– A window on my world: Walking the land

I begin most days here, sitting by the front window, my cup of thread ends and trusty Fiskars close at hand …

However, with the tipping point of spring having been reached, I now find myself drawn outside earlier in the day, no longer needing to wait until afternoon for the sun to warm things up.Yesterday, I walked the land to take some pictures, like this agave for Mo who loves how the leaves imprint on one another …
Right across from the agave, our crazy wind vane is a favorite perch for the Carolina wrens, so I left them some thread ends for their nests …

Close by, Don’s latest rusted bucket awaited a new tenant …

while just beyond, the lichen-crusted driftwood anticipated the new crop of mealy blue sage growing up behind it …

Everywhere I walked I smelled the soft honeyed scent of agarita …
my eyes catching every so often on bright red Yaupon berries still left after a winter of critter foraging …

I walked the new wood mulch trails …

leading out to the flood plain …
where wildflowers were already  rising up to greet the sun …
and the bluebonnets showed the promise of more to come …
Surveying the compost rows …
I thought to look up …
then heard the clarion call of sandhill cranes wheeling overhead in a thermal before reforming their northward-bound V …
Lichen was growing …
on rocks harvested from the floodplain and carefully placed in the succulent garden …
although most of our flowers get planted by Mother Nature, like this stand of thimble flowers

The grasses were greening up so quickly I could almost see them grow …

some racing ahead of the pack, already setting seed …

And when I came at last to the breezeway, where Don was preparing the outdoor shower for the next three seasons …

I startled one of our anoles into a brown funk …

But after reconsidering me as friend rather than foe, he reverted to a relaxed green …

and pulled up a chair …

the better to enjoy the breezeway …

– It’s springtime in Texas, so of course the leaves are falling

Here in the Texas Hill Country we get “fall” in the spring.  The live oaks are currently in the process of shedding the leaves they held on to all winter. It’s a great system: the new leaves push the old leaves off and grow in their place. So these trees will bare their branches over the next couple of weeks and then be covered in completely new foliage shortly thereafter …

Consequently, leaves are everywhere, blown off by the March wind and rain that roared through earlier this week …

Likewise, much of the ash from the deadwood and brush that we burned last weekend has blown and/or washed away, leaving the burn pit empty, awaiting the next installment …

Fortunately, before the rain fell I was able to shovel some of the ash onto the inner wall of the burn pit …
where it now serves as a kind of mortar for another layer of stone …

And this is the windfall lichen that was spared from the flame, a patch about 6′ wide and 12′ feet long …
bound for the lichen farm along the west trail …

Last, but not least, here’s a shot of Don using my wheelbarrow alternative, a 2′ x 3′ cement mixing tub with rope attached so it can be pulled over rocky ground and wood chip trails alike …

and an odd bit of wood found along the way …

Who knows what Don will find to do with it …

– Hill Country hugelkultur: Likin’ lichen

I’ve become a lichen farmer. Which is to say, I’m deliberately saving lichen-laced deadwood from the burn pile and relocating it to areas that were scoured by heavy rainfall. Hopefully the branches will slow the flow of water and cause soil to drop out of suspension into the spaces between the rocks … while simultaneously supporting continued lichen growth.

In this photo the newly laid wood chip path runs from upper left to lower right. The windfall branches covered with lichen are spread into the washed out area at the lower left corner …
The idea had its genesis in Grace’s suggestion that we use our brush cuttings for hugelkultur, but we have too many critters that would eat anything we might plant unless we build fences … which isn’t in our current plan. 
But lichen … now that’s something worth nurturing! And where better than along our trails?
Of course, we already hauled a large quantity of deadwood and brush to the burn pile …
But I’ve started to pick through it to rescue the lichen-bearing branches. It’s not something I’ll ask Don to help with … which goes back to my supervisory days when I used to tell student workers “If I ever ask you to do something and then decide I want it done differently, then I promise I will be the one to re-do the job.” It was a good technique which made me think twice about how I wanted things done and made for a good lesson learned if I miscalculated.
So tomorrow is burn day (unless the wind picks up again) and I’ll alternate fire tending with lichen hauling. With a little wildflower gazing thrown in …
And this is for Grace: one of our breezeway anoles admiring the lantana …