Tag Archives: digging

Chores and a senior body

After two days of fence building, fence moving, laying cardboard and spoiled hay, digging weed amaranth with its deep tap root, weeding and mulching the blueberries, and trying to break up the hard section of the garden where this aging gardener foolishly drove the tractor when the ground was wet; today this body is groaning.  It was going to be a day off, but . . .  Granddaughter had the opportunity to go to preschool on her usual day off since the school will be closed Thursday, Friday, and Monday, and Jim had an appointment that I wanted to go to with him, we took her to preschool.  The appointment which should have been quick, took hours of mostly waiting around, dealing with a trainee, and finally with the professional who was very difficult to understand through her accent.  We left with just enough time to go to the post office and back to pick up granddaughter from school.

Once home, a decision was made to do what I thought was to be a fairly low energy job of collecting rocks that have bloomed to the surface during the winter and to pry out some that have protruded enough above the surface of the yard and fields that the brush hog scrapes the top of them.  This dulls the mowing blades and makes a horrible noise.   The first one to be tackled was one of the ones that just stuck up a bit too far and looked to be an easy job.  The pry bar easily went under the edge of the rock and with my weight on the bar the rock moved, but didn’t come out.  After digging under the lead edge, the tractor bucket was employed to lift it out.  Well, instead, it lifted the front wheels of the tractor off the ground.  I am a persistent old cuss and once I start something, I want it done, so more digging to get to another angle under the rock.  It finally popped up on end.

Big Rock1It seems this rock is a misplaced monolith from Stonehenge that was buried at about a 30º angle and the tractor was fighting against this.  It straightened out in the hole, but then protruded about 14 inches instead of 6.  More pushing, some digging, and the monolith finally came out of the hole.

Big Rock 2Note the bucket on the tractor is 5 feet wide.  With Jim’s help driving the tractor and me guiding , we finally managed to get it in the bucket and I think it might have been right on the weight limit edge for the hydraulics of tractor.  The monster was dropped off the cliff edge down into a rock fall in the sink hole.  Needless to say, no more rocks were tackled this afternoon, other to sit on the rocks that had been piled near the edge from moving the rock pile in the yard a few weeks ago and with Jim’s efforts too, we tossed that pile over the edge also.

Little birds

On a fun note, these little guys are some of the tiny birds that visit the feeder each day.  There is an assortment of Tufted Titmice, sparrows, wrens, finches, and Juncos that visit.  I haven’t seen but a couple of chickadees, my favorite of the little birds.  Some of the birds fly to the feeder, some sit on the deck surface and catch what gets tossed down. Such fun to watch them and they no longer fly away as soon as they spot someone in the window or door watching them.

 

 

Plan at work

With daughter’s family away this week to let grandson be with his father’s family for a few days before his service tomorrow, there have been no morning duties other than to the animals.  The morning person, me, usually awakes as the sky is dawning, but there have been several nights this week where sleep came quickly for about an hour, then wide awake for 3 or 4, then sleep again for a couple.  The pups haven’t been too demanding, and napping or just lying about until near 8 a.m. has been the norm this week.  This morning, when the dogs were let out and the outdoor kitty fed, it was already warm enough for just a t shirt.  As soon as all the critters had been fed and given outdoor time, the garden called.  The boxes we bought two days ago needed to be assembled and put in place.  The first one required undoing one end of an existing box to make it a double.  The raspberries were thinned and heavily mulched with spoiled hay to try to reduce the weed load.  They may be dug up and planted in half sunk pots to contain them, but the rest of the work needs to be done first.

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The description of the plan seemed confusing, so last night the online garden planner was pulled back up, the plan deleted and a new one begun.  As this is oriented, the chicken coop is just off the upper left corner.

plan at work

This was taken just about where the garden gate is, off the row of 4 boxes in the diagram.

The top edge was done and one more box assembled, hay moved around, raspberries mulched and a break taken to go to town.  Groceries needed to be purchased, a new garden fork was also in order.  Mine had a fiberglass handle that split lengthwise two summers ago.  It still works okay for cleaning out the coop, but lacks the strength to do garden work.  It was taken in last year to see if the Feed and Seed guys could put a new handle on it, but sadly not.  Wrapping it with fiberglass tape might give it some more life, but probably still not garden worthy.  Last year, eldest son’s was used, but now that they are in a house, not an apartment, it moved to his house.  At the Feed and Seed store, they had a garden cart too.  Plans had been in the works for one of those.  We have two over-sized single wheel wheelbarrows, but they always tip over when I use them, plus they are very heavy.  Both of them are stored now in the barn until one can be taken to eldest son.  We came home with a cart and a fork.

cart  Fork

 

Each time a gardening session is in order, many trips must be made back and forth to the garage to get all the tools needed for the day’s jobs.  Then many trips to return it all.  This little two wheeled cart is light enough for me to easily use, big enough to load everything into in one trip each way, and will come in handy for hauling bales of straw or bags of mulch.  To make room for it in the garage, first a major cleanup was done in there.  Jim had gone off to enjoy the springlike day on the BBH (his motorcycle).  Once the garage was done, the tractor was brought down to the garden.  Nothing on this farm is flat so the tractor bucket was used to terrace for the new boxes.  That part of the garden is deep in rich compost and pushing it off to flatten areas will give me great soil to fill the boxes.  The remaining boxes we recently purchased were assembled in place, unprinted cardboard laid down between the boxes and covered with spoiled hay to make good aisles and two of the new boxes were filled.

That was all this body could handle in one day.  There is rain expected tomorrow morning, then clearing off, but cooler, perhaps the other two boxes can be filled and more aisles laid and mulched.  The plan still needs 4 more of the boxes, but they are for tomatoes and sweet potatoes, so I have at least 2 months before safe planting time for them.  In the meantime, the newly acquired essential tool will be used to continue to remove weeds from below where the tractor moved the soil and the onion sets will be planted, seeds will be sown indoors in about 3 weeks for the tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos.  The plan is in progress.

Round 1, playing in the dirt

The first phase of the co-habitable garden experiment is done. There was a roll of 4 foot garden fence in the garage that was cut lengthwise to make a long 2 foot roll of fence.  They can go over a 2′ fence with no problem, but hopefully they won’t figure that out until it is covered with plastic chicken wire.  The garlic was planted last fall on the chicken run end of a long row, so it seemed like that was the best place to start.

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The area beside the garlic which is about 6″ tall now, I planted 76 yellow onions, the long keeper kind.  There is a 2-3′ space that has nothing in it yet, it needs some onion friendly herbs, like dill, but it is too early to plant them.  The box has Easter Egg radishes, purple top turnips and Lacinato kale, with room for a second planting of radishes in a couple of weeks.  In front of the box are two short fences with Sugar Snap peas down both sides of one and shelly peas down both sides of the other.  More peas will be planted mid week after I can get more posts and plastic chicken wire to fence off another bed.

I found all 6 of my little blueberry bushes and weeded all of the dead canes from the various unwanted plants that surrounded them by fall.  That end of the garden never got a fall clean up.  The dead canes were pulled and tossed in the chicken run for them to pick over.  I still have raspberry volunteers from where I moved them.  They need to be dug out.  Midweek, I am going to put down a thick layer of newpaper around each of the blueberries, pile on some spoiled hay, plop a tomato cage around the bush and wrap the cage in plastic chicken wire to keep them from scratching all the hay off.  Between the bed I used today and the blueberries will be this year’s popcorn, pole beans and pumpkins.  The upper part of the garden will have the tomatoes, peppers, other beans and cucumbers, along with the permanent asparagus, horseradish, and raspberry beds. That entire end of the garden may be off limits to the chickens and just heavily mulched.

I am hopeful that the chickens will help keep the weeds down in the aisles and reduce the insect load in the garden.  If it proves to be too damaging, they will just be closed off from the garden and given supervised free range time in the yard.

Once I was done, the fence between the run and the garden was re-opened and it didn’t take them long to find they had access again.

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Dust bathing where I was pulling up last year’s corn stalks, and B’rooster, checking out what I was up to.

Six eggs today to end a good day on the farm.

Tonight we have grandparent duty and we are going to take the kiddos out for pizza and  home to an early bedtime as they were both up late last night and neither took a nap today.

All of this effort was initiated by a trip to the Farmers’ Market this morning, seeing all of the lettuce and cole starts for sale and a beautiful day in the mountains.  I didn’t buy any starts, but it did give me the incentive to get to work on the garden.