Thursday, May 16, 2019

Miss Annie Kay!

Miss Annie Kay joined our family already more than a month ago! Oh! We are enjoying her, and marveling that we now have FOUR grandgirls!

Unlike her cousin, Annie’s gender was unknown until she arrived so there was a lot of guessing and claims of intuitive knowledge as the due date approached.

In the end, it was Kit who had guessed correctly (and I think her mom & dad had agreed with her…) Jon and Cait had been talking about the baby that was coming, but Kit didn’t really register any interest. We thought it was all going over her head. Then one day when Caitlin had bought donuts for the next day’s breakfast treat, Kit was running around the house saying, “Donuts! Donuts! Donuts!” Jon arrived home at that time, and Cait prompted Kit to tell Daddy what she was excited about. When Daddy said, “What do you want, Kit?” She replied, “A baby sister.”  Jon and Cait were shocked! She had not said a word about the baby though they had been prompting, especially after Baby Allie arrived. Then just when you think she’s going to talk about donuts, she, matter of factly, says she wants a sister.

When we were at the “any day now” stage of Cait’s pregnancy, Jess called to say he was coming up to visit. I texted back that I would tell Caitlin that she should have the baby the next day since he was going to be here. His reply was that it would be most convenient for his schedule and to please let her know. Ha!

We planned a pizza night for our family on the day Jess arrived, and when Cait came she said she was having contractions…but they had been coming and going for several days so she wasn’t concerned. However, as the evening went on she kept getting quieter and more distracted, and finally confessed that they seemed to be getting more serious. After a consult with the doctor, they were on the road to the hospital. Kit was going to stay with us, and Jess was quite pleased with their thoughtful consideration of his schedule!

Miss Annie Kay arrived the next morning, April 11, 8lbs. 20” long, and a near carbon copy of her big sister! Her middle name is for Jon’s mom, Kay, who, sadly, passed away only a month earlier. She had suffered from Alzheimers. So special for Annie to carry on her memory! Annie also has a great-grandma named Kay – that also adds to the special qualities of her name!

Great Grandma Kay

Great Grandpa Ivan

Ironically, Kit had moved into the more assertive stage of being a two-year-old in the weeks before Annie was born, so she was pretty vocal in her objection to the changes a baby sister brought to her life. She was pretty sure she did NOT want a baby sister anymore – but of course, that has passed. She now says to her sis, “Don’t worry Baby Annie. We will take care of you.”

Annie Kay is getting along in this world, getting more settled day by day, and looking more and more like her big sister did…lots of reddish hair, features so similar. In fact, Jon and Cait quiz each other comparing Kit baby pictures to Annie baby pictures, and even they don’t guess correctly every time!

It’s pretty fun to have the two year old version, and another newborn version to watch grow up into carbon copies. We can’t wait to see what personality is in that little heart and mind that will set her apart from her sister.

Our 2019 baby girls, Allie and Annie.

The whole gaggle of grandgirls! Emma, Allie, Annie & Kit.

We are loving this stage of life!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Farming Friday -- April 26, 2019

It’s the time of the year where I try not to look out at the field. When the leaves start coming out on the berries, they develop at such varied rates. One bush will be mostly green and the next, buds just starting to push out, canes mostly brown. In the early years, I would be pretty nervous that half of the bushes were dead, and we were going to have a very bad year. But then by May they would have caught up to each other and the field would be a beautiful uniformly arced green, at its prettiest.
Overlooking the field, you can see the variation in leaf development, and the areas where winter damage is greater.

This year, we know there are a lot of dead canes, and we are going to be seeing many more brown canes than we’d like. We have a cooler spring after the late winter, and all the growth is delayed. As the leaves started coming out, the cane mortality seemed very high – but we have been surprised to continue to see buds start to push out on canes we might have written off. It’s quite heartening! And a little shocking that canes in the same bundle might come to life at such varied times.
This row is well-leafed...

...while the row next to it is much farther behind.

Winter damage is so unpredictable! Right now we are grateful to see less mortality than expected. It remains to be seen if these little buds, still pushing out, will have the vigor to come to fruit. At least we are seeing the possibility!
This little bud is on the brown canes below, on the left.

The bush to the right is well-leafed.

Work continues in the 10 acres of planting that was cut down. Randy is rolling out wire down each row, and the workers are stapling it to the posts. Then the buried irrigation drip tape is pulled up out of the ground and hung on the wire. Green is beginning to show where the plants were cut off. They will need the irrigation as they regrow this year.

Another chore for this time of year is cane-burning. We don’t use fire, but an herbicide that desiccates the raspberry primocanes that have started growing. As you recall, our Meeker variety of raspberries grows primocanes one year, and those become the fruiting (floricanes) the second year.  If we did not burn back the primocanes, they would be so big as to interfere with harvesting the fruit on the floricanes. Also, they could become way too long for tying to our trellis. They could possible double back down to the ground. Besides the difficulty of managing that much cane, it is a problem for managing that much foliage in the floricane year. The canopy gets so dense that air movement is hindered, making the fruit more vulnerable to mold.

Cane-burning is a fussy operation as you want to avoid burning too high on the canes, or burning too early and having too much growth. We’re always glad when its time to just let them grow unhindered!

Fertlizer has been spread, both organic and commercial, on the berries, and the grass roadways. Soon it will be time to start prepping the ground for planting. Always much to do, and we are enjoying the glorious sunny days full of spring work. We have to keep at it because you can also see that little bitty flower buds are showing up on those canes too! Harvest will be here before we know it!

Center...a clump of tiny flower buds...future raspberries...God willing and the creek don't rise!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Farming Friday...What's New on the Farm...

When winter came in February, people asked us what we thought would happen to the raspberries. Would they be damaged from the late onset of cold and snow? We were optimistic in our responses, believing that there had not been any awakening or budding on the canes previously.

But our optimism was misplaced. Now that the growing season is finally here, it is becoming obvious that damage was done.

The most vulnerable canes are those that will have their first harvest – and we have 10 acres of these babies this year. Randy started hearing reports of other baby fields that had suffered much damage. I pruned my roses and was shocked at how many dead canes had to be cut out which caused me concern about the raspberries. Unbeknownst to each other, both Randy and I were out in the baby field checking to see if the buds there were dead.

And they were…most of them were dead. More than half of the canes do not have leaves on them.

When you do the calculations of cost: pay for the second tying, pay for sprays, pay for fertilizer, pay for harvest labor, pay for the harvester to travel the rows for a quarter of a crop…Well, it just makes no sense to keep them growing. So Randy made the hard decision to cut the canes off, rather than tie them up and go forward. No fruit from those 10 acres this year.
Pitiful amount of green...
What it looks like now...

The silver lining is that the primocanes are fine and will grow well. We will have a crop there next year – barring any other weather fiascoes.
The bright green is primocane growth.

Our raspberries are floricane bearing which means that each year they are growing two types of canes: the canes that wintered over will flower and bear fruit – floricanes -- and the canes that spring up from the roots of the plant -- primocanes, bear no fruit in that year, but harden over the winter to become the flowering, fruiting canes for the next year.

When it comes to our overly optimistic assessment of what the winter weather would do, I think we were not wrong that the canes were not far along into the growing mode. It was actually the desiccating NE wind that blew so strongly for a few days, and then continued moderately for so many more. It just dried all the moisture out of the canes. You can see they are wrinkled, almost shriveled, and break right off.
You can seen the wrinkling on these desiccated canes.

So far it looks like the acres of established canes fared better than the babies. There will still be damage, but not to as great an extent. I am relieved to see leaves pushing out all the way to the end of some canes. Winter damage usually shows from the end of the cane down toward the ground. Leaves at the end of the cane mean that the whole cane lives! Now we hope they just have the energy to continue to grow until fruiting!

And that next year, the wind doesn’t blow so hard and so long…and in February!

I’ve said it many times before and thankfully, it's still true…For the farmer, there’s always next year!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Winter-sated...I didn't think it could happen!

Not our current view, thank goodness!

Gloriously, the northeast wind stopped blowing this afternoon. Ah! It was lovely to wander outdoors and not have warmth whipped from your person by the icy bluster! And it was so quiet. And restful.

It is March, and there are piles of snow still present almost everywhere in our little community. Normally, piles of snow in March come from an anomalous snow day. This year, they are the remnants of a winter that came almost too late, in my opinion, and stayed a bit long.

January deceived me with its moderate weather. I had decided that this winter was going to be a non-event. Whenever that happens, I remember that year the local dealership, Snow Ford, decided they would have a contest to award a prize to the person who most closely predicted the first day of snow. See what they did there? Snow Ford? Haha! Of course, it was the first winter in several that it did not snow, not once. Oh the disappointment! Oh, the failed marketing…

So I expected to feel that kind of disapointment for the duration.

But February surprised us with bitter cold, icy, forceful winds, and snow – everything but ice. (We had enough of that last year!) I was delighted! I love winter weather – the drama, the cessation of activity, the coziness inside. And we had plenty of that…plenty.

The high winds before the snow kept the air clouded with blowing dirt!

The evening it started snowing we decided to go to town for dessert...not a great idea.

The goats were confused: "We got locked in the barn overnight and now we don't even know where we are!!! What happened to our pen!"

When you have a little fur as Rosie and the windchill is 0, you have to wear clothes, even if you hate them.

And we still are having plenty of cold. It is March and we have had wind chills of 17 degrees. We had a whole month of February winter without one Chinook wind – the kind that quickly warms to the 50’s and you can watch the snow piles shrink before your very eyes! In fact, the ground is still frozen. As I said, the snow piles remain. You couldn’t work up dirt if you wanted to. We could certainly use one of those Chinook winds about now.

The wind made a mess of the pruned out canes.

Once the snow melted, there were drifts of dirt left.

We might get another skiff of snow like this tomorrow...

I can’t believe it finally happened, but I am winter-sated and I have a little cabin fever.  I’m actually looking forward to spring, and outdoor activity – which is saying something for me.

Looks like it still may be a couple weeks off before temperatures return to seasonal norms, with some messy rain and mud in between, but for once I will say, I am ready for spring!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Miss Allie Eileen!

Today, we went out in the windy, snowy cold because we just NEEDED to see our newest little granddaughter, Allie Eileen! After all, it had been a couple of days!

She arrived almost two weeks ago, January 30, to her proud dad and mom, Dillon & Tiffany, and big sister, Emma Pearl.

We’ve been waiting with bated breath for a few weeks as there were signs that she was ready to arrive much earlier. But the signs would come and go. We’d be certain that the day had arrived, ready to pick up Emma to stay here, only to have to temper our excitement when everything calmed down again.

And so it went until the day before the scheduled c-section. Emma came to our house the night before as Mommy & Daddy had an early check-in at the hospital. We were so excited to meet her baby sis the next day. We knew Emma would have a sister, but we didn’t know what her name would be.

Well, we didn’t, but Emma thought it should be DeeDee.

As God is so often gracious beyond our expectations, Tiffany really did go into labor at midnight! The next morning when her doctor arrived to perform a c-section, he instead got to deliver 9lb. 4oz. Allie Eileen. There were none of the problems that led to the c-section with Emma, and a much, much better recovery for Tiffany!

If Allie had waited just 12 hours longer, they would never have known that Tiff could have a birth without complications! God knows! She came at JUST the right time!

And she is little sweetheart! I was surprised that she wasn’t a carbon copy of Emma in her looks. Allie has dark hair, and quite a bit of it. Emma was bald with blond fuzz. Allie’s eyes aren’t as round and wide open as Emma’s. It seems to me that Allie looks more like her dad did as a baby. Though, as the days go by, I do see more Emma, and Tiffany.

It doesn’t matter who she looks like! She’s going to be her own little person – already is: content until she realizes that her tummy is empty, and then it’s no holds barred expressing her distress. Oh, we can’t wait to get to know her well!!

Emma is pretty proud to be the big sister/helper. Apparently, her favorite task to observe diaper changes and rate whether the mess is a “doozy” or less. That’s our Emma! Initially, Emma would correct us when we called her sister Allie, as she was quite committed to her chosen name of DeeDee. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for her to realize she had no vote on it so she might as well call her Allie!

So we are blessed again with a granddaughter, who we love dearly already. It will be wonderful to get to know her and enjoy her contribution to the family. We are grateful, and thrilled!

Monday, December 31, 2018

The time has come...

When I came down the stairs this morning, I felt it. The magic of Christmas is gone. All the trappings remain, at my house, but the magic of anticipation and the satisfaction of celebration have passed. It still looks pretty, but it’s not magical anymore.

It was a wonderful season for me, and though the usual melancholy of Christmas Past has set in, the memories of magic remain. 

Now it’s time to get the boxes out and carefully pack away the baubles and beauty, the sentimental and the sparkly. Their magic will return next year.

In the meantime…

I hope your Christmastime was full of love and happy family time!

About Me

Needing an outlet for various thoughts rattling in my head, I've created two blogs -- One about my real life ( and one where I can vent. (