“It was June, and the world smelled of roses.”

June. The month of my birth. The month of roses and honeysuckle, pearl and alexandrite and moonstone. The transition from spring into summer.

It’s been busy, as you might imagine. Lots of things going on around the farm — there is no end of work to be done. Enjoying the new blooms on my rose bushes. (They didn’t do well last year.) And I discovered mullein today. It’s a biennial, and it didn’t come up last year.

We have a tree guy coming out on Wednesday. Several trees need to either go or be cut back (free mulch!) — though Wednesday is just the estimate. And we’re getting quotes on a new barn. That’s going to be a massive project, but it’s going to look incredible when it’s done. Our old metal barn has its own particular charm, but it’s not very practical.

I thought I’d be picking cherries today, but I discovered this morning that some thief (squirrel, probably) absconded with them since yesterday. Honestly, the tree wasn’t very productive, so it’s just as well. Hardly worth dragging a ladder halfway across the yard for not enough cherries to bake a pie.

The creek bed is dry. We desperately need rain. There’s a decent chance of rain in the forecast next Sunday — my birthday. Fingers crossed. At least we are done with our heat wave, for now.

In other news, I had an article published last week in Jumble & Flow. And I will likely have more work with them in the near future. Again, fingers crossed.

We went out to our camper yesterday to prep it for our upcoming camping trip. We haven’t used it in nearly two years (September 2021), so the tires needed air, and it needed a good cleaning. A bunch of stink bugs and gnats got in. Dead bugs everywhere. I’m excited to get out and camp again.

Primrose Path

Perhaps what surprises me the most about our huge flowerbeds is that no one thought to put paths through it. It’s a dense jungle that is difficult to weed and water in some places. I told L last year that I was going to add stepping stone paths in several spots for easier access.

I started doing that yesterday. L took apart the shoddily constructed firepit that the previous owners built. It was in an odd spot in the yard, to begin with. And the bricks were loose. L removed the bricks and filled the pit with topsoil.

Thankfully, I had an immediate use for the bricks.

This may just be temporary. I’m now out of bricks, so I either need to get more like these or replace these with something else (while creating more paths of the same). The bricks look OK, but I think flat stones would look better.

I had to clear out some evening primrose to make this path. But I have tons of it growing already — too much, really — so no big loss. And now we can access the dryer vent in the back of the house without stepping on any plants. (The dryer vent cover needs replacing.)

I need to mulch. But my God, I have no idea how much we would actually need. The flowerbeds are so massive. I really think it would be in our best interest to make them smaller and easier to manage. The original owners of the house evidently had significantly more time to devote to the care of this property than we do. Our goal is to make it more manageable, but it will take a lot of work just to get it to that point.

Here comes the sun

Despite the chilly start to the month, May is warming up nicely. And the garden is responding. I’m doing my veggie garden in containers this year since the raised beds are dismantled and we still need to clean up that entire area. But grow bags and 7-gallon pots are working quite well.

I have Yukon Gold potatoes growing in two grow bags. So far, so good. I have three containers of onions, which also look great. Yesterday, I planted a patio tomato — slicers on a small plant that works in containers. (I was overjoyed to find a container plant that produces slicers!) I have the mixed salad greens in one container, and those have grown enough to provide a couple of salads for me already (supplemented with the lemon balm that is taking over my flower beds).

And that’s the extent of my vegetable garden this year. We have to bring in some earth-moving equipment to redo the entire area where the raised beds used to be. Currently, it’s a massive, weedy mess, and it kind of depresses me to look at it.

I still have a lot of flower seeds to sow. We’ve had enough rain recently to keep me out of the garden more than I want to be.

Speaking of rain, Mom and I celebrated Mother’s Day a day early last weekend. She came to my house and I drove an hour down to the Hocking Hills — it rained pretty much the entire way. But it was a pretty drive on the country roads leading to Ash Cave.

I chose Ash Cave because it’s one of the easier hikes. And it’s about a mile round-trip. The rain stopped when we got there, but it started raining again just after we left the cave and started making our way back to the parking lot. We were pretty damp by the time we got back to my car, but no one can say it wasn’t an adventure! (Also, hurrah for quick-dry pants and waterproof hiking shoes!)

I had no GPS signal when we got on the road — not particularly surprising. Thankfully, my sense of direction doesn’t completely suck. Our next destination was Hocking Hills Winery, and I knew the general direction I needed to go to get there. After driving about 20 miles or so, the GPS signal came back, and we got to the winery without any issues. It’s a scenic drive most of the way anyway, so being kind of lost isn’t that big of a deal.

I’ve been to this winery before. Mom had never been. She was impressed immediately, especially with their spacious outdoor seating area. Thankfully, they have a covered porch, so we requested seating there. We ordered a charcuterie board and a bottle of pink Moscato to share, and it was a lovely way to end our little excursion.

June will be here before we know it. We have a couple of camping trips coming up. Since we didn’t camp at all last year, I’m rather excited. But this means I need to do a bit more cleaning and prepping in the Bigfoot before we can take it out on the road.

Finding Balance

Things have really picked up with my travel advisor biz this past week. I made several bookings — all for the same trip — including hotel destinations and tours. I now qualify to level up to advanced status, though I have to take the training and pass the exam first. I’m considering it. Though I’m not in any rush. After all, this is supposed to be my side hustle.

By the way, Project Expedition and Get Your Guide offer some fantastic tours if you’re looking for a day trip or even just a fun excursion for a few hours. They have all sorts of stuff, from wine/beer/food tasting tours, to historic walking tours, to river cruises, etc. Check them out — they offer tours in destinations around the world. (Those are my affiliate links, by the way, so I earn commission if you book something.)

Meanwhile, I continue to work on my content creation business. I got approval on Friday for an article concept I pitched to Jumble & Flow, so I need to write it now.

And now, of course, it’s growing season. The fruit trees are in blossom — even the apple trees that are basically at the end of their lives and didn’t produce any good apples last year. And the strawberries are blossoming, too, in the raised bed that we’re tearing down. LOL. (They’re not great strawberries. Small and squishy and not very productive.)

I feel like I’m far behind — partly because I’ve been so busy with work. And partly because the weather doesn’t want to stay consistently warm.

I’m trying right now to clear the asparagus bed so the asparagus can actually grow. The bed is choked with weeds (at least they’re pollinator friendly), so I have yet to see a single spear. It’s slow going since the soil is clay and we’ve had quite a bit of rain. And the weeds don’t want to make things easy for me.

The flower beds desperately need weeding, too.

I wonder how I’m going to get it all done. But I probably wondered that last year, too. And somehow we made it work.

Last Sunday, we watched a Cooper’s hawk in the massive silver maple next to our driveway. It was eating its kill – a robin. Though it apparently killed two robins because we had two neatly decapitated robin heads in our driveway. Ah, nature.

Hardly a video worthy of a nature documentary. And the hawk helpfully moved further away before I started recording.

Spring in my step

Ohio’s mud season is pretty much over, I hope. We’ve had a few dry days, and the temperatures keep rising. Our yard is still squishy in a few places, but in just a few more months, we’ll be complaining about how dry it is.

I got out yesterday to start my spring cleanup. We have a lot of work to do, but it feels good to get out of hibernation. I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better physically and mentally in the spring. I have seasonal affective disorder, so the dark, cold days of winter make me tired and listless. I finally feel a bit more alive.

Speaking of alive, our yard is greening up, the trees are budding, and the first wildflowers of the season are spreading across the lawn and flower beds: purple deadnettle, henbit, wild violets, and Virginia springbeauty (all purple flowers, as it happens).

And our pond is filled with froglets! We have a decent population of American bullfrogs living in the pond, and now they have increased. Though I realize that’s just a bigger excuse for the heron to keep coming by. More juicy, froggy morsels!

I mentioned about two months ago that I tried winter sowing in milk jugs this year. Well, it was a colossal failure. But this is how we learn, right? I know many people have success with this method, but it didn’t work for me.

That said, I recently bought some large clear plastic tubs with lids to serve as a greenhouse for sowing tomatoes, peppers, groundcherries, parsley, and strawberries. It’s been a little over a week since I sowed and no sprouts as of yet.

This photo was taken the day I planted the seeds. I put the container out on the porch the following day in a spot that gets a lot of sun. And I’ve been watering as needed. Fingers crossed this works. I pop the lid off during the day if it’s warm enough and put the lid back on at night. The condensation builds up nicely when the lid is on!

Since we dismantled the raised beds, I’m not going to have much of a proper garden this year. I will be using a lot of containers. I am hoping we can build new raised beds next year. Right now, we have plenty of other projects to keep ourselves busy — one of the biggest being a cleanout of the barn. We’re going to rent a dumpster and get rid of the junk the previous owners left behind.

I’m a bit overwhelmed by all there is to do, but I also felt this way last year. Our neighbors told us that it took them eight years to get their yard the way they wanted it, so I just need to find some patience and keep doing the work that needs to be done to make this property what we want it to be. It’s not going to happen overnight.

Hello, March

I’m not sorry to see February in the rearview mirror. March is here, and it’s coming in like a lamb. It’s supposed to be 70 degrees today.

February went out like a lion. A couple of days ago, we were sheltered in the basement due to two tornado warnings that overlapped in our area. I am hoping to get out in the yard today to assess the damage. There was a confirmed tornado in our county, though it wasn’t close to us. But we had high winds and sideways rain, and I have no doubt that we have branches to clean up at the very least.

Speaking of cleaning up…

I’ve been in a spring cleaning sort of mood lately. It started when I ordered a CHOMP wall mop in early February. I got on a wall cleaning kick — though I’m not done yet. I love this mop, though! It makes cleaning the walls and baseboards so quick and easy.

Last week, I cleaned the refrigerator. It’s so nice to open the fridge now and not see messy shelves and drawers.

I just need to keep going and deep clean the areas that are usually overlooked. I admit that I’m not the best at housekeeping. I can’t stand cleaning, but I also can’t stand dust and dirt. Though given where we live, I’ve had to make peace with dirt and mud being tracked into the house a lot — especially this time of year. (My kingdom for a mud room!)

We also took care of the pine tree that fell into our yard in January during a wind storm. Well, it was part of a pine tree, anyway. A rather sizeable part of the tree that snapped off. The tree belongs to our neighbors and we had actually never talked to them until Sunday. That’s the day I went out with loppers and a pocket saw to start clearing away some of that mess. (Needed a chainsaw, too, but the hubs would rather deal with that himself.)

The neighbor saw me and came over to apologize for his tree and offer to clean up the mess. I went back to the house to let L know, and the two of us, along with our neighbor and his wife, worked together to clean it up. We got to talking, and now I’m glad to know them. He graduated from the same high school I did.

So, we now know our neighbors on either side of us. And we’re all relatively close in age, which is cool. I love living here for the most part. (I could do without the dead wildlife in our yard, but that’s just something I have to get used to. Sometimes, it’s like Marty Stouffer’s Wild America all up in here.)

In other news, my professional life has taken a rather dramatic turn for the better this week. I will share more details about that soon. I am starting this month feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time. After nearly a year of struggling to establish and grow my business, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief.

I have a lot to look forward to this month, and spring is so close! I already have daffodils in bloom.

Have a great March, everyone!

Busy, busy, busy

Despite the slower pace of living in the country, life has been pretty fast-paced lately. I meant to update this much sooner, but I’ve been so busy.

Winter seed sowing in gallon jugs is underway. It’s been 2 weeks since I sowed the first of the seeds — salad greens — and those are the only seeds that have sprouted so far. All except for the Swiss chard. Gardening is really about experimenting anyway, so if this particular experiment doesn’t work out, I still have plenty of seeds.

I have 13 jugs on the porch right now. I will be planting tomato seeds soon.

It’s mostly felt like spring with the occasional cold day. Perhaps the groundhog was wrong. Though I suspect we’ll pay for all these warm days in the spring.

You may have heard about the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, two weeks ago. It made the national news, though if you live outside of the U.S., you may not know about it. My husband, who works for the state government, had to deploy up there shortly after it happened. He sent me this chilling photo as he was sheltering in place at an elementary school during the controlled release of chemicals a few days after the accident.

He’s home now, but he wasn’t given any protective gear while he was there — no mask or anything. Time will tell how devastating this will be on the community, but it’s already taken a huge toll, and I really feel for the people and animals who live in the area.

In other news, we’ve had a deer carcass in our yard that’s been dragged around by coyotes, I am assuming. (Honestly, what else could it be? Bears aren’t that common in Ohio — not in this part of the state, anyway.) Until now, it’s just been dragged through the wooded parts of our yard, but now it looks like it exploded. Fur and body parts everywhere, including the open part of our yard where I walk Blitz almost daily. I asked L to get the SD card out of our trail cam. He set it up so it was aimed at the carcass, hoping we might capture something exciting. Stay tuned.

Work-wise, I finally got my first travel booking. So exciting! A Trafalgar tour for 2 to Great Britain this summer!

As for the writing and editing biz, I am working on a huge copyediting project at the moment and have some other irons in the fire. Things are starting to pick up. Next month, Words in Bloom will celebrate its first anniversary.

I have jury duty coming up on Thursday. I have never had jury duty before. I need to call a day ahead to find out if I still need to report to the courthouse.

6 More Weeks

According to the Buckeye Chuck and Punxsutawney Phil, we have 6 more weeks of winter. If we’re talking about the actual season of winter, of course that’s true. If we’re talking about winter weather, I don’t rely on a groundhog for that information. It’s cold today, and that’s all that matters to me right now.

It’s a good day to stay indoors, make a batch of yogurt, and sow some seeds in anticipation of spring. I have 10 jugs to use for outdoor sowing. I want to try sowing lettuce, spinach, mustard, and chard to see if I can get some early baby greens for salad. And I will sow some native flowers as well. I will try tomatoes from seed next as I get more empty gallon jugs. (We go through a lot of distilled water, so I can accumulate them pretty quickly.)

Until spring actually arrives, I am enjoying the blooms on my amaryllis and paperwhites — post-holiday clearance purchases on a day I needed cheering up.

As far as work as been going lately — I have two travel articles completed that are in various stages of editing. Hopefully those will be published soon. I just joined the editorial team at ScribeConcepts as a freelance consultant. And I have a couple other projects in the pipeline.

I’m also very excited to be part of a new webzine launching next month for Gen X women. More on that later.

Also, I think I’m getting close to making my first booking as a travel advisor. (Fingers crossed!) I had no idea when I started this travel advisor journey that it would take so long to get my first booking.

Hoping February will be good to me, and I hope the same for all of you.

A Kid in a Candy Store

I attended a seed swap over the weekend and may have gone a tad overboard.

Included in this stash: ground cherry seeds. I have never tasted them, but they intrigue me and I want to grow them. I think, based on descriptions of their flavor, that I’d like them.

Of course, I followed up the seed swap by stopping at a nearby nursery and buying even more seeds. It’s a sickness, though not in a bad way.

I’m planning to sow my seeds outdoors in milk jugs this year. Never tried that before, but I have plenty of seeds if it doesn’t work out.

In other news, we have a mess to clean up after our recent wind storm.

Our neighbors have a row of conifers along the fence line with our property. The top of one of these trees snapped off, crashed through the fence (which is rusty chicken wire anyway, so no biggie) and fell into our yard. No damage done to our yard or anything — just the need for clean up.

At the moment, it’s way too soggy and messy out there to deal with it. If it’s not raining, it’s snowing. Our yard has been flooded/muddy for well over a week now. We need to wait until it’s cold enough for the ground to freeze.

Farewell, nice weather

A year ago today, we went into contract on this house. That was an exciting and terrifying time. I loved the house so much (even without a dishwasher — a situation we rectified as quickly as possible), but the size of the yard was incredibly intimidating.

Almost a year later, we have no regrets. Yes, it’s hard work. But it’s meaningful work, and the physical labor (despite the soreness we feel afterwards) is good for body and mind. I love the sense of accomplishment. I love the peace. I love the wildness. I love that we have great neighbors. And I love that we’re still in close proximity to the city if I need to get my arts and culture fix. This house was the perfect compromise between my husband’s desire to really get away from everything and my desire to stay near civilization.

Today might be the last good day to do any work outside. It’s supposed to be well above average again. Then the (badly needed) rain comes in overnight. We’re predicted to get 2 or more inches tomorrow. And then the cold comes in, and I suspect it will stay. It is November, after all.

Glad about the rain for various reasons. I discovered a big fish in our pond. We live in the Scioto River watershed, so the stream that supplies water to our pond is connected in some way to the river. That’s how we get fish in our pond. At the moment, the fish is trapped. We haven’t had substantial rain in a long time, so the stream dried up long ago and the water in the pond is now very shallow.

In other news, I had the task of removing a juniper tree that was growing up against our septic tank. I suspect it’s a volunteer. Planting anything with deep roots next to a septic tank is a huge no-no.

It was a delicate procedure. I couldn’t use a shovel, so I grabbed my CobraHead to gently dig and tease out the roots. Then I took pruners and snipped it off at the main root. I potted it and my parents will plant it in their yard. I just hope it survives, since it has some root damage and got a bit crushed during removal.

Carolina wrens have been getting into our screened-in porch. I found two of them flying around a couple days ago. We need to examine the roofline and see if there are any openings where they can get in. I suspect so because when I was trying to get them out, one flew out the open door and the other one hid itself in the wooden framing just under the ceiling (where I could hear it moving around) and then seemed to vanish.

Adorable birds, but I don’t want them flying around our porch and pooping all over everything. I still have a mess to clean up, but I’m not going to bother until we find where they are getting in and seal it. They have visited more than once (and I know this because I already cleaned up after them once).

I need to get out today with a circular saw and cut up the boards that were used to frame the raised beds. Most of them are too long to throw into our burn pile.

Since the weather is about to change drastically, I’ll shift my focus to indoor projects. I still have this decoupage project I’m working on that became a much bigger hassle than it should have been. Craftiness does not come naturally to me, but I’m trying. I’ll share it when I’m done. I just hope it looks as good as I envision.