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Archive for February, 2013

It feels like spring in South Texas. My apple tree has some buds appearing, one of the peach trees has it leaves almost opening up, and the wrens are sneaking into the back screen porch to build nests. I am up and moving around, so I need to take a walk around the back yard (with my camera) and check out the other trees to see what they are doing. The day time temperatures have been warm, and at time downright hot. The night time temps have hardly dipped at all (although a few nights ago it was 45F – yes I know that is a heatwave for many of you. I grew up in Minnesota so I understand that when you have been in a deep-freeze and the thermometer rises to 30, your jackets start coming off and you roll down the windows in your car.

Perfect wren nesting area

Perfect wren nesting area

The past 3 days I have walked out into the screen porch and found wrens out their building nests (yes, in the screen porch.) I can’t get too upset, after all, I leave the back screen doors wide open, well, not actually wide open but blocked open for the cats to come and go during the day. So the wrens should know that there is a difference. Wide open would mean they were invited to come in and build. Just blocked open means, no not you, just the cats. However, I guess blocked open wide enough for a cat to get through (9″) is really wide open for a wren, isn’t it?! Dang it, I just lost my own argument.

Peach tree 2-2013With all this Spring-like weather the birds are active and singing their songs. The trees are right out there with them, showing their buds. That reads spring to me.  For me, I am way behind in where I should be for this time of year. I have no seeds started, and even though I would like to, it will not be happening this  year. That just makes me down right frustrated, but I need to calm down and go with the flow. And the flow this year, at this time, means I need to take care of myself, and it means no seeds started or yard-doings of any kind. I am finding that I am very good at walking around the backyard with my husband (when I can catch him at home during daylight hours – gosh that is challenging!) and point at things that need to be watered, moved, done, etc. In fact, I even found a bamboo stick back there to use as a pointer, then there is no way he can’t  see what I am pointing at (no bending over for the girl.)  The “water that”, “what?”, “that”, “which one” thing has been solved. I know can point with the bamboo stick, right down to the plant.

The wrens are certainly entertaining to watch (as long as I am not chasing them out of the screen porch.) They are happy singing and busy working. Me, I am just standing still watching and listening. Maybe this surgery is a big huge message for me to slow down and watch and observe. I have a hard time sitting still. Normally, while I work outside, I do sit and watch what is happening around me.  I enjoy listening to the birds and watching them, I just never expected to have to sit and watch them while the world went by.

By the end of March I can start to re-join my real world, with limitations. Limitations! UGH! I am grateful to be here. I am grateful to be able to watch the birds. I am grateful to be able to watch the trees and the bud and leaf out.

I am glad that I have the wrens around. They keep moving ahead, building next, planning for the spring.

Are you on track for your spring chores?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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This is the second in our repostings of Jen’s wonderful posts on monthly planning. Originally posted in 2011, here’s what to do in the traditional dead of winter.

February can be one of the last chances to get indoor projects completed before the spring thaw arrives. Gardeners are getting excited and it won’t be long before the first of this year’s farm babies are here! Spring is really just around the corner, so start wrapping things up inside and get ready to head back outdoors.

Indoors:

  • Check basement or crawl space for leakage during thaws.
  • Check bathroom caulking for re-sealing needs. While you’re in there, check your pipes for leaks.
  • Freshen your kitchen sinks by pouring a mixture of 3 cups hot water and 1/4 cup vinegar (or the juice of one lemon) down each drain.
  • Keep an eye out for cracks in your drywall caused by settling during thaws and freezes. There are expandable putties and spackles available for problem areas. While you’re at it, you may want to mark outdoor masonry to be repaired. Plan to complete this project after the last hard freeze and once your biggest worries of the house settling are past.
  • If you don’t have a cold frame or greenhouse, set up an area to start seeds for your garden. Few seeds need light to germinate (be sure to read the directions) so you may be able to get by without any lights other than a window for the first few weeks. (Check out chiotsrun seedstarting 101 guide).
  • Research and prepare for any animal purchases for the year.
  • Keep a tray of water and spray bottle near indoor plants to adjust humidity levels, especially if you have central air. Running the heater can dry them out quickly and cover leaves with dust.

Outdoors/Garden/Wildlife:

  • Keep fresh water available and free of ice for birds and wildlife.
  • It’s National Bird Feeding Month. Keep feeding those birdies! Seed, dried berries, and suet are great meals for our feathered pals.
  • If you live in a climate with mild winters, this month may be a good time to dig new beds. You may also want to repair or build new composting bins to be prepared for this year’s cleanup.
  • Southerners could get away with planting bare root trees on warm days.
  • Keep driveways and walks free of snow and ice. Have shovels, plows, and salt/brine accessible and stocked.
  • Watch gutters and roofs for ice dams.
  • XAN EDIT: if you’re in a short-season zone (5 and up) start long season seeds like onions and leeks indoors
  • If you didn’t get to it during fall, now would be a great time to oil and sharpen garden tools.

Animal Husbandry

  • Be prepared for early birthing. Have any equipment you’ll need ready and accessible.
  • Nights are still very cold in most parts of the country. Keep your critters warm with fresh hay, heat lamps, or blankets, but be sure to avoid fire hazards.
  • If you’ve been leaving a light on for your chickens you can begin weaning them off of it. The sun is setting noticeably later and your gals should begin laying more regularly soon.

You can also find Jennifer in archive at Unearthing This Life where she used to blog (or as she called it “blarg”) a bit about good food, home schooling, raising chickens, and being a suburban Yankee transplant in a rural southern town. She’s not writing right now, but her wonderful posts are well worth scrolling through.

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It is winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. Some people have no chance of a garden to grow anything this time of year. Others are able to grow some things with the help of green houses or row covers. In some areas people have gardens that are flourishing and growing strong in the winter.

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I (Sincerely, Emily) am thrilled to have a growing season in the winter. Our winter garden is flourishing and the farmers markets have an abundance of winter veggies to sell.

Broccoli Jan 2013

I look forward to the winter planting of lettuce, kale, chard and spinach because it is the only time of year that is will grow here. It is just too hot in the summer. I am picking broccoli and onions. Soon to be picking cabbage. Green is a lovely winter color in my garden.

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DSCN0222I (Xan) feel like we’ve barely even had winter this year. Far less than an accumlated 10 inches of snow (maybe less than 5), and very few days below the freezing mark, and here it is February already. The most amazing success of my winter garden this year has been the canna rhizomes that I potted, never believing they would actually grow. But here’s my canna “forest!”

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Northern or Southern Hemisphere – What are you growing right now or What are you buying?

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If you have been reading my personal blog over the past few years, as well as what I have contributed here at NDIN, then you have been exposed to a few of the stranger things that I have revealed about myself.

I have told you about my Obsession with jars (to use of course), I like mechanical pencils (that is not too strange I guess), and that I can write backwards (yup, I know that is strange!)

There is one collection that I have that I have not told you about. It isn’t a secret. It just doesn’t come up in conversation that much. So, here it goes. Hi, My name is Emily and I collect cat whiskers.

What what

Actually, my dad started this collection. We moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota when I was ten years old. With moving, comes a lot of boxes. One of the tall boxes ended up in my parents new bedroom, waiting to be unpacked. Before long our two cats found the top of this box to be the purr-fect perch on which to sleep, look outside, and all-around hang out. When the box was finally unpacked, it stayed here covered with a nice blanket to make this purr-fect cat perch more comfortable.

Our cats used this perch constantly. One day my dad found a cat whisker on the blanket and showed it to me. A purr-fect, long cat whisker. I always loved cat whiskers and here was my dad showing me one. I was around 11 years old. He thought it was pretty special and found a little box for it and showed me where he put it in his desk drawer. I could go in there anytime I wanted to and take a peak.

The whisker box 2As the years went on, more whiskers were placed for safe keeping in the little box and the cat whisker collection grew. Every now and then a newly found whisker would stand out and my dad would measure it to see if it was the longest in the collection.

I have the little box now and my cats whiskers have added to it over the years. After admiring the long beautiful whiskers on my friends cats, I opened our mailbox one day to find that he had sent us one of his cat whiskers to add to the collection. It is still the longest in the collection.

I can spot a cat whisker from across the room. I have found cat whiskers in most of the rooms in our house; on the floor, on our bed. I can even spot them across the room (only if it is a white whisker on a dark color or black whisker on a light color though.) If whiskers do come up in conversation and I tell someone about my collection, they are amazed that I can even find the whiskers and claim they have never seen one in all the years they have cats. While they are amazed I find them, I am amazed that they haven’t.

whiskers 3

Do you have cats ad have you ever found whiskers?

Sincerely, Emily

You can see what else I am up to over at Sincerely, Emily. The topics are varied, as I jump around from gardening to sewing to making bread or lotion and many things in between.

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