Sunday, July 9, 2017

Rockin' Around the Clock

It was a long day but we finished the walkway around the garage Saturday! With a prediction of a heatwave coming Sunday, we were motivated to complete the task on a relatively-nice mid-80s day. We got a head start earlier in the week, placing most of the pavers so we would be ready to hit the ground running Saturday morning.
First, the spacing between the 16x16 pavers was adjusted from 16" down to 12" making for a more comfortable step. Scott used two of the 4x8 pavers to keep everything aligned. While he did the fine-tuning, I hauled more pavers in the wheelbarrow, putting them in the trench where he could later adjust to his specifications.
Bibbers was such a good helper! He frequently inspected the progress but spent a lot of time snoozing on the stoop.
By adding more pavers in this back corner, the hose reel and grill will have a tidy place to call home.
The bulk of the time was spent hauling rock from the big pile near the barn to the job site. While you'll see Scott modeling in these photos, rest assured that little ol' me was the main rock-scooper-and-hauler. Exhausting work, for sure, especially with the rock pile in a no-shade zone.
Scoop 'em up and toss them in the Ranger bed. Repeat. 
Over and Over and Over. 
Without the Ranger's help hauling ten (or more? I didn't count) loads, the task would have been impossible. (Side note: when we were finished with this project, the pile didn't look that much smaller. And while we are thinking of more ways to use the rock, we will rent a Bobcat next time. This type of manual labor is better suited for the young.)
The Ranger's dump bed sure came in handy! Each load filled in the spaces around two or three of the big pavers.
While I drove back to the pile to start loading more, Scott used a garden rake to move the rock into position.
Ta Da!
The final walkway looks great! We are interested to see how the rocks settle in, what the effect of rainfall is, and if the kitties will appreciate this improvement. 
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July! Now Grab a Shovel & Get Busy

You know what the blog has been missing? News about an actual "project." One where we get our hands dirty over several days, toiling away toward a goal. Lucky for you, Dear Reader, we have just such a story to tell. With a nice four-day weekend on tap, we decided the time was right to undertake a little landscaping.

You may remember last summer when we were given a little stack of pavers. We worked a little on the area next to the northwest stoop then stacked the pavers for use another day - which nearly one year to the day later - finally arrived.
And look what else arrived! My baby brother, Tim, in town from home in Sioux Falls. While Teresa and Karli were off shopping Saturday (July 1) afternoon, he volunteered to come over and watch us work. It wasn't long before he grabbed a shovel and started helping.

The "project" is creating a a paver-bordered walk-way from the north side of the garage, around to the west side of the garage, then a flower bed from the northwest stoop around the corner, along the west side of the great room, ending at the south patio. We started out small on Saturday, choosing to concentrate on the flower bed portion. Scott figured out how many pavers we would need to purchase, and I found the bargain price at Menard's. We toted 100 pavers home in the Subaru.
The worst part of the project is digging the grass out to create a trench for the pavers. Scott and his trusty hoe made cutting through the roots seem so easy! My job was to collect the chunks of grass and knock off as much soil as possible. (We don't need to fill the burn pile with dirt, after all.)
The design incorporates gentle curves to create beds for perennials; most likely hostas on the north side and cone flowers on the west. Still to be determined! Scott placed the bricks "downhill" which will create an easy surface for the lawn mower to ride along (and eliminate the need to use the trimmer.)
Scott started small with a little cut, then created an eight-inch wide trench for the pavers - and he and Tim endured it all during a hot and humid afternoon without whining.
Thank you, Timmy, for your wonderful hard work!
Here's a quick shot of the completed flower bed on the west side of the great room. In addition to adding some much-needed backyard color, the plants will help disguise the big egress window wells.
Today (July 4), Scott started the walk-way portion of the project by mapping out a 4-foot wide strip along the west side of the garage. (Wilson inspected everything before granting his approval and finding a cool place to nap.)
The sidewalk in this photo will give you an idea of what we're creating. We will finally be using some of the river rock in the giant pile next to the barn! We're using 16"-square pavers for the stepping stones and more pavers to line the outside border (just like we did for the flower beds.)
Once again, the labor intensive portion of the project was digging up the grass to create the pavers' trench. Lucky for Scott, Bibbers hung out with him most of the day which makes working in high humidity/heat almost bearable.
By the time he made it around to the north side of the garage, a dark rain cloud came along with a cool breeze...just the relief he needed to finish. (We only got a few sprinkles but it gave us a good opportunity to take a break.)
At about 4PM, Menard's delivered 210 more 4x8 pavers and 40 16x16 pavers. We figured it was worth the extra $60 not to have to make six trips to pick up this much weight.The delivery man was super nice and wanted to buy noTTafarm. (Who doesn't want to buy noTTafarm? It's an awesome place!)
The day's work came to an end with the placement of black landscaping cloth to (hopefully) discourage the grass from growing. We plan to start back up after work tomorrow.
Stay Tuned for More Progress!

How Does Your Garden Grow? Mine's Doing Great!

With Mother Nature's penchant for steamy, sunny days of late, our garden is a happy place.
After a 3-week dry spell earlier in June, we've had regular rain. The metro area has had a few major thunderstorms but our part of town has been spared, so far. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we will come through the season unscathed.
This photo, taken June 24, shows everything on track. The bed of beans in the foreground had an infection of tomato plants, volunteers from last summer. Scott & Carl transplanted a few of them to a patch on the west side of the barn and another couple in the peppers/eggplant bed. We'll soon see if they catch up to the new plants we added this spring.
In this photo, taken June 29, the cherry tomatoes are coming on strong. Can't wait for a yummy snack (perhaps with a little mozzarella and a big handful of basil!)
Rut Row . . . the Japanese beetles are back! Time to get some insecticide applied before they eat all of our delicious green beans.
This morning (July 4), I went out first thing and weeded all of the beds. I picked our first crop of beans and pulled two carrots. We never got the 2016 carrots to do much . . . but these two volunteers were beautiful (sadly, these are the only two we'll have this year.) Carl & Marita were excited to get their first beans and single carrot allotment this afternoon. Our carrot was a crispy treat we ate while the beans were steaming to accompany our dinner.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Garden Update!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

June Happ'nin's

Ten photos representing what's been happening this month:
Sunsets have been vibrant with the hot weather and frequent thunderstorms.
There's some prairie grass at the bottom of the west slope that is nearly as tall as me. Seeing it reinforces my belief that I would have made a terrible pioneer. How does one walk miles through such tall, dense grass?
 Pops of purpley-pink populate the west slope.
The neighbor's alfalfa pasture south of us has been cut in intervals. A third of it was cut two weeks ago, then another third cut a week later and the final third cut yesterday. Any hay experts out there care to explain why they did it this way? It seems inefficient.
 The crew baled in the 96-degree heat this week.
A big thunderstorm rolled through the Metro on June 16, leaving behind a trail of popcorn clouds. Those of us on the north side of town were spared the severe damage suffered in Bellevue and Plattsmouth.
Scott with his tall shadow.  
The cottonwood fluff has been flying! After the big thunderstorm, we picked up quite a few branches with the fluff still attached.  
Last Sunday (June 18,) Scott dragged the harrow up and down the driveway, weighed down with a section of pallet. He also used the snow plow (weighed down with a bucket of sand) to redistribute gravel along the length of the driveway. His four hours of work resulted in a practically-new driveway - though we will probably need a load of gravel before winter.
Good job, Scotty!
Scott in silhouette, putting the pallet back in the corncrib.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Monday, May 22, 2017

A 'Hole' Lotta Diggin' Goin' On

When it rains all the time and then it rains some more, things happen. Such is my theory upon Scott's discovery of The Great Sinkhole of '17. He went down to check the mail Saturday (5/20) afternoon and couldn't help but notice the hole that had formed on the south side of the big clump of concrete, plants and dirt at about the driveway's mid-point. When the skies cleared Sunday, we went out to investigate.
An area about 4 ft. x 5 ft. x 3 ft. deep appeared in a space that had heretofore been an unexplained planting Clump. (Sorta half rock garden, half wildflower effort that turned into just another thing to mow around.)
The big fears included having the water line compromised or the culvert somehow circumvented. Scott probed the bottom of the hole, looking for signs of disaster. Luckily - it turned out just to be a section of soil that sank (perhaps encouraged by the groundhog family that lives nearby.)  He decided to take apart The Clump and use its dirt to fill the hole. I decided that my time would be better spent pulling weeds.
When I checked on him 45 minutes later, he had made great progress! He sheared off the dirt with the transfer shovel, collecting chunks of concrete along the way. The weeds and grass went in the hole, along with the dirt.
The plan for the big slabs of concrete included crushing them into rubble size with the sledge. This was later determined to be too much to tackle at the moment.
Small concrete chunks were chucked into the ditch next to the culvert on the south side of the driveway.
Tall weeds and grass were tackled with the scythe. Side note: another "found" tool, this thing is super sharp!
After about 3 1/2 hours of hard work, the hole was filled and The Clump was just a memory. (Plus, the cottonwood flowerbed was looking much better due to my expert weed pulling.)
I volunteered to serve as a passenger in the Ranger as Scott drove over and over the dirt to pack it down. I knew my body weight would someday prove useful!
At the end of a long afternoon, the tools were toted back to the barn and all was well. Another satisfying day of hard work. Good job, Scotty! He will continue to monitor the area and add more dirt as the ground settles.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Garden Gets Growing

The veggies are "in" and growing! With the time-consuming task of building the raised beds completed last year, planting was easy this Spring. All we had to do was wait for a day with more sun than rain (a seemingly simple thing that has been a challenge of late.)
The first step was to clean up the beds which were nearly overgrown by thick grass peppered with huge dandelions.
My feet are so tiny it's hard to tell how long the grass is. Suffice to say it was past due for a clipping.
On Saturday, May 13, we went to Home Depot with Mom & Dad Camp to select this year's veggies. We pared down our inventory, realizing that we over-crowded the beds last year. After a bit of discussion about what goes where, the planting began.
Bibbers had to be in the big middle of the action, of course. He always comes a'runnin' when he sees his Gramma and Grampa drive up.
These two "volunteer" carrots are now at home with our tomatoes and basil. We planted four cherry tomatoes, two Early Girl and two Big Boy varieties. It should be just the right amount of tomato-ey goodness for Marita and me (the two tomato eaters in the bunch.)
Mom was excited to find eggplant plants. She placed two in the bed between Scott's bell peppers and my rhubarb.
Rhubarb -- Eggplant -- Peppers
Carl was happy to have one entire bed to plant with two varieties of green beans. Bibbers was his special helper (or was he impeding progress?)
Scott and I checked on the garden on Sunday, May 21st. The five+ inches of rain we got during the week must have been what the ornamental corn needed to go ahead and sprout! It's at home in the north east bed with Dad's okra and some herbs. (Side Note to My Mommy Jolene - this is the Indian Corn you gave us at Christmas which I thought was just for decor. Found it in the basement, shelled it, planted it and here we go!)
Stay Tuned to Watch Our Garden Grow!