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…

It's the Waiting

Things have been tough lately, what with having to prioritize. There are things that I would like to do, things I seriously want to do, things that have to get done soon in order to meet a goal, and things I need to do to meet obligations.

I would really like to get out and hunt for mushrooms, so I don't miss morel season again this year and I would like to build a small hugelkultur bed, just to try it out.

Then there are all those leaves and pine needles that I haven't gotten raked up yet. I have plenty in the shady corner of my garden, as well as between rows, but I will want more as things get big enough for mulching. Oh, and I want to prepare some beds out front for more pepper plants and a few other things

I've got to get tomatoes and peppers transplanted into the garden or I will have to repot them. Soon. But the weather forecast seems to always have just one more freeze before it's safe to set out tender plants.

That novel that was due on the 25th was moved up …

Rainy Season

The rains came and here I am without a working rain gauge. I'm keeping a record of what days I water and also, when nature waters. When it's me, I try for about one inch in the garden. It would be handy to know what nature is going for.

I started back last Fall keeping a written log of what I was doing, plus, I printed homesteading journal forms and began filling them out. Unfortunately, the forms asked for information I have no use for and didn't ask for some things I have since wished I had recorded. Like rainfall.

Last year's notebook helped a lot with this year's planning, but lacked some information that could have been useful. Once I started sprouting and planting seeds, I realized that certain specific information might really help me next year, but I had waited too long to recover lost data.

I started my pepper seeds with damp paper towels in plastic bags. It would have been good to have specific information on what germinated when, and when I moved those …


Lake Thunderbird
Some changes are good, like from winter to spring. Others are not so good.

Every time we have to go into Norman, the city is bigger noisier and the traffic is heavier. It seems like hundreds of acres of farm land become cookie cutter housing and huge apartment complexes every week. That's not just my imagination, others see it too.

And every trip into town, I notice more businesses shutting down. Not that that's always a bad thing. Long John Silvers, Arby's and Wendy's locations have been boarded up.

The Mexican Food Store is gone, and that probably isn't a good thing, since the International food store has been gone for awhile.

The highway out here has become four-lane for about half the way and that has led to more traffic. It's also the time of year when campers, boaters and fisherman flock to Thunderbird, which means we no longer have the lake to ourselves.

We also no longer have the big box garden centers to ourselves. I already have most…