Wednesday, October 16, 2013

So What Else is New?

It is high time to talk about the garden and other mayhem going on around here for a change.  Enough with this woe is me fest.  While I've been spending hours and hours online researching one thing after another about thyroid disease, the garden has been left to do what it pleases ever since August 10.  That's right, I haven't weeded or worked in the garden since then.  This is a record for me, and not one I'm proud of.

It's true the mice play while the cat's away, and now I'm here to tell you that the weeds grow quick when the gardener's sick.

Carl on our Inspection Tour.  The Bubblegum Petunias are still going strong.  Amazing plant.
Carl and I took a walk around the garden on Monday night just before sunset and took stock of the work we have yet to do before the snow flies.  Wow, would you look at the weeds!   The mulch works wonders, but the weeds are not to be defeated that easily.  Since the end is near for the gardening season, I'm not too upset; I'll just weed while I whack stuff down for the winter.  But I have to get at it and soon; I have at least a bushel of daffodil bulbs to plant that I dug up earlier this summer when we remodeled the front garden.  I tripped over them in the garage the other day.  And then I saw some species tulips and crocus and fancy daffodils for sale at a big box store about a month ago and of course I bought 'em, so let's hope the ground doesn't freeze solid before I get around to planting.

Looking back over this summer, the only new remodeling we did in the garden was the Front Bed out by the road where it went from this in June:
June 2013 (The 'Degroot Spire' cedars are doing well out in the Back Eight.  They'll be back somewhere else eventually.)


July 2013

October 2013
Thank goodness for the Supertunia Vista Bubblegum petunias again this year; they more or less took care of themselves after August.
Profusion Cherry Zinnias are still holding their own, too.

There are some regular 'Wave' petunias planted in with the Bubblegums and some 'Scarlet Runner Beans', too.
That's it for the new additions/remodeling this year.  This one was successful because every time I go and get the mail I can't help but stroll across the rock wall.  And as we all know, nothing makes my heart happier than rocks and flowers.  (And tractors.)

Monday's nice weather gave way to dreary and wet since Tuesday which gives me a good excuse not to work in the garden yet again.  Over the weekend we picked tomatoes at Ann's sister's house and brought home four laundry baskets lined two deep with orange/red goodness waiting to be canned for juice.  On Monday and Tuesday I worked on washing and cutting them up and running them through the juicer.  I hate to admit it, but standing for any length of time has been tiring during this med change, so what would have normally taken me a day to complete, stretched out to two.  Carl is as helpful in the kitchen as he is in the garden, and for some reason loves to can, so I took him up on his offer to help me when he got home from work.  I feel guilty about being such a pansy lately, but he just tells me to hush up when I whine.

Man At Work
When he got home from work last night the rain had stopped for a bit,  so I took a break to photograph the wet garden while the juice was bubbling on the stove.

The leaves in the woods across the road are dropping fast, and they are glorious when the sun shines, but even in the rain there is beauty.  This is our 'borrowed view' whenever we look out the front window.  I have loved this woods all my life.  Though we don't own it, we are grateful it has been left to stand in all its glory.




 Back on our side of the road, here are a bunch of random shots of mid-October:
Crabapples
My hyacinth beans didn't grow as lavishly as other years, in fact these are the first flowers of the season, but they were worth waiting for.
Gotta love those bean pods (I took this photo Monday night in the sun)

I wandered around the yard, trying to avoid drips, here we are back behind the chicken coop:




More random wandering around:
Lots of wet foliage, glad I'm not cleaning beds out today. 




 Yessirree, there's a lot of work to do around here in a few short weeks.

I let the Girls out to forage for grasshoppers and other bugs now, they might as well free-range until spring.   They'll scratch out the mulch and dig holes and generally make a nuisance of themselves (look out for poo-bombs) but I know they eliminate many garden pests with their diligent work ethic.  They are molting now which mystifies me, I sure hope their new feathers come back in before the snow flies.

The drizzle started up again, so I made my way back to the house, and my hard-working husband.
Looks like I was gone a little too long!  We ended up with 36 quarts of juice.

The sun is supposed to shine later on today and also on Thursday, but then we're back to a rainy pattern again.  I'm thinking of washing clothes today and hope my Solar Dryer will cooperate.  Even if I leave the laundry out overnight, it might dry Thursday.  Or not.  This time of year is tricky when it comes to laundry on the line.

I have another doctor's appointment coming up with the new MD very soon.  I don't know what will happen; I'm trying not to be overly optimistic or unduly pessimistic.   His office is 70 miles away but he comes highly recommended by my new thyroid patient friend.  The initial 15 minute consultation is 'free', that is if you don't count the drive there and back, but at this point, I don't have too many options.  I guess it can't hurt to see what he thinks, right?  I'll keep you posted on what happens.....sigh.

There is more work to do around here than I can shake a stick at, that is if I was up to shaking sticks at things, ha.  I've been neglecting housework (but that's not new) and also my 93 year old mother who is in better shape than me.

And we all need more problems like we need a hole in our heads, but wait, there are more problems:

Rocks with Holes in Their Heads
 I forgot to mention that last week Thursday I went up to visit my Mom with the dogs. Imagine my surprise when I walked in her driveway and saw a huge puddle of water.  I was perplexed and so was Mom.  As we stood there staring at the puddle, every now and then a small geyser of water would rise up to the surface, oh no........that can't be a good thing.  It turns out the water line seven feet underground to the house had sprung a leak.  The well was running continually and the water had finally made it's way up to the surface.  I cut the power to the well and called Carl and texted Joel at their respective jobs; both of them told me to wait until they got home.

Joel came home and dug as far as he could by hand and with the tractor, but he couldn't get ahead of the water.  We had to admit defeat.

We ended up calling a well company and on the following day while Carl and Joel were at work, they dug up Mom's yard, found the hole in the line and repaired it.  I hung around while the two well guys worked and assisted where I could by going down in the basement and turning the well on and off for them. The resulting hole was literally big and deep enough to bury my mother's Buick with room to spare.

 When they had the water line fixed one of them asked me, "What do you want us to do about the hole in the driveway?  The clay we dug out is too wet to backfill with.  You're gonna have a spongy sinkhole if we use it."

Since I've been feeling like dirt warmed over myself, I don't think very quickly on my feet lately, so I said, "What do you suggest?"

He lit a cigarette and stood there surveying the cavernous crater and the oozing six foot tall pile of wet clay.  The other guy shrugged too.  We were a sad threesome.  But time's a wastin' boys, the meter's running, let's think of something.

After another drag on his cigarette, he said, "If I were you, I'd get a load of gravel in here and backfill the hole with that.  That clay will take a year or two to dry out if you bury it and the driveway will be a mess.  The gravel would be more solid."

I could see the logic in that.  But then I looked at the big pile of disgustingly wet clay.  Someone will have to haul it away.  While we stood there water was continually oozing out of the pile of glop and the sides of the hole were slowly caving in, plopping into the standing water still in the hole.

My poor old thyroid brain was doing it's best to come up with a fast decision.  Getting gravel brought in is no problem since our good friend and excavator, Charlie, can usually help me out there, but what about the wet clay pile?  And do I have these guys wait around while I get gravel delivered?  And then we'd have to hire a dump truck to haul the clay away.  At how much an hour?  Ummm, no. The well guy was already lighting another cigarette.  C'mon Karen, THINK!

I made a decision, a unilateral, not checked out with or approved of by my menfolk decision. 

"We'll take care of the hole."

The well guys seemed pleased to hear that news.  "Ok, sounds good."  They picked up their tools, loaded their nice little backhoe on the trailer and were gone.

They did leave me with a big roll of 'Caution' tape though, which amused Mom no end.

"Why did they leave this behind?" she asked.

"We're supposed to put that up around the hole," I answered.

"Why?"

"So people don't fall or drive into the hole."

"You're kidding me!  Who would drive into that hole?  If they saw the pile of dirt, they sure wouldn't be stupid enough to fall in a hole, would they?"

"Well, Mom, they might just be so fascinated by the big pile of dirt that they'd miss seeing the hole and drive right on in by accident.  Better safe than sorry."

I reminded her of the time a few winters ago when an elderly friend of hers came for a visit after a big snowstorm.  I'd just finished plowing Mom's driveway.  Her friend apparently didn't think I'd gone far enough and drove her car right smack dab into a 4' tall snowbank down by the machine shed when she tried to turn around.  She didn't just get stuck, she buried that sucker.  It took me an hour to dig in the snow far enough with a shovel to hook a chain up to her car.  Finally with the tractor, I was able to extricate her Cadillac from it's snowy prison. 

Mom agreed with me then; yes, Caution Tape was definitely in order.  We don't want to lose any little old ladies.

Long story short (and yes, do I ever write anything short?) we fixed the hole ourselves.  Charlie took the time to run me out a load of gravel and Carl and I worked all Friday afternoon right up until 10:30 that night hauling clay away to the Back Eight and grading and leveling Mom's driveway with the new gravel.  The hole is still settling, but at least there's no danger of trapping unsuspecting Cadillacs in it.

I didn't feel very good while we were working on this job since my health is goofy, but I did truly enjoy the time spent on the tractors hauling dirt back and forth.  This farm has always been a source of comfort for me even with all of the good and the bad memories.  Just like I've never seen a rock I don't like, the same goes for tractors.  Most people think that driving back and forth at a snail's pace must be the most boring job in the world, but nothing could be further from the truth for me.

 I find my peace on a tractor.


Me and my tractor, 1974


















13 comments:

Pamela Gordon said...

Your gardens are still looking beautiful even though you've had to 'neglect' them this summer. I love the new garden area out front near the road. It is beautiful with all the rocks. I hope your doctor visit goes well. Blessings, Pam

Larry said...

Hi Karen... I am amazed at how much more color you have than we have here... have you had a frost? I think your gardens look very good despite your concerns about weeds. I've never noticed those DeGroot Spire arborvitaes before... Is it normal for them to be that narrow? I absolutely love the look, especially with the repetition! Now on to the lovely little maple... is that a Northwind? Mine hasn't begun to color yet... will yours get redder down the road? The ones I saw in Burlington had quite red foliage if I remember correctly...

I'm still waiting for harvest so I can collect my rocks I've located for the new conifer beds... as you may know, I well understand your love affair with rocks... would I to have the proper equipment, there would be a lot more in this garden ... hope you get to feeling better real soon and hello to Carl! Larry

Larry said...

Hi Karen... I am amazed at how much more color you have than we have here... have you had a frost? I think your gardens look very good despite your concerns about weeds. I've never noticed those DeGroot Spire arborvitaes before... Is it normal for them to be that narrow? I absolutely love the look, especially with the repetition! Now on to the lovely little maple... is that a Northwind? Mine hasn't begun to color yet... will yours get redder down the road? The ones I saw in Burlington had quite red foliage if I remember correctly...

I'm still waiting for harvest so I can collect my rocks I've located for the new conifer beds... as you may know, I well understand your love affair with rocks... would I to have the proper equipment, there would be a lot more in this garden ... hope you get to feeling better real soon and hello to Carl! Larry

Alison said...

I couldn't find any weeds at all. The garden looks great. It's so hard to ignore the garden when your health isn't up to the task of taking care of it. I really hate that feeling of having unfinished stuff hanging over my head. I've done the "we'll take care of it" response before too, and it's usually a mistake.

Karen said...

Pamela, thank you! The new bed was a success for us; we aren't always real happy with how remodeling turns out, but this time it's OK. And thank you for the well wishes on my upcoming appointment, too.

Hi Larry, we did have a frost on Monday because Carl had to scrape the ice of his car but apparently not enough to kill anything yet. I guess this weekend colder temps are expected.

The little yellow tree is a Korean Maple (acer pseudosieboldiana) and some years it does turn a brilliant red, but this year, I don't think we're going to get much more than yellow since it's been too wet.

The Degroot Spires are quite old, we planted them in front of the house almost nine or ten years ago. They are supposed to be that narrow, but I think I messed up by not keeping an eye on the multiple trunks they like to develop. We moved them out to the Back Eight for now and I'm thinking of bringing them back to the garden in the future. We like the statement they make too, it's almost like a bunch of green pillars.

Oh, more rocks for you, Larry? That's exciting! Can't wait to see what your plan is for them.

Karen said...

Hi Alison, the weeds are cleverly hidden in the abundant foliage of everything else, ha, but they're there alright. Procrastination has become a lifestyle for me lately, ok, more than just lately, but I'm really, really looking forward to feeling better so I can get back to work. I was thinking about all the holes I'm going to have to dig to plant a couple hundred daffodils.....maybe I'll talk Carl into helping me?

Dandelion and Daisy said...

Your yard looks beautiful, as usual. We always see the weeds, others just see a lot of lush greenery! I have been keeping up with your thyroid story. I cannot imagine how frustrating it must be to deal with doctor after doctor with no positive results. I hope the next appointment will have a better outcome.

Beth said...

Gorgeous color, Karen! We're still mainly green here...a few burning bushes and a few trees are beginning to turn, but nothing like your glory! LOVE that crabapple photo - that would be a photo contest winner for sure - you should enter it in the state fair!

HolleyGarden said...

Your gardens are beautiful. Soon the weeds will be buried under snow. No need to worry about them this year! ;) Carl is very sweet, and those jars of juice look great. I hope you get your thyroid problems figured out. I know it has to be so very extremely frustrating. And I hope no one falls down the hole! What a mess! It seems things always pile up when we are tired and least able to take care of them. Take care, girl.

Karen said...

Dandelion and Daisy, thank you for your well wishes. I have the jitters waiting for tomorrow, lol.

Hi Beth, don't those apples look good enough to eat? I tried one, they aren't, ew, sour! Thank you!

HolleyGarden, Yes, the way things are going I think snow will be welcome this year, at least the mess will be hidden til spring, lol. This thyroid thing is getting Really Old.

Carolyn ♥ said...

Hang in there, Karen... life is bound to get better. You do have some lovely rock-flower gardens. I planted Bubblegum petunias in my gardens this year and they put on quite the show.

Zoey said...

Hi Karen,
Your gardens are looking good in their autumn finery. I especially like that orangey grass with the sedumn A Joy. What grass is that?

I hope you find some medical answers soon. I can understand how discouraged you must be.

Karen said...

Hello Carolyn, thank you, and I sure hope you're right about life getting better, lol. Aren't those Bubblegums amazing, I've never seen another annual to rival them.

Hi Zoey, the grass is Miscanthus ‘Purpurascens’. I had my doctor's visit on Friday and it went ok, maybe this one will know what to do with me. I'm such a case, lol.