Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday photo

Many years ago I saw this flower for the first time in a display garden at Old World Wisconsin. For me it was love at first sight. I asked the staff member working in that garden if she could identify it for me. She could not. Fortunately, on that same visit to Wisconsin we spent time walking at Boerner Botanical Gardens   and it was growing there with a lovely identification tag.

Since then I have always had it in my garden. Asclepias tuberosa or butterfly weed is a North American native. Once established it is late in breaking ground in the spring. It does not like to be transplanted. But it grows easily from seed and the second year and each year after it becomes more vigorous, though not invasive. It lives up to its name, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds as well and even stands up well in a vase.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

the sun sets for Phoebie

Drawn together from the earliest days

this sweet soul passed all too quickly through my life.

thank you, dear one. Rest easy now.

Monday, July 27, 2015

listing joys the last Monday of July

a rooster crowing to begin the day
just picked blueberries, dew still clinging, in pancakes for breakfast
lilies sending their heady perfume through the wide open windows
a rare night of uninterrupted sleep
a goldfinch at the window thanking me for water at the feeder

sending each of you a wish for a good week.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday photos

It's raining, a soft, steady, soaking rain. A good day to look over the iPhoto library. To sit down and remind myself of all the marvelous moments that make up my life here. To remind myself of the ways we are influencing the land here and the influence these few acres have on me.

Not yet part of our property, this narrow strip of land along our eastern border looked like this when we closed here on August 13th, 2010.  The old dairy barn, its silo, and all of the scrap lying in the weeds were just outside of our property line.
Before the corn was harvested at the end of that summer, a friend of the land owner had been given permission to go into the old barn and remove beams for a building project he had in mind.  He left that old dairy barn in ruins and Mother Nature's flora and fauna moved in.

Because it was a tiny piece of many many acres of land rented out, the ruin and its dangers meant nothing to anyone but us. I was here alone most of the time often worried what would come out of the wreck in the evenings to threaten me or my chickens.
With the help of our realtor we explained our reasons for wanting to buy this nearly one acre, which was all they'd consider "letting" us purchase. We also agreed to take on all the expenses in removing the wreckage. And in having a survey done to determine exactly where our lot lines ran. In May of 2013 we became the new owners.
First, all salvageable metals were removed and carted to the scrap yard. We offered the proceeds from the scrap metal to our Amish friends if they would be willing to clear it out and haul it.
Jerome rescued some ancient railroad ties that were buried along the edge of the property and spent hours removing shrubs, tall weeds, bits of metal and wire. whatever would make the barn's removal difficult or dangerous. Hours and hours he labored.
Next, the waist high weeds, grape vine, grasses etc. in front of the barn and to the road were brush hogged by our good friend and neighbor. During this process, to my delight, a lovely cranberry viburnum was freed from a stranglehold of wild grapevine.
An enormous hole was dug and everything went into the hole except for the silo.

We had truckloads of topsoil delivered and it was spread about.

We let the land settle over that winter and in spring of 2014 put up the pole barn and added yet more top soil. It was seeded then. This spring we added more soil, adjusted it for run off, and reseeded once more.
In April we put in the row of 30 baby pines. Later we planted the crab apple and Autumn Blaze maple. The Indian Summer rudbeckias were left from last season and Jerome has worked hard to allow them to shine on the slope behind his pole barn.
This is how it looks here this morning.

I do get impatient. I do feel blue sometimes. But the truth is,  we are making progress, and every day is precious and full of grace.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

letting go

Six weeks old and ready to face the big wide world.
We were all there to encourage them… Jerome, Phil, Anne, Matthias and me.
The morning was idyllic, sunny, soft breeze, low 70s at 8 am.
After three weeks of being enclosed in the big house we were sure they'd come bounding out to explore.

And then the surprise… they were more timid than we anticipated. By late in the day all had at least tried the out of doors but the most intrepid was the tiniest chick of all. The only one I've named and who I keep company with parts of every day, Punkin. She was the last to go in at dusk yesterday and had explored farther into the yard than any other bird. She reminds me so of Rosie, our senior Buff Orpington who is always the last to go in at night and takes her job as mother hen very seriously.
Just sitting and observing frequently during the day is a deep joy.
If you have even the tiniest notion you'd like chicks of your own I say "Do it!"

Monday, July 20, 2015

a joyful list for Monday

Much to bring joy today…
pepper plants finally in flower 
monarchs in the meadow
3 eggs in the nest boxes this morning
new roses blooming for the first time in the new rose bed (Scepter'd Isle and Charlotte)

early morning rain allowing me to work in my sewing room
new potatoes and the first of the green beans with dinner
our own blueberries with cream for dessert
Wishing each of you your own joy list on this July Monday.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday photos

Four years ago we ordered our first chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery. It is their custom to include a free "exotic" with your order. I believe this free bird is almost always going to be male. However, at the time our little Silver Polish was so astoundingly cute we referred to it as she. Then "she" crowed. In fact, she crowed before our two Road Island Red roosters let out their first attempts.

early June 2011
Aug. 31, 2011

Aug. 31, 2011

Oct. 9, 2011

These days he's most definitely feeling his responsibility as the Big Guy. In his vigilance, my legs are bruised up one side and down the other from his wings. I caught his spurs in my right knee cap two months ago and it still feels a bit tender.

Next week our new flock will be allowed free range of their enclosure. There is a 60 foot long common fence between the two chicken yards so the seniors and the newbies can get to know each other safely until the babes have put on some size and weight.
We ordered 15 females and were given a free "exotic" who appears to be an Araucona. This is the only chick in the new flock who keeps its distance and won't readily be handled. About the same size as our largest babes but with very strong, long legs and feet. I'm guessing this little one will grow up to crow.

Whatever the sexes of the new chicks, they will have to work out their own pecking order. In the meantime, we find it fascinating to watch and also interact with them several times a day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

more bloomers

Amazing what sunlight, soil, and water can bring about.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta

Winchester Cathedral

Gentle Hermione

The Generous Gardener

Not all the roses residing at MeadowRIdge are David Austins. Here is one we rescued from the jungle last summer.

If you have any idea what she is, please let me know. She does have a lovely fragrance. She's recovering well from her lack of sunlight and nourishment in years past. Bees are absolutely delirious around her.

This little sweetie is Jeanne La Joie. There are two, one on each side of the back arch along the berry beds. In the city garden she grew to be a climber. Here she died back to the ground last winter but came back in a big way this summer.

Monday, July 13, 2015

joy list Monday

Joys abound here at MeadowRidge…

harvesting the first potatoes of the season
David Austin roses unfurling in the garden
16 healthy chicklets
drying mint for winter teas
freezing fruit to be eaten in celebration of the return of the sun on the winter solstice
rereading a favorite mystery series
a rubber band frog in the pond
soft pink sweet peas from Anne's garden in the suction cup vase on the bathroom mirror
congratulating our son on his new teaching position

Friday, July 10, 2015


Before moving to MeadowRidge I gardened in zone 5 or warmer.

Here it is zone 4b. I left behind several lovely roses in my city garden, cherished friends like About Face above, but alas few could survive here. There are a few old roses saved from the jungle we tore out last summer. It was time to replant.
Anne has grown David Austin roses for several years and suggested I look at the catalog. I was surprised to find there were many zone 4, own root varieties to choose from. Own root means the named rose is not grafted on the hardier root stock of another variety. If an own root rose should die down to the ground in winter, it will regenerate as itself and not its graft host.
I would have room for 10 roses. I placed my order in February for these:

The bare root dormant roses arrived May 21st. The next day Jerome, Anne and I planted them.

Jerome dug the deep holes and took great care to keep the soil for reuse. Anne supervised based on her vast experience. She warned that they would begin slowly. First the raccoons were attracted to the Rosetone scent and dug around each plant that very night. Then the triplet fawns decided the new tips were good for munching. Now the roses temporarily reside in cages so they can get a bit of a head start.
This week the first of the blooms are opening. Sophy's Rose was first.

Second, L D Braithwaite. This rose is actually a deeper shade, nearly red.

Third, Abraham Darby.

Blogger does wonderful things, but until aromas can be transmitted online you'll have to take my word for the old world scents.
Stay tuned.