DSC08493watermarkWe’ve been working on a lot of spring projects as we wrap up February and move into beloved March. The break is over. Let the craziness of spring begin.

When we moved into this house, built in 1995, it had a front and back deck. The inspector mentioned in his report that both of them needed to be replaced. Well, not only was that obvious (you could see the wood rotting away in places), but in an effort to bring new life into them in order to sell the house, they had been painted a color that I can only describe as mauve. They were poorly designed, not to our taste, and downright hideous. But…so were a lot of things IN the house. Like every single light fixture, and the 1970’s wood stove, complete with orange and avocado green tiles. So it has taken us some time to get to the decks. But this winter, my sweet sweet husband tore off the old front deck (some of it literally using his foot), put in new piers and framing, expanding it considerably, and when the weather and money permitted, worked on getting the new decking in. This one is even attached to the house with actual concrete anchors rather than just nailed into the siding.

DSC08492watermarkBecause my husband never does anything that is conventional (note fence in the background), this deck has an elegant swoop on the end, and will have a really cool (literally and figuratively) shade structure on the other end). We’re also ditching the useless and ugly fake wood shutters on this side of the house. House paint is also in our future, along with staining and sealing the deck wood when the weather gets warm enough. But for right now, Rossi totally approves of the progress.

Michael also build this really cool birdhouse for the house wrens/chickadees out of part of an old top bar beehive that was falling apart. Again, note the cool decorative flourishes. So fun. The key, by the way, to building a birdhouse that the small native birds will use (bluebirds, wrens, chickadees) but not the non-native starlings, is the size of the opening. It needs to be 1 1/2″. Any larger and the starlings will be able to fit in there and out compete the native birds. We don’t want that. We have enough starlings!

DSC08500watermarkThe goldfish, which we bought a couple of years ago for less than a dollar a piece, were brought into the house for the winter. They are now back in their outdoor pond. We think we’re out of the woods in terms of really long cold spells. And, well, goldfish are carp. They are hard to kill. And the tank we had them in was really too small. Next year, we’ll just put a heater in the pond and leave them in there for the winter.

DSC08498watermarkEarly spring perennials are starting to pop up. Rhubarb is always one of the first things up.

DSC08504watermarkHorseradish, originally purchased as a root at the grocery store, also coming back.

DSC08505watermarkI’m HOPING these small seedlings are water cress, reseeded in these pots, where they sat in the pond all winter. Cress is in the mustard family, and the first leaves of mustards are always double lobed, but if you squint, you can kind of see two lobes on the upper right leaf. Time will tell. Wild cress is a perennial, and survives high elevation Colorado winters in frozen streams, so I have hopes that these will come back.

DSC08499watermarkChives, also a harbinger of early spring.

DSC08503watermarkWe put in 7 new fruit trees, now that we have adequate irrigation along our driveway. I bought them from Peaceful Valley Organic out of California. They get their trees from Dave Wilson Nursery. Dave Wilson does a taste test of fruit varieties each year, so the trees we put in (one cherry, a peach, a nectarine, two pears and two pluots) were all chosen for taste. We were surprised to receive them so early, but thankfully, the ground was thawed and we were able to get them right in the ground. They were still dormant, so should be fine as spring comes on. Based on the huge growth of a cherry tree of similar size we put in two years ago, we have high hopes for these trees.

DSC08528watermarkDaylily, so pretty and green and welcome this time of year.

DSC08501watermarkThese seedlings are coming up in my flower garden row out in the vegetable garden. And I have no idea what they are. Can’t remember for the life of me what all I planted out there, in desperation to get stuff out of pots and into the ground last June. Whatever they are, they are super hardy, as we’re still getting plenty of frost. Time will tell.

DSC08529watermarkCome about the last week of January, all my ducks got the memo that it was time to start laying eggs again. I did put a light in the coop, so some of it may have been due to that. But I went from 2 eggs a day to 6 or 7 (I have 14 ducks, 3 of which are male, and some of which are going on 3 years old). I found a cache of eggs that I hadn’t noticed, just about the time this lovely duck went broody and decided she wanted to sit. So, I took the eggs under her, and substituted this cache of 15 eggs. I have no idea how viable they are, as it may have gotten too cold for them while they were sitting unnoticed. We’ll see. I also started an incubator worth of duck eggs, so worse case scenario, I hopefully will have some ducklings either way, and if the incubator eggs hatch and the ones under her don’t, I’ll give her a few babies to raise. Both batches were started within a few days of each other. Duck eggs have a 28 day incubation.

DSC08522watermarkLast fall, I had a couple of unexpected batches of turkey babies, by two mamas who started nests in July. Because of the time of year and the location of the nests, only one of the babies survived. The dark bird in this picture is that baby. We’re calling him Lucky. And Lucky is a boy. He’s just now discovering this himself. I heard him gobble for the first time on Wednesday, all the while looking to our big Bourbon Red tom for ideas and guidance. “Is this how you do it? Maybe like this?” We lost our dark female to a predator during the winter. She decided she didn’t want to go into the coop at night, and it took all of about 2 nights (or more likely, early mornings when she came down out of the roosting tree at the crack of dawn) for something to find her. So now I have 2 toms and 2 hens. Not quite what I was striving for. We’ll see how it goes. I have a couple of turkey eggs in with the duck eggs in the incubator as well.

DSC08515watermarkCray, in all his spring plumage finery. I just couldn’t resist taking his picture…again. Look at those lovely draping tail feathers. He is SUCH a pretty boy.

DSC08518watermarkSigns of buds swelling. This is the Weeping Santa Rosa Plum.

DSC08524watermarkThe Silver Leaf Maples, JUST starting to break bud. They are one of the first things to bloom. I remember my first spring here, going out on a warm spring day and hearing the entire tree buzzing with bees.

DSC08511watermarkI always wanted to grow a hellebore when I was living in Colorado, and never did. Then I planted one here, it was in too much shade (they like SOME shade), and it rotted out. This one, the replacement, in a new location, seems to be doing just fine. They are an early bloomer, and I’m looking forward to finally seeing one bloom in person.

DSC08532watermarkThis is a ornamental contorted hazelnut that we bought on a whim last year, just loving the look of it. It went in next to the new deck. And its doing this already this spring.

DSC08490watermarkAnd of course, who doesn’t love the early spring crocus. I always love finding these in unexpected places around the yard.

CrocuswatermarkMiles Away Farm Blog © 2015, where the seeds and plant flats have been ordered, and we’re chomping at the bit to get our hands in the dirt. And we’re expecting lamb babies any day now.