Doe a Deer


With the continuing spring snow, the deer are looking for better shelter. They are very comfortable around us since we removed the back yard fence and haven’t gotten dogs yet. A doe and a couple of young ones tucked themselves under the bush just outside our back door and spent the night there.

If it wasn’t for all the deer poop, eating the lilacs and low hanging apple tree leaves, I’d love to have them stay!

See a video on YouTube:



More Spring Snow!

Snow and Deer

More snow! How long is this going to last? It’s supposed to continue for another few days. The apple blossoms are partially open. Let’s hope they don’t all freeze. If you look close, you can see the deer laying underneath the lilac bushes.

The growing season is rapidly shrinking. Less time means less harvest. We could regain time if the weather cooperates the rest of the season. Here is crossing fingers.

The cold weather transplants are getting too big for the trays. I may have to plant when it gets above freezing, using a row cover to protect them.

Over grown transplants

This is also effecting the building of the run and preparing the beehives for the bees coming in two weeks!
We will be so happy when the weather warms again, but then it will be a race to get things done!

Coop Upgrades

Poop Deck

The weather hasn’t been warm enough to move the overgrowing chicks into the coop yet so upgrades are being done. First, a necessary addition for ease of cleaning, a poop deck was added. It’s basically drawers under the roosts that can be pulled out to scrape the poop into a bucket. Weekly the drawers can be pulled completely out and be sprayed down with a hose.

Electricity has been brought in with 3 outlets. We’ve added heat lamps and plugged them into thermostat plugs. The lamps turn off once it reaches a certain temperature.

Electric Coop

We found the temperature swings are too wide inside the coop so added some reflective insulation liner to the ceiling, It will probably become more beneficial in the summer when it get’s hot. Chicken’s can die of heat easier than the cold.

Insulated Coop

Hoping to move the chickens into their coop soon as they are starting to jump high! They basement brooder won’t hold them in for much longer!

The Apple Trees are Blooming! 

Apple Tree buds

It’s finally feeling like spring! The apple trees are blooming along with the wild blue bells. The lilacs are starting to form flower buds and the garden rows are finally finished! The back section of the garden will be mounded for vine plants. Which reminds me….I need to prune the grapes that grow around the shed.

Crop Rows

Spending the evenings planting more transplants into trays has been relaxing. Tomatoes and peppers filled up their own trays. The list of herbs is long including lavender, rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, parsley and lemon balm.

Tomorrow will be flowers. The focus is xeriscape flowers to reduce water usage. My top picks are sage and blanket flower.

Looking forward to planting seeds and transplants outside!

Let the Vegetable Garden Begin!

Garden rows

Snow is almost gone, transplants are getting big, so it’s time to prepare the bed! It’s been a long winter so I will probably be sore tomorrow. I completed about 1/2 of the rows by double digging and forming by hand the wider, deeper rows than last year. This should reduce the erosion we had last year. I also spend time with a yard stick and string to actually make them straight this year! An irritation for my better half who tried to lay the drip irrigation.

Hopefully I can get the other 1/2 done tomorrow because we are running out of growing time!

Uncovering Spring

Peony under snow

After 3 days of snowing, it’s time to try and save all my spring flowers that were buried under a couple feet of snow in some spots. These peonies that were already fully budded out were buried under 3 feet of snow. There is an angled sunroom above it so all the snow that built up on the roof slid down and kept accumulating on this normally beautiful perennial bed! It’s important to wait until the snow is completely done falling so you only have to do this once. Multiple times is too much stress on the plants.

First, I used a snow shovel to pull off the top 2 feet, leaving about 8-10 inches of snow still on the plants. You have to be careful not to dig too far or you will break stems, which I did with some of my daffodils.

I carefully pulled the snow off the plants by hand, not putting any pressure on them except a very slight lift from underneath to dust the snow completely off. And guess what……it works!  They stood right back up by the next day!
PeoniesEven my daffodils popped back open!


Growing Indoors

coffee tree flower

Just when I thought I couldn’t get excited about growing plants due to snow, I found this flower on my indoor coffee tree! What you don’t know about this coffee tree is it is 7 year old and has been through 5 cross country moves! I got it when it was only 2 leaves and it’s now it’s 6 1/2 feet tall! And this is it’s first flower EVER!

What a nice pick me up from the frustration on not being able to work in the garden!

Building a Bigger Brooder

big brooder

There is no space left in the brooder. The chicks have gotten too fed up with each and there is more squawking than we can stand. They are still too young to move into the coop not to mention the snow and wide temperature swings that could potentially kill them. It’s time to get creative and take drastic action. We cut a number of large packing boxes boxes open and duct taped them together into a large 7 X 7 foot box in our basement spare bedroom. We put a tarp underneath it, a tarp on the inside of it, lined it with protective paper an then dropped in pine shavings. The room has it’s own thermostat so we brought it up to 80 degrees and the hung a heat lamp over the box to keep the box at 85. Works like a charm! Although a bit dusty. Hopefully this will only be for 2 weeks maximum.

It is so nice to finally see the chicks run, jump and flap their wings. We started to see more chicken like activity like scratching and pecking the ground. Now they are starting to establish a pecking order. They come face to face with the competition, stretch up tall and start bumping chests! It’s a riot! Much more fun to play with them in their new environment.

More Spring Snow

Snowy Apple Tree

And this is why we are still planting our vegetables in transplant trays rather than starting outdoors!

We are only half way through the storm and there is already 5-6 inches of snow pulling the lilacs down to the ground. We already learned some things the last time we tried to save our bushes and trees from the snow. Unless the branches look like they are going to break, it’s better to let the snow slowly melt off on it’s own. Bouncing and shaking the plant can actually do more damage than good. We found more broken branches on the trees we shook than the ones we left alone.

If you can tell branches are ready to break, carefully BRUSH them with a broom, pushing up rather than down. That should release just enough pressure to keep from breaking.  If you do have a break, don’t give up. We had a real serious crack on an apple tree and tied the limb up enough that it mended itself!

Hold on folks! We have another 24 hours of this!

Fruit Tree Freeze

Pear flowers

The pear tree blossoms are just starting to open and the apple trees are full of unopened buds. Unfortunately they are predicting 12-15 inches of snow over the next two days and the blooms are at risk! If it gets too cold they will freeze and if there is a lot of snow, the weight will break the buds off. As long as the buds are closed they have a great shot of surviving.

Last year the trees were in full bloom when 18 inches of snow fell. Every flower died leaving us with no fruit. Even if the buds survive this time, it’s been known to snow in May.

You can buy large covers for trees to protect them in freezing conditions. If we lose all the blossoms this year I may very well consider them for next year!

Let’s hope for the best!