Friday, June 11, 2010

My *NEW* Co-Blogger

Hello out there in blogger world. I hope all is well with everyone.
Today I would like to introduce my new co-blogger (drum roll please), Sara Sain. Sara is my cousin, as she will explain in her first post. We thought it would be a great idea to blog together to show two different perspectives on raising families, gardens, farm life, and just life in general as it relates to country living.
We promise not to quarrel on our differing ideas, but merely introduce them to you as we see and discover their relevance. It may turn out to be some great conversation starters!

So, without further adieu.... here is Sara's first post, "Me vs. the Colorado Potato Beetle, or Let Me Introduce Myself." (Hope you enjoy. I know I sure did!)

PS. I will be following up to Sara post with my garden post, as soon as I make it out there to take a few pictures to go along with the story. Also, I changed the settings so that anyone can leave a comment, not just those with accounts. So please leaves us lots of comments.

Me vs. The Colorado Potato Beetle, or Let Me Introduce Myself

Before I begin my gardening adventures, let me tell you who I am and why I think I have the right to post on Carly’s blog.  My name is Sara, and I’m Carly’s cousin.  We have always done things together, from taking dance lessons to going to school to, now, raising our babies.  We decided it would be fun to blog together as well, seeing as how Carly lives on a modern dairy farm, and I want to be a farmer.  We also wanted to share about our lives on our farms (hers, real; mine, semi-imaginary) and about being mamas living in the country.  I’ve beat Carly there; I have a 7 month old daughter, Ada, who I will probably mention quite often.  Now, I just can’t wait for Suzanna to come so Carly and I can share the parenting adventure as well!

Now, about my “farm”…let’s call it a “farmstead” instead.  I’m a history freak, wanting to do things the old-fashioned way and live parts of my life like I’m in the 1800s (much to the chagrin of my technology-savvy, super-in-the-21st-century, graphic designer of a husband, God love ‘em).  I just feel that there’s a lot to be said about the way things were back then.  Though rougher, there was more of a community spirit and a simpler way of life that I’d love to get back to.  I love my clothesline, my garden, my animals, quality time with my family, and the fact that I’ve mastered the art of baking bread from scratch.  Things back then were also more environmentally friendly, and I am a self-proclaimed semi-hippie when it comes to matters of Mother Earth.  I take my own bags to the grocery store, cloth diaper my baby, and am a recycling fiend!  I like things to be practical, efficient, and, above all, natural.

I want to start my own farm, with sheep and goats.  Right now, it’s just all produce, but it’s coming along.  It will be fun to see the difference in how Carly and John’s operation runs as opposed to mine, and how our ideas differ on this blog.  I try not to get off on my earthy tangents around John; he’s polite, but I’m sure he’s wanting to roll his eyes and give Carly an earful when they’re alone.  But they love me, and I love them, and we’re all in the same family.  I guess what I’m trying to say is, this should be fun, because the readers of this blog will get two different perspectives on life, gardening, farming, and living in the country, and neither is better than the other.  That’s partly the point.

So my first adventure.  I went out to check my potatoes, which numerous sources say is one of the easiest crops to grow.  Yeah, right.  I’ve tried them before, and they always get eaten up by bugs (much like my poor eggplant), and then, when my sweet potatoes miraculously made it last year, my little sweet potatoes were just that.  Little.  About the size of your thumb.  Drats.  So, being the optimist that I am, I planted both regular and sweet potatoes this year.  I went out to check on them, as mentioned, and, alas!, bug holes everywhere!  I inspected the plants, and sure enough, little red bugs covered the leaves.  I flicked one off. 

A few days later, I looked up these red bugs, and discovered they were the larvae of the Colorado Potato Beetle, a vicious looking fat bug with black and yellow stripes.  I hated them.  The website I found gave explicit instructions as how to get rid of them.  It said to find a bucket and a stick and knock the bugs into the bucket with the stick and DESTROY THEM!  Yes, it actually said that.  Well, obviously it was all out war.  So, here I go with my five-gallon bucket and a gardening hand tool that I have no idea what its actual purpose is, to the garden to kill some bugs.  My trusty dog, Sadie, is right beside me.  We get to the potato plants, and I bend down to inspect.  Yep, black and yellow bugs.  Everywhere.  Sadie gets excited, and flips around quickly, only to run down an entire potato plant.  It springs back up from the ground, but all the bugs have been flung off.  Okay for the time being, but my instructions are to catch and destroy!  Needless to say, I yell a little and Sadie goes off to dig up buried bread somewhere, happy as can be.  So, I take my stick and try to knock some of the bugs off the second plant.  Just so you know, a five-gallon bucket is way too big.  I tramped back to the house for a little bucket not much bigger than a quart jar.  A little water in the bottom and it’s a nice bug trap.  So I’m out beating bugs off my plants, and squealing with delight as they drop one by one.  Jordan, my husband, comes out to check on me.  I guess my giddiness is contagious because he’s interested too.  Once I’ve beaten the bugs off all the plants, I pour them in my five-gallon bucket with water in the bottom, and set another bucket on top.  I’m afraid to set them on fire, so drowning is the only way I know to destroy them.  The instructions said to beat the bugs off two times a day; well, I’m a working mom.  I wish I had time to beat my potato plants, but it only happened that one time.  I’m happy to report, however, that all the leaves have grown back and my potato plants look incredibly happy and healthy!  I envision a good crop.  I’ll let you know.  Sara – 1, Garden bugs – 0.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Snake- Out

For those of you who do not know or couldn't tell by the title of the blog, my husband (John) is a dairy farmer. He often loves to tell me stories about his "high school antics." These "antics" are not you're typical high school antics about parties; although John surely took part in a few of those. They are not about vandalizing property; although I do know of one incident that he was involved in dealing with vandalism. And they are not about skipping school. I can honestly say that I don't think he ever skipped school, or at least I haven't heard a story about it yet! Most of his high school stories revolve around "coon huntin'."

"Coon huntin'" is never referred to as "raccoon hunting." So, for the sake of keeping it as true to life as possible, I will refer to it as "coon huntin'."

Just last night we were on our way home from eating mexican, (Taco & Tequila of course), and we were discussing how we felt like some parents signed their kids up to play sports too young, and more or less forced them to play, because of the parents love for the game. John started talking about how he played baseball one year and didn't like it. Therefore, his mama (Babs) never made him go to his games unless he wanted to go. (If any of you know Babs, you know that she would never force a child to do anything they didn't want to or that might result in an unhappy child. She just wants everyone to be happy!) John said that once he got into playing basketball he really loved it. So he played basketball through high school and played for fun all through college as well. But alas, his real love was coon huntin'.

If you are not familiar with coon huntin', the objective is to have your dogs track the scent of a raccoon and pretty much chase it up a tree. Once the dog has the raccoon up a tree, it will bark/ howl until you catch up and find them. Then you reward the dog for treeing the raccoon. There is obviously alot more that goes into treeing a raccoon than that, but that's just kind of the bare bones of it.

John will not hesitate to tell you that throughout high school his one true love wasn't a girl, or basketball.... it was coon huntin'. He skipped his junior prom to go coon huntin'. And when all his friends were at the football game on Friday night, John was coon huntin'! Anyhow, you get the point... John loved to coon hunt.

Once, I went coon huntin' with John and Putnam. John obviously thought that I couldn't trek through the woods like he and Putnam. So, when the dogs got a good distance off from us, he made me go back and sit on the tailgate of the truck while he and Putnam went to find the dogs. Needless to say I didn't develop a love for coon huntin' sitting on the tailgate of the blue-bird!

Anyway, the snake-out! I have planted two raised beds for my garden this year. Being pregnant I can't do the some of the things it takes to "keep a garden" such as spraying round-up (one of my all time favorite things to do!), spreading seven dust, etc. Therefore, I have to rely on John or an alternate source to do these things for me.

Well, a few Sunday's ago I came home from Mamaw's after lunch. I noticed that Marabelle was running loose in the yard. This is very abnormal if John or myself aren't outside to watch her because she has a tendency to cross the road and visit the neighbors. I thought this was rather strange, and then Tex came running from behind the house which tipped me off that John must be in the back yard doing something. I got out of the car and went to the back yard and sure enough there was John watering my garden with a beer in hand. Out of the kindness of his heart he thought it might be too hot for me to be out there, and was afraid I would get overheated.

We got to talking about what all had gone on that day. In the course of us talking he had watered the garden and moved on to spraying round-up around the fence line. While he was spraying he told me that Putnam was coming over to get some round-up. Well, Putnam shows up and they start talking while John is spraying. I'm was just kind of watching the dogs play around the yard and putting my two cents worth into their conversation. All of a sudden, I hear John say, "Gah, look at that black snake!"

Just another interesting fact about John... he is a snake charmer. Or at least that's what I think. That fool will pick up a snake in a heartbeat! Some of you may remember the Snake Charmer photos I posted on facebook about a year ago or so. I had two black snakes mating on the front porch and had to call John to come and get them because I couldn't open my door for them being in the way.

John was going on about how big the black snake was, and I guess in the course of things he thought it would be a great idea to watch the dogs "fight" it! He lays down the round-up and leads both Tex and Marabelle around the fence that separates our yard from the corn field, where the snake was slithering. While John was taking the dogs to the other side of the fence, I ran inside and grabbed my camera. By the time I got back outside, they were already going at it.

Just imagine John & Putnam looking over the fence at the dogs, and me taking pictures of it. To put the icing on the cake and really "redneck-it-up," John was hollering the occasional "whooping" coon dog call that always gets our dogs excited.

So there we were... John having a beer and doing his coon dog calls, Putnam watching the spectacle unfold, and me snapping pictures like the paparazzi. Pretty redneck if you ask me, but funny all the same.

Marabelle ended up getting struck three times early on in the fight by mr. black snake, which is why you don't see many action shots of her. She decided to let Tex do the lunging because he is obviously quicker at retreating than she. I think what was most fun for me was seeing how excited John got about watching all of this unfold, and thinking that this must be how excited he would get when he would see Sugar (his beloved coon dog) tree a coon.

I hope you enjoy the pictures!