Best efforts

Around here, there is usually a Plan for the day. I divide my time between work inside and out, trying to cross things off my to do list before it overtakes me completely. And so, on various days, I’m up before sunrise, working on business things, then heading outside to work, coming in from time to time to take a break and do more “real” work things, finishing up outside, and then coming in at dusk to clean up, make dinner, and do more work.

Some days, it all works perfectly. Some days – like yesterday – not as well. By the time I’d gotten myself over to the lab to have blood drawn (and waited 40 minutes there), gotten myself to the NOC to handle a couple of things, and gotten myself back to the HQ, the day had turned quite gloomy. With the sky spiting rain intermittently, and not making for a good time for doing certain types of things outside that needed to be done, I wound up staying inside, puttering about with business things, making dinner, throwing together some focaccia, and doing some general slacking off – specifically, reading a couple of books, something I haven’t done in awhile. Not a terrible way to spend a day, and a nice break from the usual, but as always, the next day finds me looking at my list and shaking my head about the things that need to be done.

Still, if there is one thing that getting through cancer and working out here on the ranch has taught me, it’s to be slightly more patient about those things that need to be done versus what I can actually do given certain limitations I find myself with these days. They’ll get there: today, for instance, I’ll be relocating some of the survivors from the back frames into the front so those frames can be relocated themselves. Sure, it isn’t an emergency of any sort, but I wouldn’t mind having the frames that are to be moved put into their new home so I can get to the business of planning out the rest of the winter garden (something that should have been started in August and September, but given the weather around here, something that waited for October and the mid-80s weather rather than the mid-90s of late summer). There’s also the fence to put up, as a surprise visit from one of our neighbors yesterday afternoon also brought her beagle into the yard, tromping through the peas (which need to be trellised, something made simpler by the fact that I already have trellises available from the summer garden).

So it goes…

One fine day

Another lovely fall (for us) day of working outside.

I laid out the irrigation tubes across the long frames. Everything is coming up very nicely except one of the caulifowers. I’m fairly sure I probably knocked it out when I had the soaker hoses on the frames while I was reworking the tubing. Fortunately, I have more seed to replace duds and those meeting with a dire fate.

The second frame in the second row there has the spinach and lettuce, with five varieties of onion in the third frame.

Today was also garlic day!

That is the Bavarian Purple, separated into cloves and ready to be pushed into the soil. I also have Inchelium Red, Polish Softneck, and Kazakhstan in. With good fortune, we’ll have plenty of garlic for eating as well as some to put back in for the next planting.

I think we also found our future farmer today.


The McCain/Palin nastiness has gotten so horifying, hateful, and bizarre (come on – Michelle Obama happened to join the same firm in the 80s as Ayers’ wife, years after the latter did? Is that what you’re seriously talking about as the whole world goes to hell?) that it does offer a chance to get some focus on “getting things right” as some of our ancestors might say, rather than listening to yet another round of whatever they’re spewing.

For me: getting a couple of bills paid off, and getting the garden in order. And as a side note, watching my nephew grow up. First step: teeth.

Soon, he’ll have a mouthful. I’m hoping my sister will let us start feeding him real food. I made a most excellent batch of roasted butternut squash soup tonight, after all.

Not spicy, pureed, and perfect for both growing babies and people who had half their tongue ripped out. OK, surgically removed with a laser, and not ripped, but it feels like it sometimes.

The winter garden is in progress.

These are the long frames that held the corn out back. The space they used to occupy is going to be seeded with winter wheat (why not?) while we decide how to deal with the low lying areas. Right now we have sugar snaps, snow peas, lima beans, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and celery sown here – that’s a lot of “c” vegetables, isn’t it? For good measure, I also put out some Texas bluebonnet for those butterflies that are still hanging out in our mild temperatures.

You know what else is hanging around?

I found it munching on one of the few surviving tomato plants out back, and used Mom’s finger as a measure. Before it died at my hand. Boot. Whatever. No munching on my vegetables.

Tomorrow: sowing spinach and some buttercrunch lettuce. Another round of broccoli, since the first batch is about a month in from seed now. And, since I found both rabbit and deer poo out front – ’tis the season – getting the fence up. I also need to get the garlic in the frames, so we’ll be relocating more frames and dirt from the rear garden to the front. I have an 18 cell flat with tomatoes and peppers that is going outside tomorrow, and eventually into their own frames, with cover to keep the nasties away as much as possible.

Oh, and there’s that whole work thing, too – setting up new servers, maintenance, answering tickets and the like. The usual.


I wound up with a puzzle today.

Now what, you ask, is so puzzling? These are eggs. There are three of them. Big deal.

Says you.

Let’s back up for a moment, to last night. Yours truly, in the midst of working as usual, completely forgot to lock up the chickens. Until about 2 in the morning, when I woke up and remembered that I hadn’t locked up the girls – two now, as the third literally flew the coop last week and either got herself run over by a car or eaten. But they’re good about going into their house, and I figured by then either something would have gotten them or they’d still be alive when the sun came up.

Sun came up, and they were still alive. Victory! And an egg. I dutifully collected it, marked it with the date, and put it in the fridge.

This evening, I did remember to go lock them up for the night. And what did I find? Not one egg, as I expected. Three.

Now, this could mean several things. It could mean that they both popped out two eggs today, something I find unlikely. It could mean that one laid an egg late yesterday that I didn’t find until this morning, and they both laid one today. Or, it could mean that I totally missed a second egg from yesterday when I picked up the first one this morning, meaning they both put out an egg yesterday and again today. But I swear I didn’t see a second egg this morning.

Unfortunately, the girls aren’t talking (in our language, anyway), so there is no telling what the real story is here. But I know that all four eggs will be treated with the utmost suspicion when we reach that date in our consumption (currently the oldest eggs in the fridge are from 10/1).

Keeping time

Sometimes, you just have to sit back for a bit.

And to answer your questions: that’s just what I did. I spent a couple of months away from blogging, away from the gardening blogs, fighting the good fight against bugs, trying to figure out what was best to grow here and how to grow it, making plans for the winter garden. Oh, and also having Mom’s 60th birthday party – a smashing success. Starting synthroid to take up processing what my own thyroid cannot, thanks to treatment. And dealing with what seem to be neverending medical crap from that whole cancer thing, which lately means trip after trip after trip to the dentist to try to save my teeth as they continue to crack off pieces like glaciers calving, the result of those daily doses of radiation that should have made my jaws glow in the dark but which I still to this day cannot use to read while lying in bed at night. Bummer.

There you have it.

My garlic came yesterday: four varieties that I hope I can coax to survive to the point where they can be harvested. Yesterday afternoon, the first sprout from the seed sown on Sep 27th.

Unfortunately, that is a lima bean sprout. I can’t stand limas…

Farewell to summer

The garden in late summer.

As you can tell, we’ve pulled most of the tomatoes. It wasn’t exactly as large a bumper crop as we expected. The problem? Bugs. Lots of them. Leaffooted bugs and stinkbugs, to be precise, sucking on the stems of the plants, weakening and slowly poisoning them. I had been squishing the bugs with my hands, but there were far too many of them and only one of me. So, we ceded the remainders to them. They got a lot of the tomatoes, all the squash and zucchini, and some of the peppers. Destructive little varmints.

And decided, after Fay gave us 20 inches of rain, to relocate the gardens to the front of the property while we worked over the winter to do something about the slope and drainage in the rear.

Given a rather severe case of both weeds/grass and mole crickets in the rear, a little prep was in order.

We blocked out the two areas with black plastic (and some clear, when we ran out) to do a bit of solarizing: kill the grass, any damn grasshoppers we managed to catch under it, and so on. I punched drainage holes in the plastic after about a week, and then the fun stuff began: moving the frames.

The silver pole and implements in front of the frames is the outdoor portion of my nifty new toy: a weather station.

The work to move the frames continues. Several of these frames – previously they held the back forty corn – have been smoothed, topped, and best of all, replanted.

Current new seeds put in the frames:

  • Cauliflower, orange cheddar
  • Cauliflower, snowball
  • Carrot, chantenay
  • Carrot, little finger
  • Carrot, mokum
  • Carrot, Nantes half long
  • Limas, bush
  • Peas, sugar snap
  • Peas, Oregon sugar snow
  • Broccoli, goliath
  • Broccoli, di Cicco
  • Broccoli, arcadia
  • Parsnips

Three varieties of the potatoes out back seem to have come through the overly wet weather brought by Fay without any problems, even though the water was three to four inches up the sides of the frames at one point – if they’d been directly in the ground, it would have been over. Still out back, and as you can see in the top photo, the paprika peppers were very productive. Another round of cowpeas (black eyed peas) is going out back while we work our way through the frames. Those are flowering, and will not have a long second sowing, most likely, because the temperatures are starting to drop – and if there’s one thing they seem to like, it’s the heat.

I’m going to experiment with growing tomatoes and peppers through the winter months with some framing and agribon to hold some heat in, since they are heat loving vegetables. We don’t have that many actual freeze days around here, and it would really be nice to have a homegrown tomato in, say, the middle of January rather than settling for those rocks at the grocery store.