Money well spent?

In January, we spent $17K on this.

And here we are, in late April, and it sits in the garage because we’ve had SO MUCH RAIN and the ground is way too soggy to mow. (Also, a lot of rain tends to make the grass grow very tall.)

OK. So it didn’t sit in the garage this entire time. Our neighbors mowed their lawns despite all the rain, so we thought we could, too. (Their yards flood as well, so it’s not just us.)

Stuck in the mud!

It took almost three hours to free this machine from this sucking mud pit. (Which included a trip to the garden center for several bags of river rock to fill in the ruts.)

You know what else can keep the grass trimmed? And in all sorts of weather, too …

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And you get fertilizer!

Starting to regret that we didn’t spend $17K on goats.

April showers bring …

Well, May flowers, yes. But also flooding. The biggest downside to moving here so far is just how much the yard floods. And we’ve had A LOT of rain since we moved here. I have had to be more accepting of mud getting all over everything, especially Blitz. That dog loves to be out in the yard, and I’m not going to deprive him of that joy just because of some mud. Life’s too short, and Blitz is old. (And it’s nothing a good scrub with a wet washcloth can’t fix, even though he hates that part.)

So, I put on my Sloggers rain boots (they aren’t paying me to promote them … I just love these boots — and their garden clogs are awesome, too), and we try to get out as much as possible as the weather allows. (I should note that the boots aren’t just for the mud. We get a lot of deer in our yard — and other wildlife — and they obviously leave evidence of their visits behind. I just wish Blitz would stop sniffing it out and eating it. Ick.)

It’s a real joy to notice the subtle changes occurring in the yard every day as we get deeper into spring. I am excited to see peonies coming up. Rhubarb and scallions have sprouted in the raised beds (along with a million assorted weeds). Green cattail stalks are rising out of the pond. The daffodils are still going, but the tulips are about to have their moment in the sun. And tender green leaves are starting to open on the trees and shrubs.

On that note, I’ll stop writing and let photos do the talking for me.

It started with mason jars

** Disclaimer: If you are looking for craft instructions, keep searching. I am not an expert! **

When we moved into this house, I noticed the previous owners left a lot of mason jars of various sizes in the basement. I didn’t think a lot of it until I noticed that a few of them were vintage.

An Atlas Strong Shoulder jar (L) and a 1976 Bicentennial jar

I know some vintage jars have value, but based on my research, it didn’t look like these were worth a lot. We had a bunch of scrap wood in the barn. The previous owners left some chalk paint. Maybe I could make sconces?

I’m not a particularly crafty person. I do enjoy crafting on occasion, but it’s not something I claim to be good at. However, I felt inspired to give this a try. After choosing these two jars, I searched through the scrap wood in the barn until I found a board I felt was perfect for the project. (It was also caked in mud, so I had to scrub it clean.)

Then I bought the supplies I would need:

  • oil-rubbed bronze hooks
  • wire mason jar hangers
  • dark wood stain
  • matte varnish
  • foam brushes
  • silk hydrangeas
  • stainless steel scrubbing pad

I cleaned the jars really well before I started painting. I did two coats of paint.

Once the paint was dry, I scrubbed the jars with the scrubbing pad (you could use sandpaper, too) — which rubbed the paint off in some places — until the jars looked just how I wanted.

See how the paint makes the design stand out?

I finished with varnish. Once the jars were completely dry, I added the wire hangers and then put the hydrangeas in them.

So … now it’s time for the scrap wood.

First of all, I needed to saw the board in half. The problem is that our saws are in a corner of the garage that isn’t accessible at the moment. So these jars sat for quite some time.

This weekend, I couldn’t take it anymore and just got some wood pallet plaques from Michaels. Pre-stained … HA! So I didn’t even need the stain I bought.

Now, these plaques are designed to hang horizontally. The twine on the back is just stapled on, so I cut it off and re-stapled it to hang vertically.

Next: I needed to add the oil-rubbed bronze hooks. But I soon realized that the screws that came with the hooks were too long. I checked my toolbox and the only short screws I had were silver.

However, I had mug hooks that would do the trick for now. The pallets have four boards in front, which are held together by two crosspieces in back. I had to wedge the screw part of each hook between the boards at the front of the pallet and then twist it until it screwed completely into the back piece.

As a result, the sconces are not centered, but that’s something I intend to fix as soon as I can replace the mug hooks with the oil-rubbed bronze hooks.

I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out, and I can change out the flowers with the seasons.

They look great hanging by the fireplace!

Surprise!

There is something new to see almost every time I walk around the yard, especially now that Mother Nature is waking up from her winter slumber.

I took Blitz out for a walk around the yard during my lunch break. I was shocked and delighted when we got to the pond.

Oh, if only I had brought my Nikon with the zoom lens!

Blitz wasn’t paying attention. He’s too busy sniffing the ground, searching for critter poo. But the heron was paying attention and we got just a little too close.

Hope it comes back.

New car!

Life has been a whirlwind these past few months. In a good way.

Yesterday, I bought the first new car I’ve ever financed on my own. (I’ve financed cars on my own before, but they were always used.) Actually, it’s an SUV — a 2022 Hyundai Tucson SEL.

Mine … all mine!

The need for an SUV became apparent as we were moving out to this little place on five acres back in December.

First of all, the Honda Civic isn’t a great car for moving. I could never fit a lot of stuff in it, so I often felt worse than useless as we were moving things between houses. Prior to this, my biggest complaint about the Civic was that I could never fit as much mulch in it as I actually needed. (And I’m going to need A LOT more mulch now!) Trips to the garden center were frustrating for this reason.

So, I needed more cargo space. A LOT more cargo space.

Weather quickly became an issue once we moved here. This area floods quite a bit. There is a lot of ponding on the roads around where we live when we get heavy rains (and we’ve had a ridiculous amount of rain this winter, it seems). The Civic sits low to the ground, so I never felt safe driving it when we get a lot of rain. I was always worried about the engine stalling out.

Then we got ice and lots of it. Our driveway became one solid, thick sheet of ice. (It’s a gravel driveway, which makes it difficult to clear — we are planning to get it paved soon.) The ice was a bit challenging for the Civic, so the need for all-wheel drive became apparent. (And again, a vehicle that’s higher off the ground because of the large chunks of hard snow/ice. I was worried about it scraping the bottom of the Civic as I backed out of the driveway.)

I began researching SUVs in January and eventually decided on the Hyundai Tucson because it has more cargo room than other SUVs in this class, and … well, look at it. It’s a sharp-looking vehicle. Every source I consulted ranked this vehicle somewhere in the top 5 of compact SUVs.

I put a deposit down on this particular Tucson in mid-February. The dealership was selling them faster than they could get them in, so I had to wait. And this wasn’t the color I really wanted. I wanted silver. But dark gray is fine, too. Color aside, this had all the features I wanted (and a dash extra … still not sure what I’m going to do with the roof rack, but I have always wanted a kayak).

Happy to have a safer, more practical vehicle for life out here in the country. As an added bonus, it’s easier for my husband to get in and out of the Tucson. He hated the Civic.

Spring marches in

Well, it’s more of a tip-toe, really. But the days have been warming up, and I can definitely see the shift in the seasons. The fun part has now begun where I get to see what pops up in the garden beds.

Daffodils — a sign that spring is on our doorstep

Yesterday, I also noticed hyacinths starting to emerge from the dirt.

Two of the raised beds are clearly reserved for strawberries. Their leaves are now starting to pop up.

I am hearing more birdsong and seeing more robins in our yard. The ground is very wet from all the rain and snowmelt we’ve had recently, so I’m sure they are finding a lot of worms!

I’m sure we’ll be hearing spring peepers soon. Also, I’m keeping my eye on the pond, waiting for our resident snapping turtle(s) to emerge. The previous owners told us they lived back there, but since we moved here in December, we obviously haven’t seen them yet. I don’t know how many we have.

Excited for all the changes that come with a new season. Though winter isn’t quite done with us yet.

Dreaming of Spring

"February" by Jane Goodwin Austin

I thought the world was cold in death;
The flowers, the birds, all life was gone,
For January's bitter breath
Had slain the bloom and hushed the song.

And still the earth is cold and white,
And mead and forest yet are bare;
But there's a something in the light
That says the germ of life is there.

Deep down within the frozen brook
I hear a murmur, faint and sweet,
And lo! the ice breaks as I look,
And living waters touch my feet.

Within the forest's leafless shade
I hear a spring-bird's hopeful lay:
O life to frozen death betrayed
Thy death shall end in life to-day.

And in my still heart's frozen cell
The pulses struggle to be free;
While sweet the bird sings, who can tell
But life may bloom again for thee!

Part of the fun of moving to a new place is discovering what the previous residents planted and nurtured here. Some of it is obvious already – one of the first things I noticed when we saw this house for the first time was the burning bush in front. That is going to be chopped down when the weather warms up (it’s a non-native, invasive species in Ohio). Of course, the birds love it and have been eating the berries, so I expect little burning bush seedlings to sprout up all over the yard.  

We also have a lot of mature trees, including evergreens. And maples, clearly. 

Of course, I can identify some of the trees and plants (and if I can’t, there is an app for that). But much of what we have won’t be apparent until at least spring. Our yard has been covered by a blanket of snow and ice for some weeks now. We have a couple days of thawing, and then a winter storm will sweep through on Thursday, bringing a wintry mix.  

Even so, I can’t help myself. I ordered seeds and seedlings, dreaming of spring. 

Seeds purchased:

  • Ornamental gourds, small fancy mix
  • Sunflower, Chocolate Cherry
  • Sunflower, Sunny Bunch
  • Carrot, Yaya organic
  • Broccoli, Royal Tenderette Hybrid
  • Coreopsis, Early Sunrise

Of all the seeds I bought, only the broccoli needs to be started indoors. I will need to get supplies to do that. I have grow lights already, and our Florida room offers a nice, bright spot for the seeds to grow. 

I pre-ordered seedlings today from a local, women-owned farm: Foraged & Sown

  • Cherokee purple tomato (I’ve grown this in the past … absolutely love it!)
  • Genovese basil
  • Munstead lavender
  • Yarrow
  • Cucamelon

Honestly excited about the cucamelon. I have never tasted one before, let alone grown them, but the way their flavor is described seems right up my alley. 

I’m not the only one dreaming of spring. My husband bought a shiny new zero-turn mower on Saturday and is anxiously awaiting its delivery, even if it sits unused in the garage for several weeks. 

Happy New Year!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

It’s been quite a start to the year for me, much as it was quite an ending to last year.

The view from our kitchen window

We’re still not completely settled in yet (and I still have a gaping hole in my kitchen cabinets where a dishwasher ought to be by now — we’ve hit a few snags with Home Depot), but I feel so much more at peace than I did living in the suburbs. I relish the slower pace of life. And we still live 10 minutes away from grocery stores and good pizza. (And a hospital, which is also helpful.) What more do you need?

It’s so much quieter here. And I can’t get enough of walking around our five acres, even if it does get really squishy when it rains (and it’s been raining A LOT … I have definitely been making good use of my new rain boots). Blitz loves it, too. Every time we go out for a stroll around the yard, he becomes ten years younger. Especially the other day when it snowed.

Blitz, playing in the snow

Here is what I know about what we now call Five Acre Fruit Farm:

  • At least one snapping turtle lives in our pond. We also have fish.
  • We have a walking path that cuts through a grove of trees at the very back of the property.
  • Wildlife sightings/signs spotted on the property include a great horned owl, a fox, deer, rabbits, and raccoons.
  • We have a huge barn filled with old, rusty garden implements; broken garden carts that need mending; an old riding mower; dozens of clay pots; tons of firewood; bricks; paving stones; rocks; and sundry other items that may or may not be useful.
  • I am now the proud owner of too many mason jars to count.

Of course, there is also the reason we call it Five Acre Fruit Farm. The yard features:

  • 8 apple trees
  • 1 pear tree
  • 1 cherry tree
  • 1 peach tree
  • 1 mulberry tree

In addition to black raspberries, Concord grapes, strawberries, and who knows what else?

I felt like I could barely deal with my small suburban yard and the veggie patch. Now I have FIVE+ ACRES and quite a lot of fruit production — not to mention whatever comes back in all those raised beds you see in the above photo. I need to learn to be OK with weeds. I’m also suddenly enthusiastic about bat boxes and thinking about where to install some (near our pond, I suppose).

Sometimes, I think we were insane to buy this house. And sometimes I am excited to think about the new discoveries I will no doubt make on a regular basis.

So, my resolution for 2022 (if you want to call it that) is to enjoy the process of discovering this property. And to write about it here. I never had a specific theme for this blog before. I would just write whatever I felt like writing. But now I feel this blog must be about life here at Five Acre Fruit Farm.

A new chapter

The last time I posted, I was finishing up the gardening season. I had converted the vegetable patch into a pollinator garden, and I was proud of how well it was thriving in a short amount of time.

It’s time to say goodbye to that garden now. And to this suburban house in a typical middle-class subdivision. And it’s entirely possible that the new owners — whoever they are (we haven’t listed this house yet) — will pull up all those plants and return that patch to a vegetable garden. There is little I can do about it.

My husband and I are now under contract on a house in the country (still close enough to the city where commuting is not an issue). A sweet, immaculate little ranch on just over five acres of land.

We crave a slower pace of life … some peace and quiet. And we want room to park our travel-trailer on the property instead of parking it at a storage facility.

I fell in love with the house almost instantly. It’s clearly been well maintained and nicely upgraded. The kitchen is a dream — other than the lack of a dishwasher. That’s one issue we plan to rectify as quickly as possible. The back patio/screened-in porch is the kind of outdoor space I fantasize about. I’ll spend many days looking out over the expansive yard with mature trees. We’ll have a wood-burning fireplace, solar panels on the roof, and a barn for storage. (We’ll add an additional barn to shelter the trailer and our tow vehicle.)

I’m a bit intimidated by the amount of land. I work a full-time job, so I don’t have all the time I would wish to maintain a big garden. There’s already a fair bit of landscaping to maintain (but most of the plants are mature, at least) and a dozen or so raised beds — most of those will have to be dismantled because I do not have the time or need to grow that many vegetables.

We also have at least one apple tree on the property, though I have no idea what variety or if it even produces. Next spring and summer will hold many surprises.

I only plan to bring two plants from my garden at this current house: the lilies originally planted by my grandma many years ago that have been passed around the family. I want one coral and one yellow to plant at the new house. I’ll dig them up this weekend and overwinter them in pots. The rest can stay here.

I am both exhilarated and terrified by this new chapter. And that’s a good thing. I can’t wait to share my experiences here.

I Found a Quilted Heart

I went for a hike today and found this hanging at the trailhead.

I’ve been having a rough time lately. I’m going to physical therapy for severe TMJ that has impeded my ability to eat comfortably and even talk normally at times.

Also stressed out for other reasons I won’t get into here.

This made me smile, which is why it was there. I now have it hanging on the door knob in my home office.

I left my story at https://www.ifoundaquiltedheart.com. If you need cheering up, read the stories there about how people found their quilted hearts.