It All Started Out So Well

I really wanted that last drink of coffee. Some days are like that. They seem to be starting off well, but then go down hill in a hurry.

A few weeks back, or a couple, anyway, I was having a good day. I had just restarted my compost, building up layers over two feet high and ready for more "green" material (that's fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and/or grass clippings). Since the neighbor's chickens like scattering my compost, I placed a scrap of plywood across the open front.

Kathy does the leaf raking around here and she had three trash cans of leaves and two big, somewhat compacted piles ready to be hauled to the shredder. I fired up the shredder and made short work of the three barrels and one trailer load and had enough shredded product to fill the wheelbarrow three times. One load went in the garden, around a few tomato plants as mulch. Good stuff. I loaded another wheelbarrow load, probably destined for the compost.

We mow our pasture-size lawn in …

Dewberry Season

First, let me say, that there is a fine line between a blog and a Christmas newsletter. I probably stomp all over that line at times. In some respects, I'm trying to find the current focus for the blog, but I'm stretched a bit right now. In addition to the two blogs: I'm writing a Christmas play for the 84 year old Little Theatre in Winston-Salem, NC; we're deep into gardening season; and now it's dewberry season.

But first, Rose didn't like the photo of her I used in my last post, so here's a better one.

Like I said, things are crazy right now. Hot weather moved in early, so my radishes bolted and my peas only produced one meager picking. Various weather issues and other things forced me to pare down the garden, so I'll try to get carrots and kale planted in time for a fall garden. Right now, I need to be getting mulch made and put down, plus, I think it's time to restart my compost pile. The tomatoes continue needing to be raised up on their stake…

Acting My Age

This is my little dog Rose. Rose found me fourteen years ago in the parking lot at PetSmart and adopted me. Not the other way around.
Rose is a long-haired Chihuahua. She's kind of bossy, possessive and protective. I used this photo because it's the view of her I see most of the time. Rosie is a lapdog.
When we first became chair mates, her hair was redder. She was also a bit more agile. It was not uncommon for her to jump up onto my lap or jump down from the bed. Now she wants to be picked up and she wants to be helped down. She's not the first of our dogs to come to grips with aging. It's been interesting and enlightening to watch their behavior change as they begin to deal with increased weight, joint pain and a sense of mortality.
I bring this up because I've had to come to grips with my own aging process. In the past, I've always pushed myself to keep working, in spite of heat, humidity and UV index. Recently, I've had to come to accept that I have li…

Coffee Prepping

For the record, I love coffee. I love all coffee except that last cup in the bottom of the pot. If it's really burned, it goes in my compost bucket, unless it's cold, then it goes in the front flower bed for fertilizer. I'm told that old coffee has nutritional benefits for plants, just like used coffee grounds, but without needing time to break down.

Did I mention that I love coffee? Coffee is the first thing I consume every morning and the last thing I ingest at night. I love espresso, latte, cappuccino, cafe coffee and chocolate covered coffee beans.

The thing is, I love my coffee and I want it every morning. I'm probably addicted, but I don't worry about it. After forty-seven years I have never had an overdose of coffee requiring emergency medical treatment.

We use a ten dollar coffeemaker from Dollar General Store and it does the job of making coffee just fine. Occasionally our coffeemaker gets clogged up with minerals from our well water. We use water that ha…

Growing Strawberries

Where I grew up in Northeastern Oklahoma, strawberries were an important crop. They were so important that school started early in August so we could be out by May fifth in order to work in the strawberry harvest.

Each year, my sister would sign us up to pick. We would stand in the dark down by the highway until the crew truck picked us up. We were the only kids in the back of the truck with six or eight grown men. We would arrive at the berry farm just as the first rays of dawn were breaking above the horizon and the strawberry plants were still wet with dew.

We would get heavy wooden carriers with a dozen wooden berry quarts (nowadays they use plastic) at the berry shack. A row boss would assign us rows and we would go to work.

The strawberry plants grew in wide rows several hundred feet long. Each picker was allowed to pick from her or his side of the row, only. The row bosses carried ax handles and enforced the rules as they saw necessary. For many of the itinerant workers, getti…

Dewberries in Bloom

It's that time of year again. Dewberry season. The wood is filled with big white blossoms that will become juicy berries in only a few weeks. In the years when we have rain over the two weeks before the buds open, we get extra large flowers, followed by extra large berries.
Dewberries grow as runners along the ground. They have both male and female plants and grow as biennials, putting forth new growth from the roots one year, and producing berries on the previous year's growth.
Blackberries produce more berries in less space, but they can get out of hand. In Oregon, most blackberries are treated as noxious weeds. They produce impenetrable hedges of thorny brambles and grow rapidly in moist areas. Like blackberries, dewberries are considered a nuisance in many areas, where they are invasive and difficult to control. However, dewberries tend to grow on single canes along the ground at a height of no more than eighteen inches. Dewberries were once heavily cultivated and were pr…

Springtime on the Homestead

It's finally spring out here in the woods. After a long stretch of below average temperatures, way below average rainfall and mostly above average winds, I am finally able to transplant some of the many, many seedlings that have been suffering in the greenhouse.

The sunshine is nice, but I have to be aware of heat and UV exposure. It's easy to overdo when there are so many chores to get done, especially since I tend to push myself to get just a few more plants into the ground, do a little more watering and prep just one more bed.

I'm not the only creature out getting started on what is now a shortened growing season. Birds are singing their mating songs and building nests. A pair of roadrunners has been staying close to a large cedar tree where they've built a nest. Whitetail deer are moving in larger groups, but soon the does will go off on their own to prepare for birthing their fawns.

The frogs and toads have been singing most nights, trying to attract mates and we…