Saturday, October 21, 2017

ginger beer for supper

Tsuga enjoying a black birch sapling, delivered fresh to the paddock.

Thursday and Friday were perfect days for outdoor work. And it's great to have a builder who is happy to add little bits and pieces to his work plan as time permits. Thursday, for example, when my Occasional Helper was here removing fenceposts for relocation, Builder Matt didn't mind taking a few minutes to use his front end loader to lift out a couple of posts that wouldn't budge.

Yesterday, when the tractor was going to be idle for a while, I asked if Matt would park it by a pile of wood and stone that has been a thorn in my side for a few years. It's one of the most frustrating kinds of mess: the ones created and left by previous hired workers. Part of this one was my fault, because I had covered some firewood with what I thought was a tarp but which turned out to be a "pool cover" that disintegrated, shedding fragments of plastic which rendered the wood unburnable. But while I was figuring out what to do with that pile, a barn-builder with a skidder pushed thousands of pounds of old foundation stones into it.

What. A. Jumbled. Mess.

Since the new fenceline will run right through the center of that mess, yesterday I took a deep cleansing breath and began dismantling it. I pulled out individual pieces of wood, tried to brush off every bit of plastic into a rubbish container (on the left in the picture below), then added the wood to the tractor bucket (on the right, below). Whenever I came to a rock buried in the pile, I pulled it loose, picked it up and carried it to a corner of the fence.

Then, when Matt had a free moment, he drove his tractor  about 30 feet to unload the wood. I had outlined a space with sections of a white birch that had been too decayed for stovewood when the tree was taken down two years ago. It was a big tree, and even decayed sections were heavy. But it was worth the effort, because just like that (imagine finger-snapping there) I've got the base of my second Very Raised Bed. VRB2 was very much a backburnered project, due to the intensity of labor required. Having a tractor available to make one part of the process much easier was an opportunity not to be squandered.

I carried quite a few rocks, and filled the bucket with wood twice, but Matt eventually needed his tractor for the main job. I'm probably only halfway through the pile but it's a good start. I have to admit that after a couple of hours, it was really clear to me why I don't attempt this kind of thing anymore. Between the wood and the stones and later wrestling alone with rolled sections of 6-foot fence to temporarily block off a 50-foot opening so the cats can go outside this weekend...

I feel a lot like this squash leaf, but with less color:

It's been a productive week, and lots of good work has been done by the builders, with lots more to come. This is really a three-part project - not counting the little things that come up along the way, or the planned "20 minute" task that took nearly four hours and all hands on deck. I've got more research and decision-making ahead this weekend, but today I made my usual Saturday morning trip to the dump and the library, and that may be IT. I am exhausted, and all I want to do this afternoon is sip cold ginger beer and watch the cats climb through piles of roofing detritus while the autumn sun shines gently through the trees.

I hope your weekend is off to a great start!
Is anyone going to Rhinebeck? Usually right about now I'd be feeling a twinge of wish-I-could-be-there, but right now if I was magically transported to Rhinebeck I would probably be flat out on the ground, moving only enough to eat fried artichokes while watching sheepdog demonstrations.