Confused witch hazel

Confused witch hazel

It was a week of moderate temperatures and changeable spring weather that gave us sun and rain and wind and snow and more rain. Today was supposed to be sunny and 50F/10C but it has turned out to be damp, cloudy and 40F/4C instead. It is also Easter which I keep forgetting since I don’t celebrate it. Happy Easter to you if you do celebrate! Bookman and I went out to pick up a few final items for the chicken brooder and were surprised to find the store wasn’t open. We were not the only ones pulling into the parking lot and turning around.

What we need: an oven thermometer to monitor the temperature in the brooder, two small cookie sheets to have under the bedding to make cleaning easier, one extension cord so we can plug in the heat lamp because all of the outlets seem to be on the other side of the room from where the brooder is.

Is there some sort of law of extension cords that says whenever you need one you will not have a spare?

Barton Apartment

Barton Apartment

Because, maybe I’m imagining it, but we buy them and use them and then where do they go after that? They get “put away” in a place we will easily find them next time we need one. The need arises and we run around looking in all the likely places only to be disappointed. We go buy a new one. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It’s like socks in the dryer. Where do they go? Someday I am going to discover a seething nest of extension cords in some dark recess of the house and it will be the stuff of nightmares.

The plan today was to get the few items at the store, get the brooder set up, turn on the heat lamp and monitor the temperature and adjust the light accordingly so it will all be figured out by the time we bring the chicks home Thursday night. Thursday people! I am going to have four baby chickens Thursday night after work! But wrench. So we got as far as we could. The photo is of Barton Apartment. The Dashwoods will be in their apartment for about six weeks until it is consistently warm enough outdoors, they have real bird feathers, and Barton Cottage is move-in ready.

The Dashwood carriage

The Dashwood carriage

The coach is all ready for picking them up. Thank goodness we don’t need horses or footmen in livery. Bookman felt it necessary to put a chicken sticker on the box so we would not mistake it for a cat carrier. And he got fancy with cutting the holes in the top. Nothing but the best for our girls!

You know, when the Dashwoods arrive, for the first time ever in this house the girls will out number the boys. All of our animals except for Touche my red-eared slider turtle of 20 years (RIP), have been boys. Thursday night we will be five against three. Estrogen will finally triumph.

Even though the weather has been all over the place, the plants have all decided that spring is here. Melody Maple Tree is beginning to bloom. The witch hazel is blooming too. Poor thing, it is supposed to bloom in the fall but only managed it once. For some reason it has decided that it is a spring blooming witch hazel. And in autumn, it doesn’t like to let go of its leaves. It is a healthy shrub, just confused.

The leaf buds on all of the apple trees are swelling. Even the rose has swelling leaf buds. The spring

Walking onion coming up strong

Walking onion coming up strong

bulbs are pushing their way through the winter mulch that I have not had the chance to remove yet because it has been too cold or too wet. The Egyptian walking onion has shot up, there is sorrel I can pick already. All this is happening a few weeks earlier than usual and I feel unprepared.

As I walked around the garden this afternoon I thought, briefly, oh I can plant peas and radishes and kale! Not yet. In two weeks perhaps. While the frost is well out of the ground it is still not quite warm enough to sprout seeds outdoors. It definitely won’t be long though.

I spent quite a lot of time going through the plant sale catalog this weekend marking up possibilities and dreaming. My main focus this year is to plant the green roof on the chicken coop and to get started turning the very shady area under my front yard apple trees into something that recalls a woodland. At the moment it is home to moss, violets, a very tiny patch of ramps, a tiny patch of wild ginger, a small area of alpine strawberries, and one columbine. In the middle of summer it pretty much looks like weeds.

Siberian squill getting ready to bloom

Siberian squill getting ready to bloom

I imagine a ferny glade. But I have to stop kidding myself with the ferns. I have the shade but I do not have the moisture. My soil, even after years of adding compost, is still too sandy and every experimental fern I plant is dead by the end of summer. So it is time to imagine something else. I don’t yet know what that something else is, but I am working on it. Spring ephemerals, patches of low growing plants with interesting leaves, a few bigger plants in dappled nooks. A simple path through it all. Wish me luck.

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