When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

Not quite that expression, more like – When life gives you rain storms, collect rain water.

It is hard to believe that just three months ago we were just coming through one of our hottest and driest Summers. Though our well held up we did ration our water and the garden suffered for it. One thing that helped is this water collection system at the back of my shop. Each barrel is 50 gallons so the 300 gallons can be stretched quite a way. I have a 12 volt solar powered pump so I can sprinkle the surrounding garden. Throughout the property we have collection for another 1500 gallons. Still not enough but it’s a start.

Oak and Rain

We don’t have oak trees in our area but a number of years ago I found an eight inch oak seedling growing by the side of our road. I transplanted it and it is now ten feet high. It is the last tree to fully drop its leaves each Fall. Its foliage is always interestingwhether it is the colour or texture

Winter Promise

We’re looking forward to our witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis)¬†blooming in the next couple of weeks. It fills the yard with its beautiful smell and it is a pleasure to see its yellow flowers all winter.

Drying Out

In the past couple of days we have had close to 8 inches of rain. Very uncomfortable for deer and people!
Fortunately the sun came out today and this young doe took some time out to dry out.

The Flora and Fauna Project

Back in the mid 1970’s when we bought our acreage it was covered in second growth forest. We built our house and then started clearing small areas for gardens. I was working as a gardener at the time, mostly for seniors, and my clients would give me plants that I had divided or removed. Our family would also give us plants to help us establish the garden. It became a habit with my wife Sharron to make an index card record of each plant. She would document what the plant was, where it came from, where we planted it, what care it needed and what beneficial uses it might have. With the advent of more affordable digital photography I started taking photos of the plants. As time went on we started compiling the information together and printing it.

At some point we started looking farther afield and started documenting ALL the plants on the property and that stretched into all the wildlife, birds and bugs.

We have managed to put together a good collection of entries but we are aware of how much it still out there! Haven’t even started on the lichens, fungi and mushrooms yet though I have hundreds of photos still on my computer. Fortunately Sharron has taken up photography in the past few years so we have been able to speed up the process somewhat though admittedly we can’t foresee it being done in our lifetime.

Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria) – 2 photos

This is an interesting looking and feeling lichen that we find on only one or two trees in our forest. One popular location is on a very large broadleaf maple. We find lots of the lichen on the ground after a strong wind. Like most lichens, Tree Lungwort is sensitive to air pollution and so whenever you find lichen it is an indication of good air quality.  

Topside

As is common with herbal lore, plants resembling body parts were often used as a herbal remedy for that particular area. Because of its resemblance to the interior of a lung, Tree Lungwort got its common name. Medically it has been used for lung disease, asthma, incontinence, eczema and various other maladies. Also used in tanning, dying and brewing.

Underside

Storm Damage

Well, we survived our very loud and powerful windstorm a couple of nights ago. We could hear trees falling in the distance and lots of branches landing on our roof. We walked the property today and found one very large cedar had toppled.

I had been watching this tree as it had been damaged many years ago and it had multiple trunks coming
off the main trunk. It was quite unbalanced and a split was developing up the trunk so it was
destined to fall sooner rather than later.

As with many red cedar, this tree suffered carpenter ant or termite damage in its heartwood. This weakens the tree.

Unfortunately there won’t be much wood for me to salvage for milling but lots of kindling!