Saturday, April 25, 2015

planting, piecing, practicing patience

Capricious April passes as a roller coaster. I've tried to enjoy the ride for it brings sweetness unlike any other time of year. But I'm impatient.
There have been warm sunny hours, and wretchedly cold, wet ones as well. Ahh, spring in Wisconsin.

A few snapshots of what's been going on…
monitoring the return of perennials, at least one walkabout each day

New growth of a fern-leaved peony transplanted last summer, not the best time for the job

second spring for this Meadowlark forsythia

Keeping a close eye on the seedlings, zipping their back porch greenhouse covers open each morning, closed before sunset. I had to carry these babies back under the lights when the nights threatened to be in the 20s. I hope they can go back out tomorrow.

I did plant the onions, kale, and leeks last week despite the predictions of cold and snow. They've weathered being in ground just fine.
Watching and listening for the critters that share our ridge meadow landscape.

This marvelous fellow called us awake one morning earlier this month and not to frighten him off I took his photo through the upstairs window. I've grown to love his call near or far nearly any time of day. It's turkey hunting season here and the turkeys have been everywhere. I just hope my pheasant cock can survive and court many hens to repopulate what was once a large presence here in the driftless region.

On those days when I couldn't work out of doors I've been practicing my paper piecing techniques. I will be doing a demo next winter for our quilt guild and have decided to produce a variety of pieces to illustrate how paper piecing can be applied. Here is a flower I completed using the technique this week. It will become a pillow, I think. Here just the block is done. It needs framing but I'm happy with how all 8 points of the flower came together.

The photo on my banner today is of my Moongold apricot. In its exuberance, it bloomed a bit too early and has been exposed to the snow, sleet, cold winds of this past week. All of the other fruit trees have had the good sense to take their time. I do hope all will be well with the apricot. It only gets one chance a year.
I bought two new trees yesterday. An Autumn Blaze maple and a Prairifire Crabapple. I am so happy to have them join us here. They won't be able to go in the ground until we have our additional topsoil delivered by truck and dumped and spread on the old barn site, so I'll have to be patient. In the meantime I'll be stroking and talking to them every day. They are so beautiful.
Meanwhile, I'm trying to cultivate a patient attitude for my life in general. Calmly, purposefully, thoughtfully being in the moment. A goal I often forget I've given myself and just now need to put back in practice.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

halleluiahs and hailstones

I spent all of my grade school years in a  pre-Vatican II catholic school. Latin masses, richly traditional ceremonies, were weekly experiences and sometimes several times a week. It was never Christmas without Advent, and more importantly, never Easter without Lent and especially Holy Week. Much has changed in every possible way since then. But the deeply ingrained traditions of those formative years have left an indelible mark on me. Easter was always my least favorite church service. But Holy (Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Eve were the best. Easter lilies and any hymns that repeat alleluia make me cringe. Can't tell you why. It just is for me. Baskets with plastic grass and rabbits made of chocolate. Colored eggs and egg hunts. I never really understood.
The shops around here were selling hot house Easter lilies last week. And all that other stuff too. Ugh.
On Easter morning I was blessed with another sort of trumpeting flower. Three of my amaryllis bulbs saved their blooms for now. Normally they come out of dormancy around the Christmas season, certainly by the start of the new year. Not this year.

The flower shown below is from a bulb that never slept this winter. Last fall when I brought them all inside for their nap, I discovered a third flowering stalk coming on it and had to let it have its way. I kept it growing after that bloom to restore the bulb expecting to let it sleep in spring. But it had its own ideas. Yes, a 4th flower stalk in 15 months. I just find this amazing.

And there are 4 flower buds on this stalk. The size of this flower is dinner plate. Now that's what I call an alleluia!

Yesterday we had our first thunderstorm of the year. It got so dark just before dinner that I had to turn on the lights. Then a torrential downpour and this...

This morning there are still a few small piles of hailstones in my potato pots and at the end of the downspouts. I spotted no damage during my walk about this morning. And I'm truly grateful that I didn't set out my veggie babies on Monday when we prepped some of the beds. More unsettled weather ahead with possible hail and an appearance of the word tornado on our National Weather Service forecast. I imagine the heavy rain that fell last night helped to put an end to our fire danger. Last Wednesday there was a field fire very near here that caused me to stop and think how fragile life can sometimes be.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

a new season

It's time to begin hardening off the seedlings. On the banner you see: two types of lettuce, spinach, kale, leeks, and yellow and red onions having their first exposure to direct sun. They're up from under the basement grow lights living in the burlap covered mini green houses on the back deck for a week already. A little more sun each day and then into the ground.
The snapdragons moved to the outside yesterday. They won't go into the ground for a while, but they'll get strong and stocky outside.

It's a raw, damp, breezy day here today. That means time to catch up with my blog!
The last of our late March snow slipped away on April first and since then we've been outdoors as much as possible.
The orchard got pruned and fertilized, the mulch around the trunks of the fruit trees weeded and primped a bit. The rabbit guard "leggings" removed for the season. I have a lovely arrangement of tip cuttings on the dining room table, beginning to sprout and bring cheer.

Though cold and windy on Good Friday, the ground was perfect for digging and so we set about removing and transplanting nearly three dozen pines. They were little volunteers clustered together on our "agricultural rights" property, too close together to ultimately grow well, and just the right size for moving. When we planned the renovation of the acre we purchased in 2013, we wanted a wind break and also a bit of protection from the commercial field along our new eastern border. We will plant a second row after we truck in a bit more topsoil. For now, Jerome and I are just over the moon for being able to tackle this much of the job on our own. It took us two afternoons, and additional several hours of mowing.

I just love walking along the row, caressing each little baby as I go...

Our local True Value, Nelson's Agri-center, has an annual sales event in March each year. Jerome brilliantly purchased many useful items during the sale. Here is one we can't now image ever having done without.

A bit tricky to assemble but his little cart goes anywhere the riding mower will pull it and I can easily push it into the garage by myself. Here Jerome is toting water to the newly planted trees.
Is there anything more pleasant than working with your partner hand in hand with the land???