It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some of My Favorite Recipes

Last Monday and Tuesday it was raining slugs. That's where they come from you know, they come in the rain. With the lush foliage and the ponds in every part of the Farm I have no shortage of slugs, so I will be very wealthy when they finally discover that slug slime cures seventy-six point four percent of the known diseases and forty-eight percent of the diseases we have yet to discover.

Until then what money the birds haven't eaten, the slugs are mouin down on, so I went out with a cardboard sign and gathered some spare change to make myself up some beer substitute. Not for Phil but to trap the slugs.

Slightly cheaper than beer, just as effective (maybe better, I've never gotten a cup crammed full of slugs) and Dirt isn't freakin' out because I know longer crack open one of his cold ones and pour it in a cup for the slugs to slurp on.

I plunked the cup back down into the hole after I dumped the pile up above and there were still some fellas clinging to the sides, they must have been on their way in.
Mix 1 teaspoon of Brewer's yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar into 1 cup water.
For a larger batch just multiply it out. I save big juice jugs and put a big batch in the jug to use through out my garden. One of my morning duties while out with my slug scissors is to empty the dead out and refill with more Slug Juice.
I cut a hole in the ground with my skinny trowel but I make sure it isn't too flush with the ground so the beetles don't fall in. Slugs can climb well enough to get their treat.

Somebody else that needs a little treat but their treat feeds them instead of trapping them are the hummers. And man are they hummin' around here, it is life threatening (to people) sometimes with how crazy they get. I found that the little bottles are better as the syrup doesn't stay in them as long decreasing the potential for uck to grow.
These came in the house for a quick scrub but most days one of us just totes the water can around the farm and fill the little bottles with this:
One cup sugar in four cups of water bring to a boil and then cool.
But my best recipe today is my rose and bloomer fertilizer made from five gallons of alfalfa pellets (sold in fifty or twenty-five pound sacks at your local feed stores), half a gallon of fish liquid and half gallon carton of Epsom salt (drug store).
Put all of this in a big plastic garbage can and fill up eh sorta half way, let it soak over night so the pellets fall apart and you get a sludgy mix like the one below.
This can be used as a side dressing for roses and other bloomers. Or not so much water for a denser mix and use it in the planting hole before setting a plant.

Wine recipes are Dirt's job. So when he finishes up the hatching box and a couple of sheep shearing jobs I'll have him share some of his deep dark secrets.

Have a great night Dear Reader, I am late for bed, nighty night. Off to sleep with the bullfrogs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Breakfast Anyone?

Monday was a "spare" day for Dirt. He had been able to finish his lawn care duty on Sunday along with a few other things so that left him with the morning to bottle up his wine that sits along the wall in my kitchen in carboys. Carboys are big, my house is small. I look forward to bottling day but then when the carboys and their pretty colored fluids are gone I'm kind of sad. Kinda.

One can't possibly bottle up the wine without a taste so early Monday morning found us sipping away at Dirt's O' Eight Raspberry wine for breakfast and then his O' Eight Apple for brunch.
Both are very promising. I won't boar you with all the fancy wine talk, okay I really don't know how to "wine talk" even after all my good lessons from Jim, but I think I have a better understanding of it all and a larger capacity for anticipating what the finished product will be. And I am just sure that Dirt's raspberry, and his apple, that he bottled yesterday will be excellent.

Oh but look, what is that in one of the bottles Dirt was about to clean? And sterilize!

EEK! Its a mouse! Okay calm down it is a thoroughly saturated and deceased mouse. Proof once again that moscato wine can kill. You gotta ask yourself, "how the heck did he get in there!"
I suppose that this is telling about our life, we don't find a genie in a bottle, we find a moscatoed mouse in a bottle. At least we know the Ratters aren't hanging out in the wine celler, or that may be where those missing bottles went to and how the mouse was able to get in. Martin?...Janie?...
I have requested and extra sterilizing step or two into the process,
They said it was a Microbe and a Hotbed of Disease;
They steamed it in a vapor of a thousand-odd degrees;
They froze it in a freezer that was cold as Banished Hope
And washed it in permanganate with carbolated soap.

(swiped from one of my fav's, Strictly Germ Proof, by Arthur Guiterman)

The raspberries on my fence almost got ripped out one year, until Dirt made wine from them. The raspberries had found their destiny! Amazing how the wine making process brought out flavor that was undetectable in the fresh state. Or the alcohol content makes you not care.

Another fruit rescue was also part of Monday's breakfast.
As a kid I used to sit on my front porch with a big stalk of rhubarb and a bowl of sugar and needed nothing more in my life.
But lately I've been feeling rather frustrated with the lack of pretty red stalks from my rhubarb plant. I didn't want to have to wait to get rhubarb form my daughter who has nice big fat very red stalks. This was the third plant that I have put in here at the farm and still no red.
The first was wiped out by renegade swine and the second I didn't bother to rescue from the tree crashing on it. Why would I, like the first one, the second one had never developed beautiful red stalks, just green with a few grains of red but it never "ripened" and then put up a load of flower stalks before I knew it. And now this third one was doing the exact same thing.
So I went online early Monday morning to see if there was something I could do or was doing wrong, even though all the garden books and info I have read already said essentially if you can fall off of a log you can grow rhubarb.
I came to a site that claimed there were quite a few varieties of rhubarb and many had different characteristics. Really?! I remember the name of the rhubarb I bought, I wonder what it says about it...
It says that Victoria rhubarb is green stalked with pink speckles. Nooooo!!
So I made waffles to go under my strawberry rhubarb sauce, through some thick cream and vanilla simple syrup in the whip cream maker thingy and was catapulted into near ecstasy. My life is now complete.

Oh Dear Reader, I know how you love to go to nurseries and see all the beautiful plants. Please don't feel that I left you out of a wonderfully exciting trip this last Saturday, this is the scene just outside the doors at Lawyer's Nursery.

And this is what I bring home. Bare naked sticks. No soil, no leaves, no flowers. Dead looking sticks. Gathered up from big wood bins lined up unceremoniously inside a concrete bunker like cold storage.
This years collection included very very prickly old fashioned roses. I forgot my gloves, big mistake when getting muddy naked sticks, even bigger when you are getting prickly muddy naked sticks out of big bins.
I'm still squeezing prickles out of my hands and finger tips, makes typing painful, but your worth it. Have a great night Dear Reader and look in your wine bottles before drinking, mice can get in there you know.
God bless and have a restful sleep. See you bright and early in the morning.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Did You Know That Story?

Taps has always been a favorite of mine. I suppose it comes from many years in Bluebirds and Campfire Girls then years as a Girl Scout leader and camp counselor. Even as a little bluebird we sang it at the end of every meeting, and what camp would be complete without taking down the flag in the beautiful light of dusk to the sound of taps being sung by a strong group of girls dirty with trail dust, fish slime, and campfire ash, but happy and satisfied?

So those of us here at Vicktory Farms will be joining in the Moment of Remembrance at three o'clock. But at nine thirty we will sing taps as we retire the colors for the day.

In 1862 Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was near Harrison's Landing, Virgina. In the evening he heard the moanings of a soldier, so he personally went out into the gunfire on his belly and dragged the wounded young man back to his encampment. When he reached safety he then realized that the soldier who had died was a Confederate soldier, but when he looked at the face he recognized it as the face of his own son whom, as far as he knew, was studying music in the South.

He tried to get a full military burial for his son but because the son was of enemy status the father's request was granted only partial. He was only allowed one bugler and in need of music, the father handed the bugler a scrap of paper from his own son's pocket with a few song notes scratched upon it. Those song notes? The notes of Taps.

That my Dear Reader is the hardship of war; the high price of civil freedom, preservation of unity, and relief of the oppressed.

When you are being patriotic today, please remember some flag etiquette. In a nut shell the flag should not be shown disrespect by touching the ground, being held or flown inappropriately. It nor a facsimile of it should be worn as clothing or carried as a bag. The likeness of a flag should not be used as advertisement, or on napkins, paper plates or such as would be discarded after temporary use.

I find it amazing how many times the flag code is blatantly broken, not just at protests and by unpatriotic citizens but by those who claim to be intense lovers of what the flag stands for. I'm not talking about the hard to remember details like does the union go to the right or the left when hung on a wall, but the stuff that is obvious like clothing, napkins, tablecloths and the like printed to look like the flag. Drove my dad nuts and it drives me nuts, that in our efforts to be ultra-patriotic we end up actually making a mockery of the flag and its beauty. And then by doing so, sully the memory of those who have fought and died beneath its grand colors.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Good Night Note Dear Reader

We just arrived home from the second night of Mike's Barbeque Trifecta. It's late, I'm going to sleep immediately, the "bedroom" windows are open and I am about to drift off to the sound of bull frogs all around me.

Life is incredibly good.

I hope that you too are able to go to bed listening to such pleasant sounds.

Malus Fusca

Evil (malus) and dark (fusca) seems to be a rather glum moniker for this lovely Pacific Northwest native. Commonly known as Pacific Crabapple. Even crabapple seems a poor autograph for such an ambrosial and faithful vernal season intermediary.

Always to be counted on to burst into bloom and perfume the air once spring is well under way but not yet fully mimicking midsummer days.

It has proved to be a sure phenological event to gage when to plant our squash and pumpkin seeds in the pasture. Though we still chose to put down floating row cover because we were getting some terrential downpours keeping the water level rather high in the pumpkin patch this year rendering the soils a little chillier than in other places in the higher gardens.

According to a visitor to the Farm shortly after Dirt and I arrived (twenty-four years ago), Malus fusca was used by many of the old farmers in the area as root stock on which they grafted their favorite apple trees.
The frequent afternoon visitor grew up coming to this very homestead with his mother to meet up with Sam Sorenson and ride with him into the tradingpost at the Roy-Y. His advice and story telling was quickly taken as fact by Dirt and I, as he informed us he was Fred Guske who resided "on Guske Road of course."
Malus is the Latin name for the apple family and therefore Malus fusca can serve as a suitable root stock and this particular malus even more so, because it actually prefers the wet soggy soils we often have in this area.

Upon a first glance and quick sniff, Malus fusca can be confused with another Pacific Northwest native, Philadephus lewisii. Yet a proper gaze and a deep, closed eye, nasal breath, quickly separates the two.

Philadephus lewisii, commonly known as Mock Orange is not fake anything. It is stunningly white, with a deep and quenching fragrance. It blooms just days behind Malus fusca during a warm spring, its buds are pristine white and when the buds unfurl they have only four petals rather than five.

The fragrance of Malus in the damp lands is bright and lively, an interesting contrast to some of our other truly dark scents found there. But very different from the fragrance of our native dry ground loving Philadelphus which can be entirely heady on a good hot late spring day as it rises up to the second story window, intoxicating the breather and sure to cause daydreams and long flights of fancy, cured only by the reality of the day having passed and a motorsickle, with a weary teacher driving it, coming home.
Besides the dream inducing fragrance and the four petals, our Philadephus friend differs from out Malus friend in trunk and branch.

Our Malus friend's bark is rough and deeply fissured, separating into an intense weave and slub pattern.

And the branches hold what an uniformed mind (like mine) sees as thorns but are really spurs from which come the flowers and then fruit. But unlike the fruiting buds on my friendlier more domesticated malus (Malus domestica in fact) in the orchard, these are hard and sharp so my confusion is understandable.

So I leave you this afternoon Dear Reader to go plant some corn, because my Malus fusca assures me, better than any weatherman, that my corn seed will not rot and so I need to get out and get it in the ground. But I leave you with one more image of Malus fusca, one I messed with (more than the usual light enhancing) on Photoshop. Can you guess what I did to it?

Have a terrific day and I'll be seeing you bright and early tomorrow morning.
Oops, I nearly forgot, go see all sorts of other beautiful flowers all around the world that God designed at Today's_Flowers.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Time Zone Adjustments

I've been suffering jet lag. I've moved to a time zone four hours earlier. Man is that a hard adjustment. I'd illustrate it with a picture but it's a face even a two year old off-spring can't love. (That is, if I had one at the moment).

Oh, I haven't left the Farm on highway seven o'two. Nor boarded a jet. Let's not panic, or get excited.

I've just switched to my summer hours. I love summer hours, the birds are loud, the fog is on the pond, food tastes better, and the phone usually doesn't ring, but getting here is getting a little harder with each passing year.

I used to be (and this was just six or so years back) the camp counselor that stayed awake for four days straight, slept for a day and then stayed awake for four more. When I superintended barns at the fair or managed the little community fair I could easily manage on about two or three hours of sleep for ten or so days. Not no more I fear.

I was trying to creep into my new hours but when it clearly wasn't working (there was always something more to watch while I worked on the lap top, wee hour programing is so interesting) and in fact was going the opposite way, kinda like a diet, I decided to take drastic measures.

So last Sunday I went to bed at nine, awoke at five and made Dirt breakfast before he left for work at six. Yes, usually for most of the year I don't send my husband to work with a wifely made breakfast. Try not to chastise me Dear Reader, he always says that he actually likes it when he is the only one up, comes from having only one bathroom in the house.

Man, I have gotten more done in the first three hours of work (six to nine) this week than I was getting done in a whole day, not to mention the rest of the day, another reason I love summer hours.

On top of all of that, even though I just recently decried schedules and such on Kannani's blog, I felt compelled, commanded, to do up a schedule of work. Krimanitly this is starting to sound like I might become a grown up soon.

My usual modus operandi with schedules is to make up a terrific schedule, work it for a few days even a couple of weeks, only to have an unexpected, unscheduled happening come along, throw me for a curve and cause me to completely derail from the Schedule ride.

But I've already survived a derailment attempt. My very first day held an unscheduled event and I got right back on and stayed on for the rest of the week in spite of a couple more little unscheduled events.

Dear Reader do you know what I found out when I did up the schedule? I happen to notice that there really isn't enough hours in the day.

But I have actually been so busy that I am starting to feel that I'm not as far behind in life as I felt I was when I did up my to do list and schedule, so I am going to revamp my schedule and actually give myself some reading and writing time,oh the frivolity of it all!

I allow myself to get derailed a lot, from more than just schedules and to do lists. Blogging, as was defined to me at the beginning of my blogging life last May, is making a web log, or a log on the web. I took log as to mean a journal of sorts. This was an intriguing thing to me as I have always been drawn to journalling, as evidenced by the multitude of journals in my storage bench upstairs in my perch.

Those journals are used, well most for about three to five pages some with a dozen more and a few with just a starting date. Like I said, I am drawn to journalling, not necessarily am I a journal-er. The only times I have ever journalled "successfully" was when it was an assignment for school. (uh, that's been about twenty-five years ago).

So the fact that I have kept at this blogging thing for a year now is quite frankly amazing.

But I must admit I came across a fear this week when I couldn't seem to find the will to carve out some blogging (journalling) time in the couple of "free time" spaces in my schedule. And my usual blogging time, just prior to going to bed, found me in a blur and fog. I feared I was derailed.

But my fingers have ached and my brain has nearly exploded due to the lack of writing.

So I will no longer depend on "free time" spaces and instead block out some time to purpose to write, but again there lies a catch. I think of myself as a random fire-er in creativity. I believe that I must feel inspired. However I am beginning to think that may actually be a lie to cover up my pure selfish laziness.

Well Dear Reader I am sorry that there were no pictures this morning but I didn't think that my little story about my personal jet lag wouldn't really take that long or turn into a confession about my short-comings as a grown-up, and there really aren't pictures to go with all that.

I am off to a wholesale nursery that has a retail sale once a year. (Hopefully I will soon change my retail status for things like nursery or food prep supplies.) My oldest three are going with me and Anna is staying with my grandboys to go with Dirt to do some shearing. Oh... I see a tussle over the one camera about to brew. Gotta go plan my strategy, have a great and productive day Dear Reader.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Daughters Crack Me Up

The other day our youngest Vick Chick, Anna Banana, Peanut Butter, maker of phenomenal pies, bread, dinners and more, all from scratch, was going to make the dinner of her daddy's fond desire, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. She does the best grilled cheese of anyone I know, it is an art form. That night the sandwiches were wonderful as usual, the tater tots baked to perfection. But the soup? It was a bit strong tasting.

"Anna," I say to her, "What did you do to the soup?"

"I don't know! It's awful isn't it? I even added a little cream to it, and it is still awful."

"What kind of soup did your daddy bring home?" I inquire, knowing that she has on occasion used the store bought tomato soup out of those cool hermetically sealed boxes, but the can she was unfamiliar with.

"It was that nasty canned stuff. I had to use three cans" She says.

"Did you add a whole can of milk for every can of soup?"

"No." She replied indignantly, "It didn't say to."

Knowing that this is also my incredibly impatient child, at times over the top impatient, I asked to see said can because in her favor it may not have been the can I thought it was.

It was.

Give the girl a sack of flour and a couple of apples and she turns out a beautiful pie or with a little yeast a nice crusty loaf of bread, give her a bag of peas and some quick instructions while you work in the garden and she has a lovely hearty soup waiting for when you're done, but she has no time for a stupid can of tomato soup.

Then there is Bettispaghettie, Betti-kins

Betti-kins aka Elisabeth (not pronounced like Elizabeth) is my oldest at home girl.

Sometimes her humor surprises the heck outta me because she is so dog gone quiet most of the time. But her father is rubbing off on her more and more and she is beginning to make up songs about whatever she sees or is doing at the moment.

The other day while she was suggesting to her little (nearly taller than her) sister that the dogs needed tending she came up with this song and it soon became the anthem for the weekend. It is sung with a little western twisted tune (where'd she come up being such a western music person I'm not totally sure but in my need to place blame I might look in a hedgerow somewhere).

Give the dogs food and water,

It will change your life.

Never let your mother or your daughter,

hate your wife.

Now I don't care who you are, but that is downright funny to hear being sung by a gaggle of girls in the back seat of a big fat Ford 350 diesel dually going to the feed store to buy some hay and chicks.

But then if you think about it no truer words were sung. It isn't good for a man to allow his mom or his daughter to have ill feelings towards the woman he is married to.

I think we forget what that word married means. In cooking you can put a stew together hastily and bring it up to a hot and steamy temperature with some quick heat but you will be able to taste the full flavor of the individual ingredients if eaten separately. However, if you take the time to marry the flavors then you could never again completely separate out the different components as if they were separate foods on a plate. They are married, now one, inseparable. The meat essence has oozed from the bits and melded into the softened carrot chunks and the carrot fragrance has infected the potato, nothing can be separated from the other, not completely.

With stew it takes time, but through the miracle that God has created in human marriage it only takes a moment, a moment of a vow, an acknowledgement and the two are one, never again completely separable.

It doesn't take years of dating, a lengthy engagement or a big wedding, it only takes what the community accepts as an understanding of marriage and it is done, forever. One shot. You are married for the length of your life. You cannot get the other out of your skin, children or no children. They, the children, are not how you become one. God proclaims the married as one, not two living together until the children come; they are in fact one, one right now and one forever.

If the mother hates her child's spouse, she hates her very own child, for now the two, her child and another, are one flesh and always will be. The idea of a mother hating her child isn't healthy; for a mother to hate her child's spouse is to hate her child and that is crippling to a mother.

So the husband in Bet's song can't allow that to happen not just because he loves his wife but because he loves his mother and if his mother hates his wife, she hates him and if she hates him she does damage to that thing inside her that is a mother. She would be denying what she was created for, motherness.

When Jesus takes the thou shalt not murder thing to a whole other level with His Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5) he showed how our ill thoughts and words towards another is right in there with murder. Solomon, the wisest man, knew that a mother could never murder her own child without causing herself chaos and degradation. Connect the two.

Somewhat similarly, a daughter cannot be allowed to hate her mother for it will do her damage and her father cannot let that happen for it is the father's job to keep his daughter from harming herself. To hate her mother would do just that, harm the daughter. She came from this woman, she cannot stand in the kitchen with her hands on her hips, level her face to her mother's and scream her hatred for her without causing untold damage to herself. She hates her mother? She may as well hate herself. And as we know from Jesus' lesson to hate is to murder. Self-hatred is suicide. Self-hatred by the way is not the same as self-denial or self-control or selflessness, not in the least.

Need some more dots to connect? Commandment five says, honor your father and mother. In Ephesians it is pointed out as the first commandment with a promise. The promise is for a good and long life; “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

The promise is not just a cookie that God gives for being good but a natural consequence in God's magnificent creation. And we know that a certain amount of time isn't really that same amount of time in God's perspective. Even in our own minds time can change; a good time, a happy and joy filled time is as productive, worthwhile and seemingly long even if it is shorter in actuality than a miserable retched time where regrets and disappointments live at the end.

If you hate yourself by hating whom you came from, who's DNA you have making your hair curly or your eyes green, then you are not going to live a good long life; it will be short and miserable even if you live to ninety-six.

So it may very well have been a silly spur of the moment Bettikins song but it is very, very true.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Love Green, Honest!

I had my second lesson with Tia on Photoshop Elements 6. I don't have the patience to read technical manuals so I love that I can support Tia in her budding business and have someone I know well and relate to teach me what I want to know.
This weeks lesson: The stuff I forgot that I remember her telling me. That sentence was clear as mud eh?
Well part of what I wanted to remember how to do was to remove color from some parts and keep it in others. I know, this is probably elementary to most folks but not for me.

So here is my viburnum, it smells even better with out all that distracting green. I recognize the fact that I am lucky to live in a place that has an abundance of water and is therefore nearly a perpetual solid wall of green year round. But sometimes it can be distracting to my brain. Perhaps a little too much of its calming effect.

I love green, really I do, but sometimes I just need a break. I don't want to see all black and white; I still want to see the brilliant non-green colors. It may be just in my head but I think the tulips color really pops without all the green.
This was done by the same method at the top picture but different from the second and the last two pictures. Those are done by selecting an area, creating layers based on the cut and then removing the saturation of color from the background. Because this picture has many little spots of bright color and the entire surroundings were basically green, yellow, cyan and blue, I removed the saturation of those individual colors.
Bet and I were discussing how you can see a little color still in the foliage in this picture and I said that is how I picture oh say, the forties when color began to come into the world.

Once again, in my opinion this tulip really stands out and all I did was remove the color from the background. My favorite of the flower pictures I did up is my lead out photo, my viburnum. The highlighted pink is so sweet and tender. I might have to print it out and hang it.

Dirt grilling some burgers, talk about flame broiled! In the original picture the flame was there and yes, it was noticeable. But when I removed the color from all but the flame it becomes the focal point, not something the picture take-er hopes you notice as much as those in attendance to the actual bacon grilling part of the event did with mouths a gape.
I always knew my Dirt was hot.
So I resisted the temptation to mess with all my photos in this manner and show you a gazillion more. And in fact I did quite a bit more that I haven't put up here. Can you tell what I did today? But I learned my lesson about not learning my lesson. Do whatever it was that Tia told me while she is still here and then practice the heck out of it right after she leaves.
But all that means that I have a day’s worth of weeds, slugs, seeding and gravel moving to add to the weeding, slug killing, seeding and gravel moving I was already going to have to do tomorrow. In fact I hear some of my primroses knocking on the window right now, begging me to come out and save their lives from the slugs and buddacup (that is mafia talk for buttercup, because, quite frankly, they are a mafia).
Tomorrow I will take some more photos for the whole purpose of messing with color. I promise not to inundate you with all of them but I may have to force a few more on you. Yes, like a kid in a candy store or a guy with a new tool, I can't help myself.
Thank you for your patience Dear Reader, it is much appreciated. I've been workin' like a crazy person. Not to mention the tragedies and near tragedies keep piling up. On a good note though I can't wait to show you all we are doing and tell you about some of the ideas I have. Not to mention I have lots of writy stuff rattling in the ol' noggin that really needs to get out.
But that would mean that I need to spend a large chunk of time in front of the keyboard with something other than pictures. Lots of stuff, lots of stuff about life and the Giver of Life, that is stuck in between where my roses should go and if the replacement peony should go next to them.
I hope you are having a super delicious day, evening, night and that you are walking and talkin' with God right there with you. He is the only thing that will get you through the good times and the not so good times; He is the glue.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hang Out Spots on the Farm

Hey there Dear Reader, glad you stopped in for another chunk of the Farm Tour, you've jumped through that usual portal and dialed back a day so join us for our celebration of moms on The Farm. My world isn't just the place where I live it is the people God has blessed me with to love and cherish. So join us won't you?
We're hanging out below Cherry Tree Hill today.

My baby grandboy, Aksel, with his Aunty Anna, my baby daughter.

Kai came with a homemade card for me, potato stamps on the front and inside I was told he loves me more than bubble gum. Would that be Bazooka Bubble Gum?
Dirt, Eric and Mike, sitting in one of our favorite sitting place around the Farm. Like everywhere else on the Farm down by the old cherry tree has changed over the years. The guys are sitting on the site of an old corrugated fiberglass greenhouse that finally fell apart and the lawn above Eric's head was the area I vegetable gardened when we first lived here.

That would be back when Stephie, my oldest, was younger than her son, Kai, whom she shares a snake with today. Out here by The Pond it is snake heaven.

The Pond is chock full of life and third oldest daughter, Elisabet aka EBet, is going out for a cruise around in the canoe.

And she is taking Kai with her.
She isn't living dangerously by not wearing a life jacket like Kai, but because this used to be a hay field before the beavers moved in in the sixties it isn't a very deep pond and in most places she could easily stand up.

One of the greatest purchases Dirt and I ever made was the canoe, Norrine has one just like it and we often borrow it in the summer for some canoe racing on The Pond.

Bet and Kai aren't being chased by an overgrown beaver, that is Fluffy Joe, he loves to troll along behind the canoe when someone takes it out. It does make it a little harder to sneak up on the wildlife when you are packing a bear behind you, but it seems to keep him in world class shape!

Clearly Aksel wants to stay in shape, he and Anna are entertaining each other on my newly discovered lawn art. Well the exercise ball was more artistic when both of them floated around the backyard before some girls, who were supposed to be working, decided to play soccer with one of them right into a rose bush. My house is too small for exercise equipment, even just big round sittable balls. So I tossed them onto Dirt's lovely mowed lawn. And wah lah, lawn art you can sit on. And the mower just pushes it out of the way.

Aunty Anna can't be tired because Baby Askel isn't, I think he is bargining quite well for some more fun.

It is a little early in the year for hanging out down here under the cherry tree, what looks like a clump of dry grass just behind Mike is actually The Pond fire pit but it is out in the water right now. Michelle, sitting here next to her dad, just said she felt as if her feet were below the level of the pond and actually, because of a ridge this side of the fire pit holding back the extra seasonal water, they are.
But inspite of the excess water and my lack of weeding down here this year (I'm waiting for the fall planted bulbs to die down so I can really do some regrouping and change a few things, imagine that, me changing something I've done!) I like being down here this time of the year for a few of my favorites are planted around the old cherry tree.

Viburnum burkwoodii is named for Albert Burkwood, the co-developer of the hybrid with Geoffrey Skipwith in early 20th century England. It smells super delicious.
Even on this rather threatening cool day I can smell it from five feet away, can you or is your nose still stuffy?
It is semi-evergreen so it looks rather odd with old fall colored leaves still hanging on it while it blooms. I bought it in the fall of o'four and while it was in the pot it had really brilliant fall color, but now that it has been in the ground for about three or four years it is exhibiting its semi-evergreen-ness and its fall color is rather disappointing but I am glad he is in the ground and thriving on Cherry Tree Hill.

Yesterday's talk on tulips was missing a little cutie, Tulipa batalinii 'Apricot Jewel' . She is one of the many fall planted bulbs that I chose to plant under the old cherry tree based on their natralizing habits.
Tulipa batalinii is a species tulip and although not very showy and rather short, six inches, it will be more likely to naturalize. It won't multiply as much as the narcissus or the muscari will but at least it will multiply some and it won't burn itself out. Or at least that is how the theory goes.

Aksel says that the occasional sprinkles have turned into rain drops and he is headed inside where it is warm and dry and the Mario Cart awaits his brother and Aunties. Luckily today's Farm Camp isn't too far from the back door, and we have gotten in with the chairs put away just in the nick of time.

If you can wrestle one of the controls away from those who are genetically predisposed to game addiction, have at it. Check out those dialated eye balls! She is getting the hang of it (Chelle grew up on the Farm during the total ban of all video and computer games).

Owp she is really on to the whole thing now...!!!

And she won! Hurray!
Hope you had a great time on this week tour of Vicktory Farm and Gardens, we didn't get very far that is for sure but it was just one of those days.
Be sure to visit more of God's great world here

Dirt's Tulips

This isn't Today's flower but since I have already done up my post on the Narcissus family I thought I would add the last of that group in that hadn't bloomed until just a week or so ago.

This bed is a mighty wreck and is due for it's complete overhaul this summer after the bulbs' foliage dies back. I planted this the year I really became interested in fall planted spring flowering bulbs which coincided with my 'new' back yard and fence line.
This bed was planted as a river of muscari with outcroppings of 'Dickcissel' but it is too damp for them to really take off like they should and so damp at the beginning of the log bed that they have actually dwindled to just a few really tough and determined buggers.
Dirt and I will be putting in a french drain along this bed that separates our "back" yard into two lawn areas hopefully during his break in June and then in August I will come along and redo the bed and prepare it to retake the bulbs that survived and some more of the same.

The fall of 'o4 when I put the river of muscari in I also planted red tulips along my new fence line, and began planting hyacinths and daffodils in earnest in certain gardens, more than just the few occasional bulbs someone might have gifted me.

At first I wasn't all that sure that I would really appreciate spring bulbs. In case you haven't noticed Dear Reader I get a little busy in the spring.
Maybe busy isn't really the right word, but I begin to feel I have more work than I can ever get done, so the head goes down, the nose hits the grindstone and I rarely come up for air this time of the year.

But I am beginning to depend on the company my spring bulbs give me while I garden. I have always enjoyed the early flowers on more native and or self sufficient plants and shrubs, I had just relegated the fall planted, spring flowering bulbs to that corner of too much trouble for the outcome.

But Dirt has declared tulips to be his next favorite flower right under his first favorite, dahlias. He claims Dahlias are his favorite because they last so long in the garden.
I can't believe that he would be using the same criteria for his tulips as these had just begun to show color on April twenty-second and now today, a mere two and a half weeks later, most of them are nothing but a collection healthy stem and leaf. That would be thanks to our fall-like wind storm were endured a few days ago.

So it is farewell to my beautiful red tulips, Darwin type - 'Red Impression', it was a lovely visit.

I still have my 'Princess Irene' tulips, a single early type, to enjoy for a week or so more as they are a later bloomer and were tight buds during the tulip shredding weather.
I crave her wild color combination, but the fragrance she is touted for emitting smells a lot like squash meat to me. So even though a few years ago I decided to grow her mostly on the basis that she was to be fragrant, I continue to grow her because she is so stunning. Whether you call it persimmon or just plain orange, I am drawn to striking color.
The first year I grew her I paired her with a lovely gentleman tulip of the plummy purple persuasion, 'Purple Prince,' another single early type and they were a striking couple.
The last two years I have planted her with a ring of 'true blue' pansies. A choice based on saving a few bucks because I steal the blue pansies out of her planter pots when she is done being the star of the show.
She and her different mates have graced my walk way area for three years now. And they do so beautifully for about three or four weeks if I am lucky. Hopefully the storm that we received when she was in a tight bud stage will not be repeated now that she is more mature and tender these next few weeks.

Before I made the slightly larger investment for her bulbs, I used Menton in my pots along the entry way. A very nice tulip in it's own right, a much more subdued pastel color in my favorite palette of apricots, peaches, and persimmons.

The return of the earlier purchases of Menton have regained in size and graces the inside edge of the walk or kitchen patio.

Here is my latest installment of trying my hand at being a tulip farmer. I really dislike falling in love with something that is expensive and must be replaced each year. So I figure, if someone out there can supply the world with new, blooming sized, bulbs each year so can I. Especially if some of the growers are in my local microclimate. There shouldn't be any reason I can't provide myself with my own replacements.

I had fairly good luck with bulbs planted in pots, creatures didn't get to them as easily and I could tuck them away and withhold water during their "dormant" season (they really don't go as dormant as a perennial perhaps does).
But they seemed to reproduce little bulbs more often than just gaining size. I believe it has something to do with depth. So I have branched out to using one of my beds. All these are planted at the depth of seven to eight inches and hopefully they will gain in blooming size before they feel the need to reproduce.
So far I have learned:
  • That unless you plant the Darwin type, summer water and normal flower bed treatment is the death of tulips, even the Darwin types eventually peter out, sooner than their expense warrants, in my book anyway.
  • If planted shallowly tulips tend to make new small bulbs and the 'parent' bulb dies.
  • If left in these little groups of new bulbs and not taken up and given room, they soon die out. Unlike their earlier visiting friends the daffs, apparently they do not appreciate being right on top of one another.
  • It takes about three years for a new little bulb to gain a decent bloom size.
  • I am wondering if they would make size faster if I clipped out the bloom right away until they reach the appropriate size.
I am finding it hard to locate tulip reproducing and growing information beyond the "buy it, plant it, buy it again" information. So I am trying to accumulate the information I can find and experiment and try things out for myself.
I don't really want to be a tulip farmer, I just want to be a cheap gardener who likes and has a few tulips growing to make her Dirt happy.
Dear Reader, I hope you are having a delightful day today. If you are a mother, I hope you have had a good celebration of who you have become through God's blessing. If you are some mother's child, I hope you have thanked God for her and told her so today if you can. If you can no longer shower her with love and honor, I hope you tell others, and give thanks to God for what a wonderful blessing it was to have her as a mom and to be born into such a wonderful and enchanting creation such as this by her gift to you.
Today and through out this week go see some more of the beautiful flowers in God's creation at Today's_Flowers!