April Showers

April Showers

Well, we have been waiting all month and it’s finally here.  A downpour.  We left for church at 7:45 and the rain gauge sat at zero.  The storm started in Mass, by the time we got home at 10:45 it read almost 1  1/2 inches, and the rain was still coming down.

I started a garden in late March with some okra, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beets, radishes, turnips, carrots and greens. Randy has gotten to laugh at me quite a few days, as I have had to go out to water my fledgling garden. This rain is wonderful for it. Sort of…I am sitting down to post this since we got cell service again this since the rain kept us in.  I checked on my garden during a break in the rain and boy did it take a beating.  The rain gauge is now coming up on 3 inches and the rain is still coming down.  I think this falls under the category of be careful what you wish for!

My fishing holes needed water too. The water in both ponds has been lowering, but fishing is still good.  The sac-a-lait have pretty much stopped biting(that turns out to be seasonal) and the really large bass elude me (that’s going to take practice), but the catfish, perch and smaller bass cooperate nicely, thank you very much.  Usually rain makes the fish bite–we will have to try!

 

Laugh of the week:  We had to go vote yesterday on a local bond measure. The nice lady at the polling place started asking us where we lived and if we were new. After the requisite invite to attend her church, she asked the big question: “where are y’all from?”  When we replied California, her response was, “Well bless your hearts.”

 

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all,

Seems like after a lightning Christmas and Mardi Gras season, Lent was loooong.  But it was indeed meaningful and good. It makes Easter all the more joyful and vibrant.

I am thankful to have Mom here this week as we welcome spring to Green Acres. The new house plans are with the draftsman and the next step will be contractors.  May garden is starting to show green and grass cutting is becoming a weekly event.

Sad to say goodbye to Randy’s Dad, Terry.  He passed away this Easter Saturday after a long battle with cancer.  Keep him in your prayers.

Love to all from Green Acres

 

 

Das Boot

Das Boot

Cappuccino  and Marble

One day last January, after some fierce rains raised the level of the small pond, I decided to retrieve the small aluminum boat we had seen tucked away in the trees in the corner of it.  I had checked it out from the yard and noticed it was floating- finally -and wanted to get it before the next bout of showers.

It was the end of the day and I was already dirty from yard work, so I got a paddle and pushed my way through the brush and trees and found it.  It was indeed floating although it did have 2-3 inches of water and leaves in it.  As I untied it and got in both the dogs came crashing along and with tails wagging looked longingly at me in the craft.  They jumped in to join me as Randy appeared and said he wanted to come along.   So he got in and the fun began.

Cappy wasn’t happy as Randy pushed us further out so he leaped back onto the shore. I started paddling and Randy wondered if he should bail. Now– there were two containers in the boat: a dog bowl and a black plastic container. He started to bail (with the black container that turned out to be a planter with a large drainage hole in the bottom).  Cappy started swimming out me meet us and Marble found a frog-or maybe a lizard-but whatever it was it decided to run around in the leaves and water and Marble (all 80 pounds of him) started chasing it  from side to side.  Cappy reached us and Randy got busy trying to pull Cappy back into the boat that was rocking awesomely. THEN we noticed that the water in the boat was getting deeper.  “BAIL” I cried, “PADDLE” Randy calmly said, Marble bounced from side to side and Cappy just bounced.

We made it to safety without getting fully drenched. Lots of drama to travel about 30 ft never more that 5 feet off the shore!  Turns out the drain plug was missing from the boat :0 .  Oh, and the max capacity for the boat was 2 people or 325 pounds. I am not going to tell you what I weigh, but consider that we had 120+ pounds of dog alone.

And so ends another fine day on Green Acres.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day

What did I do for International Women’s Day? Well….

We had to go and rescue a bale of hay from the woods at the edge of the upper pasture because Mr. H-,  who tilled my small garden, said we should use hay over a year old instead of the new bale we had Mr. B-, who cuts the pasture for hay, leave for us.

I wanted to ride with Randy when he did this, but there was no place to ride on the tractor. So he told me to go ahead and drive it!! We switched out the front end loader with the bale spear(one wicked looking attachment) that we found while clearing the crape myrtles.

And off I went on the Massey Ferguson 471. After chugging up to the pasture, I followed Randy’s hand signals, speared the bale (a 6-ft diam HUGE bale, mind you), raised it up, and transported it down to the blueberries for mulch. I have to admit I wouldn’t want to do it every day because the tractor is one rough ride, but what a thrill!

What did YOU do for International Women’s Day?

Name That Tree

Name That Tree

Now you would think that since we live in the “pine belt” that we would have mostly pine trees. Au contraire my friends. We do have a number of beautiful pines, but just about as many huge magnolias and oaks, and lots others.

In fact, one of the fun games we have been playing since actually buying Green Acres has been “name that tree”.

The previously mentioned ones were relatively easy (although I am still not clear on all the different TYPES of oaks we have).  We could tell the satsumas, fig and plum as well as the pecans and crepe myrtles.  One of my brothers came to visit and identified a lot of them. Some neighbors told us about “cowcumber” magnolias.  Then came the mystery trees.

Tung Oil Tree

This was one of the first that seemed to stump even the locals until one of the friendly WST Coop electric workers stopped by to see why our second electric meter wasn’t reading remotely anymore. He clued us in that it was a Tung oil tree. Seems there used to be Tung oil plantations all over southern LA and MS until a major freeze many years ago. He also showed us which trees were Maypop trees and even a casaba worm tree.

 

Sweet Olive

 

I had this one pegged as a ligustrum of some kind, but my cousin recently informed me that it is actually a Sweet Olive tree. It is an awesome heirloom fragrant type of tree.

 

Once we cleared out behind the shed, this one came to light. I still don’t know what is. It looks like willow bark and leaves, but willows usually send out lots of suckers and this one did not have any, so I am holding off on a final judgement. If anyone has ideas, we are all ears.

Willow?
willow bark and leaf?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found this one [OUCH] just a few weeks ago while Randy was working on the electric panel at the shop and thought I was seeing things.  Google came through for me when I typed in “tree with massive thorns”. It was the first hit!  You are looking at a Honey Locust tree.

Honey Locust
Honey Locust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it for now, I will just “leaf” off here.

He Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy

He Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy

So we went into Hattiesburg yesterday to pick up my new lawn tractor.  It is a cool Cub Cadet XT3 with lots of power for the hills and slopes I have to cut. I got a brief walk-thru on the controls; we loaded it up, and trailered it back home.  With a lawn that actually needed cutting a week ago  I wasted no time.

I changed into old clothes, got my hearing protection and anti-vibe gloves, climbed aboard and started the engine. Boy it was loud but sounded great. I lowered the cutting deck and engaged the PTO and….nothing L I made a few passes in the back yard but the blades just would not spin. I stopped and restarted and this time the blades worked-yeah!  I cut the back yard then the blades stopped again. I had to keep toggling the PTO (power take off) button to keep the blades cutting.  I got about a quarter of the yard cut and Randy figured out the problem…I didn’t weigh enough !!!!! Oh yeah—you heard right. [Sounds of fireworks going off and lots of clapping]   Evidently, the seat has a cutoff sensor that is meant to stop the blades and then the motor if you leave the seat without the Cub stopped and the parking break set. Every time I leaned too far forward, hit a bump, or twisted in my seat the blades quit. While it helped to know what was wrong, it was also frustrating because the top of the front yard was really bumpy and I had to go really slow.

Randy made an adjustment to the seat sensor today and I did some finishing work around the blueberries and muscadines, but he still wants to talk to the dealership.  As he told them yesterday, he is not going to get a bigger wife just so that she can mow the yard-LOL

Never a dull moment here—lots of quiet ones—but never dull.

And So It Goes

And So It Goes

Wow-it seems like just yesterday I was taking down Christmas decorations and now it’s Lent already. Mardi Gras passed like a blur and that was without taking in any parades or major parties.

 

It turns out January and February are prime times to prune around here. Really nice since the weather is mostly cool and mild. This would not be fun in the summer. Randy did all of the heavy pruning: the satsumas, crape myrtles, and the muscadines. We did my beautiful big fig together and I even got the chance to use the FJ and brush grubbers to pull out trees by myself one day when he was working on getting his part of the electrical done to the shop. We did one of the big oaks and he even got out a HUGE chunk of poison ivy without a major outbreak. More clearing around the house and potting shed and all of a sudden I have another giant burn pile to get through.

Yes that’s poison ivy

We finally got some advice on the big house. Three contractors have given us advice and it was all the same-build new. One of them actually worked up a plan to repair the foundation, but the cost was up there.  When you factor in a new roof, redoing the plumbing and electric, and adding a carport and garage—it just makes more sense to start from scratch.

 

We are planning to build a new house right in front of the current one. It makes better use of the land and we can continue to use the kitchen in the big house for now.  Randy got some software and made use of his drafting knowledge, combined that with some advice from my mom (who has designed a few of her own homes with great success), and we have a pretty neat home plan.  Just a little finishing and we hope to send it out to contractors for bids soon.

Randy also spent most of February getting the electrical in his shop set up. When his part was done, WST Coop (our electrical provider) sent a “local” crew to put a new pole in place of the older one. The crew was so local (all six cherry picker trucks of them) that we they broke a water line in the yard, one of them was going to “run home” to get some pvc parts to fix it.  Randy had the parts so it was all good. Then a few days later the “imported” crew from Slidell came to run the underground part from the pole to the shop building. Then today, the final crew came to connect everything and Randy is probably the happiest kid in town.  Now he can use his table saw, welder, grinder, etc, etc, etc.  But not just yet…

from the front porch

Got a call from Hattiesburg this afternoon and my new riding lawn tractor arrived at the dealer.  Just in time. The grass really started to grow a few weeks ago and I even had to get out the push mower to do around the house just to trim things up a bit.  I couldn’t do a lot of the yard though-a girl has to have time to fish J

 

Love to all from Green Acres.

 

Satsumas!

Satsumas

 

Satsuma: Citrus unshiu is a seedless and easy-peeling citrus species, also known as unshu mikan,[1] cold hardy mandarin,[2] satsuma mandarin,[2] satsuma orange,[2] and tangerine.[2] It is of Chinese origin, but introduced to the West via Japan

When we were looking at the house, originally we noticed the beautiful citrus trees. The owner told us they were Satsumas and joked (sort of) that a condition of the sale was that they would be allowed to come back and pick some satsumas when they were ripe.

When we started visiting after the sale was complete, we noticed that the trees had A LOT of green fruit on them and the neighbors started commenting on the wonderful Satsumas.

Fast forward to the actual move-in in October and the realization that we were the proud owners of not one or two, but TEN Satsuma trees.  And, boy was it a good year for this amazing fruit.  They are sort of like cuties, but come in small, large and everything in between.

They commenced to ripening, and we commenced to doing everything in our power to get rid of them.

We eat them with breakfast, lunch, dinner and for snacks-no vitamin C deficiency here.  No one can visit without going home with a bag or box of the little orange balls. We took them to the DMV when we registered cars. We took some to the nice man at the chainsaw store where Randy bought his chainsaw. We took some to the Vet when we got Marble and Cappy up to date on shots. We left some in the mailbox for the mail carrier and always got a nice thank you note. We brought some to the well service guy when we went to pick up a new pump for the well. We gave some to the lady from public health who came to get a sample of our water for testing after fixing the well (Water is bad and we had to chlorinate!-another story).  We usually had a bag waiting for Mr. Mike, our UPS driver (we love Amazon Prime).  In fact, we had a bag labeled for him one day when we had to go into town and came home to find our “fed ex” delivery right on top of the “UPS” satsumas. After that we kept better track of who was coming to deliver what and left bags for them all.

The big freeze last week ended most of that. There are still some good ones on the trees. I harvested all the ones left on my favorite because they had thinner skin and needed to be used. In fact the asst fire chief that came by to give us our new mailbox numbers (another story!) had his kids with him and we let the kids loose in the trees and they had a blast getting all they could.

I ended up making marmalade out of the ones I harvested from my favorite tree and the next spell of cold weather got the rest. To give you an idea of how many we had: we were giving them away by the 5 gallon bucket load at the end and still ended up with at least 400-500 in the burn pile.  Now to see how the trees survive and what kind of crop we get next year. The LSU AG extension agent is scheduled to come by with some neighbors to get cuttings from our trees to graft and propagate them. Never a dull moment.

Happy January to all.

Progress

Progress

This is a view from the porch that is usual for this time of year. I feel sort of like when my kids went through a style or fashion phase that is not quite right for them.  Not exactly flattering, but you still think they are beautiful.

 

Well Randy got here to Louisiana after a successful surgery, but in neck brace and only supposed to lift less than 15 pounds. It was pretty quiet for a few weeks. We got more of the houses set up: living in the “little” house with an awesome space of great room, bedroom and bath but no kitchen and using the kitchen in the “big” house to cook and eat if the weather permits since it has no heating or AC.

 

We weren’t sure what we were going to do with the big house and until we found a contractor to help us we decided to work on the “yard”.  All 5 or so acres of it.  Our awesome neighbor kept the lawn cut and some trimming done, but the almost 2 years of overgrowth around the pond, oak trees and such was a bit daunting.

Randy had trimmed the blueberries during our summer visit as the neighbors advised but that still left the pecans, blackberries, muscadines, crape myrtles and satsumas, as well as trees and brush all over.  We were having a great time pulling out trees with the FJ and brush grubbers as well as weed whacking and good ole manual hedge trimmers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But all that was BEFORE….

 

BEFORE… Randy got into some poison ivy in the beginning of December. It started on his wrists and spread to spots over most of his body over the first week. It got pretty bad and slowed us down plenty.

 

BEFORE…April got here-not all obstacles are bad!!  We really enjoyed having her visit. We showed her around the property and area including a visit to a local Christmas tree farm to cut our tree. She and I attended our first Saints game—in the dome on Christmas eve. We had a blast. Beignets in the Quarter, the Saints Experience, and our team won.  Back at home we played lots of games, even learning a new domino game: Chicken foot (which I could simply not win at), and a new dice game: Farkle (which I could win at).  Christmas with the family was great as always-I really am blessed to have great family here.  Then sadly we put her on the plane the day before we could answer her question of do we have to worry about our pipes freezing

 

BEFORE…The Freeze. Our pipes froze three days in a row. Our weather has been going from low 30’s to high 70’s like a roller coaster until this latest cold front. We woke up to find we had no water because of problems with the line outside, the pressure tank gauge and switch and other technical stuff that Randy took care of. We did eventually get water later each day, but it was an adventure. The freeze also affected the satsumas (the satsumas are a whole other story), so I harvested all the ones left on my favorite tree and processed them to make marmalade, which took up a bit of time.

 

Now that the weather is warm again and all the marmalade is put up, we are looking to get back outside. Randy got the tractor working so that we can tackle some trees that were too big for the FJ.  And as if we didn’t have enough areas that we wanted to clear, it turns out we really have to work on the trees on the levee that is the dam for the little pond. In a classic example of how things work around here, our propane delivery driver came by today to top off the propane tank and got to talking with Randy. He was looking over the back yard and casually told Randy that those trees on the dam need to be taken out and that they could really cause problems.  We researched it and sure enough he was right!

 

That kind of things happens a lot around here. Everyone is very helpful about so much, but then things come up sort of as a side note that turn out to be important or really fun to know.  One of my favorites was during our visit in June/July. We were fascinated about all the different plants and trees on our property. We could get people to tell us about most of them, but some left everyone stumped until a gentleman from the electric coop came to check on why our 2nd service meter wasn’t transmitting. We had a good visit with him and Randy got some good advice on setting up the electric service for his shop that was going to be built the following month. Then we started talking trees.  He was able to identify all the trees no one else could and took the time to walk the whole top pasture with us.

 

Happy New Year to all and lots of love from Green Acres

And How I Got Here

And How I Got Here

December 15, 2016

 

 

It seemed a long time coming and a long time happening, but now it seems to have taken just a blink of an eye. I am here…really here… waking up every morning, fixing a cup of coffee and taking it to this corner of the porch. The view changes daily. This view is from a summer visit we made and what I kept thinking of. Lately everything is brown and there is usually a fog in the pasture or a mist coming off the pond, hauntingly beautiful.

 

What an undertaking. Getting April and Andrew settled separately in Fresno (It is so comforting for ME to have them near each other). Two fun-filled (yeah, right!) trips across the country with Randy driving a large moving truck towing a car carrier with a vehicle on it and me following in another car with the dogs. All while getting the Palmdale house ready for sale in between trips.

 

Saying goodbye to family and friends was the hardest. We left Palmdale for the last time in the rain and I couldn’t help thinking that the sky was crying with me. Then we hit the weigh scales in Riverside, and as Randy pulled off in the Penske truck, reality set in, I had to focus on the present, and that set the tone for that last cross-country journey (The neighbors who watched us load the truck will understand my “concern”.)

 

Such an adventure.  Every day is a new “wow, so this is how they do things in Louisiana” experience.  At least for Randy it is. It’s all sort of coming back to me.

 

But I have to say I love being near Mom-what a great time to have her with me for 3 weeks while Randy was back in CA (yeah Mom that was 3 weeks with me and the dogs!).  Ditto for Paul and Gretchen-and thanks for helping us set up housekeeping and yardkeeping!

 

We live in a very rural and sparsely populated area where everyone who visits brings something they have grown or made and wants to know if we have a church yet. Actually, when I think about it, that was the way our Palmdale neighborhood was in the beginning. (Yes, neighbor across the street I am fondly remembering you.)  However, I really can’t see this place “developing” any time soon, thank goodness!

 

You will have to visit us to hear about things like: when you apply for a LA driver’s license and  they ask if you want a “real” or a “not real” license. And how to find a licensed contractor for your remodel or rebuild when a lot of the state is still trying to rebuild after floods. And what yaupon is and why you don’t want it on your property.

 

Blessed Advent Season to all, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I will update in as I can during a visit from April, attending my first Saint’s game in the Dome, experiencing Christmas in LA as a resident, and only one more month to go until I can get my resident fishing license!  Life is good.