Diary of a Transplant: Spring Projects

  |  April 13, 2012

The projects never stop around here. If we are not dropping everything to do emergency damage control —

Fix the electric fence, the horses are getting out! Get the generator working, the power’s out! Thaw the hoses, they’re frozen, and the stable needs water! Etc.)

— we are carving out big blocks of time to maintain and develop our property.

And with so many projects in swing, we are always battling our natural tendencies toward distraction. Why would I finish staking the peas, when I’m right here by the ponies’ stall and I can see it needs mucking out? Okay, focus. Here are some projects that I am fixing to get done by the end of spring:

The hoop house. We got it up, no easy task.

The plastic was completed on a drizzly Sunday, which slowly turned to freezing rain. The job was all but complete when we realized the plastic was off center, leaving one corner very slightly shrifted, and the whole thing a little buckled up on top. New Farmer Guy, who can be a bit of a perfectionist, insisted we re-do. All the staples came out, as cold rain dribbled down the back of my neck and my wool hat was slowly saturated, and our fingers turned red and painful (our soaked gloves already discarded). The plastic was re-centered, and all the staples put back in, with a compressor-generated staple gun that kept malfunctioning and batten tape that kept cracking. Oy. But it was done, and we went into the house for hot showers and the Sunday Times and a nice Bordeaux and coq au vin and all was pretty good that day.

Now we just have to build the raised beds, fill with soil, and start planting.

By June this:

should be a thriving little green house with cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, corn and sweet potatoes planted.

The garden paths. Back in Brooklyn, tending my little backyard plot, I thought I liked weeding. So relaxing, so focused, like mediatation! I didn’t know weeds.

Last summer I all but gave up on my garden, as a wild rain forest invaded, taking over in hourly increments. This year I’m doing the work now so I can sit around drinking mint juleps in late summer.

We have a big pile of stone dust leftover from when we shored up our horse stalls last fall, and all spring I’ve been carting it over to the garden, and spreading it thickly over weed-control fabric. By the end of spring this side of the garden (mostly raspberry bushes and grapevines)

will look more like this side:

The tenants’ garden.
We’ve got the raised beds in, and have planted strawberries, raspberries, peas, radishes, kale, arugula, and chard.

Still to come: an herb bed and a cutting-flower garden. The paths needs wood chips for weed control, and a fence needs to go up, for nibble control.

Garbage pickup. In the country, it costs money to dispose of your garbage. There is no free bulk pick-up day. So what do people short on cash do with their garbage? They either burn it, or throw it in the woods. We are still picking up garbage from deep in the woods. I wish we’d gotten to this gem a few decades ago:

A pallet composter
. With four ponies, two goats, a rabbit and about 40 chickens, we have a lot of poop to deal with, as you can see here:

We have enough space that this wouldn’t really matter that much — except for the flies. Flies love poop, and if we don’t compost properly we are basically setting up a breeding facility for them. Plus, it would be nice to be using all this manure for our garden. My goal this spring is to build a multi-bin composter out of salvaged wooden pallets, and start composting our manure more effectively.

I’m not going to talk about the patio and flower garden I’m planning to install next to the barn. Okay, I talked about it, but I’m not putting it on my spring list. That’s for summer. I’ll bring the mint juleps with me while I’m working on it. Cheers, all. Here’s to a busy spring!

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