These are gardening glory days. We have been picking lettuce for a few weeks now at our farm and this week harvested our first row of peas. Meanwhile, our black raspberry bushes are yielding big, beautiful berries, which are wonderful whether eaten fresh, in desserts or made into jams. Our strawberries took a short break from production, but again are blossoming, so soon there will be another crop of those to pick. In another week or two , there’ ll be beans and beets ready.
It’s a little overwhelming trying to keep up with the garden’s prolific production, but it’s a good problem to have. What we can’t use, we give away. It’s fun to share the bounty with friends and family who don’t have the time or space for a garden.
Besides being a healthy addition to our family meals, our garden is a great way to teach our children that the food that comes from the earth looks — and tastes — much different than the stuff that comes from the store. My sons and daugher know that the best way to eat peas, for example, is to shell a few and pop them into their mouths while they’re picking. It’s the same way with carrots. The “baby” carrots that come pre-cut in plastic bags don’t compare with the ones they pull from the garden, rub on their pant legs to remove the dirt, and bite into. And there’s nothing like a sun-kissed raspberry fresh from the bush
As always, I’m thankful for God’s goodness, this time in the form of nature’s bounty.
This was a great summer for my family. My children were healthy and happy and spent a lot of time outdoors riding bikes, swimming and playing with friends. I had a good time gardening, taking evening walks and going on an all-too-rare horseback ride. Brian, my husband, spent a lot of time pounding the pavement in preparation of the Twin Cities marathon.
As always, summer vacation is drawing to a close too soon. Next Wednesday my kids will be back in the classroom and the old routine will begin. In a way we’re already back in the routine because my sons have been going to football practice for several days.
As with other summers, I didn’t get all of the projects completed that I had hoped to this summer and several will be have to be put on next year’s list. I do hope to accomplish a few things on the list during the next few days when I’m taking some time off from work.
More important than getting projects done, though, will be spending time with my children before they head back to school. That’s something that’s way too important to be moved to next summer’s list.
This summer, like every other there is a whirlwind of acitity at our house. Baseball games, sports camps, trips to the swimming pool, bike riding, playing with friends and helping with farm chores fill the days of our kids and the evenings and weekeds of my husband’s and mine are chockful of gardening and lawn chores.
During spring and early summer, we spent alot of time in the garden planting, and then weeding the garden. Now we’re spending time reaping what we’ve sowed. The other night I startd picking raspberries at 8 p.m. and finishd in the garden at about 10 p.m picking beans. All the while I was picking beans I was being scolded by a raccoon who was likely telling me to get out of the garden so he could get to work on the sweet corn.
With summer so busy, it’s no wonder it flies by and my husband, kids and I are shaking our heads in disbilief that school starts in less than a month. While my kids like school they definitely do not belong to the camp looking forward to being back in the classroom .
Nor am I anxious for them to be there. I can’t relate to the moms I’ve heard talking about how they they are anxoius for school to start because their kids are so bored. My own find plenty of things to do every day and I’m happy to say that a lot of them are what I would consider to be old-fashioned, and creative fun.
This week my two sons spent hours dismantling a broken barn fan and then building things with its parts. They took the fan’s tires for example, and put them on an old bike they had taken apart, and pulled it behind another bike.
Then they took those bikes apart and made a double bike. Neither of the bikes they made worked very well but they had fun creating them and learned a litlte bit about mechanics and physics duirng the dismantling and building processes.
Here’s to more crazy, and anything but lazy, days of summer.
Â Â Â Although, I don’t do well in the heat, I’m not going to complain aboutÂ the weather of the past couple of days. The warm temperatures will help dry up some of the standing water and help the crops and gardensÂ grow.
Â Â Â Â Despite the heavy rains this summer, our garden is flourishing. Unfortunately, the weeds are, too. We’ve managed to keep them from taking over the garden fruits and vegetables by weeding around the plants, but as soon as it dries up enough, we want to cultivate between the rows.Â
Â Â Â Â Instead of going to the lake for the Fourth of July weekend, my family and I will spend it on or near the farm. Garden weeding is one ofÂ the projects onÂ the weekend list.Â Others include mowing, painting and baling alfalfa hay for our horses. We also hope to take in a county fair and will go to a cookout at my brother’s house.Â
Â Â For me, being on or near theÂ farm beats driving to a lake.Â I can enjoy beautiful scenery, be in relative isolationÂ and best of all, spend time with my family, without spending a lot of money on gas.
Â Â Â Â Wherever you spend the Fourth, I hope it’s good one!
Â Â Â Although, it will be a few weeks before it’s dry enough to plant my fruit and vegetable seeds, that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about gardening.Â Â On Saturday my dreams will come a little closer to reality because I’ll be attending Gardening Saturday in East Grand Forks.
Â Â Â I’ve attended the annual April event, sponsored by the North Dakota State University Extension-Service Grand Forks County and the Grand Forks Horticulture Society, for several years and enjoyed every one of them. The speakers are always entertaining and offer great gardening ideas that IÂ later try out on the farm. I had an opportunity to interview this year’s featured speaker, Rebecca Kolls, for a feature story and am excited to meet her in person. She’s funny, outgoing and full of information about flowers, fruit and vegetable gardening.
Â Â Â Besides Kolls, Gardening Saturday also will have experts talking about a variety of gardening topics including patio gardening, gardening with color and keeping varmits out of your garden. Meanwhile, there also are sessions on home canning, making hypertufa gardening art and garden power tools.
Â Â Â This year I’m bringing my 7-year-old daughter Ellen, who is my gardening partner-in-training withÂ me to Gardening Saturday. Ellen has helped plant the garden for several years and I thought it would be fun for her to learn more about growing fruits, fruits, flowers and vegetables. The more green thumbs in the family, the better.
Â Â Â Another weekend, another threat of snow.Â
Â Â Â I’d like to think that now that we’re into April, we don’t have to worry about snow any more, but that would be naive for a native North Dakotan. Around here we know that it can snow in the merry month of May. In fact, there are only a month or two of the year when it hasn’t snowed.
Â Â Â Â Â Â I’m a little nervous about this latest snow forecast because theÂ weather watchersÂ are hedging a bit on how much and where it will fall. It seems like when they really hpye the storm, we don’t get any, so I’m hoping that the opposite isn’t true this time.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Whatever happens, I’m going to make sure I get outside as much as I can this evening and tomorrow. It’s supposed to be sunny both today and Saturday, and I want to catch some rays. They aren’t warm enough toÂ tan,Â but they can sure do wonders for lifting the spirit. There’s nothing like walking down a country roadswith my children, husband and dogs to brighten my day and put life’s challenges — including ugly weather — in perspective.
Â Â Â Â This morning when I went outsideÂ to feed the horses, I could tell something was capturing their attention becauseÂ Zammie, Isabelle and Freda were gallopping around the corral and snorting. A few minutes later, after I’d fed Zammie her sweeet feed, she ran over to the far end of the corral and was whistling through herÂ nose as she stood, ears erect, looking south.
Â Â Â An unharvested corn field that earlierÂ had been sheltering a mooseÂ andÂ her twin calves lies to the south outside of our farmstead, so I suspect thatÂ may have beenÂ what wasÂ attracting the horses’ attention. Or it could have been deer that sensed that hunting was going to begin at noon today andÂ were seeking shelter inÂ the farmstead grove just beyond the horse’sÂ corral. I suppose it could even have been the coyotes that like to harass our dogs.
Â Â Â Whatever the critter(s), it made the horses skittish, although hey don’t need much excuse to react to things by taking flight on these cool, crisp fall mornings. The weather makes them even peppier than normal.
Â Â Â When I get home tonight from work it should be light enough to see what the horses were excited about. I hope it’s the moose or deer, not coyotes. I don’t mind the coyotes, but I’d rather they keep their distance. The moose and deer are welcome, anytime. In past years, moose have taken up residence in our farmstead shelterbelt during bad winter weather. They seem to like the company of the horses. The horses act pretty leery of the moose at first, but seem to get used to them after awhile.
Â Â Â After three days of wind and rain, I was glad to see that a few stars were twinkling in the sky this morning and that part of the moon was showing when I went outside in the pre-dawn darkness. It still was fairly windy, but that seems easier to endure when the rain isn’t also pouring down.
Â Â Â For the first time in several days, I was able to feed the horses outside, in their corral, instead of in the barn. The ground was frozen so I could spread out the hay without it becoming a muddy mess. Our farmyard also had dried up a bit so I wasn’t sloshing through as much water on my trips back and forth to the barn, and Rosebud’s paws weren’t covered in mud when she came back to the house with me. I left Maggie and Minnie in the outdoor kennel because they went exploring while I was feeding the horses and came back with their feet more black then yellow.
Â Â Â Although, we didn’t need the rain, I’m glad that the precipitation fell in that form instead of in snow as it did further west. That would have been a real mess.
Â Â Â When I was growing up, each fall my mom would talk about “October’s bright blue weather.” It made sense to me to refer to it that way because much of the time the skies were, indeed, a lovely blue during October. Meanwhile, the crisp air and falling leaves seemed to make the sky an evenÂ more vivid shade of blue.
Â Â Today, I got to thinking about my mom’s oft-repeated line and wondered if it came from a poem.Â An InternetÂ search showed that it is the title of a poem and that the line is repeated several times throughout.Â The first stanza of the poem, written by American novelist and poet Helen Hunt Jackson, goes likes this:
Â O sun and skies and clouds of June
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather
Â Â Â I have to agree with Jackson. A glorious October day like today beats out any June day. Maybe it’s not so much that the weather is nicer, but that there’s’ a greater urgency to enjoy it this time of year. I know the cold, damp days of November will be here all too soon and that sub-zero December days won’t be too far behind.
Â Â Â The forecast promises a good dose of bright blue weather this weekend and I hope to spend a lot of time outsideÂ it.Â Â This is a lovely time of year on our farmstead with theÂ zinnias, cosmos and arigolds still blooming and bright leaves scattered across the lawn. I think decorating with some orange pumpkins and yellow corn stalks would complete the picture.
Â Â Â When I went for my early morning trek to the barn I could see the moon overhead and it still was big enough to cast some light over the dark farmstead.Â The light was bright enough to outline shapes and help me to avoid walking into or on something.Â But thingsÂ had changed by the time IÂ drove my children to school.
Â Â A soupy fog enveloped the countryside and it was hard to distinguish the cars that were ahead of me on Highway 18.Â The fog was even heavier on U.S. Highway 2. I opened my window to merge from the county road onto the highway because I didn’t feel comfortable only relying on sight.
Â Once I joined the traffic heading east on 2, I quickly figuredÂ out I had to Â drive more slowly than usual because it was nearly impossible to see theÂ cars ahead of me until I was nearly on top of their bumpers.Â Â Â
Â Â Driving through the fog felt a little surreal because I couldn’t see the usual landmarks that tell me where I am. I was suprised when I came to the Magoo’s Tattoo sign along Highway 2 near the intersection of Highway 2 and 5. I hadn’t realized I was that close to Grand Forks.Â It occurred to meÂ that the saying “I haven’tÂ the foggiest.” was appropriate for what I had just experienced.
Â Â I don’t like fog.Â I am a person who likes light whether I’m outside or inside. If my kids are watching television in a darkened room I immediately flip on the lights. Meanwhile, inÂ the summer I can tolerate pulling the shades down during the dayÂ becauseÂ I know it helpsÂ keep the house cooler,Â but the first thing I do when I return home in the evening is to lift them up and let the evening light shine in. Good thing I’m living in North Dakota where fog is a rare enough occurrence that it’s worth noting.