Feeling better FINALLY

Still fighting this upper respiratory garbage I’ve had since before Thanksgiving, but after a round of prednisone this week, I’m finally feeling better. Weird ass dreams that seem to go on and on, but otherwise better.

Going to try and get some things done up front today before the dreaded Walmart trip. I’ve been working on a saw blade past couple days for a friend and before that an “emergency” border collie ornament request. We only had one on the shop and she wanted two- by Christmas- she asked on Friday. ><

Also just had the kiddos band concert, 4-H projects, visits to doctor for my neck and the ongoing battle to keep the cat out of the tree (which is like every 5 minutes). SO, healthy(ish) and busy. 🙂

My friend had this photo from her family of their old Homestead in the hills of West Virginia. She’s been pulling sawblades out of her basement and giving them to me for the past couple months, I now have all new stock to paint on. Anyway, she found a Skil blade a bit larger than the rest and wanted to know if I could paint the barn from their old Homestead on it.

Barn photo

I went and took at a look at a nearby address on Google Earth, it was really easy to find these buildings, all I had to do was zoom out a bit and look for red roof. I wanted to see the surrounding terrain. This place looks like it sits on the edge of a ridge, overlooking hills.

Actual barn from above

The viewpoint I had was looking east, so I decided to have the sun coming up behind the hills. I took a little creative liscence with the foliage obviously, but tried to keep to wildflowers actually found in that part of the country. The Google pictures were all taken in winter, so the landscape was pretty stark, while her photo was in full overgrown, weedy summer. I tried for somewhere in between.

Finished sawblade

This one isn’t for sale if course, since I did it just for her. I am currently working on a boy/puppy dock scene on one of my smaller blades. After that I have another barn, this one in snow, that I think I may like to try.

Unfinished lake scene

I want to state start working more people into my landscapes, but I’m to say I’m not great at portraits is a serious understatement. I’m surprised the boy in my school mural turned out as well as he did. If he’d had to be more realistic, I’m not sure I could have done it then.

Music room door colored pencil

I watch a lot of Bob Ross. 😀

He doesn’t do much BUT landscapes. Now that we have better internet, I may go look for some other artists to learn from. When frustrated with my limitations, I have to remind myself I’ve only been doing this a couple years. That school mural was my first EVER painting. I drew a little before that, worked in colored pencil, Photoshop, but never paint. Nothing like starting out small… I’m so glad Jeannie took a chance on me though, because I probably wouldn’t be painting now if she hadn’t. She’s one of those rockstar teachers that can make others believe they can shoot for the moon and ACTUALLY REACH IT. Amazing woman.

-B

Planting Bare Root Trees

I’ve been sick for over a week with some sinus thing that managed to sneak its way into my lungs and try to give me pneumonia. No, it’s not the “C” word. After several days of antibiotics I’m starting to feel human again.  Today its 74°F outside. In December. Even if I was half dead, I’d have to drag myself out on a day like today.  Plus, I had trees to plant.

I’ve decided that our yard is seriously lacking in fall color. We are mostly surrounded by oaks, hickory, walnut and cedar.  Even the sweetgum up by my soon to be shop don’t get that gorgeous red and orange that I see along the streets in town,  they are a disappointing yellow.

I did a little research and decided I’d like to start incorporating a few maples into the landscape. Not only are they usually stand outs in fall color,  they provide good shade, they don’t have a reputation for being as breakable as the Bradford pear I cut down last year (always a gorgeous red in fall, but vile and invasive, had to go). I opted for a bare root sugar maple from Arbor Day’s website; as an added bonus it came with a free red maple. 🍁

Hopefully not a deer snack

Arbor Day sends decent instructions with their bare root trees, but I’ve heard lots of folks complain their success with them is hit and miss.  The maple I paid for was almost 4 ft and had a really decent mass of established root on it. We’re having a mild fall right now,  so I feel pretty good about getting this in and getting it settled before it’s subjected to harsh weather.

I’ve been bad in the past about skipping the pre-planning part of tree planting, only to later curse myself for not considering how TALL, how w-i-d-e or how invasive surface roots can be in some areas.  I gave it a lot of thought this time.  I researched,  I read up on species before deciding, I watched light conditions, stuck my shovel in the ground and looked at it from different angles and inside the house.  See the shovel at the corner of the barn?

I cannot stress enough the headache it will save you later, just planting your tree in the right place. You need to picture how it will look when it’s at full height and maximum spread. Some trees can be trimmed up underneath, some look ridiculous if you do this,  it can even destabilize a few. Plant in the wrong spot and you’re making a lot of work for yourself later, if it doesn’t grow too large to be moved at all. I’ve seen lots of folks have to cut out beautiful trees because the wrong tree was planted just too close to their house or foundation.

2. If you get bare root trees like these, and the roots look like this with very little root ball, you may want to hold them back a season or two. I know the little pamphlet says they’ll establish roots over fall and do better in spring, but if your fall goes from mild to Siberia a week after you plant, those little guys just may not have quite enough root to pull through. I looked two weeks out and it looks ok, but if I were worried, I’d pot them up in potting soil and they’d spend a year or two like that until they have a nice, strong root ball. I put them in ground when they’re about 4ft tall and have a pot full of roots to get them started. Potted trees frim the nursery are way more expensive, but often perform better than tiny, fragile bare root trees. Have a little patience and you can save a fortune. The same sugar maple I bought for $15 was at least $50 when purchased in a pot.

3. I don’t want to just reiterate the rest if the tree planting instructions, but I do have one more piece of advice for those of you planting in clay soil. The instructions will tell you not to amend your soil. This is good advice, because your tree may not work to push its roots past the amended area. Trees can be lazy, like people. It’s also hard on fragile roots to work themselves through heavy clay.

If you don’t want to wait on potted trees or spend 3x the price, you can help a bare root tree by digging a HUGE hole. By this, I mean dig your hole out several feet from where the actual tree stands and a couple feet down from where it’s going to sit in the ground. Backfill your hole with loosened clay and sit the tree on top if that, you don’t want to bury it below the line it was planted at in the nursery. The reason for digging, then filling is to mechanically break up the clay, so the tree roots don’t have to do all the hard work.

We have cow pasture dirt- no rocks, at least 6 inches of topsoil, it drains and holds water fairly well for clay. You can see in the photo, I still dug a hole much larger than the tree required before planting. If we still lived at the Lake of the Ozarks, where our clay was either paste or concrete, I would have dug an even wider hole.

Final advice- don’t skip the mulch. When cold, sun, wind or heat start abusing your new trees, mulch can make the difference between a tree that pulls through or dies. This is in the tree planting instructions I got from Arbor Day, but it can’t be stressed enough. Mulch for a new tree is really, really, really important.

If you don’t have mulch on hand when you plant, chopped up leaves or straw work well. I’ve even used torn up cardboard. The trees I plant around our fields I throw an old tire on. It’s a good wind break and helps hold moisture around the roots. It also keeps me from running them over with the lawn tractor.

For detailed step by step instructions on planting a bare root tree, you can go to Arbor Day website. (They have video too)

Happy Holidays in case I don’t get back here until after NY.

-B

Holy compost ya’ll, I’ve been writing this blog for 11 years!

I just realized while looking through the list of posts that I started writing Belle of Dirt in May of 2010. THAT’S FREAKING CRAZY.

11 YEARS people. 11 DAMN YEARS. I honestly can’t believe that I’ve stuck with it this long. I think it’s only because I’ve allowed it to morph and change and grow along with me. Some of these articles were on my original website, Dear-Me.com, back before I decided to scrap most of the personal posts and just go with a gardening theme. I’ve since directed all the personal stuff into a work of fiction, although it has yet to see the light of day outside of my computer. Maybe some day I’ll finally get it around to doing more with it. For now, it’s a work in progress.

Anyway, nothing new to report, other than it’s getting freaking cold outside, which means I’ll be painting, sewing and maybe doing a little writing because the older I get, the less I like the cold. I just wanted to share the revelation that I’ve been rambling away about plants and such for over a decade now and people are still reading this stuff. Which is kind of awesome. THANK YOU. You guys are the best. 🙂

B

Leave the leaf shaming

I’m hoping I don’t get hate mail from this post, but I guess if I do, I’ll look at it as a new and interesting experience.

I’m not sure who started the Leave the Leaves campaign, as there are several groups out there collecting funds and trying to educate the public to their point if view. If you are in ANY sort of gardening forum on social media, I’m sure you’ve come across this discussion- sometimes even heated enough that the admins have to get involved and pry people apart.

Leave the leaves campaign

Here’s one of the posters that was being passed around just the other day. Several members commented that they were no longer removing leaves from their yards, that they were doing their part to, “Save the pollinators!” and “Grow native!” Two mantras that are VERY popular among the gardening community right now. They were taking turns contrariamente congratulating each other on their efforts and declaring their righteousness when a man commented, “I’m not leaving my leaves. I like my yard and my grass.”

You would have thought from the responses that he’d declared he eats children and fertilizes his grass with the blood of cute puppies. They flat out attacked him. They told him he was a fool for maintaining a grass lawn, a bigger fool for cleaning up his leaves and those were some of the nicer comments.

Lots of leaves

This is now the world we live in though, where those with an unpopular opinion are bullied, belittled, shamed or even downright threatened. You’d think gardeners are peaceful people, but it can be a real passion and anything people are passionate about, they are willing to fight over.

I’m not condemning the Leave the Leaves campaign entirely. It’s based in truth, it makes some really good points and leaves can prove very beneficial in gardening. BUT (you knew it was coming) a few of the ads or information I’ve seen passed around about leaving leaves has been a bit deceptive.

I’ve seen claims that it will not harm your lawn, that it actually feeds it, because the leaves break down into soil. Let the leaves pile up in an inconspicuous area if you want to test this and see what happens to the lawn underneath. My oak leaves lock together nicely, especially when wet, forming a dense, impenetrable mat that will not allow light or air to pass through. It will suffocate and destroy any vegetation growing underneath. This is a great environment for supporting slugs, salamanders and roly polys, but not such a great environment for supporting grass or plants. Too many leaves will suffocate plants and kill a lawn, not feed it. I neglected to clean the leaves from this front bed (below) last year and I lost several of my bulbs- of the purple clover I had planted, only one came back up, the crocus did not do as well and the violets absolutely took over. The roses also have fungal issues this year, which may also be because of the heavy leaves under and around them. Leaves are a great space for fungus of all sorts to thrive.

I don’t “Leave the Leaves” here. It’s damaging to my landscape plants. it causes drainage issues, I will now have to treat roses with fungicide because of it and I really dislike using chemicals in our yard or garden.

Maybe my biggest reason for not leaving the leaves around our house is it draws insects, which is exactly what the poster above is telling folks to save. We had an infestation of brown recluse on this property when we moved in. The exterminator had to come out several times and spray and put sticky powder in the attic before we stopped seeing them in the house. If I let leaf debris sit around the house, they still come inside in the fall, looking for someplace warm to spend the winter. When we first moved, I was cleaning the garage, which was also infested with recluse and got bit on my bicep. It was painful and itched like mad around the bite; a couple days later I had a hole in my arm about a quarter inch deep where the venom ate the flesh away. Recluse normally stay hidden in walls and ceilings where you don’t ever see them (hence their name) but there was a lot of clutter in the garage and a lot of paper and boxes. They love any sort of leaves, decaying wood, paper, cardboard that they can hide in. 6 months later, I was trimming dead wood out of walnut tree in the backyard, a spider fell out of the tree and into the back of my sports bra. As soon as I moved and the bra tightened against the spider, it bit. That one felt like I’d been stung by a wasp. I had my daughter hold the bra out so the “wasp” could escape and a huge recluse fell out instead.

This time the pain wasn’t just bad, it was excruciating. I ran a fever, I felt sick and dizzy for days. I treated the wound with activated charcoal and Prid drawing salve (how I wish I’d had my dead nettle salve then!) to pull as much venom from the wound as possible. I kept it very clean, even though it hurt like hell to clean it after it opened up. In spite of no infection directly in the wound, I developed cellulitis in the surrounding tissue and had to go to the doctor for antibiotics and steroids about a week in. This bit went deep, you could have put a quarter halfway into my shoulder. It also spread to an area over the size of a half dollar. I still have a nasty scar on my shoulder blade to show for it.

All spiders love leaves, not just recluse and I’ve noticed a rise in the population of wolf spiders here since we knocked the recluse population down greatly. (thank goodness! they will kill recluse.) I spotted at least 3 recluse running for cover as I was clearing the leaves around the foundation of our house this past week. That’s 3 that ran for the yard and will hopefully go find another place to inhabit besides our siding. Which brings me to my last point.

Piles of leaves, especially wet leaves built up over time can destroy wooden house siding, even hardybacker will succumb to it if left long enough. They will also permanently stain concrete porches and patios or exposed foundation walls. As the leaves break down, the leach out tannin oils that stain brown and yellow, which is nearly impossible to remove from grey stone or concrete. Imagine leaving a sopping wet blanket on your beautiful wood kitchen table for 3 months straight. You wouldn’t do that, nor should you leave piles of wet leaves against wooden siding or decks if you don’t want the wood to rot and be destroyed.

So as with all gardening advice, I would encourage you to read into the SCIENCE behind what you’re being told to do and not just jump on the latest viral post or fad (I’m looking at YOU EPSOM SALT). Also use a little common sense, if you’re gifted in that area. Leaves aren’t doing any organic good on your hardscapes or clogging up the gutters on your house. If you live in town and the city takes leaves, find out where they take them. Many cities now haul them to a composting facility where they are broken down and sent back out as beneficial compost for lawns and gardens. As for me, I have a yard that is close to 5 acres, full of huge, mature oak trees and that’s JUST the yard. In total, we have 40 acres and another 30 that is family land of fields, woods and yard. I’ve never raked or burned leaves here. I wait for the bulk of them to fall, then run the mower one last time in November, chopping them into small pieces and blowing the bulk of them into the edges of the woods and the hay fields. Fireflies lay their eggs in those areas, the mice, turtles and all those other small creatures on the poster above like to hang out there, so THAT IS WHERE I leave the leaves. They aren’t damaging my house and drawing recluse, they are in the edges of the woods where they give all those little critters a place to hide that isn’t in my front door. If you can have undisturbed areas like that, I see no issue at all with tidying up your hardscape or chopping up the leaves to mulch trees instead of letting them lie on the lawn, where you don’t have to share your space with creeping crawling things. Regardless of what the article in Woman’s Day Magazine may be telling you is the RIGHT THING to do. (Personally I can’t trust a magazine that gives diet advice and cupcake recipes on the same cover anyway)

If you don’t have woods or an “edge” to send your leaves to, maybe chop them up and use to mulch perennial garden beds. Chopped up, they don’t form those thick, dense, air blocking mats I was talking about. Once mulched, they break down in a season into compost. I’ve also used them as a layer in my Hugelkulture beds or lasagna gardening. They are a great brown layer to fill in around larger sticks and branches. Earthworms adore a layer of chopped up leaves.

Just stop the “Leave the Leaves!” shaming folks. Everyone’s yard is different, every garden is different and there isn’t a one method fits all that works for any situation. Gardening is one of those things that is as individual as the person doing it and that’s one of the really great things about it. Suggestions are helpful, education is helpful, yelling at someone that they are horrible destroyers of the environment because they didn’t want piles of leaves around their house or haven’t cut down their Bradford Pear yet is ridiculous. We want to ENCOURAGE people to love gardening and be drawn to it, not scare them away forever because we let our passion or dedication to the latest fad override our basic human decency. There is too much of that in the world today and gardening is supposed to draw people back to nature, not make them run screaming in the other direction from angry keyboard warriors.

B

TV Tray

Finally finished up that TV tray I started a few weeks back. We have four of these, I’m planning on putting scenes on each and sealing them in epoxy when finished.

I originally bought these little TV tables on Amazon, they were decently framed, but the finish on them started chipping off only a few months into using them. 3 years later, they had paint on them (oops), glue (also my oops), scratches, chips… they looked ready for the dump.

My daughter helped me razor blade the finish off. I gave them all a thick coat of bonding primer and using acrylic to paint the scenes on them. The epoxy we’ll use is a marine quality that I used on the sink top in our utility room. It’s been in there over a year and it seems to be able to handle tons of abuse. So far it’s been impervious to water, soaps, cardboard stuck to it and scraped off. A damp rag and it’s beautiful again. I’m hoping it does as well on these table tops.

These four aren’t for sale, but if they turn out really well, I may do others and offer those. I’m thinking some kind of water scene and maybe a woodland thing with deer or turkey on another. I’m trying to keep them all farm/local themed.

I’m taking a break from tables to work on a gourd or two. I’ll post those as they’re finished.

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. 😦

I finally have clean underwear

Our washer broke almost 3 weeks ago. Being the handy little DIYers that we are, we didn’t call the repairman- but went to YouTube, diagnosed the issue and ordered parts. It took about a week to get the parts, because Covid probably. Isn’t that what everything is blamed on these days? It took a 4×8 and a ratchet strap to get the old part off, which broke we had to put so much pressure on it. More than one video claims this is normal?!

So we got the new part, put it on, washer still broke. I was able to wash stuff, but it wouldn’t spin out. So we replaced the belt. Still broke. By now we were running out of everything- like drying off with handtowels after showers and turning underwear wrong side out to wear again kind of situation. So I had to go brave the laundromat. Our neighbor and a friend offered the use of their washer, but I figured rather than impose on either for hours, I’d just run 6 or so loads up to town, drop them all in at once and be finished in 1/2 hour.

It kind of went like that, except I forgot that laundromats are one of those places where you are trapped until your laundry is done, so you are therefore forced to interact with other people because you can’t leave your stuff unattended. Most of the folks just nodded or said hi and went about their business, but then a lady comes in with her husband. He plops 3 stuffed trash bags full of laundry on the counter next to me then leaves to go wait in the truck. That’s because he KNEW.

Mountains.

He KNEW she was a chatty Kathy. Normally my single word non-committal responses are enough to make most people realize I’d rather chat with a tree than a stranger, but this lady was not deterred in the least. She wanted to converse about everything… the puddle on the floor, the noise one of my washers was making while spinning out (which she decided to shout for the manager on my behalf in case he hadn’t been listening to it all day), she talked about how you had to forcefully put the quarters in the machines, how she liked to try and get machines all in a row but it didn’t always work out because sometimes one was broken and she’d have to skip that one… I was considering jamming a plastic hangar through my eardrums to drown her out when my last load finally finished and I was delivered from evil.

My husband talks to everybody y’all. My daughter and I joke that we can’t leave him alone in public for 2 minutes, without coming back to find he’s made a friend. Me, I could not converse with another human outside of my family for months and be perfectly happy. I like quiet and the non-stop movie reel that runs in my head. It drains my energy to socialize, I NEED alone time to recharge and not feel like I want to crawl out of my own skin to escape. I cherish this hour that I spend watching my kid go round a pen on a horse once a week. It is the best $35 I spend all week.

I suppose that’s why I take so well to gardening, art and writing. They’re all solitary activities for the most part and I can share them with others without having to be especially social. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll talk your freaking ear off about a particular kind if heirloom tomato, but if you want to chat about the weather or what’s for dinner I’d rather just dig in my dirt and let you be on your way. If you want to chat about the book you’re reading, how you’re learning to speak Gaelic or that you’re researching the effects of daylight savings time on mice- I’ll hand you a trowel and we can hang for a while. Just save the small talk for your pharmacist. PLEASE.

This is why I don’t thrive at parties. People at parties or social gatherings want pleasant conversation- ie boring, tedious, ram a plastic hangar through my eardrum so I don’t have to listen to you conversation.

So that is my exciting tale of woe for the week. I’m also very happy that Mercury retrograde is finally over and that after this weekend I don’t have to wake up in the dark. It will be dark at 5pm though. 😦

Might mean I can stand outside before bed and listen to the owls. 🙂

Kid is unsaddling her horse. Until later.

B

I have to pee or I’d take a nap

It is a very cold and rainy day, I’m sitting at the stables in Rolla while the kid does her riding lesson. If I didn’t have to pee, I’d probably just take a nap.

We’ve all been binging Outlander this past couple weeks and the stenosis/arthritis/whateveritis in my neck has been giving me hell, so I haven’t been doing much art. Working on the building up front also came to a grinding halt, turns out my head is heavy and my neck does not want to support it while I look up to paint the ceiling.

So I’ve spent almost 2 weeks REALLY REALLY bored, watching reruns of American Horror story and doing random house chores while Tom goes to meetings. We are living on the edge folks.

I no longer felt like I was being stabbed in the back yesterday as long as I didn’t get too ambitious, so I started a sewing project. I will finish and post that table as soon as Outlander is over, I promise. It’s one of the few shows I watch that I will not paint through.

Pink Floyd’s Young Lust is on the radio and suddenly I’m transported back to a time when I was dancing to that in the back of someone’s pickup in the middle of a field. Music is funny like that, isn’t it? Can be the like a mental time machine… which is exactly why I normally avoid the Classic Rewind station, but Lithium was playing weird crap- probably because Morelo was on.

Hubby went and got his Covid shot today, I’m hoping he doesn’t feel so crappy this weekend that he has to skip Halloween. I didn’t even get decorations out this year, not sure why not, time just seemed to slip away and it was this weekend before I realized. Plus it’s been raining a lot, which = constant pain.

Sorry I have nothing of real artistic or yard interest to report. I told myself I’d start making an effort to get on here and AT LEAST make a post once in a while, especially since I’m spending less and less time on (anti) social media. Even if that post is just random ramblings.

We may finish Outlander this weekend if we binge diligently, maybe I’ll get back to painting by Monday night. 🙂

B

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

The bad thing about gardening blogs is…

When you’re hard gardening,  you’re too busy to blog and when you aren’t,  there’s not much gardening to blog about. 

Again I haven’t posted anything in ages, which means I’m pretty much a fail as bloggers go. Thank the gods I don’t do this for money,  all my sponsors would desert me.

My original idea for Dirt was to share projects I’m working on in the yard or garden. I was pretty good for a couple years about taking pictures and even writing down brief notes on what I was doing or how I did it so I could share later. We had 40 acres,  but I only actually paid attention to about 3-5 of it, because the rest was steep wooded hills and valleys only accessible by hiking. My vegetable garden was the size of a postage stamp, our functional yard was not much bigger.

… then we moved HERE. Suddenly I have 40 acres that is almost all accessible by ATV, if not my regular vehicle.  The garden is now “holy hell what do I fill all this space with sized”, there are hayfields, a pond and 5?  outbuildings that all need some sort of attention. And ya’ll, I have freaking COWS. And we’re talking about getting MORE.

So in the 4 years we’ve been here,  I’ve done a TON of stuff, but not much of it is all that garden blog worthy.  And when there is something blog worthy,  I’m often too busy doing the thing to consider blogging about it.

This is why I started adding crafting and painting projects- so my poor, neglected site isn’t just left to die. 

I did take a picture of the pumpkins I grew this year and our dogs finding the only bit of shade in the garden while they waited on me to finish picking tomatoes. 

Maybe when my daughter is grown, the outbuildings are finally organized and I’ve turned the front trailer into a She-shed- I’ll have time to really dedicate to blog. That’s probably a well intentioned lie though. By then, we may have decided we need to go off grid and have a full on hobby farm or something.  I’ll be building windmills and not posting about how I built them.

At least you know I’m living my best life.  🙂

I’ll get something on here this fall/winter, even if it’s just remodels and painting projects. Until then. 🙂

B