Friday, April 29, 2011

TGIF (They've Got Interesting Flora)

It's been a crazy week. (Do all my posts start that way?) Some day I'll begin, "It's been a quiet week on Poplar Ridge..." You can only imagine how glad I am that tonight is Friday night, and the weekend stretches before me like an empty road.

100 new trees arrived in the mail today. I guess my road is filling up with traffic!

The girls and I went on a rescue mission one morning this week, to save several Jack-in-the-Pulpit plants that were growing on one of the walking trails. They would have been chopped off in a couple of weeks when JP rides around on the mower. We dug them up and transplanted some in a shady corner of my flower bed, and in a shady bed of my Mom's. I hope they make it!

Jack-in-the-Pulpits are such fun flowers! They look rather tropical and thus somewhat out of place in the woods of Pennsylvania. J thought I should take a picture to highlight "Jack" in his pulpit.

The May Apples are also springing up right and left. These little guys open up slowly like an umbrella, until they are nearly flat across the leaf. Apparently the "apples" make a very refreshing addition to cold drinks, so I have tried to harvest them the past few years. Unfortunately, not every plant produces fruit, and the worms get to most of those before I can. Too bad!

The wild Dogwoods are in full bloom. Since the trees are not yet completely filled with leaves, flashes of white seem to float between branches like a flock of butterflies.

Indoors, my window sills are crammed with plants meant for the garden: tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. If it ever stops raining, we'll need to plant the rest of the garden soon too. It's going to be non-stop gardening from now until September!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Additions

Happy belated Easter to all!

We had a sick child here, so our guests (Mom and Dad) decided to stay home (we took them over some of the feast) so that they wouldn't be exposed to anything nasty before their big Africa trip (leaving at 4 AM tomorrow). J had a high fever, tummy ache and no appetite. She crawled in bed with me on Sunday morning and said "I'm worried that my tummy won't be ready for ham!" She had mashed potatoes and red Kool Aid...yummy yummy! After lunch she was feeling well enough, however, to have a photo shoot with her sister in their new dresses.

Today I found only one Easter Egg that we missed.

This evening, our latest addition to the farm was delivered: a hive of bees. They are down below the garden, near my pear trees where we can easily keep a respectful distance from them! Apparently they need to face the morning sun, and be relatively sheltered from the wind.

The past several nights we have heard cats fighting on our back porch. Most of the time, they take off as soon as they hear us coming out, but we have never seen Bert and Ernie involved. Tonight I am hearing strange barking and howling outside through the open windows. One of our neighbors recently asked if we had been hearing the coyotes...could this be them?

I need to sign off and iron some clothes for work tomorrow. I also need to change this background...the dots are starting to get really annoying!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Break

I apologize for the long and unexpected hiatus. Some weeks I barely manage to keep up with life as it sprints along!

This week, however, is Spring Break for J. I am enjoying a few days with fewer deadlines. Sadly, it is half over already! It will culminate on Sunday with our annual Easter Egg hunt (in which I have to search for 45 minutes to find the last 3 eggs I hid since I forgot where I hid them), which the girls are looking forward to immensely.

This morning, the girls had their swimming lessons...numbers 3 and 4 out of 5. We are planning to continue for another 5 weeks if possible. I would very much like to be able to feel comfortable with them in the water!

This afternoon, I let the Sisters into the garden to peck and scratch. While they were otherwise occupied, I hosed down the inside of the coop. We collected 9 eggs today, some of which are HUGE!

Tomorrow a large group of us are planning a Zoo trip, even though the weather will be on the chilly side. We are hoping that means that everyone else will stay away, and we can have a semi-private Zoo experience!

I took a bunch of pictures last week of everything in bloom. It was so windy while I was out that most of the pictures ended up too blurry to post.The orchard doesn't photograph well either: brown sticks against a background of brown mud. Suffice it to say, it actually looks Spring-like outside these days.

The weather is extremely Spring-like in its unpredictability lately. Downpours and long drenching rains are scattered for a few moments by blue sky and cotton clouds before the next act rolls in.

So...we have the poultry, we have the orchard, we have the barn and barn cats. The garden is shaping up, as is the landscaping. The next project is to clear the bottom land by the creek, put up fences and get...perhaps...a couple of beef cows??? Oh my, I'm becoming more of a Country Girl each month! This afternoon, I cleaned out the chicken house in capris and mud boots: the height of Country Girl fashion!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now

It was such a lovely day today, so of course we had the windows open. Unfortunately, the flying insects have returned for the season. I hauled the window screens up from downstairs, and JP sprayed them off with the hose while I washed windows. They are all bright and sparkling for a couple of days at least. There are quite a few that I can't reach though. I'm going to have to try the squeegee with the extension handle for the high ones...some day.

We got the fence up around the orchard today, and the raspberries in the ground. I also planted some more peonies and some hyacinths. So far the deer have left the peonies from last year alone, so I think the new ones are safe, but I've never had hyacinths before. It's always a gamble in the country! Last night I priced steel fencing at Lowe's, maybe I'll have to enclose my flower bed.

For dinner, we made Gyoza...Japanese dumplings. This was the first time I've ever made them, but JP had lots of experience making them with his family. The girls LOVED them...always a gamble there too. For dessert we had baklava left over from our trip to Mr. Gyro's last night. Dinner on Poplar Ridge was quite a cultural experience.

We pulled out the cushions for the deck chairs this evening. What a perfect night to sit on the deck in the evening breeze!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gains and Losses

Sick Chick did not make it through the night last night. The rest of the Sisters rallied today and gave us 8 eggs!

Our orchard is in! We planted 4 apple trees, 3 cherries, 2 apricots, 2 peaches, and 2 pears this afternoon. We still have 6 raspberry bushes to put in, but we want to get the fence up first.

Heading to Lowe's soon for deer netting and posts!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sick Chick

One of the sisters (hens) has been removed to the I.C.U. (kitty crate in the garage) for the night. Symptoms are: diminished responsiveness, labored breathing and pale comb.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Status Upgrade

This afternoon, Poplar Ridge officially became a farm. The girls and I drove out to a friend's farm with my dad to buy some laying hens. He is leaving the area, and isn't planning on taking all 100+ hens with him.

After catching a dozen hens, we put them in Kali's kennel to bring them home.

We were a bit concerned that they would be traumatized by the move, but they scurried right into their new pen and immediately began scratching and pecking in the grass.

They have adjusted well enough that we have already discovered the first egg!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I have brief moments after I come home from visiting friends in town, that I wish we lived some where a bit less rural. Take this evening for example, when I was rustlin' cattle with my van, since they were grazing down near our trash bin by the road. Late last week, Kali caused a stampede when she ran off 5 cows and a calf who were wallowing through my sad, sad flower bed.

The flower bed is quite bedraggled since the deer are eating everything, even though it is "deer resistant". I have strengthened my resolve to spend a lot of time in target practice this summer!

We have recently discovered that we are feeding not only our cats and various raccoons with the cat food on the back porch, but also most of the neighborhood stray cats.

And then there was that close encounter with the crazy 'possum last Fall!

Right now I'm just too TIRED to deal with it all! Nighty-night!