Friday, October 19, 2018

The Last Harvest

Yesterday was a beautiful Autumn day...
bright sunshine with cold wind... 
crisp and dry.
(dry is something we've not experienced much in the past few months)

Our little people spent the day on the farm...
breakfast through late afternoon.

Easton is obsessed with the gator.
Just mention the word gator ,
and he heads towards the door nodding his head affirmatively.

Mackenzie, now 3, is a riot.

Oh, the things that come out of her mouth.
As I walk towards the gator, where the two of them are sitting waiting for me...
she looks at me and says,
"Leave us alone, we're going to Costco!"

We spent a part of the morning in the garden.
I had noticed that the frost had finished off the sweet potato vines,
and decided to harvest the potatoes.

While the kids played in the playhouse, 
and the dogs wrestled on the ground...

I pulled the vines and uncovered the sweets.

Probably because of all the rain...
we have grown record-breaking potatoes this year.
They are massive... one is enough to feed a family of six!

This is not an optical illusion... they are actually that big!

By the time I had finished, I had enough to feed a small army.
Several of them are as large as the two above.

The kids eagerly helped me with afternoon chores...
for Easton, another chance to ride in the gator.
I asked Mack to gather eggs...
and with no fear of the chickens or turkeys who were in the chicken yard,
she marched right into the chicken house and got to work.

Ever so carefully, she picked up each egg and placed it into the carton.

With the eggs safely stowed in the gator,
she headed up the driveway to the upper pasture where Becky's horse, Sid,
was grazing.
In no time flat, she shimmied up the fence and called to Sid...
seeing her, he turned on his heels and trotted right to the fence

 where Mack stood waiting... no fear at all.
She is a real miniature farmgirl...
right down to her purple muck boots.

Later in the afternoon I harvested the rest of the peppers.
I'll cut the sweet peppers into strips and freeze them.

The poblanos, I am thinking of stuffing.

Well, another Friday has rolled around.
Our weekend, so far, should be a fairly quiet one.
I hope to do a little more garden work if the weather cooperates.

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Frost on The Pumpkins!!

It took weeks, but Autumn has finally arrived...
and it may have left already and been replaced by winter!

It was 37 degrees yesterday morning when I went out to do chores.
During the afternoon I received a weather alert on my phone
warning of a freeze during the night.
Looks like two little piggies will have a heat lamp on for the night.

Freezing nights belong to winter!

Because I know that weather like this will be certain death for summer's flowers,
I took a moment to photograph the remaining colors of summer
so that I can commit them to memory for the grey months ahead.


Profusion Zinnias

Cock's comb

more Zinnias...

Dahlias....oh, how I love dahlias!


Soak in the color, for I believe it will very soon be gone.

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day.
The temperatures eventually reached the mid-fifties.
I am in heaven when the thermometer begins to fall.
I love cold, crisp days!

Its was the perfect Autumn day... filled with errands...
stocking up on feed, pine shavings...
a trip to the local produce stand for fall veggies...
and a trip to the local auto parts store for a new belt for the hay elevator.
I try, whenever possible, to be self sufficient...
so, yesterday's goal was to buy and replace the belt that drives the hay elevator...
without asking for any help.
Mission accomplished!
I couldn't help but notice that while I worked...
everyone else took a siesta...

I can only imagine how heavenly it must be to nap in the warm sunshine on a chilly day.
Naps have never been a part of my life... ask my Mom... not since the age of 18 months.

Today is going to be a fun day... as we have two little fairies 
spending the day with us!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Morning Magic

Mornings are a special time at the barn...
especially when witnessed before the sun comes up.
With the sun rising over the pastures,
the dark of night is magically transformed by a technicolor sky.

After a night of slumber, the animals are ready for their breakfast.

The horses and donkeys go out to pasture.
The ducks emerge from their yard...
greeting the day with flapping wings.

The turkeys emerge in their own style... as graceful as a 30 pound bird can be!

The rest of the animals wait patiently for their food, fresh water, and housecleaning.

Each day, though different... begins the same...
regardless of the weather or whatever is happening in the rest of the world.
In this little corner of the world the rhythm remains constant.
And there is a comfort in this.

Once the morning chores are finished, I head home for a little breakfast with Hubbs.
Hubbs' farm activities have been quite curtailed since his foot surgery,
so my morning chores are done solitary.
And though I love his company...
I also love the peace and solitude of doing chores by myself.
It's a chance to commune with nature and with our animals...

a time that is so very special to me.

Later in the morning, I head back out to bring in the horses and donkeys
and do a little gardening.
I sit for a while under the front of the barn.
It takes but a moment for the donkeys to spy me and head my direction.

Before I know it... I have a cat in my lap and two donkeys nibbling my boots.

In another moment, I feel Red's nose on top of my head and Ollie on the
other side with his nose in my ear.

I am surrounded by sweet, curious littles... on all sides.

There is no better way to start a day...
no better cure for what ails you.
The rest of the world fades away and there is nothing but soft furry nosies to kiss
and ears to scratch.

It's this moment that is the reward for the hours of work.
It's this moment that I feel a deep sense of appreciation both for and from my animals.

I've been working on winterizing the garden boxes that are finished for the year.
Weeds have taken over where there once were vegetables,
and I will pull them all before winter's arrival.

That is, if TomTom will allow me.
He's always right where my hands are.
Silly cat.

It's been a funny year for gardening... some things have come in so late.
The saffron crocus usually bloom by this time, but they have
just now finally emerged.
I am hoping for a few sunny days so that they will blossom and I can collect the saffron.

Outside the garden is this...

Everyone is always curious as to what we humans are doing...
so no chore is ever done without an audience.

On Monday you asked what the huge leaves were above 
Mackenzie's head in the life-sized fairy garden.

These are canna.
Canna are a summer bulb in this part of the world...
planted in the spring... blooms in the summer... dug out of the ground in the fall.
Yes, a bit of work... but definitely worth it.

They are showy and huge... and now I have a ton of them.
They reproduce each year.
The tuber gets bigger and bigger and can be broken into sections...
each section growing larger and larger the next year.
If you grow canna, then you know that eventually you begin to give them away...
or you are overtaken by them!

These and elephant ears make wonderful additions to a life-sized fairy garden,
in that they make life-sized fairies look as though they have been miniaturized.

I will be digging up all of the cannas, elephant ears, and dahlias in the coming weeks
and storing them in the barn for the winter.
We have a room at the center of the barn that houses the water heater.
This room stays a constant temperature throughout the winter... so nothing will freeze in here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bad To The Wishbone

We've kept chickens for many years, now.
And through the years we've had many breeds of chickens.

It wasn't until this year, however, that we had funky chickens.
Yes, we have five funky chickens right now...
five Silver Spangled Hamburgs...
five hellions.

I call them The Dots... that is, Dorothy Hamburg and her four sisters... quintuplets.

I thought, when I placed my order for chicks, that I would get the usual
brown layer package that I always order.
(Well ordered, pleasant, rule-following know the kind.)

I must have had a small stroke as I placed the order...
and ordered something completely different...
because what I got is the craziest,
rag-tag bunch of chickens that you could ever ask for.

This group doesn't believe in rules.
No boundaries... no curfews... no rules.

When we first moved this new group of young hens into the large
chicken yard (which is flanked by two large houses)...
these crazy Dots decided they were not sleeping in the houses with the others.
Nightly, we would have to shoo them from the branches of the willow tree
that rises above the chicken yard.

And then we would have to chase them down and catch them in order to 
get them safely tucked inside their houses for the night.
Chicken chasing is not a fun pastime.

This went on for about a week... 
at which point, Hubbs and I gave up.
If the Dots were going to sleep in the tree... so be it.
It's a tall and bushy tree with lots of upper branches...
so we imagined it would be hard for an owl to grab one of the hens perched on a lower branch.
And they were certainly way out of the reach of foxes and coyotes.

Now, however, these five have convinced four other young chickens to join them 
on their nightly curfew protest.
Now we have nine hens roosting above the chicken yard.

I am wondering if it might, in part, be a way to avoid having to sleep 
near these boys...

these crazy rooster boys.

Perhaps... (I can't say that I blame them!)

(Roosters... with their one-track mind!)

Please take heed and let my experience be your guide.
If you ever think you might want to order a few polka dotted chickens,
 because they look really unique...

These girls will turn your barnyard upside down!

I am thinking that maybe when winter comes and the snow starts to fly,
these girls will re-think their sleeping arrangements.
Time will tell.

Our barn ducks have settled into a daily routine, thankfully.
Each day, these muscovy ducks wander about... usually fairly close to the barn area...
eating bugs.

Meanwhile, the five runner ducks spend their days wandering as far from the barn as possible...
and muddying everyone's water buckets on their way!

Here they are heading up towards Dr. Becky's house.

Thankfully, everyone heads back down to their own yard by bedtime...
at which point, I tuck them into their own house for the night.
Oh, how happy I am that I don't have to chase them back to their house each night!

One thing that I forgot to share with you about our time in Africa...
was the traffic jams...


African guineas have lovely bright aqua heads compared to ours...
but their vehicle-sense is equally bad!


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