Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Vetch is one of the most beautiful plants I can imagine: that rich purple, with some rye poking through. Belle is excited to graze this section again. The section she's been on for the last week is pretty well trampled and munched.

Phil moved a mulch hay bale into the calves' pen today. They ran around and around, enjoying the novel feel of the thick hay underfoot. The little boys came up later with tulip poplar leaves (and others), and fed the calves. Then they played ring a ring o' rosies with Sam the stuffed dog on the trampoline, laughing hysterically. I'm so glad they can amuse each other, as I grow tired of that game after about five times of "all fall down!"

Phil spent the day yesterday figuring out how to finish the south wall. He had four blocks left last night, and this morning finished those up first thing.

The purchased lintels will not be strong enough for the windows on the south wall, so he ordered 12" wood to form lintels. It's a good thing he's an engineer, to figure out how to mesh all those bits together.

Speaking of lintels, he put one window lintel up last Saturday. This was pretty intense, I think. On the other wall, he used the tractor to hoist it up into place. This time, I had doubts about whether the tractor could get close enough, with the excavation right around it. Based on the wheel marks in the dirt, he drove the front tractor tires so close there was maybe a half inch mark-free. The 200 pound far lintel (which takes up about 2/3 of the wall, with a 100 pound close lintel to line up with it) was just able to go into place.

Today he came and got me when he was done cutting the heavy lintel that will go over the door. The door needs a lintel one block course higher (and, thus, farther away). He wanted me to be on hand in case something went wrong. He had moved aside the ramp and put one of the scaffolds through the door: the ramp itself didn't offer enough purchase for lifting, but the scaffold was enough higher. Again driving the tractor right to the edge, he was able to position the downhill side; then I lowered the forks and he put the uphill side down, too. It felt a bit traumatic, but really went incredibly smoothly.

He had previously cut grooves in the lintel for the vertical supports and a horizontal groove for a steel rod that will run horizontally. When the surrounding blocks are in place, and the steel rod is set, then he can put the lighter lintel piece facing it.

When dark fell and exhaustion set in, he had just six or seven more blocks to go. Total.

I haven't walked around a whole lot this spring. Besides not seeing a single forsythia when they were in bloom, I have done virtually no weeding (just a few onions from Belle's paddocks to keep her milk not oniony). My garlic has been entirely obscured by rank weed growth.

My 200 blueberry plants in pots (minus however many died) are almost vanished.

Incredibly, though, I found some ripening blueberries among the weedy growth!

The greenhouse overwhelms me. The right side of the photo shows the comfrey, much of it about five feet high. Clearly, they are blocking weeds and bringing up minerals, but oh, my. And the left side was once blackberry plants and a lot of empty space. The blackberries finally (!) have blossoms.

It's been two years since we planted them, and I am thrilled to see that we might finally get some fruit this year. It might be hard to harvest, seeing the number of weeds engulfing the blossoms, but I think Abraham will be willing, as he even goes out picking thorny plants.

The elderberries, which did pretty much nothing last year (other than 40% dying on me), have a few flowers this year.

It renews my enthusiasm for perennials, even if they aren't in their permanent spots yet. In a year where I have done nothing (no supplemental water, no tending), the plants just do their thing.

Bugs do their thing, too. We've had few loud cicada calls. But we did have a large moth come in and fly about the trailer for a few days.

Joe did his own thing, too. I came in to find that Isaiah had improvised roller skates for him, and he was skating around on Mater Duplos. Adorable.

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