Friday, April 26, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 209

 I’m still doing daily gardening, mostly weeding the various beds/areas of non-natives and some of the more aggressive natives that will take over if allowed. It’s working well for me to take it a couple of trugs at a time, and I am working hard to think of it as a daily practice rather than a to do list check off of a task. 

Today I watered the viburnums along the front fence and they’re all doing quite well. Most of the southern bayberries continue to grow and thrive; there are two small strips where they just won’t grow and I don’t really know why. Since my larger plan is to create a native hedgerow along the front fencing, I’m going to do some research and see if I can find something new and of course native to fill these gaps. By the time fall comes around again I’ll have that figured out. 

I noticed today that the live stake elderberries we pounded in along several areas of perimeter fence line are also doing well. I focused on sloped areas where they will provide some screening but even more importantly erosion control. 

I’m really happy with what I call the “shady strip.” It’s taken a couple of years to get it looking more like the vision I had, but it’s finally starting to, and I took some photos today to try and capture that. I remember when it was a huge tangle of poison ivy and smilax and also a lot of interesting things trying hard to grow. It’s an area where water from the crow forest tends to join with drainage pipes coming from one side of the driveway down from the barnyard that feed into a larger drainage pipe that goes further down the driveway and across to the front pasture. That confluence of stormwater combined with shade at the edge of forest creates an interesting opportunity for some really nice natives. 

There are a lot of plants volunteering around and mixed in with the things I’ve put in, some native and some not, and I’m working on removing the nonnatives and making decisions about the natives, but also not wanting to take all the roots out of the ground until I can replace them with what I want to be there. In some instances I’m moving the native volunteers to other places. It’s so nice when good things pop up!

It’s lovely seeing that the things I planted settling in and spreading. If I can keep the things I don’t want from taking over, this visioned space will continue coming into reality. 

There used to be one gigantic brush pile in this area, but now there are two where I put things I pull out of all the various beds. Brown bunnies and birds love these brushy areas at the edge of the forest and I have come to love the patterns of the discarded stems and foliage. 

We have a lot of stone to continue lining the drainage area and I may make a border along the front edge to create a hardscape boundary to this long and winding bed. 

Across the driveway at the corner of the fencing where the drainage pipe comes out to the front pasture, I made the bluebird bed a few years ago and have continued adding to it. I started weeding there today and it too is coming into its own now. The bluebirds are nesting in their box and I really loved seeing the Indian physic at the bottom of the post, which was tiny when I put it in two years ago, really thriving this spring. 

I’d like to outline this bed with some stone too, and give it some definition. 

Across the front pasture, down to the far corner, the bird haven absolutely feels that way now. It turned a corner this year, it seems, though that area too needs some very focused weeding to keep a few things from taking over. I’ll be working on that over the next week or so. 

The place I never get to is Poplar Folly, where I still have the plan to make an actual woodland pathway that winds in a sort of figure 8 pattern down there. We’ve gotten the apiary organized for the season, and thanks to my husband, the two colonies that made it through winter (out of 4) are now split and we had a swarm come into the Hegemone hive (I actually think they came back!) for a total now of 5 thriving colonies. We plan to split Hegemone as they are building up very quickly, and that will be 6. I have one more hive box and a lovely wooden nuc box I may set up down there to see if we lure any more swarms with them. 8 would be a sort of magic number and I’d rather see the boxes being used than sitting in my beekeeping storage room!

The potager is also booming and needs to be weed-eated and tidied for the summer season. I’ll get around to it as I continue rotating around the farm. 

It’s a busy and rich springtime here. I am loving the privacy that comes with the leafing out of all our trees. The cicadas are emerging, the swallows are back, and we have a nest of eastern phoebes this year too. Chickadees in one bluebird box, bluebirds in the other. My owl box ready and waiting from an owl family to move in. There have been some hard things this year but as usual, November Hill is holding things together. 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

November Hill farm journal, 208

 The front garden bed is doing its amazing first wave of spring show right now:

My viburnums are all leafed out!

We’ve had a swarm move into our empty honeybee hive.

We’re planting the vegetable beds.

Someone dear is learning to love our other dear ones.

Life is being challenging in a lot of ways right now, but the farm and its routines, its joys and beauties, keeps us going. 

And might I note that we looked at a farm we wanted to make an offer on and then learned that its HOA did not allow donkeys! Never mind, we said, noting that they are missing out to prohibit such gentle, loving creatures.