Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Outfoxing, part 1

Holy moses, this was a tough project. $150 in lumber and 3-foot welded wire fencing, plus the use of FIL's staple gun, plus some odd-and-ends scraps of wood we had around. Plus about ten hours of work-- and this is only phase one.

But, in exchange for never having to come out here in the morning and see a fox perched on the fence again... and in exchange for never having to see a mauled chicken... well, it's a small price to pay. Phase two will involve burying more fencing around the perimeter, to keep anything from digging under the bottom edge. 


Now, for something prettier to consider. This little circle garden, which is really looking pretty sweet. The hard winter we had definitely killed some things, but so then I got to go buy a few new things, and that always cheers me up. Golden oregano. A dainty little clump of magenta pinks. And some variegated thyme.

One thing the winter didn't kill is this happy fellow, a dwarf spirea, which I bought last year. I can't get over how gorgeous it looks just leafing out. I have another one I might move over here to keep it company.

I'm headed out this weekend to visit my aunt in NYC-- Anthropologie, Purl Soho, and lunch at a bistro is on the agenda. Hooray! I love the tradition of the pre-crazy-season escape. Can't wait. Back Monday.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Weekend shots

Bright morning.

Foggy morning.

More floor! 

That was the big excitement of the weekend: all the tile in the main part of the kitchen is DONE LAID. I am beyond elated. We are rounding the bend.

Dad says not this week, but maybe the next, the cabinets will be ready. Yippeeeee!

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Small jobs

It's been a week of small jobs. It's the time of year when I want to be outside whether or not I have anything to do, and honestly, right now there isn't a lot to do. It feels nice. The past springs have featured busting ass, in no small measure, and I'd hoped I would get to the point, someday, where things would feel a little less nutty. We've arrived. Of course, we still have the kitchen to finish, but things are moving along in leaps and bounds in there. 

Yesterday I put down newspaper and wood chips around some of my raspberry bushes. This is because I am tired of mowing down raspberry lane with briars whapping my arms. Especially in a tanktop, when really all I can do is grit my teeth and remember not to use Epsom salts in the bath later. (That is an accident that doesn't bear repeating.) I thought I was getting enough wood chips to do the whole row, both sides, but what I got only covered about a third of that. Hrmph. At least they're free-- from the green dump up the road. Next week, more. 

At the top of the hill, just a little bit above the green dump, there is a farm. A farm that has recently been advertising "barnyard mix pullets." So I went to see, because this spring has been remarkably unkind to our little flock. We had six, a month ago-- I kid you not-- and are down to one. Rhonda, our last red, got snatched Thursday morning in broad daylight. Poor Emmy. I never thought she would amount to much-- she was such a fabulously difficult chick-- but now she's become my favorite, easily the most docile bird we've ever raised. The foxes have apparently found our operation, and are endeavoring to set up housekeeping under our neighbors' barn. NOT. BLOODY. LIKELY. This Saturday will feature shovels and lumber and lots and lots of new wire. We are going to make our damn chicken yard look like Fort Knox, and thus the foxes shall be outfoxed. 

Anyway, we bought three blondes-- Buff Orpington mixes-- that were born in January sometime, for $5 apiece. Not bad, considering female puffball chicks are $4 at a different place, and chicks are so much work. Sweet work, but still. These guys can eat, and drink, and fend for themselves against a very, very grumpy alpha hen. So far, everything is going well. 

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


We went with the herringbone pattern.

This is the part where it starts to get good: Tom is here working on the floor during the days, meanwhile my dad has locked himself in his workshop and is building our cabinets. I ordered our sink today. There is still an unholy lot of drywall to patch and sand and patch and sand, and still a lot of molding to nail back into place and caulk and paint. But things are starting to shape up, and that floor... by the looks of things, that floor is going to be absolutely drool-worthy.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Lazy Saturday

Hooray for dog-hikes! Hooray for sunshine, and relaxed Saturdays, and our nearest, dearest state park. And for Del's first lake swim of the season. 

He looks so grotesque in this one, mid-shake.

I spent quite a lot of time on this hike limping, or flopped on the ground, stretching. Just curious, but what is the collective opinion of the readers of this blog regarding the science of chiropracty? I am having serious hip pain-- it's been years of coming and going, but this is definitely the worst it's ever been. And, come on now, it's GARDEN SEASON! I cannot be crippled. I went to the chiropractor (a first for me) last week, and he was only able to prescribe some stretches. I was hoping for, y'know: "well, here's your problem, let's just pop this back into place... all better!" No dice. So, I stretch. I hobble around the yard with a bucket of rocks, grimacing, and I stop (I stop; this is completely counter to my gardening mojo) and I flop in the grass or on the patio in the sun (not so bad, really) and I stretch. It works for a half hour. I stretch again.

I am accustomed to using my body like some kind of impact tool, hurling myself into whatever task at hand. Obviously, that needs to change. And I need to be stretching, not just when it hurts, but all winter, to keep things limber for the growing season. So he says. I so hope he's right-- pain is no fun, though it is giving me more opportunities for bird watching.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Into it

Everything in the year starts to be good when the peas begin coming up. I checked at 4pm yesterday and had one; two hours later when I took Patrick over to boast, I had two! 

I also have cress seedlings-- never grown cress before, but a close-out packet of seeds last year tempted me-- and beets! I had planted carrots and beets maybe two weeks ago, and covered the bed with plastic row covers, thinking it might warm the soil the speed germination. And it sure did. It's so nice when an experiment works out. I'll be doing that again.

Crocus! So many of 'em got snowed on the other night, and collapsed, but more are pushing through now. Crocus renewal.

Cold frame arugula. I also have kale, lettuce, and spinach.

Lawn Delmer. The grass is really starting to grow.

Aforementioned cress.

My first Frog Pond trip of the year was Wednesday, and I bought the year's broccoli, seed potatoes, onion sets, and even some garlic to plant (it was showing green tops, so I assume I can plant it.) When all was said and done last fall, I only had about 100 cloves to plant-- not enough for winter storage and year's seed-- so more was called for.

It feels so good to have things begun out there. 

This weekend Patrick has two gigs-- things have been a little quiet on the gig-front lately, so this is a good thing-- and I am anticipating getting back to my regular long evenings on the "fahm," out working and enjoying the quiet. And spring. Good spring.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It is both dazzling and daunting to see a room tore-up from the floor-up. As I was telling my mother-in-law, dramatic, visible progress is a good thing. Sometimes, the dramatic progress leads to polished surfaces. Sometimes the dramatic progress leads to CHAOS. But it's always good to get the progress, no matter the type. My FIL came last Friday AM and we tore everything out. The most stressful part for me was emptying all the cabinets (my precious! spices! implements! favorite pans! where will you live NOW?) but once that was accomplished (not so bad, really) things started ticking along. Tom came back Saturday, and Monday, and now we are ready for one more day of floor-leveling cement application... oh man, that floorrrr... and then that will cure and we will be ready for backer board and thinset and TILE!! Whoo hoo! TILE!

Soon. The weather has been, I must say, MARVELOUS, and this is exactly the time when we could really use some marvelous weather. Not just because it's been a long winter, but because our downstairs is sort of uninhabitable right now. You just-- or, correction, I just-- can't relax in a room that contains a fireplace and a Victorian couch and built-in bookcases and a marooned DISHWASHER. Y'know? So, we've been patio-ing it up. There have been lawn beers.

And today it is going to snow, for the LAST time, and that will be swell. And in the meantime, the dining room is actually proving quite satisfactory as an interim kitchen. Kind of novel. 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Sun critters

Do you see him?

We are delivered. Yesterday was 65 and sunny and it was glorious. The finished compost was half-thawed, so I dug and spread that around the garden. Morning, I had one kale seedling in the cold frame, but by late afternoon, I had seventeen. I love the immediacy of this time of year-- you go from sensory poverty to crazy abundance in just a few short weeks. Suddenly, there are things to smell (mud, tree flowers, rain), hear (robins, red wing blackbirds, white-throated sparrows, PEEPERS) and feel (sunlight!). Soon there will be things to taste. Soon there will be asparagus coming up, and raspberry leaves breaking forth, and peas twining the trellis. 

We took Del to the river and let him off leash-- something that, we've decided, should be a regular thing-- and he had a ball. He splashed in the river water and got stuck down a really steep bank and had to be pulled out and got to waller in a stinkhole. Aw, dogs. Doggy rites of spring. It's amazing to think just a year ago we were meeting him for the first time, and falling in love, and being dragged back and forth over are we gonna get him? And then we got him. Sweet dog. Best dog.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

That's better

Monday was 45 and sunny, and the snow vanished. I watched, cackling periodically from my office, knowing, feeling, that Tuesday morning would be warm, and I would dig. 

And I did.

I started out buzzing through some fallen branches from the yard, waiting for the ground to thaw. I put another coat of primer on a glider I just started refinishing. By 11 o'clock, I was ready to go. 

I raked. I fluffed up and turned over the ground. I marveled at all the earthworms, and at that wonderful dark, crumbly top layer-- the broken-down organic matter I've been working in, year after year-- proof that I'm moving in the right direction. Proof that I'm gaining. I set up trellising. I planted peas.

I cracked open the cold frame to find my August planting of spinach-- hello there!-- regrowing itself after being nearly, but not quite killed, by the winter cold. Like, whoa. Fresh spinach in April? I will be repeating that trick. I forked two dozen of the biggest ones out and plunked them down in one of the salad beds in the brick area. Then I moved the cold frame to its designated spot (according to Garden Plan 2014) and planted it in lettuce. 

What is it about neatly spaced thriving green things that stirs my soul? 

It's true I'm not really rabid for spring this year-- or rather, I'm not rabid for the endless work I know spring brings with it-- but damnit, it's irresistible all the same. Especially after a long winter without the tough, beautiful, satisfying work of growing things. It's so easy for me to forget that, simply, I'm a different person when I can spend part of my day-- and myself-- in the garden every day. A happier person. 

Today it is also going to be warm and partly sunny, and right now I'm playing that same waiting game-- is it thawed yet? And later I will rake and turn and plant more things. Ahhh. Life is good.

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