This spring has been difficult for me weather-wise. Seems we vacillate between nice sunny weather and pouring rain. Great combo for the plants to grow in. Not so great for working in the yard. As usual, the yard is turning to jungle, quickly. Our main mower malfunctioned early on, and rather than trying to muck around with it, I just bought a new rider. The new one is way less user friendly, but I'll get used to it. Then my baby battery mower gave up the ghost. I was hoping it was just needing a new battery, but that did not solve it, so again, new mower. I do like the convenience of the little mower, especially in my herb garden. As with the big mower, the replacement is not as good as the prior model - it cuts out and dies if you are mowing too tall grass. So much for new technology...
Andy & MaLinda came up for a weekend and I was a bit disappointed to not have the garden beds all weeded and mulched. But oh well. We still have all of the summer to get things in order for their wedding. I sure get why folks like a June wedding - things really pop in early summer. I fear that a late August wedding will be pretty parched looking. But, I'm embracing the notion that true gardeners will understand, and non-gardeners will think anything green is lovely. MaLinda's first comment was, 'Wow, it's even prettier than I remembered.' Notwithstanding that there was 18" field grass in all my flower beds, and the herb garden was virtually unrecognizeable. It's all about perspective.
Yesterday I got the tomatoes and squash in and today it is raining. Yay.
Woke up to Marla barking her fool head off, then heard an obvious skirmish with gnashing teeth and such. Looked out the window and Marla was mixing it up with three coyotes, none of whom seemed particularly terrified even though she outweighs them by about 40 lbs or more. The coyotes eventually sauntered down the hill, pausing here and there and in no obvious hurry. Marla stayed at the top of the hill, still barking. I've also spotted a couple in the front field, and one right in the front yard so far this year. Must be a coyote year.
We so far are experiencing a very mild winter. I have been able to actually DIG in the dirt this past week. So, starting early, I am cleaning out beds. This season I plan to pull-and-drop most weeds, letting them decompose in place. Except for buttercups, which I think would simply put out new feelers and re-root themselves.
Yesterday I tackled the water feature - weeded, cleaned, re-distributed rocks and pebbles, cut back the spirea. Pruned all the honeysuckles. Sat on the front porch and watched the birds.
Gary and I also put up a row of loose chicken wire on the inside of the chicken yard, in an effort to keep the birds contained by giving them a squishy landing. The roo is so lightweight I think he can fly wherever he wants. I've trimmed one side of his wings hard, but it doesn't even slow him up. I'm thinking if I can keep the hens contained, maybe he'll just hang with his ladies (?) I don't really mind letting the birds free-range, I kind of like that they all run (!) toward me when I go outside. They do make a bit of a mess with the mulch, and seem to prefer pooping on the sidewalks. Albert is taming down a bit, he hasn't challenged me in a while.
Every year I promise myself to pay a yard service for spring clean-up. But when I can actually get out working in the yard, it all seems doable. Then about mid May or so, I realize that it would be money well spent and I would then just have to maintain the beds rather than muck them all out. By that time, I assume paying someone to clean up would be prohibitive due to the rampant growth. Right now, the herbs are totally out of control, as are most of the flower beds. I keep picking away at them all, but the jungle is definitely winning. Gary's shoulder is still bothering him so I'm doing all the weed wacking and I'm only good for short bursts.
Last fall I mulched most of the beds with shredded leaves, which was quite helpful. Rather than digging them in or raking them off, this year I just weeded around them, which is working well especially on beds I mulched thickly. Getting the leaves during our rainy fall can be problematic though. I may try to snag some leaves from Dick this fall, I especially like maple leaves for a bit of color. I do know Dick uses a lot of chemicals on the lawns he maintains, but my guess is the leaves would not pick up too much, especially if he is raking or blowing them often. I'm also guessing people who favor putting green lawns likely don't want leaves laying around for very long. Maybe I can just run the pickup down to his place and have him call me when it is full.
We are mowing more often than weekly, I've been trying to note it in my Outlook calendar. The front field is getting ready to head out, and we just got the tractor back so that should get mown soon. That was a bit spendy - $2,500 - but everything is fixed and working well.
We also hired a crew to work on the road out back. They came Friday and dropped off a medium sized excavator and are running one dump truck. Imagine our surprise to find the operator is Rodger Binkley, who Gary worked with years ago at Taylor's Excavators. He's put on quite a bit of weight and wrecked his foot to the point he uses a cane, but is the same ol' Rodg. He stayed for a couple beers after work and we had an enjoyable visit. They're putting down road fabric covered by a good 2' of some gravel mix that is packing down well. Amazingly, the swamp is nearly dry which makes their job much easier. I should probably go out today and pull up whatever trees and shrubs the Conservation people planted that will be in the way of the road. I think it's mostly willow whips, which should be easy to relocate.
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