Sunday, February 14, 2021


We're at that time of year when the weather is so incredibly variable. Some days dawn cold and gray, others clear and warm. We had a morning recently that immediately brought to mind the old saying about "Red sky at morning, sailors take warning." 
In my yard are the early signs of spring, with crocuses and snowdrops blooming and daffodils starting to emerge. 
Up at the Ridge, which is at a higher elevation, it still feels more wintry. But there is still a lot of beauty to be found in the muted colors of the leaves and fungi.
And there are at least a few signs of change ahead. I have no idea what these bulbs are, but they were in the path of a fence we are building so I moved them out of harms way and am watching to see what they develop into. 
My younger son and I inoculated two logs with mushroom spores this weekend - one shiitake and one oyster. He cut down the tree for me and drilled all the holes and then I pounded in the spore plugs and sealed them with melted paraffin wax. I have another two logs ready to do with my stepdaughter. We've put these two in the woods up at the ridge so that they can develop in the shade. Apparently it takes many months before we will get mushrooms, but they should produce for several years. 
I've also been working on another long-term project - chickens! I have to tell you, I'm having  a hard time waiting on this one. We've cleared out an area in the woods and I lugged a bunch of cinder blocks up the hill to mark the outlines of the run and coop. The blocks will eventually go on the part of the fence that forms an apron around the run to stop predators from digging their way in. Today we rolled these back out of the way and my husband used the auger drill to start making the holes for the fence posts. We can't really get chickens until we are ready to build next year, but we are going to take our time building the coop and run this year.
Since we are getting a lot of rain and it's pretty muddy, I decided to get a pair of inexpensive rubber boots for working so that I wouldn't wreck my good gore-tex Scarpa hiking boots. I was planning on plain black, until I saw a pair that were entirely out of character for me and bought them. Because chickens! They make me smile every time I look at them. I won't get a chance to go back until next weekend, but I'm already itching to get to work up there.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Progress on the little orchard.


I'm pretty much out at our property every weekend. Which is really saying something for someone who doesn't like winter. But once I get working, I don't really notice the cold. One of my ongoing projects is the area at the front of the property. I've been trying to find ways to use up the eleventy bazillion cement blocks from the collapsed (demolished?) logging office. Immediately in front of the cement pad, I put in a raised bed. No idea what I'm going to put in it, though. In the blocks in back and behind the bench I'm growing scallions. On either side I put in blocks for steps to make it easier to get to the garden.

Hard to see it, but this bed is made from cement blocks that were buried so solidly I could not dig them out. I have two blueberry bushes in the well in the middle. Other berries I've put in are three other blueberry bushes I transplanted from home, three little boysenberry bushes, and some red raspberry canes. I have some yellow raspberries on their way that I will add in. Oh, and both wild and domestic strawberries along the front fence.

I've corralled the wild blackberries along four trellises made from hog panels and garden stakes, and added some thornless blackberries transplanted from home. I had to move some of the wild blackberries to make them fit on the trellis and let me tell you, it's prickly work. 

And then there are the trees. I transplanted four fig trees from home. They've never done much, but someone suggested I mulch them deeply in the winter, so I did that and added clumps of moss. Earlier this year, I planted two persimmons, two pawpaws, an American plum, a chickasaw plum, a winesap apple, a Jonathan apple, and a Whitney crabapple. Yesterday in the mail I got the ten free flowering trees that came with my Arbor Day order, so I added two Sargent crabapples to help pollinate the winesap. (The other trees weren't fruit trees, so I planted them elsewhere on the property - two Washington Hawthorns, three redbuds and three dogwoods.)
The alpine strawberries I planted in the cement blocks along the old wall seem to be hanging in there.  I also added some fall blooming saffron crocuses so I can harvest my own saffron. The cat is always supervising my work. She likes to climb up the old metal window frames like a ladder and watch from the top of the wall, too.

Sometime in the next month or so I'll be getting some more fruit plants in the mail - four maypop vines to put on that fence and a bush apricot. A few others will be farther back on the property - another couple American plums and a red mulberry. And I have made a total of four of those cement block raised beds. They have layers of straw, leaves, and soil and I'm just letting the whole lot decompose while I decide what I'm going to do with them. Sweet potatoes in one, I'm pretty sure. Only one of the beds has anything in it - a friend gave me some sunchoke tubers and I planted those. I believe that's it. I know it will be a while before we start getting much fruit, but I'm excited to watch things develop this spring and summer.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Not as much fun as you might imagine.

So I was planning to do a blog post over the weekend, but decided to spend it passing kidney stones instead. I like to live on the edge that way. 

Friday morning, I started feeling like someone had kicked me on the left side of my back. Kicked me hard.  When the pain started radiating, I scheduled a telemedicine appointment that afternoon with my primary care doctor. He prescribed toradol (an anti-inflammatory) and told me I'd need to come in for a scan if the pain became intractable. But you know, weekend. Friday night is when it got bad, of course. Kidney stone pain is a weird thing - you just can't find a way to get comfortable like you can with regular back pain. And it pulsates. so it's hard to think of anything else. So I took the toradol, which didn't seem to do a thing for me, and drank lots of fluids. Water, water with lemon juice, water with apple cider vinegar, cranberry juice, seltzer with lime juice, beer. Anything to break them up and flush the damned things out. Fortunately, two days, two sleepless nights, and several tiny stones later, I seem to be back to normal today. I hope so anyway. 

So until I can put together a real post, I thought you would enjoy this:

I received this from a number I didn't recognize, so obviously not someone I know. And I tried to say so, but the person seems to have interpreted my response as a snarky, "Right back atcha!" I left it there, but still wonder if the intended snubbee has any idea they've been disowned?