Tag Archives: garden

Preparing for Spring

We’ve had some glorious three weeks of spring-like weather and now the cold and wind is back!!

Crocus are blooming and the jonquils and daffodils are up.

Crocus are blooming and the jonquils and daffodils are up.

Along with building a new cattle holding pen, hubby and I have been cleaning up around the farm while waiting on our lumber.   We had lots of trees come down during the fall and winter and we’ve been cutting them up for firewood and piling the brush to be burnt (if the wind ever quits blowing).  Hubby plowed the garden this week so if we had any cold weather (which we are experiencing now) the freeze and thaw would be great for the disking when we get ready to start the garden.

Starting to plow the garden.

Starting to plow the garden.

Dark rich soil for a promising 2017 garden crop.

Dark rich soil for a promising 2017 garden crop.

While he was plowing I started cleaning up the yard.  We have beautiful maple trees on three corners of the yard which provide us maple syrup in the spring and wonderous shade in the summer but in the fall and winter they shed their beautiful coats into our yard.  It takes lots of time and strong arms to rake it all up and pile on the compost pile.

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

 

 

 

After the cleanup, the yard starts looking like this before the  grass greens, the roses sprout leaves and the perennials show their pretty faces:

In front of the front porch after cleanup

In front of the front porch after cleanup

East backyard after cleanup

East backyard after cleanup

Front yard after cleanup

Front yard after cleanup

 

 

 

 

 

Now, all I have to do is the rose garden and the new perennial bed we made last spring.

We just have to wait for another warmup which we hope is on the way next week.  We’re also hoping that the warmup we had and this freezing weather doesn’t have any adverse effect on the honeybees because they sure were working hard to find food last week.

Spring means new life on the farm and we’re expecting 20+ cows to start calving in the next two weeks.  My hens have picked up on their production and I’m getting a dozen eggs a day now.

You just can't beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

You just can’t beat fresh farm eggs that come from free range chickens!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year.  Great brown egg layers!

The brownish-red hens with white tail feathers are my babies from last year. Great brown egg layers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My rabbit does were bred this week and we should have kits around the 30th of March.  They’re all lops and last years babes were a huge assortment of colors.  I think the first batches this spring will go to new homes and the second mating will be meat rabbits.

Marigold visits Sebastian.

Marigold visits Sebastian.

Sebastian was glad to see his ladies.

Sebastian was glad to see his ladies.

 

 

 

 

 

Cleome waiting her turn.

Cleome waiting her turn.

Baby chicks and ducks will probably join us in April and our next big project is to get rid of the old chicken house which is in bad need of repair.

Chicken house is ancient and chickens should love their new abode which is a cinder block building that way back in the day was a hog house.

Chicken house is ancient and chickens should love their new abode which is a cinder block building that way back in the day was a hog house.

The hog house is bigger, has electricity and will be warmer for the chickens. We have lots of cleanup to do to the outside because the wild blackberries are surrounding it.  There's a no-freeze water spigot beside it and there's storage for feed on the inside.

The hog house is bigger, has electricity and will be warmer for the chickens. We have lots of cleanup to do to the outside because the wild blackberries are surrounding it. There’s a no-freeze water spigot beside it and there’s storage for feed on the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Garden is Empty (almost)

We’ve cleaned out the garden and everything has been stored, frozen or canned. Hubby did till up a few spots and planted some turnips as a winter crop. He loves them boiled and with almost every meal. I like them raw!!

End of harvest 2016

End of harvest 2016

We harvested several small pumpkins and four large ones.  The small will adorn the entrance to our house and the large ones I canned.  dscn8721

I washed them good on the outside, split them in half, scooped out the pulp and seed and then sliced them to make peeling easier.

 

Split in half to clean.

Split in half to clean.

Sliced w/rind makes for easier peeling.

Sliced w/rind makes for easier peeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diced to cook

Diced to cook

I diced them up in 1-2 inch pieces and put them in an old canner.  I put one quart of water over them to cook on the stove on medium low heat.

 

 

 

 

They need to cook slowly to keep from sticking/scorching.  I don’t add any seasoning until they’re to be used for pies, cookies, or pumpkin bread.

 

dscn8723  Once they’re tender enough to stick with a fork, I drain off the water and run the pumpkin through my sieve.  It’s very important to get as much water out of the pumpkin as possible before mashing.  I usually let the pumpkin set in the sieve for about 15-20 minutes so the water on the pieces will drip out.  Dump this water out before pressing.

I love this sieve and it works great for all vegies and fruits.

I love this sieve and it works great for all vegies and fruits.

It's beautiful and ready to go in the jars.  I use pint and quart jars because of the different recipes.

It’s beautiful and ready to go in the jars. I use pint and quart jars because of the different recipes.  

Quickly add the pumpkin to the jars, clean the tops of the jars and add the lids & rings, and tighten.

Quickly add the pumpkin to the jars, clean the tops of the jars and add the lids & rings, and tighten.  I process them in the hot water bath for 20 minutes.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the four pumpkins, I canned six pints and three quarts.  I can’t wait to start baking with them.  My pumpkin recipes will be added to my Recipes From My House To Yours page tomorrow.

I hope you can enjoy your garden harvest as much as we are.  With Hurricane Matthew charging up the coast and a cold front moving in from the northwest I’ve used some of our harvest today to make a big pot of homemade soup!!!  It’s suppertime!

News Update. . .Lost in Time

Please forgive my silence. Between the garden, animals and the issues unforeseen, I’ve just been inundated with work and only open the computer a couple times a week.

The garden is full!!! With so much rain this summer, our pantry is running over.

The garden is full!!! With so much rain this summer, our pantry is running over.

Our granddaughter graduated from high school in June and starts college in a couple weeks.  Where has the time gone!!!

Victoria and proud Uncle Shawn

Victoria and proud Uncle Shawn

Parents, Victoria, and maternal grandparents.

Parents, Victoria, and maternal grandparents.

On top of that we have a brand new grandson born three months early and he’s in New Jersey (450+ miles from Virginia). He’s in a neonatal unit at Children’s Hospital in New Jersey. His mother had some major health issues which caused toxemia and the baby had to be delivered early on July 8th. He weighed 2 pounds and 2 ounces and 14 inches long. He’s a little fighter and gained some weight and now weighs 3 pounds and 15 inches long. Declan Bryant is his name. He’s having some serious issues this week and the little guy is exhausted. Shawn, our son, is in New Jersey this weekend to see him for the second time and he’s keeping us updated.

Shawn's first visit with his son.

Shawn’s first visit with his son.

I’ve been canning and freezing green beans, broccoli, cabbage, pickles, squash, apples, rhubarb and Eddie told me last night that I’ll have more beans in the coming week and corn after that. We’ve pulled the onions and waiting on the brussel sprouts. We have a crock of kraut fermenting now and hope it’ll be ready before anything else comes in.

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Squash pickles

Squash pickles

Canned fresh squash

Canned fresh squash

Green beans and we're not done yet!!! I think we'll sell the ones coming in now.

Green beans and we’re not done yet!!! I think we’ll sell the ones coming in now.

I’ve taken on two part-time jobs working on websites for two sisters and working away from the house on one of them 2-3 days a week. The other one I do from home. It’s a little extra spending money. Our big yardsale/estate sale was for one day and we cleaned out one house on the farm and made around $2500.00. I’m in the process of filling it up again from the other buildings and we may have one more sale next spring just to get rid of it all.

This is enough news for now but will catch up again later. I haven’t touched my blog in some time but haven’t given up on it.

One more bit of news, neighborhood dogs that aren’t watched after cleaned out our duck population in one night back in June, I think, and another one got in my chickens this week. I’m down to 21 hens and two roosters at this point.

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This is just a quick catch up and I’ll hopefully be back soon! Love you my friends and want to ask you all to keep our grandson and son in your prayers.

Gardening while I wait

While I wait for the freshly swept, mopped and waxed floor in the living room to dry I’ll take time to write about our 2016 garden.  We thought we were very late getting it started but in fact this is the second year in a row that spring has come early to our farm and this neck of the woods.  We had three, maybe four, heavy frosts/freezes in May but did get the old and new garden spot plowed, worked and tilled (three or four times).

New garden plot plowed last fall.

New garden plot plowed in March.

Second plowing and tilling.

Second plowing and tilling.

We started planting the last week of May and it’s all worked out really well.  We’ve had lots of rain but with a couple of days of dry weather and the wind we could get in to till and pull weeds.

Last year hubby said we would cut back and only plant about half of what we normally plant and I smiled!! 😉  He says this every year!!  Not only do we have most of the old garden plot full, we also have the new plot which is attached to the old full.  I’m going to be very busy come the middle of July!!

In the first row of the old garden plot we have summer and winter squash. I've already seen two summer squash about two inches long. In the second and third rows and half of the fourth we have onions.

In the first row of the old garden plot we have summer and winter squash. I’ve already seen two summer squash about two inches long. In the second and third rows and half of the fourth we have onions.

In the third and fourth rows we have onion and cucumbers. In the fifth row we planted broccoli and green peppers. Last year I had beautiful peppers but they're not looking so good this year but we'll keep working on them.

In the third and fourth rows we have onion and cucumbers. In the fifth row we planted broccoli and green peppers. Last year I had beautiful peppers but they’re not looking so good this year but we’ll keep working on them.

The sixth row is cabbage and 7th is brussel sprouts and at the end of that row are a few watermelons.

The sixth row is cabbage and 7th is brussel sprouts and at the end of that row are a few watermelons.

The eighth row is sunflowers (for my chickens) and sometime this week I'll plant Blue Lake green beans between each one so they can run up the sunflower stalks.  I also need to hill them like we do potatoes to keep plenty of dirt around the stalk as they grow.  They tend to lean somewhat and with beans growing on them they'll need all the support they can get.  I may even stake them as time goes on.  I planted a whole row of indian corn beside them that was saved from a few years ago but none of it came up and that's why there is a wide space between the sunflowers and the next row.

The eighth row is sunflowers (for my chickens) and sometime this week I’ll plant Blue Lake green beans between each one so they can run up the sunflower stalks. I also need to hill them like we do potatoes to keep plenty of dirt around the stalk as they grow. They tend to lean somewhat and with beans growing on them they’ll need all the support they can get. I may even stake them as time goes on. I planted a whole row of indian corn beside them that was saved from a few years ago but none of it came up and that’s why there is a wide space between the sunflowers and the next row.

The tenth row is a very crowded row of tenderette green beans.  They are stringless, early and great canning beans when picked young.  I love green beans!!!

The tenth row is a very crowded row of tenderette green beans. They are stringless, early and great canning beans when picked young. I love green beans!!!

This space is empty for the moment but I will probably plant a couple more rows of corn and summer squash about mid-July.

We planted another later batch of cabbage and then we have this large space which is empty for the moment but I will probably plant a couple more rows of corn and summer squash about mid-July.

In the new plowed ground we started with three rows of potatoes.  We had a few spots where the potatoes did not come up and hubby filled those in yesterday.  They'll be later but he can't stand empty spaces between plants.

In the new plowed ground we started with three rows of potatoes. We had a few spots where the potatoes did not come up and hubby filled those in yesterday. They’ll be later but he can’t stand empty spaces between plants.

Next we have one row of green beans and two rows of Silver Queen corn.

Next we have one row of green beans and two rows of Silver Queen corn.

THEN, we have lots of tomatoes!   There are 32 Mr. Stripey tomatoes, 12 Roma's and 4 of a new yellow tomatoes we're trying.  My spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce that I canned last year is such a hit that I'll be canning a lot more of it this year and lots of salsa and diced tomatoes.

THEN, we have lots of tomatoes! There are 32 Mr. Stripey tomatoes, 12 Roma’s and 4 of a new yellow tomatoes we’re trying. My spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce that I canned last year is such a hit that I’ll be canning a lot more of it this year and lots of salsa and diced tomatoes.

The tomatoes are blooming and full of little green tomatoes.

The tomatoes are blooming and full of little green tomatoes.

Last but not least are the sweet potatoes.  We have a dozen plants and they're spreading out.

Last but not least are the sweet potatoes. We have a dozen plants and they’re spreading out.

The sweet potatoe sets were started in my kitchen window.  I placed a large sweet potato in a large bowl and kept it full of water.  It soon sprouted and now they're in the ground.

The sweet potato sets were started in my kitchen window. I placed a large sweet potato in a large bowl and kept it full of water. It soon sprouted and now they’re in the ground.

I"m just waiting on them to bloom and produce big sweet potatoes to can and to bake.

I”m just waiting on them to bloom and produce big sweet potatoes to can and to bake.

We’re currently bringing in black raspberries and freezing them.  Soon there will be transparent apples to make applesauce and apple butter with.

Don’t you just love growing your own food????

 

 

 

Spring planting

Seed Potatoes

Seed Potatoes

Potatoes cut and ready to plant

Potatoes cut and ready to plant

 

We got all the seed and garden had been plowed and ready to work down.  Now the weather channels are calling for a hard frost tomorrow night and chilly temps tonight.  I brought in all of the flowers and herbs I potted last weekend and pulled what I could under the covered front porch.  I went to my little green house this evening and put up heat lamps and on the way back to the house was admiring all of the tiny little fruit on all of the apple and plum trees.  The peach and pear trees are also full and the aspargus was all pulled to keep it from freezing.   I am so ready for warm weather!!

Changes to the garden and tire beds

Hubby has been working on fences again in the last week and he tore out the east end fence around our garden because it was about to fall down.

tractor tires used for garlic, strawberries and rhubarb

tractor tires used for garlic, strawberries and rhubarb

fencing between yard and garden

fencing between yard and garden

He decided that the fence didn’t keep out the deer so he would not replace it.  We have now moved the large tire planters to the south garden fence and will plant fruit trees along the yard where the fence used to be.  We currently have three pear trees along this line, two grape vines and a blue plum.  On the North end of the garden we’ve planted three peach trees and cut down an old plum tree that died.  I want to put in two more peach trees on that North end, two more plum trees out the fence line and plant two or three cherry trees in the yard close to the pond.  All of the apple trees that used to be there except one have died and been taken out.  These trees we replace will all be of the semi-dwarf size except maybe the cherry because of the space and closeness to the garden.  We don’t want the shade from the trees to shade the garden from the morning sun.  Hopefully hubby and I will be around when they start bearing fruit.

The apple tree rootstock we planted last year have all survived the winter, rabbits and deer and it’s now time to graft them.  We think moving our hound dogs to the apple orchard have saved our new trees from the ravages of the wildlife.  We just hope the wildlife doesn’t realize the dogs can’t reach them as long as they are chained.

Space between yard and garden cleared of  fencing

Space between yard and garden cleared of fencing

Freshly plowed garden lot

Freshly plowed garden lot

Tire planters moved to new area

Tire planters moved to new area

Strawberries starting to green up.

Strawberries starting to green up.

Garlic coming up.  Love that stuff!!

Garlic coming up. Love that stuff!!

Rhubarb coming in but frost burnt the leaves badly.  I'll clip the leaves and start fresh after this weeks frost pass.

Rhubarb coming in but frost burnt the leaves badly. I’ll clip the leaves and start fresh after this weeks frost pass.

Quince tree in south west corner of garden.

Quince tree in south west corner of garden.

Pear trees sprouting.

Pear trees sprouting.

 

We try very hard to replace our fruit trees as the old one’s die which hasn’t been done for many years.  We want the future family members to have plenty of these crops on hand for their use well after we are gone!  If we don’t take care of the future generations, who will??

More fencing done

Hubby just completed this years batch of fencing and it looks so good.  Our daughter got to help one day while she was off and they make a really good team.  She’s almost got to the point that she knows what he needs before he does.  This batch started at the south entrance of the bull lot and down to the end of the pond.  It also included replacing some more locust post that had probably been in the ground for thirty years because they were rotted off at the top of the ground and top of the post was still in good shape.  We’ll use the good part for firewood next winter.  Here’s the first section he completed:

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New fence at the bull lot

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This fencing is in front of the bull lot.  You have to have good strong fence when you’re dealing with bulls.  When this was completed we had four bulls in the lot.    He used four strands of high tinsel wire and the posts are about 10-12 feet apart.

The next section was built about two weeks ago.  Hubby tore out all of the fence on the backside of the  hay lot and our garden.  He did most of it by himself but our daughter was able to help one or two days.  It looks really good and it helped getting our wild asparagus cleaned off.  Here’s that work as it progressed:

Sharpening fence post for end of garden 05112013 (1)

 

 

 

 

Sharpening fence post for end of garden 05112013 (4)

New fence _ end of garden 05112013 (2)

New fence  at end of garden 05112013 (12)

New fence  at end of garden 05112013 (10)

New fence  at end of garden 05112013 (4)

New fence _ end of garden 05112013 (1)

New fence  at end of garden 05112013 (2)

Driving post 05112013 (2)

Driving post 05112013 (3)

Of course, Gyp goes wherever hubby goes and inspects every hole, every fence and was fascinated with the chainsaw.  This will be the last fence we replace or repair this spring as there is so much other stuff to complete before hay season starts.  And, this all depends on the weather and hopefully no more duratios like we had last June.

 

 

April goals

Yes it’s almost mid-month but I have some goals to complete before months end.  I always have high expectations of what I can complete in a two day weekend and that means I have six days to complete my goals.   Here’s the April goals:

1)  Clean out the fall/winter debris in the yard

2)  Transplant the hibiscus and shasta daisies to another location in the yard

3)  Clean all the flower beds and make ready for new additions

4)  Make 12 new blocks for the sampler quilt

5)  Start spring cleaning the bathroom, pantry and back porch

6)  Make new cushions for the lawn and porch furniture

7)  Set out 15 of the 30+ apple root stock and nine American chestnuts we started from seed.

8)  Finish planting the garden and flower seeds in the greenhouse

9)  Spring clean the guest room  (decided to start in the least travedled and used room)

10)  Clean the paddle boat and put it on the pond

I think this should keep me very busy for the rest of the month.  Since turkey season begins Saturday I should be able to start bright and early in the morning.

Green thumb extended to winter

I love things that grow and gardening.  Winter is a slow time for gardening but you couldn’t tell by looking at my back porch which is enclosed.  I wonderful husband built me some shelving a few years back to accomodate my Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus assortment.  The upper shelving holds about twenty beauties and the lower shelves hold our veterinary supplies for the cattle and other gardening supplies.  I want to show you the beauties on the upper shelving that started blooming Halloween week and are still blooming today.  Enjoy!!

New cactus from my daughter that will have yellow blooms.

New cactus from my daughter that will have yellow blooms.

White bloom

White bloom

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Hunting Season 2011 007 Hunting Season 2011 006 Hunting Season 2011 005 Cactus bloom 2011 Cactus bloom 2011.4

 

A lot of them look alike but each one has a subtle difference.  I’m looking for a orange and my daughter bought me three yellow cactus for Thanksgiving.  They need little care and are only watered about once a month.  Watering anymore than that will cause them to rot right before your eyes.  The porch is very cool now but it hasn’t stopped these beauties from strutting their stuff.  I used to have to carry all of them upstairs in the wintertime but right before the shelving was done, hubby pulled up the flooring, replaced plumbing, flooring, insulation, put in new windows and insulated the walls and put up paneling.  It stays cool in the summer because of the maple trees surrounding the house and in the winter the sun (when it shines) keeps the plants happy and the room warm.

If you want a beautiful plant with little care, this is the way to go!!

End of Summer clues

You know that summer is coming to an end when the kids start back to school but the real clues are when the garden is being cleaned off for the fall crops, the woodshed is full and the cellar shelves are stocked. I was riding home yesterday and saw a hint of gold and orange in the tops of maple trees on our road. Last night we saw a herd of deer near the house and three of the larger bucks had lost the velvet from their horns. The apples are starting to drop and the wildlife is scarfing it up almost before it hits the ground. The hummingbird population has dropped from 30 to 10 or 12. The chickens molt has come to an end and the new feathers are shining. The cats and dogs on the farm have almost quit shedding. The katydids are screaming way before dark and the evening porch sitting is so much cooler. Best of all, the screech owls are calling!! Fall is near!!