Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I have rats!
At first I thought the warren of holes
under my butterfly bush was home to voles.
Voles are bad enough and the scourge of my garden
(right up there with pill bugs)

Last year the voles ate my brocoli roots just
as the heads were forming.
It looked like beavers, very small beavers,
had gotten into the garden.

But as I watched a heinie head back down
one of these many, many holes I realized
that it was a much bigger heinie than
what you would expect to find on a vole.

I was left with the conclusion that I have a warren of rats.
And right by the entrance to the garden too.

Under the butterfly bush there is
an ancient, underground stump.
And from this stumps the roots go ever onward.
The rats have dug their little highways along
the roots and can go anywhere in the yard they want
undisturbed and unmolested.

So... what to do?
My yard is full of holes like this one.
I cannot place poison, for the dogs
would eat the weakened vermin.
I cannot place traps for the dogs would
eat the bait and get their noses slammed.

I think I will have to plug as many of the holes
as I can and use exhaust fumes to drive
them staggering from the depths
of Rat City Underground and
into the path of my shovel's head.
Yeah. I know. Not the nicest
thing to do, but they are RATS!!!
I know I have them in the barn,
but we put in 6 little King snakes last year
and they should begin removing
the little rat and mice babies as soon as it warms up.
And I have noticed a black and white cat
around the barn and I assume that the nice
kitty is helping me as well.
Other than the crushing realization
that I have rats in my yard that are flourishing,
nothing really new is shaking around here.
Though it is Spring there has been no
garden work done.
I have thrown my back once again
and am on garden restriction!
This is the second Spring I have had to sit out.
Imagine it....
not being able to get out in your garden
when it is 75 outside and the sky is blue
and the weeds are emerging.
Horrifying thought, no?
And when I am able to get out
Sweet Husband (tyrannical, hateful bastard)
has made me buy and promise-pinky swear
to use an egg timer! I get thirty minutes!
And when the timer goes ding, I must put down the hoe
and step away from the row and come inside.
Thirty minutes!!?
I am a marathon gardener.
I work until the job is done!
I do not eat.
I do not drink.
I do not pee...
until the job is complete.
Limiting myself to a mere thirty minutes may just kill me.
Of course you realize that the marathon,
9 hours straight gardening orgy is what
has done in my back once again.
But that is logical and sensible reasoning
and BAH!, says I.

So, I sit sucking down herbal
muscle relaxers and stare out at the weeds
that giggle and shake as they spread their
leafy green selves across my garden plots.
I did weed the comfrey patch the other day
and got Busted.
"What Do You Think You Are Doing!!!"
came the bellow of Sweet Husband
as he came around the corner of the shop...
I immediately began the song of mercy
and justification that the comfrey
absolutely had, had, had to be weeded!
And it was true. I had to weed the patch.
The comfrey was coming up and was getting
crowded out... I had no choice.

So, I sit and I stretch and I wait.
Hoping that someday I can hit the yard
for a mere thirty minutes and I pray
for the strength to be satsified with that.
And, Sweet Husband says if I am good
I can have a morning session and
and afternoon session!
oh joy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Well, Anna from Walden Effect has informed
me that this poor rose has Rose Rosette Disease.
Apparently it is a goner.

I know it looks none too good right now,
but this was a beautiful rose.
A Fragrant Cloud!
Truly. That is it's name.

The blooms are/were huge and a
vibrant, almost electric, pinkish orange-y bright sherbet color.
Just gorgeous. They seemed to glow at twilight.
Oh, and the smell! Filled the whole yard.

I have a thing about roses. I still have the first rose
that I ever bought. I have dug it up,
potted it in a 5 gal bucket and moved it more times
than I care to remember and across state lines.
I love, love, love roses.
I have a strange relationship with them
and in order to grow good ones I have to
follow strange rituals, but I love them.

For instance, I buy the rose in it's black pot
and bring it home. I prep the hole with compost etc..
and plant it. It does Great!! For about a year and a half.
Then I have to dig it up, chop it back to a stump
and pot it up in a bucket.
I plant it in very rich, almost pure, compost
and place it in a certain spot in my yard
that is sheltered from the afternoon sun.
I have to foget it is there and find it in the weeds
by the compost pile later on and freak out that I forgot it.
I must then begin to water it and it will leaf out again.
After it is full of healthy new growth I replant it in the yard.
And it will be just fine forever more after that...
unless it gets a disease apparently.

It that crap spreads to my first ever rose
I may just die along with it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Now it is Really Spring..

I know I have waxed poetic
and becried the arrival of Spring
before now,
but this time I mean it.

And to prove it....
Aaahhh. My favorite.
Yes. I say this about
stinging nettles.
They are very good for you
packed full of chlorophyl and minerals
and calcium.
I eat them on pizza and in nettle soup
and I drink the tea of the dried leaves.
But not as often as I should.
Just be careful when picking them.
Long sleeves and thick gloves
are a must.
As soon as they are picked and begin to wilt
the sting is gone.
And if you are a cheese maker..
you can use the tea as rennet.

These are still a bit young to harvest.
When they are a few inches taller
the feasting will begin!

Does anyone have any idea
what is up with this rose?
It went all thorny over the winter.
It is serious.

And I have a seedling update.
They are up and growing.
The first this year was.....

Last year's Peacevine Cherry!

Followed by this year's Black Cherry.
The rest are coming along now too.

Spring green is everywhere.
It looks so pretty and fresh.
But I am not fooled.
It is all weeds!
Weeds! Weeds! Weeds!
I know I should be attacking
without mercy.
I should be pulling and yanking
and carrying buckets of them
up to the chickens, but
I just can't do it.
Not yet.

And I have new BUNS!!
I know it is hard to see, but they are camera shy as it is their first day out.
Smething got the last buns, but these are safely behind a fence.
We will be fortifying the pen as well.
So far I have seen 7 or 8!! That is a great litter!
I have whites and black and whites and grey and whites and a black one and a grey one!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

As Begun, So It Continues..

And tired again.

But, the lettuces are out

and I found some little spinaches in an old bed

and there are some chards

and really pitiful looking brocoli

that I will eventually replace with flats

from the feed store. I know I will replace them,

but I planted them anyway. And I know

that the voles will attack the roots again,

but yet....

And while I worked the deep, dark dirt

I saw the bane of my existence,

the scourge of the earth,

my vilest enemy...


Oh, you may wonder what could be so bad

about little, cute pillbugs. But do not

be fooled! They are destructive

prehistoric beasts that inhabit my yard

by the millions upon millions.

Dead of the summer, heat of the drought,

blazing sun or freezing cold, I have pillbugs.

They eat my tender seedlings and gnaw my full grown chard.

And they... they... they..

they crawl inside my tomatoes and I don't find

them until I slice them open.

I hate them and they are indestructable.

I pour DE onto the ground and they sleep in it.

I cover the earth with ashes from the woodstove

and they burrow into them.

I have poured pure Neem oil onto them and they bathe.

I went so far this past year as to make a very

nasty tobacco tea, made from soaking chaw

in boiling water for a day or two.

It could kill a full grown man (really, nicotine poisoning will kill you)

but it did not phase the pillbugs.

I am open for suggestions...

I just hope that these seedlings make it.

This is the old garden and will not really be used

this year. Instead I will use the nifty new garden

being tilled by the pig and the new long rows we

are going to put into the main field by the barn.

This old garden will be awash in volunteer tomatoes

that I will transplant into the big rows and maybe

I will use it for greens and lettuces and let the

strawberries really stretch out through it.

I still have some walking onions in it and my purple sage and lavender and thyme. Though I think I will move the lavender to a less rich part of the yard. I know I need to trim it up.
Oh, and basil grows gangbusters in the old garden.

I had basil stems/stalks as big around as my wrist

and as high as my head!

I think I will plants some there as well as in the main garden.

It is just great as a companion plant.

Tomorrow will be more hard labor.

I hate spring.

And now I have to go try to get all of the dirt out

from under my nails before I knead pizza dough.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Getting Down To It..

I just couldn't put it off any longer.
The seeding has begun.
I piffled with it a bit earlier,
but now I fill cups with earnest.
Peppers and eggplants,
tomatillos and tomatoes.

Cup after cup after cup
and shelf after shelf, I fill.
Labeling each and wondering
what I will do as they begin to sprout and grow.
I really, really, really need that greenhouse, dear.

Perhaps this weekend I will cobble
together a small little hoophouse
for to move the cooler weather plants into.
Getting my first sunburn is also on my list!
Ok.. not really, but I will have to take care not to get a burn.
It will be 80 or so and the desire to over do it will be hard to overcome.
I will try to pace myself so that I may still be able to stand upright
come Monday morning.
I will not be taking odds on whether or not
I have that much self control.
I have sooooooo much to do.
It really is overwhelming. I must remember
that this is not the last nice weekend.
I must remember that I can space out the labor.
I need a mantra to chant.

Oh, I know..
'There is always tomorrow.'
'There is always tomorrow.'
'There is always tomorrow.'

And this is the 'sprouting frog'.

May he bring bountious wealth and health!

To my fellow gardeners that are not in the far northern climes..

Take it easy and do much!

Happy heat wave, ya'll!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Fine Feast On A Snowy Day..

Oh, you just don't know how you can miss it.
But, the soft fall in the dark made
me long to be further out and
away from civilization so that I could walk
and hear and be with no distraction.

But a fine feast was had from the roo
I butchered with you all the other day.

I rubbed the bird with butter and herbs and black pepper...
I used rosemary, savory and thyme and threw some sliced onion into the pot too.

And slow roasted him stove top in my big dutch oven,
browning him off in the oven at the end.
He was tender and moist and flavorful which is great considering his age.
Without the slow covered cooking he would have been quite tough and dry.
I served the meat with stuffing, spinach casserole and corn pudding.
It just don't get no better than that!

And here are the obligatory scenes of idyllic snow
joyfully given.

And the happy old dog...

And the very best part of snow...
NO SCHOOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Even I was thrilled to skip the drudgery of the morning routine
and spend my time out and about beating the snot out of my kid with snowballs!