Walk Around Our Yard

While the coffee was brewing this morning I took the dogs and a camera for a walk around the yard.  We will start off on the north side of the house which faces the road. In the background is the portion of the yard fenced off as the dog yard.  The landscaping is doing fine and beginning to fill in. Eric’s bedroom still has a fan in the window from the hot overnight.  The hummingbird feeder has been getting a lot of traffic.  We can sit on the porch as the hummingbirds arrive only a few yards from us.


On the other side of the porch you can see more landscaping and the sidewalk that Kathryn and I built using the concrete staves from the old silo that the Amish took down last summer.  The landscaping here seems a little slower to spread out.  Of course it was buried under a huge snow pile this winter as we shoveled snow from the sidewalk into that space.  And there is the ‘dog factor’.


The dogs are convinced that something is going on underneath this plant.  They repeatedly have tried to dig it up.


On the porch itself we have three rocking chairs.  Two of them were ones that we bought for my parents many years ago.  The 3rd was the rocker we bought when Eric was a baby.  Kathryn has hanging flower baskets here and elsewhere around the yard.  We don’t sit on the porch much, but it is a nice to be able to sit outside and stay dry if it is raining.  We get a fair amount of Amish buggy traffic to wave at when we do hang out on the porch.


We had planned for the sidewalk and porch to be the primary entrance for visitors, but it hasn’t worked out that way.  Most of our friends and regular visitors come through the garage and navigate through the mud room into the house – an entrance that we had intended for dirty boots and wet dogs.  We have contemplated putting up a “Service Entrance’ sign


On the east side of the garage Kathryn planted green and green/white Hosta. The green Hosta is overtaking the green/white.  There are plans for an adjustment, but I don’t know when that will happen yet.


Looking east along our road you can see the assorted ash and maple trees that we have planted as replacements for the huge maple trees that were taken down when the county resurfaced the road many years ago.  The fence was installed when Eric was a baby but it has proven to be an effective barrier keeping the dogs within our yard and keeping deer and other wildlife out (mostly).  There are two egresses: the driveway and a 10′ metal gate to the pasture.  When we are outside and/or working in the yard we feel pretty comfortable letting the dogs roam the entire 2 acres of our fenced yard.  In the foreground the peonies are just starting to bloom.  In the far corner is a large Forsythia bush that was planted from one of the last plants my Mom gave to me.  Let’s move on.


We have a substantial amount of lawn to mow.  Normally it takes about 2 hours with our riding mower, depending on how much trimming we decide to do.  Shortly before Memorial Day our mower went into the shop for repair so we have been mowing using our 22′ walk behind mower.  We mow a section at a time and below is the section Eric mowed on Saturday afternoon.  The large tree in the foreground is a Honey Locust tree.  It has a very open, airy canopy that makes for a great shade tree.  The leaves are small.  They come out late, are the last to drop and really don’t require raking.  In the left side background you can see my former run-in shed that was a shelter for our horses.  Now it is used to house my tractor equipment; brush hog, plows, wood chipper, etc.


Not easily seen are the scatter clumps of dog hair resulting from Kathryn brushing the dogs.  Both Scout and Cullen are blowing out their coats and the lawn has scattered piles of dog hair here and there.

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The lean-to on the south side of the barn shelters our pop-up camper.  It is nice to be able to open up the camper windows and air it out without concern of rain.  This is especially crucial since the camper smells like moth balls after being stored closed all winter.  The lean-to is also a nice place to pile our firewood.  We kept our woodstove going nearly full time this past winter and burned nearly 10 face cord of wood. There are about 4 face cord of dried wood piled against the barn and a similar amount stacked between the pillars.  The wood stacked between the pillars is primarily ash that was cut green this spring and split.  The lean-to makes a nice place to split wood, it is open and breezy if it is hot outside or if the weather is misty I can still split wood.  I try to stick to easily split ash – especially since we have a predominance of ash trees in our woods.

Last year I planted more pole beans than we could eat or can.  This year I tried planting pole beans alongside the split wood pile.  My thinking is that the pole beans could climb the wood pile.  We will see.


Let’s check out the ‘orchard’ – which consists of pear, cherry and plum trees (left and background); a small grape arbor (to the right)  and some blueberry bushes (row extending from the foreground).  We got a bumper crop of pears last fall, which Kathryn canned.  Our grape harvest was modest, but enough for some grape jelly.


A casualty of the winter are two small pear trees that got girdled by rabbits.  I am hopeful the trees will recover; each has a small growth of leaves near their base.

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The grape arbor is doing OK. The grapes had been located closer to the large pine trees in the background and were getting shaded, so they needed to be out in the full sunlight.  The telephone posts make good anchors and each houses a bird house that my Dad made for me years ago.


One of bird houses has some mature chicks.


On the north side of the grape arbor is the row of blueberry bushes; about 20 in all.  Since blueberries like acidic soil I mulch them with pine needles shed from our white pine trees nearby.  On the south side of the grape arbor is our ‘squash box’.  I got tired of having pumpkins overtake the garden so the squash box is an attempt to grow them in a section of the lawn where they can roam free.

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Just south of the orchard is my neighbor’s pond.  It is a pretty little pond with occasional ducks and geese landing on it but not staying permanently.  What is permanent are raucous red-wing blackbirds and, this spring, a muskrat family attracted by cat tails.


For purposes of orientation the orchard is in the background left and the pond is in the background center/right as we look at the garden.  Recently hoed, weeded and mulched it looks probably about as good as it will all summer.  This year’s garden is a little different.  First, in the fall I imported 6 loads of mulched leaves from my neighbor and dug them down into the ground, by hand, unfortunately.  I also imported the fine sand from Eric’s old sand box.  These two items have made a much looser, easier to work, soil.

In the foreground (running east -west) is the asparagus bed followed by a small clump of rhubarb.  When we first moved to this property there were 13 rhubarb plants – an inhuman amount of rhubarb to consume.  Over the years we have given away most of the rhubarb so that only three plants remain.

All the other rows run perpendicular starting with tomatoes.  I have been using hog wire to tie up or weave the tomato plants once they start to get large  At the end of the 1st two rows of tomatoes are small rows of lettuce ans spinach.  The 3rd row of tomatoes has 1/2 row of peas.  I used to plant lots of peas, but they are a lot of work to freeze and last year I planted peas on the 1st row and Cullen ate them all.

The far rows have brussel sprouts, broccoli, yellow wax beans (the most visible), cabbage cucumbers, eggplant and finally a full row of potatoes (a few volunteers are visible at the far end of the garden).  Yesterday I weeded, hoed, moved a few volunteer tomatoes and mulched between the rows with more leaf mulch.


At this point the garden is planted although I still have four more egg plants to plant somewhere.  This year when I started seeds I started some in left-over 16 ounce Styrofoam coffee cups with a small drainage hole punched in the bottom.  This was a tip from my sister Jeanne who got it from one of her in-laws.  The Styrofoam cups hold moisture better than the peat pots, they are durable and re-usable.  The plants that I started in the cups grew faster and larger than the ones I started in the starter kit and then had to transfer to larger pots.


The south side of our house has a large deck that provides access to the dog yard (far left), the hot tub, and a small umbrella table.  Planted in front of the hot tub is Bee Balm that I got from my Mom, some from my Aunt Marie, some that Kathryn purchased from the Garden Factory when she visited her Dad in Rochester.  It grows well, thickens and the bees and hummingbirds love it.


On our south lawn are two Catalpa trees that Kathryn transplanted from her parent’s yard years ago.  They have huge leaves which come out late.  They have white blossoms and, unfortunately, they  are susceptible to winter kill.  Both trees have winter kill damage.  I think we are too cold for them, but for now they are holding on.  I have planted back-up maple trees (to the right), just in case.


Finally, we will walk back to the house, have our morning coffee from our office coffee machine and post these pictures.  Upon our return we pass by the south side of our garage.  Last year I planted our excess tomato plants here.  This year I don’t have any ideas.  Do you?  Thanks for joining me on this walk.  It was a gorgeous morning.


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