If you remember, I did a little research this summer to find the best time to transplant some of my favorite perennial flowers out to the farm. It seems that September is the ideal time for most, so of course it took me until October to be sufficiently pressured by this dead line to actually do the work!
As we were preparing to leave our suburban house for a work day at the farm, I grabbed a bucket and shovel and started to dig up a few iris bulbs. Needing another bucket, Brandon scrounged up at an entire stack, which he then preceded to fill with plants. I was very happy to finally get the transplants I wanted, but I was a little worried that his helpfulness was going to make a much bigger job for me than I planned for the day. A dozen buckets filled with plants equals a very long day of planting and several days of very sore muscles.
If I already had established flower beds, more time, or stronger muscles, I probably wouldn't have had such a long hard day. By the time I would dig up the sod, like I did around the cistern in the photo above, I was extremely glad to fall to my knees and arrange the bulbs while I caught my breath.
I also took every opportunity to pause for a photo shoot, like when this caterpillar with the pretty yellow stripes went inching by. Maybe this is a smartweed caterpillar (Acronicta sp.)? I moved him out of my way and placed him on the top of the cistern, where he was immediately attacked by tiny ants. So, I scooped him back up and placed him by the barn, thinking he would be out of harms way.
But then I found this large praying mantis on the side of the barn. If you've ever seen the art work of Catherine Chalmers (check out the food chain series here), then you know that placing your caterpillar in vicinity of a praying mantis is not a good idea!
On the other side of the barn was this large wolf spider. If you zoom in on the photo you can see that she is loaded down with her infants as she carries them on her back. This is the problem with relocating wildlife - there's already somebody living in every nook and cranny of this old farm!
I dug up sod and planted irises, peonies, lilies, and wild flowers until the sun was setting. At that point, Brandon stopped his work in the house to help me, and I'm pretty sure we were so desperate to be finished that the last few buckets of plants were planted in random places in the yard, with little planning or thought about composition. It's sort of difficult to worry about composition when you can't see in the dark. If they survive, maybe someday I'll have time to think about moving them to more appropriate locations. Maybe. I did manage to pick the low hanging fruit from the apple tree on one of my many recuperation breaks.
After all my work pruning the apple tree last winter, I think I got fewer apples, and more spots, than the year before!