Monday, May 21, 2018

Flats, Not Just For Vehicles Anymore...

I'd taken the girls their morning treat today and was hoping they'd like...

... their surprise of fish and fries along with their usual greens and carrots.  I usually drop off the food, fill their outside water bowl and then sit for a few minutes to watch the feeding frenzy.

You'd think they'd like me after all I do for them, but I'm not sure about their feelings.  You see, I suffered some "flat tires" while in the garden today.  Shoe trouble has been coming on for awhile and I knew these shoes were bad, but it finally hit mass failure.    

While sitting with the chickens today, I noticed my shoes were getting more attention than normal.  The girls figured out how to get the colored pink stripes out of the soles.

This caused the soles to compact down and made my normal drunken-like staggering go into critical boat-in-a-storm-like staggering.  It was very hard to navigate the garden when I kept listing to the right.  Not to the point of walking in circles, but close to it.  I'm adding this act of sabotage to my growing list of why I should give up chicken raising.

Luckily, I keep all my old garden-worthy shoes in the closet for just such a need.  This pair may not last long either, but they went into service.  After trying them on I found that some of the stitching had pulled out and some holes had appeared, so I got my water-resistant tape out and taped them good.  There was a fissure in one inside footbed so put some tape there, too.  Let's see how long they last, shall we?


                   Now, back to the garden and what's been going on...

A couple days ago, I made the trip into town to my favorite nursery.  None of the stores here had the selection of plants I wanted to get.  Something about us being in the "area of frost until June" thing and I was "out of luck there" thing.  

Anyway, I came back with 18 broccoli, a tomato and 3 cucumber plants.  They are going through their transition from greenhouse-to-garden conditioning.  I take them out during the day and back inside at night.  

Can't wait for this to be done and the planting to begin...

... as my OCD is making me itch to get them into the dirt...  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Another Moment Of Silence, Please.....

Steve found a sad surprise Wednesday morning when he went to let the chickens out.  Red had passed during the night.  She'd been acting strangely for a few days, like not wanting her nightly seeds, but I didn't expect this.

After having all the shell-less and membrane-less eggs, she'd totally stopped laying.  Last week she also started showing a few rooster-like signs.  She'd crow differently, she didn't hang with the other girls and the strutting about made me think she had some hormonal issues.  I've read about hens "changing" to roosters so I thought that was happening.  

Now, it was probably a tumor or another disease confusing her hormones.  I thought about opening her up to see, but decided that was gross.  Anyway, we buried her under the same pine in the garden that our first loss was buried under.  Hopefully, that pine benefits and lives a nice long life shading the girls.

I think we may have lost two of the three aspens we've babied for the last few years.  Only the harbinger aspen has leafed out.  The other two look dead next to it.  They both had put out the beginnings of leaf buds but they didn't go any further.  I've given them extra water to see if they are just having a late start, but it's not looking good.  

We've gotten a start on getting the blueberry beds ready for the summer and the rush of beetles I'm expecting.  Steve has replaced the wood cross beams with metal conduit (his favorite material of late).  They are wired on and ready for tulle when these awful winds stop.  Not going to try fighting "spider webs" blowing almost invisibly around while my "naughty" list for swearing lengthens (sorry Mom).

Putting this closeup on so you can see the differences in the two blueberry genus'.  The Patriot (above) are living up to their name.  They are strong, dependable and producing.

This picture shows the Northland.  Wow, sad!  Two of the plants have a couple leaves trying to unfurl.  One is putting new growth up from the ground but the branches seem dry and shriveled.  I really hope they are also just late bloomer's.  

Next, we cover the Patriots first and if anything happens with the Northlands, then they'll get covered.  Of course, covering any of them will depend on the winds in the next few days.  I believe the beetles arrived around June 1st last year, so I still have some time.  Now, Mother Nature needs to cooperate.

... hear that, Mother?...

Monday, May 14, 2018

... And... We're OFF!!...

We're in the middle of a windstorm which the "powers that be" said we were done with.  It has been a bad week for winds and the results are 6 fires going on around us.  Most are far enough away to not worry us much, but this doesn't make us feel very safe, either.  They are foretelling more winds on Thursday... YUCK! 

The garden is growing like gangbusters.  Every seed has sprouted EXCEPT for the cucumbers.  I even have carrots up, which is a shocker.  

Carrots are notorious in my garden for being bad at sprouting.  I think the reason for this growth is the "new" to me mulch.  I've followed directions with the carrots for years.  I kept them damp and put a board over them to keep them in the dark.  DIDN'T WORK well in prior years.  Those that made it up were thin, gangly and few and far between.  This year, I put the seeds in the bed and covered them with the pine needles.  Guess that the needles blocked out much of the light along with keeping the moisture in.  They are up and pushing through the needles now.  Shocked is my word for that.

My strawberries are doing well and flowering.  Only one plant died during the winter.  Very acceptable odds for these mountains.  I hope they remember that this is their "make or break" year.  I need to see many berries make it this year or they are gone come fall.

... spinach and one zucchini plant. 
Waiting for the other to appear...

... pumpkins...

The other half of the pumpkin bed is an acorn squash heirloom.  They just broke through the surface.  This bed is going to be a bit tricky as I only have so much room.  I'm hoping to train the plants into circling the bed so they stay up and out of harm's way (meaning the squirrel's and rabbit's reach).  I know at some point they'll be too big for the hoop to stay over them so the corralled squash will need protection from the beetles and birds, too.  I hope I can get tulle over the whole lot.  I guess only time will tell.

I will probably be harvesting leaf lettuce next week.  The third planting is in there and they are doing well.  Can't wait for the grilled chicken salads to start soon.

If I don't see any growth happening with the cucumbers I will be heading for town and buying some.  I hope I don't have to as I was really hoping the genus I bought would grow.  I still need broccoli plants.  I'll decide by mid-week on what's going to happen and do the shopping then.

Steve's taken a break from the garden to play with his trucks, but I hope he gets the work gene to rev up again...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Think Summer Is Officially Here...

Something about the weather in the mountains always has me stumped.  HOW do we go from snow to heat in the space of a few days?  It's an enigma for sure.  

I was worried about the cold killing my plants last week and now I'm worried about the heat taking Steve out.  We hit 95 degrees in the open garden and that usually means all work stops until the next morning.  It didn't.

He's been out working on "better plans" he has for the area around the upper beds.  My stumbling around that area was the impetus to those plans, but I really was OK with that area.  I just basically stayed away from the more dangerous areas up there and did my work from the safer areas.

So, here he is cutting new "flooring" for the most-northern area of those beds so I have a flat area that drains water well.

Here is a pic of the railroad ties being fitted into the area.  After much rearranging, he drilled holes for rebar.

He topped off the ties with cinders which we'll work into the cracks.  He hopes this drains well and provided sturdy support for his unsturdy wife.

This is where major problems started.  NOW he doesn't like the corrugated tin support he put in to keep the upper bed in place.  He worries I'll cut myself.  Haven't done so and not planning to.  Still, this required him to get more railroad ties and rebar.  It's like he's looking for more work, or something!

I decided to go with him after he got the 5 ton warmed up and... we were off.  Ha!  Yep, we're off!!

Loading went easier with me out of the way.  Bought enough ties for this plan of his and rebar to hold it into place.  Really hoping this is the last major job he does in the garden.

More pictures to come of the "new and improved" work still going on...

Monday, May 7, 2018

Come On Snow... Time To GO!!!...

Well, I was prepared for bad weather and looking at these pictures, it came...

... I mean LOOK at all this snow!!  OK, it's a joke, that's just the garden cloth over everything.  Had you for a minute, though... right?!

This is actually what showed up.  Barely enough to coat the tulle with some flakes and rain.  I'm very thankful for that as I didn't want any dead plants.

This is about the only accumulation that I could find and it wasn't much.

The plants, including these pumpkins above, came through with flying colors.  This isn't always the case though.  I've covered plants during late snow storms and I've not had this good luck.  I have to say that it's probably not that I'm a great farmer.  I've blown it plenty.  I'm giving the nod to the pine needles.  

They seem to have added just the slightest bit of extra warmth and that made all the difference.  Excuse me while I thunk my noggin again.  They've been there ALL this time and I can't believe I hadn't used them extensively before.  

So, the snows (ha!) have come and gone and we are back at working the garden.  I've learned a few more lessons here and will leave the cloths around the garden until sometime in June, when the chances of more bad weather will lessen.  

Waiting for another week before I take a chance on buying my broccoli plants and getting them set for the season.  They like cooler weather but I don't like killing plants, so I'm giving it until warmer weather comes.

Steve is starting on his chores involving the railroad ties so that'll be fun to watch.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Beep, Beep... Backing Up A Bit...

If you remember the post from April 16th, we'd finally gotten the upper bed hoops done, foamed and tied to the "T" posts to keep the hoops on the beds.  Well, we've since gone back and refined them.  The rails of the hoops barely fit on the block tops and tying them to the posts didn't always keep them securely on top.  Winds only had to blow a smidge and they moved over an edge.  So...

... we needed a cure.  First thing was to shorten the hoops 2 inches in length and width.  Here Steve's cutting the long sides down.  The problem was we needed to undo the wires, remove the foam, slip back the tulle, unhook the bird netting (harder than it should've been) and unscrew the connectors.  I felt like we were definitely moving backwards instead of forwards.

Then, the wire fencing was too long.  Here he's re-wiring the fence to the conduit after the shortening surgery.   A hammer was then used to pound the excess fence over the new placement of the end conduit pipe and reattach the wire, netting, tulle and now-shortened foam.  WHEW! 

So, there is now some wiggle-room on the bed tops AND, instead of ties at opposite corners, ALL corners are tied to "T" posts.  Before tying the new-and-improved hoops down, I added pine needles into them.  Planting was about to start.  

(note to self... if I make another raised bed it will be wide enough for the hoop to fit inside on the dirt, like the other beds. NOT going through this again)

Noticed a problem I hadn't thought of when trying to open the hoops wide for the planting of the kale.  One opens well because it's got nothing near it to interfere.  The west one (dark tulle) hits the garden fence and that seriously restricts opening it for easy planting.

I could sit on the block of the white hoop and easily plant the seeds.  I have to take my hat off and kneel on the dirt to get far enough into the dark hoop to plant.  This may cause some problems in the future, but for this year it was manageable.  

Afterwards, there was the tying of all eight corners and looping rope over the hoops and securing them.  I won't need to do anything now except water through the tulle and wait for harvesting.

Now, moving forward in real time...  

The winds have returned with fury and we've had rain and snow pellets.  Nothing like I was expecting though.  We have fires on both horizons again, due to those winds and careless people and the snow and rain doesn't seem to be enough to have any impact on them.

Everything is covered in the beds where green was showing and I hope when this weather is over that I'll still see it growing strong.  Not going to uncover stuff until the warmth returns.

Time to just sit back, have hot chocolate and set our lives on cruise...