What’s going on at our place this April: so much sweetness!

Herbs that will be sold at my plant sale at the end of this week! πŸ™‚

Gentle Readers. My lovely folks. I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago.

This is how I began it:

Spring has sprung! πŸ™‚ One season blows into another around here, with barely enough time to catch one’s breath. We had very little snow this winter. I think little Mack made a snowman only once. For a couple of months now, we’ve had unusually warm temperatures, and you can almost feel the trees and the plants holding their collective breath: “. . . is it time?”

I can hear them talking among themselves. I am that much in tune with the flora and fauna around here.

Cherry tree: Remember that last time, a few years ago . . . it was so warm. It was too creepy-early for that kinda warm, but it seemed so perfect to bloom then, anyway. It think it was March. I wouldn’t have bloomed so early, but those blueberry bushes led me astray.

Apricot tree: It was March. It was hot in March! So stinkin’ wrong. But this is April, so don’t be so paranoid. Heck. It’s nearly May!

Cherry tree: Of course we all took advantage of that warm snap. How could we not? I can’t exactly stop my buds from opening, ya know. When they get their little pea-sized brains around the idea of blooming, there’s no stopping them. Buds!!

Apricot tree: (shaking branches) Gosh, what a calamity that was! I didn’t have a single piece of fruit on me that year! I KNEW we shouldn’t have been blooming so early. I wept. I’m an apricot tree, not a weeping fig! The embarrassment.

Cherry tree: Yep, we all burst into the most glorious blooms EVER–especially, well, me, hullo!–and then—wham! Bam! A hard freeze around . . . April 21, I believe.

Apricot: And snow! I got frostbite!

Cherry tree: Those sorry blueberry bushes that everybody makes such a big deal about really paid for it in the roots, too!

After I amused myself writing the above scenario, on a lovely, warm spring day,Β the hammer dropped and the temperatures plummeted, down around freezing again, for a few days. My friends who are also farmers texted me worriedly: “Freeze warning tonight! Better move your plants to the house!”

Mack and I moved the thousands of little plants that I was pampering out in the hoop house, to the house, where we tucked them at every available window, for the weekend. Boy, was I glad that we did this!

Because the next day, this happened.


The plastic on my hoop house, already getting weak on the folds, and already patched along one side (a constant worry, when the wind blew) “unzipped” along one fold and popped right open–like a ripe melon. I was home on a Sunday morning to offer comfort and a constant supply of hot tea and warm oil to dear Amalia, who was suffering from an ear infection. I heard this sound coming from outside that, at first, I thought was hail hitting the car in the driveway. I looked out the window.

It was raining and blowing, but I didn’t see any hail. What I did see froze the blood in my veins.

It was that huge sheet of plastic, torn, and popping and snapping in the wind! I burst into instant tears. The wind was blowing 20-30 mph, and I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it–the wind, certainly, but also that sheet of plastic. It was all going to rip off.

Mack and I ran out and dragged big sheets of plastic–in the wind, it wasn’t easy–over the beds of greens and flowers in my hoop house, and anchored them as well as we could with bags of potting soil, bricks, and anything else we could get our hands on. Meanwhile, the wind whipped that huge sheet of plastic so wildly and loudly that we couldn’t hear each other yelling above the din. It was a terrifying sound, and so loud that several times we had to cover our ears with our hands.

The next morning, all was quiet.


We had already decided to put a new piece of plastic on this structure in the fall (we knew it was time) but this storm forced the issue, to be sure. For the summer, we are going to experiment with leaving the plastic off, and installing a big piece of shade cloth on top of it, instead. The cloth will protect the crops inside from the wind and storms, and will provide a much cooler work space for me this summer.

This idea is coming from my super-smart mentor Gene, so I’m betting it is a great one. πŸ™‚

I learned something from this experience, Gentle Readers. Sometimes, you can hold onto something you love too tightly. I love this hoop house so much.Β It is a protected growing space, and here in Nebraska, a protected growing space, for somebody who loves gardening as much as I do, is very precious, indeed. But. It’s only a hoop house. It’s only a thing.

When I think about the trials and struggles other folks are going through, I feel a little embarrassed that I can cry over something like this. It could have been so much worse.

But we won’t go there.

Cherry tree: FOR PETE’S SAKE!

Apricot: Uh-huh. I called it! Why does nobody every listen to me??

Cherry: Did you see what happened to that hoopy structure-thingy that she spends all her time in?

Apricot: *snif* She oughta spend more time in the orchard, anyway. When was the last time she gave us all a good pruning, anyhow?

*sigh* Oh, Nebraska, Nebraska. Your weather never fails to amuse/confound/puzzle/distress me. And the fruit trees? Also confused. The hoop house? Desperately confused.

You might think, since it has been so long since I’ve written, that I’ve fallen into a little crevice in the earth’s surface (*cough* or a big one), and have been swallowed up forever.

But no. You might be wrong on this count. I am scrambling, that’s all. My plant sale is next weekend, so I’m going to be scrambling until that exciting event is a fait accompli. Afterwards, I hope to be back to a regular blog posting schedule again! #hopespringseternal!

I have been busy and distracted and delighted by goings-on at our place, and haven’t done much sitting at the computer in the past few weeks, but I have missed you dear folks, and I am determined to indulge in doing several catch-up posts, stat! Let’s get started!

My darling daught is having a baby

Oh, my. I wish you could have seen Bethie’s face when she and Saia announced this very exciting development at Christmastime. I can still see her face in my mind’s eye, and I will forever: it was the sweetest face ever. Sweet. Very happy. A little uncomfortable. Tender. And brimming with joy.

And. She looked like she was about 10.

Bethie is blogging about her pregnancy, and it is fun and personal and heart-wrenching to read her observations. You can pop over here to her blog, if you wanna, and check out a photo of her first ultrasound. πŸ™‚ Technology, eh? Amazing!! I can study the chubby cheeks and the little nose of my newest grandchild in those photos!

I have four grandies already–I am so blessed!–two boys, Emmett and Wesley, and two girls, Anya and Eleanor–so this sweet babe will be the tie-breaker. I’m trying to figure out how to wipe my schedule clean for about a month at the end of August. πŸ™‚ So I can assist. (I’ll not get in the way, kids, I promise!) And nuzzle. And bond. And smell that sweet little cherub on the back of the neck.

*Phew* I am so excited!! I. Can’t. Wait.

The piggies went to freezer camp.

Here’s what my piggies looked like, the night before we loaded them into the truck. They were expectantly waiting for evening snack time, bless them. πŸ™

I learned a ton about this process, Gentle Readers, and it is this: Pigs are easy to raise and fun to work with, but THEY DO NOT LIKE TO BE BOSSED INTO A BIG STOCK TRUCK, NO SIR.

Neither do they relish being pushed onto a concrete ramp to the locker the next morning, nope. πŸ™

*oh* No matter how everybody warned me about becoming attached to these two critters, I definitely became very fond of them. How could I not? They watched for me every morning–indeed, every time they were awake. They liked it when I talked to them and scratched their rough, hairy backs. They came when I called them. They looked up at me admiringly when I hit a home run on the quantity and quality of snacks out on the veranda.

So it did hurt my heart (I’ll admit it) to get closer and closer to the locker date, but it had to be done. And it clenched at my heart to force them into the truck at bedtime, when I knew they just wanted to snuggle into the hay in their lean-to and have a long snore. And it definitely made me sad to force them out of the truck the next morning, at the locker, even though the folks who run the locker are the nicest people you can imagine, and friends of mine from our Farmer’s Market days, and I knew that the event in question would be done with kindness and in a humane way.

But. And you’ll likely wonder how I can admit this, at this juncture. But. The pork chops that we had for supper a couple weeks later were THE BEST PORK CHOPS I’ve ever eaten in my life. No kidding, folks. So. Good. Honestly, I didn’t know that pork could taste that good.

So there’s that.

We have a orphaned squirrel, two chinchillas, a mammoth tadpole, and two bitty frogs living in the house.

My Dad is the Cutest, isn’t he? Here he is, sharing the crumbs from his rhubarb crisp with our orphaned baby squirrel, Tommy. I can’t decide which one is the cuter of the two. πŸ™‚

It’s true. In one week’s time, we adopted a baby squirrel, two chinchillas, two little bitty frogs, and four ducklings. The tadpole we’ve had for months. More about all these later. I promise.

New ducklings . . .

Precious, Lucky, Frollo, and I-can’t-remember-his-namesis.New ducklings.

. . . are as precious as they are stinky.

More on that subject later. πŸ™‚


–is this weekend! Eeep! I’m so excited!

My patient and longsuffering garden and business mentor Gene, with one of the BIG tomato plants he raised for me.

If you are in the area, check out all the details on my farm page here.Β 

I will have thousands of heirloom tomato plants, strange and wonderful pepper plants, scented geraniums, edible flower plants, and hundreds and hundreds of herbs. So many varieties, you won’t believe it! Also, my mom is bringing warm homemade donuts (limited quantities!) and my sister Mollie and my daughters are all bringing baked goods. Little Mack will be serving his delicious herb iced tea.

It’s gonna be so much fun!! And it’s coming up fast, this Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13.

That’s all, Gentle Readers. I’m back! I have lots more to share, but it’ll have to wait for another day.

Thank you for popping in. I love ya, I do!



9 thoughts on “What’s going on at our place this April: so much sweetness!

  1. William

    Wishing I could make the plant sale. I actually went out and bought some herbs yesterday and started a new herb garden under the window where my computer desk sets so I can keep an eye on them. I did not watch when Maria extended the chicken pen so that it included my herb garden. The chickens loved them. I needed some fresh rosemary a couple of days ago only to find I no longer had any. Oh well, I do have more fresh eggs that I have recipes to use them.
    Have all those little critters taken over the guest bedroom?
    Sorry to hear about the hoop house but I am sure there are many nice adventures ahead of you as you re-group before fall. I am looking forward to reading all about it.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Oh nooo, William, now that is precisely why I’ve got fences around my gardens, and also why I keep the doors to my hoop house blocked–to keep my hungry, inquisitive chickens out! Chickens can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time, especially chickens like my Icelandics (and I think your Mexican chickens must be close cousins, they look so much the same!) with their talent for foraging! AND hey, no, the guest room is still ready for you and Maria for your next trip! πŸ™‚ The critters stay out in the sunporch so we can keep an eye on them! πŸ™‚

  2. lynda holliday

    Amy, I hope your sale goes well! We have sent several pigs to freezer camp, and you are right the pork chops are to die for! We can’t seem to sell them, so we bartered with the Ozark Raceway, they get two pigs and we get t shirts and season passes the the races! And yet we will still have 2 pigs left to fill our freezer next year! Enjoy the nice weather!

  3. Johanna

    Hi Amy, thank you for the lovely post! So interesting as always.
    I’m admiring your little baby herbs, don’t they look lovely and stocky!
    I was wondering if you’ve heard of the herb farmer Jekka McVicar (62 RHS gold medals under her belt, whew)? BBC Radio 4 did a Food Programme about her work, I thought you might find it interesting: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08pdfhb
    Go Herb-Ladies!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thanks so much for the link, Johanna! Herbs are endlessly fascinating, aren’t they? I’m going to check out your herb farmer!! Thanks again!

  4. Arica Carlson

    Amy, with all this rain Nebraska has had of late, the plants I bought at your sale are still in their tiny pots in a flat. I must say I am thankful the tomatoes are on the small side, so I don’t feel rushed to get them in the garden. It could be weeks before things dry out! Looking forward to the next post to see how your garden grows!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Arica, I guess that is the blessing of those smaller plants! It was so wonderful to meet you at my plant sale!! And I’m looking forward to hearing back about the heirloom tomato plants that you chose. I hope they are happy at your place, and produce lots of tomatoes for your table! You’re right, though, it’s too puddly and soggy to get into the garden right now—at our place, too. πŸ™

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