Wednesday, March 24, 2010

peeps and hoos

One of my neighbors believes you can tell winter is over and we've seen the last frost when the whippoorwills start singing.

For my part, back when the stone ringed pond was still in our front yard, I said you could tell the last frost had passed when you heard the toads, sometimes hundreds of them, had come out of the forest and were at the pond singing and swimming and having a great old time.

I said you could also tell just how warm it was going to be by how many tadpole eggs they left behind the next day.

But that pond has been gone for a few years now, filled in and covered with grass.

And the new pond, built by my stone mason brother-in-law, is in another place, out by the old pear tree, and instead of being ringed by a single layer of mountain stone is surrounded by a two foot stone battlement that toads could only breach with siege engines and battering rams.

No longer is there a spring toad ta-do. (at least, not one going on in our front yard).

Now, I have to rely on the less reliable but noisier peeps to tell me if the last frost has come and gone.

So that said, Sunday night I was out back on the deck when I heard the voices, or is that, 'the sound' of something like ten thousands of those tiny frogs coming from several hundred yards below the house.

After listening for a while, I decided the singing was coming from off in the direction of the old spring house.

It's since fallen down, but, when Wenonah was a little girl, she had the chore of going down with her buckets and filling them with the spring water that came out pipe from the spring house.

Now, the stone spring house has fallen down, the pipes gone and the water has returned to just coming out of the ground and forming a pool surrounded by among other plants; ferns, ginseng, skunk cabbages, lady slippers and Virginia creeper.

On the deck, I listened to the loud sound of the tiny frogs singing and dancing and doing whatever it is that little frogs do in the spring.

This is a place now, where, on spring evenings, if you quietly walk up the trail you will hear a wild chorus of hundreds of peeps.

Along with a deep throated bullfrog or two..

And in the pond, some years you can see hundreds of goldfish in the dark shallows.

Earlier that evening, Wenonah and I had been out walking and as we approached the pond a brown tailed hawk with its feet almost in the water looked up, and in alarm flew off.

With the beating of his wings the peeps stopped singing.

Everything had gone from chaotic to quite. Silent.

We stood there on the bank at almost the same spot where the hawk had been and looking into the shallows counted maybe two or three dozen goldfish.

I never heard of hawks fishing for gold fish. Maybe it was a mouse or a vole he was after. Anyway, I figured this winter's storms, the runoff from the three foot snow and the heavy rain that followed had washed most of the goldfish downstream where if they were lucky, they found a deep hole (or a shallow pond).

But, more likely, had become part of a meal for a fishing raccoon, a possum, or one those wayward herons we see occasionally along the stream bed.

And speaking of raccoons. Remember last week, with the eyes staring out of the dark at the chickens? 

It couldn't have been much more than the next day that the fence was left off one night and in the morning, there were three dead chickens. Two mostly eaten and one still warm, near the fence.

Whichever culprit was guilty of the murders knew that the fence was off and used the event to knock down enough fence to get inside and do its dirty work.

Later, I found a hole dug under the fence, deep enough for something like a skunk to crawl on its belly and escape touching the lowest electric wire.

I filled in the hole with rocks and we plan on moving the chickens off of the asparagus bed this week. 

Its time, anyway, for the asparagus to start coming up. We should be having shareholders out for an asparagus picking event soon.

Other farm news..

Shares? We are getting closer. At the current rate we will have openings for several more weeks and then will be putting people on a waiting list.

Seedlings. We have just about filled up the greenhouse with seedlings. That's close to 70,000. A new seeding device/machine came last week that makes seeding flats a lot faster. Instead of taking several minutes to put seeds into one flat, with the new seeder we can seed 3 trays a minute. It has sure taken a lot of tedium out of starting seeds.

Hoophouses. one of the two new hoophouses (the 26 ft wide by 96 ft long) is up. We put the plastic on today.

Next week we'll start putting up the other new hoop (34 X 96). If you have time and want to help you are invited out. E-mail me first.

Planting in the hoops. And in the next several days we'll be planting cucumbers in one of the smaller 16 x 96) of the hoops. We have started lettuce in the greenhouse and will be transplanting it soon. This means there will be early cucumbers and lettuce for shareholders who want to come out and pick their own in, probably, May .

And the four hoops that were taken down under the snow? How about a barn raising? I was thinking about asking people to come out, not this week, or Easter, but the weekend after that, how about people coming out to take apart the damaged hoophouses so I can bend back the pipes the way they should and put it back together again. That will probably be when the asparagus starts ripening and we'll give asparagus to all helpers.

And I wanted to tell you about the owls. particularly the owls that go hoo - hoo but we've run out of space. Maybe next week.