Tag Archives: compost

Plan at work

With daughter’s family away this week to let grandson be with his father’s family for a few days before his service tomorrow, there have been no morning duties other than to the animals.  The morning person, me, usually awakes as the sky is dawning, but there have been several nights this week where sleep came quickly for about an hour, then wide awake for 3 or 4, then sleep again for a couple.  The pups haven’t been too demanding, and napping or just lying about until near 8 a.m. has been the norm this week.  This morning, when the dogs were let out and the outdoor kitty fed, it was already warm enough for just a t shirt.  As soon as all the critters had been fed and given outdoor time, the garden called.  The boxes we bought two days ago needed to be assembled and put in place.  The first one required undoing one end of an existing box to make it a double.  The raspberries were thinned and heavily mulched with spoiled hay to try to reduce the weed load.  They may be dug up and planted in half sunk pots to contain them, but the rest of the work needs to be done first.


The description of the plan seemed confusing, so last night the online garden planner was pulled back up, the plan deleted and a new one begun.  As this is oriented, the chicken coop is just off the upper left corner.

plan at work

This was taken just about where the garden gate is, off the row of 4 boxes in the diagram.

The top edge was done and one more box assembled, hay moved around, raspberries mulched and a break taken to go to town.  Groceries needed to be purchased, a new garden fork was also in order.  Mine had a fiberglass handle that split lengthwise two summers ago.  It still works okay for cleaning out the coop, but lacks the strength to do garden work.  It was taken in last year to see if the Feed and Seed guys could put a new handle on it, but sadly not.  Wrapping it with fiberglass tape might give it some more life, but probably still not garden worthy.  Last year, eldest son’s was used, but now that they are in a house, not an apartment, it moved to his house.  At the Feed and Seed store, they had a garden cart too.  Plans had been in the works for one of those.  We have two over-sized single wheel wheelbarrows, but they always tip over when I use them, plus they are very heavy.  Both of them are stored now in the barn until one can be taken to eldest son.  We came home with a cart and a fork.

cart  Fork


Each time a gardening session is in order, many trips must be made back and forth to the garage to get all the tools needed for the day’s jobs.  Then many trips to return it all.  This little two wheeled cart is light enough for me to easily use, big enough to load everything into in one trip each way, and will come in handy for hauling bales of straw or bags of mulch.  To make room for it in the garage, first a major cleanup was done in there.  Jim had gone off to enjoy the springlike day on the BBH (his motorcycle).  Once the garage was done, the tractor was brought down to the garden.  Nothing on this farm is flat so the tractor bucket was used to terrace for the new boxes.  That part of the garden is deep in rich compost and pushing it off to flatten areas will give me great soil to fill the boxes.  The remaining boxes we recently purchased were assembled in place, unprinted cardboard laid down between the boxes and covered with spoiled hay to make good aisles and two of the new boxes were filled.

That was all this body could handle in one day.  There is rain expected tomorrow morning, then clearing off, but cooler, perhaps the other two boxes can be filled and more aisles laid and mulched.  The plan still needs 4 more of the boxes, but they are for tomatoes and sweet potatoes, so I have at least 2 months before safe planting time for them.  In the meantime, the newly acquired essential tool will be used to continue to remove weeds from below where the tractor moved the soil and the onion sets will be planted, seeds will be sown indoors in about 3 weeks for the tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos.  The plan is in progress.

Olio – September 10, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

At times I consider whether I should just rename my blog Olio as most posts fly all over the place.  It is only mid morning on a day that the weather prognosticators said would be mostly sunny and dry, but instead it is thickly overcast and too humid again to paint or stain.  The grass too wet with dew to mow.  This isn’t to say that the morning has been idle, no instead a load of laundry has been folded, Grand #1’s bed remade from his weekend visit; another load of laundry washed and currently drying; the chicken coop refreshed with a turn of the old hay and an addition of new hay; the meaties chicken tractor given a good layer of hay in the bottom as it is currently more or less permanently set at the end of the 6 foot wide run to contain the 5 week old chickies and it was beginning to not smell so pleasant.  Another huge bucket of tomatoes have been harvested, though I haven’t begun to process them yet, as I can’t decide what this batch will become, probably just plain diced tomatoes.  Just in the last couple of days, the tomato vines have begun to fade.


There are still plenty of tomatoes to harvest, but this is a signal of the end of the summer growing season.  This morning, the spent cucumber vines were pulled and tossed to the chickens to peck at the last few cukes and the bugs on the vines.  Each year I begin the season faithfully pinching suckers from the tomato plants and trying to contain the branches within the cages and by this time each year, the branches have fallen over and through the cages and the plants look pitiful.  Perhaps next year I will use strong stakes instead of cages and tie the plants up as they grow taller, being more faithful about leaving only one main stem.  Next year, they will have the rich soil of the compost bins as we remove the wood from them this winter to expand the garden and create a more reasonably sized compost bin in a new location.  So much of the stuff that used to go into the compost, now goes to the chickens and their bedding becomes the compost, so having the bin near the coop door on the edge of the garden would make more sense.  That area is where I planted the Buttercup squash, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes this year and between them and my weeding efforts, the bin have remained fairly weed free this summer.


The squash have spread over the woodpile, over to the vegetable garden, into the chicken run and up the hill past the hay bales and out of the electric fence.  Many of the huge leaves have burn marks across them and cause the electric fence to pop as they touch it.  Yesterday as I mowed, with the fence off, I snapped off the leaves touching the fence.  I know that one day soon, I will begin to see those vines fading like the tomato vines.  The peppers are loving the cooler weather and are blooming and producing new peppers daily.  The summer squash are mostly done.  It is now a time for greens and a few radishes and turnips.

As I sit here waiting for the inspiration to can or the grass to dry for mowing, I am enjoying one of the only two magazines to which I subscribe.  The magazine is Taproot, no advertising, full of wonderful art, recipes, articles about back to a simpler time of producing your own food, making your own clothes, growing your own animals and knowing from where your goods come.  If you haven’t ever seen an issue, you should seek one out.


Each issue has a theme and each is wonderful to savor each word and save for future reference.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.


Olio – July 25, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Phone saga continued. . . after numerous visits to the cell phone store, learning that they are retail outlets with zero authority to do anything but make a phone call; agreeing to accept a “Network Extender” refurbished with a monthly discount to help pay for the thing, knowing that it probably wouldn’t work since we don’t have high speed internet with our phone co-op, just DSL; receiving the extender (a new one 3X cost, not a refurbished one) 10 days ago; hooking it up to have service, maybe, if you were sitting right in front of it; receiving our bill (still no reliable service) and there being a charge for a new extender, no reduction of cost; we took both phones, the extender, and a major case of attitude back to the store yet again.  This time, the poor young man on whom we unloaded, was very sympathetic, knew what to say to customer service and finally got our contract cancelled without penalty.  Another couple of hours in the old provider’s store that we knew had service on our mountain and we have new phones, and amazingly, service.

Now reality, this was probably all my fault in the first place.  I wanted an Iphone, the provider we had didn’t have them;  my service with this provider was good here in the mountains, but spotty when I went to babysit in Northern Virginia a few times a year.  I didn’t get an Iphone when we switched, the service was better in Northern Virginia, but the two times we had a crisis here, we couldn’t even call each other within shouting distance if we had both been outdoors.  Back with the original provider, they do now have Iphones and I got one.  Hubby got the next generation of the phone he had and liked and we can make and receive calls on our property, up our road, and in our house.  I will suffer spotty service when I travel to have a phone at home.

Broody hen is still being difficult.  I put plastic buckets in her two preferred nesting boxes, there are still 4 others, so she is hunkered down just outside of the boxes.  She tried to peck me when I shooed her out the pop door and got a swat for doing so.  Our egg production is less than one a day right now.  I know that in a few weeks, we will be overrun with eggs once all 13 girls are laying.

On Tuesday, both pups had a new vet visit.  When we first got them, we took them to a vet in our county, but it was 18 miles in a direction we rarely go.  We tried to switch to a vet that was much nearer us, but they didn’t carry the Trifexis that we had the dogs on for heartworms and fleas, so we switched to one about 18 miles away in a direction we do travel, but he is nearing retirement and has a new younger vet part time in the office that we did not care for.  During the time we were using him, our pups decided that they wouldn’t willingly take Trifexis.  Surprisingly, the big guy, the English Mastiff would let me force feed his, the much smaller German Shepherd would have no part of it and nothing I did would trick her into taking it.  During this 14 months or so, the vet nearest us retired and the two vets that took over his practice, are great as well as doing house calls if necessary.  They switched the pups to Sentinel and Nextgard and both dogs will take them willingly.  Win/win!

The garden is more or less stalled due to the hot weather.  There are lots of tomatoes, but none of them are turning red yet.  There are some peppers and I will likely have to pickle another jar or two soon.  Chard is thriving, but grandson doesn’t like it.  Berries are done.  We don’t like the yellow wax beans and the green beans are just sprouting.  There are a few white scallop squash and an occasional lemon cucumber.  There will be dozens of small Seminole pumpkins come fall and it looks like a stellar crop of yellow and white sweet potatoes.  Two beds are awaiting some fall greens in another couple of weeks.  This fall, the raspberry bed is going to be dug out, a reasonable number of shoots moved to the orchard and that bed prepped to return to part of the vegetable garden, there just wasn’t quite enough space this year with blueberries, raspberries, and grapes occupying about half of the garden beds.  The huge multibin compost structure is coming down, it is actually falling down, so it will be pulled down, the compost spread and a compost pile initiated.  That area will continue to be utilized for the vegetables that spread so viciously throughout the garden.

Any photos that I had taken are on the SD card of the old phone and haven’t been transferred to the computer or the cloud to add to the new phone and blog, so just words today.