Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring Things

Spring is coming in fits and starts this year. It seem sot me like the usual order of things is a bit confused. Crocuses are almost done and Virginia bluebells are budded out. Robins galore,but the magnolias haven't blossomed yet. Garlic and rhubarb are well up (I may  make rhubarb cake this week!), and daffodils blooming. Frogs are peeping.
The lawns and pastures are green! Cows are antsy to get into the pasture,but the grass is not tall enough yet and the ground is too soft.
Our farmer-neighbor who tills the garden says he may be tilling later this week!
The Khaki Campbell ducks now spend all day every day in the pond. One tragic note: the three Pekin ducks took a crazy notion to crossing the busy highway, and the female was killed by a car or truck. Worrying that the males would also get hit, I found them a new home. I miss those characters.
All the pond goldfish, koi and shubunkin survived the winter healthily and are active and eating again. We haven't decided yet  whether to raise tilapia or catfish this year in the aquaponic system, but we need to get them ordered soon.
Our spring project list is v-e-r-y l-o-n-g. We were so grateful for several young men who worked very hard on the farm with us this weekend.  Anthony and Rog are working on the  greenhouse clay floor in this photo. Not shown are Gabe, who ran the cement mixer yesterday, and today, Ron, our bison farmer friend, helped level the cordwood (I am sure he had no farming projects of his own that needed doing!)
Rog let me insert a small sun mandala in the very center of the clay floor, with glass pieces...
which I hope will sparkle in the light and echo the round glass mosaic window.
The few plants that wintered over in the cold greenhouse in dormancy are now growing like crazy--we have been eating spinach in salads,layered in lasagna and on sandwiches. I cannot wait for the clay to cure so I can start moving more plants and seedlings in!!
The seedlings in the basement would love to see real sunlight.
While Rog and crew worked in  the greenhouse, my helper, Andy,and I took out ugly old  shop cabinets and  installed white beadboard walls on part of the barn solarium wall. The yellow cabinet will be hung to display breads and pastries. It looks so bright and fresh!
In addition, Eli,another young worker,  pulled the raspberry fencing out of the garden in preparation for tilling AND cleaned the chicken coop! Not only that, Ruth, her husband and their friend tackled the dishwasher repair.

Thank you Eli, Gabe, Andy, Anthony, Ron, and Ruth for a most productive weekend! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March Snowstorm

We had a lovely snowstorm during the night and awoke to the most picturesque winter day we have had all season. Plus, it is warm and not windy, so it is fun to be outside in it.
The heavy, wet snow is a foot deep. Rog made a valiant attempt to snowblow a path to get to work, but the snow is totally slush underneath and our little snowblower could not master it. He is working from home today.
I shoveled out the  door to the coop- snow had  blown high against it - and decided the chickens will stay inside today.I fed the cows, then took a little photography walk with the dogs.
The barn is looking pretty spiffy with the pair of French doors.
Entrance to the pond.
The big rock and the pond. The pond is surrounded by hundreds of daffodils almost ready to bloom. They must be re-thinking that now.
The crabby tree spirit.
Back up to the barns.
I love when the snow blasts the  buildings like this.
Barn door.
The sliding barn door is frozen open, so blowing snow blanketed the chicken feed cans inside.
Moji loves the snow, but it sure is exhausting for a short dog to bound through a foot of heavy snow!

Sunday, March 20, 2016


 Yesterday afternoon was eggstraordinary! We held a  Ukrainian Easter Egg ("Pysanky") class in the barn.  The dyes were prepared and a basket of Pysanky eggs offered inspiration.
Darin Smith taught the class. Squash Blossom Farm provided both regular chicken eggs and large duck eggs, which Darin  had blown out ahead using a special  drill tool.
Guidelines were sketched lightly on the eggs and then the design was drawn on with  wax; the wax was colored black for better visibility on the white eggs.
The tool for applying the wax is called a "kistka." A bit of the wax is scooped into the reservoir, then the tip of the kistka is heated over a candle. The wax melts and flows through a small tip so you can draw your design on the egg.
You have to think in reverse--wherever you  put wax will preserve the color beneath. So, the first drawing on a bare egg will be white lines. Then you dye the egg your lightest color (this one is yellow, for instance) and draw onto that layer to preserve the areas you want yellow.
And so on through the spectrum of colors in your design.
Brenda waxing her koi design.
After all the layers are completed, the egg is carefully warmed over the candle and the wax wiped off. Then it may be varnished for extra sheen and protection.
 It seemed like fun was had by all!
All of the eggs were spectacular!
A gallery of a few of the completed eggs...

Ricky's Batman egg!
I made a Squash Blossom egg
with a honeybee on the back,
and an egg encircled by hens and chicks.
I think this will have to be an annual class so we can all add to our Pysanky collections!

Thanks to Darin for sharing his expertise, to Laurel for making a delectable poundcake from the blown duck eggs to provide us sustenance, and to everyone who attended the class!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday Morning Blues

Spring has had a little set-back. It was so pretty, watching the snow out the window while we drank our morning coffee, we decided to go for an early morning walk before chores.  Everything is muffled and blue.
Sorry  'Fonda,  you will have top wait a bit for breakfast.
For some reason, three  guineas chose not to go into the  coop last night, so they spent the night in a tree being snowed upon.
The little pond is so pretty when snowy but not iced over.
You can't tell now, but under that snow hundreds of daffodils have emerged around the pond.

An artful vine by the big rock.
Further on, into the prairie.
Branches aiming to drop snow down the back of your neck when you pass beneath.
Dancing in the snow.
Back up the hill to the barns and waiting chores.