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July 25, 2008

Summer Sweetness

July25-Apricots.jpgAll our early summer sunshine and intense heat has produced a fantastic apricot crop! Richard and I just picked about 40 pounds of fruit, a few a little on the green side because the wasps and squirrels will be digging in soon. But they’re ripening nicely inside. We should have lots left for our gathering next weekend after I freeze some for smoothies. Our apples are doing well, too, although the bears are harder to predict than the wasps and squirrels. One of these days we’ll get a plum tree, and maybe pear and peach, too. Fresh fruit all summer long, pesticide free and no shopping required! Anyone have a good apricot recipe?

Posted by anita at 6:54 PM

July 20, 2008

Not Bad For Half a Day's Work

Jul19-R-n-George.jpgRichard’s friend George (at right) came over early this morning to help Richard continue with rock wall construction. I watched them work, George in the excavator and Richard in the Bobcat. Wow, now there’s an example of many hands making light work. When they quit in the heat just after noon, they’d pretty much finished the job. We’ll need to pack more gravel on top, and Richard wants me to fill in the chinks with smaller rock still, but the main job is done. (The rest of the wall around the fruit trees will be tackled in the fall when the weather is kinder.)

It ended up using more large rocks and lies much more vertical than Richard could have done on his own. George has some impressive excavator skills. Even without a thumb on it, he was picking up rocks pretty effectively and positioning them without having to get out of the machine constantly. Richard, meanwhile, scooped up all the dirt removed from the bank opposite the garage and used that to fill in where the root cellar was. It’s definitely a sturdy wall. Not sure if it will be as easy to plant with rock garden perennials, but for now it should stay free of weeds except along the top edge, and that’s mostly grass between the apricot and the apple tree anyway. We gained four feet of room to manoeuver the car into the garage, and it should be easier now for Richard to level the ground in front of the doors so the water flows away from, rather than onto, the garage floor. Now it’s about 32 degrees outside so Richard and I are going to have lunch in the cool of our air conditioning. Tonight, George comes back with partner Diane for dinner – a thank you for all that hard work.

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Jul19-Doh.jpg Jul19-FourthCourse.jpg
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Jul19-DoneforDay.jpg Jul19-Leftovers.jpg

Posted by anita at 2:05 PM

July 14, 2008

Rock and Roll

July14-NewBed2.jpgOur June heat wave has carried on into this month, and despite the powerful storm last Thursday, we only received about half a centimeter of rain, the only measurable moisture in weeks. It’s made for a particularly brown, crispy, and dusty yard. We compared photos from the past three summers and all were much, much greener. My gut says this scorching heat is going to stick around all summer. Lowering our water use is a high priority, and with the barn work done for the time being (while the concrete cures) Richard and I are focusing on ways to spruce up the property, get more usable space, and reduce the need for watering, weeding, mowing and other maintenance. The solution? Something our neighbourhood has no lack of: rock.

The first project, my new flowerbed, used rocks from our own yard, but since then we’ve brought in two truckloads of much larger rocks and will probably need more. It’s a lot cheaper than landscape ties, blocks, or concrete and although more labour intensive, the final look will suit the already rocky landscaping and allow lots of flexibility for eventual rockery plantings. Richard is taking care of the heavy labour, leveling out the previously unused margins of our yard to make things like mowing the lawn, plowing the driveway and driving into the garage easier, and once it cools down in the fall I’ll go round with some divisions of creeping thyme, sedums, veronica, cerastium and hens-and-chicks and make all that stone a little more colourful. Other than my flower bed, which I finished on the 30th, all these pictures are of work done this weekend, believe it or not.

GaillardiaBed.jpgThe first attempt – gaillardia from seed – didn’t grow, so I started over.

July14-Rocks.jpgRichard insisted I try larger rocks, and brought me one the size of a bench.

July14-Gaillardia.jpgHeat-loving dwarf gaillardia, or blanketflower is happy in this south-west facing spot.

July14-TrailingSedum.jpgThis trailing sedum will bloom through fall and spill over the edges of the bed eventually.

July14-InBloom.jpgMore sedum, daylilies, hens & chicks, veronica, and behind, thyme, lavender, iris, yucca and Maltese cross.

NextProject.jpgBefore the heat did me in, I started on the weedy bed out back, with more rocks to level it out.

July14-TimetoRelax.jpgRichard got us a free patio set, 26 years old but in great shape. Just need an umbrella.

July14-WestWall1.jpgThe west edge of our yard falls away unevenly. Richard began leveling by increasing the rock wall.

July14-WestWall2.jpgFirst he removed stumps and weedy turf, then added rows of rocks from the pile nearby.

July14-WestWall3.jpgThen he back-filled with broken chunks of concrete, smaller stones and gravel.

July14-WestWall4.jpgHis cunning plan? Using the earth scooped from the east wall as fill here. We'll top with turf or river rock.

July14-WestWall5.jpgCouldn’t have done it without the Bobcat. The new section is four feet high at this end.

July14-EastWall2.jpgThe east edge of our property this spring, overgrown since work in the fall.

July14-EastWall3.jpgRichard used the excavator to carve away more of the bank opposite the garage.

July14-EastWall4.jpgWe’ve been waiting a long time to get rid of this decrepit old root cellar!

July14-RootCellar.jpgThe dirt pulled from the other areas will fill this gap behind a straight line of rock.

July14-EastWall5.jpgThe new rock ‘wall’ will be sloped up the bank to the fence. Goodbye, bindweed!

July14-EastWall6.jpgIt will curve past the apple tree (left), around to the maple (far right), about 2 feet further back.

Posted by anita at 4:38 PM

July 7, 2008

The Cement Pour, Part II

July7-2ndPour1.jpgLast night we arrived home from a short, rainy, but very relaxing 4th of July celebration with our friends in Washington state. Without stopping to unpack a single thing from the camper (which we bought from one of the friends we visit with down there) Richard was off to the back yard, looking forward to seeing the rest of his concrete pads in place from the job started a week ago.

Sadly, all they’d returned to do is cut the interior pads already poured and put on another layer of sealant. Richard rushed us home from vacation for nothing. But they returned this morning to do the rest, so here is the latest. Richard is out there keeping an eye on things, very tired but pleased with how it has turned out. It is amazing what a difference the evenness of the concrete makes to the look of the barn and the back yard as a whole. I really must get out the weed whacker and get the rest of the yard tidied up - only three weeks 'til our annual August long weekend gathering, and while nothing like last year's UnWedding, we still hope to make this place worthy of a party.

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Posted by anita at 11:40 AM