Visiting young friends (and donkeys) enjoying treat time in Donkeyland. (Love longears? Lots more donkey pics here.)
Any plans this weekend? We're staying around the farm as usual (by choice). Joe will be busy with lawn care and yet more vehicle maintenance (not by choice). Last week we had to sneak along the gravel back roads into town in our back up back up vehicle so we could go vote. Sometimes I wish the guys at the auto parts store didn't know us quite so well.
On the other hand, lawn care means the grazing fields are also growing up, and that's just what we want this time of year. The sheep and donkeys are very tired of eating hay, especially when they can smell all that fresh green grass.
It looks like my mantra this weekend is going to be Garden, garden, garden, with hopefully lots of nice clean laundry blowing on the sunny line, or if it starts to cloud up, I'll hang it out as rain bait. We need as much moisture right now as we can get.
Between the warm weather and a few little thunderstorms over the past week, everything is growing so fast you can practically see it. In no time the woods are going to be completely filled in and leafed out, which even after all these years always kind of blows my mind.
Lots more farm and garden news below. . .
There's a lot more spring cleaning on the agenda, too, and although I've been trying to declutter and move stuff out, I couldn't resist bringing home a couple of useful small treasures from an antiques store we popped into yesterday while out running errands, including an adorable little vintage 1-quart Le Creuset wood-handled sauce pot (with lid!) I scored for $7.00. It has a hairline crack on the side and needs some cleaning up, but I think it's going to work just fine. I'm thrilled.
I almost feel like I'm doing some things on time in the kitchen garden this year (miracle of miracles!) but there's still so much to do before it really starts to heat up. I just moved my last three flats of seedlings out from under the fluorescent lights in the house and into the homemade greenhouse, so we've definitely turned a corner—which means now the clock is really ticking.
And while our official last frost date was Wednesday, it's still supposed to dip down into the 40's at night for at least the next 10 days, which makes me feel a little better about the very tiny state of my cold intolerant tomato, pepper, and basil plants. Starting those seeds would be one of the things I didn't get to on time. What all the seedlings can use right now is a nice dose of organic sheep manure tea, and making up the first batch in ages is near the top of my garden to do list.
I'm trying to get back into growing more flowers from seed and have made some decent progress (poppies! cosmos! zinnias! calendulas!), so now I just need to figure out where I'm going to put them all. Next year's goal (one of many already) is a designated flower cutting garden (cutting flower garden?). Maybe I'll put it next to the new herb bed that also has yet to be established.
I'm excited about the little peppermint and apple mint plants I bought from our friends' new greenhouse business (along with, ahem, a few other things) but like the spearmint that now covers about 80 square feet next to The Shack, they're going to have to go in an out of the way spot they can overrun if they want to. There's nothing more refreshing than a glass of ice cold, fresh mint sun tea on a blazing summer day. I like to make it in half-gallon glass canning jars.
As for stuff that's actually already in the ground, I'm mulching everything I can with those wonderful, nutrient-rich grass clippings, which makes all that lawn care maintenance slightly less tedious—and saves me from the even more tedious job of pulling zillions of itty bitty weeds. We don't tend any formal lawns here on the farm; we just have a lot of grassy areas in the farmyard—between the garden beds, around the hay barn and chicken coops, under the laundry line, next to the house—that need to be mowed on a regular basis and are too full of edible/breakable/destroyable stuff to let anybody come in and graze it. It's also good to have a wide mown area around all the buildings as a fire break.
In the kitchen, we've been enjoying huge salads of freshly picked spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and chives every night while waiting for the four dozen heads of Tom Thumb buttercrunch to get a little bigger. I love all kinds of butterhead lettuce, but I think Tom Thumb must be the cutest variety of lettuce ever. It matures quickly and is perfect for growing in small spaces or tucking around other plants. I just realized that this photo was taken when I transplanted it on March 25th, so you can see how much it's grown in three weeks, and that included weathering a snow storm.
I haven't been baking many sweets lately, but I'm hoping to finally get around to making Joe that apple pie I promised him last month for his birthday. Seriously, what happened to last four weeks? I also need to get back into making our morning smoothies, since there are still quite a few of the 30 quarts of organic strawberries I bought from our Amish neighbors last summer tucked away in one of the chest freezers. It's amazing what can get forgotten/lost in there.
Speaking of time lapse, it's been a year (!) since my fancy camera died, and last week I finally broke down and bought a less fancy replacement, but with a much bigger zoom. It's a "bridge super zoom," a category of cameras I'd never actually heard of, and it's bigger than I was expecting it to be but feels good in my hands. The camera case I ordered is supposed to arrive today, so I'll be playing around with it some more this weekend, but I think I really like it. What I do know for sure is that after taking tens of thousands of photos during nearly 10 years of blogging (again, where does the time go?), I'm still an auto focus, point-and-shoot kind of girl.
I'm finally (almost) not totally embarrassed to admit that the technical side of taking pictures sends me into a tailspin of brain melt and creative fizzle. Mastering—or even attempting—Photoshop? Never going to happen. My very basic photo editing software has "2006" in the title, and I still barely know how to use it.
Figuring out how to set up the new "easy to install" wireless router we just bought for our computers is going to give me enough of a headache I'm sure—once I actually get up the nerve to take it out of the box. Last week I unhooked the old router to see if it was in fact the reason our satellite internet connection keeps constantly cutting out, and a half hour on the phone with technical support later, I was told that our satellite modem was not working (even though it had worked just fine with the router hooked up) and we required a $95 service call. Oh, and it would be five days before somebody would even contact us about scheduling an appointment. I said okay, hung up, put everything back how it was, sighed in relief that the modem started working again, and have been afraid to touch it since.
It's actually a miracle I ever figured out how to start blogging.
Yep, I'd much rather be out digging in the dirt—or snuggling sheep or scratching big dogs' bellies or feeding poor starving donkeys—than staring at a screen or slogging through incomprehensible technical manuals. Everybody wants to be outdoors in early spring, but no matter what the season, I'm sure I'm not alone.
© FarmgirlFare.com, the mostly focused foodie farm blog where we're seriously behind the times in many ways—and so very glad to be there.