May 25, 2015
Please take a moment to remember what this day is all about - remembering and honoring our military personnel that have fallen while defending our country and freedom.
Please also stay safe in you Memorial Day activities.
May 24, 2015
Yard work is becoming more of the norm, with my mowing for the fist time this season last Tuesday after work. One of my projects this summer is to take out the several stumps that were in the yard when I moved in. Last weekend, I managed to remove a couple, and get a third stump dug down quite a bit.
The first two stumps were next to the stairs leading to the front door. They were most likely cedar and had been planted too close to the stairs, so had to be cut down as they encroached. The first stump took quite a while to dig out.
The second stump must have gotten scared and gave little resistance - it took perhaps a total of 30 minutes of digging and prying - the stump actually gave me a nice place to lever against itself.
The third stump is next to the driveway. I don't know what it is, but it was certainly a larger hardwood that was evidently planted too close to the house. To add to the difficulty, I have to be very careful with the dirt because Japanese Knotweed is growing right next to it (that is the green stuff next to the stump - I cut off the 2 ft canes, after applying shrub killer a couple of days previously). JK is a very invasive plant that needs lots of sun to grow, but when it grows, it grows so fast you can almost literally see it (up to 6"/day). Evidently it got enough shade from the Cedar that I cut down last year, that it didn't start growing until last summer. This year, without the cedar to shade it, it took right off.
I gave up on stump 3 until I can get ahold of a chainsaw to cut the two roots on the downhill side, and Monday evening I started on the 4th stump that was between a flower garden and the planter that I placed the (now dead) Peace Rose in last summer. Even though it turned out to be the smallest of the stumps (it is the one on the right in the picture below), this one was challenging as there were lots of rocks that had to be removed.
I still have 3 stumps to go, but those may not come out this year. I have the two cedar stumps from the trees along the driveway I had removed last year. Those two were great at blocking my snow blowing and throwing the snow back into the driveway. There is also a very large stump between the willow and maple in the side yard. It is not only large, it is located in an area that is always wet as it is near the swamp next door.
I placed a couple of lupines in part of the hole left by stump #4.
I have plans to fill the rest of that hole with some moisture loving plants - let the landscaping begin.
Flowers of Spring
The spring has not been abundant with flowers. With two hard winters in a row, and a late spring, that is not to be unexpected.. But, there were a few bright spots that made me smile;
Although I got a lot of greenery, only one lone daffodil flowered (and none of the hyacinths along the tree line bloomed)
The crabapple was gorgeous this year. Last year it was pretty, but it was even better this year. Unfortunately the blooms only lasted a week, so enjoyment was short lived.
The forsythia was treated harshly this year. Between the heavy Thanksgiving snow that bowed a lot of the branches so badly they snapped off (and what was encroaching in the driveway I pruned off hard), and my spring pruning so that I could get under it to mow, I'm surprised it gave me the benefit of any flowers at all.
The trees in back have leafed out enough that it is tough to tell I have neighbors back there.
Looks like the Peace Rose that I planted last year didn't make it thru the winter. I would have been surprised if it had. However, I got another rose at Agway a couple of weeks ago and it has been both beautiful and sinfully scentful.
And, I have been lugging seedlings and tender annuals in and out during frost dangers
One of those times, I'm pretty sure I brought in a hitchhiker :)
Soon, I will be able to plant the vegetable garden and I am getting the itch to do some landscaping - yep, spring is definitely here.
May 17, 2015
Raised Bed ROI
In a previous post, Making the Bed(s), Cop Car commented, "What are the pros and cons of raised beds? I've been tempted to put a couple in, but couldn't figure the ROI." I started to comment in reply, but found it was longish, so decided to make a new post.
Pros for raised beds:
- Don't have to hack out any sod to create (can just cover with landscape fabric then fill in with dirt);
- don't have to worry about the clay/hardpan/rock underneath;
- you can make you soil composition exactly what you want it to be;
- helps keep grass out;
- easier to reach vegetables that are close to the ground;
- don't have to worry about accidently mowing or weed wacking into the garden by mistake;
- if you have an herb that can be invasive (like mint), it is easier to control;
- neighborhood cats don't jump up into beds to use them as litter boxes (ask me how I know - LOL);
- No rototilling needed in subsequent years.
- Prep work labor (making the ground somewhat level for the base)
- Cost of materials (I spent less than $100. However, I only had to by the cinder blocks for 1 bed, but those are cheap and can sometimes be found on CL for free. Of course most people use wood or composite for the base to make it more aesthetically pleasing.
I have never had raised beds before this house so may not have covered all the pros/cons. Other issues may crop up over time but I liked them enough last year, even with the minimal gardening I did, to add the 3rd raised bed.
May 16, 2015
Making the Bed(s)
When I moved into this house, there were two raised beds that I used for limited vegetable gardening last summer. One bed was in decent shape, the other waws really falling apart. The beds were about 8 feet apart and I hate mowing (actually, I dislike having a lot of grassy area), so I covered the section between the two beds with landscape cloth. I had a vague plan to put in a 3rd raised bed at the time, and this year I decided was as good a time as any. The existing raised beds are on conceret cinder blocks, with wooden structures on top and I decided to carry the theme forward.
Instead of wood, I found raised bed kits online that are made of composite material and are easy to put together - no tools needed. The bonus was they are cheaper than buying the wood and hardware necessary (at least the sale I stumbled onto made it that way). The end of April I set up the lower cinder block structure then the first weekend in May I added the composite material and used excess dirt from the other two beds to fill it.
I filled that bed fairly full of dirt, including filling the cinder block holes since I left the landscape fabric in place. However, there is still plenty of room to add mulch/compost/manure in future years.
I also tore apart one of the old beds that was in really horrible shape - the wood was twisting away from the corner brackets and was very rotted (of course no pictures of that). I also wanted to move it about a foot closer to the new bed, from where the cinder blocks were. I dug out the cinder blocks and spent quite some time getting all the rocks, dirt and weeds out of the holes before setting up the new base.
Since I was relocating it, I also had to dig out more than a foot from the outside (you will see why in future pictures)
Finally I got the composite structure placed on it. Since this bed is not on landscape fabric, I did not refill the dirt quite as high as I did for the new bed. I didn't realize the new cinder blocks were slightly shorter than the old cinder blocks, so one edge is quite wide on the outside - oh well, I'll put in some thyme or something there.
The one remaining old bed will not be touched this year. It is still in decent shape even though the cinder blocks have been shoved out from beneath the wood. These pictures show why I actually ended up moving more than a foot of dirt for the restructured bed - the cinder blocks were pushed way out from the actual bed itself.
I do enjoy these flowers around the old bed too (flower pictures taken this morning). Not sure what they are, but they bloomed most of the summer last year so it looks nice.
April is the time of year that I have to get my car inspected (yes, I realize it is May, but I am working on old stuff off my camera and phone). Unfortunately, my car needed a lot of work to pass inspection. I had originally taken the car to a place close by where I work, so I could catch a ride from a coworker. However, I found that they were not as honest, or as reasonably priced as I would like, so I ended up taking my car to my local maechanic that I have don't business with for 20+ years (actually did business with his dad before he passed the business to his son Glenn).
Local is in relative terms; it is in Antrim, and is 5.8 miles from my house (yes, I know exactly the disatance). Now, the issue was that the work would take several hours and probably be over the course of a couple of days. Sure, I had my bike to get to/from work, but getting home after dropping the car off (and getting there to pick it up) was problematic since I have nobody around to ask for help (not asking EX).
So, I dropped the car off on a Thursday after work, and walked home. The shortest way back is about 2.5 miles along a main road, then split off onto back roads, some of which are dirt. If there were more ways to cross the Contoocook River, I could have shaved off some distance, but there isn't, so I couldn't. However, I was able to eventually utilize a snowmobile trail that runs alongside the longest stretch of the walk. Gave my shins a much needed rest from pounding the concrete and also ran straighter and flatter than the road it paralleled. Although cloudy and cool, it was still a nice walk and I got to see some parts of the river that I normally don't see, and go right by the local gun range (Deering Fish and Game - last picture).
Glenn kept the car until Tuesday as his tire supplier misunderstood and thought he didn't need the tires until then. Worked out fine as Monday was very hot and sunny, but Tuesday was cool and cloudy - I was comfortable and not sweating my but off on the walk to the shop.
I was pleasantly surprised while passing a house that is shortly before I hit the main road - it had lots of tulips and daffodils blooming. If I had known, I would have taken a picture when I went by on Thursday to show the difference 5 days makes.
It all turned out well; I had a great excuse to get more exercise than I would normally do on my own, got in some awesome scenery, and had pleasant weather. Hey, and I know it consistently takes me 1 hour and 20 minutes to walk 5.8 miles at a decent pace (not hurrying, but not quite strolling either).
May 10, 2015
Mother's Day 2015
Happy Mother's Day to Cop Car - my biggest cheerleader! I think the following pretty much sums it up - LOL
Oh, and Birdie too!
May 03, 2015
The Harley dealer that I store my bike at also hosts a HOG (Harley Owner's Group) and the associated LOH (ladies of Harley) chapter. The LOH members were given the opportunity to model some of the new clothing that had come into the store lately. This was to take place prior to a ladies ride yesterday (5/2/15), organized in recognition of International Female Ride day. Unfortunately I had a major crick in my neck, so couldn't participate in the ride. But, I had committed to taking a Lady in to pick up her bike that day, so got to model using someone else's bike.
This is my one shot at fame and fortune - LOL.
April 25, 2015
Thanks to Cop Car, I have found a completely useless, but fascinating theory on my name. If I use my former married name, I am the only person in the US with that name. And, there are only 164 people with that last name at all. I must know at least 20% of those people. I will admit that the spelling is a non-common variation and if I put in an alternate spelling, the instances rise.
However, what I do find funny (and perhaps accurate) is that according to the graphic, there are 1 or fewer. If I was the only person with that name on Dec 31, 2014 as of Jan 1, 2015, no one has it.
Now that I have gone back to my maiden name, it seems there are 188 people that would respond if it was called over the loudspeaker.
Of course this is non-scientific, not claimed to be accurate, and just uses statistics to estimate those numbers, so this means absolutely nothing except I had something to post.
April 19, 2015
Birdie's Cage Fail
When last I left you in this riveting story, due to the base of Birdie's cage breaking, I bought a new cage for him and seemed to be doing well in his digs 9picture taken 3/27).
Well, he liked his mirror (transferred from the old cage), but he was rooted to his spot on the upper perch. He would not venture down to eat, even when I clipped one of his favorites, whole grain bread, above the food dish. By 3/31, he still had not moved to eat, although he did eat some bread that I placed in a clip next to the perch he was on - so I knew I had to do something - especially since I would be leaving for my 3 day trip to Rhode Island. So. I brought the old cage back pstairs and placed him in it until I could come up with something better. He immediately ran down to the food dish and started munching away.
I started searching CL, and found that several weeks previously someone had posted the exact same model as Birdie's old cage. I had tried desperately to find the same model as new, but evidently it had gone out of production (not surprised since it is at least 12 years old). So, I found someone who was selling the cage - or were they? You never know on CL with older ads. Did they sell the item and not delete the post? Did they get tired of waiting for someone to want it and take it to the dump or local swap shop?
Only one way to find out, so I mailed the person that had placed the ad. In the email I offered a little less than they wanted explaining that I really only needed the base, not the whole cage. Yes, the cage was still available, and they would take what I offered so I arranged to pick it up the night before leaving for RI. I didn't wet it up as I had other things to accomplish (like pack), but at least I didn't have to worry about it while I was supposed to be relaxing.
A couple of days after I got home, I transferred Birdie to the new/used cage (hey, it was already clan, so I might as well use the whole thing). Although traumatized by the move, as usual, he settled in as if it was the same old cage.
At the same time, I decided to go ahead and assemble the stand that I had gotten for the new cage. Since the stand is contoured to fit the base of the new cage exactly, I had to scrounge in the basement and found a couple of shelves from a broken book shelf that works well for holding the cage.
If you look below the cage in use, there is a clear plastic seed catcher in the above picture. That thing has been in use since sometime in the 90's, and is brittle, cracked and falling apart. I looked and looked for a replacement, but the company that used to make them was bought out by another company and they discontinued making the seed catcher. Birdie is very messy for a cockatiel; throwing food and pellets out of the cage, so a catcher is needed.
Most solutions available now consist of a covering that blocks off view from above the seed bowl to the cage bottom. I knew Birdie would never go for that, so I finally found something that works, although it freaked out Birdie for a couple of days - but he is okay with it now.
Note that I only put up a couple of sides to the catcher so it sags and looks like crap, but it is the only way that I can still access the food bowls every day (it interferes with the latches for the bowls - if they slid upwards the catcher would be fine). It works better than the old catcher as Birdie hasn't figured out how to flip the pellets/seeds over the side, so the floor stays a lot cleaner.
Since the new cage that Birdie doesn't like is used, it can't be returned. I am torn as to whether I will try to sell it (and take a loss), or hold onto it. Every once in a while I see birds being given away on CL (cockatiels or parakeets), and I wouldn't mind having a couple more birds. Even if I don't get more birds at this point, Birdie has surpassed his life expectancy (he's over 20), so when it is his time to go, I am sure I will get another small bird or two - and having a new cage would be preferable to the used cage, which is about as old as the cage that I replaced.
At least Birdie is happy and eating, so anything beyond that is just a minor irritant.