Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Down with Winter, Up with Spring

Even though it still looked suspiciously like winter outside, a week ago I finally packed away my winter decorations and swapped them for something more spring-like . . . and Easter-ish since Easter is fast approaching.

I even put up the quilted spring wall hanging (it's called "Garden Trellis) I finished a bit ago.  This is a shot from across the kitchen showing the "bare" wall space between the two windows where I keep a seasonal wall hanging.

I think I've taken about twenty shots at different times of the day to show this piece, but I simply cannot get the true colors to come through in a photo.  The grayish check you see next to the pink is actually a pretty spring green and white check.

I found the pattern for this piece in a quilting book, but could not get the first two squares to go together after piecing them.  I finally figured out the cutting measurements for two of the pieces in the square were incorrectly stated in the pattern.  Arrrrgh.  I re-cut them making them 1/4" smaller, and they fit.

When my daughter saw this wall hanging in progress, she said something to the effect of, "That doesn't look like something you'd usually make.  And you NEVER use pink!"

Working "outside the box" occasionally is supposed to be good for us, right?  Well, I did.  And I'm not sure I like this piece very much at all.

* * * * * * * *

This is what my raised garden beds look like this afternoon.  I'm so excited (doesn't take much, huh?) to actually see them (mostly) free of snow.  And, yes, there's still a bit of snow down on the bottom part of the garden.  (Like about a foot.)  BUT guess what our forecast is for tonight into tomorrow night?  Sigh.  Right.  Down to 8° tonight, a high of 26° tomorrow and a 70% chance of snow.  Southwest of us is forecast to get 10-15" (eeep!), but we're to expect no more than 3-5".  (Keeping my fingers crossed we don't get more than that.)

Just for fun (so who's laughing?), take a look at this picture of what we woke up to on this date last year.

See?  We could be farther behind on spring weather than we are this year!

Monday, April 14, 2014

I've Been Bad

Yes, I have been a very bad blogger lately.  Lots of pictures taken and things I could have written about, but I think my head has been too full of spring/summer plans . . . the planning, the thinking, the trying to figure out how to accomplish everything both time-wise and financially . . . that I just haven't made time for blogging.  Mini-panic setting in already.  

Yep, blame it on the time of year.  I do promise to try to be better this week.

Hubby and I were standing inside looking out at the garden beds (yes, we can actually see them now) early this morning.  I was explaining why I needed the one raised bed frame we didn't get replaced last season replaced pronto this spring (long story, not very interesting) when we noticed several crows doing aerial acrobatics over the garden.  Swooping, diving, soaring, etc.  

Then I noticed the slight movement of a remaining clump of snow in between a couple of the beds.

Lo and behold, it was a Snowy Owl perched on the ground, and the crows were giving it a hard time.  (Owl didn't seem fazed a bit.)  At first we thought the owl might be injured, but it turns out that was not the case at all.  I looked Snowy Owls up in one of our bird books and it said they do occasionally perch on the ground.  Wonder if he saw a mouse tunneling in the snow and was waiting for it to re-emerge and become his breakfast burrito?

"You lookin' at me?"

These beauties (the owl, not the mice) are nearly two feet high and have a wing span that is quite impressive.  He stayed around the area, going from one spot to another for about an hour.  (Good thing our chickens aren't out and about yet.)  What a beautiful bird and a treat to get to see him.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

There Is Spring in the North Woods . . . Sort Of

Even though our weather wasn't warm today, it was above 32° so we saw a little more melting.

Remember that picture in my last post of the two deer right outside our back door?  The driveway was completely snow covered then.  This is that same spot today.

I can even finally see some of my raised beds in the garden emerging.  (And I thought that would never happen.)  I'll probably have to wait a few more days to plant the tomatoes though.  (Hahahaha!)

Will ya look at this?  Not only is there ground showing but there is green grass showing!  This photo is straight out of the camera with no color enhancement.  Get out the lawn mower!

Not to say there isn't still a lot of snow blanketing most of the property.  But it's on its way out now, by criminy.

I got a little wild and crazy and hung rugs out on the line today to dry.  Did they dry?  Heck, no.  Actually, they may have come in a little damper (and colder, for sure), but I just couldn't resist doing it.  (They're in the dryer as we speak.)

My bloggy friend writing Tombstone Livestock said she had a temp of 92° yesterday.  What's she bragging about?  That's only 50-some degrees warmer than we had.  (Can't you fry eggs on the sidewalk at that temperature?)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Is The End In Sight?

Our early morning temp today was 36°.  It fell to 35° and now at nearly 7 p.m. it's 37°.  That's all above freezing, folks!

We had a bit of a light drizzle this morning.  And since it was rain rather than the "s" word, it was very welcomed.

One of the highest raised beds in the garden is actually showing now so we know the snow is going down.

The snow is going down so things are looking up!

* * * * * * * * *

These deer were right outside our back door late Friday afternoon.  We see a lot of deer on our property, but they usually don't venture this close.  Considering the harsh winter they've just gone through, it's surprising all the deer we've seen in our locale seem to be in good shape.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Words Fail Me When Thinking of a Post Title

Well, they said it was going to snow.

Looking out our south windows this morning . . . 

The living room window.

The kitchen window.

And the window upstairs looking down on the garden.  Can you see my twenty-seven raised garden beds?  No, me neither.

But, get this.  The temperatures this coming week are supposed to be above freezing every. single. day.

Let the melting begin!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Think We Must Have Been Crazy

You know how your memory can be jogged into thinking of something you haven't thought about in a long time?  That happened to me today and I started reminiscing about when we first bought this piece of property eighteen years ago.

We have eleven acres, mostly wooded, with each of the properties on either side of us consisting of bigger pieces of land.  Both families on these properties had lived on their acreage for several years before we purchased our land in between them.

To the west, a heavily wooded area divides us from those neighbors and we rarely hear a sound from that direction.  Once in a while when the wind is blowing from just the right direction, but not often.  They couldn't be nicer folks.

On the east side, a smaller patch of woods separates the two properties, but we can't see the house.  These neighbors have become good friends and are simply wonderful.  They do so much for us that we have a hard time keeping even.

When we bought this land, it was owned by a gal who had moved to Florida years before and the property had been rented out to various different people for several years.  It was an undesirable case of an absentee landlord.  Our daughter had graduated from college and was living away when we purchased the property and when she learned exactly which piece of land it was, she commented, "Um, you do know that was a big drug house when I was in high school, don't you?"  Ooops.  No, we didn't know.  Nor did the real estate agent think to mention it.  (Ahem.)

We did know we got a good price on this particular piece of real estate because the "house" on it was a crude 16' x 40' building that was at one time a bunk house at a resort on a lake about 30 miles from here.  And we did know the property was a terrible mess.  Lots of junk lying everywhere, piles of garbage scattered in the woods along with old appliances, a shower stall, various outdoor grills (most of them smashed), broken windows, hundreds of beer cans and liquor bottles, disposable diapers (used, of course) by the dozens, and an old boat and trailer parked near the driveway.  The "yard" out the front door was littered with dog poop so thick I had to rake it up rather than using a shovel.

Yup, it was a dream piece of property, that was for sure.

The building was so bad we took it down to the studs (ask me how I tore my rotator cuff) and started over.

In the clean-up operation we found discarded syringes and other things about which I won't go into details.  We even found a grave-like mound of rocks in the woods with a huge, crude wooden cross at the head of it.  Let me tell you, that gave us pause.  I was all for calling the authorities until Papa Pea convinced me the ground was so rocky and full of tree roots that it would have been impossible to actually bury a body there unless one used a back hoe.  We did finally get big and brave enough to dismantle the "grave" and found nothing underneath the mound but more rocks and tree roots.  No bones, no nuthin'.  (Whew.)

The whole area to the south of the existing building had been heavily covered with gravel as someone, at one time, had visions of starting a trucking business.  This was the only logical area for us to put our gardens so we removed all the gravel.

One day while I was raking up debris behind the house, I saw what looked like a leather strap sticking up out of the soil.  I unearthed it and saw it was a dog collar with tags attached.  The phone number on one of the tags was our neighbor's to the east.  When we showed the collar to them, they said at least they finally knew what had happened to their dog who had gone missing a few years previously.  Not a happy situation for any of us to contemplate.

These good neighbors have told us stories of wild parties that had gone on making the neighborhood less than desirable.  They continue to say over and over how very happy they are that we moved onto the property and changed it so drastically from what it had been.

The bottom line to this little trip down memory lane is that despite what we went through to turn this into our happy little homestead, it was all worth it.  And we were so very fortunate to get fantastic neighbors in the bargain.   Which we all know counts for a whole big lot these days.  Maybe we weren't so crazy after all.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Is Here!

April Fool!  (You must have known that was my feeble attempt at an April Fool's joke, right?)

Yesterday March did a good imitation of going out like a lion in these here parts.  We had winds measuring 40 mph, and it was actually hard at times to stand upright outside.  It was a very gray day with predicted freezing rain.  That didn't happen until overnight though.

This morning there is a slick coating of ice everywhere (oh, joy), and about two hours ago the temp took a 15° plunge and it started snowing.  The wind can't decide from which direction to blow, and we already have a small 6" drift up against our front door.  This is a great day to be home with the wood stoves corking away.  I'm so grateful and appreciative that we both have the choice to do just that.

This is the rug I made to match my new spring shower curtain.  (Same new spring shower curtain which may never be hung since Mother Nature keeps throwing more and more winter-like weather at us.)

I'm also this far along on making a matching rug to the first one made to use in our bedroom.

I still have a ways to go on the hand quilting of the spring wall hanging I'm working on.  I got a little cut on the left hand finger I use to feel the needle on the backside of a quilt when hand quilting and, of course, no matter how hard I try to use another finger, it's the finger and the cut that I keep sticking the needle into.  So I've decided to give it as many days rest as necessary to heal up.

I just commented to my better half that this would be a perfect day to have something yummy baking in the oven.  But, alas and alack, we've both been doing a good job of staying away from sugar for about the last month, so for the present time baking is a no-no.  My mind says, "Gimme a blueberry pie made with the last of the blueberries in the freezer, and no one will get hurt."  My body says, "But I am losing a bit off those bulges that have sneakily been growing like inflated balloons when I wasn't looking . . . so stick to it, girl!"

Spring may not be here yet, but it will arrive one day even up here near the tundra, and I really do want to be able to bend over in the garden without the buttons on my shorts popping.  Although I can hardly imagine wearing shorts (temp is now down to 16° and still falling) as I look at our near white-out conditions caused by the swirling snow, but it will happen and won't be an April Fool's joke.