Friday, October 13, 2017

Late September, Early October

SUMMER SUCCESSES:  The small coleus and impatiens in pots under the shade area were truly gorgeous.  So were the flowers in the cement block planters (including the happiest of all my dozen snow in summer plants).  Wild sunflowers and morning glories--crazy wild enthusiastic rangy beauty.  Gloria's onions!  Otherwise, for all our work and watering, not a huge success.  The grass patch, after struggling and looking thready all summer, looked terrific the week after our torrential rains.  No secret what IT loves.

Tues Oct 5th .17"  (back to our normal piddling amounts)  Then nothing.  Now it's mid-October and bone dry... everything cracked and wilting.  :(  What we DO have after our brief rainy season, is a CARPET of those fall weed seeds (what are they called?!) 

We had a hard freeze scare Monday night, Oct 9th.  I blasted home and put up the window glass and clear plastic roofing panels to keep the wind off the hens.  Then we covered some of the zinnias & most of the tomatoes.  I believe we dodged a bullet.  It was 33 when I got up at 6, sagged to 32 for about an hour as the sun was coming up.  Sweet potatoes got burned. Think everything else is okay.


R and K Reproductive strategies, right?  The black locust is LOADED with seed pods this year.  And since we are increasingly worried that using them as a mulch in that bed is killing off everything else, I've been spending a fair amount of time and energy gathering them up and relocating them along the top of the ditch where the dirt is bare.  The tree guy told Gloria he didn't think they were poisonous, just that the mulch was too thick in the bed.  (Note to self: research that at some point.)

Fall is so bittersweet, with the days getting shorter and shorter, the nights progressively colder, pill bugs and spiders sneaking into the house in flock, looking for a safe place to overwinter.  Starting to worry about the overnight lows... you know the killing frost will come.  But we are hoping it will be in November and give us one last spell of warmth, a few more weeks before it happens.  Sorrow.  Loss.  Growing darkness. 

I was hauling some water over to pour on my spindly onion crop, and bent to look at the skeletal remains of my two pitiful spring chard plants.  OMG--they are FULL of tiny new green leaves:  a couple of plants that looked dead, quietly coming back to life.  (I missed having them to eat over the long hot summer).

Not pictured -- the dozen garlic cloves I asked G if I could plant in the bed where her onions were this spring (they were gorgeous).  When I came back about a week later and crouched down, you could see them poking up!  Also, I disturbed the soil in that spot--there was a dense mat of onion seedling (like spring grass).


Miscellaneous news:  a new roll of 5' fencing in an attempt to contain Earheart.  She scared the crap out of us, sailing over into yard.  Gloria went out to do something, dogs blasting out with her to keep her company.  She saw a chicken blur go by and shrieked.  (Sunny doesn't have a collar!)  We were able to grab them both and toss them into the house.  By the time we found her, Miss E. was reconsidering her choice--pacing back and forth by the gate, obviously interested in retreating to safety, but not having gotten up the motivation or momentum to fly back over.  :(  That must have been Saturday morning (Oct 17).  After taking Abuelo for lunch, we stopped at Lowe's for fence.  Went home and put it up immediately.
Photo:  new taller fence.  Also pictured, the straw bale I gave them they are happily dismantling.  Makes the yard look cozy somehow.  What is it about bald, cracked, dry dirt...  :( 


RAIN - all at once

Tuesday Sept 26, 1.09"
Wednesday Sept 27, 1.08"
Average ANNUAL rainfall in Albuquerque:  6.88"

Friday, September 22, 2017

PS. Mid-August Onions, peaches & plums

Equinox - September 22nd.

( Photo?  Date?)  The elm branch that got cracked and torn, and is more or less a huge javelin poised to crash down and take out Father Joe's fence and/ or his bushes or the entryway to his side door.  Very frustrating that I didn't have a ladder tall enough to get up there and bring it down.  One of those things that, as my father's daughter, I should be able to do.  Ultimately, we got lucky.  It is still resting roughly where it was.  Eric's Tree Service should be coming any time now to clean it all up.  *Note - tree guy said they moved to the south valley.  And someone promptly stole his THIRTY FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR chipper.  As much as I have wanted a tiny residential-sized chipper, I felt terrible for him.

Late August, early September Herbella started molting.  Poor thing.  She looks so ratty without her tail feathers.  And so much smaller.  (Diminutive).  She does not, however, act embarrassed.  She totally bosses the youngsters around; requires the respect and perks due to a matriarch.
     Molting.  The chicken yard looks like a hawk got ahold of someone--feathers EVERYWHERE.  I can't remember from past years how long the process takes:  ~4-6 weeks.  I guess when it isn't YOU, you don't pay as careful attention.... She now has her tail feathers back and looks much more dignified.  We were happy to see her do it early so she won't be cold later in the season.  About the time she was over the worst of it, poor Sophie started.  So the chicken yard still looks alarming, only with a quieter color palette--the lustrous black of the Australorps.

On the heels of Hurricane Harvey (again, if it isn't you...)  Someone did a detailed wikipedia post already!  August 24th on, for like, a solid week of Biblical rain and flooding.

Hurricane Irma  From Sept 6, Wednesday, on we watched anxiously.  At one point it looked like it was going to hug the coast, keep fueling its ire, and absolutely flatten everything from the Keys on up.

Sunday, Sept 10  Took a break from hurricane-watching to create a ramp for the youngsters to use coming and going from their part of the roost box.  Was pretty limited in my options, so considering, think it came out very well.  Then, of course, there was the task of convincing the girls that it was a good idea....  (hmm.)

Friday, Sept 15, 2017 
Earheart laid her first egg!  (We got the 5 youngsters April 24th... how old does that make her?)

Mid-September - sudden sunflower jungle.  Lackadaisical onions.  Sunchokes and Maxamillians finally starting to bloom.  And our neglected mums.  Flower seeds planted in the cement block planters completely exceeded expectations.  Bachelor's buttons in several colors, Zinnias, and the late addition of some orange Portulacas. The sweet potatoes in the garden proper are a splendid dense carpet.  Tomatoes and peppers humming along.  (We are still using the marvelous white onions from early summer.)  Time to plant some garlic!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Yard and Garden - Mid-July

PLUMS - the tree is heavy with fruit (should have thinned it after it blossomed)...  the shape has gone all wonky too.  All our trees could use some pruning.  The lovely plums are taunting us.  They look like they are ripe (any day?), but so far are still unpleasantly tart.  *Waiting!*   A side note: we have put the chicks back there to run around and play and have some sky on several occasions. Very cute.

POTATOES - Think Gloria may have stopped piling more dirt on (which is how you convince the plants to produce more tubers?)  But the patch of plants is splendid.  Lush.  A dense tangle of foliage.  Oh, and 2 volunteer tomato plants (we'll have to see what they are) and a couple of sunflowers that have so far remained a modest size and are, thus, being allowed to stay.  One of our neighbors has already had blossoms for 3 weeks.  I haven't seen any blooms forming, so it will probably be mid-August at this rate.

SWEET POTATOES - Battling the heat, Gloria finished a new area in the garden proper and finally planted half a dozen sweet potato plants grown from slips, rooted, then hanging out on the wrought-iron coffee table for a month.  She draped a huge swath of shade cloth over them to help them survive while getting established.  The group near the apple trees all made it.  (They have been in at least a month now...  they wilt a little in the late afternoon, but bounce back by morning.) Wonder if they will be happy there?  Not sure how much sun that bed gets?  Want to say that Teresa Johansen grew some impressive ones in a bed along the front of her house/ which did not get tons of light.

ONIONS - Gloria's winding down.  All have been spectacular.  My raised bed of yellows, still puny/ struggling.  Can't say that the extra straw mulch I added made any difference.

HELIOTROPES - trying to pass themselves off as potato plants.  Big ones by the clothesline.  Smaller ones in half a dozen places.  Huge leaves bent at startling angles, swiveling like radar antennae.

Saw my first Morning Glories yesterday morning out the back window.  Deep pink ones fighting with the grape vines.  Gloria really had a craving to go to Osuna Sunday.  "To get something to finish out the flower cells along the outside of the garden."  I was worried about the weather blistering them, but she got a 6 pack of Portulacas and 6 of dwarf red snapdragons with handsome yellow throats.  When I looked last night, she had planted them all.  (What would the blessing, the prayer, be? For their survival?  For their late but wildly successful life nestled in dirt under a big sky?)

The Weather - more or less normal.  Mid-90s at the airport, which means high 90s for us.  Very low humidity.  No rain, no rain, no rain.  Night before last, it poured in the Heights and at UNM; we got 10 drops.  Didn't even register on the gauge.  Last night, it sprinkled lightly at about 10:30.  One-hundredth of an inch.  Seemed like it was more at the time.  At least it settled the dust.  And was enough that I could actually see through my windshield this morning.  Scattered clouds darting around in the late afternoon have helped us keep the chickens from frying.  Last night, the sunchokes were painfully wilted.  Unfortunately, NO water in the ditch?  (Not sure what schedule the Sandovals are on.  At the start of the summer, they were doing Tuesdays, but it was dry as a bone.  And again this morning too.)

Just looking around... the locust is full of seeds, long, gently curling stands of chartreuse.  Gloria thinks maybe as a mulch they poison other plants, so we probably need to gather them up and put them somewhere else.  The apple trees have been dropping golfball-sized apples, probably because they have gotten so little water?  The torn Elm limb is still aloft, hanging by a thread.  I am hoping it will drop down onto the limbs below it, then roll down into the ditch on our side, missing their fence.

Digging Dogs - after a quiet interlude, I found they had been digging along the walk up front (what is that poor bush called?)  what a mess?!  And then they went back to excavating along the top of the ditch just behind our sitting area.  Throwing dirt into the ditch.  sigh.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Yard and Garden - Mid-June 2017

Humidity yesterday at the airport - 3%. THREE!! We slumped to that level again today. Maria said, so what is the moisture level in plywood? (No doubt the air this week is drier than kiln-dried wood!) It is awful, because when I get home at 5:30, everything in the yard is at its worst droop. I come home hot and sweaty and irritable, and strolling down the walk everything looks like it is nearly dead. Highs - today 98. Tomorrow 101. Saturday 103. :( Brutal. However, the swamp cooler is working like it was a refrigerated air unit!

Trying to be aware of the schedule for ditch water. Just sludge last night (Wednesday). The Sandovals have arranged for maximum flow Tuesday afternoons. There probably would have been water to use into the early hours, but we had made arrangements to help Nelly walk her dog. Used it Saturday. **Say more about: Board of Directors for the Middle Rio Grande Water Conservancy District (Fascinating!)

All the Echinacea under the dead-but-not-dead Red Bud bloomed at once Sunday! The plants in the Iris bed (which actually look bushier and happier) are still in process. Wonder how this timing compares to other seasons?

First week of June, seeds maturing. Thrashed now into dreadlocks. Bleach-blonde mats. God love those indestructible plants... they are one of the few things that has seemed to keep thriving no matter how many times the dogs wrestle in them or dash through them.

Past drought. Now we only have 3 plants or so, spread all over (they ran for it!) It made me sad when I really looked. At one point, we had stolen seeds from everywhere and had made cute little envelopes for them, and had a resplendent stand of them along the house (just at the spot where the swamp cooler drains if it develops a leak). Could probably look thru old photos and find the year that was the high point. Flying Star had pale waxy yellow ones we replanted. And I bought a pack of seeds for the very deep maroon ones. In realizing and naming them gone missing, then taking stock of the few that had remained, there were a couple of weeks before any of them bloomed. Our surviving color palette was a mystery I considered. I have not taken the follow-up photos, but within the last 10 days, the question has been answered: two slightly different shades of medium red, a lovely even-hued medium pink, and a very happy white. I want to say I came across a woman writing flower poems--gorgeous, complicated, dark poems. And that she had a Hollyhock poem?

*sigh* Still haven't found a place for it. And/ but read about it online yesterday--the only thing it really can't handle is poorly drained soil: it gets root-rot.

Wish I knew where there was a handy yard stick. Would have been fun to chart their growth over the past 6 weeks. And/ or even now. How tall are they? Roughly 3' at the front end where they are tallest? Will probably open that up for the girls this weekend.

Very sad: one hen spoils it for the rest of them. Butterknife (aka Sniglet) heaved herself up onto the grape vines and hopped into the garden not once but three different times yesterday. With a heavy heart I went out and figured out how to close off the entire alleyway. The last few seasons we have ended up locking them all out of that space because we couldn't figure out how to keep Sniglet down on the ground/ out of the tomatoes and potatoes.

So much to yammer about - Our Onion Competition. Strawberries. Empty spots in the raised beds. Changing patterns of sun and shade. Piles of new pavers. Huge new ceramic planter (glossy dark blue). Canna lilies. Green 28" rabbit fencing - my new favorite thing.  Holes, holes, holes.  The end of the pansies - the pot by the front door has all but died.  It's very sad.  It was splendid. Wheelbarrows - the new one and the old ones that desperately need attention.  Gosh-there is so much that needs doing, it makes me twitchy.

ALMOST PULLETS! Lola going on the war path and getting way beat up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day to the Planet

Overnight--2/3rd" of rain!  The last few weeks have been unseasonably mild.  Spotted green tips on the lilac outside the front window.  Can't help but flinch/ wince/ too early/ not safe/ don't come out yet!

A bit of good news:
California--they have announced it has emerged from drought conditions.  (Find references?)

Some numbers about spring:
Today - 6:27am to 6:15PM (11hr, 45min)  +2min 1sec from yesterday
Civil Twilight - sun is 6degrees from the horizon.  The brightest of the twilights.  (Nautical is 12degrees, Astronomical is 18degrees) >

- - - - - - - - -
Non sequitur:
Memorable from yesterday, the NPR story about the woman who sells grief/ condolences greeting cards.  Emily McDowell  Wrote a book with Kelsey Crowe There is No Good Card for This

On what you should say to a sick or grieving loved one
Really, I think it's all about listening. And I think a lot of what we go into in the book is that we operate under the assumption that we need to find the right words, and the good news is that Oprah can't even do that. Nobody can do that. And so you kind of are off the hook in that really all you need to say is, "I'm here," and "I'm thinking about you," and "How are you doing today?" and then let the person talk. ...

On the problem with finding a silver lining instead of allowing someone to be angry or sad
Culturally, we're just not comfortable with a lot of those emotions and anything that I call "death adjacent," where the end could potentially result in death — which is ironic because all of our lives will result in death. That's the one thing we all have in common is that we're all gonna die. So, yeah, we do feel like this sort of internal pressure to come up with a silver lining. And when you are a person who is going through something, that feels like your pain, which is very real, is being minimized.