Happy Spring!

No matter what the calendar/astronomy/astrology or the cosmos says, I rarely ‘celebrate spring’ just when I’m ‘supposed to’.

Spring is Heralded at Bally Bin when….

The rhubarb and irises poke their heads out to do their ‘own’ thing.

Easter and Mother’s Day are heralded by the lilac bush putting on buds, and/or getting nipped in the bud – at which point, I cry and think…’maybe next year!’

Tomorrow?

I’ll be outside walking the place and looking carefully at mulched areas and eagerly hoping for any SMALL sign from perennial plants that Spring as actually arrived –

For today?

After seeing so many other posts sharing Spring Heralds, Well Wishes and Celebrations of Spring – well – I just had to post what dreams I have and remember, as I yearn for spring.

Some years, the dreams show up – some years, I miss the moment they arrived and others? I spend Spring and Summer, hoping my neglect in supplemental watering or keeping bindweed at bay in some areas, hasn’t ‘killed the dream’ of what could be.

Below then, are past photos of spring and summer.

A reminder to myself of what Spring flora so often deliver on, all while, overall, my memory of them in my heart and brain, keeps m ‘dreaming, yearning, hoping’ year round.

No matter what the calendar, temperature, forecast says or when it says so, for my locale – the beauty of past springs and summers whispers to me to “Remember!” –

To lose my faith even those times when both my internal and external worlds, feel ‘stuck’ in the perpetual dormancy of winter.

Hope this finds you and yours well.

Baby Rhubarb – Far from ‘home’

As another Spring unfolds since the 7 years ago Spring I first was ‘here’ at the homeplace, yet another ‘seeded myself without any help from you’ rhubarb shows up –

In Fall of 2013, I moved the rhubarb crowns from under the propane tank of my new ‘home’ to a dry garden bed with rescued from mowing operations, Irises

In Summer of 2015, I quit harvesting from the first transplant who put up a seed stalk…

In Summer of 2016, I did the same on another transplant that put forth a seed stalk –

In Summer of 2019, I had one baby rhubarb, about 2 feet away from the 2015 stalk

This spring, of 2020?

Another Baby Rhubarb, about 4 feet from the 2016 stalk and 5 feet away from the 2015 one…

Moral of the story?

Mother Nature cares not about my understanding of distance, time or clumsy operations – She finds the way forth!

Spring Gardeners! Start Your Engines!

The last couple of weeks have been rather ‘surreal’ as I play out seeing delayed, maybe never delivered orders placed around first of March hang up in limbo – all while the ‘forecasted blizzards/snow’ just really haven’t panned out, here, AND a graze of green growing prairie grasses have really just taken off in the past two weeks and I realize – if we don’t get a few more spring storms – alas, I’m already behind the curve/8-ball, if you will – – thinking I was ‘playing it safe’ by not diving in on gardening purchases/activities during our usual “Fake Spring” weather – –

I drove 100 miles round trip today, to stop at 3 places, to pick up supplies, for those who let me order online, pay and pick up OR those who never stop with emails telling me ‘to order now!” then announce ‘delivery/order online & pickup options” changes their website some Sunday afternoon and the order I spent hours… no, days…to get infrastructure in place items, as I looked at what I could afford, played out in face of runs on stores, hoarding, transportation/inventory delays, whatever –

I missed the ‘buying boat’ on some things, and ‘caught the boat on others’ by showing up – but seriously? Switching to ‘in-store’ only purchases instead of just saying, “out of stock, sorry Charlie’ had me grousing yesterday afternoon – what, they gonna check my ID to see if I’m a local or what?

This is for TOP SOIL in bag size I can throw around by me self to load/unload/put in place – mind you –

Sigh –

And so, I rather got ‘er done today, via online, visit another store that doesn’t have online/pick up in store, but was on the way and WALLA! Scored without wiping out stock for others, and one more stop to ‘pick up online’ order that had one only, instead of the 2 I was allowed to get, or smaller size/higher price substitution, of same thing, for those little luxuries that haven’t run out completely yet – like cheese, baking soda, milk, raisins and mustard…to name a few…

Guess I can let go of my A1 steak sauce preference –

Since couldn’t find where I stopped (limit stops, just get what you really need, or think ya need…) I will learn to either make homemade that I like, or go without – seriously, I’ve been told for years given the good meat I get from local ranchers, that putting A1 on it is just a crying shame and I should be flogged over the blasphemy – and yet, I can’t quite just work myself up to take a swig of it straight from the bottle when the ‘craving hits’ – so – there ya go –

I’ve learned how to live without Mike & Ikes, on purpose, I can do this, out of necessity, me thinks – 🙂

Did I get everything I wanted?

Nope, but that’s okay – I got what I really wanted to build for future local food operations – like right out my kitchen door….

Did I leave some ‘luxuries’ in the shopping cart, while assessing budget needs? Yup –

I bought 1 box of generic Ginger Snaps and 1 pack of Oreos – one for me, one for the man-child, as…yup, I’m rather busy wanting to do other things, have never really gotten the hang of baking cookies in the toaster oven (long ago, I had a full range and one day every 3 months or more was given over to ‘cooking baking, freezing for future desires/school thingees no one let me know about until 11 pm the night before operations…).

I didn’t hoard, I didn’t buy bulk, I paid more for the substituted smaller size, and yet, still spent less money because the time between putting in the cart, placing the order, and then going to actually pick it up meant quite a few things were substituted and/or no longer available –

Okey dokey – but I got what I needed – top soil to mix with stuff I already have, to build new garden beds –

So in my world, it’s the top soil, responsibly made, near crisis of Spring 2020. Or perhaps the baking powder/cream of tartar crisis? Who knows – but – alas, I needed to restart and maintain a sourdough starter anyhoo – so there ya go – 🙂

Now for the FUN stuff!

Spring has Sprung in the past two weeks –

I arrived home with a few t-posts, a small roll of garden area fencing, and top soil to mix with compost/local offerings, hoarded supplies of cardboard that no one else wanted anyhoo, so I can get ‘going’ on finishing out the south side ‘cottage garden’ area – –

As I walked around to assess stockpiles of straw bales, wood mulch (local), cardboard that has weathered in the destroyed ‘insta-shed’ that had a ‘big hunk of dead tree removal fall on it a couple of years ago….), I found myself walking right back into the house to grab my camera – because a fellow blogger, Green Bench Ramblings, sparked my ‘oh, why don’t I do that more regularly’ creative spirit with his post sharing his garden journal/how he does it.

And so, I give you, the Colorado End of March, 2020, Journal….

The Bad

First injury of the garden fiscal year was incurred today – was busy loading/bucking bales/sacks of top soil to mix with local compost stuff to build new beds over cardboard sheet mulching (instead of fighting durable, deep rooted prairie grasses for seasons to come) and promptly ripped off a ‘too long for summer time’ nail about 1/2 into the quick –

Alas, this kind of stuff is like paper cuts to me, as in my shock over how it happens, when I notice it happened AND the level of blood and/or pain that occurs on such little things – sigh – –

Here’s the photo montage of winter nail growth while I’ve worked in computer land/not spent as much time in essential oil concoctions and how bad I am at doing manicures on me self – scroll on by, if you wish, cuz, yes, given the before, injury, after pictures for getting ready to spring, as I resized them for upload across slower rural internet, I was rather shocked to see how awful my cuticles, callouses, and skin condition was overall-

Ahh well – still not bad enough for me to want to carve out hours of time and/or $ for supplies/professional to do regular ‘manicures’, that could be better spent on other things I notice everyday – not stuff I notice once every 5 years when I actually take a picture of how I’ve injured me working hands – AGAIN!

Winter Growth of Nails with no babying/support from me, cuz, um, yeah, I don’t think about it until taking pics to ‘report’ – sigh – –

And, I promptly managed to injure myself just ‘getting supplies’ –

I arrived home with an aching finger, blood on the left leg of my old ‘going to town to load supplies’ jeans and ahhh…..to little douses of straight Lavender oil later? Much, Much better……better than those papercuts from office work/filling – who knew papercuts were so painful? When they slice your dry, unkempt cuticles? (Yup, I’ve lived this way for years!

That long ‘ring finger nail’ got ripped right in half, bled like a stuck pig,

Ta-Da! Nails now prepared for Spring/Summer Operations and not sticking out like something that is just waiting, WAITING I tell ya, to stick out like a ‘sore thumb’ –

Nails clipped short – no I didn’t do manicure or file them, they were clipped over trashcan in bathroom and I moved on to more important/interesting things – – 🙂

The Good

Ahh…what a difference two-weeks AND no spring blizzards/severe cold fronts make – all around me, stuff poking it’s head out to ‘greet spring temps/gear up for summer’ – – Puhlease, Mother Nature, deal with these babies and elders as kindly as you can, will ya?

(Yes, I mulch in place by not cleaning up in the fall – this spring stuff keeps holding on and the forecast declares “winter really, rather over” I’ll clear out and either mulch in place or put in the compost bin those too tall/didn’t fall over to the ground by themselves, thingees, to clear the ‘sky’ for new babies – just not yet – those same things rather blunt the brunt of cold winds, blowing snow, etc., and new ‘garden babies’ for this year just seem to survive better if they have last year’s elders standing guard around them – –

That said, yes, you are free to call me out on my lazy gardening ways – I confess it and you might as well have the satisfaction of saying it outloud…too! 😀

The Spring Line-Up

Poplar

Poplar on West side of house that I’ve trimmed back, but not ‘trained/pruned’ to be a mighty truck with sky high branches – nope, it provides more west winds coverage if I just let it do it’s own thing – the buds are on the branch –

Lilac

Grandmama Lilac that’s probably been growing for over 50+ years and provides babies to dig up and transplant to other areas on the place in need of winter gales protection for…um…lest strong of character, thingees (so many vegetables sold in the store are really, rather a pain in the arse to get to maturation/harvest, here without waiting on them hand and foot like they were divas or superstars…..). Buds here too – how I love lilacs – don’t preserve them, nothing – just greet with joy their beautiful leaves, and, if Mother Nature kind that spring, their short-lived but oh so fragrant blossoms – –

Sedum

The long ago ‘free, take it, it will die’ clearance table sedum offering is still going strong – should I go back to store to pay the $1.75 I saved by boldly plucking it up and taking it through checkout with me? Nah – too much book work for them is what I was told one short year after I called to say, “It’s still Living and doing well!”

Elm Volunteers Growing

The volunteer elms around the place are budding out – how many of them have grown to provide shade/heat/drying wind protection now they aren’t getting mowed down 2-3 times a month – Alas, a neighbor opined they are siberian elms, not chinese ones, and also told me in the first (drought year) I lived here, to cut all of them down – how glad I didn’t, for they have become beloved entities that protect, and carry on, if just given a chance, and don’t whine if I cut them back here and there –

Transplanted from Mama Lilac, to north side, Lilac babies

Onion? Big Butt Garlic never harvested? Who knows – certainly not I, just now….

Yup, have no clue, but suspect this year, as I did last year…maybe the year before, too, this is a ‘never harvest, always meant to dig up/split/confirm what it is’ for the past two years – – given it’s leaves/size, I suspect it is one of the many, many ‘perennial onion’ varieties I tried planting in with the garlic roses bed on the South side of house, that never did take off – meh – it goes along doing it’s own thing, and maybe, maybe I’ll remember to ‘investigate this next fall’ –

Yup, I KNOW, this one is garlic! LOL

Nestled in between the wild roses on the west side, is the first peeps of prairie grasses/some hard weeds that poke through 3 layers of mulch – sigh – but this? The garlic I planted in fall of 2018 and haven’t ever harvested yet (except when I oopise, pull up a small one while doing spring weeding operations – – maybe this year they will be populated enough to start harvesting here and there….

Vinca Minor

Vinca minor gifted to me in August of 2013 just trucks right along with no help from me – at all – and on the North side of the house (shade, cold, etc.) Yet to appear in this ‘chillier than other places” area is the white tulip that rather got dug up and gifted to me, too, with the vinca transplant…..

Thin-leaf Yucca and Tulips

Tulips on the south side of the house are up and raring to go – no rabbits have hit yet, we shall see, however – check out the now pretty and healthier yucca plant! Yup, dug up the yellow, dying, behemoth 1 or 2 falls ago, knowing durn well I wouldn’t get it all – but probably good I didn’t try to – – Dish soap seems in short supply nowadays at stores, and well – don’t ya know, yucca roots have..um..what’s the technical term? Saponins? –

Whateves – you can mash young roots, mix with water and wash stuff with it – so glad to see it going fresh and strong once the dead stuff got dug out – 🙂

And last, but by no means least – the dry bed with no watering, no protection, etc., and home to prairie grasses, weeds blown in from miles away, etc., but don’t ya know?

The Rhubarb poking it’s head out, along with it’s neighbor irises, although they aren’t as high as the irises on the more protected, right next to the house, east side of the place – but still – Rhubarb and Irises have made their appearance!!!

Rhubarb and prairie grass native

Rhubarb and native cool-season grass – think it’s a ‘brome’ family type? On the place and unless it grows grain, all I care about is ‘it it friend or foe” and try not to get too hepped up over ripping it out, unless absolutely necessary – Prairie grasses have spent millenia figuring out how to survive drought and have long root systems – thus, I don’t worry about wiping all of it out, as long as it is playing nice with it’s neighbors that were ‘rescued from mowing’ too – 🙂

Rhubarb, first Iris of the Southern Dry bed this year…..

Another Rhubarb (one of 5 plants here) surrounded by irises – alas, despite careful searching, this western, no protection at all, dry bed, revealed only one iris feeling the need to pop out to greet the spring…

My check in update complete – hope you, your loved ones and, if you garden, your garden doing well –

Catch ya on the flip side!

P.S. – ALMOST forgot to include the pic of the rose hips (1st year of abundant fruit in 2019!)

Last fall, I harvested some for me, but also, I left about 2/3 of harvest for the birds, for winter, since I don’t spend money on birdseed, and even if I thought about it, would talk myself out of it, for I do not wish to ‘man’ the feeders when it’s winter….for the squirrels to raid….Plus, birds a plenty show up here, if I ever choose to take up birdwatching and trying to do better at remembering their names than I do plants… 🙂

Hmmm… I guess, thus far, it’s been a bountiful winter for the birds – – they haven’t gotten desperate enough for food to come pluck the berries off the the bushes I left for them – ah well – – I may try to make sun tea with the non-eaten berries and/or just let them do their own thing and see what happens – haven’t decided, just yet ….. 🙂

Whether this is do to mild winter after not as severe of drought summer OR the fact that many of my neighbors man the bird feeders, I don’t claim to know – but check out those pretty red wild rose canes with dried berries on ’em – 🙂

Wilted Lettuce – Local Style

How many, many posts I have sitting in draft mode – waiting to perfect, etc., but tonight…?

Yup, easy post to do –

Here’s the back story (seriously, you KNOW me by now – there is ALWAYS a back story….)

Yesterday I hauled my outta shape, been working in front of computer/leisurely running around the library body out to neighbors to aide in putting up deer fence around the herb garden – I hammered, I nailed, I stapled, I took frequent breaks, I used a post driver to get a t-post driven further in the ground and straightened up, somewhat –

I also cussed alot – cuz ya know, when you’re out of shape and angry at how far you’ve let yourself go, working on modern stuff, ya just GOTTA cuss over how weak you are (and hope your cursing convinces the nail, hammer or fencepost to straighten up and do what you want, right now….)

And then, I was invited in for lunch/break – and King of the Household whipped up some “Wilted Lettuce” – from his mama’s recipe – and I was offered sprouted garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds and locally raised/smoked brauts to round out lunch –

Man-a-Live – BEST meal I’ve had in ages!!

How?  You ask?

Well, maybe it was the fresh lettuce, onion picked out of the garden about 2.5 seconds before it was cooked – – maybe it was the locally raised/processed bacon….maybe it was time honored recipe –

…maybe, I was just beside myself over sitting down and having a plate of food put in front of me, to eat, with no more asked of me, than, “Glad you are here” –

Who knows, really, in the end, what feeds our souls and tickles our tastebuds?

But, project done, I headed home yesterday afternoon, with gifts of:

  • Bag full of mixed lettuce
  • Bag full of onions
  • Bag full of radishes
  • Bag full of rhubarb (their rhubarb is ahead of mine and getting out of hand on waste not/want not status….)

And later, at home, I received via email, the recipe for Wilted Lettuce –

Which uses sugar, and I asked if I could substitute basalmic vinegar, instead, cuz works for tomato based sauces, right?  And I don’t have much sugar on hand – 🙂

Suffice to say, I experimented for supper tonight – one of a handful of suppers I have actually ‘cooked’ for myself over the past year or so, unless company was here and I realized it’s only polite to feed folks while they visit…

(I’ve been living off cheese, crackers, boiled eggs, beef jerky, canned tuna, etc.  just cuz, who has time to cook?!? at o’dark thirty at the end of a long day?!?)

And so, follows is my poor, poor attempt at re-creating the fantabulous meal of yesterday – I adjusted amounts, then I substituted basalmic vinegar for the sugar, and…added more bacon (real physical labor makes me totally starving with less than 2 meals a day…) and…I don’t have any garbanzo beans sprouted, I’m out of sunflower seeds till this fall, and I sat at my desk, working, and realized,

“It just doesn’t taste as good when eating sans good conversation with friends….”

In the end, I cleaned the entire plate of food, after smacking my lips and shoving down the last 2 forkfulls, cuz my tummy said, “Enough!  You have nutrition enough!!!”

Sighed and came to the final conclusion,

“Edible and satisfying, still – – Not as good as I had yesterday…”

I’m figuring I ought not try to free-wheel it with recipe adjustments, NOR can I ever replace work during eating with Good Conversation with Friends and feel the same way about both –

Follows are the pics of my supper meal – with the  REAL recipe (follow it, trust it 🙂 sugar and all – c’mon, you can use organic cane sugar, right?!?  Promise I’ll let ya know if coconut sugar works – trying that next time, CUZ I have THAT on hand!!!),

followed by my lil ad hoc adjustments for tonights meal –

Bottom line?  I’m still convinced

Good Neighbors & Friends, good food, hard work that makes a difference, and taking the time to cook for yourself, all feed the body and soul more than a quick, easy meal does –

I’ll let you know if I change my mind, this lifetime….

Wilted Lettuce Recipe (Original)

  • Cut up and fry 3-4 strips of bacon.
  • Slice 2-4 green onions, with or without tops.
  • Add to hot bacon and drippings 1/4 cup of white vinegar, 2 T of water (optional), 2 T sugar, salt, and pepper.  Sliced onions can be added to frying bacon or placed with lettuce raw.  
  • Pour hot drippings/bacon over 8-10 cups (or less) of leaf lettuce, toss, and enjoy.
  • A sliced hard boiled egg can be added for more protein.

Picture of a couple half-hearted handfuls of lettuce from my ‘haul’ brought home yesterday from generous neighbor and ONE, yes ONE green onion of many that were plucked  and graciously gifted, from their garden as of yesterday –

I have worked more physically, than mentally these past 10 days, so I boldly did 3 strips of bacon to go with the 2 – 3 cups of lettuce/onion ration – I am a carnivore at heart, where physical labor is included,  no matter how lightweight I’ve become on the physical labor front…. 🙂

And then, do I follow the recipe?  Um, no ….all I can say is my local folks seem to forgive me my idiot ways – – Here’s the ‘pantry items’ additions:

Cook the bacon cut into pieces for a time (add onion half way through bacon cooking, if you’re a  carnivore at heart and cook way more bacon than called for your reduced cups of ‘green, good for ya veggies’ type rations…)

Add the ingredients to make the ‘sauce’ – I admit… I was a lil worried about dumping in the vinegar/water, etc., into hot bacon grease – don’t ask me why –

….don’t I splash a cup or a gallon of red wine into sausage grease with impunity for Italian recipes?!?   No worries, it all turned out good, didn’t splash or burn myself, even given my long hiatus from actually using kitchen implements….

Pour that crispy, carmelized, simmering mess in the skillet all over the bowl of lettuce – toss, cover, and then fix your plate….eat almost all of it – be overtaken by wonderful memories of moments in time from yesterday, take a break from eating the last few bites, and write a blog so your pals know you seriously just cooked AND ate what you cooked, all by yourself tonight – LOL

Seriously, folks, with fresh, local produce?  You cannot mess this thing up, even if you adjust for what you have on hand or your preferences – except…except, fairly certain the bacon grease adds something – not sure tofu will carry it off – just saying –

Wilted Lettuce (Ballybin’s Attempt)

  • 2 cups lettuce
  • 3 strips of bacon & 1 local large green onion, sauteed
  • 2 TBL white vinegar
  • 1 TBL balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Fly-By Update

I took pictures – I’m working on more projects than I care to take the time to list – but, simply have to share the beauty, how ‘do nothing/or at least, not today’ slow to implement permaculture looks like and small satisfaction over beds with growing miracles, weeded, seeded and protected for moisture/weeds look like – once I actually got a day or two to get ‘er done.

(Understand, the get ‘er done part courtesy my mother – who announced last month she would arrive for short layover of 2 days, in early June, that only 12 of the 178 bulbs she planted last fall had come up yet, at her ‘new home’ north of me and, to fulfill her love of being in the ‘garden’ in spring, she was washing rocks and replacing weed guard – and wondering what went ‘wrong’ with the bulbs….)

So, like any good daughter would, I asked for two days off from work – otherwise, I would have been gone while she was here – I sent pics of blooming things and planned what to ‘putter’ around with for us to work on –

Here’s the Breakdown:

May 22nd

Irises – East Side. Will need separated, definitely, this coming fall (last fall went from hot/dry to cold/blizzard so fast, didn’t get done…)

Irises & Rhubarb -South West Dry Bed – needed splitting, last fall – but going strong, even with lazy gardener ways –

Poppies flourishing among native grass. They shall ‘pop’ soon! Surrounded by weeds, as weird weather & busy schedule last year meant 3 failed Amaranth plantings.

May 26th

More blooms appear in southwest, harsher conditions, bed

Rhubarb is my pride and joy, this year – and wonder – do you suppose Rhubarb is the ‘pie plant’ referred to in Laura Ingall’s Wilder’s Little Town on the Prairie and The First Four Years books? 🙂

The first poppies arrive amidst last years leavings, weeds, etc….and some rain causing spots on lens capturing the moment….

Is this the surprise purple/cream irises that showed up last year, that I didn’t plant…or not? Time will tell –

Native plum trees, garlic and….ta-da- lots of weeds!

June 1st

Front area weeded, seeded with low growing wildflower mix and used biodegradable seed mat for early protection.

North side of area around poppies weeded, seeded with taller Butterfly western mix

Not pictured, earlier today – the bees swarming around the poppies – no stings, no buzzing, no nothing but joy and beauty while we each went about our business – 🙂

Lost 3 rose seedlings to the last, hard cold storm, so replaced with Caragana (pea shrub) just did 1, cuz peas/beans and garlic/onions supposedly non-companions – Caragana seedling is stick with small green leaves mid-way down.  Rose, Garlic, a few perennial Welsh onions that survived last fall’s planting, and weeded/seed areas a a mixture of marigolds, and 4 kinds of carrots….we’ll see how this all turns out – 🙂

Rose bush that was buried by roof fall of heavy wet snow – How I love survivors! Garlic and some dusty miller seedlings planted here – not sure the dusty miller will take off, but decided to try

Tomorrow? Seed amaranth/buckwheat in bare ground to west of rhubarb/iris to prepare for fall moving of transplants from rhubarb and irises AND, (sigh) weeding, seeding, protecting better, the Native Plum/Garlic west bed – who has been patiently waiting…. 🙂

Happy spring/summer – 🙂

And, for fans, of the fly-by/buzz the tower – a lil’ clip – 🙂