Silent Reel 16

The rain has finally hit. Not alot, we got 1/4 inch yesterday but as I said before, every little drop helps. Today it rained a bit harder and is still drizzling. I’m hoping for more as this lasted so far about 45 minutes. The more the better of course.

I got most of the front mowed this morning before the rain hit. The rest will have to wait until J gets home, but I did most of it. And I did it not with any powered lawn mower, but an older Agri-Fab Silent Reel 16 push mower. Agri-Fab quit making these awhile ago and Sears had picked them up but I don’t think they manufacture them anymore either. It is a heavier push mower, but does a great job and isn’t difficult to use. The hardest part is manipulating it into smaller areas as it is so heavy, but even that’s not bad. It really does cut the grass beautifully, plus there is the bonus of not adding anymore pollution as with a gas mower and it’s a good workout.

I just need to trim up the edges, but J is picking up some large clippers for that job for me tonight on his way home, so guess what I’ll be doing this evening? The garden will look so much better once the edges are spruced up. Eventually we are going to line all the beds in rock, but that won’t happen until it cools down in the Fall as hauling rock from the back of the property to the front is a big job. With the temperatures we’ve been experiencing lately, I think we’ll have better luck later in the year. So for now I’ll just trim everything up and leave it at that.

Hope everyone finds themselves living life exactly the way they want to today. Peace!

ETA: Just checked the rain gauge and it’s over an inch right now…woohoo!

One Down, Three To Go

We finished one of the boxes for the raised beds we are working on. It was so hot out, all we had energy for was one but we’ll finish a second one later this week and then the other two in another couple weeks. I had been wanting raised beds for awhile, so this feels like a great start! You can see in the pictures how dry it is, and rocky. Nothing really grows in that area except maybe some persistant weeds, and even they have packed up and moved North. I will be able to put everything on drip irrigation in this area (front beds get it first though, thanks to my in-laws’ help!). I’ve always wanted a bed that I could dedicate to just starts, so one of the four beds will be for that purpose. The other three will house vegetables mainly, I’m sure I’ll tuck in a few flowers as well – for the pollinators of course.

We left some tall rebar to string for trellis’. We realized we should have left the corner rebar tall too in order to make a hoop house for the winter (I want to try to grow as year round as possible), so the other three boxes will have that feature. We used 8 foot long landscape timber and made the boxes 8′ x 4′. Plenty big but still easy to work with. I’ll lay the cardboard down early in the day and then we’ll start our layers. We are planning on doing this in the lasagna tradition, but also will bring in top soil so we can get started with our seeds next month.

The girls watched the progress while sitting in the shade with ice cold bottles of water. They’d last about 15 minutes a stretch and then have to go back inside. J looked at the temperature gauge on the back porch and it was registering 112 in the sun! So it was hot and really zapped alot of our energy. Swinging a sledge hammer in the heat takes alot out of a person! But we feel good getting this started and feel like we have finally begun the transformation of our backyard. We have quite a bit of land to overhaul back there for a regular neighborhood lot. We have lots of good, healthy oaks and then some landscaping was done by the previous owners, but not alot. We have big dreams that will take us a long time to make reality, but the first step is taken in the form of a garden box.

Hope your weekend is cool and everything you could have wanted for you and your family. Peace!

And so it begins:

The finished box…now for the dirt!

A Quick Whine

I know Texas summers are brutal….I understand that completely, and am prepared for it. What I’m not prepared for is the record highs of 107, 104, 105. Yes folks, it’s too hot to even breath outside. We hurry from the car to the house in order to avoid being in it for more than a couple moments at a time. I’m hosing down the animals pens a couple times a day just so they can be comfortable, or even close to it. Practically injecting the girls with constant water as well.

I’ve heard alot of comments from people who do not live here (not directed at me, just in general) about the Texas summers and we should all be used to it or not live here. The thing is, this heat isn’t just normal Texas conditions. June is suppose to be one of the wettest months of the year, but the last rain we had that registered anything was 3/4″ on June 3rd, and no real rain in sight in the near future. Average temps this time of year are suppose to be mid 90’s. Even in the hottest months of July and August our averages are suppose to rarely be above 100. We are not Death Valley here, nor are we Western Texas. We are Hill Country with lakes and streams, green growth and rain in May and June. Not this year, nor was it last year. This year’s temps are even higher than last year’s and we thought it was hot then!

To top it all off, due to the lack of rain we are on mandatory watering schedules. Fortunately we can hand water any day of the week, but the real watering can only be 2 days a week…which is a big reason we are going to do drip irrigation. That’s another post for another day though. Right now it’s all about trying to keep the garden alive. My last plantings went into the ground this week – yes, I broke a couple rules and am hoping they make it in this heat – nothing else will be planted until fall except for maybe seeds. If I’m not out working in the garden by 7AM then I don’t get much done because it’s just way too hot after that.

Anyone know any good rain dances?

We’ll survive, and this was just a quick whine from me. I feel better! Thanks for listening!

Hope your summertime is full of coolness and lots of refreshing, ice cold drinks – again, another post for another day!


Blue Jays Can Be Fierce!

So the other day, when J was leaving for work, a pair of Blue Jays were expressing their extreme displeasure at our calico, Emo. Emo was lying in the yard being dive-bombed by these two very upset birds. Everytime they’d come close to her she’d meow loudly but didn’t have anything that appeared to be their’s, like a baby Blue Jay. I thought maybe she’d come too close to a nest and was getting told off, so went back in to finish up in the kitchen. After a few minutes I went out to feed animals, check the veggie garden and do my early morning rounds. Xi got up and came along. While in the front yard, we noticed the birds were still very upset with Emo. All of a sudden I saw her pounce on something so went over to investigate. Sure enough, a baby Blue Jay was hanging on to the kitty’s collar for dear life and Emo was trying to roll around to get her off. The baby appeared fine, just scared. I had my gardening gloves on, so was able to get the bird off the cat and check it out. No broken bones, just a very scared little thing. She actually flew out of my hand (flight feathers were in place), so made me think she’d probably had a learning mishap when taking that first plunge out of the nest. We also found half an egg shell in the same vicinity. I took her to the other side of the yard, after putting Emo inside, and set her down in the big flower pot next to the driveway. She sat there eyeing Xi and me warily. I was able to get a few pictures before we went back in to get Xi’s breakfast. When we went out to check the bird was gone and Emo was sleeping on the other side of the yard. I should say she was trying to sleep as one of the Blue Jays was still yelling at her. I’m sure that baby was able to get away, I just don’t know how far. I do know that Emo didn’t get ahold of her again, so Xi and I would like to believe it just needed a bit of height to get back into the trees. No more mad Blue Jays after about another 30 minutes.

Blue Jay giving Emo an ear full:

Baby looking lost:

Today, while planting their new Periwinkles, the girls found this caterpillar on the parsley. These pictures were taken by my 3 year old photographer. They watched that caterpillar for a good 20 minutes or more before resuming their planting.

I also wanted to share that my Day Lilies are finally blooming. They were planted by the previous owner’s, so I have no idea the variety. Anyone care to take a gander?

Tomorrow we are going to see J’s folks and are really looking forward to it. It will be great to spend some time out of town and they have a wonderful garden. I will try to get pictures of it to share if they are cool with that. They are who I usually turn to when I have questions. They know their gardens! Plus, they are fun to be around. The girls are super excited!

I hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend. Happy Gardening!


The Boys Have A New Home

I just got off the phone with a wonderful lady who is really excited about buying our little goats, Roger and Carlton. They are going to get to live on a couple acres and stay together, which is what I was hoping for. They will get horses to play with, chickens to butt at and lots of love from the sound of it. She said she spoils her animals with treats and love, so we are very pleased! The girls will miss them, but they knew this day was coming. We will start milking Kubra as soon as they are gone, which will be on the 3rd. I think it is better than we could have hoped for in terms of a new home for the boys.

Garden is coming right along. The girls love Periwinkles and so when we saw them on sale at Home Depot yesterday, we had to get more. I don’t mind them because the girls can pick as many flowers as they want and the next day twice as many have bloomed once again. They are easy to keep alive and act as perennials here. I have a flowerbed that has been slow to be transformed and these have found a wonderful home next to the violets in there. I also picked up a couple more Provencial Lavendars, which do better here for me than any of the others I’ve tried. The veggies are growing and we are starting to see more fruit on our tomatoes and cucumbers are producing now as well. Peppers are coming on slowly but surely. Pumpkins seem to have the dreaded borers again though. I might try them in the fall and see how they do since our growing season lasts so long here.

I also have a plan to build 4 raised beds, 8′ x 4′ each. We are going to get those done by August so we can pretty much triple our veggie garden space for the Fall. Yay!

It’s turning into an aviary in the front garden. Birds are flocking to the feeders now. We have seen a couple Hummingbirds as well and many more butterflies are starting to flit around. I saw my first Eastern Kingbird as well. Nerdy I know, but very exciting to the girls and I.

So that’s a quick update of life on the farm. I’ll get some pictures and more news up later. Hope everyone is staying cool in this summertime heat!!! Happy early Solstice everyone!



We are finally getting rain…yay! We just had a tornado warning but it stayed north of us. Lots of rain and I’m really hoping it’s significant because it seems to be so from our perspective. We need it!

Hope everyone is safe and dry…Peace!

Circle of Life

We had some crazy winds yesterday for all of 15 minutes, no tornado warnings but reminded me a bit of it except the sky was clear. So where these winds came from, I don’t know. But they did their damage sadly. We lost an upside/down tomato, and the worse one, the birdhouse was blown hard enough to fall. Mama wren is nowhere to be seen, but the nest is destroyed and the little eggs she was so happily sitting on look like the worlds smallest omelettes. We are going to clean it out this weekend and then Fort Knox it to the tree and try again.

Mama Wren, I’m so sorry for your loss!

Trying to find a little Peace amongst small disappointments. Circle of life….


And not in a good way! My porch says 92 but I swear it feels over 100 in the sun. Tomorrow’s temps? 100!! And no rain in sight. I’ve been using liquid seaweed on everything every 2 weeks now and am hoping it will help the plants combat some of this heat. We are quickly getting to the season where it’s all about maintenance and keeping things alive. We’ve mulched and most likely will mulch again. We are on a good water schedule, shade cloth is up, let the fun begin! (I really wish it would rain more though.)

My Scarlet Runner beans are just now sprouting and I’m hoping will grow as quickly as the morning glories are, up the sides of the shade structure over the veggies. The regular pole beans are popping up as well. I also went ahead and planted some Mammoth Sunflowers and some Lemon Queen Sunflowers I received from The Great Sunflower Project. If you haven’t heard of this project, please check it out! It’s all about the hunt for bees and you take data of how many bees you see at your sunflowers in a 30 minute time period. After a set amount of weeks, you mail in your data to the project. You can also fill out the data forms online, which is more convenient. In addition, they have a list of other plants that they are willing to count in your data, so if no sunflowers are blooming in your yard, check out the list and see what else might be.

So I know I’m quite late with my sunflowers, but what the heck? It’s all one big experiment right now anyway. Hah!

I also have plans to get a couple raised beds built for our fall veggies. We picked out the perfect spots for them, well perfect to us the plants might tell me a different story. I know how much lumber I need and we’ll start it as a lasagna bed and then fill in with topsoil so planting can start in August or September. I’m excited about these. We have so much caliche in the back, that raised beds are probably our best bet. We also have a double leech field and while I threw down some wildflower seeds along the rim, we are leaving the grass where it is since it’s not something we water anyway. Plus, no veggies on the leech field. The back of the property will be more extensive gardens someday as well, but that’s a few seasons off right now. So for now I am going to build two 4’x 6′ raised beds and then go from there.

Did I mention it was hot?! Hope your days are spent refreshed and full of life. Peace!

This And That

Xi and her new-to-her “princess” dress:

Farm Girl L looking much older than her mere 6 years:

The first upside/down tomato is growing fast:

Call me crazy, but I’m trying my luck with trashcan potatoes. I got organic seed potatoes and even though it’s summer, I’m going to see what I can do with this method:

I have no idea what this sweet little flower is, but a few have popped up in my yard and I just love it:

Halloween pumpkins and radishes that will hopefully help ward off the borers:

Oh! The first cucumber of the season:

I never show pictures of the very back of the property because, well, there’s not much to show right now! But here it is, new fence and all. We have big plans for back here with terraced gardens (very bad dirt back here now…all caliche that won’t grow anything except weeds and sunflowers), maybe a lap pool someday, and a beer garden with our cobb oven. That is probably going to get started this summer if we are lucky. The rest will take time, lots and lots of time..and money..lots and lots of money…we have the time, not the money..haha! Someday! For now however the chickens and goats enjoy the massive amounts of sunflowers, weeds and dirt to forage, run in and just be in (and hopefully help amend some).

My first passion flower…how exciting!

And my pumpkin harvest! Before the borers completely anhiliated my volunteer pumpkins, I was able to get this modest harvest out of it. So exciting to me!

Our small succulent collection. My dear friend, Becky, has added much to this group and actually really got us started on a collection at all. We are now trying to figure out the perfect spot to put them into the ground. For now they look fun on the table out front though.

We got some rain earlier this week, so that saved on a big watering in the middle of the week. The plants sure do love the rain!! Everything is doing alright for now. We are putting up the extra shade cloth over the veggie bed tomorrow and I transplanted a few things from the front to back in that area. I also ordered some specialty pole beans for the structure and picked up a pack of regular pole beans as well. Those will go in the ground this afternoon if I get lucky.

So far we are staying pretty consistant in the low 90’s, but I know the hotter weather is just around the corner. I seriously am not complaining though after last summer’s death heat starting in May. And I’m learning alot more about watering efficiently and deeply. I can see the difference in my plants.

It’s all a learning process, but what a fun ride! Hopefully, 10 years from now I’ll start feeling less like a newbie gardener…hah! I’m loving the lessons though, and it’s so fun to see everything change from day to day.

Hope you are having a wonderful June 5th! Peace!

As Promised

A few pics of the homestead greenery.


A view of the front.

Little veggie garden this year just behind the kitchen. It has squash, pumpkins, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes.