In the Vegetable Garden…

This past week and weekend was a busy one in the vegetable garden.  My brother, Jim, constructed some beautiful arches out of maple saplings.  They stand sentry at the eastern gate of the garden.  I’ll plant snap peas, scarlet runner beans and possibly some nasturtium to grow up and over the arches.  They need to be quite sturdy to withstand the winds that whip across the pasture and orchard (even though we’re surrounded by woods on the southern and western sides of the property).IMG_4374

I also planted the shallots, yellow and red onion sets, walla wallas (sweet onion), shelling peas, kale, dill and spinach.  This coming weekend I’ll plant the first round of beets, carrots and lettuces.  I use succession planting with those three in particular so that I can stretch out the harvest.  Tonight, after work, I’ll plant the snap peas and some additional shelling peas.  That will be it until we’re safely past the last possible frost date, which won’t be until May 18 or so (on average), then the remainder of the direct seeds and transplants go in.

My shearer arrived at 1pm yesterday and my 3 little dumplings, Jemima, Tallulah and Delilah, had their spa day.  They’ve now been sheared and had their hooves trimmed.  They must feel loads lighter and can now see without obstruction once again. 

While we were out at the barn shearing, Nora and a couple of friends who joined us to observe noticed two baby bunnies, each one sitting in opposite corners of the run-in. They were so adorable!  By the time I returned out to the barn to tuck in the sheep around 7 last evening, one had left the building.  The other remained huddled in the corner.  I told Nora if she was still there this morning, we might have a new pet.  She looks so vulnerable.  I won’t be able to resist the urge to scoop her up, bring her into the warm house (it was 30 degrees at waking this morning, and we’re expecting 20s over the next 2 nights) and protect her.IMG_4467

 

 

Sunday’s Walk in the Woods

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Sun reflecting off the marsh; this area in particular is a favorite spot of the spring peepers.  We heard much croaking and saw lots of frog spawn in the various wetland areas; both signs of a healthy amphibian population.
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Miniature castle

 

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Reed reflections

 

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It was a great day for wildlife spotting.  Nora was lucky enough to come upon two browsing deer.  Unfortunately I was lagging behind to take photos and missed that opportunity.  But this little gem, an Eastern Garter snake, slithered up behind us further into our walk.  She hung out while I snapped several photos and remained there watching us intently as we walked away.

Beautiful Saturday

Yesterday, although a bit chilly with a high of 50, was another gorgeous, sunny day.  It was also a productive day on the “farm.”  I ran some errands in the early morning and was back home planting strawberries in the new planters by 8:30.IMG_4394

Jim built the planters using some old wood pallets we had laying about the place, and Nora painted them (the color is “minted lemon” although difficult to really see it in the morning light) .  I think they look wonderfully cheery, and it will be so much easier to maintain the berries above the ground.  Our grass is so resilient and persistent here that attempting to keep the three 50′ beds clear of weeds was becoming a nightmare and way too time consuming.  So as they aged and needed replacing, I let the beds go back to grass.  Last year was the first without fresh strawberries, and I missed them.  Hence the new planters.  So I bought 25 “Ozark Beauty” plants, an everbearing variety with a marvelous flavor and they make great jams as well. 

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Planted on the sides, as well as the top

 

I won’t allow them to fruit this year, plucking off the blossoms as they appear.  I like to give them a year of sending all of their energy into building strong root systems.  They seem to produce more abundantly and last longer than average when I do so.

After planting, I did a quick weed through the asparagus bed and then on to the job of mucking out the winter bedding in the sheep barn.  Whew, there’s a tough, smelly job. Still feeling it in every aging muscle of my body this morning. It was a few hours of hard labor, but when it was finished the sheepies had a fresh, clean smelling home.  Cobwebs had been swept from the rafters, all straw removed and some diatomaceous earth scattered on the dirt and then covered with fresh straw.

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The disgruntled sheepies; they dislike the wheelbarrow so refuse to come near the barn while I’m cleaning.  They’ll look a lot different after today’s shearing.   We’ll actually be able to see their eyes once again.

 

Some additional random shots from Nora.

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A daffodil from the orchard.  I planted 200 naturalizing bulbs in the fall and will add more this year.  I’d like the entire orchard awash in yellow and white in the early spring.  They have the added benefit of deterring rodents and rabbits from munching on the trees.
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A desiccated pumpkin on the compost heap. It’s outer shell hardened and cracked like an egg when touched.

Budding

I snapped some shots of the first buds opening last evening.  Things seem almost 2 weeks earlier than “normal.”

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Black currant
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Alderman plum
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Oreo wondering what I’m doing
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The full moon setting over the sheep barn the other morning
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The new hedge of Alnwick roses

Rain Drops

There was a chill in the air this morning as I tended to the hens, ducks and sheep.  It rained a bit overnight leaving the grass and branches glistening in the early morning sun.IMG_4325

I stopped to snap a shot of the many yellow finches gathered around the feeder. Another wonderfully, sunny morning…IMG_4327