Snow gardening ? Spring holiday on Zen

Snow ? During Spring Holiday?

Most always , yes.

Do you want to build a snowman ?

Ma and I are at the tail end of our Spring holiday.We don’t fight the snow in gardening. We do however still do prep when it is a week in the 30s.

The beginnings of the gardening season means one thing if nothing else: Pulled muscles.

Neither Ma nor myself are Spring chickens anymore..I am more of the line of that old bedraggled rooster that you dodge when you hit the parents’ farm.. You know..The old bird that sees you walk into the yard from some fifty yards away, he cocks his head to the side focuses in with his one unclouded eye, puffs up the remainder of his feathers then does his road runner impression hitting you upper calf with his spurs in some Jackie Chan Drunk Monkey move pummeling your leg…Every friggin time you come to visit !

……………………Wait!?!…………..What?!?!…………. Oh yeah…. Gardening ………………..Stupid rooster…………I’d like to shove him in a roasting pan………spur that B…………err..Snow..right…

Annnnywayy….

We always…even knowing and , of course..commenting that we have to start out the season in baby steps..  The first few times out we will be sore or worse..

We aren’t people to just sit around and yet shoveling and weeding are still different muscle groups not to mention that we are abusing those muscles in the freezing temps.

So yup , we were dealing with the after effects from the daily toil….  Neither of us went far enough this year for a hard sprain or worse so it’s all gud.

Nothing like walking through the gardens to see a carpet of green. Freaking weeds from the winter.. Really? What happened to dormant frozen soil? The weeds up here get a tap root that can run into several feet long. In the dry conditions of Zen they have to make the most of what there is so yes in a few months of no hoe they were close to a foot long with some variety…….Jolly…

Breaking ground

Ma trimmed some plants and pulled others while I opened up the South garden of Eden.

Last year the South Garden didn’t get a lot of love with me going down So it got to be on the top end of the list. We doubled , and some, the size of the garden to make room for more lavender varieties at the one end. The South run of the garden we made larger for corn and pumpkins..Canning pumpkins not carving.

We used the sod from our increase to make a platform of sorts for the raised garden that we are moving to that end. It is a lot easier to level sod that has already been lifted than to dig down..It will also make it easier to work through out the season as it will be a bit higher..Obviously. The slope of our property means tiering  any and all gardens and more.

Using a good portion of the soil from the raised bed we gave the garden some softer textures for the plants to grow in.. Forty cubic feet of nice fancy soil went a long way between the North and South gardens..  There is still manure to add but we are getting there.

Adding key plants

We hit Ma’s Candy store on Wednesday . We had to make a run to Hooterville for my eye appointment and tax stuff so we made a day of it between the appointments picking up trees, bushes , and smaller plants at the nursery.

We had lost a few trees as well as some bushes to Zen’s sometimes nasty weather.

We picked up a new Bosc Pear tree as well as a flowering plum .

Having little water as well as the soil and the winds , we have to make the most of what we plant. The pear tree is shade and of course at some point fruit..Mostly for the birds I am sure..

Flowering plum trees are very hardy. They handle Zen’s winds, generally, as well as needing little water. We try to go with Zone 4-5 or lower when possible on all plants though at the foot of Zen they plant in zone 7…How nice for them..

The plum trees have pink flowers in the spring as well and the purple to red leaves through out the growing season. There are several varieties so finding them usually isn’t terribly hard if you have a spot that needs some color and you would like to ignore the plant for the most part…Here , we still baby them but only during the worst of the summer do they need a bit of water once established.

adding more colors

Ma loves her dogwoods. We have several varieties so I wasn’t too surprised when she started digging through them for the main entry of the house as a replacement.

The old house had one at the entry on the East side of the doorway..looks like we will be trying it on the new one. We will see how it does. It is only feet away from where the original I had for almost twenty years.

Forsythia plants are another fun one up here. The things grow well most anywhere and can become a problem if you have the perfect growing conditions…which means they live here. Ma has propagated a few cuttings she took last year.. They actually are still going well. We stuck them in the ground in the Fall. We picked up a new plant for a project coming up in Eden.. One of those spur of the moment things… That is mostly how Eden has been built.

That should work

We found a pergola during a trip to Gotham that should do just fine in Eden…Though.. That wasn’t the original plan…..

Picking up the bits and pieces for the structure we planned for it to go out on a new deck on the East side…wellllllllllll.. I was working on the Eden project when I got to thinkin that it would be nice to have a spot to relax…as we worked….

We had already planned to move the raised bed… The nut tree didn’t make it through winter so it had to go… One of the Elderberry plants wasn’t happy where she was nor was Ma’s Nine Bark…..Sooooo I moved them and made room for the pergola ….

After Much discussion about wind fences…. We decided the easiest way to get the project going for this year  would be a fence for just the pergola using lattice and the forsythia …

Still in the planning stages though I will have to break ground soon. The worst part is: I know that the area is mostly rock and for the posts to hold up to the winds , the posts are going to have to go into the ground around three feet… I haven’t quite figured out how just yet. We have piles of wood from wind fences anywhere from five feet to fifteen feet above ground that our winds completely razed to the ground. Some lasted ten years but that is about the best to hope for. Not sure how to do better when it will be a good struggle at my present age and condition but it’ll happen.. We always figure it out.

Ground coverings

We picked up several hardy ground coverings as green is cooler than dirt. Creepers like thyme once set up are little maintenance. They keep things cleaner , cooler and a heck of a lot prettier than weeds and dirt.

Finding what works best for you in your area and conditions is usually pretty easy this time of year.. Wait a few weeks and good luck with that.

A lot of the coverings can also be split before you plant at least doubling the size of area that you cover. You just baby them the first year and that nasty spot you had is now a carpet of flowering plants.. Good job… Remember to put some kind of path through there if you don’t want to sink in to the mud while the coverings take root.

Meanwhile the baby plants grow..

The planting station is filling in with green. Dang squash plants are trying to over grow the whole project area..Didn’t see that coming… Oh wait.. right.. That’s what they do.

Even some of Ma’s thyme seeds that she used a hand vac to harvest from the ground coverings last year are taking off… With all of the thyme coverings we use that is great.. Now we just need a few hundred more.

Heating pads, covers and lights are running now at the station and everyone is happy and content.. We have just a month and change before the plants can start spending time on the porch during the day and shortly after , into the ground they will go. So far they look like they will be ready… but.. not ready to count chicks just yet….

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Spring snows are far from uncommon here on Zen.. Fortunately they are just for lookin at snows.

Tuesday and Wednesday were by are the nicest days with this weekend coming in again in the low forties . The rest of the vacation was snow. We did some outside work during the chillier days but not as much as on a few sunny days..Go figure.

Pulling chains from ” Little Red” and the Sami went slick…Well Zen slick..

” Little Red” did just like she was suppose to.. Of course I am sure it didn’t hurt that I promised to work on her once it warmed up some. She just needs some tuning up.

I didn’t need to haul wood and it was too wet to work on the road, the neighbors would have just trashed what I did quicker than I could fix it so Red just had her chains pulled and back under her covers…Heck that sounded pretty good to me too so no wonder she let me work quickly.

The  Sami… welll that was more Zen quick… It was the beginning of vaca so no big hurry. She is mostly a ranch rig now so If she misbehaves it was only just so annoying with winter being spent. Her time is usually breaking paths in snow and carrying road tools or fencing gear. So when she threw a fit it wasn’t as big a deal as it would have been in December.  In her case she knew it was putting her to bed for the most part and she would have none of it..

The Sami is parked in the area that eats batteries ,, yeah well , that’s where she fits . Her battery didn’t have enough juice to get her started after sitting for a couple weeks. Step one in taking off chains is , of course , pulling the battery to charge it… Duh.. right? While the battery charged we did our outdoor chores on one of the cold windy days…..

Some time later , the battery charged , I put it back in the Sami..at which time a ground wire broke…Yeahhhh just like that… Digging through the car wiring boxes and electrical box I grabbed what I needed and headed back out into the field… Repairs were quick with the Sami grimacing at being put to bed. Wiring fixed , battery charged and replaced, she grudgingly started.. Chains came off , took her out of four low and put her to bed… She glared at me as I walked back to the house.

Bluebird of Happiness

They are back and setting up residence for the season. A few families are back moving in to their annual homes including a two story in the middle of Eden…. Now they just had to get use to Ma and I under their feet all over again.

The pair working over head , rebuilding their nest , Ma was trimming her lavenders in the bed directly below.

The female bluebird  sat outside the nest staring down at Ma while she worked.. Most likely looking to see if Ma left anything they could use for the nest.

” Too long..” Too short.. ” Hey..I’m talking to you…… “

I noticed another pair watching me from the outbuilding area. Far overhead they flew about readying their own nest. I imagine they were less enthused with my leavings than the others with Ma’s. I had branches and trunks

” What am I suppose to do with that crap? “

Some birds are just never satisfied .

Hummy nation

..when a hovering dust bunny glares at you …

The hummingbirds are slowly coming back. I imagine they are still all Hummie’s family as they are all Annas so far.. With possibly one exception.

Hummers flitting about our heads as we worked in Eden. Ma had a fly by that about lifted her off her feet. A giant hummer came through . I saw it from far off and up up up.. So not sure which type it was , and then it was gone.

One of the little females sat on the arch while I was sitting on one of the gliders taking a quick break. She watched me as I chatted with her….. Then the boys started picking on her enough she finally gave up to go play.

There were at least four Annas flying around as we worked checking on our progress.

Every so often they would hover in front of one of us , checking in , then off they would go again.

Hummie spent his day yelling at all of them and they spent the day ignoring him… Yup I know the feeling. He would come down to where I was clearing the south garden to complain to me and as I didn’t drop everything to go yell at his kids with him , he would take off again only to come back again and again..

Fly N Go

The feeding station is getting hit really hard right now with all the birds passing through and others coming to set up nesting . Trying to keep up with the little monsters is getting to be a full time job. Soon it will be time to add finch food to the mix as Ma already saw one the other day.

Funnily enough the predators have moved out for the now… I imagine with all of the flying feasts at the moment they don’t need to hang here specifically.

The CawCaw kids have been hanging close by again . They are mating and enjoy what they can grab from the feeders along with what I toss into the pits and as the wood rats are back out and about they grab a quick bite as Ma and I try to keep up with the vermin . All of this keeps the area pretty busy right now not even bringing in to account all of the deer that are hanging about the same area as well as coyote kids.

Still no sign of Dumbear but should be soon . We also haven’t seen the elk for a while now but more likely we are just missing them as they pass by.

Our least favorite ; the cougars are about from what I have heard. We are all just mice to them if in the wrong place and time… Been there more than once so I know first hand

The Honey Do list

Did we finish? Have you met us? Ok , well unlikely.. We work hard we plan harder. If you run out of list then what are you gonna do?

No , we made a dent but we have enough on the list to keep us busy until it is time to put back up the windows on the porch and holiday decos.

Inside and out we were able to work on our projects . We also managed to have some fun here while we were at it.

Ma knitted up some socks as well as designing and knitting a shawl with a hood.. All pretty cool.

I spent time in my office working on several little music projects including an older electric bass guitar whose neck was broken. I had fixed the neck refinished it and I did some fret work as the repair left some high spots minute as they were.

The bass is now in pretty good shape. New pickups, new wiring , controls ,bridge ,neck and fretwork complete though I may go back in to shave a bit off the neck to fit me a bit better. Heavier stings on their way in though she sounds great.

A second old bass that I had already done a lot of work  on simply needed some wiring and controls. She has tape wound strings and sounds amazing…

Yup I play bass though I am no bass player … I really don’t consider myself a guitar player anymore either though I play . I remember enough to get myself in trouble never having gotten back a lot of what I lost from the injuries waaaayyy back when… But I entertain myself and put up a project here and there. It beats doing crossword puzzles for me. I’ll never be back on the circuit but I really was never looking to go back anyway so no harm no foul.

Wong Tongs and Egg rolls

Yes.. Yes I know.. Talk to Ma….

Friday we made up enough won tons and egg roles to last us a few months. Ma and I both chopping veggies as I ran the wok . Ma mincing for the won ton mix while I worked on the egg roll goodies.

Water chestnuts , onions and green onions, Napa cabbage , celery , peppers , carrots ,garlic , fresh ginger , mushrooms all went into the wok along with some of our fresh herbs , sesame oil , chicken stock shrimp and more. Once it was all cooked it sat to cool.

I used two pounds of our ground pork , our herbs and what Ma chopped , some other goodies mixed and let it set up while the egg role innards cooled.

Everything ready to go , Ma was on egg rolls while I wrapped won tons .. several packages later we had heaping cookie trays ready to go to the deep fryer.

I did a quick fry on the egg roles laying them out to wick while I took care of the won tons. Also a quick fry. Once they had all cooled , back on the trays and into the freezer to freeze individually.

Five egg roles and eight won tons are a pretty hefty meal for us so the dozens of each will last us until warm weather and some. Once they are all frozen then they go into bags. The egg rolls get wrapped to keep better , the won tons are fine as they are in the bags.

We just pull as we need on those ” I don’t know” days or if we are too tired to cook. Toss them frozen in to bake. egg rolls for 8 minutes , turn and eight minutes more with the won tons added next to them. All crisp and ready to eat.

Smmmokin

Saturday , one of the sunny-ish days was Smokin day again.

Cheese needed to be done up and as we had picked up some pork butts during the week , I set up a couple smaller packages for Smokin Day

Though the packages are ends as much as anything ,  putting them into one of the bread pans I use in the smoker for pork gives them a great smoke while they cook down.. more edges means more ends…

Cheeses as always take around two hours to smoke . Four more hours of smoke for the pork then back into the house. The day having gotten away from us , as usual when we are outside left us with little want to be babysitting pork and hours left for the pork to get as tender as it needed to be.

There are several choices for finishing the pork. We could run the smoker all night as it will continue for up to ten hours up to 300F  .. or we could use the pressure cooker and finish in less than an hour or we could just run the oven.  Ma thought we might as well run it at around 200F for the night.

When we got up in the early hours , the pork was right where it needed to be…..

I made up some super hot chili .. ok for average people not Ma and I ..On the day I cut up the butts so pull pork and chili along with corn bread on the recipe I put together for the old place…which we are having to reinvent as for whatever reason the new place/ new stove on the same spot doesn’t seem to like.. small changes maybe but still annoying…

The three all go together for some nice bites for the up coming week.. Back to work.. crap!

Helping hands and the East Gardens

So Saturday we worked in the East gardens;

Test Garden

We planted more asparagus , both Washington and more Purple…When I went in to get to work I see that we already have spears coming up..WOW! ..Did I mention that it is still freakin Snowing ? Crazy grass man…

With what we planted today , if even half of them take and I know all of the Washington will , we will be set now. Fresh and we should have some for canning in a few years.

Ma planted Snow Peas at the back edge of the garden .

We trimmed back any plants that needed it in there as well.

We also  had been putting in the ashes from the wood stove this year and Ma tossed in our egg shells. All of that taken care of , I added around a cubic yard of new soil then brought in ” Baby Tiller” ..

Our big Crapsman tillers are sitting in ” Outie” doing pretty much nothing at all nor have they for a couple years now. I have tore aprt the new one several times now and it still just sort of…oozes disdain towards me… The feeling is mutual…..

Baby Tiller; Ma’s electric tiller just putts along. Her and I have fought through the Test Garden from the first. It was little more than rock concrete and glass when we started. Both of us hated it.. Today it was like Butta …We went in. We tore sh*tte up and we closed things down… It was Awwwesome .. It will be the only garden like that this year… But hey..It rocked..

Potato Cans.. Not a lot to do there, but they are ready for spuds

Last year’s crop wasn’t too bad but we had trouble keeping the soil wet so between Ma adding the diaper stuff and we are only going to run half cans instead of full , we will see how the crop does. There just isn’t enough water to do full cans.

The Apple Orchard ….

I had to do the post winter trimming.

So Time to cut off all of the overgrowth before things kick in.. Ma makes faces as I tend to lose apples doing it. * shrug* The tree went crazy for a while and now I have to trim back some good with the bad most years.

Hummie was Not amused.

Hummie likes to sit at the top of the apple trees to keep an eye on everything.  He was a wee bit anxious while I trimmed on the Golden Delicious .. When I got to the Winesap he started chewing me out.

” Don’t cut that branch! That’s MY branch.”

” Chill little dude. It’ll just be a little shorter.”

Sadly… That is when we heard the cracking sound. Also when Hummie went balistic on my @ss.

” I told you!” I SAID to leave it alone!”

The branch had cracked at the main branch it came off of. Not an enormous big deal….. Unless you are a Hummingbird bent on world domination … Apparently ….

Hummie flew off in a huff birdie swearing at me as he went…

Later I saw him in Hummie Garden at his feeder…

” Soooooo. Hi ya Hum..Still mad at me? “

” Is the branch still broken ?”

“Ahh..”

Lavender gardens

Ma had to do the post winter trimming on them.

Ma got in there with her trimmers to take down the stalks as they are already greening up for summer. She lost several plants in there over winter which really surprised us.

Hanging Baskets..

More or less the same work as potato cans .

Working with the diaper stuff Ma got the soil prepped then in plastic and then that goes into the coconut husk liner and into the hangers… Running all of this makes it so I only have to water them a few times a week..Usually…

Ma finished things up getting them planted so now it is just waiting for them to get all greenie .

……………….

All in all everything went quickly . We did do some work in

Hummie Garden .. Which is The original Eden, now the entry….

Prepping the cans and the baskets, Ma added the diaper plumping stuff to keep the soil water content up .

If you haven’t tried it , you really need to.

* Actual useful info *

Ma waters the diaper stuff up until it has soaked up all it will then mixes it into the prepared soil for the containers.. We started using it a year or so ago after seeing something on Facebook about it. Having used soil that had the water retention stuff in it and had great luck we decided to give this a try… It makes a big difference if you have trouble with plants drying up..

Sunday Sunday Sunday

Holiday coming to a close. A new week at hand.

We still have more plants to go into the ground . Once they are in , it will be a bit before the next round of planting.

The seed potatoes from last year are in the entry working on producing eyes..

The next large batch of planting should be around the beginning of May .

Today however is just finishing up what we have ready.

Soup will have to be made for the week.

Ma is knitting a new pair of socks. We are both hard on them. They can be patched once but after that it is easier and better for Ma to make a new pair. She enjoys creating the patterns and then the work only takes a couple days when she has the time before and or after work.

This week was a good knitting week for Ma . The weather still too chill and blustery to do a lot outside was great for creating patterns. Designing what she wants and needs up here finding and building knots ,cables , and the bits and pieces for the projects. Certain finishings work better for some articles some different for others.

Final Thoughts

The shawl Ma designed and knitted up was specifically for her needs while she sits on the porch. Using the patterns she added warmth where she needed it and lace where she needed it lighter. The hood she set up specifically to keep her ears warm. The patterns of the different designs to make the whole flow from bottom to top.

Sneer if you like as you stare at your phone walking through the mall  to buy jeans that are already shredded.

Ma knits and sews a lot of what we wear. We grow and harvest what we can and we cook our own meals while most folks grin about that as well . The folk that would rather hit fast food or sit with hundreds of others to be fed .

People brandish the PC club about but are still unkind to most average folk.

There are good people and there are people that want folk to think they are good. One is nature the other is simply for show.

We are getting ready to go back to work and deal with both…sadly more of the unkind.  Ma’s job deals with far more. She is there to try to help people while they are being brutally horrible to her. They screw up or are trying to get away with something and somehow it is her fault. For me , at least, I am able to generally, at least, remind them they are being a jerk in my own ” special” way. When I can’t ….. Maybe I’ll write about them.

Ahhh whew.. All better now…

Zen again

Zen is a different world than the flatlands.  Most bad days have more to do with equipment not functioning or several steps added to a small project , or Maybe a hummingbird chewing me out.

There are indeed rough days whether due to weather or health or equipment. Even Zen wont take you away from those hazards .

Most days if you just let “the now” happen the rest just melts off your shoulders.

We live in an area that you can’t toss a rock without finding something pretty cool..Don’t toss rocks in my shop please.

I like waking to the quiet. The birds singing and the only man made sounds come from Ma or myself….. Unless I forget to turn off the compressor .

passing of moments

The breeze so light that even the heavy cloud on the horizon isn’t moving. The colors change behind it as the sun begins to rise.

Layers of clouds hang heavy in the skies as another morning begins. The still of predawn brings the songs of the early birds from all over the hill top.

Groves to the North and South rustle with the movement of wings as birds wake in the early hour readying to head to the ” Fly N Go”

The cloud still in place as the colors of the sun break through below it and above the ridge. A moment of light breaks through sending a beam to the crest of the mountain to the South West . The snow glowing orange for only a moment and then it is gone.

Birds glide in to the feeders , gathering to feed by the dozens. The jays swoop in making a racket as they complain about the suet being out.

Crows land about the fence posts adding their calls to the din .

The cloud has yet to move , almost black , the edges burning with the glow of the sun behind it . Dew glistens on every leaf of every branch . Tufts of grasses glimmer as the light peeks through .

The cloud still rests as the morning brightens . Wet and dark heavy with moisture , it is in no hurry to get anywhere. It is content to stay where it is on..

Just another day on Zen Mountain

 

 

 

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