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.

Friday, July 1, 2016

after the rain

Happy first of July.
Yesterday after lunch as we were mowing and weeding storm clouds gathered and gave us marvelous views of the approaching storm accompanied by amazing timpani. In less than two hours we received 2 1/2 inches of rain as measured by our gauge. The sun returned and we took a walk in the meadow to have a look.

This is the time of year that beckons you to take several walkabouts each day so as not to miss a single blooming thing. And isn't the light amazing in the late day?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"on bug" season

a fathers day frolic

After dinner and before tucking the chickens in for the night we take out the Bs, John Deere two cylinder 1947 and 1949 tractors, and go for a ride. For this our original walking paths through the western meadow have been multiplied and widened. Sitting on the seats of these giants our heads are high above the landscape rather like being astride elephants, I should imagine. Moving at speeds approximating a light jog there's plenty of time to view all that is growing on these sweet acres and witness the changes taking place, the birds, butterflies, bees that live and visit, the foot paths and nesting spots the deer have made.
A few short days after the solstice, our meadow is wearing a patchwork frock of ever-changing perennials, young as the summer is young, mostly goldenrod and queen anne's lace, vetches, coneflowers, ditch lilies, asters, grasses of many types, curly dock, orange hawkweed, fleabane, campion, nettle, knapweed. (There are uninvited residents as well, wild grapevine, burdock, thistle, brambles and cow parsley, but these in their way provide habitat and sustenance.) Over this she has donned an early season pinafore of daisies, the hems of which are stitched in wild strawberries and white sweet clover. Her pinafore's pockets are currently full of red clover, birds foot trefoil, and eager stalks of milkweed.
Though we are surrounded by commercially farmed acreage, we take comfort in knowing our ridge meadow is a respite from the artificially modified and chemically harmful. Is it any wonder she is teaming with life?

"on bugs"?
Who can resist the magical winking lights of warm summer nights? In Buteraland fireflies or  lightning bugs are known as "on bugs." Makes perfect sense, don't you agree?

Friday, June 17, 2016

on this day

Thank you sweetheart-o-mine. How the time has flown.

Here's to the next 44 years, or rather, forever.