A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Late July Garden Pictures

This Summer here at the homestead has been full of precipitation, we've only had to water a couple of times so far this year.  The gardens have blossomed in the last few weeks of July with regular rainfall and warm, humid conditions.  It has been fantastic weather for growing.
This garden mound was started four years ago and is finally now well established (you can follow the progression from Dirt Delivery and Mound Formation to how it looks today).  There are still some bare spots to fill in way in the back behind the pine tree that have conveniently not been included in the photo.   
The light purple flowers in the left foreground are purple Coneflower (echinacea purpurea).  The middle and background have two monarda - "Purple Rooster" and "Coral Reef".  After taking a few years to get established, the monarda (also known as bee balm) have not only self-seeded to a few more locations in this bed, but also put on a show this year.

The yellow flowers in the middle are "Summer Sun" heliopsis and interspersed are some various annual zinnias and even a handful of marigolds.
This is the front garden bed that faces to the North.  It looks vastly different than it did in mid-June (pictures here), the blue hues of salvias have been replaced by yellow of the "Summer Sun" heliopsis and pale purple of the hosta blooms.  It always amazes me how the same garden bed can look vastly different in a few short weeks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Rump Pillow for Snuggling

It was a typical Summer day here at the homestead.  We got some chores done, tidied up some things in the garden, and played in the yard with the dogs.  It was hot outside though, and a rousing game of fetch followed by their afternoon walk took its toll on Shaak Ti and Shadowfax.
This is a pretty standard late-afternoon or early-evening scene around here, with the girls all snuggling together on the floor.  Shaak Ti is usually wedged somewhere.  In this case she's chosen to wedge her head between the couch and Shadowfax's rump.  That's a dangerous spot to be. 
When the bright summer sun saps your strength, the only recourse is to submit to a nice afternoon nap. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Growing Cucumbers on a Trellis

Our homestead garden here is pretty good size, around 1/3 of an acre.  But even though I have a ton of garden space, there are still limitations and what can go where.  Part of the yard is inside the fence and is the "dog area", it's pretty much off limits for growing edibles. The last thing we need is the dogs helping themselves to a veggie buffet, or worse scuffling over a fallen tomato.
Other areas are too shady, too visible, or not quite right for one reason or another.  Like many gardeners we're left to try to maximize the space that we have, and one of the best ways to this is to grow three dimensionally, as in upwards. We're able to grow six or more cucumber plants - two different varieties, an American Pickling (we use these for our Bread and Butter pickles) and Armenian Cucumber in a strip of soil that is barely a foot wide.

Cucumbers, melons, and some squash can all be grown vertically, using a trellis to train them to grow upwards, dramatically decreasing the footprint of how much ground space is needed.The trellis that we use is just some old wire fencing material that I've bent to allow to hang over the fence.  The bottom edge is pushed into the ground to make it more secure.  In Fall when the plants are done producing I remove the trellis and store it to make it more aesthetically pleasing to not have the wire trellis hanging on the fence all winter.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Worn Out

Shadowfax was plain worn out yesterday afternoon.  She had spent the better part of four hours in the window, watching me work in the garden and mow the lawn. Too much direct supervising can make even the hardiest of managers weary.  Shadowfax eventually ceased her micromanaging and succumbed to a sprawling nap with her head flopped under the desk. 
We aren't too far behind.  In the past few weeks we've been busy around and off the homestead.  We attended the Mother Earth News Fair in West Bend, Wisconsin and got some great information - more on this in a later post, and stopped at a few other places across the Upper Midwest. 
There are so many stories and pictures to share, we've got to get ourselves in gear and relay all the information to you, our glorious readers.  More to come. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Fourth of July

This is how we'll be celebrating this evening, in high style and with no explosions. 
The Fourth of July is one of those holidays when we're very happy to have deaf dogs.  Unlike hearing dogs, who can hear and be very traumatized by fireworks sounds, our deaf dogs have no reaction at all to fireworks.  We'll probably be in bed before they start the formal fireworks display here in Grand Forks and the neighborhood goes wacky setting off their own personal displays. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Window Watcher

The forecast yesterday was for a 70% chance of high squirrel activity, with a strong likelihood of bunny shenanigans in the afternoon.  As such, Shaak Ti was on high alert all day. "I see you out there Mr. Squirrel".
This couch is out on the front porch and is the only piece of furniture that the dogs are allowed on.  Shaak Ti makes the most of this whenever we're out on the front porch and spends time staring out the window, napping, or snuggling with Alycia. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Family Unit Day - 2016

We celebrated our first official Family Unit Day on June 24, 2008.  It marked the one year anniversary of Shaak Ti coming into our lives and represented the day we became one family unit.  The addition of Shadowfax in 2010 didn't change the date of Family Unit Day, it's still an amalgamation of all the dogs birthdays and adoption days.  We take a moment on this day to appreciate each other (OK Tito probably doesn't appreciate me) and reflect fondly on the incredible years we've had together. 
Shaak Ti has been in our lives for 9 years now.  That makes her likely around 10 years old, and she hasn't slowed down much.  She's still an attention starved, never-ending well of pets, and starts every day at 4:45 am, raring to get out in the world and chase those pesky bunnies and squirrels. 
Shadowfax is all about celebrating Family Unit Day, but only to the extent that it doesn't interfere with her getting to play outside.  As you can tell by the look on her face, preparing this blog post is clearly getting in the way of my taking her outside to play and she's none too happy about it. 
We know how to ring in an exciting celebration around here. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Early Summer Garden Pictures & Garden Tour Panic

We're just a few days away from the official start of Summer.  The gardens here are in full swing with late Spring and early Summer blooms at their peak. 
This is the west side of our house.  The prolific white flowers are a naturalizing daisy that we got from a friend of Alycia's.  These daisies have been more than happy to self-seed and fill in the empty spaces.  They honestly spread a little too aggressively, but they're pretty easy to thin out or pull completely in the spaces that we don't want them, and the little white flowers with yellow centers are very cheery. 
The Grand Forks Garden Tour is this weekend, and Alycia and I were looking forward to a leisurely and casual tour of some of the gardens in town.

Until we found out that not one, but two of our neighbors are stops on the garden tour.  We had to spring into action and get the homestead ready for passersby who would be checking out our flowers on the way to the official garden tour stop just down the block.  This is the front of the house, hostas surrounded by different salvias.
There was literally only one days warning.  We read on Friday in our local paper about the Garden Tour and almost jumped out of our chairs when we noticed that two participants' names were our neighbors.  Anybody who was somebody in the local gardening scene might be walking by, we had to make everything look its best.  The pots and plantings on our front step look ready for random people to admire as they pass by. 
I stopped by the neighbors house and (after giving her a whole bunch of grief about not warning us sooner) asked if she needed any help.  It should be a busy weekend in our little neighborhood - along with the garden walk is a Historical Society Tour and a 12 hour marathon Relay for Life in the park.  Good thing we got our gardens ready!