April 5, 2005

Hi! It's been just a few short weeks without the computer, I I sure miss everyone. At least the withdrawal pains are coming less often (ha ha!) Since I can't catch up with you, I thought I'd catch you up on what's happening on Clover Hill.

For starters, the crazy weather can't seem to make up its mind. In the last couple of weeks we've had it all - cold temperatures, warm temperatures, sunshine, enough rain to float an ark, wind and Sunday we got 4 inches of slushy, wet snow! Yesterday's 60 high made short work of it and the warm up continues today with a high of 71 predicted. Hopefully we've seen the last of the white stuff till next winter.

Spring is making an entrance. You just have to pay attention. The robins have been back since February but lately I'm seeing a lot of their eggs on the ground thanks to the ever present wind here on the Hill. I spot another kind of bird nearly every day. Today it was turkey vultures. The crocuses were in bloom last week. This week it's pussy willows, and daffodils are coming on strong. I even saw a patch of dandelions beside the road last week. But the biggest sign of Spring for me? Hearing the peppers singing in the evenings.

I'm dying to get outside to "play" in the dirt, but it's going to be quite a while before it dries out enough. The yard looks like nothing so much as a swamp. It's all muddy with water lying on top.

I'd hoped to have a garden this year, but my mom and John said they are gardening here so they don't have to deal with the deer up on the ridge. They said that last year, too, right up until it was too late for us to plant. They've already been on vacation this year so I don't imagine there's anything to keep them from it. Darn.

I'll  focus on creating some new flower beds, improving the old ones and landscaping around the pool to satisfy my desire to garden. We are having a big graduation party for Matt in June and since the pool will be the main form of entertainment, Tim is finally going to get a nice wood deck put on. There will be a lower level on the ground to leave shoes, towels and the like and a larger deck level with the edge of the pool. There will be plenty of room for some chairs, a table and lots of kids. Springhill Nurseries has a banana palm in their catalog that is supposed to be hardy to -20. We thought we'd put one or two by the deck to set a tropical mood and go from there. I'm thinking Elephant's Ear, cannas and zebra grass.

The new flower beds are going to be fairly good sized so I thought maybe I'd try something I read about in Countryside magazine. It was an article by urband homesteaders and they described how they mix and match vegetables into their flowerbeds here and there. It seems like a good way to get in a patch of lettuce, a couple tomato plants, some raspberry bushes and who knows what else. I need to do some research on what grows well together. I'll keep your posted on how it works out.

Sadly, we don't have chickens any longer. They'd stopped laying and even when they were, nobody but me would eat the eggs unless they were baked into something. They were fine - it's just my weird family. I sold a dozen or two at work every week but that didn't keep them in feed and I'd still have 4 - 5 dozen eggs a week to deal with. We'd always planned to butcher all but a half dozen but it turned out that wasn't one of Tim's many talents and I couldn't bring myself to try. So we'd hoped to pay someone to do them all at once. Would you believe we couldn't find anyone? Tim and Matt finally loaded them up a couple weeks ago and took them to our friend's farm. He was thrilled to get them and I hear the chooks are really taking to being free-range. Someday I hope to have the yard securely fenced and have a couple of hens just for pets and the occasional egg.

Tim has already torn down the run and turned the coop into a woodshed. This summer he is hoping to purchase one of those outdoor wood burning furnaces and locate it near the coop/shed. He is convinced it would be the best heating solution with rising fuel costs. I'm not sold yet. Does anyone have any experience with those they could share?

That's it for now and tell everyone at PhancyPages, I said "hello!"