Saturday, May 8, 2010

Getting Ready for the Barn Dance!


Our last barn dance was held for New Year's Day. And hooooooooooo-BOY! The weather pulled a fast one on us! We had a grand time, but it was scary cold that night.

This time is going to be different. Nearly perfect weather.

And our friends really did an amazing thing while winter and the first part of spring sauntered past. They built a second floor in their barn. It's incredible, but I'm not posting pics yet as I want it to be a surprise to some who are going but haven't seen it yet.

Michael and I went over after our office cleaning and window washing jobs to help with the cleaning and set up.

Here's the stairs and floor where it used to be completely open to the roof. Wait til you see it!

I sneaked in some shots of his beautiful street rod.

We swept, carried chairs, put in festive light strings and jar candles, all while having a blessed time just being together.

As the sun set on this 85 degree day...

Elaine took me on a cruise to see their orchard and blueberry patch at the back of their property.

I tell you, after working up a sweat in the barn...

...the wind in our hair felt TERRIFIC!

We rode past the garden area. Gary is a great gardener!

And found that our orchards are in the same state of establishment.

I just love visiting their place.

It's one of the prettiest places around here!



A Tidy Harvest.


We are using a combination of herbicides since our weed whacker doesn't work. This year is our first year trying out a 1-Year length chemical. We only spray this under fences where we know we are not going to want anything to grow for a long time. It can't be used under trees, or it can get into the root systems.

Here is the garden fence. We sprayed here about 4 to 6 weeks ago. We ended up moving the fence a little after we sprayed. So far the horses are keeping this part chewed, so I'm not going to worry about it.

I did a little spraying around the house with short term spray, Round-Up, to keep stray weeds from taking over, as well as along the side of the property so the electric fence doesn't short out over there.

Here the berry rows look much neater having been sprayed a couple of weeks ago. You have to be so careful not to get any leaves on your plants. I've actually gotten really good at this and can spray even in the wind and right up close to the plants. So far, so good...

The vineyard never got sprayed for weeds, so we'll try to get to that this coming week.

Michael is taking care of push mowing where ever the riding mower could not be taken. We should get a good crop of those bush cherries and bush plums this year. The frost did not get either grouping.

The hardy kiwi are looking good. I hope another mockingbird builds a nest in there again this year. We so enjoyed watching the babies.

I will really enjoy it if we ever get a crop. But wait, what's this....?

Could we be getting flowers for the first time? I hope so, and I hope that means enjoying some fruit from them this year!

Many suckers need to be cut off from the grapes before we can spray for weeds. Also, with the black rot, you want as dry an area near the vines as possible, so the closer to dirt we can make it below the vines, the better our chances of getting a grape harvest.

This vine is always laden with clusters. It's a European grape, and highly susceptible to black rot. Tasty, but after this year, I am probably going to thin out the grapes in each row to about half. This one may go.

The Doyle Thornless blackberries are getting ready to blossom out.

Getting ready to harvest some Red Sails lettuce. I believe the deep red color is likely due to the abundance of sunshine, as I have another bed in the shade, and it is almost all green.

I decide to take the outer leaves rather than cut the whole plant.

And this is what came from one. About two dollar's worth of organic lettuce. I ended up filling the basket to overflowing.

We can't eat it all, so I just take the biggest for now.

I planted Arugula to go with the lettuce...
Now what? LOL I'm thinking it is probably too far gone.

On my way up to pick strawberries, I get to enjoy the variety of herb blooms.




Here's that marker stone I was mentioning before. I like them, but there were only four available. I would like to make some for all the herbs, and maybe even vegetables.

The chives are about to go to seed now. I need to build alternate year beds so I can have a cutting bed, and a bed to enjoy the blossoms.

This rhubarb's crown ended up being covered by the time heavy rains came. Once I cleared earth away from it, it got a lot happier and sent up some leaves to match it's sister plant.

The strawberry bed. I believe the sparse section is the one grouping of June bearers we planted.

They produce quite a few berries, but look awful. And, of course, I've forgotten which type we put in. Most of what we picked came from here.

The ever bearers are much healthier looking, and getting ready to gear up for production.

About 4 dollar's worth of berries, but half of them are gone. I told Michael to just eat his fruit while we picked. I like the really ripe ones. He likes the ones that are not quite, in my opinion, ripe. So we've got quite a mix here.

Washing the lettuce and hoping it will dry well enough before we have to leave for office cleaning.

Then a fun evening of barn prep!



Lazy Daze...


On Thursday we celebrated the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread with another Shabbat, in which we attempted to enjoy the great outdoors by doing a puzzle.

Foil was to keep the pieces from falling through.

I came up with a little system for one of my favorite pastimes some years ago. I keep a lot of old puzzles and you are bound to lose pieces. So whenever I complete a puzzle, I make a mark on the cover where any missing pieces are. I'll either put an X or write "missing" right on the place where the piece is gone from.

It keeps me from endlessly looking for a piece, only to discover that it was missing all along.

It ended up being too windy, so we brought it inside and instead I washed and cut Michael's hair outside. I love to wash my hair outside with the hose. The songbirds and scenery are way better than a closed off bathroom, and cold water is better for your hair anyway. So Michael got to lay on the deck while I did his hair. He's still growing out the shaved head from December, for his friend who has cancer.

Later that night we met friends and enjoyed an evening out at a local restaurant where more of our cozy group were playing 3 sets of live music. It was really fun to go, and fun that the eatery was packed with all our church family and friends.

Nice, simple day.



Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mowing and Cultivating, the Ultimate Perpetuality.


Armed with my hat...

And my iPod loaded with Bible teachings...

I left Michael sitting comfortably in the shade with a cool drink and his last lesson of the book in math.

And I headed for the mower.

Warming it up.

I notice that clover is beginning to make a dent in the soil at the front of the house. That's great! The legumes will pull nitrogen into the soil from the air, and also add Mycorrhizae to the root area, making it much more hospitable for other plants to move in later.

A small detour to put on the steering wheel knob we bought. It turned out to make a real difference in not only comfort for turning, but also wear and tear on the steering shaft.


And after about 3 hours...

We spent an hour cultivating the gardens. I was chagrined to see how hard the soil had become after only 48 hours since a heavy rain. This is why we cultivate so often, but it hit home once again how poorly conditioned our soil is. We decided on a plan. We are going to ask the neighbor who often helps us if we can have some of his oldest, most rotten, big round bales that are no longer good for feed. If we can get about four of them, we could mulch all the garden beds.

At this point, I am willing to put up with the weeds that might come with them. We are in a constant battle with cultivating anyhow, so a few more seeds are not going to make a difference.

Not my pic, but isn't the horse stuck in the hay bales cute?
Giving credit where credit is due...