Friday, February 15, 2013

Starting a garden from scratch

The previous owners had a spot where a garden once stood by the well house. It was full of half buried railroad ties which could contain creosote which is the black goo that the railroad company used to coat the ties in to prevent weathering. Some studies say that it can cause cancer. We don't need any more cancer so...out they go. 

This is a picture of our well house (so you can see the progress). This location is good because it has full sunlight and is close by a spigot for water. 

My cowboy Nate used the tractor to pull out the old ties. 

The result was a bathtub effect. It had to be leveled...a little bit or I would be on uneven ground. 

Luckily I know a cowboy with a dozer so we leveled it out. 

The result was unearthing the red dirt Oklahoma is famous for. 

I then started to construct my raised beds. I have six in all. They were put together with bolts and a couple of boards. I used half to make a desk (posted on here) and half to do raised beds. I was able to start with six. For the first year do not overwhelm yourself. 

First I placed the wood 'square' on top of the ground. I was lucky since my cowboy had done some work with the dozer.
Second: I then dug down and made sure that I did NOT step inside the bed again. You can compact the dirt with your weight and earthworms love to be able to move about. I used old feed bags around the outside to start killing off the weeds. You can use newspaper, paper bags from the grocery store or you could use cardboard boxes. Just wet them down and viola, you have instant weed suppression.

I then also wanted to kill off any weeds inside the bed. I added black garbage sacks and rocks to keep it from blowing away. I waited two weeks and then you can start amend the soil after a soil test and plant.

Note to reader: After becoming overwhelmed with garden layouts I just chose a block style garden. Sometimes you just gotta start something and plant...and change it year by year. Sometimes if you are super organized you can do a garden plan depending on what you want to eat/can/display. Just don't spend so much time planning that you don't go outside and do the 'grunt' work! 

More to come on these beds so look for future posts.
1. Installing a temporary wire fence to keep out dogs and varmints. 
2. Installing the drip irrigation system for under $60. (wow)
3. Installing the hoops for a hoop garden and installing the 'netting'.
4. Creating walkways using the feed sacks above and wood chips.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

My son's journey

Reese was born on April 13, 2001. He was 9lbs 14 ounces and 21 inches long. He had his first major surgery on September 19, 2001 (8 days after the twin towers fell). He had over 11 surgeries now to repair his bilateral cleft lip and palate. 1/500 children get this birth defect but it is still unknown exactly what causes a cleft to not bind together like normal at the 11th week of gestation. I didn't care, I fell in love with this face. 

The first time I was able to hold him I thought to myself, people are staring, how can I show them I love him? I held him close and kissed him on the cheek. His smell was unlike anything I ever smelt. I can't describe it because my second child didn't smell like that. But his scent lasted three days. It was during those three days that was critical for both of us. We had established that bond in those three days. Good thing cause his own father left us because he couldn't handle the situation. We both have his last name but that is all he gave us. But he gave me my son who gave me hope.  We were alone and I was 21 years old and terrified. But we had each other and I couldn't give up. Reese was counting on me to help him through this life.

My son is thriving despite being made fun of, being peed on, being the brunt of many jokes. All he wanted was friends. It killed me to see friends come and go. But slowly as he started to find his interests, his value of friendship changed. He knew he was a loner so he just started to do what he liked. The weirdest thing happened. He got treasurer for his 4H club. 

He learned how to ride his horse 'really fast'. :) 

He's learned to have self confidence. He's not angry, he's not mad, he's such a sweet boy.

This is Reese before his last surgery in Aurora in 2012. Just think...only 8 more surgeries to go!

He makes me laugh. He always is trying to be a jokester!

But above all...he is strong. Stronger than I will ever be. He pushes through surgeries as though they were just another day. Then quickly asks for ice cream....chocolate of course.

He doesn't let a disability get in his way. Here, he proudly displays his two ribbons he won this week for his speech in 4H. He was against 12 other kids, four of them were seniors in High School. My six grader beat them out to win grand prize for his speech on, 
"Steam Locomotives on the Logging Railways." 

He has been in speech classes since he was two. I didn't know if he would win or fall flat on his butt cause the judges couldn't understand him. I was nervous for him. 
We were driving and I said, "It's ok if you don't win." 
He replied, "Mom, I can at least get a participation ribbon!"
I nodded and smiled hoping he would get something more. Third..please third. 
I get a text from the event (parents weren't allowed to watch)...
"He won!"

Damn right he did...He's amazing. It's about time people started seeing it too.

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Our first baby

Our first baby dropped for the 2013 season. The mamma still had afterbirth coming out of her and the baby had his umbilical cord still attached. She had already licked the cow down and the baby was happily sucking from it's mother, with a milky mouth. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Starting the Seedlings...and getting sprouts on the third day!

It's time to start our seedlings indoors! For the first year in Oklahoma we are trying to be thrifty as possible. My son is cutting milk jugs. 

They serve a multi purpose. The bottom can be used for trays and the tops for 'mini-greenhouses' for the garden.

My son modeling empty bottles to use in our pots at the bottom instead of rocks. They weigh less!

My son models the keurig cups we reuse (I have another post about that). 

You can fill each milk jug bottom with 6-7 cups.

This year I am using Jiffy seed starting mix that is organic. I found it has the lowest salt content. 

We fill them and place them in the container.

We have lots of help this year!

I then look to see how long it will take for everything to germinate. Some take 20 days so those I want to start now. You try to time it with the last day of frost. But with my daffodils blooming, I can start these seedlings if I make sure to cover them when I transplant them.

I then name the side of the trays (I also reuse egg containers but they absorb water so make sure these seeds do not dry out).

I saturate the soil in each cup.

We then take a pen and poke holes down depending on the depth each seed will need to germinate.

I then place each seed in and cover lightly.

I then place plastic wrap over each container. I use 'packing tape' and tape it to the side. Egg cartons don't stick as well once wet but they still work.

I do one last spray mist over the seeds.

I cover and on this side I actually fold the tape over.

That way you can pull it back when watering. 

Here I show the seeds covered.
Make sure to use a piece of packing tape to secure any unused seeds.

Now to the lights...:) I put a piece of foil down and place christmas lights over each one. This creates a warming effect from below which warms up the soil.

I then use a tote topper to place over the lights and place the egg cartons on top. Remember those containers absorb water so they will be very moist and you do not want to get water on the lights. 

This is my son helping the assembly line by placing seeds at the approximate depth.

We also label each container with the seed's contents. I am showing the milk jug version.

If you have seeds that need to soak, soak them and keep them out so you don't forget about them. Have their trays ready to go.

The milk jug bottoms can be laid directly on the lights. Just make sure no water gets on the lights. 

This is marigolds on day three! Once they start to grow, please remove the covering so they have room to grow up. You will need to keep the room well ventilated by running a small fan on the seedlings to discourage mildew growth and to strengthen young plants for transplanting them outside.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A beautiful sight

Goodmorning fellow readers. Last night while I was checking the fences in the horse pasture I noticed a beautiful sight, yellow flowers! This year will be a year of exploration on our property, since this is our first year in Oklahoma. I was so overwhelmed with joy at the sight of these guys, I went back to the area where they were and weeded the large, tall 'weeds' that my husband will have to spray from the ten years of neglect the property has taken.

As my dogs laid down to rest, I took to pulling the 'weeds'. I discovered not just a small cluster of bulbs but they stretched quite a large area. They no doubt were probably planted and multiplied throughout the years. 

I have daffodils...I think. :) I am hoping that a couple of you 'plant enthusiasts' can identify exactly what I have. They are approximately 6-7 inches tall. Please comment below! I am excited to know what treasure I truly have.

Well enough of the flowers, it's back to work dogs in the cattle pastures! Here are L-R: Boomer, Danno, and Alley keeping a protective barrier between myself and the cattle. I love these guys.
Ed or Gin (as in Gin/tonic) is our border collie, he has a split personality and only answers to one of the two names each day, it's your job to figure out who he is. I don't know where Lola was hiding in all the pictures but somehow she must have been camera shy so I'll snap her next time. 

So I came back today to show an updated picture of my tulips. :) 

It was funny cause my friends said, my cowboy doesn't have to buy me flowers because he got me a whole field of flowers that pop each year.