Thursday, November 21, 2019

ROCK GARDEN FLOWERS INSPIRATION THURSDAY

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!


Saw this while doing a flowerbed search.  Those who have followed the blog for a while know that we had a bunch of large rocks at the house that we moved to the farm before we sold the house (in town).

They are more on less scattered around the property in a few piles. Side note, I need to find a new place for them all in one spot sometime before it gets hot again. Anyway, this is kind of a neat idea for a focal point somewhere in the landscaping when we get new beds around the house (whatever form that takes). We like the flowers growing in between, kind of looks low maintenance but looks can be deceiving.  

Be inspired!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

FOUND A FIG TREE BUT...

I finally got a fig tree for the yard.  We have one I've blogged about and we loved the few figs we got but it wasn't planted correctly and is in the shade so it hasn't really grown.

So the other day, I found a really nice size one at the garden center.  It was normally $35 but marked down to $10, good deal.  I carefully loaded it into the car and headed to the farm.

But on the way...


I had to stop suddenly and it flipped forward and the taller branch hit the top and snapped off.  The tree is still good, albeit a bit shorter than it was...


When life hands you lemons, make a lemon tree.  At least something like that in this case, ha.  Here is the branch.  I snipped off the branches, sliced the bottom diagonally and put it into a small vase with water.


This is about a week later and it's already rooting and the green is still green and actually starting to grow.  I have heard that it was easy to root a fig tree cutting and, so far anyway, it's doing what it's supposed to do.

Anyone ever root a fig tree and get a viable tree in the long run?

Monday, November 18, 2019

FREEZE UPDATE

So we went to the farm Saturday.  It was cool but beautiful.  Clear skies.  The ground was wet, we had about an inch of rain on Thursday.

The coldest we could tell that it got out there was 28.  The pipes were fine, thankfully.


The grass is now officially dormant with that cold blast so this last gasp of green will soon become only shades of beige and brown.


This is the vital "Texas Lilac".  It's done for the year but thankfully even though it looks like this it comes back just fine next year.  I'll prune this back in February or so.


Here are the two banana plants.  The cardboard box we put around them worked great, they are fine.  We folded up the box and left it behind there for easy access next time we need it.

Now the citrus trees were a different story.  When I went behind the house to look at them, two were still covered just fine but one (the lime) was uncovered.  In fact the cover was just gone.  Had no idea where it was.  We were sitting on the porch taking a break when we noticed this...


I said "is that the cover?"  Sure enough, it had blown off in the wind and was about 2 acres away from where it started.  Oh well, at least we didn't lose it forever.


This is the lime tree...the leaves were a bit brown.  This is the one that lost the cover so it must have come off after the freeze (there were storms later in the week).  If it had been uncovered at 28 degrees I think it would have been frozen. All was OK.


This is the orange tree...it had a few more frostbitten leaves but still overall it was OK as well. It remained completely covered the entire time.


This is the lemon tree...it was also completely covered and the base was wrapped nicely but I think the covering touched the leaves and many of them were damaged.  We hope it comes back.  I shook the tree and most of those "burned" leaves fell off.  I checked the branches and they were all still green and looked OK.  So we're hoping it's just cosmetic damage and nothing that will keep it from coming back in the Spring.  

I spent Sunday doing some research on protecting citrus trees and placed a few orders for some stuff.  New covers (that will actually cover the entire bed), one strand of old school style C9 outdoor Christmas lights for each tree, extension cords, a timer, some bamboo poles, and some tennis balls (what? more on all this when I get it all set up).


There are no freezes in the next 10 days so we're good for now.  This weekend I'll work on getting the rest of the things we need (some pipe covers, etc).  

The next time we are expecting a hard freeze, I'll make sure everything is ready to go.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, November 15, 2019

KETCHUP STORAGE FOOD DEBATE

It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:


OK, this is a no-brainer for us.  We always keep ours in the fridge.  Growing up it was in the fridge.  But one day at a restaurant, we asked our waiter about the ketchup on the table and he said it stays out on the tables all the time.  We came home, did some Internet checking and sure enough, there is a debate about it.

Some people say they don't like cold ketchup on hot fries so it make sense to keep it in the pantry or a cabinet.  Apparently the general rule of thumb is to err on the side of caution and just keep it cold.  But there are many who still say it's no big deal to leave it out and just stick it in the cabinet.  Some say they leave their mustard out too!

So...where do you keep your ketchup?


Thursday, November 14, 2019

WAGON WHEEL FLOWERS INSPIRATION THURSDAY

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 want one of these wagon wheels in the worst way.  We know, sounds weird. Why do we want one?  To do something like this.  Just a cool little piece of landscaping art.  It's fun, it's whimsical and it's kind of neat to see.  Would be pretty simple to execute a design like this as well.

In these parts however, we'd be hard pressed to find a wheel like this.  They just aren't something that common here.  We've heard they are more common up North and East but even then we're guessing they are probably expensive. 

Be inspired!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

FREEZE PREP

As this posts, we just had our coldest night of the season.  They forecast low of mid to upper 20's.  After I get home tonight, I'll update this with the "official" low.  The current record low for this date goes back to 1907.


At the farm I tried to get things ready for the freeze.  There was enough warning to have time to get done what I needed.  I dug out the freeze cloth box with the bungee cords.  We used these a couple of years ago for the citrus that was behind the garden.  They are round openings at the bottom and the thought was they would go around the square boxes.

Of the 11 fruit trees we have now behind the house, the only ones that need to be protected are the three citrus trees.  The apple, pear, plum and peach trees are all fine into the single digits or even below zero.  Barring a "Day After Tomorrow" scenario, we won't ever have to worry about those kinds of temps.


Now the plan, as I had mentioned, was to drape them over the boxes themselves.  Alas, since they were round openings they didn't work (the old square peg in a round hole conundrum, ha).  So I had to improvise.  I took mulch and mounded it up around the base of each tree.  Then I put the covers on.  I used some coat hangers to try to keep the bags off as much of the foliage as possible.  Then I just tied them off around the trunks.

All we can do is hope for the best.


On the porch, I put this box around the banana trees.  I also draped a sheet over the top.  They should be OK.  2nd Family is going to come remove the sheet after the cold snap.  I told them to just leave the cardboard on so they leaves didn't get any burn from the chilly wind.

As for the rest of the plants on the porch, they are all freeze tolerant.


I packed up the garden trellises that I should have done last Summer and put them in the mower shed.


I disconnected all the hoses around the house and garden and removed the manifolds like this one. I did however forget to wrap this pipe. 


 We're worried but 2nd Family said they would get up there and wrap it if necessary.  The original forecast was 30, maybe 29 and even that was only for about 3 hours.  That's not a big deal and we don't have to worry about pipes in that weather.  But then last night as the new weather models came in they were showing mid 20's possible.  As I typed this last night, it was 30 at the farm.  Hoping they are wrong and it stays around the 28 or 29 range.

Stay warm!

Monday, November 11, 2019

PROJECTS FINISHED

It was a bit cold this weekend, but beautiful.  I finished the projects that I needed to finish...

Raised bed garden
The garden is done for the season and ready for next year's planting...

Raised bed orchard
Side note, we've always liked this view.  It's the side of the house as you walk toward the back and you first see the orchard.

Backyard orchard
I also got the orchard beds cleaned up as best as possible.  I cleaned out the weeds and grass inside of each one and then I edged all around them.  It looks neat and tidy now which is what we wanted.

We really need to figure out a way to prevent that next year.  I don't mind edging around them, that comes with the territory, but the grass in the beds, not sure how to prevent that.  We had all of that beautiful mulch down a few months ago and then it was filled with grass.  I don't know if weed block cloth and nothing else is what we need?  Or if being black it would heat up the soil? 

After last weekend's spiders and snake this weekend was free of creatures.  Well, let's be clear, it was free in the sense that I didn't SEE any of them and that's a good thing.

Tomorrow, the freeze prepping...


We would also like to give a big shout out today to all the veterans who have served our country.  You have sacrificed so much for the nation. Thank you for your service and thank you also to all who serve now.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

GOOD BREAD AND NAPPING

Hope you are having a good weekend.  It's been a cold one here but clear and beautiful.

Platinum sourdough instant yeast
A week or so ago I bought a new (new to us anyway) product for 2nd Man.  It's a package of instant sourdough yeast.  I found it at HEB but you can buy it on Amazon here: Platinum Instant Sourdough Yeast

So he decided to make bread on this cold weekend.

Homemade sourdough
He made two loaves and they came out very nicely.  Crispy crust...

Sourdough bread and butter
...and had a great crumb inside with nice holes from the bubbles.  The sourdough flavor was good (though subtle) and we have been eating on it all weekend with butter.  It's very good.

Sleeping kitty
And what else to do on a cold day?  Sleep we have slept and of course that's what Hobart is currently doing.  Sleeping on his afghan (yes, this thrift store find has become HIS preferred sleeping blanket).  Of course it was placed in the sunshine coming through the windows.

Life is good.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, November 8, 2019

BURGER STACKING FOOD DEBATE

It's time for the "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...LOL!

This week, the burning question is:



Apparently this is another thing that we didn't realize was so polarizing.  Apparently it started after emojis were released that showed cheese both under the meat patty and of course over the top.


So we did some checking and it caused a debate on the Internet with people taking up both sides. 

If the cheese is on top of the meat, it melts and drips down the sides of the meat while holding the top ingredients in place.  Others say that if you put it on the bottom, the heat still melts it but the cheese keeps the juices from soaking into the bottom bun.

An interesting perspective but 2nd Man and I have always done the cheese on top of the meat and then condiments on top of this.  Of course, then lettuce over or under?  I guess the debate could be on several aspects of burger "design".

So...how do you stack your burgers?


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

BALL HAS A NEW COLOR

Was in the store at lunch the other day and saw these...


Ball Jars brand has a new color.  It's called Collector's Edition and is Aqua Blue.  At first I thought "what's the difference with this vs the blue they came out with a few years ago?" 


 Then I went back and looked at the blue from then and compared it to this aqua.  

\
Definitely a difference.  I think when they are all in the box they seem bluer but these are definitely an aqua green just like old school originals from about 100 years ago.  Another difference, these have a galvanized style finish lid and seal like the originals and most differently, they have the original flat bottom style like the old jars.

Hmm...since we have sets of the previous colors, purple, blue, green, etc, well I guess I'm just going to have to get a set or two of these to add to the collection for future use.


Monday, November 4, 2019

CAPTAIN 1ST MAN AND THE WINTER GARDEN

It was as near a perfect weekend as we get around these parts.  Cool, breezy, low humidity.  I was psyched for the day's adventure.

Raised beds
The main goal was to work in the garden and close it up for the Winter.  We aren't going to have a Fall garden so I had just been waiting for a non rainy and non 90 degree day to work on it.  The first thing I do is pull up all the weeds and grass and then I turn the soil with a shovel and rake it smooth before adding a bag of soil blend.

I got these four raked up and emptied of grass and weeds.  This is a work in progress photo.

Overgrown bed
Then I turned to the two hardest beds.  The front two were full.  Nothing had been planted in them so the weeds took over.  This one had these tall weeds of some sort growing, the one next to it had mostly grass.  This photo was after I had already pulled up about half of them.  I remembered "oh I need to take a picture" and so I did.  Then I proceeded to finish pulling it all.  It was nice and empty and might I remind you, all DONE BY HAND.  

Then I got the shovel and rake out so I could turn the soil before adding a new bag.

I turned the soil a bit so I got the rake and started raking it.  As I pulled the rake toward me...

SNAKE!
...THIS POPPED UP!

I dropped the rake and screamed quietly ran backed away from the snake.

I stood there contemplating this turn of events and how best to handle it.  

Do I try to kill it with a shovel?
What kind of snake is it?  
Do I just give up for the day?

Raised bed invaders
As I stood there looking at the obstacles that life can sometimes put in our way, I saw something moving along the edge of the same raised bed where the snake was.  Do you see it?  

Here, let me enlarge it for you...

Black widow spider
Yep.

That's a BLACK WIDOW SPIDER.  

What is it about this raised bed?  Is it trying to kill me or something?

Giving up for the day was looking better and better.

Then I realized this is life at the farm, it's the things we'll have to adapt to and figure out a solution.

The spider solution was easy.  It died shortly after the photo was taken.  The snake turned out to be a rat snake, the most common ones we have out there.  Not venomous.  But still, how to handle?  

I looked around and saw the old galvanized trashcans from a prior potato growing experiment.  I grabbed one, took the lid off and put it in the bed near the snake.

Rat snake
This is the snake heading in the general direction of the can.  I held the rake in one hand and the trash can lid in the other...


It looked somewhat like this*

*2nd Man tells me to make sure I clarify it looked nothing like this.

The snake opened its mouth at the rake a couple of times but it finally slithered in...

Snake in a can
...here it is in the bottom of the can right before I put the lid on.  I then carried it to a distant part of the property, took the lid off and tipped it over.  It slithered into the brush and disappeared.

I took a well deserved break to allow my heart rate to return to normal and went back to the garden.

Raised bed done
Here is the snake/spider bed after I finally finished it.  I worked on the other beds and I am almost done but I need another weekend to complete them all.  I have a lot of dried grass and dead weeds to take up from the ground and make it look somewhat better but the hard work was done.  

I decided to go work on the fruit tree beds while I had the necessary tools already out and my heart rate was already high.  

I started at one end and edged them all then started pulling weeds.  I got about half of them done and then I saw this...

Black widow

Nope.

That's it.

Done.

Time to wrap it up for the day.

(FYI this black widow spider also died shortly after the photo was taken).

As pulse pounding as it was, it was still a good weekend.  We had errands to run Sunday but I got a lot done on Saturday.  This coming weekend should be both days and I can get finished up for the Winter.

I don't like spiders and snakes...
(wasn't that a song?)

Saturday, November 2, 2019

FALL BACK


If you are in an area that observes it, don't forget, we get an extra hour of sleep in the morning.  Set your clocks back before you go to bed.  Or just follow the handy guide above, LOL!

I'll have more of an update later this weekend, today was productive but also had a few scary encounters.

Stay tuned...

Friday, November 1, 2019

OPEN OR CLOSED FRIDAY DEBATE

Normally on Friday, we do a "Friday Food Debate" where we tackle some of the burning questions of the culinary world...but this week we'll expand to another random fun question.

This week, the burning question is:



This topic came up and my office recently.  We were all talking about sleeping at night and the topic of the door came up.  Some of the people at the office slept with he door shut always, others slept with it open.  I had to think about it for a moment.  Having a cat (probably a dog too) means you most likely have to leave the door open so as to avoid nighttime and/or morning drama, ha!

So I thought back to when I didn't have a cat and I slept with the bedroom door open.  2nd Man said he always left the door open too, even when he lived alone.  Now of course we've always had a pet since we first met and so the door has always been open.

We realize there are pets, kids, maybe roommates or relatives and that can affect decisions as well.  But in general, all things considered...

How do you like to sleep?  With the bedroom door open or closed?



Thursday, October 31, 2019

HAPPY HALLOWEEN 2019


It's Halloween.

Happy Halloween to you all!

Had a debate with a dear friend.
She pronounces it:  HOLLOW-een.
We've always pronounced it: HAL-oween.

I'm not sure if this is a regional thing or what.  

So how do you pronounce it?


And sorry to our Houston Astros who came so close to winning the World Series.  But hey, we've now gone two times in the three years.  I think we're on the right track for sure.  


And since it's technically "Inspiration Thursday", here is a porch we like, love the bats flying across the front door.