Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hungry squirrels...

will be DEAD squirrels if I catch them stealing from the orchard again!

Sheesh! First bugs, now rabid squirrels!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Work continues around the homestead, with periods of berry picking, hanging out, and eating Popsicles. The bugs aren't eating Popsicles, though, they have made their appearance in the garden.

We had a couple of rainy days that kept me indoors and not doing the usual veggie inspection. Next thing I knew...

naked tomato plants!! And the hunt was on for the elusive and destructive tomato hornworm!

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This bugger is nearly invisible against the green leaves, but can strip a plant overnight and grow to the size of your finger. You can tell you have hornworms before the damage is too obvious the poop they leave behind. The bigger the poop, the bigger the worm. (Aren't you glad to know all about worm poop?)

All is not lost, though. Most of the plants, well the ones that didn't drown in the storms, have set at least some fruit, so I'll still get tomatoes. In fact...

My first ripening mater of the season! I can't wait to eat this with the basil that I nearly forgot to plant planted very late.

Another pest that has dared to show itself is the Japanese beetle on the grape vines.

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At least this bug isn't as disgusting looking, but a rather pretty iridescent green. Don't get me wrong! It's still a nasty bug, but it doesn't make me hop around and squeal like a little girl as much as those icky hornworms! And look what it's doing to my grapes.

Remember these little grapes from early Spring? Yeah, they're all gone...*Sniff*.

I had some beetle traps from last year, but needed new lures to convince the bugs to fly into the bags. At first, I had trouble locating replacements, but yesterday I found some. And did they cost plenty! Who knew that pads with alluring bug sex-smell could be so expensive! Hope the beetles enjoy themselves on the way to their death.

So now that you have heard all about worm poop and beetle pheromones, let's talk landscaping. I finally got the long bed in front of the garden fences re-mulched.

Canine frog inspectors.

Time to clean up the generator area. I embarrassed to show you the "before" picture, but it's not like I wasn't busting myself replanting and mulching elsewhere! So here goes (don't judge me!)

I can't show an "after" shot yet, because I only got halfway finished before the string on the trimmer broke. And then it rained. And then I got lazy. So I'm not finished. But I got this far!

Other than that, I've been picking wild blackberries just about every other day. Yesterday, I got 2 more quarts after picking 1 1/2 quarts two days before! This has been the very best year for berries since we moved here! I already have a full gallon freezer bag and have started another. I see LOTS of smoothies this fall!

And for those of you who don't follow Facebook, Nicky was caught eating something yesterday while I was mowing. I tried to out wait him, knowing he would eventually barf, but he waited until he was napping on my bed. Then, without even getting down from the bed, he leaned over the side and horked up the remains of a small rabbit.

He is not my best friend.

I may have to move.

Have a nice morning!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another one bites the dust!

I really planned on taking a break from the landscaping project, but when I happened upon 5 forsythia shrubs for $7 each at the Walmart, I had to snag them! Forsythia is one of the first things to bloom in the Spring with bright yellow flowers.

I had tried rooting my own forsythias from some cuttings provided by Dana, my farm hand's Mom. I failed miserably, and I so wanted some to screen the propane tank. When we originally had the landscaping done, some genius thought that planting prickly holly around the tank was a good idea. I should have made him come and check the gauge and fill the tank through all those hateful prickles!

Here's the tank after I weed-whacked the worse of the grasses and weeds from the front side. Sassy is checking for crickets and frogs among the 3 remaining holly bushes. (Okay, crappy photo taken with my phone!)

I still needed to get to the back where the fill valve and gauge are!

And here it is with new shrubs, mulch and stepping stones:

These will grow into a large hedge.

As usual, the weather was scorching and muggy and the biting bugs got through all of my chemical and clothing defenses. But check this out! The weather in Kansas shot up 20 degrees in 20 minutes (to over 100 degrees) AT MIDNIGHT!

Anyway, by the time I finished mulching around the tank, I was also out of mulch. So, today, I had another truckload delivered.

See? Lonely cart with no mulch.

It's a bit like magic. You give the guys a kidney, first-born child (Hi, Courtney! What are you doing with the rest of your life?), or a sack full of cash...

and they leave a mountain of mulch at the end of your driveway for your hauling pleasure!

I know you all worry about me toiling away in the hot sun, e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y, but I do other things too. The other day, as I was running the dogs, I saw this:

Wouldn't this make a great calendar picture?

So in the relative cool this morning, I went on a scouting trip and picked my first blackberries. I got almost a quart!

Since there are plenty more waiting to ripen, I washed these and spread them out on a cookie sheet and popped them in the freezer. These are going to make delicious smoothies all winter long!

And at night, when there is no sunlight or outdoor work to do, I've been crocheting some dish cloths.

These are a a gingham pattern that I thinks looks really neat. They are large and thick and wear really well. I think I might put these in my shop. I can't decide whether to make sets gingham cloths of all the same color, a mixed color set, or sets with one color scheme but different patterns including a gingham one. Any opinions??

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Dog's Calendar

Feel so gud!

Snooze-day: Be naughty wears me out.

Why you no buy me pool? Why I must use crick?

I keeel you toy!

Foamy Frog-day: Frog not tast gud!

Snake-tur-day: Tak dat snak! I ween!

Run-day: I run too fass for you to snap, Mom!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The work goes on and on and ....

So, a little update on the never-ending landscaping. I have F I N A L L Y completed replanting and mulching all of the beds up against the house! (Cue applause and celebratory music.) And it about killed me, especially these last 2 weeks as the sunrise temperatures start in the 80s and climb from there.

Let's take a photo tour, shall we? (Just go with it, okay?) We'll start from the left side of the house by the driveway and work our way around the house.

Left side by garage.

Left front.

More left front towards the porch. That tallest shrub is in full bloom, so it was extra special working with a zillion bees buzzing around! I practically needed hearing protection!

The mulch in those photos looks much lighter than in some of the others because of the heat. When I started in the back, the temps were cooler + lots of rain = dark, heavy mulch.

Front porch with canine helper toy visible in the rocks.

Right side from the front.

One side of back porch.

Other side of back porch.

This completes our tour. I know you are impressed!! Okay, maybe not, but I did do all by myself except for the day my farm hand came to help me.

This is all that's left of the mulch pile. I have some areas that need the mulch refreshed, but that already have weed barrier down. Then there are more areas that have neither barrier, mulch or many still-living plants. So the work continues, but I decided to take a bit of a break and get out to see the world.

Yesterday, I went off in the truck to take trash to the dump (one of the perks of country living is you get to drive your own garbage around town) and to check out some stores for discounted shrubs. We have 2 Walmarts, 2 Lowes stores and 1 Home Depot in "the big town." I hit one of each store yesterday with no luck. In fact, I don't think the Home Depot is still watering their plants, but they still want full price for the extra crispy ones.

Today, I went to the farmer's market (still no luck) and then headed for the larger Walmart further north. And I hit pay dirt! It took me two trips to the car with my purchases, but I got:

3 Forsythias for around the propane tank at $7 each.

6 Azaleas for the backyard ($4.50) and 2 more Forsythias.

I should have brought the truck!

Thank goodness I live where seeing out of the car while driving isn't totally necessary!

Friday, June 3, 2011

I'm getting tired of mulching.

But it does look good! As the temps near 100 degrees, the work slows down. If I get outside by 6 AM I can maybe get 3 hours of work done before I am a hot, sweaty mess. I don't always make it out that early!

But I am plugging along with the mulching project and landscape refreshing and the shrinking mulch pile is proof.

Gratuitous (blurry) picture of my tractor, which I use to move mulch. Have I said lately how much I love my tractor?? A whole lot! Especially the air-conditioning on days like these!

I have to water all the new shrubs at least once a day (sometimes twice! *Sigh*), but the gardenias are already blooming!

In the garden, the peas are "pea-ing,"

and the broccoli is budding.

The first tomatoes are set

but the lettuce is starting to bolt.

The herbs need frequent cutting

and the cabbages are holding their own.

It's been too hot to run the dogs (plus there is the matter of the smoking battery in the buggy!) so we bought them new toys to play with in the yard.

They think they want to chase the buggy down the road, but after just a few minutes of tossing toys for them, they head for the door and want into the air conditioning! The buggy is out for repair but should get back tomorrow. Unfortunately, the weather is going to continue to roast, so there still may not be much dog-running anyway!