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  1. Likely not possible now for most but a good idea, in my view, is find a job in a large fruit orchard in the spring or find another person who has a large mature orchard and help them prune. Around 40 years ago I went to work in a large fruit orchard in the spring for the sole purpose of learning to prune and graft. Worked there for about a month. The experience gained was priceless. Over the years I have had many opportunities to help others get started pruning. Young trees, 5 years old or less, you must be careful because excessive pruning can cause lasting damage. On the other hand, many are afraid to over prune on old trees. Best to get a book that shows you how or watch a YouTube video.

    1. Excellent points GWH. I did a similar thing, volunteered time as a teenager in an orchard pruning, just to learn the ropes.

      What’s most critical on young fruit trees IMO, especially on cherry, pear and others that want to grow very upright (compared to peaches and apples which want to spread out more), is using limb spreaders in the early development of the tree when you still have time. This first link below shows what are called bark inclusions, which happen when a young tree trunk or branches make a narrow fork instead of a broad one. Bark inclusions greatly weaken the limb. Limb spreaders can be used to spread the branches out when young so they will develop into broad forks. I make mine from scraps of wood in my shop. They don’t have to be fancy. The second link shows more photos of limb spreaders.



    2. I salute you both for having the foresight to learn tree pruning at a young age. I finally got with the program in my sixties.

      Carry on in grace

  2. Our Easter was quiet with time in reading the scriptures and prayer. A very large storm dumped 4” of rain on us in less than 24 hours. High water and flash floods were all around us; we were soggy but safe. Then the winds came; we were battered, but protected. Two days later we got another blast from the polar vortex and our temps went to 28°F, which is absolutely unheard of in mid-April for our location. Guess this is going to be the new normal with the grand solar minimum.

    Potatoes are planted in containers this year; hopefully this goes well. Lettuce and spinach, basil and cilantro are being harvested. Mint, chives and lambs ear from last year are up. The fruit trees and berry bushes appear to have survived the cold temps, since it was only for a few hours, rather than days. We did have to bring in the potted lemon tree and a couple of big plants. This fall we will move them to the greenhouse rather than the garage.

    Received some vitamins, grain orders, solar security lights, rodent bait and a grommet/fastener kit for repairs. The meadow seeds won’t be in until the end of the month, but we’ll have them for next spring. Did receive a case of dry milk, but still waiting for a few other long-term items. I can’t shake the feeling that even though we’ll get safely through this pandemic, that something else will take its place.

    Even though we are not finished with the COVID19 problems, I have been thinking about lessons learned from this event. First, I felt blessed that it came upon us in the spring rather than winter, mainly because we had hope for our garden vegetables. If it had been deep winter we would have had to heat the greenhouse on cloudy days and had no hope of outside planting for several months. My lesson here is to have more heaters and propane on hand.

    Second, USPS, FEDEX and UPS delivery made possible those last minute things which I had low stock or none; such as oxygen concentrators. The deliveries have also helped us replenish high use items without going off the property. What if they can’t come the next time?

    Third, while I have a standby generator for power outages, I would like to have solar well pumps for my wells. One well has a simple pump but it takes a lot of pumping to fill a 250 gal tote. Also some of my electric fencing is electric powered. I need to have more solar backups units for a grid down event.

    Fourth, I should have my septic tank looked at, just in case. Fifth, sixth, etc.

    May your week be safe and productive.

  3. always enjoy weekly updates. worked on new raised beds, got peas and speckled butter beans planted. tomatoes and peppers survived freeze after I covered them, and worked 60+ hours with ems which is normal. i’m a paramedic supervisor.

  4. Excited to say a young neighbor has dragged me out of my gardening cocoon.
    He was interested in and old piece of farm equipment in the goat barn. And after an initial inspection deemed it worthy of dragging it out for further consideration. After attaching it to his tractor and taking it home he had a friend approve its worthiness.
    We both were happy to barter the majority of the transaction in tractor work on our property.
    Prior to any interest by our young neighbor we had taken a week to turn, prep and plant the first two rows of the main garden.
    After the equipment barter our neighbor came back two days later and used his tractor cultivator to turn a portion of our garden. This one helpful act allowed us to plant eight rows in one day.
    Take away: good neighbors with common interests are worth more than gold.
    We have since gone to his property to see his garden and offered some of my expertise on repairing his equipment.

  5. Avalanche Lilly have you ever heard of Crimean Ovens? Named for the field hospital under the tent floor heating system used during the Florence Nightingale era and Civil War in America’s better field hospitals. Kept the often cold drafty wet tents warm and dry.

    Essentially a in floor trench with flat stones-tin AND a few inches of dirt over it as the chimney of an outdoor beehive style oven and a upright chimney at the far end of the tent for draft. A Slight Up Hill floor chimney is a good idea.

    You can both provide floor heating and use the oven to cook with less that good firewood like pine branches and such. One to two fast hot burns heats up the oven and the ground “chimney” for long lasting heat.

    I am working on doing this for my new greenhouse-chicken-rabbit structure as it gets COLD here and I cannot accept depending on electricity or propane to keep the greenhouse-critters water warmer.

    Low Tech or No Tech Webpages has the details.

    I’ve done one such for a raised bed for late season and early season hoop house efforts. Just need about a foot of dirt between the top of the “Chimney” to keep the soil warm and reduce cooking roots. I found with a narrow chimney I needed a inverted Y on the upright as to use a hair drier-duct fan to establish draft until the cold chimney warms and them just close that port. I can solar power that fan with a small PV panel and use it to charge small electronics all day afterwards.

    A great use for storm damage limbs and brushy waste I’d burn pile anyway.

    The Rocket Mass Heater for the poor.

  6. As I read this, 6:00 am local, I’m listening to the Canadians and the Snows honking as they lift off from a small reservoir about a half mile from the house. I love that sound!
    Makes me smile that you Ms. Lily watch the birds too. I’ve always been a birder. (Got my falconry license when I was 16.

    I’m testing out a new wireless camera by placing it above a Robins nest under the eaves so we can watch the babies. Alas, after all that work, I think the parents abandoned the nest.
    The camera sure works great tho! Motion sensor alert, night vision, fantastic daytime color.

    Finally got all the starts planted in the primary garden. Going to use the 3 sisters method for the second garden. Now I’ll need to put up a fence around them so we’re not feeding the deer. We put food out for the deer in another area. (Now to buy a cross bow. Just in case it’s needed.)

    Seems somewhat normal here. Only 6 deaths in the county, and they were all at the same assisted/full care home. Gas below 2.50/gal.
    If the nice weather holds, I’ll be heading to the beach for some surf perch fishing. (Tertiary grocery store).

    Have a fantastic weekend all.
    He is risen!

    1. Dear Tom in Oregon,

      Yes, I love birds. Studying birds and identifying them by sight and sound has been a lifelong hobby. I just love to note in the spring time, when each of my bird friends returns. I’m always listening and watching for all of the migrators. I was just thinking that I haven’t heard the Winter wren, yet, though this little bird has been known to return at the end of March… I am still listening for the Hermit thrush and the Common snipes. These birds usually arrive in late May, or at least that is when I first hear them… I’m good at identifying the birds, but am not an expert. I try to get a few more new bird voices under my belt each spring… Whenever I have traveled to new regions in the world, Africa and the Middle East, I have always purchased their local birding books and spent much time studying the local birds, also of course, their flowers and fauna. It is so much fun to learn of new birds, animals and flowers/plants. I’m glad to hear that you also love birds. Happy birding!


    2. I love birds too! I grew up thinking everyone loved birds. As a child, my mom always had her bird book in the kitchen, and would date and mark when she saw a new bird and would teach my brother and I. As a kid, you just assume all mothers do that. lol.

      Love the geese when they are at least half a mile away because of their great quantity of poo! Seeing them take off, marvelous. My favorite thing about birds is listening to them, with the exception of stellar blue jays and crows. One of my two special memories was to sit outside early morning, near the orchard in bloom, and have my devotions while being serenaded by the birds. The other, was falling asleep at night listening to owls in the hundred acre old growth forest adjacent to our backyard. Alas, I am there no more, but look forward to where the Lord leads me.

  7. Unlike you, most of our week was spent indoors. We got 8 inches of snow on Easter Sunday-Monday. That was better than the 12-15 predicted but it did put a halt to any outdoor work we had hoped to do.

    Went to the grocery store on Thursday and filled my cart. I made a careful list before I went there to make sure I was in the store as briefly as possible. Meat cases were about 1/3 full. Paper aisle was pretty empty. Limit of one package of toilet paper per person, with only 6 packages available. At 6:30 am. 75% of us (senior citizens) had face masks on.
    It took me longer to wipe down all the groceries once I got home than it did to do my shopping.
    I received my Farm Share order on Wednesday. One of the farmers was simply overwhelmed. She said that everyone is ordering so much. She wasn’t complaining about the business – just worn out from the work.

    I pulled 3 packages of cranberries from my freezer and made cranberry juice to can up. Trying to can as much as I ‘can’ from the freezer to free up space for next week’s Farm Share order (in which I will be ordering as much as I can).

    I was so glad they left the greens on the radishes I ordered. I blanched those on Friday and made some pesto. Delicious! You can’t even tell it is not basil, which most traditional recipes use. I have also used carrot greens (blanch those first too). Use it up!

    My kitchen counter is full of ferments. Apple cider vinegar, sourdough and sauerkraut are bubbling away!

    Our governor extended our ‘Safer at Home’ order until May 26 in solidarity with other upper Midwest governors. The Michigan governor has apparently prohibited all motorized boats on lakes in Michigan. In our state all of the boat landings on federal lands are closed. Thankfully we have lots of landings that are not federal. Hopefully our gov doesn’t copy Michigan’s.

    Hubby wrote a letter to our governor protesting the closing of the boat landings. He mentioned that the closure of some boat landings will only put more pressure on other boat landings and make social distancing more difficult. Hubby used to be a fishing guide so we have lots of other spots we can go to, but still.

    #3 DS asked us to proofread his ordination paper. I made my suggestions first, then hubby went through it. He was circling things like there was no tomorrow. I wondered how I had missed so many things. Turns out, hubby was unaware that it is now acceptable to only leave one space between sentences. He was shocked. It is said you can tell if someone is over 40 by the spacing they use between sentences (nothing to do with preparedness but interesting).

    So do you use two spaces or one?

    Had a Zoom Bible study on Thursday afternoon. It times out automatically after 40 minutes and we weren’t done, so I scheduled another meeting right after. By the time everyone logged back in a couple of the gals informed the rest of us of the governor’s orders. About half of our study are in the hospitality industry (we live in a tourist area). They were rattled about the new orders and how it would affect their businesses. Thankfully we were studying Col. 3:
    “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

    May you be filled with His peace during these troubled times.

    1. Hello, Wormlady, I would have never thought to use radish and carrot greens in pesto. Thank you for sharing. I feel for your husband’s fishing exasperations, and hope more options open soon.
      As far as, “Turns out, hubby was unaware that it is now acceptable to only leave one space between sentences. He was shocked.” I totally get that. I was shocked a year ago at college when I found out. Problem is, muscle memory is hard to retrain after 35-ish years, so after ending up with papers full of both one and two spaces, I gave up and just keep the two spaces. No professor ever docked me points, not even my English professor. That said, Congratulations on #3’s DS ordination paper and serving the Lord. Praying you much peace, joy and love with your hubby.

  8. We too put in some new wire fencing. We have a family of deer (the big ear family) that nearly ate all but one of our young fruit trees. We are hoping that our fence will discourage them. We enclosed two fruit trees, raspberries, blueberries and grapes. A 100′ roll of wire fence just about did it. I am far from good at putting in this fencing. I have the nicks and cuts to show for it.
    We built one section so we could easily remove it for machine access.

    Pruning is an art. We attended a seminar many years ago. The instructor was very good.
    Like GWH mentioned, he instructed us to go easy on young trees.
    He told us that older well established fruit trees that had been neglected may take 3 years to prune properly. First year you make a plan for the tree then take 1/3 of the larger branches you wish to remove. Second and third year you prune the remaining 2/3 of the branches according to your plan. I have used this method to save an old Apple tree.
    Another suggestion he had that helps me is, in the summer you can mark branches that you want to remove later in the dormant season. If I see a branch that doesn’t make sense, I mark it with a piece of twine then I nick it in the winter. Some crazy branches are easier to see with leaves.

    I too will wait to see if Wheatley responds, I always learn from his posts.
    Lots of tomatoes plants and peppers are coming up. Peas are breaking through too.

    “Any time we learn something new, it is timely enough”
    That is my wisdom for the day right there. Thanks again.
    God bless.

  9. The book “The Backyard Orchardist” (Stella Otto) has been helping me learn and answer questions. Easy to understand and informative with clear, concise information. Before I would just prune water shoots and whatever looked too close or was rubbing on another branch.

  10. I drink beer from aluminum cans and recycle the empties, but now due to regulations they will not accept them. Is there a way to melt them into ingots?

  11. Difficult times ahead. It’s good that you can get out and do something “normal.” We had snow two days this week, so outside activities (other than walking for exercise) are still aways off.

    The herb seeds I planted are up even in the cold windowsill. Getting ready to start the other seeds, but I just cannot find the tops to my grow lights! Please pray I find them and the lettuce seeds I purchased in February. Not sure where I put them! Thankfully, I have my heat pads, so can get started anyway.

    I have been asked to make more masks, so will get those done this weekend to be mailed out Monday. I’m glad to help out friends and their families as it is my belief that masks will be a large part of the solution to this mess. Most Americans cannot stay indoors forever and need to get back to work and rebuilding our country.

    A relative is weathering this pandemic at our small cabin many states away from us. I’m very glad to have it looked after and cared for. I was a bit concerned about leaving it empty and the ongoing rodent problem. Of course all plans to get there were nixed.

    I’ve been rewatching Foyles War and have found quite a few things to ponder. Glad to be somewhat prepared for life’s surprises; however, not fully where we wish to be. Are we ever?

    Wood to be cut this week, a dead tree was felled, larder organization continues and I’m keeping the home fires burning. Life continues. Blessings to all.

  12. DH restructured the front flower beds to be vegetable beds. He went to the local Home Depot for wood and reported back that it was very busy. Like everyone woke up that morning and decided to do some home improvements/gardening.

    I ordered a new composting bin online.

    I searched high and low for Food Saver jar sealers. Sold out everywhere. On their website, it says they have them in stock. I put in an order a week ago, but haven’t received a confirmation email and my card hasn’t been charged.

    DH fermented sour dough starter and made his first round of bread loaves. I will be putting them in the freezer.

    We stocked our deep freezer to the tippy top with meat. I took inventory of all we have. Now I’m worried about the freezer randomly breaking! So much meat is in it. I read people are having a harder time finding freezers in stock.

    I want a small power generator for the deep freeze at least. We live in hurricane zone. DH and I argued about it. He doesn’t see the need in one. When I mentioned the cheaper one from Harbor Freight, he shot it down. I’m sore about this subject, so I’ll leave it at that.

    I have lived in a small rural town for 3 years and only just discovered last night that we have a local nursery! It’s hidden down some county road! They don’t even have a website. Just a Facebook page. I’m so excited to check it out.

    Speaking of local, it has been recommended that we seek out and support our local dairy/meat farmers. I have a local one. I checked the website. The prices are so expensive that I couldn’t afford to get much. I raise my own hens, but if I didn’t, I would have to pay $7 a dozen locally. The beef was even more pricey. Yikes. So I’m putting this location on the back, back burner.

    I would like to start a couple of lemon trees, so I’m researching that right now.

    The humming birds are back and I’m putting out fresh sugar water today.

    Our church continues to be online. We are getting close to deciding if we will be able to have VBS and summer camp this season. Our state ,TX, is slowly opening things back up, so that’s good news.

    I have always homeschooled my kids, and they are getting close to finishing up their regular school year. One kid has a zoom class and a final project to complete. The pandemic didn’t change much for us regarding school, except our extracurricular classes.

    We have a Nintendo Switch and the kids and I have spent some of our free time playing Animal Crossing. It’s been a fun time together. Just for kicks, I googled how much a Switch Lite costs, only to discover they are sold out everywhere. They are in high demand due to the pandemic.

    Peace and blessings!

    1. Have fun growing the lemon trees! We’re in an area too cold for outdoor citrus, but we’re doing well with our lime tree in the greenhouse with redundant heating features to prevent dips below freezing. We have a 2nd one on order, and can’t wait for it to arrive. Last year the first tree was just a starter, but this year it’s really filling out nicely. Wishing you every success in your citrus venture!

  13. Wasn’t feeling too well a week ago Friday and thought maybe I put too much turmeric in the hummus. Turned out to be a renal geology problem. I quickly googled some new coping words in several languages, only one of which is suitable for PG audiences, “Mama mia!” which is Old Italian for “Golly gee, I sure wish health care was cheaper in this country!” I rode it out with 27 gallons of home-grown tea (chocolate mint, apple mint, chamomile and lemon balm) and finally passed it yesterday. Prepping note to self: understand the science behind making morphine from those Papaver somniferum plants so after TEOTWAWKI on those really bad stones that just won’t pass, or cancer, or, fill in the blank, there are at least some options for pain killers.

    Didn’t get too much done this week with the geologic event sidetracking me. Went out to the shop one bright sunny morning and there at the very peak of the roof in front was Papa Wren, looking like the world’s smallest weather vane, singing his little heart out, “We’re back! We’re back!” I ducked into the garden shed and there was Mama Wren, only her little beak visible sticking out of the nest, which looks just like a little igloo made of grass and moss. She finally flew up to one of the shelves so I could look inside. They had finished remodeling, skipped the paint and went with new snakeskin for the walls instead. There were five or six tiny little eggs inside. There’s nothing majestic about wrens, they lack beautiful plumage, but they’re my favorite bird because they are so entertaining and fun to watch as they look for spiders and insects in my woodpile, shop, and occasionally, in the house.

    We got three light frosts, enough to blacken all the new lemon balm but not touch the catnip or oregano right next to it. The peaches are still doing great. The blackberry hedge is leafing out and the raspberries are peaking out from under the mulch so it’s going to be another good berry year again. Some of the black walnuts are just starting to flower in the past two days.

    Got a large assortment of my favorite garden seeds sent off to some of the grandkids who are big into gardening. You can’t start too young on some things in life. And you gotta love the whole concept of heritage seeds that you can save and share with friends and loved ones.

    I did get a chance to peek in on the beehive I had transplanted some frames of bees and brood into a few weeks back. The hive went from pretty weak to fairly strong in a surprisingly short amount of time. It should be another good year for honey.

    Wishing everyone a great week ahead. 🙂

    1. Dear St. Funogas,

      You gave me another chuckle and put a smile on my face. So sorry to hear of your “renal geology problem” this week. Glad to hear that there was a successful rock slide after a deluge of teas. 😉 For future reference, if you’d like to investigate further, I have heard that a deluge of fresh lemon juice mixed with Olive oil would dissolve said “geod” and send it’s smaller parts out fairly quickly, and is good for regular maintenance if there is a threat of a repeat occurrence of said problem.

      Glad to hear about Mr. and Mrs. Wren’s house remodel. In addition to their cute behavior, I really enjoy hearing their chirky voices. As far as I am aware of, so far, we don’t have House wrens in our neck of the woods of the Redoubt region, but I remember observing them when I lived in the central east coast.



      1. Hey Lily, thanks for the tip. I was using the lemon juice trick but it hadn’t occurred to me to use some olivaceous lubricants in the equation. lol. I will definitely google that.

        As for the wren’s chirky voices, it occurred to me as I was listening to papa wren sing what an amazing volume of sound comes out of those 10 grams of bird. If a bald eagle made a similar amount of sound for its weight, (female averaging 5,600 grams) it would blow the roof right off your house. What amazing little birds.

    2. St. Funogas,

      So sorry to hear about your medical problem. Please share what you find out regarding medicinal plants like the one you mentioned as I am interested in that subject. I am on a painkiller for my severe cervical problems but would like alternatives in case SHTF and they are not available anymore. I have exhausted all therapies and now my spinal doctor has recommended cervical spinal fusion but I am extremely reluctant to go this route. The painkiller help tremendously along with exercise and a healthy diet, but MRI’s and other tests show severe degradation of the disks in my neck and lower back. I’m spite of my medical problems I really try to make every day spectacular and have a positive attitude as my husband and my mom are sensitive to everything going on. I find myself counseling both of them every day.

      I was thinking of you today when I used my new tool from Homestead Iron!! I love this tool (she actually has been living in my house all nice & warm since I got her)! What a joy to be able to get weeds out more efficiently! I only got in an hour because it’s like a hurricane outside today, but at least it was sunny. Better than the two days this week we got 4 inches of snow each day . Melted really quickly both days but the ground is extremely wet from last year.

      Harvested my first batch of salad greens that I grew in a hydroponic system that I got for my birthday!
      Ordered a second system so I can have another unit running with something else. (Our Spring and Summer the last two/three years have been awful for growing outdoors so at least I can grow fresh greens indoors). I’m extremely concerned about the weather changes I’ve seen over the last few years. I listen to Ice age Farmer when I can & this has confirmed my fears.

      Tom in Oregon & Lily,

      I so Love the birds too! In fact we hung up more feeders this morning. My husband has made some houses for them out of scrap wood too.
      Last year we had 4 Orioles come!! They came every morning for about 10 days and then disappeared. I really hope that they come back, they are so beautiful

      Starting to notice subtle signs that people are getting salty. The fuel station that I fill up at by my mom and dads house had one of the front doors boarded up from vandalism. Governor of Illinois and mayor of Chicago are constantly whining about not having enough of this or that regarding PPE supplies, already they are pitching about the budget deficits for our state (and Illinois Is ALREADY bankrupt). I see way higher taxes coming. Governor is also being elusive about if he’s going to extend our lockdown past the April 30th date. When I go to mom and dads I notice a lot of traffic, people are NOT staying home. One thing I noticed that was hilarious is that the Starbucks by my mom and dads is still open with the drive through and on Wednesday I looked over and there must have been 75 cars in line!! If so many people are out of jobs then how can they afford to go get $7 coffee?! Priorities are messed up on that one.
      Grocery store by my mom and dads is STILL very bare. The one of the same name on the way home is better stocked.

      Placed a large order with Home Depot for top soil, raised bed soil and were going to try the new recycled tires mulch for our landscaped areas. We have terrible weed problems partly due to neighbors not maintaining their lawns all that well. We are tying to get our house ready inside and outside so that we can eventually put it up for sale and move to a place with more acreage and hopefully a ranch. The three floors up and down multiple times a day are starting to wear on us. But we will see and make the best of and be thankful for what we have. I have also pre-paid our mortgage thru August.

      Tomorrow I’m going to go to the little grocery store we have here in town and see what kind of bulk meat I can get. They will cut and wrap everything for me. Plus I want to support this local store. They don’t have a great selection but the meat is local and I always shop there at least once a month to help support them.

      I’m really disturbed by the reports on the news stations saying that they are churning out millions and millions of PPE products but at the same time everyone is screaming that they have none. So where is it all going? Are the states getting tons of stuff & hiding it? Regular consumers can’t buy any PPE at all! None in the stores at all. I’m so glad that I started buying extras Starting late last summer.

      Another thing that I’ve noticed is Amazon has cancelled most of my monthly Subscribe & Save order for March and April. I’ll see if they do it again for my May order. I get monthly orders of things like TP, paper towels, Clorox wipes, Ect. I’m glad I have enough & even enough to share if someone needs some but I like getting the monthly orders to top off what we use.
      Husband planted potatoes, tomatoes, greens peppers in grow Bags. This is the first time we’re trying this. They are really nice & have handles so you can move them around easily. We will see what happens. Also took one of the shallots I got from the store & planted it to see what happens. We really like the taste of shallots so hopefully it will work out.

      We got our helicopter money on Tuesday so I went and withdrew that over the last several days to keep on hand with some other cash we have.
      Extremely thankful that husband is an essential worker and gets 40 hours a week.

      Hope everyone is doing well and is healthy!
      Grateful to all of you here and all the support and ideas being spoken about.

      Have a Rockin great day!!

      1. Hi RKRGRL68,

        If I may address your pain issue and the need for a cervical spinal fusion. Three years ago, I had a spinal fusion of T10-S1. My pain had gotten so very bad that I was nearly off the charts. The fusion was successful and I have gotten rid of that pain. Because of the severe nerve damage, though, I am left with peripheral neuropathy.

        I would never try to talk someone into surgery, but I would like to bring up one point to ponder. If in the future, we are denied the ability to have any surgery, it could be prudent to rethink your position now. My daughter has scoliosis as well as I did, and I have talked to her about this as well. We may have leaders who ration healthcare, or the healthcare may not exist. Again, just something to ponder. I enjoy your posts and would not want you to be in pain forever and unable to obtain your medication. Also, I do understand that surgery doesn’t cure all, nor is it the be all, end all. It did, however, save me from any further deterioration.

      2. Hey RKRGRL68, I hope you can figure out a workable long-term solution for your spine problems. The plant I mentioned is actually opium poppy and it’s only been in the last few years or so that we can legally grow it again in the U.S., the law is still kind of fuzzy. (They used to irradiate opium poppy seeds that you put on top of bread so they wouldn’t germinate.) Since it’s what morphine and heroin come from, I thought I better keep my experiments pretty minimal. Just to be safe I started with some poppies growing on Federal property. lol. In front of the post office I slit some green poppy seed capsules when nobody was looking to see how much latex they would produce. (You can see photos of the process in the link below.) I remembered seeing a film back in junior high showing people in the Middle East somewhere doing the whole process, making the slits, then collecting the latex after it dried. Opium is just the dried latex. Morphine, codeine, and other sedatives are extracted from the opium. Opium is 8-14% morphine so even without processing it, in a TEOTWAWKI situation, would be a good pain killer, but very addictive of course. You can also check out Wikipedia’s articles on opium and morphine, particularly their discussions on making sedative tea from the dried seed pods. I’m still working on the research myself but since most of the “hands-on” research is illegal now, it’s still best to do the book learnin’ research ahead of time since we’ll no longer have the resources after the SHTF. Now if I can just figure out the varieties without getting on any more government watch lists. 🙂

        I’ve tried various pain killers with kidney stones and none of them work for me. I had one kidney stone 25 years ago that would not pass. On about day 12 I finally was in so much pain I had to go to the emergency room. They gave me a shot of morphine and in two minutes I was feeling no pain whatsoever. I got a little loopy and kept shouting, “Praise the poppy!” Hence my interest in poppies/morphine for TEOTWAWKI.


        1. St. Funogas,

          We love the way you write. You are so funny. “Praise the Poppy, Praise the Poppy” Jim said that you are hilarious and that this was one of the funniest comments he’s ever read. 😉

          Anyhow, with all seriousness, we do pray for you to have continued health and no more repeat occurrences.

          Your bird size to voice comparison of the wren to the Bald eagle is amazing! God put all things in their proper boundaries.



      3. Hey RKRGRL68, the research turned out to be much quicker than I expected, and the extraction process much easier. And the jail time much longer. So this is for post-TEOTWAWKI only. Up until then, the poppies are only for the seeds which we are using for the tops of our rolls and poppy-seed dressing.

        Here’s a link to a wonderful article by Michael Pollan, one of my favorite authors on botanical subjects. If you have an hour, a pot of coffee, and some cinnamon rolls, this is an enjoyable read.

        If you want “just the facts ma’am,” when you open the link, press Control+F, then type in “5.” (include the period) and that will take you straight to section 5 where the meat of the matter is. It’s a quick, fascinating read, no cinnamon rolls required. The very last paragraph of the article is worth reading too.


        1. St. Funogas,
          Thank you for all of the information! I really appreciate all that you contribute here.
          Sorry for being late in thanking you, my internet seems to be really slow. I wonder if there’s a pandemic? life here for us is really the same, just being extremely careful when I go to mom and dads house.
          I second Lily & Jim’s sentiment on your writing. I love laughing and your posts are awesome!
          Hope you have a great week!!
          Rock on

    3. St. Funogas! So sorry for the news of the renal geology problem… Just something terrible! Really thankful that you’re on this side of the experience. Stay well. You are in our prayers!

    4. Am praying for you like my dad, that your geo will be a once in a lifetime thing. My dad’s was well over ten years ago and he hasn’t had any more, PTL. May the Lord bless your healing.

  14. When our goats first birthed, after a few days, we would do what you’re planning on doing with your cow. Then later after the kid was old enough we separated them with a sturdy fence that the mom could still see and touch her kid through. This way the mom didn’t bellar all day long. We then milked the mom twice a day. But we didn’t worry about exact times. Just when we got up and if we were home, about 12 hours later. Otherwise whenever we got back home. We got plenty of milk this way. A question to anyone. What have you done to keep chipmunks out of your strawberries? We have netting over our raised beds but those resourceful little buggers got in anyway and ate nearly all our strawberries last year.

    1. Hi Sis,

      Yes, we have a similar philosophy as you concerning milking, though, milking twice a day will be a bit much for us. It’s easiest to just keep the calf on for the rest of the day until we’re ready for her to dry off.

      Well, concerning the chippys, our solution is cats. When I first moved here, I didn’t think there were chipmunks in our valley, until I went to our neighbors across the river and saw their chippy population. Then I realized our, then, seven or more cats, had decimated the population on our ranch. Since that time, I have seen one chippy for a summer and a little bit the next spring and then it was gone. So, we used to have a number of barn cats, but now we are down to a few and they are now middle aged house cats. They still do a pretty good job with rodent control. We have a peaceful Pride at this time. I’m not interested in getting more cats, because that would disrupt our feline equilibrium.

      May you have a blessed week, Sis,


  15. Had the house propane tank filled. We rent the tank and they want to give us a smaller tank since they aren’t “making money” on refills. I offered to pay a tank fee and they seemed happy with that. Wife not so much.

    Ordered materials for two 8×7 buildings, one will be a chicken coop the other will be a storage shed for gasoline, propane tanks and other things like shovels, rakes, picks, etc. the materials will be delivered Wednesday.

    Picked up more chicken food and a hanging metal chicken feeder. Also picked up 5 hog panels for the barn. Still hoping to get a few pigs soon. Weather is not cooperating here. Snowed several days this week here in NW Pa. hoping the 4” of snow melts today. I did manage to do some work putting in two new raised beds and started to weed the other 3.

  16. Don’t know about other parts of the US, but here in northern Calunicornia there is panic buying of baby chicks that rivals the infamous runs on toilet paper. Lines at feed stores forming hours before shipments are scheduled to arrive. My wife and daughter have been looking for a couple of bantam chicks, just for fun, to keep the one bantam silky in our small flock company. It has been a major chore, but yesterday finally had success. The two chicks are now being raised by daughter in her room.

    Obtained the silky we have because of their reputation for being broody. That had proved true. She had been incubating a batch of eggs for almost a week now. Fingers crossed.

    I see the upside to this run on baby chicks as a sign that folk’s normalcy bias is breaking down. “It’s real; I may not be able to get all the food I want whenever I want. I better increase my ability to get my own food. That’s a good thing.

    Have no evidence to support this, but wondering if there might also be an industry wide shortage of chicks caused by vaccine makers building up there flocks in prep for producing s COVID-19 vaccine. Most of our vaccines are produced in chicken eggs, hence the question about egg allergies before getting a flu shot. To make those eggs, they need huge flocks. Mass producing a new vaccine is going to take huge new flocks of chickens.

    1. Sean B-
      Our local tractor supply stores (3 of them in the county) were all out of birds for about 2 weeks. Went yesterday to one and they had lots. I thought I heard an employee say they hatch them at the store. Then again it could have been someone just saying that but it did sound like an employee talking. They must have an incubator then and receive fertile eggs from somewhere.

      I’m wondering if “New Pandemic Preppers” are reading stuff on forums, etc and running out and doing this stuff. People are sheep and I’m sure most would not think of this on their own unless they learned it somewhere. Wonder how many COVID-19 prepper converts will go back to their “unprepared” fat, dumb and happy ways after this is all over just like thousands did after Y2K. They give the stuff away for pennies on the dollar.

    2. Sean B!
      From your post: “I see the upside to this run on baby chicks as a sign that folk’s normalcy bias is breaking down. “It’s real; I may not be able to get all the food I want whenever I want. I better increase my ability to get my own food. That’s a good thing.”

      We’re hoping this turns out to be correct, and that people are taking the need to prepare seriously. How long the lesson lasts will probably depend on the severity of the experience and its duration. There will be some who return to their old ways when we’re on the other side of the biggest risks of the current pandemic. Others will make corrections in their courses and directions. Perhaps we have an opportunity to guide, mentor, and teach in helpful and constructive ways.

      Gearing up for the long haul… This post at ZeroHedge describes some of the challenges associated with defeating COVID-19 via each antibody and vaccine therapy options.


      Remain steady. Be safe. Stay well everyone!

  17. Hi Lily: Your thorny tree may be a hawthorn. I have many and they love growing near water interspersed with alder. They can be single or multi trunk and are very gnarly. Thorns are 1 to 2″ long and break off under your skin. Fairly painful and difficult to remove. Photos on the internet show pretty specimens and berries. In reality, the trees growing wild have broken and dead branches, and are unsightly. I have removed many for better access to our property.

    1. Hi DC,

      I took the time to look it up and the tree does appear to be a Black hawthorn. It is growing next to a cottonwood in a flood zone. It has sent out many saplings all around the Cottonwood. I didn’t see the thorns the first time I snipped a tallish two inch sapling with the pruning tool. It fell on my head and stuck me. Then I grabbed it and stuck my hand. Ouch! No fun! 😉



      1. There are hawthorns that grow wild here too, (8′ – 10′ tall) but probably a slightly different species as there are many. The ones that grow here have small “crab apples” on them in the late summer / fall and they are very high in vitamin C. Some people harvest and dry them and make an herb tea out of them. They are in the rose family as are apples and strawberries. I’ve provided a link below about them for SB readers:

        and a link about the health benefits of them titled:
        9 Impressive Health Benefits of Hawthorn Berry

  18. Hi Lily and everyone else. Good book for fruit trees: The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way.

    I have been doing a lot of work on a relatively new homestead. I am a crossover from the corporate world (I still work in the “world) who is trying to learn about so many things that were once foreign to him. It really is overwhelming but I trust the Lord and will do the best I can realizing I can’t do it all or do it always “right.”

    Planted, whitewashed and mulched 4 new apple trees this week. Working on whitewashing my current trees before the heat comes. We had a hard freeze this week that I think destroyed a first time plum harvest. I covered that tree and a peach tree but I think the temps were too cold for too long.

    Working on raised beds here as I have a ton of weeds and no equipment to work the ground. Transplanted some black/rasberries to a better location; some did okay; a few others looking not so good. Trying to tighten up the garden space as I have things spread out which makes managing it all hard as the weeds here are ferocious. Same here with strawberries and I might follow your sage advice and let the grass run amok and hope for the best.

    Need to get more seedlings going for greens; time hard to find and sick so resting the remainder of the day.

    Some pruning videos:

    As a side note, the state extension videos on gardening/fruit trees usually are very good as those folks are very knowledgeable.

    Blessings –

    1. Thank you MJ for the book suggestion and the links. I watched all of the videos, except the last one. It was good information. I’m still trying to figure out which method I will settle on in the long run. So far I prefer the a center leader method, but will keep the canopy fairly open for good sunlight penetration, but not too much. 🙂

      I said a prayer for you and hope you are feeling better soon.

      Blessings to you and yours,


  19. When I get the opportunity to plant an orchard I’m going to seek apple and pear varieties that can be made espalier type growing trees. Many years ago visited the what I think was the original British governor’s mansion in Virginia and there were apple trees growing that way that spread probably 30 feet in both directions and had 3 or 4 branches in each direction. No need for ladders and they look super cool.

    1. Delroy, in terms of those cool espaliers and Belgian fences, it is the root stock that enables it to stay manageable. You may want to stick to some dwarf root stock such as BUD 9 or a similar one, then graft your favorite apples onto it.

      You can use other varieties that grow larger for those really long limbs.

      Start your trees in pots this year. In mid summer you can do bud grafting of favored fruits onto sides of your root stock and then put trees into pots. Grow them there for a year or two before planting.

      Best wishes.

  20. Goodness, Lily!! You’re making me tired just reading about all your garden work! 🙂

    We have had plenty of snow but now the sun is out and the temperatures are warming up, so hopefully I can get into my garden soon and tidy it up in preparation for Spring planting later in May.

    We still haven’t gone into town for any shopping and it’s been over a month now! When I do finally go I think it will seem more like fun than the usual drudgery, and perhaps I will appreciate even more the conveniences and blessings we all have.

    I’ve been aggravated with myself for not purchasing a glass cutter sooner! I kept forgetting to do this, but today I am ordering one via Amazon (which is the only option available to me right now). I need to get started on cutting up the stash of glass jugs I have been saving and make cloches for my garden! I hope my crazy idea works… I’ve certainly had crazy garden ideas in the past that didn’t! But occasionally I stumble across a winner! 🙂

  21. I’m drying two loads of laundry on racks on the sundeck and I just finished putting three bell peppers in the front bed. Next up is to water everything with rain barrel water.

    Here in Southern California, we are still under lockdown. I am going to write a respectful but pointed letter to Governor Newsom denouncing policy-by-fear. I never thought I would live to see the day when everyone is walking around wearing face masks or bandannas and looking like desperadoes from a bad Wild West film. Wealth can only be created through working; giving people stimulus checks is not the same thing. Since I can’t go hiking or bodysurfing, I can at least clean clutter out of the house and work on my resume.

    What concerns me right now is that the supply chain is still working, but under strain. What if there is an earthquake, other natural disaster, cyberattack, or natural or artificial EMP? Then things will get very interesting.

    Let’s all keep on prepping!

    1. Hello there dear SoCal person! I call Newsom, Governor Nuisance. LOL. I agree with you on the supply chain. I’ve seen some incremental improvements this past week. One of the largest supply chain distribution centers is in southern California. I guess that’s good and bad news. Where I live (Idaho), it’s taking weeks to get orders. Keep on keepin’ on and enjoy the gorgeous weather.

  22. Wow. I’m so impressed and happy for everyone’s progress!! Sometimes I have to live vicariously. LOL. I waaaay overdid it in the greenhouse and spring cleaning in the cabin last week. Where do those cobwebs come from?! I’ve been “down” since Tuesday. So frustrating that my body won’t cooperate with my mind. I have to remind myself that I’m doing so much better than in the recent past and that every day is a blessing.

    I did some “quiet work” this week mostly in keeping up with my grandchildren’s school curriculum writing, guidelines for stocking up for my adult children, taught my daughters (virtually) how to make sourdough bread, did some work on our website, reading, praying. But, in the middle of that, my vision started to go – just the result of a migraine coming on and I think it’s caused by restriction of the blood vessels in the eyes. I stopped, did some deep breathing, made some herbal tea, and closed my eyes to meditate for awhile. As soon as I relaxed my entire body, the vision issues resolved, and my head didn’t hurt as much. I get anxious when I can’t physically do things, so I go into overdrive in my mind, which causes stress. I know better.

    Our weather has been weird. Sleet, wind, then sun, repeat. I ordered asparagus crowns and strawberry starts that I will companion plant and hope to keep the deer off. Ordered more seeds and supplies, just filling in the gaps.

    Idaho has their “shelter in place”, “safely recreate” (lol), and “stay away” orders in effect until end of April. We’re all anxious to just get back to normal. We’ve had precious few covid cases, so I expect the state to open up May 1st, but we’ll see.

    I investigated replacing my propane stove/heater with a wood burning stove. Unfortunately, due to the pitch of my roof (very steep), I’d have to reconfigure the entire main living space in order to accommodate a wood burning stove, like move a window, a door, etc. I’m not willing to do that at this time. Sigh. Had the propane tank topped off.

    That’s it for me. Carry on everyone!! I love hearing about what all y’all are working on. Great info and insight.

  23. Although they do not consider themselves preppers, this is wonderful family, inspiring and fun to watch, and learn from as they strive to become self sufficient off grid.

    Here is one of their youngest girls who brain tans buckskin and makes her own buckskin skirt. This family’s 4 young girls, build their own cabin, skid logs with a horse, make their own tack, sight in their scopes, hunt and fish, make furniture from trees, can and smoke their home grown food, and list goes on. But nope, they are not preppers, but they are real deal Canadians.


  24. Avalanche Lily! So enjoyed your gardening reports, and those of other readers too. It’s a wonderful time of year, even with all the challenges and dangers of the pandemic unfolding.

    We were out for a RARE trip to the pharmacy, and as we drove by the Walmart parking lot, we took note that the parking lot was filled — and I do mean FILLED. You said it well… What pandemic?! It’s a strange sensation — knowing what is going on, and yet seeing so many behave as if there is no concern whatsoever. Among the people out and about, we spotted only a couple of folks wearing masks, and not one other person wearing gloves (other than me, and I was in the vehicle and never left the vehicle).

  25. This week seemed to go very fast. We finally finished tearing down the old raised beds that had been neglected for the last year. The wood was rotting and they were filled with weeds. We had five rows of 3 by 40’. They are being replaced by 7- 4×10 beds. Still much more to clear and more raised beds to go.

    Started planting peas, spinach, potatoes, leeks and carrots. We already have some turnips and collards in the ground. I’m trying more containers and planted three grow bags with potatoes.

    We took a trip to Costco this week. I have to admit it was as much out of curiosity as need. We haven’t been in a Costco for the last two months. There was a reasonable number of people in the warehouse, no line to get in and the majority of folks were wearing a mask.
    There was no TP but there were decent stocks. The oddest part was the meat department. There were large cuts of meat priced at low prices. For instance, 10 pounds of hamburger for 3.99 per pound wrapped in one package. I haven’t seen these large quantities in our area before.

    Be well.

    1. CAL, there are a lot of reports of a surge in the supply of beef and other meats as some farmers and ranchers are having to cull their herds by larger amounts than normal this time of year, as well as decreases in demand due to restaurant and school closings. I’d suggest stocking up and freezing or canning now, if you’re seeing such low prices. The flip side is that there may be a shortage later, so having those stocks now will be advantageous. I’d also recommend developing a relationship with a local butcher, as that could also help in the event that we do see a national shortage in meats.

  26. Hi all ,,interesting week we had ,,,was unable to buy fertiliser for hay field in the amount I need to make a difference,neighbor had same thing happen ,cherrys are in full bloom , but no bees ,, a late new calf ,nice one ,,went to town ,first time in six weeks ,,

    Now for some thing interesting,,back in January DW and I came down with something,lasted about a week not terrible but not fun ,a week after a town trip ,starting to look like might have been corvid 19 , would like to get tested but can’t yet ,have been researching about it ,DW retired RN ,ME med backround ,we can understand what we read and see ,
    In winter we take 10,000 IU a day of vitamin D have found that helps with a lot of nasty
    I have been studying trials and tests of cures and preventative things being done ,the first week is the key to the outcome ,hydrochloroquine with zpak and zinc in proven to work in the early window ,and helpful later in some cases ,next interesting thing is that IVERMECTIN a live stock wormer is showing promise as a preventative (please don’t try it yet I will update as I get more info)the info I have IS NOT junk science ,I get my info from names you hear on the news ,one on one ,
    What we do,,,,,vitamin D3 ,ZINC. vitamin C ,masks and hand sanitizer when out and about

    Learn what to watch for ,,,,don’t play a round with this ,

    For 80 percent this is just like a cold. But if your in the last 20percent its bad

    Stay well ,wear a mask,,,,,,wash your hands ,,stay out of crowded places ,this is airborne ,a sneeze can spread this over 30 feet ,under the right circumstances it can be viable for 9 days on things ,use hand sanitizer,often

    Tea and chocolate

  27. Sorry I didn’t get on earlier. It’s a busy time. Three hours on Zoom conferences, planted some more trees, weeded out grass, got first bed planted and tunnel installed, laid out irrigation hoses. This week our irrigation district started our water. It comes out of the mountains in a big ditch which underground pipelines connect to, and one runs on the upper end of our property. So I just hook up to that and now we have ‘live water’.

    PRUNING: I saw lots of good tips with links, above. I am going through The Holistic Orchard myself right now.

    First, the advice to Do No Evil certainly applies, and you need to think of sequencing in multiple years in either old or new trees.

    I have two distinctly different orchards with different shaping and pruning strategies from each other.

    Want to make sure some varieties of apples and cherries never produce any flowers to make fruit? Find out which apple varieties produce flowers only on the tips of their branches and prune off the tips every winter. Most cherries only produce on wood that is 2-3 years old, so if you prune every year or carelessly every other year, you’ll make sure to never get flowers or cherries.

    I got several 4-variety-on-1-tree cherry trees from Costco. Now one variety is on a limb is blossoming with no other varieties on other limbs (required for pollinating each other). So no fruits from the Black Tartarians this year! I will not prune any wood from these trees this year, and will focus on applying fertilizer to make them grow strong first.

    The solar minimum so far has delayed blossoming of fruits here by 3 weeks from average this year, and may delay another week. This means we have already LOST one month of the average growing season, this year.

    Shaping is more important than pruning. Young trees need more shaping in many methods, as you said. I use rocks pushed into joints, especially with ones that get too narrow an angle (cherries, pears, some apples), tie down limbs with twine to rocks or onto stakes driving into the ground. I’ve also attached weights to shape trees and tied small limbs to each other to make them grow into a desired pattern. I tried using spacers, but we just get too strong of a wind storm at times here and ours wouldn’t stay on.

    The biggest question to start with is, how do you want to grow and harvest your fruit, and next is how intensive will you try to harvest sunlight at your latitude and elevation.

    My cherries are getting shaped to be a walking orchard, with Stella variety being shaped gradually into a bush 8 feet high. I will pick the cherries while standing on the ground, underneath the 9 foot high overhead birdproof netting.

    I have two different orchards with two different management and growth objectives. If you are not trellising your trees, and you have ample space, plant your apple trees on those 20 foot spacings apart, and prune to make an open vase with a hollow center. I show it by holding out my hand palm up, all fingers curled up to the sky.

    This palm to the sky opening maximizes conversion of solar energy, reduces disease and insect problems, and makes the leaves and branches easier to access with nutritional and insecticidal sprays. It also lends better to make your food forest, which my other orchard area.

    I am carefully using scissors pruning 95 percent of my blossoms and the fruits off every tree until the trunk is almost 2 inches thick at the base.

    My food forest has fan-shaped trees only 4-6 feet high so far. I am pruning any twig to a spot a half inch from the trunk, which is growing toward the center of the tree or going vertical, at this life stage. I also prune off any twigs crossing or growing towards each other. I use some of the vertically-oriented twig portions of favored varieties to graft onto new trees.

    My trellis orchard is getting shaped differently. Think of a future long, solid wall of apples 10 feet high and 4 feet thing. My walls are 100 feet long with a tree every 4 feet. They are growing with a spindled central leader and each limb is kept pruned to a 2 foot length from its main trunk. The trees are mostly just 6 feet high now. I’m installing their trellises this year.

    Reduction in requirement of thicker main trunk by tying trees to trellis wires for artificial strength allows more solar energy conversion to fruit production.

    Lastly, the type of root stock definitely affects how your fruit-variety top responds. Some root types cause wild multi-directional grow habits of lots and lots of branches. So you may be thinning out a lot of interior branches.

    I have several types of root stock to support different future growth. I used Antonovka root stock for trees I want to be hardy and strong with up to 20 foot tall tree with apples that stay on the tree into October (Pumpkin Sweet, Twenty Ounce, and Wolf River varieties). I am pruning those into an open fan/upward palm shape keeping the centers open.

    The M26/EMLA26 semi-dwarf root stock is in all my trellis trees to limit growth to 10-12 feet, while making the grafted fruit-producing wood send out branches on 2-foot vertical spacings ( spacings through pruning) from ground to tree-top.

    I can’t describe it here, but there is a way to cut a small incision just above a bud on the trunk and induce a new limb to start growing outwards, on young tree growth.

    Summer time pruning actually may be a lot better to slowly start thinning out some trees that are too thick. It work well to slowly shape trees over the years. Check your orchard trees on a sunny summer day. Is any light getting through them to the ground? There better be some. If not, then grab some smaller limbs and rip them off the trunk until you do see a few spots of sun getting through.

    Keep your pruning shears very sharp, and use bleach or alcohol to sterilize the shears before EACH tree, to prevent spreading diseases. Believe me, there are dozens of diseases and none of them are visible on your shears. Don’t unintentionally spread diseases or viruses, canker, etc, etc from one tree to the next.

    I can’t resist one bit of general advice. Prepare for a long, hard time in the US. I was expectant of bad times a year ago, like many of us, had a premonition/nudge from God. Now, God gave me the body and mind-permeating wisdom like he did before I went to Afghanistan. We are in for serious hard times and this is but the very beginning. Get ready emotionally and mentally. Be charitable.

    Also, look around for unloved fruit presses now, while you can. In a few months the rest of the world will start thinking of them fondly.

    Lily, thank you so much for shepherdessing the Blog.

    God Bless

    1. Dear Wheatley,

      Wow, Thank You so much for taking the time to share your knowledge and tips with us concerning pruning and fruit tree caretaking. We are so blessed to have you as a member of our community.

      This sentence intrigues me:

      “I can’t describe it here, but there is a way to cut a small incision just above a bud on the trunk and induce a new limb to start growing outwards, on young tree growth.”

      I would like to know how to do that, someday.

      From now on I will be sterilizing my pruning shears between trees. i didn’t do that this time. I pray that nothing will come of my ommission.

      Wheatley, I agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly, concerning the times getting much worse than they are now. We do need to prepare ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. For we are only in the beginning of what is coming upon the earth. We need to be asking the Lord for much discernment and wisdom, and protection.

      May the Lord protect you and all of yours, and use you mightily in preparing His people for the days that are coming…

      Blessings and, again, thank you,


      1. Here is a quick video showing how to start new branches. Only 2 minutes. The charming lady has an accent making our US language sound dull. But she goes a bit quickly past the part about finding a viable node on the trunk. That is the key plant part to identify, and it is visible below the part she is notching.


        The notching is quick and easy, as she shows you need to remove a sliver of bark about 1/3 the diameter of the trunk on that slender of a tree.

        Best wishes

  28. Over this past week unlike some of you we got 9 inches of snow, in the snow belt of wisconsin. Our children called it right away, it was a sugar snow. The time if the year when the maple trees absolutely let loose the sweet sap. So proud to be raising the next generation to learn the older ways. Also the never ending work load of the normal spring. Winter break is over time to bust it until next winter…. it is nice to have the boys off school during this work time… Btw it’s mud season our little section of the world so the good Lord provided social distancing long before we needed it….which were ok with. In fact besides having the boys home not much has changed, i guess we have been always socially distant…

  29. Spent the day prepping the garden for raised beds. Received the wood this morning. Tore out the old compost bins that I built for mom 40 years ago. Hope it doesn’t rain too much tonight so I can set the border, and begin building the new compost bins. Have to build the new bins further from the big maple tree, as it’s roots were clogging the bin. Had to move 3 cubic yards of root choked compost today, and my back is sore! But at least I got the old wood burned up and out of the way.

    Once I get the beds built, then I’ll have to run up to Lake Superior and grab sand and a few more wild blueberry plants. Hopefully, the seasonal roads are clear, but last I checked, there was still 30-40″ of snow on the ground.

    Also processed a bucket of miller table tailings this week, and pulled about a gram of flour gold out. Had to pan that whole batch at least twice to catch everything. That gold is so flat it doesn’t want to settle in the pan, and floats around like a mica flake. I’m going to try roasting, as I had a lot of black sand that didn’t want to move, and held position by the gold. I wonder if it’s sulfide or manganese coated gold.

  30. Lily ,,,,i have a extra SURGE pot milker setup ,sometimes called a belly milker ,save your hands. can deliverd in Lewiston, also have handcrank cream seprator. Prefer trading ,

  31. I can;’t add much to the good advice you have received about fruit tree pruning, but i will put in a word in favor of the “modified central leader” or “pyramid” tree shape, in preference to the open palm or vase shape. A central trunk with sub-horizontal branches makes a tree more resistant to wind and able to carry heavier fruit load, as opposed to one with many diverging trunks. Light on every branch, no two fighting for the same space.

  32. Continuing to telework, and that’s been extended at least through mid-May. The garden continues to do well, with the first shoots of corn appearing this week, along with some of the okra planted from seed. One of our hens has turned broody (again). She successfully hatched a few eggs last year, though only one chick survived, and she’s now a productive member of the flock. So we’re hoping for a few more additions in a few weeks. Also took delivery of some ammo, mostly game loads I’d neglected to keep stocked properly. We continue to learn and improve. Also continuing drive-in church services. Fortunately, our governor has specifically excluded religious services from his “stay home” order, and our sheriff has reiterated on more than one occasion his dedication to the Constitution and the freedoms that it acknowledges.

  33. I am very late in getting here to read, thus the late comments. I just wanted to say a really big Thank You to everyone who contributed information, ideas, expertise, links, and book recommendations on the topic of fruit tree pruning. We have always had our orchard professionally pruned as we just felt too inexperienced to tackle it, but over the past year have been discussing how to learn to do this job ourselves going forward. I’ve always trimmed the suckers and a few very small branches, but nothing major. I do clearly remember my father-in-law saying more than once to frequently dip the pruning shears in a bucket with bleach in it, especially between different trees, to prevent the spread of disease which happens so easily in fruit trees. I greatly appreciate all that was shared here, and will be spending the next week printing out your recommendations and following up on the links etc. Thanks to all for so generously sharing here!

  34. Avalanche Lily, Tom in Oregon, and Krissy,

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed hearing about your love of bird watching! We are birders here, as well. What started out several years ago with nature journals as part of our homeschooling adventures, over time that has led to a dedicated bird journal, where we keep track of when each type of bird returns to our farm in the spring and where we see it. It’s fun to look back and compare the dates from year to year, and watch for each kind to return. They are like old friends. We’ve spent time many winters listening to recordings of bird calls and songs, and quizzing ourselves on it, so that we can identify them by sound even before we see them. Sometimes we add sketches of them to the journal as well. Yesterday we heard and saw our first Meadowlark of the season, one that I always wait anxiously for. Anyway, it’s always fun to hear what birds others are seeing in their environments, so thank you for sharing that. I’ve always felt that birds and birdsong is a very special gift in God’s creation. Happy bird watching and listening!

  35. We had sniw obn Monday night after Easter. It was quite unusual to have it that late in the year, especially after such a mild winter. I only recall having had 3 snowfalls this past winter. And we had late frosts for a few more nights over the ourse of the last week.

    I have had 8″ or so of hay sitting on the garden all winter (as mulch) and so far, my peas are surviving and the garlic and some of the onions are peeking up through the hay. No sign of any of the potatoes yet, though. Other fruits and veggie seeds are getting planted gradually, a few varieties at a time so I can see what works here and what doesn’t.

    We are just starting to put in some fruit trees, planted a plum tree and a peach tree two weeks ago, put in a Cortland Apple tree today. It is quite a bit larger than the other two and already has leaves on it so we will see how it does. We found out today that, quite a few years ago (decades?), the past owners of the ranch had plum, apricot and peach trees in an orchard uphill from where we have started our orchard. We might follow their lead and put some there also or we might put the nut trees there. Have to ponder that one for awhile.

    Meanwhile, the grass and weeds are growing well so we have been doing a lot of mowing and weed eating. Which takes up a lot of time and is why seeds are getting planted a few at a time. Building the new greenhouse is on the back burner until travel restrictions get lifted and our son can get back up here to help. We also need to get it started so we can decide how we are going to keep it from blowing away in our typical winds here, let alone when we get a wind storm. And we need to build a real shed for one of the wells, probably using CMUs. We have lost one metal shed and the second has been blown around enough that the bracing and metal panels have been ripped apart and bent.

    Our county has had one case of CoVID-19, at the nursing home down at the county seat (28 miles from where we are) and the county where we do our shopping had had one case, somebody who was in contact with somebody in another county who had it. Each time we go to town, basically once a week, we see a few more preventive measures being taken. Walmart had an associate stationed at the front door last Thursday, counting people entering and leaving the store. They have a limit of 150 people in the store at a time. And they have the “6′ rule” reminders, carefully measured and taped to the floor at all the check-out lines, at the pharmacy and at the service counter, as well as taping one-way traffic arrows on the floor in the grocery aisles. Of course, none of the customers seem to realize the arrows are there or what they are for. Several other stores in town have notices on their front doors, saying the public restrooms are not available and that only 10 people are allowed inside at a time. Most of them haven’t seen 10 people inside their stores at one time in the past 20 years, but they are making the effort. Some stores have installed plexiglass panels in front of their cash register counters. Some folks are wearing masks, fewer are wearing gloves. As well as staying away from each other, folks don’t seem to be talking to each other as much as usual in town. The fast food restaurants have their drive thrus open, the few other restaurants in town are closed or open for take out only, but they didn’t have any cars around them at lunchtime last Thursday. I need to take one of the cats in to see the vet tomorrow, so I’ll see what has changed, if anything.

    Out here in the county, we seldom see anyone to talk to that doesn’t walk on 4 legs. Our nearest neighbor is 3 miles away and we only saw him today because he drove through on his way to check on his cattle. He said he hadn’t been by in a week or so. Now THAT is social distancing.

    I hope everyone stays healthy, both physically and mentally/emotionally. It is nice to hear what other people are up to and how their gardens are progressing.

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