COLORADO WINDS SONG – humor.

PLEASE READ TO THE TUNE OF CAMP TOWN RACERS – DO DAH.

Colorado has some winds, do dah, do dah.

Never can tell just what’s comin in, oh da do da, do day.

Gonna blow all night.

Gonna blow all day.

One of these days it’ll take us away, oh da do da day.

Half the barn roof blew away, do dah, do da.

Flying birds can’t seem to stay, oh da do da, day.

Roofing gone at night.

Shingles gone at day.

Farm truck up and floats away, oh da do da day.

Coldest ones blow in a freeze, do dah, do dah.

Hottest won’t at a hundred degrees, oh da do da, day.

Ice is on my face.

Sweat is in my eyes.

Our chickens live in Kansas now. Oh, da do da day.

cow in twister windy lady

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ALL RIGHT, What Are You Trying To Tell Me?

Apparently, I am going to have to have a talk with my house critters AGAIN!  I don’t know if it is because I am a farm girl, because I love critters, or because I instinctively watch nature, but something is trying to tell me something.

This time every year we get critters in the house:

  • Ladybugs
  • Spiders
  • Mice
  • An occasional snake (yep – actually the cat brought it in, but it was just a baby snake – eek!)

We know the routine of the mice (have not found their entry point yet – grr!), and traps work perfectly according to the barn cats (they get the snapped goodies).

cat w mouse

Ladybugs only come in every few years, and they usually bunch in the corner of the ceiling.  The weird part is they disappear after about a month, and not a single body is found anywhere in the house??  By the time they disappear, it is very cold and/or snowy outside, so I am sure they do not go back out – so where is their “panic” room? The issue this year is my spiders.

Now I really thought my spiders and I had a pretty good understanding:

“Stay on the ceiling, up out of reach, and you live.  Get down to my feet, and you die.”

Simple, easy to understand, a beneficial agreement that has been adhered to for almost a decade now.  At least that was until about October of this year.  I have been killing (just by stepping on) at least five spiders per week since about the first of October.  WHAT THE HECK??  They are in our home year-round but understand that their place is on the ceiling and up in the skylight.  Why are they all down at my feet?  Do they all have a death wish now?

Most of the above pics are small spiders.  The Garden (Orb – the one with the yellow stripe legs) spider is bigger and usually hangs out in the barn or greenhouse, basically an outside critter just like the Crab spider (the one with the pointy back that looks like a shell).  The other three, along with the Daddy Long Legs are found in our home.

I started this post in early October.  It is now the 20th of November, and I have still been finding at least 3-5 per week down at my level for a death sentence.  This one I almost stepped on BARE FOOTED this morning heading to the bathroom:

wind spider 11-20-19 (the front mandibles are barely visible but look for the darker brown tips to see how long they are)

I can’t stand these guys!  They are not native to Colorado and do not like the cold (it will die in the cold or, as I found, in too much water).  They are called Wind Scorpion Spiders, and we have been told that they most likely came in on military gear coming back from a very dry desert climate.  THEY DO NOT BITE HUMANS, which was the first thing we had looked into.  Never-the-less I just can’t stand looking at them.  This one is normal size – about the size of a half-dollar (that’s with leg and mandible reach).  I even prefer the garden spider to this thing, maybe because it does not look like a spider to me. (Got to tell you I am creeping myself out right now – yuck!!)

I have seen a Wolf spider too up-close and personal for my liking, so I know about them.  Black Widows were in the pine bushes in my home in Denver, so I know what they look like and where to watch for them.  I was bitten by a Brown Recluse, so I am extremely wary of them.  But none of those freak me out like the Wind Scorpion – not sure exactly why?

The simple fact is that too many spiders have shown up not just in the house, but specifically downstairs (my turf) and at my stomping level.  This is not the norm and not in our agreement!  I am pretty sure they are all trying to tell me something about the environment, but my spider-eeze is not working very well this year.

So, for now, I will continue my daily discussions with the general household insect staff about the house rules and how to avoid death.  I hope that they will all just settle down in the fact that I do not have their natural instincts regarding the ecosystem, I cannot speak their language, and I will have to deal with whatever good Ole Mom Nature decides to throw at us.  Wish me luck!

nice mom nature         grumpy me

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WAY TO GO MINNESOTA!

All-in-all, it’s sad that we have had to come to this.  But I do give major kudos to the state for finally doing something to support our natural critters, even if it had to involve money.

The Smithsonianmag.com email that I recently received posted this new report:

Minnesota Will Pay Residents to Grow Bee-Friendly Lawns

It’s part of their “Smart News” series which I love reading.

We try to do as much as we can and promote others to do the same, in all ways natural.  We saw our first Bumble Bee of the season just a week ago.  It was having a hay-day on our Honeysuckle.  I could not get close enough (or get it to slow down enough) to see if it is a “Rusty” or some other species.  I just loved that it chose to visit us.  The stupid boxer, Pig (yes that is his name) dog, spotted it and thought it was worthy of chasing – idiot!  Caught him snapping at it, so I had to chase him off of it.  His is supposed to be a smart breed, yet I constantly catch him doing really stupid stuff?!

bumble bee

I had a wonderful, beautiful wandering thought.  What if everyone in the world grew flowers?  They could be as simple as a single Daisy in a pot, or a rail basket full of marigolds, or a ton all over your yards (kind of like our home – we try to put flowers in everything).  Imagine not only the beauty but the benefits.  Feeding good bugs and birds naturally (FYI: I love it when our Humming Birds come to visit our Honeysuckle).

We also love to use companion planting with as much as we can in our gardens.  When I initially started learning about it, I was amazed at how many ways you can protect and encourage your own little space of land, just by using “buddies” while you do it.  Isn’t it nice to know those good friends work best together in nature, not just in humans?

Happy Gardening!

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THIS IS A FIRST!

When we moved to the farm, we neglected to check out weather patterns.  In the long run, this was a good thing.  It was the first of three years of the worst drought Colorado had seen in 100+ years.  It was the perfect time for us to learn all about water usage (in the right spot at the right time) and conservation.

water conservation

This year we have the complete opposite.  We are mid-June and still very green.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the green (it’s not my Irish roots, but my garden roots), it’s just that this much of it here at this time of year is very odd.

Usually, we get less rain and higher temps about now.  The gardens pop up like gangbusters and bring all the weeds with them.  The biggest benefit of our dryer weather is that it is much easier to keep the weeds semi under control (all gardeners know you cannot completely control weeds – physically impossible).  With all the rains and cooler temps, the weeds are thick and thriving – grrr!

coyote HELP

It’s just been so strange:

  • Green everywhere, even where the farmers are not using their sprinkler systems.
  • Humidity – that is a major “ugly” word out here. It’s supposed to be dry and easier to breathe.
  • Thrown off mowing schedule – this just ticks me off! Normally only mow once a week or even every two weeks.  Now it’s every couple of days – I don’t have that kind of time?!
  • More moisture – not necessarily a bad thing, just not normal. With more moisture comes all the extras we don’t usually have: Mushrooms (not edible and on/in everything), thick prolific weeds, wet everything in the mornings, and humidity – ugh!

Mushrooms in grass

You would think that a kid from Wisconsin would appreciate and be used to “wet” – nope – been in Colorado long enough to know that dry in the morning is helpful for gardeners.  I like to get my mowing done in the early mornings.  It’s better for the grass and, for here, less wind.  It usually means fewer bugs.  Now the bugs and my allergies are running amok.

sneezing   (Thank you, Dave – so true!)

Guess I just need to stop bitching, appreciate the moisture (because it may not be here later), pull up my big-girl-panties, and get my chores done.

Happy Gardening Everyone!!

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PLANT, SKI, OR GOLF? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

Ah yes, spring in Colorado.  Almost June first and you can go golfing and skiing in the same day.  I have only been golfing once.  I did enjoy it, but just don’t have that kind of time.  I have been skiing also, but found it was a great way to break a limb- and I want to keep what I have – thank you.  So, it’s on with the planting.

Our poor plants can’t decide if they should bloom or hide.  We did get a chance to get our corn, root veggies and peas in, but still, have not been able to transplant our pepper and tomato starts.  This year that may be a good thing.  Normal high today is supposed to be 76°F, and today we are only getting to about 55°F.

We had been concentrating on clean up and repairs, but now we must get the rest of our seeds and transplants in or there will not be enough for harvesting this fall.

Stupid dogs have been our main project.  Every time they get out of the front yard, they kill something we want to keep – chickens, cats, birds.  Heaven forbid they actually go after the pests that attack our gardens – prairie dogs, monster gophers from hell, and rabbits (yes I love bunnies but not when they choose my garden over the fields around us.).

We constructed a new pen just for them and thought we had a tall enough fence around it.  Apparently, our Boxer is a fricken athlete.  If he gets a running start at it, he will make it over – shit head!  The other dog must have been a gopher in a previous life because she can build a tunnel under anything in under thirty minutes – dumb ass!  (FYI – new names for the two are Shit Head and Dumb Ass.)

My sister and grandson tried to surprise me by using 2” PVC tubes (stolen from the greenhouse rows) and some orange plastic horse fencing (bought that years ago as an instant trellis for vine veggies) and ran it around the top of the pen.  They had it curving it which was a great idea-sort of.

Between the wind and our athlete dog, it only took about two days to have it all torn down.  So sad they worked so hard on it for me.  I originally had a different idea that I now began to put in place.

My sister had gotten a bunch of free black weed barrier type material from work (they usually throw it out – NOT if you have recycling fanatics around like us!) which was a bonus for the new pen.  I cut 2”x4” boards up to create an inward incline around the top.  I also ran the black cloth around the fence on the areas that faced the barns and tacked it down with the new 2”x4” boards.  Then I ran wire fencing on the top of the boards all around the top.  When I was done my sister took one look at it and said: “It looks like a prison.”  We both bust out laughing because it has come to this with our dogs – jerks!

 (Prison, Prison, dog pen – jerks!)

It’s not done yet, but Shit Head is already tearing the vinyl off the gate – one of the few parts we left a view for them – grr.  Guess I will have to cover that one too.

Once I am SURE the monsters cannot get out and get into anything I will finally get back to my planting (no skiing or golf for this garden gal).

garden gals

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BOMB CYCLONE – PART 2 – WHY?

I can’t believe I just heard the guy on the news say that this next storm coming in could be another bomb cyclone – WHAT?

I am a farmer/gardener and as such am constantly watching the weather.  The spring even more so as this is the start of our fooding season (yes I said fooding).  If our spring setup starts off bad, it makes for a very hard growing season the rest of the year.  Today (Tuesday 4/9/19) it is supposed to hit 80°(F) then it drops down by thirty degrees by tomorrow morning.  The day just continues to get worse from there, and the winds are supposed to be wickedly dangerous again. (Hang on to your butts Nebraska!)

Then, in true Colorado style, everything will bounce back beautifully.  I still remember the storms in Wisconsin (where I grew up).  It would start to snow around October (usually about the time we wanted to go trick-or-treating on Halloween), and not give up until sometime in April.

I remember snow drifts so high we would walk up and touch the top of the barn (one-year sledding was a blast!).  I remember building snow tunnels and forts in those drifts.  The outer edge would get a great icy crust on it, but the inside was perfect for digging out.  Those tunnels would usually last most of the winter.

snow tunnels

According to friends and family that still live back there, the last few months were the strongest storms that they had seen in decades.  I even recall them telling me that the last several years were drought years – WISCONSIN – DROUGHT??

WI greenery(Rolling hills, green and lush all the norm.)

Wisconsin is supposed to be hot and humid.  My hair is naturally curly and growing up I looked like Bozo the Clown most of the time.  When we were very young, mom would cut our hair because it was too hard to manage (bowl cut of course – yuck!).

bozo the clown  bowl haircut(like this but curly)

This 80-90 degrees on one day then 24-48 hours later a blizzard never happened in Wisconsin.  Part of moving to and staying in Colorado is just because of the weather.  I will NEVER forget my very first visit driving from Wisconsin with friends and a sister to Denver, then to the western slope.  Things (business wise) went from bad to worse in Wisconsin, so I convince people to take a trip to Colorado.  I had dreamed of seeing the Rocky Mountains and Alaska when I was younger, so I thought – why not? When we got to Denver people were roller skating down the sidewalk in shorts?!  We just left three feet of snow and freaking sub-zero temps.  That is still so clear in my mind, and I am pretty sure the main reason I stayed.

roller skating

The changes in weather are great fun, but rotten for spring planting.

TO PLANT, OR NOT TO PLANT – THAT IS THE QUESTION?

Every year I try hard to get the potatoes and onions in somewhere by the end of March – didn’t happen.  Then I work just as hard to get the corn in by mid-April – not looking good.

We have tons of flowers coming up, buds are getting big on the trees, and we will have flowers on them soon too – eeek!  If we get the freeze they are expecting (The Weather Channel.com – I check it every day, couple times a day on my tech.), then all those flower buds could freeze – meaning no fruit – grr!

I have officially decided to wait on planting, starting or transplanting anything until at least next week Tuesday – April 16th – aptly my birthday.  Wish me luck!  I am even going to take some of my sister’s starters out to the ripped up greenhouse and see what I can do with them – mainly in the protection area.  Without a cover on it, it will be every plant for itself.  I will be using some of our 5-gallon buckets to protect them should we get a deep fluke freeze after next Tuesday.  It could still happen into the early part of May here, but I am optimistic (oh silly me).

Hope you all have an easier planting schedule and a bit more reliable weather pattern than we do.  Maybe when I am old, rich, and retired (instead of so darn beautiful – LOL), I will fully appreciate the fun changes here – who knows?

Old Rich 1

Old Rich 2

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Interesting Tidbit for Today – April 3rd:

I love getting weird things in my email box (yes, I call it a box).  Things like the Smithsonian, Good Ole Days, Farmers Almanac, and even my M-W’s Word of the Day all deliver interesting factoids right to me.  Today I received an interesting thing from Farmers regarding horses – one of my most favorite subjects.

The History of the Pony Express.  I never knew things like the fact that it only ran for 18 months?  I really thought it ran for years and years.  Such a major milestone in our nation’s history and it was only around for a very short time – wild!

So, my post today is very short and sweet – if you want something different to read, check out the article.  There are several facts in there that I never knew.

Enjoy!

pony express pic of horses

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Got My Funk on AGAIN?

I am ready to plant NOW!  There are so many things that must be done before we get to the planting stage that somedays it is just overwhelming.  The tornado late last summer started the refurbishing.  Then the bomb cyclone last week and now our continued winds-from-hell add to the projects:

  • Pinback the hair (even with the best of pony-tail holders, it won’t last more than five minutes before something breaks loose and inevitably ends up whipping in my eyes.).

wild hair

  • Dress in layers (cold now, hot in an hour, then cold again later).
  • Put bricks in the bottom of the trash can so it won’t fall over and dump everything to blow around just to be picked up again.
  • Keep several bags in the bottom of the trash can because trying to open one in this wind just won’t work (I think one should be at my friend’s place in Kansas by now).
  • DON’T BURN WEEDS YET – but pile them up and make sure to throw bricks and huge, heavy logs on top of them to keep them together (ya, like that works? In this wind I will be continually picking up tumbleweeds – grr!)

tumbleweeds

  • WATCH THE WEATHER CHANNELS LIKE A HAWK – not for the storms, but for the winds. We were supposed to be mild today (Wednesday 3/20) at which point I could have burned some of the mess down.  But nooo – now we are not going to mellow down to the burning stage for at least the next 10 days.   May have to have the fire department on standby for the next burning as the pile is getting huge!

Then there are all the “other” projects we want/need to get done:

  1. New dog pen. This has to be first because we cannot go another year with them in the front yard.  They are destroying everything, and the damn Boxer (his name is Pig, and it fits) won’t stay in.  The next phase on the new space for them will be an electric fence.  Yes, I am serious!  He has killed 3 cats and five chickens, and that was all just for fun – JERK!  Bad enough we have foxes and coyotes here, now we have to watch our own monster.  Too bad he is so fun to watch normally – quite the character.

BB pig dog (yes, this was him but two years ago – notice that his foot is holding down a stuffed pig doll)

  1. We have new fruit trees that are supposed to come in next week. We have plotted out where/how we want them, but can’t do anything until they are here.  So that will be a drop-everything project when they come.
  2. Our seedling veggies are getting way too big already and must be moved somewhere soon. We want to put them in the greenhouse area again – but it’s not ready either.  We are looking at some new covering, and if we select it, we need to get to all the rungs for hanging.  If the plants get too big too soon, won’t be able to get the scaffolding around/over them.  (I could pretend I am Tarzan and swing around the rungs – but I wouldn’t want to embarrass others my age by doing it – ya, sure!?!)

Best Tarzan (my fav Tarzan!)

There are many MANY  more things that are swirling around in my head that need to be started.  Guess I will just have to chalk it all up to spring fever, although I don’t think that ever-mounting chores are what they had in mind when they created that phrase.

One last tidbit to share:  If you read last weeks post you know I love gardening until it’s dark then watching the stars – but – there a real thing that I also love which is gardening by the moon.  Well, my buds at Farmer’s Almanac have sent a new article via email that gets into better detail:

WHY DO WE GARDEN BY THE MOON  by Jaime McLeod

garden by moon phases

If you want some fun and interesting reading, check it out.  They share the best time to do certain gardening steps by following moon phases.  Enjoy!

garden by moon 1

 

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IT’S NOT SEW, OR SO, BUT SOW!

For those that know how to sow.

The first thing you need is a hoe.

A sew is not sow,

And a so is not sow

When planting you just need to know.

The Bad Poet’s Society

Yes, that was a bad one (thank you mom), but I had to do something strange.  The season begins again – the garden season that is.  If you have been following me, then you know this is an actual season, at least for those of us that farm or garden.  It is much longer than the regular four seasons as it encompasses spring, summer, fall, and even sometimes winter.

We have begun our seed starts.  This year we are going a bit slower and much smaller than the last several years due to many factors.  The largest of which is our continued cleanup after the tornado.  We are still working on what to do with the greenhouse.  Several ideas popped up during our regularly scheduled Friday night game night and libations:

  1. New hot tub hot spot (yes, this was our first thought).

indoor hottub

  1. Indoor sports arena (still would need a cover and who would use it here in the boonies).indoor sports
  2. Indoor pool (again needing a cover – AND- would have to dig further down – too much work).

indoor pool (my choice – haha)

  1. Miniature pony show ring (first you need the ponies).mini pony ring

That was just a few of the more sensible ideas, after those it just got ridiculous.  I’m pretty sure that the out-of-control laughter instigated most of the sillier ideas (although I still like the hot tub idea).

Once we settled down, we decided that putting the cover on would be best.  Then, after doing what I love – research, I discovered something new.  They have created a greenhouse cover that can be done in “sections” – YES!  Took them long enough to come up with this fantastic idea.  Now if a part gets damaged, we won’t have to replace the whole thing – just that section – woohoo!

We have also been looking into different types of mini-greenhouses.  We usually start our seeds in the house, and the starting process takes over the kitchen island, the countertops, the south porch (has a perfect HUGE picture window to the south), the south house window, and where ever else we can find (or make) space.  The house basically becomes an indoor greenhouse for seeds and seedlings for about two months.

If you have been following either of my blogs, you know my sister is a bake-a-holic so taking over her massive kitchen for that long just drives her crazy.  She is all good and calm at the start, but by the end of the first month, she starts to growl.  Going into the second month, she is ready to shove them all out in the cold – “Grow or Die” – our farm motto.  So after some more Friday game night deliberations, the plan of a separate seed start structure would be more feasible.

Next step was to boil it all down to pros vs. cons and see where we stand.  The mini-seed start shop was a “go” from the start because:

  1. Gets that part of the sowing season out of the house and into the gardens where it belongs.
  2. Stops my sister from possibly murdering dozens of innocent seedlings to retain her kitchen.plant killer
  3. Possibility to sow even more seed and create extra seedling to sell or give away to family/friends.
  4. Cheap – the research I have been doing has uncovered that there are numerous brands, types, and kits out there to choose from and most are inexpensive.
  5. Saves my sisters sanity – best reason of all.

Looks like the seed sowing shop is a go – now we need to settle on which one.

Back to the greenhouse cover, we have decided to go with the sectional stuff.  It’s a bit more expensive, but we believe in the long run it will work out much better.  The fun part will be putting it on.  The structure we have is pretty much intact (the 2”x12” base needs to be redone on the east side – west is untouched – damn twister!), but we still have to put guide tracks on the arcs we have.  Good thing we have a two-section scaffolding that should reach most of it (the very peak needs an additional step ladder to get up there).

crazy balancing act

SO:

For those that know how to sow.

The first thing you need is a hoe.

A sew is not sow,

And a so is not sow

When planting you just need to know.

The Bad Poet’s Society

(Just had to throw that bad poetry out one more time – Love ya mom!)

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FREAK OUT – Fire, Fire, Fire!?

We have a new neighbor.  One of the more prominent locals bought the field down below our small farm.  It was always just used for hay or corn planting, with occasional cows to clean up and fertilize.  The nice thing was they left the hollow alone.  Over the last several years I have posted pics of the hollow:

He has been cleaning and clearing out the hollow.  Yesterday he stopped in to say if we received enough snow, he was going to burn the wood piles today.  We have burned wood piles in our yard from fallen branches, spring or late fall weed collection, miscellaneous debris but nothing like this:

brush fire 2-7-19 hollow

First, I forgot he was going to do that and, I smelled smoke – INSTANT FREAK OUT!  Started running through the house to see where the smell was coming from (praying hard it was not another fire), then I stopped and remembered – it’s outside stupid!  I casually came back upstairs and headed to the west window in the bathroom (best view), and sure enough, the massive log piles are on fire.

brush fire 2-7-19 hollow 2

It was kind of cool to watch because it reminded me of my teenage years.  Friends from Prentice and Ladysmith Wisconsin should remember the parties we teens had with bonfires in somebody’s dads’ field.  During the summer there was usually one or two that went on.  Some pretty wild and fun times back then.

teen bonfire

I still love our fire pits which are outside and only the size of a small charcoal grill.  I love the smell of a good BBQ cooking (and my sister is STELLAR at the grill!).  But get a ton of smoke floating around and the horrific memories flood in.  Roasting marshmallows – fantastic.  Roasting house, not so good.

I then spotted something I was not anticipating.  Little black particles and pieces are floating all over the place?  Suddenly it dawned on me what they were and where they were coming from – the burning wood piles!  Just as our burn barrels will send up bits of burned debris, so were these monster piles.  Now the rest of my day will be spent on watching EVERYTHING.  I could see his truck down by the fires earlier, but don’t see anyone down there right now – not a good feeling.  I am sure he is probably just down farther behind our barn, and I cannot see him – I hope.

Funny how something like a smell can bring back such fun and such scary feelings all at the same time.

good smell   bad smell

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