Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's the little things

... that can be so annoying.

Take, for example, the fact that the serious poison we bought to take out the poison ivy has done... nothing.  You can tell we sprayed, but even after a second dosing, the plants are still happy.  What is the deal?  If I'm going to invest in poison, I want it to work!

Or the fact that, after weeding the onions so assiduously while James trimmed, taking care to avoid hacking off the green tops, I not once, but three times IN A ROW hacked off the green tops of onions.

Or, ponder with me, the death of two potato plants, rotted from the stem up.  What did we do (fail to do)?

But then, let's think of more positive things, such as...
... sharing cupcakes with Uncle Bruce
... full ponds
... hundreds of healthy potato plants
... copious ladybugs
... trimmers to cut the knee (or more) high grass around the beds!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Same old, same old

Yesterday (yes, yesterday as in Sunday), we ventured out to week, kill poison ivy, entertain Uncle Bruce, and enjoy popsicles.

Saturday was booked by a trip pushed back from Friday for me (to buy plants... gotta do it when I can start plants inside due to house showings), so Sunday afternoon, we went out to wrastle with weeds.

I did accidentally dig some baby potatoes, so we'll enjoy a handful fried for supper.

Until next time, remember.  This is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Homemade Tortillas

Today, since it was chilly in the house, I made a double batch of flour tortillas.  Last time I made tortillas, the experience ended in a rush to minor emergency for a double ear infection.  This time, the day was quieter, the process smoother.

Making tortillas first joined my list of recipes to try because the local Aldi's stopped carrying the smaller flour tortillas, and when I looked at the salt and fat content, I knew I needed to try my own.  Many websites called for tortilla presses, but they are either expensive or poorly made, and I don't need another kitchen implement that has limited uses.  Besides, the girls LOVE rolling out tortillas.

The basic recipe:
4 c. flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 T. lard
1 1/2 c. water

Mix together first three ingredients.  Add lard.  I cut it in with a pastry blender, then smooshed it around in my fingers, but you could go straight too smooshing it with your fingers.

Add water, stir in.  Because my home-ground whole wheat flour can be slow at absorbing water, I mixed in the water, then let the bowl sit while I mixed a second batch before dumping onto my counter and kneading.

Start heating your skillet(s) to med high heat now.

 Add flour to the counter, then knead into a smooth ball.  It won't be stretchy, but little excess flour should be on the counter.  If the ball is sticky, stop.

Cut it into pieces.  The original recipe (whose source I lost) called for 24 pieces, but I was afraid the pieces would be too small.  I opted for 16.

With a WELL-FLOURED rolling pin, roll out each chunk until it is as thin as you want.  Mine are not perfectly round, and some are thicker than others, but they will all taste great.

Drop into the skillet.  Cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook for another minute.  Because I forget to start my skillet early enough, my first tortillas took longer than one minute on each side.

I used two skillets to speed up the process and may try the grill some time when my husband is home.

Enjoy your tortillas.  They're quite yummy!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just another (windy, tornado-prone) day at the Ranch

War began for the season on poison ivy.  I think one of the girls picked it up, as both have small spots of rash that are poison-ivy-ish, but they shared it with me, as I have multiple welts on my legs.  Oh, the agony!  James sprayed poison.  Normally, I'm not a poison girl, but I need this invasive plant gone, or, at the very least for this year, corralled.
The enemy I love to hate.
 Weeding, weeding, weeding.  The land is definitely significantly drier than the last attempt, although the puddles still exist on the path back to Six Penny Pond.  Our new Rogue hoes remain our new favorite tools, although they are heavy!

Resting in the lush grass that grew at the site of last years' compost heap.  The Screamer rolled in the grass repeatedly, so tick check revealed a tick in her hair.  Always check for ticks!

All-blue potatoes!  Their first tiny buds are purple, although the larger plants revert to the usual green.  You can also see a small red bug in the lower center of the picture.  I'm not sure what it is, but since we saw insect holes already, we'll bring diatomaceous earth on our next work day.

Gathering grass to feed Uncle Bruce's chickens, with the "kids' patch" in the foreground.  They didn't feel particularly motivated to hoe it alone, so we are still mastering the idea of how to encourage them to work with us!  The potatoes we planted that were leftovers of last year's harvest and already sprouted are growing by leaps and bounds.  I saw at least four that had flowered, so I don't know what they're doing in the ground, but it's a good experiment for the year.
Uncle Bruce is also tackling his red cedars, but he quipped that he doesn't have enough axes for James to help him with the stumps.  You might not remember the last stump removal operation, but in the process, an ax head came loose.

Uncle Bruce also had two new litters of kittens.  It's a good thing they're meant to stay wild, or some members of my family (cough... James) would have brought one home with us.

Tonight, we have a 9 in 10 chance of a tornado (or multiples) sweeping through the area, so here in two, we are battening down the hatches, inviting the neighbors to join us in the storm shelter as necessary, and stocking up the basement for a potentially exciting night!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Weeding in the Mud

Not many potatoes up in the north bed yet, but plenty of weeds,
mostly grass.

Our former entrance onto the land, from the neighbors' field.  It's a good thing we didn't have to drive that way today.  I'm not feeling good about our odds with the mud.

The garlic looks amazing!

The kids' garden potatoes are growing by leaps and bounds.  I am a little concerned since I spied buds on a plant, and it's awfully early to be flowering!

More potatoes that are up! 

I can see how much the compost application improves the soil.  Can you tell where the compost heap was last year?

We have a new favorite tool, called the Rogue hoe, recommended to us by a friend several years ago.  It's taken a while for us to remember to order when we could actually afford to pay for an expensive hoe.  Yes, they are significantly more costly than a $5 hoe from Walmart or Mendards, but you know what happens to those around here, right?  I ordered three different sizes, one of which is massive and another of which is miniscule, as I wanted us to test which is best for us.  James and I will probably choose different favorites, but he's taller and stronger than I, so no surprise.  I can say I love that they can take out honey locust saplings in one good whack (or maybe two, for me!).

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.