Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fall Must be on Her Way When. . .

We first notice the signs of Fall as she begins sneaking in early in the mid-August mornings.  The sun has glided further to the north each day with its pinkish morning glow coming later each morning. The house is a bit cooler, even a bit chilly. A heavier dew dampens the lawn. I have been up since just after 5 AM; the east is just beginning to glow rosy pink. Fall silently slinks through the yard, testing to see if Mother Nature is ready for her. She doesn't stay long, but each day she lives a little sign that she has been here and will return.

A sure sign of Fall--the Head Gardener winds down his projects, loads up his camp trailer with hunting gear and enough food to feed a small army and leaves for his ancestral hunting grounds. Literally. A place where his great grandfather, grand father, and dad hunted deer and elk for I guess a century because great grandpa was in his 90s when he died in the late 1960s. He will be gone for a few days then he will come home to get Jacob and take him on his first hunting trip over Labor Day. It's what they do in the fall.


It was unusually quiet this morning when I awoke. It took me a moment to figure out why it was so quiet. No Chanticleer. He usually begins his early morning crowing around 4:30 AM. I get quite annoyed because he is so loud and he keeps it up all morning. This morning there was an erie quiet. Not even Cucu Maran was crowing. I imagined the worst. Carnage in the hen house. How upset the HG would be if he returned home to a mess? It would be my fault if the hen house were raided. I decided to put off checking the hens until full daylight.

Then. . . . The old boy must have slept in. Or waited for the morning's first glow. For there he is now, screaming his head off. Big sigh. Another sign of Fall.



So I am on chore duty. The most pleasant of tasks is feeding the horses. They always welcome me with soft voices begging for me to hurry up, for they are starving and their little tummies are grumbling, so they say.




From the Garden

Another indication that Fall is coming: This week we dug onions and potatoes. The onions probably could have been harvested a lot earlier, for some had soft spots. The HG decided that next year instead of buying the sets in bags, he would buy them in open stock so that we didn't end up with so many. I put them in flat box lids (and one pizza box) to dry out. This morning, then, I separated out the nice ones, rubbed the dirt off and some of the dried onion skin and put them in a pan to store in the pantry. I have been using them and let me just say that my sinuses are getting cleared out.



The potato harvest could have been better; we decided that they just did not get enough water on them this year. We watered with a sprinkler instead of ditching the rows, and it seemed to have  made a difference. Not to mention that the weeds got totally out of control this year. The potatoes are very good despite their size.



We pulled up four cabbages. They, too, are small; the broccoli looks wonderful, but will have worms. The cucumbers are small, and the tomatoes slow to ripen.



And what do we have here?
For some odd reason the HG purchased cauliflower sets along with too many cabbages. 



While this cauliflower head has some size to it, it is barely recognizable as a cauliflower. I don't think we will be eating it, but I am surprised that it formed a head. I haven't had cauliflower form a head. Progress, I guess.



Like this one. I think this one is supposed to be the purple variety. I buy the purple ones in the store; I like to eat it raw; cooked, it does not look very appealing.

So that is the saga of the cauliflower. One shaped nicely, but off-color--or is it supposed to be yellow? One sparse and purple. Lack of water, not doubt.


Random Garden Photos: I went out early Saturday morning, camera in hand and just had fun shooting photos.



Rusty ole butterfly sculpture on the blackberry trellis



Wild Sun Flowers 




I have not planted sunflowers for a couple of years now. The birds seem to do a fine job of that. I let them all grow where ever they pop up. It is always a surprise as to what will appear. Out by the garden this one is the standard roadside sunflower that has the height of the giant single headed flowers and the dark glow of the hybrid brown sunflowers that we love so much.


This lovely one is at the end of her cycle, her head heavy with seeds, droopping. She grew 8 feet or more out by the drive way next to the pine trees, welcoming me each time I drove in. Fall is on her way when the sunflowers droop their heavy heads.


Another variety planted herself out front. Don't you love to see the pattern in the center?


I had planned to cut this head off and put it near the living room window so that I could watch the birds take the seeds, but I was too late and didn't want to steel it from the birds that had already claimed it.


And this sunflower grew in the north flower bed at the back of the house. It was nearly 5 feet tall and smiled at me through the living room window. I watched this little bird every day come feast on the black seeds and then they were gone. I left the photo un-cropped because I like the cone flower just at the edge of the photo.

Oh, Lily


I planted four lily bulbs in the point of the center garden thinking that they would be a lovely compliment to the pink fountain grass and a nice contrast to the other grasses. I wanted some dramatic color. I also let the milk weed have its way, hoping that a monarch might find it, but it didn't, so I chopped the milk weed out, discovering that 2 of the four bulbs had grown after all. I had been sorely annoyed all summer because the lilies didn't sprout. Well, of course not, not when they had to compete with milk weed. Two lilies had sprouted and tried to grow. Now to my surprise as I walked about I discovered this lovely lady had bloomed. Once I cleared away the milk week, Lily received the sunshine that she so desperately needed. I hope she does better next year.



See, there it is Milk Weed recovering nicely from the chopping out. So much for just chopping. Oh by the way, once you let milk weed into your garden, it will be there forever and forever and forever.


She looks really pretty with the rose colored grass.


While short, she is so pretty I just had to take one more photo, and one more, and maybe another.

 

You know Fall is here when your favorite flowers begin to fade: I think I have shared photos of this lily, candy lily or black berry lily. The original has faded away, but this year she reseeded herself and the center point is full of candy lily. I bought another one a few weeks ago to plant in the back garden. While this is the end of the bloom, it is a very unique faded lily.

Little Bunny Foo Foo
Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest--pasture (click here for the song --I dare you) We have few little Foo Foos. My girls learned the song about the bunny hopping though the forest picking up mice, bopping them on the head. They are pretty used to us and unless Boone Doggle is on the run, they don't run from us; instead, they each have their own strategy for dealing with our presence:


#1 Bunny: hop slowly away.


#2 Bunny: Sit very, very still.


#3 Bunny: tuck in your ears to look invisible.


 Eggcellent


Sunday mornings I always cook a nice breakfast us. Even with the HG gone, I decided I'd cook breakfast instead of having my regular protein shake. With the hens producing more eggs--we are getting 5 or 6 eggs daily--I decided to break open the second largest egg. I am saving the big brown egg to open when the HG gets home. He thinks it will have 3 or 4 yokes. I say just two like the green egg. I always crack them into a little bowl to make sure that there aren't any surprises in the egg since they aren't candled. 
Add caption

And I had a most eggcellent breakfast.

Thank you for stopping bye. It is always nice to see you and to visit for a moment. I hope you have a really good week. Hugs.

PS Shameful commercial : Drop by Ann's Dollhouse Dreams to see the progress--only if you like.





















Sunday, August 23, 2015

Another Project Completed

We woke up to a bright orange sunrise and a very cool morning with a temperature of 46 degrees F. I went out early to take photos for this morning's post in sandals and short sleeves, wishing I had put on a sweater. Fall most certainly lingers in the air, waiting for the perfect opportunity make her grand appearance with the first frost. This morning the lawn and the hay field are heavy with dew.  The boys had been fed early; they watched as I took photos, waiting patiently for me to let them out in the pasture. The Head Gardener had put on his hunting cap and camouflage hunting clothes to hunt pronghorn antelope early this morning with his bow. So he had done the feeding early. I knew the look in at least Sundance's face: "I need my greens." You never know what Pop is thinking as he hides behind his sun screen.



Softly I chant to the grass: "Grow, Grow, Grow" because we lost our first cutting; it got rained on so many times that it molded, so we really need a good second cutting to get the boys through the winter.



The Head Gardener has worked so hard this summer, first on the sprinkler system digging hundreds of feet to improve the irrigation system, then he fulfilled my desire to have a nice, mud free path from the barn door to the hen house. His first step was to build the path, getting all of the weeds out and forming a nice shape.


Next, he used a pick to dig a small trench to embed the plastic garden edging, giving the path a 
defined shape.

With the edging in place, he used the tractor to move the gravel from where it has been piled for well over a year. The neighbors across the street let him have it when they ordered too much for their landscape project. We were happy to take the gift, knowing exactly what we would do with it. Just a took a while to get the project done.


 So it went from here--


Across the lawn


Happy is the man with a tractor.



To here: Nothing like seeing a dream project realized.


I love the clean, new lines. The path adds some architectural interest to the garden.


Look at little the apricot tree planted late last summer. We bought two for the price of one and while they were scrawny little saplings, look at the girl now. Apricots next year? And the holly hocks just plant themselves where ever they want. We keep some, but dig a lot out.


I don't know if Chanticleer will appreciate the path, but I know I will when the HG is away and I have feed the chickens. No more mud.


Next minor project: install the iron trellis--some place.


The beds along the pens may be the new strawberry beds. On the other side of the pens where the HG didn't put gravel I have thought about filling with decorative grasses. We want to provide some shade for the chickens. I had wanted to plant morning glories along the fence, but the seeds are toxic to poultry as is wood line (or Virginia Creeper). I have planted two clematis at each end of the this bed, so they will add color and fill in some. 



And this is the sunrise on the Garden Spot. Smoke from the fires in California and the Northwest has finally drifted over Colorado, bringing warnings for those with respiratory ailments to stay inside, so while the haze makes for glowingly beautiful sunrises and sun sets, they come with a heavy cost to those in the fires' paths. Give us normal, please.

Isn't the Head Gardener amazing? Close to going on Medicare soon, he has the strength of bear, the endurance a distance runner, and a commitment to get jobs done. Now, he gets to relax and do what he loves most-- head to the prairie or the mountains with his bow where he will relax, rest, as he contemplates nature and hopefully has a successful hunt. I don't tell him often enough just how much I appreciate his hard work and admire his desire and ability to do so. 

While he worked so hard to get some nagging projects done this summer, there are always more to do and some go undone until next year. Look at the garden, for example. Full of weeds and low production. We got off to a very bad start because the bad weather kept us from getting it planted on schedule. As I say, "There is always next year." We will have a nice crop of onions--ready to dig; tomatoes, thought they are slow to ripen; potatoes, ready;  cucumbers, which we are enjoying now; and cabbages. The cauliflower didn't do well, they never do; the broccoli worst we have ever grown, green beans eaten by rabbits. 

James A. Michener Library
Hubby will be elk hunting over Labor Day, and I will be recovering from my first week back at work.  I will be dog tried at the end of the day with aching feet, but ever so happy to back in my classroom.      Let me leave with a different mosaic for Judith's Monday Mosaics, one of my university: University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, home of the Bears. A Division I school belonging to the Big Sky League. A small liberal arts school, first known for its fine teacher education program and its School of Performing Arts, especially known for its spring Jazz festival with world renown musicians attending each. The university also is proud of its Monfort School of Business. I am honored to serve in a very small capacity teaching freshmen how to write academically. I am so lucky to get one more chance to do what I loved so much and a new kitchen floor. I will be teaching two classes back to back on Tuesday and Thursday and tutoring in the Writing Center for 2 hours on Fridays. And grading and blogging on Sundays as I watch the Broncos play. 

Yes, Fall is certainly in the air. 


So now that the blogiversary party is over, back to normal. Thanks so much joining me and for your sweet congratulations. Some of you have been with me since the beginning which just makes blogging so much fun. I find myself going to my right menu to read other blogs before I even get to reading my own comments. I'd say that I have matured as a blogger when it means more to see what you are doing than it does to read my comments first. I like that feeling.
Have a fabulous week. I will be getting my feet wet again.



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Happy Blogiversary

Drum Roll, please. Light the fireworks. Sound the trumpet. Cut the cake.

Five years ago August 19, 2010, I launched my blog Welcome to Ann's Garden Spot. I had always considered myself tech savvy because I had to keep up with the Internet use and growth if I wanted to keep up with my students. I had them producing their own web sites one year in a research class. That was very exciting to see the students hard work displayed on the web. Those were the good old days before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. iPhones, iPods, and iPads.

I decided that I wanted to provide a website for my classes, so I took a class on web building at the local community college back in the day when it all had to be done in html code.

I discovered blogging quite by accident when my grandson was asking about toads. We googled "toad" and discovered a lovely blog Robin's Nesting Place. If she could do it, so could I.  And I was hooked.

It took me a long time get even a few followers. I joined Blotanical and gained few friends then I joined a garden party where I met more of my earlier followers. Now I am participating in Mosaic Monday, as most of you do, which has helped me to build my following.

I also keep Ann's Dollhouse Dreams where I publish maybe once a month when I have something to report. House building and making minis take a lot of time. I don't have may followers mostly because I have not worked very hard to promote that blog. So if you stop over there, many thanks. It's a niche audience.

 Because I lost my space on the university server, I have started another blog on Blogger for my students, so that makes three that I have to keep up with.

Daughter Heather one day talked about her "people"--she had found her people, those with whom she works are her people. So you are my people. As my real world friends, I treasure your friendships, too.

And now to present (recreate) Monday's post that mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Like a puff of smoke, it just disappeared as I was trying to link it to Mosaic Monday. A couple of you had already read it and left comments.

I updated you on the chicks that we bought last spring and brooded in the house until they were old enough to go out to the chicken coop. They are a handsome group of young hens who will keep us and few friends supplied eggs for some time.

The young hens have begun to produce an impressive amount of eggs, about 4 a day. The egg supply adds up quickly at that rate. Since I don't do a lot of baking any more except at the holidays and we don't really eat much breakfast during the week, the eggs tend to collect rather quickly. You may be asking what I do with all of them? I take them to my friends at school. One friend loves my eggs and claims that they are better than the organic eggs that she buys at her favorite organic grocery. I let folks decide what they want to pay me for a dozen, but my friend set the price @ $5.00 a dozen. She first offered what she paid at the store for organic eggs, $8 a  a dozen. I protested. So we agreed on $5, which is plenty for a dozen eggs.

I do not claim that the eggs are organic because because they aren't; the chicken feed is not organically grown and produced. A lot goes into certifying organically grown foods. Nor do we claim that they are free range because they aren't. Just today we saw a Cooper's hawk fly over the chicken pens while we were working in the garden. Along with fox, coyotes, raccoons, and our own cat and dog, the hens are not safe outside the pen. They are cage free, but still safely penned.  None the less, the eggs are fresh. Did you know that sometimes super market eggs may be as much as 3 months old?

They do look pretty in bowl, don't they? They even look impressive in the carton. My favorite is the green egg. I enjoy seeing the different eggs in the carton. Do you see the really dark eggs? Those are Black Copper Maran's eggs. We bought her just for that egg, a chocolate egg.






I thought that you might like to meet the flock now that they are all grown up. 


This is the main pen, the first that we built. The bucket is rather cool. It is the water bucket with nipples on the bottom that the chickens drink from.

 Partridge Rock: Brown egg. 

 Barred Rock: Brown egg

 Brown Leghorn: white egg

 Black Copper Maran: Chocolate egg

Cuckoo (CuCu) Maran Rooster. Not a very nice fellow.

 Americana: Green egg

Brown Americana: Green Egg. She is one of the original hens, now 4 1/2 years old and still laying. Because she id aggressive toward the other hens, she has to live with Chanticleer.


You remember this handsome fellow, Chanticleer. He is a Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. He and the old hen have a new pen on the other side of the chicken coop. 


He begins crowing about 4:30 AM before dawn and continues yelling until the Head Gardener goes out feed. We have noticed this week that he is quiet when the HG works out in the garden or in the yard someplace where he can see him.


This is Pertilote, Chanticleer's brood mate, a Blue Laced Red Wyandotte. She lays brown eggs, but was so badly traumatized by the rooster and the other hens that she quit laying. We are not sure if she lays now. These two are 2 years old. There two Blue hens. The other one lives in the dog crate because she doesn't like the other hens. She does get to free range because she the HG's little buddy when he is working in the garden.



CuCu Maran was supposed to be a Black Maran hen. I wanted black hens. They are so elegant looking, but we ended up with Copper Black Maran hen and this fellow.


Many cities now have ordinances that allow for small backyard flocks of poultry. When we decided to get hens, the Head Gardener did go to the town hall to find out what the ordinances in Ault were. There weren't any, so they asked him if he would write up a plan, which he did. The town council did pass a rather strict ordinance for poultry keeping, so there are a few flocks in town. Of course the ordinance bans roosters mostly because they are just plain noisy. The Cucu is on the board at the feed store: Free to a good home. And we get away with having rooters because the neighbors have not complained yet (though I do), and even though we are in the city limits we are zoned agricultural which means that we can keep livestock and poultry outside the city ordinances.

Chickens often end up in dog pounds and humane societies because people find out that they poop on patios and then they aren't so much fun any more.

Some of my favorite moments are spent out in the garden listening the hens talk to each other. I find their conversations soothing and interesting. I like the soft clucking and squawking as they pick and peck around in the pen. It is very relaxing to watch them just be chickens. Then I take their eggs and make an egg salad sandwich.

Thanks so much visiting with me each week. I would miss you terribly if blogging went away. This has become my favorite little community. We have so much fun reading about each other's daily goings-on, family, friends, hobbies, challenges, and celebrations. I would love to meet each one of you, and I know that we would have a lot to talk about. I enjoy your comments, but enjoy more reading about your latest adventure and then being able say something in return. I am glad that you joined me today in celebrating my 5th blogiversary. It means so much.

Fondly, Ann