Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sunday, Day of Rest

Papa Pea spent the day and a lot of energy digging five holes for our new fruit trees that arrived day before yesterday.  

 The trees are dwarf and we're
experimenting with a new
intensive way of

 Unfortunately, much of the digging was through gravel and rock (at least that's what it felt like to him), and I guess it was proven to be mostly true by the two wheelbarrows full of big rocks he hauled away.

I worked on cutting down and hauling away the old asparagus ferns from last year and cleaning up the bed.

This is the plot in which I planted 2-1/2 rows of asparagus and 1-1/2 rows of Everbearing strawberries last year.  I got all the newly sprouted weeds pulled (or dug) out.

I also tilled up the perimeter of the whole area.  The blasted quack grass had started to grow into the planting area with a vengeance, in places thick already.  I swear that stuff starts to grow before the snow is even melted.

Two or three more tillings around the edge (I do love my Mantis tiller!), spaced a week or so apart, will be needed before the quack grass realizes I'm serious, and it doesn't have a chance of growing and taking over the garden space.

Now the asparagus is ready for Papa Pea to give it a good dose of compost which it likes in the spring.  Then I'll mulch the whole bed to keep down the weeds and hold in the moisture which the asparagus needs, also.  Not even one little spear is showing yet, but it's still early for us.

As I mentioned above, this is the area where I planted the Everbearing strawberries last year, too, although I know you can't see them in the picture.  (They're on the left side of the plot.)  There were 52 of them, and as of today I can find no more than 12 of them with any greenery showing.

This is the best looking one of the bunch.  They look nothing like the hale and hardy June bearing plants I put in the field garden.  Those are big and healthy, and it looks like I lost only one (out of the three 45 foot long rows) over winter. Both the June bearing and Everbearing were mulched and protected over winter, and our winter was not a severe one.  I can't figure out what's up with the Everbearing plants yet.  Time will tell if they rally and take a turn for the better.

Tomorrow I'll start weeding and cleaning the three long rows of strawberries in the field garden (many more weeds there to conquer), and Papa Pea will get the fruit trees planted . . . now that the back-breaking work of digging those holes is done.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I Can't Stop Making Rugs

I've been trying to whittle down my stash of fabric, some of which I've had for more than twenty years.  (Does that qualify me as a fabric hoarder?)  Happily, I've found using the material to make rugs works out very well.

Since we don't have any carpeting in our house (nor do we desire to have any), I use a lot of what are commonly called throw rugs in strategic spots.  In the past couple of years, I've been making ones to replace previously purchased ones that I've hung on to way past their expiration dates.

For these rugs I'm making, I've used either Aunt Lydia's Rug Yarn (a brand no longer manufactured) that I've found on eBay . . . or strips of cloth fabric (refer back to first paragraph).

Back to my fabric hoard stash, my taste in design and color pallet preferences have changed since some of my old, old fabric was purchased.  I have a strong feeling I'll never use it in sewing garments or making quilts, so why not use it in making rugs?

To be honest, I did recently actually purchase some (dirt cheap -- what a find!) fabric in colors to compliment that in my stash.  To use in making the rugs.  Now I'm on a roll and can't stop making up these quasi-sorta-look-like-braided (mine are crocheted) rugs.

My most recently completed one (it measures approximately 20" x 30") was made specifically for the spring season.  I mean, don't we all need a splash of bright color 'bout this time of year?  However, I've refused to put it down on the floor (it will go in the kitchen in front of the sink) because our weather has been so very un-spring like!  Lots of gray, drippy days and even when we do see the sun, it just isn't warm enough to feel like spring yet.

I figure it will be a real celebration day when I deem the weather worthy of starting to use this particular rug.  (Are you starting to question my sanity?)

The next rug in progress?  This one shown above.  It will go at the juncture of the bottom of the stairs to my husband's office and the doorway to my quilt room.

Then I plan on making one to match the new quilted summer shower curtain (which is - ahem - not even started yet) in the bathroom, a couple of a specific size for hubby's office, three matching ones for the living room, two new ones for our bedroom to match the new quilt on the bed, one for the door coming in from the garage . . . you see?  There is no end.  Good thing I can't stop making them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Refreshing Day Off

Okay, so it wasn't truly a whole day, but a good portion of it.  We went back into the woods, waaay back into the woods.

It's a glorious time of year because you can see for miles and miles.  The snow (all but a patch here and there) is gone and the trees haven't leafed out yet.

We found two new places where we can easily put in our canoe to explore a lake and a river that we've never been on.

Now all we have to do this summer is take the time to do so.  We always think we need to keep our noses to the grindstone of tasks to be done here at home, but it feels so good to slip away of a day to relax and rejuvenate that it's downright dumb (dumb, dumb, dumb!) not to do so every now and then.

Would one of you be willing to wield a big stick and drum that into my thick head frequently?  Thank you.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Temporary (Bigger) Gosling Quarters

As sometimes happens (sigh), projects don't proceed as quickly (or smoothly) as anticipated for.

Our construction of the new chicken/gosling/duckling tractor is not progressing as planned and because our largest gosling, who is growing at an alarming rate, was suddenly unable to stand up without rubbing his fuzzy head on the wire covering our brooding pen, we had to set up short-term, temporary, bigger-than-they've-been-in quarters for the goslings.

Giant Gosling says, "Oh, it feels so good
 to be able to stretch out my neck!"

This should buy us a little more time in getting their outside housing done.  We can hope.  :o/  (The other glitch we've encountered is the fact that Mother Nature has gotten confused and is bringing back nasty weather . . . a rain/snow mix forecast for today.  Arrrrgh.)  Of course, we wouldn't have our undies in such a bunch if these goslings had arrived at the end of April, as they were scheduled, rather than the first.

In the above picture, you can see how much bigger our one gigantic gosling is than the others.  We've dubbed him Skidmore, by the way.  Ado Annie (Annie for short -- we're going with the theme of names from the musical and stage play "Oklahoma" [thanks, Sandy!] since they came from a hatchery in the state of Oklahoma) is the little dark one that is of questionable parentage, if you ask me.  The other two over to the right haven't been named yet because we aren't sure of their sex.

As mentioned before, we were to get two females and two males.  Presently we're thinking Skidmore is the lone male and the other three are females.  If that turns out to be so, at least it's a more desirable ratio than three males and one female! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Projects: Full Steam Ahead!

Slowly, that is.

The current project is a chicken/gosling/duckling tractor.  It's amazing (and frustrating) how long it takes to just get the 2 x 2 framing put together.

Papa Pea and I drew up the plans this week and our summer intern (aka daughter) worked on the framing a good share of the day yesterday.  With luck, Papa Pea and I will get it close to completion today.

We're concentrating on making it as light, and yet secure and sturdy, as we can so that moving it frequently is possible without the necessity of renting any heavy equipment.  (The power will be one of us hoisting the handles at either end.)

The four goslings that arrived first of the month are growing so fast they're almost too big for the brooder they're in (still in the heated garage) so it's imperative we get this new outside pen (house and small run) finished as soon as possible.

Of course, our weather has taken a dip downward and the 40s are as warm as it's been getting during the day with low 30s at night.  This next week coming up looks to be much the same which means we'll have to make provisions in the new pen for a heat lamp.

Meanwhile, the grown-up poultry is enjoying the lovely days of sunshine in their big pasture.  (We do lock all feathered friends up each night for their protection.)

One of our adult female geese has been stuck like glue on a nest of eggs so we're keeping our fingers crossed that proves profitable.  So much easier when poultry hatches and raises their young!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

I Do Believe Spring Has Arrived

What a glorious weekend we've had.  Although today it made it to not much more than 60 degrees, yesterday was in the 70s and we hardly knew how to handle it.

The garden and many spots outside are still very wet and muddy so work in those areas has to wait a while, but there's much that can be done outside now.  It's so nice to work outdoors without my hands freezing within 10 or 15 minutes.

The poultry must line up by their pen doors because they shoot out each morning as eager beavers to scratch in the dirt, eat green grass shoots and head for the pond.  The grass in the picture above doesn't look very green, but you'll just have to take my word for it that there are indeed green shoots coming up and the poultry is definitely enjoying the fresh fodder.

This morning was very gray and we thought we were going to get the predicted rain showers, but the sun prevailed from about noon time on.  I'd like to hang the laundry outside tomorrow (for the first time this year), but the forecast I just saw said 80% chance of rain.

The precipitation would be bad for the mud situation, but good for making the rest of the snow disappear faster.

The goslings are growing so fast.  Yes, all four of them are huddled in that pile there.  No feathers showing yet to replace the soft fuzz, but I think they're starting to get their teenager faces already.  Looks like the one in the front is giving me the Evil Eye, doesn't it?  I'm convinced we have three males and one female rather than two of each sex we were supposed to get.  Unless the weather gets a lot warmer quickly and they can go outside, we'll have to make a bigger brooder box for them because when they stand up their heads almost touch the wire on the top.

I'm sitting here well satiated after our dinner tonight.  I was down to one package of cooked chicken or turkey in the freezer so picked up a turkey at our co-op this week and today made a full-blown turkey dinner, complete with pumpkin pie and whipped cream.  The turkey carcass has been picked clean and several packages of turkey are in the freezer.  I saved out a portion of meat to make into barbequed chicken tomorrow for sandwiches.

Yupper, it does seem like Mother Nature has finally gotten around to waving her spring time wand over northern Minnesota.  When I got up at 5 a.m. this morning for a potty stop, I could see the day starting to dawn.  Our long days of growing time can't be too far away.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Can't Plant Yet!

This post and pictures aren't to convince those of you who garden in more temperate climates that those of us gardeners who live in the far north are totally crazy, but rather to document the current conditions for this (slow) spring of 2016.

Last year, on the 15th of April, the soil was thawed and warmed enough that I planted my Sweet Pea flowers in the garden alongside the trellis I had erected for them to climb on.

This year . . . conditions are a little different. 

Although all of the raised beds are free of snow as is all but the bottom couple of feet of the field garden, there's still up to a foot of snow in some of the lower areas.

This is our raspberry patch and 
part of our
blueberry patch.

Our temp is actually going to reach 50 degrees today (okay, maybe with a little boost of my warm finger on the bulb of the thermometer when no one is looking), and we're expecting even warmer temps in the next several days.

The pond is free of ice and the adult geese and ducks are enjoying it immensely.  Of course, now when I want to get a picture of them splashing around, the pond is devoid of water fowl.  They all must be up by their pens taking an afternoon siesta.

First thing this morning, we had six wild Mallards swimming on the pond.  We saw only two or three all season last year in contrast to the forty-some we've had hanging around other years.  We're really hoping they'll make a comeback this year.