a hard winter
February 22, 2014, 2:49 pm
Filed under: bees, chickens, farm, gardening | Tags: , , ,

Yep. We’ve all heard it. It’s been a hard winter. I believe it! Luckily for us, we were able to escape for a week. Hawaii. Mmm hmm. We were lucky indeed. We’ve never done that winter sun holiday thing, and yes, it was nice!!!

Now we’re back. And without our constant pressure, the wildlife creeped ever closer. They were hungry.

Hard work for naught

Are you hunrgy enough to eat a garbage can??

Are you kidding me? Someone ate a hole into the garbage can?? We’re not meat eaters. We compost. What the heck was it smelling?


recycle bin

Check it out. It even tried the recycle bin. Guess the yellow plastic doesn’t taste as good as the green?

But then I ventured out to the garden. The fenced garden. I am devastated.


a girdled apple tree

My little espalier apples–girdled. I am so upset I can’t believe it! 4 of six carefully planted, pruned, tended, perhaps they might fruit for the first time this year, apple trees. All that work. Good bye Newtown Pippin, so long Duchess of Oldenburg. Nice seeing you Calville Blanc. Whatevs Golden Russet. Blech. Gardening is too hard.

I took a spin out to the back garden just to see what else had been going wrong. The two trees out there are without damage. Sydney’s disaster–aka the Gala apple tree she knocked over and broke last fall–showed signs of animal gnawing on the smaller limbs which are now on the ground. But the other two seem fine.

I heard some buzzing. I looked down and saw a lone bee on a branch. Over at the hive, some signs of activity. Silly bees. It’s only 50. And it’s surely not spring yet! But nice to see some activity there.


A few hardy bees testing their flight legs

In other news, that hungry raccoon gave me a scare yesterday too. Unlike the possum sighting, this time I screamed! I opened the feed room in the barn. Goats were in the aisle, and chickens were crossing the tundra to the barn for their afternoon scratch and peck. I opened the door and a raccoon scurried over away from me. The lid to the chicken food was off. ARGH!!

I rushed to get the chickens back to their safe house. When I returned he was gone. But he’s still around. He escaped the trap last night, but opened up a few bags of chicken food. Yes, you really need to put all chicken food into metal bins. With lids that can be locked. He was a cute little guy. Not one of those huge ones, but not a tiny one either. Poor guys are so hungry out there!

It’s nice and sunny and warm today, but we hear that winter is coming back this week. Oh Hawaii, yes we miss you already!


fall garden = dahlia time!
October 11, 2013, 7:41 pm
Filed under: dahlias, favorite plants, gardening, goats | Tags: , , , , ,
Dahlias spilling over onto the walk

Dahlias spilling over onto the walk

I do love me some dahlias! This year they seemed to take forever to get going. Maybe I planted them a bit late? Maybe I didn’t give them too much love. Certainly I didn’t spend too much time staking them!

Oh well, they’re still nice.

dahlias and verbena bonariensis

dahlias and verbena bonariensis

Even with a half finished pathway. These orange ones  on the left are Maarn.


This one is new this year. Pretty huh? Might be Awe Shucks? But I’m too lazy to bend down and look at the tag.

This one is snowflake

This one is snowflake

IMG_0684This is some little sweetie romaine lettuce, with strawberries.

fall kale planting

fall kale planting

Here’s some red russian kale. Yum! Along with a container of soapy water that I use to capture stink bugs. Not so yum.


And here is one sweet goat, having a rest under the big oak tree. She’s so cute! She likes this spot because it’s the highest in the paddock. Silly goats with their height thing. She’s also a digger and she’s made a little sand pit over there , dug up all the grass.

end of the season
October 10, 2013, 6:19 pm
Filed under: gardening, goats, tomatoes | Tags:

end of the tomatoes!

Yep, it’s finally the end of the season. I’m watching the birds eating crabapples, and turkeys wandering across the yard. Everyone is packing it up for the season.

I picked the last of the tomatoes. Green ones for goaties! We’ve had a couple of nice pasta dinners with fresh tomatoes chopped up with basil and cheese. Yum! So I guess I’m ready to say goodbye.

IMG_4140 When your plants look as bad as this one–you’re ready for them to go. I took them all out, and put them on the burn pile. Of course the burn pile is now in a goat paddock, so anything remotely edible is gobbled right up. I didn’t think goats should eat tomato plants, but they seem to enjoy nibbling them. They’ve also had a heyday eating the squash vines (who likes those? no one I thought!)

At any rate, we’ve got our last fall lettuces and peas in, and enjoying the dahlias in full bloom!

ta da! peonies are out!

Yes, so in the end spring decided to arrive. Abalone Pearl is the first of the peonies to open. So pretty!

Abalone Pearl Peony

Abalone Pearl Peony

It’s been a busy time for us, but we did get the tomatoes in. This year, most will be in the front yard bed where the crazy pumpkins were last year.

Tomato bed, front yard

Tomato bed, front yard

New this year is a resting spot in the garden. I bought this chaise at the end of the season last year, and it’s a nice place to recover! Right next to the rosa rugosa, and the nice strawberry flowers.

Chaise in the "u"--espalier apples surround it.

Chaise in the “u”–espalier apples surround it.

Everyone is working really hard –the goats eating new shoots as fast as they can, and we’re also weeding like crazy trying to get ahead of the game.

Roppongi finding good stuff--outside the garden fence!

Roppongi finding good stuff–outside the garden fence!

Roppongi likes to stick close to the fence while we’re weeding–she really appreciates all the good stuff we throw over at her. 2 foot tall dandelions yum!

It’s a beautiful time of year here and we’re so happy to be back outside!

musquee de provence pumpkin, you kind of suck!

Sigh. You can’t win them all I guess. Every year, a different way to be disappointed in your garden. While you may have noticed that it was a banner year for pumpkin in our garden, we definitely noticed a big taste difference among our varieties.

Too bad, it was the musquee de provence that was at the bottom of our list. We’d grown this a couple of years ago and liked it just fine. It’s a big girl, 20+ pounds, and the flesh is kind of short stringy. The taste was mild the first time, but this year–BLECH! Don’t know why but it has been super-strong pumpkiny. The kind that dominates a dish, and makes it the last vegetable eaten from the stew, or enchilada or whatever. I’m even to the point of reducing the amounts I include, or adding more spice to cover it up.

On the other hand, we also grew the super cute little Melonette de jaspee vendee pumpkin this year. This is a revelation. Cute, just the right size for a stuffed squash, or a pie. Very mild tasting flesh. Some say eat it raw. And you can. Didn’t do much for me, raw, but you could do it.


sept 21, musquee de provence still far from ripening, but huge!

sept 21, musquee de provence still far from ripening, but huge!

Winter luxury pie pumpkin was the third variety, and it was good. Straight up nice pumpkin flavor good in pumpkins and savory dishes.

sept 21, winter luxury pumpkins doing great but not ripe yet!

sept 21, winter luxury pumpkins doing great but not ripe yet!

All of these were grow in the same area–with lots of compost and mushroom manure.

scale of the assorted pumpkins. you can see some were picked unripe.

scale of the assorted pumpkins. you can see some were picked unripe.

They did really well, and perhaps that was why the taste suffered? The Musquee pumpkins were about 45 pounds! And the Winter Luxury were 8 pounds–both bigger than they should have been. But they just weren’t ripe before that poundage, so what do you do? Can you pick a pumpkin at a size and ripen it off the vine??

waiting for the frost! dahlia, pumpkin, potato harvest

They’ve been giving us freeze warnings for the last two days. But as of Tuesday the 8th October, we’re still good to go. We did go out and do a big harvest in preparation, which resulted in a really pretty assortment of dahlias!

bouquet of mixed dahlias!

our thanksgiving dinner dahlias!

pumpkins came into the kitchen!

dug up some more fingerlings and picked the last tomatoes

pumpkins and fall scenes of the farm

some of the pumpkin collection

I warned you. It was a bumper crop! In this picture we have melonette de jaspee vendee (little yellowish ones). And Winter luxury pie pumpkins. So far, I’m made pumpkin bean soup, pumpkin leek soup, and a maple pumpkin pie. Sheesh, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Yes pumpkin will be on the menu this sunday! Thinking to do maybe a pumpkin spinach gratin, and of course a pie, probably my regular one.

Here’s the rest of the collection.

grand entrance to casa turdacres!

Don’t ask about the ladder!! These big ones are musquee de provence. It said they would be about 20 lbs, but these are more. Yikes! Hard to lift them. I’ve given away a few of the bad boys, but clearly need to start delivering them to unsuspecting neighbors or something!!

Yep, we’re working on our trashy yard vibe this year. Here’s our new patio arrangement…

casual seating plus water garden!

Featured in this area is our *new* aluminum glider (2.00 and came with free cushion!), alongside part of our 150.00 haul of old metal furniture. The water garden is a new thing. Notice the white pipe at the top left? That’s draining water off a flat roof over the patio which, for some unknown reason, was never fitted with a drainpipe! Water just accumulates up there and then it runs off on in one corner–rotting the roof line! Well now, we fixed that!

Water now runs out the pipe and into the galvanized trough which our neighbors had discarded. The plastic bit of gutter guard is in there, can you guess why? It’s an animal escape system. We learned the hard way that animals can’t get out if they fall in. RIP squirrel buddy 2010.

Yep we’re doing crazy rustic round here. Including a newly installed hoop house (cost 10.00 for a screen door). We made this bad boy from a trampoline frame, plastic sheet, some rebar stakes, plastic electrical conduit and…binder twine! It still needs some work, but we were happy to test the design. It gets pretty hot in there. Clocked it at 122 one day!!! So we’ll need some venting options.

dad likes to do a project when he comes down. this was a doozer!

While we have a lot of projects on the go (I won’t even show you the cardboard mulch project in the lower garden, or the new brick project for the potager)..one thing remains the same. Sure love that barn. It’s just so pretty!

barn with new hoop house neighbor