Category Archives: landscape

May Projects

 

After three years of promising this last weekend the fire ring Shane has wanted finally was built. He wanted it cut back a little into the slope of the yard and big enough to have a few friends stand around. I had James help and work the level to get it set in. 20180513_180430

Shane didn’t waste time at all but as it was evening and time for dinner he pulled out the hotdogs sticks and a broke it in.

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James found a few old grates from long dead bbq’s and brought them down so Shane could experiment and see if he wanted one of them built into the ring for future use.

We picked up almost twenty trees from the Nursery to start the orchard as well. I tried t take a few pictures of them but they are pretty leafless at the moment and not much to show all leaned up against a ceder. The time line to pick them up has moved forward so the site is far from ready. Piled in wet sawdust I have a few days to get them in the ground but the tree that have been blocking sun from the solar panels and the future orchard site have started to be cleaned up and thinned out.

Shane came up with his chainsaw as mine is just too small for trees this size and helped bring down the leaning pines and managed to drop them in just the right places to not crush the camper or the green house. There are still more to come down to open up the sky but already the difference is rather astounding. I can see the southern sky!

I picked up raspberry starts from a friend who has both white and reds creeping into her yard despite her husband’s best efforts. They came from one yard; chives and and rhubarb from another, and last years missed garlic from a third.

With the transplants in and the orchard site getting rapidly readied I had just long enough to walk around the yard and snap a few pictures of the June-Berries and wild strawberries in bloom, as well a the herb garden waking up.

Spring in this part of the world is short, and nights still dip down into the mid 30’s at times but it is stunning how rapidly winter melts and turns into green and flowers burst open in carpets and towers of white, yellow, and lavender blooms.

 

April

The snow has finally melted! Yesterday the lupines popped out of the mountain side and today the humming birds have returned. We are still at three days of sunshine this year with cloud cover again. The solar panels are not really amused but the plants in the greenhouse have the grow lights on them to help them on these cloudy days.

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The days are warm enough now for t-shits and the work outside has picked back up again. Below the dam where the trees were dropped from making room for the greenhouse has become the target of focus. We will be putting in an orchard in the space as well as the chicken coop. (Zone 3 in permaculture) The ladies will be under and among the trees. The final plan for the coop is being worked out with several ideas in mind, including one with a rocket stove inside the wall to give them extra winter heat.

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Thor thought he would help with clean up and kept making a bed out of the piles of slash that we needed to burn and sort. A perfect place to chew on a freshly found deer shed I guess. Almost two weeks of picking up the dead fall, chain saw work and nonstop fire, we got through the fiddlestick game of trees and found the rock bank. To my delight gooseberries are coming up and hopefully I can encourage them to thrive there.  20180505_121019

Our top temp today is likely to be in the mid 50’s with chance of rain, but as soon as I step away from the computer I will be outside. Summers in Montana tend to go from cool and grey to too hot and so smokey work outside must stop. Last year we went from smoke to snow with no chance for much fall work, hopefully this year we have fewer fires and more work can get done. The coop, the orchard, and more gardens, as well as a cob oven. Not to mention all the other stuff.

chickens still in the greenhouse

This year spring has been in a long debate with winter whose turn it was. Just days ago we had six inches of snow. This high up however, while lilacs bloom down along the river we get frost every morning. It drives home, again, how difficult growing a garden in a zone 3 can be.

 

Inside the green house though it is warm enough the cool weather plants have been up for weeks. The unfortunate thing is that the chickens are still using a section as a coop and two in particular are very clever and naught. Julie Chicken and Katie Bird have escaped. Not once, not twice, but a dozen times and proceeded to tear u seeds, devour seedling and teach the others that out is better than in.

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Julie has even learned to escape the green house all together and look for better places to be. She is perhaps the most naughty bird I have ever met. At this point every three days or so I let them roam free. Sooner or later this will bring in wildlife from the mountain and Sterling, (lives down the hill) hates noise of all kinds and having Boots the rooster crowing in his driveway is not a good way to keep the peace.

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With them free to explore and a constant seeking of escape routes the seedlings have begun to grow with vigor.

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Flowers have come up now that the threat of chicken attacks have passed and the other plants have followed.

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There are places however that remain sprout-less as I have to plant and replant them. With bird netting and coop, hopefully repaired enough to hold until the long term coop is built, this time they might get to grow.

The gutter gardens are doing very well right now. As I have never used this style of alternative beds I am still experimenting with water and exactly what pants can and can not handle the heat to their roots.

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With room in the green house for plants to be kept over winter this year I am playing with warm zone plants. Various pond plants as well as lotus. I put the seeds in water three days ago and when they sprout I will be sure to keep you informed on their progress.  Some of those I ordered have fallen rather sadly into a state of abuse as they had no time to adjust and even int eh green house water barrels they got too cold but now with the weather finally starting to warm they are putting out new leaves and starting to recover. This year will be bursting with life and I will be sure to keep you posted.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

It has been most of the winter since James and I went out to take photos. The cold has kept us pretty close to home. Last week with the weather breaking for warmer temps we headed out. I thought I’d a share the favorite of the group and the one that is going to be printed in the local newspaper.

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Concept Plans

As some of you might know I have been rather under the weather the last week and a half.  Not feeling up to eating, let alone chopping wood, building cabinets or working on the water system I instead sat at the kitchen table with a glass of water and worked on the concept drawing for next year.  Having Landscape Design to my name and nearly a dozen years doing it, I have advise to anyone who plans to build anything,  DRAW it OUT!  Even if you aren’t any good at perceptive, or drawing at all, think about why you want something where you want it and how it will work for you in the long run and put it on paper.

Once you have it drawn out, hang it up, study it, walk around with it in your hands, look at the angel of the sun, drawing in hand of course, close your eyes and imagine it and feel the direction of the wind.  (a fun way to spend some time in the winter)  Then draw it out again, finesse it, play with it, try to think of other ways to get the goals you want doing it another way. Always keep an open mind and be ready to alter your plans as you go.

On that note, I thought I’d share the concepts I drew up this last week.  These are pretty basic, I couldn’t find either a ruler nor a decent pencil… not even graph paper, but at this point it is only concept, so no worries.

plansIn some of the pictures I am sure you can see the propane can sitting on a green chair outside the kitchen windows.  That is most certainly not the log term solution.

I plan to use the siding that was cut out for the windows for the front to make it blend in ad have a low cold frame top so I cant start cool weather plants early.

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This might need explaining if you have not seen the double-dome concrete roofs made, or rock and wire walls. ( I plan to make a youtube video of this project and am rather excited about it.)

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This one is a bit crude.  The measurements are off, angels not quite right and topography poorly done but that’s just me being professional about it.  (here’s where I make a face at myself for over analysing my work)

Start anywhere, crude is better than not doing it all.  Even if you have no concept of how to get anything built or why topography lines matter, just start!  This one might be the most fun to look at, to get a basic idea of the spring and summer ahead of me.  I better enjoy the slower pace of winter!

If you have any questions about any of the plans or concepts, or even why I am doing this part or another go ahead and comment.  Any ideas? Feel free to share.

Late November Drive.

Yesterday, I drove over Rodgers Pass and down out of the mountains.  My brother and I went for a drive about, over dirt roads that we have been driving since we were teenagers.  The winder was sharp, nearly impossible to look into and made it feel less than pleasant, but I stopped to take a few pictures to share this amazing landscape.

Fort Shaw Butte

nov rockymountains 006nov rockymountains 012Off to the west… the Rocky Mountains

nov rockymountains 013Creek where the Brown Trout spawn

nov rockymountains 018Square Butte nov rockymountains 003The frozen Sun River