PLOWSHARE THURSDAY – COMPANIONS.

The thing I am most grateful for in our gardening endeavors today is that we learned how to use “companion planting” to our benefit!

Those that may not have heard of this before: It is the method of planting that puts one or more plants next to each other, to naturally protect and strengthen them.

What this means is very simple:

  • Plant carrots with tomatoes.

carrots n tomatoes

  • Plant dill with just about everything.

dill-in-gh.jpg

  • Plant marigolds with just about everything.

marigolds

  • Oh, and when possible, leave a place totally natural – untouched!

wild plant area

The last one is a HUGE secret that we found out about last year.

The fire three years ago set us back on all of our normal routines.  The biggest damage occurred on the land and gardens.  To have something, anything, for harvest in the fall of 2014; we chose to let parts of the farm and gardens go natural.

Then in 2015, we were still trying to get a handle on things, and I was still doing surgeries.  Since I am the main person working on the farm and gardens, I was in no shape to keep up with it all (and we only garden on about 5 of our 20 acres.).

It was summer of 2016 when it came time to finally tame the whole area.  We have one long field that is about 100-feet wide by about 200-feet long.  It is the length of the whole main area of our farm.  Nothing is growing in there except weeds and wild grasses.  The chickens loved roaming around in there after bugs and worms.  The problem by mid-summer is that we could not see the chickens in the tall grasses anymore – HUGE DANGER FOR CHICKEN FARMERS!

Even though we had not seen or heard a coyote or fox in a couple of years, we did not want to take the chance.  Thus the major mowing finally began.  My sister was smart!  Out of the fire funds, we managed to purchase a John Deere Riding Mower – best investment ever!!

I put on my pretty sun hat (not – but it works- ha ha), doused myself with sun screen and bug repellant started the monster up and away I went.  What fun it actually was!  I could get pretty close to things so we would only have to push-mow a few spots when I was done.

When I got to the long field, I went around the first corner, and a praying mantis landed on my arm!  I stopped mowing, caught it with my hand and put it into the greenhouse.  It took me about 3 hours that first day to clear that long field (normal is only about 1 hour), due to the friendly critters!

We then realized that the corner where we had a pile of old wooden posts had attracted a bunch of bad bugs, which then attracted a bunch of good bugs – viola – natural pest controls!

We used to trim up everything thinking that this would keep the nasties away – nope, the best we ever did was to leave the woodsy area alone.  Most of the long field gets mowed now, but a large section with the wood gets left untouched.

Companion planting works in the same manner.  You plant things next to each other to deter the bad bugs and naturally attract the good bugs.  I even let the dill in the greenhouse run amok this summer.  It is over five-feet tall.  Has seed heads the size of basketballs, and attracts the aphids.  I have no clue why they love the dill more than all else, but they do.

I can now plant dill in succession and simply cut down and bad the old buggy stuff and throw it in the trash.  The plastic bags will suck out the air and kill them, or they will be moved to the dump when the trash guy comes.

I can still find a bit on my food plants – but not as much and it is easy to take care of with wash or wiping.

Hope this helps – happy gardening!

(If you enjoyed this bit of humor, please feel free to visit my latest blog: Life Lessons Lived  to get more laughter in your life!)

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WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO?

 

The first thing I do at my computer every day is to check the weather.  Being a farmer/gardener from birth has made me very locked into this habit.  Today is Wednesday – hump day – and the best day to try to figure out what must be done, what may be done (if given enough time), and what can wait until a later date.  This was the forecast for the next seven days as of this morning from TWC (The Weather Channel.com)

Brush, CO (80723) Weather

Observed at 7:07 am MST

Print

Day   High/

Low

Precip Wind Humidity UV Index Sunrise Sunset Moonrise Moonset
Today

Feb 15

Sunny 64° 26° 0% WSW 8 mph 34% 3 of 10 6:47 am 5:30 pm 10:29 pm 9:22 am
Thu

Feb 16

Sunny 70° 28° 0% SSW 7 mph 24% 3 of 10 6:46 am 5:31 pm 11:26 pm 9:53 am
Fri

Feb 17

Sunny 63° 32° 0% NW 12 mph 30% 3 of 10 6:44 am 5:32 pm 10:25 am
Sat

Feb 18

Mostly Sunny 66° 40° 0% SSE 12 mph 41% 3 of 10 6:43 am 5:33 pm 12:22 am 11:00 am
Sun

Feb 19

Mostly Sunny 72° 44° 0% S 15 mph 34% 3 of 10 6:42 am 5:34 pm 1:17 am 11:37 am
Mon

Feb 20

Partly Cloudy 64° 37° 0% NNW 15 mph 30% 3 of 10 6:40 am 5:36 pm 2:10 am 12:20 pm
Tue

Feb 21

Sunny 75° 37° 0% WNW 11 mph 22% 3 of 10 6:39 am 5:37 pm 3:02 am 1:06 pm

Specifically look at the HIGH/LOW column – 60’s and 70’s – WHAT?  This is February for heaven sake!  It is supposed to read minus something to maybe 30°F if we are lucky.  How are we supposed to prep and plant for this?

We have done as we normally do, started seeds.  The long-term stuff like pumpkins, melons, squash; these all take forever to grow.  We usually get a kick out of going over notes from previous years to determine just what worked or didn’t work.  Some things planted too early can lead to quite a mess.  Huge plants with nowhere to put them because the weather is not cooperating.

Well, this year has us really freaked out.  The biggest concern is because of what happened about three years ago.  We started early going with the nice weather, then April hit and blew us out-of-the-water!  We were getting 90+ degrees on Fridays, then 30ish and snow by Monday – within only three days it was changing that hard that fast.  Took out most everything we had worked so hard on.  Lucky we had the greenhouse with some backup plants in it.  The whole fiasco make a mess of our fall harvest that year!

We are only in mid-February and still have at least 60 more days before the end of the deep frost worries.  There is no fear in starting potatoes and onions here in March.  By the time plants start popping out of the ground, we cover with straw, and any freezes won’t affect them.  Something like pumpkins can be toast with the first deep frost even if we cover them with straw.

We did start designing something new to try this year.  We want to try to create a winter starter box outside.  We have specific places to put the outside crops, and one new on the south side of the house maybe perfect for this trial.  It gets full sun – no shade there of any kind.  We want to put in a planter box about one foot wide by about twelve feet long and about a foot deep.  It would be filled with our own good compost mix and then add the plants (melons in this case).  Then we will build a hinged drop cover for the top.  The plants should stay small enough that we can let them stretch out in the plot.  Then if it drops (or snows) in temps, we just close the top.  It will be covered in plastic so that the sun will keep them all nice and cozy, but the evil temps would not hurt them.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do?  Think outside the box, or in our case make a new box.  Such is one of our, way too many, thoughts this year.  Wish us luck!

silly cat

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WHERE WAS I AGAIN?

Ok woman – get your hands back in that dirt!  Ahhh, warm, living, comforting soil!  Breathe deep, life goes on (hopefully), pull up your big girl panties and move along.  Seventy plus degrees – November 2016 – Colorado – WHHAAATTT??

If things were not going freaky enough, we are going to have 70 ° today and the next couple of days?  Now Colorado weather is strange, major part of why I love it here.  But seventy in November is just abby-normal!

I do not have, nor do I want spring fever right now.  I have been sucking in the Hallmark channel trying to bring back my happy-happy, joy-joy of the holidays…p.s. it’s not working – grrr!

I have been working on all kinds of crafts for family and friends for Christmas.  We purchased a ½ a grass-fed beef to present a great meal for the family Christmas Party.  I have been pricing turkeys and checking out recipes for all kinds of side dishes.  I WANT MY FALL WEATHER!

A lot of leaves have fallen, but a bunch are still hanging on.  My honeysuckle, and winecup still have flowers on them?  The California Poppies were over eight inches tall (until my grandson thought they were weeds and helped me by pulling them out – eeek, boo hoo, hahaha).

The Robins, Blackbirds, and ladybugs are all still here?  My Blue Jay’s and Chickadee’s have not shown up yet?  There has not been a single fluke drop of snow yet (by now we should have had at least one fluke flurry)?

dsc_0011

We put the heater in our pond for the fish, but now it’s just a waste of electricity.  The trees can’t make up their mind either:

So now I must trudge on!  Keep creating.   Keep cookie planning and prepping going.  Keep the mood heading toward holiday happiness. 

Maybe I will take this picture, blow it up and hang it on my bedroom ceiling.  This way I can wake up each day thinking it will be the holidays soon:

fall

Or maybe this one would be better:

frozen pond 2-3-16

Then I can remember what winter feels like. (Ok, I am sick – Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer – my likes in that order!)

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DO YOU EVER GET CARRIED AWAY IN THE MOMENT?

Happens to me every fall.  I just can’t help myself.  I have tried. I keep myself busy with harvesting and crafting and food processing – but it just can’t stop it.  Those pesky childhood memories come flooding back every fall.

There is so much work that has to be done right now.

  • Canning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating.
  • Digging up old and prepping for new in the spring.
  • Start or end projects for the holidays
  • Then there are all the decorations – dig it out, put it up, take it down, pack it away.
  • Clean up/out the house for winter ready (basically the same as spring cleaning, but now is more to get the dust out and keep the bugs out.).
  • Pack away the spring/summer clothes and get out the fall winter clothes – and don’t forget the boots!
  • Finish any critter roofs that need to be tacked down and/or sealed.
  • Shear up any walls that got knocked around by winds.
  • Mow everything one last time (that takes two days in itself).
  • Get the tank water heaters out and make sure they are working (for critters and the fish pond in the front yard.).
  • Fix any doors, windows and shutters on all buildings.
  • Re-insulate, caulk, or trim any place that may have lost it over the summer.

This is just part of my to-do-list before the first frost hits.  One weather forecast said colder than normal; the other said warmer than normal, pretty sure I do not even know what NORMAL is anymore?!

I started to water what is left of the gardens, and heard some kids (very young) laughing as a truck drove by; and that was all it took!  I had to come in and write up my last blog (cool dad #2) while it was fresh in my mind.  (OH, for those wondering – the memory is great – only lasts about 5 minutes, but it is great! Lol)

Then I realized I left the water running in the strawberry plot – oops!  Oh well, been meaning to do that anyway.  The temps are still in the mid 80’s here during the day, and only dropping to around 40 at night (actually just before dawn), so they are safe with the flooding.

This weekend is supposed to be a bit cooler.  We have “volunteer” trees that have to come down, and some nasty rats that need some bubble gum!  I just hope my mind can stick to the task at hand?  Fall and Winter are my most favorite seasons simply because of all the delightful memories!  How about you?  Do you get carried away in the moment too?

dsc_0003  (Too many volunteers right on the fence line – both sides!)

dsc_0005   dsc_0004

dsc_0006

(You may not be able to tell from these pics, but each hill from the rats is about a foot tall!  They have even invaded our corn patch – jerks!)

THRILLED FINDING MY NEW GUEST!

Gardens and gardening is a never ending adventure for me.  Every time I go out to them, I find something wonderful and amazing.  Today is her day:

gardenspider-1

She is a common garden spider for out here.  The funny part is the first five years on our little piece of heaven; we did not see any of them?  Then, in the 6 year, they were everywhere.  We had a fun one that made a next on the old chicken shed.  The front of it was all chicken wire to let the sun in, and she found that to be a perfect spot for feeding.  We also have one of our well pumps right beside that spot.  Well, we would go to water the animals and turn on that pump, and she would spaz out. She was a massive predator!  The minute her web wiggled, even a tiny bit, she was all over it.  Most of the day she was very lazy and just hung out in the middle sunning herself.  But the first time I was trying to untangle the hose for the chicken water and splashed her web – I freaked out (my turn I guess, haha).  She came bolting across to where I hit her web, and I must have jumped back a foot at least!  They are not a small spider:

gardenspider-2

My fingers are right behind her in this shot, and she is not even full grown yet! Eeek!!  Her body alone gets about as big as a ping-pong ball, and those legs stretch out about three inches from that.  She actually has a pretty silver streaking going on, but I was at the wrong angle for the picture to properly show that.

Considering how aggressive she is toward bad bugs, how she doesn’t bother me if I don’t bother her, and I caught her eating a wasp – she is welcome to stay and call the greenhouse home!  Now I just need to remember that she is in there because this web is up as high as my head, and the place we turn on the swamp cooler pump is right behind her.  Would hate to not be paying attention and have her right on my face – double EEEK!!!  Happy gardening you all – and keep your heads up!
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ALL THIS IN JUST ONE MORNING?

Went to the greenhouse to water and check on things.  I’m pretty sure I have some Elves in there.  I go in one morning, and everything is still green and growing.  Then I go in the next morning and WOW!

I end up in there for about 2 hours, and this is only a part of what I got (ignore the onions – whole other story-darn chickens):

8-27 bounty 1 day

We are going to start (I say “start” because this will be an on-going process for the next several months) with our sauces.  With the variety of tomatoes that we have, it should be awesome!

The little green knobs in the plastic dish are our first real attempt at Mexican Gherkins (the fad now is calling them “Watermelon cucs” and putting them in their drinks?.).  They only get the size of your thumbnail and are really hard to spot on their massive tangled vines.  The variety of cherry tomatoes amazes me this year – especially since we didn’t plant any?!  They are all volunteers from the last year.

full size mexican gherkin    DSC_0011

(full-size Gherkin)                                                                       (mini tomato variety)

The flavors is what is getting me – SOO MANY!  Yellow, deep red, pink, orange, and my sister’s fav – the dark truffle (it’s the oval shaped one – they turn a deep reddish/black when they are at their peak!).  So, the bunch that you see in the top pic will be my breakfast and lunch (maybe I will pick some spinach to go with them – maybe not?!)  We share with family and friends as often as we can.  One friend came over and picked a ton (and amazingly we still have 50 tons left – yes 50?! Hee hee) and said she was going to eat them like popcorn while watching some movies – GREAT IDEA!

Farm fresh eggs pulled just this morning.  (3 chickens playing musical nesting box created this bunch)

Then I also cut some rosemary.  This is just a fraction of a fraction of what is growing in there.  I have two bushes that are about the size of a VW Bug vehicle – really!  They are HUGE.

I think the hardest part of gathering the fresh goodies is making it into the kitchen without eating them all.  Oh well, there will be more tomorrow – – – maayybee?!?

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“SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE” – remember the movie? Now this is scary stuff!

OK, now I’m gonna light some people up.  Maybe it is my age; maybe it is my experience, maybe it is just my love of movies?  When I think of the word “Soylent,” I remember a movie from the 70’s with Charlton Heston called Soylent Green (click here if you want to see a trailer-best part!).

Soylent Green movie poster

When it came out in 1973, it was a freaker.  What a great story line, creepy, but great!  Of course, about the same time, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes came out too (see the previous post) which was a really wild freaker movie.   The whole concept of screwing around with food started coming to light.  This, for me, was the first time I started taking an interest in what goes on (or into) with my food.  I was about 15 then, and we grew our own food on the farm.  Some things like sugar, coffee, flour we bought from the store.  But everything that was possible to grow in Wisconsin.  We did and then preserved it for the year to come.  We saved our own seeds, took our own cutting, and knew what we were eating.

Not anymore.  It’s a scary world of food out there now!  Hybrids, GMO’s, can’t save your own seeds because they won’t grow or because you may be stepping on some corporate’s toes.  REALLY??  How did we come to this?

A company has created a food and used the word Soylent in its title.  I don’t know if they are too young to connect with the old movie, or if they just thought this was a really good idea?  Either way, I just don’t know what to make of it.

They sent me a “request to follow” on tumbler.  Before I agree to any requests, I go and take a look at them.  Well, those of you that know me and know about our farming/gardening methods know that we are “natural” promoters.  We like to do things the normal, natural way with our gardens.  Pull our weeds by hand, use companion planting, save our own seeds, use natural pest control measures – no chemicals allowed here!  So for this company to want me to “follow” them is kind of stupid.  They have chosen to follow me, I’m sure, for marketing reasons.  Trying to tap into a bigger audience.  However, I am thinking that they did not read my fine print (which is actually normal size and ALLL over the place) on my/our decision to be natural in our methods.

They are pushing “Soylent” as a way to feed more people (hmm??).  How about if we teach more people how to grow their own?  Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, kind of thing.

scared fishNow, I’m all for live and let live; this is why I do not usually talk about this type of stuff (along with politics or religion), but they contacted me first.  So, they gave me the opportunity to dig into them (something I love doing – research!!).  They have some good products listed on the back of their bag:

soylent powder

HOWEVER, soy is one of their key ingredients.  As much as I love tofu, I also know that a majority of the crops are now grown using GMO seeds (Go here and check out the info for yourselves!).    So I either do not eat it or find something that is organically grown (even this I have issues with, but that’s another story).

So, unless there is some type of zombie apocalypse and I have no other choice to feed my family, I will not eat people, GMO’s, clones or any other type of un-natural type foods.

  • I will dig in my weedy dirt
  • Create my own compost to throw on my weedy dirt
  • Save my own seeds
  • Grow my own food
  • Process it in as many ways as possible to preserve the freshness
  • And enjoy the fruits of all my hard labor.

I also choose to do the following:

  • Share with my family
  • Share with our friends.
  • Teach others to grow this way
  • Help those that want to learn this method.
  • Encourage more to grow naturally

If you want to follow me, friend me, pin me and request me to do it back; you better have your ducks in a row because I will be digging!

ducks in a row

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INTERESTING LITTLE FACTOID

I love weather! I love watching in in real life, on TV, on my techno-gear or where ever.

• The movement of the clouds.
• Which direction the wind is coming from.
• Is there a storm blowing in the wind?
• Are we going to get hail?

These little questions and quirks are the things that keep me so interested in it. Some may say it is just because I am a farmer/gardener, or is it because a survived a tornado as a child, who knows, but I don’t think that is all there is to my interest.
As a kid (ok, did this earlier this summer with my grandson) I loved to lay back on the grass looking up at the clouds. We take turns trying to figure out what the cloud shapes were – turtle – dragon – butterfly – you name it.

clouds

Another part of my interest maybe that also, since I was a child, my mother always got the Farmers Almanac from our local feed store. Predictions for the coming year for weather, stars, when to plant and when not to. She would cling to that book all year long and base her decisions on it. (Please note, this is not a sales pitch, I am not getting paid by them to do this. I just happen to find it a great read, very interesting and wanted to share.)

2017_FAs_Slide

To this day, I still get it, and I buy the next years edition for our older sister as a Christmas present every year. I am also signed up for their monthly newsletter which is what brings me to this story. In this morning’s inbox, their latest delivery shares a secret – sort of. They wrote an article about how they determine next year’s weather – and it is not with the help of modern techno gadgets. It is base on a method that was developed in 1818 and has been used ever since – I FIND THIS AMAZING! All of our modern technology and they choose not to use it. So, if you are a fan of weather like I am, you may be interested in this article:

How Does The Almanac Predict The Weather?

Those of you that are farmers and/or gardeners should really love this! My older sister is not a farmer, and she can kill house plants – but she loves reading this book. It is not very big, but it’s always packed with useful (and some useless) information. There may even be those of you out there that have never heard of it or never read one? Please, go to the local library and check it out – you won’t regret it! I just believe that it is one of those bits of information in life that make it worth living. The fact that they are still around and still write in pretty much the same manner should also tell a person something.
Hope you take a moment from your busy daily grind to sit back and enjoy a bit of entertainment. Who knows, you may even learn something new?

DSC_0002 (2)

(This is our front yard pond with waterfall – total relaxation! Woo Hoo!!)

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QUOTE CHALLENGE DAY 2 – GROW OR DIE.

Grow or Die – this may sound a bit harsh, but it is what we live by on the farm.  Obtained it from our parents when we were kids growing up on an 80-acre farm in Wisconsin.  If any of you have been lengthy gardeners and/or farmers you may understand this.

“GROW OR DIE!”

4-25-16 onion plot

 

Now, the thing you have to realize on this is, that we say it with a very firm voice to everything on the farm!  There is no time or room for pleasantries, politeness, or pampering (although the last one wins out on occasion).

The funny thing about it – IT WORKS!?!

We have found that if you try to plant something and use too much T.L.C. – it fails.  Transplanting, seed starting, trimming – all of it gets attacked and told to either “Grow or Die!”  We don’t have time to fiddle around with “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” attitudes around here. (yes, I am LMAO while typing this, just cuz it’s true!)

(FYI – to add to your humor consideration, the pic above was my beautiful onion plot after I spent a  whole, hot day laying down newspaper, dragging over tons of our homemade compost and sticking my bulbs into it with appropriate spacing.  By the very next morning, the guineas and chickens had torn it to shreds.  LIFE LESSON # 5BILLION: Either fence it off well or put it in the greenhouse – duh! LMAO – they died – lol)

 

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Grandma, Why Do You Walk So Funny?

Out of the mouth of babes, Grandma, why do you walk funny? (It should be noted that he is now mimicking me – I want to growl, but started laughing instead – little jerk! LOL) Since he has ADHD, and since he thinks computer games are way better than gardening; I decided to show him in pictures:

This:

dried footer

Became this:

DSCF5135  DSCF5121

And now is this:

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This:

rasp before 6-5-16.jpg

Became this:

raspberry row after 6-4-16

This and so much more was all done with the help of things like this:

my R shoulder xray-after.jpg 

Several great doctors, modern technology, and some really strong metal and plastic parts (hope I don’t rust – hee hee).

Before the new body parts, I could not lift my right arm without my left arm’s help.  Both knees were sitting bone-on-bone (cartilage totally gone in both), and one foot had bones that shattered as my beautiful doctor tried to fix it (and NO – none of them were named – Frankenstein).  The other foot is yet to be determined, but it is useable on most days, so I’m ok for now.

On good days, I walk upright.  On fun days, I walk like the Hunchback of Notre Dame (of course, then I have to chase him around the yard yelling “Where’s my bell?  Give me my bell?” with a lisp of course.)

So, my answer to my grandson is – I HAVE EARNED IT!

My walk came hand-in-hand over time just like my wrinkles.  The real answer is: just too much fun growing up, so now I pay the piper.  With any luck, by the time everything gives out, I will have it all completely replaced and then have a great excuse for not knowing who that lady is in the mirror!  He is only seven, so he didn’t get the joke.  It was too hard to explain why I couldn’t stop laughing at this point, so I just tickled him for a while.

Then I proceed to tell him all about the reasons why Grandma is so silly all the time – but that is a whole other story.

goofy frankenstein

 

 
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