Peach Blossom

Our peach trees are blossoming, but they don’t look that encouraging. There aren’t many blossoms across our three young trees. One of the trees looks dead basically, with just two random shoots growing from the bottom of the trunk. A few blossoms decorate each shoot, and a couple branches that look to still be alive. If the bees pollenate the peach trees, we might get one or two peaches before summer’s over.

It’s hopefully too early to tell but honestly not many of the plants and trees that we’ve planted look very good, across the entire yard. I’m hoping things shape up soon.

The apple trees have all leafed and look pretty good. In fact this year I think I’ll actually have to figure out (guess) how to prune them. I do this in the fall I believe. It’s too early to tell if we’ll have any apple blossoms.

Here are today’s pics. Fingers crossed we get lucky with spring – weather wise and bounty wise. Or just luck wise in general.


P.S. I forgot, the one redbud tree has a giant ant hill at its base, just like the other redbud tree had in years past. None of the redbud’s look that great. I’m going to go around and spread fertilizer at the base of all my plants and trees this weekend. Don’t know if it’ll help but it’ll make me feel useful, which is all that matters really. Anyway, the ants..I sprayed them with two mixtures: one was vinegar and essential oils, and the other was warm water with Dawn dish soap. In theory one or the other or both will either kill or deter the ants from living at the base of my redbud tree. I’ll keep spraying, dousing for several days and see if it helps any.

Apple Blossom

We’ve been extremely busy in 2015. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, I have not been able to write much. The excitement and energy I had when I started the blog has been absent most of this year.

Work dominates everything. My existence is dedicated to working. And if I’m not working, then I should be looking for more work. It’s the my sole purpose for being. I’m a significantly different person than I was three years ago when we moved in.

That being said, I really appreciate fleeting moments here and there when I find myself in the yard.

I like winter because of the lack of outdoor chores, but spring is nice because watching the plants bud and turn leafy green is a pure delight for me. I have a relationship with every plant and tree in my yard. My mood is altered with the ups and downs of their success and failure. I examine each, talking to them in my mind at least. Seeing how they’re doing. How can I help them. How can they help me. My calendar is marked by which colors are blooming when. I know when something is amiss, a leaf or branch is eaten that shouldn’t be. When something sprouts surprisingly, or doesn’t sprout, regrettably.

As far as our yard goes though, a tough winter leaves for a lot of spring question marks.

It looked like we lost a redbud tree, but just today (Tuesday when I wrote this) I saw it has a couple leaves and even a bloom. Like many of the plants that had a rough winter, life still clings to the plant or tree if you know where to look. Now it’s just a question of successfully nursing the tree back to health.

Looks like we lost one of our black gum trees, as the other four have leafed out already. This is a shame because we actually paid good money for the tree, so that adds a little insult to injury.

The peach trees look horrible, though they are hanging in there. Suffice to say no peaches this year. And it’s too tough to say what’s going on with the black berries and raspberry bushes.

As spring has progressed, it’s been wonderful to see the land turn green. Exciting to see each wave of flowers come and go. The whites and pinks of the crab apples peaked in early May. Now in late may the dogwoods are finishing up, and the meadows are aglow with yellow wild flowers and daisies. Closer to the ground, the strawberries have bloomed and now have green berries.

But the best of all this spring is the news that our apple trees blossomed for the first time. Four out of nine trees blossomed. While I didn’t actively see any of our honey bees pollinating them, I do believe I see little apples budding where there were once flowers. Fingers crossed.

Spring is a balance between the joy of everything growing, and the added burden of more work outside (in addition to regular job type work). It’s all a bit much really, but the thought of leaving it all isn’t very appealing either. I guess I’d rather burn out than not be able to visit all these wonderful spring experiences.

Apple Blossom

We went to the sold out John Prine concert last night at the Ohio, and it was awesome. I’m not a connoisseur of concerts, so I don’t know if they are all as great, but after seeing John live, I’m not sure there much need to go to any others.

To celebrate the wife and my wedding anniversary we started out the night with dinner at Michael Simon’s Lolita restaurant, where we enjoyed a delicious three course meal. First off were yummy mussels and an order of bruschetta. For dinner we both got the petite steak which was exquisitely fantastic. To top it off we shared a trifle. It’s a nice quaint restaurant and I’d recommend it to anyone.

We then traveled over to the historic Ohio Theater for the concert. It’s a great venue and the seats I got were the best, in the mezzanine, but right behind the aisle so no one was in front of us; I little tight on leg room but definitely the seats to get in my opinion.

Sarah Jarosz opened for John, and even played a few songs with him later in the night. We had never heard her before but we’re fans now. I liked the soulful country sound of her voice, her wonderful lyrics and guitar playing. Sarah entertained the crowd during her 35 minute set. During intermission we went out to the lobby and got her to autograph a copy of her latest CD.

John darted out on stage carrying his guitar, accompanied by his three band mates playing guitar, mandolin and (what I call a) bass cello, and launched right into ‘Spanish Pipedream’ which was a pure delight. It was the perfect song to start with, especially since the wife hadn’t even heard of John, let a lone his music. I wish I could have somehow bottled the moment….the whole night really.

The next two hours were spent listening to songs, ranging from sad to funny, slow to rocking. He hit upon virtually all the ones I know, including the encore ‘Paradise’ which Sarah came back out for and most of the band mates performed solos. John’s music is as authentic an experience as you’re likely to find that touches your heart and soul; it speaks to the human condition. He truly is a national treasure, a hidden gem. We are all better off for he and his music. I count myself extremely fortunate to have seen him perform live and would see him again in a heartbeat.

Here’s a review of the concert from the PD.

Back home today we cleaned up the house for a guest tour. I love having guests and showing off the house. It’s also a great excuse to clean up around here.

We had a beautiful day for it, sunny, though it wasn’t very warm.

As it turns out, we all took the day off. After we visited with our friends and showed them around, we ended up having an early dinner followed by just hanging around the family room watching movies on TV. At one point I even dozed off. As did the cats, and boys. Sometimes, despite the weight of the world squeezing the air out of your lungs, you need to say ‘it can wait til tomorrow’. I’m tired of it all really; and besides I love the escapism of a movie or two on a lazy Sunday.

Oh, and one of the best parts of today – as I was explaining to our friends that I doubted we’d get apple blossoms this year, I spied a white flower in the distance atop the one corner apple tree. Upon further inspection there are five flowers up there.

Who knows, maybe we will have apples this year.

Our first apple blossoms of the year. Better late than never.

Our first apple blossoms of the year. Better late than never.

Mama deer is about to squirt a baby out. Today I thought she was based on how she was walking in the south meadow. She walked the whole time tail up. I was going to video tape the birth but she rambled behind a hedge row.

Mama deer is about to squirt a baby out. Today I thought she was based on how she was walking in the south meadow. She walked the whole time tail up. At one point to relieve herself. I’d swear she was crowning (sorry if that’s not the right term, but I saw more of her privates than I care to admit). I was going to video tape the birth but she rambled behind a hedge row.

It's so rare to have the kitchen clean I just had to take a photo of it.

It’s so rare to have the kitchen clean I just had to take a photo of it.


Spring Has Sprung

There is something about this screwed up year, twenty-thirteen.  The first quarter has been remarkably miserable… incessant crappy weather, my career laid asunder for no logical reason, living a new reality where I’m not sure how I’ll support myself, let alone a family…but hey, that’s life right.

Just in time to raise spirits, and my salvation, the real Spring arrived this week.  We had the aforementioned (in other posts) nice warm days and have spent those wisely working out in the yard. We’ve been walking the land and looking at all the plants budding. Remarkably all the thorny bushes budding first, the more beautiful flowering one still slumbering. And today we had our first rain.  Of course, just like last year and on par for twenty-thirteen, the first rain was a monsoon rain instead of just a calm little Spring rain. Last year a huge rain storm washed away all my grass seed in the front yard just two days after it was planted.  I watched apprehensively out the window today as a drizzle grew to a downpour. Watched the air outside turn green and the sky grow dark. I watched as the large drops fell on the powdery, grass seed infused, blanket of soil in the orchard. Surprisingly I think the orchard held up well. The line of delineation between the front yard and front plant bed on the other hand filled up like a  swimming pool. Nothing too worrisome but something to address on my “to do” list.

My home office (I’m now a design consultant by the way in case someone wants to throw a project my way, I’m not proud) is in the corridor between the front hall and my studio. The last two days I’ve been able to turn off the HVAC and open the large three-foot square window in my office. Instead of my wearing my headphones and listening to music I’ve been listening to the plethora of bird noises, and today, the sound of a thunderstorm rolling across the valley. The fresh air breeze has been nice as well.

Yesterday I heard the consistent beat of feathers behind me as I sat at my desk. Turning around I observed a small brown bird making a nest atop one of the porch columns. I thought to myself that she would be as happy as I was it was finally Spring, were she not so focused on her task at hand. I marveled the next day when I could see her nest constructed up there, little branches and twigs gathered lovingly from our front yard. At one point her beau stopped by to inspect the nest. Her patience worn thin she quickly rushed him away to the cistern cherry, and returned to the task at hand…or beak. So we finally have a “nest” for our house, it’s just not some trendy thermostat. Instead it’s something real, authentic and unique.

So Spring is underway, and this year more so than any other I’m really engaged in it. I have to be. With all the upheaval and uncertainty, I need something to grasp. Plus I have to work doubly hard, so I appreciate any down time that I do get. And taking time to smell the roses, or at least watch a bird build a nest, is something that most people forego in their endless life pursuits. I’m pretty lucky I guess.

Well if tomorrow is nice out I’ll inspect the orchard. This weekend I’ll start working on the vegetable garden and feeding our berry bushes. And of course we’re patiently waiting for our bees to show up.

nine apple trees

I’m very sore, having not swung a pick ax in some time, up until the last two or three days. But it’s done. Almost a year to the day since we moved in, we officially have an orchard.  Nine little apple trees now dot what was previously just a big square of dried mud.

Nine apple tree orchard.

Nine apple tree orchard.

First off we decided to turn the outdoor wine / sculpture garden into our orchard.  We figured it’d be twenty years before we could ever build, need, use a wine /sculpture garden and we didn’t want to obscure the front view of the house with apple trees. Plus there isn’t enough space in the front yard for nine trees anyway.

The wine garden area had a nasty cut in the ground from where they had started to, but never finished, grading. So my first job was to try and even out the terrain.  I dug into the fairly hard clay with my pick ax and then raked it down to try and smooth things out.  Back breaking work to say the least.  I borrowed an electric tiller from the in-laws to churn up the veggie garden soil, so I used that to great effect in the orchard as well. At least until I broke it (it overheated and gave up the ghost). Then I had to rely on just my pick and determination.  Most sane people would’ve rented a piece of equipment or hired someone to do all this but not me. I needed the exercise and needed to save a buck.

I went to the garden center and picked up some Tree-tone, compost / manure, and was sold on some fertilizer (I’ll have to look up what I bought).  To plant an apple tree you need compost and fertilizer.  I also got these little root fertilizer packs with the trees as well. In addition to all that I picked up some grass seed and grass growing fertilizer. I’ll plant grass throughout the orchard (though each tree gets a circle of mulch). One other thing I picked up, just cause they were so darn cute / cool looking, were some of the new Miracle-Gro Growables seed pods for our vegetable garden.  I figured I’d try them.

Back at the orchard I dug up four-foot diameter holes for the trees.  I spread some Tree-tone plant food, the two fertilizers, compost and some topsoil together. I hammered in a wood post 2-3 inches from where the tree was going to go, on the side where the wind most likely comes from.  The posts were about 4-5 feet long and I sunk them 1-2 feet into the ground. I used 1×2 pieces of wood left over from construction.  I’m thinking round stakes would be better but it’s not a big deal. When I was ready to plant I made sure my trees had been soaking for at least a half hour in water (I unpacked and soaked them as soon as they arrived actually). I pulled a tree out of the water and placed it on a little mound of dirt in the center of the hole. I then tied it off to the stake with pantyhose. Next I spread out the roots and covered them in my soil and compost mixture.  Beyond that more top soil with the clay and what not that I excavated previously from the hole.  Some watering and mulch and I was done.

Tomorrow I’ll secure a new tiller from somewhere and rough up the ground, rake it and then spread my grass seed just in time for next week’s rain.  I also have a few other plants to plant, they’ve been waiting oh so patiently. Until then, I need to get some rest. Never a free moment it seems.