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. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bumblebee gets a helping hand from Endangered Species Act

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

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

music notes 1

There was a little baby Bumblebee.

So I sat real still as I could be.

The Bumblebee came and sat on me.

Oh, what a wonderful thing to see.

Then he turned and smiled with glee.

Don’t ya just love those Bumblebees!

music notes 2

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

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

silly friendly snake

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By George, I Think We Got It – Maybe?

Well, we finally got to it.  Cleaned up the first major plot (it’s about 20’ long, 2-1/2’ wide) using the “weedless gardening method”.  Corn, beans, and cucs (The Three Sisters) are in here.  We are about a month late on the corn, so it will be interesting to see how it grows.

corn beans cucs weedless plot.jpg

The high grassy area next to this one is actually 2 more plots and two more walkways.  I still find it amazing how fast the weeds can come back.  The posts to the east of that area mark where the raspberries are.  We just started them a couple of years ago, but they are also filled with weeds.  East of that is three more walkways with two rows of field fencing (for those that do not know – that is fence about 4 feet high made up of 4”x4” squares, non-electric) which once held dozens of heirloom tomato plants.  We have the plants safe in the greenhouse, but they must come out soon – getting too big for their britches in there, sneaky buggers.

The potatoes that I started the weedless gardening method on are doing outstanding, even by the horseradish:

horseraddish n tadders 6-2-16.jpg

There are weeds around the plot, but only a small amount actually in the plot.  The potatoes are about 10” high already- woohoo.  Oh, and, yes, that is our horseradish at the top.  It is getting ready to flower, which is a first for us.  We have had it for several years now.  IT decided where “it” was going to be planted (true story).  We had it about 10 feet to the east of this spot originally.  It began spreading to the west all on its own.  Not as bad as the mint, mind you, but moving non-the-less. (Hee hee, maybe I should write a scary movie based on this? Lol).  It finally settled here, so we created a plot just for it.  Happily, it has not tried to run away to another spot since settling here.

Then we have these wild beauties:

widdows tears 6-2-16.jpg

We call them Widows Tears.  The pinkish/purple stems explode open first, looking like they are done – but wait – a green pod forms on the ends of the stems and this beautiful blue flower with yellow center opens up.  They do not last long, but the bees love them.  There are not thousands of them, but they do manage to scatter about a lot.

This is one of the bee favs:

catnip mint 6-2-16.jpg

It’s catnip mint (also a fav for our barn kitties when I am not in the garden).  Can you spot the bee?  There were several bees at that corner of the plant (stands about 2 feet high), but they would not stop moving about – grrr, ha ha!

This amazing thing (amazing that it is alive) resides in the front yard:

orange bush 6-2-16.jpg

A local hardware store was going to throw away some end-of-year stuff a couple of years back.  We happened to be there and made an offer on several of the bushes.  Most looked like they were dead, but we managed to salvage several.  This wonder is one of the saved.  Have no clue what it is, but it is about 4 feet high, and it gets these beautiful white/yellow flowers about the size of a quarter.  They smell like oranges?!  One of the others that we saved was the blue sea mist that all the butterflies loved last fall (here is the post: Where did they all come from?. If you want to see our little miracle bush.)

Well, here are my wishes for you all today:

  • No more severe storms, pretty sure we are all fed up with them (time to do our naked dance around the fire pit in the middle of the night – eeek, oh no – no one wants to see that!)
  • All the plants that you are putting in late like ours, will grow excellently (is that a word?)
  • You get just enough rain and sunshine to stuff your pantries with your own food in the fall.
  • And, most important, you have fun doing it all!

Well, I’m going back out now to try to tackle the other ½ of our 5 acres – me and my “Knight in Shining Armor” –  riding John Deere mower – woo hoo!  Nothing runs like a Deere, especially me!

Happy Green Thumbing!

burgandy bearded iris 5-30-16.jpg

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I believe it is our job as humans to take care of the other creatures we share the planet with – yes, even spiders (yucky!).

brown spider pic

We try to keep at least one or 2 spiders in our home (as long as they stay up on the ceiling out of reach) to help control flies and other bothersome pests. We have Bull Snakes which help to keep the rodent population down (as long as I don’t confront one while weeding, I’m cool with it). We have free-range fowl that help to keep the grasshopper population at bay (just gotta watch the turkeys – they will steal your hot peppers, and the ducks will take up residence between the tomato plants and pluck the fruit at the peak of ripeness – jerks!).

We have learned a ton of natural gardening methods to deter all different kinds of critters. We would prefer to deter, then eliminate. However, once in a while, you get something that you just do not want anywhere on your property! For us, that is the Yellow Jacket Wasp!

yellow jacket wasp pic

I know it is our job as humans to tend to the creatures of the planet, but I have a real hard time when it comes to the Yellow Jacket. It is a mean monster that will sting for no reason, and do it over and over and over again. The poor Honey bee loses its guts if it stings you! I am pretty sure I wouldn’t want to sting anything if it meant having my insides pulled out – yucky and OUCH!

Please don’t confuse them with our wonderful Honey Bees:

honey bee pic

I am posting pics of both at a fairly close distance so you can learn the differences. We also love our Mason Bees

mason bee pic

I call them my Fuzzy Bees. They are about the same size as a black fly (another nasty pest), but they are all fuzzy looking here. I have heard that some are black; I have never seen a black one, just our creamy tan little cuties (yes, I love it when they rest on me – too fun!)

Then we also have what is called a Mud Wasp (also called Mud Dauber or Dirt Digger):

mud wasp

(Don’t let this pic fool you – they are only about ½ inch long when full grown, would rather walk and flick their wings they fly around after you.) Do NOT confuse them with the mean wasp family as they are not a baddy but a goodie. They usually travel alone and eat the baddies in your gardens. They like to hang around buildings collecting mud for their nests. Ours made a home between the bricks on the patio off the east porch steps. We also have a small crack in the steps when the house shifted, and she will fly from patio to porch and back. Never hurt any of us, have seen her attack a daddy long legs spider, and a pill bug. So she can stay!

In all fairness, I went to Wikipedia, which then led me to UC Davis Edu. This finally gave me the answer to my question – What are they good for? According to this article – little to nothing, which is what I thought. They are very predatory and will keep other pests away, however; I have seen them take out a Honey Bee hive (ticked me off!). So unless one of my readers can give me a good reason to keep them around, I will continue to eliminate them every chance I get!

I was weeding around a wagon of ours, it had some pretty tall grasses and some picker weeds – time for it all to go. I felt a burning sensation on the back of my hand (yep – no gloves, stupid me!) and when I pulled my hand up and flipped it over – 3 of the nasty monsters were going to town on my hand – grrr! I brushed them off and stomped on them, then went to the pump, got some cold water and made a mud pack. Slapped it on my hand which, by now, was about doubled in size and tight as a drum! Please note that I am not allergic to these buggers, or bees for that matter, but their sting is that bad!

So my takeaway today is “kill the hornet, kill the hornet, kill the hornet” (you have to sing that to the Bugs Bunny Opera episode – Elmer is a Viking, Bugs is Brunhilda – hee hee)Whats opera doc

(FYI – One of my all-time favorite Cartoons!)


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