How Does Your Garden Grow? - Home on the Range Blog at - 271193

Home on the Range

How Does Your Garden Grow? 
Mar. 25, 2012 7:57 pm 
Updated: Mar. 29, 2012 11:33 am

A little reminiscing about last years garden, and working toward this year's.
Gardening here starts late and the season is short so I have to start quite a few things indoors. The only place in the house that gets enough light to grow anything is the big window in the bathroom, above the clawleg tub. Unfortunately, once things emerge, its not quite enough light or heat, as they sometimes stretch and become weak and leggy.
There is an old computer cabinet that I no longer use, as I have only had a laptop since we came here, and I see no reason whatsoever to go back to a desktop computer.  I decided to repurpose the computer armoire. Potting soil and peat pots reside in one cubby while my Western Garden Book and seed catalogues take up another. A grow light is mounted under the shelf and the seedlings get to live under that. There is room for quite a few, actually. Once they leave there, they will go into a cold frame or a temporary greenhouse outside.
I am hoping for a good spring, as I have a rather extensive list for the garden this year. I really need to get a couple of years canning done, as every year now, I get a bit slower and less constructive.
I have seed for tomatoes, peppers, green beans, peas, squashes, both summer and winter, corn, cabbage, cauliflower and brocolli, lettuce, spinach, pumpkins (mostly for the animals) hot peppers, pepperoncinis, green onions, shallots, garlic, carrots and I have yet to buy some seed potatoes. I also have basil and chives already growing and parsley, cilantro and thyme that come back every year. Then, of course, there are the raspberries, blackberries and strawberries we already have and I have a currant bush on order. A good year would fill our pantry and give me seed for next year as well, as most of the crops are from heirloom seed.
Working with a limited budget ( a great deal is spent on the animals) we make do with what is on hand. Old feed tubs make raised bed planters. Another raised bed for the raspberries is made with rock and dirt from on the ranch. A walkway was started last summer from concrete and an inexpensive form and an archway will be made with t-posts and a cattle panel for growing a vine on. Old horse troughs which no longer hold water have been repurposed as planters for both flowers and herbs. A few vegetables will be scattered in on the North side of the garden with the flowers, to fill in bare spots. This is the main view out of the house windows. The South side of the yard will be primarily vegetables with a few flowers thrown in for companion planting.

Winter hosts a stark and barren garden, but spring will return and the rock wall will come alive with climbing roses, trumpet vines and virginia creeper cascading up and down its face while sunflowers, liatris, coneflowers, 4 O’clocks and shasta daisies partner with annuals to cavort at its feet. The lawn will green up again and the hummingbirds and goldfinches will return. The quail, always present, will keep taking their little walks on the top of the wall, dropping down now and then to stroll through the garden and glean what they may.

Another day without the internet. I am realizing that I use that as my rest periods throughout the day. Without it, I cannot stand to sit still, as my mind goes 100 mph all the time. This morning, I went out and raked up leaves and debris away from the fences, picked up around the back yard some and filled the backpack sprayer with some Round Up. I sprayed all the upcoming weeds where the flower beds will be, as well as the edge of the lawn by the fence, where it can’t be mowed. I cleared off the rock siding of the raspberry bed and sprayed the cracks in the faux rock walkway. I put a pre-emergent in the raspberry bed, and around all the fruit trees, then mulched them so they will do better and I won’t have to fight weeds around their bases this year.
Randyman hooked up the springtooth harrow to my 4 wheeler so I used it to drag  Emma’s corral, the big corral and the small pasture, then I broadcast spring wheat in Emma’s corral for the chickens and pasture mix in the big ones for the larger stock. Then I drove the harrow around again to help cover the seed and got the sprinkler going. It was time to milk Em so I got that done, fed Stinky his bottle, let out the sheep and gave the calves their grain and cleaned up all the equipment from milking. I was feeling a little weak so I made a quick sandwich with homemade wheat bread and fresh eggs. It tasted just outstanding. Hunger really is the best seasoning.
Without the internet to play with so I could have a ‘recess’, I sat down for a few minutes and hand basted the hem in Abby’s new dress I made with the old treadle sewing machine. Nothing else was going on, so that got dull after a bit and I went out to visit the dogs and sheep in the pasture.
I trudged down there with Cider and we all met up just short of the ‘octopus tree’. My feet hurt pretty bad, so I laid down. The pasture is still that tawny gold color, but there is a hint of green all around with the newly emerging grass that is just now coming up. As I sat, I realized that it was utterly quiet. There was such an absence of noise it was as if we were in a living snapshot. Then, ever so slowly, sound began to emerge. First there was Cider’s gnawing on a bone, his total concentration on it, next was the twitter of a bird in the orchard behind us. Those were the only two sounds for several minutes and in the near silence I scanned the area with my eyes. I could see the form of EmmaLou far down towards the bottom of the pasture, nosing around for grass, closer by, the sheep laid all around, cudding contentedly while the lambs leapt in the air twisting and kicking their little heels up.  Bruno and Cletus sat rigidly, focused on something to the south that only they could see. As it came closer, I was able to see as well. A pair of Canadian geese approached and settled just yards away in the marshy spot where the spring is. Cletus stared at them, while Bruno quietly walked the other way towards the fence and circled around behind them, very slowly and carefully, trying to determine if they were a threat or not. The geese watched him approach and finally took back to the air, their great wings making a whooshing sound as they lifted those beautifully marked and graceful bodies to the sky. I considered, again, how wonderful it is to hear only these things. No sirens, no phones, faxes, boom boxes or tv...just the breathing of life around me. Cletus came over and dropped his big head on my chest for a hug. I buried my fingers in his deep thick coat and smelled him. He smells like comfort and the outside. I laid back and dropped my arm across my eyes to shield them from the sun. Cider dropped his bone on my stomach and I threw it for him. Time and again, he brought the bone, and I tossed it for him, never looking. The last time I reached down and found he had substituted an old cow pie for the bone. I dropped it and sat up. He looked at me expectantly. Always the jokester, he is.

I went back to the house to skim the milk. There were 5 gallons in the fridge that I needed to take the cream off of. I put some aside to make sour cream, used a gallon of milk to clabber and put 3 gallons in a pot to make mozzarella. There was already a gallon and a half of heavy cream in the refrigerator, so I put a little buttermilk in that and set it out to culture before making butter with it.
All the animals had come up to the corral. I fed the dogs in two bowls inside the sheep pen. The sheep ran over to try and steal from them, and Bruno snarled, warning them off. He is well within his rights to do so, and even though he sounds very scary, and will jump at the sheep, he won’t hurt them or bite them. It’s all a bluff, but very effective. Cletus, on the other hand, is the soft hearted one. The sheep came back to try a second time and Cletus jumped between them and Bruno to prevent the confrontation. I laughed, looking at big old Cletus, the peacemaker. He’s such a sweetheart. All done until tomorrow.
Mar. 26, 2012 3:15 am
Beautiful. Peaceful, and full of love. I can just see you laying in a field with a cow patty on your belly! That was too funny. Great job, again Petey!
Mar. 26, 2012 5:18 am
I saw your blog and thought perfect. I'll have a nice read while having the morning coffee. I love that stone wall! I could use one like that to keep the varmints out. Now to finish the coffee, I'm feeling inspired to go work in the gardens. The sun is almost up enough to see to weed and the grass is that beautiful soft green of Spring. Happy Gardening to you, petey!
Mar. 26, 2012 8:12 am
Good morning Petey - thank you for sharing your beautiful garden with me this morning. I can only imagine the sound of silence...ahhhh....I laughed out loud at the thought of having a cow pie dropped on you! My dog used to bring me horse apples....gee thanks, where's the ball? :) Your blogs always take me to a "peaceful place". Thank you.
Mar. 26, 2012 12:21 pm
As I read your blog I felt I was right there with you. I could picture it so clearly and smell the smells. I love to garden and even weed. I used to have a couple of plots and grew a little of everything from watermelons, cabbage, potatoes, corn, onions and even a couple of little cantalopes. I made the entire boarder with swiss chard in a rainbow of colors. I miss those plots. Thanks again Petey for making such wonderful stories. Hug those animals for me, would ya?
Mar. 26, 2012 2:03 pm
Lovely blog. Lovely garden too. There are landscape designers who would kill for some of the items you plant in. You make it all look so effortless, but I know what a labor of love is involved. Feel well!
Mar. 26, 2012 3:46 pm
Oh Petey, your stories take me to a place I've always dreamed about. What a lovely garden, I love the horse trough used as a planter and can see your rosemary bush next to it. You may have a short season but there is so much you can grow in the cooler climate that I can't grow in my tropical zone. I see Randyman working hard as usual and so nice you have the dogs to always keep you amused. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful life with us.
Mar. 27, 2012 5:36 am
As I do my work outside, I often think of the things you write, Petey. I try to mimic some of those things, like taking time to enjoy the quiet or noting something special that nature is offering. It is relaxing and refreshing to experience those things and I thank you for teaching them in your blogs.
Mar. 27, 2012 8:50 am
You guys are all so sweet, and your comments always so edifying. Thanks so much for taking the time and I hope you all have a fabulous week!
Mar. 27, 2012 10:06 am
Always a joy to read your blog!
Mar. 29, 2012 11:33 am
I too could almost smell the smells and things you were describing. I so look forward to each and every one of your blogs!!!
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
My favorite things to cook
Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
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Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
My cooking tragedies
A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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