Signs of Life!


Finally! After a freezing winter, the Northeast is thawing out and greening up. There are signs of life! Our kids were treated to a nice week-long spring break from school. (With so many snow days, we thought that might not happen). When Mother Nature finally gives us a break, it’s amazing how quickly things go from “drab” to “fab” in the East!


The weather was warming up in the beginning of last week, yet not much had started to bloom. While “chicken sitting” for a neighbor who went out of town, I noticed rhubarb coming up in their garden. She says her kids like to eat the edible part raw, dipping it in a cup of sugar (always keep in mind it’s the leaves that are poisonous).

IMG_0880Mid-week, we hit the road with friends for a visit at their lake house in the Adirondacks. On the way up, we stopped for a little shopping at some outlets, one being a Pyrex store. Did you know the popular glass cookware turns one-hundred this year? (I won’t store leftovers in plastic, so I couldn’t help but pick up a few of their red “Dots” bowls, out for their anniversary). Vintage pieces are popular among collectors.


When we got to the Adirondacks, there were a few snow piles, and Loon Lake was still frozen (though not enough to walk across or skate on).




By the time we left a few days later, the weather had warmed up nicely and the lake was almost thawed completely.




I love the evergreen pine trees of that area.


I hear John Denver singing "Country Road"...

I hear John Denver singing “Country Road”…

The five days flew by, and soon it was time to go home. Say “New York” and most people think of the city, but much of New York state is rural with beautiful farms. I snapped this photo on the way home, from the car as we drove on the turnpike. Just beautiful.


 Back home, what a difference a few days makes! Bulbs have bloomed.


Quince buds. My dad planted this with me the first time he visited here.

Quince buds. My dad planted this with me the first time he visited here.

At the feed store, they have baby ducks! I resisted, but I ask you, is there anything on earth CUTER?


My “girls” are laying eggs daily, and are relieved it’s spring, too. We power washed their coop for a new season. With chickens, it’s also good use a vinegar rinse frequently to clean out their water dishes.


In my mother’s area in Georgia, things are blooming, too. She snapped this photo of her columbine flowers.

Photo courtesy B. Battaglia

In New England, when the snow finally melts, it’s fun to go around and see what you can see…things that you might not notice once everything is green and lush. The European praying mantis, officially made the Connecticut state insect in 1977, is a beneficial insect. Can you spot the praying mantis egg casings in the photos below?




It’s also (thankfully) now time to do spring clean up. Leaving dead material from a previous season in beds and gardens invites diseases that overwinter in soil. I can’t wait to get planting my gardens again!  As I was raking out a flower bed and fixing the rock border, I found this little salamander when I picked up one the rocks. I made sure he was put back safe and sound.


The forsythia  have bloomed, trees are budding,  and we can regularly walk our housebound dogs again.


Native spice bush is also blooming right now in Connecticut. I snapped this photo in the wooded portion of my property. I love the way the yellow flowers look against the brown of the still-not-quite green-yet woods.


Unfortunately, no matter what area you live in, spring marks the beginning of tick season. As soon as I got home from walking my dog the other day, she had a tick. I used the new “tick twister” I recently purchased. Like a little silicone tick “wrench”, it works like a charm! It took the tick out quickly, easily, and best of all, cleanly.

I bought mine for around $5.00 at an outdoor store, but you can also pick them up here:



To keep ticks off of you, ten drops of Eucalyptus oil in water in a mister bottle is a good thing to keep by the back door. Mist yourself before stepping outside. The best defense against ticks is to repel them so they don’t want to bite you.

The sun is shining more often, the birds are singing, and we actually saw an Eastern black swallowtail butterfly flutter through the yard. I’m happy to get back outside into the fresh air, and to emerge from our “cocoons”. What are you doing now that it’s spring?


Until next time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole


  1. Dori Troutman says:

    Hi Nicole,

    Sooo glad that it is spring time for you now! I love that tick twister – I’m going to have to look for that here. It looks like a nifty tool.

    I’ve only ever been to Niagara Falls in New York and I know that doesn’t really count – I’d love to see some of that state. As well as all of the New England states. Someday. I bet staying at your friends lake house was so enjoyable. What a gorgeous area.

    – Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl –

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori, I think you should really think about a trip to New England, hint…hint…;) Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Jackie Ferri says:

    Hi Nicole, like you, I can’t wait to get to my vegetable garden! My seedlings are doing very well, but it better get warmer quickly because my bean plant is sending out tendrils to my plant stand! Yesterday morning, I saw a bluebird at one of my bird feeders! I haven’t seen one here in 18 years! I got a bluebird box and pole and will be installing it tomorrow.I hope the bluebirds nest there! Of course I’m thinking about spring cleaning, washing my woolen sweaters, opening the windows for fresh air! I love your photos especially the farm in NY. You are right most of NY is rural with lots of farms. I used to see them driving to Syracuse University. I hope they’ll always be there! Hugs, Jackie

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Jackie! I love that you saw a bluebird! I hope you get little babies in the box. Keep us posted. I cleaned out my sweaters yesterday and and putting the rest up for the summer, too. Good idea to wash all the woolens. Good luck with your beans- hopefully we have a nice growing season; I think we earned it, don’t you? Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Joan says:

    What a fun trip!! thanks for sharing. We aren’t quite that Spring’y along – only 38 here at about 9:00 a.m. and a cloudy day too. We don’t do a whole lot until after Mother’s Day – just not safe for most outside things but fun to see yours. God bless.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan! We’ve had some chilly mornings this week, too, but next week the weather forecast is all warm! Yippee! Hang in there…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. crlagroue says:

    I enjoyed your blog. I have already taken your advice and switched from plastic to Pyrex. What a difference it made.. Glass is so much better to cook, store, and clean..

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks! Isn’t it, though? And there’s no funny tastes or smells when food is stored in glass in the fridge. ~Nicole

  5. susana says:

    Like you, I love spring, and the first thing I noticed some baby daffodils. I saw my columbines put some shoots out and some leaves, as well as my red raspberry buds on the vibe. Thought I would snip the tops off, maybe tomorrow. But today I modes the law. And I actually did that in one hour a d 30 minutes, but my time was less by 30 minutes. Then I cleaned around my hibiscus bed. Can’t wait til summer gets here to see them in bloom. I need to get some mulch tomorrow to cover the bed where the hibiscus lie. Then I will work on another bed. I did see one Hollyhock pant that/came back, but only one. I was kind a disappointed that more did not produce more. I am just ticketed out after being outside this afternoon…..but it did feel good to be outside today. Hopefully .longer tomorrow.
    Loved your pictures especially if the lake.,,,we have quite a few in the stare if New York I wish I could share photos…..

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Susana! Yes, doesn’t it feel like a “good” tired when you come in from working on the garden after a long winter? I don’t mind the sore muscles one bit! Soon it will be full speed ahead with the gardens and planting. Enjoy! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

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