From hedging our bets to betting our hedges

Low-input, low-maintenance, low-cost solutions to managing Seven Trees Farm are always under development, and security is on the list. While we’ve ticked off the more obvious measures, such as cameras, fences and lighting, it never hurts to have extra layers of protection when times get tough.

The hedgerows we started back in 2006 are maturing nicely, providing shade for pets and livestock, food for wildlife, and summer privacy for people. Now we’re extending the project to include deterring 2 and 4 legged varmints from the house yard, while adding bee/hummingbird food, medicinal plants and lovely, fragrant flowers.

Our robust rugosa rose inspired the first pick for the new hedge – Marie Bugnet. High Country Roses describes it as “A lovely rose with elegant pointed buds that open to fragrant, snow-white double blooms. One of the earliest to bloom in spring, repeating well into fall. The shrub is compact, reaching 3 feet tall and wide. Canes are a rich red in winter.”

Marie Bugnet:
From High Country Roses

Rugosa roses are generally hardier and require less fussing than ‘fancy’ roses, and the smaller size hopefully means less pruning too. We like this variety for a variety of reasons – fragrance, manageable size, long bloom time, and wicked thorns.

From Wikimedia Commons

There are some good lists and articles on defensive plantings, like this one, but each home and microclimate are unique, so not all plants listed work for everyone. We’ll add some evergreen shrubs for winter privacy (this hedgerow will screen the house from road view) and encourage previously planted herbs, like lemon balm, field mint, and catnip, to fill in the gaps. One top contender for evergreen addition is California lilac (genus Ceanothus) as it draws pollinators like bees to honey 🙂 It may not be hardy in our Fraser-outflow impacted microclimate, but it’s too pretty not to try.

Image result for california lilac
From Wikimedia Commons

 

Celebrating winter

It’s that time of year again! So much to do and celebrate, challenging weather, and long dark nights….

Seven Trees Farm

This time of year the Seven Trees Farm blog gets a lot of hits from people searching for information about the Krampus, the Wild Hunt, apple tree wassailing, and the Tomte. So to save a little effort, and also to better share our favorite winter solstice traditions, here they are in one list:

We hope you find some fun new ideas amongst all the history for celebrating the return of the sun to share with your loved ones.

Yule

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Lammas/Lughnasadh is here!

Originally posted in 2008, when Junuary was still a force to be reckoned with. 2016 has been one for the record books in terms of heat and drought, and bringing in the harvest is just as satisfying (and challenging).

Seven Trees Farm

Cool spring weather notwithstanding, Seven Trees is starting to enjoy the first fruits of summer. Lettuce, broccoli, beets, kohlrabi, carrots and potatoes. The tradition of celebrating the beginning of harvest-time goes back a long way. Here is a wonderful article from The Weather Doctor about the background of these celebrations: To the agrarian societies of medieval Europe, early August signalled the beginning of the harvest season, the time when the first grains were harvested and many fruits and vegetables ripened, ready for picking. A quarter of the annual solar wheel had now turned since the celebration of Beltane, the time of planting crops and vegetable gardens. Those crops and gardens planted at Beltane, now poured forth their bounty proving early August a reason for celebration.
As the month of August begins, the rising and setting positions of the Sun move noticeably more southward each day. So too, the mid-day peak…

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The Year Without Summer?

This post was originally written in June 2008, when Cascadia was deep in the throes of our formerly-normal summer kick-off weather pattern known as Junuary. 2016 is about as far as you can go on the other end of the spectrum. We’ve broken uncounted heat records since April, and yesterday was another sweltering extreme. But 200 years ago, much of the planet was dealing with snow and frost the whole summer long.

For a fascinating podcast on the year without a summer, check this out http://www.missedinhistory.com/blog/missed-in-history-the-year-without-a-summer/

Seven Trees Farm

Very very unhappy beans. The few that sprouted are bug-bit and dying. Most of them are still half-sprouted in the ground. We’ll be replanting all our beans this weekend, and crossing fingers for enough sun to get a crop in before frost.
Sad little corn sprouts. They might make it if we get the forecasted sun this weekend. Hopefully the dose of nettle water they got today will give them enough boost to grab the sunlight and go for it.

With the headlines full of bad news about weather-caused crop failures in the midwest, rising food prices, and contaminated tomatoes, having a large productive garden is even more important than ever. But according to the weather wizards at the UW’s Climate Impacts Group, the PNW is in the clutches of a La Nina event. Once this cycle runs its course, we’ll be at the mercy…

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Frogs & Lager

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to drive Gemini in the St. Patrick’s parade that year, and he died not long before the parade the following year. We still hope to find another pony someday, but in the meantime, here are a couple of options for celebrating heritage drinking holidays, sans leprechauns and green beer.
On a less frivolous note, we are splurging on new flooring for most of the house (not too hard with our tiny hut!) and will soon be moving our five feeder goldfish to a rustic new cattle trough pond 😀

Seven Trees Farm

Not long til St. Patrick’s Day, when we hope to represent Seven Trees in the 1st annual parade in Bellingham on the 13th. Gemini will be decked to the nines.

Some other old-school shenanigans in the month of March are Whuppity Scoorie – a custom from Lanark, Scotland observed on March 1st. The William Wallace Heritage Trust describes the festival thus:

The enactment of the tradition was reported in the local press (The Hamilton Advertiser) from around the middle of the 19th century. Indeed, the ceremony was originally reported under the heading “The Wee Bell Ceremony”! According to these reports the ‘weapon of choice’ of the children in those days (boys only) was to roll their caps up and tie them with string. When the bell first rang they would then march cheering to New Lanark and fight with the boys from that village who would be marching in the…

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St. Distaff’s day means work and play

We’ve been blogging Seven Trees Farm for 10 years now! As we celebrate the arrival of 2016 with coffee and tiramisu for breakfast, let’s read about the return to work our female ancestors anticipated at the end of the holidays.

Seven Trees Farm

Distaff Day is January 7th, the day after the feast of the Epiphany. It is also known as Saint Distaff’s Day, since it was not really a holiday at all. In many European cultural traditions, women resumed their household work after the twelve days of Christmas. (Men didn’t return to work until Plough Monday – go figure!)
The distaff, used in spinning, was the medieval symbol of women’s work. Often the men and women would play pranks on each other during this day, as was written by Robert Herrick in his poem “Saint Distaffs day, or the Morrow After Twelfth Day”:
Partly work and partly play
You must on St Distaff’s Day:
From the plough soon free your team;
Then come home and fodder them:
If the maids a-spinning go,
Burn the flax and fire the tow.
Bring in pails of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.
Give…

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Raise a glass to Repeal Day!

It’s repeal day!! Raise a glass to the so-called Noble Experiment and it’s joyful demise 🙂

Seven Trees Farm

December 5th marks the 82nd anniversary of the nationwide repeal of prohibition – Utah was the 36th state to ratify the 21st amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval, and effecting the repeal the the 18th amendment which had prohibited the sale of recreational alcohol in America. gal-prohibition6-web-jpg

Proponents of the so-called “Noble Experiment” had touted the National Prohibition Act of 1919 (commonly called the Volstead Act) as a panacea for many social and economic woes. In the early 20th century, women had limited rights to divorce, retain child custody, or even control their own wages. Men would often disappear into saloons on payday, coming home broke and violent. Temperance groups capitalized on the assumption that a woman’s role was to preserve family well-being, and were a huge player in the push to criminalize alcohol production and consumption.

Another major pro-prohibition force were religious organizations. Like many extremist groups…

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