Tuesday, April 30, 2019

April's Garden (2019)

This is the month when we begin working frantically to get the garden planted.  April 15th is my last average frost date so I like to wait until after that time to begin planting.  This area has been chosen for this year's winter hoop houses. Choosing the spot early saves so much work later.  Some of these plants will continue to grow through the winter, most will be harvested during summer and then others will be put into their empty spots.  Since these seedlings can withstand cool weather, they were planted first.

Since I HATE to weed, we use grass clippings for mulch.  In past years, Bill would need to mow some of the pasture to get enough to cover every bare spot in the spring garden.  Since the horses have stripped the fields, I asked their breeder if he would bring us some old hay that had not been sprayed with chemicals.  He was happy to give us a bale. 

The round hay bales don't look very heavy but it was a shock when I began unrolling it.  I had read that they can weigh 1,000 to 2,000 pounds depending on how tightly they are rolled - that's true.  The grass is packed in solid like a rock.  I thought I could push it around the yard but that thing won't move.

Sitting beside the winter hoop house rows is the spot that held last year's tomatoes.  The fence remained up all winter because fava beans were planted beside it for support in the fall.  In early spring, I stuck some peas into the empty spots between the beans, but the rabbits found all but two of them.  Lettuce is happily growing on the other side.

The fava beans made it through the winter fine without any covering.  They continue to blossom and any day now I will be picking fresh beans.

Behind the fava bean fence in the direction of the woods, will be the weird plot.  It will hold all the odds 'n ends that don't fit into any category - like Erba Stella Minutina or Salt Wort or...


Rat-tail radish, Shungiku Chrysanthemum, or lemongrass.  Many more oddities are waiting to be planted.  I do like trying weird things.

In the center of the garden sits the once prolific strawberry/watermelon bed which now holds assorted varieties of Swiss Chard.  Perhaps this will be another winter garden, but I am undecided at present.  Last fall I tossed out some Bread Seed Poppy seeds and now they are blooming between the chards.

The back half of the row has a few strawberry plants, Egyptian Walking onions, and Harris Model parsnips which will be allowed to go to seed.

Nothing yet has been done to the furthermost area by the pasture.  My tentative plan is to put sweet potatoes to the far left so if (when) the horses reach over the fence, they will only eat the leaves and not harm the potatoes underground.  Next will be tomatoes to the right of the potatoes and that's about as far as my plan goes.

This is the remainder of the two winter hoop houses and it is still producing quite a bit of food underneath the weeds - lettuce, chard, carrots, kale and a few onions.  Mostly it's producing weeds.

This morning I harvested: Bionda di Lyon Swiss Chard, Cosmic Purple carrots, red onions...

and also, Freckled Romain lettuce.  

It looks like a weedy mess, well, it really is a mess, but it's full of bolting plants of which I am saving the seeds.  In about two weeks, everything will be finished and it will be plowed under.  

No matter how many years I garden, there are always surprises. This was the first time I have grown or tasted Giant Prague Celeriac.  It not only survived the winter weather but is beginning to bloom.  These seeds will definitely be saved.

The other surprise was Frisee Endive.  It was a short, small plant and look how tall it has bolted! It will probably get taller since there still aren't any flowers blooming yet.

The back of the garden in front of the woods in the shady, dry area is the assorted unknowns.  They have grown large enough to harvest so I am clearing (eating) walking paths. The fast-growing varieties are picked first which leaves room for others to grow.  Every seedling looks the same when it first sprouts so it is still too early to tell them apart.  Since I have been saving these mixed seeds for years, I might not recognize most of them.  At least I do remember they are all edible.

"It isn't gossip if it is true."  declared Scooter.  "Mom has been horrible to me. She threw away my large carpet, said it was worn out, then gave me this cramped, 'easily washable' rug on which to sit while guarding the house.  If that snub wasn't enough, now I am surrounded by seedlings, tomato plants, and boxes of drying seed pods!  The world needs to know this treatment is unacceptable!"

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Fence Climbing Turtle

You read that right - a turtle that climbs fences.  As I arrived home from running errands today, I spied him on the fence.  He had already climbed half-way up.

Yesterday Bill caught him slowly racing toward my flower bed. Since he is a dangerous snapping turtle and not allowed close to Scooter, he was placed over the other fence in the safe and empty field beside our house.  He wasn't happy about the forced move.

Neither was he happy about me taking his picture.  Hiding inside his shell after spotting the camera was such a lame move.

He disappeared while I was getting Bill so I don't know if he made it to the top or not.   Something tells me we haven't seen the last of this determined turtle.

He returns again the next year and becomes lost in the garden.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Stork Paid Us a Visit

Yesterday, Bill left home early in the morning and as the car passed our field beside the drive, he noticed a newborn foal struggling to stand.  He told me what he had seen so I went to check it out.

The new mother was not impressed when I arrived and decided she didn't like me on the other side of the fence clicking pictures.  She encouraged the little one to move deeper into the field.

It wasn't an easy task.  Little One's legs just didn't work well yet.

Upon seeing me near the feeding area, everyone else decided to see if I had any treats.  They were surprised to see the new addition to the family.  Mom didn't encourage any socializing.  She kept her body between Little One and the rest of the herd while watching me constantly.

I texted their owner and congratulated him on becoming a grandparent.  He was shocked!  The veterinarian stated she was not due for a month and the owner had checked her the night before - no signs of anything. They came to examine her immediately.  Both mother and baby were fine so it was decided to move them later in the day; however, he warned she is a "mean mama bear" after delivery so I shouldn't go inside the fence.  No arguments from me there.  

Mom moved Little One to the far back part of the field where even a telephoto lens couldn't see them.  Later, they returned to the feeding area with the herd for meal time. 

"Horses are stinky." sniffed Scooter.
Evidently, Mean Mama Bear had set the rules about how to treat Little One, and everyone was being obedient.  Their owner brings large round bales of hay to supplement the fresh grass.  The herd was eating the trampled hay, while Mom and Baby were dining alone around the fresh bale.

Even while feeding, Mom kept an eye out for danger.

Soon, company arrived.

It was time to make the swap.  

Refreshments were being served so everyone chose their place at the table.

Afterward, it was time for the horse whisperer to go to work.  Mom wouldn't listen.  She hid behind the trees and didn't cooperate.  He shook the magic bucket full of delicacies as he coaxed her with promises of better things: wear the lead rope and you can have something special.

As they neared the gate, Mom's best friend realized she was leaving and pitched a fit!  She was not happy about being left alone (with only the rest of the herd for conversation) and came rushing over to protest.

Mom let her know she was not happy with the outburst and promptly kicked her soundly.  Baby comes first now!

True to his promise, she got to munch on the delicious, forbidden grass on the other side of the fence.  Oh, it was so good and the perfect reward for agreeing to wear the lead.

Mrs. Breeder couldn't resist the opportunity while Mom was distracted to rub baby's fur. I, on the other hand, was not tempted to get close to those powerful
teeth and flying hooves. That is why she is a breeder and I am a photographer.

After enjoying the treat, it was time to travel. They will return someday in the future when Little One has grown into Big One.

The link to the story of their arrival: