Busy as a bee! Our hives have increased this year thanks to us performing splits and capturing swarms. All our bees are busy, busy, busy these days! During the spring when everything was abloom they had all they could harvest. Those girls were coming & going from the hives with pollen pockets full!
But now that the heat of our NE Texas season is starting to set in the blooms are not quite as prolific. Oh there are still wildflowers blooming, and the bees are all having a hayday in my garden alright. But with the fading blooms and the fact that we’re trying to boost some of those smaller swarm hives, RancherMan & I decided perhaps we need to give them a little feed. There are many ways to accomplish this, here’s what we do:
As I was walking through the clover field I spied this colorful butterfly silently floating from bloom to bloom.
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Here in Texas it’s typically very hot and dry during our summertime months. So I’m careful to mulch our garden heavily. Mulching helps the plants in many ways. It not only conserves that precious moisture, but it also moderates soil temps. I like to mulch with natural materials whenever possible. A typical gardening year will see me mulching with grass clippings, leaves or spent hay.
But I have a section of my garden that holds my Concord Grapevine. I’ve trained it to grow along the fence. It’s LOADED with grapes! But I’ve also vowed to keep the Bermuda grass from creeping into my garden. So all the walkways in the garden plus a wide perimeter swath is mulched with free wood chips.
But the grapevine is right at the fenceline. So to keep bermuda from creeping in around the grapevine I surrounded it with 3 bales of wheat straw. The purpose was just to deny sneaky Bermuda the sunlight as it attempts to grow beneath the bales to get into my garden.
But those straw bales are several years old now. They’re just spent and starting to deteriorate. I need to replace them.
Our homestead is located in the hot & humid south. Here in NE Texas I do all I can to keep that heat outside where it belongs when the temps (and the humidity) start to go up. I have many ways of doing this.
For instance, our tea is brewed in a repurposed hourglass-shaped jar on the picnic table, courtesy of the sun. And our clean laundry is almost always dried outside on our *Retractable Clothesline, even in the colder winter months.
But one of my favorite ways to keep heat outside is by using my *Solar Oven to cook our food. My solar oven came with an enameled cooking set so I typically use those items when I’m cooking with the sun.
One of the included vessels is a double-stack black enamelware covered pan. That will be perfect for today’s dish: Southwest Chicken served on a bed of seasoned brown rice. Quick & easy, mix it & forget it. The whole meal cooks at the same time!
My veggie garden did very well this year. Usually by the middle of July the searing sun has wiped out anything that struggled to remain during the hot summer months. But even though it’s been hot this year my garden has provided garden deliciousness well into the fall months. Yea!
One of the fall feast-or-famine goodies from the garden is cantaloupe. Now I didn’t plant cantaloupe this year, the vines volunteered from my compost. But I let them grow to become a living mulch for the rest of the garden. RancherMan eats only a modest amount of fresh cantaloupe & although I love it, how’s a girl to eat that much by herself?? I wondered if there was something I could do with all the excess cantaloupe – as it turns out, there is!
My son and his family recently stopped by for a visit and it was very close to his birthday. Now when he was little he always wanted to have an ‘unusual’ cake, especially since his birthday was during the heat of summer. One year I decorated a halved watermelon for him – he loved it! But often he asked for an ice cream cake. I mean c’mon, what’s better in the heat of a NE Texas summer than ice cream cake?
Back in ‘the day’ I would plunk down an unreasonable amount of money to buy a dinky little ice cream cake at the store. But I soon learned how to make it myself both quickly as well as inexpensively. C’mon I’ll show you how!
Squash is a prolific veggie. Summer gardens are often so overloaded with zucchini & summer squash that although you anxiously enjoy it the moment it’s harvest-able in the spring, soon your family tires of squash every night.
You then attempt to preserve some for winter months but still that squash harvest keeps coming
Every. Single. Day.
Finally in a futile attempt to dodge being consumed by the giant growing mountain of squash you start giving it away to grateful friends and family… for a while.
Soon even they run when they see you coming toward them with yet another squash harvest in hand. You can’t stand to see that beautiful garden produce go to waste. But “What’s a girl to do?” you wonder to yourself as you slowly disappear beneath the growing squash harvest pile…
Recently I was skimming my Facebooknewsfeed and I saw someone post about making a sweet chewy treat from overgrown excess garden squash. Whaaaaaa….??? I’m intrigued!
Living and working on a NE Texas ranch means RancherMan & I spend lots of time on our tractors. He has a heavy-duty red beast and I have a smaller one that we affectionately call ‘Ole Blue’. She’s very reliable older-model Ford tractor.
When I became a breast cancer survivor, RancherMan painted the wheels of Ole Blue bright pink in celebration! (How much do I love him??)
Aaaaanyway he often prepares for the day’s tasks by fueling both tractors. As much as I love ‘Ole Blue’ it always made my crunchy-green heart CRINGE when RancherMan would put fuel in her. Almost every time the fuel would spill all along the top, drip down the sides and onto the grass.
Of course I’d never say anything to him. He knows how I hate it and he tries his best to deliver the fuel without spilling but…
With the design of the typical 5-gallon fuel can it was always hard to get the fuel from the can to my tractor’s fuel tank without splashing corrosive diesel on my tractor and even spilling some onto the pasture grass.
OOHHHH, my heart! There just had to be a better way!
Several weeks ago I got a seedless watermelon. Now I love fresh watermelon but RancherMan only enjoys it in moderation. I ate it fresh for a few days but wondered if I’d be able to eat it all before it went bad.
A friend of mine suggested cutting it into chunks and freezing it. She said I could blend it up into a cool daiquiri on a hot summer day. (of course you could leave out the alcohol and make it a slushie instead – a sweet treat for the whole family!)
I was intrigued and decided to give it a shot. HA!!‘give it a shot’! See what I did there??!
Usually by August the vegetable garden is burned up & gone. I’m typically all too happy to let it go instead of fighting and still losing the fight. But although it’s been hot & dry here in NE Texas, between me breaking my “no potable water on the ground” rule because of the cistern mishap this year (our hose split & emptied all the irrigation rainwater from our 18′ deep cistern), plus the fact that there have been just enough sporadic short showers to keep everything limping by, I’m still harvesting heavily every day.