Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Critter goodbyes.

Ah the last 10 days have been beyond busy. We are having our home painted and during the preparation process for this I have been extremely active in the yard/garden and with the critters.

The ducklings were getting rather large, and I decided that this is the perfect timing to get rid of the breeding pair of Welsh Harlequin I had. Baby and Swayze were an amazing pair of ducks. However, I didn't think Swayze would do well if I got rid of only Baby, and Baby was rather vocal after she hatched those ducklings. I was sorely afraid that my neighbors would lodge a complaint and then I would lose all of my critters. That, as you may have figured already, is NOT an option.
I found a wonderful home for the pair, and they will be kept company with 7 other ducks of various types. The ducklings only noticed their parents were gone for about 2 hours. After that they never even looked for them. All was well.
Goodbye old red hen. Your obsessively in charge attitude will be missed.

In the chicken coop however, I've been dealing with a hen that has had issues for the last 6 months. I'm honestly amazed that she lasted as long as she did. On Saturday I put Blondie and Campbell's into the shed with lots of food, water and a few treats. It's a nice sized shed for them, really.

That afternoon while I was working on getting all the critters ready for the painters to come the kids had a neighbor friend over. We were dog sitting a rather large puppy. Well, she isn't huge, just that she will be a large dog. She's probably 45 pounds or so now. Anyhow. The neighborhood kid was warned that we were pet-sitting and that it was not our animal. The dog was not allowed outside unless I took it out. Yeah. that lasted all of 2 minutes before the animal was let out not only onto our porch but into the back yard. Being a puppy that likes to play fetch and run around like puppies do she did what came natural to her. She ran around, and when a duck suddenly decided to run, too - well disaster was immanent. It took no less than 30 seconds for her to grab the duck, run off with it and for me to command her to drop it. 30 seconds and now I am one less duck. The pup didn't maul the duck, nor wasn't vicious it just played with it. A single canine pierced the skin and unfortunately it was instant death for the duck. So now we are down to 1 duck. UGH. I did manage to get a couple new duckling (well, older ducklings, but still) to replace the lost one.
That evening when I was settling in the duck crew I noticed that Blondie had fallen down and couldn't right herself. I gently put her on her feet and she cooed at me a thanks. She was standing very erect. She walked over to the water, took a drink and settled in for the night. She was gone in the morning.

So now I'm just hoping to hit a status quo here and have everything settle back down. Painters have been at the house all week. Hopefully I'll have pics for you soon.

See you soon!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Harvest Monday 5.18.15

Good morning, er... afternoon! It's harvest Monday again. This weeks harvest is a throw back to cooler days. I still have quite a few carrots int he garden. It's been rather hot out for a good while so the carrots aren't the sweetest, but they are most certainly edible still. Especially shredded and left int he fridge for a while.

The peach harvest ended this week. The last few were put in the fridge, and the squirrels managed to eliminate the need for harvesting the remaining 1/2 of the crop that were in the top of the tree. Grrr...lucky for them I did get some peaches this year. They aren't falling for the trap any more and I'm not sure what to do about that. I will have to find another way or move the trap. Either way I'll figure something out because now they are knocking down the avocados. 

So a few have been brought inside to see if they will ripen and be edible at any point. The larger ones are the only ones that have a chance, but I will continue to try as long as they continue to knock 'em down. Only good thing here is they are showing no interest in the fruit itself. They seem mostly unharmed if a little bruised.

Tomatoes are finally sizing up. I've been getting a small handful of cherry toms each week, but these little beauties are making my mouth water. I'm going to be angry if the dang tree rats mess with these!

I already have their use planned. They will be the first FRESH caprese I've had in a while, and I CAN'T wait! Too bad it will still be a few weeks. (pooh)

We've been working diligently outside the past few weekends and it seems like I'm turning wheels for no reason. We are having our home painted starting today and we needed to remove everything from against the house. It meant cutting the kiwi back to the (almost) ground in order to remove the trellis, cutting back all my flowers, and bushes away from the walls, removing some of the older plants, and putting all my potted plants outside. Along with that I had to take down 2 portions of fence, a gate and had to re-arrange the living situations for all the birds. None of them are thrilled, but they are all safe and moderately happy. They'll live this way until next week sometime (at the earliest!) when I can put their living quarters back in order.

We were planning a trip to Alabama to have a meeting with a builder and discuss our wants with them. We are looking at putting in a basement and a shell. We'll do all the plumbing, electric, cabinetry and flooring as we are able to. I'll keep ya posted on the progress with that. It's exciting, and scary to have another mortgage over our heads. Talk about budgeting!

Unfortunately now that this is all taking place I may have to stay behind in order to care for the critters. I hate to miss out on the meeting, but I know my hubby can take care of things and I will be kept up to speed on the important details.

See you soon!


Monday, May 11, 2015

Harvest Monday 5.11.15

Good Morning. It's Monday again, Harvest report time! As usual I am linking into Daphne's Dandelions. Make sure you stop by her place to check out what's being harvested all over the world.

This weeks main harvest has been green beans. Each day I've been able to get a nice handful of them. Enough that on Mothers Day I was able to not only serve the 7 of us, but I have left overs that will be good for dinner tonight as well. I also harvested a few more blueberries (Only enough for us to eat off the bushes each day) and a few cherry tomatoes for salad toppings. I really love this time of year. I wish the variety stayed through the summer, but around here not much does well in the humidity.

Since I'll be pummeling the main crops this year I've decided to try to net at least part of the main bed and try to grow pumpkins in there. The kids will get a kick out of it as it's been a couple years since we've had a good crop. Maybe I'll put some up the trellis and try some gold nuggets as well. YUM! This is something to look forward to, even if I won't have my usual things to eat from the garden meanwhile. What else will grow really fast in the summer? Maybe some black eyed peas. They do reasonably well in the humidity. I've gotten my husband and son to eat greens in small quantities finally so maybe black eyed peas will be the next thing I force on them. ;-)

The extension piece of the main bed has begun. The new blueberry plants are here and they need a lot of TLC, so I'm trying to get that section completed first. The plan is to work each night this week for an hour on it. Last night I got the outline figured out and the foundation set up. Unfortunately It runs uphill a bit so I need to go back and level it out again. Trial and error and all that. Only good news is that once I've decided I like the way the foundation is laid it will be easy to stack them and make a wall. The foundation brick is completely under the ground and the second layer will be about 1-2" under as well totaling roughly 6". I'm hoping this barrier will help keep the invading grasses OUT of my garden and if all goes well the additional height of the wall will help to control the weeds as well.

Today I am absolutely exhausted. After getting those bricks out of the ground  last weekend, and loading them, hauling them and unloading this weekend I also went out to the blueberry farm (on Mothers Day) to buy 5 mature plants. That turned out to be more work than I realized. We got them loaded but had to get help to unload them when we got home. It was just too much. My muscles are just plain wore out. Only I'm not terribly sore. Just mildly achy. That's great news because had I pushed my back too hard I'd be in trouble today. It helped that I spent an hour or so in the pool yesterday as well...

All right back to work with me, though it will be hard not to spend the entire day dreaming of the garden and trying to figure out what I want to do with it. :-D

See you soon!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Next up!

My poor main garden bed. It's been a couple years since we've added onto the timbers that we used for this bed. The sugar sand here seems to just eat them up, sinking about 1" per year. That means my bed is 3" shorter than it was when I put it in. We'd already added on top once, but now as the wood ages it's been warping. I started looking around at just replacing the wood all together and cost wise it wasn't feasible right away. Also, I really wanted the bed to be a bit taller.

Here it is when I put it in 3 timbers high... Now it's only 1 timber high LOL

So... last weekend I went to pick up something off Craigslist that will start a long term project for me....This weekend I will be going back for more. Turns out 200 (free) landscaping blocks will fit into the back of our pickup. It's hard work getting them all out of the ground and then stacking them up into the bed of the truck. It's higher than a regular truck, so your arms get a good workout. The first 200 blocks will be used to extend the main garden area by 8 feet and up by 4". After that I'll be slowly but surely taking out the old landscaping timbers and replacing with these. I'll have to find room in my budget somewhere for the dirt that I will need to fill these new/improved beds with. Good news is the place I get it from is located at the entrance to my community. Truckload is about $40 if I remember right, and if I do this in 2 8' sections at a time the cubic yard should be perfect to finish raising up those beds.

That also means I won't be rushing to get it all done in a single weekend as I did when I built the beds. Instead I'll try to do each section - one every 2 -4 weeks to complement my pay schedule.

The downside to this project? Ah- all those lovely little plants I have in right now will be ripped out in order to make way. Honestly, I'll probably leave them to become more organic matter, but I will lose the vast majority of them. Beans okra, and corn won't transplant well - at all. BOO, HISS!

OLD nasty blocks:

They are stacked up nicely so that I can clean them easier. I'd rather have them cleaned prior to rebuilding with them as the chemicals would leach into the garden. This way I can clean them easier with chemicals and don't have to break my neck using a wire brush.

Here they are after the first washing. I'll wash once again before using them to finish brightening them, but honestly I'm happy with them just like this. In the picture they are still wet so they are a little brighter than it looks. Plus by the time I finished the sun was beginning to set so they are in shadow as well.

Wish me luck I don't try to break my back doing all this. Should be interesting, but I can't wait to put in new weed barrier and fresh compost. EXCITING changes are coming!

See you soon!


Monday, May 4, 2015

Harvest Monday 5.4.2015

Goodness, I almost forgot it was Monday again! It's amazing how quickly the time flies round here!

This weeks main harvest was blueberries. 3.5 pounds of them. It pretty well ends the season with only a few dozen berries left on the bushes. I've trimmed most of them back already and now it's babying them until fall again. Well worth it if you ask me.

Most of the blueberries were washed, dried and frozen on baggies for easy access. I saved a pound that is destined for blueberry pie and blueberry muffins. I'll also make blueberry jam, but that I can make from frozen berries if I need to. We tend to eat about a pint in a day between the 5 of us.

Yum. Some of these berries were exceptionally large, and I'm hoping that means that the fruit size is going to increase next year to match what only a few of these were. This was the 3rd year in production for these plants. Maybe the 4th year is ideal for size, or maybe i"m just finally supplying the bushes with what they need.

I currently have 16 plants that I rooted from cuttings last year. They will be ready to begin production next year or the following depending on their summer growth.

In other news, also joining this weeks harvest are peaches!

These lovely little jewels are scrumptious and I'm finally getting enough to keep the kids fed each day. Featured here is a typical bowl that gets picked and eaten daily. But, production is ramped up with a lot ripening at once now. It means the chickens are getting their fair share of them. That's good because once they get soft at all the fruit flies are insane. Any tips for getting rid of fruit flies? Blech.

They are so bad that even when I pick fruit that still needs to ripen to bring inside the next morning we a couple in the house again. 

I'm not getting enough to can, and it's just a little too much to keep up with for fresh eating. The quality of the fruit isn't as good in years past, but the quantity makes up for that. They still taste incredible cooked with a little cinnamon on top. 

This solidifies my thoughts on taking out the second peach tree. It's just not producing much at all and it's not healthy. I'd rather take it out and replace it with a pollinator for my unknown variety of plum. Then again I could end up with 2 trees that don't produce plums. HA! That would stink. The plums bloom after the peaches have set fruit, so timing wise we'd move from strawberries in February to March and April blueberries, then April/May peaches & figs and May/June plums and guava. After that it's blackberries, persimmons and pomegranates. My garden would finally be set for March-September with perennial fruits. Whoot!
Now, waht will give me fruits in November, December and January here? The citrus is just too hard with the greening around here. I still have 3 trees but only 1 is capable of producing good fruit, and even so it' son my porch so it doesn't get pollinated well unless it blooms on the weekend. LOL

Well, make sure you stop by Daphne's Dandelions to see what is being harvested all over the world, and what people are doing with those harvests. Have a great week!

See you soon!