Working Hard

Bess and Josie have learned that fun is to be had if an ATV is involved, and feeding the cows is their time to catch up on their morning nap. First, we all have a good howl (no, really) while Brad honks the horn for the cows to come in, and then it’s time for a nap.

It’s hard work being a cow puppy in training.

Weekly Photo Roundup | Feb. 26-Mar. 4

Life is a beautiful adventure.

Josie Stole My Little Heart

So I haven’t written much about Josie, and I really don’t know why. She was our first puppy clever enough to figure out how to escape the enclosure in the house, and got stepped on by Elvis and scared me half to death when the pups were older and sleeping in the barn. She limped out of hiding, crying pitifully and holding her little stepped-on leg up, and came straight to me to be held. Bess got to experience her first day on the job and got her own blog post, but apparently Josie just got lumped in with Bess and has been kind of overlooked.

Josie at this point has had many first days on the job! These pups are so intelligent and showing promise of being cowy, and it has already been a treat to watch their instincts start to come out. Bess goes nuts when she hears Brad yelling at cows and barrels down the hill to find him. Josie is a little more subdued, but this morning when we were gathering cows from the calving lot into the corrals, Josie took a leap off the fourwheeler and ran to help get the cows rounded up. She managed to not get stepped on.

From the get-go, I guess I thought Bess would be my dog and Josie would be Brad’s, but somehow things got turned upside down and this little dog stole my little heart. And oh my goodness, is she a faithful little companion! She has been my lap-warmer during my morning devotions or when I’m writing, she’s my chicken chores buddy, and revels in our walks. She likes riding in the tractor, she doesn’t have her ATV legs yet, and she is fast. Very fast. She can also be extremely slow and has this irritating and adorable habit of plunking her little butt down and tilting her head to the side when she hears her name and is pretending she doesn’t remember it. Naptime is sacred as is her bedtime, and before bed potty breaks are met with dramatic resistance and suddenly forgetting how to walk. She likes cheese and hotdogs, and doesn’t like spinach. She follows me around the kitchen and preemptively “downs” when she thinks I might give her something. She thinks she has me figured out.

As far as her name is concerned, when I name a critter it is usually just because the name somehow fits. And then it sticks, and that’s that. And given Brad’s track record of names like “Yellow Cat” and “Grey Cat,” I don’t take any chances. But Josie’s dad’s name is Joe, and her grandpa was Jonas, so Josie seemed appropriate.

Welcome to the crew, Josie girl!

In the Garden | March Garden Prep

How in the world is it March already? Spring is just around the corner. As bittersweet as it is in the fall to put the garden to bed, there really only ends up being a couple of months before the feed stores are stocking their seeds, seed catalogs get eagerly leafed through, leftover seeds are sorted and organized, new seeds are purchased, and all the plans get made to make this coming garden season the best one yet. It really is fun. And it is hard to beat leafing through the seed catalogs on a wintery, blustery day!

Based on last year’s experiment (really, every year is its own experiment), I’ll focus on my salsa garden, cucumbers, and winter squashes. My salsa garden was a bit of a bust last year due to grasshoppers, the heat, and the fact that my husband unknowingly sprayed my tomato bed with Milestone three years ago. Needless to say, I’ll be planting tomatoes somewhere else and getting a jump start on them with some early planting indoors. Mortgage Lifter, Black Krim, and Romas will be the key features! I’m planning on growing them all in pots in my hoop house, to extend our growing season a bit.

I already got a start on peppers, which take awhile to germinate. Anaheim, poblano, Hungarian wax peppers, and bell peppers are all sown in paper pots and sitting on heat mats in the bathroom. There’s a good chance these will also be pot-grown in the hoop house. Somehow I forgot about jalapenos, so those will be added at a future date!

We acquired some old railroad ties from a horse corral my grandpa built 40 years ago, and have those slated for a few projects, including raised beds for flowers. As we have decent weather to work outdoors, the raised beds will get built and be ready to go for spring planting. Zinnias and cosmos as well as sunflowers will be some of the cutting flowers – it should be beautiful.

On warm days when the soil is soft, I’ll be continuing to prep my garden beds, cleaning out last year’s old plants, turning the soil, wetting it down, and eventually covering the beds with plastic to help kill off weed seeds and further break down the compost I’ve already churned in. The root veggies – carrots, beets, and turnips – will need good, soft soil to grow in, so working the soil ahead of time will help.

Even though we’re a ways from planting outdoors, there is a lot that can be done to beat those winter blues and keep spring coming! If you have any new varieties of veggie you’re excited to try, share in the comments!

In the Garden | Winter Sowing

I am so excited to be trying something new! A random Facebook group popped up last week called “Winter Sowers” and after reading a bit about this method of seed starting, I decided I had to give it a try!

It is a common sense method of early (early early!) seed starting that utilizes the natural freeze-thaw cycles to germinate seeds. Essentially, plant seeds in closed containers, creating what amounts to mini greenhouses, in the middle of winter and the seeds will germinate when they are ready. Especially considering how many perennials can be sown in the fall and will germinate in the spring, this method makes a lot of sense. If all goes well, and from what I can tell people have a lot of success with this method, you have exceptionally hardy young plants to eventually transplant to your garden. Why have I never heard of this before? In western South Dakota, we have a short growing season (we’ve been known to have frosts as late as June and as early as August), and very changeable weather, so anything I can do to jump start my gardening is a plus!

So far I have started a number of perennials – lavender, coreopsis, lupine, some wildflower mixes, coneflowers, black eyed Susans – and some greens and veggies – asparagus, kale, spring onions, spinach, arugula, and chives. I planted in a variety of containers and will take notes, containers ranging from Ziploc bags with holes cut in the bottoms, paper pots, old lettuce containers, and seed pots leftover from greenhouse plants last year. After a kerfuffle with the animals, the winter-sown seeds are safely inside the woven-wire fences we put around our trees. I may start others as I accumulate more containers (and inevitably accumulate more seeds).

Check out the Winter Sowers Facebook page if you want details and extensive how-tos! I’m excited to see how this goes!