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!

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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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SHOULD-A, My New Worst Friend.

I have realized, just this year, that the phrase “should have” (“should-a” in gardener-eze) has become my worst best friend.
• Should-a put the vinyl lattice on the outside of the fence to start. On the inside, the dogs have destroyed almost half the panels.
• Should-a put the drip/soaker likes for the plants under the soil by the roots. As hot as it is here on the Colorado plains, most evaporates before it gets to the roots – even early morning.
• Should-a bought a backup greenhouse cover when we purchased the first. (Cuz you know plastic does not last forever – ocean dump zone excluded.)

I think this phrase has haunted me most of my life. I get these great ideas, just way after the fact (we’re talking YEARS after).

Should-a turned the little grey shed into a garden potting shed when we moved in 18 years ago. No, we had to turn it from a horse tack room, into the chicken barn. Then, when we decided to build the greenhouse, we knew the chickens would not work being that close to it. So, we moved them, but then just started piling all kinds of stuff in there instead of just the garden stuff.

While working on the greenhouse, more and more things got thrown into that poor little shed. In 2017 we finally go around to cleaning up our “should-a” and decided it would be a perfect garden shed. Then the kids happened. My daughter needed a place to dump her and her stuff, so our should-a got elected.

A couple of kids from Michigan ended up in our driveway (that’s a whole other story), and they were actually living in it for a bit.

Well, this year, right now, we have finally gotten back around to our little grey shed should-a and it’s looking great! We do not have it painted as we want yet, but I will share the finished product pics as soon as it is beautiful. That is as long as another should-a doesn’t come along.

perfect garden shed
(Hee, hee, nope this is not ours – just my dream of what I hope ours will look like in the end.)

Happy gardening guys!

(Oh, wait – just got another should-a: put a piece of that huge plyboard my sister got from work onto the back wall. That should keep out a big part of the north wind chill in winter. See, happens all the time – grrr!)

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ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD – maybe?

Well, this year is starting off just loverly – NOT!  It’s been three months since I last posted something for good reason – TOO MUCH DRAMA.  I’ve finally found my funny bone again, so I have taken back my life once again.  Time to remember that life goes on.

This is just a small part of what’s been going on:

  • The daughter was sent to rehab center – court ordered this time. Second time for her.  We will see.
  • Bullies have zeroed in on my Grandson. Awful verbal abuse: ”You should have died instead of your brother.” Just wrong in so many ways.  They targeted his feelings toward missing his dead brother (the fire was four years ago – April), which is BEYOND tolerance.  So, of course, I had to go ballistic on the school.  I wanted the parents, but they are not allowed to tell me who they are.  They said they would handle it.  Again, we will see.
  • The weather changes have brought “sustained” strong winds. We get gusts, no big deal.  When this round happened, it was vicious.  It’s been seven years since we put the double poly top on the greenhouse.  Took us the better part of the day to do it.  It took these wicked winds just moments to find a weakness (in the middle no less) and rip it wide open.

4-17 the cause 1

Looks like haze, but it’s not.  The winds were so strong and so continuous that they were picking up the dry dust/dirt from farmers fields, roads, and wherever and sandblasting everything.  A couple of times we could not see this overpass due to the thickness of the dirt.  April 17th, day after my 59th birthday – sucked!

4-17 the cause 2 This was just before it happened.

It all happened so fast; there was no way to catch or stop it.  You can see it popped open at the middle, grabbed the top layer and just flung it up and over. If you look close at the bottom layer at the opening, you can see where the wind was able to yank the clamp right out of the wood.

4-18 distruction 2

We put straps over the roof on either side of the opening, but two days later another sustained wind from the south grabbed the north end and ripped it the rest of the way off.

4-20 distruction 3 (2)

So, after a day’s worth of crying, I pulled up my big girl panties and started brainstorming.  How was I going to make lemonade from this huge lemon?  Viola′ – greenhouse part two, phase one:

4-23 phase 1 new life

Obviously, someone somewhere was trying to give us a hint that there is just too much on our plates right now.  Hense, the hint to downsize.  Phase one: build a wall in the middle of the greenhouse.  No, it’s not for the hot tub we dream of having one day again.  It’s for our new “seed/plant starter” area.

5-14-18 phase 2 new wall GH

Phase two has a partial plastic wall up.  There is a vent at the top center and will be screened, closeable windows on either end of both sides of the wall.  We are not worried about cooling, as the swamp cooler is on the north end and totally useless to us now.  It will be used for starting seeds and young plants.  Eventually, we will put some in-ground plots in there, just not right now.

There is a door in the center to transplant seedlings into our plots to the north (No they did not end up in Kansas.), or to easily move them to our other outdoor plots when ready.  It is downsizing without losing space.  It should be easier to maintain in the winter.  I am worried about it just being a single cover.  Not as strong as the double layer, but it will have to do for now (replacement double cover is out of our budget.).

Then (while I was reviewing everything) doing my extra watering needed now on the north side, and hating the 85+ degree weather we have been having – our bee guys showed up!  Ahhh, heavy sigh of relief!  When they come in the spring, I know everything will be alright in the world.  They had unloaded some the night before which, at sunrise, has them immediately seeking out water.  What was I doing?  Watering.  Where were the bees?  All over me – landing on my hands, arms, crawling up my legs, and forcing me to watch where I step in my own walkways.  I LOVE OUR BEES!!

I then went and picked up my Grandson from school that evening.  The school Counselor had called me and told me of what actions were taken against the bullies and assured me that things were going to be better.  He was smiling as he came running up to the car.  Always, the first question from me to him is, “ How was your day Punk-a-doodle (One of my many Nic-names for him)?”  His response was a very loud and squirrely “GREAT!”

Planted back into the moment again, all is right with the world.  We did not have blossoms during the winds-from-hell, so no lost fruit (actually some tiny fruits on the trees now).  Our spring flowers had not emerged, but they are here now.  Our little Downey Woodpecker is back up front.  And I saw my beautiful Red-headed Woodpecker on a fence post this morning.  Life goes on.

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Little White Plastic Boots.

I find it funny, as I grow older, the things I do and don’t remember. I know that it is normal for the human brain to block out really horrible things that happen, but there are times that it seems I blocked out the physical pain and I am not sure why?


My prime example of this came back as a partial dream the other night. Most dreams, I feel, are just an extension of things that happened during the day. Things that may have affected me, more than I realized, at that moment. This one was a blast-from-the-past wild one. Have no clue what brought it up from the depths of my overloaded brain.

When I was about six or seven, I had these great little white plastic (Rubber was too expensive for a little farm kid to play in), and I loved them. I could just slip them on and terrorize the farm. They were my favorite shoes back then. They were stiff as a board, light-weight, and all mine!

kids plastic boots (They were like this only all white, no special designs, bows, or faces. Faces came later with Peter Max.)
One afternoon a bad storm was coming in, and Dad said he was going to run out and close the sliding barn doors before it rained – I ran to help.

The sliding doors were on the back side of the barn, and they were HUGE! You may have seen smaller versions being converted into bedroom doors on the DIY channels or social media. These were at least twice the size. We had them open to throw out hay for the cows and horses to eat. Then we would also throw down straw which:
1) Kept the area mostly dry.
2) Critters loved to sleep on it – a form of insulation.
3) If the pile we threw out was big enough, it was great fun to jump down on it.

sliding barn doors
(This is what most of you know – picture a single one as big as the whole opening, and not so pretty. That was what just one of the sliding barn doors was.)

Dad went straight to the door on the left as it was closest to the hay.

I squealed out, “I’ll get the other one daddy.”

Running and bouncing over to the other huge door. I never even thought about looking where I was going. Here is where the memory gets weird.

I remember seeing the board because I knew it would give me the boost up I needed to close the big door. I do not remember seeing the rusty nail until I had already bounced (yes – not just stepped but I pounced on it) on it and the top of the nail was sticking out of the top of my beautiful white plastic boot. Red was shooting all over the boot.
rusty nail in board (Old barn boards required about 4-inch long nails.)

  • I remember dad stomping on the board and yanking me off the nail, but I don’t remember the pain.
  • I remember the blood trail that followed us all the way up to the house, as dad scooped me up and ran as fast as he could to the house.
  • I remember my foot being placed in something wet, but I don’t remember if it was hot or cold.

The next thing I remember is that ugly shot I was getting at the doctor’s office. Then there was the cast that he wrapped my little foot and half my leg in. The worst that I remember was the awful words he said to my parents:
“She will have to stay in the cast this summer…” He went on to give them other instructions, but all I remember is “all summer,” and I remember the crying.

That was a close second to my worst summer in history.
• No participation in the haymaking with friends and family.
• No riding the horses in the water because I couldn’t get the darn thing wet.
• No running  jumping and playing with the other kids in the back yard, hay mow or fields.
• No swimming and baths were just nasty. Took both my parents to help me. One held the leg out of the tub and up in the air, the other did the washing – no fun at all.
• I know there were more shots, but I don’t remember the pain of them either.

The strangest thing about this story is, as much as I remember loving those little white plastic boots; I have no clue where they went after stepping on the nail. I never saw them again.

the MIND,

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Do You Miss Home? Part 4 – Winter.

A true child’s story of winter.

When winter finally set in the snow would start.  I am sure we must have had snow-days due to the heavy snowfalls, but I don’t remember them.  I do remember spending almost every daytime second outside.  We didn’t care how cold it was; it didn’t matter.  You know how they dress the kid from A Christmas Story all bundled up – that was how all of us looked every time we went out to play.  My little sister and I would just flop down on the heavy blanket of snow and roll all the way down the hill.  It was a blast and a beautiful memory – even the struggle trying to climb back up to do it all again.

kid in full snowsuit (Yes – we looked EXACTLY like this every winter!)

Christmas was a wondrous time, but winter itself was (still is) my thrill.  Snow drifts would build over six feet high and get a frozen, crusty layer on the top of them.  That was always our snow forts.  We would start hollowing the drifts out and make tunnels, doorways, windows all along the drifts.  As long as the weather stayed freezing, the drifts would stay in that shape from playtime to playtime.

These pics give you the idea. However, we were never such woosies that we had to use portable fire pits. (Mainly because we did not have them back then.)  Oh, and NO DRINKS of any kind.  When we got cold enough, into the house, we would go, and mom always had hot cocoa on the stove waiting.  A bowl of marsh mellow’s on the side, please.

The kids on top of the snowbank are exactly what we looked like.  Not so many trees, more steep rolling hills.  When dad came through the driveway, around the barns and sheds with the tractor and front end blade;  the snow would really pile up on the banks, and then the fun would begin.

old tractor and plow

(Yep, this was like ours but no Quonset, we had a machine shed -bigger than a Quonset – that kept all of our farm equipment.)

We also did not have sleds we had saucers and one huge bad-ass toboggan.  The toboggan held the whole family if we squished together, it was huge!  The saucers were the most fun for us.  Not only did they go downhill the fastest, but they were lighter/easier to lug back up the hill, and could easily be hooked on ropes behind that little tractor and pull us all over the place.  Our large field off the yards and gardens was our favorite.  Plenty of room to swing way out when sledding.  Think of water skiing only sitting down on a big metal saucer (yes, our original ones were metal – never grab without gloves metal), hanging onto the heavy rope handle that was tied to the tractor.  Dad’s job: Take corners fast enough to swing us wide and try to dump us off our sleds – happened every time.  Dad 3, daughters 0.

Kids saucer-plastic      This is a new version of our old favorite, and yes, if I had the opportunity to try one today – I would!

kids saucer-metal   This one is almost exactly like ours – but no tow-rope or connectors for it, and the handles were a heavier rope type, not floppy like these nylon-cloth ones.  Man, could it fly down the fields and across the snow!  Think about your car sliding around on icy roads.  That would be us only laughing about it all the way.

When it gets right down to it, I still believe that winter is my favorite of the seasons.  The others have their merits, but winter is:

  • Family
    • Christmas
      • Fun
        • Warmth
          • Sharing
            • Playing
              • HOME

Tis the season to remind us that snow is here specifically for the kid in us all.

winter-time for home

(Oh, and a Merry Christmas to all!)

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