01 July 2009

The gardens proceed apace

Most treasured and erudite of all blogosphere readers,

Mr. Fuzzy must apologize for his absence in the internet ether... duty forced him away from the farm and to western Kentucky for eight days of intense heat (the coolest high temperature was 92F). He returned Sunday to find the farm soaking in the pleasant 76F temperature. Mr & Mrs Fuzzy took a sunset walk Tuesday evening as the sun sat and after a week in the 90s, Mr. Fuzzy was actually chilled by the low-humidity 70F air.

It has come to Mr. Fuzzy's attention that there has been some wildly misguided speculation regarding his nom de plume. Let me assure my most valued readers, yes you, one and all, that it derives from his photographic pursuits in soft focus lenses, rendering "fuzzy pictures" if you will. Hence, "Mr. Fuzzy." It does not relate to his facial hair, non-linear reasoning or any of the other somewhat scurrilous speculations that apparently abound.

During the week away, some things changed dramatically on the farm. The five kittens have changed significantly and have metamorphosed from kittens into miniature cats. Their speed and agility increased by a magnitude and their not-so-wee paws now echo throughout the house as they stampede about, doing what ten week old cats do... their colors have become more intense in some cases, with patterns becoming more evident. Buster is no longer the largest of the litter, Mr. Tweedle having surpassed him in both weight and height. Little Bluebeard, the runt of the litter, will always retain her title of 'tiny' it seems - she was developmentally in the lead of the litter for the first fortnight and is still perhaps the boldest of them all, despite her diminutive presence. Fear not, good reader, a photographic exploration will be produced soon to illuminate their new physical edifices.

Mrs. Fuzzy's raised bed garden has prospered in the last week of sun and warmth (at last, no rain for a week - I may regret saying that later in the summer). Her zucchini plants are HUGE and are yielding fresh fruits by the day. Does anyone know of a recipe book dealing exclusively with zucchinis? The cucumber plants are producing little "pickles-to-be" with wild abandon. We will have to corner the market on vinegar soon... All of the apple trees are dense with fruits, albeit some seem small (they will get a well-deserved feeding in the autumn).

About six weeks ago, we engaged Boothe Creek Excavating from nearby Check to remove several hundred hawthorn trees from two areas on the back of the farm. These thorn covered small trees were taking over what had been pastures at one time and threatened to continue spreading. Their long (2-3 inch) thorns were enough to deter even deer from attempting to pass through these dense stands. Tim & Virgil arrived with a bulldozer and an articulated arm with a bucket and 'thumb.'

With the latter, Virgil could grasp a hawthorn tree and gently pull it from the earth, roots and all (otherwise, they will re-colonize). This method minimally disturbs the top soil and left the little patches of grass intact. The bulldozer was used primarily to dig the 'burn pit' where the trees were reduced to ash, the pit then covered and leveled. This method left a clean, level and almost smooth surface, with large patches of grass throughout. We will seed the more level patch in grasses to extend the pasture; the more steeply sloped area are intended to be seeded in more chinkapins and paw-paws from other parts of the farm. For those who might be concerned that the ecology of the farm was adversely impacted by the hawthorn removal, there remain perhaps another 100 trees further down on the farm. Overall, we believe that the farm's ecology is improved by reducing the hawthorn invaders and increasing the rare trees and bushes of the BlueRidge region.

The burn pit is shown in progress - and Jack exploring the new ground just a few days ago. As you can see, nature has a habit of repopulating seemingly barren areas pretty quickly around here! Tim & Virgil opened up perhaps four acres or more and there was a marvelous unanticipated benefit - a new lovely vista appeared to the south.

Mr. Fuzzy is thrilled to be home again, with Mrs. Fuzzy, Jack, the whole cat crew, the raccoons who raid our trash cans, the buzzards who oft rest along the front of the farm, fireflys, chirping crickets, and all of the new fawns. There is no other place like Stratheden Farm for him.

Stay tuned for a MAJOR news announcement about the farm in a week or so. It might be so momentous as to push Michael Jackson's untimely death from your saddened minds, dearest readers.

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