Monthly Archives: April 2016

Annnnnd we have electricity!

When we arrived at the farm last Wednesday, guess what beautiful sight we saw?

That’s right: it’s power hookup day!

The ground was too soft to get the lift truck over to the pole, but that didn’t stop these guys; they just climbed up instead. And they were done super fast; within a couple hours the wire from the transformer was installed, the meter was hooked up, and we had power!

Andrew finished the wiring in one of the containers, and we were able to get the lights on for lunch.

We are so close to being able to move the RV out! Just need a septic system and to extend the driveway up to the container building.

We thought at first that we could get away with driving on the grass between the container building and the gate, but the more we drive on the grass, the more it dies, and the more slick and muddy the two-track driveway becomes. If we are out there and it rains, the only way we can get out is to use the four-wheel-drive truck, and even then there’s the possibility of getting it stuck. So we need to make sure we can get in and out without a lot of trouble.

Speaking of mud…the girls and I went on a wildflower hunt and also came across soooo much mud. So they promptly sat down and made mud pies. Emily announced “I LOVE dis mud!” Yep. Country life. I love it.

These primroses grow on all over the sides of the road here, and I was really excited to find some on our property. They smell amazing, and are so delicately gorgeous.

Oh these kids are so cute.

The girls and I and my mother-in-law also went on a hike to look at all the flowering things.

The wild plums were one of the first things to flower and are setting fruit already. I’m so excited to harvest these!

The wild grapes are doing this. I don’t know much about grapes, so I can’t tell if those are going to flower or if they’re baby fruits. I am guessing that they’ll flower, but┬áI’ll have to keep an eye on them to be sure.

And also there’s this massive, overgrown, beautiful patch of brambles that are either dewberries or blackberries. Can’t wait to get on my study boots and gloves and go picking in there! Maybe I’ll even see a snake or two.

Garden update and a surprise

For Easter, my parents bought the girls a live caterpillar kit. We got to see the tiny caterpillars grow, morph into butterflies, and last week we let them go at the farm. It was a great experience.

This was Ellie’s face when the last butterfly flew away!

We love the Indian Paintbrush that is covering one of our fields. The girls pick armfuls of it every time we’re out there.

This garden is my happy place!

I wanted to get a tomato that was known to be heat-resistant; most varieties of tomatoes stop setting fruit when the nighttime temperatures stay above about 75F. And since that happens for two months straight here in north Texas, finding plants that are bred to set fruit in higher temperatures helps the harvest continue through the summer. I wanted the variety Arkansas Traveler but the nursery I went to was sold out of those. So I was directed to this one, the Super Sioux, instead.

When transplanting a tomato into its new bed, many gardeners do this trick; we pinch off all but the top sets of leaves and bury the naked stem in the dirt. A tomato plant will grow new roots along its stem. This sets the plant back a couple weeks in terms of growth, but it will catch up and surpass its previous growth quickly and have a terrific root system for the rest of its life.

Instead of digging a 12″ deep hole, you can dig a trench and lay the tomato in sideways.

Ready to grow!

Right after I finished watering my new tomato plant in, I noticed movement at the driveway. This sweet lab mix walked onto our land, and as soon as we made eye contact, she laid on her back and showed me her belly. I am not a doggy midwife, but it was pretty clear that this dog was going to be a mother very soon.

She was so sweet and so tired! I didn’t have any dog food with me so the girls and I fed her bagels with cream cheese and tortilla chips. Then we gave her some water, and she crawled under the truck and collapsed.

When we have our barn up, I’m going to become the Crazy Dog Lady, I’m sure. But for now, we do not have a place where a mother dog can safely birth puppies. I thought the best place to take her would be the county animal shelter. But just in case she was someone’s missing pet, I posted her picture and story on the lost animals Facebook group for our county. People quickly commented that taking her to the kill shelter was a terrible idea; puppies would not easily survive there. One lovely lady volunteered to take her in to her home until we could find a place for her with a no-kill rescue.

The girls and I took mama dog to the vet where she was found to have no chip (and had also clearly never been leashed – that was fun). Then we drove to Fort Worth to meet the foster lady. Mama dog had her puppies last Friday night, and then on Sunday was transferred to her new foster family with the rescue. Hooray for happy endings ­čÖé

Spring Vegetable Planting

North Texas farming and gardening is quite different if you’re not a Texas native. We who came from northern climates are used to summer arriving in June and having only one growing season. Texas, on the other hand, has two mild growing seasons – winter/spring and fall – and a┬ámassive blast of heat┬áfor four months┬áthat most northern plants don’t handle well. There’s been quite a learning curve for growing in Texas, but I think I’m getting a decent handle on it, and I want to share some resources I’ve found.

North Haven Gardens is a wonderful nursery in north Dallas. They have some excellent educational resources, one of which I printed recently and keep referring to during my spring planting. I took their information and rearranged it by vegetable type rather than by date. Below is the chart; I hope it is helpful to you!

North Texas Vegetables - Spring

Here is a printable version; it’s long, so print on legal-size paper. Or visit the NHG site for their version.┬áNorth Texas Vegetables – Spring

The hugelkultur beds are coming along beautifully! Here are some pictures of my recent work there.

The girls and I found a beautiful ladybug among the sugar snap peas.

I transplanted my tomato seedlings – that I started from seeds! Myself! This is a new venture for me and it’s very satisfying.

Here’s the western hugelkultur bed (number 1 of 3). It’s got the peas, tomato transplants, onions, radishes, and a few other cool-weather plants that will probably choke in the upcoming heat very soon. That’s ok though.

I spy a tiny carrot plant! The carrot seeds mostly got washed away, so I had to reseed the carrots in the center bed. But this one apparently hid under a stick and has recently gotten big enough to see.

This is super fun!

Having people over is AWESOME

On Sunday Andrew and I and his parents were making plans to go work at the farm, so I texted a few friends and family members to let them know we were hanging out at the farm on Sunday, and if they wanted to come they were welcome. In a stroke of pure awesomeness, nearly everyone who was invited came! It was absolutely wonderful. Andrew and I both adore having people visit the farm and enjoy the space with us. We had a wonderful group of people who gave us a hand with projects, played with the kids, contributed some delicious elements to dinner, and just overall had a good country kind of day.

When we arrived at the farm on Sunday morning, I noticed that our gate was closed differently. I couldn’t think of a reason anyone would have come onto the property in our absence, but Andrew spotted the reason right away. The power provider installed a transformer! One step closer to electricity!

The girls and the dogs were all sitting together in the shade of the container building so I thought I’d try to get a picture with them looking at me. HAHAHAHA. That didn’t go nearly as well in reality. I think Oliver (little white doggy) wins the Expression Contest though.

The wildflowers are in their glory; they cover part of our southwest field where the girls like to play. The girls are always picking them and giving them to family members.

I worked in my garden for several hours, planting watermelon, cantaloupe, pie pumpkins, and icicle radish seeds. I also transplanted most of the tomato seedlings I started here in the trailer.

Now here is a picture that makes my heart happy. The top two requirements I had for the farm before we moved there were a storm shelter and the ability to do laundry. Well, now we have both. Granted, we had to run the washing machine with a generator, and the clothesline setup was a little sketchy. BUT. Those two requirements are now met. And I don’t think I could ever get tired of hanging laundry with a view like that.

The above picture is a photo of Ellie’s first bouquet from a boy. Oh my heavens, how am I going to handle her adolescence if I got so mushy over flowers from a friend?!

Also in the category of firsts: first boat on the pond. I laughed so hard when one of our wee visitors got creative with the pile of cardboard to burn and set a box sailing.

No open-fire dinner is complete without a sticky marshmallow sandwich, naturally.

And here is another picture that makes my heart happy. Just look at all those people! Every one of them is near and dear to us, and they all thought highly enough of us to come out and play. Andrew and I and the girls had such a delightful time hosting everyone, and we hope there are many more gatherings like this in our future.

This is how we all felt at the end of the day. Ellie, who is five and doesn’t sit still long enough to fall asleep on anyone, ended up like this after her bath. She put her towel on, curled up in my lap, and within 5 minutes got very still. I sat there as long as I could and soaked up the sweetness.

I love our farm.