Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Visit Over Iced Tea...

I posted the recipe last year so check out
the 7/18/10 posting.
So before you settle in to read this blog, get yourself a nice glass of cold iced tea or whatever so you're comfortable and cool while I catch you up on what has been happening at Edwards Ranch lately.

We celebrated Mark's 65th birthday and as you can see he requested Millionaires Pie again this year. Since it was a milestone year, I dressed up the pie with the numbers and candles. He just wanted the pie and wasn't much interested in the fancy.

My eldest sister, Marcine, from North Carolina visited us for 2 weeks. Marcine and I stayed overnight in Omaha after her arrival so we could do some touring of her old college town where she attended Creighton University. One of our first stops was to the downtown Wagon Train sculpture park which is magnificent. The bronze sculptures are bigger than life size and consist of several wagons pulled by horses and oxen, families, the scout on horseback and children and dogs romping behind the wagons. The dramatic display was created by Utah sculptors Blair Buswell and Ed Fraughton and the first phase was installed in 2005. If you get to Omaha, this is a must see. (Double click on the pictures to get an enlarged view of these incredible pieces)

We had such a lovely time with her. Essentially she lived the country life with us for 2 weeks - gathering eggs, playing with the dog (yes, the dog --- I'll get to that), attending a 4-H horse competition etc. It was hot and humid so there were naps in the cool house too!

On the way to gather eggs with Buddy on
Marcine's lap - his favorite place

OK, about the dog. We decided we really wanted a farm dog and English Shepherds are considered the quintessential farm dogs so we searched and found a pup with the big name of Ivanhoe that has become known around here as Buddy. He is a sweet dog and appears to be very trainable. Hopefully he won't be interested in eating the chickens! He loved sitting on Marcine's lap and they became great friends.
While Marcine was here, our youngest sister, Sandi from Denver, came to NE for a short visit with us. It was delightful to be together...
Sandi and Buddy

swinging in the front yard
relaxing on the deck

enjoying a meal together
With all the heat and humidity, mornings have been very foggy but the heat soon burns it off.
Then in the afternoons when the heat is blasting, the hens find cool shade under the trees...
And, nearly every afternoon we see the buildup of storm clouds, so beautiful and sometimes so dangerous...

This summer I replaced a rose that wasn't thriving in the front of the house with a lime green hydrangea called Limelight. As you can see, it is doing beautifully with lots of blooms. On the trellis is a perennial vine called Variegated Porcelain Vine or Ampelopsis 'Elegans'. Both add a fresh modern touch to the front garden.
And this years tangerine hibiscus is starting to be showy, usually more than one bloom. The Parrots Beak plant, 'Amazon Sunset' at the lower edge of the pot had gorgeous orange flowers earlier in the season but they haven't been back although the greenery is beautiful. The Pelargonium Citrosium 'citronella' is thriving - it is the larger plant on the right.
Below is the pot sitting outside the french doors. It contains rosemary and a chocolate plant. It's supposed to smell like chocolate but I don't smell it. It sure is pretty though.
And who can resist a puppy in the flowers...

Buddy in the hollyhocks at the front of the barn
Savor the remainder of summer. It goes so quickly, doesn't it?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Family Treasures and Memories

In 2002, our family got together for Christmas at the home where our Mother was living. During the previous summer, my sister Bonnie was visiting Mother and uncovered her wedding dress during cleaning. They discussed whether she wanted to keep it and they came up with an idea that turned into our Christmas gifts that year. It was a magical holiday.

Bonnie with Mother's handmade wedding dress

Bonnie deconstructed Mother's wedding dress and from it made individual pillows for each of her children, their spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

She creatively fashioned pillows using all parts of the dress and each one had a piece of lace and satin and some had buttons from the back or sleeves. Each was unique in size and shape and all are truly beautiful treasures. Here is the pillow I received made from her wedding gown...

And, how it looks on our bed...

Bonnie also wrote a book about Mother's life as a gift for the grandchildren and great-grandchildren that Christmas. Here's a small sample...

And a picture of my parents, Dave and Bessie Pravecek on their wedding day...

Today is the second anniversary of Mother's passing. We have many wonderful memories and some special treasures...including our little piece of her wedding dress in the form of a pillow!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Chickens Join the Flock

We have 5 new hens - Rhode Island Reds and are minus 2 roosters! We gave the roosters to our friends who provided the Reds.  The Reds seem to have integrated into the flock quite well. The Wyandotte's are still bossy and pushing all the girls around but these Reds are older so they are holding their own. Our pullets are still somewhat skittish but less so without the roosters. I tell you, if you want a calm henhouse, don't include roosters. Out of the 5 French Marans chicks, I have 2 left and we're only sure of one actually being a hen; the other could turn out to be a rooster. Not very good odds from that hatchery. The French Marans are the ones that lay the chocolate brown colored eggs and I was so excited to have them. Looks like I'll be going to Plan B for French Marans.

The new Reds were in too small of a space in their former home and were picking at each other so a couple of the hens have bald spots where their feathers were pulled out by other hens. I think they will be fine here since there is so much individual space for all the hens. They sure settled in quickly and are eating just fine. They are layers so I've already gotten eggs from them so my egg productions has already increased.
I love these girls - they have such personalities. My only named hen is Goldie and she continues to be my friend as I mow and move around the yard. The day the Reds arrived, I left all the hens in the pen all day to become acclimated. However, I discovered Goldie running outside the pen. Evidently she flew out of the pen and was enjoying free range all by herself. However, when I brought the kitchen scrapes to the pen, she followed me in. She's not stupid. Now they are all free range again and doing fine.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Harvest

We didn't get many cherries this year but they are delicious. The result of the harvest is four Cherry pies...delicious! We had one but the other three went into the freezer.

Mark pitted the cherries which is a big job even with the little cherry chomper.
After making the pies, I had leftover pie dough so I made quiche and it was delicious with fresh carrots, Swiss chard and onions from the garden and fresh eggs.  We had fresh buttered beets and salad greens from the garden as sides. Yum! Here's the recipe..


5 large eggs
3/4 cup milk (soy or almond works fine)
2 cups shredded cheese (I like fontina and/or havarti)
then, add what you have in the refrigerator, such as: chopped drained cooked veggies; chopped left over slices of deli meat, roast chicken, cooked ground beef or seafood. Use your imagination and leftovers)
1 9" pie shell (my recipe is on the 07/18/10 blog)

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Beat eggs in large mixing bowl
Add filling and milk and  mix well
Pour mixture in prepared pie shell
Place quiche on cookie sheet and bake on the middle oven rack for 45-50 minutes; or until top is browned and a knife inserted comes out clean

Serve with fresh green salad and a few pieces of fruit.

Here are pictures of the potatoes, beets, carrots and greens from the garden.

And, if you haven't had baby potatoes right out of the garden, steamed and buttered, you are missing a piece of heaven on earth. Oh my, soooo delicious. It's good enough to want to make a meal of it.

If you recall, I planted my potatoes in the tank bed this year and I experimented with planting the traditional way in the ground and the Ruth Stout way of on laying the potato on the ground covered with mulch. The Ruth Stout method wins hands down. It's so easy to harvest by just lifting the mulch.

So many people say they don't like beets which I don't understand unless they've only eaten large old beets that have lost their sweetness. Small beets pulled from the ground, washed and roasted or steamed with real butter are so delicious. Beets are very sweet when eaten young. They are also such a beautiful food. This year I repeated Bulls Blood which we had last year and just adored. I also tried Chioggia beets - red with white circles inside. Delicious and interesting. Nothing wrong with interesting food.

I grew Danvers carrots again this year. They weren't particularly sweet last year but I thought it may have been growing conditions. Well, after growing again this year with the same results, I've decided I won't plant them again. They are OK but not sweet enough for me. I also planted an unusual colored carrot- purple! yes purple-ish on the outside and orange on the inside which is called Dragon. It is interesting looking which makes it fun.

 Here are some pictures of this years early garden...
Looking S-SE

Looking S-SW
Looking south from the sweet potato and leek bed

The roses are still in bloom; this one is so fragrant -
David Austin's Scepter'd Isle English rose
If you don't have a garden, you can enjoy the summer harvest at your local Farmers Market. Try it - you'll savor the flavor of summer!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

New Water Hydrant In The Garden - My Dream Come True

The ditch from the garden on the way to the horse waterer
for hookup
 For a gardener, having water close to the garden is a dream. We had a waterline and hydrant put right at the garden and we will be installing a drip system to the tanks and ground beds. This is a dream come true because consistent watering is so crucial to a successful garden. Pulling hoses works but it is so much work and feels harder every year if you know what I mean.

This is at the turn; you can see the Ditch Witch
in the background
The Ditch Witch worked miracles digging a deep hole for the water pipes. Our friend connected the water lines to the horse waterer nearby which made this possible.

A great view of the junction
I can now keep my compost pile moist so it will work better too.

The hydrant between the raspberry pots; the bald spot
is where the ditch was dug and filled in after the pipe was

I'm so happy - this is my garden dream come true!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th Of July!

Can you believe it's already Independence Day? This summer seems to be flying by and every day is packed with activities. Here are a few recent ones...

The cherries are Mark picked them yesterday while I was working on the flower beds.

Mark picking cherries. I think thoughts of cherry goodies was motivation!
This is all we got this year --- not a very big crop but they will make
luscious jam and pies.
As the flower beds around the house develop this summer, I decided that hostas would be a perfect addition in the north and east facing beds since they love shade. I put word out to my Master Gardener colleagues that I was looking for hostas and ferns and voila, my MG friend, JoAnn L. emailed me that she wanted to clean out a couple hosta beds so I was welcome to them. Woo Hoo!

So, Mark and I drove to Kearney one morning last week and JoAnn and I dug out the hostas. I asked her what kind they were and she didn't know the official name and told me they started from one plant given to her by her mother-in-law, Mary. So our hostas are Mary hostas. They look fabulous and seem to have settled in nicely.
JoAnn and me digging hostas --- aren't they beautiful?
Here they are at our cottage, settling in their new bed
These 'Mary' hostas grace the front of our cottage
The garden is exploding with delicious veggies; check it out...
sweet potatoes and leeks
carrots and swiss chard
lettuce and arugula
the potatos are exploding
and, the tomatoes are thriving but no tomatoes yet
And this was my view from the kitchen window today - so lovely
The fireflies are out in force tonight and they are magical! I hope everyone had a safe and fun Independence Day.