Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lettuce all be happy... even the chickens.

Got the pumpkins planted this morning.
With help from the Prospector, I got the beds ready and sunk those little seeds into the new mixture of soil.
Now, all I have to do is pitch a tent and sleep down there for a month or two so I can ward off the birds and critters that want to steal the seeds and eat the delicate plants as they come through the soil.
Note the absents of a Fig tree at the other end of the planter. We had to pull it out last fall because after the goats trimmed it through the fence, the foxes (here's the story) broke all the branches while eating the figs. I loved that tree and it's gone.
 I think I need a secret garden with a fifteen foot stone wall around my vegetable garden... and a wire mesh cover over the top. It's a constant battle to protect the garden from those critters that think we planted all of this for them. Maybe I need to build a dog house down there and bring home a pitbull mix from the animal shelter to guard my garden. Do pitbulls like vegetables? I don't know. I'm such a softy though, that I would end up sleeping down there anyway, to keep the pup company.
Our other raised bed is doing well. The tomatoes are planted...

 and all the lettuce is coming up.

Even the Irises that I planted, late, are loving the rich soil and growing faster that weeds down there.
One of them is going to bloom. I didn't think, when I planted them, that they would  bloom this year. The smaller plants in between  are romaine lettuce that blew in from the upper bed. I didn't plant them with the Iris. Either the birds rearranged the seeds or the strong winds of last month blew dirt and seeds over into the lower garden. It's all a mystery.
I picked some lettuce and took it back up to the house. I've been thinning it and giving the pickings to the chickens, but now the leaves are bigger and so it is as with all things in life, the higher order of species gets the good stuff. With what the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called the Will to Power, I have asserted my."dominant hierarchy" and the lettuce is mine.
I cleaned it.
 Drained it.
 I ate some.
Then I took all the roots and leftovers out to the chickens. They seems OK with what they got. Chickens are hard to read... but I'm trying to understand the subtle differences in their attitudes.
I let them out to free range for the day. They seemed really happy (I guess) about having a day of freedom from the coop. Squeaky was the first through the door.
I went inside to have a salad for lunch...
and enjoy the lettuce of our labor.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Sister Visit

Sis was here for a few days. On Sunday we were dying of unseasonal heat.
She arrived, bringing all kinds of goodies from Trader Joe's and looking for a little relaxation on the mountain top.
We ate dinner, talked, watched Masterpiece Theater... and she just relaxed on the couch, with a dog on each side of her.
In the morning she fixed me some of her unbelievable oatmeal for breakfast.
This sister of mine can really fixed a dish of oatmeal.
She makes the oats with milk. Then she adds cut up apples and dried cranberries while it's cooking.  She tops it with a small amount of brown sugar and pecans, that she buys at Trader Joe's. They are pecans that are baked with honey and sugar. I'm guessing that you could do this with regular pecans but these are already sweetened and packaged this way. Sis breaks them up on top of the oatmeal and OH!  Is it good. You only need a little milk because the fruit and nuts makes it all moist, sweet and delicious without adding a lot of milk or sugar. She even sprinkled some of the brown sugar on the plate, to make it look beautiful enough to take a picture of (which I did) and similar to what you pay big bucks for in the restaurants. It's called "plate-ing" on the Food Network. It was a truly beautiful serving of oatmeal.
So, we ate in the living room... with the dogs... and then we let them lick the dishes. A bad habit that has been reinforced in this household. They are truly spoiled dogs.
Carl always gets to lick first, and Cutter waits patiently, for his uncle to lick part of the dish. Then Cutter gets to lick the rest.
"Oh boy. It's my turn."

After breakfast they got to cuddle with  their auntie.  Cutter still gets a little overwhelmed with too much closeness, but Sis finally won him over.
And, a few days later, when it was time for her to leave, they were both unhappy about saying goodbye.
"Where are you going Auntie?"
Look at Carl's expression. It was a sad moment.
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While Sis was here we spent a morning down on the river. First we drove to the new river access under the highway 49 bridge.
The drive down to the water was springtime magic.
The whole area from the highway to the river was covered with a daisy like flower that had been planted along the road, with lots of California poppies in between all the beautiful yellow flowers. It was a most beautiful site. 
The river was flowing wide and deep... and clouds were moving in from the west.
It was a perfect spring day in the foothills.
After we tiptoed through the daisies, we drove back toward Jackson ,over the Mokelumne River bridge and north to see the hills of poppies that I posted on  Wordless Wednesday.
It was so beautiful. Nature never fails us here in the foothills.
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On Tuesday we went to Sutter Creek and had lunch.
We went to some of our favorite stores... mostly "just looking", because these are high end stores and things tend to be a bit pricey. But, there is always the possibility of a surprise "bargain". You just never know when something will be on sale that you can't resist.
We introduced the owner of Romancing the Range to the Magnolia Pearl website. She had never seen or heard of this amazing women and her endeavours. The clothes in this store are all "cowboy meets Pearl" kinds of clothing and she went crazy when she saw The website. Check it out. The music is worth the link. It's beautiful. She also has a blog..... My, oh my!  Read a few of the posts on her blog and you'll see why I call her amazing.
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Loved having Sis here. It had been a while since her last visit. It rained most of yesterday but we managed one more lunch downtown before she left for home. 
 Thanks for coming up. We all miss you . Carl and Cutter have been looking for you all day. 
I will see you soon.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety" ~ Shakespeare~

 Yesterday, I got up early, drank my coffee and downed some Cheerios. I chose a pair of rubber gloves and a long sleeved shirt, and walked down to the vegetable garden... ready for the job at hand.
There, as the morning light filtered through the oak trees and into the garden, was my nemesis... The Stinging Nettle of Shakespearean proportions.
I carefully started pulling the plant out by its roots.
Then I heard the muffled steps of the goats behind me. Brownie and Murph' had come to see what I was doing, which translates to "What do you have for us to eat?"
 "Hi Farmlady."
Hi, Murphy. How are you this morning?" I took a glove off, walked over to the fence and gave my wonderful goat a head rub.
In return, he gave me a goat kiss. That's my hat at the top of the picture.
There is nothing like a goat kiss in the morning.
Then I gave him a back rub. He loves to have his spine rubbed.
Brownie couldn't be bothered with all of this. He was chomping on all the wonderful grass and wildflowers in the pasture.
I threw a handful of nettle over the fence to them. They both ran toward it and then... turned their noses up at it.
They like the sweet grass with flowers. They love Lupine and the Dandelions. I guess even goats are particular if they have a choice.
I decided that I better stop playing around with the goats and get to the task at hand. It was going to be a hot day, again, and I was wasting the cool morning away with goat play.
 Within a half hour, I had cleared the whole bed. It didn't take long. The soil was soft and the nettle came out easily.

After pulling the long pieces out, I raked the surface and got all the left over roots and dead mullein out of the soil. We will add more soil to the bed before I plant the pumpkins. Then we will use Preen and mulch to keep the weeds down.
The Prospector came into the garden with the ladder and un-stapled some of the wire so that it would be easier to get into the pumpkins for watering and weeding etc. I left one section just in case I decide to plant some beans.
Of course, Murph' had to check this out too.
Can you believe that goat reached through the fence this far? It's the reason why we keep the beds away from the fence. This is why we double fence in some areas. He is amazing... and he never gets his ears stuck.
My magical goat is a force to be reckoned with.
 Brownie, on the other hand, gets stuck every time. It's the horn. The only long horn that he has now. If he tries to pull a maneuver like Murphy, we have to go out and help him get unstuck. We have even had to cut the fence to get him untangled... and he cries like a baby. Oh, Brownie boy, it's a good thing that you live with folks that love you and understand you. 
Some goats just need more attention than others. Brownie is one of the needy ones in this life... but, we love him. He is ours, horn or no horn, needy or not.
Before it got too hot I did some pruning and planted the new gold trough that we won at auction. I will take some pictures of the finished planter next time... and of the beautiful Tiger Swallowtail butterfly that came into the front garden this morning. That's the butterfly on my new header. What a beauty.

The Nettle is gone. It's everywhere else in the garden but it's gone in one raised bed... for now.
 This site on Stinging Nettle says that we must have "highly fertile" soil because the Nettle does so well. Wonderful!! ( Can you hear the sarcasm?)
Lets hope that the pumpkins flourish as well as the weeds have.
My sister is coming in a few hours. I'm looking forward to her visit. Maybe we'll make some bread pudding while she's here. It's kind of a tradition.

Oh, and Happy Earth Day!