May 01, 2012

Spring on the Homestead

Spring came early for us this year.  Sometimes it just seems early because of all the work involved, but this year, it just plain came early.  Every time I turned around, there was something I was behind on.  Ever feel that way?  

Mornings are a quiet, peaceful time for me.  They give me time to renew my mind with the Word of God, figure out how best my day can be used, and to take a few moments to appreciate all that God has blessed us with.

Sounds peaceful doesn't it?  It usually is, except this past month I can hear the time ticking away.  There is a weeks worth of work that I have to prioritize into one day.  I know that you have no idea what I'm talking about!

The land has a way of telling you to get is one example:

These never bloom until just before the Japanese Beetles arrive.  This is the first year ever that we have been able to fully appreciate the blooms without the buds being eaten off the stems first.  If you have no experience with roses like me, but would like to have some, be sure and get the Abraham Lincoln variety.  They have the old fashioned scent of real roses that is heavenly!

Here are some other excellent scented flowers ... Peonies.

They are great to fill a vase with and provide a sweet scented home.

One of my favorite things about all of these plants pictured above is that they do what they do without any interference from me.  No matter how far behind I think I am, they fill the homestead with a new sense of life.

Speaking of which.... here is another thing of beauty.  A new calf!

A late afternoon walk revealed a new life.  No, it wasn't really a surprise.  We knew she was due any day, but thankfully, Scottish Highlands are the best cows at having their calves by themselves.  

Here are two calves from last year ...

The red one on the right is our beloved Junebug.  She's a cross between a Scottish Highland and a Limousin.  If you'd like to learn more about the Scottish Highland breed and how easy they are to keep,  just visit the Heartland Highland Cattle Association and scroll down on the front page for details.  

Ok, so now I've shown you a few of the easy parts of this homestead that pretty much take care of themselves.  The part that has me a bit frazzled is the garden!  That's what I don't have enough time in the day for.  Between burying the soaker hose along the plants, caging the tomatoes that are ready to put out, transplanting the hundreds of tomatoes still waiting in the greenhouse, fencing off one garden area, picking rock out of freshly tilled rows, mulching, watering, getting more fencing to keep the cows out of the expanded garden ...  see what I mean?

Here is a list of what is planted already and you can see from what isn't listed how far behind I am.

Peas (shelling and snap)
Tomatoes (Sunsugar and Grape)
Peppers (Sweet Bells of various colors, Jalapeno and Habanero)
Brussel Sprouts
Onions (Red, White and Yellow)
Elephant Garlic
Potatoes (Reds and Yukon Golds)

Here is a list of what is waiting to be planted:

Big Beef
Mortgage Lifter
Early Girl
Cherokee Purple
Sweet Cherry 100
Amish Paste
Yellow Pear
and more... but you get the idea.

Ok, so what have you got planted so far??


  1. Sharon, I love your pictures of the gardens and flowers. I had no idea the Scottish Highland cows are best at having calves by themselves. See, I learned something about cows! As you can tell by my response, I don't own cows (would like to one day though). Are Scottish Highland cows always this gorgeous? Do you raise them for meat or milk? The weather has been extremely strange this year. Making it hard to get gardens going. This year so far, we've planted tomatoes (different varieties), sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, lettuce (different varieties), green peppers, green chiles, spinach, broccoli rabe, variety of herbs, blue berry bushes, and celery. I still have beans (all different varieties) to plant, melons and I could go on, and on, LOL!!!! See your not the only one that has more work to accomplish :-)

    1. Thank you Sandy! The Scottish Highland are terrific cows and can be used for both meat and dairy. We haven't tried them for dairy yet, but the meat is by far, the best we've ever had.

      Beans! I forgot to list beans and cool crops like lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes etc. We have had great success with our thornless blackberry starting several new little rootings so now I have to figure out where to replant at least a dozen more blackberry bushes. I've given up on growing squash and melons. Between picking off the bugs in the heat of the Ozarks and being able to buy them from our Amish neighbors, I figured there's no sense in taking up my garden space for them.

      I am going to try to grow some basil from seed. The herbs that come up regularly for us are the thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, sage and chives. Our pineapple sage came up again this year due to our mild winter and I've planted a new batch of lemon verbena and parsley so far. For mints, we have orange mint, apple mint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, peppermint, spearmint and lemon mint. I'm still learning what to do with all of them!

  2. Just went to the store today to get some plants and seeds for our garden. We'll be putting it in this weekend.

  3. I've been watching for those beetles to arrive- I wonder if they come early too? It's a battle to save the grapes and roses. Don't you love the Cherokee Purple tomatoes? I grow heirlooms only for tomatoes since they taste so good but we do find they have a short shelf life. We can quite frequently or dehydrate for some really pretty wagon wheel shaped, ultra sweet tomatoes.

    1. Hi Kathy~ I didn't even think about the beetles bothering grapes. I'll have to remember that, I've been wanting to put in some grapes.

      At first I wasn't so crazy about the Cherokee Purples because I couldn't figure out when they were ripe, lol. We have a few people that absolutely love them at the farmers market, so I thought I'd better grow some more this year since we don't know anyone else around here that grows them.

      It seems all heirlooms have an extremely short shelf life which makes it extremely hard to grow them for the farmers market. However, we love canning them for our own use! What other heirlooms do you grow?

  4. The Japanese beetles don't bother our grapes, but they love my creamy colored David Austin Old English Roses. The is the first year year that we have enjoyed a truly full trellis of the sweet scented roses. I'm hoping the beetles are sticking to their regular life cycle and not ahead of schedule because of the summer like March we had. They do like the thornless blackberries.

    We planted corn, green beans, cucumbers and okra last week and had a gentle 1.5 inches of rain Monday and Tuesday. That will also have my Soldier Beans, Horticulture Beans and Jacobs Cattle beans popping. I let the hull start to dry, shell and can and freeze some. The canned ones are a quick meal.

    I enjoy reading your blog adventures. We live in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.

    1. Thank you Gwynette! Glad to hear from a "neighbor". The Ozark Mountains down in Arkansas are incredibly beautiful. We truly enjoy driving down through there just for fun.

      I'm hoping to get some beans planted to can this year. It sounds like an extremely handy food to have on hand for everything. I've not heard of the Soldier and Horticulture beans though. What do you use those in, everything? We do as many green beans as possible, but I haven't had much success with the dried beans before.

    2. The Soldier bean is an old fashioned white bean about 1/2 inch long with a maroon 'eye' shaped like a soldier in a tall hat standing at attention. I ordered fresh ones this year from Bakersville Seeds. The horticulture beans were bought at the hardware store in Huntsville AR. Both seeds can be saved year to year. If picked young enough, they are 'green' beans, but I feel that is a waste of a good 'dry' bean. I make baked beans or just cook them with ham bones and of course, can them for a quick meal with cornbread. I freeze them also after shelling without blanching if using in a month or two.

      We've driven through your area on the way to Cabool to visit my aunt when she was alive. Always enjoyed the slightly less mountainous scenery and the buggies on the highway.

  5. I just love the cows! The brown one is SOOOOO adorable! Lovely new look to, very sringy... ;0)

  6. I love Peonies. Ours do not bloom until June.

  7. Hi Sharon, Your flowers are BEAUTIFUL!!! I'll have to remember to get an Abe Lincoln rose, I love the traditional scent -- so many of them these days have no scent at all. And peonies are one of my favorites, we have a few bushes, but I've had problems with them being to wet the last few years. Maybe this will be the year that they pop. I need to move my herbs too -- somewhere where they can spread to their heart's content. You have a GREENHOUSE...I'm green with envy. Can you show us sometime or have you in the past and I missed it? That is next on my honey-do list. And your Highlands are beautiful. I want bison, but I need more secluded land, maybe someday. Dispite our early spring, we had about 3 days of frost following, so most things up here are right on time or maybe a bit late blooming. I'm still waiting for our lilacs to bloom -- the Twin Cities is much further along than us. Oh well, it buys me a little time. We have carrots, onions, radish & lettuce in. And I had to put in new strawberry plants since our chickens dug up all ours last fall - a lesson learnt.

  8. Hi Sharon, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris

  9. Thanks for visiting my blog Sharon! I have perused yours too and it looks wonderful there on your farm :-)

    So far we have planted onions, lettuce, spinach, radishes, snow peas, shelling peas, carrots, garlic (last fall), brocolli, sunflowers, 5 blueberry plants, 2 black berry bushes, 3 new grapes to add to our current 2, dill, rhubarb, turnips, mangels, beets, yarrow, lemon balm, echinacea, and the strawberries & perennial herbs are doing well.

    Yet to be planted are tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet peppers, cucumbers, beans, pumpkins, zucchini, basil, sage, lavender, catnip, mint, and corn.


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