Midsummer Daydreaming

Morning & evening … that is when I get things done in the summer. Morning is when I spend time in the ‘refuge’ … my little garden on the prairie. Welcome. Early afternoon is siesta time. Napping is a summer hobby. The heat pulls sweat and energy from a body and my favorite cure is retreating to air conditioning, pouring myself a large glass of iced tea, grabbing a quilt and reclining with a book or magazine. Reading doesn’t last long. My garden can have the heat of the day all to itself.

My farmgirl pal, Anita, has a monster garden. I have a mini garden by comparison. I haul water to a stock tank by the garden fence and use a pump to water my garden, so practicality must rule. My garden provides fresh veggies and enough extra to justify canning. But, that is all. It is also my yard – for lack of the real thing. When I walk through my garden gate, it is a different world … especially this summer. Drought turned the entire region to tan very early on. Now we are into late summer and it is dry and very dusty. I’ve noticed in the last week that there are a lot of dust devils whirling about. Must have something to do with the heat, lack of humidity and extremely dry conditions.

I started hauling water to our cattle in one particular pasture a couple of days ago. The reservoirs dried up. In order to use the pasture for grazing, hauling water is now part of my daily routine. It is important to keep the water level up because the calves can’t get to water otherwise. We have two tanks there for this bunch of cattle. The other pastures have well water in tanks.

My posse:

My garden is the place I go to get away from the sad parched earth that surrounds it … for miles, and states. Most of the west is in drought mode. Ranching friends are getting their hay for winter-time feeding from several hundred miles away. And, boy, is it expensive. Generally, this area is a hay crop producer. We are so fortunate in that the place where we get our hay every year received just enough rain to make hay – not quite enough for the whole winter, but almost. And, we paid the usual price as opposed to twice that amount.

I put my garden in late, due to cold. Then, a hot wind blew the entire month of June. Weird. Last year could not have been any more different. The grass was so lush and tall. It was cool and wet and, well, perfect. This summer is, well, ugly and grim … except for my garden. When it did take off, the heat and a LOT of water made it look like Eden (at least to these green starved eyes).

The tomato plants are hiding gobs of fruit under the leaf cover. Carrots need to be thinned. Beets are beautiful. Oh My, the sunflowers! I have a farmgirl craft project planned for Fall-time and it requires dried sunflower heads. So, I planted sunnies everywhere I could think of. The craft? Ok, you’ll need 6-8 or so dried sunflower heads, an open basket, a rustic tray or wooden trencher (you get the idea), glass glitter, spray glue or thinned down Elmers glue. Lay your sunnies on newspaper, apply glue and sprinkle on glass glitter – not too thick and don’t be stingy … make the sparkle cover ‘just right’. Let dry and arrange in your container. It is so earthy and beautiful. Glass glitter makes all the difference in the world. You can order it online and you’ll want coarse grit.

I think I mentioned that I have a new favorite flower for beds: Denver Daisy Rudbeckia. Won’t be without them ever again. Anything shaped like a daisy is a Shery flower. Debbie Bosworth (the Beach Farmgirl blogger) loves Dahlias. I’d never given them much thought, but because of her, I took a second look at them. Will try them next year – along with vivid orange Zinna’s. Debbie, What kind of place do Dahlias like … or more importantly, what don’t they like?

This PomPom Dahlia caught my eye.

In the morning while and after I water, I have my morning coffee. The redwing blackbirds and mourning doves wait for me to fill an old enamelware roasting pan with seeds for them. I like to linger there and ease into the day.

I’ve SO enjoyed my new garden yard!! It really is my refuge. I liken it to a kid’s playhouse or treehouse. One of the big surprises in my garden is Moonflowers. Who knew that such an exotic looking creature would like it here, even thrive?! The blossoms are 6″ across and 8″ long. They uncurl in the evening and stay open until they wilt about mid-day. Seems like an awful lot of work to bloom for such a short time.

This is just a third of the plant that I planted in whiskey barrels. I placed one on each side of the gate. The nursery told me they would grow here, but they HAVE to have full sunlight to bloom profusely. A lot of plants say full sunlight on their little tags. That takes on a different meaning here. We are 4,500 feet in elevation, it is arid, hotter than Hades and can be windy. We don’t just have full sun, we have intense sun. Geraniums burn up, likewise Marigolds, forget Lobelia and several other so called sun lovers. But, these moonflowers eat the sun up!

I had planned on sharing photos from our local farmer’s market, but someone deleted them from my camera. Arrrrgh. Sorry ’bout that. The thing I was going to mention about farmer’s markets is that the other day I heard on Ag Radio that local farmer’s markets are up 10%. Ok, that is small, but if you think about it being a nationwide trend, it is a very encouraging number. I frequent them! Since my garden is small, I like to buy what I don’t grow … or don’t grow enough of to can.

My garden, as I mentioned earlier, is my yard and my garden, so I plant flowers in rocked beds and in the tanks right along with veggies in some cases. Oxalis provide a colorful border for the carrots. Blue sage grows up in the middle of my lettuce etc.

Above: Grandpa Ott Morning Glory and Sundown Echinacea. The latter has flowers that begin as pale orange, deepen in hue and finally change to the shade you see here. The flowers last for almost a month. Below, Purple Coneflower Echinacea

The old grain drill I turned into a planter. I thought that portulaca/moss roses would be the best choice for it and they agreed. I have no memory of planting sunflowers way up there. Maybe birds? I dunno.

I have a new ‘collection’. Geraniums. They are my favorite all-around flower. They love outside, but will happily reside inside too, in a sunny window during the winter when I most need GREEN. Below is one of my new additions. Isn’t she a dandy!

I waited all winter for these three short months of heat [to complain about] :o) and I try to enjoy it while it lasts. But, I’d be lying if I said summer is my favorite season. My favorite is on deck: Autumn. Early fall. And, my farmgirl pals and I, we plan to take full advantage of it this year in the way of going glamping in our newly acquired campers until the weather and snowy roads won’t let us. Our maiden journey as a Glamping caravan is slated to take place over Labor Day weekend. It is looking like there will be six farmgirl sisters (with campers), plus three visiting glampers … and a couple of float-in visitors that couldn’t stay the whole weekend. We’re planning to dress our campsites just like you’d see in the book Sisters On The Fly. We’ve all busied ourselves getting ready! Michele (in her mid 30s) has youthful energy to fuel her determination to get her handyman Shasta camper project done in time. She told me yesterday that she has the interior painting done. Next, the floor. Then, the fun part: dressing it up. She won’t get the exterior done in time for our 1st outing, but her husband is a mechanic and his hobby is auto and motorcycle restoration. When it is done, Michele’s glamper will ooze vintage glamor with a true to original, professional looking paint job. The detail stripes on my camper were free-handed by someone who can’t see without reading glasses (me), so it is not perfect! But I think she’s lookin’ pretty darn snazzy if I do say so myself :o) She’s gone from ‘plain jane’ to styley’ glamper. Now, she has personality, a name, an attitude … she knows who she is.

As of this morning I can declare that my glamper painting is finished! All that is left to do is apply some custom decals I ordered. The saying below will grace the entire back (above the window) of the camper. The name of my camper will be on the door-side in large, black ‘log’ lettering (Cabin In A Can). The year and make of the camper will grace the front in very small lettering below the window. There are two blank places on either side of the front windows, and I think I’ll put a trio of Evergreen decals there. If I get brave, I’m going to paint a fishing rod on the driver’s side. We’ll see. All the artwork and lettering will be black. I love personalized glampers, but I don’t want mine to be toooo busy graphics-wise.

This is what she looked like the day I brought her home last winter.

Seems like about everyday, I add something else to my glamper collection or do something to her to get her road-ready. I made a message board out of an old TV tray that is mounted on the wall just as you enter the camper. If you’d like the instructions, they’re available in the MaryJanesFarm monthly newsletter, The Cluck.

I found a mint condition Woolrich camp blanket at a rummage sale the other day … for the princely sum of $5. The Laura Ashley umbrella was $12 at an antique store and my sister gave the fringe jacket to me years ago (it used to fit). One of my favorite additions is the old handmade sunday-school toy shield (the lesson being ‘put on the full armor of Christ’ from the scripture verse). Faith is my foundation and my camper wouldn’t be complete without it either. So, my shield now lives on a cupboard door. I found the nicest wool granny squares afghan at a 2nd hand store ($7) – it had been washed and put in a dryer, so now it is felted and fuzzy-soft. The old Beacon camp blanket came from an antique store also. They are so collectible nowadays and even old frail things are outrageously priced, but I found this one in colors that I like and it is in good, used condtion for $30.

The old western belt with my name on it is now pillow art. I have a photo of myself wearing it when I was 4years old.

So, my summer thus far has been spent close to home … with a garden hose in hand … daydreaming about glamping trips in the not so distant future. Soon, my little home away from home is going to take me to the hill country … to a darling little campground nestled in the Apsen and Fir. We’re hoping for day-trips in and around the Black Hills, lunch at a winery, a Glamp-in dinner with all the frills, paddle-boating on a mountain lake, dress-up dinner at a log lodge, spending quality R&R with my farmgirl friends … and falling asleep for the first time in my camper … with the cool mountain air breezing through. I’ll tell you allllllllll about it later! For now, enjoy what is left of your summer and if you’ve taken a fun vacation or are about to, tell us about it in the comments section below.

  1. Brenda says:

    Hi Shery! Your camper is looking great and all your pretties inside are bringing it all together. My mom in love just sent a large Scottie door stop over that was left from an Aunt who had passed recently. It is the exact duplicate of one I already have and the first thought that came to mind was now I have one for my dream camper. I am doing as you said and keeping my eyes open as I drive around the countryside we live in but I do not really know anyone since we have only lived her four years and am not brave enough to stop and peek around and in barns. I have enlisted more helpers for the search though. We have been going through our own kind of drought here in Michigan also. All our berries that we have on our property were shriveling up from the heat before they would even get ripe enough to pick. Finally the rain came and it has been raining for two days straight. Our back pond is the lowest I have seen it and I was a little concerned because that is where we pump water for our garden from. Oh how I wish I lived close to you and could come for a visit in your sweet little hideaway garden. I prefer coffee but am always happy for a cup of tea! Many blessings on your Glamping trips! I will look forward to pictures.

  2. Juanita says:

    Hi Shery, Love the things you have done to the camper. I really wish I could find one for myself. It looks so cute and I envy you farm sisters. Go have alot of fun.
    Talk about the weather, It is very dry here too. I live on the Eastern Shore of virginia and it has been hot and dry also. I too have a small garden and I have had to water every day to keep things going, but it isn’t like the rain. I love your moon flowers. I have never grown them. They are beautiful. Keep up the good work on your blog. Juanita Massey Farmsister #1020

  3. Betty Benesi says:

    Up until I saw your camper, my idea of camping was staying at the Awhanee Lodge in Yosemite. But when I saw your little sleeping nook I just wanted to crawl in and stay. You have just the touch!
    You mentioned that you painted the line on the outside free hand. Looked great, I wouldn’t have known except you said so. In case you need to paint lines again, use masking tape to outline the area you want to paint, make sure it sticks well. This will give you a crisp edge without all the time.


    Hi Betty,  Thank you!  I did use blue painters tape, but there was still some bleed-under that I had to go back and tidy up after I took the tape off. At some point though, ya just gotta say ‘good enough is good enough! :o)

  4. Shery, LOVE LOVE LOVE the camper and the garden area. My husband and I moved into a townhouse once and I had a little back patio that I literally tried to use all the stuff I had brought from my 23 acres that we sold. LOL! I had a end unit so I also got to have a flower bed down the side of mine. My back patio was so cozy with all the greenery and garden art. (I’m not sure the neighbor down the way from me thought so) lol! I know y’all will have a great time glamping. I just sent Deb (beachgirl) pics of the one my husband and I are re-storing. We will be going on our maiden voyage in it in September as well. We are going up around Boston. We wanted to go to North Dakota/South Dakota but I would rather wait to see how Thumper does on his first trip before we venture off that far. We have been camping for 20 years and we only have 5 states left to visit. ND, SD, MT, Iowa, and Nev. Have fun and be Blessed. Neta

  5. Grace~katmom says:

    Oh Shery,
    How I luv Moonflowers, and their faint ‘baby powder’ scent….
    I also luv your re-purposed metal tray…
    A Glamping we must go!
    I am having some gal~pals over on the last weekend of Aug., for a Trailer Slumber Party… (one of the perks of owning property)…We’ll hit the "Buggy Barn" for their annual Quilt show and then into town for some good ol’ fashion Junktiquing… wish you & your ‘gang could come join us…
    Wagons HO!


    Hi Grace!, Your get-together sounds great. Y’all have FUN … I know you will.  :o)


  6. Judy S. says:

    My husband found a camper for me 2 yrs. ago. He found it one fall afternoon parked in a yard on an old country road with a For Sale sign in it’s window. It’s a 1952 model and maybe a bit smaller than yours. I love that you painted yours. What kind of paint did you use? My camper was originally for overflow hunters during our MI hunting season. It is my little play house now. I look forward to your ‘stories’ each month. Thank you for sharing your life.


    Judy,  Thanks!  About the paint…I used exterior gloss enamel paint. Two coats plus a third on the top … and a lot of touch up with a tiny brush. Be sure to get the BLUE paint tape. It comes up really easy. I also used a roller – large one for the body, small one for the stripes. My girlfriend helped me. Fact is, if she hadn’t got me going, I’d probably still be wrestling with how to paint it… Polka dots or no, what color etc. Have fun with your playhouse — that is exactly how I see mine :o)   Shery


  7. Emily says:

    Love all your beautiful flowers but have to say that I believe that you do not have "moon flowers". I grow them on my upper porch and they are a vine. You have the common name is jimson weed or datura..which is a beautiful deadly plant! We in the south call it loco weed and it grows a lot behind the barns! I think if ingested etc you go a little crazy…so you gals watch the glamping! If you ever want to come visit Tennessee, come park at Watermelon Moon Farm. Would love to host such creative souls! Enjoy the rest of your summer and be safe on that long highway!

  8. Victoria says:

    Oh honey…..all of us when we get "our age" have to wear magnifiers!!! And yes, I’ll vote for Autumn also! Something about the subtle shift in the way the sun shines through the windows, the first smell of wood smoke in the air, (even in So.Cal), football back in full swing, putting up food, those ageless rituals are so comforting. I’m looking forward to it. Even here, with the beach culture and all that, I put Indian corn bunched at my front door, dried corn stalks (from our garden!)on our porch and pumpkins all about. Love it!! Don’t know why, but there is something very primal about fall. P.S. I’m totally jealous about all this glamping stuff. I wannna to do it too!!!! (Yes, I’m whining).:=)

  9. Diann says:

    I love moon flowers. I don’t have to make an effort to plant them though. They just pop up wherever they choose on our ranch. It is always a pleasure to be wandering around and see those lovely flowers. I just don’t want them invading the veggie garden and they do have a tendency to invade if left to their own means. Love your photos too! Thanks for the effort of sharing.

  10. Debbie says:

    Howdy Shery,
    Well, you sure are having a wonderful summer! Our says sound similar… I’m staying in with the air conditioning too, getting some naps and trying anything to beat the heat and humidity! Your "little garden" is thriving and so, so beautiful! I remember well the arid west in the dog days of summer and many drought years with watering regulations for suburban neighborhoods etc…Not an easy environment for gardening, but not impossible with a can do attitude and some shade here and there! It’s perfect that your garden yard is sheltered by a fence too! Your moon flowers are amazing! Dahlias are tropical as well and a delight to watch unfold in the garden!
    I did a little research for you about the Dahlia’s… Here’s a link for you to peruse about the planting and care of Dahlias’
    I do know that they love heat but need to be kept moist in the dryest of days. I think you’d do great with them in containers with mulch on top… that way you can keep them watered regurlarly with ease and they should perform for ya quite well! I love the pom pom you chose for next year! They are an annual and can be planted in late spring two weeks before your last frost date.

    Your glamping adventures sound just dreamy… and espeically in Autumn… ( my favorite season too )! Oh what fun you’ll have! Can hardly wait for that post!
    Sending hugs and good wishes for the remaining summer days!
    Deb ( Beach Farmgirl )

  11. Claudia says:

    Howdy Shery: Love your paint job on the camper. You did good. Also love your flowers and garden. I love your newsletter and can’t wait for the next one. Have a great camping trip. Guess we won’t be hearing from you in a while.

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