Giving our Yard...uh..."Fertilizer!"

  It's been so long ago that I don't remember where we learned about this job of feeding our fruit trees.  It was probably from the LSU Agriculture Department, or maybe from our County Agent, who we dragged over here one time to have a look at some stuff growing on the bark of one of our trees. (was nothing serious) Maybe we learned it from Peggy's Master Gardeners class years ago, or someplace else but, anyhow, for us, the "F" word in February stands for "fertilizer" and not what some Yankees may have to say about conditions in February.  
   So, here that month has rolled around again, and like every year, we put down 13-13-13 ("triple thirteen" they call it) in 1 lb. doses around all our fruit and nut producing trees.  Our yard is quite fertile, so trees like the Crepe Myrtles, Ligustrums and River Birches do fine, but we always give back to the fruit bearing trees 'cause we figure they work harder producing good things for us. 
     We are certain that the thirty few dollers we spend for 100 lbs. of fertilizer pays us back in fruits and tree health, not to mention the exercise of puttin' it in the ground...whew.  We put 1 lb. of fertilizer every 6 feet or so along the outer drip line of each tree. We were told that they should get one pound for each year old they are.  Some small bushes, like our newly acquired blueberry bushes only get 1 lb.  Some smaller trees get 2 or 4 lbs.   It takes 12 lbs. to go all the way around our big Japanese plum trees.  To be sure, the citrus trees all take up a good share, but still, even doing something nice for 'em, ya still gotta watch out for those sharp thorns!
    It is now, like we said, February, so much of the yard is still kind of asleep and in need of tending to and weeding, but this is the time we need to feed the trees; when they are dormant.
    Here is a very short video of the last hole, showing how we do it and how glad I was to be done with this month's major "F" chore.


Our Family Mardi Gras Party 2016

  We were supposed to be writing this Mardi Gras blog post from our camper, either over at Toledo Bend or Chico State Park, but our poor ol' dawg, MarkyBear, did not enjoy his Christmas camping adventure, causing us to pack up the next day @ 2 A.M. and head for home, and thus, has kept us from heading out camping again. We love the old guy and want him to be comfortable, so, we stayed home...for now, til' we can plan on how we can go about it.
   Since our plans were now defunct, and we hadn't been to Lafayette with the family for Mardi Gras for a few years, we gladly jumped at the chance to go catch up with family! For many years now our family meets in Lafayette on the Saturday before Mardi Gras to party and watch the Saturday Children's parades.  This tradition started years ago, and the reason originally was to watch the family kids marching down the street in the parades.  Well, those kids now have kids of their own and the tradition continues.
    Since it is still four days before 'real' Mardi Gras, it is easy for the family to get together even if they have other plans for "Fat Tuesday" (Mardi Gras).  
   We always meet in the same church parking lot and have a tailgate-style roadside wonderful get-together, visiting, eating, and catching up with family and friends.
 Two 55 gallon drum bbq pits stay hot for four or more hours, and the family pitmasters cook anything anyone brings along with them.
 This year there were several different styles of bacon wrapped snacks, burgers sausages, boudin, and pork done several different ways, including the pork steaks I had brought along, all doctored up with my special spices. (A couple of the pork steaks followed us back home and ended up in a Super Bowl Jambalaya the next day) There were all manner of snacks and 'sides', including dirty rice and such.  There must have been ten different flavors of King Cakes and believe me, I did manage to sample some of them!
 We had a great time and Peggy put together a nice video of the day. 
Peggy here; I was FREEZING that day. I had on my long, heavy black leather coat with a hood, jeans, gloves, heavy socks and thick hiking boots, and I still couldn't get warm. You'd think, being an ex-Yankee, from upstate New York, that I wouldn't have shamed myself in such a way. You'd think that these Southern folks would be the ones who couldn't tolerate the cold, but Noooooo....look at Emily...the young beauty on the right in the photo above...short sleeves!! Watch the short video and you'll see plenty of others in Short Sleeeves!!! There aren't many cold, COLD days down here in South Louisiana, but the ones we get...this cold...it's a wet cold, this COLD goes right through you, to the bone. (lower 50's and wind)
  Speaking of Emily; she is a one woman welcoming committee. She's the first one to run and give us a big welcoming huggg. So sweet and so very much appreciated.
  And another thing: I took most of the photos and videos. If you'll notice, they are all mostly taken from behind, around, or near the bbq pit...where it was somewhat warm. I didn't get as many up close photos of family and friends as we needed and I'm sorry for that. So many wonderful people, like Aunt Bonnie, Aunt Margaret, Cousin Kim, Cousin Bernie, Lynn and Chris, Cousin Jennifer, etc....I KNOW I'm missing names, too. We heard Brian Robin was around, but we didn't see him, either. I should have invaded the warmth of Uncle Maurice and Aunt Margaret's "Rock Star Bus", as Cappy calls it, sitting temptingly over there.
   It was a great day and we were glad that we got to go. We left earlier than we wanted to, or should have, but I had been up most of the night with our pore ol' dawg, MarkyBear, who was sick and...

 well...not the life of the party anymore, it seems, but we love the boy DEARLY and worried about him, so we wanted to get back home and check on him. (I wanted to get warm.)
  This video is short by our standards, but it gives the flavor of a small home town Family Friendly (not BIG TIME New Orleans, for sure) Mardi Gras.


Lemony Pickin's; a Series of Unfortunate (AND Fortunate) Events

   Our Lemon Monster has been standing out in our backyard, hands on his hips and impatiently tapping one foot, while his beautiful, plump, bright yellow fruit heavily dangle from his branches. He was just 'asking for it'. Each year we think he looks forward to the tussle between us, whereby he fights to see how many 'digs' he can get in, per lemon that we purloin from his branches. We fight him over every lemon, but then make it up to him a couple of weeks later with a very nice extra special, extra expensive dousing of 13-13-13, which we hollow out ~ about 15 or so holes all around his drip-line and fill each with approximately one cup of this particular blend of fertilizer. He seems to love it, since he thrives on it, rewarding us with such great harvests...the Grump. And, away we go again.

   This year, due to an extra nice winter, the fray took place a few weeks earlier than normal.
Our dear Yankee, "snowbird" friends, Mr. Ed and Mrs. Jean from Rochester, New York and  Florida had only heard about our lemon picking escapades, and on occasion, had been given some of the lemons and bottled juice, but had never been here to witness what the process entailed.  
    Mr. Ed loves working up north, harvesting buckets and buckets of Maple sap and then standing over his syrup stove for hours on end, patiently boiling down his 'liquid gold' maple syrup. As a matter of fact, he's one of these fellas that's interested in a myriad of subjects and is always on the go, and open for adventure. His brother-in-law's house was destroyed by a tornado, so he and Mrs. Jean loaded up his chain saws and drove hundreds of miles to the rescue; he went out on a fishing vessel to learn how to deep sea commercial fish, they've traveled world wide to experience life on many levels and to learn new things.  (So, Peg and I thought "maybe...")
     We called them with the promise of gallons of lemon juice (Mr. Ed LOVES lemons and Mrs. Jean LOVES making all kinds of jelly)...and as much citrus as they wanted, if they'd like to come and take part in the harvesting of the Lemon Monster. They talked it over and decided it sounded like a fun project, so they loaded up and drove twelve hours from their place in Florida all the way over to help us. 
 They showed up Sunday evening, the last day in January, and early the next (foggy) morning, Mr. Ed and I began pickin' on the Lemon Monster.
With a li'l ceremony and much enthusiasm, we placed the first ripe, juicy lemon into the big blue wheelbarrow. That was fun. 
       THEN...for the next hour we stooped and stretched and groaned and clawed our way into the tree, harvesting about 90% of the lemons, with no help from the Lemon Monster, who fought us tooth and especially "nail!".  He 'got' us several times.
     We always leave some hanging there for future use, like when we want a bit of fresh lemon zest, or for a neighbor, etc.
With quite some effort from both of us, we got the heavy wheelbarrow of fruit shoved and dragged over to the back door, brought out a dishpan,
and loaded it up,
 then dumped it into the sink to be rinsed and scrubbed by Mrs. Jean to get off any dust or residue accumulated on them over the growing season.
Once Mrs. Jean had washed them, stacked them in another dishpan, Peg, Mr. Ed and I dove into the job, slicing them forever, it seemed, into quarters, peeling them for hours, (which made for stings here and there, and eventually "prune-y" fingers). I manned our wooden fruit press, struggling to turn the crank, squeezing and squeezing, then finally after a very long day,  we were all exhausted, never wanting to look another miserable lemon in the face again, we got it bottled.  
    It was all worth it, though. This year's haul was 6 gallon jugs and 20 water bottles full of 16 oz. of pure, raw lemon juice. That's about 9 gallons all together. A pretty good year for our beloved Lemon Monster.  
Below, find the weary lemon crew at the end of a long day.  (Pegody, being the photographer and editor; the behind-the-scene's all around gopher and helper, did as much as any of us, but, since she wasn't in any of the pictures, she can claim she was 'whooped', too.) (Oh yes I was! Peggy smiling here) 
Now, as those of you who follow our Blog, here and also cappyandpegody's channel on youtube, you are painfully aware, when me and Mr. Ed get together, there is often a video of our shenanigans, and this lemon picking event is no different, so sit back and enjoy two friends 'cut up' and get 'cut up' having a ball wrestling the dreaded, but much loved Lemon Monster, for "his" prized possessions. To "him" we say, "Lemon tree...when life hands you lemons...Hand 'em over!!!!"
 click on this photo to start the video!
The second video, below, shows our next step in the process of juicing our lemons. We have to admit that our setup looks like a bit of a Rube Goldberg kind of deal, but we did what we had to do to get the juice into the jugs. We always plan to rig up a better way to do it each year, but then in the heat of battle, we forget and just 'gitter done'. 
click on this photo to start the video.
We Thank God for such a bountiful harvest and for the friends who gave up so much to come join us in tackling this time-consuming job and we also pray for the strength and spunk to be able to take on our scrappy Lemon Monster again next year, should he challenge us afresh, once more leading us up the garden path with his lemony wiles. But alas, in the end, it's always a 'win-win' situation for all.