This spring feels all new and fresh.  It is strange to think that it is not actually new, but a renewal.  Looking back I can see now what I had forgotten; that for the last few years I have felt this way every spring.  Yet I can still remind myself that this is not every spring.  It is now.

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Over the last few days I threw myself into the jobs of spring; waking up the worms, turning over the earth. Two jobs loomed under a dark cloud in my mind.  Job number one was the planting of the new apple tree (usually a nice job).  Job number two sapped any joy out of job number one; the culling of the flock.  Two of our oldest hens needed to go. They don’t seem to lay many eggs now they are no spring chicks.  In addition to this, they seem to go broody in the early summer and yet, are unable to actually persist with their sitting long enough to produce chicks. It is a strange state of mind to be in when the welfare of the chickens, their quality of life, is so important. Yet pragmatism seeps into the picture. So, the new apple tree, and the two old hens were jobs that were tied to each other.  I dug a big hole then grabbed my fishing net. I haven’t gone fishing since I was a teenager, but it didn’t take long for me to learn that a fishing net is essential when keeping chickens. I detached myself as much as I could from the job.  Soon the earth was filled in and the apple tree was planted.

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As a distraction I unearthed our battery powered radio and turned it up while breaking earth for the last of the potatoes that need to be planted as soon as possible.  The task at hand soon distracted me from the horrible jobs.

The new apple tree was planted in the place of a quince tree I tried to move a year ago.  Two trees, the quince and an apple tree, were suffering badly in their original position.  No light and no water, as a thick fir hedge parched the earth around the trees.  They were out of place and struggling to hold, with no hope of flourishing. The quince tree was quite mature and flowered early in the spring, yet never produced any fruit before dropping its leaves around mid summer. It was a gamble to move them but I didn’t see an option.  The apple tree pulled through (sort of).  The quince tree had a brief flush of foliage before giving up.  The apple tree that seems to have pulled through was already stressed from its original home.  It seems to have been attacked by a canker.  After doing the research and now knowing what to look for, it seems one of the other apples and one of the pear trees are also infected.  So, I made up a dilute bleach solution to sterilize the cutting tools between trees.  Then a bit of disused flue lining was re-purposed as an incinerator to burn the prunings. I had to cut away a lot from the worst tree, but needed to be done.

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After all the destruction I needed to try to counter some of it, even just a little. I planted some seeds.  Basil and rocket are now slowly unfolding in the soil beside the beans and peas.

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I noticed the first of the peas are starting to creep up through the soil, and the first tomato plant is feeling the tide of the sun.

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