Sunday, April 30, 2023


Nothing like a forecast of rain to make me think of cutting a few flowers for the house before they get plastered to the ground.

And nothing like a forecast of seven straight days of rain to make me think I might as well bring in most of the flowers.

It's a little too gloomy to get a sharp photograph, but this is pretty accurate for how muted they appear to me, across the room.

In contrast, the day before the rainy days:

I hope your day is just as sharp or as muted as you want it to be.


Tuesday, April 25, 2023


I love the brief period each Spring when forested landscapes
 look a bit like pointillistic paintings.

Things start happening fast at this time of year, even when the weather is all over the place. It was 32F this morning but when I visited the terrace garden to ponder a redesign, I discovered that the raspberry canes which had appeared completely dormant a few days ago are now sprouting leaves in lush abundance. Since part of the garden redesign directly involves the raspberry plants, I'd better get on it right away. Like yesterday.

A couple of years ago, I decided to level a section of the very sloped terrace garden. The project began with creating a retaining barrier at the downslope end, about 18 feet long and a couple of feet high, just above the raspberry plants. I built it using salvaged saplings dragged across the paddocks and pinned into place with metal fenceposts. Then I moved some of the soil from the uphill end of the plot to the downhill end, and spread a barn's-worth of used goat bedding over the whole thing. The result was a thrillingly level plot of about 18 feet by 12 feet.

This part of the terrace garden is where I usually grow lots of pole beans, and last year I reduced the bean rows from three to two so I could plant tomatoes and Turkish peppers there as well. And of course, zinnias, planted in a single row just above the raspberries, at the very edge of the retaining barrier. I may have been a bit unrealistic about the amount of space required by some of these plants; getting in amongst the tomatoes without treading on any stems - or tomatoes - was quite a trick by August. And the poor zinnias were growing in all sorts of leggy directions to access the bits of sunlight not already occupied by either the waving stems of raspberries to the West or the shrubby jungle of tomatoes to the East. They tried so hard!

Revisiting the glorious zinnias of 2019

I really missed having a wide  row of colorful zinnias last summer, and will plan better this year. But I'm also hoping to level out more of the terrace area, because it's so much more relaxing to work in the garden when I'm not at frequent risk of tumbling over.

Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed that doctors have started asking, "have you had any falls recently?" The first time, I was startled that a doctor could tell how clumsy I am just from the way I walked into the exam room! But when the same question came up again at my next annual physical, I decided it's one of those "age" things. I always answer honestly, of course, and the answer is always the same: "Yes, but not for no reason."


Friday, April 21, 2023

random snapday


Last week we had, in no particular order, temps ranging from high 80s to below freezing. During one of the warmer days, the outdoor shower was unpacked again - huzzah! Shower Assembly Day is now right up there with Hose Installation Day (which also happened last week) as a celebratory seasonal event. Hose Day signals the seasonal end of carrying bucket after bucket of water from the house to the paddocks every day. Being able to clean and fill all the waterers "on the spot" is a thrill which does not get old.


The goldfinches are coloring up!

There is a small flock of goldfinches at the feeders every day. More than any other birds here, the goldfinches spend more time trying to scold each other away from the feeders than they spend actually eating, which is a pity because there is plenty of room and plenty of seed for all of them.


From the "What A Difference A Week Makes" department...

sugar maple (Acer saccharum), 16 April (above) and today:


The black flies are here. They began to roll in a couple of days ago, and apparently have now caught up on all their tiny housekeeping tasks, and can devote themselves to biting. Which means it's time for me to pull out all the spray bottles of herbal concoctions and check my notes from last year to see what worked best and what the goats hated least.

Wish me luck.


Are you planning some nice things to do this weekend? So far, the only plan I've come up with is "make a trip to the dump" so clearly advice is needed!


Wednesday, April 12, 2023


Does everyone have their own cue for when Spring is "really" here?

For many folks, I think it may be plants - individually or collectively - that close the door on Winter. Maybe it's the first sign of ferns:

or daffodils.

Maybe it's the soft and delicate columbine:

or the dazzling pool of color provided by a crocus cluster,
or even the first sight of an insect enjoying the pollen within:

For me, amongst all the signs and sights, 

there is one cue that signals Spring Is Here. 

The appearance of the first bloodroot:

I've been watching. It appeared this morning.

No matter what wild weather we may experience in the weeks ahead, it will not mean Winter was just taking a breather and has come roaring back.

For me, Spring is here.

What are your personal cues for the arrival of Spring? Please leave a comment and share your unique view, whether you are heading into Spring or Autumn or some other season in your world right now.


Saturday, April 1, 2023

the ending of march

Well, March 2023 was a wild ride. It contained the entire Winter's-worth of snow, including the nor'easter that brought down branches on two of my fences, but harmed no one; thank you, trees. The six-foot fence around the hens' pen took a hit from a red oak branch. Oak is heavy wood, and it fell from about thirty feet.

These snaps were taken shortly after the snowfall ended:

The North side.

The top section of the branch, outside the pen.
An arc I later walked through every day 
 by just slightly ducking my head.

from the South. What looks like solid snow in the center
 is actually snow held suspended in air by the net.

Nothing could be done until the snow melted and the netting which had covered the entire pen could be unwound from the crumpled fence sections and eased out from under the branch. I did not want to see what would happen if my Occasional Helper's chainsaw came in contact with a swath of stretchy net.

So for a couple of weeks, the hens have been allowed out to roam around for part of each day, which they enjoy and which is good for them, but...

I've been keeping an eye out for hawks, and sure enough, in the past two weeks I have seen two different hawks scoping out my place. So a couple of days ago, the hens' pen got repaired, including stretching the hawk-net back over the top. And now I have to remind the hens every day that they still have a pretty good quality of life, plus - and this is key - they are still alive to enjoy it.

In other Life Is Good news, after making three weekly trips to a farm to pick up just eight bales of hay, which is what the farmer/magician can squeeze into my vehicle, I was finally able to make the call and promise that the delivery truck could make it up, and then back down, my driveway again. Huzzah! Sixty bales delivered and stacked. 

I am happy. The herd is happy.

Speaking of the herd, here's a little wildlife tale for you:

Last night it rained - all night - and at one point I checked the barn cams and was surprised to see no goats in either barn. They were all outside. It wasn't raining hard, but it was certainly raining. My goats don't generally choose to stand in falling rain. It's hard to get a clear view from the cameras on a rainy night, between the infrared aspect and what looks like visual static from the rain. But I could tell they were all in one area and were all looking in the same direction. I turned on the microphones, but heard only rain - no goats calling for help. No raccoons shrieking for reasons of their own. I got out of bed, prepared to don my boots and an umbrella, but first I switched on the outdoor floodlights: nothing but rain. Got a flashlight, checked the camera again hoping the goats had lost interest in whatever they were watching: they had not. Went to a window overlooking the spot that I imagined the goats were focused on, held the flashlight over my head to avoid reflection in the glass, and turned it on. There, right in the center of the light, perched on a fencepost not twenty feet from the house, was a beautiful barred owl! I apologized for the light, wished it good luck in it's hunting, then turned off the floodlights and told the goats I was pretty sure they would be alright. Then I went back to bed.

The End.