welcome, and thank you for joining me on my farm and studio in southern lancaster county, pennsylvania

Monday, December 21, 2009

lesson learned

This is Aster. One of the two shetland ewes I brought home in the back of my VW Bug this summer. And of all the sheep here, she's my favorite. Sweet, friendly, gentle, innocent. And as most sheep are, also fairly helpless when confronted by predators. Their only defense, really, is to bunch up and run. So far around here, the only sheep-type predators I have to worry about are dogs. My dogs. aka "the destroyers". And so I have a good fence. However, when thoughtlessness is added to the mix, the innocent pay. This fall, I stacked some spoiled hay next to the fence, planning to use it as mulch next summer in the cut flower garden. On Saturday, two of the dogs climbed up on top of the hay and used it as a platform to jump into the pasture. When I found them, Aster was lying on the ground with the dogs lying next to her, pulling out wool. Like a live stuffed toy. They were so happy and then so surprised when I went berserk. Quickly removing said canines from the pasture, I examined Aster and found she had a rather large tear on the inside of her upper thigh. Of course, this was on a weekend. During a blizzard. Unable to come, the vet talked me through what I needed to do for her, and my brother-in-law (owner of a big 4WD pick-up) kindly went to the local farm store for the supplies.

On the upside, the vet came out today to stitch her up. In the meantime, I became pretty comfortable giving intramuscular injections of penicillin. Funny what you can do when you have to. But it also brings home the fact that veterinary supplies need to be on hand, that you can't always count on outside help. Another lesson learned.

And Aster? She's looking pretty good, so far no infection. I'm cautiously optimistic about her recovery.

The dogs are also still alive.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

in the nick of time

Thankfully, the last of the work was completed (wiring and heating) on Thursday in the greenhouse. Just in time, too, because Friday night the snow arrived. Knowing it was coming and that we'd see significant accumulation, I set the heaters to 35°F, just enough to help the snow to slide off. Why? Because allowing a heavy snow load could cause the whole structure to collapse. Unlikely perhaps, but a possibility.

If any of you are considering a greenhouse in the future and want to know how and why I chose what I did, feel free to contact me. I'd be happy to help.

Friday, December 11, 2009

guilty (or is it innocent?) pleasure

Construction on the greenhouse is complete! The only things left are for the electrician to run wire to the heaters, fans, and roof vent; and for the fuel company to deliver propane tanks and hook them up.

I've been going out to check on the temperature the last couple of days and I must say that when the sun is shining, it is just delicious in there, even without supplemental heat. Today it was just to much for me - it was 26° outside with a bitter wind, while in the greenhouse, it was balmy and extremely humid. As the moisture from the soil evaporated, it condensed on the roof before dripping back down - my own personal rain forest. What can I say? I caved. Brought a lawn chair and a book and sat for an hour, basking in the sunshine and warm mist, reading. Heaven on earth.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

first snow

The woodland path, decked out in the season's first snow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

greenhouse construction

Construction is underway! However, it's been slow-going due to the weather - one day of sun, then two to four days of rain. They started at the beginning of last week, but have only gotten in three days of work so far. Frustrating for everyone involved. I'm concerned about being in December and not having this thing built. Hopefully the cold and snow will hold off a little while longer.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

in December?

Look, fresh flowers in December! In zone 6! They are growing in a protected spot at the front yard gate and must have been fooled by the warmer-than-usual fall weather into thinking it's time to bloom. Their exuberance makes me smile every time I pass by.

Not to be out done are these wonderful irises. Since they are a re-blooming variety their season of enjoyment is longer than you might think, but it doesn't normally last this late in the year. They smell heavenly, so a couple just might find their way inside to brighten the house a bit.

Admittedly, I am a sucker for fresh flowers. If I'm tense, burying my face deep in a bouquet and breathing in their fragrance can make my chest unclench. And in the depths of winter, visiting a conservatory to feel the warm and humid air, and enjoy the smell of living, growing things is hard to beat. It's elemental, and in some way, nearly essential. I highly recommend it.