Do you ever have one of those days when you just feel crabby, for no apparent reason? Well, last Saturday was like that for me. Every little slight was like itching powder on my brain. I’m generally a pretty calm even keeled person, so this was a bit unusual for me, and I must say, I kind of embraced it. Sometimes, it just feels good to throw a shoe into your closet door. Grin.

But I’m all better now, and I thought I would post a few of my current favorite things happening here at Miles Away Farm.

All of the potato varieties are blooming, despite the frost setback on May 10th, and the inundation of grass between the plants (note to self – till, then wait, then till again before planting). These are red, gold and blue varieties in bloom, respectively. How cool is that?

PotatoBanner

We have two “English” walnuts here on the property. I am SO excited about having nut trees. Where I grew up in northern California, walnut trees were planted as landscape plants, and in the fall, English walnuts litter the sidewalks, there for the taking, or smashing, or eating by the squirrels. I could have cared less about this abundant free food at the time. But by the the time we were in Colorado, I had become a baker, and a pesto maker, and a granola maker. I wanted nut trees! But there are pretty much no nut trees that do well in Colorado (at least where we were, at almost 7,000 ft). So having walnut trees on our property here in SE Washington, well, it’s kind of like returning to my roots.

YoungWalnuts

We also have an undisclosed variety of peach on the property. The tree looks like it’s on its last legs, but has a lot of fruit set this year.

YoungPeaches

We also have an undisclosed variety of plum, which is also loaded. I make a killer plum, cardamom and orange jam, so always happy to see plums.

YoungPlumbs

Also a pear. Perhaps a Bosc, given its skin.

YoungPears

I planted both green and purple tomatillos this year. The purples, in particular, are doing very well. Salsa Verde anyone? Also, the Ball Blue Book recipe for Roasted Tomatillo-Chipotle salsa is out of this world good. I’ll do a post on it later in the season.

TomatilloPurple

I have 14 varieties of tomatoes growing this year (I was cleaning out a lot of older seed stock). The plants are doing great, despite the fairly high winds we’ve had the last few days. Concrete reinforcing wire tomato cages help.

TomatoesGreen

The peppers have not fared quite as well in the winds, but they are trying their best, and with the warmer weather coming on later this week, they should recover nicely. I have mostly bells, but also paprika, Thai, cayenne, New Mexican, Poblano, and of course, Jalapenos planted. We used up the last of last years pickled jalapenos a few weeks ago. They are about the only pickled thing my husband will eat. And I made a killer Hungarian Goulash last winter with home grown and ground paprika. SO yummy. I try to plant things I like, so if they don’t sell, I can use them.

PeppersYoung

The poppies have started blooming. Swoon (as my blogger friend Rachel says).

PoppyBloom

The ducks have a new pond. Yes, this IS the $20 Wal Mart formerly-chicken-brooder swimming pool. Reduce, reuse, recycle. It should get them through the summer. And they said “thank you very much Mama. We really really like it and don’t think we will ever get out. Quack”. It’s now been moved to a more level location.

DucksPond2

My fabulously cleaver and creative husband has been working on this fence. We wanted to wall off the house yard from the rest of the property to keep out chickens and loose goats/sheep, and sometimes dogs. But we wanted to be able to see through some of it, and allow wind to pass through so it didn’t get blown over. The tin is recycled from our place north of Spokane. How cool is that! There will be a gate, coming soon. And a similar version on the other side of the house. Really, we’ve discovered that “farming” is just a polite word for “never ending fence building/repairing”.

NewFenceBack

Butters would like to know, “Why oh why did you pull up this catnip? Yes, I know that there are 20 others all over the yard, but this one was right outside the back door, where it was easy for me to get to”. Very sad. He did then eat some of it, so it wouldn’t all go to waste.

ButtersCatnipSun

In other news that I don’t have pictures of, the bees swarmed. I waited too long to get around to splitting the hive, and they left, and evidently, the old queen, who usually stays in the hive, had died, so the hive was pretty much deserted. Lets face it. I’m not much of a bee keeper. I just don’t like the idea of going in and messing with them all the time (which just seems rude), and I can NEVER find the queen, so am never quite sure what is going on. I did harvest about 3 quarts of honey out of the hive, and about a pound of bees-wax. We had a bee swarm fly over us (way over us – must have been about 20 ft up) in the garden the other night, and I yelled at them, “Hey, there’s an empty hive over there”, while pointing. They ignored me. Sigh. So I am currently beeless…again.

The goats and sheep are doing fine. We have one goat who is great at finding the smallest hole in the fence, so she does the fence checks for us. Right now they are all in the back pasture eating star thistle, which is good. It’s an annual, and we have a lot of it. If we can keep it from going to seed, we may be able to break the seed cycle in a couple of years.

On the other hand, puncture vine (i.e. goat head) weed is the axis of evil of the weed world. It is STILL coming up, and it has this fabulous habit of retaining the pokey seed nutlet after it has germinated, so when you go to pull it, you get stuck. I keep telling it to ALL germinate this year. Bring it on. Cause we ain’t letting it live, and we WILL conquer it eventually. By the way, get a stirrup hoe. We are trying them out this year for the first time, and they are fabulous.

We got to watch the goats and sheep run figure eights in the pasture the other night, chasing each other and jumping up on an old walnut stump and an on-its-side stock tank that we have out there to climb on. They were tearing around like the devil himself was chasing them, all just for fun. It’s great fun to watch animals play. We were laughing hysterically.

Oh, and the Redstar chicken who lives in the blue spruce? She’s started to lay eggs again, up on the branches. So of course, the egg falls through and ends up broken on the ground. She’s not the smartest chicken ever, I must say, but the dogs are thankful.

Oh, and we got the outdoor laundry line up, so now it’s a real farmhouse!

Have a lead on a Great Pyrenees livestock dog, so fingers crossed.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2012, where you can find me at the Walla Walla Farmers Market on Sundays, and the Milton-Freewater market on Wednesday evenings…and out pulling weeds the other 5 days a week.

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