FFF-FRIDAY – WOO HOO!!! Have you seen the signs?

It’s time to prepare! 

Have you seen the signs? 

There are many out there: (please do NOT click on the links until the very end-thank you.)

Cicadapocalypse: What you need to know.

Snakes found hunting in packs.

These two were just in today’s email information.  Then there are the other signs:

What is a supermoon?

Are you ready? 

Are you prepared?

Are you ready to handle the worst signs yet?  Hold on to your butts:

  died fighting  (Tried posting this at the edges of my gardens as a warning sign for our birds…this is what I got in return:

ckn kickn leaves

Then I received a sign from the rooster:

ck terror human

I really got worried when they ganged up on me and employed music to terrorize me:

ckn bach bach


When all else failed they came at me with this:

best hen house

FINALLY – I saw the signs!  Not happy about them – ok, and a bit scared, but definitely not happy!  Dang chickens.



Those of you that have never been fortunate enough to live on a farm, plowshare (according to Merriam-Webster definition) is a part of a plow that cuts the furrow.  It cuts through the old stale gunk that may be devoid of any nutritional value and gets to the good stuff.  Starting this Thursday – May 25, 2017 – I am going to try to plowshare with you, my friends, family, and readers.

First and foremost, I want to make clear is I do not get paid for sharing this information!  I have no connection to any of my finds except that I approve of them because I use them and they work.  I only want to share the things that we personally do or use.  If some part of it didn’t work, I would share that too.

The subject today: Tomatoes.

tomato variety 2017

Since my blog is Helbergfarmstories, I will stick to the farm/gardens aspect of these shares. (I am developing a new blog just for human nature/survival items and will let you know when that is ready.)  The share for today is about growing the best natural tomatoes you can do at any place you have.

I love PBS (Public Broadcasting System), and our local station airs a show called Growing a Greener World.  I just finished watching Episode 803- Epic Tomatoes with Craig LeHoullier (dated by GGWTV on 4/29/17, but I tape all of them then sift through what we can use here in Colorado.).  I actually learned several new things and just couldn’t wait to share!

It is spring here in Colorado.  I have already put all of our seed starts from February into the greenhouse and outside gardens.  Since watching this program, I want to go back and do it all again.  I like to think that my sister and I know what we are doing (hahahaha – ok, stop laughing), but there is always something new to learn.  This was one of those “how could I have been so stupid for this long” moments.

The creator of the show, Joe Lamp’L, describes and share all the ins-and-outs of his garden (which, I must say looks pristine!?!), but he also interviews other influential people in the natural and organic gardening arenas.  Episode 803 what a hit and an eye-opener for me!

The first thing that caught my attention what the man he was out doing the interview on, got to name the “Cherokee Purple” tomato, which happens to be one of our most favorites!  Then I saw that he was doing most all of his gardening in his driveway!   WHAT??  Now we use pots, and plots, and rows, and have even grown in straw bales – but a driveway?  Well – IT WORKED!

The setup he has is amazing!  Everything from where and how he sows his seeds, to the layout in his driveway truly surprised me (not easy to do with this old lady!)!  Here we have been meticulously separating all our tiny little tomato seeds to carefully get only one in each little honeycomb space.  Now I see WE HAVE BEEN DOING IT ALL WRONG!!!

I fell in love with this guy’s methods and reasons for them!  However, I have a new problem…I want to do more!

  • I knew about pruning the tomato plants as they grow. Have known that one for decades.
  • I know about the value of the heirloom breeds also from experience. This experience was best proven by the taste method.

One year, about ten years ago, a good friend of ours decided to try his hand at growing heirloom tomatoes.  He builds a perfect setup in his heated garage and then proceeded to plant every single seed in the tomato packets AND about 20 different breeds of them.  This led to tomatoes coming out the windows – literally!  He didn’t know what to do with them all, but he knew we had much more room than he did.   Of course, we said we would take as much as he wanted to toss our way – oh silly us.

heirloom seed packets

We worked rigorously for several days straight to create our first two – hundred foot rows.  It was worth all the effort as we had no greenhouse at that time to extend the harvest.  Everything had to be done NOW – dig and weed the plots, put in the t-posts, hang the field fencing wires, layout the walkways around everything.  They were beautiful!

best tomato rows 2012

It was worth it!  That was the best Pico, salsa’s, and sauce’s that we ever made!  I also took it upon myself to taste-test every single one of those heirloom tomato breeds, and I quickly found my favorites.

  • The Cherokee Purple beat out my Black Krim (both are good, but the purple has a stronger flavor).
  • The Brandywine did not grow many (one more thing I learned, it is a heavy vine plant), but they carried a much sweeter flavor.
  • Then there was the Kellogg Yellow – less acidic so perfect for our friends that love tomatoes but can’t do the acid.

There was just so many different sizes, colors, flavors that I got lost in enjoying tomato salads all fall!  We froze and canned all that we could but gave away tons to others as well.

tomato salad

Episode 803 has now inspired me to revisit that year.  The fire took all my notebooks, but I still have great memories of it all.  This program also showed me some additional steps to help get the best tomatoes I can through the season, not just at the beginning.

I hope you all take a moment or two to watch it – well worth the time! Who knows, you may just learn something new?

never stop learning

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Bad news.  Bad news.  Then more bad news.  I AM SOOO TIRED OF BAD NEWS!  I have started a new self-help campaign…seek out good news!  Here is one that I came across this week:

Love the smell of spring? Here’s where the season’s odors come from.

It was kind of sad and disgusting.  So I choose to turn it into a good thing.

I like to learn the scientific reason for the smells that I love (which was key to the above article), but I prefer my reasoning…it is because of my past.  Here are some examples:

A fresh cut hay field: This one catches me at the second it hits my nose (and it’s a big nose) and instantly throws me back to the 80-acre farm I grew up on.  It’s spring, and we have started the first of several cuttings to create bales for the winter ahead.  This follows with the families joining to bale the hay.  Kids playing in the hay, the fields, and with the horses.  Parents would gather in the shade of the large garage we had or maybe in the back yard covered with huge trees.  Fresh squeezed lemonade, sun tea, and beer were the drinks of choice (Oh, and the water for the kids always came from the hose.  We had a well with great tasting water!).

new mown hay

The air after the first big spring rain:  Once again I am flung back in time to kids with little plastic (yep plastic, not rubber – that was for city kids!) boots.  They were very floopy (is that a word?  Pronounced like soupy.) so we never bothered to wear any socks with them.  The puddles we splashed in would throw the water up and over the top of the boot, and our feet would float.  This made it even more fun because as you went running up on a puddle, your slippery foot would slide sideways and cause you to fall into the puddle instead of just splashing – laughter all around!

flowers in spring rain

Pine trees, rosemary, evergreens:  These smells are sort of the same and all lead to the same thing – CHRISTMAS!  I have had a few bad ones, but most of my Christmas’s were crammed with wonderful memories!  Once again all about family and friends all smiling, laughing, and sharing. (FYI: This smell always makes me feel better if I am sad or depressed.)

Fresh baked bread:  Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh baked (or baking) bread?  It never has a chance to completely cool in our house!  As soon as it’s touchable, we slice it up, butter, and eat it!  This one does not go back to my childhood, but it does include family.  Mom hated to cook.  Dad loved to cook.  I just do not remember any baking specifics (except Christmas cookies) until I moved in with my sister – she’s a bake-a-holic!  One of her specialties that I swear I can smell clear out in the barn is her bread.  She loves to make a variety of them and is always looking for a new recipe.  I have resolved myself to the fact that I will never be skinny.  I can blame it on genes, surgeries, no time for exercise – whatever- but I know the real reason is that I cannot keep my hands off her homemade bread – yum!!!

d star bread (This is one of her creations!)

With all the surgeries I have been through, I wondered what would be the worst to lose: sight, hearing, smell, touch?  I have already lost part of my hearing (major ear infection as a kid) and some ability to touch.  Getting older the eyesight fades (can sometimes be corrected), but I think the loss of smell would break my heart!  It is the one sense that can reincarnate good times no matter where I am in life.

Yep, when it comes to smells that float up my nose, happiness resides there not science.  I will continue to breathe deep and suck in all the fun fond memories that I can, while I can!

upclose dog nose

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I have found the answer to the world’s oldest question.


chicken 1


chicken 6


chicken 2


chicken 5

To run over and steal all the wonderful worms from my gardens as I work!

chicken 3

Hiding behind the garlic grasses will not save you from my wrath bird!

chicken 4

I swear if you girls were not laying 6+ eggs a day you would be freezer meat! (I still have about a dozen other birds you know?!?  And they are staying OUT of my gardens!)

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I’ve been a planting fool over the last four weeks!
• Corn with cucs.
• Tomatoes with marigolds.
• Hot peppers in one spot.
• Sweet peppers in a spot far away from the hot ones.
• Extra beets, carrots, and dill EVERYWHERE.
Then, just when I thought it was safe to bring out the big guns (pumpkins, squashes, melons) this happens:

snowman with flower

MAY 17    PM Thunderstorms 71°43°       40%          N 13 mph    48%
MAY 18    Rain/Wind            45°35°          100%         NE 21 mph   90%
MAY 19    Rain/Snow             48°31°         100%         N 14 mph    79%
Rain and snow in the morning. The rain and snow will become lighter and change to all rain in the afternoon. High 48F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 100%.


REALLY?? We are at mid-May, and NOW it decides to snow – Mother Nature I really need to have a heart-to-heart talk with you!!

I just finished putting out all the tomatoes and peppers (heat lovers of course – grrr) and was getting ready to get out the big viners. It’s a good thing I took an afternoon off to relax my back (yep – another wonderful thing about being elderly – eek – older – double eek- experienced – OK, I like that one…being more experienced!) before hitting it all again.
I feel lucky that with age does come a bit of wisdom (ok, maybe just a lot of luck!) and I prepped covers for everything outside as I placed them in the plots. Alright, alright…I actually was not thinking about bad weather but my renegade chickens. No matter how much I fence or feed them in their pen, the beasties still get out and prefer to dig up whatever I put in the ground. Maybe I need to stress more that I have part of a freezer empty and they would fit in there nicely?

real chicken    ≡   fried chicken

Oh well, maybe they knew something I was not even thinking about – getting this cold this late in the season. Maybe Ole’ Mom Nature gave them a hint to force me to put fenced hoops over everybody? Maybe it was her way of telling me that this mess was heading my way – naaa, just sounds good doesn’t it?
So, now that I have done all the first round hard stuff (cleaning, prepping and planting) I need to get ready for the second round hard stuff.
I now have to:
1. bring out all the plastic,
2. measure,
3. cut,
4. secure
5. and pray.

Yep, pray that the wind does not rip off all the covers and ruin all my hard work.
Some weeks are just more of a challenge than others I guess!?!

pulling hair out                               hit excape

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Funny how quickly the spring can make me just fly out the door with joy! The smells of all the new flowers, after the first good thunderstorm, and new mown hay excite me into the season. Just when I thought it was safe to go out and I am prepared for all the nasty critters (mosquitos, biting flies, snakes etc.) a new one comes along:

What is the Powassan virus? From MNN.com

It is from ticks. Including our Deer Ticks here in the US (and Canada where it originated).


(This pic is from their article – great shot!)
Now, I can handle spiders no biggie.

I do not mind snakes (as long as they stay in their own space and warn me when I get close.

garder snake

I’ve even been known to handle them – not a problem!
I hate mosquitos just because I am allergic to them. A normal person gets a bump the size of about a pencil eraser head; not me, I get one the size of a silver dollar.

cartoon mosquito

Bees and I have a great gardening understanding: They don’t sting me and they can hang out in and round me and our gardens all they want!
Yellow-jackets/wasps and I have an outright third world war going on! Took out about 20 nests in our open sheds this last winter. I have only seen a couple of them this year, but I see they are already looking to build a new home (grrr!).

When it comes to ticks, I get all icky!
• I hate finding them crawling on me.
• I hate having to pull them off me, someone else, or the dog.
• I hate how sneaky they seem (you never know where you pick them up at?).
• I hate that I do not see any purpose for them except to bug me.
• Worst of all, I hate the way they look. I blame the Alien movies for this part.

aliens movie pic  (see – flat head, with a huge nasty mouth – yuck!)

Ick – sorry, just gave myself the willies thinking about the creepy crawlers. This post is not concerning my nasty bug fetishes but to warn you, my fellow outdoorsy people, about the new virus out-and-about. So please click on the link to MNN and check out the symptoms – let’s be safe out there!!


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Don’t want to bog you all down with too much info.  I found something new for those of you that read me and know how obsessed I am with clean food.  This one comes from one of my email newsletters.  I am always on the look-out for the facts in regard to real food, not chemicalized.

This one, I felt, was worth checking into….


They are supposed to be answering questions, concerns, and information in regard to better, healthier, eating foods.  They quote their research, link it to where they find it, and why they feel it is relevant.  It is part of the Alliance for Food and Farming.  I do not have any affiliation with them other than believing in their work and enjoying their articles.

Hope you find them informative and helpful in your gardening efforts, I do!

8-27 bounty 1 day

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I love doing research!  I seem to be always digging for something either new-and-improved or looking for the next helpful hint for the farm and gardens.  This blog is about one secret that I came across during my early research days (early meaning before we moved to this small farm).

One of the first things we knew we wanted for our farm was to be as natural as possible.  We thought about organic – but even that is not completely natural.  My wonderful little home in Denver had a huge back yard.  Part of that yard was my garden, so I was able to test a bunch of my findings on it.  The bummer was that it is higher altitude, which does make a big difference.

high altitude gardening

In my research travels, I came across a website that I had never heard of “PLANT NATURAL.COM”.  This was a God-send in my research for all  (or nearly all) natural gardening methods!  They recently sent me this little tidbit:  10 Garden Pests & How To Organically Control Them.  It is a YouTube video that is most excellent viewing on natural pest controls!  (Note: Looks like they do their research also as the video is from California Gardening, but the same pests are here in Colorado.)

Those of you have been with me for a bit, know that I do not have any affiliates on my Helberg Farm Stories blog yet.  This may change shortly as I would like to share with you the sites where we buy our farm and garden things.  A secret should not always be kept.  In this case, I want to share!

sharing is caring

There are a large number of websites that I go to in any given week.  Most of them are just to gain more information.  Some, like Planet Natural, are to purchase something.  Planet Natural also has a huge amount of information and a Forum.  Those of you that have not been to a forum, I strongly urge you do so!  If you garden at all:

  • In containers
    • A patio
      • A back yard
        • A big space
          • A greenhouse

I suggest you get involved in some of the forums.  You do not have to ask any questions if you don’t want to.  Just reading through the thoughts others, can help you a bunch!  Forums are nice because they are everyday people just like us that are asking the questions and getting/giving the answers.

What worked?

What didn’t work?

Why didn’t it work?

How can I fix it?

Our recent US election gave me a purpose.  I have decided that I will continue to be fun and funny as often as I can; however, I will also be trying to share more “earth-friendly” information with all of you that want to know it.  As I said earlier – I love to do research, and I am good at it!  There was a time when I had no time to spend on it, now that I do I will be sharing!

If my paid Politicians do not want to care for things like Global Warming, Climate Change, and Clean Healthy food – then I will!

Please feel free to share with me anything gardening that you need help on!  If I don’t know the answer, I will happily find it and share!



I was wondering around the trees and bushes to the south yesterday.  I needed to see if I should water anyone just in case the storm scheduled to today (it came) missed us again.  I was not paying attention to where I was walking because I was checking the base of the plants when “OUCH” – SOMETHING STABBED ME!  Not a poke but a nasty stab.  This was the culprit:

5-1-17 thorns on locust tree

I purposely left this picture larger than most, just to try to impress upon you the length and effectiveness of our locust tree spikes (the minimum length of these spiky behemoths is three inches).  Yep, this monster has gotten very dangerous indeed!

If I ever run out of yarn, sewing, or darning needles; these suckers would be perfect!  They are as strong as steel, sharper than a knife, and more vicious than a guard dog.

Somehow in the next few days, I need to figure out how to get near it to do some trimming.  Pretty sure I will at least need body armor.  We used to have a long-handled hand saw to do things like this, but my grandson decided to try jousting with it – and lost.

One of my grand delusions is to have a huge four-foot-thick castle wall around our property (because too many people find us to be the Colorado Information/Gas Station/Potty Stop Center).  Now I think I will try to grab some suckers off this beastie and try to root start them.  Wonder if a huge hedge of them, totally surrounding our property, would keep the uninvited out?  Hmm, something fun to ponder this Friday!

Aubrey 2

(Hee, hee – next best thing to Aubrey 2 – LOL)

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Do you know what your kids are singing?  Especially your very young kids?  Now I am no spring chicken anymore, but I know that one of the first things that kids learn is music – specifically singing.  They are taught at the youngest age to do simple rhyming song.

  • Oh, Dear, What Can the Matter Be?
  • Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
  • One that my sister was taught was Chicken Riding? I, personally, had never heard it before or after she sang it (sometimes I think she just made it up to keep me guessing?!)
  • Itsy, Bitsy Spider – and so on.

The one children’s song that came to mind this morning is about one of my favorite creatures – the Bumble Bee.  “I caught a little baby bumblebee, won’t my mommy be so proud of me.”  (It’s kind of tragic at the same time – stings the kid, gets squashed, makes a mess of the shirt, and in the end, the kid gets into trouble…ahh, kids songs?!)

We have honey bees that are brought up from New Mexico every spring.  A company (friends) has our permission to pull their huge semi-truck onto our property.  Park it there, unload, and distribute over 600 colonies of bees.  It takes about three days to get them all spread out here in northeastern Colorado.  Then in the fall, they do the reverse.  We have extra free great pollinators all summer long.  (They should be here in the next couple of weeks.)

We also spend a fair amount of time every spring adding more (or new) good-bug-friendly plants to our yards and gardens.  The first few years on our little slice of heaven were kind of sad.  A few spots out front with a few flowers in them, but nothing to really attract our good bug buddies.  I can still remember the first time I saw a Praying Mantis.  Got so happy I cried a bit!

Over the years and our continuous work, we have managed to attract all types of garden helpers.

  • More Praying Mantis (green & brown – for those that do not know – female and male in our territory.)
  • Walking Sticks
  • The continued Honey Bees
  • Humming Birds.
  • An ever-growing variety of wild birds.
  • Lacewings
  • Ladybugs
  • Soldier bugs
  • And a variety of beetles.

The one that is closest to me, in more ways than one, is the bees.  We have several varieties here now.  The one that I did not see until just last year was the Bumble Bee.  I didn’t even think about it until I read this email: Mother Nature Network (MNN)

Bumblebee gets a helping hand from Endangered Species Act

I didn’t know they were on the endangered species list?  I know the Honeybees have been declining, so we help them as much as possible, but it never dawned on me that the Bumblebee is was having issues as well.

Maybe they should start teaching kid song to save things like the bumble bee instead of squashing it?  Maybe we could help starting now?

music notes 1

There was a little baby Bumblebee.

So I sat real still as I could be.

The Bumblebee came and sat on me.

Oh, what a wonderful thing to see.

Then he turned and smiled with glee.

Don’t ya just love those Bumblebees!

music notes 2

(Can’t write right now, because I can’t stop laughing at myself!)

Ok, so I cannot write a song, but you get the picture.  The idea of teaching our kids not to be afraid of things like Bumblebees, Honeybees, and Spiders just appeals to me.  I though, have my work cut out for me with my grandson.  He is a big giant panzie!  He can’t wait for summer, but asks every day if the snakes are out yet?  If I say yes, it is time, then he won’t go outside – grrr!

silly friendly snake

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