Having survived the drive to and from Philadelphia with an interlude involving 3,000 year old mummies and artifacts, Sunday dawned pitch black, or so it felt when I woke up briefly at my usual alarm time. The problem with daylight savings time is getting up in the dark again. I don’t much like that. So like any practical person, I rolled over and went back to sleep.
I have to admit that there was a lot of napping on Sunday. However, in between the naps, we did actually get outside and get some yard work done – despite the remaining 6 to 12 inches of snow (and a couple of two foot piles in strategic spots.) We peeled the last of the logs out of the dump spot, with the exception of one that is still so frozen to the ground that even the mattock wouldn’t move it. We’ll let the sun work on that one a bit longer. A wheelbarrow full of good tinder/kindling was retrieved out of the muck, and the rest of the bark, splinters, and wood bits were shoveled back out of the turn-around. Once it’s dried a bit more I’m going to want to glean through it for more good tinder, but right now it’s wet, muddy, and nasty. While that was going on, I noticed that my lilies and narcissus are starting to come up – some of them right through the snow. So I raked out the debris from everywhere the snow had actually melted, while they’re still low enough to rake over without damage. That’s not many places. My lilies in back are coming up even though the entire bed is still snow covered. That’ll be a pain to clean out, because I fear they’ll be a couple of inches high before the snow melts enough to rake. I did get the large branches out of that bed though. I also attacked the big pile of snow by the side door – I took shovelfuls and tossed them out into the driveway to melt in the sun. That worked well enough that I tossed out another covering sometime later. It didn’t melt because it was so late in the day, but I’d bet it’s all gone by now.
When I was done playing with the shovel, Bob took it and went down to do the same thing down by the street. His goal was to try to make the mouth of the driveway wider. Again, I assume that by now everything he tossed out has melted. That would be good.
As an aside, I’m leaving the snow on top of where the Japanese Knotweed was. I want to make conditions as inimical to it as possible.
While Bob was shoveling, I raked the leaves off of the west side of the driveway. The east side is still completely covered in snow. My theory is to start now, and spread the work out so that when planting time comes I can actually plant. So I’ll rake it all out as it appears instead of waiting for things to dry out like I’ve been doing. That hasn’t worked so well.
We also walked back to the range. It’s still got too much snow cover to open, but it’s not terribly squishy. I told Bob I think we should open as soon as the snow cover is gone, and we can always close temporarily if the thaw gets too muddy. I’m toying with the idea that the toll for use of the range is that everyone has to grab one piece of deadwood back there and drag it off the property. That wouldn’t be terrible to ask, would it? Just to get it cleaned up.
Since Bob is going to be working, and we are therefore going to be staying in the house, I have a fairly onerous list of things I would like to accomplish outside this year:
- I need to spray the mountain laurels with a fungicide this year. Every one of them has leaf spot, and they had a hard winter. For the last few years I’ve missed the window – they need to be sprayed when the new growth appears, and I don’t usually remember until after the new leaves start to get spots. This year I’m going to remember. After all, I went to all the effort of removing the dead leaves and litter underneath them last fall.
- We need to scrape the loose paint off of the house and at least paint those bare spots. I’m *really* jonesing to repaint the whole house, but that may be a next year thing. It’s going to be a huge job, and I don’t think we’ll have the capacity this year.
- As soon as the ground is firm enough to stand and do it, we’re cutting down the pine tree at the back corner of the deck. The view without it will be acceptable in the winter, and right now it’s blocking my view of my witch hazel – which is about to bloom and you’d never know it from inside. Last year I almost missed it when the mock orange bloomed. I can’t see my lily garden. Tree needs to go.
- We need to move some very large rocks. When I started dumping rocks at the end of the woodpile last year, I accidentally started to build the “terrace” that I’d been thinking about for that spot – only I’d originally been thinking of using landscape blocks and gravel. Apparently, I have enough random stones to just do it out of rocks already on the property. But because I want this flat spot in order to extend the woodpile, I need to anchor the base against a lot of weight. Hence the large rocks. We’ve got those too – I just need to get myself a San Angelo bar for levering, and then we have to MOVE them. Uphill, of course. It’s going to suck. But we’ll only have to do it once, and sweat equity is cheaper than the other sort. I need Bob to help me move the big ones, and after that I can go back to disassembling stone circles around (presumably) former gardens to fill things in to approximately level. Then we buy some pressure treated lumber, and we’ll have a much better place for the woodpile. This will be good. Lots of work, but good.
- The front walk. Yes, I know that I’ve been talking about it for five years now. I need to get Bob to help me measure with the long tape, and then I can figure out approximately how much the materials are going to cost. That will tell me if we can do it this year or not. The first step is measurements and a materials list. We can do at least that much, maybe in the next few weeks.
- The pile of oak from the neighbors, and a fallen tree up the hill. The rounds from across the street need to be made short enough to fit in the woodstove, and then they need to be split. So first we need to acquire a chain saw, and then we need to split them. I may have Bob show me how, and see if I can help with the splitting. I’m not sure how my back will feel about it, but I keep saying that I need exercise, right? Also, there’s a huge oak tree that fell last year up the hill from us – it’s killing me looking at all that wood. If we can take a bunch of rounds off and roll them downhill, I can cut down on how much wood I have to order this year. Maybe.
- Fix the gutter to downspout elbows, and add a new downspout in the back so that the gutter stops overflowing.
- Seed the lawn, seed the lawn, seed the lawn.
That’s probably enough for one summer, don’t you think? I’d love to add the tree guy to that list, but I’m not sure we’ll have the money. I’ve got a lot of oak trees showing beetle damage, so I worry that we may be losing most of the big oaks in the next few years. I don’t know that there’s a lot to be done about that – oak borers happen. Whenever we can have Jay in, I’ll ask him about it.
So. Now I just need the snow to melt so that I can get started.