Tag Archives: Meanwhile Back at the Ranch

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: Mother Nature Delivers What I NEEDle

We are accustomed to doing without some conveniences out here in the country.   Oh, we have running water, but in the past when I’ve needed capers or a specific garden tool, we were miles away from getting what we needed when we needed it.  When we finally finished the bank project (A RE-purposeful Life), I wanted to make sure my new plants got the water they needed, and my husband suggested pine mulch to keep the ground moist.  Of course, there is not a nursery that sells pine mulch for miles, but I knew exactly where I could get it locally.

trees
Lots of trees waiting to make their yearly delivery of leaves and needles in the fall.

Our road is lined with a variety of trees.  Leaves, pine cones, and pine needles cover both sides of our street every spring, and I hesitantly rake them up while fearing what animal I might disrupt from its rest. This time I gathered a rake and the wheel barrow and headed up the road to gather a couple of loads of pine needles without fear.  I was on a mission.  Unfortunately, I underestimated the number of loads I would need for my project, Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: Mother Nature Delivers What I NEEDle

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: Well, CHUTE!

Holes in the fence
The grass is NOT greener on the other side.

It all began with two goats.  Before we knew it, there were fourteen.  Everything seemed to be moving right along until one day we noticed a couple of the goats were on the outside of the fence.  Our fence had a hole.  Upon further inspection, we notice several holes, one in almost every fence section.  The cause? Roxy, our newest horse, was taking her front leg and pushing the fence down, so she could lean over and eat the “greener” grass on the other side.  This daily practice has ruined about 800 feet of fence.

Goats in the Garden
Hoof prints in the mud.... a dead giveaway.

We knew what was happening.  Every day about lunch time, the goats would go to their favorite spot and venture out into the neighboring field to graze until their heart was content.  They managed to migrate over to my garden at least twice where they ate not only the strawberries, but also every single leaf leaving only stems about one inch long.  Yes, I complained, but I knew repairing the fence was going to be an expensive and time-consuming task.  We are still building a barn, and now it’s gardening season; we had to prioritize the tasks around the ranch, and the goats grazing outside the fence was not a priority until the inevitable happened. Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: Well, CHUTE!

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: We’re Back!

It wasn’t until I had lots of empty ground to fill with my choice of plants that I learned the difference between annuals and perennials.  Now, that we are starting on our fifth summer in our own house in the country, we are enjoying the fruits of our labor; the perennials are back and they’ve brought friends.

Perennials on the bank
Our Junipers are filling in the sunny part of the bank. The Snapdragons on the right come back and had a little color right before the shaded Vinca Vine.

The bank has been challenging to landscape.  Part of the 200 foot long bank gets full sun while the rest is shaded by a tree line.  When we add in the factor of a steep slope, we are limited in the choices that will thrive in that environment.  We have been experimenting with several varieties of shrubs and vines for the last five years.  Just this year I have noticed how much our perennials have grown and spread.

It takes some work.  I spend the early part of the growing season checking on the placement of the new branches of the Junipers, so I can get maximum coverage.  I also placed some rocks in the banks to prevent water creating ditches in the bank.  I am not always successful.  This morning I noticed a couple of missing plants washed away by the recent heavy rains. Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: We’re Back!

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: A RE-Purposeful Life

Trailer of trash
We try to limit deliveries to the landfill to once every seven years.

Our pile of junk had been sitting in the pasture for seven years.  It was a mixture of plastic, metal, and old wooden posts from a variety of sources around the ranch.  It had evolved over time.  If we needed a certain material for a project, the junk pile would be our first place to look to see what we could use out of it. Once I found an old door that we installed on the goat shed when we created a room addition for our new baby goats.  I still remember the thumbs up my father-in-law gave me when I propped it up for him to see.  Unfortunately,  I noticed the goats and horses spending a lot of time close to the pile, and I worried that one of them would get tangled up in something and hurt.  It was time to take this pile of treasure to the landfill.

We hooked up the trailer and started loading the accumulation of seven years of destruction.  Mixed into the pieces of roofing, gutters, batteries, and brass candlesticks were landscape timbers that had been used for a small round pen built by my father-in-law in 1997.  Hmmmm. Why had he used landscape timbers for a fence instead of fence posts?  Had they been left by someone else?  I was intrigued.  Even though it was time consuming, I removed only the staples that held the remaining fence in place, put the old fence on the trailer, and set the wood aside.  It took quite a bit of time and effort, but I loved the idea of salvaging one last repurposed item from the pile. Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: A RE-Purposeful Life

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: We’re Growing More Than Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple
This indeterminate tomato variety was said to have originated from the Cherokee over 100 years ago.

Springtime has a way of promoting growth in so many ways.  We see the results of growth in plants as our surroundings turn from brown to green, and we see the growth in people as they try new things.  My friend and co-worker Shannon came to me one day and told me she wanted to plant tomatoes, but she had never grown anything….ever.  I had just found out that our Master Gardener speaker for April was a man known for his fabulous tomatoes.  We made a plan to attend together.

Our speaker, Sputt Garnett of Yum Yum, TN, explained everything we ever wanted to know about tomatoes.  I never really understood the difference between determinate and indeterminate, and I had certainly never seen tomato varieties like Black Prince.  We were especially enthralled with the idea of the heirloom variety tomato, so we each purchased one Cherokee Purple tomato plant at the end of the workshop.

I explained to Shannon that I only had one growing season of tomatoes under my belt.  I had planted them from seed last year during my first garden experience and had good success.  Our excitement over tomatoes surpassed our need for dessert, so we headed next door to Wal-Mart to look at some plants.  We explored the varieties but left the store with a $5.00 purchase: one envelope of Rutgers tomato seeds and one Jiffy Seed Starter Greenhouse. Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: We’re Growing More Than Tomatoes