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December Harvest/Planning/Conversation Thread

7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

It was a cold and frosty morning......Hello, December!

I left the word 'harvest' in the title of this thread, though most of us will not be harvesting much this month, except for cold-hardy greens and such.

A lot of us will be focusing more on garden planning, garden cleanup and garden soil preparation this month instead of harvesting very much of anything.

Mostly we will be just trying to maintain our sanity in the mad rush to prepare for and enjoy the December holiday season while also trying to endure the ever-decreasing daylength and the colder weather.

On the bright side, we only have three more weeks of decreasing daylength left, and then the daylength starts getting longer again as we move towards Spring.

I'm starting tomato seeds today in an effort to have my own very early transplants ready by the same time the first tomato seedlings begin arriving in the local stores. I've never started them this early before because I've always worried that all the holiday preparations will get in the way of me caring for the seedlings properly, but this year I am going to give it a shot anyway.

I also hope to finalize my grow list of other veggies for the 2017 garden over the next couple of days.

So, y'all, let's keep the garden talk flowing through the month of December as we bid farewell to the 2016 growing season, more or less, and look ahead to the 2017 planting and growing season.


Comments (118)

  • 7 years ago

    I did the same thing with the frig. Lets see thats 60 bunches of onions or a frig.... hmmm .....Well the truth is I have to have both. I am using my house money to start my market garden for next year. I have to have a huge market garden and the house can wait. t d a is taking their sweet time and it isnt fair but I am thankful I have the money to start up.

  • 7 years ago

    How big is the market garden going to be next year?

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  • 7 years ago

    Market garden sounds fun!

    In my dream world, we would have a month of cold snowy weather around Christmas time. Minus the wind and ice. And maybe a month of hot weather--hot being a high of 90. I do like the seasons, but too hot or too cold/windy/icy is not fun. Really, the cold isn't so bad if it's not windy.

    I'm happy to be home. Our kindergarten party and program was today/tonight and I am exhausted. It's so hard for a person like me to be busy away from home every night. I am really an introvert and homebody. I love people, but need equal times alone--to plan and dream and work. And if I don't get that, I'm not the best me. I'm sorry to whine. Speaking of "whine" maybe I'll have a glass.

    Tomorrow we have to dash up to Arkansas City, KS to put flowers on my father-in-law and mother-in-laws graves. We're going to leave early and hope to beat the bad weather.

    I wish I had started some herb seeds for my winter solstice party. Has anyone seen herb plants in the OKC metro? The herb plants would make nice party favors. Next year. Maybe I'll look for sun catchers for this year. Or something else. Hope to have time to look for something. I'm so far behind this year.

    I'm glad the animals had a warm day to play outside. Still concerned about my chickens and tomorrow night.

    The garlic that I planted maybe 3 or 4 weeks ago decided to sprout last week. I haven't had time to cover them with mulch or leaves. Do you think they'll be okay?

  • 7 years ago

    Dawn your personal economic system is very seedy, but I like it. :D

    Someone came up with a $10 fridge last year and I jumped on it. It came with 'ick' and bugs but worked great. I cleaned it up before bringing it in. It's perfect storage for extra veggies of which there were none this year.

  • 7 years ago

    For those considering refrigerators. I have heard it is more economical to use a deep freeze set on a warm temperature then a refrigerator. No experience with that but it's supposed to be more energy efficient. I'm not looking forward to the cold weather. I'm still icing my wrist and hoping it heals quick. I'm trying to map out next year's Garden so I can figure out what I need to buy. And I'm not even talking about Christmas.

  • 7 years ago

    Dawn the new area will be 10000 Sq ft. It will have blackeyed peas,okra and watermelons. The other area is 6000 Sq ft. I will plant it all this year. And then an herb garden since my herb basket did well at market. Also may do cut flowers. We will see about that. I have the space I just need to till and get some compost in he different areas. I have my plan in my head going to put on paper these next few days.

    Also a chicken garden. I am getting 100 chickens, we didn't get then last year and I really need the eggs for market. The people who had eggs sold out every time. And there were dozens of people looking for more.

    Lots of new stuff here. I am looking forward to an awesome year.

    About the frig, in a real one I like to fill the back with water bottles so it takes up some space and stuff doesn't get lost.

    Harvesting, I cut 6 gallons if greens yesterday, picked carrots, turnips, and radishes. I am going to stay warm and full these cold days roasting my roots. I found out I like radishes after all the 100s I have given away, roasted not fresh.

    Here's to staying warm

  • 7 years ago

    I had never thought of roasting radishes. But yours is the second comment about it I've had seen in the last few days. I guess I'll have to try some. Do you use red radishes or icicle radishes or Daikon?

  • 7 years ago

    I have a small radish mix and cherry belle.

  • 7 years ago

    Hazel, I am not sure where you'd find herb plants in central OK, but down here I occasionally see them in Wal-Mart (usually near the area where they sell cut flower bouquets) and when I am down in the D-FW metro, I see herb plants, even at this time of the year, in Central Market. I think that the Whole Foods in OKC might have them. When I used to go to the Whole Foods in Arlington, TX, they often had small herb plants for sell in the produce section.

    Garlic may show freeze damage but even if it freezes all the way to the ground, it usually puts out new growth within the next couple of weeks.

    Bon, I compute everything based on gardening, one way or another. lol

    We've always had an extra fridge in the garage and an extra freezer too. Some years I use them a lot, some times I barely use them. I'm just happy to have them available when I need them.

    Amy, I've been trying to pretend that Christmas isn't sneaking up on us! We finished our Christmas shopping today and got home shortly before the roadways began to turn a bit treacherous. We aren't supposed to have any accumulations of precip here, but the weather does what it pleases, which is not necessarily what the forecast models say it will do. We've had 0.18" of moisture and some of it fell after we dropped below 32 degrees. leading to 3 wrecks on the roads near us in rapid succession. Tim just got back from working one of those wrecks. Hopefully the rest of the night will be quiet because it sure is windy and cold out there.

    Kim, That's going to be a nice, big garden. And I loved seeing the photo!

    Amy, Just about any veggie I can think of tastes better roasted, and it surprises me that more people don't roast their veggies. Brussels sprouts are great roasted too.

    I am listening to my fire radio right now and it sounds like more trouble on the roadway. I hope Tim can eat his bowl of chili quickly before the pagers go off again. I think it is likely to be a long cold night here. We believe our birds will be warm enough since they're all inside chicken coops that keep the cold air off of them.

    Y'all stay safe and warm!!!


  • 7 years ago

    It is a chilly night here down to 6. My water froze hours ago and instead of getting a bunch of things done I spent the evening trying to bring a 5 week old puppy back to life. Not sure how or why he wandered away from the heat but he did and was as limp as a wet rag. I thought he might still be alive but there werent any signs and wanted someone else to judge whether to put him out of his misery. I was pretty upset to say the least. Well after and hour and half of rubbing, warm rice bags and agitating him he finally stuck his tongue out at me and howled. Took 3 droppers of milk and honey and now is eating wet puppy food. These are not my puppies. But I am glad I was able to help this one little guy.

  • 7 years ago

    Amy, we grill radishes and we really like them that way.

    Kim, I'm so excited for your market garden! That sounds wonderful.

    Dawn, some of the grocery stores around here have sold potted herbs in the produce section year 'round. I haven't seen them as often lately...other than basil...and even then, not all the time.

    I am worried about my chickens. I just peeked at them and they look a little miserable. Of course, maybe I'm just imagining it. I left the light (not warmer) on and the water under it froze. Of course, it's a wind chill of -6 and a temp of 11. I guess they'll make it. If they can just hold on for the next couple of days. Luckily, it was "warm" early this morning and they got plenty of water to drink then...and when I first put the inside coop water in a few hours ago. Before it froze.

  • 7 years ago

    Here's a video that I feel is perfect for today. It makes me happy and sad...and reminds me of all the things and people I love. And it has things growing at the end!

  • 7 years ago

    Score one for freecycle! A lady posted she had several large planters about a month ago. When I asked, she had already promised them to someone else. Yesterday she emailed me to see if I was still interested and mentioned she had a few other things. Turns out she had 4 enormous clay pots, 2 smaller plastic ones, 3 brand new rolls of edging, water hoses, and a gorgeous cast iron Jacob's hook. When i loaded all i could, she said "when you come back, i should have more for you." If nothing else, I'll haul it off for her as payment for what I got.

  • 7 years ago

    Great score. I would like to have free cycle or Craigs list close but the nearest is 60 miles. That was nice of her to email you

  • 7 years ago

    Yay! Thats great! Congratulations on your score!

  • 7 years ago

    Kim, God bless you for saving that puppy! I'm just totally in awe of what you did. I hope you were able to stay warm enough overnight and can get the water to thaw out today. It is so cold!!!! This is good hibernation weather.

    It is colder here this morning than forecast. Our forecast had been for an overnight low of 15, 16 or 14, depending on when you read the forecast, since it just kept changing. The current overnight low at our house so far is 10 and it is 9 at our Mesonet station. We don't have an accurate wind chill because that part of our Mesonet station is frozen, leaving us with no measured wind speed and no estimated wind chill, but if ours is the same as the other closest Mesonet stations, then it is in the range of -4 to -8.

    The precipitation that wasn't supposed to accumulate here yesterday managed to do so anyway and we were walking around on crunchy grass last night. It seemed to be coated in ice....perhaps the mist/fog/drizzle that fell as our temperatures were falling yesterday froze as it hit the grass or coated the grass as moisture and then froze as the temperatures fell. Certainly when the motor vehicle accidents all started happening at exactly the same time and cars were sliding off the interstate, that was a good indicator that at least some roadways and overpasses were coated with something frozen.

    We weren't home when the temperatures fell below freezing as we were out finishing up our Christmas shopping. We arrived home just as the temperatures were dropping to 32. Some friends, who also were out shopping, came by to visit for a few minutes, and by the time they left, we all were expecting the fire pagers to go off and were saying "Well, I hope we don't see y'all again tonight." lol. The fire pagers went off probably 15 minutes later for two of the wrecks on the interstate. That's when I had to run outside, slip-sliding on the icy grass, to find Tim and tell him that the pagers went off and he had to go work a motor vehicle accident. Thankfully, there was only an hour or two of that craziness and then it got quiet, at least down here at our end of the county.

    I have a list of chores I can do indoors today, including potting up small tomato plants (but my bag of soil-less mix is outdoors and might be frozen) or wrapping Christmas presents (if I can find tape....I forgot to buy some, so am hoping to find a roll of tape in a desk drawer). Or, if the power stays on and the internet service stays alive, I could order seeds. That's my favorite thing to do in cold weather because it focuses my attention on spring instead of winter. I don't need many, if any, seeds, but I bet that if I look long enough and hard enough I can find some to order.

    Hazel, We have only had one chicken harmed in cold weather that I can remember, and the actual temperature dropped to 1 degree that night. Some of her toes froze and she had trouble walking, but she recovered within a couple of days and she didn't even lose her toes. That was a long time ago, probably 12 or 15 years back. I know that some chickens sometimes have parts of their comb freeze (it seems like it is only chickens with a certain kind of comb and I don't remember which one) but believe they also recover. I can hear roosters crowing out in the chicken coop, so it seems like all our birds probably are okay. The only ones I'm worried about are the 4 youngest ones which still are slightly smaller than a mourning dove. They probably are banties because they just aren't growing much. With one light bulb on and a lot of poultry in the coop, I assume the accumulated body heat and heat from the light bulb kept them warm enough overnight.

    Jen, Hooray for your FreeCycle find! That's terrific. Keep looking and you might find a lot more before growing season arrives.

    Winter weather is here and I'm over it. I'm counting down the days until Spring arrives. I cannot believe we are this cold in December.


  • 7 years ago

    I stayed very warm my son's. My power went off last night. So I bundled up and ran over here. He is out of town but I had turned his heaters on yesterday so it was toasty warm. It is a great day to hibernate. Not sure what I will do. I have puppies locked up with momma dog. She is mad at me cuz she just weaned them. I had the daddy locked up with the pups last night but I guess he had enough of all that whining so he would not get back in the shed. Little fighter is at my friends inside and will probably stay there. Report is he eats every 2 to 3 hours. So he sounds like he will make it. I am allergic and already have 2 girls or I would kept him. I am helping the owner get rid of the rest. There are 4 more. With Christmas coming it should be easy

  • 7 years ago

    I'm glad you stayed warm. When we let the poultry out this morning, they all were fine. In the big coop with the most chickens, the water wasn't even frozen solid. It was sort of slushy. I did notice that after I thawed the waterers, cleaned them and refilled them with lukewarm water, the birds really drank a lot. In the little coops with fewer birds, the waterers froze. Chris and Tim forgot to pour out the water when they closed up the birds, but that was exactly when the fire pagers went off for the wrecks on the interstate, so they hurriedly finished the bird chores and forgot to empty the waterers. Tonight I'll go out at sunset and make sure all the waterers are empty so nothing can freeze overnight, and that will save me an hour's worth of time tomorrow morning. We're up to a warmish 14 degrees with relatively low wind and the wild birds now are out feeding. The sun is shining which always makes it feel like the cold isn't all that bad. Yesterday we didn't have sunshine at our house.

    If our forecast hasn't changed, we are supposed to be colder tonight than last night and we won't make it back above freezing until tomorrow afternoon. That would put us at roughly 48 hours continuously below freezing. That's not too bad. Some years we've been below freezing for 5 straight days. Of course, some winters, we hardly get cold at all---like last year.

    It is awfully dry. We only need an inch or two of rain in what is left of December to end up with our average annual amount of rainfall for 2016. I'm not sure we'll get that inch or two.

  • 7 years ago

    Poor Tim out in that awful weather. Kim frozen water and power out that's terrible in weather like that! And poor Little puppy.Jen, great freecycle deal!

    We aren't fond of radishes, but I grow them as companion plants. (I like the seed pods in stir fry.) I will try roasting some this year

    There's some snow on the ground here. Trying to convince DH to take some warm oatmeal to the chickens. We have a heated water dish. Didn't get the lettuce in th greenhouse covered last night, so it probably didn't make it. However it was 7* warmer in the greenhouse than outside when I went to bed, so maybe it held the heat better. DH pulled all root crops yesterday, and spinach. We'll see if kale, collards, cabbage survive.

  • 7 years ago

    Amy, They were out there 2 hours. Two hours for one motor vehicle accident that involved only two vehicles. It was on an overpass on I35 and they had to block traffic and shut down the highway. Even when ODOT wanted to come sand the bridge, the firefighter who was the Incident Commander told them they'd have to wait because the entire bridge was "covered in vehicles all over the place" and there was no way a sanding truck could get through. That's what you call a big mess. The second wreck was minor (well, except to the people in that vehicle) and involved someone sliding off the road to avoid running into the first wreck.

    The bad thing was that snow/sleet/some sort of freezing crap was falling, the wind was blowing and the heater on our wonderful, state of the art, fire engine wasn't working because the guys had closed a valve while working on the truck's AC this summer, and forget to reopen that valve when winter arrived. (Believe me, they fixed that heater problem by getting up underneath the truck and opening that valve as soon as they got back to the station!)

    Tim was a walking icicle by he time he got home. At least one other wreck occurred while they were out there, but it was on a state highway east of town, so some other fire dept would have worked that accident if needed. I think it wasn't needed as I think that vehicle went so far off the road that the road wasn't blocked at all until the tow truck stopped in the road to pull that vehicle out of the ditch/fence/field. The moral of this story is that when freezing crap started falling from the sky, everyone should have gotten off the roads ASAP and just stayed home.

    Based on where the wrecks were happening, and also on where we observed STOP signs this afternoon with icicles hanging from them, I'd say the ice/sleet/snow or whatever it was fell in a fairly narrow band.

    I did hear another fire chief say it was snowing at the north end of the county around 9 or 10 pm when his VFD was out with a burning transformer on a power pole that was trying to spread to the grass and start a grass fire, but the precipitation had ended near us a couple of hours before that. He was maybe 10 or 12 miles further north than us so they must have had a later band of snow than the one that got us. I'm just glad it wasn't worse than it was.

    On the bright side, we really expected we'd be paged out to a fire somewhere overnight (old chimneys in old country houses, heat lamps in barns, sheds and pet houses, wind whipping around power poles or dropping dead trees on power lines, etc.) and we didn't. Nothing feels better than getting a full, entire night's sleep that you didn't expect to get.

    I looked in the refrigerator and found leftover pasta from Thursday night, warmed it up and fed it to the chickens. It might not be their favorite food, but it was warm and they ate it. What they really love on a very cold morning is warm scrambled eggs. Whenever I make them eggs (and sometimes I make them blueberry pancakes too), they eat them voraciously and I wonder if they realize they are eating their own potential children?

    We have fed and are feeding about a billion wild birds today---gold finches, house finches, phoebes, wrens, chickadees, cardinals (dozens!), sparrows, mourning doves, crows, and all kinds of other birds that I don't even know what they are. Only 1 chicken waterer refroze today (we got up to 26 degrees but the temperature already is falling again, headed for a forecast 12 degrees tonight) and only the half of it in shade refroze, so I turned it around so the frozen part was in full sun and it thawed.

    There's probably nothing left in my garden now to harvest. Well, I forgot to look at the chives. They're at the far east end of the garden and I tend to forget they are there. If there's nothing left, I'm okay with that. It is December, after all, and after we get through the Christmas holiday season, we can all start focusing on the next planting period. I hope we still get the warmer than average winter that was forecast for us, despite the periodic bands of cold weather. We really need rain, or super wet snow, but I don't want those down here until the rest of the leaves come off the trees. Too many oaks still have a lot of leaves on them, including the oak trees in our yard that are closest to the power line.

    Kim, If you see this, we were in Atwood's in Gainesville today (it is just west of the Wal-Mart) and they had their new Burpee seed rack set up for Spring. It is right at the front of the store, near the cash registers. I didn't look at it to see what seeds were on it. I was just glad to see it was there. The TSC in Gainesville didn't have a seed rack set up yet, but they usually cannot squeeze theirs in until they've cleared out more of the Christmas merchandise. I didn't make a stop at Calloway's while in Denton, Lewisville and Southlake yesterday as we were racing home to beat the freezing weather to our house. We barely made it...the thermometer on the car showed 32 degrees when we were crossing the last overpass on the way to our house. About 60 minutes later, we had ice coating the ground.

    I did my grocery store harvesting today, picking up one forgotten gift for a family member and then getting everything we need, grocery-wise, to get us through and beyond Christmas. If we played our cards right and didn't forget anything major, we shouldn't have to step foot in a store until after Christmas. It is my goal every year to be able to stay home during that last week of shopping madness right before Christmas Day. At this point, there's nothing I can think of that we'll want/need badly enough to go near a crowded store.

    I hope to start tomorrow the right way after I take care of all the animals, by potting up tomato plants, or at least by starting the potting up of tomato plants. I started all the seeds of each variety in a single 5-oz. paper cup, so will be potting up from multiple plants per 5 oz. cup to 2 plants per 9 oz. cup. The plants have two true leaves now. Once they're a few inches taller, I'll pot up single plants to larger cups. I can't pot up to larger cups too early or they'll outgrow the shelf space too early. I did close off the heating vent in that spare room to keep the room cooler, which slows down the growth of the young plants.


  • 7 years ago

    Amy, I think we may need a heated water dish. Last year was my first year with chickens and last winter wasn't a true test of how well I can keep the water unfrozen without one. It was such a mild winter.

    Good job saving the puppy, Kim. Poor little thing.

    I got a look at the back garden last night as I walked the dogs (in below 0 wind chill!) It's a sad thing. Dead tomato and pepper plants because I didn't have time to clean the garden. Actually, the plants were still making fruit until our first freeze. And dead Bermuda grass. That was fun to see, but it's not real--it's an illusion. It will be back and I will need to dig it out of the garden beds. Ugh. Just didn't have time this fall.

    On a positive note, maybe all the hibernating squash bugs froze to death.

  • 7 years ago

    Aw, now you get a puppy for Christmas!

    Craigslist, freecycle, and the local facebook groups are my best friends. And the big trash pickup days. You never know what you'll find.

  • 7 years ago

    No actually my friend got a puppy. He needs something to make him get up and around. So I helped 2. I named the the puppy for him "winner" he likes it. Too bad I didn't have a chicken to keep him warm

  • 7 years ago

    Someone was looking for seeds (not online) and I can't remember who or what thread. Anyway...I just got home from Natural Grocers in Norman. They have seed--a variety of different veggies and herbs.

  • 7 years ago

    Me I am always looking for the BI seed rack. I am going to Denton early so I will have time to shop a little even though that is like torture to me since I don't like shopping and I don't like traffic but if I squeeze in some garden center time it will be good.

  • 7 years ago

    I think Natural Grocers has seeds of change seed racks year round. I think that is the brand Sprouts will have as well. I always look at seed racks, in case there's something good, but I usually do not find varieties that I think will work here.

    Cute chicken picture. There was a video on Facebook of a chicken stealing a mouse from a cat. Wish my chickens did that.

    There are wild birds that are feeder too and squirrels. I used to have dogs that kept the squirrels away. But they were Grand dogs and they have gone to live with their owners.
    Dawn, I'm glad you got to sleep, it meant all the First Responders stayed warm. I think that is what I hate most about this time of year driving in bad weather. I have family that will be driving long distances in the coming weeks it scares me.

    Hazel water dish was purchased for the dogs, we've had it a couple of years and we have a bird bath heater as well. We just don't like running an extension cord out to the chickens.

    I have no Christmas spirit. The tree isn't decorated. I guess we may go out today to get gifts for the grandson.

    Pain pills make me depressed and emotional. trying to cut back on those. I keep trying to do things one handed and end up throwing pills in the air or oatmeal.

    This text to speech thing is funny it makes Dawn Tom I can't even tell you what it said Hazel was and sometimes simple words like "was" it simply will not understand. I hope I caught all the typos and forgive the lack of punctuation in some cases. I really should leave some of these typos but then you would have no idea what I was talking about but it would be funny

    My daughter just moved into our rental house. She was thrilled not to have to take the dog downstairs in the snow at the apartment. Her cat has not figured out where he is, hid under the kitchen cabinets for a whole day. The dog is just beginning to realize that he's not just visiting. The dog wants to eat the cat food and the cat wants to eat the dog food. A dog will share the cat does not. The cat was a stray that she brought from the apartments.

    We have one egg this morning and it was frozen.

  • 7 years ago

    Amy, I think the speech to text thing doesn't recognize Okies' unique accents. haha! My mom has an especially hard time with it.

  • 7 years ago

    Speech to text definitely doesn't recognize our southern accents. Sometimes Tim's messages to me are so messed up that I am not sure what he is trying to tell me. You have to look at what the message says and try to figure out what he was trying to say that got translated to the crap you're reading in the text message. Sometimes I just call him on the phone and say "What did you just text me?" He uses speech-to-text a lot while driving home because it is safer than texting while driving, but that doesn't mean I understand what the machine translates his words into.

    Amy, There is nothing better than waking up at the usual time in the morning and thinking, in a rejoicing way, how wonderful it was that we didn't get paged out overnight----especially because not being paged means no one in our fire district had a medical emergency, fire or wreck overnight. That's priceless.

    Of course, our pagers went off today shortly after 10 a.m. today for smoke in a commercial building (apparently an antique store that I didn't even know was there), but it wasn't a fire...most likely. It was smoke coming from heating vents, and I'm guessing that the duct work was dusty because that building had been empty for at least a couple of years. This weekend's cold weather might have been the first really cold weather that caused the heater to kick on since the new company moved into that building. The first fire department on the scene disregarded (terminated the response of) the rest of us because they didn't locate any flames and felt like the smoke was from dusty air ducts. The business will, of course, have an HVAC company come out and check the system ASAP out of an abundance of caution just to rule out that anything is burning within the heating unit itself.

    Just from watching the news, I've been horrified at how many house fires there have been the last 2 or 3 weeks---not just in our region of TX/OK here along and on both sides of the Red River, but down in the DFW metro and up in the OKC and Tulsa metro areas as well. It is shocking how many of them are related to fireplaces, and also to holiday decorations. There's been several fatality fires in both states, which is just extra heart-breaking.

    Your daughter's pets must be confused. I remember what it was like when we moved here and our cats and dogs had to get used not only to a new house, but to living in the countryside and having endless room to roam as well. Shortly after moving here, we took in a new dog, given to us by friends with a small city yard. They really loved her but felt their yard was too small and that she was unhappy. She was so used to being cooped up in a small, fenced yard that she stayed in our unfenced backyard without roaming for ages and ages. She stayed roughly in the same size area her city yard had been. It took me months and months (maybe years) of putting her on a leash and walking her all over our 14.4 acres trying to show her that she had room to roam. She never really roamed even after that, but if I went off in the woods gathering leaves or something and didn't come back in what she considered a reasonable time, she'd come find me and want me to come back to the house with her. She did finally loosen up enough that she'd chase squirrels from the yard and garden area into the woods, and she'd chase them relentlessly from tree to tree. When she was through running off all the squirrels, though, she kept herself contained in the yard and didn't roam. I never had trouble with squirrels as long as Sheila was around. She lived to a good old age and loved being a country dog, but she didn't roam as much as many country dogs do.

    You can use the frozen eggs. Just thaw and use as normal. It seems weird, but it works.

    In the little coop, the waterer was frozen, but in the big coop, between the body heat of all the chickens in it and the heat lamp, the water was only half-frozen slush, which isn't bad considering the outdoor temperature went down to 8 degrees.

    It looks so gorgeous outside right now with clear blue skies and plentiful sunshine. Unfortunately, it still is only 33 degrees out there (we made it to our forecast high and I think we will go another couple of degrees higher) so it looks better than it feels.

    There's not much green left in the garden now, which makes winter feel more real.

    All day today I've been fighting the urge to go order seeds I don't need. It is irrational to order seeds just because. I'm not gonna do it, not gonna do it, not gonna do it. Well, probably not.


  • 7 years ago

    My text to speech takes too much time to fix. My Yankee TX mess comes out so weird then I yell at the phone and well of course it picks that up easily.

    Natural grocers normally stocks Botanical Interests seeds. They are my favorite. I think the one at Lubbock just put theirs in the back room thinking no one is going to buy seeds right now, because the next week it was back out. I have never been in a Natural grocery when they did not have one.

    Dawn I just now saw the post about atwoods I like that store and usually go there when I get near Gainesville. I am trying to get my seed list finalized so when I do get out and need small amount I can grab it now. I still need to finish my online orders

  • 7 years ago

    Amy, I came back to add that I hope the Christmas Spirit finds you and that you are able to manage the pain you're feeling without having the side effects of the pills making you feel depressed.

    I know it must be challenging to try to do everything one-handed while your wrist heals, and it must be more frustrating than I can even imagine.

    I have not had an overwhelming amount of Christmas Spirit this year either, but I think it is partly because the kitchen is still not done and every time we work on it, we just create more dust that makes a mess of the house and the Christmas decorations. (Dusty Christmas trees, poinsettias, etc. are irritating.) Also, since we don't have grandkids, a certain part of the Christmas experience is just different than it is when you have little ones to buy gifts for.

    We did go out last weekend shopping for my niece's and nephew's kids and that did get me more in the Christmas spirit. However, I have to add that I was probably the most dazed and confused person in the toy section of the store looking for trolls (Trolls are back again?), Paw Patrol (I had no idea what it was), Blaze (ditto), etc.

    I had a good list of recommendations for what each child likes and wants, but had no clue what some of it was since the kids are so young (ranging from almost 4 to 13) and their interests change from year to year so that the things they adored a year or two ago now are forgotten as they pursue newer interests. Tim and I made it through the whole toy shopping experience pretty quickly and only forgot one thing, which we picked up yesterday, so now all I have to do is the wrapping, and then some Christmas baking and cooking as the holiday draws closer.

    The Dallas Cowboys won their game last night and I got a huge laugh out of Ezekiel Elliot jumping into the oversized red Salvation Army kettle placed just beyond the end zone. That put me in a bit more of a Christmas mood too. It is hard to be a Grinch when the Cowboys are 12-2 and headed for the playoffs. Plus, they're fun to watch.

    Still, I think December is the hardest month with all of us just biding our time and waiting for warmer weather, seed-starting time and planting time to arrive.


  • 7 years ago

    LOL, my daughter was able to understand most of what I said when we texted. But sometimes it just throws random words in there that bear no resemblance to what I said. And sometimes it gets dirty. I always thought those autocorrect jokes on Facebook were kind of silly until I actually saw it doing that kind of thing. It really has trouble with "was" "were" an odd little words like that. I say something to the tablet and my husband says "what?" and then I say I'm talking to the computer and it types that too. At least it spells better than I do.

    I think we got our shopping done this afternoon. Except for my husband and he will get his gift after Christmas. My youngest is hosting Christmas dinner but we still have to get stuff wrapped. And then we have to go to Bartlesville because my folks gift involves having something built for them there. I am in a better mood now than I was this morning..

    The chickens were pulling wilted kale leaves through the fence when we got home I think the dogs ate their oatmeal. I really haven't been out see how much damage was done buy the freeze. It is really bad when a low of 19 sounds warm. I don't have my weather station up yet either.

  • 7 years ago

    Amy, I'm glad your day is ending better than it started. I hate autocorrect! When I get nonsensical messages from people, I always blame it on autocorrect because my friends and family normally are not nonsensical.

    Chickens love kale so much that it is ridiculous. It wouldn't surprise me that the dogs ate their oatmeal as that is exactly what dogs do....and then they look at you and act all innocent like "Oatmeal? What oatmeal?"

    We made it up all the way to 37 degrees today, a couple of degrees warmer than forecast, but then the temperature almost immediately began falling and now we're back below freezing again. Still, tonight's low of 22 will be a lot better than last night's low of 8.

    My chicken waterers that normally sit outdoors are all stacked in the mudroom waiting for tomorrow. They are empty, cleaned and sanitized. I will get off to a faster start tomorrow morning with clean empty waterers whose two pieces are not frozen together.

    There was something green left in my garden when I walked by it on the way to the mailbox. It was the kale palm tree (the stem stripped naked by the chickens except for two leaves left at the top) and some of the coral honeysuckle foliage, though most of it is tinted purple, and that was pretty much all I saw while walking by. Everything else is tan, straw-colored, brown or black.

    More leaves and acorns have come down out of the trees and they cover the ground so I will have to rake them and gather them up on some future day that will be warmer that the weather we're having this week.

    Our local TV met is talking about the prospect of possible thunderstorms next week. Oklahoma weather---never dull and never the same two weeks in a row.


  • 7 years ago

    I just read a blog where a lady puts 1/4 cup salt in a soda bottle fill with water cap tightly and shake to melt salt and put in water bowl or inside waterer. She says water will not freeze even down to zero it did not freeze. I would try it but Sophie thinks all plastic bottles were invented just for her soccer pleasure. Boy would she get a shock when she bit thru that.. I will be telling my chicken friends to try it.

  • 7 years ago

    I saw that blog too. I haven't seen much in the garden since I broke my wrist. I know we have the heated water dish so they have water. They have been free-ranging the last 2 days. The dog water dish next to the house was solid. I should go take a walk and see if I can take pictures with one hand. Most of the letters we brought in the house survived. And we've put it back in the greenhouse.

  • 7 years ago

    I probably would not put a plastic bottle of salt water in a chicken waterer. What if it developed a hairline crack and was leaking salt water into the waterer? I think I'd rather be safe than sorry. Anyhow, we pour out all the water at night, except for one waterer left inside each coop so the birds can drink overnight. The outside waterers must be empty at night or you will find they are used by wildlife like skunks and other night-roaming varmints that can spread diseases. I don't want those wild things using our waterers at night.

    Stacking up the clean, empty waterers in the mudroom last night worked out well. This morning, all I had to do was fill then up and put them back in their usual spots. The few minutes I spent gathering them, emptying them and stacking them last night was well worth it.

    Last night we only went down to 25 degrees so the waterers inside the coops didn't even freeze. Yay.


  • 7 years ago

    Took a walk in the garden. the purple bed survived pretty well. The kale is a mix of Arkansas purple and Scarlet kale . There are 2 brussels sprouts in there . Some of the tatsoi survived. There's also some purple cabbage in there that never headed up. But the 2 purple kales win on hardiness and I bellieve they get darker the more cold they are exposed to.

    The yellow cabbage collard survived and looks better than the picture, which makes it at least as hardy as Georgia collard, and maybe more.

    However, the chard has all melted into a slimy mess. The Vates kale, which was supposed to be most cold tolerant, may come back, but it doesn't look good. Pacman broccoli survived, but it had never headed up. If the broccoli survived it probably won't produce. Most of the greens have that wilted slimy look, but the lettuce we brought inside looks pretty good. in fact everything in the greenhouse survived pretty well.

    The winter peas don't look good, maybe they will come back. Since DH has let the chickens out the last 2 days, some damage has been done by the little scratchers.My potted lemon balm and spearmint look dead, though I expect they will come back. DH cut the tops off the asparagus, but he did not put as much straw on them as I would have. I hope they didn't freeze. I wouldn't worry, but this was meant to be a temporary nursery bed. DH built the bed with a cedar board bottom (which I didn't want and had to drill holes in it because it didn't drain, but that is another story.) So now the soil has settled and the chickens used it for a dust bath, so the soil is too shallow.

    So winter has taken over.

    I'm trying to remember July and August. I'm considering testing tepary beans, just for something to grow in the heat. And trying to decide what I will plant where. Then it will be down to what varieties and WHAT SEEDS CAN I BUY! Or, I can just buy seeds and then try and figure out where to put them.

  • 7 years ago

    I wondered about that Dawn.
    I finally got fertilizer makers!!! three beautiful bunnies. The price was so good I could not pass it up. They are does and I got a sectioned cage and a full hutch. And they are papered show rabbits. Not that I have plans for that but I could. Littleman will love this, I cant wait to see his face. I have had the hardware cloth for 3 years to make a hutch and get bunnies, I am so thankful.

  • 7 years ago

    Dawn, your seeds arrived, finally! I was worried about the post office and Christmas mail and all. But they're safely in my seed box. Thank you again!

    I am not thinking gardens right now, only baking. Right now every square inch of flat surface in my kitchen is covered with curing pecan turtles, and my freezer crammed with kolacky ready to bake. Can't think about gardens yet! (Even though I still need to go out and clean it up.)

    Happy Christmas/Hanukkah/New Years/etc, y'all!

  • 7 years ago

    Rebecca, baking and cooking is where my energy is now too! Feeding a lot of kitchen scraps to the compost bin! I am thinking about gardens, just not physically doing anything about it.

    Happy Solstice! Just think...the days will (very slowly) get longer. Spring is just around the corner! (maybe a couple of corners.)

    My sun cookies are made and ready for my guest to decorate. Soups are made, just need to be warmed. Bring the light!

  • 7 years ago

    Amy, The photos of your garden look great. I agree winter has really set in now, but the bright side of that is that spring is not too far behind.

    Kim, I don't know if the plastic bottle would crack, but if it did, it definitely could be a health hazard for the chickens.

    Congrats on the bunnies. We went through a bunny phase here, as well, back in the early 2000s and it was during a very long spell of dry hot weather, with one drought year stacked on top of the other. I used to freeze milk jugs of water to put in the rabbit hutch to cool off the rabbits on days the temperatures were 100 degrees and more.

    Rebecca, I am glad the seeds arrived. I was sort of worried they'd get lost in the mail at this extra-busy time of the year. They sure did take their time getting there, but the important thing is that they made it.

    It sounds like you're having a lot of fun baking. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you as well!

    Hazel, I'm right there with you. Baking is always such a big part of December here, especially in the week before Christmas.

    My gardener's soul longs to be out in the garden cleaning it up and feeding the compost pile, but that will have to wait until after Christmas. The only gardening I'm doing at the present time is watering the plants indoors. As soon as they holidays are behind us, I'm going to get busy feeding the compost pile. I don't have to bother turning it though, as the chickens work hard every day turning it for me. Now that the harsh winter weather has turned the garden plants brown or black and very little green remains, I really want to get that garden cleanup done, but I don't want it badly enough to interrupt the usual Christmas routine.

    The part I am happy about is that we have no reason to step foot in or near a store until after Christmas. They are just too busy and too crazy for me this close to Christmas.


  • 7 years ago

    I am not much good in the kitchen. All I can say to you bakers is you go girls.

    Kim I'm sure your little man will love the bunnies. I want to hear about them as you go along. I have heard that their poop is safe to put in the garden without composting but their urine is way too hot. Looking forward to stories.

  • 7 years ago

    I already have one ;)
    They have been in a large wire cage separated by wire walls. No bed or bedding. Well since the cage is outside I set in to make a roof which went fine, I had to put tires on it to hold it down in this wind. Then I could not figure out about nesting boxes. Apparently they love to chew, I imagine partly out of boredom and partly the need to file their teeth. So no plastic or wood. I saw my foil pans and put them in there with hay in them and I could almost hear them say thank you. Poor babies always walking and laying on that wire. They are happy girls, I checked on them 8 times over the last few hours and they have not come out of their beds. AND they are making fertilizer, everybody is happy.

  • 7 years ago

    Many people put worm bins under the rabbit hutches. Have you considered that? You get fishing worms and worm castings. Would be a problem to keep them from chewing things in the hutch. Do they need chew toys? So you checked on them 8 times? LOL.

    My daughter just adopted a stray cat and she got all excited when it use the litter box. I told her she was a proud mama. She has this giant dog and the cat chases him and plays with him like he was just as big as he is. The dog wants to eat the cat food in the cat wants to eat the dog food.

  • 7 years ago

    Well I got up 3x in the night went flying up the hill cause I thought something might be interested in bunnies for food. As long as they don't get out they are safe and I secured the cage pretty good and will do more in the new year. Maybe a whole new hutch. One of my dogs has to be on a chain but oreos is free and she will be a guard for the bunnies.

  • 7 years ago

    We raised rabbits when I was a kid. about all I remember is they chew everything, and keep them separated or you end up with more bunnies. And males are not very good daddies. We had to keep him away from the babies or he'd kill them.

  • 7 years ago

    I put an ad in craiglist for unwanted bunnies one late spring. Got 5 within 2 weeks. Most were well cared for and had been doctored. It took a while to acclimate them to outdoors and also a natural diet. Most were fat on arrival, but slimmed down and were healthier after a few months. Winter was never a problem outdoors. They loved it. Summer was the problem. It really was a lot of work, looking back. the bunny berries were the best fertilizer!

  • 7 years ago

    We took in some rabbits around our second year here. Friends had them and were tired of them and they needed a new home. (Note: moving to the country resulted in all sorts of offers from city folks to offload their unwanted pets on us). It worked out fairly well, but the rabbits were escape artists. They were content to be in their rabbit hutches all day, but would do their best to escape in the evenings when the cottontails came out. They loved to hop around and run around with the cottontails. I always tried to round them up before dark so that a predator wouldn't get them. Eventually they escaped one evening when we weren't home and predators did get them, or at least they disappeared forever and I assume predators got them.

    You can cut back asparagus any time after it has gone dormant for the winter. It should be dormant now. Then mulch heavily, heavily, heavily to help prevent the weeds from sprouting and to help keep the asparagus from sprouting too early in winter too. I like to put down 4-6" of mulch after I cut back the plants, and I use anything and everything I can get my hands on, from small pieces of shredded bark mulch to chopped/shredded leaves to grass clippings, or a mix of all the above. I just pile it on top of the bed every winter, and add more mulch as needed later in the season. It makes all the difference in the world in terms of weed problems. Old-timers used to salt their asparagus beds to keep the weeds out because, overall, asparagus is very salt-tolerant and most plants are not. I've never tried that because our soil is high in salt content naturally (though it doesn't seem to keep the weeds down).

  • 7 years ago

    Hi folks, I haven't been over on this thread just because it got so long before I looked at it, and I hate to comment on the end of a thread, only to learn that someone already covered whatever-it-was, up above!

    Right now my soil is at it's very best for clearing and weeding. I've been enjoying that. My wife commented yesterday, and at first I thought she was speaking facetiously, that I love nothing more than to dig. However, if I'm not under pressure, I suppose I really do enjoy cultivating. Maybe I was named "George" for a reason. (Geo=soil/earth, orge=worker/tiller).

    I WON'T be starting tomatoes until March. Don't know why, but since moving to Oklahoma in 2005, I have had a terrible time keeping seedlings alive. I think part of it is that my house has no good exposures for natural lighting, and part of it is that I struggle with seed starting medium. Seems whatever I get is generally deficient. In recent years I've obtained some from a friend who mixes her own, and uses it on a large scale. That seems to work better. But still, my seedlings never seem very happy until they go out in the garden. I gave up on fluorescent lights as I never found the right intensity/distance combo, and my seedling would often burn. Okay, anyway, I do alright. My seedlings are just on the small side when they go out.

    It has been extremely busy year for us, especially the last couple of months, with Jerreth's medical crisis. She's doing much better now, thank God! During our Christmas break I'm supposed to be writing materials for Homesteading Edu and we're in, what we hope is the final push to submit an audio book for publication. We've been over two years, now, translating Grace Plus Nothing, by Jeff Harkin, into Spanish (getting close to finished) and somewhere along the way we agreed to do the book as an audio book in English. Only after getting waist deep into the audio book project did I learn that I was going to have to learn basic audio engineering (yikes!). Oh! And Jerreth has launched into a masters program on instructional design, learning to design and engineer instructional videos. This will help with our website and is also part of her work. The long and the short of it is that everything we've endeavored had turned out MUCH MUCH more complicated and laborious than anticipated.

    We hope to finish with Grace Plus Nothing in 2017. I think we're close. Homesteading Edu, while up as kind of a blog, hasn't really launched. Hopefully that will happen soon. Writing for Homesteading Edu will be an ongoing project for... well, probably for many years.

    Currently I'm writing our materials on rabbitry and doing some experimentation on sourdough.

    Kim, it's a REALLY good thing you have a dog to guard those rabbits. Most folk have no idea how much wildlife meanders through their yards at night. Coon will tear a cage open and kill rabbits. Stray dogs will do the same.

    Here's last night's sourdough project, something I've worked on (sporadically) for nearly 40 years: French Bread. This was by far the best I've ever done.

  • 7 years ago

    That looks yummy George. I'm glad to hear that Jerreth is doing much better. We like to hear from you no matter what you might repeat, no doubt you would put a different spin on it any way.

    The chicken story for this post is we are dog sitting for my son. We have 3 extra dogs and one thought he should play with the chickens. All are safe but it's just one more story in this Saga.

    Garden wise we're not doing much. DH lets the chickens out and they have done some cultivating for us. Not necessarily where I want them. Why not the parsnip bed? Of course, I don't have parsnip seeds yet. There are Austrian peas in that bed doing well...much better than the rotting brassica plants. (My garden smells like old broccoli from the back of the fridge.) Sadly even the chard didn't survive. I had some Vates kale that was supposed to be verry cold hardy, it doesn't look like it will survive. The purple bed is pretty ragged but it is surviving, well, the kale and Brussels sprouts are, the pac choy and tat soi are gone.

    I may have told my bunny story before. We had one adopt us. I think someone moved and turned it out. It imprinted on our White Gander. It would sleep with him with its head on it on the ganders back.

  • 7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    George, Just when I think y'all cannot get any busier than you already are, I learn that I am wrong. Good luck with all your projects, and the bread looks great!

    Amy, Speckles and her companions could star in a series of children's books. The latest book would have to be about their Christmas visit from the dogs.

    Our chickens stay busy on sunny days tearing through the garden. I don't mind it as they cannot hurt much right now. I hope they're eating lots of pest-type insects and weed seeds.

    It is so nice and warm for December----65 degrees here at our house right now. Of course, whenever we get some likable weather in Winter, it seems like it doesn't last long so next week's weather probably will be something completely different.