Leaves Fell Like Snow

. . . at my house on Saturday.

log cabin
Our log cabin

“Brown, dirty snow,” Handsome Hubby (“HH” from here on) said. It appears he was unimpressed with my simile. As you can see from this picture, we live in a log cabin in the backwoods. Blackjack oak (a/k/a Scrub oak) and Post oak trees surround our house, giving us great shade in the summer and lower utility bills. However, in autumn and late winter, we get two sets of leaf fall that cover our property in a brown blanket smothering the Crossfire Fescue I’ve planted and patiently watered. Note: we only keep Fescue around the front of the house. The rest of the yard is Bermuda and native prairie grasses to lessen the need for watering.

Before I planted shade grass, I think we ignored the leaves. Then, after a conversation with a gardening guru of mine (thanks Wanda,) I decided the leaves could be put to better use as shredded mulch for my gardens. My soil is highly alkaline, so I’m not worried about acidity. HH and I tried raking, using a mulching mower, and mowing and bagging the shredded leaves. All of this was too slow and too much work. We then bought a leaf blower/shredder which HH likes. I used it once, and it shocked me. Truly. Something to do with sweat and spark plugs.

Agri-Fab Leaf Shredder
Ag-Fab leaf shredder

So, last spring, for my wedding anniversary, I asked for this:

blog-leave-piles.JPG
My finished leaf piles. They sit here over the winter, and I use them as needed.

It is pulled by the garden tractor and as it passes over the leaves, they are sucked up into the mulcher. HH and I worked on the front yard Sunday afternoon, and I now have six piles of mulched leaves sitting next to my garden. The remaining leaves in the lower pasture will be left as is.

Other women ask for diamonds, but I think a high powered leaf mulcher is this red dirt girl’s best friend.

Agave Love

AgaveNo, dear friends, not agape, that group of Greek words meaning Christian or brotherly love. Agave, as in nectar . . . of the Gods. There is nothing brotherly about my passion for the liquid sunshine contained in this bottle.

I have to thank Erin McKenna of Babycakes Bakery for introducing me to my love. She shared a recipe for a wonderful allergy free bread she prepared on Martha Stewart’s show. (You can find this episode on Babycakes’ website under “Press.”) In this bread was agave, which at first, made me think of tequila, thus fostering bad memories of a certain party we won’t discuss.

Agave is related to gardening, or, at least, the plant world. Most people are familiar with agaves as ornamental plants, sometimes called century plants because they live to be very old, although not 100 years old. They are from the family Agavacae and are related to yuccas. Per The Agave Page, by distilling the nectar found in the developing agave flower bud, Mescal is made, but it can only be called Tequila if made from the Blue Agave and within the Tequila region of Mexico. Who knew?

Blue AgaveMy thanks to Richard Hodgkiss, who is the Webmaster at The Agave Page for his picture of Blue Agave.

According to Wickipedia, Agave syrup or nectar is produced by expressing juice from the plant’s core, called the piña. The juice is filtered and heated and becomes a syrup that is thinner than honey, but sweeter.

I’m told that agave nectar is low on the glycemic index, but I couldn’t care less. It tastes good and takes on the flavors of whatever I’m cooking. I use it on gluten free pancakes, waffles, and other stuff when I don’t want the flavor of honey or maple syrup to come through.

But, ssh . . . don’t tell the bees or the maple trees, because I don’t want them to be jealous. I still like them too.