Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Early July at the Farm

Hello dear friends,
 we have just enjoyed another week of vacation and although we had a very long list of things we wanted to do we actually spent a few very relaxing days doing none of them!  My sister in law came to visit from Montreal with her binoculars, bird book and note book in hand.  She is an enthusiastic birdwatcher and listed 19 different birds on one day alone!  It was lovely to see her again.

We have gone from a very cool and wet spring to some rather sudden heat and humidity.  There is little rain in the forecast so we have been cutting hay.  The mosquitoes have been horrible though so working in the gardens has been rather uncomfortable.

I somehow missed most of the peonies in bloom.  It seems like one day there were lots of buds then suddenly they were open and past their prime.

The plants in the koi pond are doing well.  A few weeks ago I purchased water hyacinths and water lettuce which will multiply rapidly over the summer, providing shade for the fish and helping to cool the water.

Horatio is happy to have his photo taken.

This is a bee and butterfly house.  We have mounted it on one of the veranda posts in a warm and sunny location.  So far no visitors though.  We do have a lot of pollinator activity at our farm but would like to do more to help them by providing food and cover.

The lawns have been growing like crazy and it is a big job to keep them mowed.

We have lots of frogs in our ponds.  I have spotted four in the koi pond alone!

We observed a Baltimore Oriole and learned that they like oranges.  I threaded orange slices and cranberries and hung them in a tree but it doesnt look like it is very popular.  It looks pretty though!

  We have a number of glass wasp traps which are supposed to help control the wasp population around the house.  They are all made of glass and are quite pretty.  I am not very good about remembering to add liquid to trap the wasps so most of the time they are just decorative.

The local statue shop has been sold and the owners are moving to Northern Ontario.  This is sad news as I do love buying statues!  We purchased a big goose that is in memory of one of our Muscovy ducks as well as a sweet statue that will mark the resting place of Drakk and Holly, two of our lovely German Shepherds that were brother and sister.  Perhaps this weekend we will find the time to move them into position.

Jerry the rooster is thrilled to welcome 18 new laying hens!  Jerry and our one surviving hen have been very lonely for the last few months.  They are appreciating all of the company and seem to be so much happier.

We have so much happening in the gardens but those photos will need to wait until later.

Thank you for visiting!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Father's Day Dinner at the Farm

Hello dear friends,
Last week we celebrated Father's Day at the farm.  It was one year and 6 days since my father passed away but we thought we should celebrate regardless.  As my husband and brother are both fathers we thought it would be a great way to combine and honour both!

The weather has been unseasonably wet and cool and along with those conditions we have mosquitoes.  Absolute clouds of them.  So while we love to eat outside we decided that we would have to be inside.  We set up shop in our partially completed dining room.

My mother is very partial to shrimp.  Traditionally we have steak.  And since my brother, his partner, and my husband and I are tiny foodies I like to try new recipes.  We had fettuccine that was tossed with assorted types of cherry tomatoes that had been marinating in basil infused olive oil with garlic and parmesan cheese and a corn salad that was made with red onions and an olive oil cider vinegar dressing.  I loved the pasta but the corn salad....not so much. 

I had prepared a large pitcher of ice water infused with lemon, lemon balm from the garden and kiwis.  We had home made croissants and candles just for fun.

The table cloth was a find at a vintage store.  I like to serve kosher salt in a pinwheel crystal liqueur glass.  I was gifted a number of little glass yogurt pots from a dear friend and used those to make a very impromptu flower arrangement.  So impromptu that while everyone was coming in one door I was dashing around the garden with snips of shrubs then sneaking in another door while everyone was getting settled.

The dishes are a discontinued pattern from Royal Doulton that I have had for about 30 years.  

This is Bridal Wreath Spirea.

This is an old honeysuckle that was already ancient when we purchased the farm.  Another little pot has a few springs of Centaurea Montana which is a lovely but ever so weedy perennial.  It is actually a cobalt blue but the candlelight makes it look purple.  And I love the vintage glass candle holders that were a Christmas gift from another dear friend.  

Thank you for taking a quick peak at my dinner arrangements and I look forward to having you visit again soon!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Late Spring Gardens

Hello dear friends, at this time of year it seems that the gardens are changing by the day!  It is also that time of year when the weeds are aggressively trying to get the upper hand.  This gardener has a plan so we shall have to see who comes out on top!  

Our koi pond is in essentially the same state of completion as last year....which is to say mostly but not totally finished.  We still need to add rubblestone around the outside walls of the pond and then will need to put flagstones on top to hide the edges of the pond and the liner.  Hopefully this project will be completed this year.

We planted mounds of tulips 2 years ago?  3 years ago?  I dont remember.

This Alpine Currant came to the farm from my parents' garden about 25 years ago.  Like so many transplants it performed rather poorly...then one day it came to life and now has a mind of its' own.  We dug it up and divided it and moved it around.  This division is on the road side of one of the sheep pastures.  When we bring the sheep back home many of them make a detour to take a mouthful of this shrub.   It has survived the abuse surprisingly well.

This photo is from a couple of weeks ago when we were on vacation and building the pergola.  I love the vibrant red from the red maple.  This is Jessie's Garden, one of the many German Shepherds we have had at the farm.  In the foreground is the statue marking Kodiak's garden.  Jessie and Kodiak were inseparable.

I love purple in the garden.  These purple tulips have been here for years.

Our puppy Abby thought it would be great fun to pick flowers and toss them in the air.  When I found them I put them in little vases.  

I do love our little garden privy!  It looks like an outhouse but actually houses the recycling and trash.  And it also has been home to other things that we own but have forgotten about.  A rake for example.  

This morning the weather was beautiful so I was up early trying to snap a few photos.  This was a view from our portico deck towards Crab Apple Grove.

Purple tulips again.

This apple tree shades our parking area.  At this time of the year it is so pretty but later in the season it drops apples on our vehicles!

One of the rather wild lilacs at the farm.  The scent is divine!

My husband has been working on the vegetable garden.  I confess to being much more interested in flowers than vegetables.

Our little garden arbour in the early light.

A view from the upstairs balcony towards the chicken coop.   In an earlier post I had lamented the passing of all but two of our chickens.  This week a raccoon feasted on our day old White Rock chicks.  A new supply of chicks have been ordered but sometimes I wonder why we go through the grief of battling wildlife.  Our day old turkeys are all alive and flourishing.  Of course once the frustration subsides it is really very gratifying to raise our own chickens.  

I hope you have enjoyed this quick little update!  We are being promised four straight days of perfect weather so I hope to be very busy working in the gardens.

Thank you for visiting!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Apple Blossoms

Hello my dear friends, 
At this time of year it seems that our gardens are changing by the day!  It has been a very cool wet spring but we are now starting to see life bursting forth in our trees and gardens.

We have many apple trees at the farm. We planted some but most of them are very old trees that have been here forever or are trees that have seeded themselves and have been maturing.

We have a pasture that we call Crab Apple Grove.  I love to name things!!  This is a small pasture in front of our barn and several years ago we purchased 8 small end-of-season crab apple trees.  Of course sheep and young trees are not a good combination so once we planted them we protected them with wooden enclosures.  The trees have honestly not had any coddling from us but they have all survived and are now about 6 or 7 feet tall.  We have long since lost the tags but the trees have either pink or white flowers.

The pink crab apple trees are all blossoming but the white ones are not.

This poor old tree has been in Crab Apple Grove forever.  It is broken and if you look carefully you can see tufts of sheeps' wool on many of the branches.  These trees are incredibly resilient and even though it has seen better days it is leafing out for another year!

I love

I love the intense pink of this crab apple.

This old tree has lovely white flowers with just a hint of pink.

We call this area Apple Lane.  It was here when we bought the farm almost 25 years ago.  A double row of mature apple trees that go no where!  We often wonder about it.  Was it a laneway once upon a time and if so where was it supposed to go?  It ends at our property line.  It starts in the midde of our property.  It is a mystery.  I wanted to take a photo from the end of the lane as it is quite pretty but the mosquitoes are impossible this evening and I abandoned the idea of making the trekk to get a better photo.

This lamb wondered what was happening.  Sheep love to eat apples!  We often say that a sheep can hear an apple falling from a mile away.  Apples are one of their favourite food groups.

I dont have a name for this area but should come up with one.  This row of old apple trees separates Crab Apple Grove from the neighbouring pasture.  The fence that separated these two areas has long since fallen into disrepair and we have not gotten around to repairing it.  It is however on the list of things to do as I would like to be able to properly fence off Crab Apple Grove so that we can reseed the pasture.  The sheep are often found lounging under these apple trees, and in the heat of the summer these trees provide much needed shade.

This old apple tree is in an area we call The Grove.  I have photographed it many times over the years as it is astonishing that this shell of a tree remains standing.

It is really just a skeleton of a tree but each tree is produces leaves and flowers!

This crab apple tree is in a shrub border in what we call Bailey's Garden.  Bailey was one of our German Shepherds.  He unexpectedly and tragically passed away after developing gastric torsion.  He was only 3 years old.   All of our departed and much loved pets are buried here at the farm in their own gardens and this crab apple is in Bailey's Garden.  I was happy to see this bumble bee flitting from blossom to blossom!

These lovely white cascading blossoms are on a crab apple tree that is close to our veranda.   The tree is currently covered in white blossoms and has an intensely sweet fragrance.  The blossoms only last for a couple of days before covering the decks and flagstone landing with its' petals.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog!  Wishing everyone a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Dining Terrace Pergola

Hello dear friends, 
We have had a very productive week at the farm!  Many of you will recall that we have spent the last 4 years working on an addition for our old farmhouse.  I can assure you that what seems possible at the energetic age of 30 something becomes a little more challenging 25 years later!

The grade around our house was an issue during construction and we decided to use large stones as a retaining wall to create a sort of sunken terrace.  This area is adjacent to our new dining room so have called it the dining area terrace.  We were quite happy with the area but it needed a finishing base.  The gravel you can see in this picture is large and is really meant as a foundation for something else.  We just hadnt managed to get around to the something else but thought we would like to ultimately have limestone screenings in this area.  So we agreed that this would be our outdoor project for this year.

My husband and I love to look at pinterest and unfortunately we somehow decided that a pergola over the seating area would be quite nice.   We thought it could give us a bit of dappled shade at noon and then later in the afternoon.

Of course that means construction.  If you are wondering the plastic wading pool is for the dogs.

For anyone interested in techie bits the posts were 16 feet tall and are sunk in 4 foot deep holes.  We have had a very wet spring and there is a lot of clay in this area so it could also be described as 4 foot holes with water.

We tend to improvise as we go and my husband decided that this would be the design of the end pieces.  If we had more time he would have liked to design something much more elaborate but the goal was to start and end the pergola project in one week.  This is a concept we have often discussed but have had trouble executing.  We are of course quite smug about this. 😃

We noticed a big difference in the trees from the beginning of the week to the end.  We had alternately very warm then quite cool weather.  And of course rain.

And here it is!  You may notice that our dogs photo-bomb many pictures.  This is Abby and Willow.

Here is a view from the opposite angle.

Lucy is one of the building inspectors.

Some detail to show the roof.

We have decided an adult beverage in this area at the end of the day is lovely.  And our darling Willow apparently agrees.  At the ripe old age of 13 Willow has free choice of any furniture and enjoys sitting at the table with us.

One final view before wrapping up the vacation and going back to work.  Our next vacation starts in a few weeks and we will be sure to have another project to work on along with looking forward to a visit from my sister-in-law who plans on staying for a few days.

Thank you for visiting and have a great week!