Sunday, May 08, 2016

Fickle Spring

Weather: High winds Friday sucked spread weed seeds, especially dandelions and tansy mustard; had many more Russian thistle carcasses to remove that had blown against the inside of the fence. Last rain was 5/1.

What’s blooming in the area: Austrian copper rose, spirea, lilac, Dutch iris, donkey spurge; roses of Sharon, forsythia, and grapes leafing.

Beyond the walls and fences: Tansy and tumble mustards, tufted white evening primrose, alfilerillo, purple mat flower, western stickseed, bindweed, fern leaf globe mallow, green amaranth, fleabane, native and common dandelions, June and cheat grasses; trees of heaven germinating, Virginia creeper leafing.

In my yard: Woods rose, tulips, grape hyacinth, lilies of the valley, vinca.

Inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbits, small birds, gecko, bumble bees, ladybugs, butterfly, ants.

Weekly update: Pioneer life sounds so exciting when you’re a child and reading Laura Ingalls Wilder. When you get older and read about plagues of grasshoppers attacking Mormon crops and winds driving women insane who lived on the plains, you begin to think maybe settled life isn’t so bad after all. This year’s spring has thrown us back into an unknown environment where things look familiar but nothing can be trusted.

In the winter I cleaned dead brush from areas I’d neglected since I cut my hand three summers ago. It was too cold to run water, so I couldn’t burn. Then the winds came along and started depleting the pile. I’m still waiting for a weekend morning when it’s both warm and still enough to light a match.

This week we had several days when it was so warm it was uncomfortable to work outside. Then came two days of high winds, and then today the morning temperature was just above 34. I have plants I bought I can’t put out because nothing can be hardened enough to survive a week like the first one May.

Of course, it’s silly to buy plants until the weather settles, but nursery suppliers don’t respond to the weather. They have contracts made some time ago that dictate when they ship. So, no pansies available, but lots of azaleas. You either buy when things available and try to nurse them along, or you’re out of luck.

Monday I went out to dig holes for some shrubs. I knew I couldn’t put them in, but I also knew when the winds did stop, there would be only a few days before it got too warm to plant. I thought I could at least get some things ready.

It rained a week ago Friday and again last Sunday. When I started digging, I hit bone dry ground 3" below the surface. The shovel slid off the sides, shaving off dust, but nothing more. After half an hour, I quit. The next day I ran a sprinkler hose in the area for several hours. I went back out Thursday and the top 3" were dry, but the bottoms of the holes were still soft enough to enlarge.

My legs and wrists got tired after half an hour, and I quit. Then the winds came through Friday, sucking out the remaining water. When I went back yesterday, the holes were as dry as they’d been on Monday. At this rate, it’s going to take an hour to dig each hole, and that’s not counting the time spent running water.

I decided today would be a good day to fix some soaker hoses destroyed by the ground squirrel, because the area I needed to work wouldn’t be in the sun. Only, it was too cold to be outside early. When I finally went out, it started thundering. Then some rain fell. I retreated back into the house, and the rain stopped immediately. Finally, several hours later I ventured out to try again to get water to an area that has been dehydrated by the teasing dry spring.

While I was fixing the hose I noticed a rose had disappeared. I finally found a tiny leaf at the base of the chewed off stems. Don’t know if it was the rabbits or the ground squirrel, but I decided I had better buy some trunk protectors before I use those holes.

I know I’ve said some of these thing in earlier posts. That’ the thing about living in an unpredictable climate. The same things happen, but the only you thing you can learn from experience is to be wary. The sequence of winds and erratic temperatures is never the same.

Photographs: All picture taken yesterday, 7 May 2016.

1. The apple trees I bought died, and the suckers took over. They never bloomed or branched, so I had them cut down this past winter. Now their suckering in the area where I digging holes for their replacements.

2-4. The catalpa had a branch that hung over the well. I had it cut back, and now the hidden buds near the cut are sprouting what will be new branches.

5. I cut the winterfat down where the ground squirrel was lurking. It’s coming back.

6. Remains of a miniature rose chopped to the ground in the past week by the ground squirrel.

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