Thursday, July 31, 2014

Finishing the Fence!!

Well it isn't completely done, but the fence is 99% finished!

Yesterday we finished the last remaining side of the perimeter fence.

Today I worked on the rest of the aisle fence.

We also hung the gate yesterday, but I still need to wire-tie some chicken wire to the gate.

I got half of the aisle fence attached to the posts, and will do the rest tomorrow.

We also worked on evicting our groundhog resident from the shed.

And we finished the shed pen and make-shift gate.

There is still another couple hours worth of work to do tomorrow morning, but the llamas are going to christen their new pasture by the afternoon!  Can't wait!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ongoing Issues

I never realized there were so many things that could go wrong with a garden!

The first problem, which I've talked about before, has been cucumber beetles and squash bugs.  At first I was just smushing the eggs whenever I found them, but they were still getting out of control.

Cucumber beetle eggs and a mature squash beetle.

Phase 2 of the control measures was sticky traps and neem oil.  They sell yellow sticky traps specifically for cucumber beetles, but you can only order them online and they're about $20 for 2!  I found some yellow sticky fly traps at Tractor Supply Company in town, and decided to try those.  They were $7 for 2!  Unfortunately I caught a lot more than just cucumber beetles, but they do seem to have worked.  I also applied neem oil to the squash, pumpkin, and cucumber plants for a few weeks.  It can kill pollinators though, so I've decided to quit applying it.  I've been finding a lot less egg clusters, so hopefully I made a dent in the population.

My sticky trap.

For some reason, the cucumber beetles don't seem to be laying eggs on the cucumbers.  It is weird, but I'm okay with it!

Good-looking cucumbers!

The squash plants had quit producing fruits, I think it may have been because of the heat.  Luckily it has cooled down, and I've seen a couple of baby squash on the plants.

Crowded squash.

The newest problem is the tomatoes!  Several of the plants were starting to yellow at the bottom, which can be a sign of several different diseases (mostly blights and wilts) as well as many nutrient deficiencies.  I decided to be safe and remove all of the yellow branches, and put them in the trash (not the compost!).  I'm also going to give them several treatments of compost tea and maybe some other fertilizers, just in case it is a deficiency.

Yellowing on the tomato plants.

Close-up of the yellowing leaves.

Pruned plant.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Hanging Fence!!

We're finally hanging fence!

I set up the wires for the braces a few days ago (well, all but one), so today we set out to start hanging the fence.

First we had to build our fence stretcher.  It is 2 pieces of 2x4, cut to 4.5'.  We drilled 2 holes and added 2 bolts.  The fence gets sandwiched between the pieces of wood, and the nuts on the bolts tightened as much as possible.

Next we had to strip the vertical wires from the end of the fence roll, and tie the end of the fence around the gate post.  Just stripping those wires took an hour!

Then we unrolled the fence along the fence row, and attached the stretcher.  We wrapped a chain around the top and bottom of the stretcher, and attached a come-along between the chain and the tractor.  We had a lot of extra slack in the fence, so we backed the tractor up before tightening with the come-along.

Once the fence was tight enough, we stapled it at the corner.  Tomorrow we'll stretch the next length of fence (and splice the next roll in between).

We didn't get much done in all reality, but hopefully it will go faster in the future!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Not much to write about tonight, other than that I finally finished a giant knitting project I've been working on!  I started it over a month ago, so I'm very happy to be done!  And now I can start my Rhinebeck projects!!

A sneak peek of the project.  Can't give away any more details, as it is a surprise gift!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fruits (& Veggies) of My Labor!!

It is so nice to get produce from my garden finally!  It still isn't in full production, but it is close!

I've already harvested all of the main heads off the broccoli, but the side shoots are coming along nicely.

Potatoes are almost done flowering, no idea when they'll get harvested though.

Two different batches of onions.  I've already picked 1-2 onions, but the rest are still a bit small.  The tiny ones on the left have quite awhile to go.

Cucumbers!  There are 2 this size, and tons of tiny ones.  Hopefully I've gotten rid of most of the beetles...

The spinach that my husband requested.  It isn't doing great in the hot weather, but hopefully it will get big enough to pick.

The biggest 2 of the baby pumpkins.

The third batch of radishes that I planted.  I picked a couple today, but most still need another week or so.

The cucumber plants look good too!

The squash plants are huge!  I think I planted them too close together.  I've harvested 4 of these already.

My favorite little patch of the garden, even if it isn't the most productive.  This had radishes (they're all picked now), and still have beets, carrots, onions, and peppers.  The pepper plants look good, but they still haven't flowered.

I have TONS of baby tomatoes!

Only 1 ripe one though!

The cherry tomato plant that is taller than me!

And of course, a grazing llama picture!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Putting in Fence!

Well I guess it's the week for updates!

We've had a lot of rain recently, so the fence progress has been slow, but we're getting there!

I posted a few weeks ago about pounding the metal t-posts for the aisle from the shed to the pasture.

The aisle in the distance.

After that was done we started putting in the corner post brace assemblies.  Due to the aisle, our pasture has 4 true corners (3 posts with 2 braces each) and 2 half-braces (2 posts and 1 brace each).  All of these posts must be set in cement.

Supplies for setting corner posts.

I first marked where I wanted the corners to be (and measured each side so we wouldn't run out of fence!)

Flag where the corner post will be set.

What a beautiful pasture!

Then we started digging the holes with the auger on the PTO of the tractor.  Of course we had the same luck as last year...breaking a shear bolt on the first post!  Actually we broke 3 shear bolts in the first 4 posts, but (knock on wood!) haven't broken any since then!

First broken shear bolt!

Pulling the auger out of the hole after the shear bolt broke.

When we set the posts in concrete, we pour 40lbs of dry mix into the hole, followed by about 2-3 gallons of water.  Then it gets mixed with a t-post and allowed to settle.  The rest of the hole is filled in with dirt (and rocks).

Concrete and water in the hole.

First finished corner post!

We set the final corner post yesterday, and started on the wood line posts today.  Every 4th post will be wood, the rest are metal t-posts.  We have 5 of the 9 wood posts set, and hope the do the rest Saturday.  In the meantime I'll be busy pounding t-posts!

Drilling for the third line post (the one in the background is loose, not set!).

Drilling for the fourth line post.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Recent Fiber Projects

I've been busy today (driving 5 hours to get organic chicken feed!), and really couldn't think of anything to write about for this post.

Luckily I had taken some pictures of my recent fiber projects, so I'll give a quick update.

First up is some 50:50 yak/silk from Abstract Fibers.  It is the "Rockstar" colorway.

To be honest, I don't like spinning yak.  I love the Abstract Fibers merino/yak blend, but I think that is only 20% yak or so.  50% is way too much for me!  But a Ravelry group I follow (A Spinner's Study) had yak as one of their "fibers of the month" for July, so I decided to spin up the one braid I had stashed away.

I started out spinning the braid however it wanted to be spun.  I don't spin fingering/lace weight very well, so I was shooting for a 2-ply sport weight or so.

After I finished the first half (1 bobbin- 2 oz), I decided to keep the yarn as a single, so that it would be lace weight.  I'm going to leave the single on the bobbin for a few weeks to get rid of most of the excess twist, and then wind it onto the niddy-noddy and set the twist with hot water and some weight.  Hopefully I can find a worthy lace project to use it with!

My recent knitting project is a bit of a secret, so I'll just share this little snippet.  It is being knit with a gorgeous 50:50 wool/alpaca blend.  I'll share more pictures later.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Flower Garden Update

I'm going to try and be good this year, and not spend too much $$ on new flowers!  It is so tempting, especially when places like Lowes put their already-flowered plants on sale!

I planted a ton of new flowers last year (some I purchased, but most were from my mom and grandmother), so I think this year I just need to split and rearrange some things.

This big garden gets sun on the front edge but shade in the middle.  My lamb's ear died here, but the short sedum (front center) is doing great.  I might either split that, or transplant some of the short purple stuff from another garden.  There's a nice hosta in the center, and 2 huge sedums in the back.  I think I need to do something with the tall sedums, probably remove one and split it.  I still want a few more tall shade plants for the center, not sure what to put here.

Next is my favorite garden, but a hard one to plant (it gets very little sun).  The lamb's ear died here too, but the short sedum and purple stuff are both doing great.  I think I will split them and spread them out to fill the front edge.  The tall sedum (front left) needs to be moved, it is too tall.  There are daffodils here, daisies, day lilies, and tons of hostas.

This is more of the same garden.  I'm thinking the huge tall sedum in the back center needs to be moved too, but I'm not sure where.  I also need to fill in the patch in the center (right behind the short sedum).

This is a cute little garden that I think just needs time to fill out.  It is almost complete shade.  It has 3 hostas, sedum, chives, and columbine.

This is my "project" garden for the year.  I started it last year but expanded it this year.  Plus all 3 of the plants I put here last year died!  Now I have a clematis in the center, bee balm on the right, day lilies in the back, and some gladiolas.  I think the bee balm needs to move to a more sunny spot (not easy to find around here!).  The gladiolas are being devoured by something, so they need to go too.  And I need short stuff along the front, maybe some sedum.

And last but not least, another part sun/part shade garden.  This one has lots of day lilies, which is fine with me!  The spot in the center of this picture needs more stuff to fill in.

The area right next to the tree could use some tall stuff too.  There were a bunch of weeds which I finally pulled out this spring.