Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Picture-Heavy Post - Alica, don't look!

Yesterday afternoon, I opened the door to the big henhouse, and this is what I saw.  I almost stepped on him. 

He pulled back behind the door and waited for me to leave.  He was hunting mice, and believe me, he can stay well fed in there. 

I was not surprised the heat brought him out. 

I bet tomorrow night he heads for his hole again. 

Not this one, in the closet of the henhouse.  This is the reason we are going to pull the drywall out this year. 

Well, that and the mice. 

 Tomatoes, zinnias and balsam hardening off.  I have to start all over again after Thursday. 

They blew and blew and blew, so I put them on the east side of the house today. 

They blew, and blew and blew.  Again.

What is this, you say? 

It's a planter.  It's a Rubbermaid trough repurposed as a planter on the deck.  The empty bottles are taking up space in the bottom so I wouldn't have to use as much Miracle Gro in it. 

It is ready to plant, but of course, we're GOING DOWN TO 30 ON THURSDAY. 

It will hold oregano and basil. 

What we had for dinner tonight.  Keith and I have decided we will have healthier dinners, and not so many stew-type dinners for the spring and summer.  I found this suggested on Pinterest... and then adjusted it to suit us.  

It is spaghetti, and then a "sauce" made of tomatoes cooked in olive oil with minced garlic... then salted and peppered.  Just as I was almost finished cooking them, I threw in some Italian blend cheese and some cut up basil that I splurged on at the store.  The garlic had cooked long enough to soften, and did not taste overwhelming. 

Then I simply plated it by putting the tomato mixture over the spaghetti.  What you see is what we ate... we both had one smallish helping.  It was delicious! 

Soon, hopefully, we'll be eating from our garden. 

These guys will have to come back in on Thursday morning, maybe even tomorrow night.  It will just be TOO cold for them for at least two days. 
Then, by Saturday and Sunday, it should be back in the 50's. 

What's up, Biddy? 

This hen has "talked" to me every since she came here from my friend Jennette's.  She is the first one to greet me every morning in the henspa. 

I sat down to refill the top of the pool (I emptied it this morning) and she began chattering to me. 
The next thing I knew: 

As Keith said just now, not my most flattering photo.  I was trying to figure out how to take it as Biddy was chattering at me. 

She stayed up there three or four minutes, then jumped back down. 

I had cleaned the pool out at noon, but you see what the dabbling ducks do to it . Aflac didn't care, she jumped in and dabbled around in it, then sat still and watched everyone, as if she were paddling in a pond.  In fact, Fawni and Spice had gone underwater and made torpedos of their bodies, and swam around in the pool when I changed it.  I am so glad for them, because they could never get truly wet at their old home.  We even thought of getting a bigger pool for them, but they can get over the wall of this one easily, and the other would be deeper, but higher. 

Some of Rambo's hens in the pasture.  Part of it is very lush. 

Even Moe the rooster got out and worked on some of the new straw I put out. 

The Fluffy Bottom Brigade was cleaning themselves before going in for the night.  You can see from the blowing feathers that it was still blowing hard at 6:30 PM. 

Who knows what the next three days will bring, weatherwise? 

That's it for a sunny Tuesday from Calamity Acres. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Bright, Sunny Monday

What a nice Sunday we had. 

Nathan was here and helped me move some things in the yard that were too hard from Granny to move by herself. 

I did not get a picture of him, but he is growing tall and handsome. 

Then I drove him on down to Garnett, and the drive was a pleasant one in the sunshine. 

I stopped at Howard Pine's on the way back: 

They had tables full of calibrachoa.  You see, I love the "million bells" plants, they are so vigorous and for me, they grow until fall on my deck.  I just love to see them.  Yes, they need water and feeding, but they repay with beauty, over and over. 

However... I managed to not buy even one plant yesterday. 


we have a chance of SNOW on Friday! 


I did start hardening off the tomatoes... they are out on the deck as we speak... they did fine the first day, yesterday... and I'm bringing them in at night.  

The tulips were soaking up the Sunday sun. 

I cut just a little bit of grass last night in order to rake up some for the birds to eat.  

It is far too wet to cut right now, maybe tomorrow.  However, there are areas of the yard I am trying hard not to touch, because on Wednesday, we have an extension agent coming here to look at our yard and pasture, take soil samples, and tell us what to do about the widening areas of no grass.  We had good grass here 8 years ago, and now parts are bare, and this happened before the drought of last year. 
I'm hoping he can tell me what to do to turn things around. 

This little girl and her babies are doing fine in their outside pen, but, to be truthful, I may bring them in on the bitter night for that night and part of the next day.  30 degrees is just too cold for those chicks, even with mama there. 

Stick your hand in here, and you will regret it.  I have the scabs to prove it. 

One of our three year old pear trees.  We can let them bear this year! 

Best friends. 

The wily ducks were too smart for me this morning....I could SEE their eggs but not get to them under the henspa.  I'm going to have to low crawl for them.  I wondered how long it would take them to figure out they could keep them away from me! 

That's it for a sunny Monday at Calamity Acres. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

That Old Gang of Mine

Not farm stuff tonight, but something sweet and personal. 

From 1980 to 2003, I worked for American Cablevision of Kansas City, which was bought out by Time Warner Cable, and for two years, we were AOL-Time Warner. 

What fun we had in the nascent days of cable... our company was very, very diverse, and we had folks from all walks of life who worked for us.  I started in the construction division, and then spent 21 years in marketing and sales. 

We had wonderful company parties, and every quarter, a breakfast at a local "hot spot" which we moved around the Kansas City Metro area. 

One was in an airplane hangar at the downtown airport...another at the zoo! 

We were there when all your favorite tv and satellite stations were born... ESPN, HGTV, Comedy Central, Nicolodean, and ALL of them.  Each new station meant new training and new tchotchkes given to us. 

This afternoon, Shirley, who worked side by side with me for numerous years in the sales department, celebrated a birthday, I won't say which one.  Shirley is in the front row, on the right. 

I had not seen these folks since I was bought out ten years ago, with the exception of Terry, third from right in the back row.  

Our friend Mayling got there too late for the group photo... and my camera card was full (I didn't figure that out) when she did get there! 

How good it was to see and visit with all these dear friends.  

The sad thing is... since I have left, they have lived with lay-off after lay-off, and some of the ladies in this picture lost their jobs in the last two weeks.  It was very, very sad, but, as Shirley said... it's not the same as when we started and were all so young and happy. 

I'm forever grateful to have worked with such fine people ... it was a true blessing, then and now. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Of Eggs and Gardens

Okay, I'll start off with the egg story.  I know everyone is getting sick of them, but this one is interesting. 

Yesterday morning, I only got three duck eggs.  I did not get a "guck" egg, which is what Keith calls the huge goose-like eggs I've been getting this week. 

I told Keith someone was holding out on me. 

So, this morning I went out to open up the henspa.  I always check on the ducks first, because I leave feed out for them at night, and I like to get them some clean water in the fortex right off in the morning. 

Imagine my surprise when I found three eggs, right in the middle of the yard, in a nest made in the deep straw.  One was a "guck" egg. 

And then, I looked  over at the little dog house we moved in there and there 

In other words... I got five eggs from the four ducks! 

So imagine my greater surprise when I went out there at 4 PM, and found this: 

Duck eggs are always very dirty. 

So, I present to you the SIX EGGS FROM FOUR DUCKS DAY: 

The guck egg is in the upper left. 

My guess is, this egg was stuck last night, and when the duck was able to pass it, the next egg that had formed came out, too.  Just a guess. 

Sandy commented last night that the Pekin girl looks like the Aflac duck... so... that's her name! 

Miss Aflac. 

Marlin Bates, Horticulture Specialist from Missouri State Extension wrote an article in The Kansas City Star yesterday morning (garden section) in which he opined that cool season crops are not developing at a rate that will bring them to harvest in time to plant the warm season crops that should follow them. 
He probably looked at my pictures from last night. 

He does think that gardeners will need to make a choice by mid-May on whether to try to harvest the cool season greens (mostly greens) and then give up that space to the warm season crops... or keep trying to harvest them.  

I have decided that the peas will be out of there... they are not going to set fruit, I can tell from looking at them, they are not growing as they should.  I mark it up to the ground still being so cold. 

He is estimating mid to late May for planting of warm season crops in our area. 

Having said all that, we have some seventy degree days predicted, and tomorrow morning, my seedlings, except for the perennial flowers, are going out to the side of the house to start being hardened off, with a prospective planting date in about ten days.  I'll bring them in at night for the first week, until we see how the weather is going. 

Abby was fascinated by the fact that Nugget and the chicks were in the outdoor pen. 

I have it heavily tarped, because it was cool today.  However, I'll remove the tarp tomorrow with the advent of our sunny weather, and the chicks and Nugget can soak it up in their bigger pen.  

And finally, our dear old boy was waiting for me as I did chores... he had worn himself out walking out in the pasture.  It's such an effort for him, but he loves to go down there and sniff around.  When he comes back up, he's worn out.  How we love our old Ranger! 

And that's it for a very soggy night at Calamity Acres! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Picture Heavy Thursday

Well, I did something I hope I don't regret today, because it has clouded up this afternoon, and now the weatherman says we are possibly having showers after midnight. 

This blurry image is Nugget and her three babies in the little white pen.  

Here's why I moved them: 

First one of the year, and it's a biggie! 
Whoa, Nellie! 

The nursing pen is not snake-safe. 

I'm going out at dark to cover Nugget's pen with a tarp, against any rain that might be falling, but remember, they have two corners they can get into in the "box" and keep dry. 

I'm more worried about blowing rain and wind than the temperature, but I hated to move them out from under the light, and they are going right back there tomorrow if I think it's necessary. 

Guess what else happened?

Rambo and his girls came out for the first time since the coyote attack in January. 

How great it was to see them out in the pasture!  Not everyone came out, but the bantams in the old henhouse DID come outside today. 

Oops, that's not a bantam.  

She's dustbathing, not dead. 

The few tulips I have are blooming, and you can see how the clouds came over. 

This Pekin, still unnamed... appears to have a piece gone out of her bill, I had not noticed it before. She uses it fine, however. 

Why I am not scared when Keith goes to work in the morning. 

Fancy stayed in today, sadly.  I knew it was too good to be true, that he would venture outside again today.  I had to net him last night to get him in. 

On Wednesday next week, a man is coming from Kansas State University Extension to take a look at our pasture, and the north end of our yard.  When we moved here (it will be nine summers ago, this year) there was grass there.  Now, there is little grass or weeds, and in the pasture, actually a bare spot.  I am worried about them. 

They have had very light grazing with the llamas and the pony and mini horse.  

This gentleman is going to take soil samples and have them analyzed, and advise us on how to re-do the pasture and fix the yard.  He did tell me not to put any seed down this spring, but to wait until fall.
I'm going to write down everything he says, because this is going to be invaluable to me. 

Now... I want to show you a garden bed from a year ago yesterday: 

Actually, it was from 4/22/12. 


Same bed today.  (yes, I know I need to thin) 


What a difference a year makes! 

That's all for the garden-lagging Calamity Acres today! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Warmer Wednesday

Whew, 55 degrees at 5:47 PM... much better than yesterday! 

Look what I found in the henyard this morning: 

I should have taken a picture of them in situ, and will, tomorrow.  

As you see, one duck has again laid an egg as big as a goose egg, and it has to be the Pekin, or the third Khaki.  As you also see, the eggs are no longer green.  I attribute this to the fact that the "girls" are no longer on grass, as they were in their former home.  

What happens when you leave the hose running and run inside the henhouse for a minute. 

This was a stunning surprise! 

It's Fancy, my three year old Porcelain D'Uccle rooster, who lives in the rafters of the henspa, and literally no longer comes down. 

There must have been a battle royal this morning with some of the younger roosters, because he was OUTSIDE and appeared to be enjoying it.  I hope so... he was meant to be the boss of the henspa, originally. 

I'll be going out there tonight and netting him if he can't figure out how to get back inside. 

It doesn't take long for the ducks to jump right into their clean pool! 

That's it for a thankfully warmer day at Calamity Acres! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Some New, Old Gardening Ideas

And, for the second post of the day....

A post I saw this morning led me to this website,HERE

Now, you might remember that we are doing lasagna gardening here... and layer our beds with biodegradable paper, with straw and peat moss, and then garden soil.  Our elevated beds have the same in them, and I have just top-dressed them with straw for the current growing season. 

I am going to experiment with growing IN just a bale of straw, and report on it, for you. 

Yesterday evening, we got some great ideas for a watering system using Homer buckets and hose to get water from the duck pond that I am now emptying and refilling daily to the fruit trees.  If you have read along here for a long time, you know that I carried many, many buckets of water to those trees last summer to keep them alive in our terrible drought.  It worked, all four lived. 

Gail suggested that we raise a bucket and do a downward-running siphon system to the trees, so that I only have to bucket into that bucket from where I stand by the pool.  It will keep the yard MUCH drier, and gravity will water the trees.  Keith got it immediately when he read her comment, and we are going to put it into effect in the next few days, because frankly, today is a mess out there. 

34 degrees! 

Back to comfort food... it's Beef and Bean Casserole from Betty Crocker, and will have lettuce and some more tomatoes on top by the time Keith gets home.  Notice I had to taste-test it. 

HERE is the recipe. 

I made some chocolate chip cookies for dessert. 

I thought you would all enjoy seeing some of the birds coming to the deck today.  Everytime I say I am going to stop feeding on the deck, we have another crazy weather day.  I just love the wildings so much and enjoy watching them... so I am still feeding.  

As Keith says... they have my number! 

I had some particularly good pictures of tufted titmice, but, in going back over them... I can't isolate them, there were so many pictures.  How I love to watch them, even the grackles and cowbirds. 

Today is a Tuesday Gardening linkup at An Oregon Cottage, HERE and there's lot's of good gardening information if you have time to go read a few. 

Let's hope this is the last of the "S" word for our spring, here at Calamity Acres! 

The "S" Word on April 23rd!

Last night 

After a good nightime soaking, standing water at 7:30 AM 

8:30 AM... see the snow coming down against the tree?   The tulips are in the middle of this picture, in the bed where you see some flowers coming up. 

I put some warm water in the fortex just after this... and replenished feed in both this and the flat feeder in the garden 

One of the bigger visitors 

Hard to believe that it's almost time for these to go in the ground! 

Another post coming later today...