Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Cookie Toast

A Cookie Toast to Grandma by her 9 Grandchildren

5 + First, there were the original 5 grandkids growing up together.
2 + Then, we added 2 Roe boys who we got to watch grow up.
2 + Finally, we took in 2 Shreves kids as the family grew some more.
= 9 Grandkids

9 grandkids Grandma had.
90 times the Tupperware container in the frig was opened by each grandchild.
900 batches of chocolate chip cookies were baked with love and joy.
9000 chocolate chip filled cookies enjoyed by everyone.

9 chocolate chip cookies remain from the last batch baked with love and joy.
9 very sad grandchildren gather to share Grandma’s love one final time.
9 final lifts of the creamy white Tupperware container that stored Grandma’s love.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Grandma's Chocolate Chip Cookies

All my life, for as long as I can remember, there has always been a creamy white rectangle Tupperware container in the bottom of Grandma Edith's frig.  That is where the most coveted of all treats for us grandchildren have been kept - the chocolate chip cookies. 

So what is so great about this container of cookies in the frig?  It has held love and hugs for 46 years, ready for anyone to have.

Everyone has their traditions, their memories of things from their childhood.  This simple rectangular Tupperware container holds in it my entire childhood.  Even as an adult, the simple act of yelling out to Grandma that I am here as I come in the door, I am taken back to being a kid and the first place I stop is the frig to grab a chocolate chip cookie as I walk through the kitchen.  It is like a step back in time with every bite.

Since moving back home, I have had the rare treat of coming to Grandma's house to find a fresh batch of cookies warm, just out of the oven and cooling, ready to refill that wonderful container.  A few weeks ago I had, unknown at that time, the last opportunity to relish in one of these fresh baked chocolate chip cookies made by Grandma.  It was the last batch she made. 

In the past week as the family was cleaning out the frig and we were having a leftover meal, out came the last of the chocolate cookies, just laid out on a plate like they were store bought.  Up to this point, only some of the grandchildren, 9 not counting the great-grandkids, have been here for their last chocolate cookie from the creamy white Tupperware container.  So naturally, as the oldest grandchild and the only grandchild at the table, I got very defensive about the lackadaisical treatment of the final batch of chocolate chip cookies.  When I finally got it across to my aunts, my mother, and the rest of the family how important these cookies were, there were exactly 9 cookies left.  I managed to secure these 9 cookies and they are safe until they can be shared by the 9 grandchildren at Grandma's funeral dinner. 

I hope my story has given you a chance to find your own memory of your grandma.

An early Christmas message. . .. . .have a very merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

Just a quick note to those of you you check in here regularly.

I am not sending out cards this year so this is it.  My grandmother is on her last days having been diagnosed a couple weeks ago with an aggressive pancreatic cancer.  The family has gathered and more are on their way if the weather cooperates.

Grandma always loved the holidays, especially Christmas because of the joy and wonder she got to see in her grandkids and great-grandkids faces as presents were opened.  The table is always buzzing with stories as we eat way too much great food.  Grandma is not doing the cooking this year but that does not mean we go without.  Friends have stopped by for a visit, some have brought us whole meals.  We are not losing any weight this holiday season with all the cookies and chocolates and nuts that seem to be readily available.

This is my last remaining grandparent.  When she is gone that means no more coffee with her, no more sneaking out for lunch in the middle of the week, no more chocolate chip cookies in the frig (watch for that story coming soon), and no more mocha balls or chocolate sheet cake.  So many things leave when your grandma passes on but I have 46 years of memories to last me until I see her again in Heaven.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The void after Halloween. Time for that other holiday!

On December 2nd at 8 p.m. I finished taking down the last spider that you see hanging from the ceiling in this picture.  Everything else is put away in its containers in the closets.  I appear to be lacking a plastic storage bin for the last of the ghost sheets, as they are still folded and in a pile on the end of the couch.  On Dec 3, I dismantled the graveyard and put all the ghost heads and headstones away.  Even took out all the spider webbing that I could reach - one is very high up - and have put that all in the trash or washed it and put it away (in the case of the cheese cloth). 

The only Halloween that remains is the boo ghost light you see in the upper left hand corner as it is a year around beacon of light but takes on the elements of the holiday season. 


There is a large ceramic jack-o-latern under the cabinet and 2 ceramic smaller ones still outside at their post on the edge of the deck.

So that brings us to December 4th, today.  I decided last night I did not want to put up the big tree as there will be minimal presents under it.  So I started to gather the decorations for Christmas only and there they are on the recently cleared dining room table.

I have taken a few things to the office to spruce that up just in case someone comes in and needs a little Christmas cheer.  I have the outside tree ornaments ready to go, just waiting for a less windy and hopefully less cold day to hang those but I will likely get them out this weekend no matter what the temperature is.  I like having something hanging on the blue spruce outside the picture window as it provides an outdoor element to enjoy from the warmth of inside.  Actually, you have to be inside the house to see the decorations as they do not encompass the whole tree, just that portion viewed through the picture window. 


Yes there are lights on the skinny, odd looking Christmas tree, and so far just the one ornament but I have some others to add if I so choose.  In fact, I have enough ornaments to decorate probably 3-4 trees.  Some are from my daughter's childhood and stay tucked away in the back of the closet in her room neatly under everything else, never coming out for review.  I have 2 table top trees, one that sings carols and one from my cousin's wedding in the colors of K-State.  The cats like the K-State tree so I am debating not taking that one out this year, too many lost ornaments, that is what the cats seem to think they are allowed to play with.

So this is the chaos currently.  I have to figure out where to put all the stockings and where to place the multiple Santa hats that I also have acquired.  So check back for picture updates, but for now, here is what we have.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Welcome winter - now what do I do?

Today was the official start of the winter weather work.  What does that mean you ask?  Well it means that I better have all the hoses drained and mostly put away in the garden shed, along with the tomato cages.  Guess what - this is not yet completed.  I am about 85% done with this. 

Today I started washing ghosts.  I have the ghost kids mostly done, and the ghosts that lined the retaining wall along with about half of the ghosts that were hanging on the deck.  However, 3 ghosts remain steadfast at their posts - 2 on the deck and the one by the mums.  By the end of the weekend, I will have them all washed, dried, folded and tucked away in their ghost holding container until they are called upon once again in early October 2014. 



We also got a blast of arctic air so that means fireplace is heating the house, which in turn means I have to haul wood in from the pile outside.  I got the woodbox, the kindling box, the shingle bucket and the cedar scrap bucket filled up once again and in their spots around the fireplace. 




Of course the wood piles outside are holding steady and slowly giving up their logs to heat the house.  If you can see any numbers on the ends let me know, I seem to grab the 90 degree ones when I already have the house in the mid 80s.  Currently, one log at a time and we are comfortable at 82-84.



This is going to be my daily life for the next few months.  Oh sure, there will be the occasional holiday dinner with the extended family.  There will be a little bit of decorating the house for the holidays.  Which will then lead to the un-Christmas decorating in January.  I have a wonderful snowman collection that will be going up after Thanksgiving and will stay up until the end of March. 

My goal is to have Halloween packed up and put away by Thanksgiving.  Hopefully in doing that I will also find some missing items that have been misplaced during the month of October because of the hoard of spiders and ghosts and other creepy things that invaded the house.  Amazingly, I found something just the other day that I had misplaced in late August/early September.  Oh what a happy day was that!

I know these items are in the house because that is the last place they were seen.  I think some serious cleaning and reorganizing and general clearing out of things is in order.  So you see, even in the cold of winter when there is nothing to do outside, there is plenty to do inside and I plan to get it done before the end of the year!!!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and may the start of this holiday season find you surrounded by family and friends, loved ones, happiness and simple pleasures.

Monday, November 18, 2013

TUMBLEWEED SEASON

One of the great joys here on the prairie in the late fall is tumbleweed season.  This can last for months and is dependent on so many factors.  Your best option of seeing what I call the great tumbleweed migration is to drive across the state of Kansas and into Eastern Colorado - sure western Nebraska and the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas would be good places as well, although I have never been south of I-70 to verify this.

What is tumbleweed season you ask?  (did you ask me yet?)  Well let me tell you a little story of acrobatics, strength in numbers, and unfortunately death and destruction.

Tumbleweeds are dried up pig and fire weeds that were allowed to prosper in the ditches, along fence lines and field edges.  These weeds, just like everything else in the fall, go into their dormant state, dry up and drop their seeds all around.  Once the weeds are dried completely it takes one good gust of wind to break them at ground level and send them out into the wild frontier to spread their seeds and play games like Red Rover and Chicken.


The Great Tumbleweed Migration
It was a windy day (out of the south) in November as I drove west on I-70 to go visit my daughter and get my hair cut.  Suddenly, out of the field on the south side of the road came this 2 foot by 3 foot cartwheeling monster of a tumbleweed across the interstate, daring me into a game of Chicken.  I thought to myself, must be the migration, wonder where this one is going?  I watched the tumbleweed cross all four lanes of the interstate (going right in front of my car), with the grace and ease of a professional acrobat.  Then as quick as it was there on the highway with me it was gone, down into the ditch and up and over the fence along the edge of a stubble field.  The tumbleweed popped up and over the fence as if it suddenly was in a pole vault competition, cleared the fence and tumbled on through the stubble field.  My guess is this is another effective way they scatter their seeds for next years group of weeds hoping to make it to migration season. 

There were lots of other tumbleweeds that did not make the vault over the fence and were tangled in the fence, bringing it to life as a wall of tumbleweeds.  They looked like they were daring the others to play nature's game of Red Rover.  Once caught in the web of weeds at the fence row, it takes a lot of wind from the opposite direction to dislodge the weeds and set them free to tumble and play once again.

As I drove down the interstate I saw a tumbleweed that decided to take a ride on the front of a semi-truck.  There it was in the grill of the truck, hanging on for dear life.  I could almost hear it squeal with glee as it traveled down the interstate at speeds in excess of 70 mph.

Other tumbleweeds were not so lucky.  They play chicken with the vehicles on the road and just as predicted they lose.  Some try to roll under the car or truck, hoping to avoid the wheels but more often than naught they meet their untimely demise and are busted into little bits of dried up weed scattered all over the highway.

Some rules of the road during tumbleweed season:
1.  If you find yourself in a game of chicken with a tumbleweed - DO NOT SWERVE. 
2.  Watch for tumbleweeds.  If you know what direction the wind is blowing, you can spot them sooner and avoid running them over as they cross the road.
3.  If you want to run them over (truthfully we won't mind a bit) then please do so safely.  Don't swerve, don't slam on your breaks, just plow right through.

On a final note, if you happen to be traveling with the wind, check the ditch next to you.  There may be a playful tumbleweed racing you down the highway but watch out, they have been known to suddenly change course and come up on the highway catching a driver off guard.  Just follow the rules above and you will be fine.

Be mindful that they are devious weeds, hard to pull up and if given the chance to scratch your car they will.  If you happen to run one over, please take a few minutes the next time you stop for gas or a snack to check your underside and grill for chunks left behind as that can be a hazard to your car.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mystery at the museum. . . . . 8th grade version

So yesterday evening my sister calls me from Denver to inform me that I need to assist my young 13yo nephew with his ancient Egyptian project that is due on Monday.   It is a "craft" type of project and there was a whole list of things as options but my nephew was leaning towards a mummy in a sarcophagus.
1st - Good thing my nephew and his dad are coming to the farm or we would have issues with the helping part.
2nd - Thank goodness for the internet where I found a U-Tube spot about how to make a sarcophagus by thecraftguy.com.  Thank you for the inspiration, watching your project helped in so many ways.
3rd - Another thankfulness - I was going to be in McCook Nebraska where the nearest Walmart is located and was able to pick up the necessary things needed to make this project go over the top!  
My inspiration - boys throw things away so let's make it work for the classroom museum but inexpensive and easy at the same time.  A whole loaf of bread really captures the essence of a stone or wood carved sarcophagus. 

So I call my sister to verify this does not need to be stored and endure for all time.  I agree to the project; sure, I can whip something up on practically no notice. Good thing I had to go to McCook today for an eye doctor appt. I stopped at Walmart and got a roll of gauze, 3 bags of assorted jewels and a loaf of bread.

When I got home dad and I got the loaf of bread sarcophagus sliced in half and cored out. Great thing about bread is that it is kind of doughy and still can be formed into shapes. So I shaped me up a body, wrapped it in gauze and called it a mummy.

Now all my nephew has to do is decorate the top of the sarcophagus. I swear if we don't get an A on this project I will never do another project ever!!!!! Check it out.

Of course I will get pictures taken of the finished bedazzled top for you all to enjoy so check back to this post for updates.
 A can of gold spray paint, a bag of jewels and bling shapes has transformed the loaf of bread sarcophagus into an Ancient Egyptian King's sarcophagus.  As soon as we find one that fits!  (yes the inside of the loaf has also been spray painted.

GRADE UPDATE:  Later in the week I got work from my sister that my nephew and I received a 100% on the project and a 96% overall for the class.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sounds of Fall, literally

This morning I awoke to heavy frost all over everything.  The remaining flowers and cherry tomato plants are now officially dead.

What was amazing was the few minutes I spent standing out on the west deck while my car sat in the sun with the defroster working its magic.

I stood there and heard the most amazing thing.  Snapping, cracking, popping, all those types of sounds.  What was more amazing was watching the sounds occur.  The hackberry tree that sits in mom and dad's yard was dropping leaves.  Each leaf made that amazing sound as it broke from its position on the branch and then quietly, silently fell to the ground, never making another sound once it was released from its hold on the branch.  It was quite possibly the best sound of fall I have ever heard. 

How I have never heard it before is a mystery, maybe I have and just did not take time to register the location of the sound or take time to appreciate the symphony of sound that accompanied the beautiful waterfall of leaves as they gracefully fell to the ground at the base of the hackberry tree. 

I hope this story has inspired you to go listen to the leaves and see what song they sing to you.  I am sure we can find another movement in the winter months to celebrate, but for now I relish the Sound of Fall I was privileged to hear.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Colors of the prairie

I took a drive yesterday up into the sand hills of SW Nebraska as it was necessary to take a trip to North Platte for a few things.  I was surprised at the number of trees yet to turn from their summer green and it got me thinking about fall colors and the pictures you get to see on the TV of the New England fall colors with all the brilliant reds and purples, golds and yellows; so picturesque.

Out here on the prairie, you have to look closely to see more than the yellow gold that predominately invades the trees along the creeks and the side of the roads.  Granted it looks stunning against the dark green of the cedar and evergreen trees we also have growing about the prairie.  But where are those other fall colors?

They are lower to the ground.  The grasses that grow in the ditches go from green to rust with their taupe frosted tops.  The sumac that grows along the creeks and where water tends to pool is a bright red.  Every so often you might see the red of a maple tree.  Orange is mostly found around mailboxes and along the steps of farm houses where pumpkins are placed to greet friends as they visit.

There is a shade of red seen in the fields as long as the milo has not been cut.  Even that seems to be less brilliant this year, probably from lack of moisture which we can continue to blame on the drought.  The milo though is a lovely contrast to the brown that it sits atop as the stalks dry and become that taupe color. 

At my house there is a lovely lavendar and a burnt orange that greet me when I walk outside, the mums I have planted by the steps of the deck always look completely beautiful this time of year.  I guess it is my attempt to bring some of those other colors missing from the trees to the prairie.


But the color you see the most is the golden yellow.  So then the challenge is to see shades of gold or yellow, make it more than just one basic color.  That is relatively easy to do because each type of tree has its own unique color of gold/yellow.  The cottonwood is a bright yellow.  The elm tends to be a bit darker like it is trying to turn orange with all its might but just can't muster up enough pigment to pull that color out.  There is also the darkest shade of yellow which looks more brown, it is when the leaves dry so quickly that they lose their fall coat and become the color of the ground which is where they are destined to "fall."

We do get a lovely color of purples, pinks and reds each evening as the sun sets but that is only in the sky and only seen at sunset time.

So wherever you are, find your fall colors, look high, look low and appreciate your fall colors in your neck of the woods or prairie.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wind blowing my thoughts right out of my head.

It is that time of year where the wind blows, howls, pushing the ghosts and kicking up the dirt.  A day with little to no wind is but a distant memory.  Couple that with the cooler temperatures and we get what the scientists call the wind chill factor.  We just call it danged COLD!!!  Today is just another prime example of such a windy day.  In fact the wind is blowing so hard it didn't even take a break last night and kept on howling through the night. 

The Halloween House decorations are doing their best to hang on for dear life outside and in fact I have had to park my car right next to the graveyard a couple times now because of the direction the wind is blowing from keeps knocking my grave digger right over and almost into the casket that houses Marcus Z. Karciss (or Marcus the carcass).  

The ghosts on the deck hang on the best they can with the staples in their ends and their heads hanging from the designated hook.  Sometimes the wind make the ghosts fly so hard that they lose their grip and the staple comes out and there goes the ghost's hold onto whatever rafter or 2x6 it is attached too.  Even the spider webbing gets tugged and pulled at by the wind. 

The ghosts down the driveway have fared pretty well.  Although I have had to pull 2 up - one was bent over by the wind with such force it bent the steel pole below ground level.  So far I have not had to go driving around the countryside to retrieve a ghost and prefer to keep it that way. 

The cats prefer to stay inside and nap where it is warm and out of the wind.  Sometimes they try to go outside but are begging at the door to come right back in within just a few minutes.  Kind of like kids.

Tonight we have our first real freeze/frost warning set.  Will be taking care of wrapping the tomato plants with sheets and trying to protect them for another week or so.  I think the garden is officially done but why the tomatoes have to wait so long to mature and ripen is beyond me, so I protect the best I can until as many ripen as possible.  I picked zucchini yesterday in between rain showers.  I think they are essentially done, found a half dozen more monsters so Jim and I will be working on making more mock apple crunch.

So as you can see there is not much happening on the farm this time of the year.  We are in the wind down of the gardens, the wood piling will be starting very soon and then it will be just a wait until deer season and then wait until spring.  Watch the wheat grow and hope it gets covered in a lot of snow between Dec 1 and March 31 so that we can look forward to a bountiful harvest.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thank you for International readers!

Just a quick note to say I am so excited to see that I continue to have international readers to my blog.

The last influx from Indonesia and Germany.  I have had readers from Russia, Hong Kong, Netherlands, among others.

Keep telling your friends if you find my stories fun to read.

Thanks to my United States readers, many of which are family and close friends.  Your constant support gives me hope and keeps me trying to be creative in sharing funny stories.

As a final note for today, I did a much needed garden walk.  I am preparing a story about the monsters in the squash patch and will begin to take pictures of the Halloween transformation on the farm and posting those as soon as this weekend.

Thanks again everyone! - Nancy

FALL ON THE FARM

Fall means drilling and harvest all at the same time.

I took a drive yesterday to the next county over and there were combines in the corn and milo fields putting their fall income into the hopper, transferring it to the semi-trailer so it could get hauled off to the grain bin or the elevator for sale. 

There was even the occasional tractor with a drill behind it, kicking up dust as it drilled its hopes for a bountiful wheat harvest next summer.  It was interesting to see which fields had already been drilled with wheat because some where already showing signs of young, tender shoots up above the ground.  As you drive down the road and can line up your line of sight with rows of drilled wheat it looks like someone took a little green pencil in the dirt.  Some of the wheat was up high enough that it looked like the farmer had laid down a green shag carpet. 

Dad's wheat has been no-tilled this year and is in the field that is directly east and north of my house.  What I call the north half of our quarter.  I suppose technically it would be the northeast fourth of our quarter, but that is just getting too technical.  Yesterday I was prepping ghosts next to the newly drilled wheat field and noticed that we had wheat poking through, maybe 2 inches tall.  The young man who drilled it for dad finished putting it in the ground only 1 week ago.  That is a pretty quick growth spurt as usually it is 2 weeks before we see much.  I don't suppose the 3/4 inch of rain the very next day after the tractor pulled out last week had anything to do with the speedy growth, well maybe it did.

So to top of my drive to the next county and back was this:  As I was driving and looking at the fields with tractors in them or combines, I noticed a recently cut field of corn and out in the middle was a small group of deer, sort of standing in a circle, obviously had stopped to admire the farmer's corn cutting but I had to giggle to myself because just beyond the group of deer was the very same combine still cutting the corn.  The deer almost looked like they were having a conversation about this corn field and it was as if they were saying to each other, "Dude, they cut down our dinner and our hiding spots.  Now what do we do?"  The must have figured out what to do because on my way back to the farm I checked that field and they were no where to be found.  No doubt they headed north to where they could jump the fence and find a secluded draw away from farm machinery and prying eyes.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Today's Challenge - Build before it starts to rain!

My building projects for today are Wine Bottle Tree and Floating Haunted Hallway Wall.

First on the block is the wine bottle tree.  I started with an old 4x4 we had in the quonset.  Please pay special attention to step #6 as it is a whole other story in this project.

Step 1:  Gather up the tools. 

What I needed were my new 1-1/4 inch paddle bit, tape measure, marker, the electric drill in the picture, a wine bottle (for checking depth), a cup of coffee cause I had not had one yet, the camera so you all can see what is going on today, and the broom to clean up the mess I am about to make. 

Before bringing the 4x4 from the quonset to the deck and my house, I had to cut off a little bit - with dad's help.  Then we used the post to pry a 2x4 from its position over dad's deck because we have been forecasted to have 50-60 mph winds at some point today or maybe tonight.  Best to get all tarps down, lawn mowers covered up and other hatches battened down.







Step 2:  Take post into house and place in location and mark spots with X with a magic marker.  Bring back out to work deck to begin drilling.  When I got to the house with my newly cut 4x4 I realized that the measurement I took before heading out to the quonset was not what the tape said so now I have about an inch or so more cut off than I had intended.  Oh well, I will figure that problem out later, sometimes I wonder why my brain can't look at the tape and see the right numbers.


Step 3:  Start drilling holes at a steep angle so that the wine bottles will slide in neck first and be up at a 45 degree angle - at least that is the intention.

Step 4:  Stop and check for proper depth and angle.  Repeat drilling until desired depth achieved.  Work on a better angle on neck hole.

Step 5:  Keep making holes, there are 8 marks on this board.  Stop at halfway point to check holes for depth, angle and clear out the residual sawdust.


Step 6:  Stop after 4 holes to check progress.  Unknowingly change the drill direction to backwards.  When I start drilling hole #5 get frustrated because suddenly the paddle bit is not working correctly and it looks like I am trying to start a fire with smoke wafting up out the attempted hole.  Go get dad and see why the bit would wear out that fast and what can be done to sharpen it back up.  Get set up with 2 files and another bit just in case.  Go back to work area and try each bit sharpening each time I stop to check for any progress.  Try a different mark to see if maybe I am hitting a knot in the wood. Continue to try to start the 4x4 on fire.  Drink more coffee and get exasperated with self and tools.  Sit down and get ready to switch out blade once again, turn drill over and notice that the button is not in the forward position.  WHAT?  are you serious?  Don't tell me I just spent all this time trying to drill hole #5 backwards?  Well no wonder the damn bit would not do its job as it is intended.  I think one of the cats must have snuck by and switched it when I was stopping for a coffee break and to check my progress and clean sawdust out the first 4 holes.

Step 7:  With all tools correctly positioned start drilling remaining 4 holes.  HOLY COW that works so much faster.  In no time at all I have the last 4 holes drilled.  Then I had to clear out more saw dust but at least I had those darn holes drilled and done.  I decided since I made such a mess with my backwards hole drilling I had better give it a splash of pain to try to cover up my missed marks and camouflage my mistakes.  Gravestone gray is what is handy so that is what I used.




Step 8:  Let dry and get started on next project which because of the wind meant I needed to roll up the Wildcat purple sun shade we have had down all summer long to keep the house cool and help with the afternoon and evening sun that streams in so hot through the French doors.  This roll up then allowed me to get the materials gathered for the next construction project - the Floating Haunted Hallway Wall.

Step 9:  Once dry, take post inside and figure out how to deal with measuring screw up.  I think a nice lean up against the end of the top kitchen cabinets and secured under the old stove that holds the cauldron will work just fine.  Start placing wine bottles in the holes.  Hey that doesn't look too bad.
Step 8:  Those bones in the cauldron would look much better up on the tree, so the hot glue gun is gotten out, plugged in and when it was hot and ready to go I started gluing dem bones on the tree.

I think I need more bones, but for now, this will work.  I need to find something to do with the very top, still working that out but here is the spooky wine bottle tree rack that I made this morning.



Halloween decorating update:  2 containers inside the house remain to be unpacked and their contents placed about.  The table has been expanded and the table cloth is in place so I might be able to get one container done later tonight.

Still need to make 3 or 4 hanging spider egg pods and move the yard spider to front and center.  Then I need to spider web the grave yard and get the floating hallway that was constructed just before lunch hung in its spot and the haunting covering over it.  No pressure, just have a meeting here at the house on October 1 so have a bit of a deadline to get done. 

Ghosts remain in their container and will not go down the driveway until Sunday at the earliest and possibly Monday late morning.

Say goodbye to September.  The next post will be after all decorating is done for Nancy's Halloween House and the pictures will begin.  So far the cats have not done much to anything put out, they know their allowed spots and I don't decorate those areas so they still have choices.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

As you prepare for the haunting season, keep this in mind. . . .


I really think that when possible we should provide Public Service Announcements.  This would be my contribution this year.

Have a wonderful FALL season and an even more spooky and fun Haunting season.  This is my time of year that I love.  The smell of fresh crisp fall air blowing the hope of a cold and snowy winter to come.  The late afternoons when the sun is warm and it makes things smell like they were in God's dryer infused with fresh air that only mother nature can provide.  Makes a person want to just be part of nature, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of FALL.  Here on the farm that would be wide open space, crickets and birds, and fresh air.

You are welcome to come sit on the deck and experience this wondrous atmosphere for yourself.  No reservation required.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The calm before the storm.

That is what I feel like I have been in.  The garden is starting to slow down a little bit.  I am also having to divide my time available during the week between getting geared up for Halloween season and the finishing of garden season and helping dad finish his deck cover project.  Sometimes I think I take on more than I can manage and sometimes something suffers. 

At this time, it is the garden suffering.  I need to go pick cucumbers.  I can't eat all that are in my veggie drawer in the frig and I probably have enough to fill it again out there in the garden that need to be picked. 

I have Halloween decorations going up.  Sunday will be a big day as I have a friend coming over to assist me.  I have been slowing taking the regular stuff off the walls and have placed a few things where I want them this year or if they are new they have found their spot to start off.  That gets them out of the shopping bag and off my dining room table.  I still need to do some cleaning of the ceiling fan in the kitchen and find a better place to store the ghost heads I have been saving as under the cabinet will eventually be something lurking - a kitchen monster of sorts. 

I also need to get the carpets cleaned sometime before my first tour which is now set for Oct 8 with another group from that same school coming on the 9th. 

Of course that also means, I am going to have to get busy making witch fingers and monster toes because little ones need a snack and if you visit a witch you must eat something spooky.

So to my faithful followers I ask that you be patient with me as posts may be a bit sparse over the next couple of weeks.  I will be spending a lot of time on getting the farm SPOOKIFIED so that I can enjoy it and start taking pictures of the finished product to share with you all.  I know that if you were close by you would come see this sight for yourself, and maybe some day you can, but for now, I will try to give you a good photographic depiction of Nancy's Halloween House.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Graveyard in progress

I started working the large pile of dirt I had dumped in the area where I planned to put my graveyard.  Last weekend Jim and I got the fence placed and secured.  We also got 3 dead trees brought over but I needed to soften the ground where they were to be planted so I started the sprinkler on a slow drip in the first spot.

Tuesday I was able to move dirt and create 3 of 6 grave mounds.  Wednesday it started to rain.  And it continued to rain on Thursday and still was raining this morning (Friday).  Now I have a small pond in the middle of my graveyard.  My pile of dirt is a pile of MUD.  But the good news is I should be able to dig me some tree planting holes without much difficulty.




Since it was still raining on Friday morning, I decided I might as well get busy making the headstones for the graves and at least get them cut and painted with their base coat so that I will be ready to give them some dead body information by the end of the weekend.  Of course, I run out of paint half way through the 5th headstone.  So I had to make a run to town to get another can of spray paint.  I guess I will finish that up tomorrow now.


Monday, September 9, 2013

A monster invades the farm

Sunday afternoon we had a visitor to the farm.  Just a neighbor gentleman who has been a long time friend and fishing buddy of my dad's.  I grew up with his kids, a couple of them worked at our pizza shop in town in the 80s and one was even in my high school graduating class.  He lost his wife a few years back and has made the decision with the support of his adult kids to get remarried.  So he brought over his new fiance to meet my parents and just visit.  Nothing out of the ordinary really.  Ice tea was enjoyed with fresh chocolate chip cookies topped off with a round of pool in the basement.  After Tony and his fiance got back to Tony's place he called back to mom and dad's.  Come over and get a half a cantaloupe that he pulled out of his garden patch.  Mom and dad drove over to Tony's and came back with the monster below.  Unfortunately, both dad and I are allergic to it and Jim does not like the fruit so that leaves mom and she shares with grandma. 


We failed to weigh this monster before mom got to cutting it up but the rinds filled 2 ice cream buckets (the 5-quart kind) and mom had 3 containers filled of cubes that probably weighed about 4-5 pounds. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Halloween House preparations have started!!!!

Those of you who read this blog and know me, know that the comment above has me so excited!!!!  Today, Jim - my wonderful husband - assisted me in making a GRRR face with red rope lights on the end of the house.  This will go with the Eyeball lights he insisted on purchasing at our recent trip to Menards.  Each eye will be located in a window on the south end of the house so that even at night, from the highway, you will think there is something ominous looking back at your from the darkness - at least that is the effect we are going for.





After this was accomplished, we proceeded to fencing the graveyard. . . . Granted that it is just an old pig fence that we have used in the gardens in years past but what it will become will be fabulous.  I have plans for 3 dead trees and of course, grave markers.  I will be getting those made over the next couple of weeks.  Now that I have devised a way to secure them and not let the Kansas winds blow them over I am ready to get creative. 

Anyway, the mere mention of dead trees got Jim excited and off to get the chainsaw he went.  The next thing you know I had more work piling up that I had not planned on.  Never mind the dead tree branches I wanted for my dead trees in the graveyard.  The oak trees along the drive way got their very much needed trimming first.  5 truck loads later I had that cleared and a pile of oak branches to cure over the winter for spring firewood.  That was what dad said anyway. 

Once we had the tree limbs cleared out I was able to retrieve the 3 dead limbs I wanted to for the cemetery.  Next task will be to dig holes to plant them in and then get the shovel and move some dirt so I have some actual graves.  Here is how it looks at the start of the project.  Another phase will be spider webbing the fence and making some sort of creepy, creaky gate to walk through.


Sien-Zu checking out the dead tree before it gets planted.

The makings of a graveyard right next to my house.  That pile of dirt will be graves soon enough, one is even planned to be open with the casket and Marcus the Carcus posing as in progress of being buried.

Garden is plentiful!

Today we picked zucchini - always start there because as you can see, we generally find the monster sized ones in that patch. . . by the time we got done picking the zucchini, the cart was nearly full.  We went ahead and went to the cucumber patch - and we saw those red things hanging on the tomato plant.  We picked them too!!!  Have 1 more not quite ripe and quite a few have set on and are growing.  So excited to see tomatoes finally.  We eat the cherry ones as fast as they ripen.  Cucumbers finished filling in the holes and voids the zucchini left. 

When we got back to the deck I called mom, said bring you sack, 10 for a dollar and the first 10 are free!!!

She got the tomatoes, some cucumbers and the smaller zucchini that you cannot see from here.  Then a bit later, after we had moved the cart into the house before the temperature hit 100, she got one of the monster zucchinis and grated/shredded it for bread and cake. . . said it was so moist the water was just dripping out off the grater.

Tomorrow I have got to make mock apple crunch again!  I need to pick green beans and I need to put out some more solar pickles.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kansas Weather. This sums it up for you.


I hope you all enjoy this break from the farm funnies to enjoy a statewide giggle.  This is how we approach weather every day of the year here in Kansas.  The old saying goes - If you don't like the weather in Kansas, wait 10 minutes and it will change."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Riding shotgun with dad!

Last evening before I started working at the computer doing my medical transcription, dad asked me about taking pictures of the summer fallow that was supposed to have been sprayed to kill the pig weeds and fire weeds and sandburs.  He is supposed to be planting wheat in this field in 3 weeks and cannot do that with all these weeds growing and taking the moisture from the ground.  So we got in the pickup, mom's camera in hand and took a jaunt around the field of summer fallow.  I was snapping pictures right and left.  There were some spots that looked like the sprayer had not even ventured in.  Lots of GREEN HAPPY WEEDS all over the place.  There were pigweeds that were at least 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide out there.  That is not something you want to try to plant through, not even no-till. 

Will see what dad decides to do.  There may not be a winter wheat crop this year.  We might have to go to milo for this section of farm ground next spring.

Either way, we need SNOW and RAIN and any kind of moisture that mother nature wants to toss our way over the next 6-8 months.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day - is that no labor or yes labor?

I can honestly say that I never know for sure if I am supposed to labor or not on Labor Day.  As long as I have been a transcriptionist, if my schedule included the first Monday of September I manned my post at the computer during my scheduled shift looking for work and clearing it as fast as it comes in.  When I was not scheduled for transcription, I still generally had something that needs to be done, mowing, weeding of gardens, picking the fruits of my labor in the gardens, or just general labor.

So today is no different except that I am laboring double duty.  I am scheduled to work on my transcription and I have been doing labor around the farm.  I mowed around the gardens. 

Jim and I went to North Platte Menards yesterday for a little Labor Day Sale shopping.  

3 new deck boards
solar lights
kitty litter
16 inch patio blocks

Then there was the unscheduled meander through the already displayed Halloween section.  Jim fell in love with a pair of lights that look like huge eyes which meant if we purchased them we needed to get rope light so we can put the face on the end of the house.  SOOOO . . back to lighting for rope lights.  Of course there were the necessary purple and orange mini lights and a new skull head.  Might as well grab another box or 3 of screws - composite decking, 2 inch deck and 3 inch deck screws got added to the cart.  None of this was on the shopping list.  Loaded up the Expedition with our purchases, had a lovely lunch at Whiskey Creek and came home.

Today we unloaded the Expedition, 16" blocks - all 12 of them - and got the 3 boxes of kitty litter.  I had pretty much gotten the rest of the items out later on Sunday because I wanted to get my solar light ready for staging.  

Deck phase #27 - I have no idea really what phase the deck is in.  The west deck had 3 boards that suffered firewood tossing damage last winter so those got replaced.  Now we have stripes on our deck.  The other boards are faded to the natural color of a sunwashed beige.

Solar lights are assembled, set and solar panel charging. 

Rope lights need something to attach them to the house.  So into town we go to get the right kind of tool for the job.  Might as well get a package for the rope lights and a package for the wires on the solar lights so it is all neatly tucked away.

Guess that is enough labor for one day.  Maybe I should go check and see if I actually have work in any of my accounts.  Tomorrow it is back to the regular schedule, whatever that is, for me it is just another day closer to October and me without a graveyard started yet. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dragonfly brigade!

This morning while Jim and I were out at the gardens picking squash and cucumbers, and then pulling weeds in another garden we started to notice a few dragonflies flitting about.

When we got done with our gardening chores for the day we were relaxing on the west deck and commented on how there seemed to be a small contingency of dragonflies buzzing about.  We figured it must have been a dozen or so.  Jim said to them "go ahead and stick around, eat all the mosquitoes you want, we would love to have you get your fill and stay as long as necessary."  (or something like that)

My guess is that this small squadron was the recon group for the whole brigade.  They reported back to the dragonfly headquarters that there were indeed a lot of mosquitoes to be eaten on the farm and so preparations were made for a full campaign of feeding the whole brigade at dusk when the mosquitoes are active and plentiful.

This has to be what happened because as I was checking the clouds in the sky and seeing if any of these radar blips were going to bring rain or worse, hail, to the farm there were hundreds of dragonflies flying around, diving, swooping, like WWI flying aces in a dog fight to the death.  They would zoom past my head and straight over the roof of the house, in and out of the cedar trees, just zipping around all over the place.  It is like watching a beautifully choreographed ballet as each dragonfly has its own flight path and never do two collide or even come close to each other.  Nature really has some amazing formations and flights of fancy!

I tried to get pictures of them but they are just to fast and my shutter and camera are just to slow.  I would need one of those fancy cameras that can take high speed multiple shutter exposures in a minute to be able to capture a dragonfly in flight.  I am sure they were chasing down those pesky mosquitoes and gobbling them up as fast as they could.

Another sure sign that we are nearing the end of summer when the dragonflies are plentiful and the mosquito population is dwindled down (thank goodness).  What a wonderful way to end August!

Friday, August 30, 2013

No rain means watering the gardens.

It was so nice those first weeks of August when we were having unusually cool temps and regular rain showers because I never had to water my flowers or the veggie gardens.  Now that we are back to normal August temperatures of 95 to 105 every day and no rain, I am back to watering the gardens. 

The cherry tomatoes are ripening and some days there is 1 tomato ready to pick which gets eaten immediately.  Sorry, it is a weakness I have.  I picked a couple of them today and should have enough for a salad or two by the end of the weekend.  We have green beans to pick again, so I am hoping to get to that done this weekend one of these mornings.  Wednesday morning we picked a gallon bagful and sent it with mom and dad up to the cabin.

Sunday is Menard's shopping day.  I have more mock apple crunch to get made up as well, I think I will slate that for Monday morning.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fear of canning -- this is why I have never done this before!

August 27 - 
Attempted my first ever water bath canning yesterday. Mom and I spent the afternoon Sunday doing it together with absolutely 100% seal and no broken jars.

Solar dills - see story below

Fresh dill batch
Ready for out 18 minutes in the spa!!!

Then we got them ready to go into the water bath.  When we took them out it reminded me of a bunch of people sitting in a steam bath or maybe the hot mineral spring spas in the mountains.





Amazingly, we had no mishaps other than the mix I got for the brine was supposed to make enough for 7-11 pounds of cucumbers.  I had 11 pounds of cucumbers between 10 half pint jars and 8 quart jars.  Mom and I had to come up with a plan for 4 of the quart jars because I ran out of brine.  So they got a fresh dill pickling spice mixture.  Will be interesting to see how they taste.  But I have 10 half pints of hamburger dills and those are for sale - $3 a jar. . . . . I will let you know how they taste after Labor Day weekend when I can sample them from one of the quart jars.



This was the final product of our water bath session on Sunday afternoon.

MONDAY MORNING
First off I had too much water in the canner so only could get 4 quarts in there. As I was loading them carefully and dipping out water to keep it from overflowing I heard a weird pop. I kept on loading. When I decided that 4 was going to be all I got without a boiling flood I put the rack down in the water. One of the quarts floated.

What the heck? I dont remember floating them yesterday. I carefully lift it up only to see my pickles slide out the bottom and take a swim. Well crap. So I pulled the jar on out and put another in its place. Again, I hear a weird pop. But I put the lid on and start the timer.

I called mom on her cell phone while the 4 quarts were processing to see what I needed to do. Well when the timer went off and I started to carefully pull out the jars, I watched in horror as another set of pickles slowly slid out of the jar as I lifted it out of the boiling water. Well damn. Those were some of my prettiest pickles and even had a few whole dill "gurken" style ones. Deer better like their treat.

An hour later after I have cleared the canner of water, wasted pickles taken out to the deer feeding area, glass in the dump trash, and got the fresh water boiling I put the last 2 jars in. Hold my breath and put the lid on.

18 minutes later I pull out one and it is intact - YEA!!! I pull out the other one and guess what? - Yep, another broken jar. 


 I was so mad that I decided that I didn't like wasting my solar pickles in this manner and if necessary, I will buy me a frig at the next auction so I have room to store my pickles.  

Sorry no pictures of Monday's failed attempt, I was just too cranky to think about taking pictures to provide proof of my misfortune.  Also would have been to horrible to be reminded, just take my words for it.

The Mystery Pumpkin Patch

As promised I got back out to the draw and took pictures of the mystery pumpkin patch.  Jim and I counted about a dozen already orange and another dozen or so in different stages of growing and still green.  You can tell which ones will be the mutant jack-o-laterns because of their hail scars.  But I am just happy to have another pumpkin patch, just in case!



Friday, August 23, 2013

Holy cow - it's a Squash Mountain!

In the middle of my dining room is today's haul of cucumbers (the little things you see) and then the squash.  There is a HUGE gadzuk that will be grilled after it is cut and soaked in Italian dressing.  There are a few smaller zukes that we can use for stir-fry or sauteed in butter and onion, mixed with sausage of some sort and sprinkled with cheese.  However, I can assure you that there is enough zucchini there and in the box that holds a picking from earlier in the week that on Sunday will be the start of my freezer supply of mock apple crunch.  So now you know what I will be doing on Sunday on my day off. :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Green beans picked finally!

What a haul from the garden on Sunday morning and afternoon. 

7:30 a.m.  Up and going.  First item of the day, build a wall to keep the split wood in place and provide something to stack up against.  I am all about repurposing things on the farm.  We had some long round poles that dad used once to try to build a tee pee.  They have been used since then as morning glory climbers, although the morning glories don't seem to understand that is what that pole is there for.  So now they are the upright poles for the wood corral.  4 pieces of old house siding were sized up and screwed to the poles that were secured in stacked cinder blocks filled with excess gravel.  When we got done I thought to myself, that doesn't look half bad!

9:45 a.m.  After we got done building the wall of the wood corral, Jim and I headed to grandma's to do some trimming for her around the cistern and pump.  Then it was off to a spot north of Ludell that Jim and helped take down a couple cedar trees that were dead or near dead and we loaded the pickup up with more big chunks of cedar.  Then we headed home.  Just in time for lunch.

12:30:  After lunch I started what I call the garden round.  I grabbed my $7 cart that I got at an auction a couple months ago and headed for the squash patch.  Let me tell you, those squash must have needed the snot beat out of it because it has grown by at least double in size maybe triple and the leaves are HUGE and standing up nearly 4 feet tall - I will have to remember to get the tape measure when I take a picture next.  Anyway, I picked at least a dozen zucchini, some for grilling or sauteing and some for mock apple crunch. 

Then I headed up north to the west garden and picked about a dozen different cucumbers, and 1 tomato!  I looked at the green beans and told myself just to get a bucket and get busy with it and get them picked.  Some of the plants look just awful but there are blooms all over them and oh my goodness the green beans I was finding.  I took a break after 2 rows, got a 5-gallon bucket and emptied my big bowl into that, 1/3 full already.  I got on the phone and called a neighbor friend because Jim was already in bed asleep and mom and dad were still up at the cabin.  Dude (yes that is her name) came over and helped me picked the last 3 rows and by the time we were done we had filled that 5-gallon bucket to the top.  Then we went to the deck and spread out the newspaper and proceeded to pick through, snap, and prep the green beans for the blanching phase.   Here is what 5-gallons of fresh green beans looks like before they are snapped. 
That little tomato is the one tomato that was safely tucked at the base of one of the plants inside the bucket that protects them when the hail storm moved through.  It was ready to be picked.  Not yet eaten but will be soon.

By the time Dude and I finished snapping all these green beans it was 4 p.m.  Yes I started the garden round just after lunch, about 12:30 p.m.  Those two bowls on the side/back of the picture were full of green beans ready for blanching and freezing.  Called mom to verify what the next steps were, got a couple of towels (should have taken a picture of that), washed the green beans and spread them on the towels to dry.

4:15 p.m.  Next item on the to do list is mowing.  Everything is green, growing and the weeds are winning the growing race.  I started at the squash patch and the area around there and in front of the west windbreak.  Then I did the entire west windbreak, in between and the outer edge.  Then I moved to the south windbreak and just south of the quonset.  Of course, this leads straight to the buffalo grass south of the houses which in turn leads to the road from the highway both sides.  That then leads to the area where the implements are parked.  All this got mowed on Sunday, even around my house where we park and just east between the house and the field.  I decided to stop and check the time -- 6:20 p.m.  Been mowing for over 2 hours. 

I decided to stop, grab a quick bite to eat and take a shower because Red 2 was showing in Atwood and I really wanted to see that movie.  Besides, I worked hard all day!  I deserve a little break and a treat.  So off to the movie I went.

9:45 p.m.  Came home and there were those green beans taking up my entire kitchen counter top.  Guess that is my next job.  Blanch and package.  So that is what I did for the next hour.  When it was all said and done, I keep out about 4 cups for mom and dad to have when they got home and put 9 quart bags in the freezer with each bag holding 4 cups of green beans.

My day is finally over.  It is 11:30 p.m. and if I sat on the couch much more than a minute I would be snoring with a 9-cat cover.  So it is off to bed. 

MONDAY: 
We started moving the wood from the yard to the corral.  First it was armful at a time, then I got smart and was filling up the wheel barrow and then the wagon, alternating which one we used to transfer the wood from the split pile in the yard to the stacked pile in the corral.  It only took us about an hour and a half.    (see related post)

Well it isn't pretty but it is functional - wood corral


There it is.  The wood corral.  You may ask what the wall is made of to the left.  I will tell you.  Most of that is my old cement lap board siding that we saved.  Next spring I plan to get a can of spray paint and paint this side of it so it is not so barren and ugly.  The other side, facing north is what was facing out on the house and is white.  I don't see it so I don't care what color it is.  That pile of wood is the pile from the other day out in the middle of the yard.  We have kindling in 2 cardboard boxes under the blue tarp and in the orange bucket are smaller branches that will also be used to help start a few fires.  We have another pile to the left of the picture that needs to be cut to size and then split.  That should come close to filling that up.  We also have a hefty pile of cedar across from the house that should end up being at least that amount if not more.  Stacking higher is an option but not by much.  We want to be able to transfer from this pile to the deck. 

That was Sunday morning's activity.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Damn Vermin!!!!

Just a few minutes ago I walked through the house to go start the coffee for the hubby.  He works nights.

One of the cats, Nino, was staring intently out the French Doors. . . . .I thought to myself, wonder what he watching out there.  So I walk over to the light switch and flip on the outside lights. 

OMG, you have got to be kidding me - A SKUNK!!!!!  Eating the cat's food right there on my deck with its tail just as fluffy as it could be.  Definitely an adult. 

Well great, I quickly go grab my .22 and come back to the door.  Mr. Skunk does not appear to be bothered by the yard light being on.  So I slowly crack open the door, just enough to slide the barrel of the rifle out pointed right at the skunk.

Check the safety, take it off and pull the trigger -- damn misfire.  Mr. Skunk looks up as if to say, "Hey Dude, you are disturbing my dinner here." and goes back to eating the cat's food.

What the heck.  Hubby loaded me up last time, probably didn't have a shell in the chamber.  OK, so pull the handle to advance the next bullet.  This time I get a shot off.  Not sure where I hit Mr. Skunk, he did not leave a trail of blood but he did scamper off the deck and guess where he went from there? . . . . .

Go ahead, give it your best guess. . . . . .

Did you guess UNDER THE DECK?  Holy cow can you imagine how unbelievably stinking it is going to be out there if that dumb ass Mr. Skunk dies under my deck?  My 14 foot wide by 10 foot deep deck?  We are going to have to come up with a way to get that stupid stinky carcass out from under the deck before the outside cats think it would make a nice fur pillow or worse, eat it.  UGGGHHH!!!!!!

So right now I am scared to open up the door and see if it stinks because that stink seems to hang around a very long time.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Working towards the weekend. . . .

It has been quiet on the farm this past week.  I bet you didn't even notice. 

Just quietly watching the gardens grow and try to recover from that horrible hail storm.  Pictures will be posted tomorrow, I promise.  There was the discovery of the hidden pumpkin patch, that was so much fun. 

I was able to get an old tire rim from a farmer to use as a burn ring for burning stumps down or just for a farm style fire feature.  It cost me a lot - a cheeseburger and fries.

The rest of the week was spent working at the real jobs.  Sometimes that happens and not much gets done here.  I have tried to do a little trimming around things each afternoon when I get home before I have to sit down at the computer at home and type/edit the medical reports.  --For those of you who don't know, I have been working from home as a medical transcriptionist for the past 16 years now.

Anyway, after spending all morning and half the afternoon at the doctor's and doing the weekly grocery shopping on Friday, I got nothing done on the farm.  So today - Saturday, August 17, was the day to tackle a big job.  We were given a felled tree in the spring.  We had to take a truck to town and pick up the pieces but they were cut to almost the right length so that is what we did.  We stacked it behind the benches on the deck and let it just dry out.  Today we split it.  Well we got about 60% done.  We had a stack of smaller diameter limbs that we just needed to run through the box saw to get to the correct length.  Then we tackled the bigger logs that required splitting.  I had been working on getting a spot ready for stacking firewood because we do not want a repeat of last year where we have to split wood in the winter just to fill up the deck only to have to repeat the process in 2-3 weeks.  So I have graveled and cordoned off an area just north of the deck to stack firewood. 


 <~~~ big pile of split wood

--------> Chevy supervising the wood piles.
Small limbs in the stack pit.                

So in the picture above here you can see the cinder block "wall" well that is going to hold some posts and attached to them will be some old truck bed rails to hold the wood from the north and provide some protection and a way to secure a tarp.  The whole idea is that we will slowly load up the deck from this wood pile and have it all cleared away when we stop burning wood next spring.  Once I get this first cutting stacked I will post a picture of the view from another angle no doubt, this is looking down from the deck.

So see, even when it is quiet on the farm, there is still something to do.  We have a project in progress with dad and that will be worked on this next week.  We have a stack of wood that needs to be cut down to size and split and then another stack of cedar just west of the house that needs to be cut down to size and split too.  Essentially, it is getting to be that time of the year that we start to prep for winter and hope we have enough wood cut and split for our house, my parents and my grandmother. 

Tomorrow is stacking day unless the wind is not blowing, then it will be a burning day and I will take pictures of that too!!!  I know you all love seeing what goes on here at the farm.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Surprise pumpkin patch

Today one of the projects here on the farm was to get the dead air conditioner take to the draw where old metal things like that go for mice and other small creatures to make homes in after we are done using them.  Better they live out there than nearer to the houses or quonset.  So as I was driving out of the draw I suddenly saw what looked to be a squash patch -- leaves, vines, blooms!!  I was so excited I stopped to investigate because this patch didn't look as beat up from that hail storm as my gardens did.  As soon as I stepped out of the truck next to the vines I knew exactly what I had.  PUMPKIN PATCH!!!!  I was so excited and I even found about half a dozen pumpkins.  They have some pits in them from being hit by hail stones, but for the most part looked to be healthy green and getting BIG!!!  I will just let them be and go back at the end of September and see if I have orange pumpkins back there. 

What a wonderful surprise that was today.  Some days it is good to have a surprise and not the kind to set your heart skipping 40 beats but the kind that give you hope and something to look forward to in the near future. 

Of course, Jim's surprise was the mule buck deer we saw in the fresh stubble field.  Full velvet on his rack and had to be at least a 10-pointer, maybe more.  He was quite impressive and of course was high tailing it away from us because he did not like that bright red pickup disturbing his grazing in the stubble field.  He dashed out of the field, across the county road and into the neighbors much taller corn field where he disappeared just like a ball player in the movie Field of Dreams -- into the corn and POOF --, gone.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Hail is for the woosey gardens!

Checked out the gardens again tonight.  I swear the zucchini look better than they did before the hail.  Lots of new growth.  No fruit yet but there are blooms so maybe next weekend there will be some. 

I also found a lone ghost pumpkin in that patch.  Not very big and kind of pitted a bit.  Blooms elsewhere on the vines so we will keep an eye out there. 

The cucumbers are holding their own, lots of blooms, little new leaves emerging from the skeletal looking vines.  I picked a couple of small cucumbers for salad.  I think until they get done with the hail shock I am going to have mutant shaped cucumbers but as long as they taste good, I don't care what shape they take.  Just makes it more of a challenge to peel if necessary and cut up.

The tomatoes show no sign of blooms, all plant.  Not holding my breath there.  I do have some cherry tomatoes that have set on so fingers crossed for ripening there.

The green beans are still looking like the losing fighter at an all night underground fight club.  Kind of limp, not quite upright, chunks of leaves missing, but some healing appears to have started  I have not planted any more beans as of now, I think I will see what these do.  I will have plenty of bean seeds for next year.

The new cucumber row and pumpkin rows are looking good.  Even the last chocolate pumpkin vine has new leaves with their pretty stripes growing, almost as big as my hand now. 

I will give everything another week or so and then take pictures to post.  I know there are some of you out there who will be just amazed!!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Think Franken-cucumber. . . .

It's alive!!! (say it in your best Boris Karloff voice)

My cucumbers have blooms.  I think if I gave them a jolt of frankenstein juice they would come back.  Anyone know where I can get some of that in bulk?  There are no leaves on the vines so they look like little skeletons with yellow spots (blooms) and the pickle cucumbers I picked today look like they were having a contest to see which one could be the fattest and roundest of all.  I guess I have a batch of burger dills coming up!!!  Wonder if the sun will shine for 3 days so I can get a good solar brew?

The squash amazingly are also showing signs of rejuvination.  New growth, new blooms.  I did have to pull one plant up today so it did not make problems for the 2 on either side of it.  It gave its life so the others could live I guess.

I planted another row of cucumbers - they are officially up with their 2 little leaves.  I also planted the last 2 chocolate pumpkin seeds (1 is up) and the rest of my sugar pie pumpkin seeds as well (those are up too).  The pumpkin vines that were damaged have new growth and new blooms.  It is a matter of time and what will happen and if there will be pumpkins to be had in the month of October.

Unfortunately, I fear that the regular tomatoes may not produce anything.  There are no blooms on them, we only found 1 lone tomato and it has not grown or ripened at all.  The 4 cherry tomato plants in the pumpkin patch don't really show signs of much either.  The only ones with fruit are the ones just west of the house by the jose jalepeno pepper plant.  Again, time will tell.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Unauthorized visitor on the deck - feline alarm system engaged!

I know it is amazing and hardly believable, but even with 9 cats and 2 dogs, we do get the occasional unauthorized visitors in the farm yard.  Of course, they are usually visiting when the cats and the dogs are inside for the night. 

Let me rephrase that.  There are 3 cats that prefer to be outside in the summertime.  Angel, Honey-cat and Miss Kitty.  Miss Kitty though is probably already curled up in her favorite spot in the cat shed, so technically she is inside too.  Honey-cat is probably out doing perimeter check because this is the time of the evening that she does that.  If Angel is anywhere nearby, she is not considered a threat.  She is the smallest cat of the entire crew, probably barely weighs 5 pounds and looks like a skinny barn cat (without the barn).

The cats inside still monitor the yard from the various windows.  Chevy was laying on the cat carriers the look out across the west deck through the French doors.  ALARM SIGNAL!!!!  Low growling is heard as I worked here at the computer.  OK, that means there is an unauthorized cat or other furry creature on my deck and Chevy is sounding the alarm and warning said unauthorized animal of impending doom.

As I sneak out of the office and around the chair, I flip on the switch to light up the west side of the house.  There is a big raccoon who has decided that coming up on the deck for a free meal of cat food is worth the risk.  It seems very undeterred by the light coming on like he is used to motion sensor lights.  I sneak back to the office doorway.  I have started keeping my 0.22 short rifle loaded and within reach for just such occasions.  I usually just get to shoot into the windbreak and hope that scares the varmit off enough to stay away.  However, I have managed to shoot an opossum dead on the deck last summer.  The few feral cats that show up scatter as soon as they see me or as soon as the light turns on. 

So there I am rifle in hand and as I approach the French doors I have not only Chevy watching this raccoon but now Shuey is right there on the other side of the door from it just as poofed as he can be.  The cats are good about getting out of the way and not charging out the door.  But as soon as I reach for the door, the raccoon looks up at me and decides maybe it is time for him to exit stage left.  By the time I get outside and get the door closed, I have lost the raccoon in the darkness.  No sound, no movement on the edge of the lighted area.  So I fire a warning shot off into the windbreak directly west and yell out into the night, "you are not authorized to be on my deck eating the cat food."  I am sure the raccoon heeded both warnings with serious regard.

See even the night life here can get exciting.