Homestead Report 21: April 24, 2017

More blooming flowers (mmmm…) and the first black flies (no!!!) greeted us this week.

As we wait for various things to leaf out, I’m noticing that the animals are waiting too–impatiently. A month or so ago, I’d pruned our raspberry patch, carefully following directions set forth in Lee Reich’s Grow Fruit Naturally, only to discover on Thursday that a porcupine decided to prune a bit more (and more each day). It seems to cut  most canes off at about a foot high, and leave the cut pieces scattered below. I can’t tell exactly what it is eating, but I wish it would just leave well enough alone. I’m afraid with such short canes we won’t get fruit to ripen until so late in the year that we’ll lose most of it to frost. Fortunately, we do have a lot of plants, and in fact have just dug a new bed for transplanting some of the raspberry shoots that are coming up in the lawn.

Today a few plum blossoms opened all the way, just barely beating out the peaches, whose petals began to peek out of their buds today, but aren’t yet fully open.

In the spring ephemeral bed, the dutchman’s britches (Dicentra cucullaria) are fully open, as is the hepatica (Anemone americana) and blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis). We just saw the first spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) open today. Rue anemones (Thalictrum thalictroides) and trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) pushed up out of the ground today too. Cut-leaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) and ramps/ wild leeks (Allium tricoccum) have been up for a few days, but aren’t flowering yet.

In the woods, coltsfoot and golden alexanders is blooming.

Charley and I had the good fortune to lead a vernal pool walk on Sunday in the Holyoke Range. We checked out five vernal pools and found spotted salamander eggs, marbled salamander larvae, red-spotted newts, and a disturbing absence of wood frogs.

We also spotted a number of neat invertebrates including fairy shrimp, giant water bugs, and a predaceous diving beetle larva (eating a fairy shrimp).

I’ll just leave you with these lovely purple hepatica.

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