As it’s getting very dry here, we’ve been real busy watering gardens as well as weeding. It seems the weeds grow big even when we’re approaching drought. Our wonderful apprentice, Alisha, has been a Godsend, weeding like a fiend. One day she hand weeded between all the plants in the Central garden — two varieties of corn along with many varieties of bush beans. Our mama killdeer kept her “company” as she was hatching her eggs. She never did lay that fourth egg, but has hatched three babies and they’re running around, exact replicas of their mother — only three inches tall!

Our chicken coop hasn’t been cleaned out for two years so I asked Alisha if she wanted to tackle it for pay. I wouldn’t expect anyone to do it for free! She jumped at the chance and in two hours it was clean to the gravel. Then she took apart an old nest box that was unused and ugly. I spread out wood shavings and hung the feeder. Boy, what a huge improvement! In the morning I had to laugh when I opened the door to let the birds out. Now they have to hop up over the door sill, which is about 18 inches higher than the floor. All made it fine except Ashley’s big, fat duck, Biggie. He tried and tried, flapping his wings but never getting more than a couple inches off the ground. I had to get a board for him to walk up. I knew that would be a problem for weeks, so I got a landscaping block and put it in front of the doorway as a step for Biggie. Now he’s got it figured out and uses the step to hop outside.

It’s haying time now and we’re in full swing. Will cut our little field below the main garden and the field of reed canary grass at our friend’s house which we use for mulch and bedding. Alisha has done a little haying at her boyfriend’s farm and wanted to see how we do things. So when the little field was dry, I hopped on the tractor and showed her how we go first around the field to the left, throwing the backswath cut onto the next swath then after going around once, turning to go to the right, flipping them both together. She got the hang of it right away and has raked both fields nicely. Will even had her bale the reed canary grass field with our square baler and she did a great job. All the bales tied perfectly … until she ran out of twine on one side. But that was fixed easily and she finished the field. New skill learned!

I’m showing Alisha how to rake hay.
Alisha learns quickly!

I’m hand weeding and thinning our Early Pink popcorn in the Sand garden. Once that’s finished, I’ll side dress it with horse manure then mulch it. It’s doing good but the one row that didn’t get any manure this spring is short and yellow. More poo poo!

I took Alisha up to the Vince Shute Wildlife Preserve north of us to see the black bears. It’s amazing to view wild black bears so close as they come in to feed. We didn’t see as many bears as usual, but Alisha was amazed.

We enjoyed watching the bears, including this cub.

Today it’s more weeding and more haying. We’re hoping for rain but hope to get the fields baled before it comes. Because of the drought, the fields are not producing as much as in a normal year so we need quality hay to make up for it. And we’re hoping to get more fields to harvest as well. — Jackie


  1. No drought here but we’ve started watering since it is hot and not much rain forecast in the next 7 days. Pop-up showers could happen but they missed us today.
    Garden is looking good except for my pepper plants. Not sure if I should give them a dressing of 20-20-20 (or 19-19-19 as it is sold today). I was excited to discover my San Marzano tomatoes have set fruit.

    • We prefer side dressing with rotted manure, whether it’s horse, cow or chicken. But if you don’t have any, I would give them a fertilizer boost but I’d stick with 10-10-10 as hot and dry as it is. Then water it in well.

  2. While you all bake, we are drowning here in West Central Arkansas. This is the worst gardening season I have seen in the 40 years we have lived here. First, my tomatoes were too wet then the heat set in and they just gave up. My Magpie bush beans nearest the fence are running for their lives and at 8 feet, show no sign of coming down. The Hopi Gray came up, looked around, lost all “hope” and died, twice. I know you have had bad years also and this is why we preserve everything we can, even if we think we are overloaded, during the good years. Good luck with your growing season.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your flooding. The weather’s crazy nearly everywhere! It’s interesting at how plants adapt. You wouldn’t think a plant would change their habit to escape or adapt to bad weather but they do. Your poor Hopis! They can’t handle wet but then they’re a desert variety to start with. Hopefully next year will be better. You’re right about putting up everything you can on good years….just in case we get one like you’re getting this year. Or hail.

  3. Pretty much the whole state of Alaska south of the Brooks range is running drought and heatwave. Even south east which is rainforest is so short on rain that Ketichican where one of my daughters live is short of city water and hydro electricity. There are hundreds of wildfires burning, the are even having wildfire in the city of Anchorage! We have red flag fire danger for possible lightning the next two days. I have been hauling at least one 400 gal load of water for the garden every day and barely keeping up. Hope we both get rain soon. Nice bear, we had a grizz sniffing our storehouse the other night. Fortunately he left when my wife stepped out to see what the dog was barking.

    • Wow! And I thought it was just us…. There’s wildfires burning in Canada, just north of us and it’s smoky every morning here. We did have a good rain yesterday and it sure helped. Thank God!

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