Friday, March 31, 2017

Third 'Birthday'

Three years ago today with few regrets I left Royal Oak leaving behind my fantastic garden and home for my new life in Michigan's Thumb. My new home is a third the size of my R.O. home which is great because I can manage it better.

There's been an enormous amount of work to do to start my new garden here under harsher conditions and poor soil. I bought my property in either late 2011 or early 2012 - can't remember, don't care. It already had a habitable pole barn which I could spend time in during construction. The first thing we had done was rehabbing the interior of half of the pole barn putting in a shower/bath, a kitchenette, a large great room, and a fenced dog yard. It's a great place and made my early visits with dogs possible. Brian Howard, my architect, made plans for my small "double-wide" new home and we started building in 2013. It took months for inspections and finally I told them I was moving in, ready or not, in 2014. I wanted to be here for my early April birthday. So on April Fools' Day 2014, this became "home". As Judy said, "There's no place like home." Three amazing years.

Last year I finished the pole barn with insulation, windows, door, garage door, and new interior siding. Then we added a new front door to the house. (Until my former house sold, some thngs had to be put on the back burner. The journey with Daren Ives and Brian has been the adventure of a lifetime. I love what they've done for me over many years.

Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Although they have never been enemies, I Ching and Kata have never been best friends. They are both old now and, I think, heat from warm furry bodies has made them friendlier.

This is the first year for catkins on my hazlenuts. The question: Will the flowers survive and produce nuts and if so, will the mice get them before I do if the flowers survive late frosts. It will be fun watching and waiting.

There are eight houses, well really 6 houses and two cottages here. My home is on a "U-shaped" private drive with five homes but only two year round residents, to the north are three more homes, one year round resident. So I rarely see anyone in the fall, winter and spring. My nearest grocery store is fifteen minutes away but the best ones are half an hour away. I love the country driving. On a typical trip most of the year I see only two or three cars along the road into "town". The "big" town has two stoplights; the two smaller towns have one stoplight each.

I suspect this is a merlin or a sparrow hawk or a peregrine at the top of a tall cottonwood tree. He was serenading a female somewhere. I feed the birds in the winter. Some of those birds in their turn feed larger ones.

This summer will be my fourth one here and I'm expecting bigger things in the garden: - you know the old saying regarding perennials? Sleep, creep, leap. Meaning the first year planted the perennials are busy putting down roots and don't show much, is any, above ground activity. The second year the above ground portions are a little bigger but still rather disappointingly small. The third year they take off. I'm hoping. Before moving I divided many of my large perennials in my old garden and brought them here; fortunately most of the plants I brought made it although they did suffer shell shock from the poorer soil and the dividing and transplanting. A few of my favorite plants did not make it. Onward and upward. I've always said that plants have to be tough to survive in my garden. My dogs would make short work of them if they weren't strong and that's just how it is.

Even though we've had a lousy March, the birds are getting ready for nesting. Cardinals don't normally visit my suet feeders which are much loved by various woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches. Today the female cardinal was stocking up on fat, which I suspect her body is using to make eggs, The goldfinch males have almost finishing moulting into mating plumage. So even though it feels nothing like spring, the birds just know it's right around the corner here.

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