Monday, November 30, 2020


'Tis the season!

Our first freeze of the season is coming.  30-31 should not be any worry for the pipes and hopefully won't be too bad for the citrus (they are supposed to be hardy to mid 20's but they are young).

I needed to go cover them.

Of course, let's back up a bit for this nice long weekend.  Thursday was Thanksgiving of course and we were in town cooking and eating great food.  But then it started raining.  And it rained.  And rained all day Friday.  And rained all day Saturday.  We had about 3-5 inches of rain total.  Since it was spread over a few days, there was no flooding danger but of course it meant there would be no farm visit during the rain.

When I got there yesterday midmorning, this is what it looked like.  Overcast and cold.  49 degrees.  And windy.  VERY windy.

I wasn't going to need the Christmas lights on timers that I had purchased last year in preparation for a major freeze.  This isn't going to be that kind.  But this being 2020, my plan fell apart anyway, ha.  I struggled to get the freeze covers (these are the new large ones) on the trees in the high winds.  Now it won't always be windy so in the grand scheme of things no big deal.

But the poles with the tennis balls on top did NOT work in the high winds.  It let the freeze covers blow around and it even bent one of the steel rods because it was blowing around so much.  Had to scrap that plan.  

I think what we will need to utilize the original plan is to get more of the steel fenceposts (called T-posts) that I used for the deer fencing.  You can see there is one above that I had (an extra) and it worked well for being a good height and it did not move in the just didn't work having only one, ha.  It should keep the freeze cloths nice and tight and not blowing in the wind.

So for tonight's freeze, I had to improvise a bit.  I used the three galvanized rings as a means to keep the smaller freeze cloths in place.  I put one over and around each citrus tree.  Then I used the poles we already have as a means to shore up the freeze cloths.

I put the bags (these are the smaller ones) over each tree, tucked the fabric around the tree at the base and then used the weight of the galvanized ring to hold it all down.  Then I tied off parts to the poles just to keep it somewhat stable. I had to do a few more things at the farm before leaving and when I did, they were all still in place so all we can do is keep our fingers crossed.

As I mentioned, these varieties of trees should hold up to a mild freeze like this.  For example, the lime is hardy to 26 degrees.  The satsuma is hardy to the teens but young trees like this are hardy to about 26.  We've done what we can do without being there so we'll see.

The other thing I had to do was cover the banana trees on the porch.  I did the same thing I did last year and it worked fine.  I saved this flat box in the barn and then just unfold it and sit it down over and around the bananas and the container they are in.  They are already protected being on the porch and out of the wind but at least this adds an extra layer of protection.  The top is open so they can breathe.  

That was it for this weekend.  It was a long weekend but not a long weekend of being able to do much outside.  Maybe it was nature's way of making us rest.

I'll catch up on your wonderful Thanksgiving comments tonight when I get home from work.  A couple of you asked about recipes too, those will be coming as well.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving or if you don't celebrate it where you are, hope you had a great weekend.  

Saturday, November 28, 2020


We had a little rose wine while we were letting things cook and bake.  This was a gift from a coworker and it was very good.

2nd Man had to bake something this year so he chose dinner rolls.  Yummy!

The turkey came out delicious (more on how we did it this year in an upcoming post). Tender, juicy and a perfect golden color.

2nd Man made some green beans with bacon, onion and tomatoes...

And I made broccoli rice casserole (forgot to get an 'after' picture other than on the plate)...

We also had some homemade gravy and of course cranberry sauce (from a can, memories of childhood).

We cracked open a bottle of syrah to go with dinner...

Set the table for two...

And jumped in, ha.  It was all very good!

Since we didn't want 2nd Man cooking all day, we opted for bakery dessert.  This is a four season pie.  Blueberry, cherry, peach and apple.

We topped with some ice cream and it was a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

Hope you and yours had a wonderful day and had lots of good eats!

Thursday, November 26, 2020


Here we are!  Thanksgiving 2020.  At least we've all made it this far.  We are having a scaled back Thanksgiving for two...scaled back for us anyway, ha.  You know we like to cook (and eat!) and you can see our meals through the years if you look back at Thanksgivings past.  I'll have pics up over the weekend.

Since 2nd Man does the bulk of it and his new job has kept him very busy, it wasn't fair to keep him in there chopping and doing prep stuff.  He needs the four days off just like I do.

On our menu:

Dry brined turkey roasted with duck fat
Southern green beans with tomatoes onions & bacon
Broccoli rice casserole
Giblet gravy
Homemade yeast rolls
Four season pie with vanilla ice cream

It's all pretty simple (except maybe the rolls but he had to bake something).  The turkey process was started Tuesday so not much to do today on that.  Green beans pretty simple.  I'm making the broccoli rice casserole (also simple).  His gravy is always wonderful and he enjoys making that.  The pie is from a local store bakery, it is one pie with four flavors.

Due to the pandemic of course, we are not going ANYWHERE for the holiday.  I keep hearing people saying 'they cancelled Thanksgiving'.  Sigh.  No, Thanksgiving isn't cancelled, we just have to do it differently this year so that we can all be here next year  to enjoy it (hopefully) pandemic free.  We can all use today to reflect on what we are thankful for.  That might get lost in the bigger busy holidays but just maybe today we can all realize the little things.  

Happy Thanksgiving from both of us to all of you!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


In today's episode of holiday food horrors... about this loaf?  It says it's great for company.  And after all, who seriously wouldn't want a hollowed out loaf of bologna filled with a combination of mashed peas, onions, mayonnaise and GELATIN!??!


Seriously, what were these people thinking?

Last night we put one of the turkeys in the fridge to dry brine.  This is a fresh never frozen turkey.  We rub it with a salt and seasoning blend (no oil at this point) and then put it on a rack over a baking sheet and put it in the refrigerator to let cold air flow around it.  It's sort of a dry version of a liquid brining solution.  We'll leave it like this until Thanksgiving morning and then on to the next steps before eating.

We'll do the other turkey the same way this weekend (to save the meat in freezer bags for future meals).

Last day of work before a nice four day weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


Another day, another horrible food idea... 

What fresh you know what is this?  It's from the 1970's and is some sort of seafood salad in aspic.  Shrimp, crab, olives, tuna and gelatin.  It looks more like something from a sci-fi movie.  Definitely not a keeper.

There is a cold front coming through here.  Forecast of possibly heavy rain on Thanksgiving or Friday.  Then lows in the 40's are coming.  We'll take it.

Just no freezing weather!

We're finalizing our decisions for Thanksgiving day cooking and I'll make a one time trip to the store for the few things we need.  More on that tomorrow.  Can't believe Thanksgiving is almost here!

Monday, November 23, 2020


During Thanksgiving week we always try to post some funny and forgettable food horrors that someone thought might be good a long time ago.

For example, here is a turkey fruit salad.  You make a cranberry jello "bowl" and then fill it with a mixture of chopped turkey, grapes, pineapple, apples and mayonnaise.  Sound yummy?  Or not?

Short work week this week.  We're both off Thursday and Friday.  2nd Man gets to work from home Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

I picked up a couple of turkeys.  Regular readers know we usually try to cook an extra turkey to freeze the meat for use later in the year.  Usually I go after Thanksgiving and find some turkeys on sale but because of the pandemic I don't want to be visiting several grocery stores trying to find some deals.

I found two turkeys for a reasonable price and we'll cook one on Thanksgiving and then the other one over the course of the long weekend.  We wanted one bigger one but this seemed like it might be easier.  They are both about 11.5 lbs each so we can fit them in the fridge at the same time.  It's tight but we got them in.  When we used to have a bigger fridge we didn't have to worry about that but this apartment has a smaller side by side fridge so we have to plan ahead, ha. 

More tomorrow including another crazy food suggestion.  Hope you had a good weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2020


Due to a technical glitch yesterday, we were unable to post this and couldn't reply to comments or check email.  Things are working today so hopefully it'll stay. 

On Thursdays Friday this week, 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!

image via

Another picture (we like these) with an old farm style implement in a flower bed as a focal point.  This is a nice flower bed just on its own as it is simple in design but what really stands out is the rust covered farm machine.  Such a neat item to put as a centerpiece.

We always see these and think how nice they would be but then wonder if even in this condition would something like that be expensive?  I mean it seems like it wouldn't be valuable as an antique if it's in this condition.  Also, if you put something rusted like this outside in the elements and weather, what keeps it from just rusting away and falling apart?

Be inspired!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


At work recently, the conversation turned to the pandemic and how things are going.  While Houston successfully reversed the trend lines over the Summer, things seem to be heading in the other direction again.  I try to be observant and notice things going on in stores and kind of extrapolate what else is going on, perhaps what is coming, people planning, etc.

Back in January (boy that seems like a lifetime ago) I read some stories about a pandemic in China that was spreading.  Over the first couple of weeks in February I noticed things getting low in stores.

I told 2nd Man and we started stocking up.  Thankfully we got most everything (I didn't anticipate the toilet paper shortage).  I had a post about it here in case you missed it:

Flash forward to the other day when I put on my mask, and face shield and made a trip to a local grocery store.

Toilet paper gone...paper towels almost gone...

Hand soap mostly gone...

Even frozen veggies are running out...

Then yesterday afternoon, cell phones in Houston got this push alert:

Yikes!  After weeks of things going the right direction, we are suddenly heading the wrong direction.
Cases up 250%.

Then news organizations got a leaked report from the COVID task force and this was a quote from it:

"There is now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration."

On the positive side, it looks like vaccines are coming but still a few months away.  In the meantime, things are going in the wrong direction again and I think we may be headed toward another lockdown/stay at home order so I'm stocking us up again.  We learned what we needed, what we didn't use as much of and I'll make sure we're well supplied.  

Oh and we already have a good supply of Clorox wipes, gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, soap and of course, the ever elusive...toilet paper.  

Monday, November 16, 2020


This is something we have been meaning to ask our readers.  It is one of our two apple trees, the "Anna" variety.  It's been leaning for some time and is now not just leaning but growing in that direction as well.

I have tried just pulling on it to test how firm it is.  It's DEFINITELY growing that direction.  It's one of those things I saw when I would work on the trees and always though "hmm, I need to work on that" and then it would just get hot in the Summer or have a rainy weekend and I'd just put it off.  Now it's come back to haunt me, ha.  It leans even more now since I took the above picture.

I need to deal with it either this Winter or early next Spring.  When I drive the mower past the tree, I have to go around the area where it leans.

One time after we had a LOT of rain, I was able to pull it a bit more upright but I had nothing to tie it off to.  That's why I sort of thought, oh no biggie I can fix this easily.  I suppose the next heavy rain I can use to my advantage again but I don't want to damage roots. 

The logical solution I suppose would be to hammer a post into the ground nearby and then wrap something around it and then every weekend, tighten it a little more.  I'd have to be gentle to the tree of course.

Crooked tree, image via wikimediacommons

We just hope we don't end up with something like this, although at least this tree is finally growing upright, ha!

It provided us apples this year, our first ever, so we want to make sure we keep it happy.

Any suggestions?

Friday, November 13, 2020


Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock where people can put the things they don't want.  I've found several cool items over the last couple of years. 

Here is one of the latest!

This sturdy and well constructed pallet!  I know pallets are pretty ubiquitous out there and there are tons of things you can do with them.  I've seen a few downstairs over the last couple of years but they are usually in pretty bad shape.  This one though is well made.  The wood slats are all thick cut, free of rot and mostly free of open knotholes.

The end boards are very thick as well. Not sure what kind of wood it is, probably pine though it seems much harder than the pine I've seen before.  Whatever it is, it will make a great project.  I know the boards can be taken apart and used in other things but I like the idea of using a pallet much like it is.  I saw an idea once that put weedblock cloth inside and filled it with soil and then plants in it.  I think it was herbs.

Now wish there had been more!  I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for "future shipments", ha.

But I'm sure it's just one idea out of thousands...

Wednesday, November 11, 2020


 Recently we were reading AARP magazine (hey, don't judge, we're in our 50's, ha).  They had a list of six items that are harder to find during the pandemic.  Some interesting things are in shortage that we wouldn't have necessarily thought of.

Sewing Machine image via wikicommons

Sewing machines...

All the people sewing masks for first responders and for family and friends has led to a shortage of sewing machines around the country.  They also believe that more people taking on new hobbies with time on their hands and/or trying to be more self-sufficient is driving higher than normal demand.

Exercise equipment image via wikicommons

Exercise equipment...

This makes sense.  Gyms closed for so long or people just not wanting to go and get exposed has led to a surge in purchasing home gym equipment, stationary bikes, weights, mats, etc.

Bikes image via wikicommons


Another one we hadn't really thought of.  More people now looking to get out of the house and do something different are finding bike riding as a new thing to do.  Probably also ties in to the above mentioned exercising.

Laptop computer image via wikicommons

Laptop computers...

Working from home.  Home schooling.  Job searching.  Boredom.  Who would have thought laptops and tablets would have a shortage but here we are.  Manufacturers were just getting ramped back up when the Fall school season started and now another shortage.

Outdoor patio heater image via wikicommons

Outdoor heaters and heat lamps...

This one confused us at first but then it made sense; restaurants and bars are serving more people outside and as cooler evenings happen this time of year, they are needing ways to keep their patrons warm.  Presumably some for home use but in another thing related to that, outdoor furniture (both commercial and residential) has surged as well.

Pressure treated wood image via wikicommons

Pressure treated wood...

Home construction has not slowed down but add in DIY backyard projects such as decks, patio covers, fencing, gardening and landscaping and that has caused companies that provide pressure treated wood to be running the factories 7 days a week to keep up.

Anything else you've found hard to find?  Or might suggest before the next lockdown?

Monday, November 9, 2020


Saturday was a great day.  The weather was great and I didn't have to mow.  You can see in this picture it doesn't look any different from last week.  Definitely no more mowing this season.  

So this weekend I wanted to edge.  The grass around the raised fruit tree beds was getting out of control so that's where I focused my attention.

When I was done it looked nice as usual.  I also took care of the grass inside some of the raised beds.  I've used mulch and straw but never seem to be able to keep the grass out.  I thought about gravel over weedblock fabric but I've heard the rocks can heat up the soil and that's not healthy for the tree.

Here is another view and I edged around the galvanized ring future blueberry beds.  We like it when it's done.

And look here!  Oranges!  Almost ripe, going to leave them on one more week.  The sunlight makes them look a bit yellow but they are almost bright orange.  That's why I'm going to let them stay on another week or two and make sure they get the ripest and sweetest that they can be. 

And we have some limes ripening as well!  The only thing we didn't get this year were lemons but of course that was the tree stripped to the branches by the great goat invasion of July 2020, ha.

After a few hours doing the edging some weeding and watering it was time to leave.  Just a beautiful day (though I could have voted for slightly cooler afternoon weather) but it was nice.  Next weekend will be more edging (I didn't edge around the barn and shed).

It's getting the time of year when there isn't much to do outside at the farm.  I do take some weekend breaks here and there.  Of course we'll have to keep an eye on the weather as our average first frost is early December.  This year we might have to put our citrus protection plan into action (we had it ready last year but never needed it, go figure). Fingers crossed! 

Hope you had a great weekend!

Sunday, November 8, 2020


This was supposed to post yesterday but we've had some internet issues in the building.

I'll just make this a short post today and then have a regular one tomorrow since I'm doing this one from my phone (easier said than done).  

It's been a long week post election but it's over. 

And now we move forward...

Since everyone loves a Hobart picture, here is one that I had to catch the other morning.  He has a habit of crossing his front paws when he's just laying on the floor.  Not while he's sleeping, it's just while he is looking around, almost like he's just casually relaxing.

Hope you had a good weekend!