Thursday, November 30, 2017

November's Garden (2017)

November's Garden as seen from the roof of the house.
The garden has changed quite a bit since last month and now looks barren.  The beginning of the month was a fast-paced panic to get everything harvested before cold weather.  As of today, there are dead plants still sitting where they died; nothing has been cleared yet.  After everything was harvested, I spent my time preparing for Thanksgiving.  Now that it is over, I will be able to give it more attention.

This year we are not throwing all the dead plants on the compost pile, instead, I am throwing the compost pile on the garden.  I learned my lesson. When Spring arrives I will not have time to dig it all out so I am putting everything in the garden now.  

We have already had some nights where the temperature dropped into the mid-twenties and it has damaged the winter plants a tiny bit.  The collards will be put under hoop houses soon and then they will begin to improve due to the extra protection.

This is the area by the back fence, it too will be put under hoop houses.  Everything looks ratty from the bitter cold nights.

This area is on the east (yard) side of the garden shed and I broadcast an assortment of seeds I had saved from last year's winter garden.  Soon this will also be under a hoop house although they seem to be well protected by the side of the shed.

After the leaves on the frozen dead plants withered, I was able to see many beans that were hidden beneath. They were shelled and eaten for Thanksgiving dinner.

More Lima beans, so thrilling!  As I began to pull up the plants, many more beans were hidden everywhere.  There is no such thing as too many Lima beans.  Some were put in the freezer but many were eaten on Thanksgiving.

We dug the peanuts last month but they needed a few weeks to dry before being stored for the winter.  They are spread out on newspaper and towels on the front porch. WOW!  I am impressed with this harvest.  Last year's garden yield was much lower even though I planted many more peanuts.  Few were eaten because most were saved to be planted this year.

Last year's November's garden (2016), was so much different.  We had suffered through a long drought and armadillos were digging up everything.  Even though it was a much bigger garden, it produced less than this year's smaller garden.  Rain and no predator damage made a huge the difference.

The sweet potato plants could not take the cold weather and quickly turned black after the first frost.

When looking down close to the ground under the damaged leaves, it was possible to see the vines were still alive.  If the weather had turned back warm, I think they would have continued to grow.

Back in the Spring some of the sweet potatoes from the previous year began to sprout vines while in storage.  The sprouts were removed and placed in water so they could grow longer roots.  These "slips" were then planted in the garden in May and they began to spread.  The vines will root wherever they touch the ground and form more potatoes.  The area under the sprout will grow the most potatoes so we carefully dig there first. 

My husband does the digging while I crawl around on my hands and knees in the mud brushing the dirt away.  It is backbreaking work but worth the effort.  Sweet potatoes are an easy crop for me because I plant them and then they spread and choke out any weeds.  The only hard work is when we harvest them after a heavy rain in the Fall.  It took Bill and me two afternoons to do the work because we had to stop and rest.

After they were dug and washed, I sorted through them and choose only the best to go into storage.  Last year I explained how to store them so they would last through the winter. These were culled and eaten first.  If you would like to compare this year's crop with last year's sweet potato harvest and see how to store them click here.   

So how much did we get? We got 85 pounds of potatoes!  Yes!  You read that right, 85 pounds!  I am more than thrilled.  We have not been able to stop eating them because they are delicious; the flavor is different when first dug.  Since there are so many, I will be sharing some and then canning many of them later in the winter.

This year we had too much rain and last year we didn't have any.  It is amazing how rain makes so much difference. 

"So what about me?" whined Scooter.  "No one ever thinks about me. There is no room on the porch because of all the stuff from the garden.  Where can I snooze while on guard duty?"

"Oh, Scooter," moaned Mom, "improvise."


Monday, November 27, 2017

Roofer Reese

As soon as Thanksgiving was over I decided to take advantage of the unharnessed manpower lounging around in my living room and share the drama of the recent storm.  We found two shingles in the yard plus two more missing from the roof.  Where would I find a volunteer to climb up on the roof and seal it?

I will!  I will!
Of course, my skydiving son was willing to shimmy on up the ladder.  He has no fear of heights.


Feels great!  Come on up!
He also has no problems scaring his mother with his crazy antics.

King of the Mountain!
I, on the other hand, have no problems reminding him he is on my insurance policy and as long as we are covering the costs, he will sit down and be careful.

Mom ruins all the fun.
While up on the roof he took pictures of our land.  It is a view I have never seen and don't plan to enjoy in person.  This is our field on the west side of the house.  We recently had it bush-hogged.  I didn't get pictures as promised since the mower arrived and did it while we were gone. We pulled up in the car and it was already mowed.  Country people do things like that.  They seem to trust you to pay the bill.

The treeline in the distance is the end of our land.  On the other side was all open cattle fields when we bought the house in 2004.  Now it is a subdivision.  We have listened to houses being built ever since we moved here.

Turning left is the view of the driveway.  The large bags of mulch beside the car have been sitting waiting for me to spread them since August.  Maybe now that it is almost winter, I will have time to get it done.

This is the front yard and the car below is backed up to the front porch to save steps while unloading.  Since Dustin and Reese will both be moving back home next month (a long story for another day), they brought a huge load of their junk, oh, I mean their stuff home with them. 

My flower bed is under the trees on the other side of the driveway.  When we bought the house, the trees were small.  I never considered the trees would grow big and shade my flower bed.  Now it is hard to decide between shade and flowers.  Do I dig another bed or cut down the trees?

Continuing to turn left and following the driveway is the chicken yard area.  When we first moved to the country we wanted livestock and so we started by raising chickens. Hawks and predators have gotten all of them so the coop is empty now.  We never seemed to have time for goats and cattle...well, at least not yet.

This is our last silver maple tree.  It, along with two others were planted by the previous owners.  High winds have blown the other two down.  We left this one because it was too far away to hit the house.  This year we realized it is tall enough to do some damage.  We might be cutting it down this spring after I try tapping it for maple syrup.

Behind the tree is a fence-row of trees which marks the end of our property.  The other side is a 10-acre vacant field with another subdivision being built next to it. 

This odd-looking brown patch is zoysia grass I planted right after we moved.  The hill was eroding rapidly and we needed something to hold the soil in place.  My Mom has a large patch in her yard so I dug up a bunch of plugs.  It has slowly spread and has stopped the erosion.

This is the back corner of the yard.  Nothing exciting here.

Moving further to the left is the backyard and the strange behemoth thing is Reese's half-built  aquaponics greenhouse.  The tanks held fish and the water was pumped into the vegetable growing beds. The vegetables consumed the fish waste which then cleaned the water for the fish. His vegetables grew faster, were healthier and better tasting than my garden grown produce. No chemicals were needed for anything. When the fish grew large, they were harvested. This is gardening of the future since a small setup in a person's backyard can feed many people. It is Reese's dream to start an aquaponics business but stopped when he was offered a full-time internship. He chose to work and save all he could for investment capital.  He did a good job.

Behind the fence row is our woods.  They extend back about 100 yards.  When we first moved here there was a large forest behind it.  Now they are building subdivisions and there is even a house sitting only a few yards from our back fence.  

This is my garden and the tiny little dot is me digging carrots.

The yard and garden are about 1 1/3 acres. The driveway area is 1 acre in size so we own 12 acres total.

The last thing Reese had to do before he climbed down was to remove our old analog television antenna from off the chimney.  If we had waited a little longer it might be an antique and worth something.  Oh well, we seem to always be a bit behind the times but don't mind it at all. 

I wonder if Mom even knows the difference between analog and digital.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Scooter's Difficult Thanksgiving

Scooter eating Thanksgiving turkey from Nana's silver fork.

"Sniff, sniff," said Scooter.  "Who are you?"

"I am your cousin Beau, which is short for Beauregard, and I am from the glamorous city of Alabama.  We are here to celebrate Thanksgiving with you.  We are family."

"Alabama is a city?" wondered Scooter.

"I will show you the country,"  said a hospitable Scooter.  " If you look to the left, there are trees and grass."

"If you look to the right, there are more trees and more grass."

Look all around, trees and grass.

"Where are the cars, kids on bikes and noisy neighbors?  What do you do for fun around here?  I am going to the house and find some excitement," huffed a bored Beau.

"Ha Ha. Look what I found!  Your dog food!  Guess you won't mind if I eat all of it.  Thanks, Cousin." 

"Hey, Scooter, this will be fun. Everyone is eating, watch me beg for food. No one can resist my cute face."

"Beau!" yelled Scooter.  "It is against the rules to jump up on people and beg while they are eating. We don't act like that here.  It is naughty." 

"Does he seriously think I am going to follow the rules?"

"Watch me spin, twirl, hop, and dance.  I will be so dazzling no one will resist my charms."

"Listen, Beau, this is very important.  You must slow down and be gentle with Nana.  Carefully take the food so you don't bite her fingers.  This is a special once a year treat because she will feed us turkey with a silver fork. Watch me go first."

"Beau!"  exclaimed a horrified Scooter. "You are spilling, smacking and dropping food all over Nana's feet!"

"Slurp, smack, lick...." mumbled Beau.

"Look at Beau.  Everything he does is adorable. He moves so fast he is just a blur."

"Nana, Beau is fast and fancy, not slow and plain like me.  He called me a country bumpkin when no one was listening.  Do you love me too?"

"We are a family and everyone is different which is sometimes difficult," said Nana.   "Being different is what makes a family so incredible.  Beau is my favorite city grandchild and you are my favorite country grandchild.  Yes Scooter, I love you just as much as I love Beau.  I brought a special present just for you, only to be opened after Beau has gone home."


"Now I know Nana loves me the most!"

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