The Beginning of Fig Picking Season

   I've been watching our li'l fig tree closely in anticipation of the of our 'fig picking time'!
  You may recall the terrible tribulations from previous posts of this little tree.  It has been frozen to the ground at least twice.  The poor guy had all its leaves blown off on several occasions during various storms.  Once, during hurricane season, it had even been blown over onto its side, totally uprooted, but this tenacious little tree put out a feeler on one of it's fallen branches along the ground several feet from it's original position and sprouted itself again!  It refuses to give up, so how could we? 
  We continue to give it its annual 13-13-13 feeding and while doing so, we ask God to bless it and it keep growing between all the disasters it has to contend with. 
   Today, I went out and did the 'fig tree dance', sticking my head inside the wide thicket of huge leaves and going round and round the tree several times giving the prospective-looking figs the pinch test.  There were several big and brown and ripening,
but I found only five that were soft to the touch and willing to easily come off the tree, so they passed my pinch test. That's how ya know your figs are at peak ripeness and very sweet.  If they still feel hard and you have to tug on them to pick them, they aren't ready, so leave then for a day, then try again. You will be amazed at the difference.
These five here will be parked in the freezer in a big zip lock bag, awaiting company from the rest of the ripened fruit, which looks to be a lot, since the tree is loaded with baby "figlets".  When the bag is full we will can them, and I can hardly wait!  Since this is the start of the season, I thought I'd post links to our basic fig recipes for you, to let you know what "Figgy's" 'babies' are in for.
This is the recipe for fig preserves:

This is our strawberry figs recipe:

      We hope you enjoy these old family recipes and wish you, too, a happy fig season.
   And as for our tenacious little fig tree, if nothing else assails him, we will be able to say with much affection that this year he is having sweet success. 


Blooming Tigers

   This year Father's Day comes three days after my daddy's birthday. He has been gone now for twenty one years, but his birthday is still always a sad time. At least one consolation, one source of joy for me has now come to accompany his birthday every year, and that is that we have tiger lilies blooming in our yard. Real tiger lilies were one of daddy's favorite flowers, but were elusive to him. He had heard about them, but had never actually seen one. He had seen photos and paintings, and of course there were tons of the usual orange lilies growing most everywhere, but none had the dark spots he so desired to see.  
  As a young boy growing up, I remember daddy searching for years for this beautiful Lily. 
  At long last, one of his friends told him about seeing a group of them growing way out in one of the swamps. He could hardly believe it! He made his way through the swamp, eyes scanning the edges of the bayou and behind every tree and thicket, fearing every moment that his friend may have been mistaken and that he was on a hot and sweaty fool's errand. Finally, spying the bright orange patch, he quickly made his way toward the flowers, just knowing the orange lilies were going to be beautiful, but unspotted again.
   Getting close, his jaw dropped as the bright orange flowers joyfully displayed their dark polka dots...just as he'd always had imagined and seen in pictures. He just sat and admired them for awhile before he realized he was on the horns of a dilemma. He was an avid gardener, but he was a man of faith and a strong conscience...could he? Would he? While he did not want to uproot them and destroy the beauty of the natural habitat in which they were thriving, he pacified his conscience by reasoning that if he very carefully took one bulb, he "might could" propagate more of them, then perhaps bring back more to plant in the swamp besides in his yard. 
   He lovingly planted the bulb he had brought back from the swamp and it grew and bloomed, much to his joy. When it finally gave up it's flower and wilted, he dutifully cut it back as is prescribed, and smiling, anticipated it's growth the next Spring. It was not to be. A late blast of freezing weather killed the plant, but he held out hope that the bulb would still survive and come up in his garden along with all his usual lilies come Spring. Can you imagine his sorrow? He didn't have the heart to go back and find the lilies in the swamp, and if he did go, he never found them. He never got to see a Tiger Lily again in his whole life. 
  About four years ago I told Peggy this story and much to my joy,  awhile later a few bulbs showed up, delivered by FedEx, that she had found online for me! 
  I prayed as we planted them and said, "Here, Raymond, we plant them here for you." Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined they would be this beautiful...and on my daddy's birthday!

These amazing double blossom lilies now grow in several places in our yard; some almost finished blooming, while others are still budding.

           They are the stars of our yard this time of year and remind me of Daddy and how much he loved them and how much he would have loved to see them.  Maybe from Heaven he does see them. If so, Happy Birthday, Daddy.
That's my daddy on the right. Next to him is his daddy, who is my Grandpa Cocky. The fella in the white tie is my Uncle Bird, who we lost not that long ago. That's me standing there in the red shirt. I cant wait to stand in that group again and tell Daddy that his daughter-in-law found us some real Tiger lilies. 
   I am the only one left here from that picture (besides the little kid) the rest are waiting for me. 
 If your father is alive remember to tell him you love him every time you talk to him. The one thing that's been any comfort to me over all the years since I lost him is the fact that the last sentence I ever said to my father over the phone that last Christmas morning was, "Merry Christmas, Dad I love you."


Our First Garlic Bed: from Planting to Harvest.

  You may remember that back in September we planted our first ever patch of garlic. (In case ya forgot, here's the link to our post about our Stinking Experiment...Muahaha!!:  http://cappyandpegody.blogspot.com/2015/08/2015-fallwinter-garden-experiment.html )

  We planted it into one of our 4'x4' raised beds according to a grid system.

  After consulting several gardening sites online we decided to take the advice of more experienced garlic planters who recommended planting lots more than ya think you'll need. With that in mind, we put five more pods in the spaces between the original five holes in our cardboard grid then sat back and watched. They grew all winter and come Spring, they were lush and beautiful. When we left for our 5 week road trip they looked great, so we worried about them while we were gone.
 When we got home we were worried about them some more... now, because they had wilted and the tops were all laying down (we were so rushed when we got home, we forgot to take pictures of them), but we said a li'l prayer and yanked one up... and sure enough we had garlic!
   One of the online garlic growers also recommends braiding them, so this is my first attempt ever at braiding garlic.  I know this don't look professional, but to us its beautiful. 
   Since it is so incredibly hot and humid this time of year down here in South Louisiana, if we had hung them outside in our shed, they would have molded and rotted, so instead, we decided to hang our braids in a kitchen cabinet to dry.   
       I made six braids and counted 99 garlic heads; some small, some quite large. We plan on sharing some of them and enjoying them in lots of our Cajun dishes. Mmm, Mmm, Not bad for a first try. Ahhh, the sweet(??) smell of success!!!


Where the Easter Ham Wound Up

  After all the hubbub of Easter was over, I had taken all the leftover ham off the bone and froze it for future plans.
  Well, it wasn't all that long before the future arrived, so I took it back outa the freezer, thawed it out and cut it into chunks, and all the while, da dawgs were on high alert for any goodies that might happen to fall in the short distance from the cutting board, to the stock pot.
(...and a'course a small chunk or two mighta accidentally dropped, makin' it worth their while.)
Then, I coarse chopped a couple yellow onions,
and threw them in the pot,
then added our own homemade Cajun Spice,
and some Crystal Hot Sauce.
I ferreted out a bag of dried white beans out of the cabinet.
Once I sorted through them and rinsed them, I covered the whole shebang with water and put it to simmering all afternoon.
Once they reached the point of being almost done,
Peggy went out in her herb garden and grabbed some parsley off of her big beloved parsley root.
Once she took the leaves off the stems and chopped them,
it went into the pot along with some of our chopped bell peppers from the freezer. Just like most everything I cook, I let this simmer along while the rice pot worked, doin' it's thing. When both were done, we put them together. Not too bad for a supper of leftovers.
Our frozen larder holds plenty of possibilities starring leftovers, so stay tuned for more future coming attractions featuring "Back to the Freezer". 


My Old Homemade Backyard Firepit

  A few years ago I scrounged up some cinder blocks from one of our neighbors, and some rebar and angle iron that I scored from my good friend, Sam and used it to build our fire pit. Having the rustic ol' thing to go sit and relax around, especially when friends join, has given me much joy.
Over the years we've burned stacks of wood in it, and to be honest, if I'm in a hurry or just being lazy, I might just start it up with a pile of charcoal briquettes and some lighter fluid. 
Using that quick method, once I got a li'l pile of briquettes going, I throw on some wood and voila! have a blaze in no time.   Peggy, on the other hand, is a start-a-fire-from-scratch gal, gathering up dry bits of things, creating 'stages' of tinder and graduating to heavy wood: a pile of light dry leaves, then dry twigs, then larger twigs and branches and finally logs or hunks of wood 'strategically placed' according to her, then she lights it. I'm not that patient to wait for it to catch and spring to life.
  While I don't mind pokin' the fire once it gets lit, Peggy enjoys tending to it, adjusting the wood, bringing the un-burnt ends back into the coals and moving logs around so they get enough air; stuff like that. I let her do all that. I even made her a hook on the end of a long rebar that she likes to use.
   She picks at me for 'cheating' at lightin' fires, so I decided I'd show her that I could start a fire from scratch, too...and fast. So, here is a li'l video of what I did. 
  I am a lucky man indeed. This is just one of the many reasons Peggy and I make a great team; she loves fire poking and I prefer fire sittin', sippin' and, like the last line in the video says, she does make my rocking world go round. Ya might say, 'she lights my fire'.


My fishing Buddy

   Sometimes when Peg is busy or needs me to stay out of her hair for a bit so's she can concentrate on what she needs to do, I jump in TinkerBail , my old jeep...tinkerin' or bailin' her out, but she's pretty reliable now days.  I pull her outa the driveway and go ride somewhere to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery we got around here or go find a bank and toss in a line to see if I can pull in a few catfish.  It's a wonderful way to just sit and relax with a good book, wilin' away a few hours enjoyin' the sights and sounds of beautiful South Louisiana. 
   I don't post about it very often, 'cause I aint a trophy fisherman or a fill-the-ice-chest kind of guy neither.  Usually it's just a few fish; enough for supper or for one of our friends or neighbors, and that's enough of a day of catchin' for me.
  Well, anyway, here's today's fish story:
   With today's traffic bein' what is it, what with unsafe drivers thinking they are playing one of their 'road rage' games along our highways, or who knows..drunk or 'high' or especially texting...driving distracted, anyhow, Peg and I never leave our driveway without first prayin' and askin' the Lord to come along with us and keep us safe, along with everybody else on the road. 
  So, today, I just didn't feel like fishing alone and was talking to the Lord like I usually do. Like the old song says, "What a Friend we have in Jesus".  Peg and I take that literal. I'm not ashamed to say that He truly is our Friend, and has pulled us out of a lot of messes and has also blest us beyond words.
  So today, I figured He was my fishin' buddy. I hoped He wouldn't mind if, just for today, I called him Buddy. After all, He used to hang out with fishermen and pulled some fancy fishin' tricks on 'em, too. 
   I knew rain was coming this afternoon so me and my Buddy
decided to head for the Mississippi River to a li'l sandy place I know of and sit under a tall shady tree and watch the ships pass by.  
  Well, right off the bat, my Buddy was pullin' my leg a little and was probably laughin' up His sleeve. I tied on a hook and pulled the line tight and "Yaw!" it snapped!  After a couple tries I decided that the wimpy string on the Yankee fishin' pole that I call "Mac" wasn't near stout enough for the River's current, so I stripped all the line off and put some 30# mono on the reel, tied on a hook and good chunk of lead. 
   I rared back and chunked it hard, but the "flimsy" rod shot that piece of lead way out into the River all the way to the end of the string I had just put on.  When I saw it go, I was wondering for a second there if I did, for sure, tie it. (yes, I did) 
  When I tried to reel it in a li'l closer, I quickly found the drag was so loose that I figured it couldn't be reeled in with all that  weight, without slipping.
  Finally, after screwing the drag all the way down, I was able to reel it in and gently lob it out to the right distance this time. All this rewinding and messing around took about an hour, 'cause while doing that, I was also busy pulling in, re-baiting empty hooks on one of my hand lines that kept falling victim to some small bait thieves. I think my 'silent Partner' was enjoying all the goings ons. They didn't have  the luxury of all this fancy equipment back in His old fishin' buddies' days. 
   Finally I got everything set up where I could sit, relax and enjoy mah-self, when of course, it started drizzling rain.
This is my folding chair sitting by the water.  My Buddy's pole, "Mac" is the one ya see leanin' on the ice chest.  I cut a stick for a hand line that's stuck in the sand there, too. 
  So, 'we' sat there in the warm rain enjoyin' the day, anyhow for about 45 minutes. All I had got so far was empty hooks. 
But it wasn't all bad; I love sitting there looking out across the wide river.
 Well, true to form my Buddy hadn't been fishing for 10 minutes when the pole bent. It was a nice little channel "cat".
Barely got him in the ice chest though, before it really started raining hard. I called Peg (my favorite weather gal) and she said I better pack up and come on home before the big part of the storm got to where I was, cuz she was looking at the radar map on her computer and said it was fixin' to  get really stormy.  
Man, I hated to have to pack up and head home because that meant that my fishin' Buddy's pole had skunked me. 
 The bad news being the trip was cut short and when I got home, Peg showed me the weather radar; would you believe...! The bright red indicating a really, really thunder and lightening showdown headed straight for where I had been sitting over at the river...split apart...part of the strong weather went just north and part went south. Even the weather guy pointed it out and had a good laugh about it, but he didn't know how it happened. Me, too, neither, but I have my suspicions.  
The good news is, tho', back at the house it had rained too much for me to cut the grass tomorrow, so I may just have to head back out to the riverbank again for another try.  Being out-fished by a danged Yankee fishin' pole named "Mac" that Nobody looked like they was holdin' onto,  really took da cake.
~~~The next day I went back to my spot and again sat in the rain enjoying the river.
I sometimes wonder if the crew of the ships at anchor across the river look at me over here fishing like I look back over at them.
It wasn't long until I dragged a nice 'channel cat' onto the beach.
And soon another one joined it in the ice chest.
Lightning began to flash just as I ran out of bait, so I headed on home.  
After the thunderstorm passed I took the fish outside and cleaned them.
 I will spare you the cleaning part in case ya squeamish, but they made a nice bag of fillets that I stashed in the freezer for future court bouillons or for when we do a nice fish fry.  Time will tell.
   At least I did twice as good as I did yesterday...I wonder how many I would come home with, sittin' out there at the River with a week's worth of readin', reelin' and relaxin'. Might be fun to try and find out.


Spring Babies

Spring has sprung in our yard and the yard is full of "babies".  We have baby asparagus:

(Along with full grown dollar weeds, Grrr.)
  Yes we have baby bananas:
We, for the first time, have baby brussel sprouts. We tried, but failed to get much from them, but we learned from the experience and are already planning to try again in the Fall.
The baby carrots are doing fine and should do well in our loose garden soil.
We also have baby grapes that we will fight the birds for and unfortunately, we usually lose.
Moving to our row of citrus trees, we were thrilled to see our small two year old kaffir lime tree flouring with tiny baby limes.  We usually pull the citrus off the first year to allow the tree to grow big enough to support the weight of the fruit. Since the tree is still rather small, we might end up doing the same thing; however we are excitedly leaving one of two of them to mature this year.

Our other citrus, including our Meyer "lemon monster", our exceedingly sweet and extra juicy Ruby Red grapefruit, the Naval orange and Louisiana sweet Satsuma trees are all doing great and are also filled with baby fruit.

(Lord, please say the same--->) We will again be able to share our wonderful citrus bounty with all our family friends and neighbors, as in past years. (Last year notwithstanding)
Elsewhere in the yard we also have baby sweet peas,
baby pomegranates,
and "Twitchy's" baby yum yums, which are a variety of nectarines.
Over by the fence where we planted blueberries last Fall, and they are trying hard to ripen their baby berries despite the birds, and 'who' we might suspect are squirrels, who have been upending the chicken wire "cages" that we hastily fashioned. We notice the biggest almost bluest baby berries have been stripped off the young bushes. Never fear, we are plotting and planning to build proper cages for them in the future. (Take that birds and/or squirrels!)
 In an effort to get a few paw paws this year, we wrapped the bloom-filled one of our two paw paw trees with bird netting.  This is another fruit that the birds get before they even get a chance to grow at all and ripen; they usually eat the dark baby flowers...completely.
Our wise old pecan tree, one of two that were planted by my father way back in the early 90's and our two new small pecan trees have no baby nuts, so far, but are all flowering nicely.  Hopefully, we can get a few nuts this fall when we go to war with the squirrels for them. Peg has already seen a big red squirrel perusing the limbs looking for food. All's I can say, is he'd better watch out or the shoe's gonna be on the other foot. 

Well, that covers most of the Spring time baby reports. It's always an exciting time for us as we await their growth. A last minute addition to this post is a joyous discovery I just made.  We now have baby figs or as we call them "figlets".

Speaking of Spring...I hope you don't mind if we "spring" this on ya (see below). It's not so much for our regular readers, and I hope they aren't offended at seeing this again, but we wanted to include the information below to any new readers, which helps and encourages us with the writing and posting of this, our blog.

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