Sunday, June 30, 2013

Following My Blog

GASP! ... I just found out that Google reader is going away tomorrow, July 1, 2013.  Fortunately, I also read about bloglovin.  I've added a bloglovin button to my sidebar so you can continue following my blog.  If you act before July 1st, it will be very easy not only follow my blog but all the others you enjoy as well.  If interested you may click here to sign up to continue following all the blogs you regularly enjoy.
I also want to take a moment to thank you for following my blog.  Interacting with you via the comments is always a blessing to me. In return, I hope my posts are a blessing to you.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Moisture Control, Weed Barriers, Wind Barriers

Up here on the northern plains where we are fortunate to get 12" of rain fall per year and have a very dry climate resulting in fast evaporation, moisture control in the garden is imperative for a successful harvest.  A thick layer of straw or crushed leaves between our hilled rows does the trick.  The straw or leaves prevents quick evaporation holding the moisture deep in the soil.  Deep moisture also encourages stronger root systems resulting in healthier plants and a better harvest.   Straw and leaves also breakdown quickly supplying the garden soil with much need nutrients for next year's planting.
Our thick layer of straw also works well at reducing weeds.  This year our spring yielded an unusually high amount of rainfall causing our straw to germinate and sprout wheat.  When this happened we simply turned the straw over, green sprouts down / roots up.  The sun dried up all the wheat roots and the dark underside stopped the sprout growth and it is doing a good job of preventing weeds.

The northern plains are also known for high winds, like the Texas panhandle or Oklahoma.  Since it is generally too cold to plant prior to Mother's Day, I've been learning how to start seeds indoors.  This year I started 48 tomato plants and 24 various pepper plants.  Within three days of transplanting, we suffered a horrendous wind storm.  Wind speeds were a minimum of 32 mph with gusts up to 60 mph.  Our daily average breezes are 8-12 mph.  The following day, all that was left of my tomato and pepper starts were tiny 1 1/2" - 2 " green sticks. 
 It was too late to start more seed, so after purchasing replacements from the farm and ranch supplier, I had to brainstorm to come up with some sort of wind protection.  I found a roll of plastic sheeting out in the garage.  I folded it in half and cut it into 30" strips, wrapped it around the bottom of my tomato cages and stapled it.  I chose to plant my peppers between the rows of tomatoes.  It was only a few days before another wind storm would test my wind barriers.  The plastic sheeting tunnels protected the tomatoes from the wind, allowed full access to water and sunlight AND created enough of a barrier to also protect the rows of peppers planted between the rows of tomatoes.  These homemade tunnels are re-usable.  When my tomato and pepper plants are a little bigger, I'll remove the tunnels  with a staple puller and store them until next spring.

Gardening on a Grade

When we were selecting an area for our garden beds we were not only looking for an area not too far from the house but with full sun and easy access to our outdoor water hydrant.  The area on our property that best met this criteria sloped to the west.  A garden on slope is not ideal because the rain or sprinkler water will shed off to the lowest area leaving the elevated side too dry and the lower side too wet. 
To accommodate for the east to west grade I chose to garden in HILLED rows, as pictured above.  Since our slope is an east to west slope our rows are hilled perpendicular, or north to south.  The low space between the rows acts as a well to hold moisture and prevent excessive water shed.  The hills also encourage deeper roots systems, adding to the plant's overall health.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Would You Really?

Our JP has leave!  It's been more than 18 months since we've seen him and are excited he's coming home.  Consequently, he is looking for a plane ticket home. While on speaker phone he and I were searching internet travel sites.   As I was reeling from sticker shock, OG & EJ walked into the office.  The ensuing conversation went something like this:

OG - How much is JP's ticket?
Me - So, far $902 is the cheapest we've found.
EJ - $902.00 DOLLARS?!!
Me - Yup.

OG & EJ leave the room for a few seconds while I continue our search.  When they return:

OG - Mom, JP, I have $300.00 I could give you.
EJ - And I have $30.00!
Me - Are you serious?  Would you really give up your i-pod savings and your dog treat money so that JP could come home?
OG - Of course, I can always earn more money.
EJ - Yeah.
JP - Well, that's very nice but I could NEVER take y'alls money.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Political Action

I just finished contacting my congressman and two senators regarding 2 separate issues.  Their e-mail pages are on my favorites bar, which makes the task VERY simple and VERY fast.

When was the last time you contacted your local, state or federal representatives?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

... "ye have done it unto me."

How does one say thank you?  Do we quickly utter the words?  Do we send a note?  Do we "pay it forward"?

I suppose each situation warrants our response.  Today, I am thankful to several people, unknown to each other, and through the course of several years.  I believe our Lord placed them directly in my path, for very specific reasons, and at just the right times.  These folks were only passing ships in my life, but each one of them threw me and my young sons  life buoys when we needed them most.  Thus, the very short times they were in our lives were very important.

I have found myself in a situation that brings about an opportunity to minister to a young mother, my own children and my husband.  I have not been called to minister verbally, but through my actions - just as the various folks referenced above did for me 25+ years ago.  I don't know all the details of this young mother's life, but I do know that I've walked in shoes very similar to hers.  I pray that my actions will be an example to my children and bless Mr.B's heart.

I am so grateful for the individuals who, so briefly, stepped into my and my boys lives at key moments.  In hind-sight, I see the Lord's hands working through theirs.  I pray that the Lord uses my hands to do His work today.

The following verses from Matthew are my prayer for all the "lifeguards" who acted quickly, saving me and the big boys from calamity. 
"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world:  For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave the drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  Matthew 25:34-40

Saturday, June 15, 2013

1st Batch

EJ is a new father!  No, he didn't get another puppy ... He has baby chicks!  So far, 15 have hatched.  Here's a few photos of the fruits of his labors.


21 days in the incubator.

Peck, Peck, Peck

Kiddie pool, starter, water & heat lamp.

Close up of the new chicks.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tickle Your Funny Bone Tuesday

"Someone recently told me I was delusional ... I almost fell off my unicorn."
                                                                                         - by unknown

I can TOTALLY relate ...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

4 Things I'd Change About Me ...

1.  I'd be witty &  funny.  But alas, large doses of humor are just not in my genes.  Occasionally, something funny & witty comes out of my mouth, but not as often as I'd like.

2.  I'd be a better blogger.  You know the sort I'm thinking of ... she has 17 million followers and at least as many comments praising her wittiness, humor and insight.  (see above)

3.  I'd have more energy to get more done.  I'm still trying to figure this one out ... during the past 4 years my days just seem to get shorter and shorter.  Is that happening to you too?

4.  I'm a huge foodie - but not a skinny foodie.  I love to grow food, read about food, gaze upon photos of food, cook food and, of course, eat food.  If I had my way I'd still be a skinny foodie - like back in the 80's & 90's when I could eat like a ranch hand and still weigh only 105 lbs. soaking wet.  Hmm, two decades of skinny ... why am I complaining?