Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Welcome Rain

As much as I've appreciated the dry weather of last week, I am happy for the rain of the last few days. The ground was becoming dry and hard already... and I was worn out from working outside. With the rose and peony garden more or less done, I moved on to the blueberry and rhubarb bed. What a mess. Working between showers today, I created a huge mound of weedings from a very small patch of the bed. It's time to write instead of dig... and rest my back.

During the lovely dry weather, the nights continued cold. Very cold. In the past, our latest killing frost was May 15. This year it froze that night, plus every night after through May 19. My poor potato plants kept getting their leaves frosted and growing new ones... over and over. The sun made shadows (I do love shadows!) on the frosty morning grass before melting the ice.

Meanwhile, our fruit trees, crowded with flowers, all bloomed at once, hoping to beat the frost, I guess. It remains to be seen whether they were able to set fruit or not. Here is the apple tree outside the back door, the one black bears liked to scratch on last fall.

The crabapples really got carried away this year. But the cold nights made their beauty short-lived.

Another problem with frosty nights and sunny days is the high sugar content of our pasture grasses. Three of my four horses get sore feet when the sugar content is high spring and fall. They are "Insulin Resistant"... in other words, good keepers. Too good. Morgans were bred to live on meager rations, not rich, sugary grass. But try to tell them that. Although I feed them low-carb hay pellets morning and night, they prefer high-carb pasture grass, so I put grazing muzzles on them to try to slow down their intake. It helps... when they keep the muzzles on. Alas, Nightingale rubbed hers off too many times this spring and has sore feet. So far, Jessie Anne and Mr. Smith are doing okay. The horses don't seem to mind their muzzles too much, perhaps because they can still get grass through the hole in the bottom... they just have to work harder at it. Keeping them moving as they graze also helps the circulation in their feet. Only Polly doesn't have to wear a muzzle, but she has her own problem with face flies: they love her so she wears a fly mask.

Although the garden is not yet tilled or planted, we are eating lettuce and spinach from the raised beds; onions and carrots and beets and peas are up; potatoes are growing in spite of their periodic frosty setbacks. I love raised beds.

In the greenhouse, tomato and pepper plants are up and waiting for warm nights so they can go outdoors. The orchid cactus are blooming and so are amaryllis. (I let the amaryllis bloom whenever they like and they like to bloom in the spring.) From my chair in the living room, where I sit to rest (more and more often, it seems, the older I get), I can see the blooming flowers in the jungleroom/greenhouse.

The rain will stop and I will get outdoors to dig and weed again... but it's awfully nice to sit a spell.

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