two thousand twenty
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As May, 2010 slips into history, with June on the horizon it's time to observe and reflect on life here in my corner of Wayne County, NY. It's 6:30 am; barn chores are finished until evening, and a second cup of coffee awaits on the sun drenched east deck outside the kitchen door. Breakfast of potato patties made from leftover mashed potatoes, diced onions and 2 eggs is slowly browning in real butter. The heck with watching my cholesterol just this once!

Our unusual weather pattern that began last winter continues. The early warm spring has encouraged everything on the farm and in the gardens to be about two weeks early. My latest backyard project lay within sight reminding me of the work already done and that yet to do. A neighbor donated a single red raspberry bush to my backyard berry patch and during the winter it developed eight offspring. Eager to transplant them, I lengthed the two-row patch to accommodate the new bushes. Having already built a raised bed for the purple berries from old railroad ties, it's easy enough to add on to one end. After removing the sod, and spading the new space, I incorporated a pickup load of compost purchased from a nearby farmer since raw manure from our own farm would not be suitable. Finishing the job is next on my agenda.

Coffee in hand, I walk to the end of the deck where a few of the decades old peonies are starting to bloom - pink, white, and red. I hope their appearance is a sign of rain to come soon. Our farm is mostly gravelly soil and needs water on a regular basis.

The other side of the sidewalk is my dry garden with yucca standing guard over sedum, hens-and-chicks and prickly pear cacti. Nearby the pink and purple flowering columbine add a colorful touch to the area. A little further on, in the area shaded by the house, behind mounds of various colors and sizes of hostas, pink-headed fern leaf bleeding heart blossoms hang loosely from arched stems. The dark red hens-and-chicks planted along the end reflect the burgundy of the flowering cherry and red porch rails in the background.

As I work my way around the house, the robins are twirping and sparrows are chirping while a jay scolds and a mournful dove moans from a pine tree near the road. Having forgotten to pick up yesterday's mail, I walk the 175 feet to the mailbox on the dusty gravel driveway. Just before reaching the road, I nearly step on a small lifeless form and then see another a few feet away. They are featherless and ugly newly-hatched or perhaps not-yet-hatched birds. I wonder if they were that mourning dove's spring babies and how did they meet their demise?

Out of the top of my eye I see a hawk circling, stalking some unsuspecting rodent or unfortunate smaller bird for his breakfast. Hot on his tail three turkey buzzards hover, gliding in figure eights hoping to claim any breakfast he might accidentally drop. Turkey buzzards have to be about the homliest birds in the northeast, but I can't discount their grace and the ease with which they soar and glide.

The weekday morning traffic parade begins led by a Harley-Davidson with straight pipes and a loud radio. Others commuters, expressionless 7 or 8 o'clock workers, seemingly trudge into the everydayness of their jobs and don't seem to notice me standing by the mailbox. I am truly grateful that each day here on the farm is different from the day before. It keeps me from becoming bored and feeling as old as my years - not to mention that the physical labor helps keep me in good health.

I take the long way back to the house past the hosta bed. A couple of weeks ago I dug out a steel-wheeled axle from a century old planter of some description and set it in the center of that garden so the giant Sum and Substance hosta can grow around it and lend a focal point to the area. I enlisted the opinion of my neighbor for her comments since she has the showiest and best-cared-for garden in East Palmyra and because of it's location, she would be likely to look at it more often than I would. She approved. Circling the west end where the burgundy clematis are in full bloom. I have a light bulb moment and decide to have my son weld two other old steel implement wheels together to set up for the clematis to climb on. A whimsical thought of naming the gardens "Steel Wheel Acre at Twin Steeples Farm" crosses my mind.

Turning toward the house, the old horse barn across the driveway comes into sight. At 168 years old, it has become an irreparable eyesore and probably should be dismantled. In a way it would be a shame to remove it because of its history as an early church edifice for the first congregation organized west of the Pre-emption line in 1793. However, the cost of proper repairs would be prohibitive. In fact, since horses left the farm the old building is rarely used for anything more than storing old stuff that has outlived its usefulness anyway. Perhaps a hole in the landscape would be better than a rotting old building that is well past its prime with no hope of returning to its former purpose.

Yep, it's going to be a hot one. Too hot too early! Hope we don't pay for it next week or next month when we're trying to dry hay and the typical early June thunderstorms visit us in Wayne County, NY.


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3 Comments to "Too soon June"

  1. Seth C. Burgess Said,

    Prickly Pear can survive in Upstate NY? Very neat--I was surrounded by these guys when living in Southern AZ. Is there a trick to it?

    P.S. I've been one of those morning commuters the past few weeks, although on Rt. 31 heading west into the City.

    Posted on Fri May 28, 08:54:00 AM EDT

  2. Beth Hoad Said,

    Yes, prickly pear cactus does quite well in Upstate NY. A friend gave me a couple of sections from hers several years ago and said to just stick them into the ground in a dry area with poor soil and it would do just fine. I think there might be a specific variety that survives our winters. Last year the largest plant had 108 bright yellow flowers with each one producing a red "pear" in the fall.

    Posted on Fri May 28, 11:57:00 AM EDT

  3. Anonymous Said,

    Always reflective, always provocative! John Cieslinski

    Posted on Sat May 29, 08:49:00 AM EDT


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