Saturday, September 24, 2016

heavy times

The driftless region we call home is a stunningly beautiful landscape of ridges and valleys. Not far from us the Wisconsin River meets the Mississippi. Closer to home the local rivers and their feeder streams with names like Kickapoo, Bad Axe, and Seas Branch wind their ways around our communities.
Perhaps you've heard of the September rains, notably those of this past week, that have caused such trouble in our neck of the woods.
Think positive thoughts on our behalf. Direct your healing energies this way. Bless you for doing so.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

cortland apples

The only fruit tree on our property when we purchased it was a lone mature cortland apple. That first autumn there weren't many apples. We picked a few with our long handled apple picker but my memory of the crop is foggy.
Each year but one since then the tree has produced a bumper crop. Or so we thought until this year. Many of my neighbors are saying that their produce is ripening earlier this year than in most years. That seems to be true of the apples as well. We've had heat and abundant moisture. (Almost too much rain for the sweet corn crop.) Here on our ridge top meadow the apples have been falling, branches hanging so low we duck under them going to the chicken yard. It seems a shame to waste such bounty. We'd given more than 10  5 gallon pails to our neighbors and had given the split or pecked apples to the chickens. We'd eaten a few. We've made some juice. But what we needed was to find a way to share in a big way.
Our Amish friends had taken apples in past years but they had trees of their own. This summer their trees hadn't faired well. I brought them 6  5 gallon pails of apples on Tuesday and invited them to come this week to get more. On Wednesday they arrived… Eli, Lovina and their 3 daughters. (the 5 boys stayed at home to do chores as they often had the opportunity to come out to our place when their dad did chores here and Lovina felt it was the girls' turn.) Picking was slow so I suggested Eli shake the tree. Wahoo, that did it. Here is what they were able to take away after one short morning.

a view into the buggy between front and back seats (there were even pails on the floor of the front seat)

the entire bottom of the buggy is full of apples with bags and boxes perched on top

While we shared a lunch together indoors, Randy and Pearl enjoyed the sweet clover in our eastern meadow.
The weather was perfection and our apple endeavor and shared meal were a gift to us all.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

6th anniversary

It was a picture perfect day across the midwest. A caravan of three cars and two trucks made its way northwest for a distance of close to 240 miles. An optimistic beginning for a journey much longer than the miles would suggest.
Our ridge meadow acres have changed but no more so than ourselves. Growth is unpredictable, nonlinear, and not without pain. Growth is life.

There is so much to be grateful for, to find joyful. Grace is truly abundant.
Should you still be pacing around the edges of a leap of faith, let me encourage you to spring forward.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

sweetness and surprises

Each summer I invite something new into one of my gardens. Stevia made its debut this season. Despite being more than a bit crowded by its herbal neighbors, it became a stocky little shrub. The branches you see below are some of the harvest, resting indoors after a shower. The leaves are headed for the dehydrator.

Despite daily walkabouts there are still plants that like to pop up and surprise me. Sometimes it's those closest to the back door.

Here is an unexpected gift from one of the amaryllis plants summering on the back deck. As it had bloomed a remarkable 4 times last year, and did not produce a bloom this year, I had expected that it was taking a year off.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

high summer

No, I've not been on holiday. Just living life each day:

according to the weather

the garden

friends and family

sharing garden bounty with the flock each day

always on the lookout for wildlife …these tiny ones make it hard to mow without worry

a surprise visit by both Jerome's brothers who road their motorcycles to see us but learned to love a slower mode of transport

absolutely ridiculous rains at the third tournament of the season

but still a successful outing

Lately we've been farm sitting for our neighbors.

Life is full.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

the first Saturday of July

Yesterday I visited Second Nature , a beautiful garden center and landscaping facility a few miles south of town and spoke with the owners about how best to keep down the highly invasive and unpleasant wild parsnip which is rampantly overtaking much of the roadside and open spaces all over the state. Some of it has found its way into our meadows. I learned that this plant is a biennial and doing some internet research I have also learned that  it is all over the midwest and rapidly becoming a matter of concern on many levels. We dug out the few plants we spotted here last season but being a biennial we missed those which were not blooming, not calling attention to themselves.
To learn that once you've been burned by the sap of this plant, which makes your skin highly sensitive to sunlight, that site on your body can be injured again when exposed to the sun for up to ten years, was more than frightening. Digging out the plant would be best but being a parsnip the tap root could be several feet long. Cutting off its head would cause it to try again to flower and produce seed which would require constant monitoring over the growing season to eliminate any chance of seed production. Most land owners might choose not to tangle with it at all,  just letting it grow, or might choose to keep the land closely mown and thereby destroying all the beneficials at the same time. A deep dilemma.

Our meadows are surrounded on 3 sides by commercially farmed fields of corn or soy bean. They are treated every season with herbicides. I find myself strangely glad for the first time since planting myself here that the chemically treated lands around me do not allow the wild parsnip to take hold.
The fourth border of our property is our road and across this are lands mostly mowed or brush hogged so any plants growing there would continually lose their heads. But the wind and the birds and the pollinators bring in seeds of all types and so there are a few bullys in the community.
We'll do our best.

Quite by accident this morning I learned that today is the second annual celebration of National Meadows Day all across the UK. A staggering 97% of the UK's natural meadows have been lost since the 1930s. And with them the diversity of life they supported.

So here in the driftless region of the American midwest, this lovely sunny second Saturday of July, on
the ridge meadow we love so well, I proclaim it to be National Meadows Day as well.