It has been a year since we moved to Maine. Four seasons on our hillside–a busy, satisfying time, learning about our new home and making it ours. Our largest project was clearing a patch of land below our lawn, opening it up to a ring of gnarly wild apple trees that had been concealed by brush and saplings.
It looked like this when we moved in:
A year later:
The cleared space is a work in progress. We still have brush to burn and stumps to pull. But we have put in eight raised beds, an asparagus patch,
strawberries, two separate rows of tomatoes, a compost bin and a potato patch. Still to come this year are a corn patch, and hills of squash and melons.
The area between the beds has been planted with grass and clover, which is just coming up.
We have three stone rings planted with annuals. They weren’t planned exactly, but rather grew up around stones too large to remove. Eventually we will build them up into real stone-walled planters and will put in a stone-flagged seating area and firepit. There’s no shortage of stones. But, that’s for later.
Perhaps my favorite area is the bee yard.
Here it was last year:
We plan to add another hive next year. There is more than enough forage to sustain several hives, if I can just ferry the bees through mites and other bee hazards and keep them alive over the winter. Right now the apple blossoms are in full bloom and the bees seem to be ignoring everything else. A quick hive check last week showed that the hive is progressing well, despite cold and wet weather at the start. The bees have drawn comb in most of the top box and the queen appears to be laying plenty of brood.
The comb that you can see in this frame is fully drawn and we could see eggs, larvae and some capped brood–all the phases of the brood cycle. You can see a squished bee at the edge of the box that I must have mashed when we were last in the hive, checking to see that the queen had been released. And I was so careful!
Even though we don’t have farm animals (unless the bees count) it’s starting to feel like the little farm we long envisioned. Our neighboring cows provide the farm fragrance, along with the lilacs.
And like gardeners and farmers everywhere, we keep an eye on the weather. We need rain.
Despite our lack of rain, our vegetables are coming along. Radishes and lettuce should be ready for harvest this week. The chives are flourishing.
Our little orchard is doing beautifully. Except for one hazelnut (which may or may not be dead), all of the fruit trees and berries that we planting are thriving. And I am ridiculously proud that all of the apple grafts that I muddled together at the workshop this spring were successful! At first I thought that only two grafts took, which would have meant that I was a dismal grafting failure. But, slowly, one tree at a time, buds swelled on the grafted scions and then little leaves popped out. If I can keep deer and other critters from munching on them, we will have nine more old heritage varieties to add to our orchard.
Our bluebirds are vigilantly protecting their nest. They successfully fended off the swallows and chased away a house wren that set up phony nests in two of other bird houses.
I like the wrens (tail wagging and singing), but apparently they sometimes rob other nests and the bluebirds and goldfinches were quite aggressive in going after them.
George built a beautiful cedar table to go with our outside bench and he’s about to build a ramp for Zoe, who turned twelve this spring. She has some neuropathy and arthritis that is making it hard for her to climb stairs. She’s slowing down, sweet girl, but loves it here. It’s a good place to grow old.