Things of spring

I can’t say spring is my favorite season, but it sure is a lovely time of year. Every thing is growing and blooming and popping up every where.

irisI planted these last year and had no idea what color they were. My mother-in-law was thinning her bed and gifted me an entire tub of Iris roots. I learned later they originally came from her mother’s garden. I love that.

Early spring gardenThis is my garden about a month ago. Onions, lettuce, carrots, spinach, beans just planted and peppers. It looks A LOT different now! A whole lot more green, growing food things.

Mixed green lettucesOur first lettuce harvest of the season. Baby greens, an Italian mesclun mix and oh so yummy! What do you look forward to most from your garden in the spring? While I love the tomatoes (can’t beat a garden fresh tomato), I really, really look forward to the first greens of the season. To me, that means the growing season has officially begun and if everything else shrivels up and dies, at least I had lettuces.

ShroomsGuess what else loves our wet, wet, wet spring? Mushrooms! I have no idea what kind these are but they sure love my manure pile a lot. And that’s a good thing because mushrooms are excellent at making good compost.

Ups and downs

I managed to get 19 tomato plants and 10 bell pepper plants in to the ground in the middle of last week during the one sunny, warm day we had. I also got red and Irish cobbler potatoes planted (have I mentioned what a pain potatoes are to plant? They are. But, the flavor is well worth the effort.)

Then, the weather went to shit. I should have expected it, Mother Nature never seems to want to operate on my schedule and usually has her own ideas. We’ve had rain and temps in the 40s every day since then and more rain predicted for the rest of the week and through the weekend. At least the wet weather this week is supposed to be accompanied by warmer weather rather than these seemingly endless damp, dark, chilly days.

Still have the Yukon gold potatoes and the Beauregard and Georgia Jet sweet potatoes waiting to hit dirt. The onions, romaine and mixed leaf lettuce are looking great. The spinach and carrots, not so great. Right after I planted the spinach and carrot seeds, we got rain, rain, rain, then it got HOT and windy  which made our clay-ey soil dry to an impenetrable crust. Poor little seedlings couldn’t break through. I replanted the spinach and because I spotted a few carrot seedlings, I left them to do what they will. If they don’t pop up this week, something else will go there.

We have chicks! 26 little fluffy peepers are now calling my family room home and we put a second clutch in the incubator last night. Pictures soon.

The fox is back. Little red bastard. He killed at least one of my turkeys this morning, poor thing. In the 15 minutes between finishing my morning chores and leaving for work this morning, that damned fox caught, killed and shredded the turkey. The other turkey couldn’t immediately be found, so he may have gotten that one, too. The fox is now on my hit list and the flock will be confined to the hen house until he’s gone.

I blew the engine in my mower and a little research discovered that it would be cheaper to buy a whole new mower than replace the engine, even with a remanned engine. Ugh. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Why couldn’t this have happened when the grass wasn’t growing out of control? Welcome to the jungle….

That’s not a garden, that’s a rice paddy!

When it rains, it pours.

Literally! The drought of last year is officially over (I think it was officially over last month), but after last week’s torrential downpour, it is decidedly, without a doubt, over.

In less than 24 hours, 4.11 inches of rain poured down on Bramblewood Acres (and the surrounding counties of course). We had flooding. Mega flooding. The water at the lowest end of one of my pastures was nearly halfway up the fence posts and over the driveway.

We lost more of the pond. The runoff from all of the farm fields around us diverts to Bramblewood Acres and right into our pond.

The muskrats (nasty little critters) managed to weaken the spillway section of the pond dam and it collapsed a few years ago so every heavy rain we get, more of the dam erodes and the pond gets shallower.

Image

Image from the Bangor Daily News.

Not only does it get more shallow, but that runoff from all the fields also brings with it tons of soil, which has completely changed the landscape of the pond. We are waiting for it to go dry, because once it does, we will hopefully be able to get some earthmovers in to dredge it, deepen it and repair the dam. I think we should just blow the whole damn dam, but, I think the runoff and erosion issue would be even worse with nowhere for the water to really go once it hits our place. Plus, I kind of like having a pond (when it’s a real pond and not just a shallow mosquito bordello like it is now).

The road to our house is under several feet of water and will most likely be that way for at least another week, maybe two. Fortunately, we can still get home, we just have to take a more roundabout route. Of course, I drive home from work on autopilot and forget the road is flooded until I top the last hill leading into the bottoms and see nothing but water spread out before me. Turn around, add another 20 minutes to my commute, curse my faulty memory.

Despite the rain, my garden isn’t looking too shabby. Onions are coming up like crazy, spinach and lettuce has sprouted, too. Wildflowers are starting to pop through and I’m hoping the asparagus isn’t drowning.  I’m glad I haven’t yet put out the tomatoes and  yet because we’ve had a couple of below-freezing nights. Potatoes are waiting to go in, but, I’m not getting much planting done with the earth more soupy than earthy.

I am, however, contemplating planting rice.

Dreaming of chainsaws

Some girls want diamonds. Or new shoes, maybe a new designer bag or some jewelry.

I don’t shop at the mall…instead, I drool at the farm supply store and run my hands longingly over shiny, new power tools and equipment. (yes, I know, it’s an illness.)

This girl is seriously coveting a new chainsaw. And a tractor would be the icing on the cake. But, we’ll start small, I’ll be happy with a chainsaw. I have/had a chainsaw, but, it is a “light duty” model and has not stood up well to the chores we’ve put it through, here, on the farm. It finally gave up the ghost this fall and of course, now that it’s spring, we have a LOT of wood and trees to cut and no chainsaw to cut them with!

Winter was not kind to my trails in the woods and we lost several trees….right across the trails. I have plans for that wood (which involves a natural fence, many climbing rose bushes and a plethora of native wildflowers) and would like to get to work getting it cut and out of the woods before the leaves and poison ivy are in full bloom. Naked woods make the work easier.  Plus, there are a few more trails I’d like to add, and that requires a chainsaw. I COULD use a handsaw, and I’ve resorted to using a handsaw in some cases, but honestly? It’s more work than I’m willing to do!

I’ve managed to plant 24 asparagus crowns and some more lavender and herbs, but, in doing so, I must now face a problem head on. A problem I’ve been able to ignore over the years.

The problem is the chickens. I love my chickens. I love watching them and talking to them and I love the freedom they have at the farm. They keep the bugs in check and keep the horse manure in the pastures manageable. They also hunt mice, snakes, moles and voles, so they are paying for their keep not only in eggs and meat, but in pest control, too.

What I don’t love is their incessant, destructive scratching and dust-bathing in EVERYTHING. And that includes my herb bed. The flowers, I don’t mind so much. But the herbs are tender and we use them and those darn chickens scratch and rip them right out of the ground without a care in the world. So, I have to figure out a way to keep them out without putting up big, ugly, metal chicken wire or mesh. I’m on the hunt for a light, plastic-type netting/fence than can easily be put up around those beds. If I can find what I’m looking for, that will be added to the ever-growing list of projects I must get done.

As the dirt warms

Ahhh, yes. That time of year has finally arrived. I’ve spent the last three weeks chomping at the bit to get out into the gardens and get busy. Now, it’s here and I’m busy! I’ve never been one of those people who can sit still for very long. I can’t barely sit through an entire movie so winter is usually torture for me. I scrub walls and cabinets, ceilings and light fixtures because I cannot just sit and do nothing. Let’s just say, by the time spring rolls around, there isn’t much left to “spring clean” in my house.

Thank goodness for that, though, because if I had to spring clean my house, it wouldn’t get done. I’ve been busy, busy creating new beds, preparing old ones for new plantings and planting. So far, I have carrots, onions, romaine lettuce, a mesclun lettuce mix, spinach and 24 new asparagus crowns in the ground. Doesn’t seem like much, when typed, but in the ground, that’s a lot of space to prep and plant. And, that’s only the veggies. I’ve also prepped and planted three new wildflower beds, a sunflower bed, marigolds, lavender and a hummingbird/butterfly/bee garden. Four more of those left to prep and plant, along with the rest of the veggies. I won’t put tomatoes, peppers or eggplant into the ground for a couple more weeks, but potatoes, beans, summer squash and new herbs will be going in this weekend and early next week.

We started a new clutch of eggs Sunday, and between the new incubator fan and upgraded thermometer/hygrometer I’m hoping we get a hatch this time. We candle for the first time in 6 days then again a week later. Then, cross fingers, eyes and toes and hope for the best! I read that incubating eggs is part art, part science, and I have to agree. Successful momma chickens just rose a few notches in my admiration book!

Drooping blooms

Spring is officially here…doesn’t that mean the temperatures are supposed to follow suit? We’ve remained below freezing, but that hasn’t stopped things from trying to bloom and bud.

My daffodils figured since the days are growing longer, it must be time to wake up and open their pretty yellow heads to welcome the sun.

Yeah. Not so much. Just ’cause the sun is out doesn’t mean it’s warm.

ImageThese poor guys…the freezing temperatures have wilted them. I don’t know if they will recover this season. The blooms were frozen as the sun came up. I expect they will be slimy by the time the sun sets tonight.

Image

So sad, drooping daffodils, the promise of spring an ugly lie. It’s like spring poked its head out, teased with a brief warmth and sunshine, then slapped us in the face and yelled “JUST KIDDING!!!”

Tonight, there’s snow in the forecast and lingering freezing temperatures. Last year at this time, it was 80 degrees and the farmers were busy planting corn. What a difference a year makes.

Small things

Things are starting to warm up and dry up, which means it’s getting closer and closer to getting outside to plant! We did seed and roll two of the horse pastures on a beautiful, sunny, nearly 70-degree day yesterday, so that’s one big (and very needed!) job done. Today, we are fixing the ruts in my arena, prepping ground for asparagus, prepping ground for onions, potatoes and mixed greens and sectioning off an area of the chicken coop for the geese and turkeys. Busy day! I’m glad we got the pastures done yesterday, today is chilly and windy and tomorrow is supposed to rain.

Babies are popping up beautifully!

ImageTomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, thyme and eggplant. The peppers, not doing so great and nothing yet from the sage or rosemary. I even have the darn things on a warming mat this year, and the peppers are still refusing to cooperate. Grrrrr…may be buying pepper plants this year.

And, babies hopefully popping out soon!

Image

They are “due” on Easter. This is our first attempt at hatching our own eggs so we’ll see how it turns out. I tried candling a couple today and couldn’t tell what I was seeing inside, but, they aren’t quite a week in the incubator, either. We fought with the temp for a couple of days, it went up to 102-degrees a few times, which may or may not have baked the babies. We’ll see. There are 40 eggs in the incubator, all from my hens so, whatever hatches will be mixed breed ‘yard chickens.’

Osiris is my daughter’s cat. He is King of the House and pretty much does whatever he wants and sometimes picks the oddest places to sleep.

ImageMy onion bulbs, Osiris? Really? Sheesh.