Wednesday, June 30, 2021


You may recall that one of our apple trees is leaning.  Like really leaning.  We've tried pulling it straight but it's firmly in a lean and doesn't want to budge and we risk damaging or breaking the trunk.  I guess we shouldn't say it's leaning as leaning implies it can be pulled upright.  It's GROWING in a lean.

It seemed it was too late to pull it upright because it appeared to be happy growing this way and we hated to just cut it down and dig it up.  The roots are very well established (and probably deep) and that might be hard on a new tree in the same spot.  The picture above was taken a week or two after it had leafed out for Spring.

We noticed that in the lean, there was a lot of weight in the form of branches on that side.  We decided the best option was to "embrace the lean" and so I pruned it.

That took off all the weight on the opposite side.  If you notice the "center" branches, they are straight as can be and very tall and it looks much better since this photo was taken.  This tree was also covered in blooms at the time and we knew that with such a heavy pruning, we risked losing the fruit crop this season.  However, we'd rather have lost some than lose the tree that has grown so well for us.  

It might not work in the end, but for now we are willing to try.  Our hope is that by removing the weight on that side, it will continue to grow straight upright and we can gently lock in that trunk so that it will just start growing up with a curve on the trunk.  I'm going to rig up a method to brace the trunk using the side of the bed and then counter that with a gentle pulling from the other side around the trunk and to the post there...all padded and gentle on the tree itself of course.

That should keep it from being pulled only from one side or pushed only from the other side.  We're just hoping they balance out and it will continue growing straight up as it has been.

Hey we already have fruit, so far so good!
And stay tuned for a very special post about it!

Monday, June 28, 2021


First the good...well, small but good, ha.

We got a couple of tomatoes and some cucumbers for this weekend's harvest.  Yes, those are pickling cucumbers that are probably oddly shaped due to uneven watering and once a week checkup.  But hey, they all taste great and it's nice to know that these varieties are working.

The other project was to mow.  As you can see by the stats from the mowing app, this is WAY less than normal. By about 2/3.  

The mower is acting up.  Sigh.

For about 15 minutes, it mowed just like normal with no issues at all.  Then, as it got warmed up and used, when I hit the grass that needed to be mowed, it started to struggle, sounding like it would die and it backfired.  The weird thing is that it ran fine when the mower deck was turned off.  And once it cooled down, it was also fine again for a bit. 

I finished the front yard, driveway and backyard and around the barn and shed.  This is part of a large area and leads to the trails that are off the driveway.  I didn't want to risk having the mower die so far from the shed.

This is on the side of the house, near the large mesquite...I couldn't get under there either.  This is about where it first started sputtering so I stopped and sat on the porch for a bit to do some Google searching.  Turns out there could be several issues.  I did try a few things but after doing what I could, I decided to drive it back to park it.  This is when I discovered it would work for a bit after cooling down so never one to waste a moment, I mowed some more while staying close to the shed until it did finally die.  I started it right back up (with the mower deck off) and drove it inside and parked it.  It could be bad gas, a clogged filter, maybe even a spark plug.  I'll keep researching and will try again this coming weekend.

It's always something...

This has NOT been a "Zen" kind of year.

Sunday, June 27, 2021


It's lazy Sunday and you know what that means...Hobart and some good food!

Hobart says Happy Pride month!

It's actually kind of a gray and overcast day today and as this posts, 2nd Man is napping.  I might have to do the same here in a bit.  Hobart is already out.

Steak Dinner

Today we had steaks with sautéed onions, french fries roasted in beef tallow and some wonderfully fresh avocado.  We SO want to grow an avocado tree (or two) at the farm.  It's one of our favorite things.  They are freeze sensitive so of course there IS that, ha.

House Wine in a can

I found these the other day.  It is the HOUSE WINE brand limited edition Rose' bubbles wine in a can.  We can honestly say we've never had wine in a can but it was a special version for Pride Month and I thought it would be fun to try...

Sparkling rose wine from House Wine

...and WOW it was SO good.  Just as good as any nice rose wine in a bottle.  The sparkling bubbles were really nice on a warm day.  Very refreshing.  A great flavor and easy to drink, we'll be looking for more of this to try out.  Well done and thank you HOUSE WINE.

Hope you all are having a great weekend.  An update tomorrow on the day yesterday.  It didn't all go as planned, ha.

Friday, June 25, 2021


Was in the store recently and saw this...

...a "pool" for the back end of a truck, though we think the word pool is a bit of a stretch, LOL.  More like a "cool tub" instead of a hot tub?  Or perhaps a bathtub?  Anyway, I saw it and laughed...and then I thought...

...we DO have a truck now!?


Wednesday, June 23, 2021


I'm a weather geek and with our view from the apartment balcony, we get to see some awesome storms as they move across the city.  Last month, we definitely had our share of storms.  

Of course, trying to capture lightning on a camera is like trying to, well, capture lightning in a bottle?

It's a lot waiting, seeing the lightning bolts and then clicking and hoping you got it.  I learned to put on the continuous shutter speed and take a bunch in a row.

(as always, click any image to enlarge) 

Got this bolt that was far away...

This was a really cool picture, capturing some across the sky and one possibly striking a building...

This one looks like daylight but it was as dark as the first one above.  The bolts radiated across the sky and lit it up but then a larger one spread out little branches...

This one was cool too.  Most of the storms like this usually come in from the West so we have a front row seat on the balcony to see some great storms.

Growing up, I would spend Summers mostly with one set of my Grandparents in Oklahoma (also, Oklahoma is my place of birth so many it's in my blood, ha).  Grandpa was always the one to go out and watch the skies for possible funnel clouds and so I'd go out with him and scan the sky too!

What about you all?
Do you like storm watching?

Monday, June 21, 2021


In most areas, garlic is planted in the Fall for Spring harvesting.  Of course you have to get the variety that works best for your climate.  There are hardneck and softneck varieties.


For us, we get softneck.  Growing garlic is much easier than you think.  You just get your bed ready, poke holes, drop the cloves in, cover it all up, mulch it and then just water occasionally (usually our Winter weather provides enough regular rainwater).  Water in the Spring if no rain and by late May or June, you have garlic ready for drying.  A few years ago, after a couple of earlier not so great attempts, we finally found a variety, the LORZ Italian, that worked great for us.

Garlic drying in the barn

We ended up with a LOT of garlic drying in the barn. 

The thing is, you have to order now (and in the next few weeks) for delivery in the Fall.  By the time we post about planting it in the Fall, it's too late for readers to order so we figured we'd be proactive and let you know now and remind you that if you want to plant garlic, in most places, now is the time to order it.

I put it off one year and by the time I tried to order, they were already out.  Last year with the pandemic I just plain forgot about it and sure enough, sold out!  So this year, 2nd Man has been reminding me to order it and I waited for it to show up and I ordered some.

Here is where we ordered ours from:


We do not get anything from them and this is not a paid endorsement, this is just us recommending a great company that had a quality product compared to what we had found elsewhere in prior years.

Here is the description from their website:

"Good at tolerating the heat of summer.  Lorz Italian excels in mild winter climates but is suitable for even the furthest north growing regions.  This robust, easy to peel artichoke cultivar imparts bold garlic flavor.  Very large bulbs with a storage life of about 10 months."

We found that to be 100% accurate as they did well for us and we had plenty of cooking garlic for almost a year.  A one pound bag gave us 36 great heads of garlic when we harvested.  There probably were about 48 if we used a bigger bed and we just might try that this fall by using the larger 4x8 raised bed.

Anyway, wherever you order from, now is the time to order garlic for the Fall!

Sunday, June 20, 2021


It's another lazy Sunday.  Hot.  Dry.  
Did we mention hot?

Sleepy Hobart 

Hobart is spending Sundays as he usually does...sleeping...dozing...laying around...occasionally eating...sleeping some more.  Sounds like a good day!

Here he has a pillow cushion to lay on.  And a cushion covered with his favorite blanket.  But he's chosen to sleep half on the floor and half on some packing cardboard that he "adopted".

Pineapple upside down cake

For us to share this weekend, I made a pineapple upside down cake.  It's an indulgent favorite and you can never go wrong with a classic like this.

Hope you are staying cool and safe!

Saturday, June 19, 2021


Off to the farm...on a hot day/hot weekend.

We're under a heat advisory and you may have seen the headlines that Texans are being urged to conserve electricity so the grid doesn't go down like it did during the Winter.  Don't even get us started on the political incompetence that has led to this, sigh.  

The headlines here in Houston are that we dodged a bullet with the tropical disturbance that is making landfall near New Orleans.  We are, of course, on the dry side of the storm and so we won't get any of the 20+ inches of rain they expect on the other side. 

I'm hoping I don't have to mow today, the big project will need to be the edging around the fruit tree beds.  Oh my gosh, it is OUT of control.  Hopefully, I will have before and after pics to share.

Fingers crossed that I get that part done.

Hope you have a great weekend, stay cool if you are someplace hot and for those in the path of the tropical weather, stay safe!

Thursday, June 17, 2021


Periodically we like to keep it easy and quick and simple.  During the lockdown/quarantine, we had this often.  It couldn't be easier and now we have it often.  

Ingredients for egg noodles and herbs

Egg noodles, butter, and parsley.  In this batch we added some thyme that we had.  Boil the egg noodles, drain (reserve a bit of liquid if needed), add the butter and the herbs to the hot pasta and stir until butter is melted.  Pour in just a bit of the hot water that the noodles were boiled in to make a sauce.

Buttered egg noodles with herbs

Dish it up and serve.  We like the wide egg noddles because they are more substantial in a meal with few ingredients like this.  Buttered noodles have been a thing for years and are a nice side dish or base for something on top but honestly, we just love them as a simple and quick meal.  As an added bonus, the leftovers could be warmed up the next day on the side of something like roasted chicken or meatloaf.

During the lockdown, it was a wonderful way to have a filling meal using very little.  We always have butter in the fridge, the spice cabinet is full of herbs and we had fresh available.  Since I love pasta, I made sure we had every size and shape of pasta and egg noodle stored away in the pantry.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021


Here is another weekend harvest...

Another small harvest from our small garden.  The red tomatoes, four cucumbers (with 2 oddly shaped round ones and a forgotten giant), and two asian eggplants.

We're hoping to get more of the cucumbers before this happens to them...

...the rain really set these off and they have grown exponentially.  In addition the ones I was able get in the first picture, there were these four yellow ones (we understand those are bitter) that were overripe and overwatered.  We'll have to see how that levels out over the next few weeks of harvesting.

Monday, June 14, 2021


It was a hot weekend (see yesterday's post).

2nd Man was experiencing some post vaccine fatigue so I headed out Saturday morning by myself to the farm.

At 2:00pm it was a feels like of 103.  It only got worse.  Yesterday we were close to 110 degree heat index.

The first thing I did was start mowing.  It was a long haul.  There was a lot of starting and stopping for breaks.  The stats below... 

...are not entirely accurate.  It was almost two hours on the mower but was two hours for sure because I forgot to turn on the app for about 10 minutes after I started. The whole process, because of having to stop and get off to unclog something or take a break for some water, was probably closer to about three hours.

This is the driveway...about midway through it.  That area on the side is the low spot and it was dry but slightly muddy.  Probably not enough to get stuck but enough to make me think twice about trying.  I did get a bit closer but not all the way to the fence line.

Here is where we park, last weekend it was underwater, this weekend nice and dry.  But the area of longer grass you can see, I usually mow that but it was also a bit too muddy for comfort, ha.

I did some other things but it just go so hot that I couldn't do much more.  I called it a day about 4:30.

AND NOW...for the not so fun part of living in hurricane country...we have to keep our eye on the Gulf as a tropical depression has formed and the general path is in this direction.  It could come straight this way or it could move more toward Louisiana which of course would put us on the "clean side".

Either way, we need to keep an eye on it because the arrival would be...the weekend.  Sigh.

Sunday, June 13, 2021


 It's been a good weekend.  

But hot.

They are warning people to stay inside or be very careful outside.  It's very hot with our "feels like" temps approaching 110 degrees.  We're in for a long, hot Summer, that's for sure.

Here's what Hobart has done all weekend.  Sleep in the nice air-conditioned comfort of home.

We'l be honest though, we've done that today.  I was at the farm all day yesterday (more on that tomorrow).  Today, I thought about going back out but I was just worn out.  It was ALL day in the heat on Saturday and it sapped my energy.  2nd Man had what we believe was a bit of a delayed vaccine reaction and was tired and lethargic all day Friday and yesterday.

He is much better today.

Hope you had a great weekend and are staying cool!

Saturday, June 12, 2021


No rain in 8 days...

Sunny and clear...

Temps in the 90's...

It should be a good day to mow and edge and do a hundred other things I need to do at the farm.  However, mowing is number one on my list.  I have GOT to mow or we'll start to lose some of the trails and it will just get harder and harder to cut.

There could be rain next week so this is the window of opportunity!  

Hope you all have a great start to your weekend!

Thursday, June 10, 2021


Well, we did it.

We have been fully vaccinated!

For me, this was a Mt. Everest moment.  You see, I have a terrible fear of needles.  My fear comes from a childhood trauma.  I was bitten by a stray cat when I was about four or five and they couldn't catch the cat so I had to have rabies shots.


In the stomach.

Over the course of a few weeks.

With 1969 "needle technology".

Ironically, LOVE cats, HATE needles, ha.

(rabies shots are much better now)

Since 2nd Man and I didn't really get out into public situations much, we waited to let more people get their vaccines first but then it became so widely available here, we decided to do it.  Had our first shot back a couple weeks before Memorial Day weekend and then a couple of days ago we got the second dose.

For those afraid of needles, I have to say, I did NOT feel a thing.  Literally the first shot (don't look at it) I was looking away, I felt him rub on the alcohol, I was chatting away talking about my rabies shots experience and whatever else and the guy goes "all done!".  I swear to you if you offered me $100 to tell you the moment he injected me, I would lose that bet.  It was an amazing experience.  I was actually looking forward to the second and same thing this time, though I did consciously try to catch the moment.  I "think" I did know the microsecond moment I might have felt it but again, a wonderful experience. 

I'm happy to report, no reaction with either the first or the second shot, other than a sore muscle in the arm.   I may have had a bit of a low grade fever in the night while I was sleeping, but I didn't take my temperature, woke up feeling fine and went to work just like normal.

We got the Pfizer vaccines.  Other than the sore arms I mentioned, everything was normal for both of us.

We will still wear masks for the foreseeable future when in large gatherings.  Texas has pretty much dropped mandatory masks and most businesses have done that as well.  However, signs saying "masks encouraged" or "masks suggested" (instead of "masks required") are now up and in Houston at least, most people honor that and wear their masks.  But we feel both relieved and empowered now that we "have our shots" (sounds like going to the vet).  It's a weight off our shoulders.

And we know how Hobart feels...ha! 

Monday, June 7, 2021


This part of Texas started May with a rainfall deficit but during the month, we "officially" received 11.5 inches of rain.  The farm total has been closer to 15 inches.

Thankfully it didn't come all at once but in some ways that might have been better, or at least if it was spread over a few days.  Instead, it rained on and off almost every day for a month which helped prevent major widespread flooding of cars and homes but caused the ground to just become supersaturated.

At the top edge of this photo you can see my car parked and in the middle of the photo is where I usually park the car.  I have already gotten a mower stuck, I was not about to get the car stuck this time, so I parked in the high spot of the yard.

Still, the garden and indeed the whole farm, is just SO wet with water.  It's standing everywhere that there is a low spot, including here in the garden...

The back of the garden is really wet but at least the middle is a little higher (where the veggies are) so there is not as much standing water...

...but at the front, it's really standing.  The weed cloth fabric we have lets water permeate, but we're guessing the ground is too saturated to absorb any more water.  The gate won't even close because the wood is swollen.  I had to use a brick to keep it closed.  Oh and of course weeds are filling a couple of unused beds because I have not been able to get out there to weed them.

The veggies seem to be fine.  We have had the automated watering system off for the entire month of May and it's still producing veggies.  We just used Mother Nature's soaker hose, ha.

Mosquitoes, image courtesy of wikicommons

Of course all of this standing water means MOSQUITOES...clouds of mosquitoes.  I wore my rubber mud boots and shorts, and my knees have bites on them.  I did wear a long sleeve shirt.  They are horrible little things, that's for sure.  

This was the yard last weekend when I tried to mow and it was left a mess...

...but it bounces back nicely.  This was Saturday (notice the sky, rain was coming) but it wasn't too bad.  Of course I couldn't mow so this coming weekend it will be definitely be ready.  BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS...

Here is the forecast for this week.  WOO HOO!  NO RAIN!  Sure, highs near 90 but they said it would just be hot and sunny all week with no real rain threat.  That means we'll have a week of things drying out.  Hopefully this weekend will be dry and ready for work...I'll have my work cut out for me, that's for sure.