Monday, April 13, 2015

Harvest Monday 4.13.15




Figured I would let the pictures do the talking. This weeks harvest has consisted mainly of blueberries, potatoes and snap peas. Unfortunately I forgot to snap a picture of one of my days normal harvest because fortunately I had something better to take a picture of. The FIRST tomato of the season!!! Of course it is absolutely beautiful, but it is also rather tiny. A little 1.25oz single bite. 
You should feel rather happy to see this gem. It is completely amazing that it managed to come inside! ;-)

Don't forget to check out Daphne's Dandelions to see what is being harvested all over the world!

See you soon!

Barbie~ 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday mornings



See you soon!

Barbie~
Sent from my iPhoneThis is what my Saturday mornings look like for the past 6 months.

Seems to me this is just not a great way to spend my mornings as summer heats up. Coffee and humidity are not meant to be mixed like this. Besides its cutting into my yard sale time. ��

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sprung

It's no Spring here. It's Sprung. Spring only lasts a week or two where our temperatures go hot and cold. We are now in the season that feels like summer but not quite as humid.

Oh, don't get me wrong the humidity is still 70+% but it's not 100% where the windows cry because they have to hold back all that moisture.


The temps have been absolutely fantastic, to me at least. I love it when I am hot in the sun and perfectly comfortable in the shade. Then again perfectly comfortable to me is over 80* normally closer to 85* :-)

The trees are producing tons of fruit this year. The squirrels have once again eliminated a good half of my peaches, but we are capturing them one by one and soon we won't have to worry about them for a while.





















The avocados are loaded. OK - well 2 of the 4 trees are. I've decided 1 tree is history. It's coming out this month as a potential transplant or I'm taking the axe to it. Either way it's scrawny booty is outta there! 1 has until next year to produce for me or it too will be gone. I'm fine with keeping 2 avocado trees. I don't think we could ever possibly eat all the fruit by ourselves from now on. Even with the blossoms being frozen back this year it still looks like it will be a good harvest!


Up in Alabama the fruit trees were blooming just as fast as they could. The plums have just started breaking dormancy, but the peaches and apples were well on their way.

The blossoms also got hit by a hard freeze so we will cross our fingers for just a couple fruit this year. The trees are only in the ground for their second year after all and I couldn't ask for much more than that. I will however be more careful next time and not have to transplant them. It looks like all but one tree recovered from the transplant and with the rain they've gotten this past few weeks it may have decided to come back to life. We'll find out in a few weeks.

I've also been doing some grafting around here as well. I grafted some of the Granny Smith apple branches to my apple tree here to hopefully be able to cross pollinate all on one tree. Time will tell if that worked. I also grafted some Green Gage plum scions (thanks Daphne!) onto the plum I have at home as well. It has never born fruit even though it is 7 years old. It flowers magnificently but fruit never sets. I know when I bought it I was told it was self pollinating, but apparently it was either a different variety or the information was wrong. Either way. If it doesn't set fruit next year it, too will be gone.

One of my peach trees is in serious condition. It's got moss growing on it suddenly and I don't mean Spanish moss. It's not leafing out well and not looking good overall. I may end up top grafting that this fall if these few experimental grafts take off for me.

Always something, right?

See you soon!

Barbie~




Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Uh- Yeah. SO this happened.

Part of why I've been so busy and WANTING to post about it, just not getting around to it?

Because this happened:

Oh so cute and fluffy. They've been around a couple weeks already and they've outgrown the little tub. That happened on week 2.

Week 2 also saw that all of them had wing feathers and the down markings are fading here and there. Still awfully cute though.




Now week 3 and they are beginning to get in their tail feathers and they are FLYING. Not far, but flying none-the-less. Especially to the top of the water canister. They love getting up higher than the other chicks and being the one looking down. Of course the dynamics insist that the chick on top gets knocked down by another occasionally and so on and so forth.


So, introductions....




This is Bunny. The coloration of it's down was all rabbit colored and mottled. Grays, tans, a little peach, BEAUTIFUL little thing. The feathers so far are lavender, grey, white and lightly tinted with gold.

This one is supposed to be an Easter Egger but has no promise for muff or beard development as of yet.
 S/he also tends to hop around a lot. So Bunny will probably stick as a name.

This chick is probably the most independent, but still enjoys a good snuggle. I think it will also be the first to spend the entire day outside by itself. (Safely enclosed in a cage of course)





Speckles, dotty, whatever is on the left.
This is our other Easter Egger, She does have wonderful ear muffs and shows promise of a small beard as well. This ones name started as Speckles, changed to Dotty, then.... well I don't think it's settled just yet.

 


This ones adult coloration is changing rapidly. red/gold with black circles on its feathers. It will be interesting to watch it develop. Just in the few days since I took these pictures the color pattern has changed.

Below are the two Brahmas. A light Brahma (Yellow chick) who's name is Fluffy. This one's name may be changed to Angel as I've caught the kids calling it that a couple times.

 




The black one in the back of the above photo is our dark Brahma. I've nicknamed this one PJ. It never really had a name, but always looks so scraggly, disheveled and the feathers on it's feet remind me of bedroom slippers. I'll have to get a better picture of that though because as soon as I pick it up it sits down. LOL


We are pretty well settled on at least one of these 4 being a roo. It's just a roll of the dice and even though all of them were sold to us a pullets (hens) it's a 10 to 1 chance of a boy from the breeder, and of course then you have the people who let their kids pick up the chicks and if they put it in the wrong box...well lets just say that I've found a 50/50 chance is normal hatch rates so anything better than that and you are lucky!

Only good news there is that if we have any roos it will make deciding who is staying and who is going much easier. No boys here, and I can't keep 4 more chickens...no way I could stay under the radar then!

So these have kept me busy beyond all belief but then this also happened....

Oh Boy...

As if I didn't have enough going on. She's sitting on 5 eggs. I didn't want her to have more than that. 1 has quit developing around day 6 or 7. So we have a chance at 4 ducklings. I'll keep you posted on that. Due date for hatching is around April 15th, So I'm thinking of duckling names like Uncle, Sam, Bill, Dollar, etc. Unfortunately those sound mostly male so maybe I should rethink that.

Anyone need a duckling? These ducks are absolutely gorgeous, and from what I understand good tasting, too. I can tell you this girl of mine laid an egg every single day from 22 weeks until she turned 1 year old, and then she promptly decided to sit. Even as a broody she's sweet as all get out. I can move her off the eggs and while the drake Swayze will come after me, he doesn't hurt me either.  <3 What a lovely breed. But, living on a postage stamp in an HOA means no more ducks for me...unless someone wants to trade a Welsh Harlequin baby or maybe 4 babies for a muscovy hen. Or even muscovy ducklings. I'm also willing to raise the ducklings for meat if you will come pick them up and do the butchering yourself. LOL

Nothing like Spring, huh? Babies everywhere. Good thing it's not contagious!

See you soon.

Barbie~



Monday, April 6, 2015

Harvest Monday 4.6.2015

Oh for all that I am - mostly I am forgetful...I can't believe I haven't posted lately. We have been SO busy with so many different things.
But lets start this with what I am here for... HARVEST MONDAY! don't forget to get over to Daphne's Dandelions for the lo-down on what is being harvested all over.

This week I still didn't take very many pictures, but I do have one good one to share at least and it will give you an idea of what's been eaten, harvested, and stored lately.


It may look rather small but it's several pounds of carrots, several pounds of greens and the days picking of strawberries and blueberries.

Most of the carrots and berries just don't make it inside but this day I pulled more than normal as I needed space for the smaller carrots to start putting on some girth. It's getting hot every day and I would like to eat them before they all turn bitter.

Not shown is the head of cabbage and a few potatoes that I pulled as well. The vast majority of the cool weather crops are torn out and other than the rest of the baby carrots, some snap peas/snowpeas and potatoes we are switched to summer crops. 
The tomatoes are beginning to set fruit already! The green beans are giving me a few each day as well. Unfortunately those are destined to be ripped out this week as well. They are the fall sowing and this second crop (While great to have) is much smaller. I think new plants would be far more productive. The single eggplant is showing signs that it will flower soon and the cucumber and watermelon(WOW should have started those sooner) are on their first set of leaves. Okra is 6" tall and growing FAST now as well. 
The berries are doing fantastic. Once it hits 90* they will stop altogether and just like that berry season will be over. SO far we've gotten about 3 pounds of blueberries and it looks like there is just as much left to pick. :-)

Ah, the sunshine and warm weather has been fantastic for my soul, but my muscles are not as happy. It's funny how you don't realize in the summer how much you use those muscles, but when you haven't been digging in your garden for months over the winter, your body will remind you that you should have had some other form of exercise!

It hurts so good.

See you soon! (With lots of updates)

Barbie~

Monday, March 23, 2015

Harvest Monday 3.23.15













It's Harvest Monday again! This weeks harvest has come in little bitty spurts. Just a handful of each thing each day. A few green beans, potatoes, snow peas and a few handfuls of the seasons first blueberries too!

Barbie~

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Natural Yard Destruction

Yep. Nice title huh? Maybe it should say "Yard Destruction and those darn DUCKS!"

So by now you've guessed what this is really about. The ducks have started getting into my garden and flattening a few things, and flat out eating others. Turns out like me, they are partial to arugula. Shame that, 'cause this momma don't like to share her arugula. It's hard to grow here and when 2 ducks eat it all down to the ground in 1 day it tends to make me...twitchy.

I also found holes in the yard. It looks like someone took a small shovel and just dug it down once and left it. Irritating. Especially since it's winter and the grass isn't actively growing much if at all. So now the little holes will be there for another month until the grasses break dormancy.


These holes wouldn't be so bad if there were just a couple around the yard. But being bill shaped and about the depth and width of what a duck would create when dabbling? Grrr....all over the back yard no less. 

So I penned the ducks up and quit letting them out all weekend. Now they can just stay in their pen. It's plenty spacious enough. While I'm not heartless, confinement is typical for domesticated animals in general and certainly my yard will be healthier for it.

After 4 days of being penned up the weekend rolls around again and I decided while I was working outside I would let them have a little free time.  I usually let the chickens free range at the same time when I'm around and on the way to the chicken pen...guess what I found? MORE HOLES! 

WHA? Humph. So I let the birds out and ponder about life and the movie "Tremors." Is this a sign of giant earthworms? That someone is coming and digging up my grass? Did I really make someone that mad? No, of course not. I'm fairly non-confrontational. 

Turns out SQUIRRELS did this! Needless to say, I'm breaking out the Squirrelinator 2000 again. That suckers gonna trap me some vermin and I'm gonna...gonna...well they won't be digging in my yard anymore when I'm done. That's what I'm gonna do.

So, next time you go to blame your precious little ducky poos or the little fluffy butts in your life keep this story in mind. Maybe, just maybe they are innocent. Then again there are so many times I thought they couldn't have done something and they did. LOL

Happy Spring! The squirrels are awake. (JOY!)

See you soon!

Barbie~

Monday, February 23, 2015

FW: Harvest Monday 2.23.15





Welcome back to harvest Monday ! This weeks harvest? It consists of all sorts of itty bitty things. As I prepared for the freeze I took as much produce as I coil out of the garden. Turns out I was so busy bringing in pots and covering garden beds that I forgot to take a picture. Well, I did manage one picture. This is what is left after all 5 of is pigged out on the broccoli snap peas and greens I brought in. These few chard leaves were double and triple the size of my plates! Can you see the black plate at the top? Completely dwarfed. For all my efforts previously to grow chard none of them were very successful. This time I planted a dozen of them and I have about 4 that really put on a lot of growth. So I guess here in my area the trick is to grow a lot and thin out the plants that aren't handling the heat well.

Off to see what everyone else has harvested at Daphne's Dandelions.

See you soon!

Barbie~

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brr...



I know most of you are filled with hysterical laughter at me right now. But I can't help it. I just have to complain a little. We will have a hard freeze tonight and it will be in the 20's for 5+ hours. My garden is toast. More than that the avocados pomegranate and guava are in full bloom and I already have my blueberry bushes packed with fruit. I think I shall cry myself to sleep tonight.



Hope to see fruit next month but doubtful...
Barbie

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Plans for 2015

As for the new year? I'd love to say my resolution is to blog more, or to harvest more. But, no. My resolution is to do more. To get more done towards our retirement goal.

Things are constantly in flux and I worry that the property that we intend to inhabit for our homestead will not be available to us in the long run. Also, seeing that we are trying to retire early we will not have access to the monies that we have saved in our tax deferred retirement account without paying a large penalty. We'll need a nest egg to deal with the interim years until we can start to withdraw that and also while we will need to pay for medical expenses/insurance until Medicare kicks in.

So 2014 was the year for planning and preparing, 2015 is for actively doing, 2016 & 2017 are the years for saving (more than just paying off the equipment) and hopefully 2018 will be the year for deciding and building. Of course if the right opportunities open themselves up we will be re-arranging those priorities, but for now this is the plan.

The beginning of 2015 sees us able to accomplish some major goals towards our future homestead.
We were able to secure a new tractor.





And along with it we also now have a box blade

& a bush hog.

These will go a long way when it comes to making work on the property easier for us. We are already finding it seriously handy in our normal annual chores.

We've also managed to get a diesel UTV as well. This works extremely well in tandem with the tractor and we have only had a short while but have already seen that it is a true workhorse.

We also went ahead and put in a new bedliner. This helps with clean up and with things in the back not sliding around as much. If it holds up as well as we think it will, both this and the tractor will have a 20-30 year lifespan for us at minimum.

Of course I showed everyone here the truck (also diesel) that we purchased as well. It's a dream to drive and it hauls our equipment and trailers like a breeze.


Having all these pieces using the same fuel is helpful in more ways than one. Not only do the diesel engines tend to last much longer than gasoline engines, but we can store 55gallon diesel containers with a pump that will allow us to keep enough fuel on hand to continue working on the homestead for quite a while. Not to mention not needing to keep a container for diesel, gasoline, a container for premium, one with mixed for the lawn equipment, etc. So Yippee for simplicity!

So for the next 3 years we will finish paying off these expensive toys while saving for our future.

Sounds like a good plan to me. Speaking of future on the homestead, I'm browsing some commercial nurseries to try to complete the mini orchard this year. If we are unable to do it this spring I'll look at fall and winter planting instead. So, if you know of any great places for bare root trees let me know. I'm in need of about 20-30 of them so I will be pinching pennies if I can.

I'll also begin the construction of some raised beds on the property. These beds will be for perennial plants that will be able to take care of most of their own needs. We are on site at least every other month so we will be able to fertilize but watering, etc will be minimal if at all. Good thing there is plenty of pine needles to mulch with! I'm thinking the first bed will be for the new blueberry plants. They will be ready to transplant either this fall or next spring.

ACK! I'm outta time and have to run.

See you soon!

Barbie~