I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Spring Chores

After a couple of coolish, damp days when we kept the fire on just a little bit, today is a full sun day, and up to 12C (54F) at noon. Of late, I've been working a bit inside and a bit outside.

My seedlings are having a growth spurt, and I've transplanted the peppers and tomatoes into bigger cups. Once they are settled and growing again, I'll prune them for sturdier stems. When day time temperatures stabilize, I'll load the seedlings into tubs and put them out each day on the verandah to harden. I didn't start them as early this year as I did last. I'll probably have to prune them back again before they can actually go into the soil. I am growing Brandywine and Black Prince beefsteaks, as well as a cherry and paste tomato variety. The Black Prince seem to be struggling to grow. I got the seeds locally and I am wondering if maybe the seeds weren't that fresh!


I did a little jelly making with blackberry and crab-apple juice I froze last fall, and as always, have to keep the bread supplies going! For Christmas, Hubby bought me two long bread pans. They hold 2 pounds of dough perfectly. I had to scale up my 'go to' bread recipe to accommodate them, and still stay within the specs of my Kitchen Aid mixer.


I got my parsnips dug, and what a horrendous snarly mess of roots they are this year! Was it the dry spring last year that caused this? I planted them in the area of deepest soil in my raised beds and sure expected a better crop than this! I have painstakingly cleaned, peeled, steamed and mashed them, and now am waiting for them to cool so I can package them in portions for the freezer. We just thaw and reheat them in the top of a double boiler when needed.


 


My compost bin thawed out a few days ago, so I was able to dig it out, then layer it back in with chopped leaves. While doing that, I enjoyed the cooing-warble of a flock of Sandhill Cranes migrating over. The compost will be ready for putting a good spadeful or two in each planting hole for the transplants and the vine crops.

The garlic is going gangbusters, tulips and daffs are budded, and buds are swelling on the apple trees. The crab apple tree is leafing out. Hopefully Jack Frost will not not spoil the party!


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Deer, Moose, Wolf

Spring is hurrying along up here. It is amazing how fast the season is progressing. Red maples, poplars and willows are blooming, providing pollen for the early pollinators. The deer have migrated through, and a cow and calf moose have been hanging out in our neck of the woods. On our walk this morning, we saw where the moose had broken down young poplars to eat the buds and where they had ripped sap filled strips of bark off of red maples with their teeth.




Maple syrup season is over, garlic is up about 4 inches, and it is rapidly closing on time to get gardening.  Onion sets are going in within the next couple of days, along with some lettuce and radish seeds.




Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Spring????

 Spring has come early this year. The snow has melted at an alarming rate it seems, but there is still some in shaded areas and on north-facing slopes. 

After a run of beautiful, warm, sunny days, this morning has dawned a bit overcast, but bright, and there is rain in the forecast. The temperatures have not dropped below freezing at night for a few days, and the maple sap run has dribbled to a stop. Hopefully there are more crisp nights in the near future, otherwise this year's maple syrup season will not be very successful.

The robins have gone from 'quit-quit-quit-quit' ing, to 'Cheeri-up cheer-i-o' ing this morning, and are chasing each other around. Overnight there have been many deer 'waltzing' up the hill, dispersing from the winter yard, their tracks poked sharply in the soft surface of the road.

In 2018, the year that winter came back, the deer were up here on April 3 and the yard now, looks pretty much as it did then, but this year, only the snow in the immediate foreground remains.

April 3, 2018 Deer grazing

On April 17, 2018, this is what we awoke to.


The deer vamoosed and we were packing snowshoe trails again!
April 18, 2018

So, we are not holding our breath. Spring is here, but it may be a while until we can count on consistent temperatures and no more snow!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

March madness....

There are no words to describe the blue of the sky this morning. What a perfect, still, spring day! Setting out this morning with only a light fleece jacket and headband, we could faintly hear the far off whine of neighbour Pat's chain saw, working away in his sugar bush off to the west.  

After the rain and then the freeze up, one can walk in the woods anywhere with snowshoes, on top of the crust. On the trails, boots only are required, as long as you place your feet on the flat bits that were where the showshoes packed the trail. In the open, where the full onslaught of the rain landed, it settled the surrounding snow, leaving the packed trails as ridges. Out there, you can practically dance on the hard crust.

 My garden beds are surfacing, the trail to the compost bins etched on the surface of the field.


The red maple buds are swelling slightly, deep, rusty red twiglets etched against that blue, blue sky. What promise is held in those swelling buds! We tapped a couple of trees last week. Today, as the temperature rises above freezing, the sap will run, and this evening we'll collect some sweet water to make coffee with tomorrow. The next week is forecast as perfect maple sap weather, just below freezing at night, and rising above freezing in the day, with that powerful sunshine lifting the spirits of every winter weary creature.


The red squirrel's midden, rising from the depths. The owner chastised us as we came by. 


A surprise on the dormant trail cameras...Mr. Fox, with a rabbit!


There aren't many rabbits around here, but...he didn't get them all, as a few days later, this picture appeared.


I know where one of the fox's dens are, and before the rain and the deep freeze, there were fox tracks in the soft snow, radiating out from the den area, like spokes of a wheel. Perhaps Mr. Fox has more mouths to feed now.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Rubber Boots and Robins......

Monday morning, we awoke to -18C (0F). By noon it was up to 0 (32F), and by afternoon, +7C ( 45F ). Monday night and Tuesday night it barely got down to freezing or just below. Last night, it didn't freeze at all. Its 10:30 AM now and the temperature is 14C (57F).

I was out perusing the driveway and parking area, and it is now mud. We went from this....


to this....


in the space of 3 days.

The morning sky was grey and cloud covered, but I stood out and watched the distinct edge of the cloud bank as it drifted across the sky in front of a gusty SW breeze. The sun emerged in full glory in a blue sky. The gusts of warm air lifted my hair. The freedom! No hats, no mitts, no snow pants, just a light quilted jacket!

The tree tops are dancing in the warm breeze, swaying so much more freely, the stiffening grip of minus temperatures gone.

Two starlings flew in to the crab-apple tree near the bird feeders, then off to the south. A bird, dark against the sky, sitting up in the tip-top of a poplar off to the west, took flight over the yard, letting out with a 'quit-quit-quit-quit'...a robin.

In the space of three days, we have gone from snow-cover, to ice-cover, to MUD. I don't think I've ever seen the snow melt so fast. Our snowshoe trails have gone from indentations in the snow, to ridges of packed snow which are too difficult to walk on now. One just slides off of the sides. A short walk, in rubber boots, over to the camp on the narrow trail we kept clear, is an exercise in 'penguin walking'. It is a sheet of water-covered ice.


Spring-tails are a rusty-red stain along the edges of little rivulets flowing across the ice, congregating in the puddles. They are almost microscopic, and on close inspection are a writhing mass of tiny insects.
But...rising from the white depths are...
two of my garden beds, and the melt water is flooding the pond.

I'm pretty sure this is just a tease by Mother Nature, but, oh the promise riding on those gusts of southerly air!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Heating with wood....

Recently, Mama Pea over at http://ahomegrownjournal.blogspot.com/ made a post about how they manage their fuel for heating with wood. It has inspired me to post about how we manage ours. 

In the spring of 2018, less than a year after we moved here, after some thought, Hubby finalized the positioning of the woodshed we knew we needed to keep our wood piles out of the weather. The east end of the barn was the place.  

The east barn wall was reinforced by diagonal braces on the inside, attached to the side walls of the barn, to take the added weight of the attached roof and the snow load. Hubby then harvested some straight spruce and balsam fir for the rafters, sizeable hemlock for the beams, and some sturdy cedars for supporting posts at the front end for which he dug the holes and sunk them in. He positioned the heavier beams with the aid of a tripod and a chain hoist.The metal roofing was scavenged from a scrap yard.

Under construction (piles awaiting splitting)

The trees for wood are harvested in the fall, winter or early spring, depending on snow depth, and hauled to the wood yard behind the barn with the ATV trailer. The rounds are piled until we have a splitting bee, usually early in the spring before the flies get too active. The split wood is then piled under cover. We keep about a two year's supply, so it is well seasoned. 

After the splitting bee, I rake up and collect all the detritus from the splitting, in pails and bins, and keep it in the barn, as it is great small stuff for starting a quick, hot fire.

spring...working on filling

The barn woodshed is about a hundred yards from the house. We fill the house woodshed which is beside the (unheated) back porch by trailering loads up from the barn with the ATV.

ATV trailer load

House woodshed by the back door

 

Inside the porch we have a whole end divided off for wood.

A bench seat under which we store our off season footwear

It is brought inside to the stove as needed in a little plastic bin with sturdy handles. It is just a few short steps to get wood from the back porch.


This winter, we have emptied the house wood shed once, and have only partially refilled it since. Yes, heating with wood warms you more than once!!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Digging out..

 Well... another 10 inches or so fell yesterday and over night last night.

Remember this?

 This morning. That snow covered square is the picnic table.


 Looking forward to this...May 1, 2019...


Somewhere under there are my garden beds, this morning. 



The days are measurably longer, and the sun sure is stronger. Every season of the year has its positives, and we enjoy each one as it comes. The snowshoeing is good, as long as you go out early before the temperature rises above freezing when the snow sticks on your snowshoes, making them feel like you are dragging ten pounds more on each foot! There is a noticeable up-tick in animal activity. The Barred Owls are hooting during the day, and odd circling fox tracks in the snow indicate that there is more than hunting on their minds! 

We had a Northern Shrike perusing my bird feeders a while ago, and the Evening Grosbeaks have made an appearance. Slowly but surely, spring is creeping closer.