Tag Archives: spring

Resilience

The mid March deep freeze has given way to a return of springlike weather.  Most days don’t even require a jacket and evenings only a light one or a sweatshirt.  Most of the daffodils that laid face down during the frigid days and nights have risen back up to the sun, the tulips buds are showing the beginning of color, about to split open into vivid shows.  All of the flowering almonds and pears burned, but the Japanese cherries are bursting with halos of light pink blooms. The forsythias at the school bus stop that were browned, found a few more buds and have a smattering of yellow showing.

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Though we are less than a half mile from the bus stop, we reside in a hollow that everything blooms slightly later.  Our forsythia had not started to bloom before the freeze and is now beginning to burst forth with color, just as the lilac buds are forming adjacent to them.

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Soon,  the bank by our car park will be riotous with color and fragrance.

With the return of the springlike temperatures have come the waves of rain and thunderstorms.  A day of calm sun followed by a day of rain and sometimes wind. Yesterday was near 80ºf and bright sun, today it will be in the upper 60’s or low 70’s but thick and gray.

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Between the time of this photo having just gotten back from the bus stop, and the time granddaughter and I left for preschool, the fog rolled in.

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The 3 flags almost hidden by the fog, mark three of the tiny firs that we planted last weekend.  The every other day rain has been helpful in keeping them watered.  When we have a streak of dry weather, the tractor bucket will be filled with water and driven up the row while a garden bucket is used to pour a gallon or so on each little tree every couple of days.  We are toying with buying some of the 24″ mulch rings to put around them to help keep the grass and weeds down and away from the trunks and to help preserve the moisture around them.  The tiny trees are much too small to use the self watering sacs that can be used on a larger sapling, though the red maple may be large enough for one of them.

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The chicks are now 2 1/2-3 weeks old and no longer the cute little fuzz balls they were.  They look like little dinosaurs and sound much like them too, no longer peeping, but squawking.  They can easily fly out of the big water trough that is their brooder, kept inside only by the window screen laid on top.  All have wing and tail feathers and were going through the quart size water and feeder in less than a day, so yesterday they graduated to a 7 lb feeder with a lid on top so they can’t accidentally fall inside and get trapped, soiling the food for the rest and they got a 5 quart water dispenser as there is no fear of one drowning in the edge where they drink.  They desperately need to be moved to the garage and thoroughly cleaned but the tub is too heavy for one person to carry and it is raining.  Maybe tomorrow when the sun is out, it can be dragged up the hill to the garage side of the house and moved into the garage.  With the coldest night expected in the mid 40’s with two mother tables in the bin and with feathers coming in, they should be fine.  Having them in the basement is a dirty, smelly idea, but was necessary with the nights in the teens.  If they were outside with a hen, she would have them out and running around, scratching and dust bathing by now regardless of the temperature.

As we approach Earth Day and with the emphasis by our current governing body to undo all of the regulations that have been put in place to protect our planet and environment, and as a former science teacher and still a proponent for science research and development, I have purchased another t shirt to wear during the auxiliary March for Science on the campus of the local University in town.  Now, I’m not sure which of my two I will wear that day, but they are going to be worn before and after as well.  We can’t be silent.  Science and our environment are too important to hide our heads in the sand and ignore what is going on.  Undoing regulations and removing the budgets to allow science research  is NOT going to make America better! (mini rant over)

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Olio-Week’s end-March 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This bitter week is winding down.  Last night was hopefully the last night in the teens that we will experience this winter.  Spring on the calendar is but three days away.  The garden planner alert today was to plant the peas and onions under cover outside and start the peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos inside.  The cover fabric from prior years is gone so a trip to Harmony Organics in town is necessary to procure more for the two boxes.  The garlic looks like it suffered some damage from the cold, but hopefully it will perk back up with the milder weather.  The daffodils in town are all laying face down on the ground,  the forsythia, ornamental fruit trees in town are all browned, our peach tree lost it’s blooms.  Our forsythia had not bloomed yet, so we may see some of the sunny yellow soon. The weekend is to be milder and Tuesday actually making it into the low 60’s, so some garden time is in order this weekend and early next week.

For Christmas, daughter’s family gave us an Arbor Day membership which provides 10 young trees, plus an additional purchase for our windbreak and flowering shrubs for the driveway bank.  Yesterday, the first of those young trees arrived and they must be put in the ground within a couple of days of arrival.  The suggestion is to put them in a garden area for a year or two to let them begin to establish fibrous roots and gain some size before planting them in the location of choice.  I guess that is going to make part of the lower garden a tree nursery for now, a good use for that otherwise not in use area.  The tree planting helps reduce our carbon footprint and is helping to re establish some areas of woodlot on the farm, where we need a buffer or where it is too rocky to mow.

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The cold weather brought many birds to the feeder and to the deck to clean up the spilled seed.  Feeding the neighborhood birds and trying to foil the squirrels was an enjoyable pastime when we lived in the suburbs on the coast.  With bear in this area, a feeder has been absent for the past decade, but a small cage feeder was hung outside of the kitchen window this winter, high off the ground and it has been enjoyable to see the fearless little birds feasting.  Granddaughter observed this morning while watching them during breakfast, that the chicks in the brooder are the same size as the little finches, juncos, and titmice.

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The daylight saving time change last weekend has school bus delivery back in the early morning with the sun just peeking over the ridge while we wait.  Once home and on to do the chicken chores, it can be seen over the ridge, but not yet over the trees and with no leaf cover yet, it creates an interesting morning view.

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Shooting directly into the sunrise it looks like the sun is shining through the ridge.

The brooder chicks are thriving, growing little wing feathers and boldly hopping up on the heat table to check out the world.

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Fortunately, the screen on top should prevent any fly outs that are inevitable in another week or so.  The outside brooder coop needs a new layer of straw, the brooder nest boxes mounted inside, the sides covered for protection and the pen surrounding to have the new rabbit fencing installed to keep the littles in and the bigger critters out.  It will be time to move them outside in just a few short weeks.  Hopefully these littles will be grown enough for the big girl coop about the time brooder season starts and the great chicken shuffle begins.  The littles will become the layer flock with the Americauna and the half breed, the broodys will go to the brooder coop  and any remaining older hens and Mr. Croak will go to the cull coop where they will live for the summer and as this year’s chicks get large enough, they will be moved to the cull coop as well to provide our families with chicken for the winter.  One young cockerel will move in with the young pullets to be next year’s rooster.  This year’s brooder chicks will be out layers for the next couple of years before they are replaced with new young.

We love our little farm and the chores help keep us young.

Six More Weeks

One of Jim’s favorite movies is Groundhog Day, fitting on February 2.

This morning on Gobbler’s Knob, Punxsutawney Phil  and his counterparts here abouts saw their shadows foretelling 6 more weeks of winter, but really, don’t we have 6 more weeks anyway. I don’t know about where you live, but our winter really begins in earnest in mid January most years and continues on until Mid to late March.  We are most likely to see snow and cold temperatures during that period.

I can’t complain about having a sunny day this time of year, even if it predicts 6 more weeks of winter.  As long as I awaken tomorrow and it is February 3, I can live with that.  Spring and summer will be along presently.

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I think it is here!

A three day break from the cold wet sprwinter we have had instead of spring.  Today is another beautiful one.  Yesterday, I ventured off on another walk to a different path I had never taken.  Though it proved not quite long enough to get in my daily step goal, I did get it by adding more erect and less sitting time afterward.

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Some of the neighbors sunning with their calves.
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A few more babies.
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As you see, the trees still think it is winter, the flowering ones have bloomed, but no leaves yet.
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The mouth of the cave above us ringed with Virginia Blue Bells in beautiful bloom, but my zoom just wasn’t enough to get individual blossoms.
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Woodland flowers along the road.

The spotted wintergreen is growing, but not yet blooming.  Yesterday’s walk did not have the views of the previous day, but it was a beautiful day to be out and a great chance to chat with the owner of the cows.  She was out checking on one of her girls who is due to calf any time now.  I think I will walk down and see if there is a new baby in the field.

 

 

Sunday Thankfulness 4/10/16

What a difference a day makes in the mountains.  Yesterday we awoke to snow and got a couple of inches before the temperature got above freezing and the ground snow melted while it was still snowing and blowing horizontally.  I think it got up to about 40ºf yesterday and dropped to 22ºf last night.  I fear there will be no fruit in our orchard this year.  Unfortunately, all 5 apple trees, both peaches and both Asian pears were already blooming.  The garden seems to have survived and the chickens didn’t even notice.

Today is bright and sunny, the wind has calmed and it is 62ºf.  Much too nice a day to stay inside, yet too iffy, especially at night to do any garden work, so I tied on the sneakers, grabbed my trekking poles and hiked away from the house while the kids were having quiet time and Jim was sitting in the loft, still recovering from another bout of bronchitis.  I decided to take a hike that I had not previously taken, down the gravel road, took a right and hiked up the cow paths to a ridge we see from the paved road when we go up the mountain.  The views from there were fabulous.

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A shot east and the steeple of the church half way up to our house.  A shot west up the valley. And a shot south toward the highway we can hear trucks on, but not see from our house, to a house that has been built in the hollow over the ridge.  I got my 10,000+ steps, climbed the equivalent of 77 flights of steps, enjoyed the bright sunny day for well over an hour and a half.  The fresh spring air was delightful.

While hiking along the cow paths, I spotted many tiny violets blooming in the woods.

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After coming back down from the ridge and crossing the road, I climbed the hill above our house and walked back around that hill and returned to the road and the walk home.

Soon those cow pastures between the woods will be too tall to walk and I will have to stick to the woods and roads.

Tomorrow is another beautiful day and after a late morning appointment, I plan to try another trail that I have never hiked before it gets too overgrown as well.

Thus is spring in the mountains

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Flowers bloom.
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Outdoor projects are done.  The little decorative wheelbarrow made by my Dad about 15 years ago has a new handle, new axle, the side boards screwed on instead of nailed and a new support beneath to keep it from wobbling.
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Set in place, filled with pots and awaiting the warm weather and flowers.
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The horseradish, asparagus, and raspberry beds fenced off from the chickens and heavily mulched. The chicken coop cleaned out and a compost pile started behind the fence to keep the chooks out of it.

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Today is 80ºf, Sunday it is supposed to snow.

The garden now has two long fenced off beds, plus the blueberries are fenced off.  Before Saturday afternoon, I hope to get the beets and some cabbages planted and the blueberries heavily mulched.  There is enough of the plastic fencing to fence off two more beds, but I will need to get more step in posts first.  I bought two rolls of the plastic fencing and only needed one, so I will return it for more posts.  That should give me space to plant the beans, more peas, and the peppers.

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All 14 of the little peat pots have at least 1 tomato sprout with primary leaves.  They are spending each warm day outdoors, hoping that they will grow strong and not leggy.  Yesterday, I saw that one of the comfrey seeds had sprouted.  They were a total failure last year and I failed to divide the big plant last fall, so I tried again with seed.  I hope that more of them germinate.  They will be outside the vegetable garden.  There is 1 pepper sprouted so far.  Once the weather warms back up next week, I hope that they will join the tomato sprouts outdoors and maybe the mini hoop house will be constructed to help protect them from the wind while they develop into garden sized plants.

Today lots of work was accomplished.  Tomorrow will be cooler, but still nice and except for taking “N” to preschool and having spinning in the early afternoon, I have no commitments and hope to get the blueberries mulched and maybe the beets and more peas planted.  Friday will be cooler and still dry, another garden day before we get the predicted light coating of snow that will be gone in 24 hours.

Soaking Wet

We had a couple of stellar spring days and took full advantage of it.  One full bed of the garden was cleaned up, peas, Daikon radishes and a few pepper plants (which we may yet have to cover) and Swiss Chard plants we purchased were planted.  We have garlic, onions, kale and turnips up.  There are a few more beds to be cleaned up to plant the tomatoes, beans, cukes and summer squash and once the remaining peppers are large enough, they will also be planted.  The strawberry plants don’t like the rain that we have had.   Sunflowers and winter squash will be planted near the chicken runs.  As the chickens are spending more time free ranging, I am considering reducing their run size and using their well fertilized, run, bare of weeds for more planting.

The spring’s first mowing was done and some of the house plants relocated to the front deck.

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One of the Buffys is having reproductive issues and she is laying very strange eggs.

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The egg on the right is a normal egg.  The two on the left are two of her treasures for the past few days.  All of the girls are at least 14 months old and less than 25 months old, so it shouldn’t be age.  None of her odd eggs are double yolked, but the albumen is very watery and the shells all have cracks that have been calcified over.  Her shells are very thin as well.  If I could figure out which Buffy it is laying them, I would double band her as a potential cull.

The littles are getting braver and are coming out of the tractor more each day, however, today it has rained until I will need a rowboat to get to the coop.  The littles somehow got locked out of their tractor this afternoon and were soaking wet when I went to lock them up.  The Buffys who could get in their coop were also soaked, but they gave us 10 eggs today.

Instead of being outside, today was a day to make chicken feed and granola.  I also did a bit of garage cleanup, still trying to merge extra bicycles and yard toys into the garage and still have room for Mountaingdad to turn the BBH around in there.

We are enjoying the change to spring, the trees and spring flowers blooming, the leafing out of the shrubs and trees; the warming days and nights and the lower electricity bills they will bring; the return of the spring Farmers’ Market and the fresh salads that it brings.

Loving life on our mountain farm.

Signs of Spring

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Leaves on the Lilacs
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Blooms on the Forsythia, my favorite spring shrub.
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New chicks

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Frightful on the left behind the waterer. Three are Redtail Hawk colored, one is more black and gray with just a bit of reddish brown in her wings.

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The four new Americauna pullets were picked up today.  Not wanting to order chicks, set up the brooder and raise them until they could go outside, I spotted a post on one of my Facebook Groups from a lady who offered to include your order in hers and you could pick up your day old chicks from her for cost or she would raise them to 8 weeks for a fee.  Wanting to keep a heritage flock of the Buffys, but missing the green eggs from the Olive Egger, I ordered 4 Americaunas from her and agreed to pay the fee to let her raise them til feathered and able to be outside.  By fall we should have green, blue or pink eggs.

Daughter and I used a roll of heavy mil plastic and stapled it to the sides of the chicken tractor, put the food and water inside and introduced them to their new temporary home.  In a few days, they will be released into the pen to run around and graze and get acquainted with the Buffys through the fence.  In 8 more weeks, once they can have the whole grain feed mixed with layer pellets, they will move to the coop.  I hope by then that one or more of the Buffys decide to get broody and sit a nest.  They will be moved to the brooder pen once they hatch which might expedite moving the Americaunas.  Daughter has decided that the largest one with the Retail Hawk like coloring and the dark head should be named Frightful after the Falcon in My Side of the Mountain.  The other three are still unnamed.  I don’t name birds that I know will eventually end up in the stew pot, so I don’t know if they will be named.

The Buffys got free range time while all of this was going on and every time I moved toward the house or back out toward the pens, I felt like the Pied Piper with the flock so close to my feet that I had to walk with a shuffle to keep from stepping on a hen.  They will eat out of my hand, but they don’t want to be petted.

Go Away, Just Go Away

Spring is just around the corner, I know it is.  The calendar shows First Day Of Spring in just a couple of weeks.  I know that we will have continued periods of cold, even snow flurries well into April and can’t put most things into the garden until mid May, but winter needs to stop already.  We had a reprieve for a day or two and last week’s snow mostly melted, but between the melt, the roof drip off and the rain, the county is now under a flood watch.  This isn’t a problem for us as we are high on the side of the mountain and our creek flows into a sink hole that when flooded, rushes down the west side of our property, still well below the house.

The roadsides that are steep from blasting to put the 4 lane main road through the valley are seeing minor mudslides, but the ground is totally saturated and pudding soft, so the fear of a more major mudslide that could block our ingress to town is possible.

Yesterday it rained, then sleeted, then rained and sleeted again and this is ongoing today.  The high for the day, right at freezing and headed down about 30 degrees by midnight is turning the rain to more freezing rain and sleet with another 5 inches of snow due by nightfall.

imageThe trees and shrubs are ice coated and if we really get a few inches of wet snow, there will be branches breaking and threats of loss of power.  We have enough firewood to get us through a couple of days, but that is all.   The grill’s propane tank is about half full and we have plenty of beans, rice, and frozen foods to make meals.

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When I went over for chicken chores this morning, I realized that a small 5 year old dogwood near the side of the house has been seriously gnawed, probably by hungry deer.  It was sleeting out and the ground is still too hard to try to pound in stakes to put a piece of fence around it, but I was able to force a couple of fiberglass poles around it and drape a piece of row cover fabric over it to thwart more chewing until I can get a fence around it to try to protect it.  Perhaps I should check my fruit trees as well.

Welcome change

A warm sunny day!  Yay.  Much of last week’s snow melted today, though the driveway is a muddy mess developing deep ruts in several places.  The chooks are happy to have more than a few square feet to move about.  We are happy because they had school for the first time in two full weeks and grandson returned.  The extended weather forecast is looking generally more positive with milder temperatures during the days, but still a lot of nights that are very cold and will freeze then thaw cycle.  We still have a treacherous path to the house both the front door and the garage doors as the areas that were “cleared” by the tractor developed ice several inches thick.

The beast, our 210 lb English Mastiff is finding the walk in and out of the house scary as he has slipped a few times.  The German Shepherd and the Golden Retriever both bound over it like it isn’t there.  I tried to break it up today, but even when the chunks were manageable, they pulled up the sparse grass just off the front stoop.

We fear at least a late start for school tomorrow as we are expecting frozen rain and sleet tonight.  We are ready for spring, dry yards and driveways and a garden that can be worked.