Lush and Green

We had family pictures taken in the vineyard a few weekends ago. Yesterday morning, I realized that I hadn’t visited it since then, so I took a stroll through the rows of grapes and hops.

I was surprised at how much the grapes had grown, how much the mint had spread and how far the hops had creeped.

The kiwi vines are weighing down the wire. We are going to have to tighten it up soon or all the vines will be on the ground. I am seeing the kiwi flowers on all 3 rows now.

Joe loves to hang out in the shade the vines provide.

So does Boots.

The mint is all over the place and the blackberry I stuck in the ground last year has exploded with flowers.

And don’t even get me started on the hops.

I’m so excited to see at least one area doing so well. It’s lush and green with pink buds on the grapes and kiwi.

The kitchen garden is not faring as well so far this year. The wind has been awful and has destroyed almost all the tomatoes I planted.

The ones I started and tended inside for weeks and weeks.

The ones I fertilized to strengthen the roots.

The ones I slowly introduced to the outdoors so they wouldn’t be destroyed by the wind.

But…the Superthrive I used for the roots is paying off. They are slowly coming back…maybe there is hope yet!

 

Beauty

I walk around
I wander over pastures
I see the world
So beautiful and bright

I see my boys
I hear their joy and laughter
I want it all
To stay like this always

The wind blows soft
It flutters through the grass
This land I love
This life I live

The sun shines bright
My world is bathed in gold
I stand enthralled
I kneel in awe

Life Skills

For the past couple of weeks, Joe has been asking if he could learn how to start a fire. My first reaction was to say “maybe when you are a bit older”.

But I then I thought, he’s curious and interested so why not now?

He’ll learn more and retain the information better. And, he’ll learn the safe and correct way to start a campfire. 

Away from buildings, with water handy and the safe guidance of daddy.

Last night, Ray gave Joe and Jake their first lesson in building a fire.

He explained the why and patiently answered questions.

He guided them and he reinforced being safe at every turn.

He quizzed them throughout the process to make sure they had listened and understood both the dangers and reasons behind the safety guidelines.

He also explained what a fire needs. Air, heat and fuel.

I enjoyed watching him teach a lesson. The boys might have learned how to build and create fire from me or someone else, but watching them work with Ray and listening carefully to every word was amazing.

He was patient and the boys had fun.

They learn by doing and they were so proud of the end result of the lesson.

“Look at the fire we built!”

When the fire was roaring and ready, we all sat around the fire while the boys roasted marshmallows for us.

The boys could not stop smiling.

Fire play is so fun
With Daddy to guide the boys
Eyes bright and amazed

Rise of the Kiwi

The kiwi is coming!
The fruit has appeared
We’ve waited four years
It’s finally here!

The leaves are all over
The vines are all strong
They’ve grown quite a bit
They’re twisty and long

The leaves are concerning
The edges are black
But most are still vibrant
They’ll pick up the slack

Our only small worry
Our only great fear
Will Japanese beetles
All be back this year?

Rain Damage

Mulch does a great job retaining moisture in the soil. It’s why we try to heavily mulch around all of our plants and trees, and why our spades so easily lift the soil.

But…too much water can be detrimental to plant growth and root development.

Over the past week or so, we’ve accumulated more than 4 inches of rain in a very short time.

All this rain has been great for the swales and pond, but almost too much for our kiwi and my sole lavender plant.

The leaves are turning black and curling inward. We are not sure exactly what is going on. It could be fungal or bacterial or signs of root rot from all the moisture in the ground.

Plants need oxygen, water and sunlight but due to all of the rain, all of the air holes that are normally present in good soil are full of water.

It could be something fungal or bacterial, but I don’t think so. If that were the case, it would be spreading faster than it is.

Also, the same symptom is affecting my lavender that is too far away for a fungus to spread leaf to leaf.

We are worried, but not overly so. I’d really just like to figure out what is causing these blackened edges.

The kiwi fruit continues to develop and looks healthy, but it would sure be a shame if we weren’t able to finally harvest the fruit.

We’ve been patiently waiting for four years to taste that first kiwi…and I’m not all that patient.

Dark blackened edges
Curling leaves, rolling inward
Due to soaking rains

A Frog’s Life

One cold, windy and sunny day, Joe got up and wanted to grow some frogs.

“Mom, can we collect some tadpoles from the pond and grow our own frogs?”

High off the success of hatching our own eggs, we put are mud boots on, grabbed a glass jar and trekked out to the pond to collect a few tadpoles.

“We might not see many since it’s so cold,” I told Joe.

We saw just a few more than I thought we would.

“Our pond is going to have all these frogs!?”

“Well, not all of them will make it,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” Joe said. “Predators.”

Joe wanted to collect a jar-full, but I convinced him that we should start with 5.

He dipped the jar into the shallow end and carefully lifted it out.

We ended up with 10.

The boys wanted to rush back inside and put them in the fish tank. I wasn’t so sure that Bubbles and Fannytail would appreciate that, so we went in and researched how to care for tadpoles.

We picked a shallow container and covered the bottom with gravel. Jake picked out a few bigger rocks for when the tadpoles grow into froglets.

Then we filled it about halfway up with some of our filtered water and poured the 10 tadpoles into their new home.

A couple of the sites we looked at said that they would eat fish food. Since we already had it on hand, that is what we sprinkled in for now. It’s not an ideal diet for frogs, so I ordered some frog food.

It takes 12-16 weeks for the tadpoles to develop into frogs. We are not sure how old these little guys are so we may see frogs sooner…or later.

Tadpoles in a jar
Metamorphose into frogs
In a month or 4

Zounds!

Rain.

Rain.

More rain.

Really, that’s all that’s been happening over the past few days.

It rains, then comes in sheets, then pours buckets all over the land.

Our swales are full.

Our yard is full.

Our property is full.

Zounds!

A large mote ran around us for over a day. Ray was checking the basement almost constantly and I was pacing nervously, worried about a flood.

We had small breaks. During one, I went and pulled the smaller chickens inside. They had a tote for cover, but the ground was so full of water that it started to pool so I thought pulling them in would be kinder then leaving them to the elements.

Hopefully they agreed.

And still it rained on.

The water washed over the road.

Cars had to slowly wade through.

Our fedge was drowning.

I’m sure the kiwi are angry. The leaf edges had already started to turn black from too much water.

And still…it rained.

On.

And on.

And on.

 

Yesterday

It seems like yesterday
I brought you home with me
My funny, cuddly puppy
My little blonde Charlie

Your fur was soft and fuzzy
Your nose was all squished in
I thought you were the cutest
With your big goofy grin

Our neighbors all adored you
You were such a friendly pet
You always were so happy
The sweetest dog I’d met

When we moved to the country
You still had tons of cheek
You’d run at skunks and coyotes
No one would call you meek

Then one day I noticed
Your fur, once blond, was white
You slept more than you used to
Your eyes were not as bright

I tried to soothe and pet you
I tried to let you see
Just how much I’d miss you
When you weren’t here with me

So goodbye my sweet Charlie
So long my little friend
You will be remembered
And loved until the end

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Xavier Feathersworth

Sir Hubert McFeatherington is the leader of his flock.

The hens adore him and the other three roosters fear him.

Xavier Feathersworth was his faithful follower.

He’s the lieutenant and Sir Hubert is the general.

Yet, as they’ve grown together, Xavier has started to become…resentful.

Resentful because the other roosters pick on him while Sir Hubert just laughs.

And with this growing resentment, Xavier has started to become…disloyal to Sir Hubert…and his own flock.

One day, after a particularly painful pecking, Xavier quietly escaped through a gap in the run and darted over to the older flock to talk with their leader.

Pecky Greenleg.

 

Pecky and a few of his hens were out in the pen. They turned toward him when he cleared his throat.

“Hmmm,” said one of the hens. “What do we have here?”

“Looks like a little rooster,” said another hen.

Pecky eyed Xavier warily. The hens, who had no respect for Pecky gave a few sharp pecks and wandered up the ramp to eat.

Xavier’s heart fell. A henpecked rooster would not be able to help him.

“What do you want?” Pecky asked, embarrassed by the hen’s treatment of him.

“Well, I had hoped…but nevermind,” mumbled Xavier as he turned to go.

“Wait! Why did you came all this way?”

Xavier turned back and saw a desperate yet hopeful gleam in his eyes.

“I was hoping to find a new leader for my flock. A leader big and strong enough to put the other roosters to shame.”

Pecky looked at Xavier thoughtfully, then turned and looked at his raw, red back and his lack of tail feathers.

Maybe, this was his chance to start over with a new flock.

“Tell me more,” Pecky said, smiling as much as a henpecked rooster could smile.

To be continued…

Wonderland

Our homestead is a wonderland
Filled with new delights
Each day brings surprises
That popped up overnight

The kiwi now have tiny buds
The grapes’ pink blossoms grow
Snow in Summer bursting forth
So bright it almost glows

This is the first time we have seen these little buds on the kiwi vines.

Grape leaves are starting to unfurl.

The snow in summer has spread and is blooming.

Tigerlilies spiking out
And gojis growing tall
The hops are running wild again
And bright green berries crawl

The tigerlilies will be bright orange.

We have hops growing on just about every post in the vineyard.

The strawberries are just starting to turn red.

Roses spreading far and wide
Seaberries growing fast
Popping up all o’er the fedge
This year they’ll fruit at last

We are probably going to start strawberries somewhere else next year…the rose bushes are taking over and those thorns hurt. OUCH!

Seaberries are everywhere in the fedge. We are digging the ones between the rows up and transplanting them to the swales.

A carpet spreads out in the fedge
Sedum green and bright
It doubles, triples every year
It’s short but full of might

It’s fun to watch the changes
As April rolls to May
Vibrant greens and rainbow hues
Get brighter every day

I just love how much the vineyard has grown in 4 years.