Category Archives: Casper the Cat

Reflecting on 2015

The year 2015 buzzed by faster than a gardener/small homesteader can imagine. Some good some not so good and some just life.  As I look over the year, there are some things that just need to be noted.  Tomatoes, goats, Casper the Perfect cat, garden successes and failures.  We can learn from life experiences better than any text book or you tube video.

Our year started out with a bang…a mild January brought early planting for us.  Peas,  radishes, lettuce and all sorts of early spring veggies went into the ground.  Un-covered no less!  This can be a gamble, but as a crazy gambling garden I am, I went for it with great success. This was our mildest winter since 2000.  February came and all our brassica crops went in the ground as well.  The down side of the warm weather was many crops we planted for our CSA shares in the fall (planned for late February), bolted quickly before our shares even began.

March rolled around and we had 5 new kids on the ground!  Baby goats that is.  Milking chores were in full swing once again.  We choose to bottle feed babies as this makes a tamer kid down the road.  But this means having to visit the little kids several times a day, pet, play and just enjoy them.  Life can be pretty hard to deal with sometimes!  Haha!  Cheese, yogurt and kefir were a weekly task to use all the milk our girls were producing an abundance of.  You begin to get creative.  Out of the five beautiful kids we got, we kept one sassy little girl and she goes by the name Briar Patch.  These girls really become pets, not dairy goats!  Our little grandson loves the farm life especially the goats!

Ahh, April!  Time to get tomatoes into the ground.  We saved seed from our favorite tomatoes two summers ago, but there are definitely some favorites that made it very exciting and some we just won’t do again.  My daughter-in-law planted a month earlier than I did, and I have to admit, she grows some really amazing tomatoes!  While hers petered out earlier than mine, she produced several enormous 2 pound plus Dr. Wyches tomatoes.   Top on my list of “must-have” tomatoes to grow this year.  Dr. Wyches; This orange tomato produced heavy all season long beginning in late June.  Heavy and dense with no cracking. Such a good, mild flavor.   Copia Tomato;  Beautifully striped yellow orange tomato, medium sized, later in production but heavy in August.  Our own tomato, Chicken Coop Green, mild flavored green tomato produced heavy later in the season as well.  Nebraska Wedding Tomato; This one was a huge surprise.  In 2014 I started this tomato from some seeds a friend gave me that was dated 2001.  As predicted, it did not produce well, only giving me one single medium sized tomato.  The plant was healthy, so I saved the seed to be planted as a trial tomato in our garden for 2015.  I planted one in the greenhouse, one in the main garden area and one in an old trough out back, where things get neglected. I can not rave enough about this tomato!  No matter where this guy was he produced!  Apricot colored tomatoes that were medium sized.  It was the earliest and the latest to produce.  It has a nice flavor as well.  Bread & Salt Tomato Seeds;  Another favorite of mine.  Best flavored tomato I think I have ever sunk my teeth into.  Few seeds.  Great for slicing or canning.  Starts off producing huge tomatoes early in the season and becomes smaller as the months pass.  Bread & Salt has a strawberry shape and is pink in color.

New chicks arrived late May.  We love a variety of large breeds, laying shades of green, blue and browns.  I’ve never been a white egg layer lover.  Just to common! A variety of breeds also insures eggs all year round.  Some lay better in hot times of the year and other in the winter months.  Our mature chickens are at a ripe ole age that they do not produce well and we add new and replace old every year.  We have found that banding them (this is not mean) with colored expanding bands we place on their legs.  Each year has a new color.  This just makes the job a little easier of picking older hens out with no mistakes.  While you can generally tell an older chicken, I have made mistakes before.

Fruit was very abundant!  Cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, persimmons, boysenberries and grapes!  I don’t think a person should each a dozen white peaches a day!  But, they don’t keep well and they are good for you…At least that’s what I keep telling myself.  Our fig trees and pomegranates took a hit from the deep freeze  December 2013 and froze right to the ground.  We missed the fruit in 2014, but new growth and a little fruit this past summer gives us great hope for a bountiful crop in 2016.  This year was our first real good crop of pistachio nuts.  They have been in the ground for 17 years.  These are the only trees that belong to my husband.  I suppose my threaten to chop those “worthless” trees down caused them to finally produce.  Funny how that works.

Fall arrives and we get a reprieve  from the heat……..Ha!  At least that was my thoughts.  Little rain fall and temps that stayed in the upper 90’s and even 100’s in October made it almost unbearable with high humidity.  I guess that’s what we get for having a mild summer.  Local predictions were to have a very cold winter.  So far, it’s been fairly mild.   However the peppers were at there best in October.  We harvested 55 lbs. in one week off a 3 x 16 foot bed.  Needless to say, our CSA share holders were probably sick of peppers as were we.

As I said, we had good and we had not so good things happen in 2015.  We lost our dearly loved Casper the perfect cat on December 5th.  While we knew the time was near,  it never makes it easier with a losing a loved pet.  I have written many times about him in my blogs and he has had people come to visit him, rather than me.  Such a proud and stately cat.  There could not have been a sweeter cat on earth.  Three years ago we adopted a 6 year old orange brat cat named Mabes.  There could not be any two cats so different!  While I have a void in my heart, she will kept me company in her own way.  Rest in peace my dear little Casper.  You will be missed.

2016 has arrived!  We have received 1.24″ of rainfall so far, with a little snow covering yesterday morning.  As always, I can’t wait to get my hands back into the garden soil.   I look forward to the new arrival of baby goats the end of February, gardening, pruning, and sunshine once again.  This will be the best year yet!  Happy New Year Everyone!




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Quiet Sunrise

There is nothing better than a summer morning, just as the sun rises and being in the garden!  The sound of business only come from the birds chirping and the occasional crow from our little rooster.  The air is still cool and calm.  Bliss!

First stop is the goats. Getting their morning ration of hay, grain and giving Ivy a check, which is due to kid any day now.  She is nice and round, but no signs that she will be giving birth today.  The anticipation of new little kids hopping around keeps me going to the barn several times a day with excitement.

Watering chores are done early before the heat to arrives.  My favorite tool is a watering wand, the gentle flow of water is soothing to me and with the many potted plants around the garden, a little joy in a chore never hurts.

Checking the potato crop, I noticed the purple blooms. So a little digging around in the deep mulch layer found a handful of new potatoes for dinner tonight.   These are my favorite type of potatoes.  While the potato crop grows, I continue to mulch with compost around the plant, piling higher and higher until the compost reaches about a foot thick, making a perfect bed for new potatoes and a super easy harvest.  New potatoes are so succulent and tender, they melt in your mouth.  Their little skin just falls right off with the slightest rub.  Cut into fourths, tossed with some fresh herbs and olive oil, grilled or  baked makes a great easy side dish for a summer supper.  Fresh!  Luckily we will harvest new potatoes for the new several weeks until the foliage starts to die back, then it’s time for the main harvest.

Boysenberries are in full swing now and picking daily is a must!  Purple hands are a dead give away where I has hiding out this morning.  Morning is the best time to pick most crops, as they are usually sweeter and juicier.   A rustic berry tart is on the dessert menu tonight!  They get an extra drink of water while they are fruiting.  We are looking forward to the Triple Crown Blackberry harvest coming up shortly.  They are loaded with green berries and white blossoms. I planted a Triple Crown Blackberry on our back patio winding around one of the pillars.  What a fun focal point. And, you can eat it too!  A toss of some acidic rich fertilizer for the last time this year and a layer of compost over the top gives them a boost and promotes healthy new growth for next years berries as well.

My two garden helpers, Casper and Mabes are on the prowl lurking around the bushes

as we go from spot to spot making sure they don’t miss out on anything.  Casper is getting up there in years, but still enjoys the garden. While we adopted Mabes, a six-year-old active cat about two months ago, hoping for a mouser, when in deed, again, another cats whose only interest is in the delectable food easy captured in her bowl, but chasing butterflies seem to be a favorite. As well as Casper, Mabes has keen typing skills (computer terrors) as well. She has been a fun addition to the little farm.

The last of the peas were harvested this morning.  Hot temperatures slowed up the crops enough to warrant a new crop in their place.  Pickling cucumbers will replace their spot after a good amendment of compost goes in.  In six weeks time we will be adding to the  pantry, dilly pickles, bread and butter pickles and some sweet gherkins.

Light pruning, weeding and harvesting every morning keep things under control and while these could be daunting at times if not kept under control, a little work in the morning goes a long way and brings peace to the soul.


Filed under Casper the Cat, Fruits from the orchard, Gardening, Goats, Life on the Farm

With the Emergence of Spring Everywhere, It’s Time to Plant!


Crocus are the fist to bloom!

Our long winters nap is over!  Although we still have those cold blistery winds, freezing temperatures, it’s time to start our spring garden chores.  The blank garden beds are starting to be amended, bulbs poking through the ground and plum tree buds are starting to swell.  Some of our first chores are to clean out the perennial beds from fallen and blown in leaves from autumn, prune the roses and apply a layer of mulch to the barren soil.  Our garden beds are turned, but not before adding plenty of compost, greensand, phosphate, and nitrogen. Once the beds have been amended they are carefully leveled out to take on their inhabitants for the spring months.  Peas, lettuce, spinach, brassica crops, fava beans and plenty of other cold hardy spring crops are put in at this time.  Keeping them moist so seeds germinate is very important, especially when the winds so easily dry them out.  We are fortunate in our zone 8 to start our gardens earlier than other colder zones.  When that first robin bird sings his song, the spring fever hits.  Pruning of fruits trees and a heavy spraying of dormant oil should be done before buds break.  We always find several praying mantis eggs while pruning and these are removed and placed in a protected spot in the garden before being coating with the tree oil.


Pop in some pansies around your flowering bulbs for more spring color!

It’s only a few weeks away before many of the spring bulbs begin to show color and so we always pop in some pansies for more color.  Once the roses begin to grow their bronze, tender spring leaves it’s time to give them a couple healthy handfuls of alfalfa meal to help them develop nice big blooms.  Be careful not to prune boxwood shrubs or other evergreen shrubbery to early in the freezing season or to late when its hot or they will burn.  We prune ours the end of February here.  When the forsythia blooms it’s time to apply pre-emergent  corn gluten to prevent weeds from germinating in established beds or lawns.  Not only will it keep weeds down but it will also give your plants a good spring feeding.

Our chickens love the days getting longer and begin to lay once again those beautiful shades of dark brown, tan, green and blue eggs.  They will scratch the earth and stretch out in the sun all day long until dusk when they return to the safety of their coop.  We couldn’t do our little farm without our chickens.  Their manure adds to the richness of the compost, the egg shells get planted around the rose bushes or with tomatoes at the time of planting and sometimes they get fed to the worms in the worm bins.  And once you have had a farm fresh egg you will never want a store bought again!  Besides, there is nothing more relaxing then watching these feathered friends running around the orchard doing what they do.

Today we will be planting onions around the perimeters of our raised beds, usually over five-hundred plants.  half of them being Walla Walla and others of red, yellow and white varieties.  I have always preferred the little plants over bulbs because they always do better, get bigger and I have less of them that get thick necks and go to seed rather then produce a bulb.  They will get a little extra nourishment from a side-dress of composted manure.  Always cut back some of the green tops and root system before transplanting.  This will help them get a better start!  They have a tendency to die back a little anyway, so why not hasten the process and let them get growing!


Casper is a little poser!

And we can’t forget to report on Casper the Perfect Cat!  After having teeth issues last summer and now no teeth (outside of two for decoration purposes only) he has gained 3 whopping pounds!  Not all of us would be happy about that!   He is on a special soft food diet, but after his repeated attempts to sneak down, and I mean sneak, low to the ground and all, to the neighbors to get his fix of hard food we now have to give him what he demands!  Hard Purina cat chow!

Corn Gluten,  Phosphate, Nitrogen, Alfalfa Meal Greensand

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Casper, Here Kitty Kitty

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It has been a little while since I have mentioned anything about Casper the Perfect Cat and I guess Casper has quit the following.  People have stopped in to see Casper and see what busy things he has been up to and I have received e-mails asking about him.  After all he is a sweet little guy.  So I thought I would give you the low down on his busy life.  Often times we have gardening classes at our place and Casper likes to get involved in the learning.  Getting ready for winter I covered my garden with protective row cover, of course, Casper came to the rescue and he became a row cover weight as he quickly makes a bed with the soft lettuce below.  Big Day!  Out in the sunshine keeping the crops warm.  Hard life for a cat on the farm!  He has been helping me type out a blogs….As you can see in the picture he quickly fell asleep, but it was the thought that counted. Over worked and never enough treats!    Another occasion, he spent many an hours sewing, or at least on the sewing table adjusting himself only once during the day when I seemed to bother him when I reached for the scissors he was laying on.  And to think, we thought he would be a good mouser.  HA!   One word that often comes from my husbands mouth is, “Worthless”.  He just doesn’t fully understand Casper.  Casper has always liked baskets, high, low, inside, outside, or where ever they are he always seems to find them.  Maybe he is pursuing a career in basket weaving.  He is just taking his time studying the weaves of the baskets.  Anyway Casper is still plugging along, with his many (or not so many) tasks of the day, ever so spoiled and getting his beauty sleep.  This March Casper turns 13.   I can’t really say he has slowed down when he was always taking he time, or should I say “taking a nap”.  Enjoy his pictures and stop in and say hi to the ‘Perfect’ cat, Casper.  He will win your heart over!


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