Ya-HOO! I completed enough of the sheer drudgery work on my list that I took the day today to plant my first winter garden. The drudgery included putting the dirt back into the hole for the plumbing fix Al and I did a few weeks back. The fix is holding and it’s now safe to refill the cavern. After that, I emptied the dirt from the somewhat smaller but wider cavern where Al and I fixed plumbing two years ago. The rubber coupling had shifted and was leaking. In this case, all the PVC between the walnut tree and the pump house wall needed to be cut out. It literally turned two square-edged circles on its way from the tank to the pump house. So I cut away all the dead piping that had once been part of an irrigation system, making room for an almost straight run of pipe from tree to wall. As it ended up, I still needed that rubber coupling. Even with a 45 degree elbow, the two pieces of pipe didn’t meet. I haven’t yet refilled that hole, in case it leaks. I am NOT moving any more dirt than I absolutely have to move.
Then, because I was still in the pump house, I addressed the slow drip off the second arsenic filter. This required a call to tech support–I wanted to be certain I couldn’t break it–then the removal of the plastic piece that connects hoses to the filter. I discovered what happens if the screws aren’t quite tight enough when that cartridge is reinstalled. Let’s just call that my morning shower.
After that, I filled dirt in the trench near the barn. Mind you, I didn’t finish moving dirt. I just moved more of it. I’ve got a pact with myself about spending five minutes every day on the trench. I figure by Christmas it’ll be filled.
Then I installed a fence and gate to section off the northern half of the orchard garden. This is the area that the piggy girls have cleaned for me. It’s also their favorite place to lay in the morning because the sun hits it shortly after rising, making it a perfect pig-sunbathing spot. This is also why I didn’t plant in the orchard today. I want to be absolutely certain they can’t open that gate before I put the effort into preparing the garden.
Speaking of the girls, they are getting BIG! I need to measure them, but haven’t yet managed to balance all the bits to make it happen–you know, find the baling twine and the scissors at the same time, then get one of them to stand still long enough to measure her. Oddly, as big as they’re getting, they’ve slowed down on their food intake a little. This suggests to me that they’ve found something they love in that back pasture and are filling up on it instead of eating processed food. They seem very happy grazing of late and will often sit with the sheep, just chewing on grass. Oh, and I caught that ear-petting thing with Peanut again. One of the black-and-white girls had started past him, then caught sight of his ear–not hard to do now that she’s taller than he is. She stopped and put her mouth on it, then let him drag his ear out of her mouth. Since he didn’t make any noise or yank on his ear, I’m assuming he still enjoys this pig-petting-trick.
So my first garden of this winter season is that the small bed at house-level that I planted for my birthday a couple of years ago. It was a rough summer for that garden, what with me trapped inside writing, not really watching what was happening. That said, it still produced onions, lettuce, fava beans and arugula. Then the bermuda crept in and the bind weed joined it. The roses did okay, but the grapevine did not. I might have to see about building an arbor for it.
It took me all morning to remove the grass and weeds, but with every punch of my hoe I had to smile. What started as hay, straw, cardboard and iffy dirt is now a gorgeous dark brown soil Once the soil was as clean as I cared to get it–yes, I know the bermuda will be back, but it served its purpose and kept the dirt protected from a scorching sun–I raked it flat, then went for the seeds. Turnips, kale, tat soi, radishes, and carrots. I have no hope for the carrots, but I found a package, so I used it.
Everything’s a month late going in and, judging from my cottonwood trees, I’m thinking we’ll have an early frost. Still, once the willow drops her leaves, this garden gets sun all day long for the whole winter. I’m hoping that will do the trick and I’ll once more have plenty of cold season greens.
So on that happy note, it’s back to the drudgery. I have to fix my lawn mower. I sort of overfilled the oil and I’m sort of certain I broke it. Breaking the mower is a whole lot better than breaking anything in that pump house and a whole lot cheaper to fix. That is, if I really did buy that warranty.