Wednesday, March 31, 2021


The garden is growing!

The basil is putting on leaves and getting larger.

This is one of the tomatoes, the "better boy" it's looking great and has gotten taller...

And here is the "Early Girl" tomato, also getting bigger and putting on new growth...

Both eggplants are doing well with new leaves coming in at the tops of both...

I didn't take picture of both but here is the pickling cucumbers, they are tall enough now to start working on attaching to the trellis.

So far so good in the garden...

And in other growing well news, a couple of the blueberries are budding out.  They are the two rabbiteye "Austin" varieties.

We bought a "thai basil" plant and a "jalapeño" but that was on the way back from the farm so of course we'll care for them in town until next weekend.

How does your garden grow?

Monday, March 29, 2021


Well so Saturday didn't turn out in reality like I had imagined it in my mind.  It was my birthday weekend of course so I figured I'd have a great day of doing the stuff that I enjoy...

Let me run to the shed and get the mower...

NOPE:  Smelled something dead in the wind.  If you've ever smelled that, you know what it is.  I investigated and found that apparently something went under the barn and died.  Great.  I'm not sticking my head down there and shining a light to see what it was.

Let me just have my Zen Machine time...

NOPE:  I mowed for about 10 minutes...then the belt broke.  No more mowing this weekend.  Now they have to come pick it up Monday (closed on the weekends).  

OK well at least I can edge...

NOPE:  Got about halfway through the edging and two (here is one) of the posts that hold the strips of line had broken (worn out) on the Pivotrim head. No more edging now.

Let me go inside and just cool down...

NOPE:  Our one remaining window unit apparently died in the freeze.   It won't work.  Now we have NO air conditioning in the house.  Remind us of that in August.

Well at least tonight we have our local pro-rugby team to watch and root for.  It should be a GREAT game...

NOPE:  We lost.  0 to 32.



Well at least Sunday would be the first dirt track NASCAR race in 51 years, can't wait to see that...

NOPE:  Rescheduled to Monday (when of course we're at work) due to weather/track conditions.

Can I get a do over?  Do I get to skip the age change this year?  Something?  Anything?

Sunday, March 28, 2021


When our office was so cold without heat during our cold temperatures, I brought this quilt with me to take the chill off.  Now that those temps are gone for a while, I brought it back home.

I was going to run it through the dryer on the "no heat" air fluff cycle just to freshen it up a bit before folding it back up for storage.  So I just laid it on the table... thing we know, Hobart is all laid out on his side, sound to sleep, without a care in the world.  Well, maybe caring about when his next meal is, ha.  

We keep telling y'all, he's not spoiled!

Tune in tomorrow for the weekend update.
It was one problem after another, sigh.

Today is rainy and gloomy.

Friday, March 26, 2021


2nd Family has warned us about scorpions out there and so we're always cautious.  Over the weekend, I turned over the garden cart to load it with the mulch for the blueberries and saw this on the inside...

It looked dead so my first reaction was to just flick it out with my hand.  I was about to reach in but then decided to use a stick...and it moved!

The scorpion died shortly after this photograph was taken...

Wednesday, March 24, 2021


One more project down!  As you've probably been following along with us, this was the year to get our blueberries into their new homes.  I had to get the raised beds assembled HERE and then get the soil mixture blended and put into the beds HERE.  This weekend was time to finally plant them and let them start to grow bigger.

The soil had settled some since it was put in so I added a bit more and fluffed it up.  It was easy to dig a hole and put the plants in.  They should love their new homes with the more acidic soil.

Blueberry plants like to be mulched and it helps keep them moist.  We used pine bark mulch because as it breaks down over time, it will add acidity.  Blueberries apparently do not like the tannins in redwood or cedar mulch so I stayed away from those.

I emptied the bags into the garden cart and then just shoveled it in, keeping it to about three inches deep.

They all looked great when done.  Just had to do it four times, ha.  We have two varieties growing...both  Southern Rabbiteye varieties which are best suited to our climate.  There are two "Tifblue" plants and two "Austin" plants.  But wait, aren't there six rings to plant in?  What will go in the other two?  We have something growing separately for them, we're just waiting for them to get a little bigger before transplanting them into their new raised bed homes.

Stay tuned!

Monday, March 22, 2021



Started with a couple of tomatoes.  Early girl and Better Boy, we chose these because they grow well in our area and are recommended by our county AG office.
We'll see how they do.

We had to have some basil, we missed it last year.  Nothing better than fresh basil for pesto or caprese salad or any other number of dishes.

We haven't done eggplants in a few seasons but the last time we had such success with them, it was with this variety, the Ichiban.  It's a slender, narrow eggplant that seems to grow well in our climate.

Similarly, a couple of years back, we grew pickling cucumbers.  The haul was astounding.  I was even able to try my beginner hand at canning pickles.  e gave away just as many cucumbers that we couldn't use.  The following season we tried regular cucumbers.  It just wasn't the same.

Hopefully these will recreate the magic.  They are an heirloom variety.  I planted two since that's what gave us the bounty the last time but in one of the pots there was a small single sprout and so I stuck that in the middle.  Not sure if it will make it but hey, we'll see.

Still have a few more veggies we want to plant.  Jalapeño, yellow squash and we might try okra again.

Let the growing begin!

Saturday, March 20, 2021


Well look what we have here...

The pear trees are in bloom!

The plum trees are in bloom!

The apple trees are in bloom!

And we have it on good authority from this little lady we saw last weekend that SPRING IS HERE!

Today as this posts, I'll be at the farm...shouldn't have to mow so soon after last week so hopefully I'll be able to get some things planted.  The big event today is to get the blueberries planted in their new homes and then get the veggie garden started, depending on what plants I found on the way to the farm.

Tomorrow, we will go pick up the farm truck.  We bought it last week of course but they had to get stuff out of it and clean it up a bit and then get the paperwork on their end processed.  We also had to get a third parking space set up at the apartment, temporarily of course, while we get some things done on the truck.  

We hope that your first day of Spring is off to a good start!

Thursday, March 18, 2021



We literally can't live without it and yet many of us don't realize how quickly it can become something you can't find anywhere.  We found this out during the recent epic freeze event.  This is some of what we saw:

You were limited to how many you could get...

The racks were empty...even the ice was gone...

And the shelves at all the stores were empty.  Notice the sign above; they were limiting water to two packages per customer...then it was changed to one...and then there was none...

The city (and most around Houston) shut down the water, we were under a boil water notice.  People drove out of town to try to find water but the power failure was so widespread, everyone was the same. 

We were fairly well prepared but honestly, there was more we could have done and will do for the next time.

One thing we've found when prepping for a storm is that people always forget about flavored sparkling waters.  We happen to love them.  No sweeteners, no sugar, just carbonated water with random fruit flavors.  It's water.  Sure you can't cook with it or wash with it but it fulfills the body's need for water.  I picked up these two cases of La Croix when everyone else was looking for plain water; they had plenty and for some reason, the store didn't limit these.  On the plus side, we got to try two new flavors; key lime and hibiscus.

We have a cabinet in our dining room that has the Keurig machine on top.  We call it our drink center.  There are two drawers at the top, one is for 2nd Man's coffee and the other is for my tea.

Then there are two cabinets in the lower section:

On the left side, we regularly try to keep four 1 gallon containers of water for the Keurig machine (we use distilled for that)...and then on the shelf above that, some soft drinks for 2nd Man and some various boxes of tea bags for both of us.

And this is the cabinet on the right side.  We keep it stocked with those sparking waters on the top shelf (easily holds a couple dozen) and then we fill the bottom shelf with plain bottled water (also about two dozen).  We don't use the bottled water that often, it's there more for backup (situations like we just had) or to grab a bottle if we're walking to the park or taking a long drive somewhere.

For most of our drinking and kitchen usage...

...we use this.  This is one of those 5 gallon water dispensers.  We had this one at the farm for a few years.  It wasn't used as often out there as it could be here and so a couple of months ago, I brought it back into town (fortuitous, ha).  This one is what they call a bottom loading dispenser.  No more lifting big bottles up and flipping them upside down while pouring water all over the floor, ha.  You open the bottom door, there is a pump device that goes into the bottle and then you slide it into the machine and close the door.  It pulls water up into the reservoirs.  No heavy lifting (except getting it TO your machine but we use a dolly for that).  We love it for instant cold water to drink and instant hot water for cooking, tea, instant soups etc.  It has room temp as well.  As fate would have it, before our recent water outage, I had refilled our spare 5 gallon container and we had just put a new one inside the machine.  That gave us plenty of water for the duration.

This most recent boil water event however has made us make some changes...we are going to keep a third filled 5 gallon bottle in the closet at all times.  Just in case.  And since I pay close attention to the weather and news, the first hint of a storm that might come this way, I'll make sure our supply is topped off.

But without power, the dispenser above won't work.  We'd still have the water bottle that's inside of it, but how would we pump it out?  We just bought one of these cool items to keep in our emergency kit:

It's this awesome 5 Gallon Water Pump (affiliate link to Amazon).  It charges up via USB like a cell phone and when you need it, it just sits on top of a 5 gallon bottle with a hose into the water, you touch the button on top and it dispenses water!  We tried it out and it worked great.  It worked so great, I even bought a couple for two of my dear coworkers who were out of water and power for days as well.

For toilet flushing, we can still go down to the pool and scoop up water like we did this last time so a new bucket with a sturdy handle for carrying water and a snap on lid is all we need to have in order to upgrade our backup supplies.

Of course, for now, this applies to us here in town at the apartment.  The farm has well water so there shouldn't be too many situations where we would run out or even have a boil water notice but that doesn't mean we won't plan for needing water when we are out there and have our own well.  2nd Family has a manual pump for the well if there is an extended power outage.  When we have our own well dug, we'll make sure we have a manual pump too. 

It's not just hurricane season that we have to worry about, now it's year round.

Anyone have any other water prepping suggestions?

Monday, March 15, 2021


This weekend was mowing (see yesterday's post) and working on the new raised beds.  After much research, we settled on this process for our blueberry raised beds.  Since they require a special soil (much more acidic) you need to plant them in a special mix.  There are bags of blueberry blend soil around for sale but we found that they are hard to find and VERY expensive if you do find them ($15 for 1 cu ft and we'd need quite a few).

Turns out in the end they are just blends of a few basic things and we can make our own just as easily (and it's much more affordable).

Blueberry soil blend

I found suggestions online for a 50/50 blend using prepackaged blended potting soil and peat moss.  Sounded good to me!  We've had good luck with the Kellogg brand raised bed mix so we used that since it's a combination of compost, soil, etc.  Instead of mixing those separately, it was easier to just buy the mix and then add in the peat moss.

Using an online calculator, I found that our rings hold a little over 7 cubic feet.  The garden soil bag is 2 cu ft and the peat moss is 3 cu ft.

Seemed like 2 bags of soil and 1 bag of peat moss per bed would be the perfect ratio once mixed together...

Round galvanized raised bed

I layered it in...about a cubic foot of soil (1/2 the bag) and 1/3 of the peat moss.  Then the other half of the soil and some more peat moss.  Then half the second bag of soil, more peat moss etc.  That made it easy...

Filling raised bed for blueberries

All I had to do then was take a shovel and start turning it.  Fortunately the peat moss is very lightweight so it's easy to turn.  I told 2nd Man it was just like folding something into a cake batter.

He understood that analogy, ha!

Blueberry bed

When it was done it was different from the darker soil, not as heavy and not dense at all.

Backyard orchard

I got all four done, this is just one side of the orchard areas.  Three here and three on the opposite side, the ones in the middle were done last weekend.  They have different soil for different plants.  Stay tuned.

The plan is to leave the soil to sit for a week (it's raining today) so that it will settle and if necessary, I can add more peat moss (still have some leftover).  The peat is what will add the acidity.  I should be able to plant them this coming weekend and in fact, this coming weekend is going to be a planting weekend, the blueberries and starting the veggies.

Sunday, March 14, 2021


 The first mow of the season...

We had the weeds starting to pop up taller than the grass and because the weather was cool, the threat of rain was looming and I had other projects to do with more coming next weekend, the best bet was to go ahead and mow.

Wide open spaces.

Love mowing!

And when it's done it's so satisfying.  I always mow a bit short early in the season.  We are approaching what we call the "rainy season" around here and so I want to make sure it's done in case I have to miss a weekend due to rain.

It was about normal in distance covered etc and a little less time-wise because the grass wasn't as thick as it sometimes is when mowing.

Overall, it was a great feeling to be back on the Zen Machine...not unlike this feeling...

I always feel like I can solve the problems of the world while I'm in the "Zen zone", ha.

Hope you had a good weekend!  In case you missed yesterday's post, be sure to check it out for the latest addition to the farm!