Sunday, March 29, 2009


Earth Hour comes before Earth Day. The whole world goes dark for an hour to bring attention to earthly issues - like power consumption, and the resulting global warming.

I decided to spend Earth Hour enjoying a candlelight dinner. It was yummy! I rather liked the darkness and the quiet. The auto flash on my camera kicked on, so my photo doesn't quite convey the warm ambience.

It was nice to have one quiet hour. Since the temperatue hit 70 a couple of weeks ago, I've been behind on everything. Every Spring feels this way. The gardens, the upcoming chickens, the worm farms, my future crops in the basement greenhouse . . . they all need work. During the growing season, I never get done with my chores. Don't get me wrong - I love summertime! I love growing vegetables! But once the season starts, it takes off like Tony Stewart. Okay, maybe Jimmy Johnson. (Sorry, Tony! Win one for the hometown fans!)

I've made some progress since my last post. I've gathered most of the materials I need for my chicken coop and yard. My radishes and lettuce are popping up in the very first garden. The tomato plants in the basement greenhouse are outgrowing their little pots. I own the peat moss I'll add to the potato patch. I've won a few small battles against the fruit flies that seem to like the kitchen scraps I'm feeding the worms and night crawlers. I'm learning!

Rewards of the season abound! Here's one, er, two:

Look closely. It's like a seek n find picture. There are two small frogs between the rocks! One is in the water. They're shy. This is as close as I could get.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On the Last Day of Winter

It's cold again. A cold front passed through last night, bringing a temporary end to my twice-yearly seasonal wardrobe crisis. I can wear my heavy jeans and ski socks again, after several warm days of digging around for long forgotten lightweight clothing.

Tomorrow I will celebrate the equinox with its promise of new beginnings.

In the spirit of the season, I decided to test drive a new product. Living Harvest Hemp Oil is a naturally gluten free oil. I've had some reactions to olive oil that I suspect was cut with soy oil, so I've been using mostly canola oil. Hemp oil is a nutty flavored finishing oil that offers a wealth of healthy Omega 3 and Omega 6. After talking with Living Harvest, I trust that their oil contains no fillers. And the Omegas might help revive my winter skin!

To appreciate its flavor, I decided to drizzle it on some sauteed halibut that my brother caught on a fishing trip to Alaska. And I invited my mom over for dinner. She'd had a heart procedure earlier in the week, and was feeling good enough for a field trip. (*Note: She had a baffling heart attack last Fall. Previous tests failed to illuminate the cause. The problem was found and fixed. We're jubilant!)

I seasoned my saute pan with some spring onions. Then sauteed the halibut with just a little salt and some of Penzey's shallot salt. Topped it with a drizzle of hemp oil and fresh green onions. The hemp oil added a delightful nutty flavor. It was a fine compliment to the fish. I think this oil would work well in a spinach pesto, which would also be great on halibut. And my spinach seedlings will soon offer me some big savoy leaves to work with. I look forward to trying this oil with some of my spring crops.

Springtime is fickle. Warm yesterday. Cold today. Sun and rain and strong winds. It's an entertaining season for weather radar (my favorite show!)

I've been busy laying the framework for my gardens. I've spent a lot of quality time hauling unmentionables to the compost bin. The little sprouts in the basement greenhouse are starting to look like real vegetable plants. And I planted radish, lettuce and snow pea seeds in the garden over my spring break! It was great to get my hands into the dirt again. It's been a long winter!

My flower gardens have started without any help from me. I love that! Here's a taste of Spring beauty at Kay's Leaning Tree Farm:

Hope you enjoy your first tastes of Spring! It starts tomorrow!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring-ing into action!

I spent my Winter relaxing and planning for Spring. At long last, Spring feels imminent. And I realized I have a really long to-do list. Worm farms, chicken preparations and the basement greenhouse all needed attention. Good thing I'm on Spring Break!

My first day off dawned windy and warm. I'd kicked half the blankets off my bed while I slept. I did not walk directly to the thermostat upon awakening. I dressed in a t-shirt and jeans to head to the Winter Farmers Market. My stuck-to-the-window thermometer was already above 70 degrees. We hit 76 later in the afternoon!

I bought some raw milk cheese, and a big jar of honey. I signed up for a class where I'll make my own rain barrel. The market is a fun gathering spot. I got to visit with lots of friends. And my friend, Larry, loaded up the cast-off fence panels I plan to use for my chicken yard. These are industrial strength fences. I can get me some really big chickens!

Back home, I had some help carrying the fence panels down to the barn. Then I got out the wheelbarrow and moved firewood from the driveway to the bonfire area. The neighbor cut down an big maple that was damaged by the tornado six years ago. He couldn't let go of it in the face of all the other destruction at the time. But it had been dropping branches on both our driveways. I kept the immediately burnable logs.

I took this photo when I had moved about half the logs. It's a really big pile now!

My first crocus blooms greeted me on the path!

I added two more shop lights to my basement greenhouse, and a new shelf. I planted about 200 tomato seeds in plug trays. This year's crops will feature many heirloom varieties, my favorite Sungold orange cherry tomatoes, Juliet small Romas, a flat Amish red, beefsteak types in red and yellow, and a couple of new cluster types.

My early lettuces are ready to share greenhouse space.

I planted broccoli raab for gifts to my garden friends. They are just sprouting their first true leaves. I haven't been able to eat broccoli myself for over a year. I might keep one plant for myself, just to see if I've healed enough to tolerate it. I really miss broccoli and cabbage!

I decided to expand my worm farm to include night crawlers. I ordered 500 of the European variety. They eat a lot and get really big. Yeah, I'm thinking about fishing as much as I'm thinking about compost. So I made two more worm farms and added them to the "worm condos."

Daddy Cat had a bit of Spring Fever. He enjoyed a good roll in the backyard spot that will later hold my pool. I know he's happy when he exposes his white belly.
It looks like Snoopy's Happy Dance for cats!