Saturday, January 31, 2015

GARDENERS WEATHER BIBLE BOOK GIVEAWAY

It's time for a giveaway!
Enter once in comments below, giveaway ends ended Sunday, February 8, at 11:59pm.

Gardener's Weather Bible by Sally Roth
Found this book at a used book store recently and picked up two copies, one for our library at the farm and a copy to give away.  

Here is the Amazon link if you'd like to more information on the book:


The book is by author Sally Roth.  It includes great tips on how to use the weather to your advantage in the garden year round and learn how weather affects everything.  For example, when to protect from frost and when not to worry about it...learn how to listen to bird songs for upcoming weather...even how plants can help predict the weather.


As always (and for those new to the blog) the rules are as follows:

We'd like you to be a friend of the farm" (we love having followers) but that's not required.  Please leave a comment here on this thread letting us know that you want to be entered.  Remember, be sure your name or your user name is on your comment so that we can have something to write down on the slips of paper when we have the drawing.

The contest will run for one week, until 11:59pm, next Sunday night, the end of the weekend.  At that time, we'll randomly pick one winner, post the results  and the winner will need to email us with their shipping address at that time.  

We'll ship your book directly to you within a few days.

Sorry, due to overseas shipping cost of such a heavy book, giveaway is only open to US and Canada residents.

One entry per person.

Thanks and good luck!

(leave your request below, we don't reply to the comments here so we can just have a list of the names entered)

CONTEST HAS NOW ENDED, WINNER ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK

Friday, January 30, 2015

RANDOM FRIDAY MUSINGS

Astrodome in Houston, TX
Recently, we went to an event that was near the Astrodome.  I always love seeing this old stadium, often dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World.  There is a lot of controversy here in Houston about whether to tear it down or turn it into something else (they built a larger, new stadium next to it about 10 years ago).  Call us nostalgic, but we vote for turning it into something else.  One option discussed is a gigantic indoor park with gardens.  That would be really cool.

Tonka Truck for real
 No, we didn't buy a truck but how neat is this Ford F150 special conversion?  It's a real life Tonka Truck!  While it would be awesome as a farm truck, alas the price tag limits THAT idea!



I always like seeing plant arrangements in displays and parking lot planting areas.  These were colorful and pretty in the middle of January.



For those who remember dear, sweet Granny, over at Annie's Kitchen Garden, her daughter Amy has posted an update on the family and how they've been doing since Granny's passing.  Click HERE to read the update on her beautiful family.  Granny is still missed in the garden blogging world.  

While we've enjoyed unseasonably warm weather of late (almost 80 the other day!), cold weather is coming back...and along with that, rain.  Saturday is supposed to be nice(ish) but then Sunday is 80% chance of rain.


COUCH SLEEPING, FELINE FRIDAY

Back of couch sleeping 
Sometimes we wonder, do cats just roam around until they can't hold their eyes open any longer and then just go to sleep wherever they happen to be?  

Sometimes they can find the most interesting places.  This is Hobart sleeping on the back of a small couch we used to have.  It was a pretty steep incline...and not very comfortable, which is why we got rid of it, but I digress.  Somehow though, he made it work.  I think he might be cheating though, the other front leg is hooked in with claws on the back side, ha.  


More later this afternoon!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

VINE COVERED ARBOR, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Vine covered arbor, image courtesy of Southernliving.com
We are really fascinated by this arbor.  We have the entrance to our garden of course, with a gate, where we could put something like this, but I'm afraid it might be a bit overwhelming.  2nd Man suggested an arbor like this as an "entrance" to an area of the property...almost like creating a secret garden entrance to a special area.  

That's a great idea.  In fact, if we could create several of these someday, they could be scattered around different places on the farm to create all sorts of doorways to 'other plant worlds', ha.  It would be a great way to walk from one area into another area.  Can't be too hard I would hope?  Build/create an arbor and then plant on one or both sides?  Someday!

Be inspired!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

QUICK AND EASY PHO RECIPE

One dish we love is Pho.  It's a Vietnamese noodle soup with seasonings, veggies, herbs and meat, usually beef or chicken.  It looks complicated when you get it at a restaurant but we make a pretty quick and easy version.



First, we get some rice noodles and put a few ounces in a large bowl.  Boiling water 'cooks' them.  We top that with some chicken bouillon powder (sometimes we use beef) and a few seasonings.  These can be whatever you like, garlic power, onion powder, parsley, etc.



Next, we add some vegetables.  This is actually a shredded mix that's already done at the grocery store, a broccoli and carrot slaw.  It's a way to make this even more quick and easy.




Then we add some meat.  This is frozen (but thawed), thinly sliced, cooked meatballs (homemade).  We always keep some in the freezer for quick meals and this is one reason.  We use about five meatballs per bowl, sliced up.  You could also use cooked chicken or beef strips, or skip it and make it vegetarian.



On top of the meat, we add some sliced up green onions, sprouts and cilantro.  Again, very quick and easy to chop up ingredients.  Also pretty inexpensive.  They are really to taste, whatever you like.




We sprinkle on a few more pieces of shredded carrots and broccoli for some more color and a bit more crunch.



While all the ingredients are being put in the bowl, we have a kettle of water coming to a boil on the stove.  Once it's boiling, we pour it over the ingredients in the bowl and fill it up to the top. 


Everything needs to sit for a few minutes to soften up of course.  We are lucky, we have small plates that cover the top of the bowls, but you could use Saran wrap or even foil.  This keeps the heat in and helps everything steep and soften up.

After about 6 or 7 minutes, it's all done!  Here, we sprinkled some micro-greens on top and a splash of soy sauce.  In another variation, we use a squirt of lime juice and fresh cilantro leaves.  It's really whatever you like.  Sriracha sauce is a great addition, as well as Oyster sauce.  All of this could also be put into a pan on the stove and brought to a boil but hey, we like this because it's quick and easy after a long day at work.  Who needs Ramen noodles when you can have this?  Sure, it's probably not authentic Pho, but we love it and it's oh so good on a cold evening. It's healthy, inexpensive and definitely filling.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BANANA SPIDER

Avert your eyes if spiders bother you...

You have been warned...


Saw this lady (the females are always the larger, more colorful of the species), building a web near the mower shed.  I just had to get a closeup picture...

Banana Spider
Definitely intimidating!

She is called a Banana Spider, also known as a Golden Orb Spider.  While I did not put my hand TOO close, she is about the size of my palm.  I didn't show it in person to 2nd Man, instead I showed him the pictures.  He looked and went "what the hell?  It's like we live in the rain forest!!"  

We don't mind sharing the property with her and as scary as they look, they are not poisonous.  A bite can cause irritation and pain like a bee sting, but it only lasts a day or two.  In rare cases it can cause an allergic reaction but for the most part, it's not terribly aggressive.  The upside is that they do catch and kill fruit flies and other bugs.  

What about you?
Do spiders creep you out or do you (perhaps reluctantly?) share your lives with them?

Monday, January 26, 2015

CLEANED THE HOUSE SIDING


FINALLY!
The first thing to scratch off "the list"

Siding with mildew
A while back, I asked for info on cleaning the house siding.  It was one of those projects that we kept putting on the back burner, especially as it got hotter and hotter in the Summer.  To be quite honest, it was the back of the house, no one would see it except us, so it wasn't that important.  But now that I have a pocket of time, I chose to tackle it.  I decided to just try some diluted bleach and water in a spray bottle.  Above is before...

Clean siding
...and here is after.

Not too bad (if I do say so myself, ha).  I tried using vinegar but that didn't work as well and required much more scrubbing.  I didn't want to use a lot of bleach so I just mixed some in a spray bottle with water, put on some gloves, got a scrub brush and a bucket of fresh water for rinsing and started.  It wasn't difficult at all and it cleaned up nicely.  I even went around the house scrubbing in other spots and now the whole thing is white and clean looking.  One of the perils of a white or light colored house I suppose.

We're hoping that will be it for this season.  It was mostly on the North side of the house, which of course gets less sun.  It's nice to have it clean again, just in time for Spring.  

What about you?
Do you clean the outside of your house often?


Sunday, January 25, 2015

OWN YOUR FARM IN CANADA, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY



This poster image comes from Canada and dates just after WWI.  This was part of a marketing campaign where Canada tried to increase immigration from Britain by bringing young migrants to the country.  They offered free passage, good wages, farm instruction, and assistant to buy their own farm. 

Interesting that they pushed this type of immigration to create farms across the country.  I wonder how many young men took them up on this offer?

Hope you are having a good weekend, we have had a productive one.  Sadly, the ground is still SO wet from yet more rain so not much being done in the garden to prep for Spring but that can come in the next few weeks.  But we have crossed a couple of things off THE LIST, ha.  

More later this evening!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

INTO THE WOODS

Anything is possible in the woods
Do you ever see something in the shadows that makes you do a double take?   I was roaming around looking at things as I like to do because in the Winter, the property looks different because so much vegetation is gone.  On this particular day however, I noticed something different.  When I glanced over to this patch of trees, I swear I thought it was someone sitting on the ground...then as my eyes focused, it looked a bit like a statue, perhaps the bust of a head and shoulders like you might see in a museum.

All I can say is I'm glad I didn't see this at night!

Off to the farm to see what we can get done.  Cold again, and we had a little over an inch of rain the last few days so I'm sure the ground is even more wet than last weekend but hopefully I can roam around and get some things done.

There is that LIST that we need to start tackling...

Enjoy your weekend, updates as I can.


Friday, January 23, 2015

WARM KITTIES, FELINE FRIDAY

Warm cats
Cold weather + Comfy bed + furry bodies = best friends

Brisbane and Hobart, not the best of friends in Spring/Summer/and Fall, suddenly become best buddies on cold Winter days.  But really, who can blame them?   A comfortable bed, snuggled up all nice and warm, sleeping all day?  What's not to love, right?

More later!



Thursday, January 22, 2015

CHICKEN DOME, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Geodesic Chicken Yard, image from Etsy Sunrise Domes shop
While we won't have chickens for a couple years at least, it never stops us from roaming around on the Internet and looking at designs.  

This might be a bit too non-traditional, but there is still something interesting and fascinating about it and we could be persuaded.  It kind of reminds me of the 'berry barn' concept I used as inspiration a few months back.  One thing for sure, the chickens would be well protected from all manner of predators, on the ground and in the sky.  Check out their Etsy shop (no affiliation) as they have other really cool domes.

Hope you are having a good day, it's raining here and back to cold soon, sigh.

Be inspired!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SCORPION IN A DRAWER

Part of the routine when we get to the house after it's been closed up for a week is to walk around and check all the drawers and cabinets for creatures...

Scorpion in a drawer
So I pull open the first drawer and all is clear.  The second drawer also clear.  The third drawer, oh oh!  There was a dead (thankfully) scorpion in the biscuit cutter in 2nd Man's baking supplies drawer.  

I asked if we were having scorpion biscuits and gravy...he was not amused.

2nd Family said they have found three scorpions inside their house lately, one in the bathtub, one in a sink and one in a cabinet.  

Anyone have any scorpion advice? 


Monday, January 19, 2015

FARM PLANS 2015

It's that time of year.  

We never really like to make resolutions, we just create lists.  A resolution just makes you have some big grand plans and then you have more chance to just let them slip away without getting done.  

A list is just that.  A list.  And if you can do something and cross it off the list, that's a good thing.  This weekend, while it was nice for the first time this year, we decided to roam around and just think of everything we want to do.  

These lists may seem long and lots of work, and while some are, there are other items that can be done over a day or two.  Maybe even a rainy weekend inside will let us finish a couple.  Others will take a few weekends to accomplish.  And yet others are ongoing projects that we're always working on.  Some of the big ones are things we won't do ourselves but have to hire out (the roof for example) but still more only require a few simple tools or a can of paint.


So here is this year's list of what we want to accomplish
(in NO particular order)

OUTSIDE THE HOUSE:

Clear out the spot and create the fire pit/ring and sitting area

Dining area under Barnabas (the party tree) including table, seating and lighting

Trees/brush removed behind house and side yard Done 04/04

Add on to the lone fence post at end of driveway

Wash the mildew off the back of the house Done 1/26

New roof on house

Large barn or shed for workshop and storage  Done 2/12

Small shed for the Zen Machine and other gardening tools Done 2/13

Install the campground BBQ grills we bought

Beehives and bees Done 4/18

Water to other side of fenced garden area Done 01/16

Drip irrigation plan for all the raised beds

Amend the soil in raised beds (postponed to Fall)

Gutters on the house

Rain barrels of some type

Clean all the junk off the porch Done 2/03

Buy and plant more fruit/nut trees 

Plant vegetables and herbs in raised beds (postponed to 2016)

Plant sweet potatoes in containers with new soil blend

Build flower beds along front of garden fence

Build flower beds along front and side of house

Build corner flower bed between stairs Done 03/30

Put the muscadine grapes in the ground with trellis

Windmill (decorative)

and,


more landscaping around house and property, random and ongoing

INSIDE THE HOUSE:

New shelves in kitchen to replace open cabinets

New shelves in bathroom Done 3/07

Repair and paint water heater closet in bathroom

Replace all light bulbs inside and out with LED bulbs

Door curtains in rest of doorways in house Done 5/16

Organize mudroom/pantry

Organize craft supplies in sitting area of bedroom

New shelves above craft supplies cabinet in sitting area Done 3/07

Bulletin board wall in sitting area of bedroom

Paint several items of furniture

Curtain room divider between bedroom/craft area

Continue stocking up on emergency supplies (ongoing)

Organize the books in the bookcases

Chalkboard door in dining room


and,

more decorating projects around house, random and ongoing


Yikes, looking at them, it seems like a lot.  Some are already underway (the bees for example, they are ordered, and the hives are here, just waiting to set them up and for the bees to arrive in the Spring).  Others have parts ready and waiting to be done (i.e. we have some of the shelves, just need to put them up).  And still others, we've almost saved up for and are almost ready to pull the trigger and have someone come do it.

But hey, they either get done (hopefully of course) or they don't.  If they don't, we don't sweat the small stuff.  Our farm journey is a just that, a journey, and as with all journeys, they evolve over time.  They evolve as the weather changes things, as nature changes things, as finances change things, and of course as energy/stamina and/or health changes things.

We're going to keep referring back to this as we do them.  I'll come back and edit this post and scratch something off the list.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

BEAUTIFUL WEEKEND FINALLY

It was a beautiful weekend.  Sunny and clear and cool.  A bit cold in the house though, it was 51 degrees inside when we got there.  On Saturday it was windy...and the wind chill was making things a bit on the cool side.  

Texas sky
Today it was almost perfect.  Still blue skies and sunshine and after about three weeks of not seeing that, it was a nice, and much welcome, change.

Orange leaves and blue sky
This tree though, still thinks it's Fall I guess.  We've had mornings of frost but still, its leaves are holding on strong and they are a vibrant and pretty orange.  Against the blue sky, it was like a beautiful postcard image. 

Crawfish mound
The only downside of these weeks of rainy days was that the ground was super saturated.  I mean like walking on a muddy sponge saturated.  Above is a crawfish mound.  They had popped up everywhere that water was or had been standing.  All the wet ground meant I didn't get much yard work done...

Green grass in Winter
...and as you can see above, the yard is confused too.  Things are greening up and in some places, actually growing like Spring!  Now I"m sure we will have some pretty serious freezes in February, we always do, but it looks like Spring might perhaps be here quicker this year.  

We were able to get some things done around the house, cleaned up something things, organized some more and best of all, we made our "to do" list.  All the things we want to do this year at the farm.  

We'll share all that in the coming days.

All in all, it was a nice and productive weekend...finally!


BLOOD OR BREAD, VINTAGE POSTER SUNDAY

Blood or Bread, vintage poster image courtesy of Wikicommons
This rather dramatic poster image comes from WWI.  As usual, conservation was the theme, though with this one they went with the dramatic element.  Blood or Bread?  Save life if you eat only what you need and waste nothing.  Pretty bold statement, huh?

At the farm, more later this afternoon.  It's been a good, though still a bit cool, weekend.  At least the sun is finally out!  

Hope you are having a good one!


Saturday, January 17, 2015

AT LAST

It's warmer!

And sunny!

And best of all, no rain!



Off to the farm today, for some much needed busy time out there.  Windows will be open, curtains will be blowing in the breeze, and there will be lots of cleaning and clearing and arranging and most importantly, planning, going on.


Blue skies on a warmish Winter day.

Hope your weekend is off to a great start as well!

Updates later!


Friday, January 16, 2015

MORE FALL GARDEN VEGETABLES

When we visited 2nd Family at the farm a few weeks back, they had a pretty nice Fall garden going and I just had to get some pictures.  We promised them we'd post the pics on the blog.

Broccoli 
Above is their broccoli.  
They had 8 plants growing and they were doing very well.


Cabbages 
These of course are cabbages.  
 I believe they had 10 plants growing.

Collard Greens
These are collard greens and in the background is their lettuce, but I can't remember what kind she said it was.  They also had a bunch of spinach growing that I forgot to get a picture of.  This is all in addition to the Alaska peas that they had growing on trellises.

All in all, considering they started kind of late in the season, they ended up with a really nice Fall garden.  It gives us hope for ours next Fall since we know what grows well for them should also do nicely for us.

Now I need to go back to planning the Spring garden beds before I get too carried away with the Fall of 2015, LOL.  



CURIOUS CAT, FELINE FRIDAY


Brisbane is a curious cat.  Of course, what cat isn't when there is an open cardboard box nearby?  When the beehives were delivered, of course I couldn't wait to open the boxes.  It was like Christmas for me...and Brisbane was right there every step of the way, it was a cat Christmas for him.  Whenever we have a box, he uses his front legs to fold the flaps down and then he tries to get in.  

They are nothing if not persistent...and curious!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

SIMPLE MEALS CAN BE THE BEST

 So after a long day at work, doing something simple for dinner can fill you up just as easily as something elaborate.  

Meat and Cheese dinner plate
We threw together a plate of sliced cheeses, some summer sausage, bacon jerky with Sriracha (from Trader Joe's), crackers, carrots, a bowl of dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), and some rolled up lavash flatbread with hummus...

Berries and whipped cream
...and for dessert I took some fresh strawberries, blueberries and a couple of raspberries and layered them in wine glasses with whipped cream.  The pretty presentation made it seem like a fancy dessert but it couldn't have been easier.

Sometimes, simple is best!

THURSDAY UPDATE: Having some blogger issues, I updated software on my computer and now blogger is acting weird when I try to create a new post or reply to comments.  I hope to have it fixed Thursday evening.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

PUMPKIN GUTTER TOOL


Pumpkin Gutting Tool
Found this in the clearance bin at lunch last week.  It's a pumpkin gutter.  I've never heard of it but hey, maybe I've lived a sheltered life.


 It was only $2.48...never thought I'd find Halloween clearance after Christmas but I guess it was just waiting to be taken home by us.

Pumpkin Gutter
Next year when we do the Pie Pumpkins again, this will come in handy.  It goes in the business end of a power drill and then you just use it to remove the guts, strings and seeds.  Should be fun to try and maybe it'll be a big timesaver.

UPDATE:  They sell them at AMAZONl. Who knew?  

Here is the link:  Pumpkin Gutter & Carving Tool

Anyone ever seen one of these?