Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Pack Reunites

Bella and I returned to New Hampshire on Friday to reunite with the rest of our pack, Srini and Aria. Here Bella and Aria sniff the plants and share a few blades of grass or sedge at the edge of the wetland just behind our property. Inside the house they are not so happy to share resources.

Bella and I swapped the back forty of Winterberry Farm for the back one of our yard. It is not quite the same but there are a few gems to be found in small places too. The fringed polygala, Polygala paucifolia, is in bloom near the wetland.

A great-crested flycatcher and scarlet tanager are singing in our yard. The sugar snap peas are about six inches high. Srini saw a red fox run through the edge of our yard. Today we spotted two fox pups near the road, the den is close.

I spent several hours this morning at New Roots Farm, my nearby organic farmer friends that I help every year. Things grow while one is away for six weeks during the early planting season. The greenhouse is stuffed with seedlings -- dozens of varieties of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, squash, basil, parsley, scallions, more herbs, lettuce, and much more. All at various stages of growth, to be planted out in the fields as they are ready. The weather for the next two days has put all field planting on hold. Temperatures are to dip into the lows 30s the next two nights. Why did I plant my zinnia seedlings yesterday?....will need to cover those sensitive plants.

Other happenings on the farm while I was away -- the chickens got out of their pen and ate two flats of lettuce. Let's just say the hens are in the dog house and not so free-ranging. A goat and her kid arrived, the mother is providing fresh milk daily. And 16 or more piglets arrived (I never can count them when they are all bunched together). A new irrigation pump was installed so water actually comes out of the spigot by each field. This will save us from dragging hoses everywhere.

Renee and I spent the morning in the greenhouse. I planted several flats of kohlrabi, bok choi, fennel, zinnias, and scallions. I need reading glasses for this work as the seeds are tiny. It felt good to be in the greenhouse on this cool, rainy day. After planting, Renee showed me the location of a killdeer nest. While the parents scurred off with "broken wings," I snatched a photo of the shallow scrape of a nest with four eggs set at the edge of a yet unplanted row. I think Jeff and Renee will give them some space, but planting season is the parents better hurry with their hatch date, not that they can.

After lunch Srini and I took Aria and Bella to one of our favorite haunts. The trail, soft underfoot with its bedding of pine needles, leads through a floodplain forest along the Lamprey River and through an upland oak-pine forest. The latter is habitat to the pink lady's slipper, also known as moccasin flower. Now in full bloom, its showy rose-colored pouches set a striking pose on the forest floor.
Pink lady's slipper, Cypripedium acaule

A nice weekend to reacquaint with home and haunts in New Hampshire, after six weeks away.

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