Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wondering in the Wind

   It has been such a long long time since the dancing of a windmill could be heard around here. I can't even recall the last time laundry wasn't hanging limp on the line. This past week was stirred with whipping, whirling winds carrying with them a slight nip of chill. Morning chores actually required a hat and gloves while glittery frost made an appearance on the empty corn field.
   Coming around the corner of the barn I was tackled by a gust of chill that nearly knocked me off my feet. I stood there smiling at the memory of prairie winds sneaking up on me from around a building. Those gusts would drag my hair right out of its braids and tangle it in knots that would plague me for a good hour..once my grandmother saw them. Winds that pushed and pulled at you while you trudged to the barn and tore the mail right out of your hands. Wild prairie winds whipped clean clothes from the line, sending us chasing them across the pasture. Winds that howled in the night sending chills down your spine.
    Here I stand wondering in the wind..wondering those wonderful days when the scariest thing known was the basement and grandma's evil cat. A sigh escapes much I miss them all. Farm boy calls me from my wondering; he's desperately in need of some hearty breakfast. That's okay. The wind's visit isn't yet over leaving me many more days to stand and wonder.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Another Peek in the Lesson Box

Picnic on a meadow in the middle of dandelions Stock Photo - 8873309
stock photo

   Children in a classroom come from all walks of life and all kinds of homes bringing with them unique insight and imagination. Many years ago I introduced the concept of a home living 'center' to my classroom set up and watched the responses to it. I loved what I saw- the imagination, interaction, role play. Children are amazing and when given the opportunity they show us just how amazing they are.

Join me in the classroom for another resource often found in my box.

 The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Where Do I Start?

   Facing the first week after multiple monumental events (wedding, master gardener classes, sick teen) had me facing a serious question...where do I start? For eight weeks I have been in class, taking tests, studying ahead, planning cakes and flowers and such things that generally never cross my mind, so what now? The notion of resuming a routine can be ominous and overwhelming.
   First and foremost I poured a steaming cup of coffee and walked among the hyacinths soaking up a little sunshine and beautiful fresh air. Pencil and paper in hand, my stroll ended at the small bistro table under the myrtles. A deep breath and a small prayer started the process.
   Though Miss Kitty could care less the needs of a household, I had some work to do and it started with lists. Whenever I get seriously off track or my routine changes it is time for me to jump start the process with a few master lists. First list: what needs done. Time to determine those priorities and write them down. Second list: what I want done. Branches may not need picked up in the far pasture, but I want them picked up. From here comes the list of time will flow. I block my day by meals (because with teens, meals rule your life). Morning, afternoon and evening columns are made on the paper and I pencil in time slots for getting those priorities, and working in some wants.
   Mr. Kitty was sure this process was futile, but it was proven worthy year after year..disrupt after disrupt. So where do I start? Dishes, laundry and some clutter control..moving on to bigger beasts..feed storage clean up. From here, I desperately need to get back in my sewing room..we are working on some videos to post for the quilting section. What did I accomplish today? Exercise..junk food toss...some fabric cutting and an outline. It's a start.
   So, how do you get back in the groove when the wagon's been tipped over?


Monday, February 25, 2013

Brooder Maintenance Day 6

Welcome little ones!
    Our broiler chicks arrived last week during one tremendous storm. Their quizzical glances and dainty peeps have kept me balanced this past weekend as I faced the daunting task of seeing my oldest get married. Today found us at day six of their journey on the homestead..let's take a peep at what they have been up to since their arrival.
Old sheets were placed over the shavings right after this picture.

     Upon arrival their little beaks were dipped in the water fountain before we released them into the brooder to explore and warm up. Once everyone became acquainted with the fountain and its location a light scattering of starter crumble was placed in disposable pie tins for them to eat. Satisfied with their warmth and behaviors, we checked on them regularly to refresh their nourishment and upkeep their mess making.
      *Note..many recommendations are made to give chicks electrolytes upon their arrival. I do not. If the chicks are 'pasty butt' or just puny, I add a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to their water fountain for a day to perk them up.
Setting up for wing band maintenance.
      As we head to the end of their first week, the little ones are thriving and growing well. Daily cleaning has become quite a task causing us to realize it's time to remove the cloth bedding cover. Feeders and water fountains are removed and the heat lamp is raised up giving me plenty of room to work unhindered. To streamline my tasks, I spread and turn wing bands as well as clip their nails the same day the cloth is removed. In order to bring chaos to calm, I pull the bedding cloth up dividing the brooder in half and secure it with clamps.
Help! I am all alone.
     One by one the chicks are picked up, band turned and spread, to nails checks and clipped if need be, then placed on the clean shavings. This way I know which ones are finished and which ones need my attention. This is also a great time to check for pasty butt or other ailments and treat them.
One on one work.
     The point of wing band maintenance is to spread any crimped bands allowing for wing growth. Personally, I also prefer to turn the bands making it easy to read the numbers. This chick's band is pointing toward his breast, numbers facing me... as he grows the numbers can be seen without stretching out his wings.
      Maintenance and grooming all complete the little peeps are exploring their new arrangement. Fluffy, large flake pine shavings have replaced their smooth sheets and fountain feeders now replace the pie tins. Some fresh water and a warm light..they are good to go. On the topic of shavings, let me say I do not use cedar shavings for two reasons: 1. One of us is allergic to cedar. 2. Some studies indicate respiratory issues with chicks raised on cedar. Another personal preference is the size: I use large flake because they seem less likely to eat them and choke.
      There we are..refreshed and prettied up. My treks to the brooder are fewer, but still very frequent. With only their down fluff to cover them, staying warm is still a necessity. If I were to be honest I would have to say, necessity or not, I would hike out their to see my teeny tiny babies anyway. Have a beautiful and blessed day, and remember whatever it is you are growing enjoy it, love it, and thank God for the privilege of doing it!

Sunday, February 24, 2013


   Despite a few ominous claps of thunder the weather was just right for a wedding among the pines. Behind a house at the side of a little hill two people said their vows and joined together bringing a wonderful extension to our family. Congratulations and best wishes to Dustin and Nicole.
   Tonight I sit here with mixed emotions; watching one grow and go is hard. I imagine we all feel that way. They look so happy together- smiling and filled with laughter. My prayers are for their tomorrows as life brings its ups and downs..those moments that squeeze us revealing the depths of our being. Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye opener. I smile..they have a long road ahead and I pray they learn to laugh in the midst of it.
    With a mother's heart I wish them well and pray for them as they work through those difficult early years. God has brought my husband and I through so many years of work, wonder, and prayers ask He guide them as He has guided me.
     God bless you both...with love, MommaChele

Saturday, February 23, 2013


   This weekend finds me hosting the wedding of our oldest daughter. With this my heart deeply ponders the many ups and downs since my own commitment before God. Though my vows seem long ago and hers so new and fresh, God's word to us is never far away..and this selection of Scripture has been a challenge to me from the beginning. Let us, as wives, take heart and seek to be the help meet He intended when he made us and joined us to our beloved.

Proverbs 31

King James Version (KJV)
31 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?
Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Cabbage

   The first sunny days of 'winter' always stir my garden vibes drawing me to the greenhouse where soil and sun feel so good on my skin. A welcome friend to the early garden has to be the cabbage. My grandmothers planted row after row of hearty heads that became their tasty slaw and crock brined kraut. In our southern garden getting the cabbage in before the heat hits is quite a challenge, but for a gardener who can't wait to get a jump on planting..cabbage is a treasured friend.
    I set my seeds in greenhouse trays as soon as the urge to plant hits me..early January finds me with dirt under my nails even if there is a scarf around my neck. Plants are hardened off and go into the soil when their true leaves are clustering and stems are showing strong. Row upon row make their home in my garden in anticipation of summer slaws and a few crocks of kraut.

   The bare facts:

Start seeds indoors January 1-31.
Plants can go into the soil 18 inches apart when they have hardened off.
Common southern varieties:
Jersey Wakefield
Early Flat leaf Dutch
   **note-I set my transplants under floating row covers for protection from hungry pests and spring frosts

    My personal seed resource favorites are Producer's Co-op, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange,
                 ** due to new GMO information, I no longer use Territorial Seed.

   Tender transplants are stretching their roots in the early garden holding the promise of days spent cleaning the heads and working the brine. My crock waits patiently in the kitchen corner. Have a beautiful weekend. Let's slip into some overalls and get growing!
Saturday Round Up

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Arrivals Today

   Stormy rumbles joined bellows from a hungry herd this morning. Today's weather had the whole barn in a worried frenzy, but stormy weather wasn't the only thing to arrive at the home stead today. New broiler chicks are now tucked warmly in their brooders..lots of peeping and pooping going on in there.
    Their arrival brings with it the necessary task of mothering and hovering; I tend to worry over their well being, at least for the first few days. At my presence in their warm home they tend to chirp and stare quite unsure of my intentions. I love their quizzical curiosity and dainty little skittering.
    Another arrival today- the last day of my classroom requirements. This evening was committed to hunkering down and finishing the final test for the course. I can proudly say that amidst a shotgun practice, new chicks, dishes and a very sick teen I managed to complete the long, long test. On the the in garden training next week ( I am so ready for that).
    Now on to a weekend wedding and some greenhouse seeding...and plenty of visits to the brooder to smoosh on my new babies. Everything on this little farm is loved endlessly and spoiled rotten!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Let's Look in the Box

   One of the joys of childhood is the wonder of curiosity. To get close and personal with something- touch it and move it around. Children love discovery- and God offers us so many wonderful things to ponder. As we take a look at what's inside my box, one of the first things children get to know about me is I love to discover. Inside my box there is always found items for a discovery table.

Join me in the classroom to discover the wonder of the discovery table.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Was He Thinking?

   Some days just make you question humanity; I had one of those days. You know the kind..when someone crossed you path making you realize that more and more common sense has become a super power and boundaries no longer exist. The events of this past Saturday have left me scratching my head and rethinking some of my daily habits.
    My guys were heading out to run an errand while I worked the rows in our back garden located at the rear of our property. Critters were grazing while Hadassah kept me company; beautiful weather and a lot to do. Looking up from my work Doc caught my eye- he was running along the fence. It took me a moment to realize he was on the wrong side of the fence and someone was chasing him. Can you say panic?
    Bolting into action I grabbed a rope, crop and scoop of feed on my way down the lane only to realize the gate was wide open..latched wide open. Coming to the road a man met me there, a woman with him, who proceeded to tell me my donkey was out. I turned to face a neighbor I am familiar with asking if the gate had been left open when the guys left--no, it was shut. Did Doc jump the fence? No..he didn't. Okay? The man I don't know said I opened it. Excuse me? What? Why? From here it only gets weirder.
     Repeating the same response and telling me my donkey was going to hurt someone solves nothing... neither does chasing a spooked beast. As my dangerous animal munched weeds nearby the man and his female friend just wouldn't tell me why he opened my gate which, he admitted, was shut. Nor did he help get him in. Another neighbor decided to be a thorn in the situation, bringing her children outside to watch and threaten calling animal control. Well, go ahead sweetie..last time I tried it took them three days.
     In the end, my guys returned...neighbors receded to their homes... Doc was calmed and brought home. No idiots were harmed... though in my mind, I harmed them three times. Strangely enough, the man who opened the gate was not to be found when my guys returned, but has been spotted in a neighboring house several times now..we are unsure if he is staying there. As for Doc, he hasn't calmed down yet and it quite skid-dish..therefore being kept close to the stall for now.
     We may never know what the intent was or why on earth someone would go to a stranger's gate and open it especially when livestock are running around in it. I am lucky the goats didn't follow him and that no one was harmed. Only days later do I realize the potential of confronting the situation alone... and that has be looking carefully at several things i.e. a phone upgrade so this could have been recorded, carrying my stun gun when working outside home alone, locking the gate with a lock. In the end I am ever grateful God was in control and the situation ended peacefully and without further drama. Be careful, friends, because people are crazy and you just never know what they're thinking.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Busy, Busy Work Days

   It has been a crazy busy week already and we aren't even half way through. Regular farm chores were done with haste as storms loomed in the distance. The farm critters don't like rainy days stuck in their stalls, but having a fresh clean bed to stay in helps. These two boys are getting mighty frisky these days.
   The brooders are set and ready; baby broilers are coming this week. In the past I have used one large brooder for the chicks, but that can be difficult to warm adequately. On the advice of the A&M poultry department, we are testing out smaller brood set ups with only 25 birds per pen. We'll see if this maintains the warmth better than one big pen.
    Garden rows are gently tucked under floating row covers keeping hungry nibblers away from tender sprouts. Cole crops and greens are under cover; potatoes and onions are now under the soil as well. It was a long weekend of planting for me and I can hardly wait to snip kale and onions for evening meals.
      Our herb garden clean up is underway. Plenty of weeding and trimming to be done in the raised rows here. Mulch is on the way to make this garden a little more manageable and a bit less frustrating to upkeep. New additions here are fruit canes and a few dwarf citrus trees. Nestled among the rosemary and mints, these will make a wonderful new element to the roses and herbs.
        While my tasks were many this week, the men folk had their projects as well. Recently downed pines needed some many attention and my guys are always hyped up about burning things- the bigger the better, right?
         I think they made excellent progress on this section of grazing ground. The large remaining trunk will be cut to size and placed together for a goat play scape- they do love to jump and romp on stacked logs. Aside from completing my classroom portion of Master Gardener certification, there will be a final to take and a wedding to finalize the touches on. Off to keep my stress level down cutting some fabric and basting some quilt tops.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Making a Sandwich

  When I learned to hand quilt many years ago, the first step in doing so was to learn how to prepare the quilt elements for the quilting process. My early practice quilts were simply pieces of fabric and some batting. The design wasn't important (I didn't know how to piece yet). Later I was introduced to cheater (preprinted) quilt cloth and used them for my practice quilts. Whichever type of quilt top you use, there has to be a quilt sandwich before there can be quilting. Let's get started.

Grab your coffee and join me in the sewing room for some press, baste and hoop talk.


Saturday, February 16, 2013


   This week as I share with the children we delve a bit deeper into God's glorious creation. I have never ceased to marvel at the amazing beasts and birds..and again at the amazing treasure of life..hopefully I can share this wonder with young hearts.
Genesis 1: 20-31

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Pruning and Potatoes

   Mid-February brings us to a place of pruning and potatoes. Roses, hibiscus, crepe myrtles, and fruit trees benefit from a good trim while potatoes find their way to the soil. In our garden this weekend the solarizing cover is being removed for planting, while new soil is being tilled and cover for next month's seedlings. Tomato starts are spending sunny afternoons getting acclimated outside the greenhouse making room for more starts to set up room in the greenhouse.
   To prepare for a day of pruning, I clean off the pruners and give them a nice spritz of oil in the hinge... a little scrape over the sharpener is never a bad idea either. Pruning is a merciless endeavor requiring a good prep talk and a few cups of coffee. Roses, hibiscus and crepe myrtle simply get their dead canes trimmed away..I'm a conservative pruner so my bushes are rather wild and somewhat unruly, but as long as they bloom we're good. For fruit trees I confess to being a complete idiot. My attempts to 'find a central leader' and 'create an open center' are quite hideous. Those poor trees that have managed to survive my whack and swack attempts at pruning are hardy beings that deserve a metal for making it through.
   Potatoes are less a catastrophe than pruning..but are often a disappointing feat. The south east Texas soil just doesn't lend well to these beloved tubers, but we relentless garden souls never give up. I dig my trench, place my seed potatoes 14" apart and cover them a few inches at a time as they grow. It is then left in the hands of our drastic weather to decide whether productive growth will occur. This year we are testing out Russian fingerlings instead of our traditional Irish potatoes. Our extension office urged us to give them a go claiming their maturity before summer heat would greatly improve our odds. We'll see.

   The bare facts:
Prepare seed potatoes by cutting into pieces having at least one, preferably two eyes per section.
Direct seed in the garden the mid-February.
  Be sure to plant in an area with available soil for 'hilling up' as they grow.
Common southern variety- Potato
Red dale
norkotah russet
Yukon gold
red norland
Russian Fingerling
    At harvest, gently work the roots free and allow to 'cure' in the row a day before storing. Do not wash until use. Set several aside for next season's seed.
**note- small 'fingerling' potatoes are better suited for southern gardens than larger ones
    My personal seed resource favorites are Producer's Co-op, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange,
                 ** due to new GMO information, I no longer use Territorial Seed.

    If you intend to save potatoes for seed, be sure to plant plenty of extra rows to save. Store potato harvest and ones for seed in a cool dry place for up to a year.
   Have a beautiful weekend. Let's slip into some overalls and get growing!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Here We Go Again..Together

   In the spring of the year, every Thursday evening we can be found surrounded by clays and the smell of gunpowder. It's time for our seasonal 4H shotgun team meetings. Once again the farm boy and I make our trek to the range to spend some time 'killing some birds' and firing off a few rounds.
   Time spent sharing tips and techniques with those older and wiser. How awesome is that?

    Time off from the range forces us to brush up on training the eye to follow the bird and keep our form sturdy.
   A little brushing up on time together is always a good thing. Teen years are hard..and teem boy years are a challenge all their own. So in an effort to seize every opportunity for shared interests, we will be found at the range working the skill set in preparation for some healthy competition...that is, as long as the ammo holds out.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's In the Box?

   My classroom may be equip with many wonderful tools and toys, but there is always room for something new. Join me in the classroom as we introduce 'the box' and prepare to understand the concept of object learning.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It Has Been a Year

   One year ago my body changed and brought me to a place I had never been before. Pain brought with it nausea, migraines and weight that just would not leave. I went through doctors who refused to look past the weight to address the problem wanting only to dull the symptom and send me away. It has been a year since a doctor was found that truly listened.
   I have been on the path of ovarian/uterine tumors for a year now..medication, surgery, diet and exercise brought me to this day. There have been ups and downs on this path, but the path has not come to an end. It is time to face the doctor for another look at the situation..determine how we are doing after a year.
   With hesitation the appointment will be made for unfortunately my symptoms, which resurface on occasion, have not subsided this time. The classroom portion of my Master Gardener's course is nearly complete freeing up my schedule.
    Admittedly, I have put it off as much as possible hoping once again it would settle giving me relief; it may still. So here we are, one year later, hoping the diagnosis will be okay and the solution simple. It is so hard to believe it has been a year. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Drizzly Rainy No-Good Day

   Grey clouds shrouded the sun bringing drizzle and drear to this nippy Monday morning. I don't do drizzle and grey is not a's a depressant. Zero energy left me in an ugly frump and I just don't have time for that.
    In an attempt to combat the bad weather blues I brought out some green- shamrock green. My free motion quilting project that had been glaring at me from the design wall finally had my attention. A practice sandwich went through the needle first; wiggly clovers were the motif for today. Machine quilting is not my thing, but I am learning..and I am getting more comfortable with it.
   Another item needing completion was a little pinwheel sampler. I made these blocks for practice..there was a prayer quilt to complete..this pattern and I needed to get acquainted. The extras were placed together and free motion quilted to practice my floral design. Each pinwheel has a flower swirling around it now.
   The family painter sent me a few water color samples to work with..our new family project- art quilts. Here I have ready for basting the cherry blossom tree- set to be quilted with some landscape, breeze swirls, and some accent bark and cherry blossoms. We'll see how it goes.
   Another gloom buster was a trip to my greenhouse; tending little seedlings is such good medicine. My poor critters were just as upset to have such a dreary day. Their calls from the stalls ensured we all heard their plight.
   Tomorrow is set to be just like today- a drizzly, rainy, no-good day, but I won't be home for most of it. Three more days of classroom instruction before the 'in garden' portion of my course starts. Maybe the images of beautiful growing colors will distract me from the dreariness outdoors.
    Hope you are all dry and warm..and able to find some brightness in your day.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Are We Quilting or Piecing?

   I want to learn to quilt... this comment is heard and used by many once they realize you are a quilter, but it is often misused. I myself wanted to learn to quilt..and learn I did, but I didn't realize until years later there is a difference between quilting and piecing.

Grab a cup of tea and join me in the sewing room  for a chat. 

Let's stitch something wonderful!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


   In this day and age, wisdom is vastly is the method by which it should be obtained. This week my heart has struggled with the notion of wisdom and its close companion- discernment. 

Proverbs 1

King James Version (KJV)
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel;
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding;
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity;
To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:
To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.
10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:
29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:
30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.
31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.
32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Weekend Gardening: Peas & Carrots

   In my southern garden, peas and carrots are in a love/hate relationship with me. To grow well, peas need colder temps and plenty of it..something greatly lacking here, especially this year. They generally do better in fall, but this season's extreme heat left mine as tiny shoots with no production. Carrots require sandy soils that drain well; extreme heat tends to cause the carrot root to produce turpines giving the carrot a bitter taste. After years and years of compost and mulch amendments, we do grow some carrots, but they can tend toward a bite that isn't pleasant.
   So what does one do? Well, some years I don't even bother..which means peas and carrots come from the market. Some years my adventuresome hope drives me to turn the soil and pray for amazing results. When it works, it is so rewarding. Who doesn't like snacking on fresh peas while pulling weeds?
   The key is timing and raised rows. In my garden we mound the rows up a good foot or two to and work in plenty of compost to provide proper drainage and a loose earth for the roots to work in. The timing is much more tricky.. peas and carrots need to hit the soil as soon as it is workable in the winter. I cover the seed rows with a floating row cover to hold in moisture and protect emerging seedlings from chilly nights or scavenging pests.
   The bare facts:
Direct seed in the garden the first of January (soon as you can work the soil).
 Small plot succession planting may be difficult in a short season.
Pea seeds may be soaked overnight before planting to soften the hard seed coat.
Carrots are slow to germinate..inter-planting with radish helps keep the soil loose and helps us remember the carrots are there.
Common southern variety- Pea
Dwarf grey sugar
Sugar snap
Little Marvel
Common southern variety- Carrot
Little finger
**note- small 'fingerling' carrots are better suited for southern gardens than large carrots

    My personal seed resource favorites are Producer's Co-op, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Territorial Seed.

    If you intend to save seed, be sure to plant open pollinated/heirloom varieties allowing the strong plants to develop their flower head (carrot) or seed pod (pea). Once ripe seed pots are present on the carrot, gather them in paper bags crushing gently to release the seed. For peas, allow the pod to mature fully then dry completely after harvesting. Store seeds in a cool dry place for up to a year. Remember, carrots that have gone to seed will be very bitter. Along with the pea stalks these make great additions to your compost or given as fodder to your flocks and herds. 
   Have a beautiful weekend. Let's slip into some overalls and get growing!
Our Simple Farm

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What is a Victory Garden?

Victory Garden poster
source: Living History Farm
   A few weeks ago I mentioned one of my gardens was to be planted as a Victory Garden this year. That raised some questions...even from some of my fellow Master Gardener Interns. What's a Victory Garden? Many pantry staples were rationed during WWII: sugar, coffee, and canned goods, for example. As a result, the government called upon the citizens to plant large gardens as a supplement to the nation's food supply. Extension office agents went out delivering seed packets, garden plans, fertilizer and pest control powders to encourage the project. The USDA estimates that over 20 million victory gardens were planted producing more than 10 tons of produce. That's phenomenal!
   The basic plan for such a garden needed to fit an urban setting while providing as much nutrient packed produce as possible. Plenty of cabbage, greens, beans and carrots were needed as well as some berry canes or strawberry plants..corn and root crops.. 35 X 35' was considered a 'medium size plot'. Crop successions and seasonal rotation were included, as was the assumption that the whole family pitched in the effort.
    That's all well and good, but how does this apply to our modern day? The modern move for victory gardens is based on the idea - Grow what you eat- eat what you grow. Here in we aim to stay frugal, healthful, and balanced. Today's garden may not have two rows of turnips or mustard greens, but instead hold kale and kohlrabi. Basically, use the land you have to produce food your family enjoys..and when able, share it with others. 
    How do I do it? I look at what my family really loves to eat and the planting schedule for those crops. Seeds are purchased, set to start in ground or greenhouse, and when harvest is plentiful we put up and pass out. The goal is to provide for home first and others as opportunity permits. In the past, our garden has abundantly shared in tomatoes, beans, greens, corn and, of course, peppers. I base much of my planting amounts on Granny Miller's chart:
source: Granny Miller's Chart

        Our world is uncertain and our economy unstable..gardening brings us to a place of provision and peace. Time in my garden nourishes body and soul bringing me closer to my Lord and the family working along side me.
        If you are interested in more about the original victory gardens watch the original video at To view some of the plans for victory gardens visit Earthly Pursuits. Questions about my personal victory garden layout? Contact me at or leave your question in the comment box. Let's get growing. 

Shared on The Prairie Homestead.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February's Garden

   Grey skies brought drizzly rain and a bit of nip in the air- not my favorite weather, but we need the rain. Here in the kitchen seed packets are scattered about the table where my pen and paper have been sketching garden plans for a few friends--and revising a few plans of my own. Though the weather may be less than encouraging for planting right now, several things are already set in soil, and several things will be planted as soon as the sun returns.
   Here three garden sections are planted with onion, lettuce, peas, carrots, and dill. These seeds are kept moist (as needed) by soaker hoses and gently protected by floating row covers. Once the seeds are well established, the covers can be removed. A larger section has been tilled, amended, and covered with clear plastic to solarize before planting. This helps with weed/pest management..and this area had a bad outbreak in the fall season. Finally, the green you see is red clover. The goats had been cleaning this area, but left behind the bases of clover. At the end of the month, the clover will till  under providing nitrogen for March planting.
   The greenhouse holds seedlings of broccoli, cabbage, kale and spinach. Tiny tomatoes are just popping up. During sunny days, these little plants are starting to test their stems outside on flats..but they're not quite ready for the soil just yet. Peppers haven't poked through the soil just yet..they tend to take their time getting going.
   In front of the farmhouse, Jenn's herbal tea garden is undergoing February transitions. Roses and hibiscus are getting a serious pruning while new herbs are taking root. Two new fruit trees are joining the borders with some thorn-less blackberry bushes. New mulch, fresh bedding and plenty of compost are setting this garden up for warm, sunny spring days.
   Beyond the stalls and old well house a far garden waits..bits of clover peek beneath the compost freshly cast. Late afternoon finds the hens there scratching and working the soil in preparation for a three sisters garden; corn, beans, and melons will find their home here.

   February Planting List

Major crop

Direct seed: beets, broccoli, cabbage, collard, fruit trees, lettuce, onion, mustard, potato, turnip

Minor crop

Direct seed: arugula, chard, dill, fennel, garlic chives, kohlrabi, nasturtium, parsley, raddish,
Plant: kale, lemon balm, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme

   Time is at hand and the sun will shine bright before we know it. Let's don our grungiest overalls, some funky garden boots...dig those nails deep into the earth and grow something wonderful!