Category Archives: Poetry

The Awakening

Spring is here.

Sleepy plants are slowly waking up, uncertain of the sun and warmth.

Dare they sprout?

Dare they bloom?

Dare they grow?

The boys and I took a walk around the property today hoping to find green leaves and buds blooming.

We weren’t disappointed.

Easter lilies were peeking up through the mulch.

We dug these up at Ray’s grandma’s house and brought them to the homestead a couple of years ago. I didn’t think they’d make it that first year, but they surprised me and have come back stronger every year…putting up with all kinds of abuse from cats, kids and lawn mowers.

Strawberries were spreading under the roses. We missed the main part of the season last year. We were vacationing in the Smokies. But they didn’t go to waste! Ray’s dad got a few gallon bags for the freezer.

The lilac bush I planted several years ago has the more growth on it than it has had in the past two seasons.

The blackberries have buds on every vine. They have been loaded down with the delicious fruit for the past two years. I still have a few gallon bags in my freezer just waiting to be made into jam or cobbler or sauce.

The aronia bushes are all covered in tiny black buds. We have a couple of volunteer runners from this one, so we may try to move those back to the swale.

All three honeyberry bushes have dusky green leaves starting to bloom. I am really hoping we get fruit from at least one of these this year.

There are seaberries everywhere. I counted at least 5 volunteers while we were out scouting the fedge. We’ll need to transplant these to the swales this year too.

And of course, the most exciting awakening…the chicks are hatching. Since this morning, we’ve heard a few cheeps coming from this one. The boys are beyond thrilled. Joe checks on them at least once every 30 minutes.

Spring awakens all
With sunlight and bursts of warmth
Plants, trees, chicks and birds

Seedlings and Starts

Tall, green, springy too
Stretching toward the sun
No longer tiny seedlings
Stout ‘maters every one

Cabbage seedlings, brussel sprouts
Tiny but still strong
Careful when we water them
Stems may get too long

Lettuce? Well, it’s doubtful
This batch will thrive anew
Water both, hope for the best
It grew to fast it’s true

Two lone peppers growing
The smallest seedlings still
Never had much luck with them
I hope this year I will

Gently water, softly breathe
Feed them all with care
Turn them daily to the sun
And say a little prayer

A variety of heirloom tomatoes and two brussel sprout starts. ROCKING IT!

Lettuce is wilty and not looking good, but the cabbage and amaranth are still going strong. The poor broccoli isn’t getting enough sun and got a little too leggy.

Pruning

Trailing after daddy
An eager little boy
Pruning back the vines
Filled with pride and joy

Watching daddy closely
Wanting to do it right
Puffing up with pride
When daddy says, “That’s right!”

Working til the sun sets
Big to smaller shoulder
Sighing with contentment
Feeling a little older

I see their smiling faces
I hear their laughter too
I smell the dirt and sunshine
I feel humbled anew

This man I hold so dearly
Will take care of us all
These boys I love so fiercely
Will soon grow big and tall

So as that time draws nearer
I’ll relish every day
From working in the sunshine
To all the games we play

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Hatching Our Own: Step 1

This week, we will start incubating the fertilized eggs we’ve been collecting.

Pecky and 5 hens have been separated for just 2 weeks. We gave them about a week to get settled and then started to collect the eggs for incubation rather than eating.

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Once we have 12 and I’ve tested the incubator, we will be ready to start the process.

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The incubator I ordered holds 9-12 eggs, automatically turns the eggs and keeps the temperature and humidity at the right spot…at least that is what is advertised. I’ll have to report back on the success.

The boys and I are very excited to get this started. Every time I collect the eggs from “Pecky’s Girls”, they ask if there are baby chicks in them yet.

We’ve talked about the life-cycle of a chicken, but we will delve deeper as we go through the process.

Pecky and his girls
Separated from the flock
A science project

Risking It

The weather has been so nice lately.

Nice enough to spend the morning outside wandering around the homestead.

Nice enough for the boys spend time digging for worms, playing tag and practicing hockey.

Nice enough for me risk it and start sowing seeds in the garden.

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The last frost dates for Central Illinois is somewhere between the 14th and 21st of April so I probably should have waited.

But the soil is ready!

The worms are squirming!

The birds are chirping!

Since everything else on the homestead is confused by this weather, I’m throwing my hat in the ring and taking a chance.

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I planted cabbage, lettuce and carrots. These are cool weather tolerant, so even if it does freeze again, I’ll be able to take measures to protect them from most of the cold.

I hope.

Warm, sunny, breezy
Birds chirping and worms squirming
Did I hear a frog?

Midwest Winter

The weather is mild
The grass is confused
The birds are returning
The trees aren’t amused

This mild midwest winter
Calls plants to awake
Calls spiders to come out
And frogs to the lake

If this warmth continues
My garden will thrive!
Extending the season
More produce and life!

But if it gets colder
My roses will freeze
My strawberries wither
And what of the trees?

But worries are useless
Concerns do no good
I’ll laugh and enjoy it
As everyone should!

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Leaves are budding on the rose bushes

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New strawberries are peeking up through the mulch.

Stripes

Last year, we slowly moved the chickens from the pasture to the kitchen garden. We started in August and moved them every few days until we were ready for them to do their work.

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At first, we didn’t notice it. The grass had yet to recover from their trampling and tilling. Sometimes we’d left them t0o long in one spot, so it was awhile before the grass grew back.

Then, one day, Ray looked out over the yard and saw it. A green path from the pasture to the kitchen garden. The path the chickens had created. It looked like one big, vibrant green, curving stripe.

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I wish we had taken pictures at the time. It is still visible, although faint in this brown, gray winter grass.

If we didn’t know the effect the chickens had on our soil before, we had concrete proof now.

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Animals, be they chickens, goats, rabbits or cows, are very beneficial to the garden, the homestead and life in general.

We saw a bright green stripe
Winding through the yard
From chicken feet and claws
Scratching without pause

The Fedge, the Vineyard and the Swale

It’s not that we neglected the fedge and the fruit trees we planted.

It’s not that we let them fend for themselves.

It’s not that we intentionally meant to let the weeds and grass all but take over.

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We just focused so much of our energy on fighting Japanese beetles.

We were just so excited to harvest all the new fruits that popped up.

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We were just so focused on planting new trees.

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I know, I know. Excuses, excuses.

Yet, in spite of our neglect…the trees survived. The fedge produced. The vineyard thrived.

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This year, we are focusing on maintaining the fedge, pruning the trees and propagating, well, anything we can.

We are also determined to transplant all the seaberry and aronia that ran riot in the fedge. There are at least 8 new seaberry plants and 3 new aronia that raced under the ground and sprang up through a thick layer of mulch as if to say, “Ta-da! Here we are!”

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We will also try to throw down seeds, plant nitrogen rich perennials and overtake the grasses that cover the swales. It will be a race. Survival of the fittest with the advantage given to the plants we want to take over.

Mint? Throw it down.

Seaberries? Plant them everywhere.

Raspberries? Absolutely.

I didn’t sketch anything up. Maybe it’s the wrong method, but rather than plan out exactly where everything will go, I plan to just get in there and plant, plant, plant where I see there is room.

I will be strategic of course. We don’t want to overcrowd the trees or any of the raspberries and comfrey we have already planted. As I plant, I’ll have my clipboard with last year’s final sketch so I can mark what we planted where.

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That’s the plan. Pruning and transplanting happens early to mid March and we’ll start throwing down seeds in mid to late April.

Let’s get seeds and rooting hormone ordered.

Let’s get the pruning shears sharpened.

Let’s get ready.

Finally we’re moving
Ahead and not behind
Finally we’ll get ‘er done
I’m in that frame of mind

We’ll order seeds and hormones
We’ll sharpen all the tools
I’m ready to get started
Let’s go! Let’s bend some rules!

An Opossum Poem

The sound of the door
Sliding’ cross the track
Is soft and just a whisper
But heard by both our cats

A gray streak from the pasture
A dark blur from the yard
Both streaming to the backdoor
Both sprint and run so hard

Sometimes we move too slowly
Both sneaky cats get in
We find them in the basement
Sleeping chin to chin

I let them lounge a little
Especially if it’s cold
I scratch their ears and pet them
A fuzzy cat to hold

They’re great at hunting critters
They’re swell at catching birds
But face them with a ‘possum?
They’re neither seen nor heard

One snuck into the hen house
And filled the girls with dread
The cats were sleeping on the job
All snuggled in their bed

You’d think they would be sorry
You’d think they’d show regret
But they just meow as if to say
“What did you expect?”

The Expert

You have to approach her slowly
Try not to let her see you
Sneak quietly behind her
And maybe tiptoe too

You have to crouch behind her
And softly say her name
And when she starts to walk away
You POUNCE like it’s a game

Then hold her close beside you
And pet her ’til she’s calm
That’s how you catch a chicken
Yep, I’m the expert, Mom!

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