Saturday, July 31, 2021


As this posts, I'll be driving to the farm.  2nd Man is staying in town to work.

I may mow again, I'm really going to see how it looks since Tuesday.  I would like to focus on the garden today and pull weeds to get that cleaned up.  It's so "visually" overwhelming when I see it, it makes me nervous when I'm out there.  There are still some vegetables producing so I'll have a small harvest to bring back for us.  

Also needing work is the area around the fruit trees.  Because of the deer fencing, I can't get the mower in there like I used to.  2nd Family has a new lawnmower they said I could borrow anytime so that would work perfectly in there.  That area also gives me a nervous twitch, ha.  We'll just have to see how the heat goes.

It is almost August 1st.  The hottest month of the year for us and the time when we always post that we try to do as little as possible outside.

Hope your weekend is off to a great start!


Friday, July 30, 2021


When I was mowing the other day, I realized I came across the spot where I got the mower stuck in the mud a few months ago:

This is what it looked like back then.  I was trying to clear some new areas because it's much easier to do in the Winter.  It's how I have been able to clear so much of the property and make trails and cleared areas.  On this day however, it was too muddy in this spot and I pushed my luck.  My fault.  This shows what would have been cleared if I had been able to finish.

Since I didn't get to clear it then and I stopped mowing in that spot for fear of getting stuck again... is what it looks like now.  The "X" is where I was stuck in the first photo.  Amazing how quickly it all comes back.  I just stopped here on the trail, took a photo, turned around and went back in the safety of the OTHER direction, ha.

This weekend I plan to mow again over the same areas where I mowed the other day.  Or not.  If it looks good, it's so hot I may just focus on the garden cleanup.

Nature finds a way!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


It's the little things in life, LOL.  

First of all, check this out:

The guy at the shop said he'd put some of the debris that was in the fuel tank into a little baggie for us and here it is.  WHAT THE HECK?  We have NO idea how this got INTO the fuel tank. The only thing we can think is over the years perhaps debris from the fuel can fell in.  Now one time, I DID mow with the gas cap off after filling it, but only for a few feet.  It's possible something got in then.  Otherwise it's a sealed system.

When I started it, it was definitely smoother and seemed not as loud as it has been.

I decided to do it a bit differently this time because it was so high in places.  I turned on the blades but raised the mowing deck all the way up.  This cut the grass but wasn't close to the ground.  It also didn't mulch it all up but overall, it did a great job.  My plan is to go over it again this weekend like "normal" and hopefully that will get it back to the way it normally is and in this hot Summer, not much more mowing.

Here is the area off the porch, before...

...and the same area after.  Still some tidying up to do, but not too bad. 

Here are the numbers...about normal for most mowing weekends that I've done.

Another before and after:

The front yard from the porch before...looks OK but the grass is REALLY tall...

...and here it is after.  Heck, I might keep mowing with the deck up for awhile, it's easier and doesn't look bad.

Look at this from the mowing app:

The last full mowing of everything was on June 12th.  Yesterday was July 27th.  That's six weeks!  The mowing on June 19th was when it started acting up and I didn't finish.  Then I tried again on the 26th and only got the driveway done.  On the 3rd, it only went a few minutes before it died and they picked it up after that.

It was hot but there was a slight breeze and all was good.  This weekend is supposed to be really hot.  I hope to get some edging done and pull up those weeds in the garden but we'll see how everything else goes.

Now it's back to work after a day in the country.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


Well as this posts, I'll already be at the farm.  Got up early this morning with the regular alarm for getting up to get ready for work, took my shower and headed out.

It'll just be a different kind of work, ha.

I'm hoping that the day will go well but it's weird to be typing this and not knowing how it will go with the mowing.  Heck, we don't even know how it looks out there after a couple more weeks of no mowing.  The good news is that 2nd Family told us it's bone dry, so that's a good thing.  No mud to worry about!

I'm going out with the plan to do about half of it.  However, once on the mower, if I have a breeze to my back and things are going well, I could end up doing most or all of it.  Well, I won't do the REALLY high spots, I will have to wait for those this weekend when I'll knock it down with the trimmer first and then mow whatever is left over.  I just have to remind myself it doesn't all have to be done today...

Yesterday, we made it to 98. The "feels like" was approaching 110.  I have sunscreen, a big hat, a long sleeve shirt, fully charged headphones, lots of cold water in the fridge and I'll take plenty of breaks.

Update tomorrow.
Wish me luck!

Monday, July 26, 2021


The Zen Machine is coming back today!

You might have seen the Saturday post, I skipped the farm this weekend because the mower was not back yet so there was no point in going.  They tried to get it back before this past weekend but it wasn't meant to be.  The soonest they could get it back was today.

So as this posts, it should be delivered.

They did all sorts of testing and narrowed it down to a problem with the fuel system.  Ultimately, they took out the tank, drained it, and the guy said the bottom of the tank was full of debris.  He used a great analogy of a strawberry milkshake.  He said you know how you try to suck it up into the straw and then a piece of strawberry gets in the straw and you can't drink as much of the milkshake?  Then it dislodges and you can drink some more?  Well that's what was happening in the fuel.

The debris would go up into the tube and it would clog it up.  Then dislodge and work for a bit.  The more I used it, the more it would clog up.  Moving back and forth would slosh around the debris and clog it up.

He said when they ran it, it purred like a kitten...

We'll see if I notice a difference.  The plan is to take a day off tomorrow and I'll go out there and mow.  I really can't wait until Saturday, better to get a jump on it.  I'm going to mow what I can easily, and then wait until this weekend and used the trimmer to knock down the taller stuff and then mow it down, that way I don't damage the mower.  We'd like to get it through this season and next year we'll looking into something new.

It's always something!  Hopefully we're back up and running like "the old days", ha. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021


This graphic kind of says it all...

...a hot weekend is here. It only rained a bit at the farm on Monday and then it's been just hot and dry all week.

That's actually good news for mowing, it means the yard will be nicely dried and easy(ish) to mow.  The bad news is I don't have the Zen Machine back for this weekend.

BUT back to good's ready!  Yep, all fixed up (more on that in an upcoming post).  They just couldn't get it delivered by the weekend so instead, it will be delivered Monday.  Since there is no way I could wait until NEXT weekend to mow (it's only getting taller by the hour, ha) I am going to take a day off Tuesday.

I'm pretty sure that mowing will be a multi-day task so I will do what I can Tuesday and then again next Saturday and/or Sunday.  Check out the forecast for the week.  NO RAIN!  Phew.  Of course, Tuesday looks like it will be the hottest day of the week but hey, we do what we have to do.

So this weekend we'll be staying in town and it will be a nice break from the routine.  We're going to run some errands and eat some good food.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, July 23, 2021


Not sure if we've ever shown this.  This is one of my favorite things at the farm.  It's not a valuable painting or something by a famous artist...

Neal Butcher Mum's Painting

...this was on the wall at my grandparents house for all the years I can remember.  It hung in my grandmother's bedroom.  After her death and then my grandfather's passing the following year, as I was helping my Mom clear out stuff I asked if I could have this.  It now hangs in the foyer of the farmhouse.  Whatever we do with the house, be it new or remodeled, this will always be hanging somewhere in the house.  It's by Neal Butcher and it a print (sort of) not an original work of art.  It's printed on a type of cardboard canvas and probably dates from the 50's or 60's.  I remember it being in their house as far back as the early 70's when I was very little.

What we'd like to ultimately do is find a spot where we can hang this picture on the wall and then have all the white milk glass (original post about that HERE) in a cabinet underneath it.  It would look nice.

Friday is here finally, it's been a long week.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


Well even after the downbeat post the other day there was some good to come out of that weed infested garden and it's still producing!  Apparently veggies don't care what it looks like, ha.

Here is the small harvest.  Hiding back behind the tomatoes and cucumbers is a jalapeño that fell off while I had my back turned and I missed it in the picture.

But I had an idea for this harvest...

2nd Man had baked some bread Sunday morning because, well, baking is fun and, so he says, relaxing!  It was also a good way to end the weekend.

TexMex crostini

We toasted some slices, spread some avocado on them and then I made a pico de gallo with some diced up tomatoes and jalapeños from our garden!  All I had to add was some chopped onion and cilantro and sprinkled it all with cotija cheese. 

Sort of a TexMex farmhouse crostini, ha!

Monday, July 19, 2021


This is one of those posts where we also show the bad things that happen.  The rains we've had over the last weeks have finally ended.  And we do mean weeks...I think our area went more than 30 days straight with rain.  No flooding of course now that it has finally stopped, the damage has been done.

The farm is mud and standing water EVERYWHERE.  Whatever happened to the mower happened during mowing sessions, I might have gotten water in it somehow.  It is still in the shop and I haven't been able to mow in over three weeks now.

This weekend will be four weeks and that long without the zen machine leads to this...

...the yard is rapidly spiraling out of control.  This is one side of the garden fence.  Even the trees have encroached and they are mesquite, covered in thorns.

This is the side yard under "Barnabas" (our really old mesquite tree beside the house).  Normally you can walk under this.  We're not sure where the grass/weeds end and the tree begins, ha.

Then I went to open the gate to the garden and it fell off the hinges and into the mud.  The wood was so saturated with water, the screws wouldn't hold in anymore.  I'm hoping that once it's dried up, I'll just be able to shoot some new screws in and fix it.  But for now, it's leaning against the opening and being propped up with bricks.

And now for the real horror story...

...the garden.  Look at all the standing water..  Sure this part (the unused side) doesn't look TOO bad but you can see some weeds growing in the back.

 But here is the other side...


The front two beds are unused this season but a month ago, they were almost weed free.  Now they are FILLED with weeds.  Also grass growing all around the outside of the beds that are being used.

What a mess.

We kind of think for the garden, we'll just keep harvesting as long as it produces and then I'll just leave the mess until the Fall when the whether is cooler.  It'll be easier to pull the weeds out and get the beds clean.

For those who might remember that we recently ordered our garlic for Fall planting, there are two beds at the back of the garden that are still covered up and ready to go as soon as we need them.  I planned ahead so if there was a delay, I'd be able to get those planted.

As for the yard, we're not quite sure what to do there.  The mower should be back this week.  We've thought about paying someone to mow it but can't decide.  I could ask to borrow "R's" mower, but that's asking a lot (not to mention my track record of mud and mowers, ha).  I think if the mower is working fine, since we aren't supposed to have any rain this week, it should be nice and dry and hopefully I can mow.  I might just do the driveway and yard around the house and shed and wait on the trails until the Fall when it's easier to mow.  We'll just have to see how it goes.

It's overwhelming at times but we'll get through it.  It's what we signed up for when we went on this journey.  Things come up and stuff happens.

Sunday, July 18, 2021


It's been a quiet weekend.  Today I went downstairs to pick up our vanilla beans that were delivered.  The other day at lunch I bought a bottle of vodka so I'd be ready for the beans when they arrived...

Making vanilla extract with Vanilla Bean Kings

...and I started a new batch of vanilla extract.  Regular blog readers know this is a routine thing for us.  Instead of me repeating the instructions, CLICK HERE for a post from the last time we made it.  It has all the directions and links.  Great news too, the price for a batch of vanilla beans has come way down from where it was a year ago.

It takes just a few minutes to start it and then a couple of months of waiting to get the end result.

Hobart sleeping in the sun

And it's Sunday so that means Hobart time.  Here he is, trying to sleep on the bed in the sunshine (we can't make it when he's comfortable, ha). I say "trying to sleep" because I went in to take pictures and he kept waking up.  As you can see here in this picture, I think he's giving me the "side eye"!

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Friday, July 16, 2021


 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 quite a few cool items over the last few years.

Here is one of the latest!

(*Farmshark at the end of this post)

These are fun ones!  Decorative fleur-de-lis designs.  They were all stacked up and sitting in a cardboard box.  In fact at one point I thought it was just one large one or a couple.  Once I pulled them out of the box I realized there were four of them.

They are a very heavy cast iron in a dark bronze color.  We were trying to figure out what they were originally used for.  Since they are flat on the backside and heavy, we were thinking doorstops?  Or maybe bookends?  Or perhaps they are just decorative objects?

I immediately thought about them becoming something decorative in the garden or yard instead of the house.  Maybe they could be painted in bright fun colors?  They could be really cute pops of color in a future planting of bushes or flowerbeds...

And now for today's Discovery Channel Shark Week contribution...

Now you see why I didn't mow this part of the driveway...beware of the FARMSHARK!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


Forgot to give a weekend update.  It was a mess.  How's that for an update, ha!  SO much rain, so much mud and things are just, well, ugly.  

I drove the mower (see the muddy tracks?) as it sputtered and tried to die over to the "pick up" spot.  They came Monday and picked it up to take it to the shop.  We hope we get it back Friday because if we don't and we have another week of not mowing, I shudder to think of the mess I'll have on my hands.

Oh and I had to park the Jeep on the high spot in the yard and facing out so I didn't back into a low muddy spot if it started raining.  My car is 4WD but I don't really want to go "mudding" in our yard, ha.

The garden is still producing (the veggies are loving the rains).  Here is the haul this weekend.  A few tomatoes and some more cucumbers.  It's kind of nice having these small harvests, it's like going to the store and picking up a few things for the upcoming week, ha.

We used a few of them for a wonderful salad.  There is literally just NO COMPARISON when it comes to home grown tomatoes vs store bought.  It might just be nature's most perfect thing to grow.

Once again, in honor of "Shark Week" on Discovery...

It's SO wet at the farm, you never know when FARMSHARK will breach the surface!

Monday, July 12, 2021


Last week, we posted HERE about a leaning apple tree.  We teased that we'd have something else to show and here it is...look what we had!

One.  Beautiful.  Apple.

From our own tree!

There were several apples on there even after we had that severe pruning not too long ago.  A couple of them fell off in a storm and then there were three left.  One got pecked on by birds and the other split open (uneven watering with our monsoon rains) and ants got into it.

But hidden in the tree, behind some leaves and branches was this apple.  It was picture perfect.

We let it chill in the fridge (we love a cold apple) and then sliced it up.  Wonderful flavor.  It is the Anna apple and was sweet with a bit of tartness.  2nd Man said they will make great pies.  Someday.

Yeah, we know, it was just one apple.  But that one perfect apple has proven that it is working and we know that we WILL have apples in our future.  Plus this is just one of the two apple trees we have.

Speaking of that other tree... is blooming now!  Not sure if the crazy Winter freeze stopped its normal blooming and now it thinks it's time.  Not even sure if we'll get an apple this year but it's fun to see.  This one is a "Dorsett Golden" apple variety, one of the other ones best suited to our region.

We'll take what we can get.  Baby steps!

In honor of "Shark Week" on Discovery Channel...

We think we know what happened to some of our apples!  FARMSHARK!!

Sunday, July 11, 2021


Regular blog readers will know that 2nd Man and I are big fans of Shark Week on Discovery Channel.  We've watched it every year.

Last year, because of the pandemic, it was a bit "lean" for programming.  This year seems like a good one, though we could do without some of the goofy shows that have been trending the last few years.  We like our sharks to be serious, ha.

It starts tonight!

We're constantly on the lookout for sharks at the farm and we try to document whenever we find them...stay tuned to this week's posts for some "Farm Shark" pictures.  Here's one for Hobart Sunday...

Nothing phases Hobart when he's comfy on a rainy day, not even a shark trying to share the blanket with him.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2021


This is similar to what we did to our turkey at thanksgiving (minus the duck fat).  

Dry brining chicken in the refrigerator

For these two, we seasoned them with kosher salt and that was it.  Then we put them on a foil lined baking sheet with a wire rack so that air can circulate around them and popped the pan in the fridge.  24/48 hours later and it's ready for cooking.  Take it out about an hour ahead of time to allow it to come to room temperature and since it's already on the pan you'll use for cooking, there's nothing extra to clean.

Dry brined and rubbed with oil

Rub them with olive oil and whatever extra seasonings you want to use, we added some pepper to them after I took this photo.  You can see the one on the left has been rubbed with oil but the one on the right hasn't been done yet.  It's a good way to see how the chicken changes in appearance after time in the fridge.

Then pop them in the oven, roast at 400 and about an hour or so later (temp it to make sure) you have...

Oven roasted chickens after dry brining

...two beautiful roasted chickens!

We always make two because we have one for that evening's dinner and the other one gets to cool down so  I can take the meat off the bones and vacuum seal it for the freezer.  This way, we have a bag of roasted and cooked chicken ready to go for a casserole or pot pie.

I mean, if we have to heat up the oven for one, we might as well do two (once we did three!).  We don't always do the dry brining, sometimes we're tired and just do a regular oven roasting but this method is really worth it if you have the time.