June 29, 2016

Caught in the Act

Princess Lay-a jumped the fence that's supposed to keep her off the porch and wallowed out a big hole in my potted geraniums!

At least she has the decency to look guilty about it.

June 27, 2016

The June Garden

Welcome to our garden! Here's what's blooming right now...

The Crape (or Crepe, if you prefer) Myrtle tree is just starting to bloom. We don't prune ours back like many people do. We prefer to let it grow naturally, only trimming back the deadwood when needed.

The Knock Out roses are nearing the end of their second flush, though there are still a few fresh flowers and some buds, too.

The flowers of the Esperanza look like yellow bells, which is what many people call this plant.

A new addition to the garden is 'Sweet Tea Southern Charm' Flowering Maple, an impulse buy at a market day sale. I tried to walk away from the loveliness of this apricot-orange flower, but I just couldn't do it. 

I finally got around to planting more Tropical Milkweed. I placed a few large stones around the bases to keep the chickens from uprooting them and it has worked...so far.

More coneflowers were added, too. There can never be enough coneflowers.

The Turk's Cap is now as tall as I am (5 feet, 4 inches). It takes me 16 normal-sized steps to walk completely around it. That's big, but it will get bigger! 

It's loaded with blossoms, each one holding a puddle of sweet nectar, which is good news for pollinators. It's a favorite of the hummingbirds that migrate through our yard and for that reason, a favorite of mine, too.

June 24, 2016

Watermelon Hits the Spot

The Poultry Palace hens had their first taste of watermelon this week.

It didn't take them long to figure out an ice cold watermelon 
hits the spot on a hot summer day.

I could tell Princess wanted the whole thing for herself.

But she let Queenie have some

and Duchess, too.

Queenie received a nip from Princess for daring to eat alone.

Together the three of them ate, and ate, and ate, 
until all that was left

was a watermelon smile on the lawn.

June 22, 2016

Celebrating Pollinators

Strike up the band.

Toss the confetti.

It's National Pollinator Week! 

Let's hear it for the beautiful butterflies!

Three cheers for the hardworking honeybees!

Hip, hip, hooray for bees of all kinds!

Let's sing the praises of the little hummingbirds!

And plant flowers for them all!

After all, we're the ones who reap the benefits of all they do.


Click here to read more about pollinators and National Pollinator Week.

Also, thanks to Tina at My Gardener Says... for her very informative post on Pollinator Week.

June 20, 2016

Tomato Love

I HEART homegrown tomatoes...literally.

Just look at this heart-shaped tomato from our garden! It has only one stem, but it looks like two tomatoes were fused together somehow.

How did this happen???

According to what I discovered, this somewhat unusual phenomenon is known as fasciation. Fasciation can occur in a vascular plant's stem, root, fruit, or flower head. What happens is tissue development around the growing tip forms abnormally in a perpendicular elongated direction instead of cylindrically around the tip as it should. This results in shape deformities.

In our case, we ended up with a beautiful heart-shaped tomato, which I love.

P.S. If you think our heart tomato is cool, then you're sure to love these rubber duckie tomatoes.

June 17, 2016

Aunt Betty's Pickles

John made pickles.

Refrigerator Pickles: Sliced Cucumber, Whole Cumber, and JalapeƱo

He used Aunt Betty's recipe—not his Aunt Betty, but Aunt Betty from Bay City, Texas. We're told by John's coworker, who shared the recipe with him, that it's an old Czech recipe and a family favorite.

Half Gallon Jar of Aunt Betty's Pickles

Aunt Betty's Pickles are the refrigerator variety—no processing necessary. The cucumbers, dill, and jalapeƱos are from our garden.

John did all the pickling himself. He sliced and packed the cucumbers in jars along with dill, red chili peppers, garlic cloves, and onion. Then he added the boiling hot brine—water, extra strength white vinegar (9% acidity), pickling salt, alum, turmeric, and ground mustard.

Aunty Betty's Pickles Opened for the First Tasting

The cooled jars were placed in the fridge to sit and soak up all that briny goodness. It's been two days now, so let me open them up and see how they taste....yummmmm...they're crisp and crunchy, not too salty, with a nice garlic-dill flavor, and a bit of spicy heat.

Aunty Betty sure knows how to make pickles...and so does John!

If I ever meet Aunt Betty, I'll ask her if I can share the specifics of her recipe, but until then, this one is pretty close: Refrigerator Dill Pickles  (use half the vinegar, reduce the salt, add turmeric and ground mustard).

June 15, 2016

Garden Giant

There's a GIANT in our garden, y'all!

It's a GIANT sunflower, a Mammoth Russian to be exact. There are two, actually, but one never grew as tall and is already bent over from the weight of its seed head.

Here's the seed head of the droopy sunflower. You can almost tell how heavy it is just by looking.

But the GIANT... the GIANT is really tall...taller than the edge of the roof...higher than the mounted satellite dish. I estimate it to be 12 feet tall!

When we were in Oklahoma, a storm with very strong winds hit here. We expected to find our GIANT on the ground when we got home, but it held strong—it's sturdy trunk stalk must have saved it.

The flower is so high up, I had to use my biggest zoom lens to get a decent picture.

Its face is turned in a northeasterly direction toward the roof, which isn't ideal for our viewing pleasure. If we plant sunflowers next year, I think we should find a new location.

Our GIANT is a beauty.

From it's golden flame petals...

to its swirly green center...

it's a GIANT standout in our garden.

June 13, 2016

They Are the Grandest

I wouldn't be doing my job as a grandmother if I didn't share a few photos of our visit with our grandchildren when we were together in Oklahoma on Memorial Day weekend.

We were there to celebrate Matt's 28th birthday. Time flies by, doesn't it? I remember well when he was just a little boy like Myles (20 months).

John and I were there a couple of days earlier than Robyn, James, and Rose. Matt and Carly had the good idea of taking us for a hike in a nature park. They know what we like!

Myles rode in the stroller most of the way, but got out to stretch his legs in a pretty spot along the trail.

In this photo, Geep (pronounced Jeep) is showing Myles something in the field, though I don't remember what it was. It was in this spot near the long grass where I think we must have encountered the ticks we found crawling on us later. Yikes!

The next day, Rose (9 months older than Myles) arrived (with her parents, of course) and our joy was doubled. As you can see, John is the happiest when he has his arms around both grandchildren at the same time.

He knows how to keep their attention. They would rather play with Geep than any toy you can think of.

On our last day I tried to capture a few good memories with the camera before we had to leave...

Rose loves dogs.

Myles is learning how to build things.

Listening to Aunt Carly sing a pretty song.

Watching a Cottontail rabbit out the window.

And then time was up. We needed to get on the road, but I still didn't have the picture I really wanted, so I gave John the camera...

Okay...now we can go.

Grandchildren are the grandest!

June 10, 2016

The Beauty of a Flower

A few weeks ago the coneflowers began to bloom in our trailer garden.

Fresh and lovely, they begged to be photographed.

Though stunning in any light, I was very pleased when the clouds briefly parted and the evening sun shone down on their faces.

Two weeks later the same flowers are holding their own, even among the young upstarts. Their petals may not be as fresh, but their centers are raised higher...and their beauty endures.

June 8, 2016

Queen Butterfly and Tropical Milkweed

The Tropical milkweed in Happy Camper Butterfly Garden is doing what it does best—attracting butterflies.

In this case it's a Queen butterfly.

Her mission is to lay eggs on the milkweed, which is flowering and producing seed at the same time.

The milkweed pods are bursting open and revealing the many seeds stacked inside.

Milkweed seeds dance in the breeze for a time and then let go to fly to places both near and far.

I'm sure to find new milkweed plants sprouting in our garden soon and I hope to find little Queen caterpillars, too.