A Backyard Wheat Field . . . Oops

The sky’s a dusty blue globe, waking up from the night, slowly bringing color to the world. Soon the sun will rise, and the birds will sing. Like the morning wakes our bodies, so springtime wakes the earth.

It’s that time of year. The farmers are starting their sprinklers, discing their fields, preparing for another season. In two months, farmers will walk onto the fields, alfalfa stem between their teeth, debating when to cut the first cutting of hay.

The sun setting behind a hay field.

Excitement flows through me simply thinking about it.

February’s always the most boring month of the year. Even though I hardly noticed it this year, there’s nothing like shedding our winter coat. When we can open the windows, sniff the sunshine and listen to the birds. Everything’s still brown, but I can feel it. In my bones. I can feel the promise of something beautiful to come.

With over enough to do on the farm, the men still helped me in my garden. They parked a pickup bed full of railroad ties beside the garden and asked, “where do you want ‘em?” My smile nearly reaching my ears, I told my thoughts. With the dullness of winter, I hadn’t thought about it nearly enough, so they waited while I calculated and measured. After one and a half hours the raised bed stood boldly in the corner of my garden.

I want to plant potatoes in it, maybe onions or garlic yet.

 I’ve never grown garlic, but I hear for spring planting they have to be planted in early spring. How early in spring though? Late winter/early spring, end of march or beginning of April? I really should research it more. I wanted to plant garlic in the fall, but I could not find garlic bulbs anywhere in my town. And I knew if I ordered them, they wouldn’t arrive on time because I waited too long to start looking.

Onions I’ll plant in mid to late April, I think. Last year I planted them in mid-May. They would have sized up nicely if I hadn’t had to harvest them in July. I made the mistake of spreading grass clippings around the plants. The plants began to rot at the base and flopped over. They tasted great though. I froze whatever I didn’t give to my mom. In January I used the last bag of onions.


Mixing our own Soil

My dad mixed our own soil for us. I’m a bit nervous that’ll compact. Without mending it every year, I bet it would. I’ve heard dirt works differently in raised beds. But he mixed straw and cow manure into it—I know that will help. I plan to add bio-tone fertilizer or something of the sort every year. I’m hoping with enough love and care it’ll turn into good soil.

I wouldn’t have wanted a raised bed. But a noxious type of grass is creeping its way into my garden; I thought a raised bed would help prevent it from taking over. Also, last fall I thought, “I’m going no-till.” No weeds, better soil—a bullet proof idea I thought. Well somehow, I ended up spreading a wheat bale over my garden. I wanted wheat straw for mulch. This bale looked like wheat straw, perfectly yellow. Until I opened it.

Long story short, the soil needs to be tilled multiple times before mid-May to prevent a backyard wheat field. Hopefully it will bury the seed far enough, keeping it from sprouting again.  I needed the potatoes in the ground before that, thus, the raised bed. Seedless soil, wheat straw without the seed—starting over. A perfect place for early spring root crops.


Refreshing the Home

Spring cleaning starts next week. I’m looking forward to it. To hang curtains, linens and blankets on the clothesline, spring air flowing through the windows. A time of year to refresh everything. Bring order back into my kitchen. Organize my office. Wipe everything, from the ceilings to the floor corners. Every nook and cranny.  

But before that, I have to sew at least two dresses.


The hyacinth and tulips are beginning to sprout. I’m so excited to see spring color in the yard. Hopefully they’ll be blooming over Easter. My mother-in-law gave me the hyacinth last year for Easter. I planted it, thinking it might die either way, this way I’m giving it a chance. It was the first thing to come up this year

Writing a novel also kept me busy this winter. And many other things. I’m not sure what I did, but I did something. Previous winters I’d write all day, because I didn’t have anything else to do. This winter, I did good if I got over two hours of writing in a day.

I am making progress though. Use to be I’d write faster, but this time I’m taking it as slow as I need to, making sure it’s the best I can do. I’m hoping to have it written and edited by end of July. Take a break for a few months. Edit it again. By that time, I will have worked on this draft for over a year.

It’ll be a busy year, so we’ll see how things turn out. But at least it feels like I’m finally starting. And I am ready!

I will hopefully write to you again in a month. With a lot more updates. Until then, I hope you enjoy the spring season wherever you are. 😊

My God bless you,

Maria

Enjoying Summer While it’s Here

Sometimes I find myself needing that little bit of “quiet time,” even though I’m by myself almost the entire day. Sometimes I just need that little bit of time to sit and rest my mind. I have a very busy mind. If I’m not thinking, I’m sleeping. And sometimes I’m simply not sleepy. (haha)

I can see my family and friends raising their eyebrows if they’re reading this. They assume I’m always sleepy. Because it happens quite a bit, but not as often as they think.

Every now and then I need to rest my mind and just enjoy the life God has given me. I don’t always allow myself to do this. I tell myself, if I’m not working, someone else is. Taking time to myself is a challenge I accepted, and this past week I allowed myself to do just that. Yesterday, I sat in the shade of our elm tree and literally watched the corn grow. I savored every cucumber bite from my Kansas cucumber salad, and relished in the flavor of my cucumber water. Then I read a book for ten minutes. After fifteen minutes, I felt rested and ready to go back to work. It doesn’t take a lot of time to feel rested-depending on how behind you are.

I’ve learned that sometimes we just need to take the time and rest.

And boy, those cucumbers were good! I’ll write out the ingredients, incase you’re also up to your knees in cucumbers and need a good way to use them.

Kansas Cucumbers

Recipe from Sandhill Favorites Recipe Book.

1 c. mayonnaise

4 T. Sugar

4 T. Vinegar

1/2 tsp. salt

3-4 large fresh cucumbers, peeled and sliced

Combine mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Pour over fresh cucumbers.

This recipe book is loaded with a bunch of good recipes. A lot of them are traditional Mennonite recipes, but there’s a bunch of other good ones too. Here’s a link to a publishing company I found that sells the recipe book online, incase you’re interested.

I went for a ride this morning with my horse, Scarlett. Usually, before breakfast I work on my novel, but this morning I really wanted to go for a ride. I had a feeling it would be a beautiful morning, and it was. The sun’s light glimmered through the cloud cracks, slowly peaking over the light blue clouds, that stretched along the eastern horizon. The corn stood still and the birds sang in the trees, as we walked along the road, carved into the earth after years of farm traffic. Scarlett snatched a few corn leaves, unable to resist the greenery, I don’t think she was impressed though. She didn’t go back for seconds. 😛

(Last time I mentioned how we don’t farm sweet corn; to clarify, the corn crop I’m talking about will be chopped while it’s still lush and green, for cattle feed during the winter. Also, it was planted late, so growing sweet corn in it was not an option.)

This picture was taken while I enjoyed my Kansas Cucumbers, a day after I groomed the dog.

The dog trimming was a success. For a first-timer, I think I did verily well. But goodness, to anyone who grooms animals for a living, y’all do hard work. After that, my back was spent. The dog walked into the house, plopped down on the kitchen floor, and acted like he was tired. He just stood on the porch steps, sitting occasionally. (Haha) He was a good boy though, he did a good job.

I had a good week, full of work, friends, and family. We didn’t get the corn freezing done, but I’m hoping we’ll get that done next week.

I also spent one afternoon at a coffee shop, laughing and talking with some amazing friends. One of these days I will take my laptop, order an ice coffee, find a cozy corner in our local coffee shop and work on my novel. Or I’ll read a book. That sounds like a vacation to me. 😀

One day . . .

I will talk to you all back here in a few weeks,

Have a good weekend guys,

Maria-

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Exciting things are happening in the garden . . .

It was a pleasant day. The sun gleamed on the ripening pumpkins, providing the perfect light for a quick photo, by my poor quality phone. (I refuse to get a new one until this one breaks.) Flies buzzed passed my ears, while others hovered over the dogs head, sneaking the occasional sting of blood from his ears. The dog huffed even under the shade of the small elm tree, for the weather wasn’t unbearable, but not enjoyable for a husky/golden retriever, with fur as think and long as broom bristles. I have planned to cut his hair this week yet. The groomer does an amazing job, but Buddy needs a trim so often it drains the stashed coffee pot. By grooming him myself a few times a year, I hope to save a few dollars.

I wanted these pumpkins for fall decoration, but looks like they’re going to be ready to early. 😛

After I swept the kitchen floor, made the bed, washed the dishes, tidied up around the house, and set out meat to thaw for lunch, I jogged down the porch steps and walked to the garden. I keep the garden hoe hung on the tomato trellis; it saves a lot of steps from the shed to the garden in the summer. But before I began the hoeing, I picked the ripe vegetables, brought them into the kitchen, washed them, then laid them out on a kitchen towel to dry before I set them aside for storage.

Today’s harvest.

My mom and I are planning on canning cucumbers tomorrow. We always can in her kitchen, she has all the supplies in her storage room. Because we share the produce in my garden, it makes me feel better about using her supplies and her kitchen.

The Days Spent at Home in the Kitchen

Plus, there is something about working in the kitchen you learned how to cook in. It brings back memories of “the old days.” When warm summer air seeped through the kitchen window screen, apple pie filling bubbled over the crust edging as it baked in the oven, and steak sizzled in the pan as it fried on the electric stove top. The best part was when I stepped out the dinning room doors and yelled toward the shop, “lunch is ready.” Mom would over hear, and everyone quit their task and walked toward the laundry room door. They would ooh and aww while they washed up. I would always stand beside the stove, my smile reaching across Kansas, while my brother taste tested the food. Obviously, I was proud of what I had created, because I didn’t cook often, growing up. That’s probably why I remember so vividly the times that I did cook; it was such a rare occasion.

Anyways, back to today . . .

A part of my garden (a far away look at the corn stocks).

Mom has planned to also cut and freeze sweet corn this week. We always get a big batch from our farmer friends. Because my family farms alfalfa hay, we don’t plant acres of sweet corn. It’s easy for the corn farmers, they just leave a patch in their feed corn crop for sweet corn and treat it exactly like they do their feed crop.

I’m growing corn in my garden this year, I tasted it this morning–I’m glad we got the farmer’s corn to rely on. This corn I planted–we’ll I musta done something wrong, it doesn’t taste bad, it’s just not as good as the farmer’s corn . . . oops. I’ll try again next year. 🙂

After I fried fish, cooked rice and steamed vegetables (for myself, Willie doesn’t eat veggies) for lunch, I washed dishes, mowed, trimmed, raked the cut grass and laid the grass out in my garden as mulch. This is the first year I’m laying down mulch in my garden. The books and YouTube videos I read and watch say, “do not let your ground be uncovered.” So far I’m seeing good results–also, it helps keep the weeds away. But I still have to cut a lot of grass before the garden is completely covered.

A few other chores were done, but we won’t go into detail about those.

I did put together the stand up mirror my husband gave me for my birthday though. Here’s the link to the one my husband got me, in case you’re looking for one. I’m loving it! You wouldn’t want to have it standing in a child’s room though, it seems to wobbly for that. The children might run into it and I don’t think it could withstand that. But it’s prefect for an adult’s room.

It’s seven thirty and Willie’s going to be home soon, so I’m gonna prepare dinner by reheating leftovers, 😛

Until next time,

-Maria