Sunday, April 25, 2010

How Does Our Garden Grow? Hopefully It Grows at All. . .

Before you begin, I must point out that I know the spacing in this post is off kilter and sometimes non-existent. I have tried to edit and fix it several times and when I save it still looks the same! Sorry! I love paragraphs so this drives me crazy!

Check it out! We planted a garden this weekend! It includes green beans, peas, bell peppers, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, and onions. We are for sure getting some tomato plants later! It is hard to imagine the quantity that can come from these little bags of seeds!

Although it has been about 10 years since there has been a garden at my parents' house, we had one for years when I was growing up. It was usually located in part of the "pasture". This plot is usually planted as a very small field with whatever crop is in the rotation. The pasture hasn't been used as a pasture since my dad's childhood but it still retains the "fertility" that results from being filled with manure for years. It is also bordered by a creek. It is usually a soggy, weed filled mess regardless of what is planted there. For a few years we planted a pumpkin patch there, which was really fun for us and every other kid in town because we gave them away for free.

This photo of the pumpkin patch was taken in the mid 1990's sometime. That is my brother and one of his friends in the picture.
The garden was situated in various places in the pasture along with a patch of sweet corn. It was usually a pretty large garden and we planted alot of cucumbers and dill for pickle making. Even now, after almost 20 years, the smell of dill still makes my mouth water. Even the dill weed in the little container on my spice rack fascinates me. We also had alot of zucchini. My sister and I used to sell oversized (and past the point of being edible) zucchini to my grandparents' elderly neighbor, Helen, for twenty-five cents each. She really could put on a show! I'm sure she disposed of them as soon as we were gone!
This all sounds very idyllic and charming but in reality our gardens were always on the verge of disaster. The weeds really were uncontrollable. We weren't just dealing with dandelions and infiltrating grass. We were attempting to control mustard, marsh elders, and other weeds that farmers spend thousands of dollars and hours of time trying to suppress. Also, our naughty Golden Retriever, Penny, loved to go into the corn and pull full grown stalks out by the roots and run around the yard with them. She was always doing something wierd. And, of course, there were rabbits and deer always looking for a snack. However, we usually ended up with at least some bounty due to the fact that it was growing in an old pasture! How could it not flourish? If it weren't for the weeds those vegetables probably would have been mutants.
Now, back to the present. . .
There is our freshly tilled plot! The area as it was was kind of an odd shape so Justin made it square. That white material around the outside is grass seed.

There it is all finished! We have a sprinkler system! (The brand name on the box in the garage is called "Rain Bird")! It has been really dry around here for the last few weeks and there was even a fire conditions warning last weekend but it actually started raining this evening so hopefully the grass will start to flourish!

The poor lonley tulip in the front opened so now we know it is yellow! A few in the back yard opened also and it looks like they are yellow and red.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

It's Like Being Back at AGR. . .

Justin spent all day yesterday doing all sorts of nonsense in the garage. At one point, I saw him building this shelf. It looks like the lofts the guys at AGR used to build to make more space in their rooms! I always thought they looked pretty terrifying! At least this one only has to hold ice fishing equimpent and not a person's bed.

On another topic, Allan is really cute. I have been fussing over him all weekend. Here are a few photos. Try not to swoon, everyone! Haha, that was a joke, by the way. He is as cute as any other cat I guess!

He is so relaxed!

He has gained some weight since I last saw him three weeks ago. In this photo he is sitting with me and his abdominal area has definitely expanded. He has become a fiend for cat treats and charges into the kitchen when he hears his drawer opening!
I bought a case of soda this weekend and discarded the box on the kitchen floor to be addressed later. That's just my style! Al claimed it as his own and has been playing with it and hiding in it all weekend. Cheap thrills!

Oh, he is so vigilant!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nature's First Green

Did anyone catch that reference to Robert Frost? It's from "Nothing Gold Can Stay". Alot of people know it because it was mentioned in the book "The Outsiders", a popular and generally widely enjoyed high school English class feature.

"Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her leaf's an early flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief.
Dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay."

I'm back in "Biz" for a 4 day weekend and I'm so happy! I missed it! I was last here three weeks ago and alot has changed since then! The snow is gone and it is turning green!

This plant is in the flower bed lining the sidewalk leading to the front door. When we moved in it was overgrown with an unnatractive spreading perrenial that was growing into the lawn. I wouldn't mind, except whatever it was looked like a weed. This plant is on the end and we were told both by Justin's mom and the neigbor across the street that it was worth saving. It's coming back! Also, it appears there are some sort of bulbs in there as well! We'll see what they are when the flowers come!

That is the flower bed in the back yard. I can't wait to dig into that as soon as the risk of frost passes! There seems to be tulips or lilies in there as well!

As you can see, the back yard slopes and near the back there is an area where it appears that the previous owners had a garden. I believe they liked to can based on the pantry that was under the basement stairs when we moved it. We might ressurect the garden and I hope that we have better luck than we used to have with our garden attempts on the farm when I was growing up! I will write more about those missadventures at a later date when and if we actually start planting things!

There are the empty flower pots that we had on the apartment balcony last year! I forgot they were back there because I haven't walked in the yard since before Christmas! The apartment balcony got around 3 hours of sun during the longest days of summer. I can't wait to plant some sun loving geraniums and marigolds this year!

Those little plants look like some sort of spawn at the moment, but soon they will be ferns! Justin wants to dig them up but I like them so we will see what happens to the little guys!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Jake, Jakey, Jacob, Skeezy, Fatboy, Snacks...

All of the above are titles given to Jake. Jake is Kirk and Andrea's "German Chocolate" (the name we made up for a mixed breed of German Shepherd and Chocolate lab). He is filling in for Allan while I am away from home. He is big, pesty, often irritating, excitable, playful, exhuberant and sweet. He eats everything he can get. I have seen him eat cantaloupe, spinach leaves, candy wrappers, socks, paper, and even a women's forumula multi-vitamin that I dropped on the floor. (I was worried that it might be poisonous for a dog to get a dose of the %100 percent daily value of folic acid, iron, selenium and whatever else is in the tablet, so Andrea pried is mouth open to get it out. He only ate about half of it and seems fine!) If there is popcorn in the house you will have not peace while eating it and my old routine of eating on the couch while watching TV is no longer possible!

He loves to go out on walks, although he hasn't mastered good leash behavior! When Andrea opens the drawer with the sandwich bags he know what is coming and gets really excited. When he walks he gets so excited he spends most of the time nearly strangling himself as he pulls to go faster. He is pretty strong!

This is what he looked like at this time last year. . .

This is what he looks like now! I think those front paws are the same size in both pictures!

His is a big, thrashing thing with a huge tail that whips back and forth when he his happy. (When he is REALLY happy his whole body whips back and forth!) He can play fetch forever. He loves to run in his yard, but he REALLY loves to visit the farm where he can run without a barrier to stop him. He also loves to go to Kirk's parents' farm where he can pester the cattle!

Here is Jake getting down to business and destroying an empty Coke box. I let him rip it to shreds because it was so funny! He will take the opportunity to destroy anything and when the snow melted from the yard this spring many treasures were revealed. Included in the trove was a scattered box of screws! Yes, he scattered a box of screws all over the yard. Such fun!

This was on Easter. I was holding that frisbee preparing to throw it and he was anticipating it!

This was also on Easter. He was swimming with his "cousin" Wallace in the creek! The both just stood there and drank the water and Wal kept dunking his head under! They both love water.

Oh, look, he's just a little baby!

He loves to play and when you watch TV at night he is constantly presenting some toy. His favorites are old socks and his rubber "Kong". Whatever he chooses is always soaked with drool and he likes to place it on your leg and then wait with anticipation until you throw it. Very gross but also kind of endearing. He won't give up until you join the fun!

One Sunday morning this fall when I was visiting I was laying on the couch feeling remorseful about drinking too much the night before, being unemployed and generally feeling bad about my behavior and outlook. "Jakey" decided to be a sweet little pet and slithered onto the couch and situated his 70+ pound body on my back! Suddenly I couldn't stop laughing!

I love this picture! I look it as "Skeezy" was trying to jump on me! Check out those "hybrid" ears that mix the pointy, alert ears of a German Shepherd and the floppy ears of a lab!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Weekend

My Easter weekend included much more than just Easter! On Saturday I attended a bridal shower for my cousin, Laura, in Fargo. It was hosted my my mom, my aunt, and Laura's two aunts on her mom's side. It was at Rose Creek in Fargo where we were served the best salad I have eated that wasn't created by me. I usually dismiss salads as a main course but this one cut it! It had chicken, cashews, some kind of crunchy frito-ish things, mandarin oranges and...BABY CORN! I love baby corn and like to incorporate it at every mongolian grill I dine at. At HuHot I eat combinations that are 50% baby corn.

The shower was fun to, of course. Below is a photo of my cousins on my dad's side, minus one girl and the two boys.
I met Justin at the farm on Saturday evening. In the morning, in the old familiar place, there were Easter baskets! The Easter bunny came! He left five baskets, And also, it seems, a thermos and a bunch of bananas. And a mail order catalogue.

We went to church and had a lovely egg bake breakfast and one of my Grandma's friends made everyone there sing happy birthday to me and Annie, a 16 year old who I used to babysit and shares my birthday.

Here are some of my presents.

My Grandma made me a new quilt! She churns those things out on a weekly basis. She said if I didn't like this one I could trade it in for a different one but I like this one!

Justin gave me a new iPod! I have a 3 year old ipod that I got for my birthday in 2007. The battery barely stays charged anymore. This new one is an ipod touch and I have enjoyed downloading all of the pointless but amusing apps that are available!
Look! Signs of life after winter! The bulbs are coming back! That flower bed needs some help!

We dyed eggs after lunch. My brother and sister and I have a long running tradition of antics with the wax crayon that comes with the dye kits. This year we ended up with some real winners...

Notice that muddled blueish egg with the smiley face and some sort of hair...what the ____ is that about? I spent alot of time shrink wrapping those animal cases on eggs. They are very cute. Much cuter that that watered-down NDSU egg on the right!

These are not attractive. In the corner is a poor attempt at a Minnesota Twins egg. Nice work, Pete. The dye was supposed to be a reddish color but it was the first tablet we dissolved and we forgot you needed to add hot water to instead of cold. That green turd was Andrea's attempt at making an egg version of Jake, her "German Chocolate" mixed breed dog who is brown. I can't look at that thing without laughing.

I have to include this picture of Allan! Justin sent it to me as a picture text when he got back to Bismarck on Sunday evening. I miss this little guy!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter time!

Easter is in 2 days, on April 4th. Guess what else is April 4th? My birthday (27th! EEK!). I usually don't care about my birthday but on the rare occasion that it lands on Easter I like to tell everyone about it. It has happened twice before. It happened when I was 16 in 1999 and when I was really young, probably 5. I looked it up and it will also happen in 2021 when I will turn 38! So it looks like it is a pattern that repeats every 11 years.

In honor of it being April 2, I have to share this photo. . .

That is my parents holding my cousin Kara. The date on the photo is April 2, 1983. Mother looks pretty fresh for someone who is about to blow! (haha she wasn't really about to blow. . .I came several weeks early!) I love the maternity shirt! That is one area of fashion that I believe has improved over the years! I looked it up and Easter was on April 3rd that year. I like the 4th better because when you write April 4th it is "4-4"!
I think I had guaranteed some Easter related tales when I wrote about my Easter decorating a few weekends ago. My favorite Easter story took place sometime when I was in elementary school (probably 4th or 5th grade.) When we moved to the farm in 1991 our neighbors across the road had kittens and we took four of them to live with us. There were two girls and two boys. They were born in the fall and the girls didn't survive the winter due to typical farm cat perils but the two boys, Rascal and Buttons, did. That spring we took the "brothers" to be neutered at the vet in Portland. Soon, they became fat and lazy and we loved them! Rascal was "mine" and Buttons belonged to Pete, although they were our family pets. My dad pretended not to like them but he did! They became buddies with whatever dog we had and were oblivious to other cats. They hung out with mothers and thier kittens and rarely left the yard. They were constantly lounging around and cuddling together and always found the warmest and softest spot.
One spring, a few days before Easter, we realized we hadn't seen Buttons for a few days. He was probably about 3 or 4 years old at the time. My mom dismissed it and said he was fine and that outdoor cats could be on thier own for awhile. She said something along the lines of, "maybe the Easter Bunny has him and will bring him back on Easter." My cousins came for the weekend and we were awakened for sunrise church on Sunday morning. We looked at our baskets and then we went to the door. Guess who was out there? Buttons! It was so delightful. He was fine of course. It sounds outlandish that he happened to return that morning but I highly doubt my parents would have gone to the trouble of hiding a farm cat for several days to give us a magical Easter. I think the baskets of candy and scavenger hunts were sufficient!

I wish I had scanned better pictures of Rascal and Buttons because there are so many cute ones! This is the only one I have at the moment, however. Buttons is the one with more white. That fata$$ dog on the porch swing is our old retriever Penny who died in 2005. Rascal and Buttons lived quite long lives for farm cats (although the neutering, heat lamps, human food and daytime house access might have contributed to their longevity.) Buttons started getting weak when he was 9 and one day we never saw him again. I believe he died in peace somewhere in the woods around our house. Rascal lived until I was in law school (seriously!) and died in 2005 or 06 when he aquired some sort of cancer and got really weak. They were great pets to have! I think about them, especially Buttons, every year around Easter!