Kind of a weird title for a post, but it fits all that I am going to try to fit into this one….

Earlier this week, we packed up the kids into our trusty minivan and took the long drive to Double S Farms….okay, it took us all of 5 minutes to get there.  We were gathering together to celebrate the birthdays of my husband and my nephew (Littlest Farmer).  

One of the first things we did was to go out and see the chickens, who are the newest residents of the farm.  They are now 5 weeks old and they have now graduated to the outdoors.  My sister, Chicken Farmer, is enjoying raising her chickens.  You can read my earlier posts about the chickens here.


For some reason, the chickens were not very cooperative about standing still for the camera.  So, my brother-in-law (Farmer Dad), picked one up so I could take a better picture.


This is Flo who was very patient while I took her picture.  She is one of two who does not mind being handled.  However, what happened afterwards, I am not sure that Flo was too happy about….


Farmer Dad handed Flo to my daughter, who just happens to work at Chick-fil-A, (a restaurant that serves only chicken).  I may have imagined it, but Flo look vastly relieved to be set down by my daughter.


Lucy and Ramona were kind enough to pause a moment for their picture.

We then ventured inside for dinner and birthday cake.  Afterward, my son and his cousins, (Little & Littlest Farmers), had fun wrestling in the living room.


Well, it was getting late and we started to head out the door when I saw something truly gross…


We were greeted by the sight of slugs crawling all over the low wall surrounding my mother’s succulent garden.  She has had a problem with slugs ever since she moved into the house last year.  There used to be a flower garden where the succulents are now planted.

Recently, she has been setting out a bowl of beer for the slugs.  They are attracted by the smell of beer and then crawl in and drown.  I wonder if they are drunk before they drown?  Hopefully, for their sake.


Not too pretty is it?  But, it is a welcome sight for those who are waging a battle against slugs.  They do not seem to prefer one beer over the other, so my mother used some old beer that my brother-in-law had left over since November.  **Some gardeners also have had similar results using grape juice.


Within 5 minutes of setting out additional saucers of beer, the slugs were racing as fast as they could to enjoy their beer.  Does that remind you of anyone you may know?

My kids thought it was very cool in a gross kind of way and so did I.  But I have to say that I am extremely glad that I do not have slugs in my garden 🙂

Picture an old rose bush that had been neglected over the years.  With new owners now in charge of the garden, this rose received much needed attention back in January.


Some of you may remember my post An Overgrown, Nameless Rose”  back in January.  This old rose bush graced the front garden of Double S Farms, which is where my mother, sister and her family are new residents.

 
 Unlike many rose bushes, this particular one continued to bloom without any help….no fertilizer, sprays or pruning.  But, there was a lot of dead growth and old canes (branches) that needed to be removed.  In other words, this rose bush needed a face lift.
 
 
When I finished pruning, this is what was left.  My mother, Pastor Farmer, may have been a little unprepared for how far back I had pruned her roses, but I assured her that this was essential for their health and that new growth would soon appear.
 
 
Well, this is what they looked like this evening, just 9 weeks later, when we stopped by Double S Farms to celebrate both my husband and nephew’s birthdays.
 
The rose bushes are flush with new growth and there are no old canes (branches) to be seen anywhere.  I like to think of pruning as like giving a plant a face lift.  The results are usually remarkable and you don’t have to pay a lot of money like you would to a plastic surgeon 😉
 
 
For me, the icing on the cake was to see both of these formerly neglected rose bushes covered with rosebuds getting ready to open.
 
 
I can hardly wait….

I would like to show you a small farm that is located in the middle of the desert.  Actually, it is 5 minutes from my house and is the home of my mother, sister, brother-in-law and their sons.


 
Some of you may recall some previous posts about the Neglected Rose Bush, the Chicken Coop and the Flood in the Garden on Purpose.  Well, these all took place at Double S Farms.

 



The residents of Double S Farms, my mother (Pastor Farmer), sister (Chicken Farmer) and brother-in-law (Farmer Dad), are transplanted Californians like myself.  

            My youngest sister, Chicken Farmer.



They moved to Arizona a few years ago..  According to my mother and my sister – if you had told them 5 years ago that they would be living in Arizona, away from Southern California and the ocean, be living on a small ranchette, raising fruit trees, vegetables, getting ready for chickens AND loving it….they would have said you were crazy.  But they do love living in Arizona and all that it has to offer.

 
 
Littlest Farmer helping with the lemon harvest last spring.
 
Fruit trees fill both the front and backyard.  Almost any kind you can think of…..lemon, grapefruit, kumquat, orange, apple, plum, peach and almond trees grace the landscape.

My two oldest daughters, discussing what is the best way to pick fruit from the peach trees.

The bounty they receive include peach and plum preserves, apple butter, lemons, grapefruit and kumquats.



My mother, Pastor Farmer, planting succulents in containers.
The almost finished chicken coop can be seen in the background.

Little Farmer, being silly.

 
 
Vegetable gardens are not only a great place to grow vegetables, but also for playing with cars as Littlest Farmer can tell you.
 
Lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower are just a few of the delicious vegetables we have enjoyed this winter from the garden.
 
 
There is something so appealing about a riding lawnmower, a teenage boy (my oldest nephew, who was visiting) and a dog.
Behind the farm is a small ranchette that raises cattle.
 
 
Little Farmer, Littlest Farmer and Farmer Dad flood irrigating.
 
Double S Farms is a wonderful place where irrigating the land with a flood is a regular occurrence.
 
 Little Farmer and Littlest Farmer in the soon to be completed chicken coop.
 
A chicken coop is next on the list of additions to Double S Farms.  Six chickens will soon be taking up residence in their new coop and chicken yard.
 
My sister (Chicken Farmer) and her son, Little Farmer
 
Double S Farms is also a place for family to gather and celebrate birthdays and holidays.
 
A wonderful tree for a pinata, which my third oldest daughter tries to hit. 


Thank you for taking the time to visit Double S Farms with me.  
We will be visiting more in the future….
January is the slowest time of the year for blooms in the desert.  However, due to our year-round growing climate, there are still a lot of flowers to see…
   
 Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides)
My Valentine shrub (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’) is in full bloom.
One of my Mexican Bird-of-Paradise trees (Caesalpinia mexicana), happily blooming away…
Radiation Lantana ‘Desert Sunset’ is still blooming underneath my Dalbergia sissoo tree. 

The tree has protected it from frost damage.

The flowers are starting to peek out of the Silvery Cassia (Senna phyllodenia).
More blooms will soon follow from this Australian native.
 
One of the Geraniums in the Children’s Flower Garden. 
In case you are getting tired of the flowers in my garden or just want to see more colorful blooms, I thought I would also show you some of the flowers currently blooming at Double S Farms.
 
Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis) is a reliable year-round bloomer.

The flowers of the ‘New Gold Mound’ Lantana lighten in the winter, but are still beautiful.
I found this single flower on the Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis)

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)

I’m not sure if fruit counts as a bloom for GBBD, but just in case….

Kumquats reaching towards the sky.  
And lastly, a photo of a single rose from the Neglected, Overgrown, Nameless Rose just before I pruned it back.  I realize I did not take the photo on the 15th, but it would have still been there if I had not pruned the rose bush back over the weekend.  
I also wanted it to have one last opportunity to show off it’s flowers before the new flush of rose blooms come in March.
 

English Rose ‘Glamis Castle’

Thank you for joining me for January’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  Please visit May Dreams Gardens for more sites featuring Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.

The newest addition to Double S Farms is rapidly coming together in preparation for their newest residents…..chickens.

                                  Little Farmers #1 & 2 are having fun as the chicken coop is being built.
Little Farmer #2 loves to play in the dirt….can you tell?
The chicken coop is being put together by Farmer #1, with some help from family members.
I think Little Farmer #2 (on the right side) thinks the chicken coop is his own little fort.
The residents of Double S Farms, my mother, sister and brother-in-law, are transplanted Californians like myself.  They moved to Arizona a few years ago and just love it here.  According to my sister, if you had told her 5 years ago that she would be living in Arizona, away from Southern California and the ocean, and be living on a small ranchette, raising fruit trees, vegetables and getting ready for chickens AND loving it….she would have said you were crazy.  But they do love living in Arizona and all that it has to offer.
Future Nesting Boxes
The chicken coop is almost finished.  My husband is going over today to help them finish up the coop.  You can see the ramp that the chickens will climb up and the nesting boxes.
Little Farmer #2 is ready for the chickens.
In a couple of weeks, six chicks will take up residence.  There will be no rooster since the family already have their own alarm clocks and don’t want to irritate the neighbors.
I can hardly wait for fresh eggs…
I will post more as the chicken coop is painted and finished and of course, when the chickens arrive.
*I am spending today at a community Green Fair as part of a  landscape discussion panel.  I am excited to post about it next week.
Isn’t there something just so wonderful when you see little seedlings start to sprout?  It makes me feel like it is springtime even though it is still the middle of winter when I see the tiny green leaves begin to break out from the soil.  The broccoli sprouted in less then a week.

Many types of vegetables and fruit grow very well in the desert.  Lettuce is the top agricultural product that is grown in Arizona.  Other crops include melons, broccoli, citrus, cauliflower, onions and carrots, wheat and corn.
Growing vegetables is a very popular past-time for many backyard gardeners.  You can find more information on what vegetables grow in the Arizona desert and when to plant them at The Arizona Master Gardener Vegetable Guide .
 Now, some of you may (or may not) be wondering what I have to confess now.  I’ve already confessed to not having my favorite flower in my garden, you can read my earlier post here if you like.  What else could there be?  
For those of you who have kindly followed my blog for a while, you may be wondering if these seedlings are mine – you may have noticed that I have not shown any pictures of my vegetable garden in the past.  Well, there is a good reason for that….I don’t have one.   Now, I honestly love vegetable gardens and have planted them for others and raised my own as a child.  I’ve also had to grow my own plot of vegetables at college when I was earning my horticulture degree – I had to learn how to do it well because I was being graded 😉
That being said, my true love in the garden are ornamental plants and I only have so much space to fit them all in and still have room for any new plants that I fall in love with.  

 I have the wonderful fortune to live only 5 minutes away from Double S Farms, which is the residence of my mother, youngest sister and her family.  They have a wonderful vegetable garden and the seedlings belong to them.  

Since it is important to me to provide information about all types of desert gardening, I will be posting about Double S Farm’s vegetable garden in the future….and Little Farmers #1 & 2 🙂
One of the most interesting things I encountered when I first moved to Arizona was driving down a residential street and seeing front yards full of 3 inches of water.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that this was done on purpose to water the front and backyard. 
 
Desert dwellers do like to do things differently so why shouldn’t that apply to how some of us water our landscapes?  To view some ‘flooded’ landscapes, please join me for a visit to Double S Farms.  Actually, Double S Farms is the home of my mother,  my youngest sister & her family and they live only 5 minutes from me.

 Farmer #1 and Little Farmers #1 & 2 (my nephews) opening up the flood irrigation valve.
Now, Double S Farms isn’t actually a typical farm.  It is actually a home on 1 acre, which is called a ‘ranchette’ in our area because it is kind of like a little ranch.  Double S Farms has citrus, plum, apple and peach trees as well as a vegetable garden.  A chicken coop is currently going up and chickens will be moving in in a few weeks. 
*We will be posting visits to Double S Farms in the near future, especially when the chickens move in and to show more cute pictures of Little Farmers #1 & 2.
There is nothing more fun then cool water to play in in the middle of summer.
 Okay, now back to irrigating – this type of irrigation, known as ‘flood irrigation’ is very inexpensive and therefore cost effective.  Our first home in Phoenix had this type of irrigation back in the 1990’s and it only cost us $56 a year to irrigate both our front and backyard – my current garden uses drip irrigation and sprinklers.
Now not all homes in the Phoenix area are irrigated this way.  Actually only a very few are and you have to live in certain areas where this is available.

Addy, Little Farmers # 1 & 2 and Farmer #1 going inside after turning on the irrigation valve.
In the background are their numerous citrus trees and an apple tree.
In the summertime flood irrigation occurs twice a month and in the winter time only once a month.  Water sinks deeply into the soil which makes for deep roots for both grass and trees.  It also helps to flush out salts that accumulate in the soil.
Okay, you may be wondering how the water gets from the mountains down into the yard.  Well, the water comes from a series of reservoirs that collect water from snow melt and rain.  Water users (homeowners) sign up each time that they want water and then only the amount needed is released from the reservoirs through the dams.  This water then runs through one of seven major canals where a ‘zanjero’, (Spanish word for ‘water master’), opens a gate from the canal to allow water to flow into smaller lateral waterways that serve certain neighborhoods.
This is how deep the water is when the valve is turned off, about 2 – 3 inches deep.
Behind their fence are cattle.
Homeowners are told at exactly what day and time they can turn on & off the water.  Each property has a certain allotment of water they can use.   
 I can tell you from experience that it is not fun when you have to get up in the middle of the night in January to open up the flood irrigation valve and then wait to turn it off.  I have vivid memories of having to walk through freezing water to turn off the water in the middle of winter.  However, nothing can beat how refreshing it is to irrigate during the summer months.  Dogs and kids alike look forward to playing in the water.
What could be more fun then playing fetch in the water?
*Sodapop is the daughter of my dog, Missy.
Many of you were so kind to comment on my previous post “What Planet Have I Landed On?” and had a lot of questions regarding the photo I posted of flood irrigation.  I hope this has answered some of your questions.  If you would like to learn more, please click here .