Monday, May 31, 2010

Would You Like a LITTLE Breakfast?

Okay, who's the slacker around here?

This chicken is obviously just not trying hard enough!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Plan

Last week my plan was to have everything in the garden planted by Tuesday, June 1st. Also, to have all thinning done and all the weeds under control. This actually would be possible if I could get a couple of whole, full days in the garden.

But we all know, life seems to throw little interruptions in here and there (some planned, some not) throughout each day and the stop and start process leaves a lot to be desired as far as producing real progress.

Pickling cucumbers, squash, dill and osaka purple mustard are still waiting to be planted. Also a second bed of spinach and radishes. Our weather has been a little warm for the spinach and radishes, but I'll put them under a shade cloth and hope for the best.

I made a second planting of lettuce a week or so ago and two of the varieties are refusing to sprout so I need to replant those with other varieties.

I want to plant out four pots of nasturtiums that I'll place at the end of the four rows of potatoes in the field garden just to make it look purdy.

Lots of thinning ready to be done: Swiss chard, mizuna mustard, slicing cucumbers, carrots (ugh, hate that job), morning glories and lettuce.

A little bit of touch-up weeding to be done in the blueberries. A whole bunch of serious weeding to be done in the raspberry patch. I mulched it heavily this spring but did not till up the ground as I usually do before mulching. Bad mistake. Huge, monster, steroid-fed dandelion plants have come up right through the mulch. I must eat a big bowl of Wheaties some morning soon and attack that mess.

The cover crop of oats and barley we planted in the pumpkin patch this spring is very close to being ready to be plowed under. Next green manure crop will be buckwheat. That little plot of ground is going to be so fertile, we'll be able to grow 100 pound pumpkins next year! (What the heck would we do with a hundred pound pumpkin?)

So you can see, I'm not lacking in things to keep me busy in the garden area. Tomorrow? Laundry and ironing day. Dang. Something else to keep me from spending a solid day in the garden.

Pictures coming up this week, I promise.

Busy Times and Biting Bugs

Last Thursday afternoon/evening our visit to friends C & P and their little cabin they are building deep, deep in the woods was very nice, but slightly marred by some very ferocious no-see-ums that cut our evening short. These #$*%! biting insects are so small you can hardly see them when they land on your skin. If they land on light colored clothing, all you can see is what looks like the tiniest speck of soot. But when they bite, the sting can make you jump and on most people, they raise a welt that itches and is very uncomfortable. Makes you want to head for wide open spaces surrounded by a lot of concrete!

Enough of the whining. Sorry to say I didn't have much luck getting many good pictures Thursday . . . something about the dummy operating the camera forgetting to use the flash.

Here is the beautiful pregnant lady in her "kitchen" which is one corner of the cabin. She would especially like you to notice the attractive "paneling" behind her. Her hard-workin' hubby had just started putting up the horizontal tongue-and-groove paneling on the walls that day and wasn't quite 1/3 of the way up.

Chowing down on our picnic supper. Left to right: P, C, Chicken Mama and Little E.

Little E had had only a half hour nap all day so as soon as he ate, his switch clicked to "Off" and he was D-O-N-E. No amount of noise we adults made was going to keep him from sweet dreams.

I've spent the last couple of days pushing in the garden. Because of our early spring this year and downright hot weather, I'm a good three weeks ahead. Rather than waiting until mid-June to plant beans, squash, cucs, tomatoes and such, some are already in and growing, and the rest I'm determined to get in before this long weekend ends. Unfortunately, I'll be doused in bug spray most of the time while outside!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Apple Blossom Time and A Picnic

Our little orchard of apple trees is in full blossom right now.

This little tree could hardly have more blossoms on it.

I think this is the fullest we've ever seen it. May the Good Apple Spirits bless us with RIPE apples this year!

I've not been out in the garden today which is a shame as it's another gorgeous day. Oodles of sunshine, a delightful breeze and temp in the 70s.

My kitchen has been humming all day as I prepare for a picnic supper tonight to take to a very deserving young family. The mama (of a 21-months old little charmer and his little sister due in less than three months) is our daughter's oldest friend. They met on the first day of kindergarten and both being such weird ducks - and I say that lovingly, of course - struck up a friendship that clicked, and they've been best buds every since through a lot of thick and thin. And believe you me, they've both become beautiful, intelligent, accomplished women while overcoming more than a couple of challenges in their lives! I'm very proud of them both.

Anyway, C and her hubby P and Little E are here for a week working on their little cabin they're constructing about halfway between here and Chicken Mama's homestead. They have no electricity or water so all of the construction is being done with hand tools and supplies trucked in.

I offered to bring the picnic supper out tonight, and Chicken Mama will be there, too, stopping on her way home from work in town.

We're having hot dogs and buns, chips, a fruit salad, a tossed salad, deviled eggs, lemonade for Pregnant Mama and other choices of libation for us non-pregnant adults. Oh yeah, and a blueberry pie (still have some frozen berries from our bushes from last year) for dessert.

Can't wait to get out there and see the progress. Might even get some pics to post tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sleep, Desk Work, The Weather, The Wolf

I was going to get myself organized first thing this morning, do some necessary desk work, go to town to run a few errands, and stop at the local greenhouse to pick up some herb plants. Then, of source, be back in the garden by 10 o'clock. (Hahahaha!)

The alarm went off at 6, and I promptly fell back asleep and didn't wake until 8!!! I guess I needed those extra couple of hours of sleep but they were the heavy, drugged ones that leave you feeling like you just crawled out from under something heavy when you finally do get up.

So much for my running start to the day.

I made us some breakfast, then fixed my morning latte and sat down at the desk. It's now 12:10 PM and I've cleared my desk (finally) except for one little project that requires research before I do some ordering. Okay, I had been letting the desk work pile up because of my desire to be out int he garden as much as possible, but I'm still a smidge frustrated that the day is half gone and I haven't done my errands or been outside.

And what a gorgeous day it looks to be out there. Sunshine, a lovely breeze, and temp in the 70s.

Late yesterday afternoon we had what looked as if it was going to be an awful storm. Out of nowhere, huge winds came up (and I mean HUGE, scary winds), the sky got ominously dark. I was working in the garden and hubby was working in the garage. I started grabbing equipment to take in and closing cold frame tops so the wind didn't snap them off. The garage door had been open so hubby saw what was happening. He came running out into the garden and helped me corral things.

We had some terrific thunder and lightning but just a little rain. Enough to give everything a good wetting but not the deluge it looked as if we might get. Then the sky cleared. The temp had dropped 20 degrees in a matter of minutes (it was really eerie) so the rest of the evening was quite pleasant after the hot, humid day we'd had.

Truth to tell, I could have used a rainy day today to get completely (Completely? Come on, girl, get real!) caught up inside.

Now I'm rethinking the half day I have left. I'll get us a little lunch and spend the rest of the day in the garden. I can put my errands off until tomorrow. (I do that a lot.)

I can't believe I did it on May 25th, but I put a shade-cloth top on my main bed of salad greens yesterday.

Even though I've been watering in this unseasonably hot weather, the plants were starting to look a little scorched to me. They look much better today. (Or is it my imagination?)

Any rain we might get goes right through onto the bed which is a good system.

About 8:30 last night, we saw the wolf lurking around the fence line again. It's apparent that he/she is staying in the area. There are folks a ways down the road from us who keep poultry that runs free, isn't contained by any fencing. I wonder if the wolf has been getting "food" there?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Good (Albeit Sweaty) Morning

Omigosh, what is going on? It was over 80 degrees out in the garden by 10 AM this morning! Northern Minnesota in late May is not allowed to be this warm.

Even though we were struggling under such difficult conditions (any sympathy?), we did get a bit done.

We've been slowly replacing the wood framing of our raised garden beds that we constructed 12-13 years ago. There was one really bad one that I told hubby to ignore for this year because I didn't really need it to plant in. But he kept looking at it, and it kept bothering him so he decided to replace it this morning.

First he had to remove a lot of the soil before he could pull the old frame out/off. Say this with a low, gravelly voice: "It was a three wheelbarrow job!"

Good-bye old frame. You served us well.

A few years ago, we built some "risers" out of tamarack because it was the only wood we had to work with. Tamarack is a dense, VERY heavy wood, and the choice turned out to be a BIG mistake. Each riser weighs about 600 pounds (give or take a few), and they are a bear to move. So we decided to use this one for the new bed frame. Here hubby is taking off the handles that were handy when we had to move it.

And there it is in place.

Whoops, not quite. Minor adjustments needed yet.

Ahhh, leveled, dirt back in place and finished. Good job, honey!

I did a double-take when I walked by these honkin', big radishes sticking out of the soil. They're Easter Egg and Crunchy Royale. (I'm glad to report that they're still nice textured and mild, not woody or too strong. I don't think I've ever grown better radishes than this year.)

I got a 35 foot row of sunflowers planted this morning. (Sure am glad he took this shot from the front!)

Only 32 more feet to go. Ugh.

It was 1 o'clock before I checked the time. We'd worked right through lunch, but neither one of us felt hungry . . . too hot! But I knew we'd soon be running on empty unless we ate something so . . .

I went in and made us just small salads complete with homemade (slightly burned) croutons. (Hey, a little charcoal cleans out the system!)

Now it's mid-afternoon, I'm in for a sit down lemonade break and hubby had a pick-me-up cuppa java and is now getting the mower ready for our small hay field.

I've got a plot all ready for some green beans, and I'd like to get my dill planted yet today.

Get back out there, Mama Pea. No rest for the wicked.

A Short Garden Tour

Land O'Goshen, the apple trees are finally blossoming!

Now if we could only get a long enough fall this year so that the apples would have a chance to fully ripen . . . or should we start now building a REEEALLY big greenhouse over the whole orchard?

This raised bed has a sunken pot of Sweetgrass in the center. (Sweetgrass will spread and take over the acreage if you don't contain it.) This year I decided to sow a wildflower mix in the rest of the bed. Seeds are starting to sprout . . . but so are what must be a million little weeds! As a person who likes to yank every weed before it becomes a problem, this planting may push me over the brink. How do I know which are weeds and which are wildflower sprouts?? In past situations like this, I've grown some weeds all the way to the flowering stage before I realized that, duh, you dummy, you just spent three months cultivating a WEED!

Last year I started some California Poppies indoors and transplanted 21 of them to this garden bed. They filled the bed (see above picture) and provided gorgeous blooms for much of the summer and into fall. I loved them. In the fall I let the flowers go to seed and this spring . . .

. . . look at the volunteers! My question now is should I thin some of these plants out? The bed became completely filled last year with the 21 plants I set out. Here we have 21 bazillion plants coming along, and I'm wondering if they will do okay or if they're going to be so dense they'll choke each other out and the blooms will suffer. Anybody know?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gosling Update

Our seven goslings hatched on Mother's Day are alive and well and growing so fast we can hardly believe it.

I've taken so many pictures of them to post . . . all of them bad. The second I get near enough their parents hustle them away as if I were going to try to steal them.

The following pictures (sorry, poor quality) were taken about a week ago. We happened to spot the family on their first trip down to the pond.

You could almost tell that the goslings just didn't know what to make of that big receptacle of water.

First Mom got in the water and tried to entice them to follow her. Nothin' doin'.

Then she got out and Pop gave it a try. No dice.

But when Mom got in with Pop, the goslings decided they didn't want to be left on shore alone. They walked right in, flapped and splashed for only a few seconds before instinct took over and they found they were swimming as if it were natural to them. (Uh, I guess it IS natural to them.)

I took these last two pictures today when they were up in the yard.

A typical shot . . . with Mom and Pop herding the babies away from me.

Fuzzy as this picture is it's the best I could get of the goslings.

P.S. The wolf was spotted again tonight around 6 o'clock. He was walking the perimeter of the electric fencing around the pond looking (what seemed like hungrily) at the ducks and geese.

Mama Mallard and her 10 ducklings and all the geese were in the pond and spotted the wolf. They all immediately swam to the middle of the pond and stayed there swimming in circles until the wolf disappeared into the woods.

I'm sure hoping the wolf is just curious rather than hungry.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wabbit Food

I know it seems pitifully late to many of you gardeners, but I finally got a nice cutting of salad greens for the first time today.

This is the bed of greens I started under a cold frame on April 11th this year. We had many, many nights of hard frost after that, and I finally took the cold frame off on May 15th. (The blank spot on the left end of the bed was French Breakfast radishes that have already been consumed with gusto. I replanted more there yesterday.)

I've been snitching spinach leaves for a while now but today was the first time I cut lettuce and arugula, too.

Now I've got to get some yummy dressings made up and ready in the refrig. During the summer months, we usually eat one big salad a day.

Crying Wolf

Late yesterday afternoon, I was in the house and something made me glance across the field to the curve of the driveway. Before this curve, the driveway is hidden in the woods and then right after the curve is obscured again by trees until it opens up into our back yard.

What did I see but a great, big timber wolf trotting along the drive. He had legs that looked to be about three feet long, his coat was gray and white. After you see a few wolves, you know there's no way you can confuse one with a dog.

Hmmm, what to do? There is Mama Mallard on the pond with her 10 babies, Mr. and Mrs. Goose with their 7 goslings, and all the rest of the poultry roaming about in their pasture. Everybody was fenced in (including the pond where the wild ducks are), but still . . .

Of course, hubby wasn't home or expected until late last night. I dashed upstairs to see if I could spot the wolf. Nope. I grabbed my camera and ran out into the garden area enclosed in a 7 foot high deer fence. Still couldn't see him. Okay, out into the (unfenced) back yard to (cautiously) see if he was coming calling to the back door. Nary a sign of him.

None of the critters were at all upset. (Zoey the Wonder Dog was in the house with me at the time of the sighting, and I left her there while I did my investigating.) Mama Mallard and ducklings were swimming peacefully in the pond and all was serene in the poultry yard. I don't think they had seen canis lupus ambling up the driveway.

I finally decided the wolf must have taken a hard left hand turn into the thick woods right after the curve of the driveway.

Very glad I didn't have a wolf/poultry fracas to deal with but I sure would have liked to have gotten a picture of the big guy. The thing is I'm sure they are out there all the time, but we seldom see them.

Friday, May 21, 2010

An Incomplete Garden Tour

Hope this isn't awful, terrible boring to y'all. (My feelings won't be hurt if you X me out and go find something more interesting.) I'm posting these garden pics more for myself so I can look back in a month and say, "Well, golldang, it has actually grown some!"

Three 4 foot (crooked) rows of mizuna mustard in a raised bed. My seed was very old so I sowed it heavily thinking I might not get good germination. Guess the little seeds were still viable. (I got it thinned today.)

A 4 x 8' bed of onions. These will be our storage onions for this year. Starting to look like respectable onion tops.

Our bed of comfrey. It's big enough now to cut and throw some to the poultry, and put lots in the compost bins to add nitrogen and aid decomposition.

My big, ol' rhubarb plant. Love it!

A bed of lettuce, arugula, and spinach transplants from thinning another bed. On the far end are some onions I'll probably use as scallions.

Four cherry tomato plants under a cold frame. I didn't plant even one single regular sized tomato this year.

The four double rows of strawberries are looking lush and green.

The rule is one month from blossom to berry. If this holds true, our crop is going to come in about three weeks early this year.

Here we have four rows of potatoes; 2 white and 2 red. (Whadda ya mean you can't see 'em?)

The trellises we'd used for the past 12 years were made out of scrap lumber and chicken wire and were in such bad shape that we ceremoniously burned them last fall. Bit the bullet this spring and purchased some cattle panels for trellises. These should last us forever. I plant peas on either side of my trellises so I have approximately 64 feet of peas here. They look a lot like the potatoes, don't they? (Peas and potatoes were both planted this week.)

A snake's eye view of the pumpkin patch we planted out in a mixture of barley and oats this year hoping to improve the soil. We'll plow it under as a green manure crop as soon as it heads out. I wasn't going to plant pumpkins or squash this year, but now I'm thinking I may have room in the field garden for a little patch of each. (Please don't tell my husband; I promised him I was cutting back on the garden this year.)

Well, (anybody still with me?) that was a partial tour of the garden. More to come in the week ahead. I'll just bet you're all sitting on pins and needles waiting to see a picture of 1/16" carrot greens barely poking through the soil. Or wait! The beets may be even more exciting to see than that!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


When hubby walked back by the smaller of our wood sheds full of wood yesterday, this is what he saw.

Kinda looks like there was a small explosion in there, doesn't it?

You can't see it from the angle of the picture, but the last two rows of wood are leaning out quite a bit at the top.

We think when we stacked the wood, the ground was frozen. Well, we know it was considering the time of year. Then as we've gotten into warmer weather, the frost came out of the ground, something moved or shifted and . . . oops. Wood fall down.

Methinks we're gonna have to devote a couple of hours to pulling out most of the last two tiers of wood and then restacking them.

That's okay. We were looking for something to fill our time these long, lazy days of early summer. (Gasp, gag, cough, *%$#*!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Life You Don't Want To Leave

Fiona over at Rowangarth Farm made a comment to my blog entry of Monday this week, "Leaving Home." She wrote of a short trip she made this week into the "big city" nearest to her and how much she wished she was still back on her farm rather than doing what needed to be done away from home.

In her comment she wondered, "When did I become such a homebody?"

It's so easy to become a homebody if your choice is to live on a homestead/farm, because it becomes a way of life that is difficult to walk away from even for a short period of time.

For starters, there is so much to do on a homestead. Sure, a lot of the stuff "to do" could be classified as work but benefits gained from that labor are almost enumerable.

Perhaps mucking out the barn or cleaning the chicken house isn't high on the list of fun things to do, but it's hard to beat that feeling satisfaction and accomplishment when it's done.

Getting the garden planted is work for me. There is so much to do at once and in many instances, you can't even see any results at the end of the day. But when all those seeds start sprouting and make the transformation into orderly rows that turn into edible vegetables . . . now there's a reward for a job well done.

Preparing a meal for yourself or your family with produce from the garden (whether it be fresh or preserved) or eggs or milk products or meat from an animal you raised gives a personal satisfaction which can't begin to compare to purchasing the same products from the grocery store. You did this! You produced this by using the ingenuity, organizational skills and muscles of your own body. And the nutritional benefits of such a home-produced meal to that body are priceless.

What kind of recreation can surpass a walk in the woods or a picnic in the meadow? What about watching the birds at the feeders? If you're ever in need of a calming influence, sit still for a while and watch the ducks and geese on the pond.

I don't know of anything much better than strolling through a well-tended garden in the early evening or watching your animals eagerly going out into their pastures or pens first thing in the morning.

What better life's lesson could you give your children than watching a calf, lamb or goat kid being born?

On a homestead with all it's responsibilities and work and gratifications and pleasures, you aren't merely existing; you are living. You are responsible for other lives. Those lives, both plant and animal, give back to you each and every day in countless ways.

Given a choice, why would you want to leave the life you experience on the homestead for the often artificial, contrived, unnatural, sterile life elsewhere when each and every little task you get accomplished on the homestead enriches and improves your very life. On a homestead you are to a large (or small!) part controlling your destiny.

My dictionary defines the word homebody as: One whose interests center on the home. When your "home" offers you a life that is so rewarding, so interesting, so alive why indeed would you want to leave it?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It Was Summer Yesterday

We don't have a thermometer out front in the sun but yesterday it had to have been in the upper 70s . . . maybe even 80? Hubby and I both switched to shorts right after lunch. (You would have laughed - as we did - at the lily-white legs. Not pretty.) The black flies were also in evidence for the first time. (Pox be upon them!)

"Mom, you got burned a little today!" was my daughter's comment when she stopped by on her way home after work. Luckily, I tan easily and this morning the redness is already gone.

The temp overnight went down to 46 degrees so it's not like it's time yet to leave all the windows open all night.

I've been trying so hard (and not succeeding) to get a good picture or two of Mama Mallard and her ten little ducklings.

Every afternoon hubby puts a little pile of grain on the bank of the pond (toward bottom right of above pic) and Mama brings her brood up for a snack. Yesterday she knew something was fishy with me standing there with my camera, and refused to come out of the water for the longest time.

It was only when I backed away quite a bit that she cautiously came to the food. Here she's standing watch while her hungry little brood gobbles the food. (You can click on picture to enlarge.)

The babies are still just little fuzzballs but spend 90% of their day in the water zipping all around like tiny remote controlled motor boats. They dive down under the water and then pop up again like little corks. One could sit and watch them for hours.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Leaving Home

For me, a trip to the big city is an all-day affair. Spending five hours on the road driving. Leaving early and getting back home at the very end of the day. Exhausted and with a scary balance in my bank account.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, my husband and I make the trip together because for the time and expense involved, it only makes sense that we both shop for the items on our respective lists and come home with a full truck load.

But right now, I need to make a solo trip. I need to spend some time looking, thinking, having the whole day to make some intelligent decisions on several purchases. I also need (like I really NEEEED) a couple of new bras. I don't mean to inflict too many intimate details on you here, but my body seems to be changing (okay, so I have put on a little extra weight), and I know I'll have to spend who-knows-how-long in the dressing room trying on one undergarment after another before finding one that actually fits. (Do males have ANY article of clothing that gives them this much hassle and consternation??)

Sorry, I got off-track. The point I'm trying to make is that leaving home is not something I want to do.

For several weeks now at the beginning of each week, I've made the decision that I will gear up and go to the city shopping on, say, Tuesday. Monday night comes and I realize I can't go Tuesday because there's something that's time-sensitive I simply must get done on the homestead. Okay, I'll go Thursday. Nope, can't go Thursday because such-and-so is happening on Friday so I need to get ready for that. On and on it goes, week after week.

Bottom line, I have so much to do here at home that I don't want to leave, even for a day. And that's a good thing, because I'm happy here. For that, I should be very grateful. What could possibly be better than to feel you could be happy and content living forever on your own little homestead which is a sanctuary in this crazy world? So you see, I have no desire to leave.

Well, except for that bra issue . . .

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Needing a Shower and a Massage

Another gorgeous day spent out in the garden. Other than gardening, I can't think of one single thing I would do that causes me to get so stinky and puts me so much in need of a therapeutic massage.

I mean gardening is HARD work. And I love it. It's creative, thought provoking, provides great exercise (hang on a sec while I walk off this cramp in my left thigh), and supplies us with the healthiest of food year round. But, my goodness, it surely does give a work out to muscles that tend to get soft and flabby. Still, I'd a gazillion times rather feel the tiredness I have at the end of a gardening day than a day spent in an emotionally unhealthy environment that leaves me with a different kind of tired. One that a good night's sleep won't help. Yup, I love gardening.

I didn't get any potatoes planted today, but I'm all ready to go for it tomorrow. Even have my row markers up. I don't know what's wrong with me (no unsolicited comments from the Peanut Gallery, please), but I want to try planting some of the potatoes under mulch again this year.

If you remember (like you don't have more important things to stash in your memory bank), last year I planted half our potatoes under mulch and half using the hilled-up dirt method. We got only half as many potatoes using the mulch method. (But they sure were clean.) Does one year's trial qualify as an accurate study?

I even have the bales of straw to use for mulch lined up against the fence line at the end of the field garden where I'm planting the potatoes this year. I keep reading of wonderful yields others have gotten using the mulch method. Why won't it work for me?

Yet it sure doesn't make sense to go to the work of planting potatoes under mulch if I'm only going to get a 50% harvest from the time, effort and garden space used. Plus, will that short us on potatoes to have to eat over the coming winter?

A mighty heavy decision to make, I know. Maybe a comfortable answer will come to me by planting time tomorrow. (Oooh-mmm.)

The above picture is a good illustration of why we have trouble getting apples to mature up here. You can see our trees are just now starting to leaf out. Nary a sign of a blossom yet. And it's already past the middle May.

My husband is the one who does the lion's share of work on the fruit trees, and he's determined (do we detect a tiny streak of stubborness here?) to find the right variety or way of raising our own apples. Pears, plums and cherries would be lovely, but we'd really like to be able to raise our own apples.

Crab apples grow very well in our area. No problem there. In the past I have made sauce and jelly from them but we'd really, really like to be able to grow a supply of eating/cooking apples. Ah well, never a lack of something to research and test out.

Okay, I must strip off these dirty, dirty clothes and get into the shower. Good thing tomorrow's wash day . . . these garden pants can just about stand alone.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cutting Kindling and Garden Work

What a great day today was. Sunshine all day, balmy temperatures, and no bugs yet. (Sh-h-h-h.) This past Thursday we had heavy rains all day long and into the night. It was enough rain to take care of the dryness in our area and pretty much put the damper (pun intended) on any danger of forest fire. A very welcome turn of the weather.

It was still a bit too wet to work in the garden yesterday, but today although my raised beds were still moist, they were very workable. And I did get a lot done.

Some transplanting (from thinning) of spinach, arugula, and lettuce. (I just can't bear to throw away ones I have to thin. See why my garden gets too big?) Finally got my Sweet Peas planted. Much later than they could have gone in but earlier than I managed to get them in last year.

Set out some started aster plants. Hope I won't be sorry about that but we've finally stopped having frost every night so I think they'll be okay. Planted Swiss chard, mizuna and more radishes.

Oh, right! I harvested our first radishes and arugula today, too. Could have snipped a few baby spinach leaves but let them go for a couple more days. Got a raised bed all ready for planting carrots tomorrow. Hope to get some potatoes in then also.

Before I got involved in the garden, first thing this morning we moved our wood cradle over by our stash of cedar slabwood and cut some bundles of kindling.

We fill the cradle with slabs, then hubby cuts them in a specified length.

I cut baling twine into lengths to tie around the bundles to hold them together.

Once the bundles are tied, we can stack and store them until I get around to splitting up each individual piece into kindling.

We cut two cradles full this morning which gave us 14 bundles. I don't think I'll need much more than 7 to fill the kindling bin up to the top again (who's using all this kindling anyway, huh?) so that leaves us about 7 bundles in reserve for when we need them. (Nuthin' like having some bundles in reserve.) Good job!

Last but not least tonight, outside of dandelions these Leopard's Bane plants are the first each year to flower on our homestead. Although the Bleeding Hearts aren't far behind, these chirky yellow blossoms always make an appearance before any other cultivated flower.