Now Blooming In a Yard Near You

Some of you may remember me talking about growing birdhouse gourds in the garden and drying them a couple years ago. They’ve been hanging out on a wire in our utility room since. I had painted three or four- one and gave to our neighbor with a barn scene for his birthday, I drilled holes in a couple and played with the idea of making lamps.

I was looking at a social media thread discussing Missouri Native trees and wildflowers when I decided I knew what I wanted to put on these gourds. I’ve been paying more attention to what I plant here at the farm than I did at our previous place at the Lake. When we bought that property, the topsoil had all been scraped off, there was a barren red clay mess of a yard that not even weeds wanted to grow in. I planted and encouraged the growth of what would take, which was often aggressive and even invasive plants like Chinese Wisteria, Floribunda rose and Mimosa trees (Chinese silk tree). Not that they weren’t all beautiful and they grew like wildfire, but at least one of those is on the no no list of Missouri invasive plants and the other two clearly aren’t native to our state.

You hear people stressing “Grow Native!” all the time now, but I feel like a lot of folks still don’t understand why it’s important. Native plants are already adapted to local conditions. From a gardener’s perspective, they save time, money and water. If you’re from any of the states running out of water right now, you know what a precious resource it is. Native plants and flowers provide vital habitat for birds, wildlife and pollinators. Some species of butterfly only exist if their host plant is available. Most of the public knows about monarchs and milkweed, but did you know that the fritillary butterflies need violets as their host plant to survive? Many consider violets a weed, but no violets, no fritillaries.

Another plant that gets hate is the dandelion, though it is a very important early flower for emerging bee populations, it’s edible, has medicinal properties and if you have kids, they love the fluffy seed heads.

Ok, I know, I ran off on a tangent about natives and this post is supposed to be about painted gourds, but the paintings on each of these isn’t just a pretty flower to look at. I chose each one because it has value as a Missouri Native Wildflower.

Here are my gourds, they go up for sale this week on Etsy.

Wild Violets (Missouri Wild Violet. Viola missouriensis)

The one below is already sold. We had friends over for dinner last night and they wanted it before it went on the store. 🙂

Black-eyed Susan (Missouri Coneflower. Rudbeckia missouriensis)

I had some Prickly Pear at the Lake that I had gotten a start of out of my Mom’s yard. I had no idea at the time that it grows wild in Missouri. I’ve since seen some in the ditches alongside roads and found some near the edge of a pasture here at the farm. I bought some from the Missouri Wildflower Nursery last year.

Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia humifusa)
Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) with Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)

I love my little lions, I think the one below is my personal favorite.

Common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

I hope if you choose to buy one of these, that you’ll look up the native flower painted on it. Do a little reading on your plant and share with your friends why native plants and trees are so important and what it does for our state’s ecosystem. Even if you aren’t from Missouri, it’s something you can talk to folks about besides doom/gloom and politics. We could all use a little light and nature in our lives right now.

-B

My Poor Doomed Cows

Our cow’s “date with destiny” (as my DH calls it) is almost here. Next week Tom and our wonderful neighbor, Jim are taking one next door to our other neighbor and the other will be going to the processor in Cuba.

I’ve never owned livestock before. (Been with a jackass or two of the two-legged variety) I did my best not to get attached or have feelings for these cows, but it’s hard impossible to spend time tending to an animal and not feel anything about it’s demise. Since March, I’ve fed these ladies grain every day, changed out their water while they eat and sprayed them with essential oils to keep the flues and ticks at bay. I’ve watched them grow from 300lbs to something roughly the weight of our car. I didn’t name them. We called them whiteface and blackface only out of necessity, it was confusing to remember which cow was Cow1 or Cow2. Despite not really naming them, they still learned their “names.”

They chase the lawnmower when I mow to get the cut grass blown in from the other side of the fence. Whiteface is the more cautious of the two, but also less skittish once she decides it’s safe. She’ll let you pat her neck and scratch her ears, which I’ve only done once at my daughter’s urging. No matter how fuzzy her ears are, I can’t pet something we plan to murder.

My daughter has no such qualms- she will hang over the fence, scratch the cow’s ears and pet her, then tell her, “You’re looking mighty tasty today!” I asked if this doesn’t bother her that we’re going to eat them, she just shrugs and says she’s looking forward to a good steak. My kid will make a farmer. I watched my great grandma once- walk out in the yard, pick up a chicken, talk to it and wring its neck. She then plucked it, cleaned it and put it in salt water to make fried chicken for dinner the next day. My daughter must take after her.

Yesterday our neighbor backed this trailer up to where I grain feed. The plan is to get them used to going inside the trailer to eat, so that we can get them in there on Tuesday, shut the door and that’s that.

Trailer of doom

Next year we may fence the field closest to the house and get two new cows and maybe a horse or two as well. I CAN be friends with the horse, so I’m looking forward to that almost as much as my daughter is. Maybe a little donkey to keep the horse company. Hopefully that takes some of the sting out of letting go our next pair of cows.

I’m afraid I’ll always be better with the garden and orchard. You would think I’d be great at compartmentalizing after almost 20 years in nursing and surviving multiple narcissists; but like it or not, I’m going to miss my cows. 😦

My elegant dining table

Is not a thing. 

Though sometimes I wish it was. I see pictures of other people’s beautifully decorated homes with everything in its place, fall themed table runners and centerpieces… I wish sometimes I were one of those people.

Alas, I am more the scramble around the living room making sure no dirty underwear are lying on the couch because someone showed up without 3 days advance notice.

We don’t even HAVE a dining room table.  We don’t have a dining room. The kitchen island I occasionally try to decorate,  but mostly it’s just a catch-all for everybody’s crap. Like right now,  I have the pumpkins from our garden displayed for fall.  They looked nice, but slowly became surrounded by some library books, and inhaler, random vitamins,  deodorant,  a lighter,  a can of Dr Pepper from yesterday,  a random spoon I don’t know if it’s clean or dirty,  a lint roller,  dog meds… it is NOT elegant. It’s functional, lived in and messy like my life.

We have no dining table, we eat on TV trays, watching HULU at dinner against all parenting and family advice.  I am at least,  currently working on our TV tables.  They were pretty when we got them 3 years ago, but the finish had chipped on several and some of the edges were peeling. My daughter helped me chip all the formica coating off with a razor blade. 

I painted the tops with a heavy bonding primer and now I’m sketching scenes to paint on each one. We’re going to epoxy the tops when I’m finished, to make them durable. I have the first sketched out and ready to start painting.

I’m not nearly as brilliant an artist as my friend Jennie, who can sit down and while looking at nothing but the image in her head, make things just come alive from 2D white nothingness.

I have to do some planning first. I go look at my photos, outside, browse the web a bit. My kid even screen captured a bunch of stills from Red Dead Redemption II (they are really quite gorgeous!). I gather stuff I like, then start sketching out individual elements. Those I lay out on the table like a puzzle In putting together, so I can try the dog in different places, or move the cows to a different position on the fence. Once I’m happy with layout, I do a very quick drawing of the basic shapes or outlines to show them in their proper place. THEN I actually start re-drawing them on the table top.

Lol… I approach art like I’m writing a novel.

After I sketch everything, I take pictures of the sketch, in case I lose my bearings by painting over something. After all this, I finally start to paint. The painting part I think I actually approach like most painters- background, lights and shadows placement, layer details over all that.

Once paint is finished, I’ll let it cure for two weeks. Then it will go to my new She-shed and get a flood coat of epoxy over the top to protect the painting while we’re eating on it.

I don’t expect they’ll be all finished until next year, since this is more or less my nighttime TV watching project. I’ll try to remember to post pictures as I make progress.

B