One of the tasks I set myself on the farm each time I visit is dealing with the raspberry patch. Raspberries happen to be my favorite berry–although blackberries and strawberries are nice too. When my father was still living and I checked in on him after my mother’s death, he would pick raspberries for me each morning for my breakfast. Although this patch is not the same patch it still brings back good memories.
Last fall I cut back the grapevine that had invaded the berry patch and we installed one of the metal gates used in the calf pens in the barn as a support. I cut away all the raspberry shoots around it and carefully pruned only the bearing stalks on the part I wanted to preserve as raspberries.
Imagine my surprise when I found an abundant new growth of raspberries around the grape vine and only bearing stalks on the part I thought would be just raspberries. Plenty of raspberries on those stalks but only a few new stalks—they bear the second year==not the first year. And not one grape bunch!
Still I pruned away again and this time covered the ground with shovelfuls of composted oat husks from the grainary. Last fall I used corn stalks from the barn—still plenty of them to go.
Once at home I face the daunting task of pruning my photos–although I am taking fewer photos these days–it is hard to select the perfect few to upload and I tend to err on the side of too many versus only a select absolutely wonderful ones. I am sure I have repeats from previous years; my taste for imagery does not seem to change much. That may be a good thing–or limiting.
On Sunday the sermon was about our ‘new normal’. That normal changes from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. We were without tap water for about two days and then it was a trickle and intermittent. Exxon Mobil and two other companies teamed up despite dealing with their own plant issues to provide a temporary water supply for us–not potable–but enough to flush toilets. Now we have one of our permanent pumps back in action and we are just waiting for the water quality to be approved.
Long lines are still everywhere–lining up for water, free hot meals. Some places are still flooded, other areas have been removing carpet and drywall and the stench reaches through my vehicle. One post office open and the UPS main office is overwhelmed by people who have received notices their package has been delivered but things are still stuck in Houston.
For several days we were blocked in by flooded roadways—not just me in my neighborhood but the entire city. Before that we were trapped by the incredible downpour–at first logged at 52 inches—our annual rainfall is 54 inches–and now some reports are that it was closer to 64 inches. Travel is possible but very congested.
After Hurricanes Rita and Ike, the sound in the evening hours was chainsaws. Now we hear helicopters of every variety flying overhead from early in the morning until late at night. Some area are still flooded with restoration of water and power not possible.
In some respects the city looks much the same–but then there are some traffic lights that are not functional, the few stores that are open have limited hours, a few restaurants are open with limited menus but more are closed with empty parking lots. All our ‘normal’ busyness of running this or that errand, picking up this, shopping for a card or skein of yarn for a project, making an appointment are things to be considered as a ‘do later’ or ‘do I really need this’ mode.
Irma and Jose are still very much on our minds, hoping they will not come here but feeling a bit guilty for wishing them to go elsewhere—not that our hopes or wishes have much to do with meteorological influences.
In the midst of all of this, though, I found two of my orchids blooming.
One of my favorite flowers of this area are the spider lilies. I think they have other names but they can be found growing along the ditches and blooming in early June. These are planted at the back of the shed and bloomed earlier this summer. But another lovely drizzling soaking rain has evidently inspired at least one of them to bloom again.
Several years ago I discovered Ranier Cherries—they are a lovely golden reddish cherry made for eating fresh from the bag. I have shared them with co-workers and friends–all of whom went out and bought some as well. Last year I was disappointed to never find any although I looked diligently each week.
But this year they are back–and I am enjoying a full bag of them–and hope there will be more this week.
And for the big news—after two terribly unsuccessful years in the garden–my raised beds were over-run with grass and I switched to stock tanks filled with rocks and soil—I have my first crop of tomatoes. There are a few more and I have a cucumber vine growing contentedly as well—so hopefully I will have more fresh produce.
Magnolia blooms have a lovely fragrance that greets you whenever you walk out the door this time of year. This tree is near the front door of my shop and has huge dinner plate size blooms that last just one day. The magnolia in my backyard blooms last several days but are too high up for my to photo; I usually photo my neighbor’s tree–they seem to be accustomed to my odd wanderings about in their yard.
Several years ago, I spied hummingbirds in my neighbor’s yard and stood for over an hour looking like a peeping tom with my camera trained on their backyard. Fortunately they just laugh and tell me to just come into the yard for better photos.
The sun is shining but it is still a relatively cool 79 degrees this morning. Humidity is drastically lower than the 94% it was on Saturday and the world seems right again.
Today I put another box on my chicken yard bee hive–the bees much better behaved today than the previous day but the deep box is clearly full and the bees needed more room. I found two hive beetles and scraped away at the inner cover which had been stuck to the telescoping lid. A few bees were hanging around outside the hive after I finished—so felt a success. I did not inspect the hive–figuring disturbing them twice in less than a week was not a good idea.
Then out to the front yard to check out the lilies. I bought a small pot several years ago at our local Master Gardener’s sale–and we have split it at least once–but now it needs to be split again. The blooms are huge and many.
The fig tree is doing its best but I have yet to find ripe figs on it. I would guess the blue jay or the pigeons get to them before I do. This fig is hard; definitely not ripe.
And here is a glimpse of my neighborhood
We did need rain but now my backyard is a lake; my pond is full to overflowing and the wheelbarrow we had been using to mix mortar for the pond and left standing in functional position was full. Toads are busy making little toads, the birds are all hiding, and the dogs are beside themselves. Toby runs to the edge of the driveway to bark at the thunder, then to the pond to bark at the toads and this morning during a brief interlude of hopeful sunshine at the birds who were thrilled the rain had stopped.
But now it is raining again. I don’t have rubber boots to get out into my truck parked in the driveway–the ankle high boots I do have will not be enough.
Off to Tractor Supply to get some mucking out barn boots, then to the post office to mail the bills I worked on yesterday and the donation to SAQA—photo of it tomorrow.
Another day to stare out the window and wish for sunshine so I can add a super to my chicken yard bees.
I had to work this past weekend–it involved a long drive on Friday and returning on Sunday. I loaded up their feeder, filled the watering bucket half full, changed the paper in the crate and left them on their own–the dogs were kenneled–otherwise I’m sure I would have no worries about chickens in the future.
When I arrived home early Sunday afternoon, they still had food and water–but there was fuzzy fluff everywhere–and these little chickies no longer had down—anywhere—just feathers. I took them outside in the crate and let them wander around on the grass—in the crate–they don’t really come when they are called–quite yet. Changed their paper, refilled feeder and water—and then put a handful of grass and some sand in the crate–they still yell….the sky is falling but then they take one look at that grass and dive right in.
Tomorrow they are graduating to their coop====before I retrieve the dogs from their vacation at the kennel.
For some reason I wanted to have backyard chickens. Maybe it was the idea of eggs with nice really yellow yolks or maybe it was just wanting more livestock and a reason to not travel so much. But after we built the chicken coop–we needed to populate it.
Off to Tractor Supply.
There were five or six chicken varieties there including banties–my favorite but Glen wanted larger eggs. So we got four leghorns and two Cornish reds or maybe they were Wyandottes–or maybe that is the same.
The clerk asked me if I wanted any particular ones. I said no–and he just chased them around until he captured the requested number and put them in a cardboard box. I thought we could keep them in one of the dog crates we have–not sure why we had two different sizes. It is still a bit cool in the evenings and so we set them up in the dining room with a watering device and a chick feeder.
Then Toby had to see. She stared at those little chicks–who all screamed–the sky is falling!
We decided the coop would not resist a dog intrigued by these little creatures and so off we went to Tractor Supply again—after going to Cars and Coffee—where I TOUCHED a McLaren–a quarter of a million dollar car—I don’t think I left any fingerprints.
Putting in TPosts is a lot easier with a post driver–but that was at the shop—so Glen went to the shop and collected the driver—we put up a few until I was eaten up by tiny mosquitoes and retreated to the house.
Today I had to clean the dog crate–they all screamed the sky is falling and then WE ARE STARVING!!!!. They now have a clean crate, clean water, and a quarter jar of chicken feed that they dove into.
And if anyone is interested—I photoshopped out the poopie.
This is photographic evidence with no photoshopping or other alterations of a man reading directions.
It was a simple project—buy the kit at Tractor Supply–I had been looking for months, reading, consulting a friend, and trying to remember the ins and outs from my childhood–albeit a few years ago–and in a different climate. This kit was on sale–the company no longer making them–and it seemed sturdy.
I hauled it home in the bed of my F250; Glen backed my truck into the backyard, we used a rope around the end of it to pull it out–it weight 160 pounds a bit more than the neurosurgeon would advise me lifting.
We pulled out the pieces–hunting for the directions–hoping it was originally written in English, not Chinese and then translated to English.
but it was a diagram with numbers.
So now I have a chicken coop with a small enclosed pen. Toby refused to go in carefully keeping her feet outside the doors.
Maybe some chicks this week.