With temperatures in the high sixties and not freezing at night, our three feet of snow has been melting fast. And yesterday for the first time this spring, I walked in our orchard. How nice that was! All of our trees look great with no winter kill that I can see. But there were vole tunnels made of dead grass that used to be underneath the snow. We never saw a vole all winter, but they were down there anyway. Luckily, we had wrapped screen around all of our fruit trees so they didn’t eat the bark on one of them. Whew!


Now that the sun is out, we are nuts to get started with all we have to do. Early this morning, Will set in another layer of rock on the wall behind the wood stove. It’s nearly up as high as it’ll go and we’re getting excited. I think it looks great. Once it’s done all the way up, he just has to go back and fill in the spaces between the rocks with mortar and finish it off.


Then this afternoon, our friend Erik came over and he and Will started laying up more sheets of metal on the barn roof. We had seven long sheets, left over from fall when the snow had halted their work. So up they went! They did have to trim two inches off the sheets so Will now knows the exact measurement for the next order. When we get the cash…


But the barn’s looking good! And because the snow’s melting and the ground’s drying, pretty soon we’ll be able to start cutting boards with our little Hud-Son portable bandsaw mill. We still have some to cut for the hay loft floor, then more for the side walls. We’ll have enough boards for the front porch roof too. The only cost now will be more decking for the floor, and then the shingles and water shield for the roof. And we do have two bundles of shingles left over from the addition. I’m getting pretty excited to have it getting that far toward DONE.

Ahhh, isn’t spring great? (Oh, I do have to have surgery on my knee, but it is supposed to be minor and heal quickly to a pain-free normal knee. I can’t wait to get that over with and get on with gardening.) — Jackie


  1. Ok ay thanks, I live and Texas and we have moles but I haven’t ever seen a of heard of a vole. So basically a big field mice. Well I hope that all the voles stay there and yall are able to handle them. Jackie hope all goes well tomorrow.

  2. Have to be some pretty special BBQ sauce – my cats catch them but won’t eat them so they must have a funky taste.

  3. Margie, Voles are adorable looking little bitty long tailed brownish rodents that look kind of like mice. Some people call them meadow mice or field mice but they look slightly different from real mice. One pair can turn into hundreds in a few months because the gestation period is 3 weeks (no that’s not a typo) and they are sexually mature a month (!!!) after they are born. There are 5 to 10 babies at each birth. If they all survive and even one is a male, you can do the math for how many there will be 3 weeks later. I don’t know of a rodent that can out-produce them and controlling them requires 24×7 attention. I’m lucky to have hawks to help with control. Where I live voles make underground burrows with multiple openings and because they are quick, they can pop in and out faster than you can blink. Mornings and evenings are the best time to see them. They eat everything they find, but prefer juicy plant roots (or juicy potatoes or squash) which they can find just by tunnelng. As quickly as they multply they would make a really reliable homestead snack food and as soon as I’ve got my BBQ sauce and cornmeal breading recipes perfected, I’m going to submit an article to BWH about preparing voles for the table. (JK) They are too small to use for coats and hats…

  4. Considering all the snow you had that was certainly a FAST melt!!
    Hopefully the snow is done for the year and we can get on with Spring and Summer.

    Good luck with the knee! Will be thinking of you.

  5. All,
    I’m still waiting to hear from the surgeon’s office to set a date so I’m in the not-so-happily waiting mode. And @$&%*% I hear they’re getting 8″ of snow south of us. But so far….nothing here yet. Oh well, most all of our old snow is gone anyway!

  6. Zelda,

    Thank goodness we live in northern Minnesota! Voles don’t do root damage here due to the quickly frozen ground which they can’t tunnel through. We had trouble with pocket gophers in Montana and New Mexico, eating the roots of our fruit trees and other plants. So I know what you mean; it’s frustrating to say the least to fine out your beautiful tree is just a stick in the ground with no roots! Our voles eat grass and tree bark (when they can get it!) during the winter, leaving those fluffy tunnels ABOVE ground, under the snow.

  7. Good luck on your surgery :) but you spoke too soon about the snow–they are predicting in Iowa 2-5 inches by tomorrow. I hope the weatherman is wrong and we only get cold rain instead LOL Your place is really looking great!

  8. Good thoughts coming your way for a safe surgery and speedy recovery! As for spring, just heard we are under a winter storm warning with maybe 4-8in of the heavy white stuff coming! Just put the shovels away this past weekend… guess I will bring them out again! Also, probably try to cover the rhubarb, garlic and peonies coming up already! Gotta love Minnesota!

  9. Oh rats…so sorry to hear about the surgery. We’ll all be praying for you to have a fast recovery.

  10. Jackie, if what you have in your orchard is voles, you might want to dig a few test holes around your fruit trees where they were and check the roots. They eat plant roots, often going in a circle around the plant, and you don’t know what they’ve done until the plant falls or gets blown over. They love fruit tree roots best, but they also ate the roots of one of my pincushion daisy plants, a daylilly and some crocus, leaving the plant stems and leaves held vertical only by the surface dirt. They also tunneled up from underneath some of my winter squash, ate through the skin, then ate the insides and left the hollow squash skin.

Comments are closed.