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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

As the garden grows........... does the weeds. Geez, and seems like the weeds out grow anything you plant and want to grow. Rodger has spent evenings this week doing all the hoe work getting the weeds out from between the plants then when all that is done he runs the tiller. But we can be very thankful this year that he has been able to mostly stay ahead of weeds and bugs. He did inform me that we have several bean bugs and good golly, I cant afford to lose these dang beans. They are the old heirloom variety Ky Wonder Pole Bean from a friend in central Ky. Not to mention I for sure need lots to can. We have had several good showers of rain the past week or so. That fact did delay me getting to spray the tomatoes with a fungicide (copper and wettable sulfur) to prevent blight. I need to can many tomatoes this year as well. Well lets just say the cellar is gettin kinda bare. We still eatin regular but ya know, I just feel better with a fully stocked cellar and pantry. We just pray for the blessing of a good garden this year. I did manage to get the fungicide spray on the fruit trees and all the grape vines last week and it had several days before the rain. I just hope that helped to head off some of the cedar apple rust on a few of the apple trees. The peach trees are just loaded with little peaches this year too. I am just drooling in wait for fresh peaches. And from our own trees. I might have to buy a few bushels of apples for the freezer this year because my apple trees are still a bit too young to produce enough for our needs.

I braved the 95 degree temps Monday and pulled my beets from the bed in the back yard. I had enough to make 10 pints of beet pickles so I was a happy little camper. That will be enough to last me another 2 or 3 years. No one here will eat pickled beets but me and if I eat them I want a whole pint jar and eat em all at once. The carrots that are in the same bed as the beets were look great. The tops are still nice and green on them so that says the carrots are still growing under ground. They have been planted since mid-March the same as the beets were. Some of the beets were the Cylindra beets, more long than big around and dang did they get big.

This is before I pulled the beets, you can see the tops of the carrots on the back side. In front of the beets are leeks and some little tiny celery plants. I am about to give up on raising celery. Just dont grow well here.

The Cylindra beets. This is 3 of em and one Detroit dark red on a standard width counter for size comparison. They did well.

I had a small dish pan full not including the long ones that are on the counter. Total 10 pints canned. I do have some more that will be ready later in the season.

This little girl is growing like a bad weed. Her first visit to the vet at 6 weeks old she weighed a big 6 lb 2 oz. At her 9 week visit she weighed 13 lb 7 oz. I sure hope she is getting enough to eat. She was a lil befuddled here when she wanted to smell of one of my young Buff Orphington pullet and it pecked her nose. I bet she is thinkin, "one day I will grow up and bite you on the nose". She is a good little girl. It amazes me at the natural instinct animals have at a young age. I was giving the chickens some left over bread that was stale and just gave her a roll to see if she might like it. She ate part of it and it broke in 2 pieces. She then proceeded to bury the remaining 2 pieces. In our back year we have a lot of small holes from moles and such. During all the rainy weather one of the holes caved in (not real deep) and she found it. Now every time she is out with me she will go to that hole and sniff and dig it a little deeper. One day she is gonna dig something very unhappy out of there I am sure. Depends on what critter she digs out, she might be on her own. Especially if its a snake of some sort hiding in there. Cause momma dont do snakes.

Always something to keep busy with around here. And time will get away from ya in a hurry. It is long past time to clean out the freezers and get ready to put new stuff in. Not to mention organizing the cellar, taking inventory and emptying out things that are far past their prime. I know I will be emptying out a lot of green beans if we have a good crop this year. I have green beans canned that we just dont care for the taste or texture of. I sure hate doing that due to the waste of lids, time and effort but dang it if they dont taste good they dont do us any good anyway. Maybe I can work on that tomorrow. On second thought, No I cant. I need to tie the tomatoes up again that we got staked a couple weeks ago. They have already out grown the first tie on them. Then maybe while I am at it I can spray the fungicide. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan for tomorrow.

Not much else happening here on the farm. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

As the garden grows

Up until today we had not had a good rain for several weeks. But by golly, our garden was growing in spite of the fact. It looks really good thus far. We did have enough tobacco sticks to stake about half our tomatoes. And yes, damn I planted far too many as usual. We probably have about 230 or so tomato plants out this year. We staked one row and a week later when we went back to stake another the first row had grown to the point it was almost ready to be tied up again. And all with no rain at all. But this afternoon we got a down pour of good rain. Although a lot ran off due to the ground being so dry but in the garden where it had been freshly plowed just last weekend I am sure it soaked right in. Thankful for all these blessings.

We dug a few of our potatoes a week or so ago just so I didn't have to buy fresh taters to use in our meals. And low and behold they have done pretty well. Rodger and I were talking and wondering why the plants looked like they were dying and thinking it was kinda early. But when we got to the house and I searched the web for info I found out that Yukon Gold potatoes mature in 90 to 100 days. And we planted them on March 18th, so they are mature and its time for them to die back. And to beat all, I still had about a gallon of taters still in the cellar with sprouts on them from last year. We decided that if they mature in just 90 days we had plenty time to plant more. So on Fathers day Sunday Rodger planted the rest of the old taters. Now we care for them and see what happens. We usually don't get a killing frost down here on the river till very late September or October. So they will have time to make lil taters. I am not really panicky if they don't get very big I will still save them for sets to plant next season. Yippee!! for me.

We have had a pretty productive summer so far. I young pullets, Buff Orphingtons, are growing into beautiful girls. They should start to lay in another couple months. My older girls are not laying worth a crap. Not sure what is their problem either. It sure is not diet because they eat well and are well cared for. My friend Deb said she had some hens that just totally stopped laying after 1 year old. Well I aint gonna feed em good food if they wanna be free loaders. Nope, aint gonna. So as soon as my young girls are of laying age, it will be off with their heads. And another reason they are taking up prime realestate out there in the bigger nicer hen house. Another task for a later date. In the meantime they will eat as well as they have been. I sure don't like keeping them penned up during the day but as of right now I don't feel I have much choice. I lost 4 big hens in 2 separate weekends. Some critter, am kinda guessing a bobcat snatched 2 one weekend and 2 more the following weekend. What ever, if a bobcat, was getting them so fast that it didn't even startle or alert the others. So till we have a fence, which will take time to get put up they will have to stay inside. Although I do let them out if I am not busy in the late evening and can literally sit out back to keep an eye on them. My lil Sasha dog is a tad too small to keep them safe just yet. I was even concerned for her safety as well. Her pen can be closed on all sides and the top to keep a booger from eating her. Just cant have my lil girl gettin got. She is definitely my baby. I brought her up on the front porch a few days ago when we were sitting outside. I came inside to get a drink and went back out she was standing on my shoes so she could stare at the door and patiently wait for me to come back. She is a little sweet heart for sure. She ran and played so much that evening she didn't even fuss about going back in her pen that evening. She willingly went in, flopped down and in no time was asleep.

My friend Sissy sent me some thornless black berry plants this spring and we have those planted inside our garden fence in the field. Geez those things have taken off and growing like crazy.

I talked to her the other day and she advised me to go ahead and tie the limbs up to the fence to keep them growing up-right to make picking easier. So that is the plan when we get in the garden after it is finished raining. The short canes that have flowers on them are from the 2 year old cane that was with the crowns when she them them. I am certain I will have more berries than I could possibly know what to do with next season as these are very heavy producers. I am so thankful for her and blessed to call her my friend. It will probably take me years to get use to picking blackberries without worry of getting stuck cause the ones we have always picked growing wild have tons of thorns on them. I still find myself using caution when messing with these thinking "briars in my fingers". Maybe I will get use to not being stuck. Since this photo was taken Rodger has weed eated the area around the plants and it does look much better. But see I aint fake and will take photos no matter how bad things look. I did add a good layers of chicken manure and straw from the chicken houses around each plant so they are really dark green, greener than anything around them now. Looking forward to an abundance of berries next season. This year I guess I should pick some of the wild ones growing here so we can have an occasional cobbler till then.

I spent some time in the herb bed harvesting some more Chamomile for tea and getting my basil cut and in the dehydrator. I really am nearly out of Italian seasoning mix here. Not sure how I let that happen but am about to replenish my stock. Once the dehydrator is empty again I will dry more long leaf plantain and round leaf as well. Lots of wild herbs and tame ones to get dried. I try to make my own seasoning blends every year so they are always fresh and flavorful. Once you get used to using your own dried herbs and seasonings you will find out just how stale and tasteless store bought ones really are. It is amazing the difference in flavor. I am gonna try something a little different to try and keep worms off my cabbage. My friend told me she had read that sage repels the cabbage moth which is what actually lays eggs on the cabbage that turn into the lil worms that make holes in the cabbage. So am thinking I will make a strong sage tea and spray it on the cabbage real often to confuse the moths. Supposedly any plant that has a strong smell will confuse them and they cant find the cabbage to eat on. And sage can be pretty potent. Worth a try. Maybe I will remember and report back on success or failure. Yep you all are thinking, "she cant even remember to post on the blog much less remember this" and you might be right. We shall see.

I am thinking it is bedtime around here. Then see what tomorrow holds. Good things I am sure. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Its been so long, may as well start here....

It has been a little over 6 months since I last posted here. I can tell you my memory is not good enough to remember what all has happened to give an actual update so I guess I will just start here and go forward.
I get emailed comments on occasion asking me to keep writing, so here goes.

But I can remember back in December we had Rob, Amoy and both the grandsons home over the Christmas holiday. We got to help celebrate lil Zachary's 1st birthday. And what an honor and such a sweet lil boy. He reminds me with his actions and mannerism of his daddy at that age. A loving, sweet calm lil boy that never sees a stranger. So generous with hugs and sugars. And you know this grammy loves that.

Can you tell these are the most important things in my life. Such precious things those little grand babies.
We did take a road trip across the country in April this year to be in Arizona for Liam's 3rd birthday party. It is so hard to believe he is 3 already. And far too smart for such a little person. We had to drive to Arizona so we could take Liam a bicycle for his birthday. (papaws idea) I know there is a big box store out there where one could have been purchased but nope, we drive and take one.

 This is a little snuggle bug. He went right to sleep with papa watching cartoons.

 Liam's 3rd birthday party with lots of his little friends from his and Zach's play date group.

He thoroughly enjoyed his new bike. Now when they go to the park he has a bike to ride like the big kids do. I can only imagine the skinned knees and bumps and bruises when he is old enough to get the training wheels off.  It is so worth the few dollars spent to see their lil hearts happy tho. We enjoyed our visit and time with the kids.

We got back home shortly after the first of May just in time to be ready to start planting our garden. It rained several times while we were gone so needless to say the ground was too wet to plow and plant. So we wait. I had huge plants in the green house waiting to be transplanted. We finally got a couple dry days and got everything planted on May 16th, which is late for us. We like to plant corn, beans and such the last week of April and transplant seedlings after the first 3 days of May. That is how dad always did it. But the wet weather held us up a lot. We planted the garden on Monday evening and it rained on it Monday night. Then finally the following weekend it was dry enough again to get out field corn planted. We planted almost as many sunflowers (black seeded sunflowers for chicken feed) as we did corn. Then on the other 1/3 of the field we planted Purple Hull peas as wildlife food plot and to rebuild the soil. The Purple hull peas are excellent to fix nitrogen in the soil after it has had corn on it previously. Not to mention the deer and turkeys love them. All the garden and corn, peas and sunflowers are up and look great. Now comes time to use the hoe and tiller to keep the weeds from taking over. This year we did decide to put a 5 ft tall fence all the way around the garden to keep the deer out. It is a permanant fence but the ends can be taken down in fall to allow the use of the tractor to plow the ground. Lots of expense and work just to prevent dang wildlife damage. But you do what ya gotta do I reckon to eat.

My laying flock of hens are getting to be kinda crappy layers. Not sure if they are molting or whats up with them. So this spring we decided to just order some baby chicks and just raise an all new flock of layers. I got 25 Buff Orphington babies in early April. They are doing great. Should be laying in a couple more months. Then for the others it will be "off with their heads". I think we have decided we are gonna have to fence in a pen for the chickens to run in. Something caught 2 of them last weekend in daylight and then today I lost 2 more. I am guessing we have a family of bobcats here somewhere. I will get the full grown hens and make a quick get a way before it even startles the others. That is damn frustrating to lose them and not even see what is getting them. Last weekend the 2 that were taken were not 25 ft from the front porch. Talk about mad. Yep, I was. Hubby and I were talking last week that we needed to get another dog like Luna to keep the birds safe. SO...........we got one. She is just a lil baby right now but she will grow. Meet the newest addition to McGuire homestead. Sasha Marie. I use my middle name Marie for her so Rodger wouldnt insist on calling her Marie.

Yes she is another Great Pyrenees. And good grief what we do for our little critters around here. To keep her safe from predators till she is grown Rodger and Jason put up a pen for her. I used a large shipping crate to fashion her a "dog house". I thought cedar shaving would giver her a lil added protection from fleas and ticks so we put cedar chips in the dog house covered with a bath towel for bedding. Too hot here to even think of warm stuff. She would not stay in the dog house even if it was raining. You could put her in, she would run right back out. I thought well dang she dont like the cedar. In the middle of a big bad thunderstorm I got splashing thru the rain to go rake out some of the cedar and I took a towel with me tucked under my rain coat to keep it dry to put inside for her. I picked her up, she looked like a wet cotton ball, and put her in the dog house, she sniffed the towel and laid down. She has been staying inside now out of the rain. I guess it had my scent on the towel where I had tucked it under my coat and it was familiar to her and made her feel safer. I was a happy camper to know she at least would get in out of the weather. I will add more cedar shaving back in there later to make it softer for her and leave the towel as her "security" blanket.
Sasha was born April 17th so she is just a bit over 6 weeks old. She had her first vet visit today. Got her shots started, wormed and Frontline put on her.. She goes again at 9 weeks and again at 12 weeks for boosters and her rabies vaccine.. After that she will be good for a year. I was suspecting that with other dogs around at the vets office she might start missing her momma and cry a lot but she was calm as could be and just ignored the other dogs. Even ones that wanted to kiss her hello. She tucked her head under my arm to avoid other puppy kisses. I am thinking this lil girl is gonna grow up and be very very spoiled. I really would like to have gotten 2 to raise up together so they dont have to work alone here but its hurts the pocket when you look at paying $150 each for 6 week old babies plus shots for them. So for now she is an only child. Maybe a little later I can get her a sister.  Just hope she will grow up and be as good a working girl as Luna was . She is gonna have some big shoes to fill with that task.

We had big plans to do some weed eating here tomorrow and maybe work in the garden some. Grass and weeds are the things that grown best with all this rain. But it rained a lot this evening and is still raining now so none of that will happen. But I think the fellows are planning a trip to the farm store to pick up 5 more cattle panels to extend our bean trellis this year. We planted our bean rows 60 foot long this year instead of the 40 like last year. We bend the panels into an arch shape, anchor the ends in each row of beans and the beans climb the trellis and you can actually pick beans in the shade of the trellis. I dont know why we didnt do this many years ago. But I guess as you get older you try to find easier ways to do stuff. Now we need to gather up all the tobacco sticks to stake the tomatoes with. The fence panel we keep to trellis cukes still needs to be put up as well. I would like to get the garden plowed and hoed out before we trellis cukes and beans. I just pray we have a bountiful garden this year. We are running kinda low on canned stuff here. We had a small plot out back here at the house where we raised Turners yellow field corn last year just to save the seed. I planted a good handful of Ky Wonder pole beans to save just for seed. This year we planted the Turners yellow corn and had enough seed to plant almost an acre. I saved enough seed from the few beans we raised to plant 2- 60 ft rows in the garden with enough left that in an emergency I could grow them out again for seed. I only planted the one single variety of beans to keep the variety pure. I had gotten the seed from a friend in west Ky a couple years ago, planted and lost all but about a handful of seed. Phew, that was close. To me it is sad to totally lose all the seed for an old heirloom variety that you know is pure and a good variety.

I have picked about 4 gallon of strawberries so far this summer and put them in the freezer. I had a big bowl full in the fridge that I used to make some homemade strawberry ice cream. Oh my, it was so dang good. Not too sweet, great strawberry flavor. Not sure I will be able to eat store bought again after that.. Now I need to work on a recipe for Maple Nut, my all time favorite. Cant be that hard to duplicate.

I guess I should end this lil update and put me to bed. Tired all to pieces and have not done anything worthwhile all day. So till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.