Tag Archives: spring

It’s just about time . . .

This little fat guy came to visit in 2015 and we had almost thirty that year. I had five or six feeders out and had to fill them twice a day.

April 15th is my deadline for putting out the hummingbird feeders. Last year I was late getting them out and didn’t have near as many.  This year I’ve got the jump on them I hope by putting out two feeders on the front porch this morning. I’m early but they might be too!!

First feeder out and ready!

I’ll start with two feeders and always in bright red. That seems to be their favorite color and I plan to have red and purple flowers all over the porch and yard this year. I’ll be watching out for the first fuchsia plant to hand on the porch too. Their vibrant colors really attract them.

Last year the few hummers that I had loved the butterfly bush, geraniums, bleeding hearts and the columbine.

That beak looks deadly, doesn’t it?

We have the ruby-throated hummingbirds here at the farm.

We think they’re stunning birds!

This was last years batch and I think the most we had at any given time was 10-12 and that was toward the end of the season.

Get those feeders out this weekend and let us know how many you have and when you first sighted them!

Here’s my recipe for the feeders, all natural:  1 cup sugar to 4 cups of water.  I mix it up in a pitcher and put it in the microwave for 6 1/2 minutes to sterilize it and keep it from fermenting.  I let it cool to touch and then pour in the feeders.

 

Spring Prep

Warm weather has us in the mood to clean even though we know there’s probably still some winter weather ahead of us.  I’ve worked in the yard several day and got some help from hubby to get those maple leaves out of my flower beds and around the house.

Maple leaves were in abundance but protects a lot of my perennials during the winter.

We have cleaned out all of the yard except for the corner of my rose garden.

This is the rose garden in the east end of our yard and the most colorful, I think, throughout the summer.

The rose in the very corner and tallest stems you can see is an old-fashioned rose planted by our ancestors shortly after the house was built.  The bloom is white with a hint of pink around the edges and they’re about two inches across.  It blooms most of the summer if I keep it pinched back (faded blooms).  Another one just like it but much smaller is at the entrance of the front gate.  I have to clip it back  all summer long.  The fragrance is divine!!

This corner will soon be cleaned up and I’m hoping to add a couple new roses to it during late spring.  I don’t have a lavender or a blood red rose in that bed and think it’s time.  I had a hibiscus in the middle of the bed and it just towered over all and lots of pretty bloom was missed unless you walked through the bed.  Last year I planted some sweet william in the front row and they have survived the winter.  I hope they will add some color while waiting for the roses to bloom.

Here’s a photo album of the rest of the yard clean up:

Both sides in front of the house/porch are all cleaned up and hostas that get as big as bushel baskets cover that area.

The flower bed in the corner with the dinner bell is full of perennials such as day lilies, poppies, primrose and lots more.

I forgot to get a photo of the backyard but it was the quickest and smallest area to clean up.  All I have to do back there is hang our swing and wait for the hostas, shasta daisy and daylilies to spring up.

Tree limb cleanup-this is what came out of the front yard from the maple tree. It’s been hauled away now!

Now I need to take care of the outside of the yard including some new planting at the gazebo at the pond.

The gazebo is another “getaway” spot. I love to go there right before the sun goes down and listen to the spring peepers and birds going to roost, watch the mallard pair that spend the night and wait for the fish to do their evening feeding and the frogs start croaking!! There’s peace all over the farm if you’ll just watch and listen!!

Spring Calving Season

Our spring calving season began on March 13 with this little girl (heifer) and it was such a beautiful day.  

This little bull started our calving on the 19th, followed by the next two within minutes of each other. Now we wait for the 25 to come!!

Hydrangeas, Bleeding Hearts, & More

Proof of spring and early summer!

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Lavender & purple Iris

Lavender & purple Iris

Siberian Iris

Siberian Iris

Columbine

Columbine

Peonies

Peonies

 

Peony buds

Peony buds

More peonies

More peonies

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Can you tell I absolutely love peonies and have them all over the yard!?

Rose of Sharon started from seed from our old homeplace on Johns' Creek.

Rose of Sharon started from seed from our old homeplace on Johns’ Creek.

Lilac bush from my daughter to be planted. I'm making sure I choose just the right spot.

Lilac bush from my daughter to be planted. I’m making sure I choose just the right spot.

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart

Purple iris

Purple iris

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Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Beige & peach Iris

Beige & peach Iris

Peach Iris

Peach Iris

Two year old rose

Two year old rose

Old fashioned rose

Old fashioned rose

Siberian Iris

Siberian Iris

And of course, where would we be without our wonderful honeybees pollinating everything.

And of course, where would we be without our wonderful honeybees pollinating everything.

This is what is blooming at our house right now, the last day of May!!!

1st Hummingbird of the Season

It's amazing how something so tiny could be so fast!

It’s amazing how something so tiny could be so fast!

This is a 2015 hummingbird but looks much like the one that arrived yesterday.

This is a 2015 hummingbird but looks much like the one that arrived yesterday.

My first hummingbird of 2016 arrived around 6:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon. He’s a fat little male and so beautiful! He was too quick to get pictures but they have arrived!! I hope you have a very blessed 2016 spring!

Spring? ? ?

I know that spring is just around the corner because I found these in my yard yesterday.

Crocus

 

Crocus

Aren’t they beautiful??  Spring is coming in like a lion and I have two little orphans because of it.  George and Prissy were born on March 15th& 16th consecutively.  It’s was the worse days we’ve had all winter.  George’s mom decided he should be born and baptized at the same time so she had him in a wet weather spring in the middle of a blackberry patch in 0* weather.  He was so cold he could not get up to nurse and when Eddie found him Mom left to go eat.  Eddie packed him up in the tractor cab and carried him to our cellar.  Twenty four hours and lots of warm towels, heat lamp and propane heater, he was toddling around and taking a bottle.

George is curious and very pushy!!  Normal little bull.

George is curious and very pushy!! Normal little bull.

Prissy was delivered to the main house the next morning covered in ice and snow and barely alive.  I didn’t make it to work that day because of the snow and ice and I think Eddie was glad to have me there.  He found Prissy covered in four inches of ice and then snow.  Beside her, the mom was cleaning and trying to make her dead twin come back to life.  Eddie scraped off the snow and loaded her in the tractor and brought her to me.  I got out an old cutter quilt and he laid her by the woodstove. I grabbed old towels and blankets and started drying her off.  Sassy helped by licking her face.  I was certain she would die because her tongue was cold and she was so lifeless.  Sassy and I worked on her all morning, shifting her from side to side and warming another old quilt to lay over her.  We gave her about an ounce of warm milk every hour or so trying to get her warm on the inside and the outside.  Around 9:00 p.m. she started trying to get up on her own and by 10:00 she had taken three ounces so we decided to move her to the cellar with George.

Prissy-very quiet and docile.

Prissy-very quiet and docile.

Thankfully both calves are doing well.  George has been a little rough on Prissy and stepped on her the first night they were together and she limps from her left front leg but we’re hoping time and some loving care will fix that.  She’s a lot smaller than he is coming in at around 45-50 pounds and Eddie says George weighs over 75 pounds.

Here’s some more pics of them from the last two weeks and I’ll update their growth and shenanigans as time goes on.

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Prissy is trying to making friends with Cuddles, the cat.

Prissy is trying to making friends with Cuddles, the cat.

Curious calves.

Curious calves.

George has a voracious appetite, funny, big kicker, and is constantly sucking on Prissy's ears.

George has a voracious appetite, funny, big kicker, and is constantly sucking on Prissy’s ears.

Prissy is watching the chickens.  George usually chases them.

Prissy is watching the chickens. George usually chases them.

Prissy and George enjoying the sunshine.

Prissy and George enjoying the sunshine.

George climbing out of his hutch and Prissy wondering "why?"

George climbing out of his hutch and Prissy wondering “why?”

Feeding time!!

Feeding time!!

It's not as easy as it looks when there's only one person feeding them.

It’s not as easy as it looks when there’s only one person feeding them.

George tries to take Prissy's bottle when he empty's his first!

George tries to take Prissy’s bottle when he empty’s his first!

Just to let you know how I feed them, we buy powdered calf milk that is medicated and high in protein and feed them two quarts every eight hours.  The powdered milk is mixed with water and the first couple of feedings they are given colostrum to get the immune system going that they couldn’t get from their natural mom.  At three to four weeks, we start introducing them to the small grains.

More to come!!!

 

Gardening in the shade

View of the house from the front yard

View of the house from the front yard

 

As you can see from the picture our house is surrounded by the beautiful maple trees which provide lots of shade in the summertime and maple syrup in the spring.  We love the trees but it has been a real challenge finding plants that grow well in the yard and grass that survives the shade and our cold winter.  The left side of the house gets the morning sun and grows well and most of my roses are on that side and in the front.  The left side however is the challenge.  Hubby built this hanging table for me last year for Mother’s Day and I keep it covered with lots of my indoor plants in the summertime and bird feeders in the winter.

Swinging table covered with cacti, begonia, and more.

Swinging table covered with cacti, begonia, and more.

I have found a few flowering perennials that like the shade but none better than hostas, begonias, impatiens and bleeding hearts.

Impatiens love the shade.

Impatiens love the shade.

Bleeding Hearts

Bleeding Hearts

This corner of my yard gets hardly any sun due to the shade trees and this winter my planning will be filling it with shade lovers.

West corner of the front yard.  Not very pretty.

West corner of the front yard. Not very pretty.

Daylilies and tiger lilies do well but the blooms don’t last long enough.  I’m currently looking through all of my seed/plant catalogs in search of the all summer shade garden to dress it up with the dinner bell as my focal point.  I think astilbes, bleeding hearts, hostas, lamium, lilyturf, and monkshood will compliment each other and layering them from the dinner bell post to the front by height will look nice.  Primrose, Lenten rose, coral bells, bergenia and false spirea are some good prospects, as well.  I need to amend the soil with some good compost and garden soil and maybe a little chicken manure they should all get a good start.

The plants in front of the stones are herbs and they just did not get enough sun.  If any survive, they’ll go in a raised bed near the grape arbor beside the garden and be covered with chicken wire to keep the lovely ladies out of it.

I’m thinking spring!!! How about you???

Spring rains

Storms brewing!

Storms brewing!

Skies menacing!

Skies menacing!

 

They came and went and now the cold will return.  The skies are awesome to watch from the hill behind the house right before a storm brings in the cold spring rain!  It left us with 2.5 inches of rain so far in May.  Those beautiful green pastures are welcome sight to us and the cows.

Spring planting

Seed Potatoes

Seed Potatoes

Potatoes cut and ready to plant

Potatoes cut and ready to plant

 

We got all the seed and garden had been plowed and ready to work down.  Now the weather channels are calling for a hard frost tomorrow night and chilly temps tonight.  I brought in all of the flowers and herbs I potted last weekend and pulled what I could under the covered front porch.  I went to my little green house this evening and put up heat lamps and on the way back to the house was admiring all of the tiny little fruit on all of the apple and plum trees.  The peach and pear trees are also full and the aspargus was all pulled to keep it from freezing.   I am so ready for warm weather!!

Spring flowers on the farm

 

 

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daffodils

A pop of color all over the yard makes my heart sing and swell!!  I love flowers anytime of the year but these sure help get rid of the winter doldrums.  Spring is in full swing in our area and the cars are covered with pollen and the honeybees are so happy that we’ve already had our first bee swarm!  It left for the mountains before we could capture it.  Of course, the fruit trees in full bloom are helping them, too.

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Easter lilies and wild hyacinth

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Daylilies and huchera

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Poppies

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Daffodils and columbine

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Daylilies

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Goldenseal in the backyard

Allium

Allium

Spring delicacy

We had a slow start with our asparagus beds this year but now it’s coming in with leaps and bounds!  I started a new bed last spring from seed and it’s starting to grow but will be at least two more years before we get any food from it.  Most of our beds are wild and started by the birds.  We’re sharing it with friends and family and eating it about every meal.  I’m sure we’ll tire of it soon.

As long as we pick, it keeps coming in.

As long as we pick, it keeps coming in.

Bags and bags of fresh asparagus

Bags and bags of fresh asparagus

I don’t freeze or can asparagus because I’ve not found a way to preserve that it doesn’t come out spongy or slimy.  Can’t stand that!!  We just enjoy it as long as it produces and as long as we’re not tired of eating so much of it.  I’m going to experiment with making an asparagus creamed soup and will let you know how that goes.  That may be one way of preserving it for winter consumption.

Changes to the garden and tire beds

Hubby has been working on fences again in the last week and he tore out the east end fence around our garden because it was about to fall down.

tractor tires used for garlic, strawberries and rhubarb

tractor tires used for garlic, strawberries and rhubarb

fencing between yard and garden

fencing between yard and garden

He decided that the fence didn’t keep out the deer so he would not replace it.  We have now moved the large tire planters to the south garden fence and will plant fruit trees along the yard where the fence used to be.  We currently have three pear trees along this line, two grape vines and a blue plum.  On the North end of the garden we’ve planted three peach trees and cut down an old plum tree that died.  I want to put in two more peach trees on that North end, two more plum trees out the fence line and plant two or three cherry trees in the yard close to the pond.  All of the apple trees that used to be there except one have died and been taken out.  These trees we replace will all be of the semi-dwarf size except maybe the cherry because of the space and closeness to the garden.  We don’t want the shade from the trees to shade the garden from the morning sun.  Hopefully hubby and I will be around when they start bearing fruit.

The apple tree rootstock we planted last year have all survived the winter, rabbits and deer and it’s now time to graft them.  We think moving our hound dogs to the apple orchard have saved our new trees from the ravages of the wildlife.  We just hope the wildlife doesn’t realize the dogs can’t reach them as long as they are chained.

Space between yard and garden cleared of  fencing

Space between yard and garden cleared of fencing

Freshly plowed garden lot

Freshly plowed garden lot

Tire planters moved to new area

Tire planters moved to new area

Strawberries starting to green up.

Strawberries starting to green up.

Garlic coming up.  Love that stuff!!

Garlic coming up. Love that stuff!!

Rhubarb coming in but frost burnt the leaves badly.  I'll clip the leaves and start fresh after this weeks frost pass.

Rhubarb coming in but frost burnt the leaves badly. I’ll clip the leaves and start fresh after this weeks frost pass.

Quince tree in south west corner of garden.

Quince tree in south west corner of garden.

Pear trees sprouting.

Pear trees sprouting.

 

We try very hard to replace our fruit trees as the old one’s die which hasn’t been done for many years.  We want the future family members to have plenty of these crops on hand for their use well after we are gone!  If we don’t take care of the future generations, who will??

Merkels or morels

Spring is definitely merkel hunting time.

Spring is definitely merkel hunting time.

What in the world?????

Morels are a type of mushrooms which can be found growing all over the world in a wide variety of habitats every spring. They are among the most prized of the edible mushrooms because they have a rich and complex flavor that goes well with almost any food. They also have a very distinctive appearance which makes them readily identifiable, assuming they can be found at all, since they’re notorious for being very elusive.

Like all mushrooms, the morel is only the fruiting body of a larger organism. Most mushrooms form a massive web of fibers underground called the mycelium. This web of fibers can be quite large, and when it decides to reproduce it sends up mushrooms, which release spores from the parent fungus. Mushrooms are quite appealing to humans because they are often fleshy and flavorful. Scientists have not determined why mushrooms fruit when they do, but mushrooms are usually linked with rain and heavy moisture. In the case of morels, spectacular growth patterns are also linked with forest fires.

We love to search for these delicasies every spring and this spring is no different.  When Mother Nature cooperates we feel like we located the “mother load”!!

During spring gobbler season every year, hubby and his friends make a day of searching for these tasty morsels in their secret honey hole.  As in years past, they did very well and these shots will prove harvest:

92 morels cleaned, halved and ready for the skillet!

92 morels cleaned, halved and ready for the skillet!

Some are golden, some are brown and some are white.

Some are golden, some are brown and some are white.

It's a beauty!

It’s a beauty!

Draining all of the water off so they'll last longer!

Draining all of the water off so they’ll last longer!

 

There is absolutely nothing better than country fried merkels, baked beans and macaroni salad for supper!!  Wish you were here to enjoy them with us 😉

 

Our hummers are back!!!!

You know it’s spring when the hummingbirds return.  For several years now I try to get at least one hummingbird feeder on the porch by April 15th.  I was a few days late this year and didn’t get mine put out until Sunday the 20th and boy was I ever glad.  Our first arrival was yesterday afternoon when we were sitting on the front porch enjoying  the warm afternoon.

Hummingbird feeder.

Hummingbird feeder.

 

First I sterilize my feeders.  Then I make their feed which is four parts water to 1 part sugar.  I mix this together and boil for six minutes.  Let cool and fill the feeders.  This mixture will fill two of my feeders.

First I sterilize my feeders. Then I make their feed which is four parts water to 1 part sugar. I mix this together and boil for six minutes. Let cool and fill the feeders. This mixture will fill two of my feeders.

 

After preparing the feeders, hang them where you want to get a good view of these little angels in action.  We usually have 4-6 feeders on our front porch out of the sun so the syrup doesn’t spoil as quickly.  If your syrup seems to have strings of film in it after several days it’s time to change the syrup.  I usually start out with two feeders to begin with and as the population grows I add more feeders.

One of the first arrivals.

One of the first arrivals.

 

Last year in June, I believe, we had about thirty at one time.  I had four feeders on both sides of the porch and we were refilling them almost daily.  We love watching them.  Here’s a view of last years group:

Feeding time at the Caldwells!

Feeding time at the Caldwells!

I try to grow as many of their favorite flowers as possible every year and add perennials to my garden that they love as well.  Most of these flowers also attract the graceful hummingbird moth as well.

Hummingbird Moth

Hummingbird Moth

 

Spring turkey strut

It's turkey time!!

It’s turkey time!!

Beautiful wild hen

Beautiful wild hen

Haven't seen them since Thanksgiving and now all of sudden everywhere I drive there's wild turkeys in the fields in large groups.

Haven’t seen them since Thanksgiving and now all of sudden everywhere I drive there’s wild turkeys in the fields in large groups.

Spring cleaning and Granddaughter’s Help

I spent my entire Saturday, March 22nd, “starting” the spring cleaning in my kitchen.  By starting, I mean those beautiful shelves my hubby put up on both sides of the length of my kitchen up near the ceiling is where I’ve started this year.  I didn’t get to them at all last year and decided they would be first this year.

Shelving runs lengthwise in my 30 ft kitchen on both sides.

Shelving runs lengthwise in my 30 ft kitchen on both sides.

The shelves hold a lot of my antique kitchen items and farm animals (ceramic of course).

The shelves hold a lot of my antique kitchen items and farm animals (ceramic of course).

Several crocks and lots of roosters and hens.  The shelving boards came from lumber we sawed from the farm and I finished.

Several crocks and lots of roosters and hens. The shelving boards came from lumber we sawed from the farm and I finished.

It took all day to clean and put them back and my granddaughter climbed up and handed down everything to me and I washed and dried it all and she put it back.  It was work but we had a good time catching up.  While I was washing everything she was crafting for me.

First she twined a bottle for me.  This will be placed in my family room.

First she twined a bottle for me. This will be placed in my family room.

She used polymer clay to make this flowers and bows to attach to some of our projects.

She used polymer clay to make this flowers and bows to attach to some of our projects.

This clay was white but when it baked it turned to a very light beige which made it look old.

This clay was white but when it baked it turned to a very light beige which made it look old.

Some she embellished with a light blue and some with white.  They're very delicate looking.

Some she embellished with a light blue and some with white. They’re very delicate looking.

Victoria enjoyed doing them so much she took a picnic basket full of bottles, twine and clay home with her to make me some more and I’ll post them when she is finished.

I'm so glad she loves crafting almost as much as I do.

I’m so glad she loves crafting almost as much as I do.

Those fingers working the clay just perfect.

Those fingers working the clay just perfect.

She has a delicate touch!

She has a delicate touch!

The spring cleaning in the kitchen is an on-going process and now it’s time to do the other shelf and all that it holds.

The farm has been quite busy for the last three weeks

The farm is always busy but the last three weeks have been quite busy.  My chickens had almost completely quit laying but now the eggs are pouring out of them.  We’re getting 18-22 eggs a day and two of my ladies are starting to show broody signs.  It’s just too cold to set these ladies yet so I think I’ll give them until the first weekend in April to put eggs of my choice under them.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

 

I had thought about buying some babies in mid-April or May but then decided if I’ve got broody hens that won’t give me eggs, I’ll put them to work hatching me some new layers.

Then maple syrup season came on us and last weekend we made 45 pints of the golden nectar.  The weather was such a hit and miss thing that we didn’t invite a lot of people to join us but our daughter had some of her clients come in to see the process.  It was very, very windy the day of the cook-off.

210 gallon tank for sap storage

210 gallon tank for sap storage

Gallon stainless steel bucket used to strain sap into tank.

Gallon stainless steel bucket used to strain sap into tank.

Trees tapped

Trees tapped

Shawn & Heather keep watch on the pan.

Shawn & Heather keep watch on the pan.

 

Sugar house steaming.

Sugar house steaming.

 

2014 Golden nectar

 

AND, the babies are arriving and they are so adorable.  The calves seem a little on the small size this year but that’s fine.  They grow so fast and smaller calves are definitely easier on the mothers.  Here’s a few of our recent arrivals:

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And of course, keeping the driveway clear of ice and snow and feeding the cattle has been a chore, not to mention keeping firewood on the front porch to feed the stoves.

Ice on top of snow

Ice on top of snow

 

You just can't be a good wood fire with the winter we've had.

You just can’t be a good wood fire with the winter we’ve had.

 

Stay well,  Stay warm.
Rita

 

 

What’s bloomin’ now

It is so blasted cold and blustery today.  It snowed for about 20 minutes this morning and then it got hazy and black looking and now the sun is shining.  The weather is crazy!!  I noticed yesterday that the allium, iris and sedum have peeped through the ground and some daffodils and Easter lilies but it’s calling for more winter sleet/snow by Tuesday again.  I so want spring!!!

Allium and iris

Allium and iris

Sedum peeking out from the leaves

Sedum peeking out from the leaves

More sedum

More sedum

Sedum likes the cold, I think.

Sedum likes the cold, I think.

Inside my house though, things are blooming so pretty and very out of season.

This is some type of begonia that is over six feet tall with very delicate blooms.

This is some type of begonia that is over six feet tall with very delicate blooms.

Amaryillus blooms in the spring instead of Christmas.

Amaryllis blooms in the spring instead of Christmas.

These two Christmas cactus bloomed last summer, two weeks before Christmas and started blooming again two weeks ago.

These two Christmas cactus bloomed last summer, two weeks before Christmas and started blooming again two weeks ago.

This is some sort of jade and normally blooms in early to late summer and it started blooming last week.

This is some sort of jade and normally blooms in early to late summer and it started blooming last week.

I have two shamrocks, one purple and one green, in our guest room and they're both blooming.  The purple one has pink blooms and the green one has white blooms.

I have two shamrocks, one purple and one green, in our guest room and they’re both blooming. The purple one has pink blooms and the green one has white blooms.

DSCN4804It might be nasty and cold outside but I do have a little spring season in the house.  It helps keep away the winter blahs!!

Think Spring Pictorial

This has been the coldest winter I can remember for a long time and I’m just so ready for it to be over, yet, I know we still have two more cold months to go for our neck of the woods.

My hubby asked me tonight to take some pictures of the ice and snow hanging off the roof of our house. I decided to share them along with some pictures I hope will bring beautiful spring thoughts to our minds and ward off some of the cold while we wait for that precious time of year called SPRING.

A lot of it melted today but there's still a lot of wait on that new addition.

A lot of it melted today but there’s still a lot of weight on that new addition.

This doesn't do it justice but it looks COLD!

This doesn’t do it justice but it looks COLD!

It's hanging over the edge of the roof about four feet.

It’s hanging over the edge of the roof about four feet.

This is about 22 inches in the deepest part.

This is about 22 inches in the deepest part.

There's some serious icicles hanging from it too!

There’s some serious icicles hanging from it too!

Icicles look like some kind of prehistoric weapon of the ice age!

Icicles look like some kind of prehistoric weapon of the ice age!

Can you tell the depth of the snow on both sides of the walk off the porch?

Can you tell the depth of the snow on both sides of the walk off the porch?

Okay, enough snow and cold, think spring!  Think spring!  Think spring!

Apple blossoms speak spring!

Apple blossoms speak spring!

Beauty of the blue skies and green grass!

Beauty of the blue skies and green grass!

Spring rains!

Spring rains!

Sap running from the sugar maples.

Spring = Sap running from the sugar maples.

Gathering sugar sap

Spring = Gathering sugar sap

Opening the sugar house and cooking the syrup.

Spring = Opening the sugar house and cooking the syrup.

Puppy checking out the purple crocus-that is springtime!

Spring = Puppy checking out the purple crocus-that is springtime!

Spring is definitely merkel hunting time.

Spring is definitely merkel hunting time.

Tilling the garden the first time!

Spring = Tilling the garden the first time!

Warming up the potting shed.

Spring means warming up the potting shed.

Irises popping out of the ground.

Spring = Irises popping out of the ground.

Peach tree budding!

Spring = Peach tree budding!

Of course, it couldn’t be spring without Papa and granddaughter hitting the spring gobbler trail!

Shes a true hunter 04142012Let’s really put on our concentration hats and get the season rolling!!

Greenhouse fun

This year is going to be a little different in the garden.  We still have so much left in the freezer and cellar so we’ve decided to cut back.  I didn’t start up the greenhouse this year and instead have just planted a few of the things that we’ll eat as it comes in.  I’ve planted some tomato, cucumber, cabbage, squash, cantaloupe and watermelon for the garden and have several of my herbs in cups.

Southeast window for seed growth

 

Two varieties of cabbage and squash

 

seed cups

GermanJohnsonPink and Roma 2013

Four varieties of tomato

I haven’t started my periennial flowers yet but think I have plenty of time for that.  I also like to put some directly in the ground.  It will be late May before we can safely put anything in the garden.   My rhubarb is up and doing better than it did last year but it’s new and will take a couple years to get established.  I started it these huge tractor tires  and I need to work some manure into the dirt soon.

rhubarb spring 2013 (1)

I also started some garlic in a tire last year and I haven’t pulled any of it yet.  The stems are greening up and hopefully they’ll  do as well as the rhubarb is.  I was very afraid the moles and voles would eat up both but it doesn’t look like it so far.

rhubarb spring 2013 (2)

 

I read on someone’s blog and on Pinterest that if you buy celery in the store and cut the root end off and place it in a cup of dirt that it would grow!!  Believe me it works and I can’t wait until this gets big enough to eat.

Starting another celery_time to go in the dirt DSCN3360

One plant is one month old and the other is about two weeks old.  I use a lot of celery when I cook and a lot of onions.

I have a very special friend that heard my plea for a purple and green shamrock and she came through for me.  Here’s the plant she gave me along with some that I found at Food Lion around St. Patricks Day.

Purple shamrock

Purple shamrock

Green and purple shamrock

Green and purple shamrock

Gardening time is just around the corner and I still have to clean up the yard and clear out the flower beds.  There I go again wishing my life away!!  Happy gardening everyone.

Preparing for first arrival of hummingbirds

DSCN3259                                                                                                                                                   Cleaned and ready to fill.

 

DSCN3260

 

 

Waiting for hummingbird food to cool and pour into feeder!

 

I know it’s still cool but I always put my hummingbird feeders out on the 15th of April and it never fails that they arrive around that week.  I’ve pulled out one feeder and cleaned it.  I make them a mixture of 4:1 water to sugar.  Last year we had over 20 by mid summer and the year before about thirty and they kept me busy filling feeders.  We usually have four feeders on the front porch and so enjoy watching them feed, flutter and fuss as they are very territorial.  This is a picture of last years group.

AC90C193

April goals

Yes it’s almost mid-month but I have some goals to complete before months end.  I always have high expectations of what I can complete in a two day weekend and that means I have six days to complete my goals.   Here’s the April goals:

1)  Clean out the fall/winter debris in the yard

2)  Transplant the hibiscus and shasta daisies to another location in the yard

3)  Clean all the flower beds and make ready for new additions

4)  Make 12 new blocks for the sampler quilt

5)  Start spring cleaning the bathroom, pantry and back porch

6)  Make new cushions for the lawn and porch furniture

7)  Set out 15 of the 30+ apple root stock and nine American chestnuts we started from seed.

8)  Finish planting the garden and flower seeds in the greenhouse

9)  Spring clean the guest room  (decided to start in the least travedled and used room)

10)  Clean the paddle boat and put it on the pond

I think this should keep me very busy for the rest of the month.  Since turkey season begins Saturday I should be able to start bright and early in the morning.

New Year of Maple Syrup

 

Sugar maple tree with a beautiful blue sky background.

Sugar maple tree with a beautiful blue sky background.

 

We could not have picked a better time to start tapping the maple trees.  Saturday morning after feeding the cattle and cleaning up from breakfast we got started.  It was clear, sunny and still a chill in the air.  First we gathered the bucket and cleaned them and then we cleaned the 210 gallon water tank.

All the gallon buckets have been washed and ready to hook up to the taps.

All the gallon buckets have been washed and ready to hook up to the taps.

Nice and clean gallon buckets.

Nice and clean gallon buckets.

 

Shiny and clean tank.

Shiny and clean tank.

It holds 210 gallons and it was specifically purchased just for sugar maple processing!!

It holds 210 gallons and it was specifically purchased just for sugar maple processing!!

A regular garden/water hose will attach to the fauce when we're ready to fill the pans.

A regular garden/water hose will attach to the fauce when we’re ready to fill the pans.

 

From here we gathered the portable drill, wood bits, hammer and taps and headed for the maple trees in the yard.  From there we tapped the trees behind the garage and then went to the mansion and tapped the tree that we know has been in the family since the 1800’s.  She is still producing and we tapped with six buckets on her and from there went to our daughter’s house on the farm and tapped two trees at her house.  In total we nine trees in all and as tonight at 7:00 p.m. the tank is full.  We’ll hold it in the tank in the garage until Friday morning.  It will stay ice cold in the garage.

 

26 taps sterizied and ready to put in the trees.  Eddie likes using the plumbing tees best because they stay in the tap hole better.

26 taps sterizied and ready to put in the trees. Eddie likes using the plumbing tees best because they stay in the tap hole better.

Metal taps were used in the tree at the mansion and at our daughter's house.

Metal taps were used in the tree at the mansion and at our daughter’s house.

Drillling the first hole about a 1/2 inch in diameter and about  1 inch deep.

Drillling the first hole about a 1/2 inch in diameter and about 1 inch deep.

These trees are not being damaged.  The one inch hole heals within a few weeks and as I said before the tree at the mansion is in a photo we have of the family back in the mid-1800’s and it’s still living.

Tapping the tee in the tree good and tight so it won't leak around the hole.

Tapping the tee in the tree good and tight so it won’t leak around the hole.

Up close view of the hole drilled into the tree.

Up close view of the hole drilled into the tree.

Tap, tap, tap!

Tap, tap, tap!

Three buckets on this tree in the yard and the taps are dripping away.

Three buckets on this tree in the yard and the taps are dripping away.  This tree is at our daughter’s house.

 

Around 1:30 Saturday our son joined us and he was kept busy emptying the buckets into the tank and was glad to have the ATV for collecting.  He won’t be still long enough for Mom to take his picture.  But sometimes we have to do what we can and here’s a picture helping at the sugar house in years past.

Our son, Shawn, manning the pans in the past.

Our son, Shawn, manning the pans in the past.

From the tree to the straining bucket.

From the tree to the straining bucket.

By Saturday night we had 100 gallons in the tank and the high temperature at the farm on Saturday was 49*.  Sunday morning we got up to 27* temps, the buckets were running over with ice and the sap had even pushed out of the top of the tee.

Beautiful Sunday morning.

Beautiful Sunday morning.

Icy buckets and frozen hands.

Icy buckets and frozen hands.

Bucket of ice from the cans which we thawed and poured into the tank.

Bucket of ice from the cans which we thawed and poured into the tank.

Ice frozen all down the tree.

Ice frozen all down the tree.

Ice coming out all over the tee.

Ice coming out all over the tee.

Sap running over onto the ground!  The honeybees enjoyed it once it warmed up.

Sap running over onto the ground! The honeybees enjoyed it once it warmed up.

On Sunday we got another 75 gallons and the sap has slowed a little.  The temperatures got up to 52* and at 9:30 p.m. it was still 49*.  For the sap to run really good the temps MUST get below freezing at night.

Today hubby filled up the tank and the trees have slowed down immensely but the tank is full of 210 gallons of pure sugar maple sap.  The cooking will begin on Friday and finish up on Saturday around noon if all goes well.

Here’s a few of today’s photos:

Last bucket to empty for the day (Monday).

Last bucket to empty for the day (Monday).

 

Hard to see the water line on the tank.

Hard to see the water line on the tank.

Stainless steel bucket with lip and strainer.  Every bucket on the tree is emptied into this bucket and then strained into the tank.

Stainless steel bucket with lip and strainer. Every bucket on the tree is emptied into this bucket and then strained into the tank.

Straining into the big tank.

Straining into the big tank.

Better view of the full tank!

Better view of the full tank!

Hopefully more pictures of the process when completed on Saturday!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking ahead to spring

I know it’s still winter but frankly I’m tired of it and yes, here I go wishing my life away again.  Spring is just around the corner and since Friday is the first day of March and it takes 6-8 weeks to pop up good and get transplanted in bigger pots before going in the ground, I decided to start a couple of things.   Was that the longest craziest sentence you ever read 😉 ????

Sunday I made macaroni salad and had some “fresh” celery I used in it so I chopped the root end off of it and set it in a saucer full of warm water.  I remember seeing several blogs where we could start our own celery that way so I’m thinking I’ll try it. I sit it in the kitchen window until I could clean up a good flower-pot and get some good potting soil.  Last night I was sitting at the kitchen table and looked over at the window and there were sprouts coming up out of the celery.  I was absolutely shocked and excited.  So, after supper I rounded up the pots, yes pots, and moved to the back porch to get to work.  About four or five weeks ago I had started some herbs too and they were ready to be transplanted.  Here’s the proof of my work and now we just have to wait and see how it goes.  Hubby says I’m jumping the gun!!

Italian basil

Italian basil

Celery

Celery

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Sweet potatoes I started in November are going wild.

Sweet potatoes I started in November are going wild.

Winter Thyme

Winter Thyme

Lemon basil

Cinnamon basil

Lime basil

Lime basil

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More Celery sprouting

More Celery sprouting

Sweet basil

Sweet basil

Another sweet potatoe.  We love sweet potatoes but I always way too late to get them in the ground.

Another sweet potatoe. We love sweet potatoes but I always way too late to get them in the ground.

Now we just wait for old man winter to scoot on out of here and let spring herald it’s glory!!!

The year is almost three quarters gone and what did I do?

                                                                                                                                                                    January -Ice and snow

February-Making maple syrup

January-February – grafting fruit trees

February – March – Seedlings started

March – Baby calves arrive

March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.

April – fire wood for winter 2012

April – New equipment for working the cattle

April – More new fencing

May – Gardening begins

May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey

May – Bee swarming begins

May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.

June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!

June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.

June – Hay time

June – Hay lot is full!

July – Spring cleaning almost done!

July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!

July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!

July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!

August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!

July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.

September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.

September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).

September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.

And, here it is the end of September.  Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here.  Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market.  Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves.  The cycle starts again.