The Glory of Daffodils

My first daffodil bed

It’s daffodil season on the farm. Glorious daffodil season! I have daffodils planted everywhere: along the front walk, along the path to the garden shed, in my woodland garden, daylily garden, and below the four square garden right before one enters the woods. I love daffodils for their variety and their longevity. Long ago I planted a collection of fifty daffodils from White Flower Farm. http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com

They have returned in glory year after year, increasing in beauty with little or no care except for the planting. I try to pinch off spent blossoms and every couple of years I have been known to sprinkle a bit of bone meal around them, but mostly they are on their own. Another reason I love daffodils is their resiliency. They typically begin to bloom mid to late March and continue until mid April or so. The weather can be haphazard at this time and we endure various snow accumulations, frost and freezing rain. The first spring after I planted my daffodils, I would rush out in tears when bad weather was predicted and gather great armfuls to bring in the house because I thought they would surely succumb to the cold. I quickly learned, however, that the daffodils would merely bow their heads in submission to the weather and jauntily bounce back up when the warm sun returned. What strength and wisdom, I marveled! One can learn a lot about how to weather life’s storms from a daffodil!

I always order a variety of daffodils. That way I have a long season and so many diverse blooms. I have daffodils that look like roses, early jonquils, narcissus, totally white ones, and small doubles that can easily scent a room. I personally am not that fond of the large King Alfred trumpets that one usually sees, but I have several of those too.

My favorite daffodil memory is one of my late mother in her early years as a widow. We always had her out to Sunday dinner, an event to which everyone looked forward. One spring Sunday evening, the daffodils below the four square garden (the first ones I planted on our farm) were in full bloom. She exclaimed at their beauty. After dinner we walked down the yard to view them close up and gather some for her to take home. She delightedly began to clip the stems. Soon she had a large armful of daffodils, and looked up at me with a totally happy smile. She was wearing a blue raincoat, and the evening sun was illuminating her in golden light. I carry this happy image in my heart always. A couple years later she suffered a massive stroke and I brought her out to the farm and she lived with us for many years. Mom and I ordered another collection from White Flower Farm, and we planted a ring of daffodils on level ground not far from the house which she could reach with assistance from me. She helped me plant by handing me the bulbs, and each spring we anticipated the yellow bloom. I always filled a vase for her room, and although she couldn’t talk since the stroke, she thanked me with a happy smile. Every spring I look forward each morning to walking in the morning sunshine to gather daffodils. I have a vase in each room of my home, and carry mason jars full to friends in need of a little cheer.

Perhaps this fall you might consider ordering a mix and planting your own little plot of joy!

To Joy!

p.s. The “Littles” as I call the baby chicks, are three weeks old today. They are all healthy. I plan to post an update soon, plus general garden news. April is such a busy month on the farm. I invite you to please like and follow my posts and do comment below. I love to read your comments!

Spring has Sprung!

Spring unlocks the flowers to paint the laughing soil.

Bishop Reginald Heber
Fresh daffodils and migas courtesy of the Feathered Ladies

It has been a LONG LONG winter hasn’t it folks? I honestly did not know if I could make it through all those gloomy rainy days. I took advantage of the drier weather this past week to plant spinach and peas (sugar snap and snow) in the garden. They are not up yet but my hopes are high.

I’ve never planted peas before St. Pat’s Day but I just couldn’t stop myself!

I had great plans to create a St. Patrick’s Day post, but fate intervened. St. Patrick’s Day is one of our favorite holidays on the farm. We make a guinness stew with herbed dumplings which is to die for, colcannon, and Irish soda bread. I decorate a beautiful table and we dine in front of a fireplace fire. I have posted photos on Instagram of previous celebrations. Our St. Pat’s Day this year, however was waylaid by a seriously ill chicken. Feeling carefree, I went out to do morning flock care and noticed a suspicious looking dropping under the roost. Time for fluffy butt checks. Sure enough, I found dear Buffy Orpington had a prolapsed vent. I will not gross you out with descriptions or photos. Google it if you want to know what that looks like. It is a life threatening condition because the protruding tissue can easily get infected and there is a chance other flock members will peck at the tissue, causing bleeding and death.

So first order of the day is to bring the chicken in, bathe her, dry her, and attempt to reinsert the prolapsed tissue. I have done this successfully before on Henrietta, but this time I was not successful. So an emergency trip to the vet was needed. Luckily (the luck of the Irish was with us that weekend) we have a chicken friendly vet and she was on emergency call that weekend. She had to put sutures in Buffy’s vent to keep the tissue in, and sent me home with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicine, and instructions to keep her isolated and in the dark for the next several days. I tell you, one has not lived until one has to give a chicken liquid medicine with a syringe. Buffy and I were both miserable for days. Also, all my plans completely fell by the wayside as caring for her took up most of my time. There went St. Patrick’s Day, dinner and all! Poor Patrick. He has been such a trooper and a great help to me. Of course at this same time, my bum knee gave out and I had to hobble around doing all these chicken nurse chores.

Buffy was such a good patient. She did not struggle and let me care for her. She did cry for her flock mates though.

The story has a happy ending though. Today Buffy went to the vet to have the sutures out, and she was pronounced healthy and healed. She is back with the flock this afternoon, happily scratching around and dust bathing. Please keep us in your prayers and good thoughts as we hope this does not happen again!

Sick bay in the laundry room! I am well prepared because I have a Chicken First Aid Kit!

Goodbye February!

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

As I behold the nakedness of the trees I am reminded that even in their barrenness they still know how to dance.

A Winter Prayer Reflection, Kathy Sherman, CSJ

Its funny how old February gets when it is the shortest month. I think by this time everyone in the Northeast is truly sick of winter. The above quote reminds me to be grateful for the beauty which exists even in the barrenness of late winter. Believe me, the trees certainly danced earlier this week as we endured high winds which brought in a period of high pressure and put a stop to what was a seemingly endless spell of rainy weather. Now the skies are sunny but it is still very cold.

I have been longing for spring! I just can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt again. My old Felco pruners are repaired and sharpened, and I have ordered a new pair too. I have walked out shivering to inspect the buds on trees and count my emerging primroses. I note each day how much more the daffodils have risen. I mentally note where I will plant the rose bushes I ordered earlier this month. I have started my seeds and they are up! Each morning I mist the tiny plants and feel a tiny spark of hope burn a little brighter in my heart. After all, to garden is to nurture hope.

Baby tomato seedlings

My seeds have all arrived and are waiting to be tucked into my garden tote. I order seeds from the following sources, and I also shop locally: http://www.highmowingseeds.com and http://www.botanicalinterests.com

My colorful array of seeds.

Even the chickens are getting a bit of spring fever. Miss Henrietta’s new favorite spot is atop a stump in the big run where she can catch a glimpse of the green paddock and catch a few fresh breezes above the protective plastic covering. My old girls are starting to show their age. They will be six in April. Buffy and Henrietta prefer long dust baths in the afternoons while Yellow Feet (forever young) and Buttercup forage outside the coop in the greening grass. I plan to get a few new chicks in April and am almost losing sleep over whether to order from a hatchery or pick them up at the local farm store. If I order chicks I have to have a minimum number for them to ship, which is more than I can house. If I take my luck at the local store I might miss a chance to get my preferred breed, Buff Orpingtons. Oh well, the best advice is not to overthink it, I guess.

So here’s to the end of February and welcome March! I hope everyone has a chance to bask in some sunshine soon, pick a bouquet of daffodils (I promise I will show you mine) and maybe even fly a kite!