Friday, June 29, 2018

Strawberry Fields Forever . . .

Good golly, Miss Molly, I'm glad I don't have strawberry fields, but rather just a strawberry patch.  If it weren't for my strawberry-loving husband, I'm not sure how readily I would agree to maintaining our strawberries.  Of all the berries one can grow in their home garden, I find strawberries to be the most labor intensive.

But enough grumping and grousing.

Our strawberries are coming in earlier than usual this year and also are exhibiting different characteristics this season.  We've had only our second harvest of the year so far, and things (and my thoughts) could change by the end of the season.

We woke to bright sunshine this morning.  I made my latte and settled in front of my computer as I usually do.  A half hour or so later, I got up to rinse out my empty mug and was shocked to see it looking as dark outside as at 9:30 at night.  Whoa!  I expected we had a chance of rain later today, but this looked more like Armageddon!

Knowing there were ripe strawberries out there, I grabbed two bowls and ran outside hoping I could get at least two of the varieties picked before the rain started.  Soon Papa Pea came out with another bowl, and I directed him to the outside row of Earliglow berries.

Luck was with us and we finished the three rows just as the first big plops of rain began falling.

Although for my records I'm keeping the yields from the three varieties separate, we got a total of just under six pounds this morning.  Not too shabby.

BUT.  Normally in the first couple weeks of the berry harvest, the fruits are very large in size then progressively get a bit smaller as the season goes on until the very last harvests are often only small hardly-worth-picking nubs.

I'm not happy to see these first berries not being large.

Granted, we have been lacking moisture this year and sad to say, we still don't have a handy-dandy, efficient irrigation system in place.  Our current system is me standing with a hose, and I must admit that although I've been diligent about watering the rest of the garden, the strawberry plants have been looking so large and lush that I haven't taken the time to water the good-sized patch more than once.  We could have set up our small sprinkler which automatically rotates over a given area, but have been negligent in doing so.  (Perhaps not the brightest move.)

Are the berries the plants are now producing smaller because of lack of water?  A good guess would be yes.  (Picture Mama Pea mentally kicking herself in the tush as she types this.)

I just tip-toed across the rain soaked deck to check out the rain gauge.  Our dark and ominous storm is over and it gave us a good 1/2" of rain which the garden will be loving.  Especially the strawberry plants.

The strawberry rows after the rain.

More rain is forecast for the rest of the day.  Flash flood warnings and damaging hail (not good) have been issued for other parts of our county.  Hopefully, we'll just get more of the nourishing rain.  We can use it.

Plus, this day should give me time indoors.  What will I be doing?  Trying to create a balance.  A little knitting on the couch, some machine quilting in my quilt room and cleaning out and defrosting freezers in preparation of the coming garden harvests.  It will be a good day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Strawberries and a Present Via Snail Mail

I picked our first real harvest of strawberries today.  Got close to three pounds.  Enough for strawberry shakes for afternoon break, a dish of sliced berries with vanilla ice cream (Papa Pea) and a bowl sliced with cream (me) for dessert tonight.  There are still plenty for a   
Strawberry Cream Pie for tomorrow and some to share with Chicken Mama.

I also did another clean up of weeds in the strawberry patch.  I've never seen so many large, healthy, robust dandelion plants growing right smack dab in the middle of so many of the strawberry plants.  Arrrgh, how aggravating!  There's no way I can dig them out without destroying the strawberry plant.  Right in the middle of the plant they are!  Why do they have to grow right there?

* * * * * * * *

Last week, a dear, kind, thoughtful friend in New York state said she was making a trip to her favorite yarn store and would like to pick out and send me a skein of yarn for socks I could make for myself.  She inquired as to what color I would choose and, of course, I said orange.  (With any color of green as a close second, but I do have a weird propensity for the color orange.)

This is what arrived in the mail today.  Is that coloration gorgeous or what?!  I can hardly wait to get it on the needles and see how it works up.  Thanks so much, Linda, for being such a sweet, generous Internet friend!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Shorter Days Are Coming

Can you believe it?  Seems as though summer has barely started and already we've reached the longest day of the year.  That means it's all downhill from here, folks!  

So who thinks this turning point in our hours of daylight comes way too early in the summer season?  (Hand raised high here and waving.)  Shouldn't the longest day of the year occur in . . . oh, perhaps August?  Okay, maybe even July would be more appropriate than June, for heaven's sake.  Personally, I've always thought of mid-July as being the middle of the summer season.

I truly don't mind whatever time it gets dark at night (well, okay, darkness shortly after 4:30 p.m. in December can really cut into your day), but I do love the early morning hours of light and brightness.  It definitely helps me get up and going when the light streaming in our bedroom window at an early hour seems so pristinely fresh and the only sounds of the beautiful new day are those coming from awakening birds and the occasional squirrel or chipmunk scrabbling up the pole to the sunflower seed feeder.  

Isn't it easier to pull yourself out of bed without the shocking glare of an electric light being turned on?

I won't get all Debbie Downer about our shortening days.  After all, it will be a couple/few months before any noticeable difference will really be detected.  Still plenty of time to thoroughly enjoy this season currently upon us.  Life is good and each different period of the year holds its own attraction.

The important thing is to enjoy and appreciate the here and now.  Try not to live in the future.  Or as the saying goes:  Don't put off your happy life.

The rest of the daylight days of 2018 will be good days, even if they are going to be a smidge shorter from here on out.

P.S.  The flower pictures aren't of the garden this year yet.  I'm just dreaming of things to come.  (Oops, is that "living in the future?!") 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Little Quackers

Our daughter snapped a couple of good pictures of the recent hatch of ducklings.

Here it looks as though the family just came out of the pond.  Mama Duck is preening herself . . .

. . . and the ducklings are settling down on a patch of warm soil in the sunlight for a rest period.

Whenever possible, having animals (fur or fowl) raise their young in the natural way is a joy to see.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Garden Walk Between Storms

A healthy 1" of rain was in the rain gauge this morning as a result of the beautiful, soaking rain we got over night.  Today started out dark and foggy, then that lifted and the sun came out for a couple of hours.

Now in early afternoon, the skies are graying up again and we're expecting another thunder storm to pass through.  Oops, sounds like I got outside to snap these pictures just in time as I can hear the rain drops starting.

I don't know why chives aren't a part of every flower garden or border as they are one of the first green and growing plants each spring and what can beat the gorgeous blossom display they put on?

My only tomatoes this year are three cherry tomato plants I started inside.  Papa Pea helped me put the wire cages around them one day this past week so they can start going gangbusters any time now.  We even have yellow blossoms on one plant so far.

This is a 40' row of potatoes I hilled for the first time last week.  After being completely covered, the vines are already poking through again.  This is a new plot we've been working up and I can't tell you how many tons of rocks we've hauled out of here.  At least I think we've gotten all the big ones now.  Maybe.

And this is a 20' row of taters that were planted in the field garden a couple of days after the 40' row.  They, for some reason, have been very slow to germinate and just now are ready to be hilled up.

I think a planting of multi-colored lettuces is just about as attractive as blooming flowers.  (Tastes a lot better, too.)

The sugar snap peas are juuust about big enough to start climbing on their experimental hoop trellis.

Chicken Mama grew some scarlet runner beans last year that bloomed wildly all summer long.  She dried and saved some of the seeds and gave them to me at Christmas time so I'd have them to plant in my garden this year.  They're growing around my tepee trellis and I'm sure are going to be spectacular.  I have carrots planted on either end of this bed but I just thinned them and at the moment they're invisible to the camera's eye!

The cauliflower (closest to camera) and broccoli (two beds in background) are lush and healthy.  I've had to stake up some of the broccoli plants that wanted to topple over and lie down in their bed.

My bed of Blanak garlic had very poor germination this spring so I filled in with some parsley and tall marigolds.

The Siberian garlic in another bed has come on in good shape.  It's about three feet tall already. 

In an effort to have an adequate amount of shell peas fresh frozen this winter, I put in one-third more of them this year.  I've planted them on either side of these three trellises and they're looking good . . . but not very tall yet.

Lastly, I tried to strike up a conversation with the geese and asked if they had anything they wanted to add to this post.  Apparently, I interrupted their late lunch as they were intent on filling their bellies before the next storm hit.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

New Babies

Last weekend one of our female Muscovy ducks hatched out seven little ducklings.  The very next day, she took them down to the pond.  They weren't even 24 hours old and looked like nothing more than fuzzy ping pong balls.  Raising poultry the natural way definitely makes it better for all involved.  It's certain way easier for us(!), and this Mama Duck seems happy as a clam taking such good care of her little ones.

Getting a good picture of them is a challenge, and so far this is the best I've been able to do.  (Those little ones move like greased lightning.)

Each night at close up time, Papa Pea goes out and Mama Duck leads her brood right into their secure shelter where they're locked up for the night.  Every morning, as they did this morning when we opened up their door, the little ducklings race their mama down to the pond . . . and win the race.  They spend the majority of the day on the water living the good life!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

I'm Betting I'm Not The Only One

So much that needs to be done in a short period of time.

I can't do it all.

No matter how hard I try.

Things are falling by the wayside more and more each day.

I'm not keeping up.

No way am I catching up.

Seems the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.

Send in the clones.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Where Have I Been?

Right here.  What have I been doing?

Working in the garden.  I may be losing my grip on how long it takes to get our garden completely planted, but I do believe it's been a longer process than usual this year.  I've also spent time watering as we're dry as dust again and all the transplants and seeds need moisture to make it.

Cooking and cleaning (more cooking than cleaning!) and finding a few hours in which to sleep each night.

Visiting with and putting food on the table for friends who have either arrived in the area for their vacation or are just passing through.  No overnight company though.  (Whew.)

Find, cutting and marking our south property line.

There are some very tall trees there, and on the east side also, that we've been wanting to take down for years.  It seemed a good idea to make sure the ones we take down are on our property.  As much as we dislike removing them, they've always shaded the gardens and orchard until about 10 o'clock each morning.  Up here, with our short growing season, we have to take advantage of as much sunshine as we can get.

Taking down a couple/few trees that were half dead and leaning precariously near the house and/or buildings.  This seems to be an ongoing, never-ending process, but a necessary one.

Dismantling the temporary wood shed we've used for the past two (or is it three?) years, upgrading the gravel foundation pad and moving the tractor shelter onto that spot.  

Now we can put the addition of another wood shed next to our bigger wood shed as the tractor shelter was in the way of that.  The new wood shed will go approximately where the large shadow is in above picture.

We've had a visiting brush wolf (coyote) harassing our poultry all week.  He's made a few attempts to go through the electric fencing (big fail).  Strangely enough, our big rooster and some of the hens don't seem the least bit spooked by him and trot right over to get a closer look.  Dumb clucks.

We've always had older vehicles that keep going like the Energizer Bunny due to the fact that Papa Pea takes such good care of them.  Our pick-up is at our mechanic's getting wiring installed so we have lights and brakes (seemed like a good idea) when pulling either of our trailers.  Same pick-up got the tail gate and driver's side door handle fixed this last week at another garage.  This coming Tuesday we take our Suburban to get the hood repainted.

All this may not seem like much as listed above but it all sure took a big chunk out of last week.

Don't know how much of this is of real interest to you all, but I did want to get a post up since it's been a smidge more than a week since the last one.  Hope all is going well in your neck o' the woods and that you're having a good month of June.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

First of the Month Raised Bed Photo

For documentation, I took a shot of the raised beds yesterday.  Since I've been posting the progression of the beds since March 1st of this year, I was going to show you the comparison of June 1st with the previous three months.  But, truth to tell, there isn't actually much difference between last month's picture and yesterday's.

Such visual confirmation of just how disappointing, both heat-wise and moisture-wise, the start of this year's gardening season has been.  First we dealt with the extreme lack of moisture, and then this last week we had so much rain that I still haven't been able to get into the field garden.

I pulled this picture taken on June 1st a few years ago from my picture folders.

And this is the picture from yesterday.  Pretty graphically illustrates we haven't had the best start to this gardening season.  It will get better though.  As a dyed-in-the-wool gardener (with a bit of my super-stubborn astrological sign of Taurus thrown in), I still have faith that all will turn out well.