Thursday, July 25, 2013

Monsoons, Mud and Muck

Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Potatoes in the distance
After whining about no moisture this year, other than a little snow in January, I'm sorry I complained. The monsoons were pretty much non-existent our first year, but they've made up for it this second year. Our fields have been ponds and our roads rivers at time. The rain has poured so hard we couldn't see to the end of our property. We need to take the RV in for some repairs but we've had to cancel twice because we can't get it out without fear of getting stuck.

The cloudy, stormy skies do give us great sunrises and sunsets.

So far, the abundance of water has not damaged any of our crops. In fact, the potato rows are bushy. Of course weeds are bushy too. They aren't too bad in the fields since we've kept them pretty much cleared. But around the house, greenhouse and beyond our fences out front they've gone out of control.

We've been harvesting dill weed and various other herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, a few tomatoes, radishes, blackberries, jalapenos, peas, and broccoli. Also, all of our greens from chard to butterhead lettuce have been flourishing for well over a month.

My new favorite way to fix veggies is in the wok on the grill. This wok has holes in it and the veggies get grilled. So good.

Frank has a couple of cases of pickles already. Christie has been freezing blackberries and zucchini. Although I complain about harvesting the blackberries because I always get pricked, I do enjoy snacking as I go!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Will My Readers Believe It?

I've been mulling over, fretting and brainstorming my latest chapter of my current work in progress. I've asked critique partners and family members for advice, and I'm getting differing opinions. Southwest of Love and Murder is the second book in my Love and Murder series. In case you think you missed the first, The Art of Love and Murder, you haven't. I'm waiting to hear back from a publisher.

I don't want to give away the story, but let me say this, someone gets shot. The story necessitates that the shooter think he's killed his victim and the reader thinks he might be dead. I needed a wound to fit the story. After research both online and with a former trauma nurse, I chose a head wound - a gunshot to the head.

Here's my worry: will my readers buy it? Will they think there's no way he can get shot in the head, be dumped at an abandoned site for around twenty-four hours and live? Just because I've done my research and know it can happen doesn't mean a reader knows that. So they have to buy into the way I write it.

A big part of writing fiction is getting readers to believe whatever we write. How a character reacts to a situation might be fantastical in the real world, but if an author has done their job building his personality then a reader accepts it. If a love story is against all odds, it's that much sweeter if the author can present it to the reader so their cheering for the unlikely. But when it comes to a fact based event, I'm not sure what will take the reader to the right conclusion.

I tried rewriting the scene, but I can't. What happens has to happen the way it's supposed to happen. LOL I have to write it the way it feels right. Wish me luck!

By the way, I got a release date for my short, a Rosette, from The Wild Rose Press. Amanda in the Summer will be released in December. But look for it to be available on Kindle Select a couple of months before that. I'll be sure to announce it.

Three generations of women…and the secret that strengthens their love.

A line of women, all named Amanda, stretches back for generations. Each with her hopes, her joys, her pain—each pouring out her heart in correspondence with a dear family friend who shares their lives, understands their loves, and joins in their sorrows.

But within the correspondence lies a secret. And as the youngest of the Amandas retraces the journey through the years—beginning in post-war America and following through to modern day—the letters reveal, layer by layer, the Amandas who came before her. Soon, the truths and lies hidden in the letters lead her down a path of self-discovery that forges a bond between her past and future.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wow! What Happened in 2 1/2 Weeks

Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Checking for cucumbers
There are twenty pictures I'd like to share with you, but loading that many would take more patience than I possess. The crops have shot up both inside and outside the greenhouse. Frank and I were gone two and a half weeks on our maiden RV voyage, and the rows of veggies filled out in our absence.

There are two phenomenons of farming that will probably never cease to amaze me. When the seed goes into the ground and pushes up to display the plant to come is amazing. But more amazing to me is a whole field of tiny little things that seem to blossom and bear fruit overnight. I'm not sure why it hits me that way - I obviously watch them grow. Now the work cannot be stalled. No more vacations from the farm until harvesting is over. We can't put the cucumbers on hold.
Dill before we left

Dill two and half weeks later
After complaining about no rain, we've had so much I can't get in the field to weed. It's making harvesting very messy. We skipped a day, but it rained again, so Lance and a friend slugged through the mud to get the cucumbers before they were too big to pickle. 

Me, weeding potatoes before RVing
Two more purchases - another canning pot and a bag freezer. We're doing so many pickles this year, one pot is not going to cut it. We also learned that no matter how careful we were, grocery freezer bags do not prevent freezer burn. My tip for the day: spend the money on a proper bag freezer. It will save you on your food bill.

Organic farming is not only hard work (as all farming is) but it also requires the farmer to be on his toes and one step ahead of - if possible - of Mother Nature. Lance bought and released bugs that eat bugs in the greenhouse. I have to think they're doing their job by the looks of the plants. His vigilance this year before the plants began bearing in the fields has been successful. Last year, we lost plants due to nasty pests or had small veggies in some cases because of pest problems. He
Cucumbers and tomatoes flourish
sprayed early on with a natural spray of neem oil.

Just a note: Our trip was great fun and we discovered all kinds of things about RVing. I posted some pictures on Facebook if you'd like to check them out. Thanks to our lifestyle, multiple generations living under one roof who share the workload, we are able to do what we've always wanted - on a smaller scale but rich with fun.

Chamomile ready to dry
West Indian Gherkin plants

Ready to harvest at 1 1/2 inch