Monday, December 4, 2017

I Miss This Place

It's been a long time since we've spent any time out at Purgatory Ranch.  A gun-toting, senile old neighbor (not Uncle Bruce) made it too dangerous for us to have much energy for working out here.  Also, six small kids, 3 acres at home, and all our animals at YJ Acres made our energy resources low anyhow.
 Six Penny Pond has water, which is awesome, but some cedars need chopping.
 We did chop down a few cedars, with the naive idea that we might be able to use one for a Christmas tree. Yeah, no.  I had so many splinters in my hands from cutting three trees and hauling them to the car, that this idea was quickly abandoned.  But it's three less trees for James to brush hog.
 (How did she get to be so old and grown up?)

 I have missed being out here.  Half the kids and I trekked around the acreage, exploring the boundaries and seeing what there was to see.  I could have happily spent all day.
James spent the morning brush hogging and much of the front 20 acres as possible.  We don't currently have the man power, ability, or supplies to burn the front 20, and the cedars MUST be kept down.  We had the entire field cleared last year and are determined to keep the area clear and usable.

On another day, James will have to come back and finish.  At least we made progress.

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fall Labor

Abruptly, after weeks of “abnormally” warm weather with a few sighs of cool days, we are faced with a freeze.  Such is the changing of the seasons in Kansas.  It is never a gentle slide into winter, but a series of puffs and gasps before a sudden collapse into a freeze.

The gathering in of the seasons is upon us.  Now is the time to move in the potted plants, harvest the sweet potatoes, and thank our birds for their lives before they are butchered and frozen.  We have planted cover crop in two places and it grows better than I feared (oh, birds eating seeds!).  Garlic cloves of many kinds and sizes have been planted, watered, and watched for signs of new life.  Soon, chicken coops will move closer to the barn for the more frequent attention needed in winter, and when we butcher the turkeys, we will butcher a flock of our older laying hens, as we have determined  we need to tighten up the operation.

I find autumn thoroughly rewarding: the harvest is collected, the labor of the summer slackens, all the projects begun in the spring now are fulfilled.  As the days grow shorter, there is finally time for me to sit on the porch and enjoy a cool breeze.  Oh, yes, and there is no better excuse to go to bed earlier and sleep later!

The light of the sun only now brightens the tops of the tallest trees, so I am blessed with a few more minutes of quiet before I must up and away for the day.

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

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fall Work

Last weekend, we cleared all of the garden except for the sweet potatoes.  James did some welding, which is pretty impressive, so he could mow, mow again, and till.  The wind picked up in the afternoon, so despite my original plan to plan a cover crop immediately, I had to wait a few days.

Our hope is to help eliminate some of the weed growth we have in the fall and spring, as well as to enrich our soil with nitrogen fixing legumes.
 I planted a fall manure mix that included hair vetch, winter rye, ryegrass, peas, and clover, and then overplanted with mustard.  I read (which means I have a good chance of being wrong) that mustard roots grow deep, even in clay, so they may help break up our hard soil.  The recommended tool was a seed drill, but I had to stick to the seed spreader, which is what I have.  I can live with uneven seed distribution.
In the end, the challenge was keeping the pesky guineas out of the seed.  I finally set up a hose to spray/mist all over the area, and that worked.  Now we've had a few days of rain, and I can already see sprouting!

In the coming week, I'll try to lay out the drip hose again in an unplanted area for the garlic crop!

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Moment in Time

 Meat chickens are getting fat.
 Bees are pulling in the final harvests for winter.
We are shrinking the size of our farm, as our time and energy do not allow so many animals and so much garden space at this time.

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

Saturday, July 15, 2017


We cleaned up a wax moth-infested, weak hive.  At the same time, we moved a small hive from a nuc box to a proper hive.

So cool... You can see yellow pollen sacks.

DH prying out frames to see if they're infected.

Bees, larvae, and larvae cells.

The cleaned up bee yard.

The trashed frames and boxes.
 The rest of the disaster...
Now we're cleaned up, filtering honey and melting wax, and enjoying a healthier bee yard.

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

Friday, April 28, 2017


Rhubarb... behind it are hiding two more, newly transplanted, that so far have survived

Blackberry blooms

Are we looking at another swarm in the making?

Baby Plum

Peach Baby

Bitty Apples

Crabapples... Aren't the leaves lovely?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Chick Days

 The first hatch of the year, a baby turkey.  I suspect Shuckle is a girl, giving her call, but it will be interesting to see!
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Saturday's Work

Spring is a delightful but challenging time at Yahweh Jireh Acres.  A plethora of tasks clamors for our attention, but the abundant rain we've received makes some of those tasks difficult or downright impossible.

This Saturday morning, we pruned out dead wood from our blackberries, sweet cherry bushes, and roses.  We gathered the winter's collection of dead debris and piled it for a future burning or disposal. All the chicken tractors moved, uncovering burrowing mice (excitement for the chickens).  The damp reek of overwet chicken bedding (with the rain, it's been a muddy two weeks) will fade as it dries in the heat.

Asparagus spears are launching themselves out of the soil, so the weeding around them is particularly important.  We also have rhubarb, one trying to bolt and two that required transplanting.  In addition to digging rhubarb, I transplanted four sweet cherry bush stems that were growing too far away from the main plant to be viable in their current location.  If even one or two survives, we will have greatly increased our cherry treats!

Disappointingly, James labored much of the morning on tractor light rewiring and was ultimately unsuccessful.  Another day, God willing, he will find success.

There are still strawberries to tend, always weeding, honey to rob, and a turkey Tom to butcher.  Our tom, named Effingham Sandwich, bit JoJo.  Attacks on humans is a capital offense, so we will be enjoying turkey for Easter.  Ooh, and tomato plants to transplant and turkey poults should be hatching any day.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

Bee Joy


Red Buds





Sweet Cherry Bush

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Work Day, Abbreviated

Today was supposed to be a busy day.  The list was too long, we already knew, but we'd get as far as we could before dark.

Instead, JoJo woke up at 3:45, so I woke up at 3:45.  Since I didn't want to wake the rest of the family, he and I sat in bed with PK, he watching Chuggington and I stitching down the binding on a quilt.  When everyone else started to stir, James took care of animals and I cooked breakfast.

(We have the happy problem of so many eggs we can't sell them fast enough, so egg eating is important!)

I was exhausted, so after a little cleaning, I went back to bed and slept for (gasp) three hours.  The entire morning was lost, alas, since James can't work outside on the tractor and hold the baby.  He took care of phone calls for church, and I arranged lunch.  We made our monthly run to Costco, which was one of our chores for the day.

Once we returned, the rest of the afternoon was spent outside working on the grapes.  James brought over mulch in the tractor; I shoveled it, tied up grapes, and pruned grapes; Q ran messages to various people; the Assistant watched the babies; Spunky supervised JoJo.  All in all, we accomplished a significant amount even if we only made it through two chores.

(On a side note, we tried the wine I made last fall.  James says it's horrible.  I actually liked the few sips I had, which is hilarious since I notoriously don't like alcohol.  We'll age it further and see if it improves.  If not, we'll be more scientific next round.)

And, yes, it is the wrong time of year to mulch if we want the soil to warm around the grapes.  There are several reasons we are mulching now anyway.  James currently has the time, before the rush of spring.  I wilt once it gets hot, no matter the clothing and hydration choices I make.  Finally, the grapes are trying to bud too early, so cold feet can work in our favor since we still have a decent chance of another solid freeze in the next six week.

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Too-Early Spring

As it is supposed to drop to 26 F tonight, these little bits of growth may all end up frozen, but on the day I took the pictures, it was gorgeous.

Rose leaves...
 Plum buds...
 Willow green...
I love the way green creeps over this tree until, suddenly, it's full of leaves!
 Strutting tom, named Effingham Sandwich...
It's a long story.  He likes to show off for me, but he stalks the rest of the family and scares them.  He may not last past this summer.

 Buzzing bees...
I'm ridiculously grateful that the bees survived the winter, as we are new bee-tenders.
Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Goings On

Saturday, we spent a glorious afternoon spreading composted manure in the garden and around the fruit trees.  I raked the asparagus beds.  There's still work to be done, but the beds are much improved.  We added mulch in various places.  James tilled.  I weeded and watered the garlic.

It was glorious, all but the part where I lost my glasses.  I had prescription sunglasses on, but it's hard to see in the barn and the shed, so I thought I'd be clever and keep my glasses hooked on my shirt.  I can't drive, cook, sew... I have an old, distorted pair, and they'll do until I can visit the eye doctor and get a new pair.  It may or may not have been nearly seven years since my last eye exam.  On a side note, if you're good friends with St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost items, will you put in a good work for me?  He hasn't told me yet where to look, so I keep asking.

Then, best of all, we had almost three quarters of an inch of rain Sunday night.  Everything is pleasantly squishy and the compost is soaking in.  It feels like an eternity since the last rain or snow.

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Do you see what I see?

... Exceptionally gorgeous sunsets each evening
... More pleasantly cloudy days
... The first green of daffodil and tulip leaves
... A need for rain
... Bradford pear buds
... Preening turkeys
... A rainbow of chicken eggs
... No longer, a nearby house that has been dismantled piece by piece
... A few browning, decaying pine trees (a weekend's labor)
... Beds full of promise
... Decadently brown compost, ready for application
... A collapsing shed (a mite more than a weekend's work)
... Baby smiles

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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Life, Inside

Outside, a fox killed a chicken and a guinea.  It's cold (finally, hopefully to destroy the oak mites).  The water freezes.  I can't lift bags of chicken feed or gallons of water yet, so James has manfully taken on all the chicken chores.  The chickens are laying more/again, so our egg bucket is filling again.

Inside, I'm washing eggs and there are eggs for sale again.  Baby PK, born December 14, keeps my arms and heart full.  We're still trying to find a new normal as a family of eight.

One thing I'm trying to do is be more conscious of things I haven't taught the big kids.  For example, gratitude.  We had a family and gift-filled Christmas season, but somehow in my survival of the day to day, I've grown lax at expressing gratitude in the form of thank you notes.  I love to receive them, and actually, I like to write a few at a time.  The trouble for me is there are many, and I feel less grateful when I write "thank you" for the tenth time.  Rarely do I manage to enlist the kids in a low stress manner, if at all.    In additon to the regular gifts, we've been blessedly inundated with meals from friends and parishioners.  Every time I think I'm caught up, generosity is bestowed on us again.

This year, I'm hoping to have each of the three big kids write two notes to extended family.  It's taking  significant time to guide the six-year-old, as I really write the thank you note and he copies it, but I remind myself that I only learned to write thank you notes by the teaching of my parents.  I can do this, and so can they!

Thank YOU for reading, commenting, and supporting our farm.

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

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Brief Snippet: Wee Things

There's been a baby...

And a few tiny eggs...

Winter well, my friends!

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