Saturday, April 30

So much has been happening here that it has been impossible to find time to write a post. By the time we settle in for the night, I am so absolutely exhausted that all I can think about is crawling under the covers.

My last report detailed our fields drainage issue and the ridiculous winter weather that refused to give way to spring. Our 205 fruit trees, 100 white pine, 100 Douglas fir and 100 American cypress trees were delivered during a snowstorm in the first Monday in April. They arrived in two gigantic boxes from the back of a Fedex trailer. I was amazed at how so many trees fit into two boxes. While they were being unloaded, the rental company came to pick up the rented backhoe so our little home was the busiest place on the road for about 20 minutes.

We knew that we had to get the trees into pots of compost and soil so we spent the next few days buying out the entire stock of muck buckets from our local tractor supply store and potting bunches of 5' tall fruit trees with bagged manure compost and potting mix. The nursery that we ordered from, Van Well Nursery, did an excellent job with the packaging of the trees. 

Safely tucked away from the cold in our barn and covered with tarps, we moved on the other matters involving the partial collapse of the drainage ditch in the field where we would be planting the fruit trees. We already have 60 Chinese chestnut trees started there and in order for them to survive, and for the fruit trees to have a chance, we need better drainage. So far, it is acting more like a swale than a drainage line but until the wet weather clears up and the ditch becomes dry enough to work with, it is staying as it is - an ugly 'earthquake crack' running the length of the field to the creek. When it dies up, hopefully in May or June, we will shovel out the collapsed sections, redo the angle and install the pipe and gravel before filling it back in. I am dreading this project since it will be a lot of digging, measuring, hauling gravel, and most likely more than a little foul language. I keep telling myself that it will be filled in and all that standing water will no longer plague the roots of my orchard but will instead flow gracefully down that black pipe and empty unceremoniously into the creek.

Partial collapse of the drainage ditch. Note the lack of snow - the weather so far this month has been incredibly unpredictable and miserable. One minute it is snowing and the next it is sunny. But it is constantly chilly which makes it impossible to plant.

In more positive and happy news, we picked up our batch of chicks on the 17th and they have been happily peeping away in the basement brooder ever since. We have 14 Isa Browns this season and so far they have been a much better bird than others we have had in the past. I have not had once case of 'pasty butt', they are growing very fast and there are no noticeable problems at this point. In the past I have spent too much time with a pan of warm water and cotton balls gently cleaning the rear ends of baby chicks to rid them of their blockages. Not the most pleasant task on my to-do list, although necessary to insure that the chicks will grow up to be part of my egg production staff.

14 Isa Brown chicks 
Even though I can not garden outside, I have been very happy with the seed starting this year as it satisfies my need to dig around in the dirt and grow something. My houseplants, although most likely grateful for all the attention they receive over the winter months, are probably sick of my poking around in their pots.

The peppers, eggplant and tomato seedlings are all doing well despite the chilly temperatures that creep into the basement. I have heat mats keeping them toasty and except for a little green growth on the top of the soil, they are looking very promising. To fight the green moldy stuff I have been sprinkling cinnamon powder from my spice rack directly on the mold. It has been doing a very good job of keeping that mold in check and it does not seem to hurt the seedlings.

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