What Happened To Spring?

April 15, 2009

The skies are a dreary gray, and it’s in the 50’s.  So what happened to our nice spring weather?

Still, I know it must be springtime, because all those wonderful spring flowers are blooming.  I saw some bluebells earlier this month.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

I’ve never seen any in our woods here, but I planted some in one of our shady flowerbeds.  They’re properly called Mertensia virginica, or Virginia Bluebells.

Not far from them, the Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum commutatum) started blooming a couple of weeks later.

Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum commutatum)

They’re still going strong, although the Bluebells have pretty much died off.

However, the Lenten Rose (Helleborus Royal Heritage Strain)  is still blooming like crazy.

Lenten Rose (Helleborus Royal Heritage Strain)

It blooms for a long time!

And I know it must be spring, because the dogwood trees in the woods are blooming, and the little ones in our front yard have a few blooms, too.

Red Dogwood (Cornus florida ‘Cherokee Chief’)

We have a white one and this red one, a Cherokee Chief variety.

In the front flower beds, there are azaleas budding out, clematis starting to grow, plus “wild” geraniums, iris and beebalm.  There’s also a little white flower formally known as Anemone pulsatilla, but also known as Pasque Flower, Wind Flower, Meadow Anemone, Passe Flower and Easter Flower.

Anemone pulsatilla

I can understand why it’s called Easter Flower since in bloomed at just the right time for Easter.

The Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) is also full of blooms, with one of the many hostas growing up through it.

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)

Of course, this is a just a smattering of the flowers blooming around here.  It’s one thing I’ve had a hard time getting used to living here in the south – all the flowers just seem to bloom at once instead of a succession of blooms.

Okay, they don’t really ALL bloom at the same time, but to have iris and azalea and dogwoods and Lenten roses all blooming at the same time just seems a little strange to me.  There was more of a sequence where I grew up.

At any rate, the flowers are blooming, so even if it’s cold and dreary outside, it must really still be spring!

Tornado Season

April 10, 2009

Spring is one thing, but tornado season comes along at the same time, and that’s quite another thing!

I’ve got the tv on listening to reports of severe thunderstorms, hail the size of softballs, and tornadoes on the ground!

Fortunately, I think the worst has passed us.  Yes, we had a severe thunderstorm.

Rain

And we had some hail, though not near the size of softballs.  We didn’t even make it to ping-pong ball size.

Hailstones

And while I didn’t see a tornado, we had LOTS of wind.  I can’t show you the wind, but I can show you one of the effects:

Here’s another view:

The gutter is a wreck, but I’m hopeful that the roof itself is not actually damaged. However, one of the limbs knocked out part of the fence.

Considering a bad tornado went through north of us that did a lot of damage and the reports are that a couple of people were killed, I’d say we were pretty lucky.

But I guess we’d better get used to spending more time in the basement.

Pecans Past

March 19, 2009

Shortly after we moved here, we planted a couple of pecan trees in our orchard.  One was a Western Schley variety, and the other was a Colby pecan.

The goats got in the orchard a few times and girdled a few of the young trees. One of the pecans bit the dust due to those goatly depredations. The other one continued to grow, and a couple of years ago had a few pecans on it for the first time. The Farmer still has one of those pecans tucked away somewhere among his treasures.

However, one lonesome pecan tree isn’t going to produce as many pecans as The Farmer would like.  And we kept hearing reports of bumper pecan crops around here this year, so The Farmer was miffed because all he had on his tree were some dried up old leaves.

Pecan Tree

Or so he thought. 

One day after his new knees were working nicely, he decided to go up to the orchard and have a closer look.

Top of Pecan Tree

Surprise, surprise! His tree had lots of pecans too!  What he thought from a distance were old leaves turned out to be pecans when he got up close.

Of course, he just had to harvest all those wonderful pecans, but the question was how to get them off the tree.

He could stand on the ground and knock the pecans off the lower branches, but the ones at the top of the tree were a little hard to reach.  Determined to reach his prizes, however, The Farmer used those new knees to climb up on the pallets around the tree and brace himself on the tree so he could whack at them with his walking stick.

The Farmer in a pecan tree.

This went on for some time and  he got lots of pecans knocked down onto the ground.  I will let you in on a little secret though . . . if you want to harvest nuts that have fallen to the ground, it’s really better if you keep the grasses mowed down around the tree.  It’s VERY difficult to see nuts nestled down in tufts of grass among tall weeds.

Especially when they sailed through the air like this . . .

Pecans Fly Off Tree

And all too many of them did exactly that.  Those airborne torpedos sailed waaayyyyyy out there!  We searched in the grasses around the tree, going around and around and around and, well, finally gave it up.

We gathered up quite a few pecans, but I’m sure some were lost… well, like a ball in tall weeds.  Or maybe a needle in a haystack.  Whatever cliche you want to use, those pecans aren’t going to be found any time soon.

But at least The Farmer knows his pecan tree didn’t let him down.

When Icicles Are A Sign Of Spring

March 4, 2009

When I went out to do chores this morning, it was already warming up.  I went around the front of the house so I could unplug the heater in the wellhouse and noticed a big icicle hanging off one of the trees in the front yard.

Icicles On Tree

That seemed a little peculiar to me for icicles to be hanging off a tree trunk. So I looked a little closer. . .

Base of icicles on tree.

It still didn’t seem to make any sense there should be icicles hanging there.  So I looked around a little more and noticed these holes. . .

Holes in tree trunk.

Aha! NOW it made more sense.  The woodpeckers have been drilling holes in the trees.  You can see a little bit of ice below the holes to the left.

And that’s exactly how those big icicles were formed.  The tree sap is starting to “run”, getting ready for the growing season, and when it got cold, made some impressive icicles.

And THAT”S why icicles (sapsicles?), in this instance, are a sign of spring!

The Joke’s On Us!

March 1, 2009

After numerous times this winter of hearing the weatherman tell us we might get snow and nothing ever happened, last night we kind of laughed off all predictions of the white stuff.  After all, we got through December, January and February without much more than a few flakes, so the first of March would seem pretty safe, right?

Wrong!  The joke was on us when we got up this morning and there was snow swirling around in gusty winds, and even a layer of snow on the ground.  Amazing!

Church services and other Sunday activities screeched to a halt as closing after closing scrolled by on the tv and computer screens.  The animals hunkered down in their sheds, not sure what to make of so much white stuff carried around in wicked gusts of wind.

The sheep, being the hardy souls they are and protected by a nice layer of insulating wool, were the first to stir out of their shed once the weather cleared a little.

Sheep in Snow.

A few of the guineas also ventured out, though the strong wind made things a little precarious. This guinea was hanging on for dear life while the fence swayed back and forth.

Guinea on Fence

After fixing some blueberry muffins for breakfast, I got on my layers of winter clothing and ventured out into the cold, cruel world.  Once all the animals had feed, hay and water, I figured Toby and I needed to take a walk in the woods while we had an opportunity to take pictures of so much snow.

Going into the woods.

Now I’m sure our northern neighbors are rolling their eyes at my definition of “so much snow”, but remember, it’s all relative!  And to us, this much snow is relatively lots!

We walked back to the creek first thing.

Creek with snowy banks.

From there, I looked across at the neighbors woods.  It was obvious to see which way the wind had been blowing from the snow plastered on the sides of the trees.

Snowy Trees

The snowy creek banks lent a bit of softness to the scene we don’t often see.

Creek and snowy trees.

It didn’t last long however.  It had obviously stopped snowing by the time I went out walking, and by the time Toby and I got out of the woods the sun was shining brightly.  There was a hawk flying high overhead enjoying the better weather.   (At least I suppose it would rather have sunny skies, but maybe it was just looking for dinner.)

Blue skies with hawk flying.

The daffodils in the yard were in the shade and still surrounded by snow.

Daffodils in Snow

Now when I look out the windows, I see bright sunshine, and just a few little patches of snow left behind here and there in the shade.

Mother Nature’s snowy joke didn’t last long!