Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Delicious vegetables get a new home

What a day! After spending the morning taking my dad to his doctor's appointment, I came home to spend some time singing with my friends. Jennifer Stewart, Norie Hicks, and myself have all felt the "calling" to minister to the elderly with our singing. So, the trio has begun selecting and working on songs to sing for our next ministry opportunity. My parents are already getting us setup to sing at their retirement home soon. God will provide other opportunities.

After singing with my friends, I got to work in the kitchen. My daughter and I began by canning all of our garden tomatoes. Mmm mmm... I can't wait to use those jars of goodness! Next, we set out to make a scrumptious zucchini bread with our garden zucchinis. We used a recipe provided to me by my friend, Astrid Thomson. The house smelled wonderful while the bread was baking. It filled all the rooms with a cinnamon, allspice, fresh bread smell. I could hardly stand the wait for it to come out of the oven! Voila! One hour later and we have two loaves of zucchini bread. They are a tad bit dry, so I'll have to jockey with the recipe a little for next time. There are plenty more zucchini ready to be harvested from the garden in a day or two. Now, what in the world can I make with the yellow squash and all of the jalapeno peppers I've got?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rain, rain, oh how I love the rain!

We finally got some much needed rain today. It was wonderful! The temperature dropped and the breeze kicked up a notch or two. It felt great! The grass received a much needed drink of water. Thank you, Lord! By evening, the temperature was back up again and the humidity had begun. Yuk!

The family and I had to unload over 200 pieces of decking and 5, 80 lb bags of concrete. We were drenched by the time we were done. I'm exhausted! However, we are one step closer to getting our decking completed. Yippee!

The animals got a chance to get out and enjoy the pasture while the heat had died down. By evening, they were hunkered down back in the stalls in front of the fans. I'm not sure what the forecast looks like for tomorrow. However, I sure am thankful for the blessings we received today! Thank you, Jesus!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Succulent Vegetables

Let's just get something straight right off the bat. I am a "brown" thumb. Yep. I've tried over and over again to grow things, but they just end of dying. I either over water, under water, give them too much sun, or not enough.

I've heard over and over again about the benefits of alpaca compost (aren't you glad I called it that?). Most of the alpaca farmers I know, have vegetable gardens. My sister-in-law, Terri, has a HUGE garden. She is what I would call a "GREEN" thumb. (Notice I capitalized the word GREEN?) Everything she plants yields a bountiful harvest. I've watched year after year and wished I could have a garden even a fraction of the size of hers.

Well, this year I decided to make a go of it again. My neighbor, Jonie Coble, showed me a little garden she had started in one of her horse's water troughs. Hmmm... I thought. I could do that with some of the bath tubs I had out in our pasture. We had acquired three bathtubs some years ago and used them as water troughs when we were raising horses. So, I purchased some strawberry, yellow pepper, jalapeno pepper, squash, carrots, tomato, watermelon and cantaloupe seeds, as well as a packet called "Cut Flower Garden". Crazy right? Well, I had three bathtubs to fill! Then, my neighbor, Hal Camp,called me up and let me know that he had another bathtub for me to have for my garden. Seems he was remodeling his bathroom and needed to get rid of his old tub. BONUS! Now I had FOUR tubs!

Well, the seed packet labeled "celery" turned out to be zucchini and the packet labeled cantaloupe turned out to be yellow squash. How do they mess up on that??? Anyway, I filled each of the tubs up with alpaca compost. I planted each of the seeds (with a little help from my five year old son) and voila! Two months later and I have some AWESOME vegetables and fruit! Pictured is a basketful of our bounty! The zucchini and squash are growing like gang-busters! I only have ONE watermelon, but oh, am I happy! Wow, it feels great collecting fruits of my labor! I know that there are absolutely NO PESTICIDES whatsoever on them. They are fresh and delicious.

So, thanks for letting me share my garden with you. Oh yeah! Here are some pictures of my little flower garden, too. Isn't it pretty? The butterflies and bees seem to like it, too. Maybe I'll even cut some fresh flowers for my table tomorrow. What do you think?

Happy Trails!

Mistakes made...

Well, we were loading up the truck getting ready to leave for vacation on June 12th. We needed to leave out by 5:00 AM in order to make our 12 hour drive to Colorado and be on time for dinner at the cabin. We were actually doing quite well with our packing! Evening chores were running a bit behind schedule. I wanted to meet with our neighbor, Rachel, to go over the chore list one last time before we left. Due to time constraints, we agreed to meet at the barn around 9:30 PM. No problem. That gives me more time to load some things in the truck for the trip.

9:30 PM rolls around and I head out to the barn to meet Rachel. I notice something small and black on the ground. Oh great! I'm thinking the skunk that has been spraying my two dogs over the past two weeks is back! However, this small animal is ALL black. As I get through the second gate, I get a better look. Oh for crying out loud! It's a CRIA! How in the world did that happen? Who's cria was it? Well, by deductions, Tim and I figured it out. Last year, some neighbor kids had come through our pasture to visit our children. Tim happened to be outside and noticed that the gate had been left OPEN to the male area. Tim found one of the males mounted on one of our females, but figured he had caught "it" in time. Nope. That obviously didn't happen. She was indeed bred. Precautions have already been made (after the mishap) and were double checked again after this unexpected delivery.

Tim and I stayed up all night making sure the cria was nursing well before we left. Neither of us made it to bed before our departure, so we traded driving often. We are so very fortunate to have such a wonderful neighbor. Rachel has been a 4-H student for many years, raises goats, rabbits and chickens. Her mother is a nurse. They have been through numerous birthings with all of their animals. So, we felt quite comfortable having her watch our new little one while we were away. And that she did, coming over every couple of hours to make sure the baby was latching on and getting enough milk.

So, be careful! Make sure your pastures and gates are not only "animal" proofed, but make sure they are "neighbor" proofed, as well!

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

To shear or not to shear...that is the question.

Dogs that is! :o) Well, as posted previously, our alpacas received a shearing back in late March. They are still enjoying their cool haircuts out in the pastures and the relief it brings from the heat of summer. The grass has emerged thanks to all of the rain we have been receiving and the alpacas are enjoying the sweet taste.

Our recently acquired Maremma livestock guardian dogs also received a new haircut. This was NOT done by a professional, but by my dear hubby, Tim. As you can see, he needs to work on his skills. :o) We didn't mind, though, and neither did Tyson and Jane, the dogs. They were so hot with their long coats and were thrilled to feel the relief of it coming off of their backs! They immediately began romping in the pasture, playing as if they were new pups again. I want to mention the fact that before we got these two dogs, we heard a pack of coyotes every night roaming through the neighborhood. They had been over at the house behind us and across the street at Southfork Ranch. It was getting a little too close for comfort. However, since Tyson and Jane have come to live with us, we have heard NO COYOTES at all. Our neighbors are even thanking us! Tyson still likes to bark way too much, but he's getting better. Time will fix that, I'm sure. Oh, by the way, Nathan, our other dog, and Jane are getting along much better, too. So, we're just one big happy family now. Thanks for your prayers!!!

Bountiful garden!

Wow! Can I show you just how GOOD alpaca compost is??? Whoo hoo! I was sooooo late getting my garden started this year...we're talking the END of April! I bought some seeds from the Lowe's hardware store in Murphy. I picked up some cantaloupe, watermelon (yeah, I know...wishful thinking), yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, strawberries, yellow peppers, jalapeno peppers and carrots. I also got some cilantro and rosemary.

As you may be able to tell from the pictures, the garden is growing like gang busters! Yes, you may also notice that my raised bed is in none other than BATHTUBS! My wonderful neighbor, Jonie Coble, showed me how she was using an old horse water trough for her garden. I already had two bathtubs sitting in my pasture empty from when I had a bunch of horses. So, I moved them into my backyard for the garden. Then, my other neighbor, Hal Camp, realized what I was doing and offered the two bathtubs he had just ripped out of his house. So, I now have three bathtubs filled with garden delights and another bathtub filled with flowers! I'm so excited! I've already got zucchini, tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers! They aren't ripe enough to pick yet, but should be very soon. Oh yes! The alpaca compost is the gift that keeps on giving!

Paca DLites gets a face lift!

Well, for about three years now, we have been needing to replace the decking around our pool. The wood was rotted and the cement was cracking. We found out that our neighbor's son-in-law did construction. So, we had him down to take a look at the damage. He placed a bid and began working immediately. Wow! What a job! First, he had to remove all of the fencing from around the pool. Then, he brought in a jack hammer to break through all of the concrete and ripped out the decking by hand. After three days of work, we now have a cleared area for our new deck! The stones will find a new home under our tree for a little patio area of sorts. We'll get to that after everything else is done. The diving board is laying up against the fence and the handrails are on the porch. We're getting really excited now! John will begin leveling out the ground to be able to install the 2 x 6 base boards.

There is still a huge tree trunk to be removed. We've tried numerous things to try and get it out, but with no luck. This came from a huge pine tree that died last summer. We lost the pine tree and two photenia plants last summer. Not sure what happened to them, but they died all at the same time.

If any of you are interested in getting some handy work done, John Kenney does great work! His number is 903-776-2365. Give him a call!