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Jul 31, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Death Day

So I thought I would finally join the Death Day craze! Below I have a Weeping Redbud Tree...note the crispy leaves at the bottom I just trimmed off. Now I am the one weeping! There is still green wood so I am keeping my fingers crossed, although what tree wants to recover in 95 degree heat & humidity in a container????
This is what it looked like a month ago... :(

Jul 29, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer!

I was trying to organize old photos on the computer this morning, and was inspired to dedicate today's post to my Garden Dogs! If you are the type that can't stand it when others go on and on about their pets or kids, this post isn't for you, lol! If you can take it, read on! I received several comments on how well behaved my dogs looked in my camping trip pictures, and that made me laugh! So here's the real deal...

I followed a water trail through the house last night that led to a bucket filled with sanitizer for my brewing equipment. This is what I found:

The next one is when I arrived home and found Sprocket repotting my plants for me:


Marley - age 7, Australian Shepherd, came to us last summer and she is a joy! Well behaved and obedient off leash unless there is a garden hose spraying, loves H2O, squirrels, herding & her family. She is also becoming quite the disc dog! Dislikes: thunderstorms, Sailor/Husband's sneezes, campfires and fireworks. Fun Facts: Marley was afraid of stairs when we got her, and within a day was climbing to the top of the kids fort, and can fly over a 6 foot fence from a sitting postion! Her name was Charley when we got her, but was changed to Marley since my husband Charlie used it as an excuse to not listen to me, i.e. "Oh, I thought you were talking to the dog".

Sprocket - age 1, came to us at 10 weeks old from Aussie Rescue. She is hell on paws. Likes: eating Legos, Lincoln Logs, remotes, digging in the sandbox, catching vermin, and waiting for ice to come out of refrigerator door dispenser.
Dislikes: I haven't found any yet! Her favorite toys are a wing from a stuffed loon and a stuffed sheep, and loves Marley more than life itself.
Fun Fact: Sprocket can't keep a secret - if she has some kind of contraband in her mouth, she runs around growling so we all know she is being naughty! Neurotic Dogs rock!

The day we brought Sprocket home from the Aussie Rescue. Marley is thinking "What the hell is this??? I said I wanted SHEEP, not this thing!!!"

Marley soon shone in new role as mommy and mentor, the two are inseparable, literally!

Marley taking a break from garden duties to become "canoe dog".

Marley showing Sprocket how to be a proper herding dog!

And speaking of herding dogs...can you think of anything more neurotic than 4 herding dogs over Christmas Break and no sheep????

This video captures Marley's OCD passion for water:

Marley after chewing off another hose nozzle and telling it who's boss.

The following two videos are of Bailey the Cattle Dog and her TV obsession. I pet-sit her and her Aussie "brother". If these 2 ever go missing, it's probably because I kidnapped them - I love them that much, lol! She will "ask" for the TV to be turned on even...funny stuff!

And no proper tribute to pets in this house would be complete without the Incredible Mr. Pickett. Kelly mentioned that one of her dogs set the standard for all her other pets - Pickett is the one who set the bar in this household! He showed up one day in 1999 with a portion of picket fence attached to a heavy chain hanging from his neck. He never left. I heard through the neighborhood grapevine that he lived at a crack house and was chained to a tree every day in all kinds of weather, no dog house, no water, and had been seen dumpster diving for at least 2 weeks. After 3 days of baths and removing over 100 ticks, treating him for heartworm disease, erlichia, and a few other ailments, we had The Pickster! He was a little over a year old, was obviously primarily a Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed who needs and craves human attention the way a fish needs water. We worried when we brought home baby #1 - Pickett was beside himself with joy! Baby #2: thought he had died and gone to heaven! He let the kids climb on him, throw toys at him (but that wasn't encouraged!), and was underfoot so much you always felt like you had legwarmers on. I miss him next to our backyard firepit in the evening (Marley is terrified and won't come near!). Whatever was going on, Pickett was going to be in the middle of it all! He was the type of dog who loved us fiercely and showed his gratitude in his eyes all the time. Berners' life expectancy is short, 6-8 years, but Pickett kept rockin' until he was 9! He died last year and set the bar high indeed for all future pets! I will stop rambling now, you can tell how much we loved him! And here he is!!

Note to Self : Buy more gloves!

I spent the day canning pickled jalapenos. I set out all my stuff and started scorching my pepper skins and realized I only have one glove left! Like a dummy I continued with only one glove for 4 lbs of jalapenos. This is by far the most labor intensive preserving that I do, and it is also the last batch I will do this year! The rest will have to be frozen or flung at passing cars. I can't even feel the keyboard my hands are burning so bad, 4 hours after finishing! Maybe I should have re-read my lessons learned post last month, lol! Oh well, it's done now, and I finally have enough to last for a winter of nachos at night after the kids go to bed. I let about half go to red and half green just for variety:

While watering this morning, I spotted several Black Swallowtail Caterpillars happily munching away on parsley and dill in the garden. No problems here, I plant oodles of these plus fennel and milkweed especially for them!

I had 100 bottles of beer on the wall...literally - last night! The brew wasn't quite ready to be bottled when Sailor/Husband left Sunday, so I had to do this myself. This is definitely a 2-person job, but then again, so is raising kids, lol..."Honey, where aaaarrrreeee yoooouuuuu???" When I was almost finished, I put the kids to work wrapping things up while I enjoyed a Belgian Ale from the last batch. Is this even legal, lol ???

I am hoping to post a little more frequently these days. It seems whenever Charlie's away, I get more done (no offense, dear!)! The kids and I get into a groove and I'm not busy trying to fill our days with plans just because "he's leaving again soon". Yesterday, I even got my desk cleaned up. I am usually meticulous with organization, etc. but lately I have been joking that my desk was "our mudroom"! I have had a piece of paper tacked to my fridge keeping track of my harvest and even finally got around to putting up a "harvest counter" on the blog! I see many of you have them and it seems like a great idea to have a constant reminder of my progress in the sustainability dept. Also on the "to do" list - a homebrew status for Sailor/Husband/Farmer: check! Soon I am hoping to get my slideshows to look a little better on the page. I haven't really had time to mess with that since the day I put them up. Seems I am finding all sorts of ways to avoid going outside in the garden, as this week we are actually having "normal" temps of 90+ and humidity.

I'll take the MN summer we have been having any day, I just want to know ahead of time so I can more appropriately select & date my plantings!

Jul 28, 2009

and the winner is....

The honors for the first edible heirloom tomato out of my garden goes to:

The Black Krim!

It was small...but tasty! I have a Brandywine picked also that I will try this evening. Hopefully this weeks rains won't crack all the rest out there ripening!

Leaf Footed Bug

The leaf footed bugs have set up housekeeping in my jalapenos! They love tomatoes, peppers and some fruits. They were the only pest I had last year, but didn't show up until September. Is this a sign of a strange fall/winter to come? My jalapenos are covered with the larve & adults, busily sucking at the plants.
Adult Leaf - Footed Bug
Larvae - look like red ants but huge and bright

This won't work for me this year since my sunflowers are all done, but here's a tip that worked like a charm last year, lol!
Plant a stand of Mammoth Sunflowers (need to be huge and visible!) across the yard from your tomatoes & peppers. When leaf-footed bugs show up, hit them with a spray of H20 from hose and they will all fly up and seek the sunflowers for refuge (they like those, too!). Then, when sunflower faces are covered with Leaf Bugs, hit them with Sevin or something like that. Yes, it's strong stuff, but it works and at least you aren't spraying the tomatoes or other veggies with it! Hmmm, wish I would have planted those sunflowers again this year...

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

I just found this neat aerial picture of the place we go camping, Cape Hatteras. Unknown photographer, but it's a great photo showing how undeveloped and exposed to the weather the island is! The village area is Buxton, NC. The Pamlico Sound is the body of water on the left of the island, Atlantic Ocean on the right. The long spit of sandbar visible is Cape Point, world renown fishing as this is the point where the Labrador current from the north runs headlong into the Gulf Stream from the south, creating unique conditions big species love.

Jul 27, 2009

And he's gone again...

The past weekend involved more running away from my garden! Sailor/Farmer/Husband had to leave yesterday for another month of training in preparation for the big deployment this fall, so we decided to go camping prior to his leaving. This is the first time I have attempted a no-plan trip with kids in tow, so it was challenging, but the kids were that much more excited. I decided Thursday morning we would go to Cape Hatteras, NC which is about a 3 hour drive from us. By noon I had the grocery shopping done and was packing the car. When Charlie woke up that afternoon (he works night shift at the squadron) I told him "just get in the car", we're leaving! It was fun, but much different than our trips before kids! I know eventually they will become more self-sufficient and I won't have to micro manage them around the water, etc and will be able to actually relax! Here are some pics of the weekend:

A rare photo of the two of us! I gave my 6 year old the camera and he actually did it! No pictures of a foot, the ground, etc :)

Charlie fishing the Pamlico Sound at sunset
Clouds rolling in...we got 70 mph winds and sideways rain, no pics of the rain since we were in the tent busy bracing the poles! Some people who were absent actually returned to find their tents were completely gone!
Gotta love our Subarus! Gets us out onto the 4-wheel drive beach.
Kids fishing
Finn preparing a mess o'shrimp
Yum, fresh local shrimp!
Cape Hatteras Light
Lunch on Ocracoke Island
Marley & Sprocket love the dog-friendly Jolly Roger Pub in Ocracoke
Finnegan & Daddy

Of course when we returned, there was a harvest. We actually had a few heirlooms ready, although they look terrible! (You should see the ones that didn't make it into the picture, lol!) Finally a few french beans, and ugh...another 100 jalapenos. I really need to find a happy medium between not growing enough of something and holy crap, why do I need 1000 jalapenos?!!! Actually, I knew better when I planted them, but since I started them from seed and wasn't able to give all of them away, I planted them like a moron...it seems like I look at the seedlings as if they were pets...why couldn't I have just thrown a few seedlings into the compost pile? Anyone else have this problem? I didn't have a problem throwing the tobacco hornworms in the trash, that's for sure!