Friday, June 29, 2007

Garden News

The garden on May 2, 2007...
and the garden on June 26, 2007.
All is still quiet on the animal front. I'm keeping Ewenice apart from the other sheep so I can give her some grain with each feeding. By keeping her in her own pen I can be certain that she, and not any of the other sheep, is getting the grain. I'm happy to report that she does seem to be slowly picking up some weight.

She did get a new mark on her so I guess that first breeding didn't take, possibly because she wasn't feeling well. Also this week her daughter, Francine, looks like she was bred too. Happy news for me.

The garden is starting to go gangbusters now. I'm kind of glad we didn't plant a lot this year. As it is I'll have to give some tomatoes and squash to my sister, who can bring what she doesn't use to her work. The veggies will certainly get snatched up there, I'm sure.

Our first squash. It's a patty pan variety called "Spaceship Hybrid".
I may try to can some tomatoes this year, something I've always been afraid of. But the bee guy's wife told me she cans tomatoes all the time using a water bath and they are very easy. Before I bought my pressure canner I tried canning some beans using a water bath. After a few days they started looking suspicious. I was advised by a canning expert via e-mail to discard everything, including the jars. Better safe than sorry. I guess beans are supposed to be canned with the pressure canner which is why I then bought it. Of course I have yet to use it. That was two years ago.

The little flower plot in the back is doing well too. A little sun and some water makes everything better!

Here's the back flower plot on May 2 this year when I planted the mini roses.

Here's the same little box just a couple of days ago, on June 26.

This is a Hollyhock "Zebrina". I got the seeds from Burpee's about five years ago and I've been getting these volunteers ever since.
Close up of the "Zebrina" with a busy bee.One of the mini roses I got for fifty cents...and a closeup. I love my camera!

I'll save the squash recipe for later.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me

Picture this, if you dare: Slightly dumpy, okay, very dumpy 48 year old wearing 8 inch pig tails. Yes, I said pig tails. With 1/4 inch gray roots showing. Now picture the same wearing baggy men's knee length basketball shorts and a logo-ed t-shirt that's so old it's very thin and some of the seams are ripping out.

That was me last Sunday, while I worked in the garden doing some weeding and the mulching thing. I did not have a hat on, so now I have a line from the middle of my hairline in the front to the nape of my neck that is sunburned. And now it's itchy.

Yesterday I went to the dentist to work on the tooth that needs a crown. He took out the stitch from the crown lengthening and removed the "bubblegum" bandage. I have to wait until everything completely heals (the end of August) before I go back for further work.

So now my head is itchy, and my tooth is sore from the big hole in it. When you look at it closely it's really gross. I've never had "rotten" teeth and now it looks just like some old derelict's tooth!

This morning on the Today show there was a segment about how to prevent someone from stealing your nanny away from you. Give me a break! Really. How many people have nannies? I almost spit up my coffee when that one came on.

And now, since I haven't shown the dogs for a while, here's some pics.

Gus and Clyde. Just playing!

Chester getting excited about all the hullaballoo. He's all proud of himself that he took the toy when the other two were going at it. Look at the gray.

I just love Clyde's hound doggy face!

And what family with dogs doesn't have a picture like this?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Not much new animal news to report today. I'm pretty sure that's a good thing at this point. No more vet bills, please! At least not for a long time. The way things are going at this point I'm expecting a calf and some lambs some time in December.

Meanwhile things in the garden are starting to ripen up. Below are pictures of the same tomato plant, at almost the same angle, just a couple weeks apart. It's the first Health Kick. On the bottom you can see the very first ripening tomato peaking out from the inside.

We've had a few tomatoes so far, and of course they are delish! I'm very pleased with the Health Kick. You can see they are loaded with fruit. The Heat Wave is living up to it's name also. It has a bunch of large, very round tomatoes on it, though still green at this point.

Both the German Queen and the Red Beefsteak are now over five feet tall. They both have tomatoes on them, but I'm a bit disappointed with the Beefsteak. For some reason I thought they'd be really big, but they aren't yet. They are all still green yet too, but it won't be long before we'll be loaded with tomatoes, I'm sure.

The one thing I'm a little upset about right now is some of the tomatoes are suddenly developing blossom end rot. I've read that means they are lacking in calcium. I wonder if I were to crush up a few Tums and sprinkle around the base would that help? I think I'll try it. I wonder what flavor I should use? Hmmm.

I did dig a new water trench around the bottom of all the plants and refilled partly with my home grown mulch. The mulch is a mixture of last year's garden debris and weeds that didn't get fed to the animals, and lots of pony and cow poop. It sits for a good year and when we dig into it it's turned into a nice rich pile of compost.

Hopefully that's all the tomatoes will need. When I first planted them I put two fertilizer spikes next to each plant, and they've been watered once or twice with Miracle Gro. Other than that, they get watered usually once a day. *Fingers crossed* I haven't seen any evidence of those hideous horn worms (yet). You watch, tonight I'll go out and find one!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Blog Spam

It looks like I got my first blog spam. Therefore I have enabled the word verification for comments. It's simply one extra step you need to take to leave a comment, but that extra step will not allow spam programs to leave ads on the comment section.

I dislike them as much as I dislike spiders. Ech!

Broccoli Salad

When I was still working we used to have a lot of retirement luncheons at a local restaurant called Hodel's Country Dining, or just Hodel's. They make a delicious cold broccoli salad. The first time I heard about it, it didn't sound too appealing to me. But then everybody kept raving about it, so I tried it. It was good.

I was having a hankering for this lately, so I made it this afternoon. I don't know if this is the original Hodel's recipe, but it sure tastes the same. I got this recipe from a friend who also worked at the police department, who also just happened to marry the chief (now retired).

If you want to skip the pictures go straight to the bottom. It's such an easy dish to make and I don't know anyone who doesn't like it.

Start with 2 bunches of broccoli, 1 red onion, 1 pound bacon, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

Steam the broccoli until it is al dente, still a bit crunchy, not cooked all the way through.

Meanwhile cook the bacon. You are going to want it to be really crisp.

When the broccoli gets to the right doneness, put under cold water to stop the cooking.

The bacon's not done yet. I'll bet even Paula Dean would like this recipe!

Now the bacon is done.

Drain on paper towels.

While broccoli and bacon are cooling, chop 1 red onion and mix together with 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, and 1/2 cup raisins (I like just a tad more, as you can see).

Chop the broccoli into bite size pieces, crumble the bacon, and add to the onion, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

Oops. Get a bigger bowl so everything can be tossed together without spilling once you add the dressing.

Now for the dressing. You will need mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, and sugar.

Mix together 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, and 3 tablespoons sugar.

I like to use my hands to mix. It mixes a lot better and it's a lot more fun.

Chill in the fridge for a while (the salad, not you). I find I don't even have to adjust the seasoning at all.

Here it is again, without the photos:


Mix together:
2 bunches chopped broccoli (I steam mine to al dente)
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 C sunflower seeds
1/2 C raisins
1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 c mayonnaise
2 T red wine vinegar
3 T sugar
Stir together, then pour over salad and toss.

Pond Work

I believe the end of the pond work is near. After about a year of work the ponds will hopefully very soon be filled again.

It all started when they drained the ponds in order to begin the work. Fortunately it wasn't during the time when the ducks, egrets, kildeer, and other birds were having their babies. They've done that before and we've raised a few abandoned ducklings because of it.

The one bad thing was all the fish that were in the ponds died. It didn't smell too good for a while. It's surprising the amount of carp that were in there. I don't know much about fish but some of them even looked like they may have been freed koi. They did have some pretty colors. Until they died, at least.

After the ponds all dried up they dug big trenches and laid huge pvc pipes. Wells were drilled at the one corner of each pond. Well heads and pumps were connected to the pipes. Then poles were put in to run electricity to the pumps at the wells. Huge sheets of landscape fabric were laid out around the pumps and big chunks of rock were arranged over the top.

This is pretty much where we are at today.

This is good news for us. That means they will most likely keep water in the ponds year-round, something they didn't always do. But with water becoming a valuable commodity, it makes sense that they will want it available at all times to pump out and sell on down the line.

From what I can tell all that remains is for the electrical lines to be run on the poles. Then they can fill the ponds and we'll have our lake front property again!

Friday, June 22, 2007

End of the Week Recap/Update

Sunday was Father's Day. We all enjoyed ourselves with a delicious faux wienerschnitzel dinner. Today most of my husbands' F.D. balloons are wilted, but the big one is still going strong. It's even carrying the lei that came with his new Hawaiian style shirt, a lovely shade of pale blue and made of washable silk!

Sunday the balloons were flying high.

The same balloons five days later.

Carli sheared Jamie. I changed the color on Perry's marker from green to red.

On Monday it was clear that Perry was doing his best to become a dad again.

I'd say this is a "good" mark!
Tuesday was Juneteenth. My apologies for not acknowledging this day earlier. I think I was all wrapped up with the dilemma of the bees. Plus I had my teeth worked on in the morning, and in the afternoon I treated myself to a pedicure along with my regular manicure. (Even a micro farmer likes to have pretty nails!)

Wednesday was my birthday. Thanks to all for your well wishes, cards, flowers, etc! You do love me, you really do love me!!!

Thursday was the first day of summer and more bee news. They were supposed to be picked up in the evening but the queen bee had not dropped from the sheep stand to the new bee box. At least half the bees were still in the corner of the stand, which meant the queen was still up there. We decided to leave them one more night and try to scoop them out, hopefully capturing the queen in the midst. Last night around 10:30 my husband and I went out to attempt the transfer. He had the dog food scoop in one hand and a flat trowel in the other. I held the flashlight. Amazingly, he only got stung once on his neck. But I think we got her!

Friday, that is, today, it looks like the queen bee was indeed successfully transferred! The sheep stand is empty and the bees are busy buzzing around their new box! My son is happy that today is the last day of the first semester of summer school. So he has the whole weekend to whoop it up until Monday, when the second semester of summer school starts.

This morning the sheep stand had no bees left, just remnants of the combs.The new bee box next to the empty sheep stand (see above photo).
Tonight we get to go out to dinner to help our friend, Marylee Shrider, celebrate her 50th birthday! Marylee is a twice a week columnist for our local rag, er newspaper.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stolen Honey

Dean came through. He called his friend who is an amateur apiarist and the friend happily agreed to come and take the bees off our hands. He was happy to do it. For FREE.

He showed up last night around 7:30, a time when the bees should all be in their hive and starting to bed down for the night.

He did a cursory check of the box and started to make his preparations. While doing so he good naturedly answered our non-stop questions.

The smoker held a piece of smoldering burlap. The way I understood it, the smoker makes the bees think the hive is on fire so they all go in to gather honey to save it before fleeing to find another hive location. Haven't they heard you're never supposed to go back into a burning building? The spray bottle contains sugar water. It also keeps them calm by encouraging them to stay down and congregate towards where the water was sprayed, thus keeping them from flying away.

Jeff, the bee keeper, lifted the box where the bees had made their hive. I was shocked and amazed at what was under there. He said these bees had probably been there at the minimum of two weeks (shows how observant I am!) and they most assuredly had honey already.

He put their new home, a prefab bee box, under the sheep ramp. He got everything positioned so he could give the ramp a couple of good thumps and have the majority of the bees and their honeycombs fall into the new box.

With that, he decided to let them settle for the night and he would pick them up the following night.

Of course someone asked him about Africanized bees. He said he knew these were not because otherwise they would have been swarming all over him. According to Jeff, in order to clean up an Africanized colony, the queen of that colony needs to be located and killed. Then a new queen would be introduced and the colony would then revert back to normal.

That was our excitement for the evening. Until... We decided later that night to steal a couple of combs.

By 9:30 it had been totally dark for about an hour. My husband and I went out with a bowl and a flashlight. I held the bowl and flashlight while he lifted the ramp and carefully snatched two pieces of honeycomb and dropped them in the bowl. He lowered the ramp back into position over the bee box, no one the wiser.

Back at the house we got some cheesecloth and wrapped the honeycombs inside. The bag was squished a few times and hung up from a cabinet over a bowl. It dripped honey into bowl over night.

Even though our stolen honey is not filtered and there are a few specks of dirt, it is like the difference between store bought tomatoes and home grown tomatoes. Everyone knows how much better home grown is than store bought. The same goes for our eggs. Dean once shared lobsters he'd caught with us and I have never tasted such a wonderful, fresh, sweet lobster. It was amazing! That's how it is with this honey. I could definately taste clover. It's so ... I just don't know how to describe it. It doesn't have the same super sweetness as store bought, and if it's possible to describe honey this way, it has a crispness to it, it's not as thick. That sounds dumb. I guess it's one of those things where you have to be there to fully experience it.

So tonight Jeff will pick up the bees. Jeff is happy, we are happy, and I'm sure the bees will be happy too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It's My Birthday and I'll Cry if I Want To...

My grandmother used to tell a story about an incident that happened when she was in her early twenties. She was on a riverboat cruise with other employees of the firm she worked for. She was in line with a few other people waiting to use the restroom. One of the stalls became available and another young woman started heading for it when my grandmother stopped her. She pointed at a woman who had been there first. "The old lady is next," my young grandmother told her. The old lady promptly whirled around and spat out, "Well if you don't want to die young, then you have to get old." Of course it sounds a lot better auf Deutsch.

I remember when I was 20. A friend at work had just turned 31. I distinctly recall thinking, "Oh man, if I ever get to be that old...!" Guess what? Now it's 28 years later and I'm still around!

Getting older really isn't all that bad. I'd say the worst part of it is the physical part. It's a lot more difficult to lose weight and way too easy to gain it. I have to wear glasses to see the tv clearly and for when I drive, especially at night. I'm taking pills for blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. When I wake up in the morning I can't just spring out of bed like I used to. I have to warm up my stiff joints. I never thought I'd have teeth problems other than the cavities from when I was a little kid. Yet I've had one crown put on a tooth a couple of years ago and I'm in the midst of having another (yesterday was the crown lengthening and post and core put in--ouch!).

And the good parts about getting older? For me personally I have to say I've had a pretty good life. Montgomery Gentry has a song out now that makes me think of myself. It's called "Lucky Man". If you haven't heard it yet, basically it's a man talking about how he used to curse the rain, then complain when the sun shone too hotly. He'd be jealous of his neighbors and all the stuff they had. Then he stopped to think about all that he had and he realized he was a lucky man.

While I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth I'm doing okay. I have a couple of good kids, my dogs, sheep, cows, and other creatures. Best of all I have a handsome husband who for some unknown reason really seems to adore me.

If I cry today it will be tears of happiness.

Birthday card from Papyrus: "The Individualist" by Ronald Searle 1977; Camden Graphics Ltd.