Friday, February 24, 2012

(DF) TRUCK REPAIR ON THE FARM ......... a necessary evil

Recently, I may have mentioned that the truck had developed a problem (blown head gaskets, hopefully nothing worse) I believe was the statement. As you can imaging, with fence to build, orchards to plant, gardens to prepare and at least a dozen other projects to be done on any given day, this was not the best time for major truck repairs. Of course, you probably already figured out that most of the projects in question need a truck, making it even more inconvenient.

Before I continue, a little background might be in order. As a teenager, lack of money and the almost complete absence of trustworthy mechanics in the area, led me to buy a few tools and learn how to fix my own vehicle. It was either that, or not drive near so much. Even then, most of my money was earned from the use of my truck, so not driving was not an option. Notice I said I LEARNED to fix my own, I did not say I enjoyed it. In fact, mechanical ability does not come naturally to me and there are few occupations I enjoy less than working on vehicles, thus the consideration of 'a necessary evil'. With that said, I can continue to recount the associated events and maybe get to the bright side of all of this.

Thursday of last week found me standing on concrete blocks and stretching my upper body into the engine compartment of the old truck. Several hours passed, filled with the nasty smell of used motor oil and antifreeze, and the sounds of tools clanging against engine parts, groans, low level cursing and the occasional exclamation as wrenches slipped. FINALLY, with seemingly more parts in the driveway than under the hood, the heads were off. Sure enough, the gaskets were obviously leaking, and had been for awhile. With the heads off, it would only be a matter of putting them back on with new gaskets, right? Not so fast! I made that mistake once, and had to do it all again.

While the heads are already off is the time to make sure they aren't cracked or warped. There are few things I dislike more than paying someone to do what I can do myself, especially if they charge more than I get paid in the first place, but there are some things that, though I could do myself, the tools for doing it make it more effective to let someone else do it. Checking heads is just such a thing. I loaded the heads in the jeep, then realized that the automotive machine shop had just closed for the day. It would have to wait until morning (more muttered curses here). Still time to get it back together next afternoon if the heads check out in the morning, right? Think again!! At this time of year, people are building race car engines in preparation for racing season, making the machine shop a really busy place. I was informed that it would be early next week before they could look at mine.

Late Monday afternoon the call came that my heads were ready. Good news is that they weren't cracked and didn't have to be replaced, bad news is that they were warped, pitted and had to be milled. In short, this added an extra $50 or so to the bill. Bad, though still much better than having to do the job all over again. By the time I got back with the heads, it was too late in the day to start putting it all back together.

Working around other projects, Tuesday evening found everything ready to go back together, and by noon Thursday it was running and ready for work. The whole process would not have taken more than a day, even as slow as I am, but working around other projects and delays made it take a week (yet another thing I dislike about such projects).

For the record, I don't recommend that anyone go spend a bunch of money on tools and start doing their own engine work and such. Tools are expensive and it takes a level of knowledge and experience to make these kind of repairs. What I DO recommend is that anyone with a vehicle learn how to do at least minor maintenance, and enough knowledge of how it all works is helpful in knowing if your mechanic is charging you for unnecessary work. If you are planning to work on your own, get a good repair manual and spend some time with someone who has experience to learn how to read your manual (that someone with experience is helpful when you hit a snag too). This form of literature, though filled with good information, is also written in a strange and confusing dialect that requires some translation. And I absolutely recommend starting on simple repairs and working up to the more complex.

Did I say I would get to the bright side of this story? Alright then, here it is. Though the parts and machine work set me back around $150, this is very reasonable compared to taking it to the local mechanic. Labor alone would have cost in the $300-$500 range, making it a serious financial drain. As much as I dislike working on vehicles, nothing I can do on the farm will pay as much as it would have cost to have someone work on the truck. And the real bright side? The truck works and I know the work was done right.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Recently, Anna and I decided to order some fruit trees for our orchard. Some of the more recent additions to the orchard here at my place failed to survive the record summer heat, and there were a couple of varieties Anna was particularly interested in, so after checking the catalogs for ideas, we turned to the internet.

First off, we went to the site of a nursery I had gotten good service from in the past on older apple varieties. To my dismay, we found that the company is in litigation and is no longer allowed to sell trees. Looking further, we found a nursery that could provide the varieties we wanted, and their site looked good. Can't be too careful though, so we looked up the reviews.

About those reviews, wow!! The numbers were pretty scary with almost half being negative or neutral, it didn't sound good. However, in some ways, I am still a curious little kid and the all inspiring question 'WHY' is often my first response. In this case I just had to know what any company that was still in business could be doing that consistently wrong to have that much negative input. Reading the reviews, I soon found that most of the negative was from people who apparently hadn't read the buyer's agreement. Really negative stuff like, orders not arriving on the shipping date, tropical plants not growing in the north, fees deducted from refunds for late order cancellation, and many such issues.

With this in mind, we decided to go ahead and place an order, if for no other reason but to know for sure. With the added bonus of the varieties we were looking for at very reasonable prices, we decided it would be worth the gamble.

Now for our own review of Willis Orchard Co. On February second, I submitted our order for four apple trees, one peach tree and three blackberry plants. I immediately received an email confirming my order and that my debit card had been charged for the amount. On February 17, I received an email from FedEx showing that they had picked up my order from Willis Orchard Co., along with a tracking number and estimated arrival date of February 21. On February 21, the order arrived. Prompt shipping makes me smile since it so rarely happens, but what about quality. Opening the box, I expected reasonable quality trees with decent roots packed in damp sawdust or peat. For the price, I expected un-pruned tops which barely reached the specified height, thus being much younger trees. What I found was really good quality trees, top-pruned to specified height, with some of the best roots I have seen at any price, packed in gel, not sawdust. The berry plants also have excellent roots and green stems, looking like they are just waiting for a few warm nights and sunny days to start growing. The photo above shows the order we received.

Now, I suppose nothing is perfect, so I will say some negative stuff for good measure. Willis Orchard Co. does have a minimum order of $50, which makes it hard if you only need one or two trees. Also, though they have a large variety of tree and plant types, the number of varieties within those categories are somewhat limited. Beyond that, I can't think of anything that could be considered the slightest bit negative, and even these things are quite understandable. Of course, there is no way to be absolutely sure of the fruit at this time, and I can't comment on how well they honor their guarantee since I have no reason to test it.

I will keep you posted on any future developments, but for now at least, I feel comfortable recommending Willis Orchard Co. ( ), based on our experience with this order. Of course you will need to do your own research and make the best informed decision for your situation. Please let us know if you have had experience with this company and what those experiences were.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


As you know from reading our posts, it has been unusually warm this winter and we are just itching to get to planting. Actually, we have jumped the gun a little and both of us have already planted some potatoes. As a quick update on mine, they still aren't up yet. I won't forget to post updates on them.

Okay, so I am sidetracking. It is one of the things I am best at, ha, ha. As February got well under way, Winter finally put in it's appearance. It had been really warm .... then we had a couple of nights that went down extra cold (13° and 11°F), with the daytime temp barely making it up to freezing. I scrambled around all day before it dropped, to bed down the critters with extra hay, and to cover up everything I could that appeared to be sprouting or I considered too tender for that big of a temperature drop. Dave and I had hayed down a bunch of my potted plants awhile back (before an earlier cold blast), so I was really glad that they were still covered and I didn't have all that to do, too. :)

Then there was the problem of keeping my bathrooms warm. With the temperatures going down that cold, some of the outdoor pets had to come inside. My heat already doesn't reach into the back of the house very well, then, with pets inside, I needed to shut off my bathrooms to keep them out of things, especially the bathroom filled with my baby pear trees. So, how to keep my bathrooms just warm enough that they didn't freeze up without really running up the electric bill with a space heater.

This problem had, of course, also come up on the first cold snap we had earlier this year. My redneck solution that I had come up with had worked so well that time, I decided to try it again, and ... it worked like a charm!  And, not only did my cheap and simple solution keep my pipes from freezing, but when I went down to the bathroom the next morning, it was toasty warm.

Okay, enough of the suspense ..... so, what did I use? My CROCK POT! I set my small crock pot on the bathroom counter, filled it three-fourths of the way up with water, put the lid on it and turned it on low. Slowly, but surely it warmed the room up beautifully! Crock Pots were made to run for as much as 12 hours or so at a time, so leaving it on all night shouldn't be a problem. But I certainly don't recommend leaving it on for 24-hours at a time, either, nor using it as a daily heater.

Filling it with water is because Crock Pots weren't made to be run empty. And the slight humidity it puts out seems to make the room feel even warmer. As an added bonus, one, frosty, cold night I decided to add a few drops of essential oil to the water in my crock pot. The bathroom smelled fabulous all day, even hours after I had turned the crock pot off!

So, if you find yourself needing a temporary small heater and don't want to go and buy one (or simply just don't want to go in to the store), try your crock pot filled part way up with water. What temp? I start it out on high for about an hour to get it warmed up, then turn it down to low. And to make it do double duty as a room air freshener, add to the water either a few drops of essential oil, a spoon or two of vanilla extract (or your favorite extract), citrus peels, or a sprinkle of spices (ground or whole) such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger or any of your favorites. Just be careful, keep an eye on it, and don't leave your crock pot on longer than safely suggested by the manufacturer.

And this summer, when you think you want to use your crock pot to cook dinner, to keep from heating up your kitchen, remember how well it worked as a heater during the winter!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

(DF) NOT the biggest turnips I've ever seen

As you can see from the photo, these turnips are not nearly so large as the ones Anna was talking about. They are the same variety, just smaller. As you may imagine, there is a reason for the difference in size.

While I have no idea how the larger ones were grown, I can point out a few reasons why these, which grew in my garden, are so small. First of all, I must say that the soil needs amended with compost and/or manure to offset the heavy clay in this part of my garden. Add to this, the fact that they were planted much later than I would ordinarily recommend (late September instead of mid August), and you start to see the picture. They were also planted very thick in the row, and never thinned. By very thick, I mean there may have been 1/4 inch or less between them, with the intention of thinning them to 4 - 6 inches apart when they were up and growing. I didn't get around to pulling dirt up around them either.

Had they been planted a bit earlier, in richer soil, thinned properly and dirt pulled up around them, this picture may have been a bit different. Honestly, when the first hard freeze hit and killed everything else in the garden, I wrote the whole thing off as a lost cause and went about other business. My mistake! As you can see, they made turnips in spite of the extreme lack of attention. I can also point out that even through the recent cold weather, the tops are still great for greens and the turnip below is as solid and tasty as I have seen.

Now to my real point for writing this post. I truly believe turnips are getting a bad rap. In reality, they are not only nutritious and delicious but quite easy to grow. As an example, if they will make even such small turnips in such poor soil, and with no care whatsoever, think what they will do with even a little work. And to top it off, they are a great food source for farm animals. Not many things in the garden can boast such qualities and still stay in the garden until we are ready to use them.

Next time you are thinking of planting a versatile, easy care fall crop in the garden, keep the lowly turnip in mind. You won't regret it.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Falling asleep last night with thoughts of ordering fruit trees, planting herbs and the concept of Valentine's Day flowers, all swirling in my head, as often happens with such things, the chaos gelled and the somewhat coherently combined thoughts woke me in the early morning hours, long before time to get up. Though I am not quite sure why all of these things were running in my thoughts at the same time, the coherent thoughts it produced were of reasons for planting flowers vs fruit and herbs.

First off, I would like to say that I have absolutely nothing against planting flowers and shrubs purely for their beauty. With that said, at the risk of sounding entirely too practical (though I most certainly am not), I tend to plant fruit and herbs instead of flowers strictly for their beauty. This seems a little strange to me as I do dearly love daffodils, lilacs, irises, roses and various other flowers that are primarily (if not totally) for the beauty.

My obvious argument for fruit instead of flowers is that fruit trees and herbs produce lots of beautiful flowers AND delicious food. In truth, the blossoms of fruit trees are, in my opinion, among the most beautiful and sweet smelling flowers. If the numerous shades of light pink do not provide enough variety, the herb garden can provide the full spectrum of colors including red, yellow, blue and everything between, from the brightest to the most subtle. There is also the consideration of contrast between colors of flowers and fruit, as with bush cherries, which are covered in springtime with lovely light pink blossoms, followed by loads of small, red cherries.

Though it sounds like I am defending my tendency to plant fruit instead of flowers, and in fact I am, there is really no substitute for the beauty of daffodils in early spring or the lush, fragrant lilacs. Roses are also almost a necessity. Flowers provide a beauty that the world would be a much duller and less joyous place without. Just keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with a combination of fruit, herbs and flowers, whichever you tend to prefer.


This morning, I woke up to find snow on the ground. Not much snow, sloppy wet snow, with the temperature barely below freezing letting it melt from underneath. It is enough to make me wish the field was already plowed to take full advantage though. This is the first snow of the year here, and after the warm winter leading up to it, this seems a bit wintery. Looking back though, and comparing it to this time last year, it is not so bad at all ............... almost tropical in fact.

Last year at this time, we had spent the past two weeks with what passes for deep snow and extreme cold here in Oklahoma. Driving conditions were lousy, the cold was bitter and nobody was prepared for it to stay on so long It was much more like the winters I remember from childhood.

With the rest of February and all of March ahead, it is almost certain that this won't be the last white stuff we will see. Nor will the mud it leaves in its wake be the last, but though it is inconvenient, the moisture and cold temperatures are necessary for things on the farm to grow and produce properly. For this reason, even those who don't like winter weather should consider it cause for gratitude. And of course, it could be worse.

With the world we know changing around us; everything from the economy to the climate shifting constantly, it is good to see things resemble what they have always been. However, lets not stop experimenting and preparing for the possibility of change. Learning new and more versatile ways will make any transition easier, but for now, it is good to see the seasonal cycles still working.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

(AF) Biggest Turnips I Ever Saw!

As Dave said in our last post, when he was at my farm last week, I cooked a big Pot Roast, loaded down with hunks of assorted root crop veggies. Sorry there isn't a pic. It just looked so yummy when I pulled it out of the oven, that we ate it before I took one .... ooops!

I don't tend to cook big meals much anymore when it is just me here. I love to cook. But it just isn't as much fun for just one person. I tend to keep it simple for just me. Less dishes to do that way, too, ha, ha. But I am really enjoying cooking again when Dave is around.

When I cook an oven pot roast, I like to load it down with big hunks of veggies. Sometimes, you have a hard time finding the roast for the veggies! I always use potatoes, carrots and onions, then anything else I might have that sounds good, such as corn-on-the-cob cut into short lengths. But on this particular day I had turnips..... nice, big, tasty turnips.

The feed store I had used for many years closed down a few months ago. After well over 100 years in business, this horrible economy did them in. It was so sad. So I had to find a new place to get my feed. I tried several places over the past few months. One place would be too expensive, but have excellent service. Another place would have good prices, but have lousy service. Then I finally stumbled upon one that was hidden in a tiny little pocket of woods on the opposite side of our town. It had been there for many, many years, and I can't believe I had never found it before!

This place has great prices.... and terrific, friendly service! I sure wish I had found them a lot sooner. They are professional, yet they still have that down home, old-fashioned, country feel to them. And they are always doing little things to show their customers how much they appreciate them. You don't find that at many businesses any more! And one of those 'little things' is passing out home grown turnips to their customers.

Ever since late Fall, nearly every time I stop in to get feed, there is a milk crate or two full of home grown turnips setting just outside the door. And just inside the door you can find a sack to bag up a few turnips in. These delicious turnips are provided free for the customers, to show how much they are appreciated. I just love this feed store! (MFA Feed)

These turnips are, by far, the BIGGEST turnips I have ever seen! You would expect them to be all woody and pethy. But they actually cook up delicious and very tender! I was surprised. And these were the turnips I had loaded down in that Pot Roast I cooked for Dave. As big as they were (I did cut them into chunks), they roasted up beautifully, and melted in your mouth as you bit into them.

My goats were happy, too. They got all the trimmings and peelings off of the turnips. I didn't realize they loved turnips so much. I had to stand by close to keep them from fighting over them. We will have to grow a few extra turnips for our goats this year, for sure.

I asked what kind these big, beautiful turnips were. They said that they were simply the old-fashioned Purple Tops. They said that they just really grew big this season, which was even more amazing with the hard drought we had!  I think I will get my Purple Top seeds from a regular farm store or farm section of a seed catalog this year and see if they grow better than those little packets I have been getting at our discount stores. I would love to have a good crop of these put back next Fall for Winter's eating - ours and the goats'. These are wonderful turnips, not only roasted, but simply boiled with a little butter drizzled over them and sprinkled with natural salt. I can (and have) make a whole meal off of them.  Oh, and the pic that I have posted below ..... these were the medium-sized ones. They had a few that were a little smaller, and some that were even much larger than these!

If you have any tips on how to grow quality turnips this large, I would love to hear them.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Tuesday, the intent was for me to be at Anna's place about noon. It didn't happen quite that way, it was one of those days when everything seems to fight for attention and delay any plans that get in the way. I finally got there about sun down (if the sun had been shining).

We spent the damp, chilly evening discussing matters of business and our future together. Meanwhile she cooked a venison roast with potatoes, onions, carrots and turnips. If I didn't love this woman already, the roast would have done the trick. Time flies when you're having fun, as they say, and at some point, we realized that it was already early morning, so we opted for a bit of much needed sleep.

Morning came, overcast and chilly in spite of the forecast of sunny and warm. The late morning was spent taking care of puppies and more talk of making the necessary adjustments for combining our separate lives. As with any change in lifestyle, the transitions will be a challenge, but more than worth it.

By afternoon, it was time to cut some firewood (the practical aspects really MUST be worked in). Turns out that all the large, dead trees at Anna's place are leaning heavily toward the house or the fence, and will have to be pulled the right direction with a rope. A rope we do not have at this point, as a matter of fact, so I cut up some dead tree tops and small dead trees, which needed cleaned up anyway. Needless to say, a long rope is on the immediate purchase list.

I had intended to leave Wednesday evening, but we ended up going over catalogs and picking out fruit trees for our orchard instead. It was hard to leave Thursday morning but I really had to get back and get some work done. Actually made it home before the truck broke down (head gasket, hopefully nothing worse) but that is a tale for a later post. Maybe after the cold spell.

It seems I am rambling a bit, but the point here is that a lot of important work, planning and decision making took place in a relatively short time, as well as some desperately needed together time. Problem is that each time we part, it is harder, giving more incentive for me to get fences and other preparations made as quickly as possible. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Recently, it came to my attention that the power company was selling the changed out power poles quite cheaply. With goat pasture in mind, and the price of corner posts being very high, I decided to check it out. As an added thought, there is the shop building I am hoping to build soon which will take several poles.

As it turns out, there was a catch. There is always a catch of some kind. The poles are cut into shorter lengths, to be used for posts only, so no shop poles here. There is also an agreement to sign stating that the poles will not be used inside buildings, that they won't be burned, that the person receiving them takes full responsibility, etc.

The price was VERY, VERY cheap, which was what I expected from the information I had received. What I did not expect from this company was for the attendant to load them for me with a fork lift. In no time at all, the trailer was loaded and I was driving away with a load of posts, for almost no cash outlay. As an added bonus, I immediately noticed that the ground wires had not been removed, leaving the potential for recovering much (if not all) of the price in scrap copper and aluminum.

Company policies vary as to price of used poles and some remove all the wire before letting the poles go, but all things considered, if you are needing posts the power company is worth checking into. As it turned out, I ended up with twenty five posts. Considering the need for at least twenty, and the local price of about $16 each for treated corner posts, the savings is over $300. Not bad wages for a couple of hours and a ten mile drive to the power company.

Yes, this is the same power company I was complaining about a while back. And yes, it is the same power company I am hoping to gradually eliminate from my life. However, the need for the goat pasture is more important than my personal distaste for the power company, and my tightwad tendencies lead me to take advantage of the opportunity.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

(DF) SATURDAY AUCTION.....a tightwad's tale of bargains, breaking even and lousey weather reports

With spring approaching and time moving on, as it does, the new goat pasture fence is long past due. Problem is that fencing material is rather pricey. Being a confirmed tightwad, I will only pay full price if I absolutely have to, so I am always looking for a bargain. Anna and I have also been thinking of rabbits and she needs a goose to go with her gander. Add to these considerations the trailer I've been trying to sell for some time now with no results and the auction seemed the most reasonable answer.

The auction in question is located about fifty miles from my place and is held every first Saturday. They take consignments of poultry and other small animals, equipment and vehicles, and miscellaneous. Miscellaneous in this case means just about anything that can be hauled in and placed in rows in a twenty acre field. Keep in mind that prices at auctions are not always cheap, so be careful.

With a good weather forecast for the weekend, I took the trailer on Thursday and signed it in for sale and made plans to return for the auction on Saturday. Though we had heavy rain Friday night, the forecast for Saturday was warm and sunny with a light breeze. So far so good, right?

Saturday morning was warm (about fifty degrees), though still overcast. Running a little late and in a hurry, I made the first mistake of the day........... I set out wearing a light jacket, forgetting my heavy coat entirely. While still on the road, it began to rain lightly, but there was still hope that the lingering clouds would clear out soon.

Arriving at the auction, I immediately found that there were no geese, no rabbits of the type we had hoped to acquire and very little else in the way of poultry and small animals. Yes, that was disappointing. The next disappointment came when I found that a large pile of fence posts had already sold.

By this time, the temperature was cooling down and a cold, damp north wind had begun to blow. So much for a warm, sunny Saturday, but I was determined to make the best of it. The rest of the day was spent running back and forth between four auctioneers on all sides of the auction yard, in an attempt to avoid missing any good deals. Of course I did miss some good deals, but not all of them.

At the end of the day, I left the auction with fence posts and wire, enough cash from sale of the trailer to break even (had really hoped to make a profit), and a chill that had me shivering for hours, from the damp, cold wind (the temperature had already dropped to about forty degrees).

As you can see from the picture, the pile of fence material is not big enough to be impressive. However, it does represent a savings of over $200 compared to new price. All in all, not a bad day for a tightwad.

(AF) Tub of Potatoes - A Tutorial

As I said in my last post, I am really getting the itch to plant stuff. It is cool today (actually, it's downright cold), but it has been exceptionally warm most of the winter, especially of late. The beautifully warm weather, the tantalizing fragrance of the damp earth as rains finally come, and the mouthwatering sight of all the yummy wild edibles springing up everywhere (nearly 2 months early) has all been too much. So on the 1st of this month, I got out and planted a tub of potatoes (yes, I know, it 's just February).

A tub of potatoes? . . . . . . . Yes, a tub . . . . . . .  There are a large number of ways to plant potatoes, and I haven't even begun to try them all. Dave and I are going to make this the year that we try several new methods and let you know how they work and which ones we think work best. I am sure that different methods will work better than others under different weather and growing conditions. I think Dave has two plantings in now (visit here and here to read about his plantings), this will be our third. Okay, so back to the tub of taters. Planted in a large bucket - plastic trash can - tub - etc - with a few holes in the bottom for drainage - potatoes are suppose to produce even more than when planted in the ground (per square foot), so we will see. Even better, harvesting them is suppose to be a breeze. Just tip the bucket over on its side, jiggle the dirt/mass of potatoes around a little, and pick up your crop.... no digging required! I like that idea!!!!

This container-type growing of potatoes also allows anyone to grow potatoes, even people with just a small patio/balcony space and no yard. So, here we go, here is how I planted my potatoes this time:

I started out with 3 red potatoes I had that had begun to sprout. No sense in tossing them out.

 First, the potatoes need to be cut into chunks, leaving about 2 to 3 eyes per chunk. I tried to make sure each piece had at least one really good, actively growing sprout, but some of them simply had eyes with sprouts that were just trying to form, and that is okay, too. Just make sure the eyes look like they are alive. This is much easier with purchased "seed" potatoes, but if your leftover store bought potatoes are sprouting, they will usually grow. 
Note: Most store bought potatoes are sprayed with an anti-sprouting chemical which makes them a bad choice for planting. But this is done in bulk and often times, one side of the potato, or even entire potatoes, are missed with the spray and they will go ahead and sprout, consequently, they will also grow. I purchased these (for table use) from our local produce market. Purchasing your root veggies from a local produce market that purchases most of their stock from locals, greatly reduces the probability that they had been chemically coated (though it is no guarantee).

Now let your chunks of potatoes 'cure' for a few days. (let the cuts dry and heal over) Mine dried for about 5 days before I got back to planting them, which was almost too long. I had them in the room with the wood stove, about 15 feet from it, and 3 days of 'curing' would have been just right. This curing process helps to keep your 'seeds' from rotting before they get the chance to start growing. That little chunk of potato is what feeds your sprouts until they establish roots and can begin to grow on their own. 

This is one of Dave's tubs. I ended up with it from our pear picking escapade (you can read about that story here and here). I kept intending to get it back to him, but I looked at it the other day and thought, "Yes, that would work great for planting some potatoes in." so ..... he isn't getting it back for awhile, lol. Sorry, Dave. *grins, bats eyes, and gives Dave a hug* You can't see it from this pic, but this tub has a couple of drainage holes in the bottom. Make sure whatever tub you use has some drainage holes or your potatoes will rot.

In the bottom of the tub I put in some really nutrient rich, good quality soil and spread it out level... about 2 inches deep. The soil is slightly loose, but not too loose. It should hold moisture well but not stay soggy. I placed the potatoes into the soil, cut sides down, pressing them into the soil just a little. The potatoes are spaced evenly apart, and, since this time of year we still have a good chance of cold weather to come, I kept the potatoes away from the sides of the tub to lessen the chances of them freezing. I probably have too many planted in this tub (half this many would probably have been sufficient), but since they weren't regular seed potatoes, and some of the sprouts looked iffey, I planted double what I thought I might need. 

 To cover the potatoes, I used rich, very loose, compost. I have a pile of composted old hay, leaves, kitchen veggie trimmings, and goat manure. It is ultra rich, very loose, and holds only a small amount of moisture. I am thinking it will work very well for this step. I am hoping I am right. I carefully spread about a 2-inch depth of this beautiful, black compost over the top of the potatoes and watered it all in well. 

And that is it for the moment. Now we wait for the sprouts to emerge through the soil. The next step? - as the sprouts begin to peek and grow through the soil, I will add a layer of old hay that is just beginning to compost. As the potatoes plants grow, I will alternate layers of my old hay with the loose compost until the tub is completely full of 'soil'. Then the hard part.... being patient as I wait for the potatoes underneath all that soil to grow and mature. I will post updates as my Tub of Potatoes progresses.

And now, all this talk of potatoes has me hungry! I am going to head into the kitchen and make me a skillet full of Fried Potatoes & Onions. Mmmmm..... my tummy is growling at the thought.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

(AF) Dandelions in January!

Oh, my, I certainly have some catching up to do with everyone! When life gets eventful and busy, time can really get away from you. The bad part is, it is during those hectic, eventful, busy times that there are so many interesting things one could be writing about, but you just can't seem to find the time to stop and write. Also, the weather this winter has been so unseasonably warm and beautiful, I have had a hard time making myself stay indoors long enough to sit at my computer. I truly enjoyed the warm January this year. It was a refreshing change from the January ice storms we have been experiencing.

February has also started out warm. But then a cold front hit, storms and lots of rain fell, and it has turned off cold, damp and dreary (the weather man drastically missed today's highs, I should have listened closer to what my body had been trying to tell me, my bones had the prediction right on). So the flea market that I have my two little shops at has been closed the last 2 days, and I am unsure of tomorrow. So, with getting rained out, and a little unexpected free time (ha, ha, there is no such thing), get ready for a flood of catch-up posts.  I hope you don't mind.

As I said, it has been unseasonably warm. Even Dave's Daffodils have started blooming, unbelievable! (mine are up, but not bloomed out, yet)  But it was so warm, even at the beginning of January, that the Dandelions began to bloom, too. I don't think I have ever seen them bloom this early! Out at the flea market, the Dandelions have been bloomed out ever since the end of December. January 15th, I finally remembered to take my camera with me to take a picture of them. They are really starting to thicken up and, as you can see, other vegetation is beginning to green up, too.   Seeing all this stuff growing is giving me early gardening fever! .... much earlier and stronger than ever before.  I know that winter is far from over, but with all this warm weather (and now the rain to moisten everything), I am tempted to take the gamble and plant a few things that I have plenty of seeds for. For awhile now, the weather patterns have been so crazy (and getting crazier), that the gamble might actually pay off with some nice surprises.
And this year, I really must try out some of the many uses I have come across for Dandelions. If you have ever successfully found a use for any part of the Dandelion, I would love it if you would share your story here with us!

(D♥A) Celebration In Order

As the old saying goes... "Time flies when you are having fun!"

Thursday, Dave and I celebrated 6 months together. And it has been a wonderful 6 months! We started out conversing by emails ..... then loooonnnng phone conversations ...... then, before we knew what hit us, love took hold!

And now, here we are, 6 months later, feeling like a couple of teenagers in love, compatibility still growing by the day, and, as unbelievably much as we see that we have in common, we STILL continue to find more and more little things that we have in common, things that still baffles us that anyone could have in common with anyone. It's a great feeling!

We got to spend some much needed, quality time together, even getting to go eat out that evening, at a little, old-fashioned, hole-in-the-wall, burger joint, where the food is still cooked the way it use to be (and still should be).

We also got to spend the entire day together yesterday. It was a real treat to get to have that much, unrushed, non-work, quality time together. We so needed it! It was nearly midnight last night when we finally parted ways, and each time we do, it gets harder and harder, but farm business was calling to us.

I have no doubt, that regardless of what life throws us, our next 6 months will be even better!