No. 9

These are ninth-generation open-pollinated tomato plants humming along nicely under a 900-watt halogen bulb, awaiting spring transplant time in the garden (which could be any day now given our lack of winter this year).

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The plants were developed mostly from an heirloom beefsteak variety called German Johnson, crossed with another called Belgium Giant, and suffused with the DNA essence of maybe four other heirloom varieties. After the first two years, no further crossing was made, and plant selection for the coming year’s seeds depended on tomato flavor and size, early ripening and the ability to withstand the extreme heat of South Texas summers.

Yum!I call these Brazos Beefsteaks, after the river running a couple hundred yards south of our gardens. The fruit ripen as soon as 65 days from planting, which is pretty quick for a beefsteak type, and they typically range in size from 10 to 16 oz. They’re meaty, with small seed cavities and (OK I’m bragging, but it’s true) really terrific old-time tomato flavor the likes of which can never be had in any grocery store.

Open-source tomatoes are in my opinion superior to hybrids if one has at least three years to devote to selective breeding. It’s amazing how adaptable they are to various climates. With hybrids, selective breeding isn’t possible, because the seeds produce plants that are genetically different from each other and almost always inferior to the parent hybrid plant from which they came.

That’s it for the winter garden report. So remember kids, don’t buy that which you can better grow yourselves.

Posted in Brazos River, Country Life, Food, Garden, Vegetables

Meet Chappie

So a few weeks after Bosco died, we decided to get another pup and become a two-dog family again. Actually, I was kind of pushing the idea, while Christi had understandable reservations since Boo, our remaining dog, still is only half-trained and semi-wild. But we pressed ahead and put a deposit on a male Catahoula from the same breeder who sold us Boo.

That pup was born in December, in a litter of six. Five were males, and we had first pick among the boys. Some consider the more well-known leopard-spot Catahoula coloring to be most desirable, however, we chose a black-and-tan pup with brindle trim. Catahoulas either are born with one merle gene, two merle genes or none at all. Those with no merle genes are mostly solid-colored, like ours.

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We picked him because he appeared to be the largest in the litter, with an inquisitive disposition and kind of leader of the pack. I wanted Boo to have a larger companion to keep her safe at the farm. We’ve had coyotes in the side yard, and fresh signs of wild pigs, and our farm neighbors tell us there’s a pair of cougars living along a creek system a few miles away. So if Boo has a run-in with a critter bigger than she is, it’ll be good to have a buddy watching her back.

The kids wanted to name him Chappie – after an artificial intelligence-enhanced robot in the 2015 movie by the same name – and we were OK with that. We brought him home a week ago. He’s 9 weeks old, and I’ve been spending the better part of most days since then refereeing dog wrestling events and working using a dog crate as a housebreaking tool.

I wish I could augment his canine brain with enough AI to skip ahead past the potty training, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Nonetheless, we’re pretty happy with the little guy so far.

Posted in Country Life, Critters, Farm

Spring Strikes First While Winter Waits

Two-thirds of the way through January and we haven’t had so much as a freeze yet. Maybe a couple of minor frosts, that’s about it. Then, this:

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To make matters stranger, no one in this family planted these paperwhites in this forgotten corner of the yard and we have never seen them here before. And we have lived here a long time.

Climate change? What climate change?

Posted in Environment, Garden, Nature

New Stuff

Look! I’ve been updating this site so infrequently that now, on those occasions in which I do, it’s become actual news, almost.

First, I’ve created a new Eagle Lake gallery to house photos from the trip I discussed here.

Second, I made major revisions to the Photo Painting gallery, adding several newer (and, I hope, better) examples of my attempts at creating photographs that feel a bit like impressionist paintings.

The image files in both galleries are greatly reduced in size, while the height and width remain the same. This should speed image-loading and make for a better viewing experience. If not, drop me a note and let me know, OK?

Posted in Art, Photography