Tag Archives: nova scotia

June frost

The frost looks like lavender.According to my “research” (and I forget my source), in the last eight years it’s only frosted once in June, and that was the 1st.  Here we are in the first week, and we got a doozy.  It’s going to throw off all my planning numbers (this year I planned for a May 20 last frost).

I got to try out the Almanzo Wilder splash the plant with water before the sun hits it thing.  The potatoes were just poking up, and a few of the squashes were frozen in spite of covering, so I ran around with a bucket and freezing hands in the morning.  Everything will live.

Most things are fine, because I covered them.  I’m good and sick of covering everything by now.  Some of the squashes, the ones I put buckets over, took some damage, but the plants will live.  The ones with boxes over were untouched.  The walnut trees took a lot of damage, to the new branch-tip leaves.In the GH, in the chickery, the new chicks are whizzing around.  Two Brownies and two Oreos, one mysteriously tiny – I suspect a Silkie cross.Mom is fierce!  She attacks my hand sometimes when I dare reach in to feed them.  Then all the chicks run and jam their heads under something, and she savages my arm, thumping it with her feet.  She’s climbed it to the elbow.  Take that!  And don’t come back.

Lovely. I have Lyme disease.

I’ve missed a couple posts, but I’ve got excuses.   And Lyme disease.

It’s been an epic week, getting pigs, and bees, cut off from posting images, and exposed to poison ivy, plus some community group stuff I’m involved in.

Saturday a bite by my knee that had been unusually itchy and inflamed since I was bitten a week earlier hinted at forming a “sun dog” in the morning, and by afternoon was the unmistakable bull’s eye rash.

I’m lucky; it’s a 50-50 chance that Lyme manifests in the unambiguous target rash.  It was really a matter of time; with the degree of exposure to ticks I have around here, Lyme was statistically practically an inevitability.  But all’s well – I’ve started the antibiotics and had  a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (Chocolate Therapy).  I feel normal.  It’s all about catching it early, before the headaches, and fever, …. and nervous system destruction, set in.

This tick, if it even was a tick (I suspect a spider), was definitely not on me for 24 hours, like “they say”.  It wasn’t on me for eight.  I woke up with the bite in the morning, and if it wasn’t a spider – the usual bite-in-the-night culprits – then I scratched the tick off in my sleep and never saw it again.

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In other news, I’m down to one guinea.  I was hoping that the disappearance of the second last (a hen), meant she had gone to sit on eggs.  But I found her body tonight:(  One left standing.  And I had them down to four peaceful, quiet guineas. Why are they dropping like flies?

The pigs are still with us, and after sleeping almost the entirety of their first day here, prefer to root over eating their food, and loooove the hay.  They bury themselves in it in all kinds of ways.

The old chicks are all feathered in, the size and approximate capability of sparrows, and have liberated themselves from the chickery.  Then their mom was getting too much abuse from the loose roosters, so I put the family into the controlled environment of Silkieland, and they mostly stay in there but come and go under the fence too.

The new chicks are peppy and cute, two Ameracaunas and two little Oreos again.  Little tuxedos.  I hope they are Cleopatra’s (Oreo hen as an adult), but one is much smaller than the others, and I suspect it’s a Silkie cross.  I can’t imagine Cleopatra letting that happen (?!), but I’ve never seen a chicken runt either.  We shall see.

First tick!

Good god, a tick already?!!

A deer tick, first week of March! (On HW.   He was pruning fruit trees).  What is the world coming to?

Hello creepy crawly feelings of ticks walking on me, whether or not they’re really there.  For the next seven months.

I should have taken a picture before cutting the tick in half.  I figure no picture is better, now.

Away from the storm

Maritime Canada and Eastern US is being pummeled by an epic storm, and I’m not at home.  HW is holding down the fort, (perhaps literally, in the gale), and I hear a chick has hatched for Brown Bonnet in the broody kennel.  She’s now comfortably in the house, working on her pet chicken status. (It was only a matter of time.  Whomever I once confidently told that I would “never have hens in the house” … yeah, yeah, ok). All the hype about these storms rolling through is making me suspicious.  Isn’t this phenomena also known as … winter?

And why all these names?  There really isn’t anywhere to go from “Bomb Cyclone”.  That seems to set up an expectation, like it might be disappointing if it turns out not to be aggressively destructive; if it turns out to be, simply, a storm.  With rain, snow, and high winds.

To compare, this is the 20 year anniversary of the truly epic cataclysm in Ontario and Quebec, and it’s known as “The Ice Storm” (dignified and deserved capitalization).

The birds have been at work, preparing.

Pig plowshares

“Pigs plow a field with their face.  If that doesn’t seem remarkable to you, try it sometime.” – Forrest Pritchard, Gaining Ground

It’s really laborious to move the pigs right now, at least a morning’s work.  It’s really three jobs at once: moving the pigs, clearing alders,  and cutting firewood.  At least that’s what I tell myself.

I’m trying to win back some of the field, and using the pigs to do it.  I’m moving them along the edge of the present field, which is a good 50´, maybe more, grown in from where the field used to spread.

I certainly wouldn’t be pegging away at it like I am unless I had these greedy little snouts pressuring me.  They LIVE to root.  They will wait to eat fruit, if there’s some fresh rooting to do.  They’re in the ZONE rooting, focused, concentrating, pretty quiet.  Trouble is, they turn over a patch so fast I feel like I’m constantly working for them, to give them new space.

To create a loop that the fence can be set up, that encloses some “trees” for pig shade, a swathe needs to be cut out for passage.  Then after the pigs have been through and killed every sprout and twig, their shade needs to be cut down and cut up, and then the nicely tilled, though lumpy, ground seeded.

Before
Fence corridor cut out
Pigs attack
After

The alders stretch out long arms before they grow up, but still, they’re easier to deal with than the buckthorn, which tangles, and tangles, and tangles, so you can cut loads of it, and it’s all still standing up, because it’s so tangled together.  Mix them together, the sideways swooping alder, and the straight, thick branched buckthorn- wow.

 

An amazing volume of material comes out of even a small space that didn’t seem so dense when it was all standing up.

The nightmare buckthorn at least burns nice; it’s a hardwood, dries fast, doesn’t need to be split.

 

Bats back

So many exciting things today!

Mama Silkie I completed hatching out her eggs for a grand total of seven little Silkie chicks, three white and four brown.  They are at liberty in the greenhouse but haven’t gone more than a couple feet from the box.

A restorative friend visit and blueberry pick- 10# of fat blueberries that the piglets and chickens will be ecstatic to have a little taste of.

The promise of rain!  The smell is light relief in the air.

Then the guineas decided to level up.

We win. We’re up higher!

While I was taking pictures of these clowns, a BAT! came flapping around.  100% bat!  It was flying right over my head to hoover up the bugs that I was attracting and I saw the whole bat silhouette against the sky (much clearer than my camera saw it).  It seems like the bats might be on their way back from the brink!

The tick horror show

Wood ticks lie in wait everywhere.

On the chickery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the handles of buckets and baskets

 

 

 

And especially near the garden

 

This picture is worth taking a really long, close look at. How many ticks?
This is a zoom in. Less than 35, you’re not seeing them all

 

This was a bad tick day.  I had ticks all over me all day, and I thought I should have kept count.  I probably had 30 ticks on me today. 

So the next day I did count.  It was not as bad a tick day as the previous day, but I carefully counted all the ticks I pulled off of my clothes and self:

Forty-four (!).

And on my garden gate. I’m going to have to touch that.
This is what happens when I pick up a bucket or basket like that. They swarm enthusiastically up my hand!  Gross.

 

The ticks came marching two by two

There are at least nine ticks in this picture.

I was out in the garden half the day, putting in some starts.  I go back to my pots of broccoli, and I find a mass of competing ticks playing king of the mountain on the popsicle stick (gross!).

Ticks climb up things, and then wait at the very tip of a branch or stick, reaching out their little legs like they want a hug, waiting for a mammal to walk by, and then they will drop  or grab as you go by.   The two on the right hand pot are in position.

Here, the popsicle stick must have been the highest point, so hot property.  They also like to sit in wait on the rim of buckets.  While I was taking the picture, and thinking how long is it going to take me to kill all these ticks?  a couple dropped and set off at a clip straight towards me.  They must have a great sense of smell.

We have lots of ticks.  Stand still anywhere, watch the ground, and you can find a  tick walking toward you.  This is not a fun feeling.

And where there are real ticks, there are phantom ticks.  There´s nothing like the first tick bite of the year to start up that feeling of ticks crawling all over you, all the time, even if it´s actually your hair or the tag in your shirt.  Less than ten percent of the time, it is a real tick, but ´tis the season to be on edge.

I need several platoons of guineas out here to mop them up.  Speaking of which, they all seem to be getting along.  This morning when I opened the greenhouse, the new ones led the charge out the door and flowed straight into the woods. 

I caught sight occasionally of the new ones in the woods, confused, squawking, but at the end of the day they were all together again, and standing around the greenhouse.  Hopefully the new ones will show them around.

 

First Real Garden Day

I´m going to be so sore!

We were attacking the garden today, replacing fence posts; the old ones were rotten and broken (“these should last for a year” – three years ago!).  Shaping garden beds out of the remaining areas of our fenced space.  These spots have been covered with waste silage plastic (as seen in background) for a year or more, and the earth is awesomely root-free.

In other words, digging shallow trenches.  Which immediately filled with water.  Digging that is like wet concrete, clumping and dragging on the boots and shovel and resisting being dumped out of the wheelbarrow.  Especially since I´m digging to the clay layer, which will be filled in with wood chips.  Getting that topsoil off to pile on the beds, instead of supporting weeds in the aisles.

This…
…will look like this after an infusion of wood chips

But the bugs aren’t out yet!  So it´s all glorious.  Any day now, the bugs, the peepers, and the tree buds will all pop out at once, so it´s time to enjoy the peaceful working conditions.

Can you tell I´m really into mulch?  So nice, though, to just peel off the mulch blanket and sow.

My first planting!  Spinach, two weeks late, according to my planting calendar. I felt like I should start gardening like I mean it, so I put some brain work in in the winter planning the planting schedule for starts and direct sowing, and it sure feels good now to have a simple schedule to follow.

I mapped the garden in seven areas, for crop rotation, estimated how much of X thing I want to grow, and then calc’ed back/forward from frost date and made a calendar.  Now all I have to do is follow it.  Far less thinking.  It´s nice to not be mapping each little bed for “what was in here last year/previous two?”  Tedium.

Provided my last frost date projection (guess) of May 21 is not wildly off (actual date fluctuates between Apr 30 and Jun 1 in the last five years), the planting calendar will be a wild success.

Inside, the starts are thriving.  Again with the calendar, I shouldn’t have too-leggy tomatoes and too-late celery when it´s time to transplant out, thanks to my planned and staggered starting.  Yes, I´m just now figuring this out. 

Atlas melon sprout is pushing up a huge chunk of dirt on that tiny stem
All of them like to lift up a little dirt, but not that much!

Seedy Saturday!

I got all the seeds I needed for the year (including tobacco!) at Seedy Saturday, hosted by Helping Nature Heal, in Bridgewater.

Nova Scotia’s  “big” organic seed companies were all there vending seeds – Hope Seeds, Annapolis Seed, Cochrane Family Seeds, plus more – Twisted Brook,  Yonder Hill, Storm Cast, and the South Shore Public Library’s Seed Library.

Then there was the free seed table, where attendees dropped off their surplus saved seeds for others to take- lots of flower seeds!

Since I was saving so much on shipping costs, I came home with a few “flights of fancy” seeds (peanuts?!) that will make this year’s experiments.

I met Nikki Jabbour, local celebrity author and year-round gardener, who gave the morning lecture, and there was a delicious soup or chili lunch with bread and popcorn, donations accepted for the food bank.

This was Helping Nature Heal‘s 11th Seedy Saturday, but the first time I made it.  It was packed, unsurprisingly.