Robins and earthworms
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Robins and earthworms

Sure signs of spring, as well as a healthy environment, include songbirds singing and earthworms wriggling!  Both have made their presence know to us the last few days as we finally spent long hours outside.  This week the temperatures have been in the 60s during the day, and upper 30s at night.  The soil is soft from all the moisture we have received over the past month in the form of snow, and rain on warmer days. We will no doubt have one last snowfall in the next few weeks, but not a hard frost.
 
We picked up our conservation trees last Thursday, and the kids and I have spent the last week planting about 25 a day; we'll plant about 300 in all.  I rolled out the fabric, hammered in the staples, and marked the tree locations.  Eddie dug the holes, and Destiny followed behind, planting the trees.  I had to show her at first, but then she caught on quickly. The conifers/evergreens are in soil cones in trays.  The bareroot/decidous are wrapped in bundles, surrounded by moist wood shavings, and have to be kept in a bucket of water during planing to keep air from killing the hair roots. The little guys brought partially full buckets of water to give all the trees a drink; we will water them every two weeks for the first two months.
 
On the up/windy side of the lavender garden we planted a windbreak of fast growing bushy sand cherries.  Along the south side of the house, and also the green house, we planted drought tolerant fast growing Green Ash.  The 30' mature trees will provide shade in the summer, and allow sunlight to warm the buildings during winter.  We also replaced two years worth of pines that the rabbits devoured, with hardy Rocky Mountain Junipers (RMJ).  The rabbits leave these alone and they do the very best of all the trees we plant here.  In 10 years, they are a strong windbreak, and capture snowfall along the tree rows to give the other trees and shrubs a drink now and then.
 
Today we will start the three row windbreak on the north side of the house.  These will be located in snow fenced pens that we have used the last few years for poultry.  Now that the dirt has been improved with duck and geese manure, these trees should thrive and provide a weather break for the north side of the house and the backyard playground.  It will take 10 years for them to reach decent size, but the existing trees are in decline, so now is the time to plan ahead and plant.  The row closest to the yard will be lilac shrubs, then RMJ, then a row of sand cherries along the driveway.  The spring color and frangrance of the lilacs will be pleasing to we humans, the sand cherries to the song birds, and the RMJ a barrier from the cold winds for all living things.
 
We also planted Spring Garden #2 with carrots, cabbage, lettuce, kale, onions, peas, and radish. As we turned over the soil to prepare for raking and planting, earthworms were in every shovelful.  We added rabbit dressing/worm mulch to enrich the soil even more.
 
As we worked these past few days, Canadian geese flew overhead, returning to their northern habitat a sure sign of winter's end.  The robins pulling earthworms from the ground, and the meadowlarks singing their sweet melodies, are an encourganing sign that warmer weather is here to stay.  That means more time outside, and less money spent on our electric bill for the space heaters inside!

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