Wednesday, May 28, 2014


We have birches. We have maples. We have enormous willows, we have pines of all sizes. We have more box elders than I could count. We have crab apples, an ancient orchard of pears and apples and a newer orchard of peaches, cherries and more pears and apples. We have black walnut and carpathian walnut and something that I swear is honey locust. We have trees I can't recognize and whose names I'll never know.

We have a lot of trees.

You'll know, I'm sure that there are many reasons to prune a tree: for its health. To eliminate dead branches. To give it shape. Or, because you can't drive the damn mower under it, it's that saggy. For aesthetics. For a wedding.

I would say that we are right now faced with all of the above.

Over the years, we've improved our tools for this: from clippers, to a pole saw, to last year's addition -- a power pole saw. Even so, pruning trees remains one of our toughest jobs, for the obvious reason that the branches on especially the mammoth trees aren't exactly accessible. Even with full extensions of the pole saws, held by a  6'4" Ed, it's a stretch.  But it has to be done (even as Ed is always reluctant to trim anything) and so today we go with full force after the branches and we saw off most of the ones I identify as in need off a cut. We form neat little piles of logs from the fat limbs and throw the remainder on top of our wood stack (which, too, is home to many generations of woodchucks).

I truly think this was the last of the massive outdoor jobs we had for this spring. Oh, we can continue working for hours every good weather day from now until fall, but the back breaking, tedious stuff is behind us.

And that's a good thing.

Four photos for you today. The first shows off one of my most happy bloomers -- the Gaura plant (aka "whirling butterflies"). The photo is from my morning walk to open up the coop. There are still drops of a night rain on the plants, but the air is no longer hot or humid. The flowers opened up just a day or two ago and they will continue their dainty dance all the way through September -- a real treat for any garden. True, it doesn't always survive a Wisconsin winter. So what! Dig it up and bring it indoors. Or just cross your fingers!


The second photo is of breakfast. How could it be otherwise!


And, of course, I have to acknowledge our cheepers. The hens were delightful, if a tad lazy today. They followed a pattern of scratch and rest all day long, settling in near whatever clump of trees we'd be trimming. Here's Scotch running through the raspberry patch.


Finally, let me put up one picture just for the record: big Ed trimming the big willow as best as he can.


The weather changed on us in the course of the day. The wind picked up, the skies cleared. In that beautiful and somewhat brisk evening air, I went back to weeding the older, established raspberry islands. When you want something mindless to do -- something that requires stretching, crawling, bending -- in other words, doing yoga like contortions -- pulling out creeping charlie is always an option.

A supper of leftovers, an evening of quiet.

Time now to rub some shea butter cream into a gardener's ravaged hands.