Friday, July 13, 2018

Garden tour..

Did I mention messy??  We sure are busy here! For the past month we have been completing 4H projects for the county fair next week. For a while it looked like my house exploded with rocks and fossils, then insects, and then rocketry parts and robots..etc.. We made jam too, and Genna sewed a skirt, it's getting done...slowly.. project by project.

Anyway, this spring my ten year old helped me put together a drip system for our gardens that runs off our outdoor faucets. It basically resolved all our gardening problems, but then our water bill was a whopping $200! We don't have a well at this 'new house' and I am sure missing our old one. But the landscaping is fabulously coming along and my flowers are looking good. The garden out by the mailbox looks super too with my egg and bee signs. I thought maybe you might like to peak at it some of it. It's been around 100 degrees every day for the past 3 weeks or so too. So this irrigation system is a huge blessing! 

 No not all my weeds are pulled the stupid dead cottonwood leaves from the neighbors tree are littering up our fescueless yard (is that a word?).


We had several volunteer pumpkins around the house, but I kept pulling them except for this ONE in the front...I might be regretting that. It's now up to 2 trellises.


see the bees?

It's covering one of my poor mums up. I keep trying to get it more light but it might be hopeless at this point. We can't wait to see what pumpkins we get.


Aldi has the fabulous landscape fabric for $3.99 a role in the spring. I bought a lot of it, and it sure makes a huge difference. When mulch goes on sale, we will finish it all off. I have a ton (literally) of Kansas native rocks- almost all limestone, thanks for 4h geology. I think next year i will be able to complete it all. You can't see all the rocks out in front but the whole front garden is rock border.


These are Brenden's little raised strawberry beds, and pole beans. I believe he has a cucumber, watermelon and a cantaloupe/or gourd in the far right one.


This is a new garden we put in this year on the south side of our house. LOTS of Bermuda grass was killed in the process ;) Still lots to get rid of yet as you can see. Landscape fabric sure slows it down.  We planted yellow squash and zucchini plants along the edge. (*We use 7 dust, I have tried so many different tricks over the years and something (insect) always kills my plants...unless we dust. Water is expensive and so is my time)


So there is a bunch of clearance purple spikes I got for $1 at Walmart taking off and thriving over here. The bees should appreciate them. Again needs more mulch and lots of Bermuda was killed.


(Above) If I turn around right here this is what's behind me- see the rogue squash plant? The fence will get painted in the fall, along with my bee stand, and a table and some other various things.

(Photo below) this south side of house garden is incomplete. Remember last year when I put in a beautiful garden and this exact area was mulched? I even had landscape fabric down?  Well that whole area was dug out by the excavators last fall for a collapsed sewer lines. So  I lost everything, and the dirt has finally settled- was mounded up high. I put some Better Homes and Gardens blueberry plants there- I hear they are very hard to grow.

They are irrigated and that crab grass looks terrible! Do you love the new sewer clean out next to my rain barrel?


(Below) That huge broad leafed plant below is zucchini. It was almost taken out by moth worms in June. Knox id'd the worms and then went out and surgically removed about 40 of them with his pocket knife. Our yellow squash plant which was the first to show symptoms of an insect attack, had two stems, one died Knox cut all the worms out of the other side and it wilted. We didn't think it was alive actually. I saw one green leaf sprouting out of all the dead wilted leaves and I am proud to say it's making a comeback. Lesson learned. NEVER give up on those squash plants. They are very resilient. It's got about ten new leaves and a small squash now.


My grand entry into my garden has a little gate and this empty trellis, and right now as we speak a climbing rose is starting to go up it. It's there under my yellow squash plant.


I keep the hives here right now on that beautiful bee stand Brad made for my birthday.





More strawberries in the middle here (above photo) and raspberries below on the right side. They like having the south wind blocked here in Kansas in the summer. Our weather is HOT HOT and dry but then somehow it's always humid too. And the wind never stops. 




So there is a lot crammed in this photo, tomato plants, milkweed (thanks to my mom and kids saving the monarchs- we tag them for KU remember?) Various pepper plants and a butternut squash plant that grew over the fence into the yard.


Lots of dead cottonwood leaves. It's our state tree.


That tall thing is a milkweed plant. I do actually irrigate them for the butterflies. They have no human purpose in my garden. Oh look more dead cottonwood leaves.

During the morning the sun has to get up above a huge Elm in the front, then it's full sun till high afternoon and that pesky cottonwood sort of shades the garden. We always blamed the lack of afternoon sun for our pathetic gardens till this year...but not now...we figured out it was a watering problem.  The kids hope to take some ripe veggies to the fair next week, but I have a feeling nothing will be quite ready yet. Our picking is just off for the fair. We have been picking stuff, but I can't save it that long lest it wilt and be wasted.

Hope you enjoyed my messy garden tour!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

So what have we been doing? hail storms, Polyphemus moths, chickens, bees, geology, army...

Summer is here! Well, it's probably still springish some places, but not here we went from winter to summer, sort of skipped spring I think.  We have been on several awesome geology field trips, the hubs and I went canoeing for our anniversary, and we collected a bee swarm, plus got our garden organized and a beautiful watering system in place. I sort of accidently took over my husband's shed with our flock of "too many hens" and bee keeping supplies..as you can see in the photos. 
  



I clearly need my own shed so he can have his space back.


Then earlier this week- these arrived!  Clearance Honey extractors!! OOH BOY!





One is huge, and it's only a 2 frame extractor. I ordered one for me and one for my dad...I feel bad for our mailman.  We treated the bees for varroa mites tonight and checked to see there were eggs and babies. All seemed well. The reason we check for eggs and babies- tells us the queen is alive and well. An egg is only an egg for 3 days..so if you see eggs, your queen was alive at least 3 days ago. Babies indicate she was alive 4 or more days ago. Anywho, that's why we check, no queen means you end up with a dead hive. I have a hive that was strong after winter but lost it's queen. I tried over and over to requeen it. They kept rejecting the queens- even ones they reared. So I have slowly reduced them down to one sad little deep box. They are ready to be shook out and the box removed. 

Here is the swarm we caught a couple weeks back. We got a call from a little old lady who is terrified of bees. It was a small swarm and Knox even stuck his hand up in it.


Brad did a great job placing them without a jolt into the box, they never flew up or broke their beard. I clipped the branch they were on and he set them in side the box Knox was holding up over his head. Great teamwork,and took less than 5 mins. The swarm was on the small side, so I have been feeding them sugar water and also gave them a full frame of capped brood- it was due to hatch in three days, from my designer Italian bees from California! They are doing very well now! We even marked the queen purple. 

So random chicken pictures...aren't they pretty?




So while I was at my mom's holy hour- she was in Florida, our polyphemus moth finally hatched. Brad put the kids in bed and walked out into the living room and found it walking down his arm chair.

These are not small moths.. Knox did a project talk back in February on Polyphemus moths for 4h days. He actually had this cocoon on display for the talk and explained to the judge it was going to be hatching this spring...and she did. I called our 4h leader around 11 pm  and she brought over her female moth, and we left them outside together. They called in 3 males! Unfortunately the cats tore up two of the male moths badly, they weren't dead. And Brad caught the 3rd giant male moth on our garage.



The gas company decided to randomly show up to fix a leak without notification. Go figure every time we get grass planted, seems like it get ripped out! LOL! I do think we have about everything fixed in this old house though.


There are some of the eggs, we hope they were fertile and will hatch. We left a male moth in with her hoping they would mate again if needed.



So it's been 3 years, and my peony plant finally bloomed. And we sniffed it every chance we got!






This little girl loves her daddy!


We have a black cat family, they are the best cats ever. They catch and kill everything. Good thing, because of the mice that hang around due to our chicken feed.


These cats are so affectionate, and my girls love to play with them. They never get fiesty or scratch, they are very tolerant. Momma kitty was a feral cat we found under our shed with a litter of 5 kittens- like the week we left for Florida a few years back. We kept her confined and fed her hot dogs. We would play with her kittens and finally allowed her to come lose into the homeschool room. She eventually let Genna and Knox pet her and somehow they convinced her they would like to pick her up. And  I guess she liked it to much she is now our full time pet! We got her spayed and shots. Two of her kittens we kept as well. They are awesome cats!



Zoe the chicken whisperer...she can literally catch any old onry hen. She doesn't have to even run them down. She just nabs them, I have no idea how she does it.



Oh I did say we went canoeing for our anniversary!  We used to canoe the Mulberry river once a year..and haven't been for 10 years- since the babies came. So we went back this year alone, we had so much fun, it was weird. It's the first time we left our kids to go somewhere together. I am not a fan of vacations without our kids.  I know there is a lot of couples who feel that they need that time to get away from their homelife I suppose to connect with their spouse. I don't know any homeschool moms who do leave their kids on the weekends to go on short trips...so there is my disclaimer for anyone who is wondering if this is something we do frequently. No we don't keep up with the Jones' in that sense.


That's the edge of the jump...


Can you see the Hang Gliders signage?

Mother of Divine Grace families- we took the time to 
go to Mt. Magazine! Just so we could show the kids pictures. 


It was an easy walk.  Very scenic, except for the top! 


My pictures are in reverse. 



We canoed 14 miles in about 4 or 5 hours.











Okay, who doesn't love wild horses??
Especially some spirited ones, with their long mains whipping
in the wind across a Kansas prairie?

Every year we seem to get to go back to one spot in particular to collect fossils and there are wild mustangs. It's so cool.





alway catching something...


That's my crazy brother in law! He is getting my sister a lovely rock for mother's day. He chose wisely, the rock was full of gigantic horn coral.


Kansas sunrise out near Peabody.





we collected behind a Regal Cinema- go figure! *Brad works security at one..lol!

These next pictures are from Pillsbury Crossing. I only know about it because my brother would tell me random things about it from college. We finally got to see it for ourselves! Its absolutely beautiful! TONS OF SNAKES!


We counted 15 water snakes in about 20 mins.





See the snake below? There were two, but my camera didn't get the second on quick enough.




Luckily none of the snakes were poisonous, but I am not sure I would go in the water like some of those other people....eeeek. I love snakes, but not those 15, and there were tons more, we just stopped counting.



I am not sure who's front yard this is, but we always pass it near Marion Lake.

Now more recently- as in this past week, my poor van got nailed with hailstones.



The faint white blurry atmosphere below the clouds that falls to the ground, to the left of the street sign arrow, and to the right of that car coming down that ramp- is the hail storm making it's way across the eastern edge of our county. We drove away the opposite direction as it moved NE and we were able to see it clearly from the highway. Our weatherman was behind us watching it as well on the radio (otherwise I wouldn't have see it)

Also this week, Genna and I got to travel up to hear Laura Berquist speak at Benedictine College. On the way there, we stopped at my college in Leavenworth- it happened to be alumni weekend, although I didn't see anyone coming in.


Overlooking the river from Amelia Earhart's house in Atchison, KS.


That right there, incase you can't read it...Leavenworth's Federal Prison.


It's a very stately prison, very impressive. I love driving by it. 




Moving onto some pretty pictures from home..




That is a linen my mom brought back from Ireland for me and I placed my Belleek porcelain honey pot on it for now, till I can fill it with our homegrown honey. Belleek is made in Ireland. They get imported, and I found a deal on them online. Gave one to mom for Mother's day and the kids gave me my own ;) 


So the husband and I celebrated our 2 son's birthdays! We took them to Buffalo Wild Wings and had cake here at home.





Gotta love family selfies!


So what do you do with a an ex-army turned cop dad? You stick all your kids and cousins in a cool video about honda minivans...in camo of course.



I got to wear his red beret- I felt very special!


See my rooftop snipers?









Go Army!


Literally Brenden will play in his Fr. Kapaun outfit all day as an army dude. He patrols the borders of our property, it's hilarious. He goes out and waits on his dad to pull in after work to greet him. We have no shortage of nerf guns here. We also have cats who guard us from the trees- literally the tops of our 50 year old elms...so ye have been warned!


Here is my parting video for you... I hope you laugh and enjoy! (Complete with classical music, Ride of the Valkyries...because we are all about that!)