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Raking, Raking, and More Raking

I believe that I'll be raking this weekend. 

Spring having arrived earlier this week, I remembered the last few years' disasters, and bombed outside on Tuesday after work and spent just slightly over an hour raking out the back lily bed.  Being on a bit of a roll, I also got the other garden I reduced last fall raked out, as well as under all the bushes by the back of the house, under the creeping hydrangea, and around the bilco door.  In the process of doing this I raised a truly lovely blister on the inside of my right thumb.  I didn't think it was too bad until Wednesday morning just before our staff meeting when I realized how distended it was from the pus.  Oops.

I'm thinking about chopping down the rhododendron after/if it blooms this year.  I don't really care for them, and it's really too close against the house.  Gotta think about that for a bit.

Wednesday I didn't get home until it was too dark.  So over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, Bob was able to haul all the huge piles of leaves that I generated back into the woods.  Thursday I headed straight outside and raked for about an hour and a half - until I lost the light.  Got some of the vinca under the apple tree cleaned out, some of the yard, and moved around to the other side of the deck.  Got the funny little triangular garden space that I don't know what to do with cleared out, under the assorted edge-of-the-woods specimen trees/shrubs, and the whole slope along the outside library wall.  Once I cleared the mat of leaves I discovered what the chipmunks had been up to over the winter.  It looked like the minefields of Laos.  Or like a closeup of termite damage.  I need to get online and order more snap traps, and this year I'm baiting them.  I need to seriously decimate that population, but I really don't want to put poison out for a variety of very good reasons.  Break them little chipmunk necks.

Or as someone on GardenWeb pointed out - they're really just rats with racing stripes.

I also *finally* got around to taking the square nosed shovel and cutting away the soil along that part of the foundation.  The soil is now more than it's prior inch from the tasty cedar clapboards.  I'll smooth it out with the landscaping rake later.  I was really done at that point, but I peeked around the front and saw that the irises are coming up.  So I got my sorry, fat, sweating butt over there and got that garden cleaned out.  At that point I'd run out of places to put the damn leaves,  so that batch got piled up on top of the pachysandra that's across the front of the house with a note to Bob to move that pile first.  Well, THEN I had to see if the daffodils I transplanted last year survived, so I raked out the margins of the garden I actually want to install.  They're alive!  And riddled with chipmunk holes.  Break them little chipmunk necks...

At that point, there was no more light.  On the bright side, no new blisters.  I've discovered that it works better to hold the rake like a cannon swab than a rake - that way I don't grow a blister at the pivot point.  It took me how many years to figure this out?

The thing that really gets me, is that this place must have been *spectacular* in it's heyday.  The way I'm managing things is that I pick a visual line: between two shrubs, or along a line of trees, whatever - and I make that the border of what I'll maintain.  Then I go one rake reach beyond that to clean up the leaves.  No matter how far back I go, I keep finding more circles of rocks where there was obviously something.  I have to think this place had full english country style gardens or something similar at some point.  All I can figure was that she either had a service to at least come out and do spring and fall cleaning... or that's why he had to have a double knee replacement.

Well, it's not going to look like that again while I'm living here.  Sad, but true.

This weekend - more raking!  I need to finish raking out the front beds and my new proto-garden out front.  I need to rake the other half of the back yard.  I need to rake out the euonimus alongside the garage - that's always complete misery.  I need to rake the sides of the driveway - that's going to be miserable because it's two years of leaves.  Last spring I asked Bob to clean up the sides of the driveway, and he hasn't gotten around to it yet.  Finally, I need to rake out at least a bit down at the entrance to the driveway.  Our across the street neighbor has put her house on the market, and I would like to make it neat for her.  I can't clean up the frontage - not this year.  It's just too much.  But I can make a nice looking approach.

Oh, and there's a bit by the side door that I want to dig out, weedblock, and fill with gravel.  I can get that all done in a day and a half while watching the baby, right?  :-)  God, I need staff.  But it IS nice to be outside.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 20th, 2010 01:01 pm (UTC)
Suggestion for future raking efforts: Work or gardening gloves.
(I learned the hard way, too.)

And I remember what the moles did to my irises when I tried to start a garden out in Edinboro, where a stand of sumac trees once stood. Swiss cheese sums it up about right; I don't imagine them to be much different than your chipmunks.

Heck. If I could send the red-shouldered hawks over there to help pick a few of your chipmunks off, I would...
Mar. 20th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, I had work gloves on. I learned *that* lesson two years ago. I raised that thing *through* them. On Thursday I switched to rubberized gardening gloves that fit more snugly. That might have also help, but I think the change in grip was the deciding factor.

The neighbor's cat hunts the voles - why won't she eat my chipmunks? We've got some hawks, but they don't seem interested either.

Break them little chipmunk necks.
Mar. 20th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
Rod said we have voles back too...not that he's done any raking. We do, however, have a red-tail hawk that will eat squirrels. He did a number on one along the side of the house on Christmas Eve. Go Hawk! Bring your friends. I planted tulips, daffidils and crocus about 5 years ago in the front garden. I haven seen anything but crocus in the last two years...The squirrels eat the tender buds just before they open! Grr! Perhaps you can get Charlotte a plastic rake and she can "help" you! At least you don't have to put all your leaves in paper bags that will wait for 2 months before the town picks them up...at which point the grass under the bags is dead. Just saying. My dad used to have us rake the woods behind the house-Mom had planted daffidils which were lovely against the dark earth, but a pain and a contradiction to the leaf raking children. Have a wonderful day!
Mar. 22nd, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
Isabelle is expanding her horizons - on Sunday I watched her catch one each of a chipmunk and a vole. Then she sat over the chipmunk hole and waited for another tasty snack to emerge. I wish the hawks would come eat our rodents, but I think we're too wooded for them to want to come down in the yard.

If he'd like some practice raking, I'm sure Bob would love the help...
Mar. 20th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
Squillies and chickmunks are nothing short of evil. I hate them. They're not cute, they're infuriating.

Can't advise on raking...I never do it. Ever :) The leaves are good for the earth, so I just let 'em decompose where they fall. They sort of evaporate within a couple of months, here. I don't think we've EVER raked, and we live on a forested lot.
Mar. 20th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Sigh. My leaves just sit there and collect. If they were gonna disappear, they've had a few years to do it.

I used to think chipmunks were cute. I don't hate them. Yet. Give me a couple more weeks. THEN I'll hate them.

Okay, kid just put herself down for a nap. Time to take the monitor and get the rake.
Mar. 20th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Dunno...I really never have raked. Can't say why it's different for me than for you, though.

I really hate them. Serious hatred. I don't think you can put years of blood and sweat (seriously) into a garden and NOT hate those rodents. They are the enemy of almost any garden. When I think of chipmunks (and they are cute LOOKING at least...I find squirrels rather ugly) the word that comes to mind is SPLAT.

Frankly the idea of splatting dozens of 'munks and squirrels makes me feel a bit delighted. One year they ate EVERY SINGLE ONE of a HUNDRED snowdrop bulbs that I planted. Every. One.

I bear them only animosity. I run screaming at the birdfeeder, flailing a broom (or shovel...whatever I can grab first), if I ever see one there.
Mar. 20th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
Perhaps I just have contrary leaves. They're mostly oak, for what that's worth. Oh, and very heavy, when they're wet and compacted.

I got down the edges of the driveway - I now officially hate chipmunks. It's like swiss cheese out there.

The Sprout is up from her nap, so I've got to figure out if I'm going to try to bring her out with me in the portable baby jail while I keep cleaning, or what. I don't want to be done for the day - it's GORGEOUS out - 70.9 F according to the outdoor sensor. She'll hate being confined to the pack and play, but I hate being confined to the inside. So I think we're going out!

This would be much easier if my husband were home.
Mar. 20th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
That's a lovely temp. It's 34F here. (But sunny, so I'm not gonna complain...34F is actually properly seasonal for mid-March, here.)

We have mostly evergreens, maples and birch. And poplar, of course.

Edited at 2010-03-20 06:02 pm (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
We're warmer than seasonal right now - it looks like we're going to be doing that winter, winter, winter, spr.... SUMMER! thing again.

She went back down for another long nap, so I got more done outside. I thiiiink I might have overdone it by the feel of my biceps, but it's too late to do anything about it now. Other than stop. Which I'm reluctantly doing. I'm on a roll and hate to stop, but...

I think maybe I'll strap her into her stoller and take a walk. It's so rare to have a day this warm and no bugs!
Mar. 21st, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
I seem to recall a story someone told of their mom or grandmother putting up a bird feeder, only to find that the squirrels and chipmunks were too happy to eat everything she put out. While she was cursing about the offending rodents, a hawk came swooping down and plucked from the buffet. Mom/grandma's response was to smile and say "See, I said it was a bird feeder."
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )