Today we cleaned out my overgrown garden in preparation for Spring planting. We put the weeds and plants in the orchard to compost and feed the chickens. The chickens really loved this. It was a big chicken party - their feathers were all in a fluff.
It continues to be too wet too get tractors in the fields. We are sure glad we put all our rows in and readied our fields in December before it turned into a rain forest. Now we just need a bit of clear weather in April to plant cotton.
Sadly, Marigold didn't make it. She was an escape artist and had gotten out of the pasture before she got sick. We think she probably ate something she shouldn't have.
We planted red and russet potatoes today - the easy way. We layed down cardboard boxes. Cut the potatoes into sections and put them on the cardboard. Each section had at least two eyes. The potatoes were ones that were going a bit soft and sprouty from the pantry.
Next we covered them with barley hay about 4 inches thick. Any hay will do except bermuda hay because bermuda is the arch enemy of the garden.
We watered it in and will keep the hay moist. Now, we just sit back and wait for the plants to grow through the straw and die. Then we just harvest our clean fresh, potatoes by removing the straw which then becomes compost.
We also ran some chicken wire around the garden to keep out the sneaky hens. I think barley hay would just be too much fun for them to resist.
I am trying to do a little bit every day in the garden so as not too be exhausted and overwhelmed.
It is so hot here that herbs do not survive the summer. I do like to cook with fresh herbs - especially in the summer. So the newest garden experiment is an indoor decorative herb garden. I have parsley, cilantro, thyme, basil, and stevia and I will soon add oregano.
They make the room smell earthy and it adds a refreshing feel. So far the plants seem happy in this south facing window. Time will tell. As an added note, watering the herbs with water drained from the sprout jar gives them a bit of a boost.
Today I canned 8 pints of tomato sauce from these tomatoes that slowly ripened in the dark closet. I had picked them green before the first freeze. They aren't as tasty as vine ripened but they are way better than store bought. There is still about as many ripening in the closet. The secret is to keep them in a dark cool place.
I plan to start this summer's crop in a week or so indoors from seed. I plan to put them out a month early with cover and hopefully beat the heat this year.
My little buddy keeps herself busy while Momma cans tomatoes...
The children are exhausted little popsicles from washing their steers (28 degrees this am) and showing at a SAILA show all day. The boys are gone again before dawn to shoot state archery.
Our girl is the one you can't see because she is shorter than her giant steer.
Our oldest is waiting to go into the ring and is a smart boy because he realizes that sometimes ranch women have a lot of wisdom.
When I got home from the show I wanted to curl up on the couch and be warm, but I instead compulsively picked my green but not yet ruined tomatoes tonight by the headlights of the truck. Hopefully, they will ripen in the house but a bunch will be canned for green tomato salsa.
I am not obsessed with tomatoes. Really, I am not!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, brother Dan ran the CATS shotgun practice and Papa kept an eye on the farm. We finished plowing down yesterday and began listing (making rows) for next year's crop today.
These Early Girls were transplanted to the garden in August in hope of a second crop of tomatoes.
They are loaded with green tomatoes and hopefully will survive the cold nights until they are ready to be made into some Christmas salsa. We have diligently been covering them with a tarp every night. Our July tomato harvest was dismal as it was just too hot this year.
Broccoli is also abundant and delicious right now...
The hens are still laying lots of wonderful eggs and since they are happy hens the kids can lick the beaters after making lots of pumpkin cakes...