Spring 2023 Lavender

It is Lavender 2023 time.  The Flowers are starting to bloom and I have been busy as well….a bee ? in a lavender field.

It has been about four months since I emailed about starting to weave again.  I wove three different projects in that time. Each of the last four months since has been wildly eventful, exhilarating or exciting for one reason or another. 

Purple Sage and Phenomonal Lavender

March was an exciting month.  Charlie had just come home from offshore on the ship and I woke up one of those first mornings he was home and couldn’t move my right shoulder.  The pain was excruciating and completely unfamiliar territory for me.  I had heard of a frozen shoulder but never experienced it.  Doctor said no one knows what causes it but his opinion was stress. He said that stress comes in many different forms.  I had been outside “stressing” my shoulder doing some heavy weeding so that stopped for a while.  

Luckily Charlie was able to help me get dressed and out of bed and took care of me as my “frozen shoulder” healed.   I am thankful Charlie was able to help me and took care of both me and the animals while I rested.  It took about four days for most of the pain to go away and for movement to return and a few extra days before I trusted it enough to live normal again just in time for me to test positive for Covid.  Three entire years and never sick with Covid.  Go to the grocery store after 5 weeks never leaving home and sick with Covid….sigh! Charlie came home after I never left the ranch for five entire weeks and he has this thing about wanting to eat…so I had to go to the store.  Haha! I had eggs from my chickens, milk and cheese from the goats and baked my own bread so why did I need to go to the store?  Five days after the store visit and I was sick with Covid.  Charlie was not sick and tested negative more than once.

Stone Circle and Thyme

April was another exciting month.  Still getting over Covid, and tiring easily did put a bit of a damper on things. But I had our excavator booked to do some major work on the terraces and help us with planting lavender for two entire weeks and it couldn’t be changed.  I had never been so organized so early in the season so ahead of the game for once because of our mild winter.  I wrote everything down on a list approximately 20 times before I had it just perfect.  And promptly threw the list out, in the first two hours the excavator started on the first day!  Well..sorta…the list didn’t change much but the order of when on what days did.  I had even figured it down to how long I thought each job would take.  Some took longer than expected but others went faster so it evened out.  We decided against one of the big jobs we had originally intended to do as it was more practical to do that one in June and pushed to get as many lavenders in the ground in the areas that were ready as possible instead.

I didn’t think it was possible but we finished the second half of the second curved row (Royal Velvet) and did the entire third curved row (Martha’s White Folgate) around the stone circle. We put in a long row along the road of two Lavender varieties, Loddon Blue and Munstead. And we built another bed that runs along the west fence by the road of two varieties alternating together in a color pattern.  Folgate which is purple and Martha’s White Folgate were those two varieties. We put in two shorter beds near the stone circle of Royal Purple.  That makes a total of eight LavendulaAugustafolia (English Lavender)  in the ground now.  

Melissa Lilac Lavendula Augustafolia

Of those eight varieties, one in particular is in bloom right now and ready to be picked.  Melissa Lilac is the only full row of any of the eight varieties that we got planted last year.  Two other varieties are partially ready and I will be distilling those two.  Two others have a couple of plants that flowered here and there but not enough to really be picked. And the rest are all baby plants that were between 2.5 to 4 inch plants put in the ground in April.  Those will be Upick next year.

May was an eventful month. I would not say exciting but definitely eventful.  I tried to keep up on the weeding while Charlie was gone but the trefoil was getting out of control and it is so invasive.  I was trying to pull it a little each day while doing the chores and milking. But two weeks after he left, I woke up with the left shoulder frozen.  I had no Charlie here to help and milking the goats wasn’t something I could manage.  Jack and Jan helped me so much over the next few weeks with milking.  I can’t thank them enough.  It took much longer for it to heal this time because I couldn’t rest it fully.  I still had to do normal stuff and I couldn’t believe how much I use my left arm.  Once it calmed down, I felt good for a day or two and than my right shoulder froze again.  I had been overworking it to compensate for the left.  I managed with the help of Jack milking to limp along until it was on the mend and Charlie was home again.  Charlie took over the chores and milking and let me rest both shoulders properly.

June has been an exhilarating month. That is much better than eventful!  The one thing we chose to not do in April with the excavator was the focus of June.  We planted up terrace 3 for my distillation.  Those plants arrived the first week of June, and we got busy planting.  I drove the tractor and planted.  Charlie did the heavy shoveling part from the tractor bucket. We planted 44 rows total.  That terrace is about 20 feet deep and 250 feet long.  We laid stone pavers in bark mulch for the paths and built raised limestone beds for the plants.  The first few day we only managed 1.5 rows.  Second day we did 2.5 rows. After that we seemed to settle into 3 rows maybe 4 a day.  I really had estimated we would do the rows much faster. In the heat, just the two of us, we just didn’t go faster.  About 4-5 days in, I suggested we call the excavator and see if he had any spare hours in between jobs.  It so happened he had the next day free.  With the three of us, we did 9 rows that day. Wow about 26 rows total done after that day. 

We were running out of time because Charlie had to go back to work and didn’t think we could manage to finish. No matter how hard we tried, we still did 4 rows a day.  And felt like we had done 100!  The heat was intense and I was getting up and out there earlier and earlier but still only 4 rows.  We worked until dark each day…sometimes out there for 10 hours and still did 4 rows.  I told Charlie even if we didn’t manage, we just keep going and do what we can.  Somewhere those last few days we got faster.  I think it was that I didn’t have to drive so far as the pavers were piled at the side, the bark was at the end of the terrace and as we built our way out backwards the terrace got narrower. That meant less bark to fill in because the path was narrower and less trips.  I was getting better at dumping the various loads and getting them in the right spot. Charlie was getting better at letting me do it and not micro managing me by shoveling it out by hand. We got a rhythm going and we both started to figure out what the other needed before even asking.  Which was good because we were so tired and hot that even a few extra words were too much at times.  

Terrace 3 for Distillation

I wanted to show a few friends what we had accomplished but couldn’t afford any distractions. It turned out that it was the Electric Forest Festival that week also and it knocked out the cell phones with that many people there so it was easy to stay focused with no phone, internet or TV.  We kept plodding along.  Charlie sent an email to his work to let them know the day they were likely to want him to travel to the airport was the same day 35,000 festival goers were going to be leaving off our one little exit ramp and there was not going to be any getting through.  His work decided to send him the day after which gave us one extra day and we finished the last three rows that day.

10 rows Hidcote Pink Lavender
10 rows Melissa Lavender
10 rows Ms. Katherine Lavender
8 rows Royal Velvet Lavender
6 rows Helichrysum

That took us up to 11 different English Lavender varieties planted now.  And 1 French Lavender Variety planted.

We also finished fixing the top fence line and took down the sapling trees in the way.  We weeded the birds foot trefoil out of the stone circle. We split thyme and planted in the stone circle and reseeded some bare spots. We built a 16 x 16 section of thyme at the start of terrace 3 for a nice seating area.  Split thyme and planted there as well as seeding up new. Set up so many sprinklers and hoses, I lost track of the count. Hoed the weeds off terrace 1 and built a Mini wildflower meadow complete with a new spiral path and bench seating area.  Than had to rebuild it a few days later after one of the rain storms that came through washed it. We hadn’t had rain for about 6 weeks so we added stone to slow the water washing.  Now I have seeds sprouting everywhere that washed rather than where I planted but at least they are germinating.  And I planted strawberries to replace the ones that I planted in May that died with the drought.

I can’t possibly show you even a fraction of the photos I took to show all the changes here.  I will include some but you really must come see it for yourself.

I am not ready for lot of people because so many of the plants are babies and others still are in pots and not even planted.  Our parking area is newly sprouting with seeds and parking is limited. And I have hoses and sprinklers everywhere with our drip lines not in yet. Definitely an “under construction” project but it has changed by leaps and bounds this spring.

Terrace 2 Lavender and Thyme

When the flowers bloom on the French Lavenders, I will be doing a Lavender Wand Weaving Event.  An email will go out for that later so make sure you are on the email list. Other small gatherings or events are being scheduled but with limited parking, these will not be open for the general public. Events in 2023 will be announced via emails to the email list.

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