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This is a poor butchered willow from my neighborhood. It will never look normal again. It’s not near a house. I have no idea what prompted the owners to do this.

Years ago, while living in Parker Arizona, I noticed that there were a lot of trees pruned to look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. As a tree lover, it just seemed wrong on a gut level, and I didn’t understand why anyone would do that to a tree.

Our yard there had a large mulberry tree out front that had been topped in the recent past. We got a knock on the door asking if we wanted our “tree cleaned up” to which I responded “absolutely not”. We let that tree do its thing, even though the shape never looked right. Southern Arizona is an unforgiving climate, with daytime temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 months out of the year. The last thing this tree needed was to have all of its branches removed. The last thing we wanted was a reduction in shade.

Once we took the 12 week (now 17 week!) Arizona Master Gardener program in 2020, we better understood the ins and outs of why topping trees is such a bad idea. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post on this for a very long time. The recent butchering of some mature sycamores in front of a winery in our town prompted me to finally put this piece together.

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Close up of Ground Ivy Flower

Ground Ivy, aka Creeping Charlie, Glechoma hederacea.

So a few days ago, I was wandering around in the yard, enjoying spring unfolding, and suddenly noticed this low growing plant with small blue flowers growing under and around one of our backyard willow trees. The area had a bee hive on it last year, and whatever the plant was, I had never noticed it before. Perhaps it come in on the bottom of the hive? Or maybe it just had a really good year last year and I was finally paying attention. Read the rest of this entry »

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Rabbits and ducklings and goat (heads), oh my.

Here’s an update on the goings on at Miles Away Farm.

AnconaDucklings

Seriously, could we be any cuter?

The three turkeys (Bourbon Red’s – heritage breed – same species Barbara Kingsolver raised in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) and 16 Ancona ducklings (they sent one extra) arrived last Wednesday. I bought them from Strombergs, and they mailed them out Monday morning from Minnesota. The Post Office called me about 9:00 am Wednesday morning to say “come get them”. They were all fine, and hungry, and seemingly none the worse for wear, which never ceases to amaze me. Read the rest of this entry »

SaladBeginning

Note the lack of radishes, which would not be here even if they had been perfect. Those are homemade sourdough croutons, by the way.

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AppleBlossom

Three apple trees on the property. Fingers crossed for a good crop this year.

I hereby officially petition that the first day of Spring should be floating, depending on where you live, and tied to the first apple blossom. It finally feels like spring is here, in the third week of May!

The wild lands near my house are starting to bloom, the plum flowers are almost done, the apple blossoms are just starting, and one of our 5 lilac bushes just started to bloom yesterday. Nights are still in the high 30’s/low 40’s, so the garden is growing S L O W L Y. But it IS growing. Read the rest of this entry »

I think if you asked 100 people on the street what their favorite season is, about 80% would say fall. Why is that? Is it just all the pretty colors? The nip in the air? Or does this time of year somehow hit an ancient chord with us, knowing that the harvest is in, the storage bins are full, and there is high hope that we will survive the winter (even if it is by running to the store)? Read the rest of this entry »

LokiWalkOne of the things I like about having dogs is that they make me feel guilty if I don’t take them out for walks. And no just going down the driveway to get the mail. That does NOT count. I can almost hear them whining “Not this again. We’ve seen this and smelled this already, like, a thousand times”. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Kleffner

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