Monday, June 27, 2016

The ultimate curse

Reader Rob sent a charming email that concluded with what I thought was a wonderful "curse."


"May you have a rich harvest of produce and familial love. It drives the feminists nuts!!"

Can I get an amen?

Friday, June 24, 2016

One last time. No really, I mean it

Okay, I did it one last time for the season. I lit a fire in the cookstove.

As I've mentioned before, our weather has been ricocheting all over the place for the last few weeks. Today it's so cold and rainy and windy that it was time to light a fire.

This is looking out our back rain-drenched window at the willow trees bent sideways in the wind.

At times it rained so hard it formed bubbles in the puddles.

I saw both a robin and a hummingbird, bracing themselves against the wind.

We also noticed this enterprising little sparrow, t-t-t-taking a b-b-b-bath.

So far today temps have topped off at 46F.

We had a brief break in the rain, which allowed the cows to luxuriate in the wet grass...

...oblivious to the flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder portending a massive cell moving over us.

When it hit, the animals went dashing for cover. Our horse, Brit, is just a blur.

It was quite a rain and hail dump.

The chickens huddled in the barn.

It's supposed to be much warmer tomorrow.

Despite the fact that outdoor work isn't likely today, I can't grumble. The southwest is having massive wildfires and staggering heat waves. Last summer, our own weather was horrifically hot and dry. Believe me, cool rainy weather is a blessing from God.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Darn those sunbeams

Caught in a sunbeam ... can't ... move ...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Garden projects

We've been having the weirdest durn spring. The temperatures have been ricocheting between mid-90s as a high to low 50s as a high. Once or twice nighttime temps have dropped to a hair's breath above freezing (thankfully not below or I'd have lost a lot of stuff in the garden). Yesterday was beautifully warm and sunny with temps in the low 80s; this morning it's howling wind, chilly temps, and occasional rain dumps. Go figure.

But the garden is forging on, with the plants bravely facing whatever the fickle weather throws their way, although I think they're getting whiplash from the constant variables.

We needed to address a couple of garden infrastructure issues, particularly the means for climbing things to actually climb. The first of these were the peas. They needed a trellis.

The plants were beginning to flower, and those curly little tendrils were looking for something to grasp.

Don rustled up some sturdy fiberglass poles we had lying around. Where did we get these? No idea. I think they came off a salvage pile we harvested somewhere awhile ago.

Don hammered them into the pea beds so we could attach some fencing to them to act as a trellis.

Then I rustled up a small roll of three-foot-high fencing.

The roll turned out to be almost precisely the right length. All I had to do was cut it in half, then later trimmed off about six inches of surplus at one end. I strung up the fencing pieces and wired it to the fiberglass poles.

Within hours, the first tendrils found their way to the trellis. Climbing plants are truly amazing.

While I fussed with the peas, Don started another project: a grape arbor.

We'd been interested in trying grapes for a couple of years. Earlier in the spring, we stopped -- for an entirely unrelated reason (fish for Younger Daughter's aquarium) -- at a store in Spokane that sold pet and gardening supplies, and to my happy surprise they had a variety of grapes available in their gardening center at very reasonable prices, $7 each if I recall.

We ended up purchasing two each of two varieties: Canadice, a red grape suitable for fresh eating, juicing, or wine...

...and Himrod, another multi-purpose (fresh eating and juice) grape, this one described as either white/light green, or gold-yellow (depending on what source is consulted). Both varieties are winter-hardy.

I temporarily potted the grapes in five-gallon pots.

To build boxes for the grapes, Don used scrap lumber from an old barn we tore down and trotted home many many years ago.

He cut the lumber sized to fit an arching cattle panel (some people call them hog panels).

The idea was to take part of the garden fence which had been temporarily blocked off, and build an archway opening.

We peeled back the fencing and carefully measured, then Don drilled some holes with the auger.

Then he bolted an archway to a couple of pressure-treated 4x4s. Where did the fancy metal arch come from? A lucky find at the dumpsters several months ago. Apparently someone had a fancy metal structure, possibly part of a gazebo, that had come down in the wind. They had shucked all the structural components in the dump. Don found and carried home the parts since they were too pretty to go to waste.

(One of the many things I love about my husband is his creativity and ability to see beauty and possibility in what others call junk.)

We raised the frame and settled the 4x4s in the holes, and temporarily braced it into place.

Then Don started constructing boxes at the inside base of the arch.

Then he mixed some concrete, and cemented the 4x4s into place.

Next we stretched a cattle panel loosely across from box to box.

Then he U-nailed it into place on the rim of the boxes... well as added a U-nail to the upright for added stability.

Then I filled the boxes partway, added the grapes, and filled the boxes to the top, gently packing the dirt around the grape plants.

One of the plants was long enough that I could twine it through the panel.

Eventually we'll add these fancy uprights in front of the 4x4s.

Don also plans to build wooden gates in front of the arch, though for the moment we've simply re-blocked it with fencing to keep the deer out.

Little by little, that's the name of the game.