Category Archives: Around the Compound

Around The Compound (Taters-N-Onions)

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Hi everyone it’s John again, here to bore y’all with some horticulture.  A while back I shared some pictures from Feb. 23, 2014 and talked a bit about adding organic material to the garden soil.  The next day, Feb. 24th, we planted our potatoes for the year. Once again I took lots of pictures and would like to share.

Opening rows using a middle buster.

Opening rows using a middle buster.

I started potato planting by opening rows using a middle buster plow attached to the center of my cultivator implement bar behind our tractor.  As shown above, I started out by plowing one straight row and placing each additional row by simply running the wheels of my tractor  in the track left behind when I made the previous row (above left). This makes the row spacing just right for future cultivation and weeding between the rows.  To cultivate I remove the middle buster from the implement bar and attach smaller plows at the attach points shown in the picture (above right and center).   These smaller plows will contact the soil right behind my tractor tires as I cultivate.  This method of laying out my rows allows me to drive the tractor back through the same tire tracks left behind when I opened the rows to accomplish weeding without damaging my plants.

Cutting seed potatoes.

Cutting seed potatoes.

After opening the rows for planting we cut our seed potatoes.  The part of the potato that grows into a potato plant is the eye.  Each seed potato may have several eyes so this allows us to cut the seed potato, usually into several pieces, for planting.  We planted about sixty pounds of seed potatoes this year.

Placing seed potatoes in the row.

Placing seed potatoes in the row.

We placed the seed potatoes in the open row approximately six inches apart along the length of each row and at the bottom of the furrows. We use chicken manure for fertilizer but commercial fertilizer may be used at this point in the process.  Something like 13-13-13 works well, however, a soil test can tell you exactly what you need to use. Keep in mind that if your soil test says to use lime, never use lime on potatoes.  A calcium supplement can be sprayed on the plants later instead.

Covering the seed potatoes.

Covering the seed potatoes.

Here’s Justin Cole, my step son, covering my seed potatoes.  Pretty nice of him to help me out with all this huh?  He spent a good part of his day out in the cold helping me with this potato project.  Notice he is using his feet to close the dirt in over the seed potatoes.  If we would have had a large field of rows to close, we could have placed hilling disks or closing plows on our cultivator and closed the rows with the tractor.

Hay!

Hay!

Hay to protect our seeds from a hard freeze.

Hay to protect our seeds from a hard freeze.

I hauled a truck load of hay to spread directly over the rows to protect them in case of a hard freeze.  Its a good thing I did too!  Not long after we planted this potato crop we had about three inches of solid ice and freezing weather.  The hay cover provided enough insulation to keep my potatoes safe from the freeze.

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

The above picture was taken Saturday, April 12, 2014.  Looks like our potatoes are doing well!  I have already had to spray for potato bugs though.  A small brown bug that looks kind of like a ladybug will eat the potato plants and bring the crop to spoil if not kept in check.  When I see these bugs begin to appear I spray the plants with insecticide or treat them with 5% seven dust.

A pretty potato crop so far.

A pretty potato crop so far.

The next thing we planted was onions.  About two weeks after we planted potatoes and right after the last hard freeze, my brother-in-law John and I planted a couple of rows of onions.  We started out by opening some rows just like I did for the potatoes.

Onion sets.

Onion sets.

There are a couple of ways to start onions.  One way (shown above) is to plant onion bulbs.  Bulbs can be saved over the winter just like many flower bulbs or they can be purchased from a feed store or farm supply in late winter. Onion plants can also be used.  I have also heard of people starting them from seeds but I’ve never tried it, maybe a future project.

Placing onion bulbs.

Placing onion bulbs.

I place the onion bulbs in the row differently than I do potatoes.  I don’t put the onions all the way in the bottom of the furrow.  I put them about half way down the side  and alternate them from side to side as shown above. This makes one row almost like two close rows side by side.

John H. working!

John H. working!

Covering the onion bulbs.

Covering the onion bulbs.

Above is my brother-in-law John covering the onion bulbs.  He just covered them loosely with a couple of inches of soil.

Onions coming up!

Onions coming up!

The onions did come up and are growing well. We also have planted strawberries, lettuce, turnips, radishes, kale, and about a third of an acre of sunflowers.  I will keep you updated on our progress in the vegetable garden in future posts.

Look forward to Pigs-n-chickens in just a few days!

John

Around The Compound – Chicken Manure – Building The Garden

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This is the first blog post ever for me.  I’m Susie’s husband John.  I hope y’all ain’t disappointed since I’m not the skilled blogger that you’ve grown accustomed to.  My wife Susie does a great job!! Susie and I took a few pictures on Feb. 23, 2014 of regular activities that go on around the compound, I believe them to be worthy of sharing…

Windy and cool, plowing the garden.

Windy and cool, plowing the garden.

It’s time to do some gardening any time!  Gardening and garden building goes on twelve months a year around here.  Adding organic material enriches the soil.  Year round tilling keeps me from having to fight weeds and grass in my garden all summer by keeping the weed roots and seeds exposed to the winter frost.

Plowing in the compost pile.

Plowing in the compost pile.

Compost is very important for building soil for gardening.  We save grass clippings, kitchen scraps, leftover corn stalks, anything organic in a compost pile beside the garden.  Above is a picture of me on our tractor spreading and tilling the compost into the soil. I’m also plowing in the remains of our winter turnip crop.  Mount Vernon soil is fairly poor and rocky but we have built our garden soil to be quite rich.

Great Garden Dirt!

Great Garden Dirt!

I find that adding hay to the soil and chopping it in with the tiller whenever I can get my hands on some is great.  It not only adds organic material to the soil, it also helps the soil hold moisture during the dry summer months.

Freshly Plowed Dirt.

Freshly Plowed Dirt.

Oops!  I haven’t mentioned anything about chicken manure yet!

Stop Thief! You're stealing my poop!!!

Stop Thief! You’re stealing my poop!!!

These two old roosters are investigating the theft of what is probably the most valuable additive that goes into my garden soil.  Chicken manure not only has stinky funk, it also has nitrogen which is essential to producing a great vegetable garden.

cleaning out the hen house!

Cleaning out the hen-house!

 

Chickens and hay.

Chickens and hay.

I had to include the photograph above!  It’s just a really good picture of some chickens and hay.

I got away with the poop!

I got away with the poop!

Ok, we’ve now added the poop to the garden.  The chickens didn’t like me taking it from the hen-house but I’m sure they’ll enjoy the fresh produce this summer.  Hope you weren’t too bored by the garden building blog. The very next day we planted our potatoes for the year.  I have lots of good photos of that too.  I’ll try to get them on here soon.

Those Places Thursday – Ice Storm on the Compound

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It’s been a long while since I did a post about the compound and the recent ice storm was really beautiful to look at so I thought I would share some of the pictures we took around here.  Some of these photos were taken by my brother, John Higginbotham, some by me, and Knucklehead, yes Knucklehead took the ones of the chicken coop.

Please enjoy this brief video of our compound and surrounding area.

A big thanks to brother John for putting the video together for me.

Knucklehead’s First Day of School and Pvt. Cole Reports for Duty

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I know, you are wondering where my next DC Trip post is, and hold your horses, because it’s coming!  First, I had to take a couple of days away from the computer and spend it with my kids and get caught up on chores around the house.

The first thing I did was hug on these two boys!  I missed them while I was gone!

JT and Knucklehead

The Hubs is on 60 hour weeks, so with him only home one day a week, it’s just not feasible for him to do much around here.  He needs at least one day of rest with the schedule he is keeping so there were quite a few things to get done.

While I was gone, and enjoyed near perfect weather in DC, it rained here at home almost every day and my grass was so tall, the mower kept bogging down.  We had no choice but to bust out the tractor and get the heaping piles of grass up.  I was being smart and raking down hill!

Yard Work

Knucklehead had his first day of school on Monday, and you know we had to prepare for that, had to attend open house and get all his stuff ready and together.  Here’s the big 6th grader on that first morning.

First Day of School

Not a happy camper can you tell?  His stomach hurt, the grass was wet, he wanted to get down to the end of the driveway and wait for the bus even though he had 15 more minutes, and he did not want to smile.  AT ALL.  But I made him.  So then this is what I got.

First Day of School Smile

Totally fake, but at least it wasn’t that frown!  After I snapped the shot, he went right back to his frown and walked down to wait for the bus.  He did have a great first day though and was very glad to see his friends.  He has been getting his homework done easily enough.  So far, so good.

Then on Monday evening, the first day of school, and Justin’s last day at home before leaving for boot camp, we had a small, family gathering to say goodbye to him, and to say goodbye to my nephew William who is going back to Colorado for High School this year.

But first, I should back up a bit and tell you that Justin’s Dad drove all the way up here from Alabama to spend the weekend with him before boot camp.  He picked him up and they went to stay with his Dad’s family in Sherwood for the weekend.

Justin with his Dad

They came back on Monday and his Dad stayed and had dinner with us.  After we all had dinner, since Justin and William both were leaving we all decided to load up and head over to the Romance Cliffs to get good pictures of everyone.

This is my favorite picture of my family.  I wish The Hubs had been here, but he had to work. :(

Us Romance 2013

My friends David and Diane took this picture of all of us, and I think it turned out great. From left to right is Justin, Knucklehead, William, Mom, Dad, Me, brother John, and Addie.

This is a great shot of the boys.

JT Knucklehad William

I love this shot of Mom and Dad.

Mom and Dad

This is a great shot of my brother John, William and Addie.

John William and Addie

These are my friends, David and Diane.

David and Diane

Did I mention that I love these boys?

Michael and Justin

This is Justin with his Dad, Junior Cole.

Junior and Justin

And here folks, you are looking at a rarity.  One of probably three pictures of Junior and I together with Justin since we divorced, oh, I’d say about 15 years ago.  But Justin wanted a picture of us with him so we did.  Luckily, we get along great most of the time and it was no problem.

Junior Susie Justin

The next morning JT had to be up at the Armory in Heber Springs by 6 am. It was still dark when we got there and we took some last, going away shots.

Me JT Knucklehead

Junior and Justin

JT and Knucklehead

I have mentioned my love for those boys, right?  Yeah, I thought so.

Sgt. Gipson arrived and I got this shot, then they got in the car and drove off.  Headed to Camp Robinson where Justin would be processed in and leave from.

Sgt. Gipson

Justin’s Dad left to make the drive back to Alabama, I got knucklehead off to school and guess what?  I didn’t cry!  I made it all day without crying, and I was doing great. Then Justin sent me this picture from the plane that night as he was boarded and waiting for takeoff to Oklahoma City. I admit I did cry for a bit.  But, it wasn’t tears of sadness.  I’m so proud and happy for him.  This is what he has wanted to do since he was a little boy.

JT on the plane

He arrived in OKC about 8:30 and had a two-hour bus trip to Fort Sill.  I did get to talk to him last night, and he’s doing ok. It’s a lot more than he thought, but he is brave and strong and he’s making it.  From what I understand, he is processing in and the real deal boot camp starts on Monday, and then it will be three or more weeks before I can talk to him again.

Since he left, I’ve been just keeping up with the normal compound chores and duties and resting up from the trip and chores and stress of getting everyone where they have to be. Now, I’m back to the computer and settled into a routine with Knucklehead in school and I will get back to posting about my trip.  There’s still some sight-seeing, my trip to the National Archives, and my trip to Richmond, Virginia coming up so stay tuned!

Susie

Around the Compound – Dragonflies and Chickens

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Weird huh?

Sometimes, the combination of things happening around here, is weird.

Well, yesterday I was up by the barn feeding chickens and the dragon flies descended upon me. So, I sent the kids down to the house to get my camera and I decided to just sit down and snap pictures. I got some fairly decent pictures of the dragonflies, but man, those suckers are fast. So they are kinda blurry, but if you look at the picture good, you can tell what they are.

After I sat there for a bit, the chickens found out I was there and came for a visit. I got some good shots of them, so I thought I would share.

This will be my last Around the Compound post for a few weeks, because I leave for DC tomorrow and I doubt the kids and Hubs will tote a camera around while I am gone.  I will post while on my trip though, because I’m so excited.

These pictures are for you Lisa Higginbotham Guidroz, love you!

This was my absolute favorite picture from yesterday.

DragonflyDragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly Dragonfly

At this point, the chickens found me and my moment of serenity was over.

Oh, Frizzy Frizz, be still my heart!

Frizzy Frizz

Chicken

Boy, I say, Boy!!  Probably a descendant of Foghorn Leghorn.

Boy, I say, Boy! Chickens Chicken Chickies Rooster Rooster

Oh, Bannie, you are so cute!

Bannie

Don’t forget I got a big give-away coming up, and I’ll see ya in a couple of days, from DC!

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