Homestead Report 32: April 20, 2018

What a tough month! I’m overwhelmed at every level. When I watch the news, the deep dishonestly, corruption, and incompetence at the national level blows me away. At a local level, I find that my role on the selectboard is leaving me feeling drained. And then there is the fact that it keeps on snowing! I finally planted peas anyway (April 18, in the warm sunshine).


Lower garden with pea trellis yesterday morning.

I am normally anxious to start planting seeds in early March, but this year it just seemed too early. Finally I got some seeds in pots on April 7… the bulk of the tomatoes, peppers, and flowers. They just sat there in the cold for a week and half until I stuck the flats under the woodstove; now they are starting to sprout, since we’re still having regular fires.  I had started a few tomatoes and broccoli to test seed about a month earlier, and they’re under grow lights now.

The flowering orchids have brought me joy, and about a week ago a begonia that my mom gave us started blooming too.

Outside, crocus! Every year I am so grateful for these first cheery little guys. So brave.

And the spring beauties are up (I’ve seen a few blooms elsewhere, but the ones in our yard are feeling shy). Harbinger of Spring (Erigenia bulbosa) is blooming, as are the female flowers of our cultivated hazelnuts. The male catkins still haven’t released pollen, so we’re hoping the female flowers can hang on for a while longer in order to make nuts.

Winter wonderland? April 19.


Weekly Homestead Report 12: Halloween 2016

Nothing like a little snow to change the scene in a hurry! Don’t worry, it all slid off the solar panel before the sun was up the next morning, and two days later nearly all traces of snow were gone.

But the plants felt the cold. Here are the same three flowers, separated by one frosty night.

Happily, those mums I mentioned last week seem to be able to take it. They’re about the only flower left at this point. The New England asters are still alive too, but barely.


The milkweed seeds are dispersing.

Before the snow, we harvested amaranth seeds (below; approx 1.5 cups from 3 large plants), herbs for drying (oregano and parsley),  pink and green tomatoes, the last of the peppers, and huge numbers of butternut squash, pumpkins, and spaghetti squash.

I cut out a new chicken door in the coop, which we’ll be able to manually open whenever our fancy electric door quits working. It seems to run out of battery every few months, just when we are getting used to relying on it (and/or when we go on a trip, leaving our neighbors in charge of the chickens).


If this works, you’ll see footage of the door closing and opening after manual prompting—a test, after I recharged the battery. The timers are set to open the door for 7:00 am, and close it at 8:00 pm. The chickens are safe and happy, and that makes me happy.

The woods are really lovely this time of year. Yesterday we hiked up to the Crag to enjoy the view and get a little sunshine and exercise, but the little loop through our woods is just as beautiful. It’s worth mentioning that this year there was no fall black fly emergence, for which I am extremely grateful.

I feel like I’m trying to hold on to the essence of this gorgeous season in New England. I’m pretty sure you can’t capture it this way, but the leaves are very pretty.


But of course, autumn is more than yellow-orange-red; it is the feel of the air, the crisp crunch of a fresh apple, a pot of butternut squash soup simmering on the stove, and the cozy feeling of curling up next to the wood stove with a book after a long day cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood.