Tag Archives: storms

Olio – March 15, 2016

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Yesterday did end up a dirt play day after all.  Between the heavy rain of Sunday night and the heavier rain and thunder storms of Monday afternoon and night, we had beautiful clear skies and delightful spring temperatures.  On our way home from errands in town, we drove past our driveway, along the top of our property to go down and see if there were any more new calves on the next farm.  We saw no calves, not even any of her cows, they must have been over one of the hills we can’t see from the road, but I spotted large patches of ditch lilies (the tall orange day lilies) up and thriving by the run off creek along the top of our property.  After we bought the land, before we started building, we would come up on weekends every few weeks and clean up trash and plant trees in the rocky area that we would never be able to graze animals or hay.  Along the creek, we planted River birch trees, they like the damp of the creek and along the creek edges, I put in 3 or 4 small clumps of lilies that I had brought up from my Dad’s garden.  Last summer, I wanted to dig some of them to put in the bed that has other day lilies in it down at the house, but the weeds and blackberries had gotten too big for me to want to walk into that area.  The weeds haven’t grown up yet, so with bucket and shovel, I went up and dug a good sized clump.

After walking them back down the drive to the house, I debated where to plant them.  I have had bronze fennel beside the side garage door on the east side of the house and on the other side of the door, is a bed with Dutch iris, day lilies, and lavender.  The chick weed has begun and is growing and spreading like wild fire in that bed.  I decided to make a little tribute garden to the man who loved his gardens and flowers.  The bronze fennel was dug up, a trench dug from the stoop to the south wall of the garage, a good layer of compost dug in and the shovel full of day lilies planted there, the bed edged with stone from our property and mulched down heavily with spoiled and rotting hay.


Since that looked so good and the soil was damp enough to make weeding not too onerous, I tackled the other side, finding the sprouting iris and day lilies and weeding around them, taking buckets of weeds and grubs to the chickens.  A thick layer of newspaper was laid down around each plant and a hefty coat of hay added.


I still have about 3 feet of that bed to do, but I am waiting to see if the perennial sunflower is going to come up. It started raining before I could finish even the part I started, but it will also have a trench dug and stone edge put in place.  We aren’t wanting for stone of this property.  All of the foundation and chimney stone came off our land.


While pulling back the chickweed, this little lizard climbed the stone and tried to hide. I love finding the lizard’s and toads that eat the insects and show that the gardens are healthy and unsprayed. It will be happy with the thick layer of spoiled hay that replaced the chickweed.

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me a link to a T-shirt that amused me.  I showed it to Mountaingdad and asked if he would wear it and he said yes.  It came today…


I’m glad he has a sense of humor, he didn’t even give me a hard time when I had him put it on and model.


The chickens relished the buckets of goodies that I gave them yesterday and so far, they haven’t flown over the low fence around the bed in the middle of the garden.  It amuses me that all 8 of the hens will take turns using the same nesting box in the coop.  There are 6 nesting boxes and it is rare to find eggs in any except the right hand most box, sometimes just outside of it.


This may be a problem when one or more gets broody, as they will lay eggs in the broody hen’s nest.  Last year, I marked the eggs under the broody hen and checked every couple of days to remove any not marked ones.  This year, we hope to have a brooder coop to separate them.  When one goes broody, she will be moved to the brooder coop and over a couple of days, given a dozen eggs to hatch.  The brooder coop will have a floor this year, so hopefully, the chicks will survive whatever predator was getting under it last year and doing the damage.  I don’t want to lose 50 chicks again this year, I would rather increase my flock and have some for the freezer instead.


About 20 years ago, my Dad made himself a little wooden wheelbarrow to fill with potted flowers in his garden. I commented on it and a couple years later, he gifted me with one he had made just for me. That little barrow has lived at 3 houses, the one we raised our children in, the one year rental after we sold our house and started this one, and here. One of the handles was broken in the move and I  did a makeshift repair on it. A year or so ago, the broomstick axle broke and the little barrow sat forlorn and damaged by the garden. Today, I am going to refurbish it and it will have a place in the breezeway perennial garden filled with shade loving flowers this summer.

I plan to enjoy every rain free daylight hour for the next few days. Monday we are going to see another stint of winter, snow flurries and freezing nights and all. Soon it will really be spring and the Camelot like days of warmth, the evening rain showers will return.


Repair and Prepare

Yesterday was gloomy most of the day, but not raining, thank goodness.  It did drizzle off and on, but nothing significant.  The school system where Daughter is subbing cancelled the school day because of roads still being flooded from the day before, so she helped me do some repair.

When we took Granddaughter to preschool, we stopped and filled the 5 gallon diesel can for the tractor.  With the tractor fueled, we tackled the ditches above and below our driveway culvert which had nearly filled in Tuesday’s 4+ inches of rain.  The crusher run and gravel that VDOT spread two weeks ago and now pooled at our driveway and ditch were dug out and dumped in the trenches the rain made.  The trenches were then smoothed out by dragging the tractor bucket downhill across them.


The culvert pipe was nearly blocked as well and we dug and raked until it was time to go back and pick up the little gal from preschool.  On that trip, we bought two bales of straw, more on that in a minute.

Once home, I dug into the culvert for another hour, trying to open both ends as far in as the shovel and hoe would reach.  More hand digging out of the ditch on uphill side was done as well, piling the crusher run and gravel from the culvert along the edge as a mini dam.  I also used the bucket of the tractor to try to open the notch uphill on the other side of the road in hope that the water running down that side would divert over to the low grassy area and eventually into the run off creek.  Some of the wash off gravel was piled in a damn just downhill from the newly opened notch.

In the midst of these efforts, two neighbors stopped and joked that they didn’t know I was now employed by the state.  Maybe I should send the state a bill for my services.

Once the road and ditch were somewhat repaired, the prepare efforts began.  With the hurricane taking possible aim at the coast of North Caroline, Virginia or Maryland, and with the Nor’easter that is also brewing, we are expecting more rain.  Lots more rain, epic rain with severe flooding in our region, actually most of our state.  The ditch work was both repair and prepare, hoping to divert the run off from the over saturated ground.  The straw was to try to prepare the coops for the deluge.  The Buffys’ coop is on stilts, but the rain on Tuesday came from the east instead of the usual westerly direction and I had left the large pop window open the night before, so their coop was wet inside.  The bale of hay that I pull bedding from was also wet, so the coop was shoveled out and a third of a bale of straw was spread to give them a clean, dry place to be in the pending rains.  I put a waterer inside the coop and will fill a 7 pound feeder and hang it in there tonight.  The remaining 2/3 of a bale was spread in the Cull Palace for the meaties.  They still insist on sleeping on the ground in a pile instead of perching on the two generous perches in there.  I deliberately bought a breed of slower grower broilers so they would perch and forage.  After spreading the straw, I put two wooden crates with a perch between them in the spot that they generally pile up.  I am hopeful that their curiosity of what I was doing and their exploration will encourage them to pile up on top if it really rains as hard as predicted as I am sure it will run through their coop.  They also got a waterer inside and will get a 7 lb feeder filled tonight.  If I can’t get out there to them tomorrow or Saturday, I want them to have food, water, and a dry space.

Since the tractor was out, I did a quick mow around the house and between the house and coops and garden.  My mowing was assisted by a neighbor, but she works much slower than I.


After I mowed where she wanted to be, she wandered back to her side of the fence.  The tractor was put away in the relative dry safety of the lower barn bay.

While mowing around the top of the cistern tanks, I spotted this gal.


She is huge and was feasting on an insect that wandered into her web.

This morning, the deck umbrella and chair cushions were brought into the garage, sweeping dozens of wasps and stink bugs out of the inside of the umbrella.  When they are dry, they will be put away in the root cellar for the winter.  The outdoor chairs were stacked and tucked into a protected corner.  If the winds that they are expected really materialize, the glass topped table will be flipped upside down or tucked behind the porch swing against the breezeway wall.  There are still many potted peppers and herbs on the deck.  Being this close to the end of the season, I may harvest what I can and just take my chances on their fate.

We also bought 8 gallons of water and stuck them in the freezer with 5 gallons that were already there.  If we get the predicted wind with the ground saturated, there will be trees down and power outages.  I don’t want to lose what I have frozen for winter.  We will use the frozen bottles to pack the bags of beans, squash, beets, tomatillos and apples.  Plus they will provide us with drinking water if the power fails as we will have no pump to give us water.

As we prepare and hunker down, we hope that all the dire predictions are wrong and we will get little rain and no wind.  Better to be prepared and safe, than sorry.