Motivation from our homemakers group got me (finally) pruning the orchard.  Collected scion to get started on grafting.  I've been wanting to graft for years.  Decided this is the year.


I didn't realize when I ordered rootstock that I ordered 20.  TWENTY.  The orchard I planted is 17 trees strong. This more than doubles what we have.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?  I don't know.  Hopefully one day we'll have apples to share!  

I grafted half of them. Sort of labeled them. Only one is named "Kim" from my friend who gave me scion. (Thanks Kim).  She since has told me that I grafted Westfield Seek No Further, a fall apple. The other ones are labeled with trees that are numbered, but I don't really remember which tree goes with what.  I did find an old blog post that the four original apples I planted in 2013 were: Jonathan, Cortland, McIntosh and Fugi. I only took scion from the most established ones, so I am guessing I grafted some of these. What the other ones are I don't even remember. Must keep better records. I have ten more rootstock to go and then I'm going to try my hand at grafting some good scion into some established full grown apple trees here. 

Learning everyday! 


A good book together, wearing mama made PJs. 


Every Sunday for the last few months, Anna-Kate has had her parents to herself while the big kids were at archery. 

She has long wanted to have 'a drink with bubbles in a fancy cup' like what we had when we got married.  Champagne requests at age 5. Daddy hooked her up with a sprite in a fancy glass, she was thrilled. 
It's the last day of archery for the season, both big kids are making steady progress. Two apple bullseyes.

Lemon Cake

 I took this pic ages ago and am just realizing that I never posted it.  There were a few lemon cakes recipes going around last summer and they all were ridiculously complex and used 50 bowls.  I just did a little experimenting on my own and this is what I came up with...less bowls and has become a family fave.

Lemon Cake 

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 T lemon extract

Zest 1 lemon (reserve juice to add to milk)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup of milk soured with juice of the one lemon

Directions: Cream butter and coconut oil with sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla and vanilla extract and beat for a few minutes.  Add the zest and the rest of the dry ingredients with the wet and mix. Bake in 350 degree oven for ~ 30 min. for 8inch round pans.

Once cool, frost. 

1 stick of room temp butter

4oz room temp cream cheese

1 lemon zested 

Juice of lemon

3-4 cups powdered sugar

Enough milk or cream to get right consistency. 

Whip and spread once cool 

Our last winter hurrah!

 Thankful for my sweet friend and the lovely time we had.  It was probably the last winter fun, as spring is expected! 



LL Bean Queen flannel sheets.  Books.  Pattern that Audra wanted at Walmart this summer, but left behind because I just let her purchase one, Bruins shirt for the hubs.  $10!!! 

Not pictured were the Cabela rain paints that I just got that fit me for $12. Or the $1 shirts I got Audra the next size up since she decided to grow.

I also got this shirt for my husband, new with tags for $2.00.  Tags said $16.99. We can remember his trip of 2022, when he missed his exit and ended up in Canada. Always an adventure! 

Puffle Dress, Continued....

 It was way back in 2021 that little Ms. Anna-Kate was obsessed with "puffles" (aka Ruffles).  

I made her this dress with all the puffles. 

She has grown a lot in 2 years! The puffle dress was getting quite short, so I added another layer of puffles on the bottom. Now she'll get some more time out of this mama made.

The poor orphans

 The poor orphans are back, it's been a solid 24 hours of their return. They have been very busy with all their endeavors. Thankfully they found enough food today.  

Native Plants


I keep talking gardening even though there's still snow, snow, snow.  I'm looking forward to the color coming.

One thing this farm came with was a plethora of Blue Iris Flowers/iris versicolor.  Did you know they are native plants to Maine and throughout the USA? I had no idea.  It has lots of iris cousins, but not all iris flowers are native (such as the bearded iris have been introduced from Europe and the Mediterranean area). They grow best in full sun, rich soil with moderate moisture, but at this farm, they were in lots of nooks and crannies, but not the nooks and crannies that I could really enjoy them. They were stuck along the house and not really blooming (picture above shows the bittersweet intermingling, ugh), stuck in brush and within brambles, under trees and in a swampy area in the field.  I spent a good part of the fall moving lots of them into organized clumps and paths in spaces we frequent where we'll be able to SEE them.  As in I'll be able to look out my kitchen window and see them instead of having to go on a scavenger hunt to find them. I put a whole row along our back walkway and I put big clumps next to the front steps. The seeds probably spread and the rhizomes multiplied and it was HARD to dig them up, they were so thick. A lot of effort and sore muscles, but I did it.   I'm so excited for them to pop up and hope the move doesn't mean the blooms will skip this year. I'm ready to see them and see the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy the blooms. Plus you know they will end up in bouquets. 

Garden Talk: Mexican Bean Beetles

Today is a day for a grumble. First about the foot of snow, then about Mexican Bean Beetles.  It's because I'm thinking gardens and organizing seeds. Do you have them? I have a horrendous problem with them. They totally decimate my bean plants.  In latin Epilachna varivestis mulsant....which must mean little beastly beetles that make me want to holler words I shouldn't say.  

It starts with little yellow eggs under the leaves of the plants, then these little black and yellow fuzzy things that just crawl around and eat the plant. Then BIG FUZZY yellow that stink and make a mess when you squish them and then finally these orange spotted beetley thing that just wants to lay eggs and start the whole thing again.  They make the leaves skeletons and reduce the production immensely. 2-3 hatchings a year and then overwintering in the soil. Beastly they are. You can learn more about them and see their pic here.

I probably could take a pause in growing beans in hopes the over wintered beetles would find a better home.  Don't want to do that. I do try to do crop rotation, but they always come back. I am against using an insecticide.  I don't have the capacity to pick each one of things things off by hand.  I found a way to combat these.  Know what I do?  Plant A LOT. As in 5x what we need.  When the beans come in, I pick and pick and pick.  I can pick enough for us to have daily beans and plenty to preserve before the beetles have their feast.  It doesn't cost me any more than space because I am still able to save beans from the plants every year to plant the next year.  This has been my strategy for the last few years and it has worked beautifully.  I wish the Mexican Bean Beetles would just go away and I'd not have to strategize, but at least the strategy has been working.

Now if only I could only solve other dilemmas in my life with such declaration...


 Big kids took a 6 week virtual engineering class through 4-H. It was really well done. They enjoyed it and learned a lot. 

Grafting Apples

My gardening adventures have taken on a whole new path with our long summer absence.  I leave my husband here and the kids and I spend a good chunk of the summer with family on the St. Lawrence River. My husband isn't an enthusiastic gardener, so I try to leave him with minimal care.  I plan my garden differently, putting in more that will ripen before we leave, less varieties that ripen during our absence and a bunch that will ripen upon our return. I'm also doing more long term plantings rather than just annuals.  Plus, mulch, mulch, mulch. There is certainly a learning curve, but my yield, although different if we're here all summer, is steadily increasing. 

My orchard is at 17 trees strong.  I think there are 4 from 2013 (there were 5, I lost one plum), 7 from 2015, 1 I transplanted in 2016 or 17 and 5 from 2022. 4 are pits, 13 are pomes.  With the cost of some store bought bagged apples over $1 per apple and me having alllll this field I'm itching to plant, I figured apples are a sure way I could expand.  It would be great to someday have plenty to share with friends, malus domestica for all!  

So, what goes into apple grafting? That I'm learning.  I bought scion wood to add gala (girls' fave), baldwin (winter ripening) and freedom (disease resistant) apples, but am also planning on saving some scion as I prune this month. I bought 10 rootstock I plan to graft it onto.  Plus I have five apple trees on this property that are full sized and healthy, but the apples are not good.  I plan to graft both rootstock and established trees this spring. I'll pot up the rootstock apple trees for a few weeks before getting them into the ground. Haven't decided if I'll plant in my garden for a year to strengthen and make sure they are watered or plant directly in their forever location. I also have plans to do a soil test. Apples need slightly acidic and I really want to work to maximize the soil to have the best product I can. It's a lot of work now, but hopefully 4-5 years from now I will be glad I put in the effort.  Someday when all is producing, I will have late summer apples, fall apples and winter apples (which will be stored in the basement for winter ripening/use). 

Thankful for the confidence I gained in giving this a whirl from my Master Gardener Volunteer coursework and my dad for giving me birthday money to buy all things grafting.

Presentation Day 2023

So proud of my trio for their presentation day success! 

Adrian talked about Nissan Trucks.

Audra talked about Canadian Eskimo Dogs
Anna-Kate talked about Flower Gardening
Ribbons for all! 


Happy 12 and a HALF!





9 1/2

Happy 12 and a HALF to Adrian! 


You are growing BIGGER and BIGGER.  At 5ft, 2inches, you're almost as tall as me. You eat, and eat, and eat.  You eat a feast and are still hungry.  I just keep giving you handfuls of walnuts.  

You are more responsible than I am. You do all your jobs and chores just so. You keep track of my things that go missing. You remind me of things I am supposed to do. I am so thankful for you! Otherwise I'd literally be lost.

You're  still the king of safety.  We tried to get you to stay home for an hour alone. You said that you didn't think that was safe. (Even though you're more responsible than me.)  You decided it would be better to be home alone with our neighbors, so went over there.  

You are an unbelievable artist and have set up a thriving business drawing people's vehicles.  You keep your financial books, do all your correspondence and pass out business cards.  Very professional. Your other favorite thing to do is to all things model trucks. Creating, researching, collecting, customizing. 

You start your day putting smiles on people's faces.  You get up on weekdays and wave to all vehicles that drive by for two hours.  People in town know you as the waver. You have your regulars who expect you.  HONK HONK is what we hear all morning long.

Although you're totally someone who would want to always be home and squirrel away, you're actually quite good at doing new things and interacting with people. You're liked by so many. 

Oh, one more thing.  Even though you now think my hugs are annoying, I will absolutely keep hugging you.  You are very special and so loved.

Love, Mom

Adrian with his birthday prizes and Justin with his anniversary prize.


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