Coyote Soup

Bringing life back to the family ranch with three young free range braves and lots of organic elbow grease.

A Good Seed October 4, 2012

Filed under: Gardening,Musings,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 12:38 pm
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Once upon a time, I lived on a farm.

On this farm, I had a garden.

It was a good garden. Free from weeds. Fertile. Full of only good seeds and plants. Surrounded by lush, soft, beautiful green grass that smelled heavenly when cut. I’m obsessed with the smell of fresh cut grass lately. Mostly because the drought has deprived me of the scent I didn’t realize I craved. I smelled it for the first time in a long time when Drover mowed the few blades of grass in our yard the other day. I’ve been in a state of euphoria ever since.

Looking back at old pictures of this garden, I remember the euphoria it imposed upon me. And not just the garden, but the farm in general. The farm that has been in my family for years and years and will continue to be in my family for as long as I live. It’s the farm that we spent so much time restoring and manicuring. We built 4 big, new barns to replace the ones destroyed by the tornado. We dug nice deep ponds that filled with water back when it rained. We stretched sturdy, tight fences that actually contained the livestock we put behind them. For the most part.

In other words, we worked hard on this dairy farm.

‘We’ meaning Drover for the most part, I helped as best I could.

Each day I would throw my hair up in a bun and wrap it in a doo rag and head out to help Drover take care of whatever needed to be taken care of.

Looking back now it seems this typically involved dealing with manure.

Scraping manure from the lot… scrubbing manure from the walls of the barn… shoveling manure out of the chicken house…

My hair just wasn’t ever up for any of this. Hence the doo rag.

I don’t know why, but for some reason this picture always reminds me of the time when there was a thick layer of snow on the ground and I was going out to feed the bottle calves. Instead of just stopping at the doo rag, I decided to add a warm black knitted stocking hat… the kind that not only goes over your head, but your entire face with cutouts for the eyes, and mouth.

It also happened to be the day the vet was coming out to preg check some cows. He was dressed in Levi’s, a flannel shirt and a Carhart vest. No hat. I remember him looking at me with smiling eyes, trying to hide his amusement and saying, “Oh come on… it’s not THAT cold!”

Clutching the bottle carriers in both hands, making my way toward the barn, I tried to respond, to defend my cozy head piece, but by then the knit cap had worked its way up over my mouth and all that came out was mumbles.

Which brings me to where we are now.

Gardening at the ranch.

The ranch that has been in Drover’s family for many, many years.

The ranch that we decided needed a little sprucing up…. new fences… new ponds… new barns… new garden…


It’s a good thing we have three little braves to help us out.

They’re pretty good boys.


This one here…

He’s a good seed.

I think I’ll keep him.


How to Plant Garlic October 19, 2011

Filed under: Gardening — Piper Long @ 7:12 am
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Being mid-October, there’s not much going on in the garden.

Surprisingly, my tomatoes are lush, green and full of blooms. But if this morning’s frost doesn’t get them, tomorrow’s will.

Typically, the first frost means it’s the end of the growing season, but believe it or not, it’s the ideal time to plant garlic.

Here’s how you do it:

1. Grab the unused store-bought garlic from your pantry.

2. Break it apart.

(Each clove should produce a clump like we started with.)

3. Stick them in the ground, pointy part up, about 2 inches deep, giving them at least five inches of elbow room.

4. Cover the bulbs with dirt and mulch them with leaves, straw or hay.

That’s it!

Come spring, we should all have garlic galore!

Happy planting!



Drought Resistant Flowering Annuals September 14, 2011

Filed under: Country Life,Gardening,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 5:52 am
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When I first started learning about plants, at around age 18, I remember the greenhouse owner pointing out certain plants that were “drought tolerant.”

Like, why do I need like, drought tolerant plants or whatever? I thought.

I like, have a like, steady supply of, like rural water… and I like plan to give them water, like daily n-stuff.

I didn’t really talk like that at 18.

I was like totally mature… n-stuff.


So because I paid no attention to the wisdom of the greenhouse owner, I watered my plants. But I usually ended up watering every other day… and then every couple of days… and then maybe once a week. But still… in my 12 years of gardening at the farm, they always performed beautifully.

Then I recently moved to the desert.

I mean ranch.

And I had a not-so-steady supply of well water. The natural, steady rains ceased. And the word “drought” began popping up more and more. Most of my plants decided they simply were not going to “tolerate” it any longer.

The dogs, cats and chickens all thought it was absolutely wonderful and completely brilliant that I would have nothing but dirt in my flowerbeds.

Seriously, this is like, totally awesome to like, have soft dirt to like lay on n-stuff.

They were so agreeable, in fact, that they loathed in the dirt on a daily basis with their heads resting on each other’s hind end.

Not really, but close.

There were however, two varieties of flowering annuals that survived it all.

The prolific Vinca. Which flowers beautifully until frost, re-seeds and allows the offspring to appear the following year. I typically only buy a six-pack of the Vinca each spring, plant them where I expect the seeds to emerge, and let the new seedlings fill in around the existing plant.

And the other remaining plant in my flowerbed….

…came in a two-inch pot. I can’t remember the name. But it’s a keeper.


Nana’s Fresh Pickled Cucumbers June 28, 2011

Filed under: Gardening,Recipes,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 10:30 pm

As soon as my cucumber seeds sprout up above the ground, I install a handy-dandy trellis made of beautiful hog wire. This year, the hog wire is secured to two random metal stake-like pieces I found in one of the ranch house barns that didn’t have a purpose until now.

The ranch house barns are full of ‘things’ whose purpose is yet to be unveiled.

Like this item.

At first I thought it was an old cash register. Then I realized there were only numerous numerals and absolutely no mathematical symbols or signs.

And of course there are items like this layin’ around.

If you know what it is, please let me know. Otherwise, I’m sure a use will arise in the future. I’m thinking it would make an interesting door stop.

Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah. Cucumbers.

So Once I get the fancy cucumber trellis in place, I wait for the cucumbers to climb the vertical ladder to bear fruit.

And when they do, I pick them and make Nana’s Fresh Pickled Cucumbers.

Here’s the recipe:

2-3 Cucumbers, sliced
1 Onion, sliced
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Vinegar
1 Cup Sugar

Combine water, vinegar and sugar in bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add sliced cucumbers and onion. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

I usually add another round of cucumbers to liquid before discarding. By then it looses some of its pungency.


Harvesting and Storing Onions June 3, 2011

Filed under: Gardening,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 9:27 am
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Yesterday, I harvested all of my onions.

Here is a portion of my harvest…

Despite the never-ending presence of weeds in my onion patch, I ended up having a decent onion crop. Throughout the spring, I have been plucking onions here and there to use on an as-needed basis.

I wish this arrangement would work for the remainder of the growing season. But it doesn’t.

Right about the time the bulb just begins to disconnect from the green stalk, I know it’s time to harvest.

If the stalk disconnects from the bulb, the onion bulb will soon soften in the ground and decompose.

But if I harvest everything when the stalk is still strong enough to sustain a strong tug without breaking away from the bulb, I can cut off the green tops and store them.

I can even get the kids to help with the chore of cutting. They are pretty much game for anything that involves sharp objects and destruction.

The onion on the right has a good cut for storing. The onion on the left is a little too close to the bulb for long-term storage. This onion will need to be used much sooner.

Once the onions have been cut, I let them dry, cut side down on a wire rack in a cool, dry place until I need them. Here, I’ve set up an old wire grill between two blocks. Not real fancy, but it will do the job.

Stored like this, the onions will usually last for several months.


Still Planting my Spring Garden March 22, 2011

Filed under: Gardening,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 8:10 am

Yesterday I spent much of the day working in my garden, plowing and planting. And I must say that while at the moment, I don’t feel settled at the farm or the ranch, I feel completely at home in my new garden.

Give me a garden and I will find happiness, peace and satisfaction.

Yesterday, I planted peas and carrots. I had forgotten how tiny the carrot seeds were until I tore open the package and poured them into my palm, nearly loosing them to a natural phenomenon called wind.

Planting tiny seeds such as carrot, lettuce and radish can be somewhat challenging. Rather than plant one seed at a time, ensuring proper spacing, I simply sprinkle them haphazardly down the line realizing that if I want, I can always go back and thin out crowded plants once they sprout up.

For the record, I am not a thinner. Look at my eyebrows.

I’ve heard that some people don’t even cover the tiny seeds with dirt, they just scatter the seed in a wide row and walk on top to press the seed in the soil. I always feel much better if I go along and lightly sprinkle the dirt over the top then lightly press the seeds down with my hands, just to keep them from blowing away!

By day’s end, I was actually feeling quite productive.

Until I got wind that Glenn, the man that unknowingly out-gardens me year after year, already planted his corn.

I’m nowhere near being ready to plant corn. I haven’t even prepared my garden bed for corn. Nor have I constructed the fence that will keep the deer from consuming every last morsel. I haven’t even shoveled the manure necessary to produce a worthwhile crop.

But I do have some seed.

These are my favorite varieties, two of which I found at Holman Seed Farm in Collinsville:

1. Serendipity – Super Sweet with big stalks, great for fall decorations once the plant has been exhausted.

2. Sweet Ambrosia – Super Sweet with small stalks, a family favorite for years.

3. BT Hybrid – I grew this variety for the first time last year. I chose this variety to sell in the farmer’s market because it doesn’t get the worms like the Serendipity and the Sweet Ambrosia. I was a little leery of this variety at first. I wasn’t sure I wanted to eat something that a worm wouldn’t eat. But I ate it and I survived to tell about it. Believe it or not, it tasted much sweeter than expected and it was a good seller at the market.

Corn does great in this climate, but it does take up quite a bit of space. To save on space, I plant two rows, 6 inches apart and just run an antique push plow up the middle every so often until the plant is big enough to shade the ground below.

Around here, the last freeze date is April 15th. If corn is planted before this date, I run the risk of losing the crop to a freeze. Although I have heard stories of corn turning black from a freeze and making a comeback.

So if I do plant any, it will only be a couple of rows. That way, my loss isn’t all that catastrophic. While I’m at it, I think I will stick a few tomato plants in. If they make it, great! If not, it’s not that big of a loss.


Bees on my Flowers March 13, 2011

It’s March and I don’t have much blooming in my garden.

In truth, the ranch house yard looks a little barren.

Except for this lone patch of friendship flowers. A sure sign of welcome, right by the ranch house door.

Knowing that daffodils don’t hang around for long, especially when there are three thoughtful flower picking boys around, I decided to snap a picture.

That’s when I heard something buzzing.

It was a bee!

While my children ran for cover, I decided to take a closer look.

I think the bee hit the jackpot on this bloom.

Soon there were several bees.

One on every bud. All working peacefully until the goods ran out.

Then the fight was on.

Can’t we all just get along?

Look at it using it’s little pollen covered leg to ward off the intruding bee.

An encouraging sign of spring.

Barefoot Indian


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