Ice Storm

On November 15th we had a full day of sleet and freezing rain. We lost power around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Reading Mendelwitz’s Guide to Drawing by candlelight. It got very windy that night. Dave said he could hear the popping of tree branches.

We woke up to an icy landscape and more branches on the ground than I’ve ever seen. The above photo is the front yard. Somehow my photos have gotten out of order so bear with me.

You can see the icy tops of the white pines as the sun is coming up.

Our poor siberian elm in the back yard took quite a hit.

Branches everywhere…and leaves. Many of the trees still had leaves so when the ice clung to the leaves it was just too heavy and caused so many of the branches to break.

Above photo is looking toward the front yard from the back path to the house. That is the sunroom.

The pine is sagging from the weight of the ice. That building is the garage/cottage.

Ice on the asters

Dave is cooking french toast on the woodstove.

These branches fell on the fence – totally crushed it. This building is what we call the shed. It is two stories and is where we store most of our garden equipment.

Looking toward the house from the backyard.

So many big and small branches – and a deep layer of leaves. We are still cleaning it up.

Duke is having a hard time getting around with so much debris in his way.

Looking toward the orchard from behind the cottage.

The cable we had installed in this siberian elm in the front probably saved this tree.

A big pine branch fell on the power line to our house (seen in the photo above) so we were without power for 3 full days. Our neighbors lost power for 2 days.

Colin helped with the apple pie for Thanksgiving.

A branch fell on the fence in the front too.

You don’t get to see Smokey very much. He always moves around too much when I try to photograph him. This is about the best I can get. He likes to rub up against the dogs. You can see Dukes legs behind him. Smokey is ready to dash outside. He doesn’t come in the house but does come into the mudroom to eat and sometimes to sleep. I think he usually sleeps in the barn – even on frigid nights.

Ash Tree

September 10

I missed most of the cutting down of the ash tree. Above, the crane had just let down a 5500 lb. segment of the tree. Apparently, this was a great weight because they were giving each other high fives when it was announced.

The first crane they brought in wasn’t big enough. This one left tire impressions in the driveway asphalt.

This was the first time Queen City Silviculture did work for us. I would definitely have them back. They did a great job and Jason, who is the owner along with his wife Danielle, was very personable.

They left a huge pile of mulch in the driveway and this pile of logs. We plan to rent a splitter and get the hOUR Economy people to help split and stack.

Because I like lichen.

I’m a little concerned about the plantings in the native garden that will now get more sun. After some research, I think some will actually benefit from more sunlight. Others, we may have to move.

Where Have I Been?!?!

Well, it’s been a busy summer with four sets of visitors over a five week period. I have been taking photos so I’ll finally share them here. These first several are from mid July.

We stopped mowing a wet section of the field (on the left) last summer. The section on the right we stopped mowing this summer. It is interesting to see the difference.

By the front porch. The lone daylily looks pretty with the beebalm.

In front of the sun room.

We noticed a volunteer sassafras tree under the mahonia last year. The japanese beetles have been hard on it but it’s hanging in there.

Zinnias from the garden. I love this little vase our daughter made for us last year. I told her I wanted it to mimic tree bark and she delivered.

The orange coneflowers in our native garden started blooming in mid July and the flowers still look beautiful six weeks later. These photos are from July.

Dave bringing in the onion harvest on July 21.

These bitter melon are ridiculous. We could pick this many each week. I still have some in the freezer from last year. I gave some of these away. Dave took another large basket full to a coworker last week. I’ve frozen some and might freeze more. We learned from our daughter that you can take some of the bitter taste out by blanching them in water with a tablespoon of salt and baking soda.

These photos are from July 27.

I went to Polyface Farm on July 28 to purchase some meat and took the above and below photos on my way home. Polyface is in Swoope – just west of us..

Poor Len. He was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I hope we are keeping him comfortable with meds.

The only photo we got of our visitors. I’m on the right with my sister Melissa and my niece Mary.

Such a pleasant surprise to find these volunteers on August 11 at the base of the spruce tree between the house and the shed – an impatiens and a coleus.

I harvested these peppers on August 14.

I think it was back in July when I took some bricks and defined the beds around the plants in front of the shed. I think it turned out pretty nice.

Joe Pye Weed in the native garden on the morning of August 15.

Making our yummy tomato sauce on August 19.

I’m so sad that we have to take down this beautiful ash tree (on the right). The emerald ash borer has gotten to it so it can’t be saved.

$3000 poorer and down one beautiful shade tree. I will probably spend most of the day they take it down elsewhere.

Don’t like ending on a sad note, but here we are. I hope I keep up my posts with my photos as we enter the fall. It has been a very wet spring and summer. A little on the cool side, too. I’m hoping the valley will have some spectacular color this fall. Hard to believe it is almost September!

In the Garden

Iris blooming in front of the Soft Rush.

We’ve been harvesting strawberries for about 2 weeks now. They are big and beautiful and lacking in flavor. I’m guessing that is because we had so much rain while they were ripening. Our weather is perfect this week and the berries taste a little better.

Some of the rain came in the form of fierce storms. After once such storm we noticed that one of our big elms in the front yard is splitting in two! One estimate is $3400 to take it down. Ouch! We are now looking into the possibility of cabling it.

An opossum inside the tree crack.

Native Garden

Here are some photos I took yesterday of our mostly native plant garden that was planted by The Natural Garden of Harrisonburg. Above is a little Fringe Tree. It’s showing a lot of flirty blooms and new growth.

The purple blooms in the left background are wild geraniums. The white blooms in the foreground are woodland stonecrop. The mass of green in the middle is bleeding heart. I read it doesn’t transplant well but this did. I think you can still see some of it’s white and pink blooms.

Most of the rhododendrons are doing well. There is one that was planted right next to a stump that is dying and TNG is going to replace it. Some of the rhododendrons are have a bloom or two and showing new growth.

Smokey takes a walk. I love this stone. I was really impressed with their stonework. That is a creeping thyme between the walkway and the stone. Most of that survived the winter. TNG replaced what didn’t when they were here on Wednesday. I wonder if it will ever cover the entire area between the walkway stones.

That is strawberry that covers the ground around the redbud tree. It has a lot of berries and blooms. We have to decide if we want to remove it. It is being a bit of a bully. Otherwise, we will have to keep cutting it back. We already transplanted some of it last fall. That, too, is doing well.

Spring ’18

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted because I broke my left wrist. I slipped on some ice in the driveway. It has slowed me down quite a bit. Good and frustrating at the same time.

Above is a spice bush we discovered back in March. I’d been keeping an eye out for one. This poor thing was engulfed by honeysuckle vine and bush. Dave came to it’s rescue.

You can see where the honeysuckle vine was wrapped around it’s trunk in the above photo.

It has a pretty little bloom.

A bloom on one of our Paw Paw trees.

The chokeberries we planted last fall finally bloomed a couple weeks ago. I was expecting more pollinators enjoying it. Instead, the ants seemed to love the blooms. Will have to investigate if that is normal.

They had a faint, sweet scent.

Samantha and her boyfriend, Luca, helped us unearth these willows back in February and March. I showed a photo and mentioned identifying them in my Feb 20 post. Fortunately, the honeysuckle that was on the tree hadn’t reached strangling proportions but they had to beat back a lot of it to reach the tree itself. Here, I caught a photo with it’s new leaves. A pretty yellow green that we can now identify in the distance when we look out the family room window.

On one of my walks around our property I found some blooms reaching out from a honeysuckle bush that I knew wasn’t honeysuckle. A couple days later Dave came to the rescue again and freed this Blackhaw Viburnum.

A beautiful white flower. I can’t wait to see this in bloom next year.

Another Blackhaw underneath honeysuckle. We’ll go after this another time.

Can you see the Blackhaw behind all this honeysuckle? Another that will have to wait.

These beautiful mushrooms arrive earlier last week.

Among the flowering Woodland Stonecrop

Len enjoys the cool grass on a pretty morning.

We’ve had a lot of rain this week. It started off with a bad storm Monday evening when we got over 2 inches of rain in an hour. The next day Dave noticed that our brick wall had finally tumbled. Fixing the driveway has just become a priority. It’s a good thing the plasterers finally came on Thursday and replastered the parlor ceiling and one wall in the front guestroom and patched up the walls in the dining room.

Silver Maples

The silver maples along the road are starting to bud.

These poor trees have been topped by the power company for decades.

We talked about taking them down but I’m sure they are home to the screech and hoot owls we hear and other creatures, too.

They’ll stay for now.

I think there are eight of them.

I should have gotten a far away shot of them. Will try to do that tomorrow.

Afternoon of Pruning

Our daughters boyfriend, Luca, finished pruning this apple tree for us.

Luca, Samantha, Dave and I spent a couple hours yesterday afternoon hacking away at the honeysuckle between the pasture and the creek.

Forgot a before photo. This tree on the left was covered with honeysuckle.

We have so much more to do.

Above is the pile we created for the honeysuckle and the big tooth aspen we cut down some time ago. We are taking down the aspen because it is spreading into our meadow and most of it dies once it reaches a certain size anyway.

Once we clear, oh, another 20 feet or so of honeysuckle we will reach this tree. I can’t wait to get closer to identify it. It looks like it has an aspen growing through the middle of its many trunks.

I took all of the above photos this morning.

Took this photo this afternoon after I finished taking all this honeysuckle in the foreground away from the tree, top center. We’ll just keep chipping away at this invasive weed. Some of it is vines and some the bush variety. Many places on our property have both type. I also cut some out around the pines in the backyard and the maples along the road. I’ll need some help getting the roots out. Luca is coming back out later this week to help and Damian will help too once he recovers from a head cold.

Walk in the Pines

We crossed our creek to our pine forest today to plant some pignut hickory nuts, willow oak acorns and beech nuts. The pignut hickory nuts came from a walk we took on Christmas day at Betsy Bell Park here in Staunton. The acorns came from downtown Richmond and the beech nuts from my mom’s in Maryland.

Notice this ridiculously large vine wrapped around this tree. It’s probably japanese honeysuckle. We’ve started trying to rid our property of this invasive species. It totally covers the trees and kills them. Total eradication might be impossible. We will do our best.

Dave sees a bitty crayfish in the creek.

Fruit Tree Pruning

I woke up early yesterday and took this photo of the old elms in our front yard.

In the afternoon Dave and I pruned our pear tree. This is in the front yard. You can see the elm branches above the pear tree. As usual I forgot to take a before photo. We were very aggressive – shortening the tree, cutting off the water shoots and generally thinning it.

While Dave finished taking down the mistake of a fence we put up a couple years ago (below), I started pruning this apple tree in the orchard. It has been very neglected.

Yes, forgot the before photo. The fence just didn’t look good and it wasn’t functional (keeping the dogs in the yard) because we haven’t put up a fence in the back. Plans for any fencing are on hold. Basically, the dogs go where they want. Duke stays on our property – frequently roaming into the brush beyond the pasture and coming home full of burrs. Len visits the neighbors – giving them a look like they are on his property. Given his weight gain I expect he also visits the property behind us where they host dinners and bluegrass dances every Saturday night.

two white pines in the back yard

This is the apple tree when I finished with it. Lots more to do. You can see what I cut off in the foreground.

Sadly, we no longer have chickens. Well, we have them but they are in the freezer and the stock pot. We started having a predator problem in the fall – well, maybe in the summer, we just didn’t notice until the fall.  This week we were down to just three hens. We locked them in the coop and waited for a relatively warm morning. That was today. Maybe we will try having chickens again when Dave retires in a few years.

Getting some much needed rain today. Hoping for a good snow fall in February.