Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Rrrrrrrrrrrr. Rrrrrrrrrrr. Vrooom -- rrrrrrrrrr. Here comes Bulldozer Pete. When I was a child we read about Joe and The Busy Bulldozer (1952). And of course, there's the old classic, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (1939). Both of those stories served to show children what men can accomplish with a machine.

Mike and I live here at the homestead without farming equipment. We have a 4-wheeler and a trailer, but that's it. If a big job comes up, we have to find a man with a machine. Thank goodness for our neighbor, Pete, and his old bulldozer. Pete loves old machines and is as skilled as Joe or Mike in the old stories.

During this wet spring, a section of "June's" field sloughed into our lane. A correction was needed, so Mike approached Pete for the job. They agreed that Pete would move some of the dirt to the tire that Farmer Kyle brought to us for a raised bed. Oh, and by the way, said Pete, he had a tire we could have, too.

It took a few days to coordinate schedules -- so funny when we're all retired and no one really has a schedule. But on Monday when Pete first showed for work, bringing the tire with him, Mike was off to Orofino for some geocaching off Well's Bench Road.

So, Pete left the big old tire, which he had used as a feeder when he had cows, but we agreed that it would be better if some prep work was done before we loaded the tires with dirt. Finally on Tuesday we made a good start. I think he and his bulldozer hauled five loads of dirt to my tires.

Pete, who is about Mike's age, grew up here in the Gilbert community where his grandfather homesteaded. When we see him, he never fails to tell us something interesting about his family, my family, the community. Noticing the fading poppies in the yard, Pete recounted how his dad had said that Aunt Bertha used to like to grow poppies and eat the poppy seeds. Sometimes she was "loopy" from all those poppy seeds, he said. Interesting. Last year when Hallie was here we wondered if these poppy seeds were edible and if one could get "high" by eating them. Hallie dissected a poppy pod but no, we didn't try the seeds. (Never put anything in your mouth unless you know it's edible, goes the old rule.) Online research on the issue of poppy seeds seems inconclusive.

Anyway, much of the soil Pete transported contained clay. Mike and I spent some time removing clods. Now it remains to enrich the soil with some organic matter -- compost, grass clippings, and the like. We're getting a late start on the growing season, but I can probably grow something and the beds will be ready next year.

We have a nice crop of spinach in the rectangular raised bed. I made spinach crostata for dinner the other night. The peas are coming along slowly.


Hallie said...

I love how Nellie is randomly in so many photos. Do you have to stage it? I can just see you, "Here Nellie, Here Nel, Okay....there!" Ha!

Poppies are chock-full of seeds! I'm not sure about eating them and I have NO idea how opium is made. I have no need to know, other than mere curiosity (for the record).

Question: Isn't it bad to add grass clippings to your garden bed? Won't you then end up with grass weeds? How are the raspberries doing? Did you give them a taste of fertilizer?

Kathy said...

LOL. No, I'm afraid trying to stage Nell would be useless. I don't think she could wrap her dog brain around the concept of staging. She would think I wanted her for a reason and expect something. I just try to be alert to where she is and if I can get her in the picture.

Grass clipping are fine for your compost and garden bed unless you have chemically treated the weeds. Grass clippings make great mulch. And of course we don't do anything to the yard here. In the end I didn't use grass clippings anyway. We just used the compost.

The raspberries are still looking good and have lots of berries setting on. I did give them some fertilizer, but they still look a little yellow. That was time-release fertilizer and I'm thinking of applying a little of the regular stuff.

Hallie said...

I though I asked this, but it looks like I must have gotten distracted before posting. What is spinach croustada? Sounds yummy!

Kathy said...

A crostata is a tart. Never saw the word before this year. You make your pie crust, roll it out, put it in the pie pan, but instead of fluting, you leave the edges hanging over the pie plate. After pouring your filling into the pie plate, you fold the loose edges of the crust over the filling. Voila! Saves time -- and those thin and thick places in the dough are naturally decorative instead of errors.

Hallie said...

I spelled it correctly and this darn thing messed it up making me look stupid! So, it's a savory tart? Like a quiche? Is the filling egg based?

Kathy said...

I realized I had forgotten to provide the recipe for spinach crostata. I copied it down from an online site but I left it at the farm and I can't find it again. (Google seems to be changing their format by the minute.) Basically I sauted one diced onion in a little olive oil. Then I added fresh spinach and continued to cook and stir until all liquid absorbed. I mixed cottage cheese (no ricotta on hand) and mozzarella (because I had no feta) and 3/4 egg subs (instead of 3 eggs). To that mixture I added 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add the cooked spinach and onions to this mixture, pour into your pie crust, and bake 45 minutes. Mine took longer because of egg subs and cottage cheese.

Recipes for spinach pie or crostata abound online. Some call for bacon, which would be a nice touch.