Rhododendron

Greetings from the farm! There is a lot going on right now as this is the start of the growing season-probably my favorite time of year. Our rhododendron is in full bloom and the bees are just having a party on it.

Here is a closer look on video:

 

The pollinators are hard at work.  Very important work.  What’s blooming in your garden?

Wendy

 

 

 

“Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Tree!”

(Gotta throw in a little Rock-and-Roll once in awhile)

Lo and behold!  There are a few things in flower at the Country Mouse House!  One appears to be a cherry tree.  A couple of years ago, we spotted cherries on it, but it’s so close to a bunch of other trees, we never could remember which one it was.  Last year, our tree fruit was sparse at best, and I don’t think this tree went into flower at all.  Well, just look at it now!

From a distance:

Up close and personal:

Those are cherry blossoms, yes?  I sure hope so!  Although, with the bird and other wildlife sightings these days, we might not get to taste any.  We’ll have to see.

Here is our little “grove” of cherry plums:

Farmer Joel discovered these quite by accident a couple of years back.  They were the tiniest plums I’ve ever seen, but very tasty.  The only not-so-great thing is that the pit is almost the size of the fruit itself, so it’s a lot of work for a little fruit.  If we get a good harvest this year, I’ll try to can something with them.  Maybe jelly.

And now for some other spring blossoms:

I love my daffodils and narcissus!

  

Anything blooming in your garden yet?

Wendy

Wisteria

The pruning has begun!  Yes, it is winter, but according to my sources, it is the best time to begin pruning…..at least SOME plants.

If you will recall the unruly wisteria:

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I trimmed it back to a point, so it will hopefully shape up this spring.

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Soon, I will have to focus on the crazy crabapple:

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Another rear-view of the house:

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Someone was watching me…..

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Don’t worry, I took him out, too.

Have a wonderful weekend!  Start thinking about pruning if you haven’t already!

Wendy

 

The New Year 2016

May 2016 bring you health and joy.  In spite of all my good intentions, I didn’t post nearly as much as I would have liked last year.  We were in the thick of a very massive renovation at Country Mouse House, and we moved Town Mouse House TWICE!

All things considered, we are holding up well.  I’m still vegan.  Our Holiday season was joyful.  All of my children were home for Christmas, and I don’t think there is much else in this world that makes me happier than having everyone home and together.  It was relaxing and so much fun.

A significant thing that Farmer Joel and I did last year – we both became Certified Permaculture Designers.  We took a course and met some pretty cool people.  We received our certificates upon completion.  We are hoping to use our knowledge to create a more efficient and beautiful farm.  I will expand on that more in a future post.  Meanwhile, some photos:

If you’ll recall, last year, this is what the back of the Country Mouse House looked like:

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Then, it began its transformation:

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And now, nearing completion, from a different angle:

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Finally, with a back porch:

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Here’s some winter beauty for you:

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I also wanted to share some seemingly random things.  It’s been so long since I’ve shared anything that I feel the need to catch up a little bit.  Here is Finn in a new sweater:

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This is Rocket, my “Grand-dog,” dressed as a reindeer for Christmas:

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An edible wreath for a New Year’s Day party over at Lisa’s(I added the vegan ranch dressing when I got there):

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Now, for the gardening portion of our program…..It’s time to start pruning.  I have a wisteria, and it’s a little out of control.  I found out the times of year to prune are January-February AND July-August.  I will be pruning soon!  Meanwhile, here is what it looks like right now:

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The roses shall be pruned when the forsythia blooms.  The weather is so unpredictable, I’m not sure when that will be.  Here are the roses:

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A little wild and crazy, yes?

I wasn’t wearing the proper footwear when I was taking pictures:

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Oh well.  May you stay warm, safe, and dry this weekend.  Avoid going out if there are heavy snows in your area.  Enjoy!

Wendy

Renovations

Yes, I have been off the radar a couple of months.  I have been working as a Gardener for a Nature Preserve and Educational Center.  This has been wonderful as I am learning so much about Native plants.  I am spending a lot of time there because there is no end to what needs to be done.  My job puts me in charge of the decorative and educational gardens.  They have a summer day camp there as well, and it is delightful listening to the sounds of children enjoying the great outdoors! (Along with the birds and other wildlife, too…)

Farmer Joel and I are attending a monthly Permaculture class, which has been an amazing experience.  Our final project is to come up with a plan to re-design a local, organic farm.  This is keeping us quite busy.  We have met some very nice people who have so many types of knowledge and expertise.  It is  inspiring – makes me want to take more classes!

We have also been renovating our beloved Country Mouse House.  Here are some things that have changed thus far:

The back of the house with the siding taken off:

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The new extension on  the left side with French-look doors:

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The new extension from the side view with siding and roof – They did such a good job matching everything up:

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There is still much to do, but we are getting there – “Slow and steady wins the race!”

And have a look at the garden:

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Somehow we are managing to grow things in the midst of all the chaos.  The extension is nearing the finish line, but then the kitchen adventure will begin.  I’m very glad we are able to do this.  We are fortunate to have a very good contractor and team of builders.  They are not just skilled, they are polite and tidy, too.

It is another brilliant, sunny day!  Off to the Nature Center I must go to do what I love best- be the caretaker of a small portion of Mother Earth.  I am honored to have this awesome responsibility.

Have a lovely, happy day!

Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wenz Day

Finally the snow begins to melt at Country Mouse House!

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We have had one heck of a winter.  And I don’t believe it is quite finished yet.  Today, however, the sun shines.  See the rose garden in the foreground, below, and the vegetable garden in the background:

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This past weekend, Farmer Joel and I took the first module of a class in Permaculture Design.  It was offered by the Hancock Permaculture Center.   This has been a dream of mine for a few years now.  Permaculture is a Design Science, and is based on 3 Ethics:  1- Care for the Earth, 2- Care for People, and 3- Sharing the Surplus.  How wonderful!

Here is my herb garden, which will be changing as I learn more in my class:

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Do you see how it is a straight, old feeding trough?  As you know, we are renovating the house, so this herb garden will not be configured into the new design.  I will be looking to build, as per Permaculture, an Herb Spiral.  I recommend Googling the term “Herb Spiral, Image,” and take a look at the numerous ways to design and build them.  This straight 15 feet of trough can be curled, enabling not only a more efficient use of space, but a very lovely-looking garden as well.  Spiral shapes occur in nature, and nature is what Permaculture strives to mimic.

My little bed of rhubarb, asparagus, horseradish, primroses, columbines, lambs’ ears, and hosta looks about ready to awaken as well(all beside and beneath my hemlock tree):

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Upon closer inspection, I see the rhubarb just beginning to peek through:

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See the little red nubs?  Notice, also, the natural mulch created by the nearby tree.  Unbeknownst to me, I had already begun what Permaculture calls a “Guild,” by planting certain plants harmoniously which will benefit each other, as well as benefit the soil.

If you’d like to see a short (less than one minute) video of the property from a different perspective, I invite you to this link:

In our class, we met so many interesting, knowledgeable people.  One person keeps bees, and is very involved in helping others learn about them.  I have a strong interest in learning about bees.  We need to help the bees- now more than ever.  See my previous post, Yellow Flowers and Bees.

What are your plans for this Spring?  Have things begun to awaken in your natural surroundings?

Wendy

 

Thurz Day

I keep missing “Wenz Day”…..Yes, things are still going at breakneck speed here. But alas, I thought I would give a bit of an update.

I am in the never-ending process of decluttering the Town Mouse House. We have been here for 17+ years, and oh, how the stuff grows! A friend once told me, “….like a fungus.” And now, with the addition of items from my Mom’s place, well, it has reached exponential proportions. (at least in my mind – of course, those who know me and have seen my house have been kindly disagreeing with that last statement)

The problem with clutter is that it can really slow life down, or even bring it to a grinding halt. There are sooooo many books available that discuss “How To” get rid of clutter. The basic steps are the same – get out your boxes, bags and bins and sort stuff to:

1-Keep
2-Donate to a worthy cause
3-Throw into the garbage
4-Return to the person/people/library you borrowed from
5-Have children/family members look at items before donating or disposing

Those steps are not Rocket Science. It is the motivation to start that can be the worst. I think that, for me, if I know there will be a “reward” in sight, that helps. Also, feeling pressed for time – plan to have people over on such-and-such date, for example – can get the motivation going as well.

Since it is nearly Fall, many people get the itch to clean out their dwellings, and it makes perfect sense. At one time, “Spring Cleaning” was thought to be the way to go, due in large part to the soot on the walls from winter that needed to be scrubbed back in the old days. Now, with modern heating systems, that task is rarely necessary, so Autumn is the new Spring! Hahaha….

Well, I must overcome my procrastination – make this a Productivity Day! I have my dear friend, Dianne, coming over to help me. We have worked together over the years in numerous ways. She is a gifted and talented Designer/Decorator/Organizer/Home Stager/Manager/Musician/Singer.(the list goes on and on) She also happens to be one of the kindest people on the planet, so I’m feeling pretty lucky right about now.

At any rate, have a look at some of my plants and flowers – these were taken somewhat recently, and have almost finished blooming –

Black-eyed Susan, Hydrangea, and Mint

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Don’t just sit there!  Go get rid of a few things from your closet!  Minimum of 5 items!

Have a clutter-free day!

Wendy

Lavender

My lavender is going a little crazy, so I had to bring some in!  I must say that the fragrance is intoxicating.  Lavender is believed to have a calming effect, which I very much appreciate.  It’s easy to dry lavender and make sachets.  Once we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, and they placed little sprigs of lavender tied with ribbons on our pillows.

I also read that if you dry some lavender, place it in a paper bag to keep, then throw it in your fireplace in the winter, it will perfume the air and bring thoughts of summer to mind.

I placed some in a “vase.”  It is really a whiskey bottle from the 1920’s, which I found in a very dirty condition at a second-hand store.  Once cleaned up(a little elbow grease and a couple of rides through the dishwasher), it made a lovely vase for lavender.

photo (60)Keep calm!  Get your lavender on!

Wendy

 

 

What’s been going on…

Since y’all know of our losses this year, we are just trying to take life day by day.  I love the sunshine, but I seem to over-heat when I am out in it too long, so as a result, the garden is starting to look a bit shaggy.

I have so many pending projects indoors, too.  Besides rooms to paint, all kinds of things to fix, caulk, maintain, etc., I am teaching myself to crochet.  I once had a basic knowledge of crochet that grew quite rusty over time.  My Mom left behind numerous crochet hooks, skeins/balls of yarn, as well as knitting needles.  She knew how to sew, knit, crochet, and embroider.  She was very creative and loved pretty colors.  Her flower garden was gorgeous.  She used to cut flowers and bring them in to display in vases.  I guess I inherited her love of flowers and gardens!

She taught me to sew, among many other things.  She tried with the crocheting and knitting, but I was less interested.  Now, however, I wish I could have her coach me and answer my questions!  At the moment, I’ve created a simple project.  I just replaced old, worn out window-shades with simple, white, sailcloth curtains at Country Mouse House.  I need tie-backs, so I am crocheting them!

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I have to make 14 of them because there are, obviously, 7 windows and 2 panels per window.  If you know how to crochet(and you want to do this in your home), I simply start with a chain of about 20, then go back and single crochet through 9 or so(sorry this isn’t exact science, but I am still quite the beginner!), connecting the ends to form the loop.  Then I just single crochet for around 20-21 rows.  After that, I make another chain stitch for 11-12 and connect with a single crochet at the other end.  If you don’t crochet and you would like to do this, might I suggest:

http://www.amazon.com/Crocheting-Dummies-Susan-Brittain-ebook/dp/B003B6QZ6I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405623449&sr=8-1&keywords=crochet+for+dummies

I have found this book to be a big help!

Meanwhile, back in the Town Mouse Garden:

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Truthfully, these were taken a couple of weeks ago.  I just didn’t post them right away.  (That’s why the garden doesn’t look so shaggy yet in these photos.)

I’ll have to give the Country Mouse/Vegetable Garden update soon.  Great food is growin’!

And here is our best buddy, Finn, since he got a heat-relieving hair cut!

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And for an action shot(had to get the scratch!)

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I think he feels so much better now when he goes outside…..and since he is a doggie, he HAS to go outside rather often!

Stay cool and enjoy your day!

Wendy

Pretty Primroses

Happy  Day!!

During a trip to Winterthur, in Delaware two years ago, I was able to pick up one of these primrose plants:

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Little did I know that it would multiply to this extent in but a mere two years!  Here they are a little bit closer:

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I absolutely love primroses!  I haven’t been able to grow a whole lot of different varieties of them, but there are so many.  One of the gardeners I’ve most admired throughout time is Tasha Tudor.  She was a primrose lover, too, so much so that I believe she was a member of the American Primrose Society.

Look up more about Tasha Tudor.  If you love gardens of any kind, and if you love old-fashioned ways, you will love learning about her.  A gifted artist, she wrote and illustrated numerous books.   I have a few that she wrote, but one of my favorite books is a book about her with gorgeous photographs of her gardens:

If you are looking for a book for summer, think about this one.   It is absolutely beautiful.
In blessed memory of  Tasha Tudor.
Wendyy