Our 2021 garden: garlic is harvested!

Things have been a bit odd with our garlic this year. I am sure part of it is because of the drought, but others, I’m not so sure!

We did a partial harvest and curing of our Purple Stripe garlic a while ago. The remaining garlic looked like it was ready to harvest for the last week or so, but I wanted to be sure of them before I dug them up. Here is how the beds looked, before I started.

In the foreground are what’s left of the Purple Stripe garlic, and the other half of the bed is Rocambole.

This bed has the Porcelain Music in the foreground, and the other half of the Rocambole in the other side.

I started with the Purple Stripe, since I was curious to see how they compared to the ones that were harvested early.

I was very surprised and impressed! They are really nice and big!

The Porcelain Music has bulbs a fair bit smaller, and a lot more compact feeling. These probably should have been harvested maybe even a week ago.

Then it was time to start on the Rocambole, where I had a surprise waiting for me.

I found a pair of garlic scapes!

The Rocambole were the oddest of the garlic, and their scapes were part of that. We didn’t get a lot of scapes from them, since so many seemed to get stuck in the stems.

There was certainly a lot of them. They were the smallest of the garlic bulbs, though several of them were double bulbs. Quite a few of them had “bulbs” forming in their stems, of varying sizes.

Here is the entire harvest. I’m rather pleased with it! 🙂

Each garlic type got tied off and hung to cure inside the gazebo tent.

The Purple Stripe looks so meager compared to the others. 😀

You can see some of the mutant Rocambole here. One of them had really large bulbils forming in the stem – easily as big as a head of garlic! – and almost no bulb underground.

There’s so much garlic handing in the gazebo tent, I’m a bit concerned about the weight on the supports! I wonder if we can find a way to hang them in the basement with the dehumidifier or something. It’s been so dry, we haven’t had to use the dehumidifier in the old basement at all this year.

While those are hanging to cure, I brought these ones inside.

There were a few odd little bulbs that lost their stems, or the stems were really weak. There’s even a couple of bulbils that fell of the stems of Rocambole. That’s what most of these are, though there are a few Porcelain Music in there, too. These will be for using right away. 🙂

That is now it for our garlic in the garden! Now I just need to clean up the beds. I am thinking of going through the barn to see if there is any scrap wood suitable to build box frames for these beds. I don’t think we’ll be doing high raised beds here, but I do want to keep the soil from falling down the sides and into the paths. 🙂 Then we can think about what to plant in them, next year! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Little friends, and garlic mystery solved?

Well, we’ve passed our forecasted high of the day and have reached 30C/86F, with the humidex putting us at 35C/95F, this afternoon. We did, however, get RAIN this morning! I was awakened by the sound of thunder, so I quickly went outside to make sure the cats and birds had food before the rain hit. The storm blew past us, but it did start to rain while I was still outside. I’ll take the nice, gentle rain, thank you very much!

Unfortunately, it looks like this will be the last rain we’ll have in a while, and tomorrow the smoke is supposed to be back. What rain we did have never reached the fires up north. 😦

While doing my evening rounds yesterday, and checking the old kitchen garden (the floating row covers are doing their job; no signs of critters trying to get under them, and our carrots are recovering!), I stumbled on a pretty green friend!

It was just hanging out on the leaf of one of the flowers that made its way through the layers of mulch we put on this garden, two summers ago. We’ve seen a lot of frogs this year (likely because all the ponds and ditches have dried up), but we don’t often see the green tree frogs.

It didn’t seem to like us giants hanging around, so we let it be, though I must admit, it is very tempting to want to hold it.

I also was able to get a picture of some furry friends.

Rosencrantz and Nosencrantz were calm enough to just watch me as I went by. Toesencrantz, unfortunately, is more skittish and was hiding.

I so want to boop Nosencrantz’s nose. 😀

While the girls and I were checking the garlic beds, I showed them this odd garlic.

It looks like garlic is forming inside the stem, and this one is getting pretty big. I’d noticed another had started to show signs of this happening a few days ago. This is only in the Racombole garlic, which is split between the two garlic beds, so the girls started looking around in the other bed, and we found several more.

This one was the strangest looking one, and it may explain what’s happening.

This looks like a garlic scape! This might explain why the Racombole seemed to have fewer scapes than the other two varieties. Instead of growing out the tops, as they should have, the scapes look like they got stuck in the bottoms of the stems in quite a few of the plants. Since they didn’t get harvested, bulbils are now forming inside the stems, eventually bursting through. Only this one had the rest of the scape emerge from the stem for us to see.

It also looks like something tried to give this one a taste!

In theory, we can keep the bulbils and plant them in the fall. Hardneck garlic are bi-annual, growing seeds in their second year. Planting the cloves, rather than the bulbils, and harvesting the scapes by passes that, allowing for large bulbs with lots of cloves to form. If we planted bulbils, we sould get small bulbs that are basically one big clove. Kind of like the garlic we had to harvest early, because the plants died back so soon.

It should be interesting to see the bulbs that form under the plants that have these trapped bulbils growing in their stems. I would expect they would be smaller bulbs, though with conditions this year, I expect all of them to be smaller. I don’t expect to have any suitable for planting next year. This year, for our fall planting, we are looking to double the amount of garlic we plant. I should order them soon; they will be shipped when ready for planting in our zone, so ordering early will not be an issue. We will just have to decide where we want to plant them this fall, as we rotate things.

I am finding that half the fun of gardening is planning out next year’s garden! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Not my garden, and sighting

This afternoon, I got to visit my sister and her husband on their farm.

We may be in the boonies, but they are even more in the boonies than we are! 😀

Before I left their place, we did a tour of their yard and garden, and I really appreciated being able to see how theirs is doing, in this heat.

Her row of rhubarb was a study in extremes. In the middle, she had these MASSIVE leaves and stalks – which is normal for her rhubarb – but in other areas, they were smaller and wimpy, like ours, and at one end of the row, they were basically dead. So strange!

Where I’m standing to take this photo used to be part of their garden, but they reduced its size. That area is now full of self-seeded dill. This end of the garden is where they have their annuals, with some rows already cleared and tilled. At the far end are their perennials, including onions (different from the ones they have in the rows visible at the annual end), horseradish, asparagus, sorrel, mint, and a few other things. They’ve got determinate tomatoes, and I could see some very large ones developing. No peas or corn, but they do have beans, beats and potatoes, among other things.

They usually water their garden from the nearby creek. In this photo, you can see a platform on the shore, and the end of the hose is between the two sticks in the water, with a float. This is where they pump the water from.

The creek is about 3 feet lower than usual this year, and it’s got to the point that they are watering using their well water. They only water every couple of days, though, unlike the nightly watering we are having to do. It has actually been lower than this, in the past.

After all those years… LOL

When my brother in law retired from farming (like where we are, most of the land is rented out), he took over much of the gardening. The first time a deer got into their garden, he put up the fence.

Deer are not the only issue they have. They also have to deal with black bears, raccoons and…

Yup. They have woodchucks, too. This den is under the deck of a now-empty house they share a yard with. There are dens in other areas, too. Apparently, their woodchucks have plenty of other food to eat besides their garden, because their deer fence is just touching the ground at the bottom, not buried, and they’re not trying to get it.

Which is as good a segue as any as to why I visited them today. My brother in law finally had time to help sight the scope on my crossbow.

Now, this is something we could have done ourselves, except we don’t have anything to accurately measure longer distances. My BIL is an avid hunter and has a range finder, so we figured we’d go to him and get it done right.

He never even used it. He just paced off the distance, just as he would have in sighting the scopes on his rifles! 😀

Now, he had plenty of experience with rifle scopes, but he’d never worked with a crossbow before, so the first thing he did was spend time reading the instruction manual (I brought everything! LOL). We had only finger tightened the scope, so after he checked it a few times and confirmed that it was the right distance for me, he tightened that down, and then we went to his target bale.

The instructions said to start at 10 yards, which is about where the corner of that fence is, then moving to 20 yards to fine tune the scope. He is sitting at 20 yards in the photo, which is what we need the scope to be sighted to.

Also, do you see that white blob on the creek in the background?

That is a flock of pelicans. 😀

He was expecting it to take only about half an hour to sight the scope, but we ended up out there, in the heat, for probably more than an hour before we stopped.

He did the final shots at about 30 yards, before we called it for the day.

The bolt here is the first shot done at 30 years. He was aiming for the target on the left.

If you look at the top right, there is a single hole. That was the first shot at 10 years, before he started adjusting the scope.

Above and to the right of the centre target are a series of holes. He hit the exact same spot a couple of times. The instruction manual described how many clicks equaled 1 inch at 20 yards and, according to that, with the number of adjustments he made, it should have been hitting to the left of the centre target! After hitting the same spot a couple of times, the bolt ended up so far into the target, the fletchings were squeezed into the hole, too. One of them ended up coming loose. It just needs a bit of fletching glue to fix and it’ll be fine, but that’s when he started to aim at the other target.

By the time he was done, he could get a good grouping at 30 yards, but it was still hitting to the right of the target. He’d adjusted it so far, he wasn’t sure it could go any further. The scope we have is different from any of his. In fact, it had a whole extra knob to adjust, but not even the scope’s instruction sheet (which was for rifles, not crossbows) had it labelled on their diagram.

So the crossbow is not sighted, but it is closer, and we are in a position that we can figure the rest out ourselves. Of course my husband, with his military background and marksman qualifications, knows how to do it. The main issue was measuring distance. Which my BIL just paced off, anyhow.

I think we can manage more accuracy than that, with what we have! 😀

Adjusting the scope was not the only thing that was a problem. The other was cocking it in the first place. The kit came with a rope cocker. There is a rock cocking groove at the end of the stock, just before it can be adjusted to size. The middle of the rope goes in the groove, two hooks with pulleys hook onto the string, from under the stock, and there are a pair of handles to pull on. At just shy of 6′ tall, he actually had trouble cocking it, once he straightened up past a certain point. He already had doubts that I could cock a bow with 220lb draw weight, but in the end, I’m basically too short. If he, at about 8 inches taller than me, was having a hard time, it’s pretty much assured that I don’t have the height and arm length to be able to raise the string high enough to latch in place!

He recommended we pick up a crank cocker.

Since we were never able to complete sighting the scope, I never fired the crossbow myself. That will just have to wait a bit longer.

In shooting the crossbow, he had a couple of issues with it. Obviously, the scope itself was one. I know that a lot of people who buy kits will replace the kit scope with a higher quality one right away. This wasn’t a matter of quality of materials, but adjustment. He also didn’t like the trigger, which was something else I saw some reviewers complaining about. It does, however, shoot well and shoot true. Once the scope is properly sighted, we should have no issues with it. I’ve seen reviewers complain about the adjustable stock, but he had no issues with that.

He also really didn’t like the rope cocker. He had mentioned to me that he had a friend who bought a crossbow and, the first time he tried to cock it, it slipped and he almost groined himself severely. He then immediately got rid of it. As my BIL was repeatedly cocking the bow, he said he could see just how easily that could happen. Eventually, I learned that when this person had tried to cock his bow, the stirrup slipped off his foot.

The instructions are EXTREMELY clear about how important foot placement in the cocking stirrup is. Which rather makes me wonder just how closely instructions were being followed. Mind you, this happened quite some time ago. The instructions may well include that now because people were hurting themselves by having just their toes in the stirrup, instead of having it under the middle of their foot.

There’s a reason the instruction manual has more safety warnings than pretty much anything else! This is not a toy.

So now we need to figure out where to set up a target practice area, mark out distances, and figure the rest out ourselves.

I did have some unexpected disappointments about the whole thing. While they are not being mean or malicious about it, it’s clear neither my BIL nor my sister are confident in me. Not just in being able to use and shoot the bow (yes, I have the physical strength pull 220lbs draw weight with the rope cocker), but they seemed to assume that this was some sort of spur of the moment thing I decided to do, without any sort of research or analysis, first. Like I was thinking of it as… well… some kinds of toy. The fact that I hope to actually use it to hunt is another area they clearly didn’t have confidence in me about, with both or them, at one point or another, making sure to mention that a deer will run off after being shot, and then it needs to be tracked. I knew that, of course. It happens even when hunting with a rifle. Why did they assume I would not know that? There were a few other… assumptions… made that had me wondering. I think part of it, for my BIL, was simply because he assumed that since he was having such a hard time with some things, I would have an even harder time, and not things where my height would make a difference. Was it because I am female, and they assume I’m weak? Or because I’m fat? Or because I’m the baby sister? I don’t know. It was off putting, even though I could tell they did not have any ill will behind their comments. More like their filter was off. 😀

Well, we shall see how things work out over time. First things first. We need to get that scope sighted properly, and then I have to practice. My husband will be able to cock the bow, no problem, and honestly, I think I might still be able to as well. Even if I can, we will be getting a silent crank. The rope cocker, it turns out, squeaks! 😀

My daughters, meanwhile, are pining for a compound bow.

I foresee a future Christmas gift…

The Re-Farmer

Second row cover, a determined little bugger, and happy times!

Today, I was able to find a piece of wood of the right size to put end caps on the second chicken wire row cover. When I headed out to start working on it this evening, I discovered…

… that little woodchuck is a determined little bugger!

Over the next while, I made sure to make lots of noise as I went past the stairs to make sure that, if the woodchuck were in there, it would run off.

My daughters told me earlier that they’d seen the littlest woodchuck in the birth bath, drinking water. At least it was just the little one. The big one would have knocked the bird bath right off its pedestal!

One of the things I was thinking of while adding the end pieces to the row cover, was how to support the chicken wire. I no longer had any hula hoop pieces, like I used in the last one. I thought I might be able to use some old hose pieces, so I went to the pile of junk and odd bits and pieces by the old garden shed. I had left a damaged hose there, and used pieces of it to hold the mosquito netting onto the hula hoops when we had that rigged up as a cover over one of the spinach beds. When I looked at the hose, though, it was so floppy from the heat, that I could see it would never be able to hold up the wire mesh.

However…

… among the miscellaneous bits and pieces, I noticed some wire that looked pliable enough to bend into a curve, yet stiff enough to hold up the chicken wire. I was able to cut three lengths that I could weave through the chicken wire, and was able to push the ends in between the boards the chicken wire was held by. It did the job really well!

With the heatwave returning, I am thinking to sacrifice some old sheets to use as shade cloths, draped over these frames. The problem is, there is still one more newly planted bed, and I am out of the materials needed to made another row cover like these. We are going to have to figure something out! We finally have the radishes, kohlrabi and kale sprouting, along with the chard. I’d like for them to actually survive!

After this was done, I banged around the concrete steps for a while and, once sure that there was no critter under there, brought over some bigger rocks and broken pieces of bricks to fill the hole in again. Hopefully, these are big enough and heavy enough that it won’t be able to dig through again.

I was just about to head back inside while the girls were getting ready to do the evening watering, when I had a very happy surprise.

My husband actually felt well enough to walk around outside! He got a tour of most of the garden beds, and even felt well enough to walk to squash tunnel. He didn’t use his walker – it may be a heavy duty walker, but even it can’t handled the rough ground out there – and he didn’t even use a cane! Granted, it was slow going, and walking over those old plow furrows took extra care, but he did it! Gosh, I can’t remember the last time he felt well enough to go outside, without needing to go to a medical appointment or something. I’m so happy! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden; new seedlings – plus critters

Today, with repeated warnings for thunderstorms, and even the sound of thunder in the distance, we got only a smattering of rain this afternoon. Barely enough to get the ground a bit wet. 😦 At least we’re a couple of degrees cooler than forecast. With the conditions we’ve had this year, our Rural Municipality officially declared an agricultural emergency. We had one last year, and I seem to remember there was an attempt by the province to declare one the year before, but it was rejected by the federal government. When I was growing up here, there were no such declarations. Whatever federal funding programs that are now available were brought in while we were living elsewhere, in cities.

It was during one of those times our skies were spitting a bit of moisture that I headed outside for a bit and made a point of checking the newly planted beds. Happily, we now have more seedlings appearing!

Yes, these pictures were all taken after there was some rain. :-/

Both types of chard are showing seedlings, though I only took a photo of the one type.

It would be awesome if we FINALLY got some kohlrabi! We will be taken extra steps to try to protect these beds, since what’s growing in them are favoured by all kinds of critters. The red flakes you see on the ground around the seedlings are hot pepper flakes, which we hope will deter critters better than the sprays and granules we’ve bought.

Which leads me to why I headed outside.

I saw the woodchuck out by the old compost pile again.

Yes, I sprinkled the new mystery squash seedlings growing in there with hot pepper flakes, too.

As I came out, the woodchuck watched me for a while before finally running off and into…

*sigh*

…the old burrow we thought had finally been abandoned. We’re still running water into it, and collapsing the entrance little by little. The entrance is not being cleared, but they’re still squeezing in.

After seeing the woodchuck go in, I went and raided my kitchen cupboards again and dragged out a package of whole, dehydrated hot peppers. After giving them a rough chop, I scattered them in and around the opening.

At some point, we will be sure enough of it being empty, that we can finally fill it in. :-/

While heading back inside, I did get a chance to play with some more pleasant critters. Butterscotch’s junk pile babies!

Three of them like to come out to play with the stick, though they still won’t come close enough to touch. There’s that one tabby, hidden in the background, that just will not come closer.

I saw Rozencrantz’s babies – the other junk pile babies! – today, too, though I couldn’t get any pictures. The one that looks like Nicky the Nose is a bit braver and doesn’t run off until it’s sure if I’m coming closer. They like to play in the soil the cucamelons and gourds are planted. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except that I’ve caught them actively digging into the edge of the bed! At least they’re not digging near the plants, themselves. :-/

While we are still getting thunderstorm warnings, when I look at the hourly forecast, the warnings disappear. Instead, we will have sun and clouds for a few hours, and then it switches to “smoke”, all night. There are quite a few wildfires in the province right now, including about 5 that are listed as out of control, but none are near our area. Fire risk, of course, remains high so we are still under a total burn ban. It looks like we won’t get to test out the firepit grill my brother and his wife got for us this year at all, nor the big BBQ that they passed on to us after getting a smaller one for themselves.

Maybe we’ll get a chance to use them in the winter!

The Re-Farmer

Distractions

Last night, before doing the evening watering, I did a couple of things to – hopefully! – distract the deer away.

One of them went around the Montana Morado corn.

The aluminum tins spin freely on the twine, so I hope they will do as distractions. We can add more distractions after a while, to change things up before they get used to them.

This next one is more of a diversion than a distraction. On a wildlife group I’m on, someone had posted a picture of a deer with her fawn, in their yard. With the heat and lack of rain we’ve been having, they had put out a bucket of water for the wildlife. The mama and her baby promptly showed up and started drinking, even as the guy who posted the picture was sitting on his deck with a coffee!

We have water bowls all over the place for the cats, plus we found a way to keep using the cracked bird bath. Which is great for the cats and birds (and skunks, and probably the woodchucks and racoon), but they’re rather small for deer. I imagine they might still be drinking from them, but for the amount of water in the shallow containers, it wouldn’t slack their thirst.

It occurred to me that if we could set up water for the deer in the right place, we might be able to divert them away from the garden. The deer damage we have been seeing has been comparatively small; they seem to be just nibbling a few things on the way by. My thought it, if they can get water somewhere away from the garden beds, they won’t have a reason to go by and nibble.

The deer go through the maple grove and jump the fence at the gates along West fence line. Our kiddie pool isn’t being used right now (who knew a kiddie pool could be so useful?), so I set it up near the old willow that overhangs the fence. The rocks and bricks are there to keep it from blowing away if it gets emptied, but for little critters, like frogs or kittens, to use to climb out if they fall into the pool.

I checked it this morning, but I honestly couldn’t tell if the water level had changed much.

We’ll see if it works!

Meanwhile, here are a couple of other distractions. Some pretty, developing tomatoes!

This is one of the Mosaic Medley plants. It’s such a dark green! There are others I couldn’t get good pictures of that are a much lighter green.

More like these.

These are the itty bitty Spoon tomatoes. They’re so adorable! 😀

Last night, after setting up the deer distractions, I stayed out to do a very thorough watering of the garden beds. Last night, I ended up awake and 4am and unable to get back to sleep, so I finally gave up and headed outside to do my morning rounds early. With the expected heat, I stayed out to give all the garden beds another thorough watering.

Then I napped. LOL

This afternoon, after coming back from a dump run, I stayed out to check the south garden beds and noticed that the gourds were actually drooping from the heat. When a hot weather crop like gourds are feeling the heat, I am glad I gave everything that extra watering!

Meanwhile, as I was writing this, my daughter went out to put frozen water bottles in all the cats’ water bowls.

Any little bit to help the furry critters deal with the heat!

The Re-Farmer

Squash tunnel mods, and what is that? Oh!

I had to make another trip into town today, because I forgot something yesterday. I’ve been making more errand trips in the last few days than I do in most months! But that’s okay, because it gave me a chance to find and pick up other things.

Like these modifications to the squash tunnel.

The first is a solar powered, motion sensor spot light. Hopefully, it will get triggered by deer or other critters going after the garden and startle them away. Putting it at the beet or carrot beds would probably have been more useful, but we don’t have anything south facing that we could mount it to. If this works, we can get more (and better quality ones) and install posts to mount them on.

We’ll test it out tonight when, hopefully, it will have enough charge to light up, and we can make sure it is in the on position.

I also finally picked up a thermometer.

Wow.

According to my desktop app, we’re at 23C/73F right now, but out in the corner garden, in full sun, we’re at 32C/90F.

Where the squash tunnel is, there is no shade, even in the early morning hours. It is full sun from sunrise to sunset, so this thermometer will likely always read on the high side. I still wasn’t expecting a 9C difference, though!

Once these were up, I went to change the batteries on the garden cam. In the process, I noticed something very odd in the ground. A strange line of holes.

You can sort of make it out in this photo below.

It’s in between the red dashed lines I added. My foot is at where the line ends.

The meandering line made me think it was following a root or something, but why where there holes in the ground here at all?

When I tipped the camera stand down so I could access the battery case, I found myself right over this line, and quickly saw what made it.

Red ants.

And the line lead back to this.

The camera focused in the wrong place, though. It’s that blurry, reddish area in the background.

That is a red ant hill.

I don’t know their proper names, but we mostly have two types of ants here. Red ants and black ants. The black ants burrow into the ground, creating low hills in the grass with the soil they displace. They are not aggressive, but their burrowing can be destructive, killing off any plants at the roots.

Red ants build their hills with spruce needles, which they will drag over surprising distances. They will build hills on or in logs, under rocks, in the cracks of sidewalks or paving stones, or they’ll just make a hill on the ground, like this one. These hills can become quite large. The one in the photo is about mid-size. Red ants are more aggressive and will bite if disturbed.

We have quite a few red ant hills. A couple of the maple logs behind the house, from the trees cut away from the roof, now have red ant hills in them, their hollow middles stuffed with spruce needles. The metal ring used to contain the fires made to burn out diseased apple tree stumps is still out near the garden, with pieces of metal covering it. I’d moved them to put some invasive vines in the ring for future burning, only to discover it was half filled with spruce needles, and crawling with red ants! And now I’m seeing this new hill, near the garden cam.

As long as they don’t start building hills in the garden beds, we’ll leave them be.

The Re-Farmer

Garden finds, mystery squash, and pretty things

Heading out to do my morning rounds, it was already getting really hot. As I write this, we’ve reached 28C/82F, and we’re still about 5 hours away from when the hottest part of the day usually hits. We’ve got forecasts for possible thundershowers this afternoon. I hope we at least get some rain, but I doubt it.

The spinach we set out to dry in the sun room was… wimpy. 😀 I set them up outside, covered with mosquito netting, to dry in the sun and wind. We’ll see how it works. Meanwhile, once the oven is available, after making a spinach frittata, I plan to set some up to dry in there.

I had a very pleasant surprise while checking the garden.

The bigger Crespo squash plant has flower buds! Quite a few of them. It looks like it’s all male flowers for now, just like with the other squash.

Speaking of squash, we have some mystery squash!

These have popped up in the old compost pile. I’m not sure what they are. When we cleaned up the squash beds last fall, we used the old compost pile instead of dragging everything across the yard, but I didn’t think anything went in there that had mature seeds. The only think I can think of is the pumpkin. They were planted very late, and the few pumpkins were quite small and green when the first frost hit and killed them off.

It would be cool if they were pumpkins! Whatever they are, I’ve been watering them, too. 😀

Then we have these, near the pink rose bush in the old kitchen garden.

I had spotted them last night, when they were just little bumps breaking through the ground. They tripled in size, overnight.

In setting up the old kitchen garden beds this spring, one of the things I made sure to do was make paths that allowed us to enter and exit the garden in several places. The straw covered path that runs across the far end of the garden, near the beets against the retaining wall, continues around one of the rhubarbs and out the middle.

It now has a “gate.”

An asparagus gate!

It always amazed me that these are still coming up at all. There were more of them, when I was a kid. My mother had asked about them, not that long ago, and she mentioned that these were here before my parents bought the property. Which means they’ve been growing here for at least 60 years. I’ve never seen spears suitable for harvesting, but that’s okay. I love the ferns!

Now, they make a lovely gate across the path. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Captured!

Part of my morning rounds has been to check the garden beds for deer (or other critter) damage. Since we lost several Mongolian Giant sunflower transplants, there has not appeared to be any more damage in that area. In the main garden beds, there has been little more than a few spinach that the row covers aren’t long enough to cover, showing signs of nibbling. That’s it.

As for the garden cam, it’s been getting video of cats going by lately, and that’s it.

This morning, I saw no new damage to the garden, though one of the support poles holding the rope and twine in one of the sunflower transplant rows was fallen down. It had broken and is a bit shorter than the others. I’d tied a plastic grocery bag to it and the rope at the top, but with the winds we’ve been having, it was no surprise to find it fallen. Those bags sometimes act like sails! When my daughters first set this up, the middle support poles were simply slipped through the divided strands of the rope, rather than tied, so for the shorter pole, it would have easily just slide off.

Other than that nothing else was amiss in the garden beds.

Then I checked the garden cam.

I’d say we are very fortunate that there was no damage this morning!

Yes, that is a deer and her fawn off in the distance!

I saw in earlier files that the support pole was already down before they came by, so it was not them that knocked it over. That grocery bag hovering near the mama is hanging off the rope the fallen support pole had been holding up.

In the next file, I watched as the mama casually ducked under the rope, which is what it’s in the middle of doing in this image.

Clearly, the ropes, poles, and flappy noise makers are no longer acting as a deterrent!

There was one last file, and then they moved on. You can just see the spots on the baby in this image!

Watching the files was interesting. While they did snuffle about, they did not try to eat anything in the rows. There are so many miscellaneous plants coming up here that, other than the sunflower transplants, they’d have to seek out individual seedlings in between the weeds. So… the weeds are basically protecting our seedlings right now!

They also very gingerly stepped OVER the rows. Which makes sense. The soil in between the rows is harder, so their hooves won’t sink.

Another thing I noticed is that this pair came from a direction I did not expect. We will need to keep that in mind as we increase our deer deterrents.

There was one more night time file after this; Nicky the Nose making his way between the rows!

The girls and I will move the trail cam again, later today. I want to try it at the opposite end of where it is now, and further away from the beds, so it will cover more ground. Since this camera is not a wide angle camera, it missed a lot where it is sitting right now.

Though it did a great job of capturing these deer!

The Re-Farmer

Furry things, pretty things and growing things

I tried to do another post last night, but simply could not load the WordPress editor, our internet was so crappy. My husband tells me it was working fine when he got up at 2am, which suggested that their system was overloaded, on top of the weather wreaking havoc on our signal. Satellite can only handle so much traffic at once.

It seems to be working well now so, to start, here are the photos I meant to post last night. 🙂

I just had to share this little cluster of family adorableness!

This is part of a strange thing that’s been happening lately. Nicco (the grey and white) is the cat all the other cats seem to bully all the time, poor thing. Including bullying by Beep Beep (at the top), her adopted mother, but Beep Beep is still very much a yard cat in attitude, so she bullies pretty much all the cats. 😉 Lately, however, Beep Beep has been hunting Nicco down for aggressive cuddles and grooming. In fact, as I write this, they are mashed together, asleep on my bed, with Beep Beep using Nicco as a pillow.

The sudden love and attention is wonderful to see, but then there’s Turmeric.

If Turmeric sees Beep Beep and Nicco snuggling, she will go over and squeeze herself in between them. Sometimes, it’s to join in the grooming and cuddling session, but usually, it’s to try and nurse on Beep Beep.

Who is letting her!

The kittens are a year old now, and Beep Beep was never shy about weaning them. For the spice girls, they found solace in “grandma”, who would let them nurse on her.

Very noisily.

Irritating, but when we introduced new yard kittens as part of our ‘population control program’, and she let the new babies try and nurse on her, how could we stop it? She played a big part in getting the new babies settled into the colony. 😉

Any that attempted to nurse on Beep Beep, however, would get smacked away. Eventually, they stopped trying, even on “grandma”.

Until now.

That Turmeric is trying to nurse again, after all this time, is maybe not that surprising, but Beep Beep allowing it certainly is! So is her sudden affection behaviour towards Nicco.

I wonder if it is some sort of reaction to her not having kittens this year, for probably the first time in her adult life? Normally, she’d be nursing a new litter right now.

Curious.

Meanwhile…

We had furry visitors last night, of the smelly kind.

After taking some pictures, I used the hose to drive them off. The big one went running to and under the storage house, but the little one disappeared around the cat house. I went around and fired the hose off at it again, and it ran off towards the storage house… then turned around and ran back! I got some video of it, but was never able to upload it (maybe I’ll succeed today). I kept trying to spray towards it, but it was willing to get wet, to get food. I don’t normally try to spray them directly, if I can avoid it, and this little guy was clearly very, very hungry, and I just couldn’t do it. I left it alone and let it eat.

Some hours later, I heard cats fighting, so I went outside to check. I never found what cats were fighting, but I did find this.

Two skunks in the kibble house!

Neither of which was the little one. That one was over here.

I have a container with water next to the steps that the cats like to use, and I think Little Stinky was drinking from it.

So, we’re now up to three skunks.

I did use the hose to chase them away. The two big ones in the kibble house did not get along, and as they ran under the lilac bushes over where they get under the storage house, I could hear one of them grunting and growling at the other. The little one by the stairs didn’t want to leave and tried hiding under the lilacs, but I think that has as much to do with the grumpy skunk as the water.

Hopefully, we won’t be getting more stinky visitors!

Meanwhile…

We had more rain during the night, but by this morning, we were bright and sunny again, though still quite windy. Of course, while doing my rounds, I checked all the garden beds and kept an eye out for more fallen branches.

The tomatoes are doing fantastic. I don’t think we could have picked a better spot for them! They get the sunlight they need from their southern location, while still getting protection from the driving rain from the trees above. They got plenty of rain, and are showing lovely new growth, with no signs of damage at all.

These roses were a surprise to see this morning. This rose bush is in front of the sun room, at the stand-alone rail between the door and the laundry platform. My mother had planted it there to help shade the sun room, but it keeps blocking our paths. When we were hauling loads of soil to the old kitchen garden, I tied the bush back, so we could get through without fighting it all the time. It worked out so well, I left it like that. It’s a mass of greenery right now, and these flowers are tucked away under the bulk of the branches, having burst into bloom overnight. The other flower buds I see are still quite small. There are more roses of this time in the old kitchen garden, and they not blooming yet, either, so these hidden roses were a pleasant surprise.

I had another surprise I didn’t get any pictures of. While checking on the Montana Morado corn (some of the smaller stalks look a little beaten down by the rain, but all still look very good), I passed the little kiddie pool we’ve been using to mix soil. There was still a bit of soil on the bottom I wasn’t able to get out when I was transplanting the Crespo squash. Just a smattering, sitting at one side. I’d added water into the pool, just to keep it from blowing away, but of course there’s more water in it now.

This morning, I found a frog floating in it.

We’ve found drowned frogs in the bird bath before, because once they get into containers like this, they can’t get out again, and that was my initial thought. Dead frog. I grabbed a garden tool to fish it out, only to have it dive down and try to burrow into the bit of soil on the bottom. I knew the frog wouldn’t be able to get out of the pool on its own, so I tried leaning a stick across for it to climb. That seemed too light, so I tried a brick. That would have worked, but the poor little frog looked like it was having a hard time, so I managed to get it out. I don’t now now long it was stuck in there, but it was looking really tired as it tried to get away from my hands, eventually letting me lift it out. I think it was quite happy to be on solid ground again!

I left the brick in the pool, leaning against the side, just in case something else falls in. We’ll bail the pool out until it’s drained enough to tip over without breaking it, later.

I like frogs. We’ve been seeing them in the garden, quite a bit. 🙂

One of the last things I checked this morning was the potatoes, and found another garden friend.

A pretty little ladybug, on a potato leaf.

I’m happy that most of what we’ve been finding among our plants have been beneficial critters, like frogs and ladybugs, and not the problem critters! Even the skunks are good for eating grubs that would otherwise be causing damage, and so far, other than a tulip, they’ve been digging in the lawn, which does just fine when the divots are put back later.

Now that the weather is turning again, we’ll have lots of work to catch up on in the garden. Especially weeding, but we also have one last bed to build for the cucamelons and the late sprouting gourds, along the chain link fence. We also have pink celery sprouts, but they were started so late, and are so tiny, I don’t know that they’ll ever be transplanted outdoors. We might be able to grow them in containers, though. Then they can be moved into the sun room in the fall, to give them a longer growing season. We shall see! I definitely want to get more seeds for next year, though, and start them indoors much earlier.

Here we are, so early in our gardening season, and I’m already thinking of next year’s garden! 😀

The Re-Farmer