23 May 2009

Something Else Happened the Day of the Oliver Crop Circles

Remember all those heavy stones I said I was carrying? Well they formed this:A nice mowing edge / path to divide the very back of the yard from the rest of the lawn.

Two reasons for this:
One, the 100' extension cord on the electric mower doesn't reach much farther than this, and, two, it is a pain to get under the apple trees to mow the weeds, 'cause nothing else wants to grow under there.

So the plan is to lay a mowing strip for a clear division (done), kill the weeds, and plant ground cover that will thrive in those conditions and not require much maintenance.
My little path starts near the fence at the spirea and crosses the main backyard path, past the apple trees, and ends at the retaining wall on the other side of the yard.

22 May 2009

Girl vs. Groundhog, Rounds 1 & 2

I may be from Pennsylvania, the home of that most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, also home to the second-most famous groundhog, Gus, the spokes-critter for the Pennsylvania Lottery, but that doesn't mean I want giant holes in my yard!

This fat-cat has been digging giant craters in the yard for years, and we used to see him all the time, brazenly sunning himself out in the open yard. Not so much now that Oliver is on the scene, but it is evident that he's still around.
Since we've been digging up the sidewalk, and we had to dispose of some of the debris from that project, mom loaded a wheel barrow with soil-y rock, and I filled in the three largest of the groundhog holes. Then another load of rock-y soil on top. I had plans to sprinkle grass seed over the bare patches.

That was Saturday. I was pretty pleased with myself when I was done. By Wednesday he had managed to dig his way through the loose stones and tunnel back out.

I was hopping mad to see that new hole, and I set about fixing that groundhog. He is not going to outsmart me.
I found a large field rock from the giant pile filling my front yard flower bed, and I dropped it in his newly dug hole. Then I filled in around it with more rocky soil. Take that!

21 May 2009

Re-purposing Rubble

We started with a truck load of broken concrete...Mom and I hauled the larger pieces over to the other side of the house, about four chunks in the wheelbarrow at a time, and we slowly built up a little rock wall.
This area along the fence is the bane of my yard. It is steeply sloped away from the house, with a slightly gentler grade from front to back. At only 7' wide, this little strip is at best difficult to mow, at worst dangerous to walk along. It is just too easy to loose your footing or turn an ankle.
Over the past couple of years we have puzzled over how to build this up a bit, and still keep the soil on our side of the fence. Aside from very expensive and drastic measures, this seems to be our best solution. Plus, it was free.
I don't think it looks too bad from the factory's side of the fence, but we'll get a better idea when they have trimmed the weeds and tall grass from their side. Hopefully that's not what's keeping all my rocks from sliding down hill!

19 May 2009

Mower Damage

My next door neighbor has been super sweet by mowing my front yard and my little strip between our houses when he has his riding mower out. I am so grateful for even that little bit of extra help. That's why I feel bad for being upset over this:

It looks like he bumped the trunk of my purple leaf plum with the mower. He probably doesn't even realize he did it. I'm not mad or anything, just worried about the tree. What if it doesn't heal, or gets disease or bugs?

Otherwise, it looks full and happy and healthy.

We planted it last April, and it looks so much better. I can't wait for it to get tall enough to provide a bit of shade and privacy on the porch.

18 May 2009

Crop Circles

I've uncovered the secret to crop circles:

Golden Retrievers love rolling and rutching their backs in tall grass.

Well, that's what Oliver likes to do, anyway.
Sunday was a big-work-outside day. I was afraid I was running low on my reclaimed from the cabin paving stones for my backyard project, we've been pilfering from that stack for the front yard for a while. So I decided I had better lay them out to see how many I could still take. And it's a good thing too, because I had exactly enough left for my backyard project. Not one more or one short.

Of course, I didn't take a picture of the finished walkway, I'll try to do that soon. But you get a picture of Oliver instead. I think my old cell phone took better photos than the new one, but that's what was handy. Oli doesn't get to this part of the yard very often, but I moved his rope so he could be near me, but not so close he could trip me up as I carried heavy stones across the yard! So, as you can see, he enjoyed himself. Also, you can see we seriously need to mow!

15 May 2009

Rocks and Cement = Sidewalks

Last August, for my birthday, I got a letter from our town. A lot of people around got these letters. Mine came with a black and white printer copy of a photo of my sidewalk. More specifically, the big corner chunk that was coming loose (from where the town's snow plow hit it two winters ago). Residents had ten months to make the appropriate repairs, or the town will do it for you, charge you the cost, plus 10%, plus fine you. Nice. Well, what can you do? It is what it is, I guess. Oh, yeah, there's also a $15 construction permit either way.

Most people weren't prepared to make the repairs last fall, and of course you can't do this kind of job during the winter, so over the past couple of weeks there has been a lot of this sort of thing going on around town:Yup. That's my little slice of construction.

Mom's boyfriend John and his neighbor Bart are going to help with this, as they have both been laid off recently. John is very handy in general and Bart worked for years for a company that does paving in the summer, snow clearing in the winter.

On Tuesday Bart cut the broken sections away from the rest of the sidewalk and the street, then John took a sledgehammer to the sidewalk.

On Wednesday John and Lewis loaded the largest pieces onto the trailer that John left for us. Then Mom and I took over and we dug the rest of the smaller pieces out of the pit. That's what I'm calling it now. The pit.

As it turns out, there was a big layer of field rocks just below the cement layer. Most of them have come completely loose from the cement. Mom and I picked them out of the rubble and have piled them onto my crescent flowerbed. (Poor violets, they didn't stand a chance.) I'm not quite sure what I want to do with them yet, but I have many options. More on that later.Now, I'm not saying my sidewalk is in great shape. It certainly is not. There are only two sections that don't have cracks. I would have liked to do the whole thing at once, and if I could have put this project off for a couple more years, maybe we would have been able to do that. But right now money is so tight that I don't even know how I am going to pay for the supplies to finish this project. So thank you, town, for forcing this on the homeowners during the worst recession many of us have ever seen.
Oliver enjoyed watching us for a while, but once I gave him a chewy he didn't care what was going on anywhere in the neighborhood. That's it, buddy. Get rid of that nasty tartar and plaque.