Sunday, June 30, 2013

Wheat is filling in and starting to ripen. . . .

Welcome to the wheat field. . . . I walked out on Saturday morning and grabbed some photos and a few stalks to check to see how the wheat is progressing.  You can see how much the field has changed from that lush green we had just a month ago.  Next time I change the picture, I hope it contains a combine. 

Check back soon, there is a WEED post in the works.

Friday, June 28, 2013

New feature for posts. . ..

I don't seem to be getting much comments but I know there are a few of you loyal readers out there.  I have added a "reaction" app that shows up at the bottom of each post.  I have looked back, it was added to all posts so if you read back through things you will see it back to the start of this little blog.  Please click the appropriate reaction to each story.  I don't want to just put my stories out there without a little bit of feedback.  You don't have to comment on each story unless you really want to.  Some of you email me separately and that is fine, I love being able to strike up a conversation like that.

There is a feature that is there to become a follower by email.  I am not sure how that works.  When I get done with this post I am going to use one of my other email addresses to see if I get an email notifying me of a new post.

If you like the stories and feel inclined to share with people who you know might like some fun reading material, please pass on the website to them. 

So let me know you enjoy the blog.  Email me or leave me a reaction to a post, whatever you are inclined to do.  I check emails and blog daily to see if anything has changed or if anyone has something to share with me.

I appreciate all readers to my blog and hope that you will continue to find some enjoyment and giggles along the way.  Remember, the picture in the background will change as things on the farm change.  I am planning to update it this weekend to show the wheat's progress towards harvest.  If I can, I will even try to get a picture during harvest with the combine chewing up the wheat and spitting out the straw so check back frequently. 

You might even find yourself seeing a part of NW Kansas farm life called going to the cabin to get out of the hot July weather. . . . pictures will be coming of that adventure!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Orange Spider Ring invasion

What is that lurking around the corner in my office?  It is a feared orange spider ring.  These little guys have infested my carpet.  I never see them on the wall or on the ceiling or dangling from the corner of something.  No they are always on the floor and they play dead a lot until some unsuspecting cat - like Tassi-cat comes along and then the fight is on.

First it is the sneak up on you and pretend to be sleeping move that Tassi-cat uses.  Very effective except that spider ring is poised to strike and Tassi-cat knows that the spider is watching her closely.  Pretty soon there is a ruckus and the chase is on.  Tassi-cat bats it from the right, then throws a punch from the left only to have the spider ring fly across the floor to the corner as if it is retreating to a safe haven.  But no, Tassi-cat spies it and pounces bringing the spider ring out from its hiding place in her mouth.  The might hunter has caught its prey and she proudly lays it on the floor next to me. 

She gives it a gentle pat with her paw to make sure it is dead but it is not.  It rears up again as if to strike and she deals another harrowing paw punch and it goes rolling out in the hallway.  By now, Shuey and Nino have gathered along the wall to see what all the commotion is about and there goes the orange spider right by them at Mach-5 rolling as fast as it can to get away.  Before you know it, Tassi-cat has lost track of her prey and she pats me on the leg with her front paw as if to say - "Did you see where my toy went?"  She is very insistent, TAP - TAP - TAP - (looks at me with a very stern face as if to say) "Mom where did that orange spider ring go?"

She finally gives up trying to communicate with me telepathically.  I am sure she is thinking what a dork, mom is supposed to be able to read my mind and know what it is that I am trying to say.  She decides a nap is in order and collapses in a heap of fur, stretches to her full length and then rolls over and goes to sleep.  After all, hunting the dreaded, fierce, orange spider ring is a lot of hard work and it always seems to get away to a safe spot in another part of the house.  Always lying in wait under the table or next to a chair leg, just waiting to be discovered so this game of cat and spider can resume once again with the spider managing to escape to safety.

As a side note - I did find one orange spider ring in the living room that had lost 3 of its legs with another one almost broke completely off its body.  So that one may not live to see another round with Tassi-cat or Shuey or whomever decides to play the game of the Mighty Spider ring Hunter.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mystery on the deck - what is going on here?

As always, there is always something that needs to be done; something that needs to be fixed or replaced and some times we just need to spruce things up.  This is the east deck.  The first deck I designed that spans 20 feet long and 14 feet out from the house.  There are steps just below the front of the picture and there are a set of stone steps off to the left that I rebuilt last year and made permanent with landscape adhesive.  There are 2 different types of deck materials used.  The upper deck where the mystery is located is the original 2x6 deck boards that we built the deck with in 2004; almost 10 years old they have started to show their age with twists, cracks, knots breaking and just general wear and tear.  On the lower part of the deck are composite deck boards.  These replaced the original deck boards a couple years ago and have faded to their light natural color.

I have plans to replace the upper deck boards with composite decking, as I did on the lower level, but those are expensive and so it is a matter of saving the proverbial penny for that purchase. 

So on Saturday as I sat on the deck relaxing and cooling off from working in the garden I started to evaluate, once again, the condition of the upper deck boards.  As I studied the area and considered my options, I decided to check the supply of paint that I had used previously when I painted these several years ago.  Most of that color has worn off and is gone.  After getting the box of outdoor paints down from its spot in the laundry closet I discovered I had less than a quart of the color that I had originally used.  Well shoot so much for that idea.  I didn't want to use the galvanized silver color I use for the propane tank and Wildcat purple was just too much with the purple sun shades above.  So I decided a good washing, sanding and sweeping would at least help to clear the yuck from the surface of the deck.  I checked the cat shed, yes I still had some deck wash left from the last time I washed the deck.  A little 409 on the area where the grill sits and that took care of those spots.

That looks better but now the side of the house and the screen door look even worse with their dirt splatters and paw print smears.  So those got washed.  One last look in the box of outdoor paint.  I wonder how much is in this gallon can marked Japanese Maple.  If you look at the picture you can see the faded remnants of that color which I used as my trim color.  The paints are mixed specifically for porch and high traffic floors like garages, with polyurethane mixed in to give it a water repellant property.  Maybe there is enough in that gallon can to give the deck a new look.  Wait and see what I finally decided but at least you know part of the mystery, something is changing with the floor of the upper deck.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

3 outfit day. . . . . sweat and dirt!

Snake Update - I think it was the same snake - hissing up a storm all coiled up in an old tire up by the garden shed. We have a bunch of old ones stacked up there and he was in one on the bottom. I covered the opening it with a piece of OSB so the cats would not be tempted to mess with it. Snakes bite and I didn't need any fur kids getting bit.

Garden update - west garden is mulched and weeded (again). Mulching all done. I also got 2 of the 3 pumpkin patches weeded as well. Will finish the last patch in the morning, and get all 3 mulched to preserve moisture and cut down on the weeds.

Deck update - decided I would repaint the upper East deck. Can't remember when we did it the first time but all the paint is about wore off. I have to wash and sand and dig the stuff out from in between the boards but I managed to get about 1/3 prepped and painted today. The color - Japanese Maple. Think of a dark red wine color with purple hues. I had almost a gallon of it so that is why it is that color. Us it or lose it. . . .   I hope to have this project done by the end of June!  The paint having polyurethane takes longer to dry even in the Kansas heat and wind and minimal humidity.  The end plan is to replace the boards with composite decking but that is a project one must save money to do.

Mowed several sections of the farm as well.  Have several more sections to water.  Gardens all have had their drinks now and the plants should be happy with the water and the warm sunshine to make them grow big.  
 Three outfit changes because after each activity I had to remove a layer of dirt, put on dry shirts and pants and once I knew I was done getting dirty, a shower was a welcomed activity.  The cats played outside and are currently all crashed in their various spots around the house.  Not sure what they did that made them so tired.  Several were "monitoring or supervising" the garden activities this morning.  No help with the weeds or mulching but they were there to inspect the progress and meow their cheers or instructions or complaints - I never know for sure what is being said!
Firefly watching from the deck to close out the evening.  Several were flashing their lights in the yard.  It is fun to try to track where they flit to between each flash of light.  Very similar to watching a meteor shower just a lot closer to the ground.  
*Nancy W.

Friday, June 21, 2013

First day of Summer on the farm

I had full intentions of pulling weeds this morning and watering gardens.  However, what was supposed to be a relatively short trip to town took up the whole morning and by the time I got home to the farm it was too hot for pulling weeds or watering gardens.   So this evening I took a walk after the sun had cooled to a balmy 80-something (high today was 100-something) and got hoses set up on my pumpkin patches for an evening of soaking.  
 Apparently the snake patrol has begun.   I can't believe I didn't step on the bull snake.  It was all stretched out right in my walkway next to the hose I grabbed to hook up one of the soaker hoses. Good golly miss molly!!!! At least it was not a rattler. Course when I tried to grab the snake with the rake it slithered off under a tree and it was not towards the windbreak row next to the field which is where I wanted it to go. Now I have to pay attention and watch for snakes laying around.  
Might be a good idea if I took time to put on something other than flip flops for running around and checking water just in case.  
On a much happier note and very exciting to me as it is an annual reminder of my childhood -- I saw my first firefly of the season.  I was so excited!  Just the one.  I had gone back out to turn off the soaker hoses and start the drip line on the windbreak trees.  That was a wonderful way to end my last trip outside.  I think tomorrow night I will apply the necessary insect repellant and sit out on the deck and watch for fireflies.  That is just as fun as going out and watching the stars for the Perseid meteor shower.
Never ending excitement here.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weather dictates what gets done.

I had full intentions of finishing pulling pigweeds from my green beans but a half inch of rain makes the soft garden soil eat shoes and I was not about to loose a shoe in the mud today.

Instead, I pulled weeds from the west iris bed where I also have some zinnas finally starting to grow.  It looks much better without all the cheat grass.

So instead of destruction of the weeds, I decided it was a good day for CONSTRUCTION!!!  Many of you who know me have figured out by now that I like the challenge of making something better or more useful and I am all about repurposing material when possible.  So dad and Jim pulled out the old railroad ties that were the retaining wall for the past 30 years around dad's yard and stacked them up with the intention that maybe we can saw off the end that was in the ground and rotting away and use the part that is still good for something.  So there they are stacked up and I look at them and the way they are stacked looks like steps.  So I go and rearrange a couple to make a 3-step up.   It works.  So I start thinking and planning.  That is my construction way.  Visualize the end of the project.  Figure out how to make it happen.  Then start the process.  So that is what I did today.  I built me a set of steps out of old used railroad ties.  I have another set to build off to the side of the deck.  So I now have a working plan.  It took a little redesigning from what my mind's eye came up with to the actual finished product, but I think I have it.  Course dad came out at my request, tried the steps out and then we made a few adjustments.  I just hope I have enough ties to do the next set of steps.  (Picture below)
I also started the base of what will be the extra wood pile or the supplementary wood pile for the wood burning season.  I covered the area that is 5 x 10 feet with weed barrier and then used my old siding (repurpose) to put a layer of more solid material down.  Now that is ready for a half ton of crushed concrete or gravel or something and then it will be ready to stack wood on top of.  You can't see it, but there in the picture, just to the left of the cat on the bike is a pile of wood that needs to be split and it will be the first to go in the supplemental wood area.

So see, just because it rains, doesn't mean a day off, it just means you get something else done instead.  I also went to town in the old orange truck and got my 4 50-gallon oil drums (empty of course) that I swapped for 2 50-gallon drums with lids that are air tight when sealed.  Not a bad swap because I have burn barrells now that should last me until I am as old as my grandma!!!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Trash from the Past - today was a 2-nail day

Ever since we moved my house on to the farm, I walk pretty much the same path from my kitchen door to mom and dad's door.  Everytime I do this I actually look where I am walking, especially where we have a driving path between the houses.  It actually circles mom and dad's house but there it is in between our houses and I have to walk right through it to come and go between the houses.  When we first moved the house onto the farm, I started to notice rusty old nails.  These are not just laying around, they are buried in the dirt and only the constant traffic of the vehicles, the wind, the rains washing down the incline and dad shoving snow around in winter with the blade on the tractor are these rusty old nails unearthed.  At first, we got a tin can because by the time I would make one pass through this area I would have a handful of nails.  Eventually we got the majority of them picked up but every so often more appear.  These nails and other metal things have to be at least 50 years old if not pushing 80 years old.  Some are newer, you can tell by the condition of the metal.  One time I actually found an old spoon! 

So from here on out, I am going to post  just a comment on my trip across the driveway by how many nails I found.

So a few weeks ago I left mom's and made a bee line to my car to put something in it. . . there on the ground were 6 nails of varying sizes - so that was a 6-nail day.

Today, after it rained a little bit last night, on the way back from mom and dad's it was a 2-nail day.  Right there beside each other. . .. always in the same general area.  If I get industrious I will take the tape measure out and measure the area where these ancient artifacts are found and give you an idea of what kind of grid I am working in. 

Now it must be noted that I also walk from my house over to the quonset and that follows the same round about driveway.  I have found nails and metal things all over the farm yard.  If I go up around the wind breaks and the hydrants, I can find bigger pieces of old metal.  So you see, in essences I am cleaning up after my grandfather because I don't want nails in the tires of the cars we drive and frankly, just tossing things on the ground like that is just not right.  I might even post a picture of the "dig site."

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Mysterious Highway Alligators

A week ago I promised you a story with pictures.  Today I deliver on that promise.

A highway alligator can be found throughout the world, where ever trucks are found to travel.  They live quietly on the side of roadways, in ditches, really any place where they have some cool grass or weeds to lay in.  Their diet is still unknown, although I suspect that they are a scavenger animal and may feed on the trash and debris that seems to find its way into ditches and along roadsides blown out from passing vehicles or just tossed out by motorists unaware they are feeding anything. 

The best place to spot these elusive creatures is on interstate highways or other heavily traveled 4-lane or bigger roadways.  They are not dangerous if left alone.  However, if they venture onto the road they can really make a mess of a vehicle undercarriage and will bite at the tires of your car if you do happen upon them and run over them when they are sunning themselves on the hot asphalt or concrete roads. 

Last Sunday as I traveled across the state of Kansas on Interstate 70, I was able to safely pick up two highway alligators and bring them back to the farm.  I saw so many more but these two were the easiest to relocate.  They reside quietly in the brom grass underneath one of the pine trees in the yard.  I don't know what the hunting season or even the tagging process for gator hunting in Kansas is so if I poached them, it was for their own protection and they have been released. 

Their markings varying, I am not sure why but some have a smoother hide like the smaller one I picked up just west of Salina, Kansas.

The bigger one has the more traditional markings and I found this one west of Hays.  There was a long trail of gator scat leading up to it so I knew I was getting close.

My daughter was the luckiest this week, finding a very rare city road gator laying in the median as she was traveling to an appointment in the Greater Kansas City Metro area.  She was lucky to be in a position to snap a picture of it before she entered the flow of traffic.  I was so happy to see it was not in the street!

It is best just to leave these creatures where they lay.  If they are in the road, it is more hazardous to you to try to stop your car and move them to the edge of the road than to just be on the look out and try to drive around them.  It is not suggested to try to straddle them unless you have no other recourse because the are unpredictable and could bite at your tire when you startle them.  Best to leave sleeping alligators be!

*From the imagination of Nancy

Friday, June 7, 2013

A good day on the farm

Pumpkins are planted!!!  I am so excited.  Looking forward to chocolate pumpkins (Musquee de Providence) and ghosts (Lumier) and sugar pies and of course the itty bitty ones - baby boo, jack b little and some kind of striped mini that we need to come up with a cute name for!

Dad and I worked after lunch on getting the drip lines untangled, checked for leaks and replaced drippers as needed.  With the drought that we have had the windbreak is really beginning to suffer.  So we will be getting all rows set up with either soaker hose or drip hose and get them some much needed drinks of water.

Of course being outside in the sunshine helps me work on my farmer's tan!

Alligator pictures coming soon.  I hope to have them in the morning as the native cats are getting very restless with these guys hanging around.  I wish they would scare off the tresspassing animals that keep sneaking up at night and eating the outside cat food.  I suspect opossum but so far have not seen it to verify my suspicions.

Green beans look FABULOUS and the cucumbers and tomatoes are growing splendidly.  Hopefully by this time next week will have 9 hills of squash plants pushing up through the dirt. 

Planting is done - well except for the few cannas, dalias and gladiolas that I bought today. . . but those will be in this weekend.  After that it is weeding and watering!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gators still in quarantine

Sorry but the gators are still in a quarantine period.  I hope to have them out in their new habitat by the weekend and will share pictures then.  Until then, know that they are slowly adapting to life on the farm.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Gardening Tip #1

As I contemplate words of wisdom to share with you, I will try to add in a growing list of tips for gardening.

A word about pulling weeds. . . . the best time to pull weeds in the garden, in your flowers, in the grass, is the day after you have soaked the ground really well or the day after a very good soaking rain storm.  Makes the weeds with the long roots come out slick as, well, snot!

A change in scenery

Did you notice the picture in the background has changed?  Yes that is the wheat field for the 2012 season.  When it is closer to harvest time I will change it again to reflect the beautiful golden color it has become.  Of course, by October, the view will change again to something more whimsical on the farm.  Each season will be shared so you can see how my landscape changes throughout the year.  Just a little look at the farm in real time.


A rabbit-proofed garden. . .

Today I got the garden gate built that completes the rabbit proofing system of the west garden.  This is the only garden that is rabbit proofed because those little bunnies seem to think my cucumbers and green beans are there just for them.  They don't bother the pumpkins or the squash or anything else - and certainly not the weeds!

I am hoping that the baby green bean plants and the newly hatched cucumbers are safe and sound in their dirt blankets where they can grow big and strong and produce an abundance of absolutely yummy veggies for me to eat all winter long.  I am determined to make more dill pickles.  Maybe I should go to a couple auctions to see about getting another frig for the quonset to store my pickles in.  Now I need to learn how to grow dill and keep it safe so the birds don't eat it before it matures.

Green beans on top, cucumbers with the soaker hose snaking through them.  There are 6 rows of green beans just scattered about like that in an area/row that is as wide as the rake tines.  There is a big u-shape line of cucumbers with 3 different kinds, each in their own section of the U.  This way, I can get into the U to pick as long as they don't crowd out my walk-way.  If you look closely at the garden gate picture, you can see the hose snaking around the cucumbers.  To the left of that are the 6 rows of green beans and those buckets in the background, those are the tomatoes!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Drive

Today I took a drive across the state of Kansas, mainly down I-70 and went Highway Alligator hunting.  As I scoured the roadside for these not so elusive creatures, I thought about the fact that I did not have my camera with me.  That was not good planning on my part.  So instead of just I-spying them, I rescued two highway alligators and brought them home.  I can reproduce their habitat here close to the farm without danger to myself and then can share pictures of them with all of you here.  So look for that this week.

When I got back home this evening I thought it best to go check on the garden.  Well the high winds we have been having knocked down the west side of the fence so that needed to be fixed.  I would have just left it for the morning but I had to rabbit proof the garden 100% -- I was about 95% done -- because much to my amazement, I had cucumbers and green beans already popping through the ground.  Needless to say, I was very excited and got the hose switched over to the soaker hose to give the cucumbers and tomatoes a drink. 

Tomorrow I will work on getting the gate built, shouldn't take much other than time and probably a few choice words at various intervals.  Then I need to get pumpkins and squash planted.  Dad informed me that he did not get the squash in as he had hoped this week while I was busy working.  Course the wind makes it very hard to be outside for any length of time.

Well that brings us to the end of the weekend.  I have 2 highway alligators curled up by my east deck and a growing list of things to get done tomorrow.  I think I need a nap already especially since I did not get one today!

Have a wonderful first week of June everyone!!!