Oh to be a mechanic

I mowed last week, parked the riding mower in the garage as usual. It took me 3 days to work sections to get it all done then, so this week, we called Grandson local to see if he wanted to get out of the house and earn a few bucks. Hubby had an early dental recheck of some work done two weeks ago, the weather was better than the forecast has predicted, so we took an early walk and went the couple of towns over (only about 20 -22 miles from our house, much less from the dentist office) and picked up the young one. Fed him lunch and brought him home to mow. The riding mower started right up, I put air in the tire that doesn’t hold air for more than 24 hours, and set him to work as I prepared to get the tractor and grade out some of the recent rain damage on the driveway. He pulled off and it was immediately obvious that the blade did not engage. Google sent me to check out various potential problems and it seems that the PTO clutch has failed, not repairable, just replaceable. The shop we have always used closed last year, so research to find a new one was done.

Grandson local said he would do the front of the house with the push mower, not self powered, but it wouldn’t start. The spark plug was pulled and cleaned, reinstalled and three of us took turns pulling the cord to no avail. Yes, it has fresh gas and enough oil. He ended up using the string trimmer to clear an area from the front door to the side of the driveway.

Daughter is going to come over tomorrow and hitch our trailer to her car as we can’t tow it with ours and is going to take us and it to the shop along with the push mower, and pick up a new gas grill to replace our old one that was seriously damaged blowing across the yard in a wind storm and the burners and grates disintegrating a year or so ago. She was going to help us do that in a couple of weeks, but since she has to come help with the mowers, we will go ahead and make that purchase now.

I can’t replace the PTO clutch, the lawnmower issue is a mystery, and the grass is growing as I watch it.

After returning Grandson local home, the driveway did get done, just in time for another intense thunderstorm. I think the driveway survived.

Tonight, we will be rewarded with a couple of new potatoes pulled out from under a plant and a handful of fresh from the garden Sugar Snap Peas.

I should have staked the Sugar Snaps, they are tall and have fallen over and the stems are quite brittle. There are plenty more to enjoy and freeze for later.


Every year the gardens produce new challenges and sometimes rewards. Two years ago, I couldn’t get corn to grow even after three plantings. Last year the popcorn was prolific but wouldn’t pop in the microwave or a pan of hot oil, but the chickens loved it and I still find dry cobs in the yard. This year in the adjacent bed, it is nothing but grass and about a dozen corn shoots about a foot tall in a 14 by 4 foot bed. Last year the peppers did nothing, but I was overwhelmed with cucumbers. Potatoes last year provided a little and volunteers keep coming up in the beds from the past two rotations, this year the bed is waist high in green tops, flowering, and hopefully producing plenty for our table. This year the cucumbers have not germinated, only three sunflowers germinated, but the peppers look great and are beginning to set small fruit and flowers. There were cucumbers and sunflowers in Jiffy pots on the back deck that were started a week or so ago and they were planted out as starts this evening.

The tomatoes and peppers were hand weeded this morning and after our walk, a hoe was taken to the corn bed and most of it was done. After dinner, a hand maddock finished the job. I know the crows didn’t get the corn seed because the bed has a welded wire fence laying over the top of the wooden box frame about 3 inches above the soil. It has been wet. We have had enough rain in the past couple of weeks to destroy our driveway. This upcoming week there are rain showers several days, so maybe the corn will germinate this time.

Corn bed before
And after

Peas and beans are thriving, sugar snaps ready to start harvesting to eat, blanch and freeze. Shelling peas will soon follow and the second planting has germinated nicely. No onions or garlic were planted this year, but garlic has been ordered for the fall garden. The asparagus are now as tall as I am, going into their summer fern stage so there will be more next year. Two quarts of asparagus pickles are in the refrigerator to enjoy until they are gone.

Last year, the deer discovered the daylilies until I put a fence in front of them. This year the fence was put in place before they emerged and they are just beginning to bloom, but the deer discovered other treats in the walled garden so the ones they are favoring had low fence erected around them. The deer population is heavy and they have no fear of our ancient pups, coming right up to the house to graze when the dogs are in, lounging under the pine trees even when the dogs are out as long as the dogs don’t notice them.

Each year, I change up what is in the vegetable garden with the staples of tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, cucumbers, and spinach. I really want a dent corn patch for cornmeal and chicken scratch, sweet corn can be purchased as desired at the Farmer’s Market, but success with corn has not been good. The freshly weeded bed was replanted with dent corn, but there is no more sweet corn seed here. The pumpkins were planted out today even if there is no corn, the seminole pumpkins make good pie, are nice for stuffing with rice and sausage, and they are good keepers.

The hydroponics were shut down and the parts that could go in the dishwasher were run through a cycle. When lettuce at the farmer’s market becomes scarce and the rest of our spinach bolts, the larger one will be reseeded for salad greens. The herbs were all planted out and that one doesn’t need to be reseeded until near frost time so there are fresh herbs for the winter.

The garden is rewarding, but the work to keep it up is getting more difficult.

Bee Downer and hope

The babies are all feathered out on the front porch, but as of this morning, still have not fledged. I haven’t checked tonight, I’m spent.

Today, my spinning friend and local bee mentor came over to help me inspect hives and mark queens. There were 4 overwintered queens, 1 in each nuk when we installed them. Four queens or evidence of them about 3 or 4 weeks ago when we inspected. Today was a different story. The first hive installed and the first inspected today had a lot of bees, brood, eggs a few days old, larva, and the only queen found was a virgin queen. Hopefully she will make her mating run, return safely and continue to build that hive, but it means we probably have already had a swarm that we didn’t catch. The second hive had larva and brood, but no eggs, no queen, and several queen cells. The population of that hive wasn’t as strong either. The third hive was very active, eggs, larva, brood, and honey being capped, but we caught the queen, she was active in the catcher, marked, and she never perked back up. The workers tended to her, but we don’t think she will make it, so we took a frame with queen cells on it about to open and took a frame from that hive, hoping they will nurture a new queen and she will also take a mating flight and return. Hive 4 was strong and so many bees, brood, eggs, and larva and the most gorgeous golden queen who we marked and put back in her hive. They have filled several frames in the honey super full already. We stole one of their frames of brood, eggs, and larva for the second hive. Another inspection will be done next week to see the status, and I hope it isn’t as hot that day. I don’t handle heat well and ended up having to sit in the shade while my friend finished hive 3 and started hive 4. Once back up to the house, we sat, discussed the situation over glasses of iced tea. In another hour, when it has darkened and cooled down some, she suggested I reinstall the reducers to help deter thievery. We are hopeful that today’s efforts will provide viable queens before the hives die off. It was brutal, 85 f, no shade, and lots of sweat. I didn’t wear the bee jacket, just a veil, jeans, long sleeves, and the long gloves from the jacket. I can’t imagine working the hives in the jacket on a day as hot as today.

I knew this project would be both disappointing and rewarding and some days it is both. I am thankful to my friend that is more than willing to come work with me as I learn. I only wish that I had had the energy to go help her after we were done as she headed home to get in her bee yard which does have some shade, but also more than 3 times as many hives.

Last night, we went into town to get a pizza to eat on their patio and purchased a pot of flowers. A couple of decades ago, my Dad built me a wooden wheelbarrow to use decoratively. It needed repair so that was done earlier yesterday and some houseplants and a hanging petunia that hubby gave me for Mother’s Day were installed in the wheelbarrow on the front porch. The new flowers added to the front for more color. (not in the photo taken earlier)

On our way home last evening, we had a severe pop up thunderstorm that took the new umbrella off the porch and broke it, but we saw our first rainbow of the year, actually a full arc and for a while, a double.

Faint double

Just before we left to go into town, I let Miss Broody out of isolation. She had spent 3 days and 3 nights in the Chicken palace with food, water, and a ladder to perch on, but no nesting boxes. That seems to have broken her. Though she is still walking around slightly puffed out and clucking, she isn’t avoiding me and hasn’t gone back to the nest, even last night. This New Hampshire red was out when I went to lock the hens in last night and she wouldn’t enter the run with me in there. First she flew to the top of the gate, then to the top of the coop.

Not a weather vane.

Once I left the run, she came down and went into the coop, silly bird.