Wednesday, April 25, 2018

BONUS LAND CLEARING FROM THE COUNTY

Went to the farm and was surprised to see this had been done:


This is at the front of our property, along the road.  The county came through, as they do every few years, and cleared the "right of way" they have for the power poles.  You don' t have any choice, they just do it because that is what the easement is for.  They come in 10 feet from the property line and just cut it all down. 


The purpose of course is to keep the trees and brush away from the power poles/lines.  The one about midway down looks like it's a bit close but it's just the angle. 

The good thing about this is that we have been considering having a new fence put all along the front.  And of course part of the expense for that would be to clear this area first. Now that's been done for us.       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The next time I mow, I will begin going over this on a regular basis until it just becomes a grassy strip much like the green space around the house. Then when we get a fence put along the front, it'll be much easier for that to be done.  

Thank you to the county!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

DEWBERRIES COMING SOON

It's almost that time of year.  The dewberries are almost here!  For those new to the blog, dewberries are a Southern thing.  It's a variety of blackberry that grows wild just about everywhere in the South.

Dewberry patch 
Usually they are growing in ditches and empty lots and along fence lines. We are lucky in that they are ALL OVER THE FARM.  Large patches of dewberries.  

Dewberry trails
A few places I've mowed around and through to leave whole areas like this one above.  Everything on the left is dewberry.  By mowing this trail and keeping it mowed season after season, we've created several areas to easily pick from.  

Dewberry fruit
They have gone from thousands of white flowers to small fruit.  As you can see, they are in varying stages of ripening.  Most are just starting to turn...

Dewberries ripening
...but some, as you can see here, were already turning and looked ripe.  I plucked the one on the bottom and ate it but it was still a bit tart.  It needs to go a bit longer.  They almost always ripen within days of each other.  After all the rain we've had, I'm guessing that this weekend (or perhaps next) will be the first dewberry gathering weekend of the season.  

Dewberries last year
For those wanting to know more about dewberries, I usually post every year when it's in season.  Over near the top of the blog is a list of labels, click "dewberries" there or just look at the bottom of this post and click on the label for "dewberries" and you can pull up all the posts we've had on them.  We've made dewberry jam, dewberry cobblers and pies and last year I made a dewberry cake.

They are yummy!  Let the harvest begin (soon!)

Monday, April 23, 2018

HOUSTON SABERCATS RUGBY HAS ARRIVED

On Saturday, we attended out first ever rugby game. Well, I guess our first ever professional rugby game. 2nd Man's nephew played rugby in high school and we saw a few of his games.  But this is professional MLR (Major League Rugby).

Houston Sabercats image courtesy of @Hou_Sabercats
Houston now has its very own professional rugby team.  They are called the SABERCATS

They join the Astros, Texans, Rockets and Dynamo as hometown teams to cheer on. They are currently building a stadium that will be completed next year and so for now they are playing on a grass field at Dyer Stadium.

2nd Man and I braved the weather to go (it only sprinkled while we there) and I took a lot of pictures. Here are a few (click to enlarge):

Sabercats rugby
We are new to understanding all the rules of the game but wow is it ever fun.  We are learning, slowly but surely.

Houston Sabercats
Lots of action from beginning to end. More intense than American football for sure. 

Houston Sabercats vs NOLA Gold
The guys are definitely tough...


And talented...

Sabercats scrum
This is a scrum, the players get into formation and try to get the ball back to their side. 


They made a late game score that gave us hope...


...but alas, in the end, we lost 26 to 32.  

Still, it was an exciting game and when it was over we got to shake hands with all the players, including the opposing team.  They really are all about the fans, as sports should be.  

It was a great day and there will be more because we became season ticket holders!  Anyone out there interested in tickets, season or otherwise, you can click here for the link.



Sunday, April 22, 2018

OFF TO THE FARM TODAY


It's a picture free post this morning... 

Didn't go to the farm yesterday, we had rainy and overcast conditions most of the day as a front pushed through and we had another adventure to go on (more on that tomorrow). 

2nd Family says we had almost 2 inches of rain. Today however is BEAUTIFUL and cool again!  We're OK with that though, it'll be hot and humid soon enough.  I'm guessing that it's going to be too wet to mow but I'll see what I can do. Probably not too wet to edge.  Sigh, I think edging is the thing I dislike the most, at least while I'm doing it. When it's done of course, I feel a sense of accomplishment with everything so neat and tidy.

I'll need to check the garden.  Thinking we might need to adjust the watering because we may be watering a bit too much with all this rain.  Thankfully, I won't have to water the fruit trees since we've had about 3 inches total since last weekend. 

Have a couple other projects to do, including the never ending task of tidying things up in the house and the barn/workshop.  

At least the weather is cooperating today.

Hope you are having a great weekend so far!

Friday, April 20, 2018

SUN TEA JAR THRIFT STORE FIND

This is something my Mom found in a thrift store once upon a time and we just recently found it when emptying another box I had put in the barn. 

Vintage Solar Tea jar
Has anyone ever made the Southern treat "Sun Tea"?  It's made by steeping tea bags in a jar (usually a gallon) of water in the sunshine.  The sun heats the water and steeps the tea.  It really does taste different.

Well this is a glass jar and dates from the 1970's.  It's pretty neat.  It's a round bubble shaped glass jar and all the parts fit into the top just like this for storage.  This has obviously never been used.  


Here are the different tops all spread out...it even has the original instructions!


The first part is the domed lid that allows sunshine to come in through the top as well.  Pretty neat.  


The other part is an actual pour spout.  You just unscrew the ring, remove the dome lid and replace with the spout and screw the ring back down.  

Can't wait to use it when it gets hotter.  It will be nice to have a glass of cold sun tea after I finish mowing.

There is some controversy about Sun Tea and it's potential dangers.  I can say I had it for years growing up and never had an issue.  But if you do make it, you must follow some safety protocols.  The big worry is that it doesn't get hot enough in the sun to kill bacteria as opposed to boiling water in a tea kettle.  Need to do some more research on that but hey, people have been doing it for decades, and they haven't "banned" them yet so as with anything, follow the rules.  



Thursday, April 19, 2018

FLOWERBED ALTERNATIVE, INSPIRATION THURSDAY

Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Image courtesy of CountryLiving.com
Simple outdoor decor that doesn't involve "much" work.  Objects as art/decoration and some flowers thrown in here and there.  We actually have a corner of the house where this could work.  We were also thinking about doing something like this around the barn and/or shed.  I think I might like a more formal "edge" to the gravel area, but still we like this idea for creating interest that doesn't require as much upkeep as an entire flowerbed, if that makes sense.

Be inspired!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

SHEET PAN MONGOLIAN BEEF RECIPE

We're still trying out sheet pan recipes. Anything that cooks in one pan is nice.  Now this does mess up an extra dish (a bowl) due to the sauce but it's worth it.  The first time I made this 2nd Man said "wow, you need to make this again".  Now he asks for it regularly. Yes, I give him the night off from cooking on occasion, ha!

Sauce ingredients
First you make a basic sauce.  It is a mixture of 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 TBSP sherry, 1 TBSP minced ginger, and 6 cloves of garlic, minced.


Just put it all into a bowl and whisk together.  


Next, take 1 LB of trimmed green beans (we cut ours in half as well) and toss on a sheet pan with 1 tsp of red pepper flakes and 3 TBSP of coconut oil. You could use any oil but trust us when we say the coconut really adds a great flavor. Toss it all together and put in a PREHEATED oven at 450 degrees. Roast for about 7-10 minutes.

Slicing flank steak
While the beans are roasting, slice the flank steak against the grain into thin pieces.  If they are too long, just cut each thin strip in half to make more bite sized pieces.


Remove the beans from the oven and set the sheet pan aside for a moment.


Toss the sliced flank steak in 1/4 cup cornstarch and allow to sit for a few minutes.


You know it's ready when you see that it has absorbed into the meat.


Move the green beans to the outside edges of the sheet pan...why?


To make space in the middle to spread out the meat.  Try to get it in one layer as much as possible so they will get the same sear that they would in a wok.


Roast at the same 450 degrees for 10 minutes.
But wait, where's the sauce? 


Take the sheet pan from the oven and pour the sauce over the meat, toss and put back in the oven for about 5 to 10 more minutes or until...

Sheet Pan Mongolian Beef and Green Beans
...it's browned and the sauce has started to turn into a glaze.  


Stir it all up so that the sauce gets all over the green beans and it's done and ready to serve.

Mongolian Beef with Green Beans
Dish it into bowls and serve!  We sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and some diced green onions just to add a bit of extra flavor and, of course, a pretty appearance.

Enjoy!


Monday, April 16, 2018

FRUIT HERBS VEGGIES HAIL AND RAIN

It was an odd weekend. Saturday a front came through and we had rain, wind, lightning, and pea sized hail at the farm.  Needless to say, Saturday was a stay in town day.  Then it got down into the low 40's?!?!?  


Yesterday though was quite possibly the most perfect day of the year so far.  Cool, breezy, low humidity, and just, well, gorgeous!  The wildflowers are starting to come out around the property too.  So pretty to see patches of color here and there.  


I mowed, it's always such a relief to mow.  I had to leave a few spots un-mowed because it was just TOO wet but for the most part, I got it all mowed and it feels good to see it.  Until next week or two when it's a foot tall again, ha. 


We have fruit! I can't remember which this is (and it looks odd, it's either peach or pear, like I said I took a ton of pics and now I don't remember which tree this was on, ha). 


We also have plums...


And peaches...


and pears!


Tomatoes are growing nicely and have blossoms...


The cucumbers both are starting to spread and have blossoms as well...


And look!  

We had an actual harvest There was ONE banana pepper, ha, and then I gathered some herbs to keep them growing and not blooming.  There are three kinds of basil, oregano, chives and Mexican tarragon.  

I also worked in the barn, did SO much in there too.  More on that in upcoming posts. It was a great weekend, after the storms of course.  

Friday, April 13, 2018

SHELVING UNITS TRASH TO TREASURE

Regular readers know that I have a favorite place to look for bargains...our downstairs trash area!  Our building has trash chutes on every floor and they feed into a separate room, but for boxes and other things that people can't put in the chute, there is an area (indoor) near the loading dock, where people can put the things they don't want.  

I've found quite a few cool items so far.
Here are the latest!


What are these?  I saw them laying next to the dumpster downstairs. I had a pretty good idea of what they were when I saw them all stacked up but wasn't a 100% sure how large they might be.  I looked and they seemed to be in good shape, other than a bit dusty.  I counted the poles and it was an even number so that was good.

I loaded them into the the Jeep (above in the back seat) and drove them to the farm.


I unloaded them in the yard to analyze all the pieces and figure it out.  It didn't take long to realize what I had found.  I was excited.  


Here it is after I started putting it together. It was so easy, there was a bottom with feet and then the poles just slid into the holes. Then you put the next part on top of the poles and they slide into holes in the bottom of the one above.  

I just repeated until the top and... 



BEHOLD!
A huge heavy duty shelving unit...

Resin shelving units
...oh wait!  
It's TWO heavy duty shelving units!

SCORE!

There is a grocery store and a restaurant in the building, these probably were used in their storage rooms.  We found some like them online at a restaurant supply company. These are more substantial than just plastic shelves, these are made of a heavy duty resin.  Each shelf supports 150lbs.  They are 36"wide and 24" deep and 6' tall.  They are crazy strong but oddly lightweight, I carried each one fully assembled, with no problem, to the barn. 

So excited, I put them in the barn and wow, they are perfect!  They'll stand up to the elements, support a lot weight, hold a lot of stuff because they are large and best of all, IT'S FREE STORAGE!