Just One

This year, I’ve been allowing various things to come up in between the sidewalk blocks by the sun room, instead of taking the weed trimmer to them, to see what is there.

Quite a lot of flowers have come up through the cracks and crevices between the rain barrel and the clothes line platform. Most of them are either the purple bell shaped flowers we’ve got all over the place this year, or a taller plant with bright orange-yellow flowers.

Then, there is this one.

And it is just one. A single stalk with a single flower! I can’t see any other part of the plant.

I don’t know what this is, other than something from the allium family.

What a beautiful little surprise. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Growing things, wins and losses

Oy, what a day it’s been!

Our high of the day was reached at about 4:30 pm! 32C/89F, with the humidex putting us at 36C/97F. We’re not going to be cooling down much, even overnight, either.

At least there’s a wind, and on the weather radar, it looks like we’ll at least get some rain this evening, if not the thunderstorms. Those look like they’ll go right past us.

It was, at least, much more bearable when I did my rounds this morning. That, and the basement is nice and cool for the kittens.

Since they have gotten so good and escaping as soon as the door is opened and my hands are full, I’ve sacrificed one of my slightly taller laundry baskets for kitten jail.

I succeeded only in catching David! 😀 He loves that thing!

I ended up just leaving the door open and let them be, until after I was done outside. By then, a daughter was available to help herd them back downstairs.

I am happy to say that some of the replacement sunflower seeds we planted are starting to sprout! They are just starting to break ground. The ones from the first planting have, for the most part, been growing quite well.

Something has been digging into the softer soil where we planted the seeds. Whatever it doing it, isn’t after the seeds themselves. This time, at least, the seedling didn’t get dug up in the process. My guess is, skunks are after grubs or worms.

We did, however, have a couple more losses of the original seedlings.

Something just up and ate a couple of them! Most likely deer. *sigh* The deer aren’t coming around much anymore; there is one that I’ve been seeing at the gate on the trail cams, but that’s it.

So far, at least, nothing has been eating the squash plants, and it doesn’t look like we’ve lost more beet greens.

The small mock orange by the side door of the house is going to be blooming very well this year! It got a major pruning, the summer before we moved out here, so that the walls could be painted, but it has recovered very well. The other one by the clothes line platform had a rough time last year, but it does have some flowers – all along the bottom! Most of it, however, has no buds at all.

These guys are finally starting to open. I expect to see many more, within the next few days!

This little shrub along the south side of the driveway has lots of berries on it. I have no idea what they are. There are quite a few of them around, but only this one has berries. I’m thinking location has much to do with it. It’s the only one that gets a lot of sun all day. The others are shaded by trees or sheds.

If anyone knows what this is, please feel free to let me know in the comments.

For now, I’ll just assume that whatever it is, is poisonous, and just appreciate it for its beauty. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Evening round up

Well, when it came to the mad dash to get the lawn mowing started, it was mosquitoes 0 : rain 1 😀 The bug spray actually worked this time. 😀 Thankfully, I didn’t have to charge the battery on the riding mower, and could get started on that right away. I got rained on a bit, but it wasn’t until I was using the push mower to get the edges that the rain started falling heavily enough I had to put the equipment away.

I’m also happy to say that the lawn mower bag we found in the basement and moved to the barn is for this push mower, rather than one of the many broken ones lying about. It’s a rear bag, and normally I would have closed the cover of the side opening, but that wasn’t an option. Someone built a sort of shield of wood that holds the flat up, while also preventing clippings from spraying towards whomever is pushing it, and the shield is bolted to the body of the mower. I don’t mind it being open, since most of the clippings goes into the bag anyhow. I kept the folding wagon close by to empty the bag into, and was able to fill it before I had to stop due to rain. This will make it so much easier to have grass clippings for mulching and composting! 🙂

Later in the evening, before I headed outside to do my rounds, I paused to check the indoor plants. Particularly the aloe that has started to bloom.

It had a surprise for me!

Not only has one of the flower spikes reached the ceiling, it’s pressing against it, and looks like it has more growing to do!

Outside, there were more blossoms emerging. The crab apples are starting to bloom.

This is from one of the trees in the West yard.

You can really tell that these ones get more light than the ones planted North of the spruce grove.

Earlier in the month, I had spotted some fungal growth on one of the apple trees by the spruce grove. Now that the leaves are in, I can see that the entire section of that tree is dead. There are still two sections of it growing, and seem to be healthy, so far, so we’ll see how it fares after I remove the dead section. (update: after taking a closer look, the living sections aren’t going that well, after all. 😦 )

Of course, I visited the kittens, and got thorough and viciously attacked by little critters!

Big Rig looks even bigger when she’s next to Saffron, who is the teeniest of the bunch.

Now that they’re bigger, and occasionally stay still long enough for me to check, it looks like we’ve got three females and two males. Big Rig, Turmeric and Saffron seem to all be female; it’s a bit surprising, since orange tabbies are usually male. Leyendecker and Nicco both appear to be male. With Leyendecker being black, it’s even harder to tell with him! 😀

If all goes well, tomorrow, I’ll be able to get either the rest of the mowing done, or the rest of the planting done. Maybe even both, weather willing.

I completely forgot about the pumpkin seeds my mother gave me. It’s quite late for direct sowing pumpkins, but I’ll give them a try. Checking the seed trays, some of the gourds are most definitely emerging! After the trays were knocked over, they’re all mixed up, but none of the gourds had sprouted at all yet, so the new ones can’t really be anything else.

I used more of the soil mix for the sunflowers than I expected, so I think I will pick up more, the next time I’m in town. We still need to get those chimney blocks outside, to use as planters for the cucamelon transplants. The plan had been to take them through the new part basement, and up the stronger stairs, but with the kittens down there now, and always under foot, we’ll have to find a way to get them up the more rickety old basement stairs.

Once again, I am thinking of how great it would be to convert the old chimney for the wood burning furnace into a dumbwaiter! 😀

Once the blocks are in place, I plan to fill the bottoms with grass clippings and straw, then top it with a soil mix. With more squash to transplant, I don’t have enough of the soil mix left for it all.

It’s all coming together rather nicely, I think. I look forward to seeing how everything does.

I spoke to my mother today, and was telling her about what we’ve planted and where. Of course, she had to start telling me what I should be planting, none of which is what I am planting. She is currently fixated on onions. I should be planting onions. Also, I should be using the chives (which are coming up nicely) in salads. Also, I need a tiller. Because digging holes for the sunflower seeds is… and she stopped herself before saying it, though I could still here the word “stupid” hanging in the air. 😀 I had told her about my wanting to go with no-till methods, and the use of straw, and she told me that she’d never seen anyone do that before. Straw is only for strawberries, not for anything else. It’s rather funny, how she is so convinced that the way she did things is the ONLY way to do things! Nobody else ever did anything different. 😀 As for the old garden area, I reminded her of the conversation we’d had about planting trees there, and how we were intending to plant fruit and nut trees. She started telling me I should get hazelnuts from the bush, for free. The problem with that is, I have no memory of where those hazelnuts are. I was little more than a toddler when I went with her to gather nuts. They may not even be there anymore. So many trees and bushes have died, over the years. So she reminded me of one place we know for sure there is a hazelnut bush. The cemetery my father and brother are buried in!

I’m not sure what she expects me to do about that. 😀 But hey; at least we are in agreement on the planting of food trees!

All in all, I think it’s been a decently productive day! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Staying cool

Today has been a day to stay inside, where it’s cooler – and to allow my body to recover from yesterday a bit more.

Which means I’m feeling decidedly unproductive.

I did manage to finally clean the windows on the outside, around the house, and on the inside in the sun room.

The kittens didn’t know what to make of that!!

I tried to get some pictures of bees, too. The problem is, with the bright sunshine, I can’t tell if my phone is focusing where I want it to, or not!

I did manage a good one, though.

This is a smaller variety of our native bumble bees. So pretty. 🙂

One of the things I tried to do today was remove those bottom hinge pins on the gate posts. We’ve been spraying them with penetrating lubricant regularly, in hopes that would help.

It didn’t. The hinges themselves can rotate freely, but those nuts are just not moving. My older brother had managed to get a few turns on this one, and that was as far as it would go.

I suspect they will need to be cut off.

The next thing to consider is how to clean these in preparation for painting. I’m hoping the detergent we got to wash the gates I’ve been painting will be enough to remove the lubricant.

As for the gates, they’ve been flipped in preparation to do the other sides, but if I am able to do it at all today, it will be after things start to cool down!

Looking at the forecast, it looks like we’ve finally reached that time of year where the only productive work outside will have to be done in the early hours, or the evenings, to avoid heat stroke.

The Re-Farmer

Bloom time

When we moved out here to take care of the farm for my mother, one of the things we knew is that this first year would be a year of discovery.  With the yard in particular, I wanted to get an idea of what was growing where.  Sure, my mother could fill in a few details, but she hasn’t lived here in a few years, and isn’t going to remember everything.

As summer progresses, and things come to bloom in their seasons, I am making more and more of these discoveries.

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This is at the base of one of the dead spruce trees I’d pulled a whole triffid of vines out of, not long ago.  When I was going around here with the weed trimmer, I avoided this area, partly because I could tell it wasn’t just a whole lot of overgrown crab grass and weeds, partly because I wasn’t sure what was hidden in it.  I’m glad I left it. 🙂

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The main garden area is completely overgrown right now, much to my mother’s dismay, but I did try to explain to her that I wanted to see what was there.

In the middle of some tall grass and burdock that I’d pulled, there is this splash of colour.  There is another next to it that’s more white than pink.  Just the two of them, in a sea of grass!

I will see about transplanting these somewhere, to salvage them, later on.

There were a couple of areas with a lot of thistles that I pulled when they were larger (easier to pull), but I didn’t get all of them.  There is another type of thistle, with fewer but larger leaves and spines, that grows much larger flower heads.

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The bees and butterflies love them.

There’s only a couple of these big thistles.  I will leave them for the insects and pull them out just before they go to seed.

There were many more random flowers and raspberries (I picked almost 2 cups of raspberries while taking these photos – far more than I expected to get out of them!) growing in between the trees in the maple grove, including in areas where I’d already used the weed trimmer.

The girls and I have been talking about what we’d like to do, and it turned out we’re all on the same page.  When things are cleaned and cleared out, we want to plant, in some areas, a variety of wildflowers and bulbs that will naturally spread.  The rows of trees are not the same distance apart, so I’m thinking of keeping the widest area clear, and planting between the rows that are closer together.  If we’re careful about what we select, we can encourage them in these areas to not only make it look pretty, but to reduce maintenance.  No grass to mow or weeds to trim.  We’ll just have to make sure there is plenty of grassy areas, too (or maybe moss) to walk in.  Plus, I’d like my husband to be able to enjoy the space, too, and not have to worry about getting stung, since he’s allergic to stings.

Finding that balance, and thinking years into the future, will be the key in deciding what we do.  We don’t want to be in the same situation, years down the road, that we are in now with the spirea and the vines!

Until then, we’ll just enjoy the blooms as we find them!

The Re-Farmer

An Awesome Day, and growth explosion

Today, all four of us made it into the city for a family get together.  It made for a very long and painful day for my husband, but he hasn’t seen his sister in 4 years.  She flies home soon, so he wasn’t about to miss this chance.  It was so great to see everyone and spend time with them.  It is a rare thing for everyone to be together at the same time, these days.

With all this wonderful rain we’ve been having, it’s just fantastic to see everything so GREEN, everywhere.  Even the drive into the city looked completely different.

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A short time ago, the trees were just showing green leaves, while everything else looked like the dead growth from last year that you can still see in the ditch.  Now, it’s like the trees all just exploded in green.

(Also, I’m amused by the fact that there is a reflection of me driving, hovering in the sky. 😀 )

When we got home, we found all sorts of cats had missed our company!

The inside cats were very curious about Nasty Crime boy.

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It was a shared curiosity! 😀

I’m loving the long daylight hours, too.  Though we didn’t get home until past 8pm, there was still plenty of light, so I did a quick walk around the yard to see how things were.

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The crab apple trees north of the spruce grove are finally blooming.  My sister and her husband pruned them back quite heavily last summer, but I can see that there are some dead branches that will need to be cut away.  These might have died off over the winter.

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A few days ago, these linden leaves were just barely new leaf buds!

I had a chance to ask my mother about the linden tree, because it looks so different than I remember it.  So much so that, until the leaves unfurled, it looked like two different trees!  She told me that she used to cut back the suckers every year, but no one continued that after she went to the senior’s centre she now lives in.  That would explain why they look so different.  The growth at the base – where these leaves are – is only about 4-5 years old, whereas the trunk in the middle is more like 30-35 years old.

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These lilies had been showing in green clusters but after the rain, they shot up several inches and threw out flower stocks and buds virtually overnight!

Rolando Moon approves.

I also did a basement check this evening, and the old part basement is bone dry, though there is some water in the sump pump reservoir.  Well below the level of the float.

We still need to get the old hot water tank out of there.  It’s much bigger and heavier than modern ones!

I was just thinking, as I wrote this, how I can’t remember the last time the old part basement was still dry this far into spring, and I remembered one year when it flooded.  This had to have happened before the new part was built, so I was probably about 6 years old, give or take a year or two.  I remember going part way down the stairs to see.  The water was a couple of feet deep – deep enough to cover several steps – and perfectly clean and clear.

Then, as I was looking, a frog went swimming past the bottom of the stairs!

I will never forget that frog! 😀

I hadn’t thought of that in years!

Funny how things trigger old memories of growing up in this house. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

 

Getting Things Done

Today turned out to be a perfect day for working outside.  A bit on the cool side, and not too sunny.  It would have been nice of those clouds brought some rain, but it did mean we got a lot done outside.  Best of all, my husband was actually up to going outside with his walker, and walk up and down the driveway a few times, then just sit outside and enjoy the day.  There used to be a bench under the kitchen window that my late brother had built for my dad to sit and enjoy some time outside, but it is among those things that disappeared after my dad died.  At some point, we’ll replace it with another bench.  It’s a perfect spot to sit and relax.

The biggest accomplishment in the yardwork today is YAY! we finally got that pile of wood in the garden cleaned up.  It is DONE.

While taking loads of broken down wood to the fire pit area with the wheelbarrow, I paused to get some photos of the blooming plum trees.

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On the one hand, it was really cool to see them starting to bloom.

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On the other, it was a bit disheartening to see how few blossoms there were.  Just a few sparse branches spread over several trees.

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After we finished with the wood pile in the garden, we went back to clearing up around the yard.  Soon, I hope to start going into these trees, and the maple grove behind them, clearing up the fallen branches, cutting away the dead wood that hasn’t fallen yet, and taking down some dead trees.

The girls worked their way around to the three big maple trees by the fire pit.  These are the ones where I finally wrested away an old awning that had been left under them for some 20 years.  Plus the remains of a chair.  As they raked around the bases of the trees, they found three old license plates (one of them had stickers for 1981 and 1982 on it!) and a flat plastic thing that looked a bit like the bases in baseball, except for the hole and part of a pipe still attached, and the big MAC logo.  They were buried under several inches of soil; composted leaves, really.

I finally got around to working on the flower garden by the old kitchen.  The girls had started to rake around the outside of the fence line, and I took the opportunity to start cutting away some of the things that have started to grow on the outside of the fence.  I got the dead asparagus foliage cleared away, but there is no sign of new asparagus growing under it.

I forgot to get a picture of my find under the leaves inside the flower garden.  A wooden toy rocking horse, completely buried.  I’m guessing it was on the bench on the platform for the clothes line and fell, and no one noticed.  I ended up having to prune quite a few low hanging branches on the big cherry tree, just to be able to get under it.  I could see that it had been pruned back to where I was cutting already, but not recently.

Cleaning that garden up is going to be a huge job.  It hasn’t been tending in so many years, making it hard to rake.  Plus, there’s some sort of vine that seems to be spreading, and I’m finding it as the rake gets caught on it.  The ground is rock hard.  Getting out that invasive plant my mom asked me to get rid of is not going to be easy.

It was good to get so much work done today, but my goodness, there is so much more to do.

Well, that’s what my mom asked us to live her to take care of for her! 🙂

Now to go pick the burrs out of my clothes before putting them in the laundry… 😀

The Re-Farmer