Monday, February 19, 2018

Rain and Snow... Truth or Lies?...

We're getting excited about a weather system headed our way... and hoping not to be fooled again.  SUPPOSEDLY 4-8 inches are heading our way.  Crossing fingers and toes and hoping that this is true.  Yeah, we've been fooled before, but I have a good feeling about this forecast.   



Yesterday, the girls had their bedding "plumped up" and their water fount cleaned and refilled, just in case it's too wet to get to them. 

Ha!  Just a joke; I'll still have to check on them.  They immediately started the "new straw dance" and dust flew, which is why the fount goes in much later.



Last night we had a spectacular sunset to herald the rain and snow.  My little camera just doesn't do justice to these pictures so I'll have to charge the good camera and then hope for another shot like this to appear.

I'm inside for the foreseeable future as the forecast rain arrived while I was typing.  It's smashing into the office windows and that's the sound of heaven to me.  I hope this moisture soaks in well and helps all the plants and trees I've been watering.  I still have high hopes for the Redbuds to make it.

I've decided on a few new plants to try this season.  ONE catalog caught my eye and I saw that a new bush bean is now out.  It's a haricot vert variety and something I've wanted to try.  Steve really likes the ones I've grown so I'll do them, too.  I also want to try an heirloom acorn squash along with my own saved seeds.  

Then, I'll start my seedlings (in April) and I'll pick up a few plants in the nurseries around town to round out the usual suspects in my garden.  I like it that they are grown up here, so they must be used to this altitude and weather...

... right?!...

... OK, heading outside... snow has started falling... whoopee!...



Thursday, February 15, 2018

Taxes Are So..... Taxing...

Nobody likes paying taxes but they are a necessity when states and countries need to be funded.  It would be nice if all "pork" and waste weren't parts of that funding.  Still, us "little people" are always happier if we get a break.  

(tax preparers... unsung heroes to us, and all those, who can't figure out what to do with the inches thick tax laws and find a way to get back the excess we MAY have paid.  Don't think that when you retire it becomes easier in this regard.  Yes, you've squirreled money away in your retirement fund and think you can take some out for purchases here and there.  Those disbursements come with taxes due, though, and figuring out THOSE is why you'll come to love your tax preparer) 

I bring this up because it was time for me to pull everything together and for us to head down our mountain to our tax preparer.  I keep tabs on everything and every mile we drive for covered deductions.  Buying the new truck was purposely bought in halves between December and January.  One way to spread the "income" we'd need to pay taxes on between two years.  It's something all retirees learn when taking money out of retirement accounts.  

Anyway, the drive down was full of some surprises with the weather.  Just 20 miles into the trip and we hit fog.  Always exciting.  Another few miles and it started snowing.  Then, it became a drizzling rain almost into the Valley of the Sun.  Drizzled there for most of the 24 hours we were there.  That's always a plus in my books and made the dreaded tax trip better.

So, taxes were done... had a nice early Valentine's dinner... slept a bit on the always strange mattress there... and headed back up.  Nice trip.  Now, we just wait until we have to retrieve those tax forms.

We always watch the news for weather while there and we were told to expect some snow on our return.  Yeah, I'd believe that when I'd see it!...


... coming up over the Rim...

... around Willow Springs...

... Forest Lakes...

OK, they were correct.  However, no snow in our neck of the woods.  I'm hoping our return trip to the valley produces the same results in precipitation.  Almost makes tax season bearable... ALMOST!...


    

Monday, February 12, 2018

Egg-xactly What I've Been Craving...

Still warm enough that the chickens are confused.  We're almost back up to full production of eggs; averaging 5 a day now.  Had so many on the counter that, instead of getting the other Egg Skelter© out, I decided to...


... make, and freeze, breakfast casseroles.  Also going to make one for tomorrow's breakfast.  I often make these for company when they are up and I suppose I miss them.  So, I'll have a few to tide me over between visitors.



The one for tomorrow is in the glass baking dish and I've added cheese to the top of it, with more during baking.  The frozen tins will not get cheese on top until later, when they are thawed for reheating.  

Now, to stow the freezer meals and put the glass one into the refrigerator overnight.  Of course, I make them in Steve and Gail sized meals.  The regular recipe calls for a 13 x 9 pan but we'd get sick of it before we ever ate that amount... even over a week's time.

                               *****************************

Recipe, just in case there are other casserole lover's out there...

1 pound chub breakfast sausage, fresh or thawed.
1 small can diced green chilies, or to taste
8 slices white bread (or favorite) torn into pieces
12 eggs, beaten
1 cup half-n-half
Salt and pepper, to taste (remembering that the sausage is salty)
2-3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (we like cheese, but you decide amount)
13 x 9 pan, greased
Time for it to sit

Brown sausage and remove excess grease. Stir in chilies.
Put white bread into pan.  Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups cheddar over bread.
Top cheese with sausage/chilies mix.
In large bowl, mix eggs and half-n-half.
Pour over casserole.
Top with cheese.
Refrigerate overnight.
In morning, remove from refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, watching for center to puff up.
         (high altitudes: add more time, but watch for over-browning)
Can top with extra cheese when it comes out, for gooeyness factor.

                           *******************************

The heat (or lack of cold) has made me worry about the new Redbud trees so they are still getting dampened every week to mimic snow.  I'm at my wits-end on what to do for them.  Never having the others make it has made me try just about anything to see these guys (girls) through until spring.  

Been dreaming about them flowering...  

... hope that isn't jinxing them.


* http://www.eggskelter.co.uk/   now available in the USA

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cats and Mags Galore...

Sounds like I'm going to talk about felines and gun gear, but NO!

The new seed and plant catalogs are really piling up around here.  Those companies have a fantasy world view of growing things up here.  They can be dangerously addictive to gardeners.  Beautiful colors in the pictures.  Wording like "easy to grow" and "practically grow themselves" and other glowing descriptions of how they'll do.

Yes, I've been suckered into those catalogs and their dreams.  Up here, I've found out that what I'd like, and what will grow, are two different things.  I'm only planting what I know will do well for me this year.  

My dreams aren't big... 
... lettuce for the whole summer... 
... broccoli enough for us and the chickens...
... tomatoes enough to make me sick of them...
... potatoes that make it through the summer rains...
... squash and pumpkins galore...
... strawberries that do SOMETHING... "sigh"... any to eat would be nice...

We're also getting a huge amount of magazine subscription forms.  People© magazine keeps trying to get me back, but they've got nothing interesting for me anymore.  I did succumb to GRIT©  and will give them another try.  Picked up a new magazine called The Farmhouse Movement© and I think I'll try them for a year (also added their blog to my list to the left).  We don't have money just to throw away, so downsizing recycled paper makes me feel lighter.  Besides, all that money left over will go to seeds that BETTER grow for me.

Now, what have we been up to?  Not much.  Steve has been back to work...


... on finishing the door jams in the kitchen.  He took a long break for the holidays, but it was time to finish ONE project (at least).  We'd bought a table saw for fast cuts, but it wouldn't work, so until it's returned for another, small projects will be done.  

I'm trying to get him to stop after this wall, until we can get the flooring replaced.  My thinking is that that work will go much faster if walls can sit on the new flooring and save us aggravation that'll happen if we do the floors after the walls are finished.  The installers won't have to be as precise along the walls if wood will eventually cover the gaps.  Makes sense... right?



Thought I'd add a picture of Ember.  She's intently watching birds outside most days.  I'm much better at watching her whereabouts after she got out and caught that bird.  I've threatened to paddle Steve because he forgets and leaves the door open while working.  I'm a little surprised she's not hiding.  During the day she's usually under the couch, or behind the stereo cabinet.  The lure of birds... and remembering her prowess... have changed her behavior.

So!  Not much else.  I've decided that we're going straight into spring.  Probably should start locating the growing table and lights.  Maybe it's time to make a few more tree guards for the Redbuds.  The potato bins will be needed back in the garden, but we'll still need to protect them from Ziva...

... that's assuming the trees make it to spring.  Not always a given...



Monday, February 5, 2018

Warm and Dry... Where Did Winter go?...

Today it was 68 in the garden at noon.  Much warmer than most February's we've had.   I'm revising my wish for more snow.  Let's just skip the remainder of winter and get spring here early.  That way I'd get a longer growing season and a better harvest.  Of course, that means I need to get off my hiney and get the hoops recovered with tulle and buy some new seeds.  

One minute..... OK, tulle ordered.  Trying white this year on some of the hoops to see which makes things grow better up here.  The black tulle warms the beds for faster growth.  I'm wondering if white will help when it gets really hot in late summer and will keep the lettuce going.  We'll see, and I'll advise.



I checked the strawberry bed for moisture levels again and added a bit of water.  Our little bit of snow didn't leave much moisture.  It seems that the temps have started the strawberry plants thinking it's already spring, as a few leaves are starting to appear in the straw.  I'm hoping to stall their growth by keeping them covered with the straw and plastic and we'll see how far I can get them into spring.


... cleaned out the coop...

... re-strawed the coop...

My plans for the deep pile method of coop-to-compost straw management have not worked out so well this year.  The straw just got yucky looking and adding more didn't seem the way to go.  So, the old made way for the new.  I did put the used straw into the compost area, but with no moisture around, it just sat there until the girls spread it all over the garden.  May have to rethink my garden compost needs this spring.



Almost to the end of pumpkin rinds for the girls.  Nuking the squash before freezing the flesh makes for soft and luscious treats for the girls.  I keep them in the refrigerator so they don't mold and just snip them into small pieces with scissors.  This picture has a monochromatic theme going with squash rinds, scrambled eggs and dry pumpkin seeds... 

... almost too pretty to feed to the girls, but having angry chickens is the perfect inspiration for scary dreams I'm NOT wanting...



Thursday, February 1, 2018

Just Lying Around Waiting For Spring...

There's really nothing much going on around the homestead.  Not expecting any snow, or even rain.  Can't really get any sprouting started this early, but that may change if spring temps come early.  NOOOO!!  We could get started on putting new tulle on the hoops, but... nah!  Not in the mood now.



Ziva spends most of her time lying in the sun on the east side of the house.  The snow went and the ground has long dried so I guess she's happy there.

She doesn't have much to do but go on coyote patrols.  They are ever more active at night and the howls drive her crazy.  My chickens are safe from them but I do wonder about the neighbor who free-ranges his.  

While doing the blog there arose such a clatter... I left my computer so see what was the matter...



Ziva had treed a cat.  You'd have thought she'd seen a squirrel.  They usually get that loud response.  No, just a sweet looking little cat.  Even stranger, she'd treed the cat on the other side of the fence and on the neighbors property.



I guess it was so scared that it didn't realize she couldn't get to it.  Pulled Ziva away and got her back inside.  Now, I have a dilemma,... 

... she gets a piece of hotdog for treeing feral cats on the property.  Does she get some for treeing a cat on another's property?  

... Yep!...