Monday, April 29, 2024


It was a good, but interesting, day on the Zen Machine.

I got out there and first thing I did was start mowing...

It has been two weeks so it was ready to be mowed and with rain yesterday and a couple more days of rain chances, I needed to get as much done as possible.   You can see above it was getting a bit tall.  Yes, I cut it short, it's fine as I always do it like this, it helps between mows to keep it more manageable.

But I did encounter an issue.

I stopped about halfway through to take a break and then add fuel because the gauge showed it was at about a quarter of a tank.  I did that and hopped back on and it started right up but as soon as I turned on the mower blade deck (PTO), it died.  Just great.

I tried several times, same thing.  I drove it around and then would turn on the PTO and it still died.  So I got off in and left it in the shade to cool down and I did the edging around the fruit tree beds.  I got back on an hour later and same thing, it would die.

I got out my phone and checked some websites and they said to check the belts and see if the pulleys turned.  They didn't.  Something was wedged underneath.  I felt around and found the culprit: a clump of damp grass that had created a wedge between one blade and the edge of the deck.

Here it is!

Pulled it out a little at a time until I could wiggle the blade and then it moved just enough to let me pull this out.  2nd Man said "that little thing caused all that?"  Yep, it was just in the right spot and created a substantial wedge.

It was time to be back on the Zen Machine and after another 45 minutes or so, I finished.

Looking nice and neat...for another week anyway, ha.

I paused the mower app so it would not record extra time or mileage so this is about normal.

On the plus side, I had eyes on me the whole time...or maybe they were just grazing, ha.  But regardless, it was a great view and so relaxing.

Hope you all had a great weekend!  We had a very good meeting yesterday that is getting us closer to an announcement.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 28, 2024


We are off to a farm related appointment today and hoping we beat the rains that are coming later this afternoon.  Time for some good food and some Hobart!

2nd Man use to regularly make this, a Mexican dish called picadillo which is ground beef and potatoes in a tomato based sauce (with good seasonings of course).  With our new way of eating he decided to change it up a bit.  He used ground turkey and mushrooms with yellow squash and zucchini.  It's very good!

Hobart will be sleeping while we're gone and of course, we will have to make a warm nest for him to sleep in before we leave. Because....


Saturday, April 27, 2024


Tomorrow we have an important appointment so today is the day to get all this done (also rain tomorrow).

First time in two weeks (too wet last weekend).  I'm sure I will also need to edge around the fruit trees and then use the electric mower around them all.  Should be a full day of Zen Machine fun.

With more rest breaks in between of course!

Thursday, April 25, 2024


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.

This is what I saw sticking out.  I pulled out the bag and thought, hmm, let me take this upstairs and see what this is...

As I carried it upstairs, I moved stuff around inside and realized it was crocheted items.  I poured them out onto a table and...

...they are handmade Easter baskets, bunnies and eggs!  I sorted through them all and disposed of the Easter grass (we can get that when we need it).

I put them all together.

There were nine complete sets, nothing missing, (unless maybe there were ten or twelve, ha).  There are 9 baskets with 2 eggs each and then 9 bunnies with eyes, big ears and a little puffy tail.  SO cute.

Not sure what we'll do with them.  We have great nieces and nephews and friends with kids of all ages, so they'll be cute to share.  We figured someone made these by hand, with love of course, and probably for someone's child or children so we just couldn't let them end up in a landfill somewhere.  They'll go in our Easter box for next year.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2024


This past weekend was a bit of a washout.  Saturday we had an appointment that we couldn't miss (it was a good one, more on that in a future post) and so my plan was to go out on Sunday.  But as we left our appointment Saturday afternoon, it was getting darker and darker and sure enough, the rains came...

...this was the radar at the farm at midnight Saturday  when the storms in Houston woke us up.  2nd Family said that we got about 2 inches of rain and on Sunday it was standing water.  So no need to go mow and I took the break and made myself useful, ha.  I decided to put some stuff up for future use.

First up, really loved the quick pickled onions that I've been making.

I got out some jars and put all the ingredients in.

Now they are ready to go for use over the next couple of weeks in our meals (and snacks!)

I went to Costco at lunch the other day to buy some things and picked up a couple of their famous rotisserie chickens (huge, delicious and only $4.99!).  I took the meat off and made a few bags for the freezer.

I divide them into about 2 well packed cups each and one chicken gives us...

...three bags for future use!

Also picked up a bunch of zucchini and yellow squash at the farmers market last week so I sliced them up, froze them individually while laid out on a sheet pan and then mixed them up and vacuum sealed them for future use.

Our local grocery store had pork loins for 99 cents a pound.  That's too good a deal to pass by. This was an 9 pound loin so it was $8.91.

After slicing it up, we ended up with two pork loin roasts and six thick cut pork chops.  That's five meals for us, seven actually since we eat the pork roast over a couple of days.

Rainy days are productive!

Sunday, April 21, 2024


 It's time for our usual Sunday posting of some food and some Hobart.

Nothing like a good breakfast (well, brunch) of homemade corn tortillas, scrambled egg whites and some great toppings for a Tex-Mex taco.

We dropped a dishtowel on the floor and it didn't take Hobart long to find it...we spread it out flat and it didn't take him long to pass out.  Of course, we allowed it.  Because...


Friday, April 19, 2024


Found these the other day at a store...

These great bottles!  They are super clear glass and have nice, tight-fitting caps. They are also food grade which will be good because I'm already thinking of perhaps using one to make a LARGE bottle of homemade vanilla extract.  Then we can pour it out and create lots of little jars to use as gifts and/or sell at a farmers' market that is held near the farm.

I'm sure there are many other ideas for using them.  I bought two and then went back the next day and got a third one, three always seems a good number for some reason, ha.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024


Look at Bill the truck earning his keep, ha!

We picked these up recently, they are called Sweet Almond bush...scientific name Aloysia Virgata.  Another name is Almond Verbena and another is Incense bush.  There's a reason for that.  They have an incredible scent.  Very strong but wonderful.  They bloom for months on end throughout the heat of the Summer.

I bought three as they are going to be planted along the driveway, in-between the existing purple vitex (Texas Lilac) already there.  We have four of those so we figured one in between each will make the driveway have purple and white bushes from one end to the other.  The purple flowers of the Texas Lilac look very similar to these flowers.

And hey, look at the new wheelbarrow getting a workout, ha!

They are on the porch for now (not on the railing, this was for the picture, ha).  They won't be in the ground just yet, need to mow and use the weed whacker in the areas where they will be planted and then get the auger machine to create the holes.  That will happen in a couple of weeks.

They are already in bloom, and we wish we could describe the smell.  It's sweet and kind of like honey in a way.  I have heard it described as almonds and vanilla, and I guess it does remind some people of incense, that's probably why that name stuck.  Smelling the scent on the breeze will be wonderful and they'll add some color.  That's a win/win in our book!

Monday, April 15, 2024


 You may remember that one of our blueberry bushes died last Summer.

Here it was last September.  It was one of the two Tiff Blue varieties we have.We had hoped it would come back after Fall/Winter dormancy but, alas, it did not.  We're not sure why it died, but after it had gotten nibbled down to the ground by the great goat invasion, LOL, it always seemed to struggle when it came back.

Recently I went to the garden center to look for a replacement.  We have two "Austin" bushes and of course the two, now one, "Tiff" bushes.  We were thinking of getting another Tiff but figured we could try something else, there is not rule that says we have to only have two varieties.  The store had Tiff and Austin and some others.  I did a quick Google search for good varieties for our area and in addition to Tiff and Austin, they mentioned "Brightwell".  I looked around and they had that variety that I was just reading about!

I bought some of the raised bed soil we use but also some soil acidifier to amend it and some pine bark mulch to top it off.  Using the truck once again, nice to keep the mess out of my Jeep, ha.

So, here is the newest addition to the orchard area, the "Brightwell blueberry".  According the the description, it is very heat tolerant and drought tolerant.  That will work for our crazy climate!

We left it on the porch for a couple weeks until we were ready to plant it and it's COVERED in blooms.  We're sure we will lose some after it's planted but hey, it will obviously be good for next season.

I loaded it all up into the new (old) wheelbarrow and hauled it to the raised bed.  Removed the old one and dug out the soil a bit.  Added the raised bed soil and soil acidifier to it, put it in the ground and then surrounded it with the pine bark mulch...

...and here it is (the wind was blowing so it was hard to get a picture, ha), it looks great and hopefully is happy and off to a great start this season.

Sunday, April 14, 2024


 It's been a good weekend.  Lots of little projects done and some resting.  Oh, and good food with Hobart doing his share of resting too.

First, the good food:

2nd Man pan seared salmon (you know we're all into fish now, ha).  This was so good.  He seared it and then served it over these wonderful "harvest grains" mix that we enjoy (a heart healthy blend of couscous, split baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa).  We drizzled it with coconut aminos (our new favorite substitute for soy sauce) and some broccoli microgreens.


Hobart had no projects to do but he did a lot of resting for sure.  This is one of his favorite front of the refrigerator (warm air blowing out from it) and he rests his head on the mat in front of the stove.  Is he in the path of activity in the kitchen?  Yes.  Do we let him and step over and around him?  Of course!  Because...


Saturday, April 13, 2024


You probably saw our post yesterday with the deer coming back and forth for a few days but those were in the evening, no daylight pics.  But then I checked the other memory card and found this one.

I had to zoom in and crop it so you could see it well, but here's one having a good time running through the front yard.   Too cool.

Heading to the farm as this posts, we're taking some stuff out there and need to take some measurements for some planning. 😊

Hope your weekend is off to a good start!

Thursday, April 11, 2024


We haven't posted any trail cam photos because honestly, we hadn't had much happening for a few months.  Maybe it was Winter and now that Spring is here, there is more activity.

Pulled the card last weekend and, well, these three were pretty interesting...

This was taken on 3/25 at 7:26pm.
Four deer strolling through the front yard...

This was taken on 3/26 at 7:27pm.
More deer (or the same), strolling through the front yard again...

This was taken on 3/27 at 7:29pm.
Deer again strolling through the front yard...

All of these on three consecutive nights at almost the exact same time, within minutes of each other!  7:26, 7:27, and 7:29!  That's crazy!  Interesting to see how much of a routine they have.

There were no others before and no others after.  Not sure where they went or what they were doing but they were apparently on a schedule!  Ha!

Fascinating creatures for sure!

Tuesday, April 9, 2024


Saturday was a perfect day for mowing.  I thought about skipping, but with heavy rain in the forecast, I figured if I waited, it would be even worse this weekend and maybe too wet to mow then.

So, it was a great day of mowing, cool breeze and just perfect weather.  I was having a great time until a glitch happened that hadn't ever happened before.

I was mowing a trail and I went through an area where the branches were hanging across the path.  I did as I always do, ducked down and drove slowly through them.  However, on one of the branches (mesquite), a thorn caught my hat and pulled it off.  I stopped the mower and got off and looked around to see where it landed and thought, "why are things so blurry?"

My glasses were gone as well.  Oops!

I looked around, but let's be honest, if you need glasses to see clearly, looking for your glasses without said glasses, well, it just doesn't work, ha.  I went over to 2nd Family (she was out mowing as well) and asked her to come help me look.  

On the ground?  No.

Under the mower?  No.

In the brush?  No.

Not sure if you can see in the photo above but they are there.  In plain site.

Here is a closeup:

They were hanging in the branch!

Ha!  I think we both spotted them about the same time.  Hey, I kept my heart rate under control so that was good, LOL!  I thanked her and we each went about the rest of our mowing adventures.

It was about average.  A few spots I skipped but overall, a great day to mow.

And get things looking ship shape for another couple of weeks (hopefully).  I did a little edging but remembered what the doctor said and took my time and didn't overdo.  I can finish next weekend, no hurry.

OK, so it was cloudy, overcast and sprinkling most of the day yesterday.  Not very conducive to seeing the eclipse, even if at 95%.  When you wake up and it's dark skies and then it gets darker for a few minutes and goes back to just still dark, it's not very noticeable, ha.

2nd Family took this pic...

...using a phone camera through the glasses.  It didn't get this dark, ha, but still pretty cool.  She said the same thing, it was dark and gray but with a few breaks in the clouds and she was able to get this one.

And I wish I could take credit for this one, I just found it on social media with no credit to who came up with it.  It was too cute not to share.  But now, you can say you have seen the full (Oreo) eclipse!  😀