Gardens and Patience

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It seems like the last few weeks have been a time of playing catch-up. The fields are growing and green and the lawn and weeds have also been growing profusely.

We use a push mower; so mowing our farm yard takes pretty much an entire day with my husband and I kind of tag teaming the job. For some reason we kind of have our own “zones” that we seem to be in charge of mowing.

The areas I mow….I tend to bag, so I can use the grass on my garden. I have also been spending time weeding and hoeing and trying to stay ahead of those same weeds  so those weeds don’t take over my garden.

In my last post I mentioned we had a nest of baby bunnies in our back yard…not really too far from our garden! As anyone, who gardens, knows….bunnies and gardens don’t mix at all!

My husband has come up with a wonderful solution and has been making garden panels from 10 foot pieces of lumber and chicken wire. I absolutely love those panels as they are easy to handle and work great for keeping the rabbits from eating the produce.

This has been a strange year for gardening. The winter seemed to last forever so most of my seeds and plants got in very late. We usually get our potatoes in Easter weekend…this year we were an entire month later!

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My potatoes look pretty dismal. They came up so spotty and I finally became impatient and took a spade to dig where a potato should be. I discovered that the seed potatoes were rotting in the soil!

I ended up replanting in all those spaces because having potatoes come up late is preferable to weeds taking over that space. Now it looks like I am growing orange flags…..at least this way I will know where to look for those tiny shoots once they decide to come up.

I found it hard to understand why some of those plants were doing so well and a little ways away the other ones were rotting. There is probably a life lesson there somewhere. Why do some people do wonderful in a situation and the next person does not? Sometimes the answer to those questions…garden and otherwise are not so easy to find.

I have also found that a garden is a great place to talk over life with yourself and with God. For some reason it seems like the perfect place to hold those conversations. I always kind of wonder if it is because it is quiet out in my back yard. The sounds I hear are the little wren irately scolding me, the wind in the evergreen trees and the distant sounds of tractors and equipment in the fields.

There is a slower pace in a garden. Spending time hand picking weeds from around tiny pea and bean plants forces me to slow down and persevere. Time spent in a garden gives me lots of time to ponder things.

I love the end product of my garden…but truth be told…I also love the process of getting to those canned goods. It is time well spent…it is time that is good for my soul.

May your week be filled with things that require patience and may that patience give you time to ponder. May your life also be filled with growth…lush and green…even with a few weeds tossed in!

 

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
— May Sarton

 

The best place to find God is in a garden.
You can dig for him there.
George Bernard Shaw

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Surviving the Heat and Humidity

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My Favorite Corner

We are now officially in the weather pattern in Iowa that has two temperature settings…..hot and muggy or hotter and muggier. When we walked out our door this morning it didn’t feel too bad as it had cooled off slightly during the night.

We decided we had better walk some beans (also known as swinging a hoe in the soybean field and whacking weeds) before it became too hot and unbearable. We were fortunate in the fact that until 10:30 it was overcast and we had a breeze. You learn very quickly to ignore the heat, humidity and grit that sifts into your shoes.

By afternoon, that overcast sky had left and the sun beamed bright and hot in it’s place. I found this out when I ventured out again to weed in the vegetable garden. This has been a prolific season for weeds around here! As I was plucking out weeds and finding the carrots back; it quickly felt like I was cooking in the sun.

By evening, my husband even had to admit that it was indeed humid. He usually seems to be immune to the mugginess. When he mentioned how bad it was…..I knew it was indeed like swimming through the air when we walked outside.

I will have to admit that this weather is excellent for growing things.  The melons in the garden are vining out and I noticed some of the watermelons had marble sized melons on them. I have lettuce, that for some reason, seems to want to hang out in the carrots….and I am good with that as long as they all keep growing and get along!

My peas are spotty, but the ones that are there, are blooming. They had to be planted twice due to rabbits eating them the first time. I think they munched them to the ground as fast as they came up.

I have a feeling that is why the second group I planted came up pretty thin also. I did have one plant with a few pods on it and those pods were an excellent snack while working in the garden.

Once I had done enough weeding, I wandered around to see how the flowers were faring in this heat. It turns out they are doing wonderfully!

The elecampane is hugely tall and I think I will have to move it this fall as it is really too large for the space where it is now growing. I was given the seeds from my friend Sara; and had no idea what this plant would look like….now I know and it needs a little more room than I have given it.

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Elecampane

I had to stand on our porch to get a picture of the flower of the elecampane…..it was that tall!  If I remember right Sara told me they are of some medicinal value but, for the life of me I cannot remember for what….I may have to turn to my other buddy – Google.

My lilies are also doing wonderfully this year and have lots of buds, promising lots of blooms.

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Lilies

The phlox are also in full bloom at this time. Every time I see those beautiful blooms I think of my friend, Darlene, who sent them along with my daughter-in-law (her daughter) for me to add to my shady area. It just makes me smile.

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Phlox

The flowers and growing vegetables make all the heat and humidity worthwhile. I know they would not flourish like they do without the sticky weather. It is kind of a trade off but a lot of things in life are like that……two sides of the same coin.

It is good to remind myself that, if not for the sticky weather, our crops wouldn’t grow like they do…….nor would my flowers be as beautiful and scent the air with that wonderful sweetness that I get to enjoy.

It makes the heat of the day more bearable when there is beauty to be found. It helps through the uncomfortable seasons when you get to enjoy something as simple as flowers in bloom.

We all have obstacles.
The feeling of satisfaction comes by overcoming something.
Marta

Gardening, Weeds, and Sugar Scrub

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Healthy Tomatoes & Healthy Weeds

It is definitely the gardening season in our part of the country….or should I say it is definitely the weed-growing season? In the heat of our late spring, the weeds have become overly prolific. The sheer volume of those growing, generally worthless things can be a little overwhelming.

I thought I would share the picture of my tomatoes……before weeding. The weeds are still there due to having gotten 1.2 inches of rain in a couple days ago. The rain was great even though it did put a halt to my weeding for a bit. I cannot honestly say I really felt to bad about having to wait to do more weeding!

I knew that those weeds would not disappear if I waited an extra day to get rid of them. It would be nice if there were a weed fairy who just waltzed in overnight and took off with them! Alas she did not, and I spent time hoeing and pulling said weeds this afternoon.

I do have some milkweed plants that I leave grow behind my summer kitchen/garden shed. I figure the monarch butterflies need all the help they can get so I leave a small patch just for them.

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“Everything has it beauty, but not everyone sees it.”~Unknown

 

I hope to be rewarded with beautiful monarchs floating by on the summer breezes. I remember as a kid there was nothing quite as exciting as a watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly.

We used to take the branches they hung on and put them in an old aquarium so we could watch them when they emerged. Once they started the process, we carefully put the stick with the chrysalis outside so the butterfly could unfold and dry it’s new wings in the sun. It was one of the best hands on science lessons I have ever witnessed.

I also remember getting the liquidy stuff of the milkweed on our hands as kids. I have no idea what that stuff was but it stained our hands just as much as dandelions did. I have also found that weeding in the garden can be hard on hands and fingernails and leave some serious stains on skin and under fingernails.

This week I made some sugar scrub that should help with getting those stains off my hands and help get the dirt from under my fingernails. I am going to share the recipe with you so you can make some yourself!

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Lemon Sugar Scrub
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
20 drops Lemon Essential Oil
8 ounce glass jar
In a glass or stainless steel bowl, mix all ingredients.
Spoon into glass jar
Top off with more grapeseed oil so mix is not dry.
Use whenever you need for greasy hands, paint-spattered hands and anytime you need
to really scrub them.
This smells wonderful and is a great all natural alternative to other cleansers.
NOTE: you can also use sweet almond oil in place of grapeseed oil.

If all else fails with stained fingernails, you can always go ahead and use some dark fingernail polish to mask those stains. I am not sure how this would go over if you are a guy…but as a female gardener….I find that dark purple works wonderfully!

May you have a wonderful weekend. If you are a dad or grandpa may you have a blessed Father’s Day and enjoy your family. And may all your vegetable gardens and flower beds be weed free….. or at least have weeds that are pretty when they bloom.

 

A good garden may have some weeds.
~Thomas Fuller

 

 

 

Busyness and Bonfires

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I have to confess.  I started today’s post at least three different times. Each time I ran stuck and my brain headed down a different track. I started out with the fact I was privileged to go to an amazing concert the other night, detoured into weeding my garden, headed down the path of the hot muggy weather and ended up at the end of the day by the firepit.  Okay….maybe I had four topics!

For some reason, focusing was not my strong suit today when it came to writing and I still feel a bit scattered.  I think I will stick with the fire pit topic and work my way backwards on those other topics over the next couple posts.

This week started out in a busy fashion that is typical of the late spring season that is Iowa and farming.  We started out the week with grass hay down in the ditches and in the waterway. Once we heard the forecast for possible rain we decided we needed to give out attention to getting it baled up before it got rained on. By Tuesday night we were so glad we had baled as we actually had 1.2 inches of rain.

For us, lately that is a pretty good amount as rain has been kind of hard to come by around here.  It is amazing what a nice rain can do to refresh the earth and your spirits!  The rain also gave me a break from weeding in the garden and let me catch up on other jobs I had been putting off.

When I look back at today I have to really think to figure out what I spent my day doing. There were so many little odd things like cleaning out a couple drawers and getting ruthless with the stuff that was in the back of those drawers. It was a day spent doing things that no one else will notice…..but I will!

By the time it was evening the wind had died down and I talked my husband into building a fire in the fire pit. I have had a stash of tree branches mounded up in the back yard since last fall. They have been waiting a long time to be burned…and tonite was the night.

I love that the bonfire served a two-fold purpose – time to sit and relax and also a great way to finally get rid of those branches.

There is something so very relaxing about just sitting in the darkening evening and watching the flames dance skyward. It was especially sweet after the busy start to the week. It was a good way to taper off the busyness of the day.

Sitting there, listening to the frogs singing and watching the fireflies dance through the night was one of those Aaaahhhhhh moments. We watched the chickens head in for the nights. We listened to the snort of a deer as it bedded down in the grass behind the grove. We got to enjoy the first stars as they came out for the night.

Life is indeed good when you take the time to slow down and enjoy the small things.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had
are sitting around a camp fire.
Robyn Davidson

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It’s a Blogiversary

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I cannot really believe it!  I have been blogging for a whole year. My kids had been after me for a long time to try this thing called blogging. Last year when my daughter-in-law, Becca, set this up for me I would have found it hard to imagine that one year later I would have written 163 posts. It has been so much fun.

My husband still shakes his head about this whole blogging endeavor. He’ll ask, “Making any money blogging?” (accompanied by a smirk and a laugh.) I tell him “Nope.”  Then he asks, “So is it kind of like having  pen pals?”  Then I smirk and laugh and tell him “Yep!” I also never dreamed I would meet so many absolutely wonderful people.

Tonight I just reread that first post from January 31, 2016.  I still have some of those same question that I asked back then…..Will anyone really want to read what I have written?  Will people really care what I think?  And the amazing answer is Yes!!!! That fact still boggles my mind.

People will ask me what the main focus of my blog is. I am still not sure how to answer that one and typically grin and tell them it is very random. I tell them it is just a blog of life in general; that covers topics from farming, chickens, gardening, crafting, faith, family and pretty much anything else life throws my way.  Hopefully it is a blog filled with love, humor, hope and encouragement and a few life lessons tossed in.

Back to the people I have met along the way on this blogging journey.  There are so many of you that I would love to meet in person. You are beautiful, honest, down-to-earth, funny, joy filled and life loving, gracious people. You share your lives honestly….the joys and the struggles.  You share the things that make you laugh and cry. You use your life experiences to make others laugh, lift them up and find hope. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking time to like, comment and offer friendship and encouragement to this Chicken Grandma.

I am so looking forward to this coming year of blogging.  I am looking forward to meeting more of you and getting to know what makes up your life. I am hoping to love more, encourage more and bring hope.

Let me know what you want to see over at the Chicken Grandma and I will see what I can do! Like I said it is pretty random over here. Life over here is rather like that box of chocolates that Forrest Gump talked about. You never quite know what you are going to get on any given day.

May your day be filled with hope. May you feel grace from those around you and may you be a blessing in return.

      This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-hope-20-uplifting-scripture-quotes/#ixzz4XUvN5XL0

 

 

Tomatoes…..One of the Best Things About Summer

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I journeyed out to my garden today in search of the perfect tomato for a slice of toast. I did find one hanging, beautiful and rose colored, on the vines of one of the Brandywine plants.

There is really nothing better than a tomato, fresh off the vine, still warm from the sun, sliced, salted and put on a piece of hot buttered toast.  Unless it is a slice put on a burger hot off the grill. Or chunks of them in a wonderful lettuce salad…….

As you can tell I really, really like tomatoes. My husband does not share this passion. I cannot believe how misguided he is on this topic. If he does eat them he puts sugar on them! I keep telling him that sugar is for baking and putting on cereal. He is not convinced of that fact or the wonder of tomatoes.

After I had found my perfect tomato I could tell I needed to come back to get the weeds under control……again.  I also noted that everything in the garden looked like it needed a thorough watering. We have not been getting those timely rains the last while.

My tomato plants looked pretty droopy and sad. There are some days I know exactly how those plants felt…..wilted, dry and needing a little TLC.

I picked, weeded and watered those amazing plants today. It was hot, humid work and by the time I was done my husband told me I smelled like a tomato plant. I did not think that was such a bad thing but I am not totally sure that it was a compliment coming from him.

I have a five-gallon bucket half filled with these beautiful red and rose colored beauties. I usually plant Brandywine, Romas, and try one other variety each gardening year. This year my third variety was called Independence Day. It sounds amazingly patriotic but they are kind of a disappointment. They are not small enough to be a cherry tomato but not big enough to slice for sandwiches. On the upside……they are prolific.

I am debating if I have enough for a batch of pizza sauce, salsa or if I should just turn these into tomato juice. There are so many small ones that I am leaning towards the juice just to save my sanity. I like to use the Romas for the pizza sauce and salsa.  Fortunately I have till tomorrow to decide.

When I get down to making pizza sauce and salsa I will be sharing those recipes with you.  They are both family favorites and I usually can enough for us and the kids.

My girls also enjoy this season as they get all the cut off pieces of tomato.

The Girls Enjoying the Tomato Scraps

I still am not sure if I should be spelling the word tomato with or without an “e”.   The word looks fine to me either way. My sister, who as a child was dubbed “spell-check”, would probably not agree with me on that line of thought. I am quite sure the chickens would agree with me on this point.

So…..how do you prefer to eat your tomatoes?  Do you love them?  hate them? or just not really care?

 

It’s difficult to think
anything but pleasant thoughts
while eating a homegrown tomato.
Lewis Grizzard

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