Sunday, February 28, 2016

getting organized

there are a lot of things i'd like to do around here so being able to manage chores and projects efficiently is appealing.  i've spent a lot of time getting the gardens started and there is still a lot i'd like to do but at this point i feel like there's a solid foundation established and to be able to move forward i need to get better organized.
seeds are a very important part of the gardens and the future of this place.  i've been saving seed each year and building up a good stock.  what started out in a shoe box when we moved here became several boxes, and bags, and jars scattered here and there.  it was hard to find what i needed quickly and easily.  i'd been swearing i was going to get them organized for the last year or so but never quite got around to it.  i'd probably still be struggling with getting going on it if not for staal.  a few weeks ago he built me a beautiful set of shelves so i'd have a place for seed storage.  he used some salvaged cedar a friend gave us.  it's a little rustic and rough and also has staal's fine and loving touch about it.  we took a trip to the hardware store and bought a bunch of canning jars and i got to work cleaning, and sorting, and labeling.

i like sharing our living space with the seeds.  they're beautiful and to me something central to our life here so the placement feels fitting too, having them at the hearth, the heart of the home.
***the fireplace is damaged so we don't use it, we have a woodstove in the other room that we use for heating the house.

i've still got a few seeds that need to be cleaned and sorted but things are in pretty good shape now and i've had a much easier time finding the seeds i need to sow over the last couple of weeks.

another area that i'm working on getting set up to be more efficient is irrigation.  in the spring and summer here irrigation is a necessity since we often don't see a drop of rain from april to october or november.  usually this means i'm pretty much tethered to a hose spring through summer and that makes it difficult to be productive during that time.  over the last couple years i've put in some drip line here and there but i've also been expanding the gardens over that time and i haven't quite been able to get the drip system expanding at the same rate.  i've made the drip system a priority this winter and i've almost got it finished.  i've got two battery operated timers with 4 valves each that will make most of the watering automatic and give me a break from dragging a hose around.

in addition to being more efficient as far as my time goes, watering with drip irrigation is a more efficient use of water.  because the water is being applied more slowly over a longer period of time than hand-watering there is less runoff, deeper soil penetration, and less water needed to keep things growing and thriving.
staal has been working on setting up a pump at our rain storage tanks (which are currently full and holding about 4,000 gallons of roof runoff from this winter's rains) that will be able to supply water to the drip system in the orchard garden so that we don't have to rely completely on well water to irrigate.  it'll be interesting to see how it all works out.

as i've become better acquainted with how i'd like to use the greenhouse i've been able to start getting things better organized and more functional there too.  i've got pots and flats and other propagating supplies on shelves on one side and irrigation supplies on shelves on the other and i've put up some tool racks so that i can get what i need easily and not have tools just wandering about and getting in the way or getting lost.  

it's better organized than it was a few weeks ago but it's still a bit of a jumble and there's a lot i'd like to do.  i've got a bench on the north wall (shown below) that i use mainly for starting seeds in flats and rooting cuttings.  

i'm going to build a bench (probably two-tiered) for the south side (below) so that i can reclaim a bit of the floor space and make better use of the area.

much to do but i'm excited about all the possibilities.

Friday, February 26, 2016


i was in the greenhouse a little while ago picking some cherry tomatoes for staal.  the plant is one i grew in the garden last summer and dug up and put into a pot to keep in the greenhouse over winter.  it's got some dead branches on it so i started snipping them off and i was surprised to meet this interesting little guy...

other than being a caterpillar of some species of moth in the family Geometridae i have no idea who he is.  some of the caterpillars of the geometer moths mimic twigs like the one i found today.  i'll probably have a better chance at identification if i'm lucky enough to see him after he's become a moth.  neat.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

slender salamander

found this slender salamander in the grass beneath a red bud tree...

i think zane was hoping for a snack.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

some recent photos

hummingbird rescued from mill office window

unknown plant on carsten rd.

long-horned bee and birdsfoot trefoil seed

puddle on carsten rd

turkey tails and moss

flowering quince

moon poems

full moon

the world held captive
timeless and still
under the pearly light
of the full moon

waiting for darkness

we hold to each other
waiting for darkness
that never falls
in a dawn that never breaks
i cannot tell
where you begin
and i end

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

feathers and eggs

one of two communal nests the ducks have made for themselves

this is harpo.  she makes eggs and feathers...and mischief

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

buzzing and budding

we've had some warm sunny weather and it's starting to feel a lot like spring.  many of the trees and plants are showing signs of breaking dormancy and there's a buzz in the air as bees and flies return to flight.  

apricot flower buds

the forecast is predicting rain for tomorrow and into thursday.  i've been enjoying the sunshine and the warmth but i'm looking forward to some more rain.  these hills need it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

an alliterative account of a three-county drive

counting county lines as we cross
oaks stand still
bare-branched and ghostly
against the greening hillsides
fiddleneck flowers along fencelines
and roadsides
cattle graze
meadowlarks alight atop fenceposts
breasts bursting with heartbreakingly beautiful song
making melodious love
to the warm spring air

Thursday, February 4, 2016

a quiet duck

late yesterday afternoon one of the ducks was looking very ill.  she'd all of a sudden gone quiet and was on her own instead of running with the rest of the flock.  she showed some signs of possibly having eaten something terrible.  i picked her up and put her in the greenhouse in zane's old crate, which in the last couple of years has only been used as a poultry hospital.  although she wasn't eating she was still showing an interest in drinking so i gave her a bucket of water with a bit of my cure-all (a concoction i used in november to help nurse another one of the ducks back to health) in it.  i set up a heat lamp and said goodnight.  i wasn't sure how she would fare but the fact that she was drinking on her own gave me some hope.
a healthy duck is an active duck.  a healthy duck is also a noisy duck.  ducks are never quiet.  ever.  they're constantly talking to each other and to themselves and to us.  
this morning i woke to the sound of a duck yelling at me from the greenhouse.  it was a wonderful sound.  she was still a bit pale but much improved and looking well enough to rejoin the flock.

she seemed to improve throughout the rest of the day and spent the afternoon running and foraging and looking well.  ducks are very resilient creatures. 

dew drops on duck down

there are stars at our feet as well as in the heavens...

Monday, February 1, 2016

this morning

got a light dusting of snow yesterday around dusk.  still a bit icy out this morning but the sun is shining and things are beginning to thaw.

when it gets cold like this all the outdoor faucets freeze so i have to haul buckets of water from the kitchen sink out to the ducks, and chickens.

still very much winter but we've had a few pleasantly warm days recently and i suppose spring will be here soon enough.