Sunday, June 28, 2020

Dog Karma and it's officially summer.........


Dog Karma has been inflicted!  Punishment is mine sayeth the dog!   Last night we had a rip'n storm roll through the 'hood.  Torrential rain, even biblical as it blew the tops off my rain barrels and flooded the garden.  The lightening show was glorious.  I was in awe as I ran around and shut windows and listened to the wind.  Kirby was up and quaking on the landing.  Sat with him for a few minutes, turned the fan on him and invited him to lay next to the window AC unit.  Nope, not leaving the landing or the fan.  I went to bed and watched the lightening show bounce off the walls and ceiling.  We needed this rain, badly.  
I ran between the rain drops at 6 am to let the doodle girls out of the coop.  Kirby was passed out on the landing, head hanging over the top step and tongue hanging out.  He'd been out on a bender or had finally succumbed to passing out and sleeping the dead sleep.  I filled his bowl, jingled the car keys and nothing.  The coffee pot chugged away on the counter and Butch came down ........ wow I guess it rained?  Wow look at that wind.  Good Morning Clueless!  How do you sleep through rumbling thunder, light shows, howling wind..... ya let's talk about the dead sleep.  And ant walks across the bathroom floor, I hear it and I am up in full combat mentality.  Take no prisoners, red alert! 

 Two cups of hot coffee and we were off to the lake.  
I love the lake when it's stormy, unbridled and wild.  We left our coffee on the dash and noticed I didn't need a poop bag.  How weird, I mentioned, it seemed not quite right without a dog by my side and a couple poop bags shoved in my back pocket.  Oh well it was a quick trip to see the lake, walk the beach early before anyone else got there and get home before Kirby woke up.  It was great!  The sky was electric, the wind was in my face, the seagulls were everywhere catching wind pockets and indeed all the birds were full on wind sailing.  My feet were moving, my head was looking up and I never ever saw the curb I fell over.  Talk about ass over tin can!  Glasses flying, belly first into a puddle, my chin hit the cement curb, my neck snapped back, my knees hit the asphalt, my wrist braced for impact and shit!  Ok even without my glasses I could see a couple guys who just pulled in the parking lot cruise slowly past my mangled wet body laying on the pavement.  I groped for my glasses as Butch came running around the car; OMG you just disappeared!   Yup and without a wand.  My very first thought; this would have never happened if I'd had the dog!  We both said it and we both knew it was true. 




 I am always so worried about Kirby running into things or tripping; I am laser focused on any hurdles that might get in his way.  He knows the word "step".  I say STEP and he stops and with one paw gently feels around.  Finding the step, he carefully makes his way up or down until he gets "there".  He has done up to 102 steps at a state park we hiked.  We are a well oiled machine and I was missing half of walking buddy.  No dog? Suffer the consequences, dog karma is a bitch.   

I rode home; wet, sore and missing my dog.  Walked in the door, took two aspirin, got the sniff test, the knowing judgement, BY THE DOG, you had cheated and gone to the beach without him.  He followed me up the stairs and as I stripped off soaking wet clothes and I swore to all the dogs that had come before him I would never leave him home again.  I explained that it happened so fast and I knew I was really lucky that I didn't break my teeth or neck.  He sniffed my bruised chin and we sat on the top step; him silent and me stroking his fur.  My blood pressure went down and I felt better.  

We got this thing going and it keeps us both safe so we are just going to keep it like that.  

Women and their dogs are just...... well no words are necessary but it's been going on a long time.

Just an Edwardian Lady and her dogs.


Tasha Tudor


no introduction needed.....


And of course, Beatrix Potter....... 





Friday, May 15, 2020

Are you, yes you, panic gardening?




If you want this, here is how it happens. 





In the past many days I have had so many emails or an occasional phone call on gardening.  People who really never thought about gardening are buying seeds and digging up yards or lining driveways with pots, maybe putting pure organic dirt in their bathtub.  Is the end near?  It must be!  

I am not the Cliff's Notes for a life time of gardening!  There is sooooo much information on social media, in the library, online, youtube and blogs it boggles the mind!  I never thought I was very smart about anything, I barely got through school and after 35 years of pottery, can finally make a decent mug.  But I am happy gardening and I do post a lot of stuff on social media so I guess I opened myself to an onslaught of questions and inquisitions when the pandemic hit and somebody said the word; FOOD SHORTAGE.   

Free tip, you're probably not going to feed your family or yourself the first year.  But plant some tomatoes or potatoes and you will more than likely get a great meal and it's good to know how stuff grows.  Especially if you have kids! 

I grew up with old Hungarian people who stuck stuff in the ground.  The women wore babushkas and rolled their stockings around their ankles.  Their ankles were attached to black lace up shoes with a 2" heel, although I think they would have rocked CROCs.  They wore dresses and an apron with a hankie pocket and they sweat, they were big beefy woman.  They were not gardening because Martha Stewart or Monty Don told them it was "good thing".  They gardened to eat and they had just come off the depression.  I really can't remember a time when there weren't tomatoes in the backyard and flowers in the front yard.  I think I still have the little garden stool my great grandpa made me so I could sit and weed ....... at FIVE YEARS OLD!  We also used it to sit on when we cleaned each and every brick on the driveway every hot August summer.  Kids of big beefy woman also sweat!  We were in servitude or slavery as I fondly remember yelling at my Mother.  To this day I will not wear an apron, I have a clothes washer and dryer.  Anyway I revolted from this whole garden thing but apparently dirt seeps through the pores and lives on in....... kind of like a virus.  It will kill you or cure you too. 

Then something strange happened.  At 17 years old I took an organic gardening class with my Mom.  And the old geezer teaching the class was looking for help on his farm.  I volunteered.  On a very cold, early March day, my Mom dropped me off in the little town of Columbia Station wearing shorts, a thin pink windbreaker and looking pretty cute.   I spent a week pruning and tying up grape vines.  It was snowing, I was cold, my feet were wet, my legs were beet red and at 5:00 pm when my Mom picked me up I was beaming.  I loved it!  The next day I wore jeans and long johns but still wore mascara.... because I was seventeen.  Grape vine pruning went into seeding hay fields and planting potatoes and corn on 250 acres (which is now a subdivision filled with shitty McMansions on some of the best dirt in Cuyahoga County)  and we baled organic hay all summer, 4 hay wagons a day stacked high enough to block the sun.  Every morning the bales got stacked in the top of the barn.  And in the Fall I was paid with a cow, freezer wrapped and ready for pick up from the local butcher.  It's the first time I saw my parents almost pass out with joy. No money changed hands.  I did it for three years and then enrolled in college at the prodding of the guy I worked for.  Unfortunately the school I attended was teaching Agri-business and not Agri-culture.  So I quit after the first year when the head of the Ag dept. wanted to know what I was doing there.  I was the only girl in the program.  Did I have a farming family?  Did I plan to marry a farmer?  Nope just a girl from the suburbs of Cleveland who really liked growing stuff!  I was sternly talked too and told to think about what I was doing.   And my bounce around days began.  A law firm, a gas station, a groundskeeper, a park ranger, a naturalist, a house cleaner, a waitress, a hardware store, a bakery, camp caretaker, manager of mens furnishings in an upscale Dept store called Godchaux's in Louisiana and finally for a few months homeless.....  I just never fit in anywhere. 

But I went back every summer and worked for the guy I started with at 17 and every year I got a frozen freezer wrapped cow and every year my folks were really happy.  It was payback for the 350 days of pure hell I put them through.   I was really happy and really broke.  Then finally I got a real job and my summers were gone.  Every year for the rest of his life the old farmer would call me in the late Spring and ask me if I got my garden in .... and then a few years ago the phone call didn't come.  He was 102 when he passed away.  But I usually said, Yes, I had my garden in.  I look out my back window and the comfrey growing in my yard is from his farm in Colombia Station when I was 17... I have taken it everywhere with me.  

I had enough experience to be hired as a groundskeeper for Ohio State Parks for $3.75 hour.  Whew, rolling in the green...... not money!  But I was outside and it was great.  My partner in crime, also a woman, started her own business estate gardening.  Hey, you want a job and I said YES!  We worked on a lot of estates in and around Cleveland.  I thought I died and went to heaven and made my own yard into an estate.  Then on a very hot July day, a garden designer had us dead head an acre of scabiosa around a concrete pool.  I declared:  ANYTHING THAT NEEDS TOUCHING THIS MUCH I WANT TO EAT!   I came home and started transitioning from ornamentals to edibles.  We even hired my kids to estate garden and we even fired them.  Gardens are weird like that, it's a life lesson.  You yell and scream at the kids to weed or even patiently explain what you're doing and they slam the door and say I'm going to the mall!  But who knew the dirt seeped in?  One kid just put in her own gardens last year and has chickens and the other has expressed interest in growing something on her window sill and maybe learning to can.  You think you have been out in the garden on your own little quest but you were not! Somebody was paying attention!  It doesn't even need to be your own kid.  It might be anybody who stops over.  If you really want to know something, find a garden group, put your head down and pull a couple weeds together or plant a few peppers or herbs.  You gotta let the dirt seep in.  Most gardeners I know don't have too much time for social media or pontification.  Buy a Farmers Almanac, subscribe to a good garden magazine and get busy.  If your first crop fails, WHY? and figure it out!  Books are wonderful things, I think I have them in every room in this house. 

So thats how this happened.....




So I guess I was mentored into this gardening thing and along the way found out there were a whole lot of ways to do this thing called gardening.  I made very little money but I learned a lot and became pretty comfortable.  I believe that is the definition of mentorship.  You work for somebody and you get to experience a craft or gardening or or or....... something that seeps in.

So do not ask me for a youtube channel or a book or "do you think I can plant corn in a patio pot".  Seek out a gardener in your area, maybe one you ride your bike past or walk the dog past and strike up a conversation.  Maybe ask if you can help to weed or spread some mulch.  Or join a community garden..... figure it out, you will learn far more and you will fail.  But just to let you know it doesn't happen overnight or during a pandemic.  And you might be really great holding down a great job and really happy at that job.  I happen to suck at that but I have things that work for me so maybe we should barter?  I have learned it's really hard to push a boulder up a hill and just don't need to do it anymore.  

Put the word panic in front of anything and you're in deep do-do.  Panic food storage, panic knitting, panic gardening, panic foraging. 

Roll up your sleeves and find a wheelbarrow and go for it! 




and now I relinquish my soap box to someone who really cares....


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Happy May!



Things are moving exponentially fast.  The sun rises earlier and sets later.  I don’t watch the clock very much during this period of quarantine.  I don’t think I used it much before quarantine.  I have started leaving the window open a crack or more even on the chilliest of nights.  The silence of winter is past, the birds are back and the morning breeze is gentle.  Is there anything better than the greeting  of a cardinal or wren....... in my humble opinion, no.  My eyes are still closed and yet I manage to say; good morning. Mornings are precious, things are waking slowly.  About the time my feet hit the floor and I stare out onto the back lawn, Kirby makes his way from his bed on the landing, simply to stand on my bare feet, rub his head against the blankets and wag that fat Lab tail enough to make a dent in the wall.  How is it possible to be this excited and happy every single morning?   He patiently waits outside the bathroom door, walks me back to the bedroom, stands on the blankets while I try to make the bed, listens for the click of my eye glasses; his que to know we we are going downstairs.  He walks to the top step and waits for me to catch up. His warm body leans into my leg or against the wall and in his controlled excitement we both make it to the bottom without tripping over each other.  Around the corner, good morning to Butch, press the "on" button as we dash past the coffee pot, down two steps, a raucous morning vocal serenade while I scramble to get a coat and boats on.  Out the door!  Running to the back yard, he face plants into wet green grass that leave green stains on a goofy yellow face, race around and under the pine tree, scaring all small finches and sparrows into flight, butt scratch around the azaleas, a quick pee, find the human, lean against my leg, whole body morning hugs and then back to the house for breakfast in full prance, tail wag, trot.  Kick off boots and coat while he patiently waits next to the food bin.  Fresh water, two scoops of food, and back up to landing while my oatmeal cooks on the stove.  Every morning 365 days a year we have danced this dance.  My God life is good on this small half acre. 
   He is my shadow, my main squeeze, my number one fan and he is never far. 


Our pattern has changed and now there is a slight detour to let chickens out and turn on grow lights in the studio....... it is a good rhythm to start a day.  
A rhythm I am very comfortable with, a rhythm that grounds me.  I eat my steel cut oats, read the headlines and no more.  Put hiking or walking shoes on and get in an hour.  The golden hour that allows me to stop the crazy train in my brain, put my day in order and pay attention to what I am "seeing".  The breeze on my face is from the north this morning, it’s cold.  Too cold for gardening and too cold for six week old chicks to be outside with no insulation.  Walking home I know I need to dig out last years old straw, dry and tucked away in a bin just for this moment, it is just enough.  I will pick up a fresh bale later.  For right now they are safe and warm.  They are the cheapest entertainment one could buy; 6 baby chicks, $2.99 each.  A 50 pound bag of feed: $17.00.  The feeders, coop, waterer and heat lamp were already here.  The entertainment will last for years!  Potter and blogger buddy, Brenda has informed me this is chicken TV at it's best!   A blind dog, a pack of chickens and me in a lawn chair with a beverage.  Toss in; free bug removal, free fertilizer, eggs, and compost turning for the bonus round!  



Alas the girls have been kicked outside and they are none too happy about this.   I often find them in piles on the ramp or in the straw trying to stay warm.  They have finally learned to go in the coop at night.  I spent two night wrangling baby chicks.  I picked each one up, said Goodnight and unceremoniously tossed the fluffy butt into the coop.  By the third night they caught on; head into the coop or be manhandled into bed.  Juvenile Delinquents! 


and another addition has been started to club med for chickens.....


Garden walk abouts take place daily.  My project list grows with every walk.  The weather is not cooperating this year.  I should not be expecting anything from anybody or anything at this point of my big phat American life but in reality I expect anything and everything to be thrown in life's path; murder wasps, another breaking news story from a vacant government, locusts, a pandemic, or snow in May.  Do I erect a giant hoop house over the entire half acre?  Can I create a bio dome on a city plot?  Oh the possibilities!  Is there room for an aqua culture tank tucked away in corner?  Can I grow olives?  

.


I haven't been able to grow pineapples and we love pineapples.  Aldi's had a sale last week.  I bought 8.  I should get a pint per pineapple.  We love canned or frozen pineapple.  Canning hasn't stopped.  I decided to empty the freezer of last years strawberries and I still had a bag of rhubarb.  There isn't a whole lot you can do with those two things except make pies, crumbles and jams.  I suck at jam making and usually opt for fruit butters as those are made in a crockpot.  The whole pectin thing I have never wrapped my spoon around.  Plus we are not from the tribe of jam eaters, we just don't eat much jam or jelly.  But I had the time and the "stuff" so I went for strawberry rhubarb jam on cold Sunday morning.  Good God, I stirred and stirred and stirred trying to get hot bubbling, sugary, fruity mess to 218F.  After an hour and several burns from sticking a thermometer in the goo, I made it!  The stuff is just terrifying, something from the potions chamber in a Harry Potter movie!  Water Bathed and set aside I had jelly on my toast the next morning and it was good!  



If it's cold out in the early morning I like baking.  It warms up the kitchen and makes the house smell great.  I want to be here!  Whats not to like about bread, crackers or cookies stinking up the house with fresh coffee on the perk?  Leave me in this bubble!  And whens morning warms and the windows are open the carlesii viburnum is sticking up the house too.  May is a pretty good month.


Tonight we are headed into the 20's, well below freezing.  I pulled out the sheets and have decided to toss them over the flowering fruit trees. It will look like the ghosts of gardens past have invaded.  We will light a fire in the backyard fire pit and pray for a cloudy night, obscuring the full Scorpio moon, a super moon, the full flowering moon.  The wind is gonna kill us though; 17 to 20 mph and out of the north.  These are the days and nights I realize how very small we are on this planet and we really have very little if any control over anything.  One blast of polar north wind and the fruit crops are gone.  The bees don't show up and there is no pollination.  This is going to be a year of reset for the world, I feel it down to my bones, it's on the wind.  

What gives me great good excitement to get out of bed in the morning?  Where in your life does time melt away because you are so laser beam focused on what you are doing that time just doesn't exist?  Where does your heart sing when your feet hit the earth.  Sit on the ground, if your butt is cold your tomatoes and peppers are not going to be happy so wait to plant, you don't need a calendar or book or youtube.  We "know" so many things and we have been given this rare opportunity to listen.  
May...... it has been a-May-zing so far. 


Oh and before I sign off, welcome Findley!!!  Another rescue and adoption!  Abby added this handsome guy, who is 9 or 10 years old to family.  He was a stray from a native reservation and somehow found his way to the Gunnison animal shelter.  Fin and Sebastian, the orange chatty tabby are getting along great.  Sebastian really did need a four legged friend and Fin appears to be a perfect fit!  






Sunday, April 26, 2020

How could I lose an entire month .........

So much for posting every two weeks!  But then it's Spring and there is so much happening, the push is on!  Sometimes........ been kind of hit and miss in the weather department.



We are now deep into quarantine here at happy acres and I'm still pretty happy about being sequestered with a dog, 6 chickens and a husband who still goes to his "essential" job every Monday morning (grateful & terrified).  Last week I looked in the mirror and scared myself, thank god the dog is blind or he would have runaway and I don't look much better than the molting baby chicks.  Last week around 2 pm I came in to make coffee and brushed the hair back from ear.  Realized something was in my ear, like a giant spider or something.  I jumped up and down in a panic and an earbud cushion fell on the floor, terrified and grateful, (this seems to be the theme of the month).  I now fall asleep listening to an audiobook for 30 minutes each night to shut my brain down.  And that is how quarantine is going.

My days are gobbled up with food prep and a wee bit of storage but not too much.



It's starting to hit home that I am without income.  The garden has become a job and I can't make stuff grow any faster.  The minute I can start harvesting lettuce, kale and spinach will the minute I can stop going to the grocery store!  We had an above normal temperatures in early Spring then we hit a the cold snap and everything just stopped growing.  Stuff that was up and had a few leaves wondered why it had emerged at all.   Time to do other things.....

canned 16 pints of bean soup




haven't bought bread in a year......


made granola, haven't made it in years




I also have a bit of rant only because I am now without income and squeezing every damn penny out of my food budget I can manage.  And if someone can please help me with my mind muddled-ness on this please enlighten me.  I know big agriculture is subsidized, I really do know so many of the issues and what it takes to feed the planet.  I know this is part of the great transition I guess I am choosing not play this part of the game.  My major in college in the 70's was agriculture, I get it! 

BUT......

During this time I decided to spend my money locally.  See this little pile of meat?  Two ham hocks, a slice of ham and a small ribeye steak, bone in (took Butch on the meat pick up) and 3 smokies (meat sticks). Total paid $86. WTF  I started putting stuff back, except the ham hocks, I was canning up bean soup.  Yes, it's grass fed, yes it's a happy pig or cow but beans are looking mighty tasty right about now.  I asked the farmer how her business was fairing.  GREAT!  We are so busy we had to hire someone to help out.  And true of the other "meat" farmer one town over.  Who pays $22 or $40  a pound for a piece of meat?  Seriously, you're just gonna flush it way tomorrow anyway.   And then my brain went to the "haves and have nots" in this country and then there was me who is just pissed off!  What have we done to farming? 



Butch and I drove home talking about this issue for 45 minutes and said somebody else was just going to need to support our local farmers and we were digging in to find other protein sources.  
Oh and he cooked his steak last night and wasn't that happy with it, lots of fat but tasty but with the bone and fat not very much meat.  This goes back to the $100 mug dilemma..... or WTF is going on and have we lost our minds? 

Last week I had to go back to school and close up the ceramics lab for the year.  I pulled onto campus and was struck by the silence.  All the kids were gone, only the secretary and head maintenance guy were there.  Robin was sweeping the porch and Adam was cleaning out the shop.  The goats, chickens and horses had all been sold off, barns shuttered.  No one knew if school would resume in the Fall as we have so many international students.  It was gut punch.  I gathered my tools and molds, shrouded the new kiln in a plastic tarp and said my farewells, knowing there is good chance I will not be back.

Decided to drive home the back roads.  We live in Amish country and they seem clueless to the pandemic, the buggies were flying into town, everything was open and I had to wonder; how long until it hits here because it will hit.  Dave, an amish butcher, who also raps to beat music, was open; I stopped in to see what he had and check out prices. This pile of food was $34. 
Goat cheese (several kinds), bacon, pork chops, smokies, italian sausage, and bacon ends for bean recipes, eggs ($2 a doz.) and I can see the chickens.  The pigs live down the road in an open pasture. 

and look at this bacon! 

and the eggs! 


I also stopped at the bulk food place tucked on a back road.  Again same story.  Yes, there are loads of white stuff and a wall of candy but you can sift your way through and find what suits your needs!  We are all at different place on the food spectrum so find what fits your special diet or needs. 

These places are an hour from my driveway and once a month it's worth the drive.  I can call ahead and they have the order ready when I get there, they can even load it.  They do not take credit cards and I am OK with that.  
I also discovered a produce auction.  Once the season starts rolling I can go down and bid on a pallet of tomatoes or whatever.  I am not sure even an Amish family needs a pallet of cabbage but I would love to find another family or two to split a pallet of tomatoes, corn, green beans etc.  Sometimes the pallets have a mix of vegetables and fruits too.  

I found a self serve maple syrup stand.  Put your money in a small cash box bolted to the floor of the road side stand and take what you need.  Yup, I bought a half gallon of maple syrup for $25. 

I can't seem to pass a seed stand without buying a couple packs of seeds.  I read about the seed company shortages and wondered if one could ever have enough seeds? 


We are forging ahead in these days and we are finding new ways to live and survive.  
Making new friends too.
Kirby is really trying to make friends but those chickens are not having it! 


The studio is now the chicken nursery and seed starting bench.   Booth lights work great as grow lights. 


As for throwing pots and filling shelves?  I managed to squeak out 14 mugs last week.  I still have boxes of inventory.  I am not sure what the future holds.  I look at the work stashed in an upstairs bedroom and wonder if it will be slated for the landfill.  I for one am seeing much prettier things outside at the moment and very unmotivated to make anything in the studio.  It might change but for now I am content to grow things and sit in the dirt watching for signs of life. 


Blowing the dust off my foraging skills too.  Not quite Ina Garten of the foraging world but not too bad. :) 

Wild garlic pesto, sautèed hosta shoots and polenta. Butch had no idea what he was eating and said it was good.  I told him it was foraged and he said he'd let me know if he was still breathing in an hour.  Insert eye roll from the cook and chief forager.  


So what am I learning?  Get up every day and get busy.  Oh and people are getting testy.  Ok I get it, we have been cooped up a bit longer than normal.  What is right for me might not be right for you.  Good grief if I post something, simply amend anything to fit your lifestyle or delete me.  I like doing my morning live facebook check in and I love the people who check in!  I've gotten some pretty interesting messages in the last month and I just figure something I said or did hit one of their magic WTF buttons; not my problem, carry on.  I do the best I can.  I like my garden to look like a garden and not a farm or forest, I like my basement to look like an an old cellar with it's dirt floor. I do it because I CAN (get it? LOL) 

  I am now looking at my life as one big game show.  Can I find it, do I need it, how much is it, can I grow it, can I preserve it and toilet paper is the bonus round!  I still don't get the toilet paper.......  these small wins make me wildly happy.  I am excited to be in this age of transition.  I don't think the way we were going was sustainable to the planet or mankind.  I don't think this will be the last transition either.  How much money can the government print?  Is it even worth anything.  And even worse, the debt is left to the next generation, if there is a next generation.  I have friends who are rocking this thing and friends who are on the floor in fetal position. You call to check in and sometimes it's the best phone call ever and sometime I hang up crying as it's not the person I have known.   When history looks back on this thing called Covid 19,  I think it will look at how we went into this and more important, how came out of it.  What will be left behind.  

Be kind, be safe and be well......  learn new stuff, you have time :) 








Monday, March 16, 2020

So..... What's Everybody Up To?

Hunkered down, out playing in traffic, self quarantine?  


See this guy?  Yup I am married to him, this is his beach office.  He ran off to Florida for a week but just couldn't walk away from the office. Rachael and Kim also flew down from the land of snow, ice and Iditarod racing.  They had a blast.  Abby stayed in Colorado under quarantine.  Turned out to be a sinus infection, phew!   I stayed home, as I am banned from the state of Florida (read past blog posts). I worked in the garden, the studio, started seeds, worked at school and took some grand walks with Kirby. We both had the best vacation ever! 

School is officially closed and all my shows are cancelled for the foreseeable future.  I am unemployed.  Yikes!  Wait, I have always felt unemployed, have always scrambled to make a living, in some weird way I think I will be OK......... if not, leave me my illusions.   The only time I found myself in deep state panic is getting an email from the library; Your library card will expire in 10 days.  Ran over Friday afternoon to find it locked up like Fort Knox.  Jumped on the Facebook page and the director emailed me at 11:30 pm to say she was alerting the main library not to cancel my card.  Then emailed the next morning at 8:30 am that the main library would continue my card until the library was open for business again.  Deep sigh of relief as I don't know what I would do without the library!!! 
Gotta love librarians, one posted her own Meme this week, it's true! 


I am so happy to have a small patch of ground right now, I am finding it hard to stay inside.  It occurred to me I am always off running somewhere; school, shows, galleries, etc.  Enter Corvid-19 and listen to those doors slam!  Now I only need to walk out the back door.  I did nothing in this yard last year, except plant a garden.  No pruning, no compost turning, no cleanup (which is OK because loads of critters over winter in my messy garden)  I was always running, I think the entire 365 days! 

For the first time in years I have time to do what needs to be done and the weather has cooperated this year too!  If there was a foot of snow on the ground I would be stir crazy with bells on but there is green grass!  The more I am out on this little half acre the more my list is growing.  
 Bad news/good news:  the nurseries are still open and there are plants galore!  


time to draw up a new plot plan so I don't buy all the plants! 
(take this along to the nursery; no room, no plant!)


Even though I have been on this plot for 35+ years I am still learning.  When we moved in, there were Ostrich Ferns everywhere, they were growing into the foundations stones and they were 3-4 tall.  They were everywhere. I considered these a pox and ripped them out.  Gave large black garage bags, full to friends, pitched them over the hill, put them in the recycling yard waste bin.  It took years to eradicate the dreaded Ostrich fern from this half acre.  Guess what I bough last week?  Why?  I just found out these are fiddleheads.  They can be sautéed in olive oil and eaten with complete joy or scrambled eggs. 

The last two weeks have been perfect weather for transplanting long established plants to other places in the yard.  Here is the laundry list of this weeks escapades.  
The double file viburnum is history.  It almost killed me, literally!  The root ball ended up being well over 100 pounds but the invasive species is gone and an Elberta Peach tree (dwarf) is in it's place. 





Everything that was in this bed is gone and has been replaced with edibles.  
I have ordered 3 more honey berries to pollinate what is already there.  I also ordered lingonberries.  As a landscaper we planted cotoneaster, a lot of cotoneaster.  The birds like the berries as do the rabbits, not so great for human consumption and considered toxic.  Lingonberries are delicious and can planted in shady areas, especially around azaleas and at the feet of rhododendrons.  Raspberries; 2 Latham, 1 Heritage and 1 jewel (black raspberry)  There is a honey crisp apple I planted last year, a service berry planted 20 years ago, 20 asparagus crowns a stanley plum tree (Italian prune) and a new majestic peach tree to anchor the corner.   I will be filling in with comfrey, digitalis, a few herbs and a peony or two.  I ordered pavement roses for the rose hips, rose hip tea in the winter is packed with vitamin C and it's pretty tasty.  Pavement roses have bigger hips than rosa rugosa.



The compost pile has been an on going project but look at that compost!!  



I am desperately trying to do "no dig" gardening.  I had Hairy Bittercress everywhere!  It was a carpet and starting to bloom.  It is edible and loaded with Vit. C, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene and anti-oxidants.  I added to salad greens and it was great, don't let the name fool you.  The flowers are a bit chewy but the tender leaves are delish!  But when it starts to flower I freak out a bit because the seed heads explode sending the next generation everywhere!   It was gently yanked and put in the compost pile for nitrogen! 


back to spreading compost! 


The rhubarb is emerging!  


The birds are nesting again! 


Speaking of birds...... I had no plans to get baby chicks and instead was going for juveniles but since I will be home I guess I will try my hand at baby chicks.  By the time they feather out I can have the chicken coop redecorated..... maybe?  And how many baby chicks fit in a yellow labs mouth at one time? 


And although I feel like I am plodding along with my little seedlings in the cold frame, compost turned, chicken coop cleaned, pruning done there is still so much to do.  It is a full time job!  

I have only touched the back of the property and haven't even started the immediate gardens or front gardens.  



I staked out an area for a greenhouse, a small green house.  
I need to get my rain barrels hooked up yet and the Spring rains are here! 


maybe there will be time for some kayaking this year!! 

I have inventoried pantries, freezers and basement shelves and I believe we are OK for a few weeks, even a couple months if we have too.  


I bought extra dried beans and rice.  Another few bags of flour for the freezer.  The shelves in the basement are still pretty full although diminished.  But I still have garlic and onions.  Chives are emerging now.  My final trip to the store to pick up a gallon milk to freeze, I found the store shelves full of good food.  Freezer and processed food was gone but I had no trouble finding beans, grains, cans of salmon, tuna or things you had to cook.  We don't have a microwave and I do like to cook.  Outside, the hungry gap is behind us and there are plants to forage at the moment.  

I didn't by hand sanitizer I bought isopropyl alcohol and I have hand cream.  I also bought a gallon of bleach.  

All these projects I have wanted to do over the past few years, now is the time!  I made laundry detergent last weekend and it works absolutely great!  It costs pennies on the dollar and I added my own essential oil, Siberian Fir and no dyes or perfumes! 



I am learning a new crochet stitch called Tunisian crochet, thank you YouTube. 
making new dish clothes from cotton. 


I still have more pruning to get on with so the wood pile will continue to grow.....


Gosh so much going on!  I am embracing the self quarantine edict.  Now I need to work on that guy in the first picture of this blog post.  We went to Home Depot for a few things and had to use the touch screen checkout, EWWWWWW!  He said; let me do it!  I did!  I railed all the way to the van about wearing gloves, not touching your face, how many breeders we had just had contact with.... he said nothing, gets in the van, rips into a bag of potato chips and starts eating.  Horrified I stopped the van and ordered him to walk home!  What is wrong with you?  I'm hungry, they had chips...... 
yes, we are all doomed! 

and the electric fence is on.........