summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

summer greens at Mountain Glen Farm

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Back to the Garden

After a few days of guests and several days of rain, I am finally get back out into my garden to…weed.  And, does it need weeding.  My garden more closely resembles a jungle than a garden – very lush and very green.  I do not always have the luxury of this amount of rain.  I am not complaining as my plants look so very healthy.  But, there are still those nasty, non-stop growing weeds to attend to with plenty of vigor.

I put in a bit of morning time on the flowers bed in the lower end of my yard.  This perennial bed takes up a small corner of the much larger vegetable garden which still needs to be planted with corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and peppers.  I am just glad that we have a fairly long growing season and still have time to get these veggies planted.  Of course, a long season also means more weeds – ugh!

After a quick lunch break, the temperature was a bit warm, so I decided to return later in the evening.  The soil was perfect for pulling weeds in the morning, but was now drying out fast which makes weeding more difficult.  Fortunately, a short but very effective rainstorm dampened the soil sufficiently to keep my weed pulling easy.

Snowball joined me, like he always does, and got right in my way.  Then, he dug a dog-sized (large dog I might add) hole in the middle of the flowers to lay in to take a snooze.  I do not know what is worst…a huge hole or an attention needy pooch.

I also came across two other, very small visitors.  Snails.  I just had to run for my camera because these little guys were so cute.  Check out their shells.  Pretty fabulous!

song sparrow

Two sparrows were also my constant companions.  They chirped continuously nearby indicating to me that I was getting close to their nest.  I never did see the nest. But, I am sure they were happy to see me finish my weeding for the day.

just a fraction of our 2017 crop - there are plenty more cherries on the tree,
not to mention all those sweet cherries already enjoyed
Before heading in, I called Glenn to help pick some sweet cherries.  Our one sweet cherry tree is full of deep red and sweet fruit.  We have never had such an abundant crop.  So, at the moment, sweet cherries are on the menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and for snacks.  The cherries taste best plucked right off the tree.  The sour cherries ripen later and they are just starting to turn red.  The sour cherries, when ripe, will be picked, pitted and frozen for my future cherry pies which are Glenn’s favorite kind of pie. 

Well, time to hit the cherry bowl…yummy!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Great Birding Day

A few days ago, my daily walk tendered quite a bird-watching extravaganza.  Birds of many species, both known and unknown to me, were flying here, there, and everywhere.  An experienced birder would have had quite a large number of species checked. These experts could probably chalk up additional numbers by identification of not only perched birds, but those in flight and those hiding out given away only by their unique calls.  I, on the other hand, am quite limited in my identifying abilities.  I saw and heard many more birds than those that I could readily name.

But, the ones I could easily ID, were definitely amazing.

First, right from the onset, I noticed a bird silhouette at the top of a dead snag.  On closer exam through the lens of my camera, I was able to verify the bird as a red-headed woodpecker.  WOW!  This is a bird species that I have had the pleasure of seeing only a few, maybe as little as three, times before.  The sighting was brief, but certainly exciting.

Next, I came upon a baby bluebird, just one step ahead of me, sitting in the tall grass on my trail.  Even though my eyes are constantly in motion looking up and around for my next sighting, I also look down frequently to keep from any missteps that might cause me to fall or twist my ankle.  And, it is a good thing I was looking down at that very moment or the little bluebird might have been squashed.  Tragedy averted, I treasured the few moments watching this baby up close and personal while, at the same time, drawing my dog Buddy’s attention elsewhere.  We continued on down the path.  I hoped that little bluebird, still unable to fly, was safe.


Once down at the pond, I sat on the deck watching the regular residents; tree swallows, bluebirds, and red-winged blackbirds, go through their usual activities.  I was wishing for something fantastic to happen.

I was rewarded…a Great Blue Heron flew past me coming from behind the pond house, turned and made one fabulous landing on the water right in front of me.  I had not seen the heron for months and when I do, he is usually flying away from the pond as I approach.  Both of my canine companions had been resting on the bank, but immediately sprang into action on the arrival of this heron.  The Great Blue is a huge bird and cannot be missed.  The dogs ran quickly along the water’s edge.  I knew my time with this heron was limited.  As the dogs neared the heron, the majestic bird flew off with measured wing movements gaining height slowly.  The heron was never in danger as I knew the dogs would not enter the water, but the heron was unaware of my dogs’ capabilities.


The following day, the heron returned as I was at the pond, but this time, diverted his landing to a nearby tree.  He perched in the very top branch of the tree to optimize his view of the area.  I continued on my walk back home, the heron still standing sentinel from that tree top.  But, I am sure, that once the dogs and I were well away from the pond, the heron made a fishing expedition.  Planned, of course.

FYI – My walk times vary day to day, so to catch a sighting/a glimpse of any bird is quite by luck – I consider myself to be very lucky.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Time to Breathe, Time to Seed, Time to Harvest

Spring days are so full of chores and activities that I barely have time to breathe.  But, they are also so pretty and so fragrant that I do consciously breathe for the sweet aroma alone. 

A few days ago, after my walk and my routine chores, I went out to get a few seeds in the ground.  The forecast was calling for several days of rain and I wanted my seeds to benefit.  I planted beets, lettuce, sunflowers, marigolds and transplanted an ailing blueberry bush to a different, perhaps more desirable, location…only time will tell.  Glenn planted three rows of potatoes. 

This is only a start, late one at that.  More veggie seeds need to get in the ground soon.

As I was walking about my gardens, I noticed that the chamomile was in bloom.  With rain on the horizon, I opted to pick the blossoms.  This is only the first harvest of several to come during the growing season.

I had no intention of picking chamomile this year.  It is a tedious task.  Becky said she wanted the chamomile.  My reply was to go for it, but I would not be doing the picking.  I knew Becky was busy and the only way to save the first harvest was for me to pick it – ugh!

after picking, the chamomile blossoms are air dried
The upside, while I was sitting on my overturned bucket plucking one flower at a time, was being serenaded by either a mockingbird or a brown thrasher.  Both reside in my garden, both sing beautifully and both have quite a repertoire of tunes.  I did not get up to investigate as to the rightful owner of the melodies, but my task was a bit more pleasant to complete.
Time ti

The rain arrived and contributed more moisture for all the green growing things on the farm – SUPER!

bird sighting of the day, rare to boot...male Baltimore Oriole - just gorgeous!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Catch-Up Rambling

Days have just been speeding.  Time stops for no one, even though I wish it would slow down for me. I have so much to do and not enough hours in the day to get it all done.  I thought once the daylight hours increased that I would be OK…not!  I just added more tasks/activities to my schedule.

I have been busy with my regular chores (minus writing this blog), my daily walks which always includes birdwatching with my canine buddies, gardening/mowing, and thoroughly cleaning the kitchen cabinets – ugh - I hate to clean.  But, since the ceiling was painted two weeks ago and the kitchen counters were cleared out for the job, it is the perfect time to tackle the cabinets.  Cleaning is also including a bit of down-sizing of kitchen tools/utensils/bake and cook ware that I no longer use.  This down-sizing is a bit of challenge for a packrat like me, but I am seeing some progress.   I also tossed a bunch of old, very old food that had been tucked in the back of the pantry cabinet.  Now, there is plenty of space for the food we actually eat.  And, I did not actually toss the old food.  It was enjoyed by the chickens.  No waste for us.

As you can see, I am not very fast in the cleaning of kitchen cabinets.  I am only about one-third done.  I would rather be outside gardening. But, I try to complete a bit every day. Yesterday, Glenn smoked up the kitchen with his cooking which did not make me happy. My freshly painted ceiling, my clean cabinets.  I wonder how much film adhered to the clean one-third? 

The past few days have been quite wet and combined with the showers we received at the end of April, my gardens and the entire farm is quite lush and green.  The spring flowers are gorgeous.  My yard is full of flowering irises – bearded, Japanese, Siberian and Dutch – orange, copper, white, periwinkle, purple, yellow, yellow combined with purple.  Some I planted and most have spread about on their own.  I could not have planned the plantings better. Oh, I cannot forget the common iris…not at all showy like my other varieties, but the one with fullest, sweetest fragrance.  The scent from one stem can permeate the entire house – fabulous! Other flowers currently in full bloom are: azalea, rhododendron, soapwort, bridal veil, money plant, spiderwort, and leadwort.  It is a good thing I have plenty of perennials as they grow and blossom at will.  My annuals and vegetable garden…not so much.

I still need to get out and plant some annuals, mostly sunflowers, and most of my vegetables. The sugar snap peas and radishes have been planted and are growing nicely.  But, I still have a lot more to plant.  Good thing we have a long growing season here.  A late planting only results in a later harvest which is fine with me. That makes the canning and preserving when the temperatures are a bit cooler.

More seasonal birds are starting to return and mingle with our year-round feathered friends.  I love the diversity and the challenge of trying to get one good photo of each species.  Buddy has always been conscience of my picture taking and sits quietly.  Finally, Snowball has learned the routine and sits at my side…occasionally.  He tries.

Snowball is a bit lost, at the moment, since Glenn sold our entire flock of hair sheep about two weeks ago.  The coyotes finally did us in.  Snowball was a big help in the protecting the sheep, but he was not 100%.  We were nearing the end of lambing, so ram, ewes, pregnant ewes and all the little cute lambs, born to date, were sold.  The farm is a lot quieter now, but it still feels like something is missing. 

And, Snowball needs a new job.  Hmmm….