Thursday, May 31, 2012

Two Coats Done, One To Go

Even though I got a late start putting the finish on the top shelving unit to go in the living room, I got two coats done today.

One more coat early tomorrow and we should be able to bring it in and set it in place by the afternoon.

We had glorious sunshine all day today. Not real warm but very pleasant. And no bugs! We're blessed in our particular location in that we don't seem to get nearly as many bugs here as a lot of other places nearby. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)

Papa Pea mowed in the poultry yard today since 1) it wasn't raining, and 2) the chickens had taken to carrying three-foot high orange flags so they didn't get lost in the high grass. At one point, I heard the mower stop and hubby came running into the garage (where I was painting) at a trot asking me to take a bee stinger out of his forehead. I'm not sure it was one of our normal honey bees that nailed him (although he thought it was) because the stinger looked like a small dagger and had half a bee butt attached to it. Luckily, he's not bothered by insect stings and/or bites like I am so once I extracted the stinger, he was back out and at it again.

My late start on the polying was due to a desperate need for some housekeeping chores this morning. There comes a time when I just can't stand it and have to do some basic cleaning and cooking of good food for us to have on hand.

I also took my started tomatoes and peppers out to the cold frame so they could start to harden off.

The other plants I took out a couple of days ago are loving being outside and look really healthy. As you can see, the broccoli in the picture above is more than ready to go in the ground but I don't have the supplies yet to make the protective tunnels over the raised beds to keep out those dratted little white butterflies that lay their eggs in broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.

We were warned of possible frost last night but when I got up at 5:30 this morning, the temp read 36.9 degrees and I didn't see frost anywhere. Now if we can just make it past the full moon on the 4th of June, we should be home free for the season and the serious gardening can begin.

Mirror, Mirror on the Pond . . .

Early on this morning I was up in my hubby's office to use the copying machine. I looked out the window and saw this almost perfect mirror image of the trees reflected in our small pond.

No wind and the rising sun was blasting forth. Now a few hours later, it looks as though we are actually going to get a whole day of sunshine. Boy, can we use it!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yesterday's Progress

I considered titling this post, "I'm Suing the Weather Forecasters." We were promised a sunny day today with temps warmer than they have been. Ain't happenin'.

It's true, it's not raining, but boy-howdy, is it cold, dark and damp out there. A wise person once said that it doesn't have to be sunny to be a good day. And I know that's true. (Somebody needs to give me a whop upside the head and make me shape up.)

The main reason I wanted a sunny, warm day was to start putting the coats of polyurethane on this piece B made yesterday. It's the new top for the unit that will hold the TV, stereo, etc. in the living room. It may not look like much sitting here in the garage, but it looks fantastic when mounted on the base cabinet. I can hardly wait to get the finish on it and put permanently in place.

I may go to Plan B and work on it in the garage today. It could be August before we see the sun again. The sooner I start, the sooner it will be done. (I think somebody else came up with that profound statement a while back, too.)

While she was here, we also coerced B into putting up the brick facing on the side of the TV cabinet nearest the wood stove. She slapped it up in no time and we are officially done with all the bricking. Hooray! (Ain't gonna do that anytime soon again.)

We got the paint chips in the mail yesterday for the high-temp paint to spiff up the wood stove that will get reinstalled back in the living room. Dang and drat, after much deliberation hubby said he really didn't care what color we chose and that I needed to make the decision. I said, "So if it turns out looking like h-e-double-hockey-stick, it will be my fault?" "Right," he replied.

If I can talk Papa Pea into helping me heft furniture from various and sundry places in the house where it's been stashed, I may even get the living room put back into halfway usable order this afternoon. Wouldn't that be somethin'?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Out Into The Cold, Cruel World

Two days ago the majority of my seedlings I'd started inside simply N-E-E-D-E-D to go outside. However, I hadn't hardened any of them off yet . . .

. . . so I put a cold frame on top of one of the raised beds and transferred everything lock, stock and barrel (or rather plastic pot, cell pack and peat pot) onto the top of the soil in the raised bed.

Now I open the cold frame lid a bit during the day so the plants don't over-heat and have to remember to close it each night to avoid giving them chilblains.

I really thought it would be such an early gardening season with the unseasonably warm weather we had in March but then cold weather returned to the Northwoods followed by a spell of very dry weather.

When it warmed up enough that I could have planted seeds, the soil was so dry I didn't. Now it's been raining almost steadily for two weeks, a cold front has moved in and the soil is soaked. I think I can hear pitiful little voices coming from my seed packets saying, "Please don't put us out there in that freezing, wet soil! We'll mold for sure."

My last gardening season, my peas had been in the ground for two weeks come this date. I did go ahead and plant my potatoes this year (all six rows of them) right before the rain began. Now I'm concerned that they are going to rot before they can start to grow.

Seems that no matter where we gardeners are located, each climate presents its own particular set of obstacles to deal with. I can't help but think back to my very first gardening years and how foreign and complex it all seemed to me. Now that I have years and years of experience under my belt, it's easy-peasy, right? Hahahahaha!

Our temp is supposed to get down in the 30s tonight with more rain so this sure isn't weather to be setting plants out in the garden. Matter of fact, I maybe should think about a small wood fire (just kidding) inside the cold frame to keep those tender, little plants out there comfy-cozy.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Working Holiday

Okay, let's see if I can stay awake long enough to get this written and posted.

Today was one of those days when we got 403 little things done, but there's no BIG progress to show for it.

Yesterday I put three coats of poly on the baseboard moldings for the living room which got installed today. It rained all day yesterday, but we fired up the wood stove in the garage and with the big exhaust fan running on low, working in there was no problem.

We had to take some of the trim around doors off to get the flooring on so that got trimmed to the new correct size and put back on today.

It was Monday so, of course, I had to get the laundry done. A basketful of ironing is still waiting for me though.

B was here and we talked over the final plans for the new top portion of the above unit which will hold our TV, stereo, DVD player, etc. She was planning to build it in her shop, but now is thinking she may build it here. It will go from the top of the unit up to meet the book boxes (shelves) above and fasten together as one unit. This might be kinda tricky building it off site since the measurements have to be exact.

We want to put the fireproof brick on the left side of this same cabinet since it will be closest to the wood stove.

Oh, yeah, I don't think I ever mentioned that the extra brick we had to order did arrive, well packed and not one brick broken, and that corner is finally finished.

Hunh. Looks like a big shower stall, doesn't it?

But back to the side of the cabinet . . .

After (a gourmet) dinner (of scrambled eggs) tonight, Papa Pea and I bit the bullet and even though we sure didn't feel like it, we got all the brick for that area measured and cut and ready to be put on tomorrow.

We've been living with living room furniture . . .

. . . (and various other things) in the kitchen for about two weeks now. I wonder if we'll ever get any semblance of normal order back around here?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Come and Gone

Although another deluge of heavy rain is forecast for tonight through tomorrow night, no moisture fell on us today. No sunshine warmed the garden soil either but it was still a very nice day for working outside which is what we did.

I didn't think I worked that hard but after our thrown-together dinner of leftovers, exhaustion took me by the tail and wouldn't let go. Now after having had a shower and donning jammies I feel better but think bed will feel awfully good early on tonight.

Papa Pea did the early summer chore of taking down the electric fence that encircles our poultry yard and pond so he could mow last year's accumulation of weeds that had grown right up next to the fence. Then, of course, the fence had to be put back up so our chickens and geese couldn't wander off toward town seeking excitement. It's a big job and took him all afternoon. He also got a couple of passes made up and down the driveway with the Gravely garden tractor and attached rotary mower to help keep the brush from growing right up to the gravel on the driveway.

I worked in the garden. Tilled around the potato patch (better known as the pumpkin patch in previous years), the field garden and blueberries and our three new haskap berries which are doing really well.

Instead of setting the tepee trellis in the field garden, as I usually do, I set it up in one of the raised beds and transplanted the morning glory seedlings around it that I had started indoors under lights. Also transplanted (relocated, actually) some spinach, lettuce and Swiss chard that were left in the bed that the crows having been working hard to decimate. (Blasted crows!)

Planted some more radishes. I can make a meal of those crunchy little morsels and never get enough of them before the summer heat makes it difficult to grow them.

We decided to be proactive regarding our resident woodchuck. We set a Havahart trap baited with apple for him last night. He apparently appreciated the apple but didn't trip the trap. I'm wondering if he's too big for our biggest trap. It's set again tonight so we'll see what's what in the morning. If we find a note asking for a larger serving of apple, we'll know we're in over our heads.

I'll be painting and polying in the garage tomorrow if it rains. I could have done it outside today but wanted to take advantage of the good weather to work in the garden. Before the dreaded bugs arrive you'll find me getting in as much time outside as I can. If the remodeling agenda doesn't call for my services inside, that is.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Inside Work

It's been pouring rain outside since last Monday so we've been putting our energy and effort on working in the living room for most of the week.

We finished laying the flooring late yesterday but I was too tired to get a post together last night.

Several spots in the floor were not level and this was the worst of them. We had leveling goop left over from doing the kitchen floor and thought it would be enough for the job. It wasn't. So this was the first application which sat over night until we could get more material.

Getting this stuff mixed up properly and then leveled out on the floor before it turned to cement was a bit of a horror story that I know Papa Pea doesn't want to recall any time soon.

Papa Pea getting "down to work." Hahahaha!

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel here. The flooring is a wood laminate "floating" floor and now that it's done, we're very happy with it. However, I just want to go on record as saying the installation was not as easy as we were lead to believe and if Carpenter B hadn't been available to share her tricks of the trade and contribute a lot of hard work, we may have made a mess of it.

This is the little step-up landing that leads into my quilt room (straight ahead and currently stuffed with furniture from the living room) and to the stairs on the left up to Papa Pea's office.

This was taken while I was standing on the landing looking the other direction across the living room and toward the door into the kitchen.

Today is clear of rain but very windy. The forecast is for several more days of rain starting tomorrow. So I have to make the choice of going out into the garden and doing what I can in the way of damage control there (we got upwards of 3" of rain total) or setting up outside the garage to paint some trim and poly baseboards for the living room. Decisions, decisions. Keeps life from being dull and boring. Also makes one yearn for a week of rest and relaxation far, far away from it all!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I think the crows have called in reinforcements.

The Bad Thing: This is one honkin' big woodchuck.

The Good Thing: He's in our back wood working area and not the garden.

And he shouldn't be able to get into the garden because of the fence entirely encircling it.

Oh please, don't let him get in the garden.

(Hmmm, do woodchucks eat crows?? Just askin'.)


Those blankety-blank crows obviously read my blog.

At a few minutes before 5 this morning, I started hearing them calling in the woods nearby.

Or maybe they were laughing.

Not one single crow has shown his greedy little destructive beak yet this morning. Rats. And I was so ready.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm Taking No Prisoners

Each morning within a half hour of dawn, three or four crows fly into our yard and start hopping around in my garden.

They are eating their breakfast.

As of today, I have lost nearly all my Swiss chard and all my little lettuce plants. More than half of my spinach and some of my kohlrabi is gone.

Tomorrow morning about a half hour after dawn, I will be up.

I will be armed and dangerous.

I will be taking no prisoners.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain!

I'm happy to report that it's been raining most of the day today. When I woke up at a little before six a.m., I thought it was around 4:30 because it was so dark. Then when I looked at the clock and saw the time, I was totally confuzzed for a couple of seconds. It's been so long since we've had the dark, heavy weather that produces rain that I didn't recognize it for what it was.

This is looking out the window of my quilt room. Isn't it gorgeous? What's really nice is that I've spent most of the day in there playing with fabric, cutting it up and then sewing it back together. A totally divine way to spend a rainy Sunday.

The rain will help boatloads in quelling the forest fire danger which brings a sigh of relief to everyone in these here parts.

Even though I worked in the garden all day yesterday, I hesitated doing any more planting because the soil was like dust. The seeds and potatoes I do have planted have been doing absolutely nothing because of the lack of moisture. And I knew the berry patches were getting dangerously dry.

I took this picture hanging out the window in hubby's office upstairs in between periods of heavy rain this morning. Doesn't the soil look happy since it's not so dry and dusty? Now with this good drenching, I'll get out into the garden as soon as I can and go like gangbusters on the planting. Papa Pea mowed part of the lawn yesterday (in the broiling heat) and says he thinks it's grown another three inches (at least) today because of the rain.

Yepper, we are very, very happy to have had this day of rain. We sure needed it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

What I Did Today

First off, I did a happy dance that we had a little bit of rain last night. I hadn't put the (glass) tube for the rain gauge out yet after pulling it in last fall so don't have an accurate measurement of whatever rain we got. I have a feeling we had more boom and bluster (thunder and lightning) than actual rain. But at least it was something and very welcome.

This morning I puttered in the kitchen making a big salad for tonight's dinner. You know the type of salad where you layer lettuce and all kinds of veggies in the bowl and let it sit for several hours before tossing and serving it. Then I dumped some home canned goods from 2008 that I found furtively hiding behind more recently preserved food. That, of course, necessitated several trips to the compost heap and gave me quite a few jars to wash, dry and store back with the canning supplies.

Then I went outside and did something I feel very good about getting done.

Even though the strawberry patch was totally weedless (weed-less, as in free-of-weeds) a few weeks ago, that darn quack grass has sprouted up heavily within nearly every last plant out there. Apparently the mulch I put down around the plants and in between the rows was enough to discourage the quack grass in those spots, so it got mad at me and grew right within the plants where there was no mulch.

It actually looked like I had planted some ornamental, spiky grass out there. The quack grass was sticking about 6" above the strawberry plants and I know for sure if I had let it go, in two weeks time I wouldn't have been able to find the strawberry plants. What a mess. I was smart enough to start in the rows where it was the worst so by the time I got to the couple of end rows, I could move along a little faster which encouraged me to stick with it and finish the whole patch.

Now what do I do to keep the quack grass from attempting another take-over? Maybe conditions won't be as favorable as the plants themselves continue to grow and get thicker during the season. I can only hope.

Looks as if our strawberry harvest will start two to three weeks early this year as there are already blossoms on the plants. Yahoo! Who isn't eager every year for those first succulent, red, ripe strawberries?

So what do I have on the schedule for tomorrow? Dunno. I haven't made out my list yet, but I'm betting I'll find enough to fill my day. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Taters Planted!

Well, I finally got it done. The potatoes are planted. In the ground. Buried in lovely, friable soil. (I should say lovely, friable, DRY soil.) Methinks we will be getting the hoses out tomorrow, if rain doesn't materialize tonight.

It was hot and uncomfortable in the garden today, but the (self-imposed) thought of needing to report back to you all tonight that the deed was done kept me going. That and numerous trips inside to get something cold to drink. (I switched from kombucha to straight bourbon about 3:30.)

Thinning lettuce (that DID germinate) also got done along with the replanting of the varieties that failed to show their little green (or red) spouted heads. It seems weird that some lettuces sprouted and others didn't. Why would conditions be too dry for some but not for others? Or why would some seed be bad and some not? All were purchased from the same place. I will attempt to keep this batch watered and cross my fingers for much better results.

Did some more weeding of raised beds that have yet to be planted and then called it a day outside. Now I'm waiting for hubby to return home from a day spent at our daughter's dismantling a snowplow and all it's rigging from an old truck she's no longer going to be using.

'Scuse me now while I go find my To Do List and use a heavy, black marker to cross off Plant Potatoes!

Dry As Dust

That's what my garden soil is . . . dry as dust.

I got the potato patch (also known as the pumpkin patch, but temporarily renamed this year) completely ready yesterday (is my tendency toward OCD when planting showing?) except for actually planting the potato eyes. (Don't be discouraged. I may announce the potatoes have been planted sometime before August. With luck.) The soil is so dry I'm wondering if I'll have to start watering anything I plant now if we don't get rain soon.

I've had several varieties of lettuce fail to germinate and I'm pretty sure it's just because of lack of moisture. Do I wait longer (the seeds have been in the ground for over two weeks now), replant or get out the hoses?

Wouldn't ya know it, for some reason the lawn manages to keep growing with wild abandon even though there's been no rain. Our lawn mower is currently spread out in pieces in the garage, but Papa Pea assures me it will be back in working order soon. Sure hope so. We may have to bale that stand of green stuff out there by the time we get around to cutting it.

The weather forecasters, who seem to tease a lot lately, have proclaimed a 30% chance of rain today and a 50% chance tonight for us. Not exactly a percentage to inspire confidence, but we'll be eagerly watching the clouds today and hoping for the best.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


That's how the days are going by. I can't seem to fit all I want into a day's time. I think it's the season when I should stop sleeping at night so I can get more done.

I've been transplanting seedlings to bigger pots. And transplanting more seedlings. And transplanting more . . . well, you get the picture.

These are Brussels sprouts waving hello to you.

I swear the seedlings multiply under the lights at night when no one is looking. When Papa Pea walks by he says, "Food! Look at all that good food!" I haven't told him that some of the little green guys are flowers. (Wo)man does not live by green peppers alone.

We got the final coat of paint on the living room ceiling yesterday. I just want to go on record and say that we will never repaint that ceiling. If it absolutely has to be done at some time in the future, I'll stand on the floor and aim a spray painter straight up. Arrrgh, what a great job to have done. Fortunately, we are both very happy with the way it looks. A very 1950s cottage-ish style.

We've had strong winds the last few days which are serving to dry out our area even more. This is not a good thing. A forest fire broke out near our daughter's place today, but luckily was contained and brought under control before sundown tonight. Living in such a densely forested area is scary when conditions get too dry. If you have any extra rain hanging around that you don't need, feel free to send it our way.

Still haven't received our shipment of the (fake) brick to finish the wood stove surround in the living room. We'll just have to keep patiently (yeah, right -- gnash, gnash) waiting for it to arrive.

I think I said this a few posts ago, but I hope to get our potatoes planted tomorrow. They are SPROUT-ing and really want to go in the ground. It will be good to have that job crossed off the list. By the end of tomorrow. Yes, it will be. Yessir.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Are We Having Fun or What?!

Even though it was another gorgeous day outside today, we were good kids and forced ourselves into working inside on the living room ceiling.

First all the nail holes got patched. (Holy-crick-in-the-neck!) I wanted Papa Pea to count all of them he patched, but he said after the first couple of thousand he would be too depressed to go on.

Then the primer coat of paint went on.

All primed and ready for the final coat. (I'll bet this is about the most exciting picture you'll see on a blog all weekend. Uh-huh. Ya, I'll betcha.)

Now don't laugh or think I'm being too sappy. While in the midst of this fun project, we commented that it would have been a baaaad job to have to do alone, but because we worked on it together, kept a conversation going (in between the grunts and groans), the time flew by and we were done before we knew it. (Believe that and I'll tell ya another one.) We put Christmas music on the stereo so that when we are lounging in our comfortable, FINISHED living room this coming holiday season, we will remember this day when we were working on the ceiling and were sure our arms, shoulders, and necks would never be the same again. Ouch, owie, pain, agony, ugh, muscle spasm, oof . . . . . .

Friday, May 11, 2012

Forecasted Rain A No-Show

Supposedly there was a 70% chance for rain today, but we saw nary a drop. So even though I have inside painting that's calling my name, I spent the day working in the garden taking advantage of the great weather.

Yesterday I gave up trying to till up the sod on two sides of the field garden. The worst two sides, of course. I got the "easy" sides done and then gave up for the day. But today . . . I tackled and conquered those two sides where the sod had grown in to almost a width of a foot in some spots. Me and my wonderful Mantis tiller did it. Truth be told, I got shaken and tossed around something awful. To the extent that I think a couple of my internal organs may be residing in new locations now, but darned if I didn't get it done!

I also got our first picking of rhubarb today. Even though I felt like getting right into a hot shower and then my jammies after dinner, I just had to make a Rhubarb Cream Pie for tomorrow. I had enough rhubarb for some sauce, too, so I cooked that up.

This is just a random picture I snapped tonight at chore time. That's our handsome Light Sussex rooster. He's the last of the breed (sob) after the last Light Sussex hen got picked off by that blankety-blank hawk last week. With him are two male wild Mallard ducks who have taken up residence on our pond. We're pretty sure their mates are across the driveway in the woods sitting on nests right now. The ducks always come up into the poultry yard to help themselves to the scratch feed we toss to the chickens morning and night. They've become pretty tame and when they hear someone come out shaking the scratch in a can, they come waddling up from the pond.

That's all to report for today. If it doesn't rain, I think I'm going to plant potatoes tomorrow.

How We Get Our Exercise

Or this post could be entitled, "Gardening Is More Than Picking The Peas."

As you gardeners know, there's lots of work to be done in the garden even before those little seeds go into the ground.

We were blessed with another bee-yew-tiful day yesterday and we took advantage of it.

Papa Pea finished the work on getting a replacement raised bed frame in place. (One down, seven to go . . . for this season!)

Me and my trusty spading fork worked at digging quack grass out of the raised beds.

A typical quack grass root on steroids.

Hubby tilled the expanded berry area for the third time this spring.

Then he picked up rocks in the area . . . for the third time this spring.

I worked on tilling around the edges of the field garden trying to convince the encroaching sod that I'm stronger (and more determined) than it is.

My body held out just fine. Until I laid down in bed last night. Then my back said, "Zing! Screeeeech! Cr-a-a-a-mp! Yowzer!" I did a couple of good (gentle) stretching exercises while lying there and settled down with my book. Next thing I knew, hubby was removing the upright book from my hands, glasses from my nose and asking, "How do you remain in that position while sound asleep?"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Believe It Or Not . . .

We took a recreation day today . . . wa-hoo! It was a gorgeous, sun-shiney day . . . the first one we've seen in a coon's age. No bugs out yet and the temperature was in the low 60s. An absolutely perfect day for a hike.

There's a new state park not far from us that is about two years old, but we'd never set foot in it so decided today was the day.

There's a trail through the park that has been made very user-friendly by a paved pathway.

In areas where the trail goes over streams, attractive boardwalks have been constructed.

The hike ends at these magnificent waterfalls. It's very faint in the picture but there is a rainbow going from the rocks on the left to the spot where the water hits the river on the right. This was as close as we could get to the falls but we could still feel the spray from all that water cascading over the rocks.

At one point on the trail, there was a foot path off the paved pathway leading down to the river which we followed. It's amazing that the flowage of the river is so calm so short a distance downstream from the waterfalls. The main river is above my head in the picture.

I'm standing in Minnesota taking this picture but the land you see other side of the river is Canada. I told you we lived in northern Minnesota!

It felt mighty good to be hiking and breathing the wonderful fresh air of the forest. Tomorrow we still get to breathe fresh air, but we'll be back to working around the homestead. And that's fine, 'cause it's what we both enjoy . . . especially after we took a little break for a recreation day as we did today.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Move Ahead Day

As part of our living room remodeling, we had planned on putting up book shelves on a couple of walls to hold some of our totally ridiculous number of books. (When we both kick the bucket and our daughter inherits everything, she will be able to sell all our books and live for the rest of her life on the profits.)

We were discussing this with our friend and carpenter helper, B, when she made a suggestion that appealed to both of us. Why not build "book boxes" that would attach to the wall? This would provide us with built-in book ends (the occasional upright board used for stability) and would be substantially stronger than regular book shelves which tend to sag under the weight of all the books we put on them.

B went to work in her shop, built our "book boxes" and delivered them today.

Unfortunately, we had to take down about half the grid work on the ceiling and cut it to new lengths before installing the new book boxes.

Above are B and Papa Pea putting a piece of grid work back up.

This is the installation over the south windows.

And on the east wall shared with the kitchen. I know they don't look like much in these current pictures, but once the trim and finish molding is installed and they are filled with books, I think they're gonna be pretty special.

This unit is one we pulled out of the kitchen. It will now get a new top part set on the old base with the drawers. The new top will be made to look like the book boxes and will join with the one over it. Our TV and stereo will go on this piece in the living room eventually.

More good progress but once again I'm left with a non-livable living room.

I don't know, I keep trying new furniture arrangements . . . but nothing seems to look very good. What do you think?