Tuesday, February 28, 2017


After going to the farm recently, we realized we didn't have any large umbrellas out there.  A few weekends before that, it was getting overcast and I was about 5 acres from the house when it started to sprinkle.  I thought I was going to beat the rain but I didn't and I had to sprint up the driveway to the house.   

That got us to thinking...what if we, or our guests, were going to or from their cars or just walking around outside and it started raining?  Or what if one of us wanted to walk to check out something and got caught in the rain like I did?  

It would be nice to have a large umbrella on hand...

...so the other day at the grocery store (of all places) they had these large umbrellas for sale.  Only $6 each!  They have the flag of our Lone Star State on them which makes sense here in Texas of course.  

Texas Lone Star Umbrellas
And they are large (like everything in Texas, ha).  They are called "golf umbrellas" so they are a nice size to keep you dry even in a downpour.  We bought four of them, figuring that was enough for us to each have one if we were out walking the property and still have a couple of backups for guests, though I might pick up just a couple more.  Six is a good number, right?  Ha. 

Anyone else have guest umbrellas?

Monday, February 27, 2017


Saturday was the day for cleaning up the garden.  I've spent most of the Winter weekends building and setting up the raised beds behind the house for the fruit trees.  It's almost time to plant for Spring so I needed to focus on that.

 Here's an example...this is the herb bed, leftover oregano and lemon thyme going wild but most of the rest that were there had already been pulled up.  There was also some grass sneaking in around the bottom of a few of the raised beds, including this one.  

 Most of the others just had a few weeds growing.  The straw mulch did an AMAZING job of keeping the weeds down.  Loved it.  And it had begun decomposing into the soil below which was a great help as well.  

I added fresh compost...and then turned it all with a shovel.

That was to get it all mixed up.  Oh, the chives in the corner have been there for three seasons now.  They are definitely a perennial!

This was the long bed that had the tomatoes and jalapeño in it last Summer.  Not too many weeds and what there were just pulled up easily, thanks again to the straw mulch.

 Got them all pulled up and worked the compost into the existing soil here too.

I also added another bag of raised bed soil to top it all off and account for settling that naturally occurs over the year.

Raised bed garden left side
Here is the left side of the garden, all weeds pulled up from everywhere and the soil is all worked and turned and enhanced and ready for planting.  This is where we will plant for Spring and Summer.  Last Fall, we opened up a fifth bed for the garlic (you can see it in the back row).  

That leaves two more for filling this year.  We're going to save them for Summer gardening, a squash bed and okra again.  

Raised bed garden right side
Here is the right side of the garden.  I pulled the covers back on these, fluffed the soil and covered them back up.  It will be next year before we start venturing over to this side for planting as we're still seeing how we do with the ones on the other side. Plus I need to get a good irrigation plan going, more substantial than what we have now but we'll see how that happens in time...

Now we're planning the plants and seeds to plant soon.  Mid March is about the time here for all Spring plants to start going in.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Yep, it's that time of year.  2nd Man and I love NASCAR racing.  It all started with my Dad when I was young, he watched it regularly and by default I did too...then I got hooked.  

Today is the day of the "Great American Race" as it is called.  We do try to catch most races throughout the season though sometimes weekends at the farm interfere with that but we catch as many as we can.

We've got a pork roast in the oven for later, had a great breakfast that 2nd Man made up from what we had on hand (post on that coming soon), and we're staying in today for the race. 

Yesterday I got the garden beds cleaned out (post on that tomorrow) and a couple other projects done as well.  It's been a great weekend!

Saturday, February 25, 2017


I wish I had some before pictures but it's not too bad (at least as I remember it from the last time I looked at it, ha).  

The last few weekends have all been about the fruit tree raised beds so today the plan is to work on the garden area.  I'll be cleaning it all up and getting the beds we're going to use, prepped for Spring planting which is coming soon.  I have to pull up the old herbs that are still hanging on, a few of the 'greens' that we grew but they bolted, turn the soil, add some where needed and just generally pull up weeds wherever they are.

It is starting out in the 40's/50's, so it will be a beautiful day to get that done.  

We hope your weekend is off to a great start!!

Friday, February 24, 2017


OK, I just have to share this:

Sasquatch Valentine
This is what we do when we're being silly.  I found this at the store and just HAD to get it for 2nd Man last week.  I mean come on!  
A fur covered Valentine box?  
With Bigfoot on the front?  
Um, yeah!

Jack Link's Bigfoot Valentine Jerky
We'll have to admit though, as fun as it was on the outside, the inside was a bit disappointing.  A box with a bag of beef jerky inside.  I was hoping for divided compartments with beef jerky pieces in each one, like chocolates, but oh well.  

Still, it was a Valentines Day heart that 2nd Man won't soon forget!

Thursday, February 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!

Backyard Orchard
This is one of the first pictures we ever found online that inspired us to have a backyard orchard.  Sure it's all apple trees here but we envisioned something similar with a variety of fruits.  Of course these lucky people get to plant right into the ground and still get lots of fruit but hey, we figured out a way (hopefully anyway) to get them growing (raised beds) and we'll soon be on our way to recreating a similar scene.  

If we could get something similar, trees loaded with fruit in a few years, we'd be ecstatic...not to mention we'd have recreated another one of our inspirations.  That means one more down and dozens to go, ha.  

Be inspired!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Recently, we saw something we've never seen at the store...this giant pile of...um...wait...what are they?

They looked like worms or larvae of some sort...

It's Turmeric!  

We've used it as a spice of course but I can honestly say we've never known what it looked like in its natural form and we've certainly never thought about using it "fresh" like this.  We're used to a powder in the spice cabinet but not sure how to use it if it were grated or minced.  They are very lightweight so while they seem expensive, a pound would be a LOT.  A few pieces would be fine. Of course we didn't buy them at the time and when I went back a week later, they were gone!  Seasonal I guess?  

We'll keep looking for them and give them a try.

Anyone ever try it like this?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


So, a couple of weeks ago, I left this white towel outside on the table on the porch and I always seemed to forget it when I left.  I picked it up this past weekend to bring it back for laundry and something fell out onto the porch.

Do you see it there in the middle?  
Click on the picture and zoom in, it's there.
A freakin' adorable little green frog!  Probably about the size of a quarter.

First it hopped back up on the bottom board...

Then it positioned itself and jumped again...

Little Green Frog
And then started working its way back up toward the top of the table...

So naturally, I put the towel back on top, made a little cave like opening and left with the hope that the little green frog finds its way back inside.  

It can live there as long as it desires!

Monday, February 20, 2017


Well, it was another productive (and muscles sore) day.  I stopped at the store to get the rest of the soil for the raised beds. I love having my Jeep because I SURE couldn't have done this in the Fiat!

There are 21 bags of soil and compost in this picture.  From back end to front passenger seat (which folds flat so it's level with the back) it all fit.  Of course, it was kind of like a really heavy version of Tetris, but in the end "I won".

As I was filling one of the last beds, I noticed this.  I thought it was pretty cool.  This box was made of 100% recycled paper, and now it's getting recycled a second (and final) time.  

Hmm, would that be re-recycled?  

Raised bed orchard
Here are the beds, finally done, filled and waiting.  The plan is to let them sit a couple of weeks and then I will plant the trees the first weekend in March.

Several of you have asked how the mini orchard relates to the house and I realized that I haven't taken a picture back toward the house.  Oops!  I'll have to do that once I get them planted, but until then, I did find this one to give you an idea of the location.  

This is our "back yard" you might say.  The house is at the back of the property and since there is a water faucet and a power outlet on the back of the house, it seemed like the best place.  It keeps the fruit trees close to the house so we can enjoy them, have easy access to them and of course care for them.

Pork chop dinner
Since 2nd Man stayed in town, he had a nice a dinner waiting for me when I got back into town.  Pork chops, mashed potatoes and peas (I love peas!).  

And yep, I ate it all.  I worked up an appetite.

Big rains coming.  We are under a flash flood watch (soon to be a warning as this posts I'm sure) with the potential for up to 5" of rain and localized flooding.  Sunday was a good day to stay in town, rest my sore muscles and start planning what we're going to do with the Spring veggie garden which I'll work on this coming weekend.   

Today of course, it's back to work.  All of this is rain, very widespread, as of last night about 9pm and it's moving toward us (we're on the right side of the image).  It's going to be a nasty day.  Ugh.

Updates later as they warrant!

Friday, February 17, 2017


As I was preparing the soil for the raised fruit tree beds the other day, I notice that the curious cows were hanging out watching me. 

Or at least I thought it was me they were watching.  Perhaps they were distracted by a certain bag of compost I was using...

 Black Kow manure compost
BLACK KOW cow manure!  

If they could talk, I wonder what they would say?

"You paid HOW much for our poop?  
Sucker!!  Come over to this side of the fence! Bwahahaha!"

Thursday, February 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!

Sitting area, image courtesy of Southernliving.com
As often happens, we find photos we like and somehow, they involve sitting areas.  For this one, it is just nice to see some pavers, bushes, and chairs under a tree as a nice respite from life.  We like how there is a little path that leads into the area with the chairs.

A good reminder, especially on a large property with lots of walking, to just have a place every so often to stop and sit and enjoy the surroundings.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017


OK, so this wasn't a trash find, but it was dirt cheap.  I stopped in a thrift store at lunch the other day and found this.  It was nice that it fit in my car too, ha.

It's a large wooden tray.  I'm not sure of its original purpose, if it was part of something else or what, but when I saw it, I knew it could be useful at the farm.

There are some scratches and scuffs and water stains so it is not mint condition.  Heck, I'm not even sure if it's old. But it is made from a good solid, sturdy wood and has handles on each side to make it easier to carry.

Large wooden tray
Did I saw it was large?  These porch steps are 4' wide so the tray is probably a good three feet.  

I'm thinking a paint job will be in order.  Maybe cork in the bottom?  A mirror?  Glass with something decorative underneath?  Not sure how we'll end up using it but for $6 (yep, you read that right, only paid six dollars for it!) it's worth trying to do something to it.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Here is our layering plan for the soil in our fruit tree raised beds.  

Why did we do it like this?  
Why not just have a truckload of soil delivered?  

I did a lot of research on fruit trees and bad soil conditions.  For our native soil, which is a lot of clay, we had to go with open bottom raised beds.  Trees will grow in clay soil but VERY slowly and if the planting hole is not done right, it can become an in-ground bowl and just drown the tree anyway.  So, a planting medium raised above ground level was our choice.  Since we left them with open bottoms so the roots will eventually work their way down into the ground underneath and by roughing it up and partially turning it, the layers above will slowly help to transform the clay into a more beneficial soil.  

So instead of a truckload of one type of soil (and not knowing what might be in it), we decided to know what we were putting in and we we did it in layers.  It is a mixture of composts (two different types), raised bed specially blended soil, and regular garden soil.  Layering will help give different mediums and nutrients for the roots to work through.

I missed the first photo though.  I used a pitchfork to turn the ground under the raised bed.  I didn't completely dig it all up, didn't want to create the bowl effect, just turned it to loosen it and then sat the box in place over it. 

Raised bed with cardboard 
The next thing I put down was cardboard.  That will help kill the remaining grass underneath and decompose over time, adding more nutrients to the soil underneath it all.  

The first layer I put down was a layer of cow manure compost, a 1.5 cu ft bag...

Then a layer of garden soil, 2 cu ft per bag...

Then a 2 cu ft bag of special blend for raised beds...

On top of this I put a mushroom compost mixed with humus...

Raised bed for fruit trees
To finish it all off, I put on another layer of garden soil, then two more raised bed blend layers.  So why not go with all raised bed blend?  Upon research, we found the answer was pretty simple.  Raised bed blends by their nature are a very loose soil and trees need something to "hold on to".  Of course, all garden soil would be too much the other way for a raised bed and not drain very well.    Since the ground below is still clay (for now), drainage is still a concern so we came up with this layering plan, mixing soils and a variety of composts.  Better to do this now, spend the money to get the best soils and give the trees the best chance they can have.

This weekend I'll finished getting the soil (one more trip to the garden center) and then we'll wait until the first weekend in March and get the trees into the soil.  Going to do some more research about what (if anything) we need to add to each tree to give it an extra head start.  Will research that by tree type.

Eight trees...two each of pear, plum, peach and apple.

P.S.  Happy Valentines Day to 2nd Man... 

Love you and love doing this for our future!

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Just some random things for Sunday afternoon...

Got FIVE raised beds filled with soil after a few trips to the garden center.  Only three left to go, will finish that next weekend and then let the soils/composts cure and settle for a week or so and then plant the fruit trees in them.

I had cows watching me both days.  
They are such curious creatures.

Someone mentioned in a post last Fall about a great cleaner for the house siding.  I don't remember what post that was and I forgot to write the suggestion down.  Does anyone have any easy "spray the house and forget it" cleaner that will work for mildew on siding?  This is the North side of the house which always seems to get the most mildew.  It's amazing how fast it appears and how crappy it makes things look, ha. 

Came home today to some chicken oven roasted in the cast iron pan.

Yummy.  A great ending to the weekend!

We hope you had a great one!

Saturday, February 11, 2017


 Someone put this by the trash dumpster at the apartment and you know me, I snatched it up!  (2nd Man just shook his head, LOL!)

 I took it to the farm and had to snap some pictures of it because I'm not sure what it is!  Some sort of evergreen I'm guessing.  Norfolk Pine.

I tipped it on its side so you could see it in more detail.  I want to plant it in the ground but need to know what it is so I can make sure I do that correctly, i.e. soil, future size, light, water etc.

You see the glistening on it?  It's not water...it's glitter!  I think this was used as a Christmas decoration and someone just decided it was time to dispose of it.  I'm hoping I can plant it somewhere and add a new plant or tree to the farm.  And it will, for a while anyway, sparkle in the sunshine.  

Nothing wrong with that!

UPDATE:  We can always count on people from around the world to help us out with things like this.  Norfolk Pine is definitely what it is.  Yep, from what we've read, borderline possible outside.  Haven't decided yet if we'll do it outside or keep it at the farm inside as a houseplant.  I suppose maybe one season inside as a houseplant and maybe we could try next year outside.  

Decisions, decisions...

Thanks again!  Off to the farm today for more soil in the fruit tree beds.