Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.


Posted on | June 15, 2012 | 7 Comments

Well, I’m sure this comes as a big surprise, but the garden chores got away from me a little bit.  Not through any fault on my part, of course.  Mainly it happened because we have been doing this:

Helping to shear Ramses, the UNC mascot.

And this:

We found a pond where the owners don’t have time to fish.

And we were very happy to help them out…

…with their fish overpopulation.

And this:

Pretty graduated from the 5th grade. With honors, of course.

Plus this:

The first watermelon of the season truly has heart.

A girl has to find time for all these things, you know.  Which meant I wasn’t dealing with this:

Suckers grow between the main shoots of the tomato plants.
Suckers growing between the main branches of the tomato plant.

The problem with not pruning the suckers as they grow on your tomato plants is that eventually your tomato plant looks like this:

Tomato, green giant variety.

Which is exactly what my tomato plants looked like when I finally stumbled down to gather the harvest.  I knew the plants were loaded with tomatoes.  They were just hidden from the ripening sun.  And the branches were so tightly packed into the cages that they were starting to get diseased.  Or eaten by bugs that the guineas couldn’t reach.  Or something else bad that I don’t even want to know about.

Something evil lurks here.

So we all headed down with the 3 sets of pruning shears and my other garden helpers:

Raw milk to prevent blossom end rot and Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap to keep away pests.

We gave all the plants a good haircut with the shears, a good spray of soap on the leaves, and a good soaking at the roots with the milk.  And what do you know?  I was right.  There were tons of tomatoes hiding in there.

The big reveal!

And none of the clippings got wasted.  C.C.’s a big fan of tomato branches.

Who needs the red part when you’ve got the green part?

The trouble with pruning is that it’s really hard when you first get started.  It seems a shame to be cutting away healthy, vigorous branches that you’ve babied since they were just seeds.  But after a few good cuts, it’s hard to stop.  I cut back the crepe myrtle.



Then I attacked the parsley and lemon balm.

Twin take-over attempt.

And cleared a path for the trumpet lily to grow behind the lemon balm since I stupidly planted the lemon balm in front of it last year.  Not having any idea that lemon balm had aggressive tendencies.

I also cut up the oregano which was trying to suffocate the guara I planted it in front of.  Because every mistake is worth repeating at least twice.

Then I went after the butterfly bush.  Mine had been allowed to grow free into this amorphous shape:

Free love butterfly bush.

I had ideas that it would come out like this lovely butterfly bush pruned into a tree shape:

Purple perfection.

I don’t want to say it was a total FAIL, but after this result I decided to find something other than my plants to prune:


What else could I prune?  What else…….

Hey big guy. You look soooo hot in all the fur…..

Bruno’s breeder always said Great Pyrs should never be shaved.  Their skin isn’t made to be that exposed to sun, dirt, and parasites.  I would never do anything to put Bruno at risk for sunburn, bacteria, or fleas and ticks.  But there’s no reason he couldn’t be cooled down a little bit….

I’m taking the fact that he sat, smiling, for the whole process as a sign that he agreed with me.

Bruno feels a breeze for the first time ever.

I know Daisy enjoyed it.

The best cat gift ever—soft cuddly dog fur, without the dog in it. Get your cat some for Christams this year.

Since we couldn’t take the fur away from her without being exposed to cat scratch fever….

I’m prepared to die to keep this fur. Are you prepared to die in order to take it from me?

….we let her keep it in her dog, um, cat house.

To the victor goes the…matted clumps of dog hair.

I have to admit I was very pleased with this result:

Great Pyrapoodle

So pleased that I looked around for more things that needed a cooler haircut for summer.  Lucky for the boys,  The Other Half got to their heads before I did.

Close call, boys, close call.

Then while we were putting away the pruning shears, we found these weeds at the top of the driveway by the tool trailer.  I actually don’t know if they are weeds or not.  They are some type of soft stemmed plant that grows 6-8 feet high.  Oh my!


I paid the boys $1 each to cut all these things and haul them off to the livestock.  I was tempted to do it myself but working in leaf debris means putting on boots instead of flip flops and I just didn’t feel up to that kind of stress.  Kills the joy of pruning, you know.

Worker Bee #1

Worker Bee #2

I should have made them pay me, though.  Because I let them use the machete.

Prepare to die, weed-thingy.

Ah, the benefits of farm life.  You’re just far enough away from the neighbors that you can let your children use machetes and no one calls you on it.  That’s freedom, people, real freedom.


7 Responses to “Pruning.”

  1. Sherry Herry
    June 16th, 2012 @ 6:10 am

    I have those “weeds” too. I call them Jack in the Bean Stalk, jack for short. They grow 12 or 15 feet high at me house. Every time we cut them down they come back with more friends. I just can’t seem to get rid of them.

  2. Kelsie
    June 16th, 2012 @ 7:09 am

    Seriously jealous of those fish…My entire garden needs pruning…There is always next yr…right??…though we might not be able to find the front of the house by then lol.

    Love your boots/flip flop comment, that is exactly why I have given up on outdoor work.

    Blessings Kelsie

  3. Ferne K
    June 16th, 2012 @ 8:31 am

    I love your life on the farm stories. Especially the one about Daisy sleeping in the dog fur. Great way to start my day off with a laugh.

  4. TexWisGirl
    June 16th, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    thanks for stopping by today and leaving a comment! did you know that your blog page is not part of your google i.d.? the link you left w/ your name and your blog didn’t go anywhere, so i just typed in what i figured was your blog url and came here. just thought i’d tell you in case folks have trouble finding you!

    i love your great pyr! such a furball, though! makes me grateful for the hair my 4 big dogs leave me. 🙂

  5. Jill
    June 17th, 2012 @ 11:05 am

    That Daisy! She knows how to live it up!! 🙂

  6. Liz
    June 18th, 2012 @ 7:16 am

    I just love your blog, and your sense of humor. You are not the only mom who lets her children “work” with a machete. Good job!!

  7. Shana Downs
    July 1st, 2015 @ 9:43 am

    I love your dog! I was actually just ‘googling’ along on the web for pyrepoodles and found your site!
    We are looking for a companion dog for my father in law to sit with him and help him ‘watch the chickens’ all day. I have it in my brain that this is the kind of dog he needs.
    Had a blast looking at your pics – have a wonderful rest of the summer!
    Shana from Texas

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