June 16th, 2017
It’s a banner year…or at least it appears to be leading up to one. Apple, peach, cherry and pear trees are all loaded. In fact, the white gold sweet cherry…it’s one of the largest trees in the orchard, had it’s first big payoff. The tree is full of sweet cherries! Unfortunately it is full of cherry-eating birds as well. Today I watch cat birds, robins, baltimore orioles, a scarlet tananger (maybe two), a wood thrush and even a woodpecker all make their way through the fruit laden bows.
The garden has been eaten twice so far. Something came along and ate all the strawberries, then followed more hatefully by mowing down the plants as well. They also ate all the beans, the peas, the kale and, believe it or not, the dill. I replanted it (this will be third time) and just got done cutting a few stakes to serve as anchors for fence. Yes, that’s right. Things got that serious.
Corn got planted yesterday as well as 1 pound of onion sets (white and red…they were out of yellow!)
Buff orpington (one of the new ones) got broody on top of about 14 eggs. I moved her two nights ago to a small broody pen and so far so good. I think when she hatches out (if…don’t want to jinx it), I’ll move her into the larger broody pen (BTW…the other bantam?…the one that’s been broody for ten months now? She has still not hatched out her clutch. Not sure what’s wrong with that woman. If you recall, I removed all of her old eggs and replaced them with about 6 new ones…I thought about 20 days ago or so.
Bees! I keep meaning to peak at them, but can’t seem to find the time. When the sun comes out, they crowd in front of the entrance and fan air inside. I would love to see how they are doing internally.
Do you remember me telling you about using willow branches as a root growing stimulant? If you recall, I soaked a bunch of ornamental quince volunteers (dug half assed, these volunteers were a bit of stem and next to no root). I soaked them in the willow water for about a week (not intentional…work intervened). Anyway, I planted them and it appears that all of them took hold. Something to be said for that willow water. If you are taking over the farm, there is a bunch of river willow down by the stream. I took the youngest growth (harvested it in lat March or early April), then crushed it in water and put the cuttings in with the crushed willow.
It’s been hard to pull this farm off. Hard work and lots of disappointments. Perseverance saved me in the end. If you get this place, don’t give up. Keep trying, keep thinking about how to accomplish your goals. You’ll eventually alit on a solution.
BTW, don’t let me forget. I want to start some black locust seedlings. I want to plant them like a fence row in the small field with the weeping cherry. In a few years…five or so, they’ll be ready to handle pollarding and barbed wire fence. I need some goats over there, or some pigs or something. It’s too much to cut and too much wasted land.
Also…is this the year that I open a stand at the farmer’s market?
Just a few days after the last post, but I am so far behind, Ifeel as though I have to make up for lost time.
Its sun setting time…not for me…though some would argue otherwise…but for the actual sun. It’s about 8pm and a low angle of light is striking the sweet cherry tree and the many birds that are marauding through its boughs.
The wax wings from this distance look like small brown beggars, but the scarlet tanager is unrivaled in its glorious red and black. Even the reddest of the cherries can’t compete.
Grass needs cut and I have to erect a fence around the corn and the garden. I simply can’t take another year without vegetables. I hate living in the winter and seeing my freezer so bare of something green and grown from garden to eat.
There’s so much to do. The raspberries need a wire guard rail put up to contain their trailing branches (interesting the wild patch next to the road is doing exceptionally well. HUGE long new canes are growing up. Mine on the other hand…all mowed down by a bug or by deer). I have to protect the blueberries this year and I want …sorry there’s that scarlet tanager again. Wow, is that thing red. Wish I could get a picture of him…
Didn’t get it.
Want to see if I can get into a farmer’s market this year. I should have a lot of apples and pears. I could also sell potatoes. Like I need another project…but my heavens all these eggs!
This is the Candy Crisp (I think that’s what it’s called). An apple that’s red all the way through. All apple and pear trees are loaded this year.
You should see this place. it’s overgrown, but my god is it lush.
I have to shear the pine trees. That’s always interesting. I should get that machete sharpened down at Brickhouse so I can make fast work of it.
Opened up the hive today. They are only working the bottom box, but the activity in the center 3 to 5 frames is intense. I didn’t pull any of the frames out because i don’t know what I’m doing and I’m deathly afraid of smooshing someone.
You should see thee little fuckers eating my cherries. They sit on the limb and take bite after bite. I should give each one a tv and a remote control.
I’m looking at this cherry tree and thinking of Shirley. I miss her, but I think she is long since gone from this world and this plane of existence. After she died, I regularly felt her presence and there guardianship, but I get the sense now that she’s moved onto better, happier things. Before she died, I proffered the idea that she should come to the property and watch me plant the Northeast portion of the property with apple trees. I still wish she could come and see it. I think she would enjoy it, though I know that she liked nothing better than the view from her own property.
BTW, caged all the new apple trees, but it was a bit too late. Already, the damn deer had a munch out of nearly all of them.
June 19th, 2017
Reversed things by working outside in the morning and doing my desk work in the evening. This schedule devised because I thought there would be rain. As it turned out, the weather was delightful the entire latter portion of the day while I was holed up doing my work, but the moment I was ready to go back outside and finish what I had started, the rains came.
Earlier in the day, I mowed the lower garden, but not before I ran over yet another piece of stray fencing. That nearly burned out the belt on the mower, but after trying to cut chest high grass in the pine section, the belt completed melted down and I was left with yet another mower repair on my to do list.
Sorry to digress, but I’m out on the porch watching the sweet cherry again. In case there is ANY doubt, scarlet tanagers eat cherries. In case there is ANY doubt.
Anyway, I’m dialing the narrative back to last night. There’s a break in the rain, the sun comes out…sort of…things dry up a bit…sort of…and I make this half hearted attempt to do some work, but it’s now like 8pm and I’m like, ‘Dog, we’re going out to the deck in the field’.
And I’m so glad we did. The house, viewed from there, looked like it had been torn from the pages of a fairy tale. It was swathed in mist and the fecund lush green of a warm, wet spring. I had the dog sniffing about, I had my Manhattan…I mean…you want to have a Manhattan on a trip like that. Then I noticed a pastel shaded, light brown does the bottom of the pine grove next to the stream. She was perfectly still and matched with perfection to the surrounding palette of dried grass, and weedy greens.
There was a distant roll of thunder and the dog started barking. The deer remained statue still and I thought to myself, ‘Well of course, to move would give herself away’. The dog was utterly oblivious, but given the deer’s excellent camouflage and those aged dog eyes of Rye’s, there was no chance the deer was going to be spotted. In a little while though, the deer sauntered peacefully away behind the blind of a small roll in the land.
About 5 minutes after that I saw a dark dog lift it’s head up and move along the lower mowed portion of the grass, along the length of the stream, towards the pine grove. But wait a second…that’s not dog, that’s a bear! And thats…that’s…that’s unbelievable…that’s two small cubs trailing her!
As though somewhat panicked, the bear stood on its haunches twice, thrice more. Sniffed the air quickly and gave a kind of whistling angry snort. It’s a sound that I have often heard coming from the woods when I’m on the property side of the land and always presumed it was a deer.
All the bears looked healthy and dark glossy black, but seemed on the small side. I guess I’ll have to start putting food out for them 🙂 (You know I won’t).
Shortly after that ominous dark clouds rolled in. At first, the atmosphere was surprisingly calm, but in a little while the wind picked up, then picked up some more. In the distance I could hear a small roar and though the sky seemed to get lighter, the winds soon blew in very forcefully. Sensing an imminent deluge, I got up from the deck chair, called the dog and ran for the house. The wind and weather bore down upon us and we were consumed with wind and rain that came at us from all directions. We made it inside of the house just in time. Nearly as soon as we crossed the threshold, the rain poured forth.
The last creature on my report is an Eastern Rat Snake. You know, living here in herpatology heaven, with the salamanders and the toads and the frogs and the, yes, all the MANY snakes, I have come to quietly endure the snakes, their starling movements, their macabre, sometimes tractionless wiggling, but yesterday’s sighting gave my stomach a punch.
I saw it…well of course it had to be…I saw it next to the patio…you know where it’s only about 10 feet from the downstairs sliding doors that I regularly leave open? Of all places. The snake, fat like a pork sausage and about 1 3/4 feet in length made a side winding escape into …well of course it did…into the rock wall where I’m sure it lives with like a dozen other of its cousins.
BTW…did I tell you that I dismantled the outhouse? I left a pile of lumber in it’s wake that I thought…’that will make a fantastic fire’ and the other day, when i needed some wood to keep my garbage can lit and working properly, I lifted the door of the outhouse that was on top of the pile and what do I see? Four…four! Four fucking gardner snakes…is that what they are called? Gardner snakes or garden snakes? One was fat enough to audition for a garden hose.
June 25th, 2017
Spring always comes with some hard-to-watch death…mostly of the young.
On the 23rd, a neighbor texted me that a young man had been killed on a motorcycle of striking a deer next to my house. I was in NYC at the time, so when I came home I looked for the spot where he died so I could mark a place to mourn him. I found no signs of the accident.
Until this morning. While seated on the west side of the house working, I heard a bawling. A ‘mawwww, mawwww, mawwww’. A young fawn cantered in a mild panic in the lower field next to the corn, then across the lawn below the house and into the large orchard where it rested underneath one of the plum trees. There it tried to browse, but was unsure of what it needed to eat. I bawled again, ‘mawww, mawwww, mawwww’.
Throughout the day I have heard it ghost this property. Even this evening, as the air grew chilly and rain set in, I could hear it from within the shrubs that border the road. Pleating, mother, please. Heart wrenching.
Two lumps of fur in the darkest part of the barn…the scary space where the barn meets the milk house. Even the dog noticed the still…were they lifeless…hairy…what were they?
They were kittens. Newborn. Still with their eyes shut. The mother had moved one of them the day prior. When I saw her walking up the neighbor’s drive with something it its mouth, I thought the worse for my little chicks, but an inspection proved they were fine. The cat must have had one of it’s kittens in its mouth.
Rye let them be, but got bolder the following day. I saw her with one of them in her mouth. She cruelly killed it.
This place packs a wallop. At 5 am I watched a young skunk amble about the compost pile, watched some blue herons fly overhead and honk, then watched a smaller water bird make a distinct trumpeting call as it flew overhead. I picked nearly two quarts of sour cherries and froze them to make a pie when I return. Somehow the beans and corn evaded being eaten. I covered them with fence and/or sprayed them with insecticide. Something looks wrong with the bees….
All sour cherry trees did great this year (well, Bali continues to disappoint). Montmorency shown on the lower right had its best production of its lifetime. Montmorency is by far the superior cherry of all, though Northstar and Balaton are a more reliable producer and the dark red color of Balaton is unmatched
This place packs a wallop. I’m lucky to have been here. At night, I lie in bed and take imaginary flights over all of it: the swamp, the stream…through the asparagus patch, I pass like a snake. By the stream, I finally take the time to listen.
It’s been a good life with loads of opportunities and I missed them all. It was only here that I saw the abundance and…appreciated it.
A rainbow emerged on the eve of Gay Pride. I often think of Billy…of Rob, Jim, Bleecker Mike, Mitch…Mitch…all those men in my life that made me feel normal and special at the same time. I hope I see all of you again.