Monday, June 26, 2017

Covering all the angles....

We have finished most of the hoops with the summer-weight cloth to keep bugs out.  Trying to be ready for the beatles that'll be coming.


Showing the hoops closed over the green beans, lettuce, spinach and beets. In the middle of this bed there is the square of zucchini which is just ringed in cloth with the top open. I'm hoping it fools the squirrels when they are looking to eat. I have to leave it open for pollinating of the zucchini.



The red kale is filling the beds and the girls are filling their bellies.  It's been a big hit.  Behind these plants (but not visible) are the dwarf blue kale plants. Much smaller but just as big a hit with the hens.



The strawberries in their bed.  They are producing but the fruit is tiny.  It IS the first of the berries so I'm holding judgement until I see if later fruit are bigger.


The inside of the green beans, spinach and beet bed.  I didn't know how the plants in all the beds would like being covered with cloth, but they all seemed to have had a surge in their growth.  Maybe the slight decrease in light lead to a decrease in heat.  Anyway, all the plants seem to be giving me the big thumbs-up.  

I've also backed off the daily watering and will do it every-other-day. The covers are making the water go further.



A close up of one bean plant.  Flowers are out so planning bean side-dishes.

The broccolis are getting some big heads so I may need to harvest some of them soon.  There are 14 broccoli plants so we will be freezing some, too. The girls are doing their part by eating the leaves of everything, but not parsley, thyme and tomatoes.  Wonder why they don't like them. 



This is a picture from afternoon yesterday.  Lots of thunder rumbling around and about 4:00 PM the rains came.  

Steve and I ran out to enjoy it but couldn't get Ziva to join us.  What is with this dog and water?  Doesn't she know that that is what Arizonans do?  We stand in the rain.  I guess it's a tradition because it's so rare.  

Anyway, had the BEST night and even needed a blanket... Woo Hoo!!...



Thursday, June 22, 2017

♫ "Looks Like We Made It"© ♫...

Barry Manilow* got that right.  Setting a record seemed to be a certainty but it wasn't meant to be.  Yep, no "all time" heat record on Tuesday and Arizona is still here. "Course, they are setting daily records in the Valley of the Sun.

Arizonans are hating this heat and hibernating under the AC, if it's available. It isn't available in our house, which may have to change sometime soon.  I moved to the mountains for cool temps and I'm feeling a little steamed about the heat these last few days.

Had visitors for an overnight when our youngest, and his friend Mojgan, came up to see us in the hope that it was cooler up here.  Sadly, not by much. They helped us get some garden hoops covered which was going to be a very hard job for us two.


We needed to do the work out of the winds, because, yeah, there were winds but they were hot and dry.  Working with fine cloth required doing it out of those winds.  Steve'd bought a cooler from our oldest son and everyone thought it a good idea to fire that baby up to cool the garage for the work.  
It was heavenly.



Had to do some seaming with duct tape as the hoops were larger than they seemed.  Here we are seaming for the largest hoop and all hands were needed. Had to turn the cooler away for a few minutes to do it and that made us doubly fast about it.



This is one of the smaller hoops.  We'd laid the cloth over it and then it was time for binder clips (the BEST friends of the gardener).  Another item we should buy stock in.  Turned out that we didn't have enough but we did get three hoops covered.  Time for another Walmart* run.

I thought the heat would've done in my garden, but most things seem to be handling it well.  The stepped-up watering is probably mostly responsible for that.


My first tomato to show up.  After the disastrous tomato season of 2016 this may be a good sign of things to come?  Can't predict by just one tomato, but I'm hoping for a good harvest.



The butterhead lettuce and the red romaine are doing really well.  My spinach is also in and is now added to our nightly salads.  I'm hoping the covered hoops will spare the lettuces from this heat, which is their bane.

The kids are safely back in their valley ovens, and we are hibernating under fans with all windows and doors covered...

... come on October...


*“I have not received, nor expect to receive, any compensation for items mentioned in the blog that I like, or may suggest to the viewers.  The items are just something that works/worked for me.  The Irish Lady.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hell hath no fury... like an Arizona summer...

It's a good thing the post goes out today as we may be gone tomorrow.  We thought we'd escaped the summer temps of the valley, but it seems we were found.  And possibly baked.  

There may be no Arizona tomorrow, either. Predictions are for 121 on Tuesday and the possibility that we set a new record if it passes 122 degrees. Watch the news in case a fireball erupts and the Valley ceases to exist. 

Yeah, right!  Death Valley is hotter than that most of the summer and other countries hit higher temps and are still here.  But, it's a thought.

Anyway, we are on fire watch, in and out of the garden.  We've had 2 more forest fires near us since the last time I mentioned one and the heat is threatening to set my produce (and chickens) ablaze.  We get to see a flurry of helicopters overhead and a flurry of hens pecking at frozen fruit in ice cubes in the garden.  Had to step up the watering to keep the greens alive and just waiting for some rain.  And waiting.  And waiting.


The potatoes are growing like weeds, or like potatoes.  I've decided not to add anymore dirt and to let them go until they are ready for harvest.  They've needed more water too as the temps have risen.  Growing in raised bins has it's downfalls, but I still think it's going to be the way to go.



Steve added more dirt to the tree wells for the aspen.  They'd worn away over the years and the wells really need to hold water in this heat.  Now I can really soak them.



He also added the door knobs to the pantry and here he's sawing off the overly-long screws.  We had bought plastic covers for the screw posts to keep us safe from any pokes, but the screws still needed some shaving off.



Then, it was time to get everything from the old pantry, and extra stuff from the closet, into the new pantry.  I'm so glad I have my dining area back and everything out of sight.



Staged the top of the pantry with my metal chickens and some plants.  Still going to buy a few more shelves for the unit but what a joy it is.  We are so happy to be done with this.  

Took Steve out for Father's Day but I think he also deserves a dinner out for all this work...



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Soft-boiled and hard-boiled eggs...

I am now to the point of gardening until noon.  Afterwards, it's so hot here that I find myself swaying and making no sense.  I can go back out after 6 PM when the sun's rays are only slightly making it through the tall pines.  It's making me anticipate July when the monsoon gets here.  Things cool off in the afternoons then.

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

Just as we thought the mama Junco was forever gone, she showed up twice. She went into the nest but didn't stay.  I think she's in mourning.  It made us decide to remove the nest and check on the eggs, as they should've hatched a while ago.  With daily temps close to 100, they wouldn't even make it if they did hatch.  The 160 degrees inside the greenhouse would make that impossible.


We opened the tomato planter and there were 5 eggs, not the 3 we could see.



Steve removed one and we opened it.  I think they "died" soon after being laid as the heat was so intense.  If they'd grown anything at all I would've been surprised.  After opening it... there was nothing.  Close to a slightly soft-boiled consistency.  No growth of anything, so they didn't make it far.  I hope mama goes on to many more families, but this was a sad end.



It was finally time to start harvesting the Red Russian kale that was put in for the girls.  It's frillier that I expected, but pretty at the same time.  Seems very fragile, too.


Put some into the morning treat and the girls seemed to love it.  A lot of pushing and shoving going on over the bowl.



The butterheads are ready for harvest.  I also expect to get the red romaine out over the next few weeks.  I love the lettuces when they come in, but no matter how hard I try to space them out over the summer, they all come in at once.  A frenzy of salads are about to come on.



This butterhead is the star of tonight's dinner salad.  Grilled chicken breast, lettuces, strawberries, pecans, green onions, carrots, dried cherries, broccoli, hard-boiled eggs, sunflower seeds and blue cheese dressing.  Yum!  Only the lettuce and eggs homegrown, but it's a start.  The dressing is my mom's recipe. So easy to make yet so good to eat.  I've made Steve a convert, too...

... not many other conversions from before marriage, but I'll take it...



Monday, June 12, 2017

♫"Somewhere over the rainbow"♫.... uh, dust devil...

We're battling 50-60 MPH winds up here and WOW!  I was going to ask Steve for a harness and some line to keep me from blowing away.  Yeah, I know I weigh more than those winds could actually blow AWAY and that's my heart-break, but the gusts would move me 5 feet.  It'd be a great story.  As a kid I had those dreams where I'd float up and skim trees and today I was being blown all over the garden.  Seemed a legit (albeit slim) fear... HA!

Not sure what's happened but we haven't seen the little Dark-eyed Junco mama for days.  The unhatched eggs are still in the tomato hanger.  We've had at least one day of 100.9 degrees in the garden so it must've been 160 in there.  I wonder if she was baked out of the greenhouse or if the heat killed the eggs and she knows it.  I'm going to watch for a few more days to see what happens but it seems to be a sad ending to this clutch.

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


We'd been out trying to work in the garden but the wind made some of our plans go by the wayside. We WERE going to get tulle and suncloth up but there's no way to hold onto it today.  I also kept getting caught on the new gate opening after we moved the fence and the wind made it especially scary today, so Steve realigned it for me.  Now I can get through without leaving some part of my clothing on the wire.

An aside on clothing for the garden... WEAR YOUR WORST CLOTHES!  I toggle between 3 tops that are faded, holey and ripped.  My pants aren't much better.  I don't retire anything until it's to the indecent stage.  I'm so out of touch with them that Steve sometimes has to mention when my stuff gets to indecent, even though it's just the 2 of us here.  I do "freshen up" when we have visitors and head back to holey afterwards.  It's about time to order some new tops as we'll have the grandkids here this summer and I must set a non-scary example.


Steve's putting duct tape on the tomato bed posts here so the tulle could go on and not rip right away.  This partly showed in the last post but this shows a bit more.


The tulle is on but today it's hardly staying put.  I have a bungee cord and a bunch of clothespins trying to help in the endeavor.  I think it's about time we buy stock in clothespin manufacturer's.  We may be single handedly keeping their profits up.



Our first strawberries have shown up, but they are small.  It's our first year with June bearing berries and I wonder how they'll produce.  This dream of mine is taking more work than I thought it would and I'll know this fall if I'm keeping them.

I'm inside now as I couldn't take another mouthful of blowing dirt.  I guess I can find something to clean inside before the guests come.  Not sure why, as the dust is also percolating through the windows and doors.  As they say...

... dust, it's what gives our home a warm, fuzzy feeling...



Thursday, June 8, 2017

... fool me twice, shame on me....

Monday evening I noticed a new hole in the side plastic of one potato bin. Since the fence has been up I figured it wasn't a chicken, so maybe a squirrel had visited?  

I watered and sat for a while and had my explanation given to me. Sunny (devil chicken #1) wandered over to the fence, pushed her weight against it, poked head through and started enlarging said hole.  Ah HA!  Busted!  Sin and sinner, all in one shot.

Put them away for the night, but knew there was work to do.




I pulled some scrap pieces of rabbit fence out and zip-tied sections onto the potato bin fence, thinking "now let her try her devil ways."  I have to say I probably was a little cocky thinking I actually knew something.

Tuesday I went out to the garden to get started on the daily chores.  I'm a late starter so it wasn't until 10:30 AM.  Steve gets up early and lets the hens out, usually around 8:00 AM.  So, I walked out and counted 5 hens waiting at the gate for me.  They fight to be the 1st one there so I wondered where the 6th one was.  Checking the garden and yup, there she is... INSIDE the potato fence.

It was Runt (devil chicken #6) and I had a riddle to solve.  How did she get in there?  The webbing was up and no holes in the fence.  I let her join the others and started on a hunt.  She was in the upper beds at some point because there were droppings all around that area.  She seems to have poked a hole into the west-most trough, too.  The gate was closed, so how?  

I never saw how she did it but it seemed she must've been on a raised bed and flew over.  No other explanation.  They can all fly some, even with clipped wings and there was no other way in.  What to do?

Wednesday, while sitting and contemplating new plans for the garden, it hit me. I'll be needing to add tulle to the hoops to keep the beatles out.  After spending the time to do all that work, the chickens will undo it by pecking holes in the tulle.  How do I keep the chickens from destroying all our work?

"Steve!  We need to fence the chickens out of the garden.  How about we take all the fences in the separate garden areas and move them?"  I received the BIGGEST eye-roll.  But, we did just that and all in one day.  I'm very proud of us.


We pulled out posts and moved the potato fence 1st...
... the timeout fence is also used here...

... the upper bed's fence and gate were moved and a
new line set.  Steve's cutting into the berm...

... we will need a new axe blade after hitting lots of rocks...

So, the chickens can get into their coop, can go all around the run and can use the front area of the garden, but can't get to the beds at all.  Tulle and potato problems solved.  I'll also be pulling the rabbit fencing off the strawberry beds which will make working on them less painful.  I was always getting pricked by lifting the hoop.

I'm feeling pretty smug right now...

... but I'm sure there is devious planning going on in the coop... 

... I can almost hear it....