Homestead Happenings

We have some happy snaps, one minute of piglets’ bliss and a couple garden successes to share today.

Mamas and piglets are venturing out already and enjoyed their first spa day. Unfortunately, Mama Chop did still squish two of her wee ones despite Hubby’s extra efforts, so both Mamas are now with seven. Virginia has proven to be the better mother, but we prefer Mama Chop’s personality. But, it’s not about us. Sadly this will probably be Mama Chop’s last hurrah.

Mama Chop with her Lucky 7
Our semi-feral cat, Skittles, is becoming more domesticated now that there are only two dogs who chase her off. That is, if you call hissing and snarling for her supper domesticated! 😳

Moving on to the garden I’m pleased to report good news. The alliums are looking amazing, the best ever at this time of year., I expect that is due to our very mild winter and an extra helping of sheep poop. I love this time of year when chopped green onion can top every savory dish. Also, unlimited lettuces, for a limited time only. Once the heat sets in there are only a few varieties that survive, arugula and oak leaf primarily, and even those still have a tendency to get too hot or bitter and bolt quickly.

Here we’ve got garlic, elephant and a few varieties of hard neck, plus white, red and yellow storage onions, shallots, and a pearl onion perennial that I highly recommend for hot climates (Bianca di Maggio). I’ve tried every type of popular perennial onion and this is the first time I’ve gotten them to last, relatively carefree, for two full years. Normally they do not last the summer. That could also be because these I grew from seed instead of getting sets.

Seed saving and propagation are big on my garden plans lately, not only because of the high costs we’re seeing. Some seeds naturalize very quickly to their environment and I’m regularly impressed at all the volunteers that have found their way into the garden over the years—including tomatoes, wild carrot, datura, tomatillos, jumping jacks, Malabar spinach and collards/kale. In some cases I’m planting these purchased seeds and they don’t do that great the first year, but the volunteers that come back thrive with no care and even competing with some of our very pernicious grasses. Nature is so amazing!

Tis the season for pokeweed, a new and reliable favorite—that poor maligned and misunderstood plant I wrote about last year. We ate the greens all summer, the berries all fall and winter . … and we’re still alive . … go figure! So much mis-and dis-information out there on this delicious, nutritious and versatile, once upon a time Southern staple, that ‘science’ has tried to steal from us.

Two more such successes are strawberries and chayote squash. These are definite testaments to the old adage: “If you don’t succeed, try, and try, again!”

Why, oh why do you let weeds grow in your garden!? Oh let me count the ways . … the bees, the seeds, and, seriously how much time do you think I have?! Actually though, there’s a very good short answer for that—when you allow the deeply-rooted ’weeds’ to work among your short-rooted annual crops you have a magnificent force of nature at your fingertipes—those long tap-roots bring nutrients up from the depths in order to feed your fancy annual crops their otherwise lacking essential minerals.

The chayote squash, pictured left, I’ve tried to get established a minimum of five times. Even this time, the one I expected to live has died and the one I expected to die has come back with impressive gusto. This is why the plants I really want to work I place in different spots of the garden, just to see, as extra insurance, even though this is often inconvenient and seemingly counter-intuitive.

Same thing with the strawberries. Texas gardeners don’t have an easy time with strawberries or blueberries, they both prefer cooler climates. Most gardeners here who are serious about strawberries either buy new plugs each fall for the spring crop or dig up their crop and store them in the fridge all summer until the fall planting. This is too much work and/or expense for us here, yet I’d love to have at least a small, but reliable, crop of strawberries. This time did the trick so far, but only time will tell. At least I’ve got them not only surviving the summer, but also spreading. I used a couple of folk tricks I heard over the decades. One is from Finland—put them with the asparagus, I was told. But alone that did not do the trick. So, I tried them where the asparagus had been, but also where the Indian strawberries had been growing wild. Success! So far . …

Homestead Happenings

Huge days on the wee homestead! The pigs and sheep have all had successful births without a single hitch. Mama Chop did lose a couple, but she has such large litters that’s not such a bad thing. We were very concerned about her as she crushed her last two litters, literally, not in the new way of the term—She crushed it! Nope, in the old way, as in she smooshed them all.

Hubby was able to prevent that sad ending this time by clearing out her corral space of every last twig. She was in the habit of building huge nests, full of branches and twigs and so steep the piglets would roll right off it, falling between branches and getting pinned whenever she moved around. We were worried with another total loss we’d have to get rid of her because we like her so much, she’s so gentle and good-natured. She loves company and will even go on walks with us. It is truly amazing how graceful these huge creatures are around those tiny, squirmy little things!

I did not mean to hit ’slo-mo’ during this video, oops! Need to work on my skills.

Virginia had a similar setup to Momma Chop, but she wanted nothing of it. She went off into the woods to build her own nest, her way. Luckily she doesn’t have such a penchant for branches and twigs. She’s got more of the wild side in her attitude as well as her nesting preferences. And she certainly does not appreciate prying eyes and will come after anyone who gets too close to her brood!

Peek-a-boo! Yes that is Hubby running away from one irritated mama!

Watching the little lambs play, and sleep, is so cute. But I expect when the kids come next month we’ll really be in for a comic treat! It will be our first experience with goat births and I hope it goes as smoothly as the sheep did this time.

Getting friskier by the day!

We have a new visitor to the garden which surprised us.

It’s been there every day now for about a week and I’ve never seen one like it around here before. It flies just like a hummingbird and had us quite confused. It was darting all around so fast and so far that it took me about 10 minutes and 30 attempts to get one decent shot of it. After some searching we learned it is some kind of hawk moth. Fastest moth in the west? Sometimes I undervalue the usefulness of the Internet, I might’ve been left baffled on that simple identification for a lifetime!

Not to mention the joy of sharing these simple pleasures with y’all!

Joy & Pain II

Ô Muse ! spectre insatiable,
Ne m’en demande pas si long.
L’homme n’écrit rien sur le sable
À l’heure où passe l’aquilon.
J’ai vu le temps où ma jeunesse
Sur mes lèvres était sans cesse
Prête à chanter comme un oiseau ;
Mais j’ai souffert un dur martyre,
Et le moins que j’en pourrais dire,
Si je l’essayais sur ma lyre,
La briserait comme un roseau.
‘La Nuit de Mai’

Alfred de Musset
La nuit de mai, poème d’Alfred de Musset – poetica.fr

O voice from the abysmal deeps,
Lay not on me this last command!
Man leaves no writing on the sand
When at its hour the north-wind sweeps.
There was a time when love, in sooth,
Rose ceaseless on my lips, and youth
Was ready, like a bird, to sing;
But I have suffered, as through fire,
And should my silent griefs desire
To speak their anguish on my lyre
Their lightest breath would break the string.

The Night in May | RPO

She even learned which piglets she was allowed to kill (the wild ones) and which belonged ’to Daddy’ 🙂

It’s been a couple of weeks already but I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it. Just a couple weeks before Papi died and that was sad enough, but to lose them both, and so close together, has been sad beyond words.

Of course all creatures are special, but she was our miracle. She was a Mastiff/Dane mix, already an odd combination. Her mother died just a couple days after delivery and her owners worked very quickly to find homes for all the pups, thirteen of them.

She was just a few pounds when we got her. We had no idea about bottle-feeding or ’manual pooping’ but we learned quickly! She belonged here in every way, she foraged and hunted and blended in with the surroundings so perfectly. She was trained as my protector, but she became one of my greatest joys in life.

It will be a very long time before we don’t tear-up every time we think of her, maybe forever.

Joy & Pain

Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine.
Et nos amours, faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne?
La joie venait toujours après la peine.

Under the Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine
And our loves, must I remember them?
The joy forever coming after pain’s den.

Excerpt from Le Pont Mirabeau by Guillaume Apollinaire, and my rather liberal translation 🙂

Fourteen years ago I impulse-purchased a black lab puppy from a stranger at a bar in Galveston, Texas. A few months later we were forced to evacuate before Hurricane Ike made landfall. Papi the puppy, and I, road tripped up to Arkansas, on through the Bluegrass Mountains, to my cousin’s lake cottage in Massachusetts for several weeks before renting a cottage on Cape Cod for several months. It was quite the adventure for us both.

Little did I know many more ‘adventures’ would follow. They include, but are not limited to: 5 emergency trips to the vet for: suspected rat poisoning, several snake bites, at least one stroke, severe constipation of unknown origin.

Additional drama created from: swallowing a fishing line, a wasp attack, snorting fire ants, 2 ear hematoma, (suspected) tripping on hallucinogens, fight with pit bull, jumping out of moving car, several spring disappearances including the last one where I discovered him half a mile away after several days tramping around with a pack of feral dogs—he was suffering from multiple head injuries, limping very badly and hardly recognized me.

Aahh, such is love. Of the trauma-bond variety especially.

Over the last couple of years he’d gone blind and deaf, had warts and tumors all over his body, but still had a voracious appetite and remained as vocal as ever, whether directed at the mail lady, strangers, or walks and mealtimes not occurring promptly enough for his preference.

He was, by far, the most demanding dog we’ve had—our ‘problem child’ we always joked—but we blubbered like babies when he passed a few days ago.

We will miss him dearly. He was a pill, no doubt, but he was our pill and our first pup, and for every ounce of pain he brought, they were balanced by joy.

Dancing together was one of those big joys. Dancing was a way to keep my spirits up on all those lonely weeks Hubby was working. Papi got pretty good at it. Of course it was always an issue who would lead.

This was one of our favorites. Tu vuo fa l’Americano

A life fully lived is one of joy and pain dancing through each season again and again.

Rest In Peace, dear Papi, thank you for sharing your life dance with us.

Funny Friday

Hoping to inspire a chuckle, or two. 🙂

“What a show! But alas, only a show!” Dr. Faustus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1808)

And last, but not least, Hubby in his old man droopy drawers (sorry Lovey, couldn’t resist!) and Bubba, who sees a place to plop wherever he goes.

Not a dog house, but he hops right in anyway!

Hope y’all can channel your inner Bubba this weekend! 🙂

Fascinate, Me?

I doubt it.
But do try, if you please.

For I hold that which is more fascinating than all the revelations on the Worldwide Web.

For I know what’s more delectable than the greatest feast any queen was ever fed.

Home-raised and home-made by just little ol’ us:
2 cheeses, pig liver pate, sourdough rye, olive oil pickles, radishes and green onions,
persimmon kombucha.

For I have felt the pleasure of the task done only for her most dear.

For I have touched the archaic wisdom without fear.


For I have sensed the eternal crafted long before His key.


For fascination is my daily bread living this great mystery.

How ya gonna keep them wrapped in illusion once they’ve touched reality?

Co-Creating Abundance

No politics or unpleasant ponderings this post, I promise!

Just some homesteady happy snaps and a well wishing for a wonderful weekend. 🙂

A sea of sweet potatoes soon to be harvested.

Mexican tarragon—an attractive replacement for French tarragon that does much better in the South.

Drum roll, please, for this next rare shot . . .
A Skittles sighting!

Our barn cat, Skittles, who we see about once a week and lives mostly in the trees.

Mystifying mushrooms! These are quite common, honies (armillaria tabescens) claimed to be good by a good many foragers, but we haven’t tried them yet, because my mushrooming buddy and her husband got wretchedly ill on them once.
Oops, I promised no unpleasantries. 😉

Buttercup paying homage to the pack leader, Tori, she does this multiple times a day.

I suppose these next snaps might be unpleasant to some, sorry! I do get that, I felt that at first too, but I was gradually desensitized as I realized how much economic sense it makes, what an amazing skill it is, and especially how magically delicious it is.

Always an attentive audience at slaughter time.

Our favorite foraging expert who we forayed with nearby this past spring has a great new website all about medicinals. Here’s a short podcast about it, and reminding me that now is the time I should be collecting some goldenrod before winter! Medicine Man Plant Co

Healing properties of medicinal plants

Resistance Blooming Like Roses

Thorned beauties of civil disobedience
Reveal your mysteries
Through pricks of blood
How your scent seduces
Your shades beguiling eyes
Your petals whispering
Your pollen nourishing
But especially
The simple way you
Keep predators at bay


Here are a few of our thorny Resistance warriors, well worth a visit:

Geopolitics & Empire
https://youtu.be/qwTMaa_ZL98

Never Lose Truth
https://youtu.be/Cc9Yuw8DzeY

Ice Age Farmer
https://www.bitchute.com/video/oQSAdEsq7O3e/

“Stakeholder Capitalism” Is a Trojan Horse for Fascism – SAVVY STREET

Alison McDowell & Rinat Stralhofer How Big Tech is Moving US From Human Beings to Internet of Bodies
https://youtu.be/RL1gBgFpu-A

I was planning to write a plea to anyone who’s reading me:
PLEASE, Don’t get the jab!

But, Decker’s done it better, and saved me the time.
Dispatches from the Asylum

“As you might be pulling out your hair over such inspiring good news, with local venues, corporate monstrosities, and colleges and universities telling you and your loved ones that you must be poked to enter their hallowed halls of illness, dismay, stupidity, lies, propaganda, absurdities,  and any information designed to end your ass, there are avenues opening where you can say…’oh yeah, fuck off with your bullshit’, and back up your talk with solid shit like this:
Form for Students Attending Colleges or Universities Requiring Covid-19 Injections – via coreysdigs.com
Form for Employees Whose Employers Are Requiring Covid-19 Injections – via coreysdigs.com
Vaccines and the Law – via americasfrontlinedoctors.org
The ground work for each of us is there.  All that is needed, is to realize that these government and corporate dopes, are nothing more than the bullies you encountered back in high school – and all that is needed to end their tyranny, is a back bone – which God, Mother Earth, or the Committee of Dolphins who started this circus, imparted to you upon birth.”

Decker offers up a musical selection after every post, but I don’t have such knowledge for that, and don’t wish to be an exact copycat, so we offer instead a funny face.

Bubba, giving Free hourly lessons in Chill

Homestead Happenings

Just a wee update with some happy snaps because we’ve been keeping as busy as bees around here!

The bees are busy indeed and multiplying like rabbits. Time to expand their chambers or to do some splits.

Bearding in summer, not too unusual in our hot climate. But, bearding in spring, probably a sign they’re really cramped and fixing to swarm.

I did end up losing one colony, the only one I have in the conventional Langstroth model hive. I’m going to blame myself for that though, I left a super on over winter and we had a really bad winter. They made it through alright from the looks of things, but left about a month ago, probably because their numbers were still too small to keep a mansion clean while trying to nurse babies to build up the colony again. There was no evidence of freezing or starving, so I suspect they left as a small swarm. That’s my story anyway.

Construction continues on the best project so far. Handy Hubby is building an addition to our house and I’m over the moon excited about it! This place was never meant to be a year-round residence, it was initially used as a weekend cottage and hadn’t been used for many years by the time we moved in.

We’ve been cramped for quite a while, but now we’ll have a new, very necessary and very functional, climate-controlled Utility room. Thank you, my love, better late than never! 😉

We aren’t cat people but we adopted a barn kitten last year to try to help with our mouse, vole, mole, gopher, snake problems. Apparently she didn’t get the memo, or realized the problem was so bad she needed a crew.

Skittles, our frisky barn kitten having kittens.

Our piglet population is back down to a manageable size since trading 2 piglets for a milking goat to be delivered next month and 2 others for a breeding ram after a friend has freshened her flock. We also traded a beehive for some bantam hens because they are known for their strong broody behavior, and sure enough, here’s one tightly tucked on her clutch. It’s one of my favorite things to trade with folks and leave Uncle Sam with his funny money out of our pockets for a change.

You can’t see me! Bantam hens, known for tucking up in tiny corners to brood.

As for garden developments, I continue my efforts incorporating permaculture features. I keep experimenting with good companion plants; I’m planting more perennials amongst the annuals; I’m doing more succession planting; I’m getting lots of comfrey growing for ‘chop and drop’ composting.

My latest addition is a ‘poison garden’ including such toxic beauties as datura, belladonna and castor bean. I’m testing a few tricks like ‘spooning’ the onions, which is to remove the dirt from the bulb tops to encourage larger storing onions. I’m watering weekly with ‘poop soup’ that is, watered down cow manure I’ve gathered from the stray cows sometimes wandering our property.

It’s a dirty job, but anything for my plants!

As always, I let the herbs and greens go to seed, but this year I’m going to get better about seed-saving. The price of seeds is going through the roof! Another new project I’m dedicating time to is more propagating, but not just the easy stuff anymore, like figs and roses and mulberries.

I’m going for the big time—‘native’ trees! Wild cherry (because they taste so amazing), Osage orange (because they are so useful) and prickly ash (because they look so cool) are at the top of my current list.

As for foraging, a favorite spring activity for me, in addition to pokeweed and dandelions, I’ve got another new favorite: greenbrier tips—taste just like asparagus. The root, along with sassafras root, were once the main ingredients of root beer, which I plan to try soon. Yum!

Ciao for now, thanks for stopping by!

They Live!

If you’re needing a dose of good news from Texas you’ve come to the right post. I’m so pleased to report the snow and ice have been replaced with spring temperatures virtually overnight. One night with snow is already considered a lot here and we had it for a week.

Once I realized the piglets, sheep and goats were faring just fine, my worry was for the bees. We’d covered as much as possible in the garden but I had little hope anything would survive. It’s only the lightweight row cover, which in normal times would be enough here.

It’s certainly not rated for 4 inches of snow and ice, for a week, and for the second time this year. I expected rows of dead onions and lettuce but was pleasantly surprised.

Best news Today: All 6 colonies are alive and seemingly thriving! I couldn’t be more thrilled because, of course, I’d considered the worst, but prayed for the best.

I’m so glad now that my instinct in fall was to not take any honey, even though I waffled for weeks about it. I think sometimes procrastination is actually a 6th sense at play—an inner voice hinting to you that the time is not yet ripe. Or at least in hindsight that excuse is marvelous for reassuring youself of your keen judgement, which only works if it indeed did turn out to be keen, which with gardening in Texas these days is more like Russian Roulette than Old Maid. (Bad pun intended, if you can catch it!) 😉

Or, ignore my babbling (wiser choice) and offer yourself one full minute of BeeZen. That’s today’s happy bees, feasting on the Chinese cabbage I’d left to go to seed just for them, which survived our week-long ‘Arctic’ blast (meanwhile, the Arctic has Texas temps, go figure), now a welcome treat! Along with the henbit, which survived in bloom under the snow for a week. WOOHOO!!!

Now, deep breath, and . . .

Hubby camped with all 4 dogs in the living room so he could keep the wood stove burning, that’s our only heat source. And, unlike so much of the state, we only lost electricity for one night and had prepared the water pipes, kept the faucets running, which is the common hack around here, and hopefully also saved some perennials with tarping, but time will tell.

The best thing that could come from yet another weather disaster, not just here, but anywhere, is that folks get prepared. It’s not fun, it’s not comfortable. But without it the lesson is always the same and should be neon-level obvious by now: Self-reliance is FAR greater peace of mind than relying on collapsing structures. Food, water, energy, folks, time to get back to the basics!

Mattress moved to the living room in front of the wood stove, Handy Hubby managed to fit in there somewhere.
First time they’ve ever been inside, and they were SO good!

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