What have we accomplished around here since early May? Not enough! In the last few years whenever we have been faced with an impending garden walk, I have succumbed to the temptation of making lists. (Not grocery lists mind you; no, those I never make, which explains why I end up with a cupboard full of strange spices I never use (cumin?) and then forget to buy the basics, like milk.)
The list hanging from my refrigerator door of 'Things That Need To Be Done by June 7, 2012' was written up sometime in February 2012. I'm still not sure if making lists is a good idea or not. On the one hand, a Plan is a good thing to have when trying to ascertain what is the most logical chore to tackle first, but as every one who gardens and deals with Mother Nature knows, you can plan all you want but life is full of surprises.
I read through the list last night and saw that of the myriad of things listed (gasp, 44 days ago) only two could be crossed off and one of them had just been added that didn't have a thing to do with getting the garden tour ready
Carl and I fixed the drain tile last week Friday. Apparently it is not a good idea to have really large excavation equipment and really big rocks delivered by dump trucks that have to drive over your drain tile. (But it's worth it!)
Our front lawn had a literal bog forming in one area and despite Carl's grumbling ("We already have way too much work to do, can't it wait?") I decided, nope, it can't wait when I nearly got stuck mowing lawn. We marched out of the house and set about digging up the tile looking for the problem.
Carl flipped the sod over, living a little attached so it could simply be flipped back down again after we installed the new drain tile lying next to the trench in the picture. Digging this trench was wet, muddy work. Carl dug out the sod and my job was to remove the loose mud and dirt with a narrow trenching shovel and keep tabs on which way the tile was going underground. It didn't take long to find the problem(s), the tile was crushed in four places.
|There's Carl, really 'digging' his job. (Groan.)|
We both felt the strain in our fifty-four year old backs by the time we were done. The work wasn't all that heavy, but it entailed standing at weird angles in order to shovel. Luckily, Joel came home just as we had the old tile ready to pull out and helped put the new line in place.. His help is always appreciated.
|Gee, I wonder why we had water backing up on the lawn? There were four spots like this in 100'.|
A few hours of digging and we had the job accomplished. I'm happy to say the lawn is now bog-free.
The other thing on the list that I was able to cross off was:
I've written before about my adventures in mulch inspired by the late, great Ruth Stout who authored the book, 'Gardening Without Work'. (I'm including a link to Mother Earth News that has a quick reprint from her book if you're interested. ) Ruth Stout's System
Ruth Stout was, apparently, a Character. I read her book a few years back and got such a chuckle from her wit. She was a rebel in more ways than one and claimed to have a penchant for gardening in the, ahem, 'au naturale' at times....but rest assured, this is one part of her example I won't be following. I prefer to remain fully clothed at all times in the garden. An old shirt, blue jeans, long socks, gloves, knee pads and my oh-so-stylish straw hat continually and habitually complete my ensemble.
Ruth could garden in the nude if she chose, but aside from the complete and utter shock and horror my neighbors would suffer, Wisconsin's State Bird is the Mosquito. Gardening in the buff is not recommended when surrounded by swarms of flying vampires. And besides, being arrested for 'indecent exposure' at the least or 'lewd and lascivious behavior' on the other end of the spectrum wouldn't get the work done around here.
But anyway, back to the mulch situation. We had nearly run out of the stash of hay we've been using for the last few years so I went on Craigslist and found some hay for sale in a neighboring community. Carl and I went to visit a very nice lady who had some old hay for sale and we crammed thirty-odd bales on our little trailer and hauled it home.
Before we bought the hay from the nice lady, I had called one of our neighboring farmers if he knew of any hay or straw for sale and a few days later he kindly told me we could have free straw from the fairgrounds where a cattle sale had been held the weekend before. We wouldn't even have to pick it up; they would deliver it for free. I'd already arranged to pick up the hay from the Craigslist lady, so we made arrangements to go ahead and get her hay anyway. It only seemed fair.
Just before we left to pick up the hay from the lady, a call came from our neighbor; our free straw/mulch was on the way.
We weren't expecting the truck to be quite so big, but we were really, Really happy to see all this mulch:
We had the truck driver dump the load out in the Back Eight. We thought the field would be dry enough, but well, we were wrong. When the box went up, the bottom of the dumpster dragged the ground and we had a stuck truck. Aw, shucks. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Carl went and got the 574 and the chains and hooked up to the behemoth.
I was taking pictures but then Carl recruited me to do the pulling. (Well, I mean the tractor, not me, personally. I just drove.) As soon as I had the chain taut and tried to pull the big truck I felt like an ant trying to move a mountain, nothing was budging. The tractor did dig some impressive ruts, though. I figured we'd have to either wait for the field to dry up or call another neighbor with a bigger tractor, but surprisingly, the truck finally did move once I stepped in the posi-lock on the rear differential of the tractor.
The truck driver was glad to get out and I don't blame him. I drove the tractor off the lane so he could keep moving and get by me while I tried to get the back wheels out of posi-lock. (Posi-lock (in case you care, lol) makes both back wheels turn at the same rate, as opposed to one wheel spinning in mud and the other doing nothing.) Posi-lock works great for pulling, but the tractor can only move in a straight line with it engaged. It took Carl to help me get the lever disengaged because we don't use the feature that often and the lever is hard to move.
Carl hopped on the back of the tractor and we headed down the lane for home, following the tracks left by the truck.
|My, I'm getting grayer and grayer. Split-ends, too.|
There he goes, on down the road, leaving only his tracks (and a whole lot of straw mulch,yippee) behind.
I took the tractor home to the machine shed.
|The tree grates weren't on the list either. I could write them on there and cross them off to make us feel better.|
That's the way things have been going around here. We GAD about all over the place. Oh, well....the work will get done. Or not. It is what it is.
Maybe this weekend I'll be able to cross off a few more things. Carl is still working on the stone wall in the Formal Garden with Ann whenever she's available. And we started tearing up the floor of the dome this week, too.
Every year we have trouble with frost-heave in the dome which buckles the floor. We are taking up all the pavers and putting down more gravel to fix the uneven floor problem.
Alas, there's ALOT of floor to pull up, level, shovel gravel in and put back down.
Joel and Allison stopped in on Tuesday night to help us out. Allison ran the transit and aided Carl with readings while I hauled some of the blocks out of the way until Joel took over with that chore and hauling gravel to the dome with a wheelbarrow.
In the morning while Carl's at work I'm still exercising (when I should be outside, I know) and tending to the greenhouse and weeding.
Oh, dear, am I ever weeding this year. Just look at the beautiful field of dandelion fuzz glistening in the sunset to the west of our house this past week. All of those lovely, delicate seeds will be finding a new home in our flower beds. Yippee.
We've been working until dark and way beyond many nights. The nice thing about gardening after dark is you really can't see many weeds.
Oh well, Ruth Stout had the right idea; go get the pitchfork and let's spread some mulch.
Hope you all have a great weekend!