Willseyville Diary 2012

2012/06/01

This has been a busy summer. A full schedule of landscaping, 900 logs to inoculate,  the usual bookkeeping and the occasional event-Asparaganza, and Congrats to my niece Emily, graduating from RIT! Not to mention the workshops and volunteer activities I swore I would actually DO this year. Which all adds up to no trip to the grocery store, and right in the gap between CSA’s.  I did have leftover pasta (a Wide Awake gift, or did we barter?), fresh cilantro (up from seed AND magically overwintered), chives, garlic scapes (culled from my friend Kim’s field o’garlic and planted last year) and fresh mustard greens (not so magically here every year). Saute in Crooked Carrot finishing butter and dump a stray jar of alfredo sauce on it and-voila-instant meal.

Here’s my question-given the speed of that meal, why did we still have to eat it at 9:30 pm??

2012/01/29

Chilly, but sunny, and water unfrozen in puddles. Just saw the new zone hardiness map-up 5 degrees across the US.

2012/02/26Jupiter,the moon and Venus

Friday we tapped some maples. Tomorrow should be a big flow day at 49 degrees! Meantime there was wood to split and stack, and a trifecta-Venus,Jupiter and a crescent moon.

2012/03/04

it’s like real winter today, snowy, gray & cold, even though the ground is still mushy form the rain. We tapped the trees in the hedgerow earlier this week, and Mike spent the day boiling it down to 3 quarts from 30 gallons. It took about 9 hrs, but he didn’t want any relief. It’s kind of a meditative things, and somehow he stays occupied fussing with it. I did the sandwich and coffee run. Now we are finishing it off on the woodstove inside. There’s a much better sugar bush up the hill, but we don’t sell syrup so we don’t need to tap it. I need to learn to cook with maple syrup-the last time we boiled sap in 2008 we sold,gave away and ate, and still have a bit left! And actually we could add syrup to our product line on a small scale basis. There is a good flat spot at the convergence of two creeks that would make a good sugar shack. Meantime, we borrow our neighbors,, as they are nit boiling this yer. We will boil all day today as well. Then we’ll collect next week, boil, and be done. Next week SHOULD be better than this, with cold nights and warm days.

2012/06/05

Yesterday I had ripe strawberries. Today-none! I blamed the raccoons for the previous thefts, but now  (after some judicious netting) I know it is the eastern chipmunk Tamias striatus. They are little criminals, but they are our little criminals. Only one species of chipmunk lives outside of North America-Tamias sibiricus . Meantime Mike’s butternut and black walnut seeds shrink in number.

We do have raccoons requiring a latch on the compost, and one pathetic fella with rabies or distemper. What do you do if you see a wild animal with rabies? Avoid it. Apparently you can call the sheriff, and if they are not busy or if the animal is aggressive they will come. Otherwise, it will die on its own shortly after you see it. If you need to dispose of a dead one, double garbage bags in the trash or a deep hole will do.  We did confirm there is no danger from eating produce (AKA mushrooms) touched by a sick animal, as the virus is fragile and extremely short lived outside the body.

2012/07/10

These hot, muggy days have been hard, especially on the guys. They got a pick up job mowing yesterday and got into some wild parsnip. It’s blooming everywhere now, and if you are outside, sweating, and get it on your skin, you’ll burn. Not as bad as hogweed, but no fun. They put on rain gear and gloves and sweated it out.
Back home we have larvae in the vernal pool. Could they be Ambystoma laterale (blue spotted salamander)? It’s not an uncommon species, but we don’t see them often, though we spotted one near the laying yard not long ago. They are an obligate vernal pool species.There are tadpoles, too. The wood frogs are done, so maybe green frogs?
The vernal pool is one of the neatest ecosystems we have. Though there are other places in the woods where water accumulates seasonally, our main pool is partially manmade. It’s at the bottom of a small cliff in the quarry, a divot in the side of the hill that we imagine may have been used to help build the Ithaca-Owego turnpike. We have heard our well was known to never run dry, and work crews used to stop by for a drink

2012/10/12

The first hard freeze of 2012 is predicted for tonight-24 degrees in mid-October and we’ve barely had a cold snap. Mike and I came home early but we barely got done before dark. All the houseplants had to come in from what I had hoped was their “extended season” time in the greenhouse-yep, put them in there just last week. Many of these are refugees from the short time we were bringing plants up from Mike’s brother’s nursery in Florida to sell here wholesale. We were also toying with the idea of an indoor plant installation/maintenance business-an idea from my family’s side, also southern. We made a few sales, did a few installs, but mostly adopted a houseful of dim-light tolerant bromeliads and cycads. Usually they get cleaned up and sprayed with Safers Soap or Neem Oil first, but today they just got a brisk hit with the hose and popped inside. We also disconected hoses and spray nozzles, drained tanks and barrels, staples the greenhouse plastic shut and put stray plants into the ground. Mike even covered up our one seminole pumpkin plant with straw, hoping for future seeds from it’s lone blossom.

Jewel Mix Nasturtiums before freeze

What I didn’t do was pick the last blossoms for indoor bouquets, which made me sad. Fall is my favorite season, and it seems to go suddenly. My dahlias and delphiniums had only just bloomed, and a strawberry was still ripening!  I love the last few flowers and their brave show, the tattered yellow leaves on the hosta that glow in the low angled sunlight, and the leaves flying through the air.

Running out of light

2012/10/13

I forgot to set the maximun/minimum thermometer, but looks like it dropped to 24 degrees last night.About 30 when I went out this morning,with a layer of frost on the ground. We shouldn’t have a frost for a while, so we are going ahead with planting and other interim chores. Mostly we spent the day touring the woods in the gator with my niece and her boyfriend. We were hoping to interest him in our hunting cabin (in need of repairs) and our deer population (in need of becoming venison).

2012/10/14

Last night I was lying in bed, wondering when the Asian lady beetles and pine bark beetles were going to show up. Today it hit 60, and there were Ladies all over the house-outside, at this point, but I have no illusions. Here’s a link with some facts, if you aren’t already acquainted: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/br/lbeetle/

Actually, I think the USDA article is not very thorough in this case. Though they eat aphids and other pest insects just like our natives, Harmonia axyridis  have very different habits. They commonly hibernate in the corners of the house, raising a stink if disturbed. And they do bite, I don’t care what anyone says.

And what’s happening to our native species? You can help find out: http://www.lostladybug.org/

2012/10/15

Today John Graham form the DEC came out to mark the pine plantation for thinning. It’s always an education to walk the woods with a forester, and John was no exception. We were especially eager to explore the area, which is about 4 acres stocked with 40 foot red pines in row,as we had just recently seen an aerial photo from the 1930’s showing no trees at all.

2012/10/16

Done digging up Dahlias, Canna, Acidanthera and Hymenocallis X festalis (Peruvian Daffodils). They were all frost killed, but they have to be out of the ground before the tubers/corms freeze. The Cannas in particular were awesome in pots-6′ tall with red leaves.

Mike is picking the last of the shiitakes in the greenhouse, though some cold weather strains may be out in the yard.

2012/10/21

Still planting…Today three little redbuds I grew from the seeds of a redbud at the corner of Linn and University. We used to live on that block when I was a kid, and my mom had the first garden I ever saw her have in the front yard. Very tiny-maybe a few tomato plants? I had nothing to do with it, being a useless adolescent, nor did anyone else. I recall her standing in front of it, smoking,contemplating it, but I don’t even recall eating anything from it. It was a supremely private spot, right on the side of the road.

2012/11/18

Last week we spotted the possum who was raiding the compost pile.

Last night we unmasked the birdseed culprits-two fat raccoons. Mike had bungeed the lid on the seed can, which made strange snapping noises as they tried to unhook it. They were also pulling up the rim with their paws while sitting on the top. Not sure how this worked in the past, before the bungee cord, but it did. Shining a flashlight brought them right up to the window like a homing beacon. Enterprising raccoonTapping on the window did the same. Eventually one wandered off, but the more persistent one finally came up with the idea to wedge himself between the house and the can, knock the whole can over, and lever the lid off. Though we were much in admiration of the effort, we brought the can inside. The next morning the grey squirrels were very disappointed.
2012/12/03

Narcissus papyraceus

The generally warm weather and lack of snow kept gardening work coming in. Last week we put in all the bulbs we had, and planted fifteen shrubs in the median of Aurora and State. As usual when we plant in a public site, lots of people take the time to thank us as they walk or drive by. It’s nice to think how people really enjoy the plants downtown.

IMG_5670

Aster novae-angliae ‘Fanny’

The Thanksgiving cactus is finishing up, but the paperwhite bulb a client gave me is making tiny flowers. I am always happy to carry the blooms forward into the winter, though this year I feel like there was hardly a gap, what with the aster Novae angliae Fanny still blooming strongly.

Romanesco broccoli

Same thing with the winter CSA coming-what?-two weeks after the summer one ended? Speaking of which, check out this crazy fractal vegetable with the Fibonacci spirals that came in my share :

2012/12/04

Wow, what a treat today was-in the high 60’s with a breeze. The sun is low in the south and shining down the gardens steps and into my face, and I’ve just been buzzed by a bee.IMG_5650-002
I watered the plants n the hoop house, though being mostly herbs they take care of themselves. The strawberries are finally turning yellow. I think the chipmunks beat me to every one, but that’s okay. We’re still experimenting with uses beyond mushroom logs.
Outside I was able to weed comfortably, as the ground had thawed, so I finished up two of the flower beds I couldn’t get to earlier. It’s tough to keep up on our fairly extensive gardens and nursery. We try to hit them at the beginning and end of the season before we are busy in other peoples yards. Mulching only happens when there is some bark mulch leftover from a job. Mostly we use leaves, especially under trees and shrubs-something we have been trying to persuade clients to do for years. Why rake up and throw away your own tree debris just to replace it with someone elses tree debris, and at a price? If you want to use it in the flower beds, run over it with the mower first. Oh well, as our buddy Eugene says, all work is just moving things from one place to another. And sometimes moving it back…
This year I had a new product-leftover straw from oyster mushroom bags. Some of the straw was all rotted away, but a lot was perfect to break up and use. I even used what had packed itself into a solid sheet of straw to mulch areas I knew were empty. Since we managed to weed these beds, it was a huge relief to get them covered-nature hates bare ground, and sets to work trying to fill it immediately as it is cleared.

Heard somebody cutting up the hill today. We know our neighbors at the top of the hill (south) have a cut planned, but it’s a little soon for them. We walked the line together and realized the markers were way off, so we just had it resurveyed. Living on the side of the hill can be very confusing direction-wise, what with the property lines running straight and the hills sloping in all directions.

2012/12/10

Rainy day, enough to make the creek run a steady trickle. After attending to some paperwork, we went up the hill in the gator to check out the new property line. Crazy after the decades we’ve lived here, but it is much further up the hill than we expected. It includes the largest oak and hemlock on the property and a piece of a logging road we hope to include in our DEC grant for trail creation, all at about 1600 feet. I added some way points on my GPS, which is about all I can do with it so far. I have a terrible habit of becoming enamored of some piece of technology that I can’t manage to learn to use before it becomes obsolete. Next best is to learn just enough to get by but not it’s full potential. For instance, my phone. Which is just a flip open model. On the other hand, here I am writing a blog. Score!

2012/12/12

It’s after 10 a.m. and the hill across the street is in full sun. In the nursery to the west, we have some slanting rays, but none on the house, and the gardens are still crisp with frost.

2012/12/21

Winter solstice, with candles and fireworks. ‘Nuff said…

2012/12/25

Tomorrow there is snow predicted, so the guys are out working on the plow. We finished last year with a bent plow frame, so the old frame had to be removed and the new one put on. Of course, such things are never as easy as they sound, due in part to work arounds required in the original installation.Repairing the plow on the gator As far as I can tell, there are two ways to learn how to deal with mechanical stuff-apprentice and be trained and become a professional whatsit, or bend,break and curse your way to competence.
My daughter & I filled the wood box and moved the cars around. It is cold enough that I don’t expect heavy snow or ice, so I didn’t prepare for a power outage. We always have heat from the wood stove, and water stored for drinking, but if I expect a long term outage, I fill buckets of water so we can flush the toilet when the pump can’t work. When the power goes out, I put all the refrigerated goods in the chest freezer and don’t open it again. What we need is a generator, but so far we’ve squeaked by.

2012/12/04

My cat is on anti-depressants! According to the instructions, we have to call IMG_5655-001911 if he tries to commit suicide! It’s actually meant to be an appetite stimulant when it’s given to cats, I guess. He had his first pill just now, and he’s purring like crazy… He even went outside for bit. He found a notebook I had set down, and as he has always felt it his duty to lie down on anything that comes into the house, he did.Jack is an older fella, having some health problems right now. He’s still beautiful, and as he is kind of a super star in his world, I felt it was time to mention him.

2012/12/26

Gator repair continued this morning, and was concluded successfully just in time for the first big winter storm of the winter, about midday.

WV DAIRY:

2012/07/10

These hot, muggy days have been hard, especially on the guys. They got a pick up job mowing yesterday and got into some wild parsnip. It’s blooming everywhere now, and if you are outside, sweating, and get it on your skin, you’ll burn. Not as bad as hogweed, but no fun. They put on raingear and gloves and sweated it out.
Back home we have larvae in the vernal pool. Could they be Ambystoma laterale (blue spotted salamander)? It’s not an uncommon species, but we don’t see them often, though we spotted one near the laying yard not long ago. They are an obligate vernal pool species.There are tadpoles, too. The wood frogs are done, so maybe green frogs?
The vernal pool is one of the neatest ecosystems we have. Though there are other places in the woods where water accumulates seasonally, our main pool is partially mainmade. It’s at the bottom of a small cliff in the quarry, a divot in the side of the hill that we imagine may have been used to help build the Ithaca-Owego turnpike. We do know our well was known to never run dry, and work crews stopped by for a drink.
Native azaleas
Scan art cards

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