higher interest rate...less years to pay for it...and a larger down payment.  We figure in a few years, when the house is in better shape for inspection and we have a barn and other infrastructure done, we'll just roll both loans into one note.  

Yesterday morning at 10am was our closing.  It took about 15 minutes...5 minutes to sign the paperwork and 10 minutes to talk about the recent weather...gotta love life in small towns...


So now we officially own not 9, not 10, but 11 acres of land...and the blog header has been adjusted...





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

HAPPY AUTUMN

A simple and quick post today...

Subway art courtesy of http://thepinkinkdoodle.blogspot.com 
OK, so it started last night but today is the first full day...and the weather has cooled down (a bit) here...it's so pretty!

This first day of Fall is bringing a bit of change to the farm, but more on that tomorrow.  Today, I am AT the farm, on a workday...after a brief errand this morning that is actually happening as this posts.  Again, more tomorrow.


Stay tuned!

Monday, September 22, 2014

MESQUITE BEAN POD HARVESTING

For those curious about the mesquite tree here are two links:

This is the WIKI LINK

This is the TEXAS ALMANAC LINK

Mesquite bean pods on a tree
It was mesquite bean pod harvesting day a couple weekends ago and I realized I hadn't posted about it yet.  There were still quite a few hanging in trees, as you can see above.  They hang in the trees and kind of drop off as they dry out and are ready for harvesting.  Unfortunately, after all our rains, this was all we'd be able to harvest this first season.

Mesquite pods on the ground
Alas, there were just as many, if not more, on the ground under the trees.  We've read that you can get the ones on the ground as long as they haven't been wet and gotten mildew on them.  I stuck to getting them from the trees themselves, it was simpler (and easier on the old back, ha).

Mesquite harvesting
I grabbed our red metal pail and started pulling.  Side note, the red bucket does not glow, LOL, the camera just didn't like the sun shining on it.  Anyway, I grabbed the tree branches (being careful of the thorns!) and started gathering.  I was in a hurry because the sky was getting dark and rain was coming.

Gathering mesquite bean pods
Ended up with a large amount for this first time and will, hopefully, get the last next weekend.  Things we've learned in the gathering process:

Should have harvested a couple of weeks ago.
(Labor Day weekend might be a good rule of thumb)

After they have turned light brown on the tree, they should almost come off in your hand without much pulling.  In fact, shaking the branch will cause many of them to just go ahead and drop off...these are the ones you want.

If you have to pull on them, they aren't quite ready.
(but if you want to pull them, it just means they have to dry them in the sun)

Shake the pod, the seeds should rattle like shaking a salt shaker.



Now, they are currently drying out in the garage in town.

Once they are crispy dry, we'll proceed on to the next step, roasting, steeping, grinding or whatever we have to do for the project we want to try.  We didn't get as many as we hoped since the rains thwarted us, but hopefully we have enough to try at least one or two of the mesquite food items.

Stay tuned!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

A FEW MORE PLANTS

We stayed in town this weekend which turned out to be good.  We got some errands run, and I made it to the garden center.  Bought two more Texas Lilac/Vitex bushes...for a grand total of seven...then I bought three more Texas sage...for a grand total of six of those.

Then I added these two varieties (forgot to take photos):

Blue plumbago photo from Southernliving.com
Two Blue Plumbago bushes.  We love the pale blue flowers on them.  We may end up with a few more of these as they are supposed to do well in our heat. 

Esperanza, photo courtesy of davesgarden.com
The other variety I got was Gold Star Esperanza, another Texas plant winner that is drought and heat tolerant.  Three of them.  Now if only we could be be more drought and heat tolerant...LOL!

Speaking of, it was a hot weekend.  The rains stopped and the heat came back. Hard to believe tomorrow is the first day of Fall.  It might be where you are but it certainly isn't here yet.  Hope you all had a great weekend!


FARM WORK IS WAR WORK, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

Farm Work is War Work, vintage poster image, courtesy of US National Library
This is a really neat poster, love the graphics on this one.  I'm guessing it's more of a backdoor advertisement for International Harvester (makers of tractors) since they are the sponsor.  Farm Work is War Work!  It compares the work of those in the war effort with the work on the farm back home.

I'm guessing this one is perhaps aimed at women and/or girls and since the poster mentions seeing your principal, this was most likely put up in schools during WWII.  "Join the Farm Victory Volunteers" was a youth group.

Hope you are having a good weekend.  We've been running errands in town, sometimes we need those weekends, and today I'm off to get some more plants to hoard save for use at the farm.

It's been dry and the rains have stopped.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

PLANT SALE TIME OF YEAR

We love a plant sale!  Here in Houston, one of the chain garden centers has a great sale.  They do it every year at the end of the season.  All plants/shrubs/trees are at least 70% off.  When you are in the store, some smaller plants are as much as 80% off.  Now we don't buy veggies and/or more unusual plants at the chain places, we prefer the local nurseries and feed stores for their more hard to find local and heirloom varieties, but since we are trying to add more color to the farm, any generic ornamental tree/shrub is fair game. 

We love our greens and of course the seasonal wildflowers in the Spring, but we need more.  So earlier this year, we planted five Vitex/Chaste trees along the driveway.  Click HERE to see that.  They are also known by the more descriptive name of "Texas Lilac" due to their resemblance to lilacs.  We just didn't have enough to line the entire driveway.





We already had one in town, so we ended up buying four more for a total of five.  That should completely line the driveway.

$5 each!



This is what the flowers look like, long spikes of purple/blue flowers.  They have a bit of a scent that is most noticeable when they are in full bloom.



This is Texas Sage. We bought three of them.  They are VERY drought tolerant, in fact, they can go for weeks without water.  A definite plus there.

$4 each!




It is a medium sized shrub that stays green almost year round and in the heat of Summer, it ends up covered in purple flowers.  Even in poor conditions!


Lastly, we picked up these small Mexican Heather plants, five of them.  They are small shrubs that tolerate a variety of conditions and will grow in full sun or partial shade.

$1 each!



They stay covered Spring to Fall in tiny, delicate, pink flowers. They are a great foreground plant and I'd like to scatter a few around the base of some trees near the house.





$37 total for all!  Boom!  Of course, it's still too hot to plant any of these, but in another month or so, it should be good...hmm, that means the sale will still be going on as well.  Might have to check it out again tomorrow.  I'm thinking some yellow color is needed...and maybe red...and white.

Yeah, that's it.
We need other colors!

2nd Man will just roll his eyes I'm sure...but in a few years, when hopefully it is all growing and colorful, it will all be his idea.  :-)


Friday, September 19, 2014

RAIN RAIN AND MORE RAIN

It has rained...


...and rained


and rained...


These radar captures are from various days, various times.  The only time it stopped, thankfully (for less risk of flooding) was at night.  But we'd wake up to more rain and it would rain most all day.  Tues...Wed...Thur...today.

2nd Family said this afternoon the final tally at the farm is:

Rain gauge of 5 1/2 inches
So that's good for the trees and plants and grass but bad for mowing because the ground and roads are supersaturated.  I'm sure things will be greening up, but I'll have to have my zen machine time later.

So this weekend, we will probably skip the farm in lieu of running errands, including more trips to some garden centers.  The rain has stopped, for now, and we hope that's it for awhile...fingers crossed.  We like the rain, just not all at once...and now that we've caught up, it can dry out a bit.

More updates as they warrant!  Hope you have a great weekend!

LONG CAT, FELINE FRIDAY

Stretch Brisbane
Isn't it amazing how 'comfortable' our pets can get?  This couch was a smaller loveseat we had at the time and every time he got on there, he just stretched out as long as he could.  I swear Brisbane seems like he's three feet long.  Hmm, maybe we should measure him sometime.  

More later today...
We have been inundated with rain the last few days.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

BERRY BARN, INSPIRATION THURSDAY


Berry Barn project, image courtesy of Kylee Baumle over at OUR LITTLE ACRE
Recently, I was blog hopping, as I like to do, and was over at Our Little Acre (link above) and I found the neatest thing when I was there.  Kylee (gardener extraordinaire) and her husband came up with a novel, and beautiful, solution to keeping their berries from being eaten by birds, rabbits and whatever else might be lurking about in the yard, waiting for a sweet snack.


Her beautiful property has some raspberries, blackberries and even blueberries.  Like many of us who have the best hopes for our berries, she fought the good fight against the furry and feathered marauders.  What they came up with was to build a frame structure of sorts around their berry beds and then cover it in chicken wire.  Think of a greenhouse, only without the glass/plastic panels...genius if you ask me!  She calls it "The Berry Barn".  Of course, we didn't need one more project to put on the list but hey, this one is almost too cool not to have on our list.  I'm not sure I could get ours to look as good as theirs, but it looks possible, someday anyway.  

Click either the photo itself, or the hyperlink above, to go to directly to the page on her blog that shows more of the photos of the construction process.

I immediately wrote to her and asked if she would allow me to share her project and she agreed.  Thank you Kylee, you've definitely inspired us!

Be Inspired!

© September 2014
by 1st Man at twomenandalittlefarm.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WEDGE SALAD

Homemade Wedge Salad
Have you ever had a "Wedge Salad"?  

It's just as the name implies, a wedge of iceberg lettuce, some tomatoes and blue cheese dressing with bacon bits.  We pretty much do it the same way and it's so easy but so good.

Ingredients:

1 head of iceberg lettuce
Tomatoes
Bacon bits
Blue cheese dressing

Slice a head of iceberg lettuce into wedges by cutting it in half and then each in half again.  Put sliced tomatoes around the lettuce, we like to use sliced cherry tomatoes (these are a mix of heirloom varieties).  Pour some blue cheese dressing over the the wedge and tomatoes, sprinkle on some bacon bits (we usually keep fresh bacon bits in the fridge) and lastly we add fresh blue cheese crumbles as an extra topping.

Wedge Salad Ingredients
That's it, couldn't be much simpler.  
We often have this for dinner...if we make it substantial enough, LOL.

© September 2014
by 1st Man at http://twomenandalittlefarm.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

HATCH CHILE SEASON 2014

It was that time of year recently...

HATCH CHILE season!

Hatch chiles
The above picture is from a couple of years ago when we roasted some in the oven.  This is what they look like before roasting.  You can click HERE for all that excitement. 

Fire roasted Hatch chiles
This year, we opted to go a bit easier.  They sell them already roasted, and better yet, they are fire roasted (we did ours in the oven).  It was certainly more time saving.  We probably paid a bit more but it was worth it.



The first thing we I did was get the skins off.  When they are roasted, the skins form an almost plastic like coating.  It's hard to describe but the good thing is running them under some water and rubbing, they just slip right off.


We dried them off and separated them into roughly equal packages.  We also decided to split them open and flatten them out.  We don't use them stuffed, we use them just chopped up as an additional ingredient in cooking so this makes it easier to add them later.

Vacuum sealed Hatch chiles
Lastly, we used our vacuum sealer to put them into flat packages and popped them in the freezer.  We did four batches like this so we ended up with twelve bags.  Since Hatch chiles are pretty much only available once a year, I guess we can only use one a month until they come around next season!
 
Anyone have any good uses for Hatch Chiles?

© September 2014
by 1st Man at twomenandalittlefarm.com

Monday, September 15, 2014

WALL MOUNTED FIRST AID BOX





Our first aid supplies at the farm had been woefully inadequate until I found this Curad Complete First Aid Kit on sale at a local store.  It housed the standard assortment of bandages and such so that was good.  Not that we're accident prone of course but it's always nice to have one handy and since our bathroom does not have a medicine cabinet, this made sense.  But we were always moving it somewhere and then not remembering where it was if we needed it.



Flash forward to recently when I found this first aid storage box.  It is metal, painted red and best of all, it mounts on the wall.  I actually saw it first on Williams Sonoma's website but then I found it at a store here in town where it was much less expensive.  Of course this is a local mom and pop store so I can't direct you there but, as with most everything it seems, it's available on Amazon.

Click here Kikkerland Red First Aid Box if you are so inclined to check it out.
Red metal wall mounted first aid box
First, we found the perfect spot to mount it.  It's in the mudroom, right as you come in the back door and right next to the utility sink.  Perfect for running inside with a wound and cleaning up at the sink.

Red metal First Aid kit, loaded
Everything from the Curad kit fit inside nicely, in addition to a few extras that we have accumulated.  Now make no mistake, this isn't going to hold more than enough to handle small cuts, scrapes and splinters.  But still, it's nice to have nearby and in a location so we'll always know just where to go.


And, how's this for irony (or self fulfilling prophecy?).  As I was putting up the tools, I stuck my hand in the case and cut the side of my thumb.  Nothing bad but hey, I was standing right there so I washed it, put on some anti-bacterial ointment and wrapped it up in a bandaid.  It's first use!  Mission accomplished!  

This does make us realize though that this doesn't hold enough supplies we might need for an extended time.  Say for example we were out there for a longer period due to a natural or man made disaster, we'd like to be prepared. 


So our question is, what do you all keep in your emergency preparedness first aid kit?  We'll find a larger container that we can store under the bed or in a closet to hold more supplies...more "Prepping in Plain Sight" like we've done before.  We just want to make sure we have a good combination of supplies.

What would YOU put in YOUR first aid kit?


© September 2014
by 1st Man at http://twomenandalittlefarm.com

Sunday, September 14, 2014

CITRUS PROBLEM HARRIS COUNTY

So, one of our local garden centers is having it's annual 70% off everything sale.  Yay!  We headed off to look for some ornamental trees (still need a few Vitex/Texas Lilac for the driveway).  We'd also like to get a plum tree and one more peach and one more pear.  

We also want to try citrus again so as we were roaming around, we went to the citrus section.  These tags were on every single citrus tree, lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit...it didn't matter, it was on all of them:


In all the years I've been venturing out to garden centers and nurseries, I've never seen this on any plant.  Very odd.  Needless to say, since our farm is outside of Harris County, we couldn't buy any citrus.  

When we got back home, I had to look it up and see what it was all about.  I found THIS ARTICLE.  There is a disease called Citrus Greening that is going on.  In July, they apparently banned ALL citrus sales to keep it from spreading (glad we weren't citrus hunting in June).  Now they are for sale again but you can't leave the county with them.

They even want's people to 'report' suspicious plants at the website below:

http://www.saveourcitrus.org
I don't think we will take the chance on getting any this season.  We want a lemon, a lime, an orange and a grapefruit but since they are so sensitive to freezes, I think we'll get them in the Spring after danger of frost and hopefully after this has passed.  We'll just check out next year's crop when they get shipped to the nurseries.

On the upside, we did get some more ornamental plants/bushes to add 'color' to the farm, more on that in another post.

Hope you had a great weekend!