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

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Spring stuff...

March 31, 2024

I know it is spring when.....the water cress in the pool below the spring pokes it's head above the surface..

When the bulbous rhubarb shoots begin to show....

Chive shoots....

Garlic poking up under the leaf mulch...

A Snow Drop...
Swelling Lilac buds...

The bush is very dry and appears barren....but look!

What is that wee glint of red up there...??

One of the first things to bloom out in the bush. It is the female flower on an hazelnut shrub. Those are one inch gradations on the cardboard, so, it is very tiny.

The pollen bearing male parts are the catkins on the stem below the blooms. There is an old one from last spring hanging below the new guys in the picture below. They will stretch out, all the little scales will open and release pollen.
I found this hazelnut on one of the shrubs, a leftover from last summer. 

The Hazelnut shrubs are easy to spot now, with the catkins on the twigs.

It is a wonderful time of year to amble around in the bush. The flies and the leaves aren't out yet, so one can see everything that becomes invisible once the leaves emerge.

The header picture was taken from the Egg Rock trail this morning, looking over the Little Bonnechere River where it comes down out of Algonquin Park. There is still some ice present in the river. As we were descending the trail, a threesome of Trumpeter Swans flew along above the waterway, below us, their calls echoing, their bodies so white in the bright sunlight. 


Happy Easter.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Spring meanderings......

March 24, 2024

We have passed the vernal equinox, and it seems that Mother Nature suddenly woke up, and is trying to make up for the 'Winter That Wasn't' by the temperatures and snow she is throwing at us now. We have had mostly bare ground for a while, then a good dump of about 2 inches of snow that miraculously evaporated once the sun got at it.

March 18

The ice in the pond went out on March 17, but now is firmly back in, to the point I might be tempted if I still had my skates! This is the first spring in the 6 springs we have experienced here, that the pond has re-iced. 

March 22

Temperatures have been quite nippy, mornings dawning with lows of -11 to -19C. (12F to -2F), some days the mercury barely getting up out of freezing territory. Of late, we have had an abundance of lovely sunshine, with the solar batteries staying topped up so well, it is time to disinter some electrical appliances from winter storage. During the winter, we watch our power usage carefully and use the wood stove a lot for cooking. Living with solar electricity, one is cognizant of electricity being a finite resource.

Yesterday, a cold but beautiful sunny day, we meandered up the Valley to Petawawa where my sewing machine was in for servicing. We did a short foray into the residential area of Garrison Petawawa. There is a park there on a high promontory overlooking the Ottawa River, with a wonderful view of the islands in the river and the hills along the shore in Quebec. The picture does not do it justice. That is quite a steep hill going down from my vantage point. The park is called Home Fires Park, and is dedicated to the families who keep the home fires going while their loved ones are on deployment.


Back here, on our home front, Hubby has been trying ways to get at a large fallen white spruce tree that had split at it's base when it fell, but firmly wedged itself up on neighbouring trees. It has been taunting him for quite a while.

The tree top is still hung up, as even with pulling it with the tractor, it refuses to budge. There is another good length of usable log in it.

He was able to cut out one log to process. The tree has been hung up there for a while, and the lumber is very dry. This is some seriously beautiful, dry spruce lumber. The boards are just over 13 inches wide.
We have piled it with stickers between the boards and covered the pile with a piece of metal sheeting.
As far as gardening goes, one can only dream as of yet. I've pruned my little fruit trees, and cleared up winter detritus from around the edges of the clearing that might interfere with the mower. I have cell packs filled with starting mix, ready for a few things I will start indoors, but am trying to patiently wait a couple more weeks. The tulip nubs have stalled in their tracks, helped along by the deer who found them before I got them shielded. They sure weren't a very big mouthful!

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Spring sunshine....

March 13, 2024

Spring is surely springing...so say the flocks of northern geese who are going over today in flock after flock. They are so high up, their wavering chevrons are like faint pencil lines in the blue sky, their calls so faint that it takes a bit of looking to spot them. 

The temperature hovered around the freezing point last night, after rising to 15C (59F) yesterday afternoon. There are still lumps of snow around where snow banks were, and on north-facing and shady spots in the bush. The ground is still frozen and hard, but look!!

The first tulip nubs are showing up in the Triangle bed!

On the agenda this morning was re-mounting the Tree Swallow nest box. 

Hubby lagged the board with the nest box onto the cedar post in the corner of the Triangle bed so it overlooks the pond, just a bit further toward the barn than the clothesline post it was on last summer.
We sunk that new cedar post well down into the earth the first summer here, when I dug out the few choked and scraggly perennials that were there around an old, rotting post. It should easily support having the board lagged to it. The triangle bed delineates where the road goes curving around in front of the barn. Last summer, we had hurriedly put a Tree Swallow nest box onto the far clothesline pole when they arrived, then realized what a bad idea that was when I couldn't use the clothesline for fear of disturbing them until the swallows fledged. Once they did fledge, all the little bodies lined up on the clothesline, teetering back and forth to keep their balance.

Other critters had obviously been using some of the Bluebird boxes, a squirrel had packed in shredded bark,

and probably mice had packed in leaves and dry grasses.
On a wander around the clearing in this morning's beautiful warm sunshine, the perennial beds are looking unkempt and my fingers itched to get at clearing them out, but....not until we get into consistently warm temperatures and all the bugs and pollinators who are overwintering in those hollow stems have exited.

One other bird thing was to tie a clump of wool roving encased in a net bag to the branch of a tree for the birds to access for nesting material. We are planning to mount a trail camera aimed at this in the near future.
The pond is still firmly iced in, and we are hoping for more moisture, as it's surface is about two feet short of where it was last spring.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

Sewing...no, sowing...

 March 7, 2024

So, I have decided to quit moaning about the missing winter, and go ahead and enjoy spring...which seems to be springing a little early....about 2 weeks early, according to the birds. The temperature ups and downs over the past few weeks have been like a roller coaster ride, and some have been cataclysmic. On one of the last days in February, an extreme +16C (61F) dropped to a low -19C (-2F) within a 24 hour period. There have been several nights of above freezing temperatures in February...unheard of. There is still the feeling of unease about what the summer may hold, weather wise, but.....onward.

The first Robins usually arrive mid March, but are already here, along with the Red-winged blackbirds, and this morning I heard a Purple Finch for the first time. There are flocks of Pine Siskins and Redpolls that have been around for quite a while, as well as Red Crossbills hanging out in the pine plantations, and we have 5 Snow Buntings which have been here for some time, foraging across the snow before it melted, and now foraging across bare ground. For a whitish bird, they are well camouflaged for foraging on snow or bare ground. 

Recently, I attended a talk on Winter Sowing, and decided to give it a go. Today has dawned sunny and just below freezing, a perfect spring day, so I set up on the picnic table and had at 'er.

One needs clear, or opaque plastic containers and the distilled water bottles left from topping up the batteries for the solar system fit the bill. I drilled holes in the bottom and up the sides beneath where the soil will be, then sliced the bottles in half, leaving an hinge.

 4 to 6 inches of moistened, good potting soil goes into the bases, then seeds, a covering of soil, a label, then the hinged part of the bottle is duct-taped closed. I wasn't sure how well the labels would fare, so used a paint marker to write on the outside of the bottles.

The screw lids come off, and then the bottles are set out in the weather. The idea is that Mother Nature knows when the conditions are right for germination. Once all danger of frost is past, one removes the duct tape, and unhinges the lid. The plants may need protection from strong direct sunlight for a few days, but then, voila! one has well hardened transplants to set out. The idea is that you have created mini greenhouses. If frost threatens after germination, one can just throw a cover over the bottles.

 I tied the handles up to keep the bottles upright in windy conditions, and set them into the end of the strawberry bed.

It is an experiment. I've planted more or less cold hardy stuff like parsley, chard, kale, spinach, seed onions, and if it appears to be working, I'll set out more containers mid April, with tomatoes and peppers.

The knitting bug continues to bite. The Fair Isle style sweater is finished.

I didn't want to buy buttons, so raided my button jars for buttons that would co-ordinate rather than match, because there weren't enough of any one variety. 

On the cabled hoodie, the back and left front is complete, and I have started up the right front. Still the hood and sleeves to knit.

There are pockets at the bottom of the fronts, and it was interesting how they are knitted into the garment. (The acrylic ruler is inserted into the pocket.) On the left side of the picture, the integral pocket lining is sticking out to the left.

I would like to try my hand at lining the hoodie with some fleece once the parts are finished. Any sort of breeze can go right through a knitted coat. The plan is to block out the pieces and cut the fleece to match the pieces, adding some ease and seam allowances. Another experiment. We'll see how far I get with that this spring. 

 Over the last two days, mild temperatures and rain have evaporated the snow off of our clearing, and last night there were a couple of deer grazing behind the big solar panel. Once the frost is out of the ground, the first garden chore to be done is to replace the rotting boards around the herb garden with the new ones Hubby milled out of hemlock last summer. The boards were my birthday present...and what an appreciated one they were and are!!!