Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Denim was made for Flowers

take a casual, thrift store, Denim Jacket from plain and ordinary
fancy and fabulous

 work out a design and then transfer it to your project

an iron on transfer tracing pencil can be used,
 but remember the design will be ironed on in reverse
lay a piece of transfer paper under the design and over top of your fabric
 go over the design with a ball point pen to transfer the pattern
or just draw the design on free-hand with a pen

use an embroidery hoop and floss
I used all six strands of floss  

Adding button hole stitches along the seams and
 around the edges of pockets looks nice

Remember back in the day when we appliqued our bell-bottomed denim jeans. 
 I think I am old and quirky enough now that I can wear old jeans --boot-cut--
all decked out.
  I'll post pictures when they are finished.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

plants or seeds?

if you are one of the lucky ones who has a longer growing season
just skip this, or read it and laugh with me for being idiotic enough to try

Every spring the nursery's and big box stores are full of 3 inch pots filled with squash plants.  I have even seen gallon sized pots with little mini zucchini's already growing on them.
Over the years I have discovered a few things about growing squash.
Not saying my way is the right or better way, just what has worked best for me in my short, unpredictable growing season.  A squash is a heat loving plant.  Every year I used to baby along plants that I had planted in a cold frame, opening and closing it when the weather dictates.  Getting up in the middle of the night and running out in my p.j.'s to throw a blanket over the frames because I forgot before bedtime. 
  Then one year I planted a section of summer squash way late (june 13th)--our usual last frost date is june 25th, but I generally plant all squash around june 6th. The plants germinate, but stay close enough to the ground that the heat coming from the ground keeps them warm enough they don't freeze.  If it is really cold I cover each plant with a small piece of cloth to prevent them from freezing.  Well the year I planted some of the squash late was a real eye-opener for me.  The early plants I had worked so hard (started indoors early) and planted out in cold frames trying to get an earlier harvest only produced 3 days sooner than the late planted ones........lesson learned , just direct seed when the soil is warm.  The squash just won't grow much until it's warm. 

I have however had good success  planting in a long, narrow rectangle  boxes made of straw bales laid end to end, and covered the middle growing area with double pane sliding glass door  windows.   The  direct seeded squash produced a couple of weeks earlier than the ones sown at the (my) proper outdoor seeding time.  The maintenance was simple I actually just left one end slightly opened,  this  allowed for watering and excess heat to escape.  If the nights were extremely cold I'd scoot the end bale closed and throw heavy blankets over-top of the glass.
This straw bale method works well for any crops you would like to extend the season of. 
There are only a few winter squash I can grow because of my unpredictable season

journal entry 2010
in the upper corner it says:  Frost until June 25th  didn't get the usual July 4th frost it was 36 degrees
but it got me on August 10th

this is typical every summer
 (we wear coats every morning)

 Sometimes I only have 31-33 days without a frost.  The straw bale method allows me to grow a few of the long day winter squash varieties.

My experience with winter squash that can grow in a shorter season are:
turks turban
sometimes sweet meat do well
These varieties seem to do better and are not as affected by frost

Oh, did I mention my first frost day in the fall is August 28th.  So, if I get a frost on July 4th (happens quite often) and then my first fall frost in August.....That means I get frost every month of the year!!!!  Will somebody please remind me why I live here.....

 Oh , I remember, I have the most beautiful sunsets EVERY night,
peace and quiet,

last summer our renters purchased some 3 inch spaghetti squash plants from a nursery store and planted
 (small plant in the foreground)  before we direct seeded the next row (center) about 2 weeks later

Lesson 2:  You can purchase those plants from the store if you want to pay the money, however seeds planted directly into the ground always outgrow the store bought ones.  Here again are the results I have experienced.  Maybe you have had great success buying plants and transplanting them. 
 I start my own vegetables to transplant, but over the years I quit starting all squash and pumpkins simply because they did so much better directly seeded after the soil was warm.
The picture above is an example of purchased spaghetti squash plants (the little ones in the left corner)  were set out early and covered nightly to prevent freezing.  About 2 weeks later,  seeds were planted  ( the center row).  The Spaghetti Squash, directly seeded when the soil was warm, easily out grew the store bought plants, and my harvest yielded a greater number of squash per plant, with the weight and size almost double.

One of the many winter squash patches at the farm
I plant banana squash (cause I looooove it) every year,
 but only get a harvest about once every 5 or 6 years
I totally gave up growing butternut

the zucchini patch
A comfy chair placed in the shade to day dream or read in
 while I am waiting to change the water.........well, you know me
I can't sit and wait for water so I'm off doing a kazillion other things

Sometimes I get a good variety and harvest, sometimes the chipmunks dig out all my seed after it germinates ruining my whole season because I don't have a long enough season to replant, sometime the frost wipes everything out and sometimes I just shake my head and wonder why I try,
but any way you look at it growing squash is worth the trouble.

Ate spaghetti squash just the other day and had roasted Hubbard squash with potatoes, carrots, and onions all winter. Roasted Squash Bisque Soup.  Made lots of squash pies for breakfast,
 empanadas, tarts,
 etc. etc.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Recycling Old Cement Sidewalks

The front steps to the little red house are old pieces of cement we found on the farm when we first purchased it.    They measure about 3 feet by 4 feet and 6 inches thick.  Good ole (Handsome Man)  loaded them from the west 40 acre section into the back of the truck and then hauled them into place at the front door using a car dolly.

front steps to the little red house with the bright yellow door

butterfly watering rocks are stragtically placed by the front door for easy access
 to fill up the cavities with water
lizards, toads and dragonflys' also use the rocks


a walk way to the east gardens using broken pieces of old sidewalks
plant low creeping herbs inbetween the broken pieces
the herbs will hold up well to foot traffic and smell wonderful as you tread upon them
try using mints or thyme

use them to make a large patio or driveway
a large patio at the side of the sun room of my little red house
the large 6 inch thick pieces in the fore-ground are placed a step above the patio,
 this allow for extra seating and the path leads
 to the gate into the backyard 
                                         make retaining walls, benches, and flower planters
I don't recomend them for vegetable raised beds, not worth
 the risk of chemicals leaching into the soil
ruined the car dolly trying to move these extra large pieces
What have you used old side-walk cement for?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gardening in Utah

Utah has many growing zones
that's Beryl, the purple circle in the southwest corner
says we are zone 5 but everything I plant suitable for zone 5 winter kills
we can't even get lilacs to bloom here.  Fruit trees, people don't even bother to plant because they never blossom enabling them to bear fruit
No we are defiantly a zone 3 here at the farm
Well, supposedly it's spring.  Glen and I zipped down to the farm yesterday, we traveled several hours in a snow blizzard, I'm at the farm right now it's 9:00 a.m. about 10 degrees with a cold 25-30 mile hour wind from the north.  I was hoping to get a little gardening prep done before heading to sunny St. George for Glen's school meetings tomorrow thru Wednesday.
supposedly we are zone 5
Here's the list of thing I hope to get done today
goats hooves trimmed
sheep sheared
green house tilled and planted
tumbleweeds removed from the front yard
kidding pens built
fire-wood cut and hauled
new battery installed in the expedition so we can take the attached trailer
 full of old antique doors and wood siding we removed from an old house headed for demolition
 a couple of months ago and unload it around back
But it's too cold and windy so I changed my plans---
get done today:
go back to the house and have lunch
 in the sun room where it's nice and warm
 then, sit by the cozy warm fire and read a gardening magazine
or card and spin some wool 
maybe I'll get ambitious and do some spring cleaning
in the house----maybe not
or work on some unfinished remodeling projects
that's one thing about gardening in Utah
the spring weather is always unpredictable
PROGRESS REPORT:   Just wanted to say we did get the vehicle running so we could get the trailer unloaded, the goats' hooves trimmed, a remodel project done---an antique door fitted and hung, and hauled some wood.  So much for sitting by the cozy warm fire reading a magazine.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013


 a photo taken years ago of tulips from my yard in Nevada

                      Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Spring!!!!!


Monday, March 18, 2013


The last time I was down at the farm
it was snowing.  I threw on my old, heavy work coat and 
 stuck my hands in my pockets to keep them warm. 
This is what I found in my pocket:
metal buttons of various sizes,
an "ugly" rock....hum, I usually pick up the ones that have a variety of colors and
 interesting shapes so I can put them in the thick glass,  rock collection jar.
A real glass, vintage crystal from one of my chandeliers.
Nails, screws, and one ear plug,
and something I have in about every pocket I own,
bits and pieces of seed packets.
I carried around a hand- pieced quilt square for the longest time,
never could figure out why it was in my coat pocket.
 I don't know what happened to it,
now I will need to make one more to have enough for the quilt.
Made me think about the "good ole days"
I reminisced of the many things I have carried around in my pockets over the years.
Tucked into my shirt pocket you would often find
the small water snakes from McGregor's pond wouldn't climb out
 like the blow snakes would

horned toads

In my bib-overall pockets would be:
bits of rope,
bent, twisted, pieces of wood to whittle on
a small, single bladed, bright yellow pocket knife to do the whittlin' with.
Always had a piece or two of balin' wire
you could fix anything if you had a piece of balin' wire,
and also used it to unplug the nozzles of the hand sprinkler lines when they filled with dirt.
Broken pieces of thick, colored glass -purple, blue and green- to look at the sun through.
(probably not a wise idea)
 A big chunk of clear, salt rock I'd busted off the large chunk of salt rock out in the cow pasture to munch on.
(probably not very sanitary)
A sling that was made from the tongue of an old leather shoe and it's long leather laces.
(oh, the stories I could tell)
Aren't pockets a wonderful invention.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Garden Journal

Every year I keep track of my gardens in a journal of some-sorts.  Papers ripped from a notebook and held together with zip-tyes,  a photo album, or art sketch books from the store.  This is my journal for 2013.  An old linen dress I cut up and embellished with odd bits and pieces of lace, and satin from a vintage wedding dress.  Tassels to tye it closed.    

Slipped cardboard into the front and back covers then sewed around the edges
 tea stained heavy art paper to use as the pages
bound the pages to the finished cover with dental floss and a strong tapestry needle

  water colored flowers, favorite words and quotes on the pages

Now paste empty seed packets, draw plans for crops, the weather, add your thoughts, success and failures of plants.  Animal births and sales, goals, have friends who visit your garden write their observations or thoughts and bits of wisdom.
insert from 2010 journal

Share your ideas about a Garden Journal with us.  Have you used anything unusual, beautiful, or unique?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Farm DOG

after rolling in the morning dew
our wonderful farm dog EPPIE

Had many a farm dog over the years.  Nothing better than a loyal helper to keep away the coyotes, chase the rabbits out of the garden, and keep ya company as you tend to the every day chores.  Our current dog has been in the family about 14 or 15 years we think.  We can't quite remember how old our youngest was when we got this beautiful abandoned puppy, but we know he was really little and is now almost 17.  It's a long story how we happened to find EPPIE, but the gist of it is we discovered a mama dog and her 9 puppies left to fend on their own when their owners moved and just left the dogs.  We fed them and found a home for all the dogs, keeping one beautiful dark Golden Retriever for ourselves.   We named her EPPIE  ------.  She also has a middle initial.  If you can guess the middle initial I'll send along this painting.

apples in a basket
Here are the rules:
1.  You must be a "follower"
joining now is acceptable 
( available to U. S. delivery only)
2.  You only have one guess
(leave your answer in the comment section)
3.  Promise you won't throw darts at it
4.  If you have already won a painting please give others a change to win.
NOTE:  ALL paintings are original (by me) 8x10 oil on canvas board.  I ship them when completely dry.  No frames are included.
I will have a box of paintings at the St. George farmers market  this summer if you would like to stop by my booth and purchase one along with your farm fresh veges.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


One morning, several years ago, I received a frantic call from my daughter (Darlin' Dodie) who had recently left home for college.  "Mom,"...... I could tell something was terribly wrong.  She was almost in tears.  I took a deep breath to steady myself and asked what was wrong .

"I had to throw away the peelings from my cantaloupe,  IN THE GARBAGE"!  Whew, nothing to major........ I guess.  I laughed with relief.  She continued. " I fill so guilty, I couldn't take them out to the chickens or to the compost pile.  I just needed to call you."  Guess I did one thing right in raising her!

                                                                           I think
wouldn't that be wonderful!
Everyone sitting around at their dinner parties....talking compost....taking the vegetables peelings and left-overs home in little pails to add to the compost pile.

A compost pile can be started just about anywhere.  Over the years we have used many methods. 
A pile close to the back door for easy access from the kitchen.

Never did have one of those fancy drum composters, I just needed
 to much compost to use one of them. 
You can purchase enclosed, large black box composters with a removable
 front for easy access.  They look nice and will provide you with a
 continual small amount of compost
 if you have several of them.
For several years I used a 3 bin method utilizing 7 old wood pallets.

Place the pallets in a 3 sided  square and fasten together. 
 Add two more pallets to the side and rear of the square 
 making another 3 sided square, continue until you have 3 open ended bins.
Fill the first pallet with a few large sticks
 on the bottom to allow air flow underneath the heap.
Pile a ratio of 2-3 times the amount of dry materials to 1 times the amount of green. 
 Sprinkle finished compost over top and cover with soil.  Dampen with water and keep damp to allow the bacteria to do their work.  Make several layers  alternating browns, greens, a sprinkle of ready compost, and soil. 
Add water with every layer.   Keep the pile moist but not wet, and let cook for several weeks.
Now, to turn the pile, begin shoveling the top of the pile into the next bin.  This process will rotate the ingredients, burying the less composted ingredients to the bottom of the pile and the more composted ingredients to the top of the pile.
Start a new pile in the first bin.
Keep moist and let cook for a couple of weeks.
Turn both piles into the next bins and start a new pile.  Now you have 3 working piles.  Let cook again and in a few weeks rotate the finished compost into the garden, shovel the compost over to the next bins and start another pile.
I used the pallet method until I got these big heavy black pipes 

You can see by this picture the pipe collects warm air and stores it in the ridges  which allows the heap to heat up quick.  A window placed over the top also draws in extra heat (leave an opening for good air flow).  The bottom is open so when the compost is done (in about 2-3 weeks time)  simply lift off the pipe and start a new pile.  If the ingredients haven't broken down I move the pipe over and re shovel the ingredients into the pipe and let it cook a little longer.  This pipe allow for quick processing of the compost  start to finish. 
NOTE:  I use well aged and composted manure from the goats, lots of green weeds, top soil, and hay stems my spoiled dairy goats refuse to eat, in this quick method.
It's easy to move these bins to a new spot where I have large quantities of items to compost.  Simply tip them over and roll it where you need it.
I have seen a few fancy kitchen counter composters, but haven't tried any of them, are they even worth the bother?  Let us know.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Art in the Kitchen

                                                    I try to find beauty in all I see.
                                         Wandered around my kitchen and found even
                                              every-day items can be a work of







Saturday, March 9, 2013

Winter Spinning Retreat

Every winter the Fiber Outlaw's have a retreat
We spend 3 days
eating goodies,
oh, and we spin or knit the entire  time
shopped for roving
hand dyed
in beautiful color combinations
from roving to yarn
I spun several hanks and finished the embroidery on my denim jacket
everyone sets up a sleeping area complete with all the comforts of home

Janet modeling her beautiful hand knit shawl and one of my victorian  bags
Darci knits a ruffly scarf
Arlene works on a rug
Cindy and Jeane are sewing together the large pieces of
 knitted or crocheted scarf everyone brought
 to make a nice
warm scarf
to wrap around the neck of the 60+ foot tall
the dinosaur
 Thanks to all who helped put this retreat together
I had a wonderful time!