February 28, 2024

The first daffodils of 2024

I've been searching for a ray of hope and sunshine this past week. With the Lord of the Manor in the hospital once again, I've been struggling to hold "it" together. Running back and forth to see him, giving Deuce the necessary attention, taking care of household matters, and lastly, taking care of me is exhausting. I confess to increasing moments of despair. 

In the midst of it all, I looked out the window this morning. I mean I really looked out at the yard and the woods for more than to check the weather. I saw the early yellow daffodils blooming. And I cried. 

My grandmother consistently called daffodils Easter flowers. It used to annoy me, but I'd give a lot to be able to hear her say those words again. 

The hidden bulbs that push forth the sunny yellow flowers remind me that good things lie beneath it all and are working toward goals I can't fathom. 

Sometimes, I need to give those forces time to unfold the blessings coming my way.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, daffodils, Easter, blessings, rural living, gardens, country lifestyle, grandmother, hidden agenda

February 21, 2024

Where did they come from?

We've certainly had some nice, sunny days this February. And the countdown to spring stands at twenty-seven days! Deuce and I took full advantage of the sunshine and fifty-degree temps this afternoon. I "worked" and the dog wandered about the yard.

I don't worry about him when we're outside. He's eight, and disappearing off the property is something he's yet to do. Even when we walk down the lane and Cousin Dave is outside, Deuce will look at me and wait for me to tell him it's okay before he trots down to meet his favorite cousin. 

So I worked at various things. One of my woodpiles was hastily stacked and I've hated looking at it all winter. The cousin insisted I put skids (pallets) down, which did not work. For one thing, critters took up residence in the dry space the pallets provided. Not good, not good. The second thing was the skids themselves. They were old and they collapsed under the weight of the firewood. Oops. Sorry, not sorry Mr. Possum. Your squatter rights have been rescinded! 

Anyway, I restacked the firewood the way my grandfather used to do it. I used two trees as end supports and stacked as high as my head. Then I moved to the other side of one of the trees and stacked to the next tree. It not only looks good, but it created a little windbreak for when we split firewood for the 2025-26 season. My woodyard will be nice and tidy for the summer. 

But that's not why I'm writing about today. Before I started stacking, Deuce and I took a stroll around the manor. I spotted crocus blooming in a spot where I've never planted crocus bulbs. I can only assume the wind played a big part in it. 

Spring will be here in the blink of an eye. It'll be time to switch to full gardening mode. I'm grateful for these sunny days that give me the opportunity to get so many things off my to-do list before the summer heat hits and I melt. Melting is just not pretty.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, crocus, spring, seasons change, firewood, yard work, rural living, country lifestyle, a writer's life, black Labrador Retriever, gardening

February 17, 2024

Four to eight inches - sounds risque but it's not


We went to bed last night with a fair amount of dread hanging over us. The weather forecast was for up to eight inches of snow. I anticipated a morning spent on the John Deere 1023 pushing snow. I should have known better. Once again, the weather guessers missed the mark. 

Yes, it did indeed snow. I put the total at 2.5 inches. That puts our February 2024 total-to-date at 10.5 inches. Not bad for us in our little micro-climate, in fact, it's typical of the snows we get. Historically we get a lot of these little snows in January and February. 

I'm happy not to need to hop on the tractor and push snow in the cold. I did go out (in my slippers) and take a measurement and a few pictures, though. We don't need to go anywhere today, and if I did decide to make a fast trip to the grocery, the Colorado is a 4x4. No problem. 

The snow covering the trees is lovely in the morning light. I've created a page for the photos here

I'm not sure what this day will look like now. I'd planned to be outside for an hour or so, but that won't happen. I'll take Deuce for his morning stroll and come back inside. I can enjoy the snowy woods just as much from the comfort of my recliner. Some days, I like to act my age. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, snowfall, rural living, country lifestyle, winter weather, John Deere 1023, snow removal, Colorado 4x4, beautiful woods, snowy woods

February 16, 2024

The impulse purchase - it's not a bad thing!

I confess. I do shop at Walmart from time to time. They have quite a few pantry items at much lower prices than the local grocery. For example, our favorite Ragu spaghetti/pasta sauce is $.71 cheaper per jar. If I'm re-stocking the pantry with ten jars, that's quite a savings. 

So I was at Walmart, and I took the opportunity to wander around in the garden department to see what was already set out for the season. The seed packets called me over. It was a summons I couldn't ignore. Seriously! It was not my fault!!

Joking aside, I've been thinking I should include more flowers for the bees in my garden. The Lord of the Manor has, in one of his rare absolute authoritarian edicts, forbidden me a beehive. Okay, so he's scared of bees. He can't stop me from feeding the wild ones, ergo, flowers in the garden patch. Last year, the bees "worked" the begonias and marigolds, so expansion is called for in 2024.

I've got a seed starting area set up in the den using grow lights. This will be the first year for it and I hope it works out. In past years I've set seed trays in the sunroom, but that is also my office. With everything else going on this spring, I don't need that chaos in my workspace. Add to that I plan to reinstall the shade cloth over the sunroom porch around the first of April. That cloth blocks a lot of sunlight and keeps my office space cooler in the summer, but it would also block sunlight the sprouts need. 

The first of March is my target date for seed starting. A little before or a few days late matters not. Some time between the middle and end of April, the seedlings will migrate to the greenhouse to harden-off, and then be planted in the appropriate container around the first of May. And then we can sit in the garden and watch everything grow until it's time to harvest. 

I really think having lots of flowers mixed in with the veggies will be pretty to see and help create a relaxing area. I hope so, anyway.

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holly Tree Manor, The Hideaway, seed starting, gardening, rural living, country lifestyle, shade cloth, greenhouse, container planting, beehive, seed packets, seasonal living, organization, planning

February 4, 2024

Hard work helps


The past two weeks have not been anything to brag about. The Lord of the Manor's illness has tested us yet again, and this time we've failed. It's easy to blame one or the other, but we've both allowed anxiety to overcome us. It has not been pretty. However...

The Lord of the Manor's situation is improving, and I've taken the opportunity to escape the house. Granted, I'm only doing things I'd be doing anyway, but it's away from his demands. Today went well. Yesterday, not so much.

We're in the middle of what the old-timers call the January thaw. Yes, it started in January so the term applies. Yesterday and today, the weather was perfect for this time of year and I took full advantage of it. 

  • Pick up sticks and limbs blown down
  • Burn the sticks; brush
  • Bring over firewood
  • Spread mulch from tree-trimmers on tractor path
  • Restack parts of the woodpile needing it (sort out the too-long pieces and throw on brush pile)
  • Spread clean crush gravel
  • Prepare and set Brush Crusher 4200 on the new pallet

City dwellers may think that a short list, but anyone living out in the country knows just how much time is involved. And I did all that while running in and out of the house to check on the ailing partner, doing a load of laundry, and preparing two meals and an evening snack each day.

I may be woman, and I may roar, but bedtime is nine o'clock. 

I'm very pleased to have this "pre-spring" clean-up almost finished. I've got one spot to get the fallen sticks and limbs from as soon as the ground dries up enough to get the tractor in there. 

What did I do before I got the John Deere 1023? I worked harder! The tractor is a game changer. 

I wish I could say I feel at least a smidgeon of guilt about running out on an ailing spouse, but I don't. The outside work is therapy for me. I'm physically tired, but I feel so much better. Today there were no harsh words spoken on either side. This is a good thing. 

Tomorrow will bring another test. I need to go to the landfill, and I must stop at UPS to send an item back to Amazon. How will he react to being left alone? Will he be patient and stay in his recliner and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee? Or will he pull another stunt and end up lying on the floor until I get home and pick him up? 

It's a coin toss, but I will leave and run my errands in the morning. And when I return home, hopefully, I'll be able to get into the lower section of the woods for the deadwood. 

Spring is coming, though. Working in the woods, I've spotted daffodil sprouts everywhere! It gives me hope that this time of trial will pass and I'll come out the other side even stronger. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor/The Hideaway

Holy Tree Manor, The Hideaway, John Deere 1023, Brush Crusher 4200, rural living, country lifestyle, daffodils, caregivers, firewood