Thursday, April 27, 2017

life is struggle

Changeable April.

One week ago:  incessant rain

3 days ago:  high winds

This morning: good grief!

Our chickens were NOT happy with what greeted them as their door was opened this morning. Little Punkin, our tiniest hen, always pushing to be the first out the door, stopped inches from the opening but had the momentum of all her flock pushing behind.

Tuesday's dinner included our first spears of the season. Are the few brave shoots that were just piercing the soil yesterday lost this morning in the cold?
As I finish my morning coffee and put this post out into the stratosphere, I'm thinking that later this morning I'll do my daily walk about and get the garden blankets ready to be set out against tonight's predicted hard frost. But though I may have thoughts of woman against nature, I realize it's never really up to me. I can help, interfere, foolishly ignore, but I cannot control. As I age I'm realizing more every day that sense of relief knowing I don't have the responsibility of being in charge. I can "mother" my gardens but they are, as they've always been, in God's capable hands.
And rightly so.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


It has been raining. And raining. There are puddles here where I've never seen puddles form. The chicken yard would be dangerous for us if we hadn't spread several bales of hay over the bare ground, now mud city. The chickens are loving it.
There have been tiny glimmers of sun in the past hour, fleeting.
My goal of working outside an hour each day has been thwarted by this rain. However, there has been some progress. The grapevines have been pruned for the season. I kept a few pieces of the concord to propagate new plants. I did find a young plant at Home Depot my last trip into Onalaska, but it's not a bad idea to have a backup plan. In this very poor photo you can just spot the buds beginning to swell. I learned to cut pieces from last year's growth, a flat cut at what will become the bottom of the cutting and a slant cut at its top. That way I won't try to start them upside down. A good tip.

Most of the limbs that came down during the winter have been removed to the chip pile or the burn pile. We have begun the ambitious project of removing the thousands of pinecones that are littering the property, blown amazingly far from the pines that dropped them in the gales we've had on the ridge. I've begun to rake the chicken bedding into the raised beds, Rosie keeping watch at her fence line for any worms I should toss her way. Jerome has been working hard on maintenance of the riding mower, but steadfastly refuses to put the snow blower away for the season. Can't blame him for that as the locals predict the robins need one more snow on their backs before spring will arrive for real.

Trees and shrubs up on our ridge have been slow to swell, though the maple at the pond is bursting with red and one of our two amazing oaks has dropped all of last year's leaves in preparation for new. I took just two small branches of forsythia inside on Saturday and they are rewarding me now.

Last Monday at bedtime I heard the unmistakeable chorus of frogs in the pond for the first time this year. It was a much needed benediction at the close of a very difficult day. I keep the window next to the bed cracked at night to better hear them as I slumber. That is joy.
I can't be sorry that spring is slow. Last year a late hard frost devastated the grapes and fruit trees all over the state. Let's take it slow and steady, Mother Nature.
I moved some of the seedlings to a new mini greenhouse that I assembled on the porch so they can get ready to go in the ground. Here they are outside the dining room window on the south facing lower deck.

Seeing them there brings hope. On Sunday I planted the tomato and eggplant seeds and they're settled in under the basement grow lights. I brought the potted miniature roses out from the garage and gave them a trim and a spring tonic. They're on the deck across from the greenhouse donning their tiny red new growth. The potted  pussy willow starts and the male and female seaberries are out of the potting shed, also on the deck waiting for the ground to be dry enough for their planting. Could it be there were no winter losses among them? We hiked the acreage across the road scouting for little pines to bring over to this side as the ground allows. So many and so easy to spot before they are lost among the wild growth that will soon begin.

Rainy days aren't a total disappointment as they allow indoor pursuits without the guilty feeling of indulging in pleasure when there's work to be done. I recently received my first copy of a new periodical which I am so delighted with I have to share with you. It is called Quiltfolk. It is published quarterly, is ad free, and in hand is more amazing than anticipated. Issue one is dedicated to Oregon. It was a premium for my subscription which began with issue 2, Iowa.  

These are keepers. It's difficult not to swallow them whole!
Oh, and what is that photo at the top of the page?? It is a shot of the confluence of the three rivers at the new part of the gardens I mentioned in my post of March 27 as it appears in summer. Until I'm able to stand there, breathing in the bounteous beauty that is my part of this spinning sphere, this photo will whisper spring and summer are indeed on the way.