Saturday, April 26, 2014

project notes

Today it's raining, but yesterday was a gorgeous day for working outdoors!

Several dead or broken saplings near the gardens need to come down before vegetable planting begins in two or three weeks. The break on this pair of saplings is about 18 feet up:

I managed to take two of them down without hitting that power line,
but could not risk the third, or the one on the other side of that line, without using a rope.

And I could not find a rope!
I know...
it amazed me, too!
How could I not have a hank of rope???
It's like not having salt.
Or a pencil.
Or a toothbrush.

So this job is only partly done, but must be finished soon.
(Note to self: buy more rope!)
The cut saplings went straight into the paddock with the does,
where they met with instant approval.
This is Lily of the Valley and her daughter Tsuga:

They began by nibbling the tiny branches,

but in a day or two I expect every bit of bark will be gone as well.


While I was puttering in the goat zone, I took a look at this spot.
It's tiny; about 12 x 12 feet, with my workshop on the north side
and the Chute to New Adventure on the south,
connecting two little goat paddocks.
Can you see the little bush toward the center?

It is the last surviving high-bush blueberry on my place.
This is why I wrapped the fence around this spot;
to protect the blueberry bush from the goats.

There used to be two bushes in other places, but they succumbed years ago to the increasing canopy cover (= lower light availability) and, on one memorable occasion, to the self-serve enthusiasm of a very happy parrot.

The carpenters who built the little workshop (could it be nine years ago?) were asked to watch out for the blueberry bush. I flagged it, and carefully tied it back to keep it's branches safe from the to-ing and fro-ing of two guys carrying lumber. It made it through the hazards of the building process - hurray! - and for a few weeks each summer since (if I could beat the birds to it in the morning) has provided me with a handful of blueberries for my morning yogurt.

Sadly, two years ago a small tree came down right across the blueberry bush, damaging many fragile little branches and killing one of the three stems. Last year, the bush struggled to survive, and produced maybe twenty berries in total, which I left for the birds.

This tough winter we've just put behind us (whew!) may have taken a further toll on the blueberry bush, but my fingers are crossed. Today, I was thrilled to see leaf buds on a number of branches!

To celebrate this triumphant act of survival despite adversity, I decided to put some effort into this tiny section of ground. Just a bit of clean-up to begin with, moving a pile of flexible drainage pipe up to the loft in the workshop, and cutting down or pulling up a load of old rubus and bittersweet. Next, beginning to gradually dig a bit of earth away from the upslope corner of the workshop, seen below.

The wood was not originally in direct contact with the ground, but after years of downslope erosion and deposition is now in danger of rotting. I'd love to just jack the whole shed up a foot, but that's not a job to tackle alone and my professional shed-jacker-upper is busy fencing at the moment. So, I'll try shoveling. The ground is extremely rocky, so it's a bit-by-bit effort.

The pile of semi-rotted brush below will have to become a design element:

I'd like to turn it into a hill of squash,
but the vinca groundcover suggests there may not be enough light
once the nearby trees have leafed out.
We'll see.


Tsuga had never seen my old work boots before.
When I went into the paddock for evening chores,
she hastened right over to investigate.


Exactly three seconds later,
she walked away...
her work was done.

Tsuga needs a job.

Adorable goat available for photoshoots
and Untying All The Things.



  1. I don't know when I've enjoyed a blogpost more! maybe Tsuga can learn to knit, thereby cutting out the middleman in the cashmere process?

    1. Wouldn't that be fantastic!! I'll suggest it to her. Or perhaps I'll put some knitting needles in the bungalow and tell her not to touch them under any circumstances...that might be more effective.

  2. Take it easy removing that last broken tree limb - don't go falling off the roof, please.

    Why not use that pile of wood to make a hugelculture? Lettuce would grow in the dappled shade beautifully - even peppers.

    1. That's kind of what I'm thinking about the woodpile...if not squash, maybe lettuce. I didn't know peppers would grow in shade, but I'll check it out - thanks!

  3. Ah, the thought of having blueberries on a bush outside my house is almost too much for me. I adore blueberries, ADORE. When I lived in New England, I found bushes full of them. Not here...

    My back is killing me. Could Tsuga come here and untie my shoes before bed? :)

    1. I was lucky to find blueberries in the woods last summer, but I did miss the luxurious feeling of picking a handful right here at home. Do you have the tiny wild alpine strawberries? Always hard to believe there is so much sweetness and flavor in such a miniature fruit!
      And yes, Tsuga will be happy to make house calls! :)


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