Pumpkin Pickin’ and Memory Makin’

This past July I sweated profusely as I put 30 pumpkin seedlings in the ground.  I didn’t mind the heat or the sweat because in my mind I could see my children, my nieces, and little cousins picking pumpkins from a pumpkin patch not from a bin or pile at the store, but from a real live pumpkin patch.  Never mind that I had never grown a pumpkin before nor had I seen anyone around me do it, this was my goal.  I wasn’t shooting for Halloween as my target date, I was shooting for November- Thanksgiving.  That part turned out just about right, we did have pumpkins but we needed to pick them early as the cool wet rains we kept having were causing a problem with the powdery mildew.  As it happened, my nieces and my cousin, Luke -a preschooler, were around on Sunday so I hauled them all out and we picked pumpkins!  What fun!!

If you have never heard a child giggle or squeal with delight at the discovery in a garden- you, my friend, have not experienced one of the finer things in life.

new pumpkin patchThe pumpkin patch about a month old.  Growing strong and beautiful.

Searching for pumpkinsLooking for pumpkins amid all the large leaves.  These pumpkins did not turn orange as they should have.  Instead we had lovely molted green pumpkins with an orange splash.  No bother, it was still fun and the unusual pumpkins were pretty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKatie found a baby, the kids all like the babies just as well as the big ones.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARylie has found one, with a nice orange splotch.  She is twisting it to break the stem off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALuke has just discovered that the stem of a pumpkin is prickly!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJonathan totes the large pumpkin for Rylie, he was waiting with his trusty knife if the twisting did not work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUncle Tony and Katie.  Tony requested that we pick pumpkins when he could be around.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALuke took to wrestling the pumpkins free and Sierra tried to help.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKitchen shears to the rescue, Sierra helps Luke get his prize

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASuccess!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA pile of cute kids and pumpkins!  We will do this again next year.  However, I plant to set a date and invite all the other cousins.  We will watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and eat something – maybe roasted pumpkin seeds that we harvest and roast ourselves.  I also plan to plant some “Mighty Max” pumpkins that reach weights of over 100 lbs as well as smaller pumpkins that can be handled by smaller pickers.  The seed order will be placed this Friday.  I just can’t wait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Time Like The Present

So, it has been awhile.  I really love writing and sharing my blog, but it takes a good bit of energy and mental stamina to write something coherent and I just haven’t had much of that lately.  My stamina has not, until now, been up to par with the level of energy I have needed to maintain the herb farm, home school our kids, and manage the house.  You see, this is the first summer that we have been busy all summer.  And once I have been away from my blog for awhile, I don’t know how to start back.  Its kind of like meeting up with an old friend that you have neglected and the meeting feels a bit awkward- where do you start?  Well, like my grandmother would say- there is no time like the present.

So, here goes…

Usually, along about June it has gotten so hot that no one even thinks about planting a plant.  Along about July, the produce stops flowing in the gardens because it is too hot to set fruit for most veggies.  Along about mid-July, anyone with any sense goes in the house by 10:30 am and doesn’t come out again unless they must.  This year has been totally different.  We have received rain and cool fronts intermittently keeping the produce flowing meaning that I have been freezing and canning for long periods of time.  Also, given that we have been selling herbs in their various forms at the White Rock Local Market every Saturday-  the down time I usually have following spring has just not been there.

But don’t misunderstand, I am not complaining.  It has been a wonderful summer.  Never can I recall getting 6 inches of rain in July or waking up to a chilly morning in August- but I did today.

This presents a bit of a quandary for me and maybe other Texas gardeners, as well.  We have two gardening seasons in Texas- a spring/summer season which is usually very short and a fall starting around September.  This fall season will last until the next spring as many greens and carrots and such will grow here all winter.  Most summers, it is easy to tell when to clean out the gardens, apply compost and prepare for the next round.

When everything in your garden is brown and burnt to a crisp, spring/summer growing is over and it is time to prepare for fall.

However, this year I am still pulling squash and zucchini from the plants and tomatoes of every shade of color are happily hanging from their vines,  How can I possibly pull these up?

Well, I can’t.  So the only thing to do is to till more beds and plant fall goodies in there own beds.  That is what is on the docket for Saturday.  Some of these new beds will be for herbs in order to keep up with the demand- AWESOME!

I always say- if it takes more than 20 minutes to mow your grass you need more gardens.

We have taken off the last 2 Saturdays and thanks to an abscessed wisdom tooth, I will also have this Saturday off.  I do look forward to going back to market but the time off has been needed.  This little break has given me time to clean up the beds and harvest lots of herb for drying, infused vinegar and oils, and for research.  You can never stop learning.  I have also cleaned the house and done laundry. Repeatedly.

This morning was so glorious!  Such cool weather, I just had to plant.  Thankfully, I had clean beds and seedlings ready to go.

peas in the herb gardenThis antique bed frame will make a pretty trellis for the English peas planted at the bottom.  We should have enough time to harvest peas before the first freeze.  I am prepared to pamper them a bit until we cool down for good.

dried cornAll the corn was done producing and it all came down today.  This will be dried and used as display at Thanksgiving.

herbs and vegetable patchThis patch just keeps on producing.  Eventually, I will have to pull these items up as it will be time to plant hairy vetch.   Hairy vetch will be my cover crop and tomatoes will go in this space come spring.

What are you doing right now in the gardens?

 

 

 

Faith & Farm

summer squash

As a blogger friend posted about the rain and hay making- which can be very dicey- it occurred to me that anyone who farms has so much to contend with on a day to day basis.  There is the weather, insects that destroy, insects that help, insects that are neither and the job of telling them apart, animal husbandry, fatigue and the list goes on.  Where do we find the strength to keep at it?  Where does one go for help for these things such as weather for which there is no control?

For me my faith in God and my Bible are my mainstays.  Many would scoff at this and that is ok.  I simply cannot deny what my Creator does for me in my life- I have seen to much to be dissuaded.  Some who may share my Christian faith will think what follows is mystical hog wash and that is ok, too.  Again, I have seen the proof in my life and on my farm, in my kids and  I know that this works.

 

 

It is all in our perspectives with which we view our world.  If we deny that we have an enemy- we see the world and what happens to us in one of two ways.

1. I must be blowing it- or

2. God is holding out on me.

Neither are true.  We were born into a world at war, good versus evil.  God versus Satan.  The good news is that God wins.  I have come to the conclusion that the enemy hates gardens and farms- especially organic ones that seek to steward this Earth the way God intended.  Just look at what Monsanto is doing to small farmers and our food sources and you will see evil at work.

So considering that I have this enemy who wants to take me down, I get up every morning and I go to battle.  I pray over my farm, my family, my marriage but I don’t just pray empty words or cliches, I use the Word of God as my sword.  You will find a scripture on any subject that you need  if you look, but for the sake of this discussion on farm life- I will stick to the ones I use over my farm.

Zechariah 8:12

For the seed shall be prosperous,

The vine shall give its fruit

The ground shall give her increase,

And the heavens shall give their dew-

I will cause the remnant of this people 

To posses all theses.

 

Proverbs 27: 25

When the hay is removed and the tender grass shows itself,

And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,

The lambs will provide your clothing,

And the goats the price of a field

You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food,

For the food of your household

And the nourishment of you maidservants.

 

Deuteronomy 28: 11-12

And the Lord shall grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body,, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground…

The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand.

 

Each morning as I pray these words over my farm, I thank God that He has given me these promises.  As I pray I also remind Satan of these truths and tell him to take his curses- such as grasshoppers- back to hell where they came from.  Just as in any war, you win some battles and you lose some battles.  Regardless of the outcome of the battles I know who won the war and what the future holds- Victory.  So, when hardships do come I remember the promises and stand on those.  If I lose the battle of the squash to the squash bug, I thumb my nose at the enemy and replant.  Then, little by little you begin to see the shift.  You produce more, things come a little easier, and you see more of the promises show up in the everyday life.  With faith we can move mountains- or shift the mountain of high pressure off of us in the summer to let a little rain in.  Maybe there is not a huge amount of rain, but if by faith I can shift a 1/2 inch in to our skies that may make the difference between life and death of my gardens.  I will take that as a win.  Today as I write this, it never got over 83′ F  and we have received about 4 inches of rain over the past 4 days- in JULY in TEXAS.  That is nothing short of a miracle.  Oh, how we are rejoicing.

None of this means that life is just easy street, but it means that instead of futility I can see our farm advancing.  I have been praying like this for the past 15 years in regards to my children and my marriage and when the farm came along about 7 years ago I approached it the same way.  It took awhile for the gardens to build up some steam but finally I began to harvest enough tomatoes to make some sauce and put it up by canning.  Now, I am canning some every week.  These are victories.

Trust  me, you will be opposed when you begin to pray like this and to believe the promises of God.  This does not make the promises less true, to the contrary it means they are all the more real.

David Austin Rose

So How Do You Move A Beehive?

With great care!

Of all the moving we have done since March relocating the herb farm, family, and animals- the thing that concerned me the most was moving the bees.  For obvious reasons of safety to us humans but also for the safety of the bees.  We have had our hives for 3 years and they have been so healthy and vigorous.  The idea of disrupting their lives or causing them serious damage weighed on my mind.

Savannah, my 18 yr old, started us on this course of bee keeping when she received a scholarship from the East Texas Bee Keepers Association.  Included in the scholarship was an in depth class on bee keeping, a new hive, and bees.  We did have to buy her bee suit and a few tools and then I purchased a hive and bees as well.  A funny thing about the two hives, Savannah’s hive is made up of very calm bees who just chill and go on their way and my hive is rather aggressive and do not appreciate any interference in their business.  These hives completely mirror the personalities of their owners.  Savannah is just like my husband in temperament and we get along really well.

Not only was physically moving the bees a challenge, the distance we were going was a concern.  Bees are very habitual beings and if you move their hive a short distance they will be so confused that they will die.  So, if you are going to move a hive it must be several miles away from the current location.  Well, our new farm is about 5 miles away by car on the roads but as the crow flies (or bee in this case) we were not sure it was really all that far.  One good thing is that the Canton City lake is in between us and it is quite large.  Hopefully this great expanse of water will keep the bees from being so confused that they go back home only to find the hives gone.

The night before we moved the bees, Savannah went over with her dad and stuffed towels in the entrance so that the bees could not leave at the crack of dawn.  The idea is that any bees left outside the hive will die and leave you alone when you go to move the hive.  It seems harsh, but there are only a few bees that did not go up at night.  However, they also did not die.  They were alive and well buzzing around the hive working to chew their way through the towel.

Bees At Hollyberry Herb Farm

Since Savannah had been up late helping her dad with other stuff the night before, I had gotten up just as the sun was rising to help Tony.  All zipped up in her suit, I checked the towels to make certain they were in good and tight- the last thing we wanted was for the towel to slip out while we were moving them and have to deal with thousands of angry bees.

We then slid the dolly up under the first hive and ever so gently wheeled it to the trailer and up the ramps.  Then we repeated the action with the second hive.  I was concerned about the loose bees giving us trouble, but the were so focused on getting into their hive that they didn’t really care what we were doing.  Once the hives were on the trailer, they were strapped down tight and we slowly made our way through town with me sitting up in the front still suited up looking like something from a sci-fi movie.

Bees on the trailerThe extra bees either couldn’t keep up or got up under the hive and made the trip with us.  There were plenty on the bottom of the hives when we got to the farm.  Now, we repeated the dolly process in reverse.

Using the dolly to move bees

Bees in their new homes

Removing the plugs from the entrance

 

The only challenge left in this parade was to remove the towels plugging up the entrances.  I must say I was a bit aprehensive about this part.  After all, I was about to release thousands of bees ready to die to protect the hive.  My fear was unfounded, I slipped the towels out and moved briskly but calmly away.  In all of this, not one bee sting was had between the two of us!  Now the bees are sitting pretty on a heavy duty pallet feeding on all the bloom herbs.

The underside of a bee hiveWhile Tony had the hive tilted back on the dolly, I snapped a picture of the bees on bottom.  I wish you could see the activity on the other side of the screen and hear the low drone of the bees- it is a beautiful sound.

Blooming Lemon BalmLemon Balm, or Melissa which is Greek for Bee, blooming for the bees.  There is plenty blooming in the gardens for the bees to feed on.  All of the herbs are blooming late due to our unusually cold spring.

What are you planting to feed the bees?  You are planting something for the bees, aren’t you?  After all, the bee is responsible for 2 of every 3 bites of food you eat!  We need the bees.

 

 

 

 

For The Love of Bunnies

jonthan and bunny

About a week ago, I rounded the house to find our dog, Duckie, sitting with purpose on the sidewalk giving me a look that said, “You need to deal with this.”  As I walked closer I spotted the littlest brown bit of furry cuteness sitting at her feet.  I picked it up and was surprised to the the baby rabbit was still alive.

Baby rabbits need help to keep warm, so is took this little guy in, wrapped him in a wash cloth and tucked it in bed with Jonathan.  Jonathan fed this baby every hour with kitten formula.  Rabbit milk is extremely hard to replicate and all the information I have found (this is not our first bottle baby rabbit) says to use kitten formula.  The rabbit, named Spock, would lick the formula off of Jonathan’s finger and snuggled up to him during the night. It was just so sweet.

Then the other morning, he woke up to find that the bunny had died.  Yes, he cried.  His heart was broke and I just hate it.  One of the hardest lessons I have to learned as a mother is to let my children grieve loss- whatever that loss may be.   My first urge is to make it better, to get a new pet, or sweep it aside as if it doesn’t matter just so I don’t have to feel heart broke as well but none of that benefits my child in the long run. Like it or not, as long as we are on this side of heaven we will experience loss.  One of the best things I can do for my children is to walk with them through it and show them how to feel real feelings and then deal with them in a healthy way.  It is hard.

I must say that the farm has provided many opportunities to deal with grief and death.  When we began this journey of homesteading, I had no idea how much death would be a part of our lives.  But, never have we experienced the joy of life in the way that we have in our everyday lives on the farm.  If we refuse things like the baby bunny to save ourselves from hurt, we would miss the days of joy and fun that was brought by the bunny.  To love is to risk hurt, but love is worth the risk.

The afternoon the Jonathan’s bunny died our kitten ran up with another baby rabbit.  What did I do?  Handed it to Jonathan.  Some might think I am crazy to provide my son with another opportunity to feel loss and hurt, but I think I provided him with another chance to love.

That rabbit died, too but before Jonathan had gotten attached.  To be honest, we have never bottle-fed a rabbit and had it live.  But hope springs eternal on a farm and we will keep trying should the opportunity present itself.

bunny

Ahh, The Rain

As I write tonight, the thunder is rolling and the rain is falling.  Such a beautiful sound and the scent of rain in the air is just delicious. How grateful I am to have the rain to water all that has been planted.  Lately( like since Saturday), we have been having typical Texas weather- hot and humid.  I do not mind, the tomatoes and peppers are growing, setting fruit and acting as they should.  We are finally harvesting squash.

Trenched Garden PlotThis garden plot is one of four in an area of the farm that holds water each time it rains.  And by” holds water” I mean that water will sit in this area and be squishy to walk on for days after the smallest rain.  As I write the trenches are filled to the brim from the rain coming down.  We suspect that there may be an underground spring located here, as well.  Anyway, for whatever reason, this area is a challenge.  So, to possiby make this a usable area I have trenched deeply and piled the dirt up to raise the rows.  Hopefully, this will allow the plants to drain well enough to grow properly.  I am thinking that if the plants can survive the spring rains that this wet area will be a benefit in the summer.  So far, the bell peppers and egg plants are doing well.  These particular plants like the heat to really thrive, so they are just now beginning to grow vigorously. Also  planted in these wet plots are cucumbers, watermelons, mush melons, and butter beans.

You may notice the hay scattered about.  I had company coming and thought a quick mulch that would make the beds look nice would be hay and I could just run to the farm store and get a bale easy.  So, I did.  Then a day or two later as I was admiring the lovely garden plots it occurred to me that I had no idea where the hay had come from and what had been sprayed on it.  Yikes!  Thus, I raked it all out and fed it to the goats.  This may seem like a lot of work but considering that some of the herbicides that are used on hay fields kill any plant in the nightshade family (think tomato and eggplant) and stay in your soil for five years- this was hardly a waste of time. Now, I can rest easy.  I will have these plots mulched by weeks end, but I will use pine needles from my mother’s place.

potato towersOur potato towers are growing very well. I covered the plants about 5 days ago as shown in the photo above and already there is so much new green growth out of the top of the compost that it is time to cover again.  I am excited at the idea of home-grown potatoes!  In the tomato patch, “Large Red” and “Illini Gold” are loaded up with green tomatoes, Matt’s Cherry  is looking good as well and has an orange fruit getting ripe as we speak.  I love to look out the kitchen window in the morning and gaze at my gardens while I wash dishes.  We have so many song birds in the gardens, they love to sit on the trellises that we have built for the tomatoes, cukes, and melons.  I would like to think they are happy to sing to me in the morning, but I know that they are really just casing the joint.

cute kittenMaybe my fierce farm cat will keep the birds from eating my tomatoes?

 

What is growing in your garden?  If you don’t have a garden, what would you grow if you could?

So, What Have You Been Up To?

I waited and waited for the spring selling season to get here, I potted herbs and started seed and dreamed about how busy and fun it would be.  Well, so far I have not been disappointed, we are busy and it is fun!  However, I am so busy that I am not even sure what my name is.

You may have noticed I have not been blogging much and what I have done is to re-post things that I really liked. Also, I have not had much time to read the blogs I follow and feel so disconnected.  So, today I am going to give you an overview of what an April on an herb farm in Texas looks like, just in case you ever thought of having one yourself…

We took farm animals to New Tech High in Coppell, Texas, about an hour and a half drive from us, to show them where their food come from and to make them aware of how animals who produce our food should be treated.  That was great fun!  The rabbits were the biggest hit.  As a matter of fact, two high school boys were so smitten that they each bought one of our babies and took them home.  I must say, I was a bit surprised by the fact that it was the males that went on and on about how cute and sweet a bunny is and had to buy one.  Those boys probably have strong drives to be fathers as well.  I know because I have one of those kinds of males living in my home.  Jonathan just has to hold any baby in the room- even if it is screaming its head off!  That event was for Earth day.

The next day, Sierra and I loaded up Big Red (our 4X4 suburban) and headed off to the Wood County Master Gardeners class where I had the great privilege of teaching a class on composting and container gardening.  I absolutely love those folks, they are so kind, fun, and encouraging.  Not to mention that they bought a lot of herbs which really helps the bottom line at Hollyberry Herb Farm!  While we were at the class, Tony stayed home to work on trimming trees, cutting down dead ones, and getting the greenhouse up an running.

Every Saturday since the first one in March we have headed out in the dark at 5:30 am to the White Rock Local Market.  That has been an excellent business move for us.  Lots of great people looking to support family farms and delighted to have organic herbs available are to be found at that market.  Savannah will be taking over that market for me as we look to sell at other markets around us.  Cheyenne will be selling herbs at the Athens Farmers Market just as soon as I get the paper work filled out.

Last weekend, Tony and I found ourselves in Jenks, Oklahoma at the Jenks Herb & Plant Festival.  Wow, what a great festival that was and Tony & I enjoyed three full days with just us grown-ups.

And of course, in the midst of all this we have been planting new gardens, tilling ground for veggie patches, adding container gardens and seeding more herbs and veggies into the flats in the green house.  I am happy to say that the permanent herb gardens are just about finished.  We will be mulching, weed eating, and planting the last few plants.  This will be just in time as we are having Master Gardeners from 3 counties out to visit on Thursday as well as a visit from the White Rock Farmer’s market manager.  I am so looking forward to that visit.  It is great to have company it is good motivation to get things cleaned up and ready to go.

beginning of the herb gardenThis what the permanent herb gardens started out like in February.

herb gardenThis is it today, most of the green plants are herbs, there is still plenty of green to be removed from the paths.  Within 24 hours all these will be mulched and full of herbs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApink parosol irisPink Parasol bearded iris, such beauty.

How is your spring going?

Snakes & Smoke & All Of That…

The morning dawned cold (for Texas) and I thought it would be so nice to start a fire in the wood burning stove so the kids could wake to a cozy family room and have a warm spot to cuddle by.  I am not sure what happened, but instead of being woke up gently with warmth from the stove the kids woke to the sound of the smoke alarm with the house filled with eye-stinging haze.  Then to clear the smoke we had to open the windows and turn on the ceiling fans.  For whatever reason the log in the stove refused to flame up but just kept smoking incesently.  The moment came when I looked at my kids and said,”Don’t ever do this” and then forced the very well lit and hot log out of the stove into a box which was then delivered to the burn pile where it smoked for hours.

So, began our day.  It was a good day, especially for Jonathan as we found three snakes during our gardening.  I personally hate snakes and have a crazy fear of them.  If you would like some laughs at my expense, you can read all about my fear of snakes on that link above.  The first two were baby snakes and nothing more than harmless garden snakes which are so good to have around that I leave them be.  You don’t have to worry about me killing a snake before I know what kind it is- I don’t stick around long enough to know.  I high-tail it out of wherever I am & the snake happens to be and yell for one of the kids.  Yes, you read that right I have my children do the snake killing.  I am the kind of mom that will lay down my own life for my children- until we meet a snake and then you are on your own.  Unless the child is still small enough for me to carry and then I run away with the child.

The third snake, however, was not so small.  Last week the young man who works for me dug holes for the Camellias I am planting along the fence.  Being such a full week I hadn’t had time to put those in the ground so I just dropped pot and all into the hole.  By dropping the pot and all into the hole it kept the wonderful rain from filling the hole back in before I could get the plant planted.  As it turns out, this also gave a good spot for a snake to take up residence.  I pulled the Camellia out, dropped it in my lap, pulled it our of its pot and tore up some of the roots.  I then leaned over the hole knocked some soil in and went to stick my hand in too.  Then I spotted him, coiled up in the hole hissing at me.  Glory Hallelujah I just about had a heart attack.

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I then called for Jonathan, my resident dragon slayer.  He got his 4-10 and blew the snake’s head off, J is a dynamite good shot.  I would have left the snake alive except that it was colored like a water moccasin and acting aggressive.  I understand the fear the snake was feeling- I was feeling the same way.  But, we couldn’t take a chance and J shot him dead.  Literally, he blew his head off and nothing more so then the snake became a homeschooling science project.  With the trusted field guide to North American reptiles, we determined that it was a yellow-bellied water snake- harmless except for the heart attack and self inflicted injury you incur while trying to get away.  As the kids dissected the snake they found a frog in its stomach.  The snake was then skinned and that skin pinned to a board to dry in the sun.  Jonathan could not understand why Sierra would not even think about letting him bring that into the room that they share.  It seems that smells do not bother 11 year old boys.  So, J will decorate his fort with the skin. Effie the Pig got the rest of the snake, as it turns out water snakes must not taste too good- she didn’t really like it.

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If you look close, you can see the frog on the ground at the end of J’ s knife.

As the boys and girl took the snake apart I got back to my work which was planting the Camellia and raking all the leaves and sweet gum balls up to use as mulch on my tomatoes.  There are about 30 tomato plants in the garden now and all of  them have a layer of cardboard mulch covered by a thick layer of leaves and compost.  Every time I raked and hit a stick which made leaves move I jumped.  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous for the rest of the day.  For all I knew, there could be another snake lurking about.

C, the young man who works for me, did great work putting in the brick edging for the knew path ways.  Now, the gardens in the front of the house are starting to take shape.  These beds are located under large shade trees so we have been planting a lot of azaleas, camellias, hostas, and vinca.  There is enough sunshine for Iris and day lilies to bloom so those will be added.  Sometimes, I fuss at myself for spending time on the “unproductive” gardens when there is still much to do in the veggie gardens and herb beds.  But with the rain, which is wonderful, those area were too wet to work and the great majority of the herbs are planted.  I still have Basil to plant but the weather keeps dipping down to very cool and I am gun-shy about planting it just yet. I just love my work!

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Now for today- errands to run in Tyler and more planting to be done.  I will have more seed trays of Basil done along with cuttings from oregano & mint.  We have been very busy and it is time for new crops of herbs to get going.  Hopefully today will be a snake free day.

So what gets your heart racing?  Snakes, spiders, mice?

Effie The Pig

Around the farm, we love all of our animals but the pigs have probably made their way to the top of our favorites list.  Our first pig was Sir Francis Bacon, he was so smart and good tempered that we couldn’t help but love him.  Several pigs of come and gone (and filled the freezer with the best ham, bacon, and pork chops you ever had!), but we love them all.

Effie The Pig is our current porcine in residence. She does a wonderful job of converting all our kitchen scraps and leftovers into lovely ham and bacon.  She is the first pig to be used as the resident tiller.  Since we moved to the new farm, I (actually the kids and my wonderful husband, Tony) move her pen once she has cleared the current pen of all vegetation. In each of these areas I will plant vegetable crops and take advantage of all the good fertilizer she has left behind. The pig waterer I made for her is working great and I love it!

effie first pen

This area is the first spot where her pen was, as you can see there isn’t anything left.  The pig pen has not been in this spot in over a week, with plenty of rain, we should be seeing some green if there was anything left to sprout.

effie second pen

This is the second spot that Effie has called home.  We just moved her pen before this picture was taken.  As you can tell, we have had lots of rain lately- not that Effie the Pig minds the mud!

effie in new pen

Her new pen- this is what the other pen spots looked like before she got busy.  It takes her only 48 hours to take all the green stuff down but I leave her in there another couple of days so that she will eat all the roots a well.  I get tickled every time I look at the window and see her buried almost up to her back.  No roots stand a chance when she is tilling.  For that matter, no moles stand a chance either.  I have personally witnessed her eating two.  I looked over after planting some tomatoes and saw her flip her head up and gulp it down.  Nature is a tough place to live.  Maybe I will call her Effie the Eliminator…

Jonathan is good at driving t-posts and loves his pig.
Jonathan is good at driving t-posts and loves his pig.
Savannah is filling Effie's waterer.
Savannah is filling Effie’s waterer.