Saturday, May 28, 2011

It's in, it's done, they are planted, now the impatient girl must wait patiently...

 It is done and I am soooo happy.  I have vegetables planted.  The radishes and lettuce are already up.  Go ahead deer, just try and get my garden:)  I cannot thank my wonderful husband enough for such an amazing present.  Just so you know it was a complete surprise to me. 
We had three inches of rain and that brought to light where the drainage issues would be.  Hopefully the little retaining wall, patio slabs, and carefully shaped dirt work will alleviate the issue.  Another solution to the drainage problem was digging out tons of clay soil, replacing it with gravel, then a layer of topsoil.   Not the funnest part of the project.

I actually bought tomatoes.  A huge step for me.  I really want to make salsa.  Maybe even homemade spaghetti sauce.  We will see.  Kelly made me a nice shelf from scrap items around the shop.  It works perfectly.  My plants are so happy in there.  The shelf will be great for my tomatoes and peppers.  I put parsley, sage, basil and a marigold in the wash tub planter. 

Ella has been great and has not tried to go inside.  Please note there are two pine cones in the photo.  I was not keeping up with my real job, pine cone tosser. 

I just want to point out that while it did not get above 59 today, my 79 cent thermometer said the greenhouse was a balmy 80 inside.  Tomato gardening here I come.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A flash of gold on a rainy day...

Yellow Warbler

I had a great birdwatching day today.  I cannot believe I got such good photos of the little warbler.  They are elusive.  I tried to get his mate, but she would not sit still.   They were enjoying the birch trees. 

He is so cute!

American Goldfinch

I have been happy to host 3 Goldfinches.  They hang out with the Pine Siskins.  

Add caption

I have yet to identify this guy.  I have an e-mail in to a great South Dakota bird identification web-site my Aunt told me about:  I've been trying to identify this bird for the last 4 years.  Maybe this will be the year.
Black Headed Grosbeak

My Grosbeaks are back.  I love watching them.  They are nicer than their cousin's the Evening Grosbeaks.  Those birds are thugs.  They come in and totally take over a feeder.  The first year I was here I called them the Goon Squad.

You can tell when it is too cold or wet to do anything.  I turn to the birds to keep me occupied.  Today was a good birdwatching day.  I was so happy to get photos.  I'm usually not a patient woman, but today patience paid off.

My thoughts go out to all who have been hit by tornados.  I'm glad the Little Red Farmhouse still stands.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blueberry sunrise...

I got some blueberries the other day and wow, not good.  I decided to salvage them I would make my favorite muffins.  They are soooo delicious.  A great Sunday morning breakfast.  The recipe is from my favorite cookbook, Gooseberry Patch Christmas Pantry.  Nothing is more fun than reading through a Gooseberry cookbook.

Blueberry Cream Muffins
2 eggs              1/2 t. salt
1 c. sugar         1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 c. oil           1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. vanilla      1 c. sour cream
2 c. flour           1 c. blueberries  
Beat eggs, and slowly add sugar.  Combine oil and vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients and slowly add to egg mixture.  Add sour cream and gently fold in blueberries.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

My aging barrel or should I say powder keg.
I planted the greenhouse this morning.  Yahooo.  You couldn't hold me back if you tried.  It was nice planting while it was pouring rain outside.  Vegetable gardening here I come.  I also released my roses from their winter wraps.  I think I only lost one.  It was raining too hard to trim them up for a photo shoot.  Maybe next weekend.

I also am getting ready to bottle my raspberry honey wine.  My loving husband thought a little oak barrel would be an interesting addition to the wine making endeavor.  It has been.  I came home from work and wine was seeping from every orifice.   I couldn't figure out what was wrong until I removed the bung.  POP.  A bit of pressure had built up.  It was pushing wine out everywhere.  I put an airlock on top, to alleviate any chance of explosions.  My husband was right.  The wine was good to begin with, but the barrel has really improved the taste. 

After reading everyone's blogs it looks like the rain is everywhere.  I wish you all a wonderful cozy Sunday.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Let the games begin!

Bird, Bees, Berries, Blooms and Veggies!
So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow,
glazed with rain water...
Well, we did it.  Rain did not deter us one bit.  Pouring rain didn't slow us either.  The greenhouse is a go.  I wish I could have taken a photo of us carrying the greenhouse from the garage to the landing spot.  Of course, I figured asking my husband to stop, while I set up the tripod, and put the timer on the camera was pushing my luck, so no photo attempts were made. 

It fit on the base with minimal trouble.  Yesterday there was enough of a break in the rain to get a load of black gold, aged buffalo compost from one of my co-workers.  Instead of raised beds, we decided to just fill the whole inside with 8 inches of compost and just add some stepping stones inside.  It took 10 wheelbarrow loads to fill the inside.   Somebody asked me where my husband got the greenhouse and it was at the website:

Batten down the hatches!
We determined big floppy hats are a must when working in the rain.  We will fore go any photos of me, as I had about 10 layers of clothing on.  It was raining pretty good when we started this morning, so we hurried to get the compost in the greenhouse.  Glad we did because it really let loose about the 8th wheelbarrow load.  We kept going and after that put the door on despite the downpour.  Poor Ella sat there looking at us like we were insane. 

I am so excited tomorrow I plant.  Kelly is going to make a little table in the back to put potted plants, like tomatoes and peppers.  I want to thank my wonderful husband for this Christmas present.  Even though I couldn't use it immediately and it took some work to get put together it is the best Christmas present ever.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Golly Gee Greenhouse...

There they are! Two boxes full of parts!  We started the project two Saturdays ago.  Day one was assembling the greenhouse in the garage, so the wind wouldn't blow it away.  Day two was leveling a spot and putting the greenhouse on top.  Day two didn't happen as I ended up going home for my Grandmother's funeral.  I will miss her greatly. 

On a positive note, my husband and I did not get a divorce after assembling the greenhouse.    Sometimes such things can get stressful.  We managed quite well, especially since the directions were only drawings - no words.

Outside frame and some glass panels.  No, I did not dress to match the tractor.  Yes, Dad I am wearing that hat:)  Not only that, I have posted pictures of me in public with it on. 

 I don't know when I will get to show you the finished project, as it snowed last weekend and we are supposed to get 4 inches of rain between now and Friday.  We shall see.  I'm closer than I was at Christmas!

Yes, Ella helped.  As you can see she let us use her pine cone whenever we needed it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I will miss you Grandma...

Odella Gregg  9/4/1917-5/7/2011
The best Grandmother, a wonderful teacher, and a great lady!

She’s honest, sincere, and humble
Her laughter and humor will make you smile.
Lend me your ear so we can talk about Odella for a while.
She comes from parents described to me
As good, down to earth, hard-working and kind.
Is it any wonder then, that she is the very same way?
This type of teacher is not easy to find.
She finished high school in Onida and then worked
For Boots Gregg as their hired gal.
Cleaning and cooking for 8-10 men,
Another job she did well.
And then there was marriage and teaching and
Motherhood at hand – with her love for animals
And Oak Hollow with its beautiful land.
They tell me you drove a model A back and forth to school
and that the kids there knew you were no fool!
Was said they ran off 4 teachers before you taught at Busy Bee.
You had them eating out of the palm of your hand,
Made learning fun, that’s what they told me.
I was visiting with a good neighbor and his wife—
Said he worked for you for 3 years; it was
The most enjoyable time of his life.
Your home reflected your lifestyle,
It was the talk of the town.
Filled with collectibles, a painting on the wall,
And full of young people every Sunday from all around.
You took loving care of your parents,
Had one of the first phone lines put in for that reason.
You met life with such excitement and love for each season.
You have put in many extra hours above what was expected,
And on all of your students this is reflected.
You’ve loved your guitar and music;
Gave lessons to kids who couldn’t afford it at all.
More of your dedication to children—
In our eyes you walk tall.
You have asked for so little
and given so much in return.
From your example there is much to learn.
Unkind words have never been your style,
You’re too busy using your time wisely, always with a smile.
You have liked to travel and broaden your views
And whoever follows your footsteps
Will have to fill big shoes.

By Connie Jones

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Strawberry Jam, Grape Wine, and Strawberry Syrup...

Lovely! If it was December!
     Yup, another weekend without being able to garden.  I have a greenhouse packed in the basement and it's driving me nuts.  Still, one can't pine away wishing all day.  I decided to make the best of it.  I'm not done using  all of my berries from last year.  I've got three jugs of wine in the making:)  I also had a container of frozen strawberries that needed to be finished off before the season begins.  It ended up I stayed pretty busy.

Grape, chokecherry, and raspberry honey

    My wine has been aging.  I have grape, chokecherry, and raspberry honeywine.  The chokecherry is actually pretty new.  I just racked it last week.  If you aren't familiar with the wine making process it is one week of fermenting, then a month racked (those big jugs with the airlocks on top), re-rack it to remove sediment in the bottom, then maybe a week in the fridge, another month or two just hanging out in the jug, then finally bottle it.  Oh almost forgot the best part, after 5 or 6 months you get to drink it.  If you look at the bottoms of the two red jugs you can see the white sediment in the bottom.  Time for re-racking.  Problem is I only have 3 jugs, so I need to bottle one to re-rack the other two.  Wine production seems to be up:)  My wine making process is not exact, especially if I don't remember to rack it. 

        I was pretty happy with my new blue bottles.  If you notice they are smaller than regular wine
bottles.  It is just enough for my husband and I to have a nice glass of wine on a Saturday evening.  I ended up with 2 big bottles and eight little bottles, but that wasn't the end of my weekend projects.  I took out my frozen strawberries and tried to decide what to do with them.  I love raspberry jam, but I don't like strawberry jam.  I also don't like strawberry wine.  The logical choice was jelly.  It sure turned out pretty.   Then I used the leftover pulp from the jelly to make a strawberry sauce.  I got the recipe from one of my favorite blogs "Our Best Bites."  If you get a chance check them out.   In the photo the grape wine is in the bottles and the strawberry jelly surrounds the strawberry syrup in the olive oil jar.
Our Best Bites Strawberry Sauce
1 pint of Strawberries
1/3 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract
Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring constantly.  Run through a blender until smooth.  Great for pancakes, smoothies, in lemonade, and on ice cream Sundays.  

     That is how I spent my weekend.  It is supposed to be nice tomorrow, when I'm at work.  I guess I'll just have to watch my hibiscus bloom and keep my fingers crossed that one day spring will come.  Meanwhile, I will drink my wine and eat some toast and jam.