Thursday, February 28, 2019

February's Garden (2019)

There isn't much to share about February's garden except that it has survived - that's the big news.  This month's weather has been unusual, absolutely no snow.  It has been warm and rainy, well warm for winter.  If you look through the fence into the woods on the back side of the garden, it's possible to see the pond that has formed in the sinkhole.

No work has been done in the garden - it hasn't stopped pouring rain.  The vegetables have already awakened and begun growing.

There has been plenty for us to eat.  Back in the fall, I was concerned enough wasn't planted but since it has warmed up, I can't keep up with the harvest.  This broccoli is needing to be picked now.  Every few days,  I wade out to the garden, gather a basketful of vegetables, then slosh back to the house.

This is the first winter radish I have ever grown that has survived to the end of February.  It's a Green Meat and I planted it extremely late.  They were all about one inch tall during December and January and have now started growing.

The most amazing thing to survive this winter is the store bought petunia sitting on a shelf on my front porch.  I left it there last fall, assuming it would die when cold weather arrived.  It has lived even though the temperature has occasionally dropped down into the teens.  It receives early morning sunshine, is backed up against the sun-warmed siding on the house, and the shelf is sitting on concrete.  I think the combined protection has been just enough.  

The two pieces of heart-shaped wood were cut from an oddly shaped limb on one of the bodock trees that were just cut down.  I am going to make something special with them after they dry a bit. 

A Red Swiss Chard has also endured the winter on the front porch.  I didn't think it would survive since it's in an old watering can and I expected the roots to freeze.  The plant looks rough, but I think it will make it.

The Broad Fava beans are blooming now.  I tried to get a picture but Scooter didn't cooperate.  He wanted me to take a picture of his clean, white teeth, not the beans.

They were never under a hoop house and soon will begin growing beans.

It has been an unusual winter, but then I don't know what is normal for Tennessee even though I have lived here all my life.  I do think (or perhaps I should say I hope) we are through the worst of the harsh weather.  

"Everybody look at me!" called Scooter.  I know my fan club has been worried since Mom drug me to the horrible veterinarian to get my teeth cleaned.   I am doing fine now.  Don't they look bright?"

Additional Links:

Last Month's January Garden (2019)

Last Year's February's Garden (2018)

February's Garden (2017)

Cutting down our Bodock/Osage Orange trees


Scooter Feels Bad

This month I am sharing my garden with other bloggers around the world at:
Through the Garden Gate

Monday, February 25, 2019


Last February I shared how Bill cut down one of the horrible Bodock/Osage Orange trees in our field and why we hated them.  At that time, I said we have three more in the front yard that needs to go.  We finally got around to getting two lumberjacks to fell them for us.

We needed them to do what Bill can't do...

or won't do...

or refuses to do 50 feet up in the air with a churning chainsaw as he precariously balances on one foot.

They were huge trees and it would have cost between $1,500 to $2,000 to have each one removed.   All we wanted was to have them dropped because we can burn the wood ourselves.

The problem with us chopping them down is that two of them were close to power lines.  Knocking down our electrical line was not something we were willing to risk.  We needed someone who knew how to fell them without leaving us powerless.

The solution was a lumberjack team who was willing to tackle the job.  One worked up in the trees cutting branches while the other stayed on the ground.  The man below was responsible for keeping the chainsaw blades sharp.

He also tied ropes to the limbs and pulled to keep them from hitting the electrical lines.  If it was a huge branch, he tied the rope to the back of their pickup truck.

The tree climber wore a safety harness but I still held my breath as he waltzed around in the top of the trees swinging a chainsaw.  He told us he would cut each branch so it would fall a certain way and usually they did.  He has been doing this professionally for years and has only fallen once.  (Only ONCE!)  Anyway, it was still one time too many.

When he reached the tip top, he patiently paused for a photo. 

Our front yard looks like a tornado blew through.   

I consider it worthwhile especially since the tree with the creepy face on the side of its trunk that stared at me whenever I was working outside is gone.  I no longer feel like someone is watching me.  It didn't seem happy when the lumberjack was cutting it down.

No longer will Scooter and I step on thorns when we go to the flowerbed.  Bill won't need to constantly patch flat lawnmower tires whenever he mows.  There will also be quite a bit more sunshine in my flowerbed. 

We have already begun burning the wood.  Bill cuts it into small pieces and I go out during the day and throw logs on to keep the fire going.  

It's going to take a long time to burn all the wood since it's green and there is so much.  

We were making good progress until the rains blew in - now it won't stop pouring.  There won't be any pretty pictures of spring flowers posted this year.  All my free time will be spent raking up thorns, throwing wood on the fire, and repairing smashed flower beds; however, it's worth it to be rid of those annoying trees.

So this is my official 2019 spring flowerbed picture - a bit unconventional but I am pleased.

Additional Links:

Last year we cut down the Bodock/Osage Orange tree in the field beside the drive.


Monday, February 18, 2019

Scooter Feels Bad

Oh, how horrible I feel.  I am so pitiful.  Dustin is carrying me because I am too anethesized to walk.

Mom has been mean to me.  She carried me to the veterinarian this morning for my rabies shot and to be knocked out so they could clean my teeth.  Oh, did they knock me out hard!  My teeth were not dirty, even though I did dig up some delicious rotten potato peelings in the compost pile.  She claimed I had bad breath which wasn't true!

Pack Leader and Dustin blamed Mom.  They said it was her idea and all her fault.  They had nothing to do with it so please don't be mad at them.

The room is spinning and I am not happy.  Tomorrow Mom owes me a cup of chicken noodle soup.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Well, Well, Well

When living in the city, I never thought about drinking water.  I turned the faucet on and water poured out.  When we moved to the country, we realized it is common for homes not to have access to city water.    

Houses need a safe and reliable water source before being built.  Here in Tennessee the choices are either using a freshwater spring or digging a well which is risky and very expensive (averages $25 per foot).  If water is not found, a second or third site must be chosen.  Before purchasing this house, we turned down another because it did not have good water.  It was safe to drink but smelled of sulfur.  That well was 1,000 feet deep.

When water is discovered, it must be assessed and tested for bacteria and hazardous contaminants.  Every well is registered and the information documented with the government.    

These underground well houses were built to store perishable foods in the absence of refrigeration.

Often well houses are seen sitting in fields where they are used to water livestock. When we were shopping for land, we occasionally walked across an abandoned wellhead.  They were dug years earlier but were no longer in use because the water was either not good quality or not needed.  

This well still has the old hand crank pump.  It looks in good repair so it is probably still being used.

This one is covered in a plastic shell with foam insulation and can be lifted for maintenance.  It has a faucet and an electrical switch conveniently located on the outside wall.  It is the latest style.

Some people have chosen to build elaborate structures.

This is our wellhead and the only thing exciting about how it looks is that Scooter is beside it.  It is 157 feet deep and was dug by the previous owners.  Since the house is located 1/5 of a mile from the road, we guess it would have cost at least $10,000 to dig a trench and lay the pipe to connect to city water.  That's assuming there aren't any large solid rocks in the pathway.

Up close is a label which shows the registration number.  Ours has a pump rate of 25 gallons per minute which is awesome.  Plumbers are impressed when they see our clear water (I know I am bragging). We can safely drink from the outside hosepipe ("hosepipe" is a southern term for garden hose).  The water is extremely cold straight from the well and it's a welcome refreshment in the heat of summer.

Perhaps seeing my bladder in the basement closet might be more impressive. The water from the well is pumped first through the filter on the left, then into the bladder for storage and keeping the pressure up.  Next, it either goes into the hot water heater or up into the house.  The gauges at the bottom show the pressure inside the tank. 

I love having an unending supply of cheap water.  We were cautious a few years ago when we were in an extended drought but we usually don't worry.  I consider it a blessing to be able to take all the long, hot bubble baths I want.

"Mom, you might love bubble baths, but I hate them." groans Scooter.