Tour de Homestead
By Robert Pekel
As I walk out our door, I‘m drawn toward the kitchen herb garden my wife so lovingly planted. There is dill, basil sage, rosemary and thyme. Not far to the right is the pond; the cattails and pond lilies are a bit overgrown and need attention. My focus soon shifts to the bright blue iris in a bed above the native stonewall at the back of the pond. The falling water creates a pleasant sound. Columbine is blooming in the terraced bed beside the iris. The deep red and yellow flowers stand out against the green New England Aster foliage. The phlox that consume the rest of the bed are dropping their delicate pink flowers.
I walk on to the garden area and find the blueberries in blossom. Rhubarb and asparagus are ready to harvest. Half the garden is vegetables, the other half flowers that my wife tends. In between is a covered trellis that is supporting the deep red-purple and white clematis flowers’ that are as big as my hand.
Milkweed, Brown-Eyed Susans, blue star, sun chokes and echinacea are all reaching up to greet the returning sun. At the end of the trellis walkway, feathery yarrow stands tall. I walk out from the trellis into a field of golden rod, persimmons, white oak and pecan. Here, I pick up the trail we maintain to access the perimeter of the property.
It is peaceful to stroll through the canopy of giant black walnut, elm and pine. The birds are singing and a breath of honeysuckle is in the air. Circling through the wild plum, I spot a honey locust in full bloom. After a pause to enjoy, I enter the orchard. Apples, peaches, pears, plums and cherries make up the tree fruits. Where did we get the energy to plant all this?
A little farther along is a handsome stand of pines, more than 2 feet in diameter and 50 feet high. I planted these pines as little seedlings the year our first daughter was born. Time goes too fast. Forsythia thrives below the pines. They offer privacy from the invading subdivisions to the north.
I stop to check the bamboo I’ve planted. This line of defense seems to be doing well.
After that is the animal zone. The Cornish Crosses are fattening up nicely, I estimate another three weeks. Laying hens live next door. I should check for eggs, maybe later. I see it didn’t take long for the three piglets I picked up last week to root out the vegetation in their pen. They’re cute little devils when they are small.
Now the land gets a bit wild, hope I don’t get any ticks. I like the wild. Sometimes I get a glimpse of the Barred owl that hangs out in the pines. Underneath the pines is a considerable brush pile. Brush piles support various forms of wildlife, perhaps that’s why the owl hangs out here.
After circling the cow pond, I stop to check the progress of my compost. The composting operation consists of two 4-by-4, 4-foot-high wood containers to hold grass clippings, leaves and manure. Just to the side is a smaller 2-by-2-foot vermicomposting unit. These deliver pure, 100-percent black gold to enrich the garden soil.
The tour is over, and all is well. Our hard work is paying off.
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