August…

Ducklings and lambs and horses, oh my!

 

Summer is flying by so quickly.    The nights are already cooling down a ton but the days are still hot.   The raspberries are almost done producing and the grapes are next in line.     Here’s how the garden is doing:

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Mid-May’s Notes From the Homestead

My muscles hurt.  How I’ve not dropped 20 lbs just going from winter’s laziness to full spring work is frustrating and surprising.

 

A few weeks back we saw an ad offering for folks to come dig up free plants.  We went in their small window of time, right in the midst of a massive wind storm.  Lucky for us the wind was blowing right towards their garden with a freshly plowed potato field behind it.  I was literally eating dirt…it was caked in our ears, our hair, my cleavage… lol.  It was worth all the free currant and gooseberry plants we got though!   So grateful for generous gardeners willing to share their bounty.   All won’t {haven’t} make/made it… they were placed in the pasture garden willy-nilly.  The pasture garden/orchard is where the strawberries are, and weeds 5 ft high.  We hope to eventually reclaim the area into a wild food forest type place, but it will be years in the making.  Oh, and did I mention there’s no water out there?  We take a wagon load of 5 gallon buckets and water by hand.  It takes about an hour. lol.   I can’t wait to see it develop into my vision.

 

Speaking of the pasture orchard garden, I think we officially lost 2 peach and 2 cherry trees.   Other than the cow, we believe the rest are due to voles.  There are vole holes all over the root areas, to the point where some roots where fully exposed.   SO sad and such a waste of money. And it just pushes back fruit production years farther.   On the bright side, the cherry we transplanted last month is in bloom, along with one of the plums we purchased our first year here.  The pear trees are leafed out, as is the remaining nursery-bought cherry.

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Another vision of mine is getting a little clearer…yesterday was Mother’s Day and Jerad and the younger boys built my rose arbor/garden entrance.   My David Austin roses, ordered last winter, serendipitously arrived last week so timing was ideal. I still need to paint it, and there will eventually be a picket fence around the whole garden.  Again with that long term plan stuff.  If only money and time were’t an issue!   I am so, so grateful for how hard Jerad works all week only to come home to a million homestead projects that need done.

 

Jerad came and woke me up way too early on Mother’s Day.  Really?  On Mother’s Day?!   But he said I needed to get up because -birds.  And so of course I jumped up happily.   There were nuthatches mating and fluttering into a bird house Jerad had put on the tree right off the back porch and they were the source of the bird sound I’ve been trying to identify for a while.   We have also found a robin’s nest in the grape vines, but I wasn’t willing to scare mama off the nest any more in order to get a picture.  With the amount of robins around here, I know there are more unspied as of yet.   Swallows are also everywhere and we’ve seen them dive into a birdhouse or two.  I love swallows.  We has 2 Sand Hill Cranes land in the pond right near us a few weeks back, and tonight they were in the neighbor’s pasture doing their mating dance. The photos are at a distance, so they are hard to spot.

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The willow trees had their week of bees two weeks ago.   When I say a week of bees, I mean it.   The trees are so incredibly loud with buzzing that they sound alive.  I love just standing under one.  Once all the dandelions open the willows must no longer be first choice, for the volume drops.

The crabapple trees are in blossom and the old peach has a few blooms open.

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The peony shoots are all up and the daffodils are slowly fading.   We transplanted a few more lilacs.   Hollyhock seeds planted our first summer are finally sending up leaves, so hopefully blooms will   happen this year!  Hollyhocks are one of my favorites and they grow like weeds around here.   It’s shocking this property was void of them when we moved in.

 

My peas are coming up, along with lettuces, spinach and kale.   The garlic is about a foot tall. IMG_0017.JPG

 

My chives are close to blossoming and last year’s cilantro and dill reseeded everywhere! If I’d known it’ do as well as that I wouldn’t have wasted space growing more from seed.IMG_0018.JPG

 

My green beans are planted, I’ve transplanted out some cabbages,  and beets were seeded.   I will transplant out some broccoli tomorrow.  We aren’t *supposed* to have any more freezes, but there was one late last week so I am going slowly.  I take out all the plants everyday to start the hardening off process.   It’s quite the chore. lol.   Next year I need to NOT start the cukes and squashes as early.  I counted FIFTY-TWO blossomed cucumbers starting.

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I lost count at the broccoli starts somewhere upwards of 60. I think I must have had every single seed I started germinate this year.   I certainly won’t fit them all in the garden beds.

The air smells of cotton wood sticky blooms, which I love and most of the family hates.  A good reminder to make my cottonwood salves, along with some dandelion and stinging nettle salves or tinctures.

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In other news, all the homeschool curriculum for next year has arrived.  It’s always so fun to get those boxes.

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And my oldest 2 kids went to prom.  My son to his girlfriend’s public school one, and my daughter to the homeschool one.  My son had  fun when he didn’t expect to, and my daughter danced to every single song and had a complete blast.  They are growing up so fast I don’t want to blink!IMG_9937

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I hope your May has been as beautiful as mine.

Notes from the Homestead-late April

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The full moon over the Tetons Thursday night as we transplanted lilacs. I wish the mountains stood out more in the photo, in person it was glorious.

It’s still constant work time here. We got a lot done in the last couple weeks, but there’s plenty more to do.   We dug up some massive plum trees from someone’s yard who wanted them gone, along with a mature cherry a couple weekends back.   It was pretty funny strapping 20+ ft trees to the top of the Yukon.   So far they look like they are surviving their move to the pasture garden, but if not, it only cost us some sweat and a handful of hours.

Jerad got nearly all the rest of the garden beds built this last weekend.  It’s neat to see my lay out coming to life.   We also planted 2 gooseberry bushes in the pasture garden, one of which looks a little worse for the wear.  Most of the bushes and trees are starting to barely bud, but no leafing or blossoms quite yet, with the exception of the black currant which has leaves out.   No signs of strawberry blossoms yet.  The pond is still filled only half way, despite the rivers being full and raging.   It generally reaches full by June 1st.   Speaking of the pond…Conner took this shot after a long evening of work.   It’s unfiltered and unedited.  So pretty…trees reflected in the pond.

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We transplanted lilacs along the road, as I mentioned.  They seem to be thriving.   It will eventually make for a nice hedge for some privacy and as a barrier against the poison insecticide that gets sprayed all summer.  The birds chorus all day long now, which is my favorite.   The weather has been back and forth between overcast and rain and sunny and blue skies.   I got my first sunburn working outside last weekend…Jerad and Trev got one, too.   Not sure it’s super noticeable, but I was on fire and looked like Rudolf.  {this was after a full day of work and sweat ;)}

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Sunday was our day of rest,as it was Easter.  We went to church, had our own family egg hunt, and then dinner with friends.  It was nice to relax and fellowship.

 

The first painted turtle made its appearance this week.  Unfortunately it was only noticed after I ran over it…it was a baby. I expect to see loads more in the next few weeks.

 

Daffodils are finally blooming and I bought some pansies for some color.  I also purchased two hydrangeas.  I killed the one I planted last year, so we’re trying again. They’re one of my favorite flowers but only one variety I’ve found will grow here. Instead of the front of the house {east facing and sunny}, I placed them at either side of the school room door along the west side of the house where it gets more shade.

I planted the onion sets, and direct sowed chard, lettuce, kale, peas, carrots, and spinach.   I was thrilled to notice yesterday that our cilantro and spinach reseeded itself and is growing in the beds. The garlic is coming along nicely and is about 6 inches high.

Dandelions are now popping up all over the yard, but there aren’t many in flower yet.

 

The laying hens and ducks were moved to our chicken tractors, so Hallelujah, no more poop on the porch.   Our flock dwindled down and so we added 6 new chicks last weekend.   The baby goats are fun and annoying, and Meadow is being a pretty good mama.  We opened the pasture back up and they are happy to be frolicking once again {and I’m happy to not be paying for hay  to feed them}.  As far as other animals, we decided to focus on the gardens this year, so we are putting off meat chickens, sheep, and whatever else off until next year.

 

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This weekend will be a busy one, as we have good friends moving here from southern Oregon and getting into town Fri/Sat.  We’ll help them unload and all that.   We also have a ballroom recital Saturday that two of the kids are in, and we have plants we’re digging up at someone’s house to add to the pasture garden.  Hopefully the last garden beds will be finished and we’ll fill them with dirt.   April is going by way too quickly, but we’re loving the season!

 

 

Early April Happenings on the Homestead

The window is full of green sprouting plants and I have many more to start.    It’s gloriously overwhelming.

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This time of year feels like we’re going 100 miles an hour trying to get everything ready for summer.   We have chicken tractors to modify, baby chicks to buy and raise, garden beds to be built, strawberry runners to separate, planning for new perennials to be done and the areas prepped, a fence to be built, lots and lots of bed clean up, a lawn that needs reseeded, a new water system to be figured out, plants that need planting, a pasture garden that needs redone completely, gates put back up, etc, etc, etc…

But I so enjoy this busy season.   The pond is filling and wild ducks land every day, including one today that was a solid red black…not something I’ve seen before. The blackbirds have returned and they are out in the cattails mating or nest building, I’m not sure which.  They sound like saws! We have heard killdeer, but still no sightings.   I saw a Kingfisher near the pond last weekend ready to dive for nourishment.

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Today was the first day in over a week that started clear and warmish, so I declared it a ‘only math’ day.   It’s very, very rare these days when we take a ‘fun’ day, but today was it.  I love the freedom homeschooling gives. We started the day with the two younger boys and I walking the property, hot coffee in my hand and robins in every tree. We evaluated which aspens made it through alive {2} {they were dug up from our ‘wild place’ in a hidden corner and we lined them down the street, but with all our water issues last year a lot died} and which snow balls still show signs of life {1}.  We noticed a few carrots that were left to overwinter in the garden beds!  They will be left to seed out, as carrots are biennials that seed the second year.   Then we walked the pasture garden/ orchard, which is mostly just weeds, but my head is full of what could be.    I am constantly grateful that we have this place.  It fills me up.

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I then started even more seeds, because it was too nice to go inside and regardless of the couple hundred starts I have, I needed more. 😉   My youngest turned 11 last week and got a new bike, so to the skate and bike parks we went.  No broken bones= a good day.   I got to chat on the phone with a dear friend for a couple hours {Hi, Laurie} and came home to lug wood chips over a small area of a front flower bed.   I planted some hollyhock and peony roots…hoping they survive as it is now SNOWING!!!  Oh, the joys of a zone 4.

 

There is only a single blossom out yet, and surprisingly it’s a single English daisy that was tucked under some straw.   Not even a daffodil or tulip or hyacinth yet, but a straggly English  daisy of all things!  The leaves of tulips, daffodils, and the grape hyacinths are up, as are the first green signs of columbine, shasta daisies, yarrow, feverfew, and the thyme and mint are green and happy.   The first swell of life is on most of the fruit trees and ornamentals, the willows are getting new yellow growth {to the great temptation of the goats on the other side of the fence}, and the chives are already about 5 inches tall.   The Swiss chard from last year’s garden is setting out new leaves, so we’ll harvest those once and then replace them with new plants.   The grass is greening up and the calves across the road and behind us are frolicking about.  I am so grateful I get to witness those melancholy looking faces from our windows.   God forbid I ever get a calf…it may end up snuggling me on the couch.

 

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So despite the snow now spitting its icy breath, I won’t complain.   Spring is here, with winter desperately trying to push it back.   I know it won’t win and my heart and dreams are all about spring {quite literally- I’m dreaming every night of planting and garden designs, with one particularly hilarious one in which the Saved By The Bell cast was helping me.  That’s what I get for rewatching the series with my daughter- Ha! }  I will be content looking through my David Austin Roses catalog that came today {and is magazine quality} and my Chiltern Seed one…my British loving soul loves the British flowers.   My David Austin roses should be shipped in May {I have wanted a certain kind for 10 years or so and finally ordered back in Jan}, and maybe by then it will stop snowing.

 

 

Notes From the Homestead~ late March

I want to say ‘Notes from {insert farm name}’, but if you can believe it, after almost 3 years we still don’t have a name.   My husband hates the names I love.   It brings me back to the days of arguing about baby names.   I still mourn the name Tucker and don’t like one of our children’s middle names.  Ha!    So anyway… suggestions are still welcome, but obviously we’re super picky.

 

This weekend we were supposed to get snow, but it blessedly stayed away and we got some outdoor stuff accomplished.    Saturday I pruned the fruit trees.  Probably poorly, since I can’t handle cutting branches that have potential.  IMG_9369.JPG

 

Last week I started so many seeds. I still have lots more to start, but my living room already looks like this:

Jerad put the bird houses he made around the property, including one he threw together last night.  This one is because I said I wanted to watch them make a nest from the kitchen window.   I didn’t even know he had made it until he scared the heck out of me showing up in the window {2nd story}.  IMG_9415.JPG

I also managed to get the raspberries all pruned.   I can’t wait for fresh ones! IMG_9414.JPG

Jerad still needs to prune the grapes.  That one is his job.  And after searching for wood chips for years, I finally stalked- eh…found, a tree guy who delivered a half load.  Now if only I could get tons more! IMG_9379.JPG

 

Sad news, we lost a peach tree to the neighbor’s cows.   The bark is gone.  *tears*.   Another thing on the to buy list.

Happy news, robins and black-capped chickadees are everywhere twittering, and we’ve heard, but not yet seen, killdeer. IMG_9411 (2).JPG

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Happy Spring!

Notes From The Homestead: Whispers of Spring

The wind is literally howling outside right now, and we still have snow covered ground, but spring is beckoning in little ways that have me living in anticipation.   Last week I shot straight up out of bed at around 4 am because I heard geese honking.   Not much has me jumping out of bed at that ungodly hour, but I jolted out of bed and  looked out the window.  Sure enough, it was too dark to actually see anything, but I drifted back off to sleep with a huge grin on my face.   I’ve since seen them everyday trumpeting along in their V formations. Geese making their way  back north is a heralding of spring’s arrival.  Suddenly birds are chirping in the morning dawn and robins have returned just this week.   I jumped up and down in the kitchen at the sight of one on the bare, snow covered grape vines.   Robins  are back!  Hallelujah!  Jerad has made me about 6 bird houses to put up around the property. He gets me.  I’m not sure how people live without being thrilled at such things.  There is so much joy in these small whispers of life. IMG_9341

And while I’m so incredibly far behind on all my spring cleaning plans {because- books},   I did manage to repaint my kitchen.  Too bad it looks awful, as what appeared a light gray in the store looks more like a baby blue lavender on my walls.  I will be repainting with a different, hopefully better, color next week.   But it forced me to get all my vintage china off the walls and scrub them.  I need to get all this cleaning done before the siren call to be outside occurs!

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Another thing I’m running a bit behind on is seed starting.  That will happen this weekend, now that my seeds came today!!!  Oh, these days of lofty plans and perfect, English country-side gardens consuming much of my daydreams.   Come July reality will hit me with weeds and water issues and goat escapees that devour all my hard work.  But for this moment, I am all optimistic {delusional?} that this will be the perfect garden year.  I also have ordered some David Austin roses that I have coveted for years, but those won’t be shipped until we can plant {Late May/June}.

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I hope whatever your weather, that you are busy dreaming of all your spring plans.

Mandy