The Cold Weather Finally Makes it South


We’ve been busy here at the old homestead– our oldest daughter gifted the family with a German Shepherd puppy for Christmas. The Princess Leia has been making herself a part of the family with almost inexhaustible energy and enough cleverness to give us hope that she’ll be a good dog.

Goodness knows, we’ve had nothing but canine train wrecks, figuratively speaking, since 2005 when we had to euthanize our Great Pyrenees dog, Bramwell, due to brain tumors. I am hoping that Leia breaks our bad streak and ends up being another of those dogs that everyone remembers with fondness in later years.

The cold weather finally arrived and quickly put an end to the okra, peppers, and melon plants that were still hanging on. We had a freeze three nights ago that got down to 20 degrees– we had to tarp everything for that one, and we still managed to lose the broccoli rabe. The collard greens, onions, garlic, lettuces, kale, carrots, turnips, and radishes all survived, however. The mustard greens are iffy. I think they may come back, since they were still so small and low to the ground, but I may have to re-seed them.

There were a few frost-damaged leaves on the collards and lettuce, but we harvested those and cooked up a big mess of collard greens, so the plants are rapidly bouncing back. We harvested the first of the carrots, as well. We served them up raw with a dip, crudités if you want to be fancy, and the kids were fighting over them, so I am calling them a success.

If we get a little break in the weather, I have some Simpson lettuce to plant. Nothing fancy, but the rest of the lettuces will be about finished by the time the new stuff is ready to eat. I need to replant the radishes as well. Our daikon radishes are doing well but only half of them sprouted, which won’t give us enough to last. I really want to try some Black Spanish radishes, they sound like fun. I just need to get my hands on some seed.

Speaking of Spanish things, I think I’ve decided on a chicken breed to try, one of the Basque types. And, who knows, I may sneak a few Andalusians in as well. Blue genetics are a pain, since you have about half the chicks hatching out as black or splashed, but they’re just so pretty that I can’t resist. The only thing that could be a disadvantage is their flightiness. If you’ve ever tried to catch a Leghorn when it didn’t want to be caught, then you know the struggle. I have an idea for making a portable grazing pen with netting over the top to discourage those high-flyers (and hawks!) Just need a source for a good bird netting that won’t immediately rot in the Texas sun.

The cold weather brings a whole new set of challenges, but it’s a lot more fun to grow things in the winter than in a Texas summer. You’re not dying of heat exhaustion, mainly!