1 January 2018 – Wolf Super Moon

This was a fun evening spent with a sweet friend. Little did we realize it was the Full Wolf Moon, the first of two full “supermoons” that will take place this month. The next will be on the night of Jan. 31, and will feature a total lunar eclipse, or a “blood moon” according to space-dot-com. I am thankful we had the opportunity with clear skies and good company. It was a special blessing for the beginning of the new year! Baruch HaShem! I pray this year is filled with Shalom peace, happiness, and good health!

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Ps 148:1 ¶ Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; Praise Him in the heights! 2 Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! 3 Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all stars of light! 4 Praise Him, highest heavens, And the waters that are above the heavens! 5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For He commanded and they were created. 6 He has also established them forever and ever; He has made a decree which will not pass away.

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The Other Garden

Summertime is so beautiful here in the Shire. The bees are softly buzzing about, vegetables are producing, and the flowers are in bloom. I thought I’d take this opportunity to show you my other garden I’m working on…my Grandmother’s Flower Garden…quilt that is. This is a work in progress that has slowly been taking shape over many years now. Much love has been poured into each hand-stitched piece. All the blocks are done and assembly time is at hand. Five down, eighteen more full blocks to go.

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Ec 3:1 ¶ There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven– 2 A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up. 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance. 5 A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing. 6 A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep, and a time to throw away. 7 A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak. 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace. 9 What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 10 I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves.
11 ¶ He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor–
it is the gift of God.

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Hen & Chicks & Bloomin’ Wonderfulness!

New arrivals at the Shire! Mamma is taking them all for a tour.

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Oh lookie here! Treasures abound!

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This darlin’ little dahlia is called Kelsey Dwarf (Swan Island Dahlias):

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Gallery Harmony from Easy to Grow Bulb Co (EtGB):

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Here is one I named Colello’s Red Dwarf after the fruit stand I got the tuber from. They assured me it was going to be red…LOL…I prefer this color! I think I will have to keep the name though, just to remind me things are not always as they seem. This is the very first dahlia tuber I ever purchased. I like it:

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Valentin (EtGB):

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Pinto (EtGB):

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The one on the left is the  Kelsey Dwarf, the one on the right is named Mini Clarion (Swan Island Dahlias) and it has dark foliage. Not quite black, but a dark contrast to the vibrant yellow. The one in the middle is the Gallery Harmony:

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Inflammation (Swan’s):

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Baby Red (Swan’s)

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Here, a dwarf Marigold (Jaguar) peeks out of the foliage:

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Little Johnny Jump Ups:

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Psalm 84

1 To the chief musician. On Gittith. A Psalm for the sons of Korah. How lovely are Your dwellings, O YaHWeH of Hosts! 2 My soul longs and even faints for the courts of YaHWeH; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living El. 3 Even the bird has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even on Your altars, O YaHWeH of Hosts, my King and my Elohim. 4 Blessed are they who dwell in Your house; they will always be praising You. 5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You; Your ways are in their hearts. 6 Passing through the valley of weeping, they will make it a fountain; even the early rain covers with blessings. 7 They go from strength to strength, being seen in Zion before Elohim.

8 O YaHWeH Elohim of Armies, hear my prayer; listen, O Elohim of Jacob. Selah. 9 Behold, O Elohim, our shield; and look upon the face of Your Messiah. 10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand without; I have chosen to stand at the threshold in the house of my Elohim rather than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. 11 For YaHWeH Elohim is a sun and shield; YaHWeH will give grace and glory; He will withhold nothing good from those who walk in integrity. 12 O YaHWeH of Hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You!

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Garden Update

I apologize for not bringing you all up to date on our garden as it’s been maturing. So here I am to show a few snippets of what things look like now.

The lush growth on the right is the Super Sugar Snap Peas (Territorial Seed Co) climbing up the trellis and Oregon Sugar Pod II bush snow peas (also Territorial) cascading in the front of them. We’ve been happily munching on them for weeks now. I’m just about ready to pull them all up and replant for fall and winter as they are beginning to die down now.

On the left is a row of cucumbers that just haven’t done much this year. More on that in a future post.

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The bed on the left is salad type veggies, the one in the center is a variety of onions, and the one on the right is filled with my brassicas:

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We put netting over the hoops to keep the chickens away from the beds. They were becoming just a bit too destructive for my tastes while they were on bug patrol.

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Those are dahlias in the front row. I discovered they make good companion plants in the garden, and the Hobbit has been after me to plant flowers, so I’ve kind of gone crazy with them (as you will see in upcoming photos and future installments).

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The green on the left is carrots (Atomic Red from Nichols Garden Nursery) and the beautiful lettuce is Merlot (Nichols). The carrots have been slow growing this spring, but the lettuce is doing great and tasting good!

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In the center (below) is another dahlia, Valentin from Easy to Grow Bulbs. I’m noticing the ones I got from them tends to have bushier and more “lush” foliage than what I got from Swan’s Dahlia Farms. I don’t know that this is better or worse…just an observation. Most of the ones I ordered are the dwarf/border variety so as to not take over the veggies.

The green on the front left is fennel (Perfection from Territorial Seed Co). I fell in love with fennel last winter, and decided to try my hand at it. I’m thrilled with how well it is doing, even after I moved some of them around I didn’t lose a single one!

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Very front left is more of the fennel, second row left is Early Treviso Radishio (Nichols), in the center is Black Seeded Simpson lettuce (Territorial), and on the right is another dahlia (Pinto – Easy to Grow Bulbs). On the third row back is more fennel to the left, pathetic beets (Four Color Mix from Nichols), and on the right is Rouge D’Hiver lettuce from Nichols (yummy and a vigorous grower). To be fair, none of the beets I planted this spring did well. Here in the Pacific Northwet we’ve had one of our “cabbage” years for growing. It was colder and wetter than usual, so everything got off to a slow and stunted start, and some things just rotted or drowned in the amount of rain we’ve had (and that’s saying a LOT from someone who lives where it rains 10 months out of the year!). I’ve heard of some folks giving up on their garden entirely for the year, which is a shame since we have a great climate for fall and winter gardening with our maritime climate. Of course, now that we are reaching 90s, which isn’t uncommon, but not really common here, things are starting to grow like crazy:

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Here’s the Pinto dahlia and the Rouge D’Hiver closer up:

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I’ve also discovered the beauty and ease of tuberous begonias:

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On the backside of the begonias we have our Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans (Nichols) growing with some Golden Lemon Thyme (front left) and SuperStar Dianthus (front right). There are some tiny basil plants that are just starting to take off in the center front.

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Here is Gallery Harmony dahlia (Easy to Grow Bulbs) in the front with Winter Savory and Kohlrabi in the background. For some reason I didn’t get photos of the full garden yet…I’ll work on that when it’s cooler and shadier.

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All in all, we’ve been having a grand time with our gardening, learning new tips and tricks and enjoying the harvest as it comes. And I’m loving the color! 



Psalm 103 1 Of David. Bless YAHWEH, O my soul, and all within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless YAHWEH, O my soul, and forget not all His rewards; 3 He who forgives all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; 4 who redeems your life from destruction; who crowns you with kindness and tender mercies; 5 who satisfies your desire with good; your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 YAHWEH works righteous deeds and judgments for all the oppressed. 7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. 8 YAHWEH is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and of abundant mercy. 9 He will not always strive, nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not done to us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are above the earth, so is His mercy mighty over those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As the pity of a father over his sons, so YAHWEH pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows how we are made, remembering that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are as grass; as the flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is not; and its place never knows it again. 17 But the mercy of YAHWEH is from everlasting, even to everlasting, on those who fear Him; yea, His righteousness is to the sons of sons; 18 to those who keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments, to do them.

19 YAHWEH has prepared His throne in Heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless YAHWEH, O angels of His; mighty in strength; doing His Word; listening to the voice of His Word. 21 Bless YAHWEH, all His hosts, ministers of His, doing His will. 22 Bless YAHWEH, all His works in all the places of His dominion; bless YAHWEH, O my soul.

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So I discovered something this year that I had never known before. I have been informed that the term “Sun-Breaks” is unique to the Pacific Northwet region of the Shire… terminology not heard of in other areas of the United States. We are not talking about, “Oh look! The sun is breaking through the dawn!” or Shakespeare’s, “But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.” No, we are talking about, “Oh look! there is momentary lull in the blessed, incessant rain; the protective layer of gray that we call sky has been rent in two; and that great foreign glowing orb in the sky is peeking through for one brief moment…ooops, never mind…it’s gone.” My friend from the Midwest was the first to point this out to me. She had never heard the term before moving here. In a gardening book I recently read, the author said the same. It took me aside. I have never known a time when the term was not used. I asked the Hobbit what people in other parts of the country called it. He laughed. He remembered his early years in the Wisconsin Shire and knew what the rest of the land knows…passing clouds. Not our continuous cloud cover.

Which leads me to my main subject – there was this sun-break today, which allowed me to go out and snap some more pictures of our new garden beds now filled with that luscious garden soil. I decided we needed pavers put down to allow the Hobbit a reprieve from mowing in the limited spaces in between them. In the last post, the boxes had just been brought in and put into place. Since then, we had a small mountain of sandy fill delivered and built up/leveled out the area beneath the boxes with that. We chose to put down landscape fabric on top of that. We also secured mole wire (1/4” hardware cloth) to the bottoms of each box. The boxes were leveled and filled with that beautiful soil, more of the sandy fill went down between the boxes, and the pavers were put into place and tamped down. Once again, the Hobbit nephew helping us with his artistic expertise. Here’s what it looks like today:

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We haven’t done any planting in the beds yet due to the fact that the rain, the blessed rain, the rain has kept the soil a soggy, boggy mud pit. Each time we think it may be dry enough to be workable, it rains. Again. And again. And again. We are on record for the “wettest February-March period since weather records began in the 1890s (http://www.seattleweatherblog.com/rain-stats/rainfall-2017/). Don’t get me wrong, I am ever thankful for the blessed rain. Without it we would not be the Evergreen State. But it has delayed my plans, and for that I am being impatient.

De 11:13 “And it shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments
which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him
with all your heart and all your soul, 14 that He will give the rain for your land
in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain
and your new wine and your oil. 15 “And He will give grass in your fields
for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied.

Here is the Hobbit himself with his trusted steed Moshe, the 220 lb. Great Dane dogasaurus, by his side, surveying the soil conditions.

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Moshe’s loyalty is rewarded with a taste of the new growth of chives waiting patiently to be planted. Zeke the Komondor is never far behind Moshe, worried he might miss out on some tasty Scooby snack:

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Next on the schedule is amending the soil and planting. Here in the Pacific Northwet region of the Shire, our soils tend to be pretty acid from all our evergreens, so we will sweeten it with a blend of lime (calcitic rather than dolomite) and other soil amendments. We like to follow Steve Solomon’s advice on soil amendments and add Agricultural Lime, Agricultural Gypsum, Soft Rock Phosphate, Kelp Meal, Feather Meal, Oil Seed Meal, Azomite, and trace amounts of borax, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, and copper sulfate. Most of these ingredients were found at Ace Hardware (one of my favorite stores!). You can find the exact amounts in his latest book, “The Intelligent Gardener” (support your local library!) or online at any number of interweb sites like http://www.growgreatvegetables.com/fertilizers/a-great-organic-fertilizer-mix/.

We are also thankful to the alpacas for their contribution of rich manure that can be put directly into the garden without any need to compost it first. Of course this is true for the goat and sheep droppings too, but the beauty with the alpacas is they deposit theirs in one area to make it so easy to collect and redistribute where needed (rabbit too if you happen to have access to their leavings). The girls boost our soil fertility and provide us with soft, yummy fiber to spin also. Plus, they keep the area mowed down quite nicely so the Hobbit doesn’t have to do the task himself. Win win.

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De 32:1 ¶ “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 2 “Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb. 3 “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; Ascribe greatness to our God! 4 “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

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Garden Prep in the Shire

Here in the Pacific Northwet (not a typo) it is cause for jubilant celebration when the daytime temperatures reach the 50s, especially when there is a lull from the rain for a day! This is when all in the Shire turn their attention to winter clean-up and garden prep. I am so excited to be getting my herb garden back!!! Taking a trip to the market and paying premium prices for the seasonings I am so used to merely stepping out the door to procure just chaps my hide. An executive decision had to be made! The beds that had been removed in order to redo the porch into a cement patio have got to make a comeback…and quick! PLUS…why stop with just bringing back the herb beds in front of the porch when having some premium vegetable space is so alluring as well! So we started with getting the beds made to fit the space available.

My first executive decision was to call our nephew who is a contractor and an artist. Was he interested in taking on the small task of building raised beds in between his house building/remodeling/etc. projects? He was more than happy to help us out! He set to work and they arrived a couple of days ago!

Here’s a view of the basic set up plan. Right now the boxes have only been loosely placed in their respective locations, and will need a lot more work to get them leveled, seated, and ready for the soil. The ones directly in front of the porch will be for herbs and the three to the left (south) will be for veggies.

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Here is a closer view of the boxes. They are made from galvanized roofing material, designed with cedar on top (at knee height) for ease of sitting on while planting and maintaining the beds. The bottom outside frame is weather resistant lumber to withstand the wet ground so prevalent here in the Northwest. The wavy corrugation of the metal is for added strength. Josh does beautiful work in every project he takes on, and I had no doubt the finished product would be exactly as I envisioned in my mind. I’m still not disappointed! Ever!

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A couple of years back, when we had Josh design and help us install our cement porch, I had asked him to put a 45 degree angle on the north end of it to make it easier for the hay delivery traffic to negotiate the path between the house and the barn. When making the bed to go in front of that section, I asked him to continue the theme:

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Yes, that is green moss/mildew/algae/goo that has set up shop on the stairs. Here in the land of rain, that’s how we can tell the north side of everything! We have had a very wet (even wetter than usual for the PNW) and cold winter this year in the Shire, and are only now recovering from 10 inches of snow, followed by torrential downpour and windstorm that took out the power for many days for this area. Spring cleaning is soon coming, but will wait until the dirt moving and bed prep is complete before we “make pretty”.

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Here’s the inside of the bed. The corrugated metal is vertical, rather than horizontal, for added strength and support for the outward pressure of the soil when we add it.  The herb beds are just over 2 ft. wide (inside dimension) and a total of over 24 ft. in length. All of them are 18 inches high.

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The three vegetable beds are on the south side of the house with the greatest sun exposure. Each one is  just under 3.5 ft. wide by 8 ft. long.

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The sheep and  alpacas were very interested in what we were up to on our side of the fence, especially this afternoon when this arrived:

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  I was so excited to have the organic garden soil arrive that I completely forgot to take pictures of the very large dump truck that hauled it in from Vern’s Organic Topsoil (http://vernsorganictopsoil.com/) in the north end of the Shire. Nor did I remember to snap some shots of Erik, the driver, who was such a delight to visit with during the delivery.

Ahhhh…the smell of rich garden soil is an olfactory marvel and thrill!

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The dogs were rather bewildered though, seeing a fabulous mountain of (untouchable) soil in their front yard. What?! What do you mean we can’t have a party in it?! But it looks so enticing!

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Peppercorn the alpaca gave her approval for our gardening plan, knowing she will be a recipient of some of its bounty. Ginger, her sister, was busy elsewhere stuffing her face in gleeful anticipation of the future feast.

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And the wooly bullies decided it might not be a bad idea in the long run…they will just have to wait and see.

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All is good in the Shire. Spring is just around the corner! The plan has been set in motion, and we await its completion! Now…on to the seed catalogs!

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Deuteronomy 11:13: And it shall be, if listening you will listen to My commands which I command you today, to love YAHWEH your Elohim, and to serve Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, 14 that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, and your new wine, and your oil. 15 And I will give grass in your fields for your livestock; and you shall eat and be satisfied.



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Playing and Plying


Pr 31:19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.

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