Monday, April 28, 2014

I'm back!

After a back and forth with dentist and oral surgeon it turned out I had to have a tooth pulled!  Immediately felt better and then hit the skids.  OYE!  I love the Dr. who said; Oh just get an implant and then said: and I quote, "it's only $3 - 5,000.  Oh let me dig that right out of the money garden.  Completely hit me the wrong the way (you know when your inside voice screams pompous ass)  and besides I already had a bad tooth so I kind of let him "have it"..... in a nice way!  Just pointed out the last few years for some of us have been a bit of an up hill battle.  Seriously, I just sold my booth and trailer and it would not cover what I needed done!  Meanwhile a giant photo of this grinning surgeon standing on Mountain Summit with the American Flag waving next to him and his Sherpa climbing buddies loomed over my chair as I tilted back.  I thought, what an odd picture to see when you're having your wallet taken out through your gums...... 
I walked to the receptionist to settle up for the 30 seconds he looked at my x ray and said go back to your dentist to have the tooth pulled and that will be $65 on your way out.  I whipped out my wallet and he stepped up next to me and said;  No charge, my treat.  OMG!  Can I just sink into the carpet, I am not homeless and I can afford your expert opinion so you can buy another crampon but I'm a little short on the $3-5K!   Drove the hour home just steaming.  Got the tooth pulled and came home.  These are the times I want and need a dog! 
But seeing as times are what they are I came home to Neil....... 
who does not like to be touched or snuggled with, because then I would need stitches! 

As the tooth was infected it knocked me for a loop.  I suck at sick so I slept and retreated to Hogwarts.  I watched Harry Potter from beginning to end two days in a row.  

Finally on Sunday I heard the weather guy and if I had a wand I would have whipped it out! 
I went from comatose to panic gardening.  Starting on Monday afternoon the rain would begin and last  until Friday;  expect 2-3".  

I slapped on my knee pads and went to the garden!   

The first bin is chopped leaves, The second bin is clean!  The third is chicken coop clean out mixed with old compost and not quite composted.   This is a huge Spring project I look forward to crossing off my list each year. 

Tossed more wheelbarrows of compost than I could count on the final garden.  The rain will be great! 

Peas are up, although I had to get on my knees to see them.
All the lettuce starts were transplanted.

The back garden is as done as it can be for now.  
Still too cold for beans. 

The girls are happy with new coop and dusting box filled 
with diatomaceous earth.   The cuckoo marans have sailed through the last
winter but the barred rocks are really having a tough go.  I have one that is laying and 
the rest are still on vacation.   

Broccoli starts.  These have done wonderfully!  
I got the seed from Mari at the seed swap last month.

More lettuce starts.  Now covered with bird netting as the squirrels have been 
relentless this year! 

Look at this!!!!!!  I am the most excited about finding this in my garden! 
It's a praying mantis cocoon!  I was ready to yank this Cotinus when I saw the cocoon.  
The Cotinus got a reprieve and I cannot wait to see little praying mantis all over the garden!  

The desk of a mad woman......... garden planning is not for the faint of heart :)  

I seriously need to throw some pots! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's that time of the year!

For those who tend gardens it's time to buy that ticket on the crazy train!  All aboard and fasten your seat belt as the wheel barrow is leaving the compost pile! 

Have had a pretty nice week, a bit of a roller coaster on the thermometer but then it's April.  The fashionable gardener is dressing in layers of clothing and boots, blowing the dust off your fashionista sunglasses and snapping the thermal rubber coated gloves on your wrists.  

The garden blueprint has been in place for weeks;  erased, plotted again and then declared done.  Until you step in the garden and the whole plan goes to hell in a hand basket.  But cold weather crops are going in, snow or no snow, just get them in the ground.  

I had a reporter call from our hometown newspaper to talk about compost...... and I wasn't at a city council meeting!  Real honest to goodness compost!  I heard myself say:  Sure c'mon out anytime.  I hung up and an hour later he emailed;  how about 2 p.m. today.  Whoa!  I was already outside all morning and was looking a bit blustery or let's just call it ...... witchy!  You know that hair plastered to the side of your face look, on Ernest Hemmingway it would have been called 'ruddy'.  On me... blasted  is good way to describe a windy raw morning in the garden.  And for all those who think gardeners parade around in a floppy hat, pink rose gloves from Smith and Hawken, paisley print wellies, sipping lemonade with a corgi tottering along....... wake up!  I also seem to grunt a lot when moving heavy objects these days.  

So anyway this very young kid arrived on time and I gave him the tour.  Not too much see this time of the year except the compost pile, a couple rows of garlic, a row of dead blackberry bushes and a bunch of rowdy chickens.  I enjoyed it immensely! 
For those interested in the tour click on the link below: 

Here are few other happenings around the yard: 

Plastic is off the low tunnel.  The kale is still delicious and tender.  
The swiss chard is completely edible and sweet.  The romaine has 
bounced back very nicely and the last few carrots are sweet and tender.
To be expanded next year! 

Lettuce plugs of black seeded simpson are ready to go.

Rhubarb is looking very spring-ish.

The back gardens have been composted, cleaned and planted.
Raspberries have been transplanted too.  Blueberries came through winter without a hitch. 
Horseradish is breaking the ground too.  Planted in the back garden this year;
radishes, daikon radish, peas, beets, broccoli, bok choi, chard, spinach, lettuce and kale. 
Still space remains for potatoes, beans, gooseberry bushes and a second lettuce planting. 

The compost pile is getting turned and black gold spread liberally. 
The ornamental grasses that were cut last fall are ready to be used as sheet mulch.

I planted river birches a couple years ago and they were great!  
Last year they started dying from the top down and I notice a small black beetle. 
The bark weeped and in places sloughed off the tree.  Whatever it was progressed rapidly, in two years to all trees.  I could not watch it anymore and took them down.  These trees I loved will heat the house next winter.... 

Onions are planted, new strawberry roots are planted (40), more asparagus too.  A row of onions accidentally got planted next to a row of peas as they are not good neighbors I dug the onions back out and stuck them next to the shallots.  Carrots went next to the peas, they will make lovely neighbors.  Nasturtiums seeds are tucked in the holes of the cement blocks in the back garden.  I still need to start marigolds in flats indoors.  

I have not had time to get to the studio this week.  And as last posted my brilliant idea to sell all my booth and trailer is but a memory.  I found out I need oral surgery tomorrow and can hardly wait to get the bill.  For a split second I questioned my sanity to get off the road.  In my heart of hearts I know I made the right decision and I also know the universe is quite abundant so I am chalking this up to a test.  My knee jerk reaction is to sign up for a couple a shows because that is what I would have done last year.  This year I'm not, so maybe I will blow the dust off my wheel and get busy making pots!  As soon as I plant one more row of peas and spread a bit more compost and clean out the flower beds and make a couple new beds on the south side and plant the hazelnuts as soon as they get here and replace the dead blackberry bushes and plant three more blueberry bushes and plant the gooseberry bushes I ordered yesterday and and and....... 
It's all so very exciting ........ the peepers were out this week too!  I love the peepers!
You can feel the earth waking, the electricity in the ground.  The birds have changed too.  The gold finches are sporting their Easter clothes!  The red wing blackbirds have arrived at the feeder and I saw a blue bird on my last walk.  It's the cycle and I just love it.  
well except the oral surgery......... 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Big changes here at Happy Acres!

Although it's still snowing here on the shores of Lake Erie.
A new day dawns...... literally!

Since last posting the pro panels are gone, the trailer is gone, the Boston trip is over and new pots were delivered to Worcester Center for Craft .  


The trailer was the last to go!  

In hindsight I wondered if I would feel pangs of regret as the show stuff was parceled out to new homes.  Nope!  Not one iota of regret.  Money in hand I drove away and never looked back.  It was one of those rare times I knew instantly I made the right decision and probably should have been off the road last year.  A bit scary but absolutely right for me.  

I pulled in the driveway at 2 a.m last Friday and breathed a sigh of relief, the life I have been living for too many years was over.  Turn the page and move along.  April has been the month of transformation and change.  I wanted to make my carbon foot print smaller, stay closer to home, stay in the studio and off the road, stay in the garden and get a few home projects done.  Now how to pay for all this, I have no idea but oddly; I'm not worried.  I'm kind of kicking it to the wind and the wind has answered in amazing ways. 

I am walking daily, have a nice routine to my days that I am loving.  The garden is coming along when the weather cooperates.  Peas are in!  As are the rows of black seed simpson lettuce, radishes, 120 sets of onions, shallots, chard and spinach.  Broccoli will go in this weekend.  Compost is being spread almost daily.  
I have been following other garden sites and everyone is on a tear to get stuff in the ground.  Not so much here,  there is an order to the garden;  pruning happens first and foremost, seeds get started indoors, cold hardy seeds get planted outside as soon as I can break soil and finally the leaves will be raked up and beds cleaned out.  We have gone from 70F. on Sunday to 22F this morning.  Those old leaves are protecting tender roots and new tender leaves.  The garden will tell me when it's ready, panic sets in when I don't listen.  I'm a gardener, not a farmer and not sure how they are surviving during these roller coaster days of Spring.   I also know as the climate changes and the atmosphere continues to become over saturated with moisture the highs and lows will become the norm.  I wonder how much longer the Salinas Valley will have water to supply the United States with lettuce and am thankful for my tiny garden that provides so much. 

There is so much damage on established plants from winter cold.  There are old rhoddys lost, azaleas not looking too good, hydrangeas are already in the compost pile.  All the yews were eaten to sticks by the deer.  Still waiting for a few plants to show themselves but so far not looking good.  All the lavender and blackberries are but a memory and soon to be replaced.  I've already ordered replacements for the empty space; filberts, blueberries and gooseberry bushes for replacements of the dead ornamentals.  As my life and priorities changed so goes the garden......

There is still chard, kale, carrots, romaine lettuce and oak leaf lettuce plugging away in the hoop house, planted last fall.  Enough to eat every couple days.  The hoop house proved to be a wonder last winter and there will be a bigger one next fall.  Maybe one I can stand up in! 

The goose still sits on her eggs on the roof top across the street.  The male has disappeared, very odd for geese who mate for life.  She sits stalwart, through the wind, snow, rain and freezing temps.  Did he abandon her?  Did he succumb to some diabolical end, although no piles of feathers were found.   

This last month on the road I learned this half acre, this place I carved out is where I come to hole up and heal.  Yes, I do love it here.  And yet how is it the person I married, has to leave this place to heal and recharge his batteries.  He needs a beach and warm weather.  How has it taken me 30+ years to figure this out and once figured out am perfectly ok with all of it!   I know this month has been full of insights.   

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

oh so many lessons........

Since last posting I have attempted to pick up pots, deliver pots, sell equipment, start seeds, contemplate the constellations and astrology charts because I have no idea what is going on..... yes, Mercury has hit your chicken coop causing eggs to be laid in retrograde.  

March 30 we were walloped with another snow storm.  I went to the studio, cleared the table and started seeds; just in case the soil ever warmed enough to get a shovel in the ground.  There was much grumbling on the cyber garden waves.  Maggie emailed the woes of getting seeds to break dormancy on heat mats and grow lights.  Gardening has taught me many things over the years, the best is patience.  Even in the snow there is pruning to do and happy to say all the panticulata hydrangeas were cut back, dead wood trimmed off the roses, three lovely river birches cut down due to disease and a general clean up was in order..... well until it started raining.  The branches were too big for the compost so they were bundled and filled the tree lawn.  My poor trash guy must grimace when he turns down this street!  Most stuff goes back to the land but some things are too big and would take too long to breakdown here.  I wish I had a back 40 brush pile but alas I don't.   Common Sense plays a big role in this garden thing. 

April 5th I left for Boston, time to break down DeCordova ......or just break down.  I am leaving 7 or 8 pots on display at the gallery shop.  Happy to have representation in such a beautiful place and with qualified staff.  

The alarm went off at 3 a.m. and I was out the door by 3:20 a.m. hot coffee in hand.  Rolled through Erie, Pa and the low tire warning went off on dash board....... here we go!  I stopped at the Angola rest stop around 5:30 a.m. dug the pressure gage out of the glove box and found the air pump attached to a brick wall at the back of a very dark Sunoco gas station.  I gripped the flashlight between my teeth, unscrewed valve caps, promptly lost the valve caps and discovered the rear driver tire had 17 lbs pressure.  Fed a handful of quarters into the compressor and pumped away while waiting for the Angola axe murder to pop out from the shadows. Tire filled with fresh clean air, seat belt fastened, idiot light out, coffee in hand and back on the road.  Made Buffalo before rush hour and headed to Rochester.  The other side of Rochester..... low tire idiot light blared again.  Nuts!  Found another service oasis as they like to call these money sucking rest areas where gas is 20 cents a gallon higher and 3 minutes of air will cost you $1.00 in quarters.  The tire was back down to 17 lbs. pressure.  I mulled this over, called the Nissan Dealer in Rochester at 7:30 in the morning. They could not squeeze me in until 1 p.m; add an hour to fix it, add 7 hours to complete my drive ..... Nope I would never make it by the time the gallery closed.  I had not made enough to pay for a hotel so I headed back to the barn, a mere 3 hours home and $15 in gas.  I filled the tire two more times and happy it was not the gas tank. Pulling in the driveway around 1 p.m; jumped out to make the mad dash to the bathroom, a thermos of coffee will do that....... all doors locked.  We never lock our house!  Grabbed my keys from the car and realized I never got my key back from Abby when we returned from Florida.  Called Butch and asked him if he could meet me in the Bob Evans parking lot 15 miles up the road and hand off a key?  He did, I drove back home, opened the door and used the bathroom.  Anyone who has ever traveled with me knows I have a magic bladder, I don't know how it works but I think it was training after all those years of estate gardening. We never had a bathroom and woodland powder room wasn't always available....... and so it goes.  By mid afternoon I had emailed the gallery to tell them I would not be coming.  Friday morning the "smart valve" was fixed to the tune of $150 and all the others were checked for defects and declared tip top!  Awesome..... 

Morning breaks the other side of Buffalo..... notice the white stuff? 

These last few weeks have proven to be a bit challenging, along with the daily debris of life, daughter #2 lost her super fabulous job and much walking began....... 
Where else but the cemetery of course!  
I sort out and solve many challenges while walking.  The longer the walk the more epiphanies I tend to have.... oxygen starvation will do that for you.  My second lap I noticed a goose nesting on the old holding house.  I love geese and yes they make a mess but they are an indomitable spirit that pollute the skies and lawns of northeastern Ohio about this time every year....... or are just plain dumb. I love them all!   As I am dealing with some of these issues myself I mulled over the goose, sitting on her eggs on top of the roof and compared my indomitable spirt to pollute and sprinkle pots across the United States.  Yeah, make the leap......

Why would a goose choose to nest on the roof of a stone building?  Well we have packs of coyotes that roam freely, an occasional fox, pit bull and other predators too.  Did a spark go off in her brain and she said;  I HAVE HAD IT!  I CAN FIX THIS!  Flew to the roof and laid her eggs?  Was it like the spark that let homo sapiens walk erect?  Was I viewing something incredible for the first time?  On I walked... but wait, the eggs will hatch and goslings will be plunging to their certain death...... OMG!  She thought she solved the problem but indeed had created another.  This is why I love nature...... it's like little gifts, presents just for me!  After all I ran into two of my neighbors on the walk and asked if they had seen the goose nesting on the holding house, they had not!  Yup, clearly a sign, just for me!  Watch where you poop out eggs! 

The distressed male, diligently leading me away from his mate.  Noticed he had a leg band too.  

Saturday taxes were done and handed over to the accountant.  
Sunday morning we attended a program by Leedco ; 6 wind turbines they will be building on Lake Erie in the next several years.  I will save those epiphanies for another blog......  
nice shot of the lake, no boats yet but the ice is gone from Cleveland.  Fairport Harbor is still iced in as is Ashtabula. 

Today I head to Columbus, I sold my pro panels and am delivering them.  The trailer is cleaned out and going on craigslist tomorrow.  The studio and shed have been cleaned out to hold the contents of the trailer.  For every box and piece of booth I unloaded from the trailer I realized I hate this part of what I do.  I realize this is the best thing I could be doing for my sanity.  Daughter #2 has a job interview but in the interim is sending me updates of her cat....... 

Titled;  Neil and the screen door...... 

I am sure Warren Buffet sends pictures like this to his mother....... are Neil's taxes done? 

 Thursday I attempt my trip back to Boston and DeCordova,  with a stop at Worcester Center for Craft to drop off work for their gallery shop...... it's gonna be a week.  

Peace out for now........