Another Friday with Finn

Yes, it’s been awhile.  I’ve moved twice in the last two years….just from one “Town Mouse House” to another.  We’ve spent a good deal of time fixing up the “Country Mouse House.”  This year, we concentrated on the gardens and planted a wee orchard.  Of course, our goal is to continue to find ways towards better self-sufficiency.  Growing more fruit could help us do just that.

Here is a little peak at what Finn is doing right now:

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What a life he has.  He does have a very expressive face, as well.  Here is Finn with a smile:

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Now that we have the Finn update, I’ll fill you in on the orchard.  We already inherited several types of OLD apple trees.  Among them are crab apples, and what appear to be Golden Delicious.  The main type of apple tree bears a fruit that resembles MacIntosh apples, but they seem to be a bit sweeter.  We put a tree in the ground several years ago and forgot about it.  Last year, it was filled with apples.  It is a “Columnar” tree, and almost just as soon as it fruited, the fruit vanished.  It is a fairly tall tree, so Farmer Joel decided it must have been the work of a giraffe :D.

This year, the trees we planted were: 5 heirloom apple, 2 pear, 2 cherry, 2 paw paw, 2 mulberry, 2 walnut, 2 hazelnut.  We also planted 4 blueberry bushes and 3 red currants.  Of these, it looks like we only lost 1 walnut, the 2 hazelnut, and 1 or 2 of the currants.  Since we already had 4 blueberry bushes, we hope to increase our blueberry yield.  Blueberries are very popular in our family, as you know.  We also already have established gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, and rhubarb.

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That’s our little orchard.  We put chicken wire cages around each tree, as well as mulch.  We’re hoping to increase the number of trees next year, but not by such a great number.  As Farmer Joel was digging the holes(I did help with some of them), he was muttering something about being able to live long enough to actually eat some of the fruit and nuts.  Hehehehe…….

Plant your food trees and shrubs and perennials this spring – don’t wait!  The sooner you do, the sooner you will reap the fruits of your labor!  Also, you have the whole winter to plan where you’ll put everything.

Since we are in the Northeast, we had good luck with the trees we ordered from Fedco, as well as from Raintree.  Enjoy the nice weather while we still have it.  And happy weekend!

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

 

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

 

Armoire Update and Vegan Adventure

I am not finished yet, but that’s because the one door needs some TLC:

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It’s upside down.  That gap at the “top” is really at the bottom.  So…I had some wood cut to (sort of) fit:

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I needed to glue it and clamp it:

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But then, there was a problem.  There was nothing to “grab” it from the back.  See the other door from the inner side:

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(Note the Not-So-Itsy-Bitsy Spider)  There is another piece of wood on this side, as you can see, held in place with those little flat brackets in the corners.  So far, I only have the back piece glued.  I will install the little brackets next go-around.  But, in order to get the wood to the right size, I had to saw it a little:

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It took awhile to figure out the best way to rig it so I could cut it evenly.  But I finally did it!

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That cute little saw was all I needed!

Here is what it looks like from the back all glued and clamped:

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I found this rusty old hook which I plan to clean up and paint to use just inside the door:

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It’s amazing what lurks underneath the dirt on a barn floor!  I am really looking forward to getting to the end of this project!  I picked the paint color – “Grey Timber Wolf” by Benjamin Moore Paint.

Meanwhile, another Vegan Adventure:

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This was an intense salad made with home-grown beets, asparagus, and chock full of other good things.  The recipe is in the book from my previous post, “Delicious and Nutritious.”

Have a delicious and nutritious day!

Wendy

 

Appetizing Harvest

Happy Day after Labor Day!  Over the weekend, we were invited to our dear friends’, Lisa and John’s house.  Remember Lisa’s garden?  Well, as usual, they made a fabulous meal, and I contributed an appetizer from my bounty.  It was a bit of a twist on the tomato-mozzarella-basil recipe that continues to be popular, especially this time of year:

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For the photo, I displayed this on a Depression Glass dish.  (I think Depression glass is so pretty)  Can you find the “secret” ingredient?  Well, look at the bottom layer.  That is a small piece of one of my mammoth zucchinis.  (I keep finding ways to use it out of necessity)  Next, of course, is the traditional basil leaf, then small mozzarella ball, then a half of a Sun sugar cherry tomato.

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I used kale, parsley, and those delightfully Purple String BeansCIMG2467as garnish for the platter.

Here is another view from the top:

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Now for an update!  Remember the little stair banister I was getting ready to paint?  Here it is all finished!

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And since everybody loves a before and after:

BEFORE

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AFTER:

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It looks OH SO MUCH BETTER!  YAY!

What projects are you setting out to accomplish?  Have you completed anything?

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