Sunday, March 27, 2016

Stripping the Bathroom

Before I get to the ugly pictures, I'll show you this:
 Our early azaleas are blooming fully in the county. On the farm, we have NO azaleas, which seems impossible in the South, but it's true. Maybe we need a few.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch ...
The wallpaper is coming off!!!
 Adam shares my loathing of the old wallpaper. We agree that the room already looks bigger and brighter. It helps that he ripped out the three ugly cabinets! Now the wall above the toilet is open.
 I can't wait till this goes away:
 Every time somebody took a shower yesterday, Adam noticed that the wallpaper came off easier afterward. It's a rather moist room, especially because the fan hasn't been working for years. One of the first things to go in will be a working fan to keep the moisture out of the room.
Keeping moisture out is one of the more important things in a home in this waterfront county. Steady rains, hurricanes, rising rivers -- sometimes it feels like a rain forest. More updates on the bathroom will come later this week.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Farm Records: Late March

Dog Update: Gracie's owners have been found. Her name is really Joy. I'm sure they have joy in having her back home, but we will be more lonely than we were before if possible. The dog hunt must continue.

Broccoli is looking rather limp and pathetic. I think it doesn't like the warmth of the greenhouse, but it's not sturdy enough to plant outside yet.

On 3/24 I reseeded lots of tomatoes that hadn't germinated. The plants we have look very healthy.
The tomatoes started in the greenhouse have done better than the ones started in the barn. The greenhouse ones were mostly started in individual pots; the barn ones were started in black plastic cells. The difference is quite striking. The germination rate is much better in the individual pots, even if they're plastic.

I replanted Blue Lake green beans in their mounds. Only one had germinated and come up.

I put dill seed I harvested last July into the herb bed under a layer of moist straw.

There appears to be a random volunteer cucumber seedling in the snap pea bed. I wonder if it will fare better than the one in the greenhouse.

All the peas are doing well.

Soaked a packet of moon flower seeds in water and planted them near the pasture fence . A friend sent them to me years ago. I can't wait to see what they do.

We've been watering with "worm tea" the last couple of days. Adam collected worm casings and put them in water to soak, and then we use that water for the plants. It's a "super compost."  The worms are doing very well.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Welcome, Gracie

Some of you want to know Gracie's story, so such as it is, I'll tell it.
Adam's been scouring the internet looking at puppies, reading forums and sites about dogs for sale at various prices, various breeds. He happened upon this dog, a lost dog. The dog approached a lady, a stranger, begging for attention, following her desperately. She was lost, probably deserted, which is sad. Don't people KNOW that dogs feel that abandonment just as much as humans do?
The lady cared for her for a few days, put up posters and flyers and canvased her neighborhood in a 2 mile radius, but no one claimed the dog. She, however, could not keep the dog because she travels for her job. If she didn't find someone to adopt the dog yesterday, she'd have taken her to the pound, hating to do it. But she found us!
First we thought we'd name her Polly, but after Adam looked at her carefully he said Polly just wasn't right. He decided on Gracie. She's sweet, gentle, loving. She knows commands like 'come' and 'no' and 'shake' and sit.' Julia took her into her room last night, and Gracie looked longingly at Julia's bed, asking, "PLEASE let me jump up there with you and sleep????" Julia said yes.
Today when Adam and I were out in the field doing farmy things, Gracie finally lay down, put her head down, and rested at last from all her stress and worry of recent weeks. I leaned down and petted and stroked her head and said sweet doggie words to her. After that, she followed me all day long. Adam's calling me a Dog Slave. Hahahaha!!
Being in the field was fun again. I'm sure Gracie doesn't know what a difference she makes, just being there. Beau doesn't follow. Beau wanders away and makes one worry that he's in the road. Gracie does what we call "following in the front." She walks in front of you and tries to guess where you're going. Do you have a dog like that?
Gracie won't be a house dog. She stays in the pasture fence, with an electric collar, and if we leave she'll be in Adam's barn office with her food, water, and a comfy chair. At night she'll stay with Julia. I think she'll have a happy life here.
We noticed she has a soft mass on her right haunch, on the back. And she has a hard mass on one of her breasts. So she may well have cancer. We'll be taking her to the vet soon, and we'll get these looked at. Regardless of what can be done, she will have a comfortable, loving home for her later years.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Loathsome Bathroom

Later this month Julia and I will got away for a few days' visit with my family in West Virginia. While we're gone Adam will (hopefully) gut the bathroom and give it a total do-over. We planned to do this last fall when I left for a few days, but frankly, we were unwilling then to cough up the necessary cash to make it happen. Let me give you a tour of The Loathsome Bathroom. It's the room Adam and I both hate the most!
It's a tight spot. You can easily sit on the potty and fiddle in the sink, wash your hands, or brush your teeth.
I did not clean before taking these photos. It wouldn't have made any difference!
Immediately to your right as you enter, you have this crowded corner. The dresser gives me necessary storage. It's the only bathroom, so all bathroomy things must live here.
Ugliest wallpaper ever. Ugliest light fixture ever. And the mirror is almost bigger than the room itself!
Yes, I confess, I've begun ripping random pieces of wallpaper off the walls. It makes me feel better. And ... how could it make the room look any worse? Every inch of that paper that disappears is an improvement.
Okay, this is embarrassing, but ... in the interest of honesty ... here's the tub. The walls around it are not a solid surround, and not tile. It was some other type of wall they used for a while, but it has seams. And seams leak. Adam sealed the seams, but then mold grew on the sealant. I can't scrub it off or bleach it off. It's too soft. I've tried scraping it off with a razor blade, which is helpful, but I can't remove ALL the sealant or the walls will leak. This is the bathroom element that needs replacing the most desperately.
Above the tub -- high above, since it's a 10-foot ceiling -- you see a slightly bulging wall, moisture, and some mold there too. I'm afraid when Adam starts stripping things away, this redo could cost more than we anticipate. Oh ... and notice that horrific border!
On the left side of the room above the toilet are three large, ugly, necessary cabinets. All linens are stored here. One is a medicine cabinet.
We will keep the toilet, but it must be reset and sealed because it wobbles.
If you look up, you'll see perhaps the only thing in the room that I've decided I like. Maybe. I call it the flying spaceship light fixture. We will keep it and replace the fan that doesn't work, plus put a new fixture above the sink. Problem is -- the light switches for this overhead fixture and for the fan, are behind the door. How inconvenient is that?
 And the floor? Ugh. This is what the threshold looks like right this minute:
Now you know why we're so eager to get this room redone right away.
It's just an awful, ugly, snug little room. But Adam will do what he can to make it more comfortable for us, and cleaner and prettier. This is the BEFORE -- I can't wait to show you the AFTER!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Farm Records: Spring

Temperatures this past week in the upper 70s.
Today is cloudy, sprinkles of rain, 75 degrees at 2:00 PM.
It has been a warm, wet winter.
Less rain has fallen in the past 2 weeks.

46 tomatoes up, most with real leaves (probably have about 50 cells that have not germinated yet)
61 pea plants up in their beds
10 thyme plant cells up and green
8 parsley pots doing very well
7 dill pots doing very well
5 cilantro pots, up and green
35 cells of broccoli up with real leaves
6 large pots of pearl onions ready to go in a bed
1 cucumber up and seed leaves
1 squash plant up very well with real leaves, repotted
Turmeric and ginger root did not come up at all, Probably dead.
White beans that had come up were frozen out early and the rest probably will not germinate.
Chives have not germinated yet.
Heart of Gold cantaloupe has not germinated yet.
Gourds did not germinate.

honeybees are very active, lots of pollen coming in
2 apple trees in the orchard have new leaves -- the two espaliered trees against the west fence, in front of you as you enter the back gate
many carpenter bees around the garage shed, orchard, and pine copse. These are good for pollinating fruit trees.
worms are doing very well. They ate the entire fall pumpkin we put in there, within a few weeks, plus lots of other food scraps, etc.
garlic in the bed is tall and healthy
lettuces are up some and small
2 hills of beans have sprouted
garbage can with potatoes: 5 plants are green and healthy
Wheat and barley field looks much the same as all winter, about 4-6" tall.
Winter garden of greens was an utter failure, planted in very wet area.

Dandelions are blooming well.
Japanese magnolia is in full bloom and passing.
Daffodils are in full bloom and starting to wane.
Forsythia is in new bloom.
Lily bed I planted in the fall is up and green, about 6".
Fig tree has little leaves.
Floribunda roses by the front porch are leafing out well. We failed to prune them back hard in the fall or spring, so must do that this fall.
Artemisia overwintered well, lots of new growth.
2 clumps of sedum look very healthy, coming up.
Hosta plants are not showing at all yet.
Astilbe plants are not active yet.
Lambs' ears overwintered beautifully and have spread.

Herb bed:
Oregano is doing very well -- 3 large patches
2 rosemary bushes are healthy, if not robust.
2 patches of mint are returning.
One sickly plant of thyme still has a couple of green sprouts trying to live.
Sage plant overwintered well and is growing.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Farm Sees Its First Spring

Spring came in one day, on Tuesday. We woke to warmth and sunshine. I know spring doesn't really come until later in the month, but here in Pamlico County, it's certainly arrived! As most of you have already read on my other blog, that morning we also suffered a crushing loss here on the farm. Two of our dogs, Sandy and Maggie, were killed on the road in front of our house. We have been dealing with our loss and grief this week. So much of what we do, and especially what Adam does, each day, revolves around those dogs. Not only does the farm feel lonely and empty and quiet, our lives do. We are quite thankful to still have Beau. There's something particularly difficult about losing two in one day. Adam buried them back where the passion fruit grows along the fence between the orchard and the barn:
He planted a new forsythia bush there to spray out bursts of bright yellow spring each year where they lie.
In other farm news, Adam has tilled up a long stretch of soil along the roadside fence for sunflowers.
 The last picture I took of Maggie. She and Beau were running toward me. Sandy was by my side.
The peas are quite UP! We have many of them in both beds for peas.
And Adam has fertilized the pecan trees. 
Little violets are blooming in the floor of the orchard now that the sun can reach there.
We so enjoy having a troop of dogs, especially here on the farm. In the fall, Adam says we will think about finding some new puppy friends to keep us company in the pasture. Until then, Beau will have to tolerate being smothered with love.

Friday, March 4, 2016

What's Up in the Greenhouse

I'm on vacation at the beach, but a couple of days, here's what the greenhouse looked like. Lots of little baby plants are UP and seeing the warm sunlight ... well, at least it's warm in the greenhouse.
Above: little tomato plants that Adam started in his office under grow lights (apparently they actually start better in the greenhouse!), heart of gold, more tomatoes, broccoli, more tomatoes, little wildflowers
Underneath all that are three big tubs of pearl onions that are looking fabulous.
On the right side of the greenhouse we have a trashcan tub of potatoes, more of Adam's tomatoes, cilantro that it well up, parsley that is looking green and lovely, peppers, thyme, basil, gourds, cucumber that is up at last, and chives.
In the ground beds we also have lots of peas popping up, plus various lettuces. So exciting! Next week, when our warm temps come back, I'm hoping more and more things will be growing and greening.