Country Living Series

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Garden update

Sorry for the blog silence -- it's been something of a loopy week! Plus July heat is now upon us, which takes some adjustment after the lovely cool June we had.

But at least the garden is enjoying the heat. Let me take you on a tour to show the good, bad, and ugly of this year's garden.

Corn. Unlike years past where I grew our faithful Yukon Chief corn, this year I did something different. I planted popcorn.

I'd wanted to try popcorn for a long time but it's hard to grow in our short seasons. However I finally found a short-season heirloom popcorn and purchased some seed.

I planted it May 21 and it's doing splendidly. The old adage goes, "Knee high by the 4th of July," and it surpassed that, so it's on target to harvest before the frost. I hope.

Here's the corn on July 4:

And here it is early this morning, July 14:

I'm growing seed poppies again this year. I adore poppy seeds (the girls always teased me how I would literally blacken my English muffins with poppy seeds) and it's fun to be able to grow our own.

Here are some of the seed pods. These are green, but when they dry and go brown, the seeds will be ready.

Peas. I don't know what it is about peas, but I think they're one of the loveliest of garden plants.

The pods are plumping nicely and should be ready to pick in a week, maybe two.

Cayenne peppers.

Carrots. I have three beds and should probably have planted more. I love canned carrots.

Onions. I grew four beds of onions from sets, three beds of yellow onions and one bed of red onions.

Potatoes. I have five beds, four of russet and one of red potatoes.

Here are the herbs. Sage:


Parsley. I have a plant that overwintered and is now going to seed, which will be nice for starting next year's plants.

Thyme. I have a small tire of thyme that's overgrown with grass, and I want to get rid of it (it will require a tractor to lift it, so I haven't gotten around to it yet). But last year it seeded itself into the adjacent box where we're growing grapes, so suddenly I have this beautiful bed of thyme growing around the grapes.

Spearmint. This started as one little plant I purchased a few years ago, and goodness it has spread. This underscores one of the benefits of planting in tires -- I can plant spread-y stuff like mint and not worry it will take over the whole garden. It's a funny relationship I have with this spearmint. I'm not overly crazy about the taste, but the smell is divine -- to die for -- almost perfume-y in quality. I just love it for its smell.

(Not pictured: oregano and basil.)

Broccoli, my all-time hands-down favorite vegetable. In years past I consistently lost all the broccoli to aphids. But this year? Success!

Why the difference this year? It's because I prophylactically sprayed the leaves with neem oil, an organic biopesticide. I sprayed the leaves every few days ever since transplanting, and the aphids never even stood a chance because they didn't have the opportunity to get established. Neem oil concentrate is now part of my prepper supplies. Losing garden plants to aphids is not something you want to happen if you're depending on a garden for survival.

Raspberries. They're just starting to peak.

We've been picking and dehydrating them.

Grapes. I'm so tickled by the grapes!

Last year they did well but we didn't get any fruit because the chickens ate everything. This year the chickens are strictly banned from the garden and so far so good in watching the baby fruit grow and swell.

Garlic. Ah, love the garlic.

It's time to trim the scapes. Don is going to try pickling them this year.

Watermelon. I planted four tires of watermelon, each tire with four plants. Not all the plants grew, but enough (hopefully) to have some late-summer snacks. These are Cream of Saskatchewan watermelons, a short-season heirloom variety. Last year the chickens ate every watermelon as it developed, though I was able to rescue a couple for seed.

Cantaloupe. These won't grow as big as the ones available in grocery stores, but they are so so so sweet.

Tomatoes. This year I planted 14 tires of a hybrid variety. Yes, hybrid. Just for kicks.

Blueberries. These are the mature plants (no photos of the younger plants, sorry).

Most of the berries are still green, but a few are ripening. Last year I didn't get one single blueberry thanks to the chickens. Ah, it's so nice to have the chickens excluded from the garden. They did a lot of damage last year.

Orchard. Don just mowed and weed-whacked around the tires, and I weeded inside the tires around the trees.

Discovered two yellow-jacket nests inside tires, and two in the ground. It's a stinkin' miracle neither of us were stung. I've got the ground nests marked with sticks pointing at them, and one day soon I'll wait until dark, suit up, and go spray the durn things.

Here's one of the nests in a tree tire:

The ground nests were harder to photograph (obviously I'm standing a distance away and zooming in) -- you can see a blurry unfocused yellow jacket just emerging from the hole at top center of the picture.

The trees are all healthy and strong (except one apple that died when the wind blew it over -- we'll replace it), but the only fruit I'm getting this year is apples. No plums, peaches, or hazelnuts. I'm not terribly fussed by this -- the trees are still in their infancy and becoming established.

That's the skinny on the garden. Thanks for coming with me!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

God bless America, John Wayne style

Reader Stephen forwarded the most awesome video clip. It was filmed in 1970. Somehow I doubt it could be recreated today with the current crop in Hollywood.

Check. It. Out.

Thanks Stephen!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

A very generous cow

Here's our cow Victoria. Notice she's nursing not one, not two, but three calves.

That's one generous cow, that's all I can say.

Friday, July 6, 2018

The sad life of Johnny Depp

My kids are great fans of Johnny Depp since they've enjoyed watching his various movie roles. There's no question he's a talented actor who's brought iconic roles to life, particularly Captain Jack Sparrow.

But as with so many people for whom fame came hard and fast, his personal life is predictably imploding. Consider this article entitled "The Trouble With Johnny Depp: Multimillion-dollar lawsuits, a haze of booze and hash, a marriage gone very wrong and a lifestyle he can’t afford."

It's a long and depressing read and almost sounds like Depp is a "lost boy" who never quite grew up. It discusses how the $650 million he made from his films is now gone, he's alone with no family, he's drinking and doing drugs, he's losing his acting ability ... It makes me wonder how long until we read the shocked headlines of his passing through some drug-induced accident?

Depp and I are the same age, 55. Somehow I feel richer, far richer, than Depp ever was even at the height of his fame.

Sigh. What a shame.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Celebrating Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!

As with most days, Don and I didn't do anything especially earth-shattering today, but nearly everything we did contributed to an independent lifestyle in the manner the Founding Fathers foresaw. Here's some of the ways we celebrated our independence.

We set our own schedules. I'm a morning person and Don is a night owl, so we can work in accordance with our internal clock. It's not unusual to find me writing an article or weeding the garden at 5 am.

I worked in the garden, watering and weeding (I'll post a garden update in the near future). Unlike the rest of the nation sizzling in horrific heat, June has been remarkably chilly here, which has affected how well some things are growing. But the corn, potatoes, onions, and raspberries are particularly lush. Growing our own food contributes to our independence.

We're working on a production run of tankards. Self-employment and a freelance lifestyle contribute to our independence.

We took Mr. Darcy for his morning and afternoon walks. We're blessed to live in a place of wide-open spaces where a dog can stretch his young muscles.

I'm nearly finished with an article for Backwoods Home Magazine. Not only is this publication staffed by wonderful people, but it also celebrates freedom and independence in every issue by promoting self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

I made some strawberry preserves this week to handle the abundance of fruit we're getting. Preserving food contributes to our independence.

I cleaned out the chicken coop, a long-overdue task.

We have one setting hen as well. Happy birds make for happy eggs.

Tonight we're joining neighbors for a potluck and some modest fireworks. Community is critical and contributes toward independence in that it decreases dependence on government services.

Why do I harp on independence? Why do Don and I insist on independence lifestyles? Consider a portion from a WND column I wrote a couple years ago:
It is up to the individual to rediscover personal independence. No one can change someone else; he can only change himself.

So folks, it’s time to make your own personal declaration of independence. What does this mean, a personal declaration of independence?

It will mean different things for different people depending on age, circumstances, educational level, financial situation, health and endless other factors. But the common denominator is to withdraw and wean yourself away from any and all government connections, whenever possible.

This means you don’t look to the government to provide you with health care, education, entitlements, housing, transportation, food or any other necessity unless it’s a matter of life or death.

The reason is simple: The more you depend on the government, the more the government controls you. If you depend on the government for food, or housing, or education, or health care – then the government can dictate everything having to do with what you eat, where you live, how you’re educated and how your health issues are treated.

In contrast to dependency, independence is hard work. It means you are sometimes deprived of the things you want. It means you have to delay gratification. It means you have to take risks and rise to meet challenges. It also breeds satisfaction, pride in a job well done and contentment.

Independence doesn’t happen overnight. Many things take a long time to figure out or plan for or achieve. Independence requires goal-setting and constant striving toward those goals. It requires a hard look at budgets and spending habits and other financial outlays. It means establishing priorities.

Independence can be frustrating because failures and setbacks are constant; but that’s the price. The rewards are immeasurable.

Above all, this kind of move toward personal independence teaches your children unspeakably valuable lessons: that independence is better than dependence, and that freedom is better than servitude.
A happy, safe, and blessed Independence Day to everyone.