Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Folly of Poultry

We have just ordered baby chicks and ducklings over the internet. (Why do we say ‘baby chicks’? That’s like ‘tuna fish’) We don’t know when we’ll get them; the hatching of all the different varieties we ordered must come off at the same time for them to ship them all in one box, like some harmonic convergence of poultry. They must all ship in one box to keep each other warm. We ordered four varieties of chickens and two types of duck; hopefully there will be a launch window for them this spring. With six varieties of bird all having to hatch on the same day, it’ll be a touchy thing.

We were only going to order two types of chicken- Barred Rocks and Americaunas- but the Marek’s vaccinations is a $10 minimum at 15 cents a chick. Tim’s mind could not get around spending ten dollars for a $1.50 job, so he figured that by ordering twice as many birds we’ll get a little more of our monies worth out of the $10. So now we are also getting five White Rocks and five Cherry Eggers as well. Come autumn, we will be up to our butts in eggs.

We are also getting three Swedish Black ducks, because they are calm natured and we should be able to turn them loose in the garden during the day for slug patrol and still be able to capture them in the evening. And three Khaki Campbells, because they lay a lot of eggs. As if we’ll need more eggs with all those chickens.

So now we will wait in suspense, wondering when we’ll get an email saying “They’re on their way! And by the way, to fill your order in this time frame, we’ve had to substitute 6 geese for the ducklings!” *shudder*

Monday, March 29, 2010

Give a boy an easy chair and a remote controller and he's happy

Sideshow is considerably less pleased with the situation than Banshee is; Banshee feels that all love him. In this circumstance, he is wrong.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Unseemly Haste to Plant

It happens every year, of course, but this year it’s earlier than usual. With the lack of snow and the warmer than normal days, it’s hard to resist. Roses are starting to leaf out, perennials are coming up. And the nurseries have young plants for sale, at least a month earlier than average. How can a person resist?

It would be foolish to plant now. For one thing, our average last frost is the middle of May, and it’s usually later than that. But even if the plants put out are hardy ones, the soil cannot be worked yet. Except for the top inch, it’s still got that jelly-like texture. If it’s worked now, before it’s dried out, it will turn into concrete and not be a good texture again until after next winter’s multiple freeze-thaw cycles break it up. That, or a little low level atomic testing. Our soil is still wet enough that the weeding I’ve been doing has all been from the paths and edges. The few times I’ve put my foot out into the garden beds, it’s sunk down and created a footprint that I suspect will be there until next spring. So I resist, watching the weeds that I can’t reach grow taller, and wishing I could plant things.

I’m not totally virtuous, though. I’m starting to amass a collection of plants that have followed me home. The hardy ones – the white salvia, the variegated polemonium- live on the porch night and day. Another one followed me home today, a purple anemone. It’s in for the night because it’s been in a greenhouse and I don’t know how cold it got in there at night, but it’ll only take it a few days before it can be left out full time. Other things go out during the day and spend the nights inside- the flat of baby spinach (which Banshee seems intent on having for baby salad greens), the rooted cuttings of privet and mandevilla. The tomatoes, peppers and other things have been seeded and soon those flats will need light during the day. We’re working on getting the greenhouse usable again, but it’s a long, hard task of taking it almost completely apart and putting it up again. We’ll be up to our waists in seedlings before it is ready to receive plants. Why does the human soul have to be so keen to start the gardening season? By midsummer, I’ll be sick of weeding and watering and ready for fall!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's sunny, and we have our first outdoor blooms of the year. This is about a month early for our area; last year we were still buried in snow.

Also, some of the heucheras kept their leaves over winter. These three plants are seed grown from either Dr. Sitar's Hybrids or Dale's Strain; sadly, I don't remember which! They are almost identical in color to Ring of Fire, except they don't get the orange outline in fall.

Lots of the roses have leaf buds that are nearly bursting. Most of the perennials are coming up- one of the dwarf perennial peas is about to bloom. Sadly, it looks like my beautiful pale pink digitalis did not survive the winter, and I don't know if any seedlings will sprout for next year bloom. I hope so; I love that color!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I've been working outside a lot the last week, and have barely touched my needlework, but I've put the first embellishments on.

I love the look of ribbonwork- it adds so much dimension and fullness to a piece- but have never been good at it. This technique doesn't require pulling the ribbon through the fabric dozens of times, which is where I always run into trouble. Laying it on top of the fabric and couching it down, there is no risk of fraying.

I've taken this idea- and the design I've started with the outline stitch- from Marsha Michler's book The Magic of Crazy Quilting: A Complete Resource for Embellished Quilting

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Yesterday I finally potted up the cuttings I took last year from Colin's privet and the mandevilla that the local ladies club brought to my father-in-law's memorial. They thought the mandevilla was a perennial- the tag said it was- but sadly, it's not perennial here. We tried to keep the big plant going in the house this winter, but it succumbed.

So, here are the young plants, with added cat! (Natasha)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Naked CQ Blocks

Got a couple of crazy quilt blocks pieced for the annual raffle that's held at the Crazy Quilt conference in Omaha. Various people from around the world make blocks, send them to a central point, and then two women make them up into wall hangings, which are then raffled off at the conference, with the proceeds going to scholarships for the conference and to breast cancer research. You have a choice of making jewel toned blocks or monotone ones; this year, I've gone with a peach one and a purple one. Despite a love of the jewel toned blocks, I don't seem to be able to work with them nearly as well as with the monotones. Here are the naked blocks:

Friday, March 5, 2010

I love primroses (primula). They are so cheering (and inexpensive) at this time of year, and when they finish blooming, I can plant them out in the yard where they live for years and bloom spring and fall!