Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sadness in the Beauty

We received the forecasted soaker over the weekend, better than a half inch.  I planted the corn in the rain Sunday, put up the deer fence on Monday, and sprayed the weeds on Tuesday, latest warm dry day.  It was a great time to pull weeds as the ground was wet and the weather warm.  Did the edges around the driveway and the rock garden by the gazebo, as well as mowed around some edges.  We could be mowing everything again; it's the season when grass grows a mile a minute.

The peas are about 4 - 6 inches tall but nothing that was planted on Saturday has broken the surface yet.  We had a couple leaves of fresh lettuce from the volunteer plant that appears in the garden.  Nature does a better job of growing things than I will ever do.  The volunteer potato and onions are looking great as well.

California poppies are blooming, have been for several days.  Also a couple peonia have blossomed, the one near the barn is great much like last year and one in the row has dominated the poppies and iris and bluebells and weeds to reach the blooming stage.  Most of the others are surviving by the skin of their teeth.  It's not my big success story.  But I keep hoping.

Why the title?  Amid the trips to the yard and garden, we have focused on the death of a dear friend in Alaska and the impending death of another friend and neighbor here in Oregon.  In retrospect the spring goes like this.  My sister's father-in-law who was almost 100 died this spring.  My brother's ex-father-in-law died earlier this month.  Two classmates from high school died this past month.  A dear dear friend who traveled to Africa with us and also joined us in several other service trips suddenly died a couple months ago and now another service trip co-traveler is days from death.  Another neighbor, in her nineties, died a couple months ago.  It's almost more than one can handle at one time.

But the trees are green and the roses are red, so I say to myself, it's a wonderful world.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Planted the Beans

It's been another day over 80˚; A record number since April first, 13 so far, another forecasted for tomorrow, then more average temps.  It was a good day to plant more garden, no meetings or other events.  So the beans were planted as were some spinach plants, some broccoli seeds and some onion starts.  It was a great motivation to mow and weed wack around the raised beds.  Looks good.
  It's a time to mow some of the rest of the yard also, mostly the lower part under the oak tree and around the barn.  The blue barrel that I set up two days ago seems to be working or at least the chickens have water every time I check them.

A couple California poppies blossomed a couple days ago.  The hedge with its clusters of tiny white flowers have lost their blossoms.  So I trimmed that section this evening.  Then I mowed until it was to hard to see, about 8:30.  That's the beauty of summer in Oregon, or Alaska, the days are long and darkness come later and later.  That was one of the things that I found unpleasant in Tanzania which is near the equator, darkness almost comes about 6:00pm throughout the entire year.  No real seasons as I have known them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Peas Seedlings Surfaced

Sunday - today's Tuesday - the first peas showed themselves as they broke through the surface of the garden.  Time to adjust the fence for them to climb.

The lilac bush by the house was overwhelming the pathway and its blooming was finished so the outer branches were trimmed several days ago, probably Friday.  While the trimmers were out several other bushes were cut back to their reasonable size.

It's time to cover the blueberries to keep the birds from grabbing the fruit  as it ripens before I get to the berries.  The strawberry plants are very big and the fruit is setting on.  Someone gave me some local strawberries Sunday but I suspect ours are still down the road.

The first egg from a peahen showed up Sunday morning.  The chicken are laying well for spring at about nine eggs a day.  I suspect that at least one chicken hen and peahen will become motherly and decide to set sometime this summer, but not yet.  Good.

There's been no rain for over a week now although some days have been either overcast or partly cloudy.  This morning the sun is the only thing to be seen in the sky with sunrise temperatures to be in the 40's and forecasted temperatures to be near 80.  Time to plant more garden.

Time to get going.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Fauna of Nature

I'm on my way to the Portland airport this morning to retrieve Gail from her stay with North Dakotan grandchildren, teenagers at that.  Before that trip there are the critters to appreciate.

While watering the plants in the front of the house I heard the goggle of a wild Tom turkey.  They are the latest of regular visitors to the yard.  Tail up and fanned he was wandering around amid his harem of about a half dozen hens.  They come through about every other day, or at least that's how often we see them.  Instead of the typical cock-a-doodle-doo in the morning, or in our case, that along with a yelp from the peacock, we are blessed with a trialogue among a rooster, a tom and a cock, each saying their piece in turn and none listening to the others other than to outtalk them.

The bird feeder was low, so they received a refill - on the house so to speak.  The humming bird feeder also needed a refill, again on the house.  There must be more wild food in the surrounding woods as we don't see as many birds and the refills are less frequent.  Early this spring it appeared that there were as many as eight to ten humming birds and dozens of different seed eaters.  The sapsucker ignores the seeds but peppers our young tree is little holes.

A momentary interlude:  I was and am hearing a sound in the foyer that I don't normally hear.  Maybe it was the dog scratching on the rug at the front door trying to arrange it to be more comfortable.  As I walked toward the door I realized the sound was coming from inside the wood stove.  So now I get to invent a way of removing a bird from the stove without letting it fly around the house.  More on that later.

The chicken left us a dozen fresh eggs this morning.  The peahens have not started laying yet although the cock is trying to do its part, tail high in the air.  Dr Skittles and Toby, the feline of the community joined me as I placed their food in the dish on the table in the barn.  They are barn cats; there are not house cats.  They affect my eyes with itching and swelling.  Sheba, of course, received her morning meal first thing.  She will be glad to hear that she can ride along to get Gail this morning.

No deer this morning; that's not unusual as it seems like there's about a 50-50 chance of seeing them every other day.  When we see them and smile they're on the other side of the fence.  We don't smile when they in the front yard or when we find the tops of flowers eaten off.  They're very good at that.  I removed the protective fences from around the tulips and bluebells as they have more or less completed their cycle of blooming.

Remember the rose that was showing color a couple days ago; it's in full bloom today - yellow.  And the population of blooming iris have doubled.

Off to the airport.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Where to Start

This blog started years ago so asking a "Where to Start" seems unnecessary and even out of line.  The university and school district set the opening date, the teachers start the term with introductions, explanations of the class and the beginning of the text.  Are do they?  There are prescribed starting for some events.

I've been thinking for years about noting and recording what events in nature occur on what dates.  When did the first daffodil bloom?  When were the different fruit trees most susceptible to good pollination?  And what was the weather at that time?  Or the number of bees heard and seen at that time?  How much rain did we get in April?  Or May?

On what day do I start that journaling?  January first, a day arbitrarily chosen in continuous cycle?  The first day of winter or summer, dates set by natural phenomena?  Or my birthday, May seventh; why not?  Or just when I have the whim to do so?

Perhaps the last option is most organic and natural for me personally.  So today is the day.  Today has another feature we can build on; I planted the peas, the first seeds in the garden.

Spring has been atypical so far.  We have shattered temperature records several days reaching 90 degrees far before ever before.  Plants, weeds, flowers, and trees are all following suit; they seem early.  The hot days tempt gardeners to start gardening and even set tomatoes out, but wise gardeners know that cooler weather and even frost can still come later this month.

Today is May first, called May Day by many and a national holiday in Russia.  After two snaps of super warm temperatures, the last three days have been cool, overcast and with small rain showers.  Yesterday began a warmer stretch leading to about 80˚F today and warmer tomorrow followed by a forecasted week of 70's and warm showers.

The daffodils have done their annual task, they've bloomed and gave room for other flowers.  The tulips weren't far behind although I saw a fresh bloom yesterday.  Forget-me-nots are everywhere and are getting tall and spindly.  Lilacs too have passed their peak.  I remember Granddad Henry Sax wearing a lilac cluster to church on Father's Day in mid-June.  They didn't even wait for May Day or Mother's Day this year.  Irises started showing their colors about a week or so ago and are going gang-busters now.

It was several weeks ago that the fruit trees took turns going through their spring ritual of full bloom hoping and waiting for warmth and bees to help pollinate the flowers.  The Queen Anne cherries are small, about the size of a mature cherry pit, but visible and green.  At close observation one can spot some bulging ovaries on the pear trees.  At least one Oriental pear is the size of my thumb tip.  Blueberries are also visible but hardly exceptional.  The Saskatoon blueberry bushes were covered with blossoms, and there seem to be some developing ovaries but they've not done well in the past so I'm not overly optimistic.  The strawberry plants are lush and I'm hoping for a respectable showing to add to the breakfast cereals.

The peonia are up and waiting for ants to come and help open their tight buds.  Roses are out in Monmouth and out here just close enough to blooming that one can see the color.  Hopefully we have enough fences and wires around them so we can enjoy them visually instead of the deer for a snack.