Another Fun Year on the Farm – woohoo?

I do believe in God and Angels.  I also believe that he has a very warped sense of humor, and he is in cahoots with Mother Nature.

I like to think that Angels watch over us.  I used to think they helped to protect and guide us, now I think they are more like messengers.  Yes, they are watching us, but they do it just to report back to their boss.  We all know that the best way to get “in good with the Boss” is to make them laugh.  Pretty sure that my Angel is the Bosses Right-Hand-Man providing all the juicy info on me.

gossip gals

All I wished for this year was a boring year – no drama at all.  Nope, apparently, the powers that be decided it gets too dull for them if I’m not going through some type of issues.

It started out with my 10-year old Grandson stealing from me, then lying about it (like Grandma’s are stupid – really?!).  That was then followed up by a Bomb Cyclone – WHAT?  I had never heard of such a thing before, especially not here in Colorado.  Tornado (oh, wait – that was last year) yes, but Cyclone?

Our tools started disappearing?  We keep them specifically in a small shed that we worked very hard last year to turn into our “tool” shop.  First, I thought we had someone sneaking onto our property when we were not home or in the middle of the night.  I also questioned my own mental faculties, thinking I had used and just misplaced them.  I finally found one of my hammers sitting out in the pasture behind the chicken coop.   It was not sitting by anything that needed to be hammered, which could only mean one thing.  I questioned my Grandson, “Did you take out my tools, without asking, and not put them back?”

“OH, NOOO, GRANDMA!” Shot out of his mouth before I could even finish asking – a dead giveaway.

“Then how do we explain this hammer being found in the middle of the field behind the chickens?  You know, right where you have been playing.”

I got that I’m innocent look at first.

It soon turned into the Oh shit, I’ve been caught look.

Which then became the Quick, make up a story to get out of this look.

Yes, I have seen and know them all on him, and he just doesn’t get it.  There are only three of us in the house (unless you count the cat and she refuses to do any kind of work) and if my sister and myself did not do it, there is only one person left.  So, I put a lock on the tool shed.

  • Followed by a lock on the bigger shed.
  • Followed by a lock on the roofless greenhouse because he was sneaking in through there to get into stuff.
  • Followed by locks on all three of the barn doors.

The only thing that is not locked (yet) is the chicken coop.  It’s all stupidly sad because I use some type of tool around here almost daily and I have to unlock everything, get what I need, then lock it all back up again – EVERY SINGLE TIME NOW! Grr!!

multiple locks

Once we mostly had control of our tools again, we took on moving the mutts.  The older/bigger female – Corona – digs holes everywhere.  We only have about 3 plots where flowers once grew that are not completely torn up.  But, worse than her digging is the escape artist – Pig Dog (full name: Weiner Pig because he is one – jerk!).  He has escaped from the fully fenced and latticed front yard more times than I can count.  That’s bad enough, but each time he gets out, something dies.  Usually one of our cats or chickens.  I have tried:

  • 3 different collars
  • 2 different chains
  • Shock Collars
  • The old farmer method of tying a dead animal that he killed to his neck (worked with other farm dogs, but not this monster).

Nothing worked.  Now they have a separated pen of wood, t-posts, lattice, and wire.  He got out again.  So I moved his heavy-duty chain into that special area originally hooked up to the porch rail.  Oops – too close to the gate he slipped out of his collar (again) and was over the gate the minute I turned my back.  Now I am down to the heavy-duty chain, hooked to a separate post, and a choke collar (but hooked through both loops, so he doesn’t choke).  I hate to do it, but nothing else is working.  All the newer dog collars have plastic latches, and he snaps them apart in an instant.

bad dog 1    WHO ME?    bad dog 2

It rained last night and somewhere in the night that big-giant-panzie managed to slip out of the choke collar, open the gate big enough for both dogs to get through, and ended up back in the front yard again.  Now I am down to using the choke collar the way it is meant to be used.  When it warms up this weekend, I will try to get a dark cover on the outside of the whole pen.  My thought is that maybe if he can’t see it, he won’t try to get out after it – wish me luck…PLEASE!!

stupid chicken   Ah, life on a farm is never a dull moment.

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DON’T YOU JUST LOVE “SIMPLE REMINDERS?”

The funny things that come to a person when you get a simple reminder.  A fellow blogger wrote about dandelions, and I suddenly found myself going back to my childhood on the farm.

We had:

  • 80-Acres of land to run on.
kids rolling on hill

(bigger hills please.)

  • A pond and a part of the Milwaukee River to play in.

farm pond

  • Horses, beef cattle, run-amok-rabbits (started as a 4-H project, ended with over 100 of them)

cows n horses together      bunnies

(The horses to cows ratio are pretty close, but the bunnies are way under numbered here.  We had over 100 at one time.  Then they became – freezer meat – I know, how could we?  That’s farm life folks.)

  • Pigs on occasion (those were mostly raised by nearby relatives along with chickens)

pasture farm pigs

(Notice: pasture not cement buildings.)

  • A massive garden.

large garden

(Take this pic and stretch it to about 100-feet long – that was the length of our garden.  Roughly 25 feet wide with a massive strawberry bed on the north end and a huge raspberry patch on the south end.  Appletree to the east, cherry tree to the west and every kind of veggie in the middle – yum!)

  • Fruit bushes and trees.

(We had a great cherry tree in the front yard and a huge raspberry patch.  I used to have a perfect pic of my mom in that raspberry patch.  She had a shoulderless top on and standing in the patch at full season looked naked – LOL!)

  • And a barn that held tons-of-fun things to do.

kids in hay barn

(I found this pic, but it is EXACTLY what we did as kids!  Climb up on beams and jump in – woohoo!)

With all that great stuff, what more could a child ask for?

Happy 1st of May everyone – here’s wishing it’s a fantastic gardening year!

happy gardening cartoon

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GOTTA LOVE FAMILY WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR!

I was feeling pretty rotten yesterday. Not sick, just in the dumps depressed (not good for a person that takes anti-depressants – eek!) Most of my life I have had to fight my anxiety. It showed up after I was molested at eleven and never completely went away.

I had a great Therapist when I tried to commit suicide in my senior year of high school. She warned me that I carry deep emotions and that I needed to write down everything that happens that affects them. She reasons that by spilling my guts on paper, I would not feel the need to keep carrying them around like such heavy dead weight (which they are). Probably the main reason I love to write so much now.

Yesterday, as I said, was a rough one at least until I opened my email. My cousin (love her so much) sent me this little tidbit:

flat screen vs ours in the 60s
I just burst out laughing. Can’t stop giggling right now. Yes, the statement is true. We had one similar to that growing up in the early 1960s, but that’s not why I was laughing so much. WHAT IS ON THAT WOMAN’S HEAD?? Ah, laughter is the best medicine!

The dress looks just like something my mom used to have, but only wore on very special occasions. It took “the support bra from hell” to wear it, and that was her main reason for the limited fashion shows. When it comes to breasts, my mother was not lacking (neither am I so I can understand her frustrations) and trying to get into all those stylin clothes back then was next to impossible without the proper under-gear.

She also had a couple of wigs. She originally had some beautiful red hair but insisted on dying it, covering it up, ironing it (yes, with an iron – for clothes…been there, done that, different story), and whatever else she could do with it. Back then, the beauty parlor was a temple. It was a woman’s safe harbor in a world filled with men and their macho-isms.
Go back and take another look at the picture – not the phrase but specifically at that hair. Now check these out:
hair poof 1 the early to mid-1960s hair poof 2
hair poof 3 the 1950s
hair poof 1940s the 1940s
hair poof 19302 the 1930s
I don’t see a frizz or curl out of place in any of these pics?

Mom had beautiful natural curly hair. We got lucky, and she passed it on to all of her daughters. Dad also had curly hair, but a tighter curl. Mom was so frustrated with trying to get a brush through our hair that she would simply cut it off every spring. I was partially grateful because it was so thick and heavy and hot. The other bit of gratitude came whenever we got near low hanging branches when riding, gooseberry bushes when picking, and chasing wild kittens in the hay. The longer and curlier the hair, the more you got all caught up in something. To this day I hate moths! Kids with tight curly hair playing under a yard light at night during summer in Wisconsin will inevitably catch moths in their hair-not by choice.

I don’t know if the moths were blinded by the light bouncing off our curls, attracted to the possibility of a great nest, or just plain dumb; but I can’t count the number of times I heard and felt the crunching of trying to get the dang things untangled and out of my hair. Even now I am cringing.

This post is all for my cousin Dawn. Thank you for the outstanding laugh, the fond memories, and getting me out of my funk – love ya cousin!
You can also check me out at: www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.
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I NEED YOUR GARDENING INPUT PLEASE!

I was perusing my Old Farmers Almanac and came across a Gardening Adage:

If you grow it for the fruit or the root, you need full sun.

If you grow it for the leaves, partial shade is all you need.

I have never heard this adage before but find that it is very true.  The blurb even highlighted the specifics of the statement (which I have bolded and underlined).  It gave me an idea for updating my blog.  I think I will create a page that is nothing but these adages and wife’s tales from the past.  Some of them will be bizarre, and some will be true, but most of all they will be fun to find and read.

happy cabbage

Cares melt when
you kneel in the garden.

I find that one to be very true for me.  Especially when it is time to do weeds, I can really get into ripping those suckers out, and I surprisingly find that my cares have drifted away – after about two hours of doing it.

zen frog

Can’t see the forest
for the trees.

This is a huge truth for me in the garden and regular life.  I can’t count the number of times I was working on a problem or project wishing for an easier way.  Then, usually years later, it just pops into my head.  It was right in front of me the whole time, and I just did not see it.

cant see forest

A dedicated
gardener dwells within.

Ok, I admit I have no clue on this one?  Is it supposed to mean that gardeners are introverted, or is it just stating the fact that someone who really works hard on their garden is living in the house?

dedicated gardener

In spring at the end of the day,

You should smell like dirt.

Margaret Atwood, Canadian Writer (1939)

This was actually a quote and not an adage, but I have heard it tons of times growing up on the farm (never knew who started it before).  Most adages are simply passed down through families with no real concern for it being a quote or not.

chicken digging in dirt

This one made me giggle:

Gardening is just
another day at the plant.

Then last, but not least (I hope) is one of my most favorites:

Dirt poor, filthy
rich.

I think it should be the other way around.  If you have dirt, you should be rich because you can feed those you love.  Then again, I get really filthy when I garden (or any work out on the farm), and yet I am nowhere near rich.

I would love to hear from you all!  Please share any family goodies that you carry with you in your gardening endeavors.  I would love to add them to my new page — the funnier or sillier, the better.

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ARE YOU A ROCKER?

I have this thing for rockers.  No, not the Rock-n-Roll type rockers (but yes, I am one).  I’m talking about rocking chairs.  I do so many things during the course of a day without realizing that I am doing them.  One biggie is movement.  I am a Yarnie (i.e., One who works with yarn crafts) and can be found working on a project almost every day.  I recently noticed that while I am working on a project, I am rocking, or my foot is rocking.

Rockin cat

The only rocker in our home that I remember as a child was an antique glider rocker.  It was so beautiful that mom would not let anyone touch it.  You could get an immediate slap just for playing too close to it.  We were farm kids, so our play area was not as important as the play itself.  Can’t tell you how many times my sister and I got a smack for getting to close to it.  Once we ran into it and that put us in separate chairs, staring at the ceiling for the whole morning.  It was excruciatingly painful just to sit!
old glider rockerI’m not sure where exactly my love for the rocker came from, I know I can’t go a day without one.  There is something so soothing about knitting or crocheting, while I am rocking.  My grandmother on my dad’s side was a baker (explains a ton about his love of cooking and my sister’s addiction).  My grandmother on my mom’s side died when I was very young.  I don’t remember what her passion may have been.  My mom insisted that I learn how to knit my very first year in 4-H.  She knew how to crochet and always wanted to learn to knit, but never did.  She was good at making sure her girls knew how to do things that she never had the opportunity to do (like playing the piano but that is whole other torture).

It may have happened because I was so young and it was something to share, just mom and I.  I think I have this thing about the way the yarn feels.  My hands are not very big, so manipulation of the yarn is one of the few things in my life that I can control (yes, I am a control freak).  I used to hold the yarn in my left hand, but when I lost half of that index finger, I thought I was going to have to give up my passion.  I taught myself how to use the other hand.  Takes a bit longer but it worked.  Since the amputation (6/2014) I have also taught myself a ton of different ways to hold the yarn.  I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

old dog new trick

There is a certain kind of peace that goes along with rocking.  On several occasions, I have found myself rocking to the rhythm of my yarn working.  Most times I do not even have to count or pay attention to the stitches I am working.  It becomes a type of “Zen” world for me.

My hope for you this new year is that you can find a comfortable old rocking chair somewhere, sit back in it for a bit.  Close your eyes and rock.  Try to rock to the rhythm of your breathing.  You might just save a ton on therapy by doing this simple thing?

zen stone n sand           =      cat in rocker

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CHRISTMAS HELP – OUTDONE!

The last time this year I will be sharing info from Farmers Almanac.  Could not pass up this one just a few days before Christmas because it has so much good stuff in the article.  The fact that they have collected stuff for decades is amazing!  They have everything from folklore, to recipes, to crafts, decorations and more.  If you are running out of time (and ideas), this may help.  I enjoyed every bit of the read and went into every one of the links and picked up a ton of great ideas.  Hope it will help you as much:

Christmas Day 2018

Christmas Traditions, Folklore, Recipes, and More

By The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Merry christmas 3

As far as I am concerned, you can never have too much information.  This counts double when it comes to holidays (especially Christmas and Halloween – my two favs.).  As we get older, we lose that wonder that we had when we were kids (and that’s just not right – we need all the happiness help we can get when we grow up), this may be the way to bring some of that back.  I found that when I read the articles about where things come from, it brings that wonder back to me.  The mistletoe one I posted last week really did that for me.  (A parasite? Wow!)

So, these last few blog posts have not been very long or very funny.  They have not even been about our farm or us.  I have found them fun, informational, enjoyable, and filled with the kinds of things I love to share, especially with friends and family.  I hope you enjoyed them.

Merry Christmas 4

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A FUN CHRISTMAS TIDBIT TO SHARE.

My Buds at Farmers Almanac have done it again.  I just love their bits of garden info and occasionally seasonal snip-its.  This one is about Mistletoe.  Did you know that it is actually a “parasite?”  I didn’t. I always thought it was some type of bush.

If you would like a fun and interesting read, along with something to share with others in a topic of Christmas conversation, this is it:

The Meaning and Folklore Behind Mistletoe  by Robin Sweetser 

This was such a fun read for me that I have decided to hang on to it.  I have printed it off and will be sending it out with my Christmas cards. 

Here’s hoping you have a Christmas full of fun and wonder!

You can also check me out at:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR WATER?

A farmer or gardener perspective for decades now has been to avoid plastics as much as possible.  They do not biodegrade which, of course, is not good for the earth.  This was my main concern when it came to plastics, specifically plastic bottles.

no plastic bottles

To-go containers for us are usually cardboard, paper bags, or reusable containers.  Yes, some of the reusables are plastic, but they are the good plastic that gets recycled.  We do love our redo, reuse, repurpose things on the farm, but most of these things are items that will biodegrade.  If they don’t do that then they had better last forever.

Well, my blog buddies at The Whoot.com have found a new danger from plastic, and it has to do with drinking water purchased in plastic bottles.

Plastic Bottled Water Does Damage With Every Sip

They share some fantastic info-graphics describing how the plastics are labeled, what the label means, and what the level of danger is.  I have saved several of these graphics for our own future use, and I hope you will do the same.  They even have a mini-video explaining how/where the plastic danger is.

We found it easier years ago to just purchase the heavy-duty refillable water bottles and carry them wherever we go.  We can load ice cubes in them more easily, and even freeze part on some of them.  Nothing better when working out in a hot garden than a cold drink of water.  We also have the huge advantage of our own well.  Some people don’t care for the taste of well water, but we prefer it.  To us, some city waters taste tinny or sterile.  We have the added benefit of natural minerals in our water, nothing cooked out.

This week my plow-share is all about safe, drinkable, water.  Simple, short, and hopefully refreshing.

good water bottle

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OLD FAITHFUL DOES IT FOR ME AGAIN!

Just when I thought I knew a boat-load of growing, gardening, and preserving foodstuff, along comes my old faithful Farmers Almanac and throws me for a loop.

12 Uses For Apples You Probably Didn’t Know About

by Beth Herman

Half of the unique uses I did know, but there is also half that I did not know:

  • #5. Remove Excess Salt from Soups and Casseroles – WOW!
  • #8 Combat Dandruff – go figure!
  • #11 I would never do. Apples are way too yummy and expensive to use as crafts.

What great little tidbits of information they were so kind to share.  I just had to pass their share on to you.

I love that they have been around for over a century since 1792 to be exact.  They have garnered so many amazing bits of information.  I can’t just call it gardening help, because they offer so much more.  They still create (in print no less) a fantastic almanac faithfully every year with loads of information to deal with the year ahead.  I LOVE THAT!

Old farmers almanac

Every single one of the emails I receive from them contains something that I just need to read or know more about.  I don’t think there was ever an email from them that I did not get some new information.

One of the biggest reasons we chose this place to build our farm/retirement life was because we were amazed at the information sharing, right from day one.

The day we moved out here we had a huge moving van with all our Denver belongings in it.  I clearly remember that we (moving men and us) were struggling with getting the 100+-year-old piano out of the van and into the old farmhouse (grass and tiny little wheels do not go together).  After someone finally figured out that laying down the wood planks they used for unloading onto the grass would make a great walkway for the piano to roll; an old Ford Bronco pulled into our driveway.

A man all dressed up in a head-to-toe white suit stepped out and watched our maneuvering of the piano.  Once I was sure everyone had it, I went over to the guy.  My initial thought was terror “OMG, we just bought a place that has toxic waste, and the EPA was here to shut us down or make us bare the expense of cleaning it up!”  As I got closer, he smiled and said:

“Got bees?”

WHAT?  I was flabbergasted!  Got bees?  We were now close enough to hear each other and he began explaining that he was a beekeeper and with the drought, noticed that we had a pond.  He would love to put some bees on our property and pulled in to say hello and would it be ok?

happy bee

This is how we initially met one of our best friends – Keith and his wife, Judy.  We share information and help here just like the Farmers Almanac has done for centuries, except we have only been here 18 years.

We have made tons of fantastic friends here, and each has different things to share.  I love that we may all have different political views and religious beliefs but have a common love of the land and all things growing.

Hmm, maybe if we can elect world leaders that thought more about caring for the land and sharing useful information to improve life, we would all live in a great world.

(I LOVE this song – had to end with this – enjoy!)

wonderful world phrase

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Plowshare Thursday – Watering Help.

What a wild planting year we have had:

  •  It was cooler than normal spring.
  • Wind gusts that decide to get nasty and take off half our greenhouse roof.
  • Now the intense (constantly increasing due to climate change – yes, I do believe in it.) heat is on again.

The year we bought our farm (August 2000) was the first year in 100 years that Colorado had a serious drought. This drought went on for another two years. It was a good thing, back then, that we knew something of water conservation. Luckily, several elderly farmers in the area shared lots of their conservation ideas.

Since we love to try new things, we decided to give some of their methods a go.

  1. We were just using a sprinkler type system that worked fine in the city of Denver, but out here on the plains with drought conditions was not a great idea. We then purchased a huge drip irrigation system. This was the, most costly, investment in our new watering methods. It was also the most time-consuming.
    1. Main connector.
    2. Mainline with all its t-joint connector lines.
    3. Row lines connect, again with t-joints, to the secondary lines.
    4. Row lines tapped with a special hole-making tool to install the drip line(s).
      That first year took forever to get it all installed, but it worked well. The next hard part of it was uninstalling to put it away for winter. Since it was all above ground, it all had to be taken apart, drained and sheltered for the winter. The next spring, we brought it all out again.
  2. We tried digging trenches like the big farms around us do. They then place short tubes into irrigation ditches. The tubes carry water from the ditch up into the fields. This idea didn’t last long with us. It just felt like too much water was being wasted.
  3. Next, we tried a bunch of different mulching methods.
    1. The first was the cheapest, but the biggest disaster. We have a local hydroponic tomato plant that uses coconut husks for mulch. When they do a “change-out” of plants and start newbies, they throw out all their old tubes of mulch. This was then free for the taking – so we did. After putting it around almost everything, we noticed some things were dying. We lost our first huge strawberry bed to this mulch. Gave away everything we could gather and never used it again.
    2. The next was “free” hay. Those that do not know, there is a difference between hay and straw mulch. Thick packing of hay can really help to block out the sun and kill weeds, just make sure you do not have weed seeds in the hay. That was our mistake. It took us future years of spot burning to get rid of all the Goathead goathead pic 1 (The cute little green pods become dry hard “spikey” beasts!)
      goathead pic 2(This is a younger full-size plant – the cute yellow flowers will become the green pods which, in turn, become the ugly beasties!)
      and

      sandbur weed grass . (Up close and nasty – the fuzzy end is not soft but spikey painful sticks to EVERYTHING – ugh!)

    3. After years of burning the sandburs and trying to coax our chickens, ducks, and geese to eat the little yellow flowers (best way to stop the Goathead from spreading). Our local energy company sent some tree cutters around to trim up the lines. They happened to stop by one day when I was in the garden and actually ask if it was ok to come onto our property (they have a “right-of-way” on file ) which I thought was very nice. I asked them what they were doing. Then I asked what they were doing with the wood chips. We now have a great agreement. They dump several piles of wood chips on our property for free. We get some awesome compost within just a few years. The piles cook down into the most beautiful dark dirt. We have learned how to use the older stuff as both new, good soil and great mulch. The one thing we did learn about wood chip mulch is that you cannot place it close to the base of a plant, bush, or tree.
    4. omewhere along the way, we started buying clean (no weeds) straw and found that using our Sucker/Blower (what we call our leaf blower) to chop it up into smaller pieces and mix it in with our wood chip mulch. We now have some stellar compost piles.

My whole share for today is to try to extend to you the opportunity to find new ways to use and save water. We all need to do our fair share to help. Conservation methods – even trial and error will help. Mulching, planting more items that will keep our earth cool, build shade covering where you can, building or creating spaces that provide use and beauty without wasting or using too much water. These are the methods we adhere to now and hope that you will too.

Happy Gardening!

PS: Here are some other helpful places to learn about using water wisely:

MNN: How to water your yard during a drought

The Spruce: Drought Tolerant Landscaping: What You Should Know

Gardening Know How: Xeriscape Design Ideas
High Traffic Lawn Options: What Are Some Lawn Alternatives In Play Areas

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