Thursday, March 28, 2013

Onion Planting

600+ onions later!
Starting from the east side of the south bed:
Four bunches/rows of Candy
One bunch/row of Red Burgundy (okay... it overflowed into 1/2 of the first row of Vidalia)
Four bunches/rows of Vidalia
Three bunches/rows of Red Candy

I still have one bunch of Red Candy, one of Super Star, and one of Yellow Bermuda to plant.  The kids were too dirty by this time, and I needed to return home for Hope's training appointment.

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

Friday, March 22, 2013


Much to my husband's delight, we have another animal on the job at YJ Acres.  We accepted Hope when her owner could no longer care for her.

She is a Great Pyrenees-something mix.  Andromeda is not sure what to make of her, but Hope has thus far taken no notice of Andromeda.  Hope is gentle, calm, and patient with the kids.  She is a beautiful and useful addition to our homestead.  She certainly warns off all dogs from our property, which has been an ongoing problem.

We hope that Hope will allow us to forgo the necessity of confining Andromeda in the barn at night to protect her from a bobcat that delights in attempting to devour her at sunset or shortly thereafter.    Andromeda is perfectly willing to let James feed her and shut her up for the night, but she frequently ignores my attempts to do the same when James is absent or ill at nightfall.  What can I say?  She's a cat.

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

Planting Time

Spring is definitely on its way...

Our yard is replete with daffodils planted by the previous owners.  I may be sick of them by the end of spring, but for now, they are a bright splash over color in the dark greens and browns of the end of winter.

We have some bulbs sending up shoots of mysterious hues.  These are the bulbs my mom and I planted last fall, and I don't remember everything.  I look forward to the surprise.

The new trees and the old lilac bushes are also budding out, holding forth the promise that colorful days are ahead.

I've tackled the first plantings in our new garden after James tilled again.  So far, peas, spinach, and lettuce are tucked in the ground, while a myriad of other tasty treats still await.  Planting is a hit-and-miss type of activity, racing to plant while the baby naps, hoping to beat the weather and the tears.  We are due for snow and ice yet again on Saturday.  But today, well, today is a gift, and I think I made good use of it.

Inside, my seedlings look better than in previous years.  Even my peppers, thanks to a heat mat, sprouted and look healthy.  Some of my tomatoes are ready for thinning, and all the slender stems arcing towards the light are beautiful signs of new life.

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

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Potato Planting Insanity

Our helpers dug too!
As we enter our fourth (can it really be the fourth?) year of planting potatoes at Purgatory Ranch, the situation has changed.  (Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3) Since James and I now live within miles of P.R., driving out is much less of a trial.  However, since we moved, all our potatoes that had been saved for seed were exposed to extreme heat this summer in the moving van, and they were a tangled, vine-y mess.  See what I mean?

I always intended to snap off the sprouts earlier in the winter but never got to it.  Famous last words, right?  So this year, we opted to purchase some seed potatoes and sort through this mess to see what might survive planting.  Since last year we actually had a pretty decent yield from our over-sprouted potatoes, why not again?

I had two buckets and five boxes to sort.  All the small potatoes were pretty well exhausted, so I tossed them into the compost bin.  However, even after discarding all those, I had 35.5 pounds of potatoes (and sprouts) to plant. Add to that the potatoes my dad purchased, and we are well on our way to another record year.

Then, there is always the challenge of calendar.  We received two feet of snow not so long ago, and was the ground still saturated?  James and Dan work opposite schedules.  Myle was caring for a neighbor's children.  I have an almost-newborn.  Spring break is coming and we both had plans that would prevent potato planting by March 17.  Then, the kicker, for me... it was supposed to rain all day this Saturday, meaning the ground would be (God willing: we need rain) saturated, so I couldn't plant in the coming week.

This is the insanity part.  I made plans to plant the potatoes by myself, with three of the kids.  It's a good thing I had a friend offer to help.  In preparation, I cut up several of the bags of seed potatoes.  After toting up my pounds of seed potatoes, I opted to leave the bags of Red Norland and Yukon Gold uncut for a future planting scramble, as I felt confident we had no business planting 81.5 pounds of potatoes alone.

90 minutes later, we had this:

The north bed is almost entirely full.  My friend had a giant blister, and JoJo was complaining of the wind, even well-sheltered in the Moby wrap.  I consoled myself that even if it rained, we had the lion's share planted.  On our way home, the rain started.

Meanwhile, James' plans of building chicken tractors after school fell through.  Upon learning said information, I wildly suggested we plant the rest of the potatoes.  Right now.  As in, throw the kids in the car, scoop up the cut potatoes, and take on the rain, which had stopped momentarily.

This year, we left most of the south bed empty of potatoes.  We have planted potatoes in this bed every year and are risking disease buildup.  So, the only part of the south bed used was the section planted in onions last year.  It received the remaining Red Norland and Yukon Gold that didn't make the first cut.  This was accomplished in 30 wild minutes (wild, because we had four kids with us) of James digging holes, my tossing potatoes, and the girls burying.

And... Done!  All the potatoes are buried in the ground, and I'm off the crazy potato planting hook for another year... (We shouldn't think about the garden that is planned for Yahweh Jireh Acres)

Final totals:
Type Pounds Source Rows (from the north)
Russet Burkbank 5 seed 3
All Blue 7 saved 5
Kennebec 4 saved 4
2 seed
Purple Viking 5.5 saved 2
Dakota Pearl/Crisp 12 saved 13
14.5 seed
Red Norland 7 saved 3
12.5 seed
Yukon Gold 12 seed


If that's not as clear as mud, just ask.  We planted 81.5 pounds of potatoes.  The rows are for my reference in July, when I can't remember what's what.

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