summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Help...Do You Know My Name?

I have many favorite plants; based on color, texture, scent, growth habit, length of bloom time..., growing in my yard.

This is one.  Unfortunately, I do not know the name of this perennial.

Do you know my name?

Does anyone out there know either the common or the scientific name of this attractive specimen?

If not, the plant still holds a solid place on 'MY FAVORITES'  list.  Name or no name...the plant is an attention-grabbing beauty. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer Has Arrived

The unofficial start of summer has begun; complete with hot air temperatures and humidity.

The sun shines brightly much earlier in the day; many days ending with a welcomed thunder storm to cool and give much needed moisture relief to the growing plants. My perennial gardens have not looked so exquisite in several years; the necessary parameters are working together and I am reaping the benefits of magnificence.

Along with the hotter temperatures, come the butterflies.

Little white cabbage butterflies are everywhere.  No matter in what direction I look, I can always see five, seven or more. 

Occasionally, I catch a fleeting glimpse of a yellow or black swallowtail.  The season is young.   I will see many more Lepidoptera as the days tick into real summer.  I can hardly wait!

Today, I spotted a small orange beauty gliding among the tall grasses of the pasture; moving from flower to flower in a split moment of time.  I followed the butterfly as it moved; it’s time to gather nectar was rapid. 

I, on the other hand, use this season to slow down to a crawl; I am not active in heat or humidity.  I garden and take care of my chores in the cool of the morning or evening; and relax with a good book, write, sew or catnap during the heat of the day.  The inside of the house stays cool, even without air-conditioning; besides, the gentle breeze entering through screened windows is much more satisfying  heavy with sweet scents and sounds of nature.

Indeed, summer has arrived.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering Heroes


Let us all remember/reflect and give thanks to those military heroes of yesterday and today - the ones who fought for our freedoms and for our peace!


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Purple Iris

Beauty can be found in many junctures of life!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Unwanted Visitor

I was sitting in my favorite spot (in the recliner, in the living room, next to the window overlooking our farm) reading a Gladys Taber book when I glanced out the glass door which gives me a view of the back deck.

I did not have my glasses on (never do when I read); but, I noticed something odd with my blurred vision.  I put on my glasses and looked again.  And again, I was not quite sure.  So, I got up out of the comfy recliner and stepped over to the door.  OMG…Cricket was sleeping on top of a short cardboard box which was on top of the dog house; and, just inches away, a huge black snake was attached to the bricks making up the exterior wall.

check out the brick wall - snake's head on the left, snake's tail on the right, and mid-section ?...
Cricket is that grey fur ball on the bottom left - peacefully sleeping.

I could substantiate two feet of the head section, and two feet of the tail section; but, the mid-section looped down below the dog house.  How far?  Not sure.  I was not about to get the near the snake to verify.

Cricket continued to nap, wiggling her bushy tail from time to time which seemed to interest said snake as the snake’s head turned from looking up to looking directly at the cat. 

I monitored the situation from time to time.

Cricket had moved to the front porch and the snake had moved, too.  But, where did the snake go?

I am still looking ahead of every one of my steps.  I do not want to find it underfoot; especially, my foot.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cherry Picking - It's Official

Today, Glenn dragged the ladder to the slightly tall (taller than either of us could reach) sweet cherry tree to officially pick cherries. 

He picked one basket full, leaving the rest of the cherries to continue to ripen.  There are several more baskets full remaining on the tree.  The birds still have hope!

Sam, one of our resident Mockingbirds, closely watches us harvest his(?) cherries from his favorite perch near the cherry tree.

Of course, we both just had to eat a cherry now and again - yum.

Then, Glenn took the task of trying to cover the sour cherry tree with netting to protect his pie fruit - cherry being his favorite.  That task was not easy, especially with the wind that started to gust. A rain storm was brewing.  The sky was thick with darkened clouds. Now imagine thin, light-weight netting flying about in the breeze while a person (Glenn) tries to place the protection just so over a tree; not a pretty sight as arms flayed, branches whipped, netting sailed. My second pair of hands was not much help. But, Glenn prevailed, and hopefully, will have a nice harvest for two pies, rather than one, this year.

Not pretty, but hope the netting does its job of keeping the birds away from  our cherries.

Of course, I will be the one making those pies.  I have the crust down to a delicious science, but the filling…no recipe; so, I hope the results gets Glenn’s approval. 

Oh, the stress…

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sweet Cherry Time

Cherry picking time is here; well, here and near to be perfectly accurate.

Even though my two cherry trees are still quite immature, I am getting a larger cherry crop with each passing year. 

The sweet cherries are turning red first, before the sour/pie variety.  I have to admit that I am getting a bit nervous…as I eye the ripening cherries; I know the birds are eyeing them, too!

The cherries do not ripen at once.  I can see deep red, bright red, pale red, pinkish, and translucent yellow fruits all within the same cluster. The deep red cherries are calling my name.

Deep red cherries?  I ate them!

So, to make sure that I get my fair share; each time I pass the sweet cherry tree I look for the ripest cherry that I can reach, pluck it off the tree, and put it into my mouth.

I slowly chew, relishing every bit of flavor. I spit out the pit.  And, I go along my merry way until my next pass when I repeat the process.  I frequently walk past that cherry tree when those sweet cherries are ripening.

This is my little secret. 

Mine and the birds, that is!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Riding Along South River

 If I had a choice to travel down South River Road or another road, I would invariably choose the South River Road option.


I like to watch for herons.  Observing just one heron during a drive makes for a good day.

The road follows, give or take, the South River.  The river flows over a bed of rounded rocks; sometimes in full view, and at times, totally hidden by the dense foliage of woods and lush river vegetation.

Today, via motorcycle, Glenn took the South River route.  A favorite motorcycle choice for me because the road is fairly level with gentle curves which keeps my motion sickness to a thought. Glenn on the other hand likes sharp curvy roads; so, this choice was a rare one for him.

The minute we turned onto the river road from the Tye River Turnpike, I started looking for herons in earnest.  I saw my heron.  The Great Blue was wading in the river, slowly moving its long legs through the water, stalking fish.  No camera, no stopping.  But, my eyes took in the entire scene and immediately placed the image into my mind’s album.  Within a short distance, heron number two; again, wading.  The day suddenly became a great day.  A third wading heron came into view.  I was ecstatic.  Then, heron four  flying above the water just below the tree line, following the course of the river; so deliberate in wing movement, so graceful and gliding; personification of peace.

Great Blue Heron - photo from a previous sighting

A perfect  culmination to a perfect day!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

In Charge

Glenn and Becky are attending a Grazing Workshop.

Therefore, I am in charge at the farm; meaning, I have to feed and check on all the animals.  So far, most (and, I repeat most) of the livestock are cooperating nicely except for the two little lambs.  Yep, those cute little soft and cuddly lambs are being, let’s say, a bit delinquent.  How?  They are crawling through the fences that are sheep-proof, but not little lamb proof - of course not!!!!

Also, I thought that I would have a lot of ‘my’ time to put a slight dent into my chores ‘to do’ list; more like a barely visible scratch - ugh!   ‘Time flies’ never seems to lose its significance - darn….what was I thinking; my ‘to do’ list is quite lengthy and expands on a daily basis.  Dent…right!

Then, Glenn installs a used washer in the basement hours before he leaves (like that was a priority) and now there is water flooding that area of the basement.  I turned the water off to the washing machine, but there is still a leak…somewhere????  The best I can do, at this point, is to put rags on the floor to absorb the water and make frequent visits to wring out the water-logged rags. Not exactly what I had in mind when I thought I would be getting things done…

The bright side was when I was washing my dishes and I glimpsed two Indigo buntings frolicking in the flowering dogwood tree just feet from my kitchen window.  I say glimpse because the birds, as brilliant blue as they are, managed to hide among the lush foliage and I was only able to catch those glimpses. During the brief bird watching session, I also noticed my first hummingbird of the season snacking from the dazzling red poppies located just beneath the dogwood. Those tiny iridescent birds always amaze me; in color, in size, and in wing action.

My day…it was not so unpleasant after all.

Today, the first daylily blooms in my garden this spring - fabulous color!  Did I mention I am a color freak?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Sneaky Ewe

We continue to bottle-feed two lambs; and, the ewe who lost her large ram lamb.  The three hang out together in an enclosed barn stall which opens to a small outside pen which, in turn, opens to a large lush, tree-lined grass pasture where they happily graze. These sheep are a bit pampered.

The lamb feedings have been reduced to two per day - thank goodness.   The ewe discovered she could feed herself from the open grain bag, so she does.  That saves us a little time filling her once-used bucket. 

walking toward the sheep's temporary home

I believe that ewe thinks she is getting away with larceny.  As we open the door to the barn pen, the lambs rush out looking for their rubber-nippled bottles.  Once they start sucking, they do not stop until their respective bottle is empty or near empty.  PorkChop daintily sneezes at the end of every feeding; the result of drinking much too fast.

ewe in doorway
ewe creeping out of pen

While the lambs drink, the ewe steps into the open doorway of the pen; then, she gingerly steps out into the tack/feed room keeping her eyes fixed on us every second.  She eyes the feed bag and stops.  She looks. She grabs a quick mouthful before her head bobs up for another look.  She quickly chews before sneaking (?) another mouthful.  This ewe thinks she is really sly. NOT!

ewe's head in feed bag
ewe's head out of feed bag feed bag
...out of feed bag

As we feed the lambs, we are only mere inches from the ewe.  We know what she is doing, and we let her.

returning to stall on cue

In actuality, we are the ones being sly.

But, if she wants to think she is pulling the wool (no pun intended, we have hair sheep) over our eyes; let her. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Faithful Barn Swallows

Spring is the season of nature’s birth…birds included.  But first, nesting is priority.

Last fall, I discovered many vacated barn swallow nests adorning the ceiling of the livestock shed at the ‘55’ farm.  The nests were beautiful and truly amazing architectural delights.

nest completely constructed on the electric wire - simply amazing!

Today, I took a peek to see if the swallows had returned.  They had.  I watched as the sleek birds speedily flew in and out of the shed, landing near their nests from time to time.

On careful observation, I noticed that the swallows were reusing last year’s nests; some exhibiting strands of straw recently added to the inside of the previous year’s dried mud bowls.

There are no babies yet (no little heads popping above the nest edges nor any frantic cheeping) but I will keep checking on my irregular visits.

I am quite a fan of those colorful and swift barn swallows.  During haying, these swallows would always follow me on my open-air tractor grabbing up insects that were dislodged by the movement of the implement.  Going back and forth over the hayfields, raking the dried grass; I would enjoy the artful diving and swerving of the swallows all around me.

Even though we no longer put up hay, I am happy to appreciate the barn swallows in a different manner.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Growing Flavor

Yesterday, Glenn and I with help from Becky planted the majority of the vegetable garden. We decided to cut back on the variety of veggies this year; concentrating on those we really like best.

beginnings of the 2012 potato crop
Earlier, we planted onions, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, radishes and peas.  All are growing well except for the peas.  Oops…cannot forget the new strawberries we planted; they died.  So, the strawberry beds were replanted using container plants this time rather than the bare root stock on the initial planting. 

onions showing promise
spinach and lettuce already being harvested...and eaten- YUM!

So, along with planting the tomatoes (Romas- the only tomato in our minds both for eating fresh and for canning), green peppers, sweet banana peppers (a first for us), summer squash, butternut squash (we think - seeds came out of an recycled envelope which had written ‘butternut squash’ in unfamiliar handwriting - we just might be surprised), second crop of radish; we also planted more sugar peas in the vacant spaces between the meager plants that did begin to grow.  We were totally out of cucumber seed, so will plant cukes just as soon as we buy new seed.  Lastly, the remaining garden space will be planted with sweet corn (our favorite veggie) and a section of the cattle panel fencing will be consigned to pole beans.

Last season, we installed several cattle panels permanently in the garden.  These panels are perfect for the vertical-growing of pole beans and our vine-type veggies.  We also plant our tomatoes in front of these panels and tie the plants to the sturdy fencing as the plants grow.  The panels provide a much sturdier support than tomato cages, and the tomatoes are easier to harvest.  The tomato cages have now been relegated to keeping the mature pepper plants from falling over. 

Today…cucumber and pole bean seed into the ground as well as a few perennials - new ones and old ones that were divided.  Tonight…we are anticipating a good rain as has been forecast. Timing is everything.

Gardening is certainly an art.  One day, we just might figure out all the nuances.  If not, we still enjoy our harvest!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Crayons In My Garden

Spring brings many wonderful colors to my garden; the irises being very prominent.

I have three types of iris (Bearded; Beardless - Siberian, Japanese; and Dutch) growing throughout my gardens.  They are like boxed crayons; so many wonderful colors in one place.  Now, as a kid I always yearned for that 64 color box of Crayola crayons, the kind my friend Judy always started the new school year with; but, I never was able to purchase a box greater than 16 colors.  I grew up in a frugal family; a trait that has served me well over my many years of life.  I do not have those 64 colors of iris, but I do have a good assortment.

full orange
brilliant gold

coppery-colored rebloomer

The bearded irises, huge and showy, came from the back yard of a house I sold during my real estate career.  There was a large, rectangular bed in the back yard containing nothing but bearded irises.  The vast variety of colors was impressive.  Now, the purchaser wanted to revert that spectacular iris bed back to lawn (ho hum - boring).  Chester said I could come and dig up as many of the bulbs as I wanted.  That’s right…bulbs.  By the time the sale closed, the flowers were spent and I had no idea what color was where.  I took my chances and dug bulbs throughout the bed.  I was fortunate because I ended up with a good mixture of different colors.  Irises are difficult to kill.  I have been known to thin out iris patches, throw the bulbs aside, and have a new clump of irises growing from those tossed bulbs - no planting necessary.  Chester soon discovered that plowing the bed under did not rid him of these irises.  He told me he had these bearded beauties shooting up through the grass for years. 

medium-sized yellow/purple

beard - close-up

The smaller, more bush-like growth habit Siberian and Japanese irises came to be a part of my garden through gifting by friends who are no longer a part of my life.  But, when these flowers bloom, my mind travels back to the many delightful moments shared with these friends - a perfect reminder of these memories.

from Denise

from Stevie

I have two colors of Dutch iris -purple and copper.  This single stem variety is a desirable spring addition that murmurs simplicity.


I did purchase one expensive iris bulb from Andre Viette’s Nursery around twenty years ago.  The color of this Siberian called out to me.  I just had to add it to my garden.  Over the years, that bulb has multiplied; I have divided that clump; and, I have divided many more clumps…. in reality, that one expensive bulb was quite a bargain. 


Frugality is a still a mainstay of my life…just like color!