Thursday, February 26, 2015

Too early to plant but work to be done!

I have discovered that my husband of many years has an electric hedge trimmer.  This is an awesome piece of equipment and I think everyone should have one!
Really this has all the fun of chain saw motion with much less danger involved and smaller limbs so it doesn't fight you as much.  I had been mentioning fairly often in recent days that the honeysuckle probably hadn't been trimmed in 10 years or so and if he got out the electric hedge trimmer I would go to work on them.  ('mentioning fairly often' is that thing that men call nagging and wives just call a friendly reminder!) He did get it out and two days and many scratches later the honeysuckle are pruned. (except for the ones we think are holding up the east fence...we aren't touching those until we are ready to replace the whole fence!)
There are two along the back fence, these are pink and yellow and the last two years they have been loaded with aphids.  Hopefully with the trimming and a little judicious spraying of soap and water early on we can keep the little buggers at bay.  I did not know that honeysuckle branches are layered and peel off in something that looks like basket weaving material.  I even found yellowjacket nests in this one!

this is the arbor between the house and the shop
this is the honeysuckle that hasn't been trimmed in years on the shop
this is the view from the other side of the arbor

I was pretty sure these had not been trimmed for several years and a couple of the plants were dead as of last summer.

I wanted to leave enough base for the vines to be trained onto and yet get rid of the spider home, robins nest, moldy leaves part.  Somewhere in that process I realized I probably should have had a mask on...sigh!

These things are all dead twigs and the big parts come off like a tumbleweed.  They are hideous to cut!  I will love them again when they bloom but I was about ready to rip them all out at one point!  The dead parts were hard as a rock and my arms looked like the cat and I had a fight, and I was picking little twigs out of my hair all evening!  The amount of dust that had built up in them was amazing and it was only the electric hedge trimmer that kept me going!  :)
 Hurrah!  We can actually walk through the archway now and the two bushes that I left are clean and ready for a little pampering this summer as they have been ignored and that's how they got this way!  They will get a little fish emulsion and some new weaving for the long pieces so they grow in the correct direction.  The arbor is close to our bedroom window and I have to tell you on a summer morning it is a lovely smell.  These bushes are the yellow and white ones with the black berries on them that I believe are poisonous.  The birds avoid them!
Yes this is much better!!
There seems to be such a lot to do before we even get our seeds started this year.  I think the major things have taken up a lot of our time the last couple of years and so these minor things are getting some attention now!  It is kind of nice to get out and work outside again...of course it may snow in a couple of days...ah well, we do what we can!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Touch of Spring Fever!

Seems like there is so much going on and so little sit down at the computer time!  My mother used to tell me how busy she was and I would tease her about being so much busier after she retired, and now I realize I wasn't funny!!  :)

The weather has been nice lately, we have been getting the weather the eastern part of the country is dreaming of, lots of sunny days and temps in the mid 50's (about 13C) not warm unless you stand in the sun - but so pretty, and of course I smile because in the northern states I know we all put on shorts and t-shirts the minute it hits 50 and the rest of the world would probably laugh at us if they could see!  (We went out for lunch after church this morning and were surrounded by t-shirts and flip flops!) It's really not warm, we just get excited after winter!

Hubby and I went to the Senior Center for lunch on his birthday in January and we walked through the 'Parks and Rec' building while we were there and noticed a "Kick Start Your Garden" class being given in February, so we paid our money and registered for the class.  It was a lot of fun and very educational.  The class is given by the University of Idaho Agricultural Extension Office (these are the folks that supervise 4-H, do soils testing for farmers and just all around ag stuff) The young lady who is an extension agent in our area was very good and easy to listen
The 'haul' we came home with!
to, the presentation was very timely as it was all about starting your seeds early and how to do it, she covered greenhouses, and starting in the window in the house, grow lights and heat mats, and hoop houses.

She went over starting mixes and clean pots and all kinds of containers.  She also covered frost cloths for when you get ready to harden your seedlings and how many degrees each would give you of protection.

We had a great time, there were a lot of people there and they asked a lot of good questions about things we didn't think of at the time or things we don't yet know about our growing season.    I think we would have felt it was worth it for the information but we also came home with handouts, a soil thermometer, a book on Idaho gardening and 12 packets of seeds! We paid $24 for the two of us and we had 3 hours of fun, got lots of information and some cool stuff.  We will definitely be watching for the next extension classes, she said it would be on soils and then maybe one on preserving.  I'm excited!

Of course all that talk of seed starting has us talking and planning our garden for 2015.  We have been talking about each of us picking one new thing each year to try, I think this year mine will be Kale.  It is not something I have had a lot of but it has so many health benefits we should at least give it a try.  Not sure what hubby will pick for his trial veg yet but we have our graph paper ready!!

I am fairly certain we will get a little cold winter weather yet before spring, but we are getting ready! (Always keeping in mind that when it gets hot I will be moaning and whinging for cooler weather!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Monthly 9

Did we really get all the days we were supposed to in January?  It somehow felt like a short month and I know it wasn't!

Here is my Monthly 9 Link Up - and don't forget to check out the others here.  This is kind of a fun way to look back at the month and see how we did on our goals and set new ones.

Nourish-  It was January, it was cold and about 3/4 of the month there was snow on the ground.  That means we ate, soups and breads and homemade cookies.  It's not that healthy but it is comforting!  My biggest problem with food in January was trying to fix what went wrong with my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  This is a recipe I have been making since 4-H and the county fair, we experimented all summer that year till we got a great recipe and then got a first place ribbon!  That was a 'few' years ago (I was 13!) so this is a recipe that I figured I had down pat!  The last 3 batches I had made came out with a greasy texture, so I experimented with adding a little more flour and finally came up with a fix (1/2 cup more flour) but still don't know why I needed a fix after all these years.  I am asking others if they have had a problem, could Crisco have changed their formula after all these years?    (probably some government plot...)

Prepare-  Preps this month consisted of lists, I made lists of things that I want to add to the 'pantry', lists of what was in the 'pantry' and inventoried the freezer.  I also learned to leave a pair of gloves near the freezer as I nearly gave myself frostbite.  (that is only a slight exaggeration!)  I use the word pantry lightly as I just have cupboards and not a pantry as such.

Reduce-  I cleaned out my scrap basket that contains the bigger scraps that could still be useful. I got enough out and cut into squares and neatly stacked that the cat could use the basket as a nap spot!  Cats do not like snow but they seem fond of the woodstove and warm boxes.

Green- Speaking of cats, we have had an issue with one of the cats that felt the need to urinate on the couch and hubby's chair.  I have put down plastic and some covers and am experimenting with homemade cat repellent spray, vinegar and citrus.  The jury is still out and I will keep you posted.  The cat never marks my chair - I tell hubby he is afraid of me!  :)

Grow-  We are not growing right now, we are cutting, when we have a chance.  The cherry tree that was here when we moved in, that is the biggest one I have ever seen, had to be topped as it was getting to the power lines.  When we had a day of no snow and unseasonable highs (10 degrees above freezing) we did it, we will see if it recovers, I hope it will, but there really was no choice.  We have measured the bottom that is left and the part we cut off and the silly thing was 30 feet tall!   We were just growing half the cherries for the birds!

Create-  I am on my second set of slippers this winter as I am playing with a double thickness of slipper.  I will show a halfway photo here and then when I get them all done will do a full post on them.  The premise is that I would start the slipper, get to the back which then becomes the center - (follow along here!) and then continue on doing the opposite so that I end up with a one piece that I can put together and have a double layer for warmth and strength.  I have done one pair already but they ended up too loose, so this next one is adjusted.

Discover- I like to sew as a rule, just not for myself!  It is silly I know.  I have had some fabric that I found on the clearance rack at Joann's for $2 a yard.  I have a skirt pattern that fits and a sleeveless top that fits, but I wanted a jacket.  I have a ton of patterns for jackets from the 80's (hush - quit laughing) that of course are no longer the correct size!  I had recently pulled out and gone through a box of books and found this old Coats and Clark's sewing book from 1967 (I think learned to iron on one like that).  The book had a chapter on making patterns bigger and smaller (like I'm gonna need that!) on a fairly large scale.  This has been really fun and now that I remember it's here I've been looking through at some of the things I got lazy and skipped in recent years, this is going to take my seamstressing up a notch I think!

Enhance-  We have had an elderly friend who has had the flu and various complications since Christmas, her husband has Alzheimer's disease and can't be left alone, so we have stayed with him and taken food and helped in any way we can this month - she asked how she could repay us and I laughed.  I don't live close enough to my mother to help her when when is ill but there are those who do help her so I will help Pearl and someone will help my mom and the world goes round.  I may need help one day too you know!

Enjoy-  I really do enjoy the cold days of winter.  I love the feel of warm clothes, gloves and wooly scarves.  I like the crawling in a bed under quilts and layers of blankets.  I relish the time to do things in the house and sew and crochet etc. to my hearts content.  Soon enough the garden will start making demands and it will be too hot to have yarn on my lap so I am soaking up the fun of winter while I can!  Besides it is beautiful!

Bears have been much in the news here in Idaho lately and so I am sharing this with you all as it makes me laugh every time I see it.  Have a wonderful February!