I’ve been transplanting peppers and tomatoes for weeks now and the greenhouse is starting to fill up with Styrofoam cups of plants. And boy-oh-boy do they ever love that! They’re growing like weeds, nice and stocky, green plants. I’ve only got two more flats left to do, then I’ll be starting in at planting some of our squash, melons, and pumpkins. We direct seed most of these guys but also start a few to ensure we have plenty of mature seed. Sure, you can eat squash and pumpkins that aren’t quite mature, but when you want to save seed, you need to make sure those seeds are nice and plump, ensuring germination. I start these right in 16-ounce Styrofoam cups or 4-inch square plastic pots, so their roots have plenty of room. The ones you see at garden centers are usually much older than 3-4 weeks old, often even having blooms. But those plants are stressed from being root-bound and seldom go on to produce well. The same thing goes with the cabbage family. Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage should be started no sooner than four weeks before they’re going to be planted outdoors. Broccoli and cauliflower, especially, resent being root-bound. In retaliation, they produce only a “button head,” a thumbnail-sized head. Broccoli sometimes will go on to produce side shoots if that tiny head is cut off. But often it doesn’t. So in between planting my melons, pumpkins, and squash, I’m also planting my broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seeds.

I’m really happy at how the transplants look in the greenhouse.

I’m really excited! For an early Mother’s Day gift, Will got me a compact Kubota tractor, complete with a loader (to be delivered later) and a rototiller! I’m talking about a new tractor. I’ve never owned a new tractor in my life so I kind of feel embarrassed and overwhelmed. But with my bad knees, this will allow me to do so much more on our homestead, as I can actually get on the tractor, which I can’t with our other tractors.

I am now the proud owner of a Kubota tractor.

Will’s even building a step, which will mount below the floor to make climbing up even easier. I’m so thrilled to be able to do more work than before. And, beside this, we’re also going to our annual Mother’s Day excursion to Byrns Greenhouse to buy flowers! Whoopee!

It seems that winter is over. The grass is greening up and the beaver pond is ice-free.

— Jackie

47 COMMENTS

  1. You know my saying for years has been a chainsaw is a girl’s best friend! However, I could be wrong, it could be a tractor, or maybe both!!! Another vlog I watch, the farmer just gave his wife a new tractor, like you! On a homestead you just have to have the right tools to do all the jobs. My husband has his excavator, and I have “my” skidloader that he uses in his general contracting business all the time, and so very often here on our mountain property. I like loading with firewood and bringing up to the house. Tools are a must, and keeping them maintained is a must. I’m so glad for you, Jackie. Here on our mountain recently we’ve had 4 trespassers in the last 2 weeks, and one of them (we don’t know who they are) broke into a locked, unfinished, unoccupied house on our property, stealing $1500 in tools, chargers, and batteries. My husband and I have talked seriously that these times will ONLY get worse. Technology is available to find out what’s up here, even the food available from our orchard and garden, and people will be coming to steal out of their hunger. They did it in Germany. We’re putting in a security gate. Most will not want to walk up a steep mountain, a half mile to rob, and now we have to put locks on our doors. We’ve been here 15 years without locking anything. I think about your next door new neighbor and hope you’re safe. We have firearms, and being 10 minutes from 88,000 pop. city and major highway, I-5, in far north California, I may need to learn how to use one.

    • Wow, I’m so sorry you’ve had thefts! Luckily, our new neighbor is not a neighbor, just raw swamp land, which is pretty much unbuildable. And it’s a mile and a half from our house. My oldest son, Bill, had thefts from his storage building and put a big round bale in front of the garage type door during the winter and game cameras, year-around. No more thefts!
      As I get older, I value equipment to do the heavy work I just can’t do any more. And I really love the new Kubota!!

  2. Happy Mother’s Day! The plants are looking fabulous. Congratulations on the tractor. Will certainly got you the perfect gift! Enjoy being outside and working. It is the most fun:)

    • It sure is!! I love being able to be outside for longer and longer periods, being comfortable without coats and boots. So very nice!!

  3. Happy Mothers day Jackie. You know as well as anyone. As we age we need to work SMARTER Not HARDER !. Good for you. I have tried to send you a picture of a hand crank accessory that I think is some sort of juicer. But it never seems to get to you.

    • God has, indeed, given me lots and lots of blessings through life! And I deeply appreciate every one.

  4. Happy Mother’s Day Jackie!

    You will love your tractor. We bought a 35 hp 4×4 tractor with a mower and loader 16 years after we bought our property. It was a mistake to wait that long. You will find more uses for it that you can imagine. Super handy, maneuverable, and it can go places the big ones can’t!

    • Yep, that’s the reason we got a small tractor as our big “real” farming tractors can’t get into tight spots like the Kubota can. That way, I can till around pumpkins and squash, until the plants run wildly, as well as between big patches and in corners we couldn’t do before. We didn’t do it before as we wanted to be sure all our land was paid off and we were debt free. This one, we’ll work hard to pay off as soon as possible.

  5. Happy Mother’s Day, Jackie. So glad you are getting a tractor. I am waiting for my seeds in the mail and can’t wait to plant my pumpkin, squash and flowers, too. That was my Mother’s Day gift to myself. Have a great one.

    • Thanks Jan. Our family just spent Mother’s Day at the Byrns greenhouse, buying flowers and enjoying each other. So nice!

  6. Happy Mother’s Day, Jackie.
    What a wonderful gift from Will and couldn’t be more perfect for you. Nice Will is building the step too.
    Looks like Spring has sprung there and love all those starts in the greenhouse. They are looking so good and lots of good veggies in coming days.
    Now that it’s warmed up here I’ve been able to plant quite a few starts and direct seeding some things as well. More to get out and get planted. Cabbage, cauliflower and celery is coming up nicely and see little green shoots on the potatoes as well.
    I hope you and Will have lots of fun shopping for flowers. What a fun adventure for Mother’s Day.

    • It really was, Cindy! It was one of the best days I’ve spent in a long time. Smiles on everyone’s faces.

  7. Happy Mother’s Day! I have a little TC30 New Holand tractor which plows snow and I’m hauling split wood to the shed while I wait for things to dry out. Last nite was the first without freezing temps. Unfortunately my wife is not getting around well enough to do outside work! My thirty tomato plants are about a foot tall so I’ll start the wood stove in the green house and transplant to grow bags this week. Tomato’s are too chancy outdoors here in the copper basin Alaska. I have a few cole plants started three weeks ago that I’m going to pot in the green house, a second planting last week for the hoop houses Mid May and will start outside cabbage etc this week. We still have snow on most of the garden this year!

    • I hear you. Ours just left last week, and that was late, even for us. I’m just starting my cabbage family plants as well as squash, melons and pumpkins. I’ll bet you’ll enjoy transplanting those tomato plants. I wish I only had thirty! Don’t tell Will, but I think we have something like 300…..

  8. Congrats on the tractor-looks like you got a little mud on the tires already, who doesn’t like being in the dirt. Will knows the way to his woman’s heart alright. Happy Mother’s Day as well.

    • Yup! And recently, Will demonstrated tilling with it in our Sand Garden to a friend. It was fun watching that soil fluff up! Now I want MY turn.

  9. Great congratulations on your beautiful new Kubota! That is such a wonderful gift! Your baby seedlings look wonderful! You have given me food for thought on seedlings getting root bound and then don’t go on to produce well. That may very well be my problem.

    • It happens to a whole lot of folks. We desperately want to plant, plant, plant and if we buy plants, we go for the nice, big ones. Then we learn that isn’t such a great idea with the cabbage family. Been there; done that!

  10. Good job Will! Wishing you a super happy mothers day! I feel like your a younger more knowledgeable sister after all these years! You have tought me so much and what better time to thank you! Reader since I’m not sure when but before you moved to your current property. Blessings to you and very sorry to read of Spencer’s loss. Great companion!

    • He sure was. We’ll miss him for a long time. I’m glad I could help you throughout the years. I enjoy that so much!

    • Thanks Diana! I keep wanting to rub a dab of dirt off here and there, then remember it’s a TRACTOR, for heaven’s sake!!!

  11. We have had a Kabota with tiller , loader and mower for a number of years now. One if the best investments we ever made. You are going to love it and will find uses for it you can’t even imagine now. Congratulations. Great move 👍

    • I’m sure you’re right. Even now, I’m thinking of all the things I can do with it, from pulling steel fence posts to hauling manure and mulch.

  12. Jackie, my condolences on Spencer’s passing. I have enjoyed your stories about his antics over the years and teh complete joy he took in running around outside “helping” on the homestead. It is so difficult to lose a companion and family member (and they sure are!). I wish all of you peace and comfort from the love and memories. I don’t know why their lifespans have to be so short when ours are so much longer. But you sure gave Spencer a good doggy life.

    Congratulations on the new tractor. How exciting. I expect to see photos of you around and the homestead on that tractor.

    Your family Easter dinner sounded like a fun day. I would have loved to see a photo of your lamb and bunny cake. Sounds very creative adn I bet the kids loved it.

    All the best to you and your family. Blessings for a wonderful spring and productive gardens. They will sure be needed this year.

    • We had Spencer’s funeral last week, as the soil had finally thawed out. Then I planted a bunch of wildflower seeds on and around it. I know we’ll miss him for a long time. Even the cat, Buffy, who was Spencer’s little sister, playing and sleeping with him, is trying to get Hondo to allow the same with her. So far, he’s not a fan but is slowly letting her box his tail and leap at his sides. He’s a gentleman and if she gets too rough, he just walks away.
      I wish I’d have taken pictures of that lamb cake, but it was nearly gone before it dawned on me. Darned!! Next year for sure.

  13. Happy Mother’s Day Jackie, if anybody deserves a new tractor, it’s you. Please lots of pictures of grand babies.

  14. Happy Mothers Day Jackie! I hope you find all the flowers you can handle on
    Sunday!
    I have been working on moving all my plants to the green house this week, but it’s been a bit chilly in there, so I’ve been being the plants back and forth every day. Makes for a fun nighttime routine.

    I’m making space to start all the brassicas adnd some squash. Most I will direct sow as well, but I gotta get some coming up. My grandma likes to grow a pumpkin plant in her yard at her apartment so I love to be able to do that for her.

    I’m so glad that you post pictures of the plants! I was feeling as though mine didn’t look so great, but they look just like yours! I haven’t punched off the weaker of the two tomatoes yet. I probably should do that. I always just feel so guilt for killing a very healthy plant!

    I just can’t begin to tell you how tickled pink I am at the growth rate and germination of all these seeds I’ve planted! I sure couldn’t thank you enough for teaching me to be a better green thumb!

    • Aww, you’re welcome. We did get quite a haul and my hanging baskets of petunias are hanging from the front porch. It’ll still get cold some nights but I’ll just haul them inside at night if I need to.
      I, too, hate to kill baby plants. Heck, I can barely thin carrots!!! I break out into a sweat after 15 minutes! But I know if I don’t, the carrots will resemble match sticks instead of vegetables. Same with those “extra” tomato seedlings. Will can’t even watch me remove them!

      • Glad it’s not just me. It’s in my agenda this week to kill off the other one. I just hope I make the right choice!

  15. My hubs has been talking about a tractor for as long as we have been talking about a farm. Last fall, we purchased 20 acres in need of TLC. I told him we could get the tractor when we could pay cash for it. I didn’t want interest and payments. Well, reality set in that we are not as young as we used to be. LOL. So, we found a tractor that required no money down and is interest free for 84 months (I will get it paid off sooner. LOL). I relented. I am so glad I did. My hubs is the happiest I have ever seen him and it is propelling things forward on the farm so much faster. Compromise.

    • That tractor will make all the difference in your new homestead!! I, too, hate debt. But at 75, I know without one, I won’t be able to do heavy things I always have done. We’ll get ours paid off way early too as it’ll be much nicer to drive around if we don’t owe on it!!

  16. Tractor races being held on what weekends lol.
    I never thought much of blossoms on plants at the garden center until your blog post.
    Looks like I’ll be planting early this year – will be almost 90!! on Tuesday. Went from mostly 50s/low 60s to 80s. It might be a challenging growing season again. Already have asparagus up despite it not being all that sunny and warm. At least no frosts once it started popping up.

    • Two tater plants have appeared. Planted zukes, summer squash, and cuke today. Only direct seeded a few of each but we eat what we grow.
      Morel fever has hit – found 7 small grays this morning and of course the fever required more hunting this afternoon. Wasn’t surprised we didn’t find any more as the ones we found are in the southern most part of our property. Good exercise however and I enjoy hunting.

      • I absolutely love everything morel!! I love hunting them, picking them and, of course, eating them. We have very few here, but I keep an eye open, hoping the few we do have will propagate, as I won’t pick any rare specimens.
        I think this year, we’ll go from winter to summer, too. But I’ll bet we have a surprise frost thrown in after it gets to 80. We have to be vigilant!!!

  17. Happy Mother’s Day Jackie! The tractor looks to be the perfect thing for you. You’ve got a great husband!

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