Tag Archives: Trees

Good Intentions Foiled – 7/12/18

I planned to rest today, especially since the guys didn’t get home until after midnight and then I had a sleep is optional and restless night, but when I went out to plant the bean seed, I attacked the last aisle of weeds that was hidden by the asparagus ferny tops.  While doing so, I realized why the egg production has been down recently.


There were 11 eggs in a neat nest hidden between the asparagus and the peppers.  Those eggs aren’t fertile, there is no rooster, but can’t be sold because I don’t know how old some of them are, but I hate to throw them away, so I cracked each one into a bowl individually, scrambled them and put them in an ice tray.  They freeze nicely and can be used for baking later.  It takes 2 cubes to equal one egg.  I haven’t figured out how the chickens are getting into the garden.  The Welsummers can fly over the fence, the eggs aren’t Welsummer eggs, but the Buff Orpingtons are too heavy bodied.  There must be somewhere they can get under the fence.  One solution I can think of is a taller fence and an edging they can’t get under.  I want them to be able to free range, though even with 30 acres to wander, they select my flower beds to scratch in and get into the garden even easier.  I have considered the step in movable electric fencing that would allow me to give them a new section of grass every few days, allowing the section they had been in to recover.  That way, they are getting pasture but not creating a wasteland or ruining my flower beds.

After weeding the area, I tackled the the tree nursery bed.  It had been weeded a few days ago and I realized the size they were getting. The first young tree I tried to transplant a few weeks ago was a failure.   It had gotten to be about  5 feet tall in a year and had too extensive a root system.  The other trees were smaller and I hope to be able to move them successfully.  I also made the mistake of not removing enough rocks from the bed when I made it and trying to dig around rocks that range from golf ball to hard ball size made the digging the saplings up more difficult.  There were two sweet gums, a hawthorn, a dogwood, another maple that was smaller than the first one, and an oak.  They were dug with decent root systems and put in a bucket of water.  The hawthorn was put in the ground before the heat wilted me, it got 10°f hotter than the forcast.  I will get up early tomorrow and try to get the others in the ground before it gets too hot.

Over the rest of the summer, I will continue to sift rocks from that bed, amend the soil and build the bed higher.  In the fall, the blueberry bushes are going to be moved into that bed and mulched heavily.  The garden fence is going to be moved to make the garden area smaller, it has just gotten to be more than I can handle.


The empty box just above the barrel halves will become the blueberry bed, the barrel halves moved to the left and up. and the new fence will be just below that bed.  The pumpkins, now in the lower left can be grown in the prior year’s compost pile as that pile rotates from the north east corner to the north west corner each year.  After the compost has been dug to enrich beds, the remaining soil is the older compost and is still rich and deep.

I did get the beans planted and watered.  Now hopefully they will come up and provide us with more beans before the season ends.


This is aimed south and shows the asparagus greenery with the cucumbers and sunflower volunteers to the left of it.  It was between those beds that I found the eggs.  The beans are just to the right and down one row of boxes.  This year’s compost pile is to the right of the asparagus, so next year the pumpkins will go there.

In picking beans, I realized that none of the sweet potato starts took, so there will be no homegrown sweet potatoes this year.  I will buy some at the Farmer’s Market when the season is ready.

The first harvest of cucumbers and jalapeños was made today.  Pickling will commence.  Today I ordered some fermenting weights and fermenting tops for jars so fermented dill pickles, kraut, and maybe some fermented tomatoes can be done too.

I don’t know what the header flower is, it was in one of the Seedles that I planted in that barrel, but it is pretty on it’s thin stems that bob and weave in the slightest breeze.



Family Worn Out

An early start sent Jim off on the BBH to a ride, a funeral for a Hog member, and a class in preparation for the big 5 state rally that his chapter is hosting.

A bit of laundry washed and hung out, a trip into town with daughter’s family to get cat food and lunch together and then we returned home to plant trees.  They gave us an Arbor Day membership for Christmas and that comes with 10 trees.  They came a couple of weeks ago and were all deciduous trees that had to be nurseried for a couple of years before planting in their permanent places.  They are the ones that I built an extra garden box for them to live in for the two years.  That I managed on my own, then this week, the ones they ordered for us came.  A dozen various fir trees, Norway Spruce, Canadian Hemlock, and Eastern Red Cedars, a 4 foot red maple, and two Forsythia slips.  The firs needed to be planted where they will grow as they don’t transplant well.  There is a windbreak row of pines that eldest son and I planted about 9 or 10 years ago that were Earth Day twigs and are now 8 to 15 foot trees, but there are some holes in the windbreak and some holes up where we have planted live rooted Christmas trees and lost one.  There are some areas of the property that we consider yard and don’t save for hay that we have worked to reforest.  A contribution to reducing our carbon footprint.

The 5 of us (grands wanted to help dig), set out with the tractor, a couple shovels, a garden fork, a maddock, the bucket of tiny trees in water, and another bucket with water.  The maple was planted in the row of deciduous trees and then we extended the windbreak, filled in holes where trees didn’t take, moved up to the Christmas tree area and spaced out 4 others.  A total of 15 holes were dug, 15 areas cleared of sod, 15 trees and shrubs planted and watered in.  Each young tree is marked with a 4 foot pole and bright green marker flag so they don’t get mowed down when the grass grows up around them.  That took us a good bit of time.

Near one of the trees was an area that was impossible to mow, a low, partially covered rock pile.  For the past several early springs, I have loaded bucket loads of rock from that pile thinking that I was getting it low enough to mow.  We decided to finish moving the pile and man oh man it was a job bigger than we anticipated.  The pile was more extensive and deeper than appeared possible.  We moved 15 or 20 tractor buckets full of rock, used the tractor bucket to dig up at least a dozen rocks that were so large that they could only be rolled into the bucket to remove them.  Though the area is now torn up, it is rock free and smoothed as well as the tractor and our hands could manage.  I think it is going to be an area that can be mowed with the brush hog this summer.

The only remaining big job is the chick pen fence and we still have about 4 weeks to do it.  Tomorrow is going to be rainy and windy and this senior body is likely to be too sore to do much physical anyway.

I am grateful to daughter and her family for all of their hard work and help today and for getting us the trees to help with our project. Hopefully the little trees will thrive and grow quickly.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at the Smithfield House at volunteer training.  Hopefully within a few weeks, I will be doing interpretative tours at the house as well as spinning on the dates that have been scheduled for it.  I think I learned more history yesterday than I ever learned in school.

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.


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.


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.


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.

A Week On the Farm – April 30, 2016

This has been a busy week with some down time and almost no garden time.  We have reached our last average frost date and the little plants would probably love to be put in the garden.


Some of the little pepper plants are starting to bud.  To get them in place, I must spend a couple of hours removing the 3 inch high Lambs quarters plants, set the posts for the tomatoes, and stakes or cages for the peppers.  It is raining right now, and I don’t really want to garden in the mud.  Once they are in the ground, the lower end of the garden needs the same treatment to plant the popcorn, pumpkins, and Anasazi beans in a Three Sister’s Garden.  Most of a long bed awaits bush beans, cucumbers, and flowers to be scattered in various spots.


Last summer, I removed a large squarish rock from the hill above the house, leaving a substantial hole.  When son cleaned his deer last fall and the next day, he and I killed and cleaned meat chickens, we partially buried the feathers and unusable parts in that hole and dumped a sack of Black Kow on top, turned the wheelbarrow upside down over it to keep the dogs out.  The plan was to put a tree in that hole last fall, but winter came and went and the tree did not happen.  On Earth Day, SIL came home with two tiny pine seedlings and yesterday, I planted them, one in that hole and another uphill from it in another hole that I dug in an area that is very difficult to mow due to the rocks and contour.  The pines that you see above and to the left of them were planted as seedlings about 9 or 10 years ago from an Earth Day activity.  Once they have settled in and we have hayed that area for the spring, I will remove the tubes and tie caution tape on the poles next to the little trees to mark them as I mow.

During the week, I did mow an area around the house, garden and orchard.  A minimal area, leaving as much as possible for our farmer neighbor to hay in another 6 weeks.  It really limits the area the kids can play for a while and makes for messier dogs when they go out until the haying is done, but the area is still much larger than the yard the grands had when they lived in Florida.

We did our usual Saturday morning breakfast out and Farmers’ Market run.  I enjoyed my homegrown asparagus for two cuttings, but have left them now to help the bed get more established.  Our favorite market farmer, had asparagus and radishes (mine are still too small to harvest), another had bok choy and chard, a loaf of bread and some bagels, two pounds of garlic brats, and my first bouquet of flowers for our enjoyment this week were purchased.  I love supporting the local small farmers and knowing them and where my food was grown and how it was grown.


The lilacs on our driveway bank are blooming.


The week has allowed me plenty of spinning and some knitting time.  I finished a skein of Romney and Merino that I carded together and named Purple in Memorium and put in my new shop.


And finished a pair of Autumn Double Cable fingerless mitts of my own design also in the shop.

Autumn Double Cable Mitts

Next time I need a better hand model, this one had dirty nails.

I am currently spinning Green Apple Merino and knitting another pair of fingerless mitts with three cables, also my design.  I am toying with selling some of my patterns on my shop as well.

Last week’s brooder coop, survived a week on Huck’s raft, I did get plastic stapled to the sides to help keep the inside dry.  I still need to put in some nesting boxes and await a broody hen or two.  Once they start to sit, I will put up a low fence and move them to that coop, hoping to raise a good couple of broods of chicks for replacement hens and meat chicks.  I really don’t want to have to buy meat chicks and set up a brooder in the garage this year.

Still loving life on our mountain farm.



The Chicken Tree and Blackberry Jam

Three years ago with son’s first deer hunt, followed the next two years with meat chicken kills and processing, we realized that we were both creating an attractant for the dogs and losing a great deal of free nitrogen fertilizer.  As we don’t raise any other animals and I don’t want to give the by products of this process to another animal if we had pigs, we discussed solutions.  Last fall, as we created a garbage bag of feathers and offal that we would have to safely get rid of, we settled on a plan to plant a tree each time we did a deer or chicken kill.

This past weekend after we finished the cull coop and couldn’t spend the other day of son’s visit continuing the house staining project due to all of the rain we are having, we decided to cull 4 of the birds.  Each time we improve on the time before, knowing that as the chickens are raised humanely, that we wanted to kill them as humanely as possible.  As this hadn’t been planned in advance and we didn’t discuss it until Saturday evening, there was no tree to plant.  Sunday after we were done putting the 4 in freezer camp, Son #1 dug a tree sized hole, deposited the feathers and other discarded parts in the bottom of the hole, tossed some of the dirt back in to keep the dogs and carrion eaters out of it and set out to buy a tree.  Unfortunately, two of the local nurseries are closed during this part of the summer to reopen in the fall until after Christmas, Lowes and Home Depot only had Leyland Cypress and Cedars and as we are over run with cedars and end up cutting a few each year from the hay field areas and the Leyland Cypress is susceptible to a fungus that kills it in a few  years here, they were not options.  The last nursery is closed on Sunday and Monday, though we could see some trees in their lot.  The hole was left as is until this morning.

Neither Mountaingdad nor I slept well last night, so we were both up fairly early and decided to go get a bagel in town then go look at those trees.  We came home with an 8 foot Appalachian Redbud.  They grow wild up here, but there were no small ones in our woodlot to transplant.  Being a native tree, it should thrive here and will provide the beautiful red buds and pink flowers in the spring and heart shaped leaves in the summer.  Perhaps next year I will make Redbud jam.  The trip home was interesting as the tree was slighter longer than the inside of his Xterra, so with the wrapped huge pot up against the back gate, the leafy top wrapped in netting and held in my arms in the passenger seat, we got the tree home undamaged and planted in the prepared hole.


In the fall when we kill and process the rest of the culls, this year’s chicks that exceed our coop capacity and the Red Ranger meat chicks that will be raised beginning mid August, we will be prepared with 2 or 3 three foot white or yellow pine trees from one of the nurseries after their fall products are in.  We have been creating a wind break where the wind roars down the hollow and it is still short of where it needs to end, so those trees will be planted there.  In front of that wind break is a row of shade and ornamental trees and the redbud is in line with them.

Saturday as Son #1 and  I were finishing up the coop and clean up, Daughter and her crew along with Grandson #1 went berry picking along the perimeter of the farm returning with several quarts of wineberries and blackberries.  Wineberries don’t hold up well, so they were eaten quickly, but this morning there were still about 5 or 6 cups of the blackberries left.  While out getting the tree and taking garbage down, we stopped and bought a box of low sugar pectin and daughter and I made 5 cups of reduced sugar blackberry jam, her favorite of the jams we make.  IMG_0161[1]

Five cups of wild blackberry jam cooling on the sideboard.  Added to the harvest of squash, greens and peppers that are coming in at a record rate, I feel like we are finally at the putting by stage instead of the eating it away stage.  I can’t wait for the tomatoes so I can make and can salsa and pasta sauce, the hot peppers and cucumbers for pickling, then the apples to make chutney and apple sauce.  I love as the shelves morph from empty clear jars to jars of meals in the waiting for the cold months of winter.