Friday, May 31, 2013


We left home, the animals, the gardens, and the weeds for five days for a family reunion and vacation.  While we had delightful fun, every time we climbed in the car, Q asked, "Are we going home?"

Hope was as excited to see us as we were to be home.  If only I had taken pictures of her leaping and wiggling when we arrived!

We came home to a bridge out, 2"+ of rain, some brave guineas, weeds enough to keep us hopping, our first strawberries, growing peaches, and... a broken faucet.  Our hard water is... hard... on metal fixtures, and the stem had corroded into nothingness.  Exciting times.

There's nothing quite like coming home to the inability to wash your dishes in your kitchen.  The bathroom sink and I became friends yesterday.  James was stellar and replaced the sink as soon as he took care of outside chores.

It was pleasant to have the distraction of berries to pick

As well as peaches to admire.

And I seem to have found a touch of poison ivy somewhere.  Pray for me!

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Purgatory Ranch, End of May

Tree onions are setting bulblets in a wild frenzy of growth.

I haven't hacked out too many onions in my weeding, and neither downpour nor animals have consumed entire rows.

The north bed looks to be a 60% loss.  What there is, is so choked by weeds that I am freeing row by row.  It will take time.

 The south bed is looking wonderful.  After this picture, I managed to hill up and weed four rows of potatoes.  Growth is amazing!

Much to my surprise (not, I think, to James), our pond holds water for the first time in almost three years.  Clearing out the cedars and junk helped!

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

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Solar Oven

Behold!  The first two successful cooking adventures with our new solar oven.  Once I am more adept at setting it up and using it, we should be able to avoid turning on the oven for most baking/cooking adventures!

Every summer, we do our best to avoid turing on the air conditioning.  Last year, since I was pregnant, we had to turn on the AC early, but the year before, we made it to July 22 before we turned it on.  Then, Bear Cub Q ran a fever, and it was unfair to him not to turn it on,

Who know how long we can go if I don't have to use the oven?
Hard-boiled eggs.
The yolk is a smidge grey from being in the oven too long,
but who wants to eat half-boiled yolks?

Pumpkin bread
We purchased the SOS Sport Solar Oven Combo.  I can see it won't ever be my only cooking source with our growing family, but if I can reduce my baking but still keep us in fresh bread, it's worth it.

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Radio Silence

We interrupt our silence with a brief note...

It's crazy around here!  Between the rain, cold, and small children, we are frantically attempting to complete a myriad of urgent projects. In the midst of the insanity, thanks to the rain and a downed downspout, we now are also battling mold and a wet office.  The computer is in said office, so pictures are difficult to upload.  Hence, no photos.

Some projects... Planting our 300+ tomatoes along with beans, peppers, herbs, sweet potatoes, and various vines.  Finishing a turken tank and guinea coop.  Right now, we move the guineas outside daily and back in nightly.  Ever-present mowing.  Cutting down dead trees, bushes, etc., that did not survive last summer's devastating heat and replacing them

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The More I Learn

and get my hands in the earth, the more I realize how little I know.  Just a few of my ponderings while weeding today...

What is this plant? When viewed from a standing position, the stems look like red and white twine twisted together.

Why are my potatoes so... sprouty? this year?  Looking back, I don't remember so many sprouts per plant.  This second picture perfectly demonstrates.  I'm accustomed to three or four stems in one place, but these are spread out.  Is it something to do with the cold weather?

Speaking of cold weather... Look at how big the potatoes were in APRIL of last year!  We were harvesting by the end of May last year.  Somehow, I don't think that will be the case this year.  We are well more than a month behind in growth.

Back to my ponderings... What is THIS plant?  It secretes a white sap when broken off.

If I were to attempt to grow quinoa for chick feed, must it be rinsed as for human consumption?  (Just wondering... I haven't gotten far enough to bother determining whether or not we even have the right climate.)

Why is my garden having such people-problems this year?  Some of my peas were taken out by tractor wheels.  A late but well-meaning application of compost smothered a section of onions.  Another well-meaning act of tilling took out all my spinach and lettuce.  I can plant in straighter rows at Purgatory Ranch, but any attempt to call my planting "rows" at YJ Acres is a farce.

Will I ever feel like I really know what I'm doing?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Purgatory Ranch Clean-Up

Despite my disappointment in the fertility of my potato bits, the time has come to weed.  I've been waiting for the ground to dry out or more potatoes to sprout, but with rain forecasted the rest of the week and weeds growing apace, it was now or never.

After all, if I'm going to plant, it's my job to weed too.

Please excuse the sideways pictures.  I'm snagging non-fussy-baby time, and it is precious and limited!  I forgot to rotate before uploading.
 The tree onions are amazing!

I discovered a bunch of onions thrown on the ground.  Did we drop them in our planting frenzy?  Did the kids take them, get bored, and abandon them?  Either way, I planted them today to see if the last remaining stems of green mean life remains.
 The entire stretch of onions, running west in this picture, are now nicely weeded.  Perfect?  No, but I'd say at least 80-90%.
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

New Digs

 I usually check our chicks and guinea fowl twice a day.  In the last few days, however, I have checked on the guineas more frequently as they have been incessantly dumping their water, thereby making themselves waterless and their bedding damp and musty.

After discussing the issue with James, he decided we had to correct the situation... immediately.  It would be cruel to leave them longer in a tub they had clearly outgrown.  The search was on.  Our future home for them, outdoors, is not repaired to a relatively critter-proof status, and even temporary adjustments were labor and time consuming.

A brief search on the internet and calling to local stores convinced us a ready-made chicken coop was far to expensive to be a solution until... I kept looking at the search options under coop.  I found an exercise pen for a 1/3 of the price of a coop, and it would be reusable after proper sanitation.

After a few more phone calls, we headed to Tractor Supply.  Although by far not our favorite store for supplies, it was the only store to carry what we needed.

Fortunately, it was preassembled (it's just 8 panels, one with a door), and I was in business.  The cardboard is to save the bulk of the fertilizer-in-waiting (guinea poop) from being wasted by hardening into cement on the garage floor.  We have bedding material in the box, and I have since added some to the pen.

Just at sunset, we introduced the five guineas to their new home.
Were this to have a caption, I think it would be full of "oh my's" or more choice language!

"At least the food is the same, right?"

Morning, and the guineas were comfortable in their new digs.
 Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lazy Planting Day

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

... Christmas?  It was definitely winter weather for far too long this year, but the plants are enjoying the moisture that came with it.  I certainly hope I have some giant, tasty onions as a result!
Strawberries, 5/5/2013

Rhubarb, 5/5/13

Just to confirm, my helpers assure I am incapable of planting in a straight line.  I've planted the first portion of a row of tomatoes.  Hopefully, they perk up a little more.  They look rough now, but between the wind, cold weather, and a lack of watering in the last few days on my part, it's understandable.

Our first Purple Passion asparagus is up.  Oh, the weeding yet to be done!

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

Friday, May 3, 2013


The tree onions are growing larger than in past years.  I see a bit of spotting, frost damage from the multiple recent cold snaps.

I am grateful for the rain, even if it is slowing down planting.

The onions are looking good, even if I do spy a few stray potatoes popping up between rows. 

The potatoes in the south patch are orderly and up.
The same cannot be said for the north bed, which is more weed than potato.  I'm concerned that a fair number of those potatoes may have rotted away.  Ugh.  Maybe they are just slower sprouting. 
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.