I was standing by the cow corral gate, waiting for Will to come with the tractor and another big round bale of hay when I heard this croaking sound up in the sky. My eyes popped wide open. It couldn’t be! It sounded like … yes, it was a sandhill crane pair, flying up from the south. Our creek and beaver ponds aren’t even thawed out yet so that was a huge surprise. We’ve seen a pair of trumpeter swans and some Canada geese. But the cranes usually wait to come a little later, when actual grass is showing in the pastures. How uplifting that was!

I’m about done planting tomatoes and peppers and they’re coming up nicely. I had to replace the covers on two of our little indoor greenhouses as the plastic had photo-degraded, even when kept indoors all the time. Last year, I didn’t need to use them as Mittens didn’t bother trying to get into the flats. But Buffy is another thing! We need to keep them zipped up tight as she thinks they are her special kitten toys. It won’t be long before I start to transplant the peppers into their Styrofoam coffee cups. Will has been working in the new greenhouse, caulking the windows and putting spray foam into all the larger cracks. Once I get flats transplanted, they’ll have to go out there because there’s not much room inside now.

Getting ready to transplant peppers, Will is busy tightening up the new greenhouse to make heating it more efficient.

Our granddaughter, Ava, is still enjoying her riding lessons and is now riding without stirrups and doing patterns in the arena. Then, the other day, she told her dad she wanted to build a desk for her bedroom. Not go buy one, you understand, but build one. (Now who does that sound like?) So, Dad took her out to his stockpile of boards, and they chose material to fit the design Ava had drawn and they set about putting the desk together. Now, all that’s left is some sanding and staining and the future heirloom will be finished and put into place. I’m very proud of both of them!

Ava is busy helping build her very own desk.
Someone is rightfully proud of her desk!

Last year, I bought an on-sale amaryllis at WalMart, which bloomed one kind of small, yet pretty pink and white flower. After blooming, I treated it just like a house plant. Finally, the leaves kind of died back but I kept watering it occasionally. Then, green shoots started to appear. I gave it a dose of fertilizer and started watering more frequently. Then, last week, the blooms started opening. There are four of them this year! I’d never, before had luck getting one to rebloom. Maybe I’ve discovered the key? I know I’ll see if I can get that one and the more expensive plant, I got from Breck’s to rebloom next year.

It was worth it to keep this cheap amaryllis going. What beautiful blooms!

— Jackie


  1. So happy that you and Will are getting better. Ava is an inspiration…like her family…in her genes!

    • That’s what we’re saying, although her brother, Mason, is a computer, IT whiz and we can barely make phone calls on our smartphones.

  2. Ava sounds like a very special girl (if we can still say that).
    My Amarayllis bloomed this year too what is with that.

    • Sure we can! Isn’t it so much fun when something unexpected, and beautiful happens like those blooms?

  3. Glad to see Ava is learning the value of having “skin in the game” and as well as sweat equity. And none of this “can’t do it because she’s a girl” nonsense.
    The anything-can-be-a-cat-toy phase does lessen over time (thankfully). But no matter how old a cat gets, there is always the chance something catches his/her eye (shiny or not) and s/he puts it to the toy test.
    Tater planting is this Friday, couple weeks later than last year. Garlic we planted last fall appears to have over-wintered well. It was lightly covered with straw and volunteer leaves.
    Need to do a bit more clean-up of the asparagus bed (sticks, the weeds that evaded us last fall).

    • Yup! Hey, I rode bareback broncs in rodeos, posing as a young man, as women weren’t allowed to compete. I never went along with that “can’t do it because she’s a girl” bull, anyway!
      So nice to hear you are again gardening. We’re a month away from that, but weeks go by fast. I’m excited!

  4. The desk sure is beautiful! What a proud moment!
    We haven’t had cranes yet, but the swans and geese have been coming in scores.
    I planted 90 tomatoes, and 20 never came up, about 40 seeds. I was disappointed, but pulled seeds and put them in a baggie to see if they are just slow, or dead. They were from a few years ago, but I kept them in the freezer as you and Jan have taught me. But perhaps they just expired for some strange reason.

    All my others are beginning to grow true leaves, which has me excited! I planted moonglories, which I love, and already transplanted them over a week ago. My morning glories and marigold are starting to get their true sets of leaves. I’m just tickled pink how well the seeding has been going. Your dirt recommendation has been the best thing.

    Today I embarked a new homesteading adventure: lard. I’ve had fat in the freezer for about a year, but I just hadn’t been able to get around to spending the day tending it. Today I decided too, and used two methods to render. And I’ll say this, I will always grind and put my fat in a strainer above the bottom of the pot! It is so much simpler, and no real way for the lard to turn dark or get burnt. I’ve lived and learned, but we will just use the darker, more porky lard for pot pies and potatoes and dumplings!

    • We all learn every single day. I love doing lard and love that mine is white and sweet. So sorry your 20 seeds never came up. Sometimes we just have to wait longer; some of my peppers didn’t come up after a month. And today I see two tiny plants emerging from the soil. We don’t always know the “whys” but that’s part of the challenge.

  5. I’m in Lower Michigan and we’ve had robins for a couple of weeks. I also saw a pair of cardinals. My daffodils are starting to bloom. The garden is almost ready to start planting, I’m going to try a 16 foot cattle panel and fold it over and make it U shaped to grow peas on. We will see how it works. They say you can grow more in a smaller space this way and it is easier to pick the produce as it hangs down. Ava’s desk is a one of a kind – that is the way it should be to fit the person.

    • I’ve used stock panels to trellis up many crops. I think you’ll like this way of growing upward. I love the way Ava designed and helped build her own desk. So cool!

  6. I like the desk, but I’m extremely impressed with Ava!!!! So glad she has her parents who are already teaching her self-reliance. How many children do you see in the world that want such a noble thing?? Surely in her life will greatly affect others for the same purpose.

    • We were impressed too! Most kids would just say “Mom and Dad, I want you to buy me a new desk! Now!” We’re hoping she’ll grow into our seed business to let it grow into generations.

  7. She did a wonderful job on that desk!!! That is great.

    Love the Amarayllis!! Just beautiful. An Amish lady used to put hers in the corner of her garden for the summer with lots of manure then dug it up. By Christmas it was beautiful!

    • I’ve heard that’s a good way to summer amaryllis bulbs. I thought I’d give it a try this year too.

  8. I love it when kids are willing to put in the effort to make something themselves instead of wanting to go buy it . Ava should be very proud of herself . Her dad did a beautiful job building it . Your flower is beautiful .

    • I think so too. Ava was right in there, helping Dad pick out the boards and then putting the whole thing together. It’ll be a treasure for years!

  9. It’s so nice when the birds start returning. I hope you miss that blizzard the weather channel is talking about! Ava’s desk looks really nice. She is already on her way to being self sufficient:) The amaryllis is just gorgeous. Glad you and Will are healing and back to doing what you love. Prayers for you both.

    • I’m hoping we’ll miss that big snow storm too. I hear the Dakotas are getting hammered and it’s headed our way. But, this time of the year, we know it won’t last long. Thank you for your prayers!!

  10. So good to a future homesteader at work. Wonderful news about the Sandhill Cranes. We had a flock of about 40 winter in one of our fields this year in Texas. I just love to hear them talk. So glad Spring is on its way to you ! Take care and don’t ya’ll work to hard !

    • How cool to have a flock of cranes winter over near your place. They sure have a unique voice. Not exactly songbirds, but welcome anyway! We’re slowly building up to doing more every day.

    • Ours are slowly arriving. Will saw seven in a tree, in our backyard the other day. We’re so excited!!!

  11. Oh, the joy of birds flying and plants blooming! And then, there is Miss Ava with her efficient and well-designed desk. Exceptional week. Blessings.

    • We’re so tickled with Ava and her desk! I well remember being her age and helping my dad build things. And I guess it stuck because I still love building.

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