Homestead Happy Snaps

We mustn’t let the tyrants and clowns get us down
Joy and laughter can still abound
Mantras and cliches can spout the latest crazes
But it’s Nature that always amazes!

Praying Mantis living on Wandering Jew, seems somehow apropos, no? He really does live there and he’s pretty good company. 🙂
I’ve heard of bats in the belfry, but in the umbrella?!
How about a cuteness contest—goats or sheep? I know my opinion! Share yours below?
It’s very zen to watch the bees, I find. Next time I’ll figure out how to add sound—I love that soothing buzz of what appears to be such well-ordered chaos—Such miracles in nature!

Funny Friday

I hope y’all have a fabulous holiday weekend here in the States and if it’s not a holiday where you reside, I hope it feels like one anyway. I thought I’d share a bit of inspiration toward that end.

Rebel Hen: “I lay where I choose!”
Kids orders: “Plant more Mulberries!”
Handy Hubby’s handiwork makes me soo happy! Maybe my new grow light station is not that funny, but it sure is fun. (No illegal plants were tortured to capture this photo.)

And best of all for everyone, guess what, there’s a 99% chance you won’t die of the Covid cooties, yippie, let’s celebrate!

So funny, do yourself a favor because laughter is the best medicine! 🙂

Homestead Happenings

Just a wee update on the wee homestead during our current Sweltering Season—that runs from about mid-July to October here—where you thank Man every damn day, and especially every night, for inventing A/C, and refrigeration.  As miserable as it is, especially when the weather makers continue to steal our rain, this has been the best one yet for me.

When we first came here I swore I’d travel every summer at this time.  HA!  After that plan failed, I’d give up on the garden by this time, because who really cares about okra and eggplant anyway?  I’d ritually whine to Hubby we are over-producing.

Recently pulling out a hot sauce from 5 years ago, with pickles and marinara still left from 2 years ago, Hubby made an astute (yet annoying) observation.   “Aren’t you glad now we were over-producing?”

Yes, indeed I am.  I haven’t had to don a face diaper yet, and I’ve no intention to.  I’ve got a freezer full of grapes and tomatoes to process, a fridge full of peppers and a living room full of pears awaiting the same fate, fall seedlings started, a pack of dogs at my feet, and the plan to take a serious ‘home vacation’ very soon.  More details on that forthcoming.

In the meantime, look how the girls have grown!

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We’ve established a favorite snack station!

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Not for sure if all the sheep are pregnant, but clearly the majority are, fingers crossed.

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The hummingbirds and bees are happy with my offerings and don’t even notice the heat, it seems.  6 colonies going strong so far, or so it seems from their activity at the entrance, because I never mess with them in the Sweltering Season.

The old piglets are getting fat while Mamma & Papa Chop are getting reacquainted in the Back 40, planning for more piglets soon on the way, we hope.

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I’ll leave out the part where friends and I are complaining about the mysterious lack of butterflies this year.

 

How to Grow, Prune and Propagate Raspberries — Deep Green Permaculture

I just wanted to share this fantastic site, here’s just one of their high-quality articles, but there are many more of great value for beginners and old green thumbs alike!  I’m learning so much from them, yippie!! 🙂

Raspberries (Rubus idaeus) belong to the genus Rubus, along with other cane berries such as blackberries, boysenberries, lawtonberries, loganberries, marionberries, silvanberries and tayberries. What’s quite interesting is that the whole Rubus genus is part of the Rosaceae (Rose) family, to which almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, hawthorns, loquats, peaches, pears, plums, quinces, raspberries and strawberries also […]

via How to Grow, Prune and Propagate Raspberries — Deep Green Permaculture

You’re Kidding Me

Oh my, I suck again.  Of course I already knew goats are notoriously mischievous.  And as a habitual novice, I expect mistakes and steep learning curves, but a nearly fatal accident before my new kids are here even a week?

Don’t worry, the story has a happy ending or I wouldn’t be writing it right now.  I’d still be sobbing, watching chick flicks, eating popcorn, and overindulging in kombucha cocktails, like I did all afternoon yesterday.

I don’t handle this kind of thing well at all.  In fact, even that expression ‘to handle it’ is too generous, because I barely do.  What actually happens is I panic, get hysterical, panic some more, act out of sheer desperation, and then sob, whether or not I was successful.  I have so much awe and admiration for real farm folk, the kind that grew up with livestock, so that all this life and death drama is second nature to them.  But I grew up like most Americans, very sheltered from death and the other common dramas of nature.

I woke up yesterday morning and went directly to the corral where I have the new kids penned up, for their safety, of course.  No, not at all of course.  Phoebe, once the tamer and more exuberant of the two, had wedged herself in the feeder, she was on the ground not moving, I thought she was dead.  Panic ensued immediately.  I left the gate open as I rushed to her, and out bolted Chestnut, who then also panicked as the dogs began pursuing her eagerly around the corral.

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Guard or chase, we’re getting mixed messages?!

Phoebe’s neck was twisted in a horrific way, but she was still breathing.  And I couldn’t get her out.  I struggled for what seemed like 20 minutes but was probably more like 2, absolutely beside myself.  I thought for sure if her neck wasn’t already broken, I was breaking it without a doubt.

I did at last get her out, she tried to stand, head and neck terribly deformed, and fell right back down again.  My mind was racing and whirling and the very thought that I was going to have to put her down had me collapse in a heap of sobbing.

She barely moved all day.  Miraculously though, she’s now recovering.  She doesn’t have her voice back at all, she’s more skittish, but she’s eating, and I am so grateful, and so lucky that my ineptitude and panic didn’t cause nearly as much pain as expected.

Something good in fact came out of it—I realized the wild grapes are ripe as I tore at the vines to bring the kids.  Today’s a new day and there’s no time to keep crying over milk not even spilled.

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Grapes for the adults and vines for the kids. Now get busy crushing, woman!

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2 huge tomato plants found dead, mysteriously, full of unripe fruit. No time to cry or wonder why!

Fact, Fiction, Fantasy

The only social media I follow are YouTube (which I’m happy to replace with D-Tube or whatever-comes-next-Tube) and this site where I post this blog.  That’s simply because, I’m not forced to spend time on any others. 

I don’t like it enough to spend many hours daily in cyberspace, but I know loads of folks are all over many social sites.  So, I rely on a few trusted channels to inform me on what’s informing our shared reality.

James Corbett is a major one, for a very long time. It’s been so long now that I’ve lost track of how many years I’ve been following his work.  James and I have a lot in common actually.  We both studied literature at university.  We both taught English in countries outside our own.  And where I’m something of a ‘word NAZI’ he’s something of a ‘fact NAZI’—something I adore about him.  (Do I even dare to make NAZI jokes these days?!)

Anyway, it’s clear in these ‘days of our virus’ (aka ‘Best Apocalypse Ever’) that facts have run amok, manufactured chaos has crowned himself king, and discernment is on death’s doorstep.

I can hear poor discernment knocking on this door, pounding actually and yelling at the top of his lungs, “Hey, anybody in there who wants to come out yet?”  He’s just found some extra room in his balloon and he’s rescuing yet-undead prisoners by the dozens.  

I expect that it’s a limited time only offer.

If you’re ready to join him, here’s a great lesson on facts.

James sparked a profound memory for me during this video: The first time I remember Mom saying to me: “Look it up!”

She was talking about the phone book, which from the moment when I pulled one of the enormous yellow volumes from the hall closet, it felt like the most fascinating book I’d ever seen.  I remember trying to figure out the phone book not long before I tried to figure out the dictionary, then the encyclopedia, then the Bible.

I remember my huge frustration at wanting to look up so many things, but I didn’t even know the words for them.  So, ‘look it up’ became my first seemingly insurmountable challenge as a child.  If I wanted to ‘look it up’ I had to first know what it’s called.

Lifetime mission begins.

Here’s going to be a great lesson on fiction.

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I’ll admit, I haven’t read it yet.  But, I’m about to start it today.  Since we’re on a James theme I figure, why not advertise it, just because I trust it’s going to be excellent?!

And here’s my life: a great lesson on making your fantasies into actual realities.  We did this, from scratch—raw land at first—mistaking our way to this point like the one-eyed man leading the blind lady.  

I can’t help but wonder sometimes if I would’ve had the courage to do it if Grandpa hadn’t thrown me in lake before I knew how to swim.

While I still mostly suck at it even after a decade, at least I can trust it’s real.

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Our newest addition to the wee homestead, next I learn to milk!

 

 

 

 

Boasting & Roasting

A warm thanks to those kind souls who click like on my weird poetry.  I really appreciate that, because I consider them like word salads. I love making salads, but I’m consistently better at the edible type. Both of these salad varieties I make from true love of craft, which is really the only way to go for me, because then failures become almost meaningless.  I can’t imagine what might stop me from always trying again.

But poetry is just fun for me.  What I really do for (a) living is create delicious beauty and abundance under pretty tough circumstances and often alone.

What I actually mean is:
I coax and nurture nature to feed our bodies, minds and souls!
What’s your super power?!!

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Welcome to my office!

I’ve had loads of failures already in the garden this year, and it’s still early. Under the constant attack of man in the way of weather warfare and in the terms of nature, who feels the assault as well, of course, but takes it out on me, personally.

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Mexican sour gherkin, normally a heat-lover and such a cute plant to grow, but showing stress already.

Just as the first crop of melons were coming ripe voles or moles took out 6 of 7 plants. I out-smart them this time by planting melons in a few locations, and at different times, but some sort of mite has just found the second patch and their population is exploding practically overnight.

Then they took over the cucumbers and are feasting on the eggplant leaves too! Greedy pests out to torture me vicariously.

I always avoid spraying any manufactured chemical in the garden. Sometimes I have to do something though, or it will all be dead in a fortnight, and right before harvest after so much hard work. The bees are all over these same plants too, which is why I tend to wait too long and hope the problem will just go away.

When I do finally cave, I go for an oil/dish soap mix that’s actually pretty effective on the mites but gentle on the bees. I do it early in the morning on an every other day schedule between overhead sprinkling. We do not (but will, I hope!) have a well, so that is treated water going all over the garden constantly, because the weather terrorists have stolen our rain, again.

Someday, when there are more folks growing their own food, weather will matter to them again, and they will realize it’s being manipulated and they will join me in finding this practice completely unacceptable. That’s my big dream anyway during this best Apocalypse ever.

My current nightmare is the drip irrigation and the grasses. We will be evolving our design, again. Boxes lined with heavy duty wire mesh everywhere. Probably no grass at all, eventually. Those damn rodents also got a bed full of jalapeños, the parsley and some lettuce. We’ve lost countless young fruit trees to them, too.

It’s a really good way to teach and learn strategy and problem solving, and it never ends. Gifts of Ba’al, as James True likes to say.

My current paradise is in the salads—growing them, crafting them, sharing them. I’m getting a bushel full of cucumbers every day. I got so sick of processing green beans I’m letting them go now for fresh and dried beans. That’s another reason I love these gorgeous ‘Blue Coco’ beans, they are so prolific and can be eaten for months as young, mature, or dried. Unfortunately they are also showing signs of great stress, which considering it’s in the 90s every day and there’s been no rain for about a month, it’s not surprising.

Blue Coco

I always let some of the greens and herbs go to seed. Not only do the bees love the flowers, but the tips have loads of flavor and add an attractive addition to salads and soups.

The blackberries are still coming in heavy, and, drum roll please, we’re days away from salsa season!

Trombetta squash flower

My new favorite garden addition is Trombetta squash and I haven’t even tried the fruit yet. I love it just because it’s so beautiful and it’s still flourishing, even though all the zucchini and yellow squash died before producing anything. I’m convinced after years of failure that they cannot be grown here organically without far too much headache than they’re worth. That makes it all the more thrilling to find a squash that just might make it into the rotation.

Trombetta squash vine

If you’ve never experienced going grocery shopping in your own garden, crafting it up your own unique way in your kitchen, and sharing it (even if it’s just with the pigs because it didn’t turn out that good) you’re missing out on what I consider the most satisfying work I’ve ever done.  I’d have to be dragged kicking and screaming back into the office, or the classroom, ever again.

And that’s another reason why this is the best Apocalypse ever!

For any of y’all who want to talk real weather, meet Mike Morales.

Homestead Happy Snaps

Just another loungey Sunday on the wee homestead and sharing some of the love with y’all!

The dogs are off for a swim in the pond, their favorite time of day, right after breakfast and dinner.  The pastured pigs come up to greet the group, hoping we brought treats, no doubt.  They are looking much more slender now that they are only foraging.

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Papi’s back on track, thank heavens!  After a big scare, where we were planning for his death, a great resurrection now follows.  We took him back to the vet, they replenished him with fluids by IV, and coaxed out a football-sized hardened stool.  I know this issue was caused by the prescribed meds, so this time when he got home with a new set of pills, we threw them all in the trash.

He’s again his old sassy self and it really does seem like a miracle after how despondent he was—wouldn’t eat or drink, was vomiting and not pooping, would hardly move, wouldn’t even whine or bark, though he’s normally very expressive—we really thought he was checking out for good.  He’s back and still trying to lead the pack.

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The garden is growing great, the green beans and melons are looking particularly impressive this year (so far that is, never count your melons before they hatch).  I’ve just harvested our first cucumbers, with tomatoes soon to follow.  The bees sound as pleased as me!

Speaking of bees, I can now confirm with a fair degree of confidence that my high-risk hive split last month was successful.  What made it high-risk, in conventional beekeeping protocol, was that there was no queen, I didn’t re-queen at all, rather I intended that the small split-off colony should raise their own queen themselves.  There was not even queen cells present in the brood I transferred, only capped brood and larvae.

My beekeeping goal is replicating genetics that suit our needs and desires here on the wee homestead: semi-feral colonies whose first purpose is pollination, second purpose is sustainability and study, third purpose those glorious products—honey, wax, propolis, pollen, etc.

For this goal I choose to split from our “ninja” hive, but don’t let their nickname fool you.  They are not ‘mean’ like the nickname might suggest, and two other hives here are FAR meaner.

Rather, they are natural warriors.  Maybe this is because during the ‘tornado’ last spring their home was turned upside down.  Or maybe because I experimented on them with a screen bottom board, which meant they had to fend off attackers constantly from multiple fronts all summer, the warm winter and early spring.  Or maybe because they are right next to our house, where there is constant traffic from critters, mowers and us.

All I know is, this team is tight, because they’re so busy with all their other tasks, they leave me in relative peace in order to meddle in their ranks.

And speaking of queen bees, at least in the canine kingdom, Buttercup is exercising her own maternal instincts, on our new chicks.  It seems she doesn’t trust her brother, Bubba.

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Buttercup: “Don’t worry Daddy, I got your back.”

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Bubba: “Mmmm . . . Snack size!”

Whereas once upon a time Buttercup crawled in submission from 20 paces, then rolled over immediately once within sniff-range of current Queen Tori, I expect there will soon be an active rivalry.

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I wonder when someone will finally come to rival this old queen?  Someone once asked me when we first moved rural, “Why do you need so much land?”

Seriously?

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Life & Death

Natural is the cycle of life and death.  Normal is civilized man believing he can control all aspects of nature.  There is little natural about normal.

This big turtle might have met my tires, if I wasn’t such granny driver.  I haven’t seen one quite like him before around here, so I turned around to try to catch him with my phone camera.  I tried a dozen shots, he was so stealth and so well camouflaged, this was the best I could get.  I have a great new respect for wildlife photographers!

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Spot the butterfly enjoying the vetch I planted.  The bumblebees and honeybees like it too.  The hummingbirds visit the salvia all the time, but I can never get even a remotely decent shot.

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This baby cardinal flew the coop where he was nesting in the veggie garden.  His parents keep close watch on his effort, which I assume was successful after this first fall, because they were all gone by the next day.

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The making of our fruits and vegetables requires the repeated exile, territory confiscation and/or downright murder of rabbits, voles, squirrels, deer, feral hog, wandering cows, untold number of stink bugs, aphids, cabbage worms, hornworms, ticks, fire ants, snakes, scorpions (and occasionally spiders, by accident).

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The reason the gardens look so awesome right now is because they’re getting loads of poop.  Well-managed grazing livestock work in far better symbiosis with nature than vegetable gardens do, but don’t tell the vegetarians that, they might pout.

Speaking of poop, our dear Papi, who I recently rushed to the vet because half his tongue was paralyzed, made a turn for the worse once he got back home.  Seems the pharmaceuticals I agreed to give him hardened his stool to such a degree he would hardly eat or drink, for nearly a week.  Why would I allow such a cocktail of drugs be ingested by our dear pooch when I’d refuse them myself for sure?

Out of fear, ignorance, and the misplaced trust stemming from those apertures.  I’m quite ashamed of myself.  I love him so much, I made his life worse.  Sounds like I have something significant in common with our current political tyrants, except that I really do care about him.  But, I have little confidence in my pet healing capacities, and that must change.  Another gift of Ba’al—that giver just keeps on giving.  Our old buddy’s back at the vet, fingers crossed even tighter.

Our prized borrowed ram has already lost interest in his harem and is apparently pursuing a bromance with the car.  He spends hours leaning against it each day while his girls are nowhere in sight.  I suspect he’s not missed too much by them anyway, as his primary deed’s surely been accomplished by now.

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In the land of milk and honey co-exists more death, disease, disaster and drama than any man could ever wish for, so why, oh why, I wonder, would he ever need to recreate it all through so much media?

 

 

 

 

 

Homestead Happy Snaps

Just another loungey Sunday on the wee homestead.  And just wanted to share a bit of it with y’all.

Peek-a-boo, I see you, hiding in the geranium!

Handy Hubby crushes again crafting a chute for loading livestock.

 

 

I’ve just tried my first hive split of the season, fingers crossed!  And I came across this excellent document, for any beekeepers, or wannabes, transferring a typical nuc/ hive into a TopBar.  I’ve not tried it yet, but it looks very do-able on paper.  I really like topbar, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons, like esthetics, lack of upper body strength and general laziness.

How to convert a Langstroth nuc into a TopBar hive

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As much as I can appreciate spiders, this one had to be evicted from a bait hive, sorry little fellow, but I know the bees don’t love you like I do.

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Our one Langstroth hive, bedazzled, the only hive I use more conventional methods. Still completely untreated, but with full foundation and a queen excluder in order to harvest the honey.

The garden is looking fabulous, fingers crossed again.  With just a bit of good fortune, this will be our most fruitful year yet.  After last summer, with almost no garden due to a shoulder injury and gaping miserably at large downed trees all over our property, it’s hard to even express how wonderful that feels.

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One of over a dozen, over one year later. Eventually they sort of look like yard art.

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Wild grapes growing great!

Two antique roses I planted about 7 years ago and have no time to bother with, yet they still do their thing.  On the left is Apothecary, a rambler great for rose hips.  Behind Buttercup, our most agreeable model, is Chestnut, needing some serious pruning.  Ain’t got no time for that!

Moving to the veggie garden, a friend gave me seeds of cardoon, a great heat-loving alternative to artichokes (which I’ve tried to grow every year we’ve been here, with no success).  I’m hoping the cilantro will bolt more slowly tucked tight under the eggplant.  I’m trying a new supposed cilantro substitute this year called papalo.  We will see if it’s even remotely as delicious as the real thing.

One of my favorite herbs, chervil, aka gourmet parsley, with a hint of anise flavor, already bolting because it’s a cool season crop.  And one of my favorite wild plants, mullein, because it’s really cool looking, but survives the heat just fine, not to mention it’s many medicinal benefits.

I’m enjoying a YT permaculture channel new to me, a bit high on the marketing for my taste, but loads of good info for the beginners or the old hats, nonetheless.