Monday, February 8, 2016

Drawn Outside



These recent mild days are an unexpected treasure.  Snow is in the forecast for the next several days but it is after all still early February.  We have approached work in the garden but found the ground frozen hard.  Removing trees that have grown up into the electric wires seemed better suited to actual outdoor conditions.  Only the scrub trees in the foreground are on our property.  The white fence and the green field belong to the current owners of the original farmhouse.  The silo and barn are across the road and are owned by downstaters.


My cardiologist has been recently dismissed.  It seems that all he does during my appointments with him is type at his computer keyboard.  Listening to anything that I have to say appears to be an interruption so why continue to interfere with his day.  That means that I must work cautiously to avoid needing an ER run.  Since I do not use a power driven saw, limits must be observed when working.  This single tree was the only one scheduled to be cut today.

Kneeling on the ground is the position from which I cut.  Bending over is a more traditional approach but I tend to be lightheaded when I stand.  The first cut was made from the right of the photo.  The downward angle of the cut was not planned and may not be an advantage.  The upper cut went as planned.  At one point the saw path began to widen slightly.  Since it takes me some time to stand from a kneeling position, I began standing while the tree was still upright.  At about the same time that I became vertical and therefore able to move away, an audible snap was heard followed by the tree falling where planned.


Tree trimmings and cut brush are loaded into the trusty Ford Ranger and hauled to the brush pile at the gravel bank.  These cut trunks will be moved to the area where we have campfires.  Wild cherry trees will burn with sweet smelling smoke or so I think.  Not everyone sees it that way since my sweatshirt is always moved to the laundry following a fire.


Looking back uphill reveals more trees in need of trimming.  Cutting in the stately pines is way beyond my skill set.  My wish is that the pines remain a relatively safe distance away from the wires for as many years that we continue to live here.  We do not need to look at these trees sporting holes in their branches made to give the wires safe passage.  The smaller leafless trees under the path of the wires will be removed soon.

If you think that the pole in the foreground is not supporting any electrical wires you are correct.  Many decades ago this pole was installed to carry a support wire connected to the roadside pole where wires cross the road to the barn.  A more traditional support to the ground near the pole would have been an obstacle for farming.  Perhaps a second tree can be safely cut this afternoon.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Out Of The Freezer


Becky's first response to this picture asked for the identity of the subject.  It shows a folded waxed paper envelope containing arbutus seeds.  Tucked inside of a zip lock bag, these seeds have passed months in the refrigerator.  January saw them in the freezer and now they are back in the refrigerator.  The plan is to plant them indoors next month.

Arbutus has stubbornly refused to take part in my attempts to propagate it.  More than one hundred cuttings have failed to root.  Heel cuttings taken from new growth turned brown and died.  Stem cuttings did the same.  A special rooting compound did not change the outcome.  On the plus side, it is amazing just how long the cuttings remained green when absolutely no roots formed.

Seeds have also stubbornly refused to germinate here.  Ants and rodents have eaten the sticky sweet pulp holding the seeds together in the seed berry.  The books describe how the seeds are cast aside while the pulp is devoured.  So far no new plants have appeared near our treasured transplants.  I tried planting seeds in a sterile medium near the adult plants.  Some seeds were stirred in while others were simply scattered on the surface.  In two years the only green that appeared here was a weed.

So the plan for this year is to try and get seeds to germinate indoors.  Some seeds will be scattered on the surface and the clear dome covered pots will be placed on a south facing window sill.  Other seeds will find their pots on the heating pad under artificial lights.  Expectations are very low in light of past repeated failures.  There must be a crucial step that I am missing.  It might involve the seed passing through the digestive system of a specific living creature.  If that is indeed the case, I will never see arbutus plants from these seeds.

Bright sunshine and warm temperatures had us walking about outside.  We visited our remote transplants and sat on their protective stone wall.  Clusters of flower buds are visible and we are patiently waiting for those sweet scented blossoms.