Thursday, May 24, 2012

Farm and Garden Report - May 24

Last week Melody, a fellow New England blogger wrote:
If you asked me my favorite season... I'd always say fall or winter. I think I forget how much spring has to offer. New growth, apple blossoms, lush grass.... and things unfurling from their long winter's nap. The sweet smells of spring hang heavy in the air on damp days like this…
And I echo those words. I always go on and on about how much I love winter, and that cold crisp invigorating air, but I have to say that once May comes to Windy Poplars Farm, the days are so perfect with their sounds and smells and sights that I think there is no other time as beautiful. After all those months, which begin for us in October, of gray and brown and white, this green just amazes me. I stare and stare feasting on this color. Even if there were never any flowers, I could be happy with only green grass and trees and bushes. Some days it feels like my eyes can't look enough.



Just last week I picked a cup of rhubarb for that great Apple Rhubarb Cake, and now all my rhubarb plants are huge. This is just one plant, and I took the picture after I'd picked the rhubarb!


Today I picked and froze 14 cups. And there is still so much more. Some people say to blanch it before freezing, but I never have. I just quickly rinse, chop, and put in freezer bags.


The lilacs have come and gone. There were a few beauties but mostly I think this was an off year for them. I've decided to cut off the old flowers. I've not done it very often even though all the books say to do so. We'll see if it increases the amount of flowers next year. If not, at least the old brown ones won't be there.


The honeysuckle is in full bloom. We have an old pink bush from when we lived in my childhood home.


A few years ago we planted a cream colored one along the fence and it has grown beautifully.


And then there are the Tartarian honeysuckles which are now considered an invasive species. We had planted them ages ago before the label. We tried cutting them down, and they just grew up again so we'll just let them quietly stay.


The violets were especially beautiful this year and have been in bloom for weeks now. We have whole bunches out in the lawn,


and Tom just mows around them this time of year. As you may see in the banner photo, the mountain bluets are in blossom. I've written about them before in my letters, and my favorite story is connected to a Eudora Welty book .

The bleeding heart flowers have appeared.


In the vegetable garden, we took a big chance and put out two tomato plants we started from seed.


We still have four more under the lights, just in case, but the weather forecasts haven't talked about any cold frosty nights in the near future. These plants are huge!


Truly, the biggest we've ever grown, and that may be due to this wittily named fertilizer called Chickity Doo Doo. I highly recommend it. And look at those hollyhocks! Speaking of hollyhocks, I've never had much success on this windy hill, so this year I decided to just think of them as annuals. I'm hoping they will bloom this year. They are the one flower I remember in my mother's flower garden - right up against the east side of the house. Here's hoping.

The peas are up,


and the lettuce is fantastic.


The leeks and onions are still pencil-like but they should come along.


My potatoes were sprouting so we decided to throw a few of them into one of the raised beds to see if they'll grow. We planted some beans from 2010 along the poles Tom put in last year. If they don't sprout, we've got some from last year that should work. Those bean poles haven't moved since Tom put them in last spring. They are sturdy and have withstood all the weather which winter brought.


We've planted corn in the space where the planter used to be, behind the daffodils.


And look at those panolas! Amazing, amazing little flowers.


I talked about them last month, and see how they've grown since then. They seem to be taking the place of weeds in the main walkway, and I say hooray.

Last month I reported that one of the goats died, and now we've had another death of a farm animal. This week Tom went in the barn in the early evening and one of the sheep was lying dead. Twelve years old. We can't wish a better life for a sheep. Grazing all summer, eating hay in the winter, being shorn in the spring. This is fullness of life for a farm animal on a vegetarian farm. Tom and Matt were out in the pasture digging the grave by headlights of the tractor.

Meanwhile, the remaining goat, Esther, continues to believe she is simply an outside dog. She has even walked across the terrace. The fence hasn't been made that can keep her from where she wants to go.


If you click on the picture maybe you can read the danger electric fence sign. Esther can't read it, and she just crawls through the strands whenever she feels like it.


Along with the little red squirrels and chipmunks, we have another dear visitor these days. One morning I looked out the bedroom window, and thought it was a stray cat down there next to the front door. I took this picture out the kitchen window.


Delightful creature. We've had a groundhog other years, and they never bother anything in the garden, except for parsley! And this year, we were hardening off some on the terrace that we had started from seed, and the dear little fellow found it. We don't begrudge any animal meals from our garden which may be why we've never had any trouble.

There is a lot of bird activity as you might expect. The bluebirds have returned, for the third straight year. This was taken through the screen so not very clear.


They are nesting in the house under the eaves.


Just across the hill from them are the swallows, back in their old home on the telephone pole.


The robins are somewhere nearby, possibly in the old apple tree. I hear the song sparrows and chickadees occasionally so I think they must be living close by. The phoebes are again in the barn, and they waken me each morning with their song.

Glorious May!

38 comments:

  1. Nan, thank you so much for letting me visit
    your world. I am a little further ahead of you here at the edge of Tennessess and Kentucky.

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    1. I'm sure you are! Spring comes slowly, but oh, how we appreciate it. :<)

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  2. All the glories of spring right here in your post, Nan. Sorry to hear about the sheep, though. Those circles of life as the birds are nesting and perhaps others like the groundhog are in "a family way". What more can be said? You said it all here. Wonderful post and pictures.

    Oh, we had a cream honeysuckle in our other house. I grew it on a wing wall that formed an ell by the kitchen window. There was nothing so sweet as that fragrance on a spring evening from that honeysuckle drifting into the kitchen window.

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    1. I love the idea of that ell. I have a tiny, tiny one but there's cement instead of soil.
      Thank you so much for your nice words.

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  3. Thanks for the wonderful tour of your land. I am a Spring person myself, I love watching everything come alive again. We have just blasted into summer here in the Midwest. I only have a small 1/3 acre lot but everything is 3 to 4 weeks ahead of last year. Veggies and flowers are growing like crazy and baby birds are all over the yard. It's so nice you have bluebirds. I can't get them to my yard, I have to walk a few blocks to the woods to see them.

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    1. And I thank you for reading this, and leaving me a note. Three years ago the bluebirds nested for the first time since we moved here in 1981. Pure luck.

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  4. Hi Nan!
    I love your posts - I haven't commented in a while I anxiously await your posts. Your garden looks amazing and it's great you have the ability to grow some of your own foods. Definitely something I hope to do one day.
    Glad you're enjoying this late spring weather! Enjoy the long weekend!
    xoxo
    Kittie

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  5. Thanks so much for this wonderful visit to your farm! I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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    1. I'm so glad. Thank you for reading!

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  6. Ahhh, this just looks like heaven-on-earth to me.

    I think that the sleeping groundhog is one of the dearest photos you've ever shown. I love your sweet, soft heart.

    All spring joys to you (and thanks for sharing them),

    Sharon

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    1. Well, I'll tell you that's just what I thought when I saw your Cal. yard this week!
      That little groundhog is just so cute. Thanks for what you said about my heart.
      And to you!

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  7. I think 'Farm and Garden" reports should be a regular feature for all country bloggers. I really enjoy the review of plants, animals, gardens and birds at Windy Poplars.

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    1. Thanks so much.
      I love reading about country places. Each post you write is a F&G report!

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  8. I love spring here in Louisiana, too, all the more precious because it's so ephemeral--here today, turning rapidly into summer tomorrow. Love your descriptions of spring activity on the farm.

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    1. Usually that's the complaint around here - that we go from winter to summer but this spring has been long and slow and lovely.
      Thank you.

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  9. Starting with your beautiful header photo this is a terrific post Nan. So much going on around the Farm. Funny that a groundhog would come so close to the house. Spring does give much joy and rejuvination of the soul. May you have plenty of rain to grow your garden this year.

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    1. Thank you. I was lucky to get that shot, and I do love it.
      I think the groundhog might be living under the side porch, and there's a way to get there from the terrace steps area. The chipmunk travels that way, but I haven't actually seen the groundhog go in that space. It comes out on the terrace for the warm stones, we think. We most always have plenty of rain. Many years we don't even water the garden.

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  10. Thank you for showing us this; everything blooming and growing. I loved the photos and the detailed descriptions. Living on a farm is beyond my experience, but at least I've gotten tastes of it from your blog, and the contentment and appreciation for life come across strongly.

    I also love your blog header.

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    1. Our farm is not a paying one, other than the chicken eggs we sell, and most farmers wouldn't think it was 'real.' But for us, it is perfect. The EB White quote in my 'about me' tab describes us just right.
      Thanks about the header. I was lucky the moth stayed so still - posing for me. :<)

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  11. That was a beautiful post Nan, and I loved your pictures. You put me to shame - my garden is in a terrible mess, but I've been out there this week pulling up unwanted weeds (there are some I leave because I like them). The Man of the House hacked back the buddleia, Elder Daughter mowed the grass, and is accompanying me to the garden centre in a bit to see what we can find for a vegetable patch - we have herbs and strawberries at the moment! And I'm going to look for rhubarb...

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    1. Thank you so much. Oh, maybe I should do a post of weeds so you'll feel better! Mostly my way of weed control is to plant things close together.
      Save a big place for rhubarb- it is a big plant! Easy to divide though.
      We tried strawberries once without much success for all the work. I'll be interested in your adventures.

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  12. Looking at all these green photos, and the beautiful header on your blog, makes me appreciate this time of year even more --beautiful Nan

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    1. Thanks so much. Even greener today with a light rain. Does my eyes good!

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  13. What a delightful report, Nan, thank you so much for that!
    Don't know where to begin now... let's start with the rhubarb; the one that grows on my parents' allotment has ceased to be edible by now, but until a few weeks ago, my Mum made a lot out of it, even syrup that we are going to try and mix with sparkling wine and soda to create a rhubarb version of what in Germany is known as "Hugo".
    Esther can't read the sign on the fence? Now, there's a surprise :-D
    That bit really made me smile.
    And how lovely to have a groundhog live close by! I have never seen one in the wild; they are not native to my area, but when we were kids, my sister and I had a stuffed toy groundhog, and our grandpa used to tell us little stories about the adventures he had when we were not around.

    Here, summer seems to have arrived over night - one moment, the trees were still more bare than anything else, and all of a sudden, there is a canopy of green leaves above me when I go running, and the whole neighbourhood has turned into a wonderfully fragrant place, filled with the scent of roses and freshly cut grass.

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    1. I am very happy you enjoyed it.
      I'm still thinking about that vodka alternative with the rhubarb syrup. :<)
      Goats are really creatures unto themselves.
      Such a dear story about your grandfather. I loved it.
      Spring the world round is so lovely.

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  14. Green is the color I love!May around here has so many shades of such fresh green and so many flowers and herbs returning. I loved your whole post today, every word and image. It's so clear how much you love all the land around you and all the life upon it!

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    1. Thank you very much. All my childhood, I wanted to live in the country. There is a lot of wild, and not-so-wild, life around us. Tom saw a bear the other day. :<)

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  15. One of your loveliest posts ever Nan, thank you so much. Family troubles here and I have had a wonderful break from it all wandering round Windy Poplars Farm, such a tonic for so many of us.
    Love the new header too.
    We are having a heatwave, I had forgotten what warm sunshine was like........nice!
    Carole

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    1. Oh my gosh, what a nice thing to say.
      That header photo was pure luck. I just wrote to someone that the little moth posed for me. :<)
      I'll be emailing you.

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  16. Lovely, lovely post! What a pleasure to read.

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    1. Got it! And the other one, which I deleted! Whatever you did, it worked! And thank you for such nice words.

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  17. You are lucky you can grow rhubarb. It will not grow here in Tennessee. I remember what a wonderful pie it made! We are closing in on blackberry season here. It is the only wild berry that amounts to much here. And we could get lots of elderberries if the idiots who work for the highway department would quit spraying them with Round Up.

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    1. I think it does like cool, but I've heard of it growing in Texas so I'm not sure.
      Oh, I love blackberries. Sad about the elderberries. I've never tasted them.

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  18. Glorious indeed Nan! What an amazing and lovely and magical farm you have -- I love everything about this post -- except that I am so hungry for spring -- metaphorically and actually -- the rhubarb has my tummy growling. We'll be in Oregon by the end of June, so maybe (just maybe) there will still be some growing. And I'm hoping for Spring flowers in Colorado (on our way).

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    1. Oregon is full of wonderful growing things! You'll be happy, happy. Have you ever read the Edwin Way Teale book North With the Spring? You could actually travel along with the book. Wouldn't that be fun?!!

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  19. No matter how hard I try, every spring and fall I turn into a sniveling little displaced midwesterner. Even after decades away, the very mention of violets, rhubarb and lilacs can make me smile and long to be "there" instead of "here".

    "Here" is coastal Texas, where the strawberries and raspberries already are finished, and the blueberries are fully ripe and ready for picking. The peaches are in, although a little small and tart yet - I'll wait for better ones from closer than the hill country. Local gardens are producing beans, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes and zuchinni. The corn, large tomatoes and melons still are from the valley, but our time is coming.

    By mid-July or so, everything will begin to bolt and then it will be over until time to plant fall gardens - more tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and such. Eggplants, too.

    If I ever find some rhubarb, I'm going to try your cake.

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    1. On the other hand, it must be quite wonderful to be eating fresh, local food so much of the year. I spend a lot of time anticipating, and less time eating, eating, eating. But, truth is, I couldn't live anywhere else.

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