April 25th, 2012 §
Let’s pick back up with what’s kept me occupied every weekend for the past month:
I leveled the mulch and topsoil piles.
Just like with the azaleas, I am on a mission to clean up the extraneous piles and anything that gets in the way of easy mowing (all the trees I keep planting notwithstanding). The tarp-covered piles were just as attractive to snakes as they were to a hot dog on an 80+ degree March day. In fact, last fall I found a five-foot snakeskin in this mess.
But really it was the sight of the Katrina chic blue tarp on the latest satellite map shot of the farm that finally embarrassed me into action. Got to have this place looking good, even from the air!
Now, it’s much cleaner! I spread the extra mulch around trees and used the soil to fill in more low spots around the house.
Finally, I dug out the previous owner’s boulder collection and leveled “forsythia ridge.”
April 2009, the first day I saw the property
There was an old stepping stone path from the wellhouse to the big oak tree behind it. At one time I suspect the path traveled to a clothes line, but now it didn’t do much more than beat up the mower blade. My dad popped the stones out with the backhoe and we tipped them in the bucket. Turns out the “little” stone were actually huge. They had just been in place so long that grass had grown over them! They’re nice stones—and waiting in a pile in the woods to be called into service again.
With the boulder collection gone, we knocked down a high spot in this area to greatly improve the levelness of the ground. This ridge was left over from the previous owner’s forsythia installation, which was actually a couple of sad little bushes intermixed with honeysuckle and wild blackberries that were choking out a big old Rose of Sharon. I am not a forsythia fan, so we dug them out and now Rosie has room to breathe and there’s nothing blocking the pasture and mountain view.
Of all the work that I’ve done this spring, cleaning up this particular section has been the most rewarding. When I bought this property, this area—which is in direct view out the kitchen window—was full of junk, including a huge satellite dish stand, a couple of termite-infested rotten whiskey barrels full of dead plants, the remains of a giant stump that no one had bothered to remove, and—oh—a giant electrical pole. Then I added a satellite internet dish. The human junk along with the misplaced bushes and uneven ground pocked with huge rocks always made this little patch feel forsaken. It’s taken three years to remove all of the above and more. Finally having this small area stripped to clean dirt area makes me feel like I am erasing the abuse and neglect heaped upon this property by previous caretaker and replacing their story with mine.
And with all this newly bare dirt to cover, I am off to buy another 50 pound sack of grass seed!
April 23rd, 2012 §
It’s that time of year again, when writing blog posts about projects takes a back seat to the actual projects. Spring sprang in early March, more than a month ahead of schedule in Virginia, and with it came an onslaught of seasonal tasks that usually start ramping up in late April. So every nonoffice moment has been spent outdoors, primarily in pursuit of my spring goal, which is to tidy up the messes and impediments to mowing around the property. So in the past month I’ve:
Bushogged the front field.
This field hadn’t been cut in more than a year, and I was sick of the straggly grass and generous deer habitat uncomfortably close to the house. So much nicer now!
Seeded the worst bare patches with grass.
The worst part about mowing, which I otherwise enjoy, is going over bare patches. If it’s dry, the mower kick up so much dirt that I am blowing red boogers for days.
It took me six hours on a Saturday to seed all these spots, but if I can get grass to grow, mowing will be much more enjoyable.
Disappeared the dirt mountain behind the chicken coop.
This pile of dirt had been here since building the house. It was the soil excavated when the crawlspace was deepened. I was sick of looking at it and weedwacking around it, so with about six scoops of the tractor bucket the soil was gone and distributed around the fields, where I shoveled it into low spots. And I got a sweet new tractor parking spot out of the deal!
Got rid of the azalea pit.
This was where I had stored the big old azaleas removed from around the foundation of the house I tore down. But I’ve finally accepted that I don’t even like azaleas, and I was tired of mowing around this mess in the middle of the field. A few minutes of backhoe action and they’ve gone to a new home, a ditch out of sight in the woods.
Up next…the landscraping continues…
April 22nd, 2012 §
April 13th, 2012 §
Been waiting for this all week.
Porch sitting begins. It’s officially spring.
And the extra special deliciousness is coming inside after sundown to sit by the hot woodstove. Best of both worlds.
April 13th, 2012 §
Sad to report all five bluebird eggs are gone. No sign of shells nor struggle. Suspect snake.
April 9th, 2012 §
“I love her.” Reminds me of one of my favorite New Yorker cartoons.
Tuck’s in love with a chicken. Iris, to be exact. She’s gone broody again, and this weekend, in between searching for “fertilized eggs” on CraigsList—something I never in a million years thought I’d do—I did everything I could to snap her out of it. With the guineas free ranging and her sister, Lilac, needing the nest box to lay her egg, it was quite an exercise in strategy to keep Iris out of the coop and away from the nest box. After a morning of repeatedly lifting her off of the nest, I gave up and held her in a bucket of cold water up to her wattles. If anyone out there is listening, I want you to know that I want to be remembered like this: dangling an overheated broody hen in a five-gallon bucket while raucous guineas churn about me and a young dog dances thinking this is the best action he’s seen since I dropped the venison sausage on the floor.
After her bath I tossed Iris in a cage and set her near the coop. For the rest of the afternoon Tuck took it upon himself to offer her companionship and perhaps consolation. Each time I came outside he was lying right next to her, calm as could be. I think he’s in love.
April 8th, 2012 §
I checked the bluebird box tonight, curious to see if the bluebirds were building a nest. Lo and behold they already had and were incubating five perfect blue eggs!
Here, a bit hard to make out, are Mrs. and Mr. sitting on the fence. I wish them the best of luck with their babies, and a happy Easter to everyone else. I hope there are some Easter eggs in your basket.