Friday, April 29, 2022

DECISION DECISION DECISION

Thought this was a fun picture.

Hmm, which one to drive.  One?  Two?  Three?  Well, turns out I ended up  driving all three last weekend!


Drove the Jeep,
out to the farm.

Drove the farm truck,
to the hardware store for supplies and the gas station for mower gasoline.

Drove the Zen Machine,
to get the yard cleaned up.

With 2nd Man's car added to this mix, we're gonna need a big garage at some point, ha!

My three favorite vehicles, ha!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

PORCH SPRING CLEANING AGAIN

It's that time of year again.  Or maybe we should say, it's that time of once every few years again, ha.

Time to clean off the porch.  Plants, plastic pots, some empty boxes from purchases, dead vines, empty clay pots, etc.  It's time to get rid of it or take it and put it wherever it belongs.


Didn't get before pictures but here's the after.  Back to neat and, relatively, tidy.  For those new to the blog, that door in this picture goes into the foyer.

And turning around back the other direction...


...here's the other end.  Again, neat and mostly tidy.  The plants on the side are the muscadine grapevines.  We'll need to figure out where to plant those.  This door goes into the mudroom/utility room.

It's more relaxing when things are where they belong and you don't have to look at clutter.  Plus it gives a much better first impression.  There is another reason we cleaned this off to make it look nicer but more on that in an upcoming post...

Monday, April 25, 2022

GARLIC UPDATE

Figured it was time to give a garlic update.  We planted the seed garlic last November, almost 6 months now.  You can see that post HERE.


How it started...


How it's going...

The garlic is at the point where we are watering it regularly again, just to keep it growing.  We will keep watering thru the end of May and stop.  Then, as the tops start to fade, it will be time to harvest sometime in mid-June.

Then we'll hang it up for two or three weeks to let it dry and then it will be ready to store away and use.

We do love garlic and using it in our cooking.  When it's roasted, I could eat whole cloves.  However, 2nd Man doesn't appreciate when I do that, ha.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY EASTER UPDATE

Hello all!  Last weekend was Easter and when I posted our good food and Hobart post, we were cooking Easter dinner and couldn't post that so we figure we'd share.  Here is what we had.  We love having this on occasion and it seemed like a good day for it.

Ham, the wonderful carver type ham we first found a few years ago and now that's all we ever get, homemade mac and cheese and roasted broccolini.  We also had some homemade bread.

For dessert, 2nd Man made a lemon pound cake.  

SO GOOD.

We found these fun bee items in the Easter aisle at the store and couldn't resist.  The hanging honey sign is on the inside door of the barn/workshop and the plaque, which has an embossed metal front with the bee, is on the desk in the barn.

We have an annual tradition of getting Lindt chocolate bunnies.  It's the only candy we get (at Easter anyway, ha) and we look forward to it.


It was warm last weekend so we had the a/c turned down a bit more than usual and Hobart was cold...so we covered him in one of his favorite blankets and he was happy as can be.  Because...

#notspoiled

Friday, April 22, 2022

LITTLE FARM TRUCK HOW DO WE LOVE THEE

...let us count the ways! 

We don't know how we ever got along without having a farm truck.  This investment has been great so far and it's only been out there a few weeks, ha!

We moved a large item from the storage unit to the farmhouse (forgot to get a picture of that).


The other day we needed to move empty boxes from the house to the barn so I backed it up to the porch railing and we just tossed the boxes into the backend. 

Then I drove to the barn, backed up to it and we unloaded them straight into the barn.


Another time I loaded some bags of soil and drove them to the back of the property.  Took the heavy filled up gas can and drove it to the mower shed (and brought my blower back to where it belonged as well).  Sure, these errands could be done with the small push cart but sometimes things are really heavy and it's a long walk back and forth not to mention we can't fit everything.  Uses like this will keep the truck running since it sits all week until we get there.


We are grateful for the "FARM USE" of our truck.  It was truly a great purchase and addition to our farm and we hope that it has many useful years with us.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

BREAKFAST TACOS WITH HOMEMADE TORTILLAS

Woke up the other morning and 2nd Man had made a batch of homemade flour tortillas.  


He's still working on a recipe that works best for us, so he tried this one.  He made a batch and put them in the tortilla warmer that we got last Fall (Day of the Dead) to keep them nice and hot.


Then he made hash browns that were mixed with a few eggs and some cheese...


...and put them all together into glorious breakfast tacos!  A little hot sauce and breakfast is ready!

A true Tex-Mex staple for breakfast...


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

MORE FRUIT BLOSSOMS

Since I posted about finding the last two fruit trees we wanted, we'll keep the theme going, ha.  The last of the fruit we have planted has finally bloomed out.

Mayhaw blossoms
This is the mayhaw tree, it's got several blossoms on it.  It is still a recently planted tree so we'll pinch off some of them to let it focus on root development.  We might leave a couple just to see what develops.

Blueberry blossoms
The other two blueberry bushes (we have two varieties) have bloomed which is exciting.  Hope to get our first harvest of blueberries this season.

Plum blossoms
And lastly the plum trees have bloomed out as well.  We really think plum blossoms are just so pretty.  They are small and delicate and bright white.

We already had apple and pear blossoms as well as the nectarine (former mystery tree).  We hope to have at least a few pieces of fruit this year.  I need to get our fishing line fence up soon to keep the deer out as the fruit develops.  We'll toss some bird netting over the trees later just to protect from aerial attack as well.

Monday, April 18, 2022

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

This weekend, I hit four garden places to try to find the last two trees we wanted.  Three of them said they had sold out of all their peach trees for the season.  The last place I stopped at had just gotten a shipment in.

La Feliciana peach tree
I looked at what they had and bought the best shaped one and one of the varieties that works best in our area.  Hard to tell in the picture but it's about 6' tall.  This is the "La Feliciana".  Good chill requirements for our climate and it's a freestone type with a sweet flavor.  They are adapted to our warmer weather and resistant to disease.  Also hardy during droughts and is freeze tolerant down to below zero (no worries there).  Done!

I was also looking for a fig tree.  The small one we have now is planted away from the orchard area and doesn't get the care it needs to produce well for us.  I found a few at the first couple of places but they were spindly and didn't look like what I had hoped to find.

Brown Turkey fig tree
Just when I feared all was lost for a fig tree this year, I found this one!  It's a Brown Turkey fig, about 5 feet tall and one of the absolute best for our area.  It's said to be the perfect fruit for both eating fresh (my favorite method, ha) and for jam, even sometimes producing two crops per season.  They are tolerant down to about 15 degrees which should be good for us.  Done!

FIG
PEACH
MAYHAW
POMEGRANATE 

Orchard mission accomplished.  

Well, except for planting...need to do that soon.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART EASTER SUNDAY

Happy Easter!

OK we are currently working on our Easter dinner so this picture is from the other night.  I was off Friday and so I went to the garden centers to snoop around and see what I could find (more on that in a post) and when I got home, 2nd Man was working on this.

Pork chop dinner

A pork chop (marinated overnight), diced sautéed potatoes and some wonderful asparagus spears with just salted butter and pepper.  So good.

Hobart sleeping

While we were eating, Hobart took my spot on the couch and spread out.  I didn't have the heart to move him so I stayed at the table on my laptop until he was done with his hard earned rest.  Because...

#notspoiled

Friday, April 15, 2022

HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT TIME AGAIN

Regular readers, bear with us, this is our semiannual post on making homemade vanilla extract, ha.  We post this because, for many readers, it's new.  Plus, as this blog always does, it helps us keep track of when we do stuff so we can look back and see a timeline, how often we make it so we know how much we used, etc.

2nd Man requested that I start another bottle so it would be ready October, just in time for holiday use.

Vanilla Bean Kings extract making
Our go to place now for buying our vanilla beans is VANILLA BEAN KINGS.  They have a nice variety and have great prices.  We order "Grade B" beans, they are best suited for extract and we use Madagascar, the most flavorful.

Homemade vanilla extract
We use ten beans in one 750ml bottle of vodka*.  Cut them in half (along the length to expose the inside) and drop them in the bottle.  That's it.  Six months later you have a giant bottle of premium vanilla extract.  You can filter it with a coffee filter and decant it into smaller bottles or containers.  2nd Man just uses it as is.

Cost:
10 Beans (free shipping):   $12
750ml Vodka (local store): $14
---------------------
$26 for the finished bottle.

The 750ml is approximately 25 fluid ounces.

A 4oz bottle of Nielsen-Massey vanilla extract is about $25.  That puts this bottle's value at around $150!

Not bad for a $26 investment.


*Side note, Smirnoff vodka is the brand we've always used and they are NOT a Russian company, they are British owned and most of the American product shipped here is manufactured in Canada.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

ONE TREE DOWN TWO TO GO

We've been keeping our eye out for the three more fruit trees that we need to finish the orchard area.  Well, we're going to have citrus at some point but we'll need an "orangery" or greenhouse for those and that will come later.  For now, we need to fill the three empty raised beds and replace another that didn't make it.

We filled one of the three a few months ago with a Mayhaw tree.

Our plans for the other two spots are a pomegranate and a fig.  We also need a replacement peach for the one that didn't make it last year.

I stopped at a couple of garden centers/nurseries on the way out the other day and there were no fig trees and the peach trees were not the best looking.

Pomegranate blowing in the wind

But I did find the other one we wanted.

Here is a "wonderful" pomegranate (that's the actual variety, not our description, ha) that I found.  It's both drought tolerant and can handle freezes into the teens.  That should work for our climate.  It will go in one of the outer beds since it grows in bush form and we'll put the fig in the other outer bed since it will grow in bush form as well.  Hope to find those this weekend.  

FIG
PEACH
MAYHAW
POMEGRANATE

At least we can scratch one more off the list.

Monday, April 11, 2022

NEW MINI ZEN THE SUNJOE CORDLESS MOWER

Well, this was sort of a birthday gift but also something we wanted and had been talking about.  We have the area around the raised beds with the fruit trees and we're sure many of you have seen the mess we often have because it's so hard to get the Zen Machine between the beds like we used to.  The, once we have the fishing line fence up (to keep out the deer) we can't get in with it at all.  The grass would grow unchecked.  

We've used the weedeater/trimmer but it's difficult to "mow" with it.  We tried to borrow 2nd Family's regular mower but it wouldn't start most of the time and was always a mess with oil and fuel etc.

So recently, we started thinking about electric mowers. There are really two options: corded or battery.  We could go corded since there is an outlet on the back of the house but we also thought about using it elsewhere in the yard on occasion and knowing me, I'd run over a cord, ha.  We opted for battery.

This is the one we decided on:


It's the SUNJOE brand and the model that we chose you can see HERE ON AMAZON.

Cordless electric mowers are pricey.  Since we aren't sure how well this will ultimately work out, we didn't want to go the really expensive route.  This one has steel blades, a 14" cutting path, adjustable height, a 10 gallon bag to catch clippings or, in the version we chose, you can just remove the bag and use a side chute.  It's not self propelled though and the run time is only about 30 to 40 minutes but for what we need, it is fine.

Sunjoe mower in the box

I thought I'd take it out and put it together at the apartment but when I saw how well it was packaged, I figured I'd just read the instructions ahead of time and be ready.  I loaded it up and headed to the farm.

Assembly was super easy.  It took me about 15 minutes while sitting on the porch with a cool breeze blowing.

Sunjoe charging

You just attach the upper handlebars and some clips for the wire and that's it.  It's very lightweight.  I plugged it in and let it fully charge while I was on the big Zen Machine.  It charges fully in about 3 hours.

Sunjoe blades

The body is hard ABS plastic but the blade is steel.  I decided to fire it up.  You push the button and pull the safety lever and it starts right up.  It's weirdly quiet.  Like a box fan on high speed.  It takes a bit to get used to it because your mind and ears are so tuned to gas engines and the noise they make.  

Here is an example of what needed to be mowed...

Sunjoe mowing before

This is before:

They are the areas between the square raised beds of the fruit trees and the round rings of the berry beds.  The Zen Machine won't fit and it's too much to try to do with just a weedeater so the grass (and weeds) grow. 

Sunjoe mowing after

And here is the same spot after.  

It will be great for this task and even later on for perhaps mowing around flower beds and getting under bushes and trees where the big Zen Machine can't fit in other places on the property.  Here though, I'll be able to slide it right under the fishing line fence and mow.

It's not perfect;  I sure wouldn't want to mow a large yard with it, the run time is a bit short, it's not self-propelled and the body is obviously not steel construction.  They (and other brands of course) have better models for that but for what we'll use it for right now, it IS perfect and best of all, no cords, no gas, no oil, no mess, and no loud noise.

Exactly what we needed!

The Sunjoe cordless electric mower

And besides, it's so stinkin' cute! 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

GOOD FOOD AND HOBART SUNDAY

It's a beautiful weekend here, perfect weather.  Time for some good food.  2nd Man made a couple loaves of bread yesterday.  

Always so good to have fresh bread.  He's getting into a routine of making a couple loaves every other week.  It keeps us in fresh bread and we can do some good things with it through the week...


...like this!  We toasted some up and spread it with avocado, fried eggs and some fresh cooked and crumbled bacon.  Simple and delicious!


Hobart of course doesn't have a care in the world, he just wants to soak up some sun!

#notspoiled

Friday, April 8, 2022

A PEAHEN COMES TO VISIT

So one of my dear friends sent me a text at work the other day (he works at another office of the same company I work for) and said "look what came to visit".

A female peafowl, otherwise known as a peahen.  She just wandered into their parking lot and peered through the front door.  He careful opened the door and she didn't run off.  

He got this picture when he went outside.

He got a fairly good closeup here.  The office that he works at backs up to a neighborhood with some large homes and properties.  This lady apparently wandered over to say hello.  She hung around for a bit and then disappeared back to whatever property she came from. He went looking for her just in case (and then jokingly asked me if we wanted a peahen for the farm, ha) but she was gone.

Funny story...years ago, my boss (former job) sang at his daughter's wedding.  We were all there and it was at an outdoor venue that had peacocks wandering around.  About midway through the song, they started singing along with him.  I must say, they make a crazy screaming sound that would be a bit disturbing if you didn't know what it was.

Memorable wedding for sure.

And they are stunningly beautiful.


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

ZEN MACHINE TIME AT LAST

It was a gorgeous weekend and time to tackle the mowing.  It's Zen Machine time!

It was a cool breeze and I was wearing a long sleeve shirt but I pushed the sleeves up about halfway through.  Oops, got a little sun!  Anyway, mowing the yard and driveway was primary of course but before they disappear with the Spring growth, I had to clear out some of the trails too so that we can still walk around in areas of the property.  

Here's a good before.  I knew where the "old" trail was and before the grass gets too tall to find it, I just followed the outline...

...and here it is after that.  Now it'll be easier for me to keep this "up" during the season and I can get to the trees for some trimming.


Now this isn't a trail of course, well, in a way it is...the car trail, ha.  One end of the driveway.  Just love when it's clean looking.


Here's another trail that is back to being clear.


Of course I mowed the rest of the yard.  We just love when it's so neat and tidy.  Hmm, let's check the stats:


Whoa, look at that!
Almost 2 HOURS on the Zen Machine!
8 MILES!
4 1/2 ACRES!

As always,


A good time was had by all!