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Prairie Views

~ Dreamy abstraction in Four Square House on the Pairie

Quail and Sweet Potaotes



It occurred to me the other day that I had not seen any quail for a while around this farm. This is one the areas of primary range for the Bobwhite quail so I like to keep some areas for them. There have been reports of declines in numbers for this bird. These are delicate birds  need a variety of habitats. Today I looked outside of one window and noticed some around the carport. Elated I went to grab the camera but when I got back they were nowhere to be seen.

What do I do to help with habitat management

Nesting Cover

They like clumps of grass. Native prairie grasses with their clump-type growth form are ideal nest cover . They need clumps they can walk to but give overhead protection.

Brood Cover

Most quail dye during the brood period. Quail chick need to be able to move at ground level but still have overhead concealment and a variety of green plants or plant parts within pecking reach.  This is about two to three inches high. The ground cover needs to be very open with greens to also attract all types of insects they will eat. Beetles, grasshoppers and other insects are most of their diet for the first three weeks. This is why burned areas and just till areas are popular with the quail. The area I saw the quail I had just cleaned out  the day before. The garden area is next to the row of wild plum bushes giving cover.

Prescribed Burning

I do not do a while lot of burning but I just might burn the acre I am not using for agriculture. It is mostly grassland. Burning make me nervous so I will likely not do it but I have years ago done so.

Disking and Mowing

I just might do a path mow in the grassland area to give the birds an easy travel route. I am still in the process of deciding where a good place for a feeder would be. You want it accessible but in an area safe.

Legume Seeding

I am preparing the area of the garden for legume planting.  Korean lespedeza, ladino clover, white clover, red clover, and subterranean clover and alfalfa. These can be broad cast seeded in the winter.

Half Cutting and Shrub Planting

I have planted hedge rows in areas around my property for birds. In the future I plant to do half-cutting of cedar and other plants to create a living bush pile. You do this by cutting a tree 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through leaving a hinge of bark attached so that the tree falls. Hedging laying  is an old fence method used in europe to keep livestock in and has the added advantage of serving as a habitat for birds.


Sweet Potatoes

Learning to grow sweet potatos and potatoes are important for growing vegetables for calories.  I suggest everyone with a garden grow a few to have the skills needed to grow them.

My sweet potatoes were harvested yesterday and are now in the curing stage. Now the best harvest this year but with the potaotes I should have almost enough for the year. The soil was still very moist so the soil stayed on. When they get dryer I will clean them better.  I put them in a cloth bag in the car port to help the starches form into sugars.  As soon as they are dry enough to clean I will clean them better and bring insde to finish curing to avoid frost damage. If you live in an area that freezes you will want to harvest before a hard freeze. This can damage the potatoes if frozen and decay from frozen vines can affect the potatoes.

Curing can be done in 10 to 14 day.  It is best to have them in a warm area. The temperature should be around 80-85 F with high humility.  Afte curing you can put them in a cooler area with lower humility. 


Buffalo Grass, Fall flowers and Garden Weed Contol



I added some planters this year with mums still in their pots. I plant to plant them in the garden before it get too cold or bring them inside and plant them in the spring.  Someday I hope to have an inviting front porch.

It was warm enough to check the sugar syrup feeders in the hives today. One hive is not eating too much  while the other hive too two pints again in two days. I added two quarts this time. The vinegar really is keeping the mold away from the jars and the bees still really like the syrup. I will keep checking their intake until it starts freezing and will then put sugar boards and leave the hives alone the until late winter on a warm day.

Getting the Vegetable garden ready for the winter can be an arduous undertaking. Especially if the weeds get out of control like they did in my garden. As I mentioned before I plan on using landscaping fabric next year to keep up. I cleaned up two rows and piled some debris to burn later. It can be helpful to burn squash and other plant remains to help reduce insect populations. After cleaning up two thirty foot roll I decided I better get the Buffalo grass plugs planted. 

This became more difficult that I had planned. I figured I would just cut the sod off the soil and plant the expensive plugs. I was not happy with the amount of grass roots left over so I decided to dig up an areas instead. My rotortiller would had done a smooth job but I just did not feel it was worth it for such a small area. So now I have buffalo grass planted and I am hoping for the best.  Buffalo grass spreads by stolons and seed and,  if it grows as well as I hope since it is a native grass, I hope to be able to start taking plugs from the small area next year.


I finished with the grass I decided to enjoy the fall flowers. It is great to have so many flower still flowering.  The Chrysanthemums fell over too much weight but sill look pretty.




As I turned the corner of the flower bed I notice how much the Mexican Evening Primrose had spread. I because worried about having another wayward plant on my property. I like easy to care  for plants. I looked at the label and it said can become invasive. Invasive! Oh NO! After reviewing the plant I remembered it is native to the central grasslands. So this perennial plant may spread a lot in the flower bed but likely will only spread on my property in areas that will work well.  Just as the vinca minor (non native) is sometimes a problem in garden beds it has not spread elsewhere. 







The Beans that went to Court



As I was shopping today I saw some bean that sounded familiar, but I could just remember why. At home I did my favorite past time (google research) and discovered this way the bean that became under international fame as the first bean patented for its color. This was later thrown out because it was actually a bean grown by farmers for at least 100 years or more. It is said to be originally from Peru and grown by the Incas.

Trying to find out what type of grown pattern was more tricky. I finally came across the bean seeds for sale by Bakers seeds. It is also listed in A Bean Collector’s Window and Bohnen-Atlas. The bean I found is not so quite colorful so I planning on picking out the more yellow ones to plant next year and eat the others. I am curious if they are a good as they say they are. After I grow them out I hope to offer some seeds next year.  I did find that they are half-runners.


Related Post

Autumn Feeding of Honey Bees




It was a weird concept for me to feed my bees in the fall and winter. I had been taught my a professional beekeeper to just leave the two brood boxes for the bees in winter. Here in Kansas we have winters and periods of no pollen or nectar. Your bees will starve if you do not feed them unless you are able to really get them to stockpile the brood boxes. So I have begun to feed my bees.

We are starting to feed a syrup and later will put a candy board on top of the hive  just before it really starts to freeze. Mr. Gadget made a board to put the jars on so we can feed them without opening up and exposing the hive. It has four holes to put four jars in.  I used to measure the sugar and water to make the syrup but now just fill the jar 1/2 full of sugar and fill with warm water. This makes a good syrup and save the time and hassle of measurements. This year I started to add vinegar to help keep the mold from forming in the jar. I am hoping it works as well as others say it does.

Yesterday I went in to take up the mite away strips. My hives look really good with bees on every frames just working away. At the same time I checked the hive beetle traps. I found the hive beetles were hiding under the traps. I might have to come up with a way to stop that.  I was still getting some in the traps.


Related Post

New Sourdough Starter






I lost my old sourdough starter due to neglect and decided to get back into making this wonderful bread. It is difficult to come by and impossible to find good bread. This time instead of taking weeks to produce yeast  I purchased a California starter base. I checked it after 24 hours and I am so excited. I had placed it in my yogurt maker to get it started. It smells wonderful.

For two days the company suggests to keep it at 70 degrees. Yikes! My house is at 63 degrees now. So I put it back into the yogurt maker without the lid to keep it warm but less than 90 degrees C.

I can’t wait until I can produce sourdough bread again.


Honey of A Year and Comparison of Two Bee Races.




This is the first year of harvesting honey from these new hives. The Italians produced a decent amount of honey while the Carniolans had two frames to give. Italians tend to create an earlier brood than the Carniolans giving them the advantage of faster honey production in the spring. In the future, I am hoping this tendency of the Carniolans will bestow on us an early summer harvest in July plus a summer harvest in September. Still, I saw a major difference in the two harvests this year.

Conversely, other beekeepers have mentioned a July harvest would be lighter in color and, consequently, it was. Nevertheless, I am still partial to the late harvest more robust flavor.

In August or when the blooming of most plants producing nectar and pollen ends (periods of dearth) the Italians will begin reducing brood while the Carniolans will keep going strong until September. This means the Italians will have an average population into winter while the Carniolans will have a much stronger hive for the winter. Lower hive population means less ability to keep warm. Many other beekeepers praise the Carniolans in this area for that reason. I also wonder, since Carniolans tend to have higher numbers in the fall, this might help them keep the hive beetles in check better. I plan to keep track to see if I notice a difference, but I have already noticed more beetles in the Italian hive when I did a treatment. In the fall, the beetles tend to achieve overtaking hives in this area. I am working to prevent this.

 Another difference between the two subspecies is the Italians tend to collect less in cooler and overcast weather. The Carniolans keep going with regular activity in this condition. I am hoping the Carniolans, after being established, will out produce the Italians next year.

Moreover, most beekeepers claim the Italians are more laid back while other claim Carniolans are more gentle. My Italians are aggressive while the Carniolans hive is more mellow. Go figure!

Compared to the Italians, the Carniolans tend to swarm. Once the queen begins laying they can run out of space in 60 days. This is something I will have to watch next year.


The Art of Saving Seeds

seeds in jars



Sometimes you are very lucky and come upon a wonderful and exciting new seed or maybe just found it one sale.  Many people just save their own seed or are creating a breeding program. However, you will not able to plant the seeds until next year.

You will need to protect your seeds to keep them viable until the proper planting time or when you have enough room. Most of us have put seeds  carelessly  someplace to keep them out of harms ways, in not the best conditions, only to forget about them until later.  Many seeds are quite durable and just like in nature when seeds just drop on the ground until the conditions are right they will germinate. The problem is you will get a reduced germinate rate.

Many gardeners want to keep our seeds longer and still t great germination rates. The good news is it does not take much to store seeds (less than two years) to protect the viably. All you need is a cool, dark, dry and free of pests spot.

I usually use a the blue silica gel to further dry my seeds because I store them for years and keep a few of each generation of seeds.  This is all recorded in my database and each generation are separate from each other.


What You Should Do to Store Seeds


Store your seeds in a cool place.

 A cool room, basement or closet are good locations to keep your seeds. It is best that the area remains constant and not fluctuate much in temperature.


A Dry Location is Best

You seeds can sprout or rot if kept in too damp of a place.   Properly dry seeds can be saved in a fridge or freezer. I save my seeds in different places. In the summer after planting that months seeds go into the fridge in the workshop. The seeds are in glass containers or plastic food storage containers if in paper seeds packages. In the winter I can store them inside a cool room of the house or in the basement where I have a metal file cabinet for them. This make them easier to get to when I start growing the seeds.  In the future, I would like to have a set up so I can keep all the seeds down there year round. I had seeds for many years in a cool room but have better results with the refrigerator conditions.


Keep those Pesty Pests Away

Make sure what ever you store your seeds in are rodent and insect resistance. This is why I store my seeds in a plastic food container. Metal would work. Determine mice and rats can chew through plastic. I know I have it happen once from a pack rat but it usually prevents that from happening. It is not fun to find something has nibbled on your seeds.


Salvia Victoria Blue for the “Bee” Intentional Garden



I had high hopes for this plant when I planted it as a source of fall nectar and pollen. In July, when it Saliva began blooming, the plants were visited by bumble bees and butterflies but not my bees. I was beginning to wonder if maybe this was not a good plant for my “Bee” intentional garden. I was enjoying its long season of blooming and decided to check out the visitors to the flowers. My bees have begun visiting the flowers now.

Too bad this gorgeous deep blue plant is an annual in this area. I am hoping that maybe it might make it through the winter anyway so I can enjoy the same plants next year.  Still, if you plan to plant flowers for pollinators this would make a great choice for  fall blooms when fewer options are available for our pollinators to  help them make it through the winter in good shape.  The nectar-rich plant does best in full sun in a well-drained area.  It requires just a little water to keep the blooms going.



Mariel’s Enchiladas


I had a potluck and had planned to bring something else by Mr. Gadget suggested Enchiladas. It was a good choice that went over well. I got this good freezer recipe I got a long time ago and had not made it in a long time. I forgot how good they were especially after changing it to more modern flavors.  Dipping tortillas in hot water instead of frying them helps keep the cholesterol and calorie count down and the dishwater one frying pan closer to completion.

Mariel’s Enchiladas

1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon or Penzey’s California Seasoned Pepper or a green pepper seeded and chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon of ground cumin

2 cans (8 ounces) tomato paste
2 cups beef broth or 2 bouillon cubes dissolved in 2 cups hot water
1 1/4 pounds ground round or turkey
1 dozen corn or flour tortillas
Green onions, ripe olives, and cheddar cheese for garnish


Saute’ onion, garlic, and green pepper in olive oil until vegetables are limp.  Sprinkle flour, cumin, and chili powder into onion mixture and stir until blended. Combine tomato paste and beef stock into onion mix. Cook until smooth and thickened, stirring frequently.  Add salt to taste.

In a separate pan, cook ground round and one-fourth of the cooked sauce until meat is browned and crumbly.

Dip one tortilla in hot water for 5 seconds and drain.

Spoon about 3 tablespoons meat filling down the center of tortilla. Roll tortilla around filling and place flap side down. In a greased shallow casserole place filled enchiladas side by side.

Spoon the remaining three-fourths cooked sauce over the surface of the casserole.

Cool Enchiladas, cover and freeze.

To use:

Bake, uncovered, while still frozen, in a 375 degree F. Oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Scatter chopped green onions, chopped fine olives and grated Cheddar cheese over Enchiladas, before serving.

Serves 6.


Related Post

Another Day of Apple Canning




Yesterday I spent most of the day canning some more apples. I made one of the family’s favorite Sweet and Spicy applesauce and tried a new recipe. The Red Hot apples is an interesting recipe made with red-hot candies, vinegar, water, and sugar.  Can’t wait to try it.

Today was mowing. I spent a few hours working on the mowing. Mowing with a push mowing is a lot of work when you are talking about  two acres.

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