Sunday, May 12, 2019

Make Hay (Honey) while the sun shines.

Today the crabapple blossoms are falling to the ground due to the rain. 
Hopefully yesterday's perfect weather allowed the pollinators to complete their work.

 By mid morning the whole tree was humming with the sound of various bees.
Similar to birdsong, the pitch of a bees hum can identify it's species.

The buzz of a bumblebee being far deeper

than that of the honey bee.

The Kerria was also attracting it's fair share of pollinators

Spending a few minutes hiveside can render a diverse pallete of pollen colours,

In my view, the most spectacular is the blue pollen from Scilla sibirica.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Eggciting Times at Stonewell Farm

New arrivals galore today. First we had a pair of Orioles, the female alights on the perch provided

 and then drinks her fill.

The male shows off his acrobatic skills by hanging from the central support

 and drinking upside down.

 Our second arrivals were a pair of Canada geese. First time for geese on our pond. The little mallard arrived last week with a mate, this morning she was all alone, but the drake was back this afternoon.

The last arrival is a little chick that was hatched by Sooty the duck. Sooty decided to make her nest in the hen house and has been sitting for 30 days. Ducklings hatch after 35 days, chickens hatch after 21 days. A hen must have laid an egg in Sooty's nest 21 days ago. Fortunately we have a broody hen, so all is well at Stonewell Farm.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Spring Walling Workshop

Last Weekend we had eight participants at our Spring workshop.

I usually spend the first hour discussing safety and how to use various hammers, chisels etc.

Then we set the A frames and lines.

 The build was a continuation of the section built at the Fall 2018 workshop.

With the added difficulty of a cheekend. 

On Sunday they had the confidence to tackle a right angled corner.

 Carefully chosen face stones require little or no hearting. What hearting is required is tightly packed.

Vertical, or as seen here, horizontal capstones complete a wall and give it a finished look.

 A section of wall that a professional would be proud of, let alone complete stone novices. Well done Lady and Gents.

It is worth repeating that while this stone is angular, it is not regular like bricks and careful choice of each stone is needed to keep the joints tight. Once learned, one can build with almost any stone.

Our next workshop is on the 28th and 29th of Sept 2019
contact Andrew Pighills 860-575-0526

Sunday, March 31, 2019

How to build a Dry Stone Wall

 Yesterday I completed the wall in front of the old school house at Parmelee Farm.

A wall that was started last November with the help of  Jim Hannon, (center) Martin Defilippo (second from left) and Mike Feeny (left). All past participants of at least one of my walling workshops.

As you can see, it will stand the test of time.

Our next  Stonewell Farm walling workshop is the weekend of April 27th and 28th 2019

Before we get to working with the stone, safety is discussed. Footwear, eye protection, correct lifting techniques, etc.

Followed by an explanation of the various tools available and how to use them correctly and safely.

Once we get to the hands on stage, within minutes, complete strangers are discussing the merits of various stones and cooperating like old friends. 

Saturday evening, as with every workshop, is spent discussing the days progress and relaxing with beer, wine and pizza.

Made in our outdoor wood fired oven

One would think that flat square stone would be easy to wall with, but while it is angular, it is not regular like bricks,

and even the slightest deviation in height, makes it difficult for C to contact both A and B.

Whereas with the rounded corners of fieldstone, C makes good contact with A and B, even though A is slightly higher than B and E makes good contact with both C and D, even though D is substantially higher.

In my opinion, the learning curve with angular stone is steeper than with fieldstone, but once learnt, will allow you to wall with most types of stone.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation

Following last years success, I have been asked to take part in the second Stone Walls for Wildlife Program (click above heading for more info) and will take participants on an interactive journey, including:
Children's stone wall building activity

How to explore, date and identify your stone walls. It is not always this easy.

Want to know how our forefathers built these incredible structures? Stone artisan Andrew Pighills will conduct a hands on dry stone walling workshop to create one of these amazing life supporting walls.

Followed by a short interactive Powerpoint presentation.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Invasive Butterfly Bush.

During a recent trip to the UK, I took this photo of a canal side wall full of Buddleia davidii seedlings. In the UK and here in New England, the butterfly bush is escaping our gardens and needs to be placed on the invasive species list before it becomes as invasive as Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)

Here in Connecticut, there are alternatives. Clethra alnifolia is of similar size, fragrant

and comes in various colours

If you feel your garden can't survive without a butterfly bush, sterile varieties are now available.
Asian Moon, Blue Chip, Chip Jr, Ice Chip, Inspired Pink, Pink Micro Chip and Purple Haze are some.

Or, when your Buddleia shrub looks like the photo below, you can cut off all the spent flowers before they produce seeds, with pruners, or a hedge trimmer, which will in turn give you a second flush of flowers.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The influential Gulf Stream.

These three photographs were taken at the beginning of March this year and are due to the Gulf stream, a warm ocean current that flows from the Mexican gulf, across the Atlantic and up the west coast of the British Isles.

A collection of Daffodils and Hyacinth blooming in front of this Skipton N. Yorkshire home.

With a latitude of 54.77 N. Durham UK is further north than Edmonton Canada 53.55 N. Yet this Hellebore is in full bloom.

 My favourite is this combination of Lavender (foreground) and Rosemary. They are huge and happily overwintering in this small front garden in Richmond N. Yorkshire.