Wednesday, May 6, 2009

long awaited post

I have such a huge following clamoring for a new entry, I thought I better satiate the ravenous public hunger for my writings and bestow a new entry on the world. It has been a while.

Looks like winter is over, but spring is coming late here. My God it is beautiful here in the spring. Spring has always been my favorite time. Let's see what there is to say....

It is still pretty cold at night, around mid 30's to low 40's. No wonder tomatoes don't do well! I'm trying to do tomatoes anyway, but it is definitely not a marginal garden sort of thing. So I am looking into DIY greenhouses and little on the ground growing shelters. I did build one.

Also, for the past few days it has been raining. The rain here is delicious; everyone complains. I love it. It gently drizzles and has occasions of medium rain, and it just goes on and on and on, all night, most of the day. Everything gets completely and thoroughly soaked. What no one seems to admit is that prior to that, we had like 4 weeks in the heart of early spring with NO RAIN. Here we are in the glorious wet pacific northwest and NO RAIN. I did put in some drip irrigation for such times, and it really helps.

My blueberry plants, young though they are, did well through the winter. They were totally buried in snow, but only one got even a branch broken off. They look green and full of sap right now, and are starting to bud, but as of yet no real leaves. I drip irrigate them about 1 gallon an hour for 90 minutes. Of course when it rains like this, I turn that off.

My apple trees, all 8 of them, are behind the trees down the hill by about 2 weeks. They are doing fine, and not only have budded, but have formed small leaves. Now a few have flowers starting to form, and it is very exciting to me. I have a vegetable garden going with onions, peas, lettuce, and some other stuff. The peas love it here. The soil is actually great but I added a load of compost anyway. I am having a terrible battle with weeds because everything loves to grow, and the pasture has never been used to grow anything but weeds before. Add the beautiful soil and the compost and the abundant rain, and the weeds love it.

A friend is really into planting beans, and he gave me about 30 different varieties of bean seeds to try. I am very excited about that, there is something about vine vegetable plants that really excite me as they grow.

I am also growing strawberries, and it is amazing how well they are doing in this climate; green lush, flowering, I can't wait to see the fruits. I put some on the hillside near our house and they are spreading out and taking over.

I also succumbed to ... whatever and planted some tulips and daffodils. I just like to see them sprout up and grow. They are wonderful and garish and colorful. We planted some Dahlias someone gave us as well but no sign of them yet. I don't know what we did wrong.

Both of my riding lawn mowers are broken right now, and I have a LOT of grass on the one side. I need to do something with that, it is too much lawn really. I had to fill in a spot where our friend that plowed the snow kind of missed the road and we drove over the lawn and gouged it out real bad. With all the rain and the mowers broken it is really getting out of hand.

The deciduous trees are turning green again, and the new ferns are sprouting up and uncurling themselves. The young sword ferns are amazing to watch. My glorious Grand Fir has some dead needles on it in various places, I'm wondering if it is OK or if it is natural and healthy. I will have to find out.

We have natural wild bleeding heart flowers growing everywhere right now. I can't believe these grow wild and so abundantly. There is no sign of the Oxeye daisies as of yet.

I am learning that I have to depend on advice and help from many people around here, if I try to be self-sufficient I can't really do it.

I am enjoying being outside, working in it, getting dirt under my nails, digging and inventing solutions to trellises and potholes in the driveway and watering everything the best way and enjoying spring as it unfolds.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

lots of moisture

We had a LOT of snow and a LOT of rain following, and there was some major flooding around here. It was interesting to see what happened to our land because this was pretty much a worst case scenario. There were small lakes in certain areas, particularly around the pond. I was concerned about my trees and blueberries because I didn't want them partially submerged and flooded. It turned out OK, the water spread across and did not flood the area where I planted, except for on blueberry bush. However, in hindsight I probably should have planted a bit further away from the pond. I will have to ask the local nursery where I bought the stuff if it is possible to move things around, probably not. There was also an area out in the lawn that flooded. I also discovered that if you don't mark the gravel driveway, you can't tell where it is when it snows, and you end up snow plowing off of the road and when you drive over the pasture it digs holes and ruins things.

Now that it is somewhat melting off (we've had snow on the groudn for over a month), the grass is STILL green underneath, and the weeds are thriving. Amazing!

So, there is always something to learn, we learned a lot through all of that weather.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I went outside about 3:30 AM this morning and there were at least 3 owls around, hooting to each other. It was too dark to see them but the sound was unmistakable. One was in the large cottonwood tree in the yard. It was extremely foggy and a slight mist was falling, and the grass is finally starting to show through all the snow.

I had to fix the compost again - my solution is NOT working. I have some cinder blocks set up with chicken wire over them. Some animal tore it up and spread it all over the place; I don't think it was the dog. However, the dog got in on the action for sure. I'm going to look into using lime to make the compost less palatable.

Speaking of the dog, he constantly comes up and stares in the window and whines and scratches at the glass and the side of the house. He is a great dog, but he is having trouble realizing that he is a dog. He is also VERY bad with other animals, in particular our cat won't come around any more. So I am telling him BAD DOG and taking him by the collar and chaining him up for a time whenever he does this to train him NOT to do this any more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

dance (a fall poem)

from the bare branch it buds
drawing strength it grows
with many siblings
consumes sap and light
and mystery and wonder
takes it shape
green it works and gives
growing old
glorious it shines

and in one final moment
lets loose
swirls and sways on the wind
a single brief ecstatic dance

with its siblings
carpets the mountain path in splendor
and returns to the dirt.


I realize I am doing this later, but I am sitting here with time and thinking about it. Fall is truly truly glorious here. The mixture of the conifers all green with the orange/yellow/fading green leaves with some flashes of red is a riotous orgy of color. It goes up the mountain behind the house, and lasts no longer than a very few weeks. I remember the sea of yellow on the ground beneath a bare maple; mmmmmm! It was a time for me to plant some apple trees and berry bushes. I planted 3 spartan apple trees, 3 Jonagolds, 3 fujis, 1 pear, and 9 blueberry bushes. I am going to move the strawberries over to the pasture as well. I can imagine that deer and other things are going to fight me for those apples, I will have to figure that out. In the midst of many other problems at that time, I remember planting trees as a very bold statement; I am of the belief that somehow I will stay in the place. It will be a miracle, but when these trees bear their fruit I will see it; I will eat of it.

I also planted some daffodils and tulips around the ancient apple trees. I had mixed feelings about this; I love these kinds of flowers like I love Hershey's chocolate. It is not the best chocolate, it is kind of artificial, you certainly can't live on it, but it sure is good really, isn't it?

In the midst of this, I discovered that the pasture down by the 'pond', the soil is great for digging, it has almost no rocks. The dirt up closer to the house in the same pasture has so many rocks that you might as well start a gravel pit; it takes FOREVER to dig the smallest trench. The problem is, clearly if there is an excess of water it will pool down by the pond near the good soil. I will have to see how my trees do, because it may have been a mistake but I planted them down there. Now it is has snowed and snowed and snowed and then warmed up and monsoon season hit, I fear that whole area is going to be a lake. I am told that this weather is extremely unusual, so I couldn't really have foreseen what was going to happen even if I were and old-timer. Now I know what is possible.


silent wild fury
descends from deep heights
quiet I stand
made of secrets
woven of desire fear music stories
almost blind
wonder at the majestic firs
pressed down with white
so weary of the weight I bear
a slight wind
powder cascades
from some high branch
a silent explosion
a salty tear
born of cold, wonder, secret pain
born of mystery like the stars
washes its path down my whitened face

I move on through the thick deep silence

garden books

I was browsing through a used book store, and I looked through a lot of gardening type books. They are either country kitsch books, how to plant this or that books, or native gardening type books. I'm sure I missed some categories. The point is, the category of book I was looking for didn't seem to exist - a book by a guy who is carving out a relationship, indeed a romance, with his land. It isn't that I don't want to know how to do this or that, but that is all mechanics. If you love the place, you are hungry for mechanics, that is true.If you love the place, you love what is indigenous to it; that IS the place.

But I want to extract the poetry, the music, the dance, the color, the delight from the land. This is different than conforming it to my will. I am part of this land, part of this place. I have come lately and will be here for only a blip of time. I work carefully, I touch it lightly, I walk with worship and see the hand of the God who is real in what is here. There are many and very great challenges, and I realize that this land is much stronger and much greater than I am. I lack knowledge, I lack wisdom, and I lack love, for THIS land, the land where I am. In many cases, this land ends up whipping my butt. I do complain!

However, this does not mean my LOVE for the place, my appreciation of the incredible beauty of the place, the history of it, has diminished in the least. Nor does it mean I demean myself in light of my failures here; I came knowing that I have very much to learn, very much to adapt to. I am in a way a stranger here, and I am in the process of being changed. It is painful and I very much love it, I really do.