April 15, 2015


Early last spring I planted two bare root blackberry bushes - Ouachita and Arapaho.  Both have done very well, but the Ouachita tends to aim more towards the ground and make new starts.

They have heavy buds and the first few blooms are starting to appear.

Below is the Ouachita.  It has started three new plants in the ground, and the cane below I rerouted into a pot since the dogs kept yanking it out of the ground.  I think you're actually supposed to do this in the fall, but spring is when I had the extra cane, so we'll see what happens.

My little helpers...

April 14, 2015

Peaches - YEA!

I am SO EXCITED - for the first time in several years I will have a peach crop!!!!!!!!!!  The last couple of years I have lost them to late freezes.  Amazingly - after all of this year's miserable winter weather - we finally avoided a late freeze, and now I can't wait for summer (although I am definitely enjoying the awesome spring we are having)!!

New tree...

Old tree...

And here's a picture of the wound healing on my older peach tree after this happened.

The first picture is from a tree I planted last February labeled 'Elberta', but I don't think that's what it is.  Either that or the one I originally planted was not an 'Elberta' because the new one bloomed a few weeks earlier.  Anyhow, I am excited to see how the fruit turns out because the peaches from the older tree melt in your mouth.

April 13, 2015


My strawberries are very happy, and I am so excited!!

 They are planted near my Bur Oak tree where they get dappled sunlight and protection from the blistering summer sun.

I planted them last year from starts purchased at Lowe's.  Last fall they made tons of babies which are easy to dig up and move or share with friends (which I did).  :)

The taller round-leaved plant you see towards the back is red clover from some cover crop I've used the last couple of years.  The strawberries and clover seem to make happy companions!

April 12, 2015


Yesterday evening when I finished mowing I looked up and saw this:

WOW!  It became absolutely radiant as the sun went down, reflecting every shade of orange, yellow, and pink your mind can imagine...

March 28, 2015


I planted five crabapple trees last February to attract pollinators.  Four of them are blooming right now, and the fifth is setting buds.

Dark pink blooms, purple foliage 

Light pink, almost lavender blooms; green foliage with blush on new growth
 'Prairie Fire'
Hot pink blooms, green foliage with blush to new growth

Pink blooms, green foliage with blush to new growth

Other pictures from around the yard today...

 'Chanticleer' Pear
Heavy blooming ornamental pear with red to purple fall foliage

 'Lynwood Gold' Forsythia
A little past bloom, but still beautiful!

Part of the little stone path I built around the pear tree with larkspur to the right, nandina in the back, oregano and red yucca in the foreground.  This is where the dogs turn around while making laps around the yard, so I finally decided to build the path to try to protect the soil and the larkspur growing beneath.

Also, there are little tiny peaches that have set.  The biggest ones are only about a quarter of an inch, but if we can avoid a late freeze, we'll have peaches for the first time in three years!!! 

July 22, 2013

Oh, my blog has been so sad the last several years.  With blazing heat and scorching wind and nothing awesome to show for my efforts, it has just been too depressing to post much.

It has actually rained a few times this year, and comparatively it feels like living in an oasis.  My vegetable garden is just pathetic, so I have largely abonded it to experiment with other planting sites around the yard that have 1) fresh dirt from the farm or 2) less exposure to the intense sun and wind.  So far, direct seeding in these areas has been encouraging.  Time will tell.

Herbs have been doing well despite the drought - Italian parsley, rosemary, oregano, sweet basil, holy basil (Thanks, Candy!), sage and some kind of mint.

Here are some recent pics.  So what do the Swinging Singles do on Friday nights?

Cool off our feet, watch the grass grow, and take pictures of the dogs...

Trigger the Digger who came from the pound in Breckenridge, TX.  Poor boy, he'd been at the pound for five months!  He needed a home, and I needed a good dog - we both lucked out!!

Huddy Girl is 12 or 13, but she just keeps on keepin' on.  I think Trig has livened her up some since she's taken to chewing up stuff, just like a pup.  I thought he would learn from her, but I think she's learning from him!!

The hillbilly fountain is still going strong and is accented with Four O'Clocks growing next to it.  Four O'Clocks are easy to grow from seed and have fragrant yellow and pink flowers that open in the evening.  In Lubbock, they need some afternoon and evening shade to perform well.

October 3, 2012

Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs

This is not garden related, but I am including it here in the hope that it will help someone out there.

My dog Sam was recently diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis.  LP occurs when muscles in the larynx start to lose their function affecting your dog's ability to breath properly. 

To give you a little bit of background, Sam is 11 or 12 (I got him at the pound).  He's been hypothyroid for several years, blew out his ACL abou 18 months ago, and has some arthritis.  So he has several conditions going on.

In Sam's case (as in most from what I read on the interwebz), I noticed something was wrong during the hottest part of the summertime.  Heavy panting because of the hot weather caused him to start wheezing any time he would exert himself or get excited like when I came home from work.

After several weeks of this, I took Sam to the vet thinking that maybe he had some kind of respiratory infection.  Of course he didn't wheeze at the vet's, but I was prepared for this!  I had made a video (posted below) of the wheezing, and because of that the vet was able to diagnose what was going on.

The good news is that with a few changes I have been able to greatly improve Sam's breathing without medication or surgery.

First, the vet advised me to shave Sam's coat off.  He is a golden retriever, and he is beautiful.  Here are his before and after pictures!

Many thanks to John for doing this!!

To be honest, I was horrified at first by how different he looked!  He didn't look bad, he just didn't look like himself.  Then I asked the Google if it was safe to shave a dog's coat and found all kinds of opinions that said it would never grow back, harm the dog, (insert your own scary internet thing here), etc.  I called my vet the next day to ask him again if this was the right thing to do, and he assured me that it was and that it would be a tremendous help to my dog. 

Boy, was he right!  And, yes, your dog's hair will grow back.  Here is Sam last week (about two months after his shave).

Sam loves to eat tissues, so I let him destroy an entire roll of toilet paper.  Making your dog happy is cheap and easy!

Shaving Sam has improved his breathing tremendously by helping him to be cooler in the summer.  I mean, really, who wants to wear a fur coat when it's 100 degrees outside?!  (Shannon and John, feel free to rub it in here...)

Shaving Sam made the biggest difference of all, but there are a few other things that helped as well.  When it was super hot, I left Sam inside during the day.  I did adjust his feeding schedule to account for this, and if you feed your dog primarily in the evening, you dog will be fine waiting to potty until you get home after work.  I had a black lab when I lived in an apartment, and I let her potty in the morning before I left for work, left her in the apartment during the day, and fed her in the evening.  I did this for three years with Licorice, and she lived to be 15 years old and never had an accident in the house.  After his shave, Sam seemed to be fine outside up to about 95 degrees, but warmer than that I left him inside.

The other thing I did was to install some soaker hose under the shrubbery along the back side of my house.  Keeping the soil damp underneath your shrubs makes a tremendous difference in keeping your dogs cool, and it doesn't use that much water.  (Incidentally, it's also beneficial for your house to keep the areas around the foundation damp.  This will help prevent your foundation from cracking and causing your house to shift, so if it's very dry where you live, water your house occassionally even if you don't have pets.)

WHAT TO EXPECT:  Before I knew what was wrong with Sam, he was wheezing multiple times a day, sometimes for several minutes at a time.  After I made the above changes, he almost stopped wheezing altogether, even when it was still very hot outside.  In the first week, he wheezed maybe once or twice.  After that, almost never.  Cooler weather obviously makes a huge difference, but in my opinion, the wheezing was almost self-perpetuating, and it seemed like once I got him more comfortable it may have helped reduce the inflammation of wheezing and struggling and allowed him to do better in all circumstances, even when he gets excited when I come home from work.

Here is a video of Sam wheezing from laryngeal paralysis.  It is sad to watch this, but I wanted to included it in case you think your dog may have this so that you can see and hear what it's like.  In my experience (and Sam's), it IS manageable.

A few other words...  In the first couple of days after Sam's diagnosis, it seemed like he was getting worse every day.  I was so nervous and worried.  I called my vet and asked how I would know "when it was time," and he gave me what I thought was some solid advice.

He said that with laryngeal paralysis specifically, if the dog can recover he breath within ten minutes, he's probably okay.  Longer than that is not good.  And in the broader sense, he said, "Pick five things your dog likes to do, and when he stops doing three of those things, it's time."

That's direct, but infinitely more helpful than "you'll just know."  Because I don't know that I will.

To end things on a happier note, here are a few more pictures of my sweet Sammy Sam.  I love him so much...

Sam and me back in the day...

How to Make a Hillbilly Fountain for Your Patio

Or, as I'm calling it, my "Pee Bucket Fountain."  I know, sounds appealing, right?!  But it's really kind of cool and lets you enjoy the sound of running water for hours at a time!

You can see why I call it my Pee Bucket Fountain!

It has rained quite a bit here lately, and we had several nice days of drizzling, off-and-on rain.  It was glorious.  When (if!) it rains here, it usually comes down with a vengence and is accompanied by 50 mph winds that blow everything around the yard like a tornado has come through.  In fact, the other day while driving home from work a storm came through with such violent wind that it felt like my vehicle was surrounded by hoodlums who were shaking the car all around.  It was like the storm was trying to carjack me.

But we had some really nice, drizzly days in there too, and it made me realize how much I've missed the sound, smell, and feel of water with this extended drought we've been in.

I started thinking that maybe it would be nice to have a small fountain on my patio so that I could at least enjoy the sound of water more often.  I looked around some on Amazon to see what they had (I LOVE Amazon!!), but I knew I was way to cheap and lazy to have something that required not only electricity but also occassional cleaning of the pump.  And I started to wonder what else I could do.  This is also how I learned to build a Redneck Air Conditioner on YouTube on a hot day in late spring.

I didn't really find what I was looking for on the fountain, so I just made something up.  I bought two galvanized metal buckets and six cinder blocks.  You'll also need a third bucket - I used the dogs' galvanized water bucket for the bottom.  The buckets cost $16 a piece at Lowe's, and the cinder blocks were $1.87 each.  I also purchased some marine epoxy for another project, and the grand total was $51 with tax, so it's darn cheap.  Just use whatever will hold water that you can drill a hole in and that will fit in with your decor.  At my house, galvanized steel buckets work just fine.

Drill a small hole in the wall of the bucket near the bottom.  I used a 3/32" drill bit for mine.  Put the buckets on the cinder blocks, fill 'em with water, and voila!

I'm pleasantly surprised at how this turned out, actually.  With the tiny holes the sound is just right, and the system will run for a full two hours before you have to maintenance it.  Which means dipping the first two buckets in the bottom one to fill them back up again!  Enjoy!

July 16, 2012

Summer Bummer!

I can't believe it!  After I just said yesterday how important proper pruning is so that you have a nice, strong branch structure on your fruit trees, I came home today and found this:

It split right down the middle.  The weight of all those peaches was just too much for my poor tree.  This is what I get for bragging, I guess.  I'm so bummed.  I guess you can have too much of a good thing.

My only consolation is that I've heard that my dear old dad was kind of a slum lord with his purple martin houses this year.  Oh, well...

July 15, 2012


Peaches are about the only thing I got out of the garden last year, and it looks like it's going to be the same again this year unless I get a few late-season habaneros and tomatoes.

They're still a little green, but Sam and I ate a few tonight anyways.  They're tart with just a light sweetness.  If I can keep the ants off of them, they'll make for good eating soon!

(These are Elberta peaches, by the way.)

These two pictures show the branching structure of the tree (as well as how it looks like it's about to split in half from the weight of all the fruit!).  You want to prune fruit trees so that they have open centers with branches at wide angles which makes them nice and strong so they'll bear the weight of the fruit.

Take that, Dad - loads of peaches!