Monthly Archives: August 2010

How My Garden Does Grow!

Photo by Peter

I’ve been gone a lot recently.  I’ve been down to Ohio to stay with my recovering mother; been to the fair(!) – an all-day event, to watch the Draft Pulls; been to Traverse City for the weekend to cheer on my Honey Pie, his father, sister, friend, and our oldest boy JJ in this year’s Traverse City Triathlon.  In the midst of my spate of travels I’ve nervously expected my tomatoes and peppers to rot on the vine, but mercifully they’ve held off.

Slicing vegetables really isn’t on my list of favorite things to do.  But I sliced with gleeful, giddy abandon tonight as I put away $15 worth of red peppers in the freezer.  They will make bully fajitas and Texas Beef Sandwiches this winter!  It makes so much of the frustration of my poor past gardens worth every bit of painful trying.

The weather was 58-degrees  as we traveled under overcast skies this afternoon on our way home from grocery shopping in the nearest small city, an hour northwest.  We’ve had to cover the tomatoes, melons, and peppers with sheets for the night to keep the cold from stunting their ripening.  I believe the hot peppers are ripe enough to pick when we start canning salsa during the remainder of the week.

But there is so much to do, and I am so far behind.  I’ve lost half of July and much of August – that couldn’t be helped.  And this week we needed to start the new school year.  That always takes time to get acclimated to the new schedule, new subjects, heavier course load.  But the strawberry beds badly need renovating … and watering.  And Danny’s enormous Big Beef tomato plants have taken over the garden like pumpkins or zucchini usually do!  That is what we get for starting them in January!  But at least we will get oodles of tomatoes this year!

I love the learning each year brings.  Yes, there are challenges.  There have been so many disappointments, so many startings-over.  But it is a lovely thing.  I wish you all as happy gardening and happy preserving as I have had this year!

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Perfect on a Hot Summer Day

A couple quick, refreshing salad variations:


Baby greens or field greens

baby spinach

crumbled feta cheese

walnuts

cranberries

drizzle with balsamic vinegar


-or-


replace the cranberries with fresh, sliced strawberries

add thinly sliced onion

replace balsamic vinegar with a raspberry vinaigrette

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Filed under Home, The Country Kitchen

Hay is Good for Many Things

Hay is wonderful.  You can use it merely to feed your livestock, or to mulch your gardens, or to work out (stacking all that hay is a *good* work out!).  It’s great for sleeping on, reading in, building forts, and climbing.  Who could ask for more?!!!

Betsy, showing the neighbors great ways to play in the hay!

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Summer Treasures

Photo by Xandert

Ripe, red, northern Tomatoes

New Chicks: Laila, Lily, Peep, Pippin, Sarah Jane, Miss Prissy

Red Peppers

Sunflowers

Breeches, Riding Boots, and Half-chaps

Splashing in the Pool

S’Mores

Camping

Cute Flip-flops

Ice Cream Sandwiches

First Successful Trail Ride

Garage Sales

Good Times with Good Friends


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Refusing to be a (Fashion) Victim

Photo by Jade


I’ve been having a fashion panic attack this week.  I love working with my horses.  But I really like to look good, too.  The two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.  It sounds romantic, doesn’t it?  Climbing elegantly on your horse and riding off into the sunset?

Yeah, but what the movies don’t show you are the dirt stains  where your shirt rubs the front of the stall door as you reach in to throw some hay in the feeder, or the wisps of hay dotting your front and backsides, wheedling their way into your boots, socks, and underthings.  How on earth does it get there?

So you know how you look in your closet and say with dismay, “I have nothing to wear!”  Well, it wasn’t technically true when it happened to me this week, because there were jeans and some tee-shirts in there.  But I guess I got to the point where I just wanted to burn every last tee-shirt I own.  Okay, maybe not the super cute hot pink ones, but all the others!

Tees are inexpensive and when you get horse gunk stains on them or gardening dirt, it’s not a huge loss.  But it’s hard for a girl to feel very purty, or very flirty, in a grungy old tee-shirt.

So I rounded up some fashion conscious input from people who know better (the forum gals on http://www.youlookfab.com), and got some great ideas and fun inspiration about how to be able to look cute in spite of the dailyness of my dirt-accumulating activities around the farm!

In case  you have your own fashion emergency, I thought I’d pass on some of their best ideas:

  • Toss a cobbler’s apron/art smock on over your clothes before you head out the door, and hang it up when you come in.
  • Cute non tee-shirt knit shirts, especially with patterns/colors that might disguise the dirt
  • Polos, short-sleeved or sleeveless for this hot weather
  • Gearwear/hiking clothes from an outdoor clothing company (like rei.com or Columbia) that will stand up to the dirt – and I am so totally not above looking for these at thrift shops or on ebay.
  • Wear cute barn boots to put a little spring in your step.  (I adore my brown English Setter print wellies from LL Bean.  That was one big splurge on my part, but I get such satisfaction every time I wear them that it was totally worth it!)
  • Great fitting jeans (boot cut or skinnies with tall boots/riding boots) or breeches
  • Sleeveless button downs, particularly in a print
  • Use a fun collection of hats/scarves/gloves, etc… to dress up the plain barn coats in colder weather

I’m almost religious about wearing jeans that give me a nice silhouette, but I never vary from my dark denim, boot-cut style.  It will be fun to branch out.  And I’ve already picked up a couple new polos and a short-sleeve button-down to try out from my favorite brand-name discount store (TJ Maxx).  Sometimes just the addition of a couple new, different items to the wardrobe are just what a girl needs to up her style quota and feel ready to take on the world!

If you struggle with “style” and wish you didn’t, I highly recommend the book In the Dressing Room with Brenda by Brenda Kinsel.  She walks you through finding a style of your own to love, painlessly!

I’d love to hear what you do to feel good about how you look while you’re battling your every day dirty jobs!

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Filed under Farm, Garden and Orchard, Home, Horses

News and Notes

This morning we’ll be heading back down across from the horse barn to continue building our third manure bin.  At 8x8x5, these large bins still manage to fill up!  My Dad is visiting from Indiana and has been plugging away at squaring up and sinking cornerposts … the most tedious and exacting part of the job.

We’ve harvested several red peppers and a green one.  With the high cost of red peppers, I prefer to let most of my peppers turn red and purchase any green ones as needed.  The cost savings is probably somewhere around 60%!  I’ve been so chirked up that the hot weather plants are doing so well this year.  I believe the dark brown plastic mulch has really added a lot of value in keeping the heat in around the plants to help them mature faster.  I regret not putting it around my hot peppers, which are coming on quite a bit more slowly than the red peppers.

There are two acorn squash thriving in the garden and a lot of flowers on the rest of the squash, melons, and pumpkins.  Whether they will mature before frost is still a toss-up, but their odds are improved for having the dark plastic mulch trapping heat around them!

On another garden note, we are considering actually moving the entire garden to the yard on the other side of the big barn, after cutting down trees in a wooded area about 1200 s.f..  This is because we do not have enough space to adequately maneuver while towing large pull-behinds, nor a place to store them.  The idea of being able to pull all the way around behind the big barn is appealing in this respect, but the tremendous amount of work needed to start a new garden from the ground up (where, literally, we will have to build new soil) is daunting!

It’s been tremendously crazy here at Aspendale lately as we deal with health issues with my Mom down in Ohio – traveling back and forth from Northern Michigan to the hospital down there and trying to figure out how to care for her from so far away.  And of course there are the usual everyday busy summertime things that need taking care of, like getting in hay, caring for the new chicks and other animals, maintainence, and improvement projects.  As an acquaintance said to me some months ago, “What’s your hurry to get everything done?  There will just be more waiting for you when you get there!”  I guess right now my hurry is just to keep ahead of the mudslide and try to keep from getting buried! LOL!

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