Beginning Again


It has been a long two weeks with prepping and attending a workshop on the other side of the state plus a conference up north.  Along with the prep work for my presentations at both, I’ve been hard at work on my online classes–responding to plaintive cries via e-mail, putting out fires and critiquing essays.

The reward at the end of all of it was to see my boy again for a four-day weekend.  Usually it seems like forever between visits, but this seemed like an eternity with a golden light at the end of that two-week tunnel.  We had a great relaxed weekend, geeking out with our books and the Wii, walking down to the dog park when it wasn’t too blustery.

I brought him back to his dad today through the wind and snow.  Glad we took off early, so I didn’t feel rushed and overly panicked when the semis blew past and we couldn’t see anything.  This winter has been the worst in a long, long time, but it has helped that I’ve been almost too busy to notice.

Tonight, after finishing my book (Cory Doctorow’s The Makers), slamming a couple bowls of the turkey soup I made yesterday, and taking a warm meditative bath, I got started on the new seed starting year in earnest.

The basement needs cleaning up and organizing–it’s not terrible since I did do a bunch of vacuuming down there during the flea infestation, but my workbench needs at least a little space cleared off so I can actually do work on it.

So far, I’ve managed to get the three old dehydrators and all their trays packed into a contractor bag to head out to storage in the rabbit barn.  I’m planning to invest in a 9-tray Excaliber model with a fan this year, so I can dry more than one or two trays of tomatoes at a time without watching and rotating constantly.

Canned goods need re-arranging and more should be brought upstairs to the pantry, and I’d like to start getting the basement freezer emptied so it can be unplugged until late summer or fall.  I’ve started to collect more water jugs to replace the food I take out until there’s nothing in there but jugs, and then I’m done.

The light tubes on my seed-starting shelves need replacing this year, and the shelf and all its accoutrements need wiping down with a bleach solution.  Then the mixing and the seeding of flats can commence.

A visit to the hardware store is in order as well, for dust masks (working with dried-out peat is terrible) plus steel wool, sandpaper, and linseed oil to get the tools in working order.

That, and I’ll have to get out to the farm to see what tools are still out there.  H tells me it has been badly drifted in for a couple of days with all the snow and blowing, so I may have to park at the end of the corn fields where it’s blown clear and snowshoe in down the road to the gardens.

It gives me a good feeling to think about all that garlic I planted last fall, waiting there under the white blanket until it can send up some green spring shoots.

H and I had another discussion tonight about the state of the garden shed, which is one of those steel-hooped round buildings that will eventually collapse.

Right now, it’s mostly the mulberry trees growing alongside that seem to be holding it up while simultaneously rotting it out from lack of airflow and poking holes in it with their branches. Critters can escape into or out of it via a couple of pretty good-sized holes near the ground.  It’s not in particularly good shape, but it’s there.

We’ve been discussing for the last couple of years how we’re going to empty it out, take it down (my guess is taking the power boat out will accomplish this second task rather handily), and replace it–maybe with that steel quonset that’s also sitting out there upside down next to that big street sweeper brush the pigs used to play with.

The problem about all this planning is, there’s a population of swallows that have taken up residence in that shed, and they return to those nests every year.

It’s a pain because they tend to soil anything underneath the nests (strategic placement or covering of tools is necessary), but they do a great job keeping the bugs down in the gardens, and it’s a joy to see them return every spring.

Garden season really begins with the return of the swallows, and when they leave in fall, it’s time to start packing it up for the season.  While there’s also a population of them living in the old house across the farm, there’s probably not room enough or nests enough to accommodate the other population therein.

So, we’ve been trying to think about how we can either keep the current shed going for a bit longer, or add some rafter-area for nesting in the new design.  Can you put cupolas on quonsets?

Either way, it won’t likely be this spring that we get the shed replaced–fall will give us more time to plan for the swallows’ new nesting area.

All this is hypothetical right now, though.  What’s real is the mess in the basement and the rearranging and cleaning that needs doing down there.

Then, once the seedlings are started in the moist medium, it’ll be pleasant to work down there with that peaty rich aroma and moist air–a little soft music, some seed packs, a cup of tea, and daydreams of this year’s gardens.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I was splitting wood so Joani had all she needs while I’m in Elkton and heard a robin on the other side of the creek.

    Basin is at 5300′ in contrast to 1380′ in Elkton, no snow in the Boulder Valley to reflect heat or cool the wind sweeping over the Continental Divide.

    So, we add ash from the stove to the compost pile, new for us. What do you think?

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on February 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Larry–

    I do a couple of things with my wood ash. I sometimes sprinkle a very light dusting when I’m planting something that likes the soil more basic (like spinach or peas)–though our soil isn’t acidic to begin with here. Occasionally I put a little light layer in the compost, but again–with the moisture in there you might burn the worms (wood ash+water can give you lye). Another thing I do with the ash from my fireplace is to toss it on paths where I don’t want weeds to grow. Wood ash is probably more useful for those who have acid soils–I’m pretty careful with the amounts I use.

    –re.

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