Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rain, Snow, Repeat

Old Man Winter is not ready to give up on us here in Wisconsin this year.  Many people feel he's definitely outstayed his welcome, there's a lot of griping and gnashing of teeth going on, but it won't do any good.   Might as well grin and bear it.  
Hosta bed
On Tuesday night we had a doozy of a thunderstorm with lots of wind, rain and pelting sleet followed by about 2" of snow.   I was really surprised to see how much snow had accumulated this morning.

I wasn't the only one surprised, either. 

The Girls were astounded and there was much gnashing of beaks as they surveyed the situation outside the coop.  They'd been having such a good time for the last week or so, working the hosta bed mulch over and scratching and hunting to their heart's content all over the two acres wherever the snow had melted.  But now they were back to Square One.  Snow everywhere.

Normally when I open the coop in the morning, the Girls beat me back to the house, they are very industrious workers and are always on a mission.   They have Things To Do and Places To Be.  This morning they were confused.  
"What?  Snow AGAIN?"

Aw, Poop on it, we're going back to bed. 
It's hard to be a chicken in Wisconsin.

And speaking of being chicken, I am really being one this year as far as planting seeds goes.  On Sunday, Carl, Joel, Ann and I put the greenhouse up.  We had to get the snowblower out to blaze a trail through four foot tall drifts just to get to the shed last week but we were glad we did it before the frost came out of the ground or the trailer would be up to its axles in mud.  The components of the greenhouse sat in the driveway until Sunday when the rain stopped.
Joel on the tractor and Carl getting ready to move a greenhouse end
 We had to wait until the driveway snow melted enough so we could put the greenhouse up, but even by last weekend, we'd had no luck.  So, we took the tractor and shoved the snow around and chopped and hacked our way back down to the gravel. 
Greenhouse 'ribs' piled up against Willie the Willow
With the four of us working on the greenhouse construction we had it done in about five hours.  This isn't my favorite job by any means, and I know we could leave it up year round, but where to place the hoop-house opens up a whole 'nother kettle of fish, so we won't go there.  (Carl wants to move the garage......yes, you read that right, he wants to move the garage, and put the greenhouse where the garage is now.)   Capital Idea, dear Carl, but since we still have Castle Aaargh waiting in the wings, I think we have more than enough projects for right now.  Maybe in the future.  (Or maybe not, shhhh, you didn't hear that.)

There she be, in all her glory, April 10.
So, the greenhouse is up and I have about half of the flats filled with soil and on the heated tables waiting for seeds.      The seeds are sitting in the house waiting for me to make up my mind.  It's not really too late to plant my annuals yet, but for some of the trailing petunias and other things, the time is getting short.  We're less than seven weeks away from planting time, which for me, is June 1.  Many folks plant their annual flowers out in their gardens a bit earlier than that, but a late spring frost is not unheard of and even in June, our temperatures are usually far from balmy.  I hate to take a chance on planting out only to have a nasty frost kill off a few thousand annual plants, so Cautious Karen waits for June.

I had all good intentions of planting at least the petunias today, though.  But with Tuesday's thunderstorms in the afternoon and then the bedlam last night, I wasn't so sure.  For one thing, the greenhouse sits fairly smack dab under Willie.
Willie, 34 years old and getting bigger every year.  And we should have pruned him properly back in the day.
 And Willie was encrusted with ice this morning, along with every other tree in the yard.  Weeping willows are notorious for losing branches, it's what they do.  Why did we plant a weeping willow?  Carl's late uncle Jack gave us a rooted whip from his tree (which he shortly thereafter cut down as he was living on a small city lot) and we were youngsters and green as grass when it came to knowing what to plant where, so we stuck the little whip in our alfalfa field turned lawn-to-be and hoped for the best.  We never thought Willie would grow.  But we were wrong.
All the trees were covered in ice.

I went into the greenhouse this morning and was filling flats with seed starter, but the ice falling from Willie's branches as the temperatures rose and the wind blew was deafening.  (And kinda scary.)  I was really getting worried that the next noise I heard would be a branch coming to visit, so I got outta there.  Despite being leery of Willie's branch tossing antics, we really do like the tree.  Yes, willows are messy and brittle and kind of a nuisance, but as you can see, Willie is already starting to show color and is the first tree to leaf out and the last one to drop leaves in the fall.  Watching a breeze ruffle the leaves is mesmerizing on a hot day, the movement is peaceful and fluid.  And Willie is a major shade provider.   We'd miss him if he was blown down.  But we'd be sure to take some branches, root them in water, and start another one.  (And make sure we prune it correctly this time.)

As I was fleeing the greenhouse, the snowplow went by.  There were power outages all over the area today, though we were lucky, but tonight we're forecast to have even colder temperatures and more snow/sleet/bedlam so who knows how long our power will stay on?  And if the power goes out, there goes the heated pans in the greenhouse and I'd have to scramble to find room for about 40 flats in our teensy, stained glass-congested house (yes, I'm still whittling away on the big Wisteria).  The forecast for tomorrow is 100% snow and temps dipping down to 25.   And the extended forecast calls for more of the same, up til the middle of next week. 

I think I'll take a wait and see attitude.  I detest planting seeds on my kitchen table.  It's more fun to make a mess out in the greenhouse.  This weather won't last forever.  Actually, I'd be more heartbroken if the spring flowers were blooming already because the snow and sleet would have devastated the show.  When Spring finally does arrive, it's gonna be glorious!

Oh well, what's a girl to do when she can't plant her petunias? 

 I went skiing.

Keep Smilin'!


Andrea said...

It is so amazing that some parts of the world has been struggling with the long winters to finish, while we here in the hot tropics are struggling that our dry season be over, so we can at least experience some comfort. Our rains will be delayed and might come still at the last week of May, so we still have a long way to battle this soaring heat, now 36C.

I very much love the sight of those whitish leafless trees. Moreso, the dark chickens against white snow is very beautiful too. Oh what happens to Aarrrrgh!

Missy said...

When anyone asks me how chickens handle the cold (here where it never snows) I tekk them about yours or show them your blog. Now I can really show them what chickens think of snow.

Sue said...

Hi Karen
We're also struggling with a winter that won't go away. You're a lot smarter though---you have a greenhouse to play with.
Freezing rain today. Tomorrow-up to 5" of snow. Blech. I'm so tired of it. I have so many flats of seedlings I'm juggling on my windowsills. They'd LIKE some sun.
(and I would too!!)

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Your posts are always a delight!! I had tears spilling earlier from a lovely email from a friend, now I have a big smile plastered on my face from your post.

It is very warm and humid down here. A.C. has been on since yesterday morning.

Hope you will get to plant seeds soon, out in the greenhouse.

Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

Peonies & Magnolias said...

So sorry to hear you have winter calling again. Your greenhouse looks great and I envy you working in it. We are warming up nicely here in TN thank goodness. I was more than ready for warmer temps. Going to plant hostas this weekend and hopefully no more frost. Have a great weekend.


Alison said...

What a bummer that winter is so reluctant to let go of you and your poor chickens! We've had some rainy blustery days here lately, but at least our temps seem to be consistently in the 50s now. I hope you get your seeds sowed soon.

Pamela Gordon said...

I love your willow tree! I think they are beautiful if they are planted in the open away from buildings. I worry about breaking branches and creeping roots. I can't believe the weather that is coming across the US! It's headed here too and we're to get snow Friday night and Saturday. This winter weather sure has it's grip on North America this year! Take care. Pamela

Sandy said...

I see what you mean about that willow
tree.. it sure is big! As you know our Hickory trees have been falling each year. They all must be in their 70's. We took 3 down this week and only 2 more to go.
I'm in awe of all that snow so late
in the year. Hopefully it's over for
you all.

africanaussie said...

I love your smiling star! and your attitude!

Rosemary said...

Hi Karen It does seem like winter of will never end , yet I keep thinking after the drought of last year we need the rain. Love Willie but you were smart not to stay in green house never know when some branches may fall... Hard to believe we will be planting in six weeks.... such is spring.

Lona said...

Girl that weather is just cruel. Glad to see you got the greenhouse up and ready. It was so beautiful here the firs part of the week in the eighties. But back to the forties and reality check time today.
Have a great weekend.

HolleyGarden said...

Yes, there is a lot of gnashing of teeth going on around here. I think all of my tomato plants died. :( So, it pays to be a bit cautious - especially this year. Willie is just beautiful! I've always loved weeping willows, but have never had one. Didn't realize they got so big!

Tufa Girl said...

I would not know that Willie had not been properly trimmed, he is beautiful to me. Chill here today, 46 was 87 yesterday. Been wanting to get the tomato plants off the loft window ledge but not this week. Brrr.

Been wanting to start some seeds here but now that I took my makeshift greenhouse down there is no place to keep them warm. This is very cold for us for mid April, usually 100 degrees by now. Can not complain as the countryside is pretty and green this year.

Coming north next week as we move Shawn's mom to Caledonia, MN. Going to be a whirlwind trip - up and back but planning our real vacation in August. Will want to sign-up for a work day in the Quarry Garden when we come.

Do I need to send you some more Candlestick seeds?

Lisa Sall - Sall's Country Life said...

I would love to have a greenhouse like yours to just sit in and pretend it's spring?? I have lost my patience in waiting for warm weather and would pack it all up and head south if I could!! Like you I'm trying to keep busy and wait it out, argh!!!