Morning Mysteries

While doing my morning rounds, I made sure to check the tulips. Nothing has been showing up on the tulip cam, trying to get at them again. There are files of cats passing in front of the camera, and one of a skunk running along the lilac hedge, as if something had startled it, but that’s it. Nothing has been going after the tulips.

And yet, I found this.

It was on the ground, next to one of the tulips that got its flower bud chomped off, but not the leaves. The only signs of digging in the area were the old ones from before, which was likely a skunk digging for grubs in the leaf mulch. With how deep the girls had buried the bulbs, there should have been a fairly large hole if it had been freshly dug up. The bulb doesn’t even have dirt on it, or in its roots.

As far as I know, it wasn’t there before, though it’s possible it was covered in leaf mulch that got blown off, but… I don’t think so. When I’d seen that something was digging in the leaf mulch, I checked to see if the tulips were damaged, so I’d looked right in that spot. I expect I would have seen it then, if it had been somehow dug up then.

So I brought it inside, and it will be planted, once we’re sure of where we want to put it. The girls and I were thinking to put it in one of the blocks in the retaining wall that has nothing in it right now. That area is going to be draped in mosquito netting to protect it, once the netting comes in, so if it’s planted there, it will get protection from being eaten or dug up.

Still, I have no idea where this came from!

I’ve also been finding another mystery in the mornings.

For the past several mornings, I’ve been finding the rocks at one end of the path we made along the house, scattered like this. I put them back, and the next morning, they’re scattered again. Something has been digging among them. I suspect it has something to do with this being the only section of rocks that had some soil put over them, before I changed my mind about doing that the whole way down. My guess is that it’s the skunk, but there’s really nothing to show, one way or the other, what is doing it.

On the one hand, I’m glad whatever it is, is digging here and not in the garden beds nearby! On the other hand, those rocks are there because I found the concrete pad under the sun room was as thick as I thought it was, and they’re keeping the soil under the concrete from eroding out. The last thing I want is for a critter to start digging under there! The sun room is shifting enough, as it is. :-/

I did see the skunk again, this evening. I was just putting things away before going inside, when I heard a cat get startled out of the kibble house. When I looked, the skunk was in the kibble house, munching away. I made noise to scare it away, and it did start to leave, but it must have been very hungry, because it turned around and started heading quickly towards me, then jumped back into the kibble house to eat. I suspect we have a hungry mama skunk. Kibble is not good for them, though. Ah, well. It seems to have a peaceful relationship with the cats, at least. We need to get one more, smaller, hose to keep hooked up to the tap on that side of the house. Much safer to chase it away by spraying water than walking towards it, making noise!

The Re-Farmer

I couldn’t resist

Well, I’ve gone and done it.

I’ve made another order from Vesey’s Seeds.

What can I say? I couldn’t resist!

Truthfully, the things I ordered today are not for me. They are for my daughters. My excuse is, they both have spring birthdays, so this is my gift to them!

Here is what I’ve ordered. (All links will open in new tabs)

Purple Passion Asparagus: This is the one that got the bug in my ear to order more! The new Vesey’s spring catalogue had come in, and my older daughter came to me, all excited about these. They are not only hardy to zone 2, but apparently are so sweet and tender, they can be eaten raw. She didn’t ask about ordering it, though, since she knew we already had so much.

So I ordered it anyway. 😀 We do have some asparagus here; a few brave spears come up in the spring, but not enough to harvest. Asparagus takes 2-3 years to get going, so ordering fresh root stocks now just makes more sense. Once they’re established, they should keep producing for up to 20 years. We’ll be getting the 6 pack of these, delivered in the spring.

April Cross Chinese Radish: This is a Daikon type of radish. I actually don’t like these – or any radishes at all – but my younger daughter really likes Daikon radish, so this is for her!

Red Meat Watermelon Radish: This one is for both my daughters! A white radish with a pink interior and green “shoulders”.

Robin Beet: We got only one variety of beets this year, with a second variety my younger daughter had wanted being out of stock. It’s still out of stock. Both my daughters really liked the deep, dark, sweet beets that we grew last year, so these should be right up their alley. These are “baby” beets, maturing at only 25-30 days.

Black Form Iris: this is another one for my younger daughter. There is another black iris that she had wanted to get for our fall planting, but it was out of stock, and still is. I know she’ll like this one, too. Like the asparagus, this will be delivered in the spring.

So that’s it! Just a little order, at least compared to the last one I made at Vesey’s! 😀 I think the girls will really enjoy growing these.

The Re-Farmer

Fall cover, and working out a problem

It’s been rather windy for the past few days.

We certainly won’t be needing to mulch the bulbs we planted! They’re getting an excellent cover right now. 🙂

We’ve got a bit of a challenge in winterizing things outside. One of the things that needs to be done is to replace the rotting skid under the cat house.

After dismantling our goat catcher earlier in the year, we left the frames together. The two 4′ x 8′ ones were prefect to use as guides for our potato beds. When I noticed how rotten the skid under the cat house was, I grabbed one of the frames to check.

It’s actually a better size than what’s already under there! Right now, only one side rests completely on the length of the skid, while the other rests on the skid at only 2 points. That’s the side that also had the little addition, where the entrance is. There is nothing supporting the weight of the entry at all, other than the floor beams.

The problem is, this thing is incredibly heavy. My brother had managed to move it onto his trailer all by himself, but he did that by putting straps around the skid. We need to take it off the skid, then put a new one underneath. The whole thing will be on bricks to keep the wood from contacting the ground, and I plan to add more under the entry to support it, as well.

We discussed taking the roof right off, since that’s where a lot of the weight it, but we are already hearing crackling of wood every time we raise it. It’s already got a lot of years on it, and we’d like to be able to use it for quite a few more! Once we have it on a new skid, set up a bit closer to the house for the extension cord to reach, it will hopefully never need to be moved again until it’s no longer usable. Another part of the problem is the lack of tools. We don’t even have a bar we could use to lever it – there was one, but it was among the things that disappeared while the place was empty.

We will have to make do with whatever we can find!

The Re-Farmer

Fall planting: snow crocus

Of all the stuff that we ordered for fall planting this year, the garlic and the grape hyacinth were the two things I wanted. The rest were chosen by my daughters. Especially my younger daughter, who is really interested in flower gardening.

No surprise that she was eager to get out there today, and plant the snow crocuses!

This is the area we worked on today.

The first thing we needed to do was rake and clean up the space.

When I cleaned up in this area, two summers ago, I had to take out a lot of dead trees. I deliberately left really tall stumps, after discovering (the hard way!) what a tripping hazard they were if I didn’t. This year, I have a reciprocating saw, which does a great job of cutting level to the ground.

I took advantage of that.

It took more than a year longer than planned, but most of them are now trimmed. There are just a few further out that I didn’t bother with, yet.

While I was working on that, my daughter finished off the raking, then started scattering the bulbs.

Some of them are so tiny! Like little hazelnuts.

The snow crocus mix my daughter chose included Dorothy, Blue Pearl, Tricolour, Snowbunting and Spring Beauty.

Interestingly, when I looked up the mix on the Vesey’s website, it now has 4, not 5, varieties. It no longer includes the Snowbunting.

After the were all planted, my daughter watered all the areas we planted in, including the grape hyacinth, while I placed more logs to border where we planted.

Here is how it looks now.

It’s too windy to burn the debris from the first rake, which is mostly dead leaves, so that will wait for another day.

This section will have a walking path on both sides. Further north, it’s so shaded under those trees, almost nothing grows under there. Even the row of crab apple trees I found buried under the branches is still struggling – though one branch on one tree did get enough sun to produce some apples! :-/ Anything we end up planting there has to be able to handle a lot of shade, and not much moisture. But that is probably still years from now.

So for this area, we are done with planting for the year. Everything else we’ve got, plus the stuff on back order, will be planted elsewhere. We’ve got another week, at least, of warmer weather, so we will work on keeping these areas well watered.

All of the crocuses are supposed to bloom very early in the spring. I look forward to seeing them! I expect they will be rather spotty for the first few years, until they naturally begin to spread. Until they do, we’ll have to make sure they don’t get overtaken by other things. We can also think about what we might want to plant with them and the grape hyacinth that have different blooming seasons, once we get a good grasp on how they are doing.

At the same time, we’ll be looking into a ground cover in the pathways. By the time this area is done, it should have almost no grass and need no mowing.

One thing we do have to keep in mind as we fill these areas, though, is that we still need to have at least some access into them. If nothing else, we’ll need to pick up fallen branches or remove dead trees!

The Re-Farmer

Guess what we’re doing this weekend!

A package I was expecting next week, came in today! Our first shipments of bulbs for fall planting.

Which the cats found very, very interesting…

That’s better!

Mostly. 😀

We’ve got 2 packages of Muscari (grape hyacinth) of 100 bulbs each. There are 5 bags of crocuses. I believe we were planning to mix these all together and plant them randomly. There are also an iris and tulips. We still have some on back order, including a fall garlic mix. The long term weather forecasts show no temperatures dipping low enough for frost over the next too weeks. Hopefully, the rest of the order will come in before things start to cool down that much again.

The Re-Farmer

Mystery critter, and order placed

Just minutes ago, we saw our mystery critter again – this time out by the compost pile!

We ended up bringing the DSLR, with it’s 700mm lens, and tripod over to try and zoom in for some pictures.

Unfortunately, the window we were looking through is the one that was not replaced, when all the others were. It has a sheet of plexiglass mounted on the inside, to keep the drafts out. Which means that there was nothing we could do to keep the auto focus from focusing on the glass, instead of the critter. I even tried manual focus, and the pictures I got were actually worse.

So these are the best of the bunch. I cropped the photos and resized them, but that’s it.

The question is: what is it?

It was eating grass and what I think were dandelion leaves. In one of the photos, it looks like it has a stuffed cheek!

It’s surprisingly large. About the size of our big skunk, but bulkier. Almost as big as a beaver! It kinda has a beaver shape, too, but the tail is completely different.

So it is a gopher? Groundhog? Prairie Dog?

Whatever it is, it’s adorable!

In other things, I just finished making our fall plantings order from Vesey’s. This is what we have ordered (all links should open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place!):

Fall garlic collection 2: This collection of hard neck garlic includes Porcelain Music, Rocambole and Marble Purple Stripe. The Purple Stripe is supposed to be really good for roasting. The collection has 1 pound of each. We are planning to plant these where we currently have the beets and carrots.

The rest that we ordered are flowers.

Muscari: aka Grape Hyacinth. I’ve wanted these since I was a kid! When we lived in Victoria, BC, they grew everywhere, like weeds. I loved them! We’ve ordered 2 packages of 100 bulbs.

The girls picked the rest.

Snow Crocus Collection: “This collection contains 105 bulbs including 25 Dorothy and 20 each of Blue Pearl, Tricolour, Snowbunting and Spring Beauty Snow Crocus.” Our plan is to mix these bulbs with the Muscari, then plant them randomly in the areas we have picked for them.

Double Tulip Collection: “This collection contains 58 bulbs, 8 of Black Hero, Pamplona & Vanilla Coup and 10 each of Pinksize, Orca and Brownie Double Tulips.” The girls aren’t big fans of the typical tulip shape, but they really love the more unusual shapes.

Speaking of unusual tulip shapes, definitely click on the next link!

Bulls Eye Tulip: We got 1 package of 8 bulbs of these. What an unusual tulip! I can hardly wait to see how they grow.

Eye of the Tiger Iris: They could have had so many punny names for this one… 😀 This one comes in a package of 15. We do have some irises in the flower garden the bird feeder stand is currently in. They’ve been there for as long as I can remember! Only 2 of them bloomed this year, and they were done so fast, my daughters never saw them!

Gardenia Daffodil: These come in a pack of 6, and quite different from the usual yellow daffodils I’m used to seeing. When we lived in a PMQ in Victoria, BC, there was a field between our duplex and the military hospital that was just filled with bright yellow daffodils. It should be interesting if these will have the same spreading habit!

And spreading is something we actually want, and they will be planted with that in mind. Especially for the muscari and crocuses. For those, we are hoping they will form a floral carpet to fill in areas between trees, so we don’t have to mow such awkward places.

For our zone, we expect these to be shipped to arrive in the second half of September, in time for immediate planting.

Looking forward to it!

The Re-Farmer