Well that was a nice little break…..

Montana has been so black and white (read: boring) for the last weeks…..months really… that I’m resurrecting all the pictures of flowers that I have lying around……

DSC00037 (3)and just staring at them.

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The colors……

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IMG_0051Ohhhhhh the colors……IMG_0499

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….. and the green……

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And the sunsets…..

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Summer! IMG_0477

 

Ok! Enough eye candy!

Let’s get to work! Farm on!!!!

What’s for supper: Avocado toast with cheese and dill pickles (do not judge me~ I LOVE dill pickles on anything/ everything…..my mouth is watering just typing this!)

Weather: Sunny and cold, with a high near 9. Wind chill values as low as -14. Northeast wind 10 to 13 mph. Tonight clear, with a low around -16. Wind chill values as low as -26. North northeast wind 6 to 11 mph becoming light north in the evening. Tonight cloudy, with a low around -6. Wind chill values as low as -26. ( I will not whine, I will not whine, I will not whine….WAAAAA!) Light north wind becoming north northeast 8 to 13 mph after midnight.

 

 

Being Thankful

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It’s still dark and will be for at least another hour or so.

The house is chilly and the “kids” (minus one) are still asleep. There’s apple crisp in the oven. The turkey will be next. There’s bacon in the cast iron skillet set on a low heat and I’m sipping coffee, reading the news at the computer.

The day will be packed with food and friends and chores.

There is snow in the forecast. But right now it’s quiet.

I have so much to be thankful for. My children are happy (and home!~ minus one) and busy building/ exploring their lives.

My husband is happy in his work. We are both healthy.

Our mothers are still with us and healthy as well. So are our many brothers and sisters (and their spouses and children).

We have so much: Good food. Safe water. Great friends and neighbors.

Our country is at peace. (This is especially important for the safety of my son and other mothers’ sons and daughters serving in the military.)

I am thankful.

We are thankful.

Wishing all of you many thankful days.

 

Maisey

This is a post about our cow.IMG_E0912

Maisey lived at a home dairy before she came to live with us. She was one of a small herd of about 7 cows, both mature, milking Jerseys and a few calves. She was sold only because the woman who originally owned her was about to have another baby (I think her 4th or 5th?) and she felt like 7 cows were just too much for her to handle. So Maisey came to live in our valley serving a large family of all girls.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It wasn’t long before the “all girl” mother found that the cow’s 5-gallon-a-day production was~ well~ a lot of milk. I met Maisey about 6 years ago when answering an ad on Craigslist for a “partner milkmaid”.

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So we milk- shared. I milked Maisey 3 days a week. Sandra milked her the other days. We both had lots of kids at home and it was the perfect solution.

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When Sandra decided she was finished with being a milkmaid, she offered Maisey to me.

We had the pasture.

We had the need.

We could use a full- time milk cow. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe brought her home.

She was pretty easy going. Always “happy” to share her milk with us (as long as we had treats for her). 🙂
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Over the years she raised several of her babies on our farm.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnd helped raise our babies.

20150912_184123And supplied extra milk for our “other” babies.

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But the babies grew up, as babies are supposed to do.DSC02994

My big milk drinkers left our home for their own wonderful adventures. And our milk needs diminished to almost nothing.

 

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Maisey is 10 years old. (Actually, her birthday is October 19th.)

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And since she was loved and cared for most of her life (and not pushed into having calves every year, like many milk cows) she has the potential to be productive for many more years. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Maisey is a milk cow. A working girl. Not a pet. We are not a petting zoo.

And at 10, she still has the ability to serve another family.

She NEEDED to serve another family. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

So I searched everywhere and finally found a family who could use a wonderful, slightly (only slightly) older milk cow.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA cow who is bomb- proof….

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES…..who needs a job raising babies. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

She went to serve her next family this weekend.

I am so thankful that Maisey was in our lives.

She will be missed. IMG_1162

 

Paradise~ just north of nowhere……

 

It has definitely felt more like fall these last few weeks. Almost springish- fall. Lots of rain. Lots of nice warm days and cool nights. I even got a few cool flower sprouts planted in the garden (more on that new experiment later 🙂 ).IMG_1027But then~ just like that:

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Of course, this is Montana and it’s not unheard of to have snow in November. Heck, we had snow in October last year!

I think we’ve even had snow in June!

July, even!! Ok~ you get the idea.

This is Montana. We get snow. IMG_1118

In other farm news, we have lost almost all our chickens. The weird thing is that they just disappeared. No feathers or anything. Sometimes they would be gone 5 at a time. I would open up the coop door to feed all the animals in the mornings (not too early either, way after sun up). Then when I’d check on them in the afternoon, some would be missing.

Hawks? Maybe.

Owls? Probably not during the day.

Fox? Maybe, but 5 at a time?

We’ve heard that the bears might be a nuisance this fall because the berry crop was so poor. And the friend we got Maisey from lost her flock to a bear. But I THINK (?) I’d see a bear in the yard if it were getting our chickens, right? Plus the dogs would alert me to marauding bears, right? right??

Grrrrrr! That makes me soooo mad!!!!IMG_1122

We only have one wiley hen left. And she’s on the lookout at all times. These days I just open the coop in the afternoons and be on watch until she eats. Once she moves over into the pig palace with the big pigs to scratch around, I can relax. The chicken seems to be safe with the pigs.

I think I’ll put out the trail cam and see if we can grab a picture of what’s making a meal (meals?) of my chickens!!!!  GRRRRR!IMG_1113

Speaking of pigs, they are doing great~ still not interested in letting me get too many close ups of their faces. I just love pig faces!!! They snuggle down in a huge pile of hay during these chilly nights. I’ll see if I can get a picture of them sleeping. Pigs are very alert to my approaching feet~ just in case there is food attached to the feet, and they jump up from their bed, leaving a steaming pile of hay. Maybe I’ll tippy- toe out there early in the morning and see if I can get a snap of them sleeping in.

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I (finally) got the dahlia tubers cleaned up and evaluated. They are all tucked away, safe from the cold, until they are divided in the spring. Now that I know what I have, I can make a list of what I need to fill in the gaps I have in my supply! Yay!

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Dahlias bloom really late here but they are spectacular. And we wait with baited breath until they make their appearance.

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Suncrest (need to work on my picture taking skills~ it’s a never ending job)

Soooo, I need to increase my stash of these lovelies!

Ok~ enough for today. More soon.

And some news……

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What’s for supper: Baked chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes

Weather: Patchy fog after 11am. Patchy freezing fog before 11am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 36. Calm wind becoming east southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon. Tonight patchy freezing fog before 11pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 21. Light and variable wind.

cold, frosty mornings….

….morphing into lovely fall days. The temps have been swinging from the low 20’s (17 one night last week!) into the 60’s during the day.

The garden clean up iiiiissssss. Sssssooooo. Ssssssllllloooooowwww. But I am on both feet solidly instead of 4 wobbly feet (crutches) like this time last year.

And I am thankful.

Most of the dead has been removed to the back of the truck where it will be moved to the compost heap. We have so much to compost this year!

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Garden tulip-bulb-eaters buddies in front of the pretty big pile of sweet pea vines. 

Usually I worry about composting because any little bit of missed food out in the open can attract bears. I’m not so worried this year because we grew more flowers than food.

Lots of Dusty Miller this year. I love this stuff! We’ve had several nights (as in~ almost-every-night-this-week) down way below freezing. But this great stuff persists. IMG_0733This year I decided to actually pull it a little early and dry it for later use.

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Pre- bundled
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Bundled and drying on our north porch.

So I have yet another geeky flower farm experiment going that I’m just sure y’all are just chomping at the bit to hear about!? It’s a small one (not like the one I’m going to show in the next post 🙂 )

Last year the area where I was going to grow ranunculus was still covered in snow when it was time to plant. So I planted the corms in crates. And placed them on the north facing patio. (The fact that they were facing north isn’t really important~ more like they were easy for me to get to on the north porch.) They did only alright. The plants bloomed but I wasn’t that impressed. It was my first year to grow them and I have a lot to learn about growing nice ranunculus. (I have another idea for runcs this year. I’ll bet you can’t wait to hear! Later~ I promise…..)

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So anyway these crates have been sitting on the patio waiting for me to get back to them.

Initially I was just going to dump the used soil into a flower bed, old corms (which I thought must be dead by now) and all. However, I was just reading on another flower farmer website that she re-uses her corms from year to year.

Hmmmmm.

I’m sure she probably takes better care of her little runc corms better than just leaving them off the back of the north porch to fend for themselves all summer. So I checked the soil as I was dumping it and LOOK WHAT I FOUND!!! CORMS! AND SOME OF THEM LOOK VIABLE!!! IMG_0833

Look at this fat little baby!

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Squishy all washed up.

“Hey little guy, I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my squishy Come on, Squishy Come on, little Squishy” (name that show…..Oh, I think I’ve used this before…..)IMG_0831 (2)

I have a nice little stash of older corms to grow alongside the newly purchased corms. (Ooooo! I feel another “experiment” coming on!) It took a while to go through all those crates and pick out the corms that might be viable. Hopefully it will be worth it.

Besides, what else do I have to do?

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Paradise~ just north of nowhere……   🙂

 

What’s for supper: Rice, sausage, kale and onion stir-fry.

Weather: Sunny, with a high near 64. Light and variable wind. Tonight clear, with a low around 26. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph after midnight.

 

 

 

snow!

We had a skiff of snow on the ground this morning!

Here! On the valley floor!IMG_0488 (2) Of course I have no pictures of snow in the yard this morning because I am pretending I didn’t see snow in the yard this morning. And if I didn’t see snow, then it really didn’t snow. Right?

 

IMG_0459 (2)Meanwhile, the garden clean up is going slowly.

Mostly because I am playing a little with pumpkin flowers (flower pumpkins?)…..IMG_0706

…hollowing out the seeds and making a small nest for flowers to sit inside.

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This one is going to a friend to remind her how much she is appreciated
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This one is going to a local restaurant where I provide table flowers

And also I’ve been planting tulip bulbs. Lots and lots of tulips.IMG_0704

I must plant the bulbs in raised beds with hardware cloth under the bed because we have ground squirrels that would tunnel up and eat the bulbs through the winter if they were not protected. Planting these bulbs is easy but time consuming. Since I will harvest the whole tulip, bulb and all, in the spring, it’s not necessary to plant these guys as far apart as I might if they were living and growing in the landscape. So they go in like eggs in a carton~ all snuggled up against one another. They will bloom in a drift of color and will be easy to harvest.

I also have another area where I’m planting tulip bulbs in our small town. Since the temperatures in town are often warmer than out at our farm, the tulip blooms will hopefully be staggered and won’t overwhelm us with flowers all at once. IMG_0686 (2)

My helpers are accompanying me to the town gardens where, of course, they will steal bulbs from under my nose and pretend they don’t know what I’m talking about when I fuss at them.

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“Bulb? What bulb, mom? I don’t see any tulip bulb!”

See. Here’s McKinley with her dirty face and her eyes closed pretending there is not a half chewed bulb laying at her feet.

Wonder where she learned that?

 

What’s for supper: Bacon with sauteed onions and sweet potatoes.

Weather:  Sunny, with a high near 47. East northeast wind around 7 mph. Tonight partly cloudy, with a low around 26. Calm wind.

It’s late (0745) but the sun is just making an appearance. The light really messes me up this time of year. It seems like it’s way into October before I move with the flow of fall instead of fight against the change. Don’t get me wrong~ I LOVE fall but weather changes gives me “itchy feet syndrome” (no~ not the kind of itch that needs a powder 🙂 ). I think it’s that last “I-need-to-get-out-into-the-woods-before-the-snow-comes-and-makes-us-housebound”. Except I used to feel this way in Texas too. Hmmmm. Weird.

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The garden is almost completely cleaned out. The sunflower stalks, leftover squash vines, old spent bean plants~ all are slowly being harvested and given to the cow.

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All that’s left growing is this very lovely chamomile. This stuff is so hardy.  And it smells really nice too. I have bouquets of it all around the house. It won’t be much longer til we have no fresh green available to us.

Maisey is in heat. You can hear her singing all over the valley.  We are really fortunate that our neighbors don’t mind the noise.  One of my friends even mentioned that she likes the sound of Maisey’s bellowing. She explained that she grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and the “singing” reminds her of home. That’s a good thing! Maisey can really belt it out! Maybe I should have named her “Bette”. IMG_0594 (Look how fuzzy she’s getting! Ooops! That’s just my amazing picture taking skills! Pych!)

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Poor thing. She just knocks the little bit of grain from her bowl onto the ground and it becomes fair play. A little treat for her becomes a treat for all.

 

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And look! The piggies have finally figured out that I am the candyman~ er~ girl~ um~ woman. These little fatties now come running too me when I come out with the white bucket instead of running away. Look at that sweet pig nose! (This picture is a little deceiving. The pigs are over 100 lbs but this snap makes them look smallish. I can’t give them ear rubs yet. But I don’t think it will be long before they let me scratch them. They don’t know what they are missing!)

Of course we can’t have a post without a little bit of farmer geekness:

Did you know that strawflowers close up their buds at night or on a cloudy day? I didn’t. I’m not sure how many evenings I ventured out the the garden to harvest the strawflowers only to find them tucked up for the night. This is how I want them to be when harvesting~ open and showy and all lovely and such. DSC03144

Instead I find this:

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Hmmm. Who knew? I sure didn’t! So now I need to sneak out later in the day when the sun is high and the bugs (IE: bees) are all active, so I can snip me some open strawflower blooms.

Ahhhh~ paradise, just north of nowhere…..  🙂

What’s for supper: Pork roast with mashed potatoes and salad.

Weather: Showers. High near 53. South southeast wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Tonight showers likely, mainly before midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 34. East northeast wind 11 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

 

31 on the porch this morning. Bleck.

I’m not sure how the sunflowers are surviving~ but they obviously are as evidenced by the header pic. I guess they are just all snuggled up together? And keep each other warm? (Do flowers keep each other warm?)

Maisey is starting to gain her winter colors. Her coat deepens to almost mahogany. In another several weeks I will try and move her further away from the woods into a new  paddock. Hunting season will be starting soon and I don’t want her big bulk to be mistaken as venison. IMG_0270

Joey just celebrated another birthday! With just a touch of gray at her muzzle, she doesn’t look a day over 8! Here she is showing off her tiara.

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“Oooo~ it’s hard to keep these things on straight!”

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She insisted on a profile shot too. Such a glory hound! 🙂

Well, I’m off to finish up a bit more in the garden. It’s a big job but not as overwhelming if I complete the clean up in pieces. Today I’m preparing next year’s potato patch~ this means tilling the soil, spreading manure and a long acting organic granular fertilizer then covering the soil with landscape fabric to protect it from erosion. It’s a big job now but will make the frantic-ness of spring so much more manageable.

Just a quick shot of last night’s supper~ grilled pepper and onion and cucumber sandwich. Yum!

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Just a short post today….more frost is in the future

It was very chilly on my front porch again this morning. 35 degrees, I think. And more cold weather is forecast tonight.

DSC03125The flowers that didn’t bite it after the first frost last week just shrugged off the temperatures.

It’s a good thing too because I need to fill more flower orders before weeks end.

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This is a running time of year….

….running to harvest the veggies before frost….

….running to put up all that food and dry the blooms…..IMG_0375

….and get the animals ready for the cold weather…..IMG_0386

….you know. Stuff.

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Gotta run now and mow the lawn!

I love mowing the lawn!!!!

No, really!  🙂

 

What’s for supper: Taco soup~ w/o the corn

Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high near 65. South southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. North wind 3 to 5 mph. Tonight partly cloudy, with a low around 35.