I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden. ~Ruth Stout

Sunday, July 26, 2015

We are off to a great start...

 After plenty of visiting at our family reunion, I niece napped two of my four nieces.  We had a great drive back.  We saw antelope, fields of hay bales, and stopped to watch a mother fox as she sat on her den.  
 When we got home we hit the trails hiking to a high hilltop to see what we could see.  Then we read ourselves to sleep with the book Heidi.  We woke up the next day and did some serious pancake eating, before we hit the road.  Out at our prairie property we pulled weeds (unsuccessfully). 

We have been determined to make a wish and blow all of the seed pods off of a milkweed or dandelion.   We have failed miserably in getting all of the pods off, but very successful at dispersing weed seeds throughout the land.  

We looked at bugs...
and found some fabulous feathers.
Ella had a spa day.  She got got her nails clipped and a bath.  We stopped short of painting her toenails.

 We worked on our woodworking skills, by making our own walking sticks.  We sanded, learned how to use the woodburning kit, and painted them.   Then we took them on a trial run.  We are keeping track of our hikes, how long they are and how fast we go.  So far we are getting slower.  Stopping to look at tracks, petting tadpoles, and eating raspberries may be slowing us down.  Oh and the occasional photo shoot.

We still have many adventures planned.  We are going to be fishing, camping, swimming, hiking, and laughing or singing (or laughing at our singing).    It has been a grand time.  Did you ever spend the summer at someones house?  Who was it and what did you do?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Peas and Purple Carrots...

 My garden is producing peas and purple carrots.  I also have some orange ones, but the purple ones seem to better.  They are tender and seem to grow longer and straighter than their orange counterparts.

 My peas also are going great guns.  Of course, I couldn't resist taking a photo when I saw these two peas in a pod.  
I keep forgetting to update you on the rhubarb leaf stepping stone and bird bath projects.  All three turned out great.  The stepping stones are holding together and an immense help in the garden when I'm trying to weed.
I don't have a good photo of the birdbath, but it also turned out great.  I'm super glad we added the wire as the leaf was huge.  I stained them with a leftover green from the picnic table project (you know my love of using stuff leftover from other projects).  I do think the bird bath needs to be sealed.  
July is slowly slipping through my fingers.  I am hoping for a nice slow summer.  We have been lucky this year with plenty of rain and it hasn't been overly hot.  
My nieces are coming next week and I'm getting ready.  The tent is up, wood for the firepit chopped, fishing poles found, scavenger hunt lists devised, and adventures are planned.  I must admit I'm excited to spoil (umm) enhance their outdoor skills while they are here.
Any big family plans for the month of July?  Any outdoor ideas for little ones?  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Everything is coming up roses...

My rose bed is beautiful.  I had no losses over the winter.  At a zone 3, I'm pretty excited about this feat.  If you are looking for hardy roses these buggers have passed the test.
 Morden Blush - It has no scent, but blooms off and on all summer.
 Henry Kelsey - It also has no scent and blooms intermittently. 
 Rambling Red - Darn still no scent, but blooms about twice a season.
 Topaz Yellow -  She smells divine, but be careful her thorns are nasty.  She blooms about twice a season.  
 William Baffin - The pink rose in back, blooms like crazy then intermittently.  A bit of a scent.
Theresa Bungnet -  She smells heavenly, starts with a bang and then blooms intermittently.  Problem is she is very disease prone.

I also have Mom's Harrelson Yellow, CL Westerland, Champlain, and Charles Albanel.  I am super excited, as I bought an Australian Copper.  A few years ago I tried to start some slips I got from a wonderful lady in Deadwood named, Rose.  The slips didn't make it, but the memory stayed.  It hasn't been easy trying to maintain a rose garden at this altitude, but I live in a gambling town and this is the risk I'm willing to take.

An update on my Flycatcher Family.  The four little ones are doing great.  They chirp anytime they hear me coming.  Fuzzy little guys.  They aren't the handsomest group.

I also thought I'd throw in a few photos of the vegetable garden.  My tomatoes look great.  The peas are perfect.  

The outdoor beds are flourishing with all the rain we have had.
The borage and asparagus had to be tamed.  The carrots are making wonderful progress.  The lettuce and spinach are past their prime.  My gardening companion doesn't mind if the lettuce is past its prime.  She expects a leaf every time you enter the garden.
 Tier two is also doing great.  The sweet corn, beans, beets and I think egg plants are making great progress.  I'm leaving the onions in the ground and will see how they are next year.  I never ever get big onions.  I did have two nice ones that made it through the winter.  I'll give it a try.
 Tier three hasn't fared so well.  Something ate my broccoli.  The pole beans and sweet corn does look good.  I am also happy with my garlic.

 I will leave you with a very pleasant surprise, Brazilian Lemonade.  

3 Limes washed and quartered.
1/3 c. Sweetened condensed milk
1/3 c. sugar
4 c. cold water

Pulse the limes, sweetened condensed milk, sugar, and 2 cups of water.  Pour liquid through a strainer and then pour the other 2 cups of water through the strainer.  Serve over ice.  Sit on the porch and enjoy while watching the butterflies and flycatchers.  What do you sip while enjoying the garden?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Saga of the flycatcher....

Every year we play host to a couple of flycatchers.  Over the years I have come to the conclusion that they are the dumbest birds out there.  Each year they agonize over nest placement.  I think the agony comes over choosing the most fledgling unfriendly place they can find.  One year it was in a shed and another was at the highest peak of our cabin.  I am sorry to say the survival rate of their offspring hasn't been the best.  The first step is always a doozy.  

This year was another drama filled endeavor.  It began with the mother and father determined to build their nest on the porch supports.  This is a great concept as the nest will be well protected.  Problem was they kept forgetting how to get to the nest.  They had four separate nests, because every time they got on the porch they couldn't remember where to go.  Finally, one of them figured it out.  It would go under the porch and come up through the stairs.  Of course this nest is right above the water fountain.  Another doozy of a first step for the little guys.  

There are little ones.  I got on a chair to take this photo.  As soon as the camera beeped they opened their little beaks for food.  It was cute.  I will have to move the water fountain when they get to the first flight stage.

 I am inspired by Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments.  They always report the success and failures of their garden.   I am going to follow suite.  My Early Frost Peas are stellar.  They are producing like crazy and taste great.   I am also very happy with my Bolero and Cosmic Purple Carrots.   The Arcadia Broccoli tastes great, but the heads are small.
I must say I enjoyed sitting on the porch shelling peas.  Ella especially liked that I fed her the shells. They aren't even close to being done with production.  On the other hand my Telephone Peas are pretty sad.  They have spent more time climbing and not much producing.   

I am a bit late posting, as I spent the Fourth of July weekend visiting family.  It is always good to see loved ones.  I am sure you can guess I was at my in-laws as I am posting several bird photos.  I was not fast enough to capture a hummingbird this time, but there was plenty of other birds to keep me occupied.  Like the goldfinch below.
Once in a blue moon I get a rose breasted grossbeak, but they are common in Minnesota.

The highlight was capturing a cardinal.  I was a Harrold Cardinal in high school, but never saw a cardinal until I visited my in-laws.  They are so pretty and I love their call.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July, filled with family and fun.  My question of the week is what is your most productive plant this year?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

There is always something...

When I started this blog I wondered if I would find enough things to talk about.  Truth is there always seems to be something going on.  Maybe to some people they aren't earth shattering events, but to me it is the little bits of fabric that make the quilt of life.  

I try to keep posts small, but this week was packed with adventure.  I will begin with the little guy below.  While out at our property we saw this little bugger.  He was certain I was his mother.  They must not have good eye site at that age.  It was hard to keep from picking him up, but I'm sure his mom was close by.

My Miss Kim lilac bloomed this week and hosted quite a few admirers.  I kept the camera handy while relaxing on the porch and wasn't disappointed.  There were plenty of guests.
This guy was much smaller than the hummingbird moths I normally get.  He looked so soft and had such pretty colors.

My garden has been filled with bumblebees this year.  They love the columbine flowers.  It is good to have them back.  A few years ago they were pretty scarce.  
A few closeups of my favorite springtime flowers.  The yellow rose smells heavenly.  I wish they bloomed more than once a year.  I'm always taking close ups of iris blooms.  They have so many different textures.  The velvety leaves, fuzzy stripes, and contrasting colors.  They are amazing flowers.

We have been getting plenty of rain, but I couldn't resist staging a photo shoot with my watering can.
These red iris remind me of stained glass windows the way they capture the light.  My husband found them and knew I would love them.  He is always looking out for me.

I end with one of my favorite springtime sites.  A doe and her twins.  Captured on our trail camera.  I hope everyone is slowing down and taking a few moments to enjoy the little things in life.  In reality, I find they are actually the big things.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Busy as a bee...

I've been busy as a bee.  Projects all over the place.  The weather is so nice I can't sit still.  

Project 1:  Making stepping stones and a bird bath using leftover cement.  Giant rhubarb leaves served as the mold.  We covered them in cement.  The stepping stones were laid flat on an old piece of drywall.  For the giant birdbath, we took the biggest rhubarb leaf and spread it over some grass clippings to make a concave form.   Since it was so large, I added fencing as rebar.   The stepping stones turned out great.  I will let them dry a bit longer and then stain them.

 I'm letting this bad boy sit for a while.  It will be tricky to get it turned over.  We shall see in a few more days.

 Project 2:  This winter my little sign fell off of the fence.  It was hard to see during the summer, because the plants covered it.  I took its demise as a sign to move it to higher ground.  I put it on top of the cow waterer bird feeder/bath combo we made a few years back.  The wood was a piece we had sitting around, because it was twisted.  It is still a bit twisted, but I like the outcome.  All that is left is to plant a vine at the bottom.

 Project 3:  The Maitake (Hen of the Woods) Mushroom log.  I am super excited about this project, but patience is the key.  The mushroom plugs came in December and have been patiently sitting in the refrigerator.  A few weeks ago my husband and I cut a fresh oak log to innoculate.  It had to sit for two weeks before adding the mushrooms.  It is super important that the log does not get exposed to other mushroom species.  It sits off the ground on a pallet.  Finally, inoculation day.  I gathered my tools.  First, I drilled 5/16 holes in the log.  I tapped the plugs in the hole and then covered them with melted beeswax.  That was my favorite part.  The beeswax smelled heavenly.  Now it must sit and stew for several months.  I will keep you updated.

Yes, I have been busy.  It keeps me young.  We have had lots of rain and it is so green and lush Happy Fathers Day!  What project have you been doing?