When Did I Move Back to Wisconsin?

Colorado weather can be very different than most places.  We never know what is coming over the mountains or which way it is going to flow.  I have built up a pretty good sense of when to plant our starts and when to put in seeds, but not this year. It’s been a mess in more ways than one.

I am used to wet Marches, wild weather ups-and-downs in April, and then “get-it-in” Mays.  This year has been snow, winds, wet and wet, and WET.  I swear I am back in Wisconsin, and I didn’t know I was planning on a move? 

IT’S GREEN!

Yes, Colorado does get green in the spring, but it is usually the fields, gardens, and lawns that get irrigation that the green appears.  This year I am hard-pressed to find a non-green spot.  We are supposed to be a higher altitude, arid, and much drier area – WHAT HAPPENED?  I blame it on climate change since that has been messing up tons of places over the last several years. It’s either that or Mother Nature is really pissed off at us now.  Even our poor crop farmers have had a hell of a time just trying to plant their typical fields.  Everything is mud!  FYI, tractors and mud do NOT mix.

Since our greenhouse lost its cover from the tornado, the plots have been susceptible to the weather, and right now, it’s a forest.  We even have a ground cover base under all our plots, but the grasses and weeds have gotten too much rain support to slow down.  Now the wonderful world of weather is telling us to expect close to 90degrees this Saturday.  SATURDAY?  With 80s in between.  Great.  Put some majorly intense sun and heat onto those already crazy weeds and grasses, and it will be time to dig out mazes to find the plots.

Oh, and part of my job during all this moisture was to figure out where all the leaks are in our buildings, then try to plug them – hahaha.  It was easy to see where it was leaking, but not so easy to find a dry day to get out (or on top) and fix them.  Now that we will have drier weather, I have become a hurry up and get it done Lady.  Sure.  Two fake knees, 1-1/2 fake shoulders, one fake foot, ½ an index finger, and osteoarthritis up the wazoo – YOU GO GIRL!  Not!  If anyone tries to tell me that my joints don’t feel the changes in the weather, I will pop them in the nose. 

This old body got used to the dry, arid, comfortability of our beautiful Colorado.  Now every step I take and every move I make has a corresponding snap, crackle, or pop to it.  Oh, and let’s not discuss the getting down and trying to get back up again situation (yes, my dear friends who have seen me do this in action, you may laugh hysterically now), shall we.

So Wisconsin, you can have your floody spring back.  I want my dryer Colorado and I am not willing to compromise!

I am leaving you in this post with a perfect picture that my cousin sent me.  It totally sums up this spring for me:

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I CUT HER LOOSE – LOOK OUT!

This last weekend I finally cut my sister loose and let her play in the dirt.  There are two big things in her life that bring her great joy:

  1. Playing in the kitchen because she has a passion for cooking.  
  2. Playing in the dirt, in this case it is starting seeds. 

I brought all the grow lights, heat pads, and various other seed starting items up from the shed.  It took her about two days to get “her” areas set up.  Yes, they are “her” areas as it is her job to do the starts.  My task now is to design all the plot areas on our little farm and what will go in where.

If you think about it I got shafted in this deal.  All her job is done in the house and in just 2 places:

  • Her porch (it is hers because that is where she can smoke and contemplate life issues).
  • Her kitchen (yes, I can cook in there too, but it is mostly just warming stuff for me).

I am better with the computer than she is, so I created some charts.  The first is centered around seed starting and maintaining the starts until transplant time – this is Spring.  The second I labeled Summer.  This will be my turn to track things.  It will have when and where I put in the transplants.  It will also have all my direct sowing information. 

This will be the first year in many, many years that we actually have some kind of handle on our gardens.  Too many disasters have stretched out too long for us to properly concentrate on the gardens.  The only bummer is that my body is only a fraction of what it was 10+ years ago.  Simple things like getting down on the ground (my favorite place to work on plots) and getting back up again take enormous effort.  Fake knee and shoulder joints, massive surgeries for my major joints, and replacement parts add to my dismay.  You would think they could come up with something like the Bionic Woman for replacement parts by now?

Yes youngsters, that was a real TV series, and yes oldsters, I watched it.

What a wonder it would be if I could just pull weeds stronger, faster.  I could pull my garden carts without major issues.  Best of all, I could get down on the ground and back up again, without looking like a Flamingo on ice (not a pretty sight but very funny to watch – oh, and don’t get me laughing or I will NEVER get up!).

My major task over the last 20 years is to make life easier and not harder.  So why does life want to throw a wrench into my ideas every time I turn around?  She is so wicked that way.  Wish me luck on my endeavors this year.  Maybe we will finally have a great fall harvest.  I will let you know how it goes.

You can also check me out at:  https://helbergfarmstories.com/ for fun stories from our farm.

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THAT FEELING OF FALL.

This post is just short and sweet.  This picture truly says fall to me:

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

Not necessarily Halloween, but you get the feeling it’s close.  Pixabay.com has been a great source of inspiration for me over the last several years.  They send things to my email that they think I might appreciate and this one hit the nail on the head.  They even do it free, mostly.  Some creators expect payment before you can download, but most you can, as they call it, buying the creator a cup of coffee.  In other words, you can donate to their efforts, but you don’t have to, and the download is free.  This one was a freebie, but I did donate a dollar toward a cup of coffee.

I use a lot of these Pixabay pics in my writings.  I can usually find exactly what my writing mood is in there.  No, I am not affiliated or receive any type of payment for this share.  I just love sharing stuff that is either free or fun, in this case both.  I hope you take a moment to go visit them and view all the great stuff.  If, for nothing else, to get a good feeling in these trying times.  Enjoy!

 

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MY 7-DWARF’S STRIKE AGAIN!

Short, squatty, dumpy, frumpy, snarky, gimpy, and yuck.  Yep, those little buggers in me are at it again.  First, it was the extreme heat that got them rumbling.  Then came the smoke from the Colorado fires.  Next was the smoke from the California fires.   Roll them all together, and my seven dwarfs strike again!

It’s been hard enough trying to keep the gardens going with the sun trying to bake them to a crisp, but the lack of rain has made it worse.  We are lucky and have our own well (we had it tested when we moved in – great water and a very full stash – yea!), but we still try to collect all the rainwater we can get our hands-on.  This year the tank fills have been few-and-far-between.

If you have been following me, you know I am an old-ish fart that has had too many major surgeries for such a young age.  Getting around now is nothing like getting around in my twenties.  Simple things like oh say, breathing, can be a challenge on a regular hot day.  Throw in smoke clouds so thick they block out the sun to an orange type of glow, and it becomes a battle.

Everything is being “spot” watered now.  I only use the sprinkler once a week in select areas.  The spot (hand) watering takes me about 3-4 times longer than my regular watering system.  The normal system takes me about 4-5 hours.  Currently, I start at about 5:00 a.m. and do not finish until around noon.  It is also hard on our well-pump, and that baby is only six years old.  I can feel her pain!

The final straw was this morning.  Working about my regular watering routine, I reached the greenhouse area.  We still don’t have a roof (thank you Colorado winds from hell, oh, and the tornado of 2018), but the plots are doing great.  This is the one place I actually laid out drip lines, AND THEY WORK!  I turn on the water line to this area, make sure my splitters are watering all my beautiful veggies first, and then proceed to wander the plot rows to see how everyone is doing. (Yes – every ”one” as I talk to them all just like I talk to humans.) 

I watch closely for anybody starting to turn color.  My method is to clear them out a bit so I can keep an eye on them every day.  When they get to just the right color, I nab them for our dinner table.  (If tons are coming in at once, they become canned, dried, or frozen foods)  I had a beauty of a tomato coming in.  Yesterday it was just about ready, but nope, I waited one more day.  I squatted down to pluck my perfect tomato (oh, by the way, it is about the size of a softball), and my fingers were covered in tomato guts-YUCK!!  DAMN MICE!!! 

We have farm cats all over the place, and I have yet to see them catch a single mouse.  The greenhouse is wide open, so they can come and go as they please.  They please to take a dump in there on occasion, but can’t seem to catch a mouse?  So, I wandered back to the house and got a trap.  It is set with peanut butter (favorite mouse food, in case you didn’t know) and sitting right now just under my poor beautiful tomato.  I swear, if I catch that stinking mouse, I will dangle it by the cat’s noses then feed it to the dogs! 

Maybe I need to buy some rubber snakes to set in my tomato bushes?  Then I can scare off the mice and myself when my old-ish age makes me forget that I placed them there.

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ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITES!

Farm kids find the simplest ways to entertain themselves.  Making hay is hard work, but building forts while putting that hay up in our barn was tons of fun.  (There were only regular small bales back then and, sad to say, there are very few places that still make them today.)  Rolling down our steep hills was also a form of great joy, and then there was the Milkweed plant.

It is a weed, so, as such,  most farmers would destroy them in favor of their paying crop.  We played with ours, which, I think, made our father a bit mad.  If you broke open the stem, it produced a milky substance that was very sticky (just try to mess with the plant without getting sticky!?!  Can’t happen.), but our favorite part was the pods.

It is a strong and pretty plant that produces a heavy bushy type of flower during the summer and is best known as the perfect food for the Monarch butterflies.  Then as the summer ends and fall begins, they grow these pods.  The pods are filled with tons of little brown seeds, and each seed is attached to a very light and feathery stem.  This is where dad would get mad.

We would break open the pods and purposefully pull out all the seeds on their feathers and throw them up into the air.  We would pretend they were little fairies floating all around us.  Pretty obvious why dad didn’t like it, but also pretty sure Mom Nature loved us for it.

Countryside.com just sent me this email:

Milkweed Plant: A Truly Remarkable Wild Vegetable

Discover the Many and Varied Milkweed Plant Uses, Including Sustenance for Butterflies

It is a perfect read, especially since I have never looked at them as a veggie, but they needed to add the joy that it can bring to little kids as one of its best benefits.

On a side note, I need to thank our neighbors.  They own big fields of paying crops (including crops that go into cow bellies) but have never stopped to ask us to get rid of them.  The plant was not originally on our farm.  The first one showed up in our front yard about five years ago, and my sister and I protected it.  No, we did not pop open the pod and watch the fairies dance (but it was a thought); it did that all on its own.  We just encouraged it to grow and enjoyed watching it feed our honeybees, butterflies, and other beneficial bugs.

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WHAT THE HECK IS IT MADE OF?

I know it is moth season (yes, we have a season for them), and I know that they help to feed the birds; but do they have to be so nasty?  And, what is there poop made of?

I hate that they get stuck in my hair AND CRUNCH when I try to get them out!  I hate that they fly right into my face over and over and over again (makes me think of a Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon), and it doesn’t phase them at all.

Wilie Coyote help

The worst thing of all is the poop they leave behind – EVERYWHERE!!  What the heck is that stuff made of?  I swear it is worse than tar to try to get off, and it ends up in the strangest places.  I found several yuckies on my DSL this morning, and the thing sits upright on a box (better air circulation since it gets kind of hot), and yet it has two trash marks from Millers on it.

Moth poo 6-3-20

Have you ever tried to clean that stuff off of something?

  • They are a bug and not a real smart one.
  • They are bird and bat food.
  • They don’t live very long.
  • They turn to dust in a heartbeat.
  • They squeeze into the smallest of places.
  • They pop out of the weirdest of spots.
  • THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!

I just don’t get how something so temporary can leave such a lasting mess.  With the large amount of them appearing this year, we will be trying to clean up after the little monsters until Christmas!

The other thing I hate about them is when they pop out by the dozens in the most unsuspecting spot.  I was cleaning up the gazebo and just shifted the chair cushions and got bombarded by a gang of them.  (Yes, I have decided that a group of more than one is called a “gang” because they are so destructive when gathered together.)

If any of you out there reading this has some great idea on how to get rid of these nasty leftovers easily, please share so I can tackle this mess.  Thank you!

miller-scary

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I SWEAR, SOMETHING’S LIVING IN THERE!

We recently lost the last of our chickens.  This is not something new, as farmers we know there will always be predators that attack all parts of a farm.

  • Prairie dogs making leg-breaking holes in animal pastures.
  • Gophers-from-hell eating the roots of our asparagus.
  • Snakes popping up when you least expect them (luckily, I only had a Rattler once -knock on wood!).
  • Skunks hiding in the cat barn to sleep with a warm, furry, bundle of cats and eat their food (yes, one of them crawled out from the cat bed box on a frigid winter day and scared the snot out of me. I calmly said: “Good Morning.” Then backed out of the barn rather fast.).
  • An opossum choosing to hang out in our barn to avoid bad storms (the little sucker hung around for over a week, and popped up in a variety of places.).

oppossum

I want to find out what monster is living in my chicken barn, but a big part of me is also afraid.  Just my luck, it will lunge at me when I discover it (eeek!!). My sister was so nice and brought up the option that it might be a badger – great?!?  Yes, we do have those out here, but we have not seen any on our property since we first bought the farm (2000).  We initially had one living on the side of the hill by the pond.  We left it alone, and it left us alone.  Roughly four years later, it disappeared.  We have not noticed any living signs on our property since (would like it to stay that way – mean critters!).

badger

During cold winter times, we purchase the critter foods and put them immediately into containers.  Then the empty bags are piled up until spring and then put into the trash.  We usually put bags into bags and simply leave them until the weather is warmer for dragging the empties to our trash.  Things have been so strange this year, that the bags have piled up.  My fear is my monster is hiding in that pile.

I have left the barn door open the last several nights (since the loss of our last chicken) in hopes that whatever got stuck in the barn has now made its way out.  Today is the day of discovery.  My task, since the winds-from-hell have subsided, is to get in there and pull everything out.  We stored large dog kennels, that we used for various reasons, in there.  I have peeked into those already and no monsters.  I do want to drag them out so I can get back in the corner behind them.   Wish me luck that all meanies are gone!

Here’s to spring cleaning – eeek!

spring cleaning

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I’m Mad As Hell, And I’m Not Gonna Take It Anymore!

We are so tired of theft we could just scream!  It is not because of virus issues; it is something that has been building up over multitudes of years.

I am not talking about money – I am talking about our critters.

Two more of our hens were killed in the last two nights.  It took me until today to figure out how the monster(s) is getting in.  The white hen disappeared, leaving just feathers – the first clue of the perpetrator.  This morning it was our red Hennie, and I found her gutted under some sheet metal in the back corner of the chicken barn.

We have gone through great lengths to make sure our chickens are safe from the monsters in the night.  It had been working reasonably well for the last year or so.  Apparently, they have created a new gap in a far corner that I would not have found had it not been for the corpse.

We try very hard to follow the live-and-let-live motto.  However, when we are down (sorry – were down) to only four birds, it’s just wrong for the beasties to attack them.  We have prairie dogs, rabbits, mice, and various other critters very near our barn on which they could have feasted.  That would not have bothered me at all.

So, today, to try to bring our thief to justice, we are sharing photos in hopes that someone will spot this thug (and its gang) and put an end to our injustice!  Here is the criminal:

Don’t be fooled by that innocent, cute look on its face – it is a natural-born killer!  You might even find it hanging around with this murdering mob:

coyotes

(Ragged bunch of gangsters if ever I saw one.)

If you happen into their local watering hole, you may find them with the lesser thieves who only nab eggs and babies:

Notice that one even wears a mask to try to hide its identity – but I know who it is.

Please, keep an eye out for these dangerous killers and help to bring them to justice.  In the meantime, we will be having a memorial this Friday to morn the loss of our dear Hennies (beers and Yahtzee will be provided – HOWEVER no more than one at a time in the porch please.).

Stay Safe!

(Yes, I did get stilly in here, and we did lose two chickens, but it is live and let live for us, so we will forge onward with humor wherever I can find or provide it.  My wish is that I put a little smile on your face for just a moment today.)

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DO YOU LOVE YOUR BUGS?

No, this has nothing to do with the virus.  Today, I am back to talking about chemical-free gardening stuff.  We are officially into the spring season, which for us means prepping, planting, and planning.

Our home has started this season as it should:

  • Flies and spiders sneaking into the house.
  • Little bunnies hopping all over to test our predator defenses.
  • Rhubarb, tulips, iris, and several other things, popping out of the ground.
  • Like every year – we have the Odd Thomas poking up out of the ground. Later it will be determined friend or foe and dealt with accordingly.

baby bunny

These are the standard spring bits of proof.  Then we have the oddballs:

  • I spotted my old nemesis – A WASP (Yellow Jacket) – grr!
  • A skunk has already invaded our chicken barn for the barn cat food, pee-u.
  • What would spring be without Miller moths (stay out of my hair!). It just seems a bit too early for them, but they are here.

skunk

We cut the cord a couple of years ago, so I rely heavily on the internet for my valuable data.  My email box receives tons of information – daily – that I have specifically requested (vs. T.V. which bombards with junk I did not ever want to see).  One such request is from my Joe Gardener.com, which originated on our local PBS channel while we still had satellite T.V.  His name is Joe Lamp’l, and he is just full of excellent gardening stuff.  The best part of his shows is the guests.  If he doesn’t know a lot about a specific subject, he is not afraid to go to a guest source for the nuts-and-bolts of the issue.  This email was about the Monarch Butterfly (one of my favorite good bugs – also endangered species.).

Several years ago, we were lucky to be witness to a Monarch migration.  They came in the hundreds and landed on our trees, bushes, fences, house – you name it, they were on it.  IT WAS OUTSTANDING!  They did not stay long, but we felt gifted that they chose our little piece of heaven to stop for a rest.

That one-time massive visit threw me into a frenzy to find out more about them and ways to help them survive.  I was not the only one that was enthralled by them.  Dr. Agrawal is a professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Department of Entomology at Cornell University, was one of his guests, and spent time learning all he can about the Monarch.

This recent post by Joe shares a ton of great information, and EVERY gardener should learn.  It doesn’t matter if you grow for beauty, for food, or both; you need to learn to save our nature’s helpers.

147-Monarchs and Milkweed: A Precarious Struggle Between Life and Death

MARCH 12, 2020 | GROWPODCAST

(Please feel free to join me in the Monarch Watch group to help monitor the migration and population.)

The big thing that caught my eye was “monarchs and milkweed,” of which I had forgotten how much the two are connected.

milkweed and monarch

A couple of years ago, a milkweed plant sprouted in our front yard – all on its own.  I took that as a sign and saved the pods.  Remembering back to my childhood, we used to love popping the pods and watching the feathery seeds fly everywhere (F.Y.I. Dad hated it when we did that because they are a weed, and as such, he did not want them in his food fields.  Nothing worse than having to walk a field and handpick weeds – wait – picking rock was worse.).

The milkweed is crucial to Monarch survival.  Knowing this, I cherished the newbies on our property and encouraged them to continue.  We do have hay and corn farmers around us, not for human food but animal food.  We also have bees and a Beekeeper, that has our blessing to use our place as needed to allocate his 600+ colonies of honeybees every year.  The bees love the milkweed just as much as the Monarch, but for a different reason.  The article goes on to explain this in more detail was some fantastic pictures.  I hope that all of you read his article – gardener or not.

HAPPY SPRING – HAPPY GARDENING!

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I COME FROM A FAMILY OF BULLHEADS.

No, I am not talking about the fish (although they are one of my favs when they are in-season).  I am talking about being stubborn.  Stubborn to the point of sinking your heels into the dirt, and not giving up till hell freezes over.

bullhead fish

We finally had a couple of days of true February weather – but not enough.  This has brought out my bullhead side.  I am determined to have good gardens this year (not great, just good, and I will be happy) no matter what life throws at us.

I have given myself three main goals for this year:

  1. Continue to take my online learning classes and write more (and better, I hope).
  2. Get the gardens all back in order again.
  3. BE HAPPY.

I have a passion for a lot of things, crafting, writing, gardening, to name a few, but do not feel as if I am a professional at any one thing.  I hope that by the end of this year, I will feel like a pro at least one of my passions.

OCD crafting

The gardens have been a mess since the year of the fire (2014).  When the fire happened, I also had a severe infection in my left-hand index finger (from a cut on the job), which became Mersa.  In the course of taking care of the finger, my Surgeon discovered I have severe osteoarthritis (why is it never just “1” thing with me?).  The gardens got neglected because of all that mess, and my depression (yep that has been severe since the fire also) just took over and made me feel defeated before I even began on all our gardens.  Well, baby, my bullhead is back and in full force!

The last of my three is be happy, which has seemed to elude me.  I have moments of happiness, it’s just not been an on-going feeling of joy until now.  Not sure what has changed (except my new moon according to my Astrological sign), but I am feeling more empowered.  This is a great thing for me because it has been sorely missed over that last five years.

So, gardens beware!  I am on my bullheadedness (is this a word?) and plan on using it – grr!

HAPPY GARDENING!

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FYI:  One of the Bloggers I follow is called Better Hens & Gardens, and they have been kind enough to post an easy-to-understand article about the difference between seed types (Heirloom vs. GMO vs. GE, etc.), and I found it a great read to share – she here it is if you would like clear-cut information:

GARDEN SEEDS – GE, GMO, HEIRLOOM – WHAT’S IT MEAN?

I hope that if you are planning a garden this year for feeding your family, you will take a moment and read their helpful information.

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