Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Little boys


Why is it that little boys don't seem to care if their feet are absolutely filthy.  It drives me nuts if my feet are dirty.  The minute I get in from the garden or the beach, I have to wash them off.  I don't mind walking in my garden or freshly mowed grass in my bare feet, but once I'm out of that, I want them clean.  Not Elijah.  He would go to bed with them looking like what you see above, usually worse.  We try not to wear our shoes on the carpet to save some of the dinginess they bring, but I would have to cut off his feet!

I'm sure that will pass as he grows older, but maybe not.  As you can also see, he is quite the goofball.  I'm sure he gets that from his daddy.  The two of them are quite the "peas in a pod"!  I am sure there are many years to come of the goofiness, so I am trying to prepare for that.  Especially since Tabitha may be heading to college in the fall, leaving me the only female in the house.


He does have his quiet moments though.  He loves to read!  If it is quiet around here, I can be pretty confident that he is reading somewhere.  The trampoline seems to be a favorite spot this spring.  He likes to read so much, that he will reread the same book several times. Sometimes in one day!
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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beautiful Weather

For the past few days we have had some beautiful spring weather here in Oklahoma.  That is sometimes a touch-and-go situation.  We are in tornado alley after all!  I have taken full advantage of that to get the garden put in and besides a few spaghetti squash, I am finished!  Good thing too, we may get storms for the next couple of days.  We will put hay over it later to help with weeds and water retainment, but I hope to do very little to the garden for the rest of the summer.  All I want to do is water and harvest.


Peppers and Eggplant

                                                                                                                                                             Elijah has been helping with the garden.  Mostly he is my gofer (not my gopher, hopefully we will have none of those!).  He does help to water and spread the hay, plant seeds and seedlings.  Of course, he is a little boy, so he would rather dig for grubs to feed to the chickens and ducks.  And man do his feet get nasty!

At least he washed his hands!

I use the garden to teach him as well.  He has a lot of questions for one thing.  "Why does okra grow so tall?"
"Why are we putting hay on the garden?"  "Why can't I cut the earthworm in half to make two?"  One thing the garden is not when he is around is peaceful!  But I love the time spent with him.  We used to do that with Tabitha when she was little.  Now she's about to graduate from high school and she may be gone to college next fall.  I'll take all the unpeaceful gardening I can get, while I can.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Gardening. Long Story LONG!

Finally, it is going in! This year we are trying a new approach to planting. If you have ever gardened, you know that there is a lot of prep work before you can even begin to put in a plant or seed. Several years ago, the spot we chose for our garden was a lawn. Around these parts, lawns are generally Bermuda grass. This grass is a very tolerant grass. It tolerates heat, drought, and traffic. Unlike fescue and rye, in the winter it does not remain green , but turns brown and goes dormant. It is not dead, just resting for the next season of longer days and warmer temperatures. It can grow thick and lush and just about anywhere that isn't full shade. It spreads through runners as well as seed. These runners can be a great thing for filling in bare spots, or they can be the bane of your existence when they get into a flower bed or garden. Bermuda is in fact not just tolerant, it is hard to kill!

Anyway, back to the garden spot. Having been a lawn of Bermuda, we knew we would struggle with keeping it under control in our garden. If you just till it under, all you have done is make it stronger. It sends it's roots deeper into the soil and the runners that are now underground become like anchors. I have pulled these out of our garden that are over two feet long. Our solution? Roundup! It seemed to work like a dream. The summer before we move the garden we would spray the area about once a week. Roundup only works on the green plants, so we would have to repeatedly spray to get the grass that was still dormant or that hadn't made it through the ground up to the sunlight. The next spring we fertilized with chicken poo, tilled it in and planted away. Things looked great until about June. That's when it happened. The Bermuda that had made it through our genocide on grass and a thick layer of straw, came back with a vengeance. Now rooted deeper than before and angry, it was not nearly as willing to give up the fight as we were. By mid July it just became a job of keeping it somewhat controlled while we harvested what it hadn't taken over-tomatoes!

After a couple of years of this battle, we tried a new tactic last spring. Cardboard. Yep, cardboard. We had read about a lady who uses newspaper to cover her garden and then she covers that with straw. Granted, she lives up north where Bermuda and other runner grasses are not used much, but we thought we'd give it a shot. After covering the garden with composted horse manure, we loaded up on cardboard boxes and laid those over the garden. The next thing we did was put wood chips over the whole thing. After the ice storm the year before the electric companies were trimming all the trees around power lines to lessen the damage and wood chips were free for the taking. They even delivered them. I was skeptical. After all we were battling Bermuda, but to my amazement, it worked! We had a few stays come in here and there but they were easily eradicated. We had pretty much a grass fee garden for the first time ever!!

So why a new approach this year? Well, decomposing wood chips drain your garden of nitrogen. Therefore, we have a grass free garden, but also a nitrogen poor garden. Half of it we have turned over to the ducks. They will turn the wood chips over and they will continue to decompose. The ducks will keep the grass rooted out (check out how well they have kept the grass and weeds away from the garden's edge) as well as any grubs or other undesirable pests. This fall we will plant a nitrogen producing ground cover and then till it in the next spring. For the half of the garden we are planting, we are using another no till method. Planting in bags of potting soil. Mother Earth News says you can do it, so we are trying it out. We'll see how it goes!

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

April Showers...

...bring May flowers.  They also bring cooler weather and mud.  When you are ready for warmth and you live down a dirt road, neither are really welcome.  Don't get me wrong, I love a refreshing rain.  I love thunderstorms with their heavy rains.  Normally I don't even mind, as the weather man just said, 28 straight hours of rain, but I want to get out and plant my garden!

Today.  Wet and 52.

Earlier in the week, sunny and 78!

So far the only thing I have really done to my yard has been mow and spray for weeds.  Now, I got the weeds sprayed in plenty of time before the rain set in and as I sit here typing away, the weed killer is doing it's job.  I guess I should be happy that there is some work being done in the yard!  I have a few flowers planted in pots on the front porch and Elijah and I will get a tomato plant put in our Topsy Turvy.  Yes, just "a" tomato plant.  I didn't get more than that because I knew the rain was coming.  It is a yellow tomato.  They aren't quite as flavorful as their red counterparts, but they do make a pretty presentation. They DO NOT make a pretty salsa however.  The Topsy Turvy is a bit of an experiment.  We were just curious to see how they really work.  The tomato plant we purchased actually had two in it, so we will plant the other in the garden or a bucket and see which really produces more.

These flowers smell like cloves!

We'll see?

With all the rain we are getting, I may not be able to get into the garden for a few days.  By that time we are expecting more rain.  That's just the way it is on Oklahoma.  Feast or famine.  In July I will be praying for a little rain.  This time not only to water the grass so I can mow (in July we often have brown lawns in July because of the convection oven heat and wind along with the lack of rain) but also to wet down the dirt road to tame the dust.  Don't buy a black car if you live down a dirt road, unless you always want it to look filthy!

                   The Driveway                                                  The sidewalk and unplanted flowerbed

The 7-day

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Busy time

It's definitely spring!  I mowed for the second time in a week yesterday.  The grass, or I should say weeds, are busy too!  To slow them down a little I sprayed the today. Whaaa haa haa!!  Take that weeds!  Sunday I will probably spread a little new grass seed to try to fill in some bare spots.  Of course it is Oklahoma, so it will probably pour with in a couple of days and wash it all away.  Tomorrow I hope to get the garden sectioned off so that I can start getting it planted.  I will also have to put something around the asparagus bed to keep the ducks out of it.

Home school is going well.  Elijah has a whole new attitude and he is not nearly as moody as he had been before.  The only problem has been trying to keep him busy.  He is finishing the work by noon and that is with extra work.  One advantage to that is that he is getting to spend a lot more time with daddy.  He goes with Jeff when he measures houses and installs cabinets.  They have gone fishing and had some fun with other things too.

Tabitha is busy with all the end of the year school things that a lot of seniors go through.  She's still anxiously awaiting to hear from the college she applied to.  We are hoping she is accepted.  If not we will get her enrolled in a few classes this summer and then maybe culinary school this fall. 

We are also waiting to find out where we will be going for our annual fall trip.  Last year was Belgium and Greece, the year before was Sandusky, and the three years prior to that were in Tobago.  We are hoping to go to Tobago again this year.  WAITING, WAITING!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back at IT!

After a few weeks of a break, we are back at it.  What exactly is it"?  Our everyday, run-of-the-mill life.  School has started back after a week and a half off for spring break.  Tabitha started her final 37 days of school on Thursday.  That is actual school days, I asked.  We have decided to finish the year out with Elijah at home.  Just too many issues with his behavior and they were starting to come home with him.  Not that he by any means a calm and perfectly well-behaved child (he is a 7 year-old boy), but there are just some behaviors that he was picking up at school and we weren't able to get the point across that they were not going to be tolerated until we took the steps to keep him at home.  We are happy to say that we already see a great deal of improvement.  I thought I might miss the "me" time I had, but I really don't.  I kinda missed not having the kids at home this year.  I'm not sure what next school year will bring, but it will surely be easier.

You can't read on the trampoline at "regular" school!

Look what we found!

The playground, freshly mowed.

This next week I will get the garden planted.  I'm glad I didn't get it in last week.  We had a hailstorm come through.  Not big hail, but a lot of it.  The plants would have been small still, so they would have taken quite a beating.  Of course in Oklahoma, that is a threat all spring and summer long.  I have decided to only plant about half of my normal garden.  I'll turn the rest over to the ducks.  They should keep the weeds down, as well as provide some fertilizer.  They are laying pretty regularly now, about 15 eggs a day.  If I get out there before the crows I get all of them, if not they get away with some.  Some days they'll take off with 5-8 eggs.  Black demons, as Jeff calls them.  They chickens are laying well also, about 2 dozen a day.

We'll only garden about half of this for this year.  There's my cart!

One thing I will not be doing this spring, running.  I went for a short run last week and my back is still acting up.  Not only would running 6+ miles not be good for it, as I type this, I wonder how gardening is going to work out.  At least I don't have to till. That is the one thing Jeff does, the rest is up to me.  I guess I may have to use my handy cart/seat this year for more than just a cart.