July 1, 2015
The heat is always with us, although fans in the night get our spaces
below 75. A lot of people (including us) in the NW don't
have air conditioning because heat is usually transitory and it always
cools down at night... My personal challenge will come tomorrow
playing 3 hours at a farmer's market in 100 degree heat...
Anyway, the garden loves it, as long as we pour water on it continually... So here is the garden update for this month:
The poppies are promiscuous and pop up everywhere, here by the peas, which I shelled a bowl full today...
The cherries are about a week from being ripe. You can see the
birds get some, and if you look closely some are slightly
sunburned. The upper half of the tree is loaded and out of reach
of our 12 foot ladder, so the birds are welcome to those, and tend to
feed near the top. Crows and robins are common feeders so far...
Here's the row crops, healthy first date sweet corn on left, potatoes
on the central right, and young carrots in the right corner.
With the heat the spinach planted to the right is bolting to flower, so
it's a good thing I planted a second date of green beans which emerged
last week (to the left).. We'll harvest the spinach soon.
The raspberries are just entering gallons type production... We sold almost all we had today...
The blueberries are ripening but I'm too busy picking peas and raspberries for now--they'll gain a little flavor waiting...
The grapes are going to be very prolific this year, just forming clusters now...
The first broccoli is forming a tiny head. The later the better,
since they will be larger if they hold off, but heat makes them bolt
also. We usually get most of our broccoli from the side
sprouts after the main one is cut...
The tomatoes have hardly started setting fruit, and were slow to
grow--possibly fertility issues. We always have too many anyway.
Here's the squash bed with volunteer sunflowers ready to bloom on the
left. Under them are cucumbers, and the rest are mostly buttercup
and acorn squash. On the right wall are some scarlet runner beans
and behind the fence (not visible) some skinny new asparagus starts...
As the young philosopher Calvin observed, the days are just
packed. On the 4th I got up by 6 and picked raspberries for two
hours, worked on my costume for the 4th parade (winter coat and
snowpants and fur cap on one of the hottest days of summer, stuffed
with packets of ice to make it endurable, holding a sign which had
smoke bombs on it which read on one side "safe and sane" and on the
other, "hot enough for ya?" And playing the harmonica).
Before the parade I set up the sound system and 20 chairs for
listeners, then I played for an hour after the parade, and returned
after an hour break to play for another hour with my old time musician
friends... In the late afternoon, having discovered minor
incursions by deer into our main garden/orchard, we started putting up
deer fence around the perimeter, which may get finished any day now...
Since then the heat and picking raspberries have been a constant, as
well as churning out pots... The cherries are ripe now but are
more patient than the raspberries, so I've only picked a few to eat...
More fires have broken out, including a 2000 acre forest fire about 10
miles east of here on Lake Pend O'Reille, and it's as dry here
currently as the driest part of August. The air's been smoky for
the last day or so, which also often happens in late August. But
the weather service is predicting a break in the hot dry weather
starting next week, so it may settle out peaceably. But the
potential for wildfire has seldom been higher...
In spite of the garden and pottery keeping us way too busy, family
occasions and Sundays make for chances to get out and enjoy
summer. Then it's back to picking raspberries and cherries for a
couple hours a day and canning (like the 36 quarts of cherries I canned
the night before last). So here are the latest fun photos of
We hiked up Brickel Creek Sunday, just prior to the area being closed to motorized traffic due to extreme fire danger.
Part of the hike was up the creek, which Butters clearly enjoyed.
Not sure what this robin sized bird was...
But this blurry photo was enough to convince us we'd finally seen a lazuli bunting...
female western tanager
male western tanager... We saw probably a half dozen of these...
A new flower called monk's hood...
Back home we've had a small family of cordilleran flycatchers living by the blue cabin. This one has a little bug...
The baby could hardly fly at first...
A family almost-birthday canoe trip on the Little Spokane river yielded some nice bird photos
red breasted merganser
At a bend in the river usually noted for the pretty bluff above, a fire
last week came down to the water's edge and left the brown trees singed
Our nearby fires have been mostly controlled but it was windy today and everything is tinder dry.
This evening I canned another 21 quarts of cherries and picked 4 gallons of green beans. Summer....
The pair of red necked grebes had one baby this year, and we noticed it
was riding on a parent so I got this photo of them in the water lilies:
Speaking of grebes, sometimes it appears there are two babies, one
riding and one in the water. Haven't gotten close, which would
mean scaring them...
Yesterday I picked 4 gallons of green beans in the early morning and
pressure canned 14 quarts last evening... Then the shelves have
been emptying so I'm throwing about 70 pots a day in addition to
glazing and firing the previous ones, still can't keep up with sales at
this time of year.
Fires are breaking out all over the west, like Tubbs Hill in Coeur
D'Alene, and some fire north of here that we could see the helicopter
with a bucket while we swam this evening. The dry heat's
continued unabated, although there might be a couple days in the low
80's this week.
A couple of the chickens have been getting loose,
including the pesky rooster, which has been okay except they like to
rotoroot the garden, so I was improving the deer fence to make it a
chicken fence around our most sensitive crops... We're eating
broccoli, spinach, and green beans, and even a couple tomatoes, which
is about a month early for us. Because we've watered steadily,
our corn is imposingly tall and lush and currently tasseling.
Also our trumpet vine has bunches of flowers for the first time since
we bought the house (which is over 10 years ago now, which I know
thanks to the blog, which is also just over 10).
We're having our first sprinkles in months, barely enough to settle the dust, but more may be on the way...
My grandparents always had a
trumpet vine in front of their little farm house, and now after 10
years, the sickly one we inherited with our house is finally strong
enough to have sevefal blooms. I thought commercial hummingbird
feeders were patterned after these flowers, but I've seen our local
hummingbirds near but not feeding on these flowers, which may have too
long of tubes for them...
Canning, gardening, potting, and swimming continue, although a break in
the heat is expected for the next couple days, so swimming may take a
Books read and other media of note
The Stone Wife by Peter Lovesey. An enjoyable British whodunit, I intend to read more from the author...
by CJ Box. Concise prose and a hardhitting if overly connected
storyline make for page turning action in this latest adventure of Joe
Pickett, game warden.
Shakespeare's Planet by Clifford Simak. Late in his career
he wrote this book of marooning at the end of a space tunnel, and it
tended towards lots of talk and little action, and a dissatisfying
ending. He was one of my favorite SF writers in my youth...