Friday, March 24, 2017


Is this what they call a "mad cow"?

I snapped a pic of this cow last weekend at the farm.  I just thought it was so funny.  

Maybe she was having a bad day?  

Actually, she was very gentle and curious about me, despite this angry stance...but she did make me laugh out loud.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Last week on Inspiration Thursday, we posted a pretty color palette of purple and yellow.  Several of you identified them as azaleas which of course we should have noticed (they have azaleas all over Houston this time of year).  So we were "Googling" pictures of azaleas and found this.  

This is such an amazing blaze of color, in the woods no less.  Azaleas like a bit of shade, from what we've read, morning dappled sun and afternoon shade is good.  We have JUST the spot for something like this (I'm in the process of getting it cleared now).  Would be so pretty to see when they are in bloom.  We love the random nature of their placement here.  Anyone grown azaleas?  

Be inspired!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


I was able to work this weekend and get the initial finishing touches on them.  We are very happy with how they came out.

Backyard raised bed orchard
Here they are, freshly mowed and edged around.  Don't they look neat and tidy?  The mowing was so easy, I planned it so that the mower fits easily between them all with just a couple of passes.  The best part is, since they are 12" tall, it turns out that is just the right height to keep out the grass clippings as I mow around them.  That's what I call a win win!

Fruit trees in raised beds
They also have their soil topped off.  I brought out eight more bags, 2 cu ft each, of raised bed soil, one bag for each bed.  

I put some slack in the twine as well but we are thinking of removing it completely next weekend.  We don't think it's needed,  With all the soil in place, the trees are pretty firm and not in danger of tipping over. 

We'd like to do some companion planting in them but from what I've read, it seems like we should let them spread their roots and develop that without competing for soil space right now.  Need to read up some more on that.

Mini raised bed orchard
Here is an angle I don't think I've posted before.  This is from the other side of the yard looking back toward where I stood to take the other two pictures at the top of this post.  We have eight fruit trees, 2 varieties each of apple, pear, peach and plum.  It's SUCH a relief now that it's all done to see them looking like we imagined they would when we planned it all out almost two years ago!

And now...we wait...

Monday, March 20, 2017


This weekend was a lot of things, updates on those in the coming days.
The big thing was to go ahead and get the garden started.  We're much earlier this year than last so hopefully that will help with a much better harvest.

I got all the stuff I needed, the cages, the straw, the irrigation supplies and of course the plants (there's that Rubbermaid cart, I LOVE that thing!).  I went to a local feed store and scored some of the veggie varieties that we wanted.

The beds were ready from a couple of weeks ago when I turned the soil and added to it so the first thing I did was plant the vegetable and herbs. Then I laid down the soaker hose and tested it.  It worked (phew).  I hooked it up to our timer so everything is being watered while we aren't there during the week.  

Of course, the rainy season is coming so for a period of time this Spring, I can turn that off.  Save the water!

Raised beds with tomato cages
Then I put the cages over the plants.  We also love our red cages, ha.  
The last thing to do was to put down the straw...

4x8 raised bed
I left space in this bed to make it easy to add some more next weekend (might plant seeds here for the root vegetables).  There are two Ichiban eggplants at one end and two TAM jalapeños at the other end...

Tomato bed
Two tomatoes here I this one.  These are two new varieties for us, chosen after research online (and from dear friends with experience).  They are the best for our area/climate, so we shall see!

4x4 raised bed
These are most of the herbs we'll use this season.  2nd Man makes a wonderful chicken with lemon thyme, and if the basil gets as big as the one last year, we'll have lots of basil for pesto and pasta sauces (that's why I put it in the middle).  Of course we use oregano and parsley and chives all the time and we have a rosemary bush on the porch in a container so that's it for herbs.

Because I combined the eggplant into the pepper bed (last minute change in plans), that has freed up a raised bed. 

Raised bed garden 
I still have to plant the squash bed (have the squash but just ran out of irrigation soaker hose).  We might forgo the Spring greens though, it's getting hot quicker than expected and greens might be too late so we'd go straight into planting two okra plants.

That will still leave us with one empty bed.  Hmm...might put up the red trellis and try some cucumbers?

Let the growing begin!

Saturday, March 18, 2017


It's a big weekend with THE most perfect weather we could ask for...and the list of things to do is long.

Mow for the first time this season.

Edge, also for the first time this season.

Add soil to fruit tree beds.

And get some veggies and herbs planted in the garden.

All that should make for a full weekend and I'm looking forward to every minute of it.

Hope your weekend is off to a great start!

Friday, March 17, 2017


"J" from 2nd Family sent us this picture.  She said she laughed because there was a third duck here but he moved before she could get a picture.  

So she snapped this one and sent it to us. 

She said she thought this was the best she could do to get all her ducks in a row...LOL!!!

...and that reminded me of this.  

Sometimes, this is so true...

Thursday, March 16, 2017


Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Purple and yellow flower garden, image via Pinterest
Wee have no idea what these flowers are but the reason we saved this photo was because of the color combination.  So often colors are similar or there are reds and oranges and and blues and many other colors in a flower garden or planting area and that's pretty of course.  But only putting two colors together like the person did here is different and really nice.

Who knew purple and yellow and green look great together?

Oh wait!

This could be a Mardi Gras garden!

Be inspired!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Well, after much soul searching and looking at lists of things we need to do this year, we have decided to hold off on bees this season.  

Bee on flower, see you next year
As much as I want to jump back into it, I need to devote the right time to it and be able to make sure their new homes are perfect in every way possible.

The original plan was to spend the weekends this Winter getting the new bee yard set up and rearranged.  But working on the orchard, in between unexpectedly rainy and freezing weekends, took longer than planned.  Now it's already time to start working on the garden and if we ordered bees, it would be time to pick them up at the end of March first of April.  

As such, we haven't had a chance yet to relocate the hives and we wanted to have some flowers and perennials planted for them too.  As for things to do, we still have to work on the flower beds around the house and outside of garden, a new fence needs to go up, we need to do some work on the house itself, a couple of big clearing projects to do as well.  There is just a lot to get done and we don't want to run out of time to do all of that either.

It's just another year.  That will be here before we know it.  Heck, this time last year I had just put in the second hive (which subsequently succumbed to CCD).

Now I can trim trees around the future 'new' location of the hives and use power tools that make lots of noise without bothering the bees.  

Monday, March 13, 2017


Well, with the rainy and cold weekend keeping us inside, we have more or less planned our garden for this season...

2017 Spring/Summer Raised Bed Garden
We'll be rotating crops around from last season and for the first time, we're going to try opening up the two remaining beds on this side of the garden and have something growing in all of them.  


We're going to have one bed with two tomato plants, two varieties that do best in our climate.


For now, we're limiting ourselves to what we use most, basil, lemon thyme, oregano and chives (we already have rosemary growing on the porch).


The large bed will be two jalapeños (more jelly coming soon!) and a poblano pepper as well as a progressive planting of carrots, beets, radishes and turnips.


Two Asian eggplants as they grow best in our area.


While the weather is cooler, we'll do spring greens (lettuce, spinach, etc) until it gets too hot and then change it out to two okra plants for the Summer heat. 


We are going to plant yellow squash and for the first time, zucchini.


We are also going to use the space around the plants in each bed to put in other seeded plants, extra herbs, and even marigolds, trying our hand at some companion planting in them this time around.

Harvest basket of veggies and herbs
This was a weekend harvest a couple of seasons back, so we are hoping for at least this much and more this time around.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Currently wet and 49 degrees!   

2nd Family said we have had 4" of rain and counting (over the last few days).  
The driveway is flooded and they said their ducks are having a blast swimming in the front yard, LOL!

So, 2nd Man and I have been looking at pictures and planning.  On days like this, we look through old photos we've taken and see what inspires us to do something.  We've decided that since we have the stars for the barn (soon to be painted!) we will need a weathervane.  We've posted before about weathervanes on an Inspiration Thursday post and so after some research online, we believe we have found one that we like.  

More info on that coming soon!

Since yesterday was a lazy day of rest and relaxing in town, and today it's flooded and far too wet to go to the farm, we're finalizing our garden plans.  Original thought was to get it started this weekend...good thing we didn't actually get to do that because there is the possibility of frost this week!

Hope your weekend is going well!

Friday, March 10, 2017


A couple of weekends ago, I had to send the Zen Machine to the dealer for maintenance (an annual thing) plus he had a few issues, time for new blades and the wiring harness was getting worn and not charging the battery.  They have free pick up and delivery so I pushed it to the driveway (it wouldn't start, the wiring issue) and then left it for them to pick up the next day.  

Then it rained and the grass grew, and grew... 

Thankfully, here it is back home yesterday!  
My boss let me take off to meet the delivery people there so I could let them in and get the Zen Machine back.  New blades, tuned up, washed and they even filled up the tank with fuel.  It's like a new machine!  

But alas, the picture of the Zen Machine before this one was taken at ground level...I pointed the camera up and this was the sky overhead.  

Storms were coming soon!

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
And this was on my desk at work.  One of my sweet coworkers brought this from her yard.  It's a branch of flowers from her Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow bush at home.  She said it is huge and covered in flowers. The plant gets its name from the fact that the flowers change color daily, and all are blooming at varying times so the plant ends up with all the colors on it at the same time.

Wow, do they ever have have a scent too!
Might be nice to have some of these at the farm.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm.  
Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

We love flowers.  A lot of our inspiration photos we save involve color from flowers.  The added blaze of color in an all green yard is just always so beautiful.  Here is an amazing flower bed in the middle of a yard.  I told 2nd Man we should carve out something like this sometime.  I'm not sure I can identify all the flowers in this picture (feel free to add them in the comments) but we like how it's just a strip in the middle of the yard.  Not against a fence or along a house or driveway, it's just a patch of flowers.  

Of course, I know it's a lot of work but hey, it doesn't hurt to plan for the future.  

Be inspired!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Here's another thing 2nd Man made with what we had on hand...

1 lb sausage
8 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
8 Grand's biscuits
Seasonings to taste

It's not anything completely new, it's more just a "necessity is the mother of cooking inspiration" moment. He looked in the fridge to see what we had...

He browned one pound of breakfast sausage in a skillet...

Then he put 8 eggs, one can of evaporated milk, dried parsley, salt and pepper.  You could put any seasonings in at this point that you like (garlic powder, onion flakes, red pepper flakes for heat, etc)...

Whisk all until incorporated....

This is a can of Grand's Flaky Biscuits.  This was the 8 in a can size.  
He then cut each biscuit into 8 pieces...

Grease a baking dish...

Spread the biscuits around the bottom in a more or less even layer...

Cover with about 1/3 of the cheese...

Cover the top of that with the browned sausage..

Sprinkle on another 1/3 of the cheese...

Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in the dish...

Add the rest of the cheese (the last 1/3) to the top of it all and pop it in a preheated 350 degree oven...

Bake uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes, depending on your oven (you want to make sure the biscuits are fully cooked).  After removing the dish from the oven, let it sit out for about 10 minutes to let everything firm up 
(if you can wait that long of course).

Breakfast Biscuit Casserole
Then slice it up and enjoy!

It's a great base for anything else you want to put in it.  Throw in leftover veggies, mushrooms, peppers, etc, or add some bacon or ham.  You could even use different types of cheese.  


Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Saturday my only goal was to get the fruit trees in their raised beds...

...but as you can see, I was fighting against the elements.  This was the sky when I first got there.  A race against time, ha.  

The first thing I noticed, and should have remembered would happen, was that the soil I put in over the last few weekends had settled.  But no problem, I had a plan.  I started by turning the soil and digging a bit of a hole.

Then I pulled each tree out of the plastic container it had been in and fluffed up the roots.  I set the root ball down into the hole.  This is where I had to improvise a plan.  Because of the settling of the soil, I did not plant the trees all the way down to the ground level underneath the raised bed because it would put the graft line of the tree below the current soil line and the sides of the bed.  So I had to kneel down and look to see that the graft would be as close as possible to above the eventual soil level.

Then I mounded up the soil around it, pulling soil from the sides of the bed.  It's hard to tell in this photo but the soil mound in the middle is as high as the I'll just have to add soil around each tree, level it off and the bed will be full again, giving the roots as much room as possible to "do their thing".

Raised bed with fruit tree
I got them all planted in between light rain showers. Lastly, I put some screws on each side to be able to temporarily tie them off so they don't blow over in any storms this week when the soil is not as full as it should be.  I need to find a more permanent way to do this that is safer for the tree
(don't want the twine to dig into the bark).  

Any suggestions?

Raised beds with fruit trees
This was the best picture I could get of them before the rain hit, not to mention, an overcast day never lets you take the best pictures.

We now have eight fruit trees:

Two Apple - Dorsett Golden and Ein Shemer
Two Peach - Florida King and Rio Grande 
Two Plum - Bruce and Methley
Two Pear - Kieffer and Orient

It was raining pretty steadily and I had to get to the car to get the camera and other items put up so they wouldn't get wet.  Then I packed up and left for the day.  I wanted to do some other things in the garden as well, but really my only goal was the orchard.  

It's funny, we feel weird calling it an "orchard", but we figure that's the best way to refer to it when identifying something by location on the property.  

Now we wait...