Archive for February, 2010

I have been thinking…dreaming…praying for spring…fa la la la la…while it’s still very cold outside, too cold to work on the farm I thought I would share with you some startling contrast from winter, spring and then sweet summer here on the farm.  I am taken back every time I look through my pictures from last season when everything looks so dull outside. I was driving into the farm just today and thought “Wow it looks so empty ..and small..and unproductive”. So I had to get my fix…my fix of reminiscing of warm days past and to come. So please come along with me:)

Mark & Lucca getting the beds ready early last spring

The field always looks so bare in the winter…

Our low tunnel frame ready to cover

Then little by little life begin to emerge:)

And not just in the field either…everywhere on the farm babies…

And then as if  by magic the farm springs in to high gear!

Beds pf zucchini & Beans

Old blue and the chicks

The field is taking on a glow of life:)

Summer Time

With summer comes summer fun on the farm!


Chef Jack Summer workshop

CSA Shareholder "Anna" taste testing

Shopping at the market...cutting bouquets

Our blackboard Door Banjo's, Butterflies & Blueberry Pie farm event

Sunny Sunflowers

Sweet Corn and Sweet Memories

It wont be long…and we’ll see it for real:)

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Part 2 of Planning, Preparing & Planting  the perfect organic kitchen garden.

You have done your homework planning your new gardening now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start turning those plans into reality.  Starting a new garden from scratch takes work for this is where you turn that unused section of lawn or new raised bed into a living, healthy growing environment.  When we began farming here at Madison Creek Farms preparing those first few garden plots we made a lot of mistakes. Most of our mistakes were due to lack of knowledge and mentorship as well as not having a solid plan for our garden. Although I had raised a garden, grew up on a farm and had a good deal of experience growing neither I nor Mark had any experience with this farm, this environment or the obstacles that come with starting from scratch. We wasted both time and buckets of money learning the hard way. So with this post I hope I can help you to avoid some of those costly mistakes that can take the joy out of growing your own garden.

Once you have chosen your site for your new garden you will need to test your soil. This is easily done and is very inexpensive. It is also one of the most important things you can do to protect your investment.  A soil test will tell you what you are dealing with in terms of your soil’s structure and nutrient levels. It will also tell you the ph of your soil and this ph reading is one of the keys to growing healthy productive plants.  Allow me guide you through the process of taking a soil sample.

You will need the following:

3 small clean containers with a tight lid

1 sharpie pen for labeling your container

A shovel and garden gloves.

3 plant marker label stakes (anything you can stick into the ground to label a spot)

The first thing we’ll want to check is the type of soil we are dealing with in your new garden plot.  You will need to take your shovel and dig through any top grass layer to the first layer of bare soil. Once this area is bare and clear of grass and debris skink your shovel down at least 6 inches lifting the soil up to the surface as if you were digging a hole.  Take a small handful of this soil, look at it…note the color and texture…smell of it…does it smell sweet and earthy or does it smell stale and chemical or septic?  Look through the soil do you see earth worms?  Now take a handful of the soil you just dug up and try squeezing it into a ball in your palm. Does the soil hold together or does it lump up or does it fall loosely apart? If your soil holds together it probably has a fair amount of clay (I am talking about dry soil, not damp soil…don’t do this test until the ground is dry wait at least 3 to 4 days after it rains) If your soil lumps together but doesn’t hold a ball shape it most likely contain some clay, if you soil falls loosely apart it has more sand and is referred to as loamy.  Now remove the lid of your container and place a small handful of that just dug soil into it and place the lid back on tightly. On the lid or on the side of the container write area1 sample on the container with the sharpie. Do the same thing with your label stake to mark this spot as area 1 sample.  Now repeat this process in 2 more areas around your new garden plot. In the earlier post of “Planning, Preparing and Planting your new garden” I told you about micro-climates on your property well the same goes for underneath your feet as well. One section of your garden can be different then the other. This is why it is good to take samples from 3 different locations within you gardening plot. Now that you have a good idea what type of soil you are dealing with Clay, loamy or slightly clay you can began to make plans on the beginning amendments to your soil. But first let’s get that soil tested shall we? All you need to do now is take these soil samples to your local county extension agent. These are located most of the time in your county seat town or city. The cost for a soil test is about $ 12 to $ 15 dollars but well worth the money.  Now I will tell you that most soil tests will have recommended amendments on them…the problem with that is these are referring to non-organic amendments but we will get to that in a bit.

It will take 7 to 10 days to get your soil test back but that doesn’t mean we have to stop working on preparing that new garden space.  If you are planning on planting in ground rather in a raised bed system than you can begin by preparing your plot for tilling. There are methods of no-till gardening and I do agree with them in most ways, but I have found that in middle Tennessee where my farm is located we deal with an evasive grass called Bermuda grass.  This grass will choke out your plants and unless we till and dig the grass out of our garden. And even doing this much work we still will have to contend with this grass for it will continue to return, but by tilling and digging this will allow our plants to get a head start on the grass. You can never completely rid your garden of these types of evasive grasses but you can turn the tables to your favor. So let’s get back to tilling that new garden plot. Do not remove the sod…Mark and I have done this before thinking we would be out smarting the grass and weeds…sounds reasonable right? You remove everything down about two inches or so and there you have this nice grass and weed free planting plot all ready to turn over and grow a lovely easy garden…well that is just not the case. First and foremost that top few inches of sod contains the majority of your soils beneficial microbes and nutrients. By removing these essential elements you are doing more harm then good. And as a matter of experience it will not rid your garden of grass nor weeds for they will return with the heat of summer.  We have found these to be the best way in which to create a new garden from scratch.

First remove any and all debris from your garden site. Tree limbs, rocks ect…next with a mower or weed eater cut the grass down as low as you can to the ground. Rake the grass cutting up and put them into your compost bin…you did start a compost bin right? If not, this is a good source of nitrogen to get i started with a bag those  of dead leaves  Once you have the site clear and grass cut down you can begin to till the garden. If you are renting a tiller make sure to get a good size tiller for breaking up new ground needs a powerful tiller. Those small tillers won’t get the job done.  Remember start small…a family of 4 can harvest enough produce from a 12×12 garden planted smartly to feed them  fresh organic vegetables all spring, summer and fall.  The key is success is keeping your garden manageable and enjoyable.  New garden 1….Now that your garden plot is tilled let’s go ahead and start dealing with the type of soil amendments that we can do before your soil test comes back.  If you found that your soil has a good amount of clay we will need to add something to help loosening it up.  The best soil conditioner for clay soil is sand and compost and a fair amount of both.  Before you add anything to your garden though you should mark off you planting beds.  That way you are only amending the space in your garden that will be used to produce not the space that will be used as pathways.  These planting beds should be no wider then 4 feet and no longer then 10 feet.  This will give you a bed in which you can work from both sided. Your pathway should at least be 2 to 2 ½ feet wide to allow for room to harvest and to be able to accommodate a wheelbarrow to be used along the planting beds.  Keep your planting beds laid out in the same direction this will make running drip irrigation simple and easy to install. For clay soil I would recommend for a 3×10 planting bed 3 bushels of sand and 4 bushels of compost. If you are buying sand from a hardware store or say Walmart don’t purches the sand that has been bleached or colored. You just want regular old sandbox sand.  If you are buying compost you will need 6 bags…and believe me when I tell you the compost that are in those bags are not real compost like you will be making. The nutrient level in bagged compost is so low I really don’t know how they are calling it compost at all. There are products in the bagged soil department that are also called soil conditioners and they will do as well, but be sure to read the label to make certain they have no added chemicals. All you are doing with bagged soil products is loosening up that clay. You are not going to be fertilizing with them. Just think of them as adding tilth, texture and volume.  You can also add straw to the planting beds over time it will break down and add tilth to your bed as well. Clay soil takes a while to amend. Over time though it will loosen and become nice and fluffy.

If during your digging your soil sample your soil was lumpy but didn’t form a ball you may have a little clay so I would recommend depending on how lumpy cutting my above recommendations in sand in half or less, but adding the same amount of compost.

If you are lucky enough to have loamy soil then you will need to only add compost at this point to your planting bed.

I prefer the layered bad system when planting a new garden or even when I start my planting my productions beds here in the spring on the farm.  Start by laying out your garden beds. I use a garden hose to lay out my bed or I use a can of orange marking paint to lay down an outline of my bed. I till within that outline. I then dig out the loose soil I just tilled and shovel it into a wheelbarrow. You may have to do half the bed and then the other half for the wheelbarrow to hold all this soil and amendments. You will want to have hollowed out about 5 to 6 inches in the bed. Now lay down 3 to 5 sheets of damp newspaper. Only use the newspaper that is not coated with a gloss finish. The plain newspaper is what you want. It doesn’t matter is its black and white or colored for most newspaper is now printed with soy based ink. If you have old card board or a source to get old cardboard that will work even better. Overlap the newspaper so no ground is visible. Now mix your amendments into the soil you shoveled out of the bed in the wheelbarrow. Dump this amended soil back into the bed over the layer of paper or cardboard. This will give you an extra layer of weed and grass protection and will over the season decompose and add tilth to your soil.

Rake your beds level and remove any debris. Now we are just waiting on those soil tests.

Raised bed system: If you have decided to uses a raised bed system to garden in then you will be forgoing most of what I have describe above. If you are building your beds from wood only use non-treated wood the treated wood has toxic chemicals and should not be used to plant in. I use 2×6’s  for our raised beds here on the farm. Now wood does rot and we have found our bed’s have a life span of 3 to 4 years at the most before we have to start changing out the wood again. You can use cedar and I think it would indeed last longer but it would also be more expensive to use.

I personally prefer growing in a raised bed environment and the main reason is I have much more control over the over all process.  Also with gardening in raised beds I don’t have to worry about tilling up my lawn.  I actually build my own soil. I can better control the ph of the soil as well as drainage and planting in a raised be allows me to plant earlier in the spring and extend my season through row covers and low tunnels well into late fall.

This is my layered process in building a raised bed from scratch.

2 2x6x10 ft untreated wood boards

1 2x6x4 boards cut into 4 ft lengths

1 2x4x8 cut into 6in lengths ….you will need 4 of these for corner braces.

long wood screws to attach the ends

Lay out the 10 ft pieces of wood on the ground attach the 4ft ends with screws securing the 6in brace on the inside corner of the box. This will give you some extra support when the soil expands when wet and pushes on the sides of the box.  Repeat process for the other end.  Move you bed into place where you want to garden.

Use card board or 8 to 10 sheets of damp newspaper to cover the ground in your new raised bed. This will help to control the grass from coming up and into the bed. You will want this layer of cardboard or paper to be thick. Next add 2 inches of topsoil to the entire bed. Next layer is damp leaves, straw or a mixture of both. You will want 2 inches of this layer as well.  You will need your wheelbarrow for the next layers. Mix together in 1 wheelbarrow full at a time until you have covered another 2 inches though out the entire bed.

2 parts topsoil

½ part sand

1 part peat moss

3 parts compost

In a 1 gal bucket mix together 1 cup bone meal   1cup blood meal   1 cup wood ash (this can be ash from a fireplace or from burning twigs) do not use wood ash from burning treated lumber.  ½  cup lime  stir this mixture into the wheelbarrow of soil. Mix well and shovel into the bed.  Keep repeating this process until the bed as 2 inches of this mixture of fertilizer and soil amendments. Cover the top of the bed in a layer of 4 to 6 sheets of damp newspaper. Cover the newspaper with a good layer of damp straw to hold it in place. You are now ready to plant in your new garden bed. You will want to water your bed well before you plant.  Just poke holes though the paper layer to set out your plants. If you are going to be direct seeding your new bed than forgo the last newspaper/straw layer you will need to mulch your plants as they grow though to keep them moist and suppress weeds.  As the season moves along you will want to add more compost and topsoil to your raised bed. In the late fall add a nice thick layer of topsoil and leaves to your bed to over winter. You will also need to add additional organic fertilizer   as the growing season moves along like Madison Creek Farm’s “Gro-Green”worm compost tea to help building a living environment quickly promoting beneficial life forms to populate and draw worms to your new bed. This will also kick-start your plants with a fast acting nutrient  rich food source your plant can easily absorb while your slow release fertilizer mixer you applied while building you bed begin to release over time.  You can raise or lower your ph slowly by adding amendment like lime or surfer. If you are using topsoil you harvested from your property or brought from a nursery you will need to test the soil for both clay and a soil test to determine the ph levels and nutrient value.

Gro-Green $4.95 order here!

To order our exclusive worm compost tea, email us at the farm. This is our secret weapon here on our farm for all of our organic vegetable, herbs and flowers. 1 bottle makes 8 gals.

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So, wrapping up my Grammy Mayhem story; At this point in the evening Patsy and I both were feeling at bit off our game…I of course was feeling much better about what I was wearing or much more so than Patsy now that we had discovered you can see through her dress and she had not a stitch of clothing under it…I mean who goes to the Grammy’s without underwear??? Hello! What were you thinking I coughed out in trying to hide my bone breaking laughing fit? “Oh my God…Oh my God…you can see through my dress…really you can see through it”? Patsy cried.  She was very near to hailing a cap or jumping behind the bushes at that point. “Yep, a little bit I said, tried to reassure her…hey it’s no big deal…eeeh”..I snickered.  Poor Patsy was nervous, embarrassed and mortified at having to walk the red carpet and…she in deed wanted to run! Okay girls lets go, called our PR  guy that will be walking with us down the red carpet and leading us though the press line. Ah, come on sis I said…who cares…they are all just going to be disappointed that mom’s not here anyway…they aren’t even going to be paying any attention to us…your fine…I would tell you if you weren’t…really I would. So here we go right up to the tip of where the press line begins and the lights are blazing down. Now remember me telling you about my red baby backpack purse? I didn’t think to carry an evening bag with me so to hold all my stuff I brought along my regular red baby backpack I use as a purse…as we were being steered toward the lights I felt this tug at my arm pulling me a little backwards. “ah Mrs..ah Lynn would you like me to hold your bag while you and your sister go though the press-line”? Said this little short lady I had never met before. Not even thinking I replied “oh thank you, but no I’m fine and I smiled at her”. Another couple of steps I moved closer toward the lights and carpet…”ah excuse me Mrs Lynn, its not any trouble at all holding your…uh backpack… really I don’t mind and I will be right behind you and will hand it back to you once we have you seated “. She said with a bit of a tense sound in her voice. “Peggy Jean…give the lady the ugly backpack Patsy spit out…oh..oh…yes I said to this lady thank you so much…I am sorry I didn’t think about bringing…Patsy cut me off as I was beginning to go into the backpack story….come on Peggy…and stand kinda of behind me hissed Patsy…and there we were on the red carpet in in front of the press corps snap…snap…”yelling” Is your mom feeling alright? yes, she is fine…just attending to a sick family member…Patsy and I replied in unison. Snap..snap..”yelling” How’s Loretta we heard reports of her not feeling well? Ah…reading the tabloids I see…I snickered back at the reporter…She is feeling great, Patsy jumped in always the more politically correct of the two of us… snap…snap goes more cameras…”yelling” Is your mom planning on retiring this year? No, we smiled…She’s doing well…thank you…thank you.. stop.. smile.. pose… repeat..

Once inside the building we were escorted to our seats and I was in deed handed back my red baby (and not ugly) backpack…the lights dimmed and the ceremony began. Neither Patsy nor I had giving a thought to preparing any sort of a speech and as each of the honoree’s  stepped up to the podium we are getting a little nervous because they all seemed to have these little index cards with their speech written on them. What are we going to say whispered Patsy in my ear? I have no idea what your going to say…I whispered back…she gave me a funny look…well I said you are the one that took the lead on this…so you are the one that can do the talking up there. Did mom tell you what she wanted us to say? I asked.  Yea, a little but these people are using cards…whispered Patsy back to me.

I was sitting next to Nashville’s Mayor Carl Dean and his wife Anne. Anne was seated next to me. before the ceremony festivities started she and I got to talking about organics and farming…CSA programs and community gardens ect…much to my sisters dismay I will add…Patsy kept giving me that look..you know like can you not talk about being a farmers for one dang night or at least during the Grammy’s… Anna was telling me she is really interested in local food, family farms and CSA’s. I was just telling her she should come out to the farm this summer…I seethed back at Patsy sitting there trying to look all like she ain’t from Hurricane Mills Tennessee…yea right! I may be wearing a couple of safety pins in my  pants, but I am also wear underwear and my dress isn’t clinging to my ass…hello sister…ha ha ha

Just before it was Mom’s turn Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee’s son along with his two lovely little daughters stepped up to the podium to except his father’s award in his father’s  honor. Has anyone that as seen the Kevin Spacey Movie “Beyond the sea” The Bobby Darin’s story? I have, and it was wonderful. Bobby’s son nervously removed his index cards for his speech from his inside jacket pocket and moved closer into the microphone at the podium. He begin talking about his dad and his mom Sandra Dee and how tonight was a great honor to his father. He told a few short antidotes about his dad and then with his youngest daughter loving touching her dad arm for support he tearfully told the audience how his dad would talk to him about everything as if to prepare him for a future he at only a twelve year old boy couldn’t begin to understand.  As the tears filled his eyes so much like his fathers, he said his dad did this because he somehow knew he was going to be here with me very much longer…So he wanted me to know him as a man. It was so touching and I sat there with tears streaming down my own face…I just wanted to run up there and hug him.

Michael Jackson was the next honoree of the lifetime achievement award. Very cool to see all the footage they showed of Michael. We surly lost a great, great enentertainer.

Next up Mom…they had a large screen and rolled a video clip of mom’s amazing career over the years.  I sit there watching…thinking to myself.. wow..she is beautiful…God, I wished she was here…and she is my all time favorite singer…not to even mention what an honor it is for me to be here to represent Loretta Lynn tonight! My heart filled with love and adoration and as my sister and I took to the stage and walked up to the podium we kept the speech short, truthful and gracious. It was a wonderful, wonderful thing we were able to do in our mother stead. very cool indeed:)

PS…we made it out of LA without further incident:)

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Grammy Mayhem Part 3

On my way back to my hotel room after my mad dash shopping for a replacement outfit for the Grammy awards I stopped off at my sister’s room to retrieve my seven-year old son whom by now must think his mommy is suffering some sort of mental break down. Patsy is my identical  twin sister and our children sometimes get confused at who’s who and what the heck we are talking about with one another. Twins have their own little communication quirks between one another my sister and I not withstanding. Patsy’s daughter Emmy opened the hotel room door after I knocked…”where’s you mommy” I asked? She took one look at me and then and there she decided it was best just to point the way to her mother and not engage in any farther discussion with me. Granted I was panting, sweating and not looking the least bit ready to go anywhere and Emmy and the boys were bored and ready for us to leave so they can continue on the universal studios for some fun after dropping Patsy and I off at the award ceremony. Patsy came out of the bathroom her makeup already on and her hair pulled to one side of her head in a puffed up pony-tail with whiskery little bangs she had just cut herself…again I thought “what is up with this 1980’s look”? I flashed back to seeing my sister with that same hairdo when she was 14! She did look pretty though so I let it slide…she didn’t have her dress on as of yet but I saw it hanging in the opened closet ready when she was to slip into. Cute dress…I said…as I made my way toward my son who was looking at me like “No way am I going anywhere with you crazy woman”.  No time to argue I just grabbed his arm and although he did protest a bit he continued to walk on his on two feet toward the door. Patsy had been watching all three kids while getting herself ready for the Grammys …and that couldn’t have made for a peaceful time of it. I didn’t want to add anymore stress to her getting ready as it were. By then she didn’t put up any resistance to me taking my child either…ha ha…

So with my bag of new, cheap only $60.00 invested clothes  I unlocked my hotel room door and went straight to plugging up all the curling irons, steamer and hot rollers all over again. Flipped on some cartoons for Lucca to keep him busy and began unpacking my sack of new clothes.  I cut the tags off the garments and started hanging them up to be steamed. Lucca watching me and the TV both  he than said “is that your new clothes mommy”?  yes…do you like them”? Ever such the Italian male..he said…yea …but they won’t go with your new shoes…Tell me about I puffed out in a total defeatist tone. But I do have some black shoes I packed…not near has sweet as the red ones, but they will have to do…Lucca just made a grunting sound…unhu…that back to turning his attention fully toward to the Television. I was surveying my new clothes hanging up has I ran the steamer through them thinking to myself …these aren’t too bad…I think it will be fine…really …really …really I do.

Before I could get dresses though I needed hair and makeup..tick tock…tick tock…I have no choice but for my hair to go curly tonight…My hair is naturally curly anyway…very curly…I just need to tame it a little so that it’s not a giant frizz ball that’s all. I like wearing my hair straight though for stage and such…But no time for all that mess tonight. Having to completely forget about the vision I had seen my self looking like for tonight’s event. It aint-a goin-happen….come to think of it…it never really happens on a good day anyway! So a little twist of the hot iron here…a little twist there da da ringlets…calm, neat…non-fuzzy ringlets… I bent over to shake loose some of the curl…I am not going for the Shirley Temple look after all…and wham! I hit my head on the edge of the sink base in the bathroom just as I bent over to shake my curls…ha ha…it didn’t really hurt too much…such par for the course of the day thus far…Lucca though came running in the bathroom thinking I must have killed myself…Mommy are you okay? he said. Fine…just hunky doory…rubbing my now sore forehead. Makeup..I just threw it on…nothing much there…I didn’t have time nor any good light for any miracles anyway. Who cares…I thought…I look like a ghost anyway…all pale and wintered up. Patsy had gotten herself  one of those fake spray body tans a couple of days before we left Tennessee…she looked tan…yes…far more than my white ass…but she also looked a little orange and spotted…don’t yáll dare tell her I told you that!  I tosses some extra power and lip gloss in my nylon jeep baby backpack I use as a purse…I like have both hands available at all time with Lucca on the loose in the world…you never know as a mother when your child need his or her arm jerked. I know a backpack purse is so out of style but the goats, chickens and my donkeys don’t mind…now my pig…she’s giving me the once over a time or two…but she is half blind anyway…and has no sense of style what so ever!

I didn’t think about carrying an evening bag with me when I packed from home…I don’t even think I own an evening bag…come to think of it..

I had ten minutes to get my clothes on…we were really going to be pushing travel time to the other side of town as it were…we couldn’t be late…or too late in meeting our VIP contact that would walk up through the red carpet press line. The palms of my hands begin to sweat and I was shaking as I removed the my new top from the hangar. Thank goodness I kept a strapless bra in my suitcase at all times from traveling on tour. I try to keep my suitcase packed even when at home with the things that I need on the road. That way I only have to throw in my clothes at the least minute before time to catch the tour bus. I slipped the top over my newly curled hair…damn I wished I would have gotten my hair colored and trimmed before I went to LA. It’s been 5 months or more between my last color and cut, I had been putting it off now since the last time I had it done…for those of you that come out to the farm during  the summer or were here during our Dinner In The Flower Field in October..you may remember I had went to a new hair stylist when mine was out of town…I was desperate okay…..I came home $300.00 poorer and my hair looked like I had the foiling from hell…with strands of pure white and dark brown and cooper color…it looked awful…my friend Tara when she saw me was trying her best to be nice… Oh Peggy she said…it’s a different look you have there…I mean its fine…you only look 5 or 10 years older….you know with those white streaks running through your hair and all…did you mean to do that…gee…thanks Tara…I said…oh… she started back peddling…I mean its just….never mind Tara, I laughed …I knew she was a true friend at that point and would remain so.  So yes, I have been a little gun-shy about getting my hair done. Not to mention me having  to replenish my bank account since the last time as well. The new top…anyway….sorry a little ADD kicking in…re-focus…The new top was just a little big…nothing to hold it up on this body of mine…so a little 2 sided tape..a quick adjustment to the girls and …better…The top I didn’t notice when I brought it had an elastic band around the bottom half which made it balloon out laying low on my hips…this is puffy I thought…so I kept pulling it lower and lower so I it made me look less and less like a fat ass clown…my cell phone started buzzing by this time with Patsy and her crew waiting in the lobby ready to leave…txt message…LETS GO!…scrolled across the screen.  Next the pants…a thin black satin pair with some sort of ribbon belt around the waist with what appears to be some sort of be-jeweled broach attached on a bed of …oh my God…feathers….feathers….these babies were sewn on too so no way I had time to remove them…well good thing this clown puff top will cover the belt anyway. So I slid my white legs into the pants and over the hips no problem…see I thought I’m so darn smart buying a size bigger…they went on without so much of a grunt….new txt message…WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE!….how do you fasten these pants? My hands fumbling in search of a zipper, hook or buttons…they weren’t elastic so there had to be something that held this slipper things in place…ah…there it is…in the back…nice…cheap…whatever… now that the pants were zipped up and in place…great they were too big…not just a little too big either but the inseam was hanging about 6 inches down in between my legs…so much for my thinking beyond my pay grade….I need safety pins right now..I didn’t have any with me…Note to myself…need a small sewing kit with safety pins…lots of safety pin included in my suitcase full of other crap to keep packed…. I took hold of a handful of pants and top around my waist to keep them from falling to the floor..slid into my shoes…grab Lucca from in front of the TV…threw on my red Jeep pack back purse onto my back and darted for the elevators that would take us to the lobby where Patsy was nervously waiting.

As the elevator doors slid open I raced up to the hotel’s front desk…excuse me I panted…do you happen to have any safety pins? …praying to God the answer was yes. A man after my own mothers dress makers heart… for he quickly produced not only a couple of safety pins but also a couple of stick pins as well just in case you know…I love you I beamed at him…he looked a little faltered at least anyway…

Philip, Patsy and the kids were already parked in the van just outside the parking garage with the motor running waiting as Lucca and I climbed in. Patsy stole a quick look at me from over her left shoulder  me seated behind her, she was riding shot-gun beside Philip who was driving. You look…cute…she said..these dang pants are too big I huffed.. trying to maneuver to where I could attach the new acquired safety pins into both sides of the inch or so  fabric I had gathered up at the waist of the pants. Patsy and I were raised in the country on my families farm…so this having to safety-pin up my clothes didn’t faze her in the least…country folks will make something  work…and usually it required some form of duck tape, baling string or safety pins…but it works! So off we go to the Grammy’s right off the hillbilly streets of Music City USA…The Grammys…yep…the real deal… Now that we were on our way…my pants pinned in place I took out my neckless…need a little bling bling…for this event…rhinestones but, nice ones! I wouldn’t be representing my home town without our states official birthstone now would I? Rhinestones can be found on every pair of  Nudie Boots, Manuel Jackets and guitar straps  including my own guitar strap here in Smashville…yáll just keep your high dollar Tiffany diamonds…We love our rhinestone here in Nashville…amen!  It would take us a good fifteen minutes or so to get to where the Grammy’s honorary ceremony would be held from our hotel in Santa Monica. They don’t measure travel in LA by mileage like we do here in Nashville but rather by time it will take you to get from point A to point B depending on the time of day. LA is renown for its massive traffic jams, luckily we had a GPS that came with the van that proved to be priceless. We arrived at the VIP entrance and before I could get my seat buckle un-latched our PR contact person threw open my door and began with a rush..rush pull of my arm…giving us a quick run down of how we will be entering into the venue and what we needed to know as far as walking through the press line and red carpet. He retrieved our artist badges and all the stuff we’ll need in terms of signing in ect…The red carpet area was lit up like an airport runway and I could see celebrities and their entourage entering the building. Patsy was standing back-lit talking to our contact person…I looked at her dress and bent over laughing so hard I thought I was going to break my ribs. She was dressed in the very stylist silk dress that was belted at the waist and had a sort of handkerchief bottom to it. Her legs were tan and bare and she was wearing these brown opened toed pumps. The week before we had to leave for this event she sent her personal shopper…my niece Tayla out to find her a dress armed with Patsy’s credit card…which by the way could have spelled disaster knowing Tayla’s taste in clothes. She has expensive taste you see…But Patsy told me she gave her a set budget before she handed over her card…yea right..like that mean beans to Tayla…ha ha ha…So this is the dress Tayla came back with …cute but thin…very thin…and the reason I was laughing so dang hard….is that Patsy…had not a stitch of clothing on under this very thin…now back-lit partially see though dress…won’t Momma be proud! yee ha! Now here we are the cheap dressed fat looking clown and her high styling orange spotted hoochie sister…Welcome to the Grammy’s Friends!

next post coming up…you come this far…you won’t want to miss the end!….Red carpet and Red faces:) Final installment of Grammy Mayhem.

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Grammy Mayhem Part 2

I could not believe what I was seeing …water line marks through the mid-section of this bright red satin dress that had the distinct appearance of how the beach looked outside my hotel window after tide had come and gone this very morning.  Wave lines a bit darker than the rest of the dress where the dampness had come to rest in an irregular pattern .  At first I was in shock standing there blinking my eyes hoping to God this was just a trick of the light, but then I became very present and threw on my just removed clothes and went racing down the hall with Lucca in tow and thoroughly befuddled at the sudden panicked mood change to my sisters Patsy’s room…I frantically knocked on her door bam bam bam…as her hotel room door swung opened I tosses the stained dress in her arms and shoved poor Lucca into the room. “The dress is ruined”…I cried …Ruined! Patsy stood there with one hand holding the mass of red fabric and a hair brush in the other. “what do you mean ruined Peggy”she asked? It has water stains from my suitcase getting wet…see…I took the dress to show the evidences to her…she barely looked knowing full well time was running out and I had nothing else to wear to the Grammy awards that started in less than 2 hours …go now to that shopping area we were this morning and find something quickly…she said as she began to push me out of the door and into the hall…I went back to my hotel room grab my purse and my shoes and ran…literary  ran like a mad hillbilly chasing a roll of duck tape 8 blocks to the promenade in hopes that I could find something to wear and quickly. Tick tock… tick tock…

Santa Monica Promenade

This promenade is much like an open air mall of sorts with several different types of stores on both sides of the street with the area in between a kinda of courtyard. I think of them as the anti-mall…all the same stuff but you feel a little hipper by believing that you are bouquet shopping instead of mall shopping. Nice idea…but same effect in general. There aren’t any what I would call cornerstone stores like Macy’s are Dillards again lending to the anti-mall effect. The problem for me in this case by not having a large department type store there means that I would have to walk to several smaller clothing stores to find what I need. tick tock…

First stop…Bebe…a fairly trendy clothing store that is geared more toward the 20/30 something ladies. Most of their clothes are great for going out to the clubs or parties and tends to be on the mid to moderate price range.  I am looking for a dress…that is what I have in mind so I begin there. Most of the dresses that I am seeing look like there made for hookers though.

My My...???

Mini dresses with a hemlines a foot up from the knee and most are made from some sort of spandex shinny material. I want to look nice for this event but I am not looking to go dressed as a middle-aged prostitute. My God these dresses are short…I must be getting old! And just to let you other ladies know…the 80’s in fashion is back …think The Go’s Go’s…so get out your neon and your hightop tenies! Have yáll ever seen the TV show “What not to wear”? I have a time or two and one thing that kept running through my mind as I was shopping in these stores was something the stylist who is on the show told this lady who dressed well lets just say not age appropate….she said “if you lived though that fashion era once than don’t repeat it again…your too old and it looks tacky. You can be trendy without being tacky and these little mini dresses were tacky…moving right along.

Remember these babies?? ah you know you do...

The next stop was…Guess…and yes you guessed it… has in the jeans Guess…I am running out of options there is only a couple of other stores in this section of the promenade and I don’t have time to walk the other end which is about 4 more blocks farther away from the my hotel….I want to make it back without having a heart attack.  Quickly looking around nothing dressy enough for the Grammy’s in this store.

Last stop….Forever 21…holy shit…this is what is has come down to…Forever 21..talk about shopping far and below your appropriate age…ha ha..but I am desperate and I only have 15 minutes to find something and be on my way back to the hotel. I still have to put on makeup and curl my hair, which by the way I have yet to even heat up my curling iron and hot rollers. The last time I was in a forever 21 store I was here with my Daughter who at the time was a teenager. I think we were looking at prom dresses..yikes!

She's got the beat....everybody...la la la

This store caters to teenagers with their clothes being very trendy and cheap and lots of them. This store had three levels each pack with everything from belts, jewelry to colored hair extensions and thigh high boots. I pulled my baseball cap down lower over my face and sucked in my chest and made my way though the crowd of young ens… this was my last shot and I couldn’t walk out of here empty handed. I quickly looked though some dresses…they were all about the same style as the ones at Bebe only made a lot cheaper and made that way…I can’t wear cheap and sleazy to the Grammy’s …come on….so I ditched the dress idea…I wasn’t going to find one that I could wear this quickly and not in this store. So I decided to start looking at tops and pants…also letting those cute new red shoes I just brought die a slow death in my head. I had to stop shopping around the shoes. I made one really fast scan around all 3 levels then started honing in on a few things I thought looked pretty good-by just glancing at them. I found a brown top that had some sparkle on it. It also had a little shine to the fabric which looks good under those stage lights. Check…found top….now for the pants…Jesus…now I know where Millie Cyrus gets all her clothes…keep moving Peggy…now I am talking to myself….once again it is all about the 1980’s my friends so straight legs are back and so are the disco balls and fog machines…forget it…I thought…I just went to the nearest row of black pants I could find, looked for my size….and then bought the next size up….my thinking in this was that I would be out smarting the pattern makers who size for teenager bodies in clothes like these not that of a full-grown women. I didn’t try anything on, I don’t think I even looked at the pants other than just quickly when I was looking for my size or bigger.

I ran up to the counter to pay for my goods panting and I must have looked stressed for the girl who was checking me out made me show her a couple of pieces of ID when I handed her my credit card. I ran from the store and up the 8 blocks back to the hotel almost having a head on collision with a couple of skateboarders. Both of us dancing right then left on the sidewalk trying to avoid one another. I didn’t stop running until I reach the elevators in the hotel lobby. As I was standing there tapping the up button like I was suffering from some sort of OCD tap..tap…tap..over and over again…which by the way doesn’t make the elevator come any faster…an older couple who looked as if they had just checked in was waiting with me. Both cutting a sideways look my way…and I know that lady was looking at my bag of cheap teenie clothes and then back up at me…thinking that poor girl…must be from Tennessee….I did have a scrunchy in my hair…that is always a sure sign of a southern girl…we do love us some scrunchies here in the south!

I know yáll are going to want to kill me for doing this, but Lucca is ready for bed and needs his mommies kisses and tucked in…I only have a little more time of doing this before he begins to start locking the door and kicking me out of his room… So Part 3 of Grammy Mayhem coming up next post…hope you come back and finish the tale with me its been a lot more fun writing it then living it I assure you:)

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Patsy & Kids in Santa Monica CA

Note To Myself: Neverrepeatnever pack

your awards show dress in a suitcase that will be checked luggage at the airport! How could something as cool as heading off to LA to pick up the lifetime achievement award for my mom end up with me panicked, racing down 8 blocks in busy Santa Monica to the nearest clothing store 45 minutes before I am to leave to go to the Grammy’s?  I will tell you how…the airlines that’s how…

Rewind…three days before trip; My sister and I have spent the better half of  the week making the final plans to fly out with our families to LA for the Grammy awards in place of our Mother “who by the way for all you trashy tabloids that may happen upon this blog” was tied up tending to a sick family member. She is fine…wonderful…and in no way on her deathbed nor being held captive by dad’s ghost or trolls that live under her tour bus…she was in fact being a good sister to her older brother…but that doesn’t feed the simple-minded now does it?

Any who…I had found the cutest pair of red high heels pumps that I am telling you right now…were to die for! These girls were hot…and they matched this sweet satin little dress that I already had or I should say borrowed from my sister…that would work great for the Grammy’s without me having to buy an expensive new dress that I would more than likely never wear again…so I went a head and forked over the money for shoes…I know I will wear those babies again…and felt sure I was good to go. Thefemalefarmer…is Grammy bound and looking good! The trip we planned included our families going with us with the plan that we would fly out a couple of days early so we would be able to take our little kids to Disney Land for a day. My sister “Patsy” and her husband Philip along with their 2 kids that are 9 and 11 and my husband Mark and Lucca our 7-year-old son. Lucca was out of his mind with excitement and wouldn’t let Mark and I talk about the trip at all with him until a couple of days before we were set to leave. He said he couldn’t stand to think about too long in advance or he would go crazy…I am just happy the little guy knows what he can and can’t handle. This was also the first time Lucca would be flying so this was indeed a very exciting trip for him and us as well. We had heard about a possible winter snow storm that could move into middle Tennessee later in the week but you know…so far every time they have said snow this winter …nothing…so we were all still all planning on flying out Thursday morning. By late Wednesday the weatherman was really dishing out the warnings and they also added a good chance for sleet and ice on top of the half a foot of snow they were now predicting. We had asked one of our farm   crew guys from last summer to come out to the farm and feed and water the animals for us the 4 days we would be out of town. Now, any of you that have animals know that leaving them is hard enough and when you have a farm full of chickens, pig, goat, donkey, cats, dogs, fish, baby chicks, ducks and worm bins…yes..don’t asked… it gets to be a fairly big job to take care of them on a good day…now below freezing temperatures, ice and snow…so at the last-minute Mark opted to stay at the farm and forgo the trip like any good farmer would have to do. By the way we did get around 5 inches…no ice here in Goodlettsville…but some of Tennessee did get a real icy mess on their hands. So early Thursday morning I packed up my new shoes and the red party dress in my suitcase took  Lucca by the hand and we few off into the western sky’s leaving old farmer Mark to hold the farm together during this prediction of a massive  snow storm while we would be soakin’ up some southern California sunshine. It’s not fair, I know…but old farmer Mark doesn’t look good in high heels… (You can read Mark’s Grammy blog by clicking here)

The flight took us to Dallas and then we would change planes to head to LA. We would be flying right into this impending snow storm on our way and we were all a bit nervous about the flight as well as possible delays or cancellations in our Dallas connection to LA. We arrived at the Dallas airport with a little drizzle happening outside, but nothing that I thought would prevent us from catching our connecting flight. Lucca was in deed loving the whole experience of flying…hanging out with his cousins and just getting to ditch school for a couple of days. He wore a huge toothy grin for the first hour into the fight almost breaking his neck looking out the window of the plane. I had a hard time just keeping him from bouncing up and down with pure joy only a seven-year old could muster. We had a bit of a layover in Texas so the kids played at the gate while Patsy and I grab some snacks for the next leg of the journey for them and I called home to check on Mark and the weather. “They are now saying we would get up to a foot of snow and ¼ inch of ice” Mark informed me during the call. “I think I made the right decision in me staying behind” he sort of sighed into the phone…I could tell though, he just may have been enjoying a little peace and quite at home alone for a change as well…just a little… We’re fine I told him and Lucca is having a blast…no worries everyone is doing great…Love, love ,love hung up the phone just as the airline called our last boarding call for our flight to LA. I had noticed that the rain was coming down a little harder by the time we were boarding our connecting flight, but nothing too bad. The flight was good…a little bumpy starting out but once we had good altitude things calmed down and we landed at LAX without any traumatizing incidents. We rented a van and headed out for Santa Monica were we had rooms at this cute hotel that Philip had found online that looked out over the historical Santa Monica pier. The kids took one look at the towering merry-go-round at the end of the pier and squealed with glee. Welcome to Sunny WARM California!

Santa Monica CA.

I do like the west coast…I don’t know why but I have always liked the west coast, there is something about the sights and colors of the west that tend make me want to grab a fresh healthy salad and sip fruity drinks and talk about global warming…I don’t know why…it just sends me in that direction… We unloaded our suitcases my one ….to Patsy’s six…and we noticed they were all damp feeling. We didn’t give it much thought at the time instead we were busy heeding the call of three anxious children that were hungry, tired, over excited and ready to have some fun. So we left all our bags in the rooms unchecked and headed to the peer for some fun. Once we got back to our rooms to settle in for the night I wanted to get Lucca his toothbrush out of the suitcase. Again I noticed the bag was fairly damp on the outside where I am guessing it was left out in the rain in Dallas while being loaded on to the plane for LAX. As I unzip the bag I could tell the top layer of clothing was also damp…maybe a little more than damp they were wet…not ringing wet but damp all the way though. I had packed my dress one layer down along with my new pair of heels. So as you can imagine once I saw that my first layer of clothes were wet I immediately dug for the dress my heart rate on the rise. Now satin and water is a really bad combination and I could feel the panic set in the pit of my stomach as I felt for the dress under a layer of dampness. I pulled the dress free and although it was a very wrinkled and a little damp it didn’t upon initial inspection looked to be too worst for the wear. So I hung it up and removed the rest of contents of my suitcase to let air dry. Damn airlines leaving these suitcases out in the open during a rainstorm… well at least they didn’t loss my bag…that has happen on several inopportune times.

There is a two-hour time difference Pacific in California from our two hours ahead Central time in Tennessee, but did Lucca understand that we can’t go and play in the ocean at 4 in the morning…no…he did not and so we began our morning on the extra early side. Not even the street cleaners were up when we started hunting down a mere muffin for breakfast. Living on a farm we get up with the chickens as they say…so my son is use to early mornings, but not 4am.!   We spent the day at the beach and the peer building sandcastle, feeding birds and sightseeing. We must have walked 10 miles that day and loving every minute of it. Mark called to let us know the snow had started but it didn’t seem to be as bad as they thought it would be…that is so far…it was still early in the weather system though. But he was fine and missing us…we missed him too.

David, Lucca, Emmy on the peer

We opted for a little seafood that night and had dinner on the peer at Bubba Gummp’s (yes.. from the Tom Hanks movie) Lucca ate so many little popcorn shrimp I thought he’d be sick, but he just kept telling popping them into his mouth saying these are the best shrimp ever! He also informed us at the table he would be moving to California when he grew up…like thirteen or so…ha ha

Lucca & Emmy on the beach

Play time in CA

Having some fun

The next morning Lucca and I did sleep in a bit we woke at a quarter to 5 am…the hotel’s night watchmen must have thought we were crazy getting up so early with nowhere to go. I wanted to check out the Santa Monica farmers market that morning and was told that it was only a few blocks from the hotel. Lucca wanted to hang out and play with Patsy’s kids David and Emmy so Philip my brother-in-law and I took off for the market around 8am…much too early for Patsy to face the day with only one cup of coffee… The market was great and so much fun….like being home here on the farm only with citrus fruits….  I loaded up on some of that fresh fruit, nuts and local artisan cheese oh yes…and sampled some wonderful baked breads and locally made jams. I always try to visit the local producer only farmers markets when I travel. Not only do I eat great that way it helps me to learn from other market farmers that in turn brings those new ideas to my own farm and farm market and I love getting to connect with other farm brothers and sisters all over the country.

After the trip our from this yummy farmers market we all decided to take a walk to the promenade where all these shops are located only about 8 blocks from the hotel before Patsy and I had to get ready to leave for the award ceremony that started at three pm. across town. Lucca and his cousins enjoyed the sights of the city and loved this cool little toy store we found in the promenade. We spent a couple hours just looking around the area and then headed back to the hotel to get ready. Now both Patsy and I are pretty much old hats at getting dressed for stage and these events so we don’t really feel too much pressure although this event was the Grammy’s so maybe a little extra pressure, but we have done this kind of traveling thing so long now we only needed an hour or so to get the job done and be on our way. I still needed to steam out my dress from being crammed in my wet suitcase so I did give myself a few extra minutes for that. We arrived back at the hotel around 12:30 in the afternoon and after getting the kids settled and looking forward to going with Philip to check out Disney Land…well we did change that to Universal Studios because of traffic…while Patsy and I attended the Grammy award ceremony.

Philip and the crew

We had to leave the hotel by 2:15pm to meet our contact person at the VIP entrance that will walk us through the red carpet press line where the press corps take pictures and such…I got into my room and began heating up my steamer and my curling irons all the stuff it takes to go from life A to life B for me… once the steamer started whistling little puffs of steam I took my dress from the closest and began gently running the steamer down its length releasing the wrinkles from the fabric. I had just begun the process when I saw the dark wavy tell-tell lines all across the front and back of the mid section of the dress. Water stains! And lots of them. The dress was ruined. I had less than an hour to find a replacement and get my makeup on, my hair curled and my ass ready to go to Grammys….damn airlines!

Panic…heck yes… I was panicked, here I am heading off to the biggest event in the music industry with tons of celebrities wearing designer dresses and thousands of dollars worth of bling around their skinny little necks and of course legendary music icons I would be rubbing shoulders with…if I got lucky …I’m there to represent one of those music icons who was being bestowed a great honor and I am at this point standing half-naked in a hotel with nothing but a suitcase full of jogging pants, kids clothes and cute shoes. I am so screwed! Tick tock…tick tock…time is running out….

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