Friday, August 31, 2018


Not ours, we don't have chickens yet.  These belong to 2nd Family.  "J" texted me this picture yesterday with the caption WHAT THE...??

Baby chicks (click to enlarge)
They had no idea these had been born until Mama hen just strolled out from underneath the house with six seven little chicks following behind her!  

They are pretty adorable, that's for sure.  She said these seem to reproduce like rabbits, ha.  This is their third clutch of chicks.  They spent yesterday getting them into their protected coop area that has a wire mesh "ceiling" to protect them from flying predators.

She asked us if we knew anyone who wanted some free chicks but of course we don't think any of our city friends will take us up on that offer.  If we still had a house in town with a regular yard, we might be persuaded to step into the world of raising chickens for eggs so we could learn for the time when we are at the farm to live.  Alas, we don't think the apartment would appreciate egg laying hens on a high-rise balcony.

Hope you are having a great day, the long weekend has arrived but it's going to be hot and quite possibly, rainy here in this part of the country.

We'll see how the weekend goes!

Thursday, August 30, 2018


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!

Hmm....big red barn wall?  Check.
Outdoor area?  Check.
Movie fanatics?  Check.

We saw this online while looking for something else and it opened up a whole new world of possibilities.  It never dawned on us that we could put a screen up outside and then use a projector to project a movie onto the wall of a building.  Granted this one might be a bit oversized, we saw others that were more reasonably sized (and portable) but this one had a red barn type building which is what caught our eye.

We could steal chairs from elsewhere around the house and outside but just like above, we could also throw down a few large quilts/blankets (from the thrift store so we wouldn't care if they got dirty) and a bunch of cushions to make seating for company.  So for those who need chairs we would have some and for the rest who want to just lounge on a blanket and pillow, we would be good to go with this set up.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


 It's time to plan and get ready for an upcoming project...

I stopped at the store and bought ten landscape timbers. Of course, turns out I need more, isn't that the way it always works?  

It is this spot on the side of the house facing the party tree. A few months back, I blogged about putting a BENCH IN A FLOWERBED and that's the plan for this area. In fact, we're thinking two would be nice, maybe with a table in between.

After I mowed, I laid them all out so I could see how many we needed...and of course I didn't get enough. That's OK, we're not going to start this now it is WAY too hot this time of year for a project like this. We just wanted to get some of the stuff ready for use later.  I'll get another batch of timbers later since we can always used them around the property.

I'll put down some of the great weed block fabric that we used in the garden and up front under the gravel in the hose reel spot, and then fill it with more gravel *that will be a lot of gravel

Once that part is done, we're going to order a couple of wooden benches and we'll have a place to sit.  And FYI it's not always this Sunny, it's much shadier in the early morning and later in the afternoon.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Last week we posted about digging holes, here is another project related to planting that a few of you asked about when we did it.  I thought I'd post something to show you what we did. 

When I cut the landscape timbers to fit the flower beds, I needed some way to hold them in place. I was at the local home improvement store and found these.  They are steel rebar posts.  The best size I found was the 1/2" diameter (pretty standard) and then they came in varying lengths.

I chose the ones that are 24" long. That made them long enough to go deep into the ground and remain stable. Best of all they were only a dollar each.  I bought a couple dozen.

What you do is just push them into the ground right along the edge the landscape timbers.  Above is an example.  You push them in by hand (a few days after a rain is a good time) and then you just hammer/push them in until they are level with the top edge of the timber. 

Alternatively, you can drill holes into the timbers of the same diameter as the rebar and then put them inside the hole and into the ground in the same way. This keeps them sort of hidden and safe.

Landscape timber flowerbed with rebar
I tried to put them in this pattern.  I found through trial and error that it worked the best.  I would put one near each end of the timbers no matter the length.  Two per timber when four feet or shorter   and on the 8' long sections I used three by adding one in the middle between the ones on each end.  

At each small end section I had to use two to hold them in place. Then what I would do is after putting them on the outside I went back and put some on the inside, holding against the timber from the backside. You can see in the picture above how I did it.  Just picture that end piece as the same on a longer section only with three instead of two.  The ones on the inside act to push against the ones the outside and it kind of just locks them in place.  

So far we are two years in and it's working like a charm.  I occasionally bump one with the weedeater but for the most part they are doing exactly what we had hoped they would do, holding the timbers in place and keeping the soil and plants where they are supposed to the flowerbeds. 

Hope this helps someone!

Sunday, August 26, 2018


It's hot.  TOO hot.  Ugh.  I was going to work in the garden (clearing it out and prepping it for Fall) but it was just too hot.  The temp when I got there was 97 and when I called it a day it was 103.

I mowed, which you all know I love my time on the Zen Machine, even in the heat.  

There has been no rain for well over a week so it's definitely drying up.

I mowed it short because...

This is the forecast for this week.  Pretty good chance of rain every day.  Of course, it could also rain all around the farm and not there so we never know.

The bumblebees sure were happy, there were all over the Texas Lilac (Vitex).  I didn't have the heart to trim it yet, I'll let them do what they want to prepare for their Winter.  I can trim it later.  

For dinner last night we had steak and roasted broccolini, one of our favorites.  Today 2nd Man is making Arroz con Pollo (Mexican rice with chicken).

Speaking of rain, I just heard thunder! Maybe we'll get some rain after all.  

Hope you are having a good weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2018


Here is a new addition to the farm.  Or perhaps it's always been here but just never seen before. "J" from 2nd Family sent this pic and video to us.

It's a tarantula.  Now mind you, they (2nd Family) have lived out there more than 20 years.  They have NEVER seen one before.  Either they are really good at hiding or they've been elsewhere and are now coming our direction.  They are brown but varying shades from light to dark almost black (like this one).  Supposedly harmless, according to a quick Google search, but yeah, not sure I'd want to pick one up. 

We won't hurt them of course, would never do that, but I really don't want to have them crawling out of the underbrush while I'm planting something...cause one of us is going to have a heart attack and I don't think would be the spider.

Happy Friday!?

Keep commenting, I will catch up on comments tonight and this weekend.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


I love when 2nd Man makes his pot roast and vegetables.  I usually miss the pics because I'm not home when he makes it.  This time I was there and got most of the pics, except for a couple when I took a nap, oops!

We started with a 4 lb beef chuck roast.  The veggies we use are 2 large yellow onions, a couple dozen or so fingerling potatoes, 1 bunch of celery, 6 large carrots, and 2 bay leaves. 

Coat the roast in all purpose flour.  No seasoning (though you could if you preferred). 

Chop up all the veggies (except potatoes) into large chunks.  Separate them into two groups, of about 3 carrots, 1 onion, and half the celery stalks each.  Put all the potatoes in the second group.

You'll see why in a moment.  

Meanwhile, brown the roast on top of the stove with some salt, pepper, and a couple of TBSP of olive oil.  If possible, brown it in the same pan you will use in the oven (you don't want to miss all the bottom of the pan flavor).  You aren't cooking it at this point, you're just adding the wonderful color for later on.  Brown both sides well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add the first batch of veggies (no potatoes) to the pan with the browned roast...

Next take 4 cups of beef broth.  You can use canned, homemade, whatever you have on hand. 

Pour that over the meat and veggies and add 2 bay leaves. Cover and cook for about 2 1/2 hours at 350.  

Now here is where I missed a couple of photos (sorry):

After 2 1/2 hours, take the pan out of the oven, uncover and remove the roast and bay leaves only and set them aside.  Using a stick blender (they are miracle tools in the kitchen) blend the first batch of roasted veggies into the cooking liquid.

You can remove them and do them in a blender of course, just be careful, it's hot.  Whichever way you do it, once you have created this puree of vegetables and broth, leave it in the pan and put the roast (and bay leaves) back into it.

Add the potatoes and the other half of chopped carrots, onions and celery.  Cover and cook for another hour or hour and a half until the meat is tender and the potatoes are done.  

Meanwhile, make a batch of polenta on the stove top.    Polenta and water, whisking constantly.  A little butter .  Whisk until absorbed. 

You could also go the easy route and do mashed potatoes but we just love this combination.  

We shredded up some parmesan reggiano, 1 cup, and add it to the cooked polenta. Stir until melted into the polenta.  

Remove the roast from the oven and uncover.  Fish out the bay leaves and serve.  It's falling apart tender.  The pureed veggies and broth have turned into a gravy.  Inside all that are the cooked carrots, celery, onions and potatoes.  

Serve over polenta (or on the side) with vegetables and gravy. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Every time I mow at the farm, I try to add a little bit of extra clearing to the process.  In this hot weather, it's about the easiest way to do something "extra" on the property without killing myself in the heat.

Usually, I walk the area first to pick up the big sticks, making sure there are no rocks or debris to mow over and then I just mow a little bit at a time so it gets cleaned up.  This is one spot, it's next to Barnabas the old mesquite tree...

...and this is the area on the other side of Barnabas.  The white lines are where it went to before I started mowing.  I just keep mowing on a regular basis so that nothing grows back.

Of course, once I get to a large tree I can't mow any further and I have to stop.  This makes it easier later on to be able to get close to the trees so we can trim, cut back low branches, suckers, vines, etc 

It's always something but it's progress, albeit slow, but still progress!

Monday, August 20, 2018


 It was a week of highs and lows...but in the end it was all good.

Early in the week it was our anniversary.  19 years.  NINETEEN!!!  That's 19 years together since our first date. And the last 3 of those have been legally married.  We have no idea where that time went.  

Of course that means next year is 20.  I think that means we need to do something special, like a special vacation somewhere exciting. We're discussing ideas and options now.  

Then a couple days later I ran to lunch at work, stopped at Petsmart to get Hobart some of his favorite food and this happened...

Car break-in
...only inside maybe 5 or 6 minutes, came out and saw a little piece of glass in my drivers seat.  Then I looked across and saw the rear passenger side window busted out.  

They rifled through the center compartment, but I don't keep anything valuable in my car.  So they got away with nothing.  I however, was left with a $300 window repair.  We hate criminals.

Hobart saying "color me unimpressed" 
We remind Hobart now when we feed him that he better enjoy that food, it's an expensive meal.

He was not impressed, ha!

I was looking forward to the weekend for sure.  And my time on the Zen Machine.  I haven't mowed in two weeks (rain) so it was time.  Above is a "during" picture of the front yard, ha. 

Freshly mowed
I mowed everything and felt much more accomplished.  If no rain this week, I won't have to mow next weekend and I can edge and then clean up the garden to get it ready for Fall planting.

Speaking of...

Banana spider web
...I went to the garden and we had something watching over it all.  This is what we call a banana spider in these parts, it's a member of the orb weaver family.  

Her web wasn't attached to the gate portion so I opened it and ducked under so I wouldn't disturb her.

Banana spider
Of course up close, you might not feel comfortable ducking underneath something that looks like this. 

I was going to work in the garden but by then it was 3pm and it was the hottest part of the day.  We're under another heat advisory and they recommend that people stay indoors.  We stayed for awhile doing some things inside but with one window unit, we decided to come back where it's really cool, ha.  So today we are in town just relaxing and decompressing from a busy week.  

Oh and some good food cooking in the oven now (beef roast with veggies, details coming this week).

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, August 17, 2018


Such a loss...The Queen of Soul earned that title. 
As I type this we are listening to some of her greatest hits playing in the background...

Chain of Fools
Son of a Preacher Man
Natural Woman
Freeway of Love
Sweet Sweet Baby
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing
I Say a Little Prayer
Spanish Harlem
Save Me
What a Fool Believes

...and the list goes on and on.

One of my personal faves was a duet, later in her career.  I Knew You Were Waiting, her duet with the late George Michael.

I hope George was right there waiting for her...

Rest in Peace Aretha

Thursday, August 16, 2018


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!

Instead of focusing so much around the house, I've been thinking lately about moving over to the barn and shed.  They just sort of sit there in the yard with nothing around them.  We'd like the to have some color and decorative elements.

And for sure, there is something about flowers around a red barn that is just striking.  Above are sunflowers. Is there anything happier looking than a group of sunflowers?  

And this patch of zinnias against the red of the barn is really nice too.  I suppose these would be easier to put down and just let them grow.  Sunflowers might need a bit more care. But whatever we choose they are definitely pretty.  

Be inspired! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Here's another quick sheet pan supper that I made the other night.  It's a variation (different veggies, different sausage) on another that we cook. 

These use a package of shish kabob veggies which of course make it quick because they are already cut up into the right size pieces.  These are bell peppers (red, orange, green) along with mushrooms, onions, zucchini and yellow squash.  

I slide them off the skewers and place them in a Ziploc bag along with some seasoning and a little olive oil (about 2 tsp just so the seasoning will stick).  Here I used an Italian blend seasoning with oregano, basil, garlic, etc.  You can use whatever combinations you like.  

Then I shake up the bag and make sure all the veggies are seasoned.  

A little drizzle of olive oil on the pan just to make sure nothing sticks (and easy cleanup)...

Then I put some sweet Italian sausage links on the bed of seasoned veggies and popped it in a preheated 425 degree oven.
Sheet pan Italian sausage and vegetables
Roast for about 30 minutes, turning once, until sausage is cooked and veggies are roasted.

Super simple...

...and super good!

Also one pan cleanup, that's always a welcome thing.  We've served it with rice and other times with mashed potatoes.  So yummy and filling!

Will catch up on comments tonight.