Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Slice of Life on the Homestead

I was working in the garden this afternoon when Papa Pea came to find me and announced he needed my help.

"What's up?" I asked.

He replied, "I got the Gravely stuck in the edge of the pond."

"How'd that happen?" I asked.

"I was watching a duck," he said.

Although this picture makes it look like the mower is tangled up with the electric fencing, it's not.  Papa Pea had folded back that section of fence so he could get in by the pond to mow.  (Looks to me like said duck is wondering what's going on himself.)

Off we went to fetch our old, faithful Samurai which Papa Pea chained up to the Gravely which did, indeed, have one wheel very much stuck in the mud.

Happily, it didn't take a lot to get it unstuck, and he was soon off and mowing again.

Seems to me he got stuck in much the same spot once last year, too.  Wonder what he was watching then?

Friday, May 29, 2020

In the Garden

This is a partial glimpse of the asparagus patch.  This is it 24 hours after I harvested all the big enough stalks just yesterday.  I'd like to have a time-lapse camera set up to see just how fast the stalks grow.

The cold frame over this lettuce and miscellaneous salad greens is due to come off very soon.  I had to replant in a couple of spots and there are still some itty-bitty plants that may not make it.  Replant, replant.

Here's half of a bed of five different kinds of radishes before the second thinning.  We love our radishes.

This is our rhubarb plant on steroids with comfrey on either end.

See my wiggly-waggly leaves of garlic?  What's with that?  The bed has bush zinnias under hot caps on either end.  I do believe the started zinnias have gotten smaller since I set them out.

Six green pepper plants under hot caps.  They need to have a cold frame set over them (and the hot caps removed) as soon as I can get someone to help me do the job.  By the by, we've never had so many dandelions.  They were all mowed down by the mower three days ago.  I feel like they're a super-breed and may take over the acreage.

My cauliflower plants look good and healthy at this stage.

I planted an eight foot row of cucumber seeds from 2014 and I think every one of them germinated.  I'll thin them down to just four plants which will give us all the slicing cukes we'll need with many to give away.

These are my shell pea trellises.  Can you see the pea sprouts?  No, me neither.  I just planted them two days ago.

Our haskap berry bushes are lush and chock-full of blossoms.  Looks to be a good year for them. 

The strawberry plants have blossomed early this year.  If all goes well, we should get a good crop from them.

No picture but I have two zucchini plants under a hot cap that are just bursting to get out, but our temp is possibly going down to the mid-30s tonight so I didn't want to chance letting them out of their little hot house quite yet. 

I still have most of the warm weather crops to plant, and had to spend the afternoon weeding in the blueberries and strawberries (the 3/4" of rain we got this week did wonders for the growing plants and, of course, the weeds) so I don't feel like I made much forward progress in the garden today.  Unless you count the weeding . . . which does count for a lot since once you fall behind on that, as all you gardeners know, it's really, really hard to catch up.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

What's Happenin'

In an effort to maintain what's left of our frazzled minds during this pandemic period, we've had a couple of "social distancing" outings with friends during the last two weeks.  Good gracious, it felt good to leave the property for more than a short time to pick up essentials (mostly at curbside) and talk with real live people we've not had contact with for what seems like ages.

Our public library sent out notice the first week in May that one could order books, DVDs, audio books, etc. online and one would be called when the requested items were available for pick-up at a pass-through window at the library.  Oh, how I've missed the services our wonderful library provides for us, so I immediately placed my order and waited to be notified I could pick up my selections.

Weeks have passed with no word.  Yesterday I made a call to the library and spoke to one of the very nice clerks who explained the situation causing the delay.

When the pandemic restrictions and closings started back in March, many people had library materials in their possession and were told they wouldn't be charged any late fees because of the library's closure.  Therefore, getting all the materials back has been a jumbled mess.

A request for any item not available locally but in other libraries in our library system is usually delivered to our local library within a week's time, at most.  To make this long story short(er), I found out delivery of materials (some of those I requested) didn't start until day before yesterday and many materials have not been returned yet since no fines are being issued.  Then when materials do arrive in our local library, they are "quarantined" for 7 days before being given out again.  Sigh.  Life is not functioning the way it used to.

Still no much needed rain here.  Fire danger is listed as high (and scary).  The forecast teases us with the possibility of some rain over this Memorial Day Weekend.  We're all keeping our fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I'm working on getting the garden in as fast as I can.  I'm tired at the end of the day, but my first-of-the-season body aches and pains have all but disappeared.  After placing starts or seeds in the garden, I've had to water regularly since the soil is dry as dust.

The grass is growing despite lack of nourishing rain so Papa Pea got out the lawn mower for me a few days ago, and I started the attack on the too-high growth.  A back wheel immediately disengaged itself from the mower and that ended my efforts.  Papa Pea has been busier than the proverbial one-armed paper hanger on his own projects and hasn't had time to do the repairs on the mower, so the grass grows on.

We both keep bumping into the fact that if you're doing one thing, you can't do the other.  ('Magine that.)

I'm missing doing any handwork because of the time spent on outside tasks, plus when I come to the end of my day, I'm so pooped I can't stay awake when I do sit down to pick up my handwork.  Ah, yes, to everything there is a season.

And for those of you who may ask (wisps of words -- cough, cough), I haven't spent the desired time in the hammock yet.  Not yet, but it will happen!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Let The Gardening Begin!

My husband claims warm weather arrives on May 15th every year.  He may be right as that's certainly what has happened this year.

I couldn't wait any longer to do some planting in the garden since the weather has been so nice; not too hot and not too cold anymore.

I would like to have my shell peas and potatoes planted in the field garden already, but Papa Pea has to find time to use the cultivator on the Gravely garden tractor to prep it for me.  This week will find that done, I hope.  (And, yes, 'tis time to mow the lawn for the first time this year.)

In the meantime, I've been working on getting the raised beds planted.

The green hot caps you see in the background are covering six started cauliflower plants I've set out.  The green shoots in the bed in the foreground are garlic coming up.  To the right and behind the garlic is a bed where I've planted gladioli bulbs.  I love the way they (will) form a solid block of beautiful flowers for cutting.

My perennial bed of peppermint is finally coming to life.  Each year I'm sure it's all died out because it looks that way forever.  But it's definitely growing now.  (Is it my imagination or can you see all those little green leaves?)

I got brave and put out two started zucchini plants.  Under a protective cover, that is.  A couple of rows of nasturtium seeds are planted on either side of the mounded up zucchini.

The cold frame you see is covering the lettuces and salad greens I started indoors.  The daytime temps are good for the tender sprouts, but it's still dropping down a little cool for them at night.

I planted lots of spinach in the chive bed this year.  (In the back left of this pic.)  For the first time last year, I froze bags stuffed with unblanched spinach and we enjoyed it all winter.  During the growing season, we also eat a lot of fresh spinach.

I set out six started broccoli plants today.  Protected by the hot caps.  I still have six more to fit in somewhere.  The center trellis of this bed will have cosmos on either side of it when the weather is warm enough for those starts to go outside.

And, yippee, the asparagus is coming on like gangbusters.  Won't be long before we have our first meal of fresh asparagus.  (As you can see, I grow rocks, too.)

Because we're still lacking rain, I'm watering everything so the started plants have adequate moisture and the seeds don't wither and die of thirst.  This morning we hooked up the sprinkler and put it on the strawberry plants for about an hour.  I think they appreciated it.

Believe it or not, we didn't even put up our hammock last year.  (And how sad is that?)  This spring it's been up for about two weeks already.  I've only managed to get in it once, so far, but am bound and determined to spend some quality time in it throughout this summer!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Wanted: Rain

Rain is forecast for tonight.  Not much, but we'll be glad to take whatever Mother Nature gives us.

In the garden, the first asparagus spears are poking up through the soil.  Rain would really help them.

I completely weeded and mulched the small orchard.  Teeny-tiny buds are just now starting to appear on the trees.

Weeded the strawberry plants for the second time this spring.  Biggest problem is huge, healthy, robust dandelion plants that love to grow smack-dab in the middle of the strawberry plants.  I don't like dandelions.

Speaking of the dandelions (I don't like), this past week their blossoms made their first appearance in our (laughingly called) lawn.  They are one of the first blooms the honey bees have to work during our cold spring.

The blueberry bushes have been well weeded, given a good dose of peat moss and then mulched with old hay.  This is the first year I've mulched the whole patch, but we've suffered from not enough moisture for the past couple/few seasons so if this is another dry-ish year, the mulch will help.  If nothing else, it will keep down the weeds.

With Papa Pea's help today, I staked out the area (the old raspberry patch) where I want to plant my Red Kuri squash this year.  Way too early to think of planting any squash yet, but I'll be ready when the weather cooperates for the warmth loving squash.

Our forecast shows the temps staying above freezing starting tonight and into next week.  It's about time.

Now I must go do a rain dance so the dry-as-dust soil will be replenished and the forest fire danger will go down, down, down.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Oooh, So Good!

A few days ago, my daughter asked me what I'd like for Mother's Day.  Since I've been thinking about (and craving) chocolate eclairs, that's what I told her I'd love.

"Oh, good!" was her reply.  "I've got a recipe I've been wanting to try for a long time so that will be perfect."

Although the name of this pastry is technically Profiteroles with Creme Patissiere, otherwise known as cream puffs, they filled my request to a "T" yesterday.

See if you can keep from licking your screen.

Going, going . . .

All gone!

 I was unselfish (it was hard) and shared with Papa Pea and the creator of these wonderful bits of lusciousness.

They were delightful little nuggets just the right size to pop into one's mouth, sit back and . . . swoon.  Not overly sweet in any way, but just right.  I may have eaten ten one or two more than I should have.  (Piggy, piggy, oink-oink.  No excuse, I just couldn't stop.)

The best news?  There are at least half of the "puffs" left to be filled and enjoyed today.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

A Special Day

Wishing a very happy Mother's Day 
to all of you
who are mothers,

 * * * * * *

And to you all of you 
who are mothers to others!

Friday, May 8, 2020

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Our area of northern Minnesota failed to get the memo about global warming.  It's just not happening here.

We worked outside yesterday on a couple of big jobs.  Papa Pea planted some new fruit trees that arrived within the last couple of days.

I was in the blueberry bushes getting them ready for the season.  The project isn't totally done, but I hope to get back on it today.

I was surprised at how cool (downright cold?) it felt the last half of the day yesterday.  When we finally came in around 3:30 I was chilled to the bone.  Temp said we had a high of 47° but it sure didn't feel that warm.  (Warm being a relative term.)  Plus, I'm getting really tired of it going below freezing these nights.  I can't even think of putting much in the garden yet.  And, gollnabbit, in a short month it will be nearly the middle of June.  Enough of the cold weather already!

On top of this, we really need rain.  Papa Pea put the hoses out yesterday and, of course, had to disconnect them last night because of temps forecasted to go below freezing over night.  Again.  I'm thinking I may have to water my mint, rhubarb, garlic and asparagus soon.  The strawberry and blueberry patches would benefit from a good drink, too.

So it goes in spring time in the north woods.  Whenever anyone complains about the cool temps this time of year, the usual retort is, "Well, the bugs aren't bad."  We all know the truly warm weather allows those pesky little blood-seeking biters to come out in droves.

Now guess what.  We had a low temp of 25° last night.  Plus a light covering of s-n-o-w this morning.  Oh-me-oh-my-oh.  Sigh.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Beautiful Weather Equals Being Outside

I got the strawberry rows finished a day or so ago.  Still have to put mulch on the outside of the newly planted row (on the left of the picture above) but I want to wait about a week in which I'll till up the area two or three more times to convince the sod that I am not going to allow it to grow into the cultivated area.

Papa Pea reports that these mornings when he lets the poultry out the ducks and chickens zoom right past the food dishes he puts out.  They all know there is food in the pond or pasture that is more desirable this time of year than the stuff we offer.  Mmmm, bugs, tadpoles, grubs, worms, green grass!  Yum! 

When the sun hits this area at the edge of the copse of trees in the pasture, the chickens love to take dust baths in the area they've made into their own private spa.

I tried to get closer to show the hens all congregated farther back in, but Mr. Roo got a little nervous.  He gave me a questioning eye saying, "Ummm, lady, can't you see we're trying to take baths here?"