They came, they went

And now Grandson 1 and I are sifting fist sized rocks from the dirt pile created by clearing out the top of the tank, refilling the parts that don’t have to be accessed again using that same soil, moving the rocks behind the larger stones of the rock wall. When we are done, the oval left over the observation port and the clean out top will be filled with bagged soil that has no rock or gravel in it and marked with an edging of some sort. Annual flowers or a couple of half barrels of flowers that can be moved will be placed there to mark the spot and so digging next time will be an easier task. Because of the slope of our property, the high side is 2-2.5 feet and the low side about 15- 18″.

The leaky galvanized tub is protecting the lid so we don’t dump rock and subsoil on it. The plywood is providing a baffle to build a firm soil wall behind it. Grandson 1 worked hard without complaint as we worked for about an hour. There is more to do, but it was time to prepare dinner, blanch and prepare peas for the freezer, and get the table set.

The peas planted in the corner of the onion bed did not do well. Actually, most of the veggies I planted in bagged soil used to fill some of the new beds aren’t doing very well. I pulled those pea plants today and tucked in the edge of the onions, and behind the peas, I found a ground nest with two eggs and two baby birds. I quietly left the area so Mom bird could return. I will steer clear of them for a couple of weeks and hope that a raccoon, skunk, or neighbor cat doesn’t get into the garden and find them.

The other bed of peas produced a basket full, along with the last spears of asparagus that will be harvested this year, and the hens provided some protein. The pullet that layed her first egg yesterday, layed a perfect little blue egg today.

With the scaffolding down on the east side of the garage, you can finally see some of the Day lilies in bloom.

Two different cultivars of red, one with much larger blooms, both with yellow throats.

The yellow Stellas have taken a beating from the placement of the scaffolding and for some reason the chickens prefer to dig there. They will recover next year if I protect them for the rest of this season. The very tall yellow one is among the last to bloom and the ones under the scaffolding on the south side of the garage haven’t opened yet.

This never got posted last night, so today Grandson 1 and I will try to finish the work around the septic tank. Yesterday and today are cool enough that the work isn’t too onerous. The rest of the scaffolding comes down today and is going out to help some friends with a job they have.

After our dinner last night, the three of us drove to town and took a cool late evening walk on the Huckleberry and the Stadium Woods trail back to the car. We arrived back at the car at exactly the minute the weather app said the sun set.

We love having our grandkids visit and this guy is a great helper, willing to do just about anything I need him to do as long as I still give him time to plant his face in his phone.

Olio- 6/22/2021

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Son 1 and Grandson 1 arrived on the weekend for some work and some play. Son 1 and I did some staining, trying to get parts of the log house stained that didn’t get done year before last and that the pandemic prevented from getting done last year. We also needed to have our septic tank pumped and hubby and I were unable to dig down through our rocky soil to get to the tank top, so a couple weeks ago when Son 1 was also here working, we used the site map to try to locate it, used a metal detector to confirm the location based on a length of buried rebar, and attempted to hire someone to come dig it out.

Now mind you, we live near a University town and there are Help needed signs posted everywhere. There aren’t many students here in the summer and I guess the ones that are either are struggling to stay in school or trying to get ahead and don’t want jobs. I posted a paid gig on Craigslist and one guy said he would come out, but wanted $25 more than we offered. We agreed, he showed up almost at dark, dug for 5 minutes with our tools, said he would be back the next morning at 8 a.m. with a helper and “more equipment” and we never saw him again. The second inquiry also was a no show. Son 1 upon his afternoon arrival went to work and the tank top lid and observation port were uncovered, working together, we freed the lid yesterday afternoon, and the pumping crew came and did their stinky job this morning. Grandson 1 and I will pick rocks from the soil pile and refill the hole and we are going to put in a small flower bed of annuals on topsoil right over the lid and port so it will be easy to find and easier to dig in a couple years when we have to have a repeat pumping session. The lid is about 28″ down. Son 1 us a gem to leave his home, his own tasks, and come on his weekends, away from his job to help us get these tasks done. It is a shame that we can’t get people locally to come out for pay to do them.

Grandson 1 will stay with us for a couple weeks to help me with some other tasks, but Son 1 headed home this morning.

For fun, after we worked on Sunday with staining, we cleaned up and with Daughter, took a couple hour kayak trip on the New River.

After we were back at Daughter’s house with the kayaks and they were rehung, Son 1 and I went out and bought all the fixings for a fantastic Father’s Day meal for hubby and Son 1 that we prepared and ate at Daughter’s house.

Grandson 1 on his first afternoon here used the riding mower to finish mowing our lawn that I had barely begun the day before and yesterday, mowed Daughter’s lawn with her AWD lawnmower, a necessity as her lawn has a steep hill in the front and a serious though not too steep slope in the back.

Last night at egg collection time, I found the first pullet egg from the littles. It was from an Easter egger and will be blue when she figures it all out.

Her first attempt is kind of green, blue, and gray speckled, but it had a nice hard shell and it did have a yolk. A couple more of the pullets look like they are about ready too, but most look like they may still need a few more weeks.

I had gotten frustrated with Ms. Houdini’s escape and attempts to get under or on the porch and caught her, putting her in the enclosed run with the pullets. That lasted only 24 hours until she managed to escape from there too and spent the day yesterday again trying to get on or under the porch, then all of the free rangers got into the walled garden yesterday afternoon and started digging up my flowers. They were treated with a hose spraying to send them into and over the mesh fence to get out and away from the jet of water. It is raining today, but when it ends, I will have to repair their damage to the bed and restring the mesh. I really like for them to wander the grounds eating bugs and ticks, but hate for them to get into the gardens and wreck havoc, and also when they are unrestricted free ranging, they hide their eggs and I may or may not find them. Yesterday there was only 1 from them, 1 hen and 1 pullet from the coop and penned ones. Maybe I need to use electric fence around the orchard and both coops and have controlled free range time. Soon the two roosters and the old hens will find their way to freezer camp. They are farm birds after all, not pets.

Bunnies and Birds

This spring has brought to mind the 1970’s book Watership Down. I’m sure many of you have read it or seen the movie. I don’t think we are having war and gore, but I have never seen so many bunnies around, two or three at a time in the front and more in the back. I am not hearing the coyotes as much this spring as in the past and the hay on our fields is still standing, tall enough that when a doe is walking through, all you can see are her ears. I’m sure once the hay is down and there are fewer places to hide, the hawks will start after them and they will go farther away from the mowed areas for protection.

After moving the two Olive eggers to the coop and the two new Olive egger “pullets” that are young randy roosters, I left the older hens and the two roosters penned up for many days. Ms. Houdini never figured out how to get out, but two of the New Hampshire reds did, so yesterday I worked more to block off beneath the front porch and turned them loose to free range. Even penned up, egg production was way down. Today I found only 1 egg in the Palace, but then found 3 in a hidey hole in a flower bed and 1 laid on the cushion of one of the chairs on the porch. In spite of my efforts to thwart Ms. Houdini, since she couldn’t get under the porch, she managed to get on it and damaged the cushion before laying her pink egg.

Here are the two roosters with one of the reds. They start crowing at 5:15 each morning and crow off and on all day. I really don’t like their crowing, and they won’t stay part of the flocks.

The pullets are beginning to sound like hens and several have nice red combs now, but they are a reluctant lot in the evening. I usually can’t get the last one in the coop until it is almost too dark to see them in the pen.

The reds are much darker than the mature reds and the Buff Orpingtons range from pale yellowish to dark butterscotch in color. The Marans vary also, some have a gold necklace, some are almost irridescent. One has a red comb, the others still have small dark combs. And they vary hugely in size. One Buff is quite small as are an Easter egger and the two reds, one Maran is huge, but not as large as the roosters. There is a bit of dominance play going on in that pen, but the two older hens stay out of it, they don’t dominate nor do they get picked on.