Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring: Part 1

This year spring arrived early because of our bout of warm weather a month ago. In between we have had some cold days, but overall it has been very spring-like and altogether lovely. It has been nice enjoying such a lengthy, drawn-out spring. 

The pictures in this past were taken over a couple weeks, going from oldest to newest. I was on my way back across the state and everything was beginning to burst into bloom. There were photo opportunities everywhere, but I was on a schedule and could not stop very often. However little unexpected chances arose, such as these gorgeous flowering trees in the walkway by the music store.

About a week ago I started working on the raspberry patch. Because of the early warm weather the weeds have gotten a wonderful jump, thus it was not a pretty sight that met my eyes the first time I went out there. We have clay, and in-between rains the ground gets as hard as rock. So after a rainfall, and as soon as the slippery, clumping clay is remotely workable, it is best to rush out and get things done before the crazy winds on our hill dry the ground back out. Sometimes if we do not have wind the ground will stay soft longer.
I did some weeding, raked away a great deal of dead rubbish from last fall and then called it quits because I was in need of thick gloves before I pruned. I came back a few days later with two helpers and got more weeding and raking done, as well as pruned back dead  and/or wild growth. The patch is not quite ship-shape. But it is looking pruned and respectable. Every time I scoop the boys beans I spread a bucketful or two around the base of the raspberry canes. Alpaca beans are mild enough that you can use them straight in your garden. There is normally some straw interspersed with the beans, but it will help keep down the weeds and eventually decompose and add nutrients to the soil.

Crabapple tree

Apple tree.
Maple tree.

The leaves are coming on ever so slowly, but each week the hazy green in the distance deepens and the woods look fuller. The field behind us has been planted already. Corn. Not at all a happy thing for me, as well as other members of our family. We were never allergic to corn, but something about this new GMO corn is not good for our allergies. Lets just say for about a month and a half some of us can not even go outdoors comfortably, nor have the windows open in the house. Its a relief when we can get away from the corn and are able to breathe without sneezing constantly or having running eyes.

The Applemint has spread and is doing nicely. It is almost impossible to eradicate it, (short of a huge excavation and some sort of poison I suppose!) so everywhere we have been it has done nicely. But here with all this lovely(?) clay, it grows huge and happy. It is nice for tea, however we haven't dried a whole lot of it in recent years. Though I do believe I will try drying a bunch of it this summer. My Mother and my sister-in-law both make soap and it would make a nice add-in to certain scents.

Windfall & Mounty
And now on to the animals on the farm! The alpacas are doing well, there have been some temporary modifications to their living arrangements.....

.......And for a while there they were not sure how they felt about it.  But now everyone is settling in nicely and getting used to the change. Meet our newest members.....

.......Guinea Hens!

The ladies are about 6 months old. We purchased them from my Aunt. Due to her other animals they were not very compatible on her farm. Her poor bulldog pup had to be on a leash and was getting chubby from lack of exercise. Not to mention they can be a little noisy when alarmed.
But so far we've not had any trouble with them. They have to be kept enclosed for awhile, so they get used to their new home and do not try running off. They are all just starting to lay, and we get four or five eggs every day. It is a nice steady amount. Not enough to give eggs away very often, but also not so many as to overwhelm us. Guinea eggs are different from your standard chicken eggs. They are quite small, we've heard two guinea eggs equals one large chicken egg. To me they just look like small chicken eggs. The shells on the eggs are quite thick, they feel like little rocks when I hold them in my hand.
The ladies do not have names as of yet. It is not like we will be able to tell them apart! But we do like to name our creatures. 

The first time let the ladies wander around the boys pen Mounty has tried to chase them. But he and Windfall both are learning to listen. After getting after him, he has since left them alone. Sunday while I was taking care of the guineas water they escaped out the barn door behind me. I had not had that happen before and I was envisioning them flying over the fence and escaping entirely. Mounty instantly went on the alert and let out a little hum, taking a step toward them. But I firmly told him no, and after watching them a moment he went back to eating. Windfall ignores them unless they are let out in the lawn to eat grass and bugs. Mother did that once, last week, and he was quite agitated. I don't know if it was because he thought they were somewhere where they didn't belong (since they are usually kept locked up) or if it was because he wanted to be outside his fence. The grass is always greener you know....

That is all the farm news for now! 
Next up:  a new (for me) spinning technique!

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