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Monday night we got a text from my husband saying that he caught a flight and would land in Green Bay at 10:40pm. Yay! We loaded up around our usual bedtime and didn’t get back until after 1am, but it was worth it to finally be a whole family again. We’re so glad to have Daddy home for good!

As soon as we were all up and around on Tuesday, we got to work outside. We got all eight new fruit trees planted, though we still have to finish the fencing around four. If you have ever wondered how to protect fragile new trees from deer, here’s the big secret – a good fence. I’ve heard all sorts of tall tales about how to keep the deer at bay: hair clippings, human or coyote urine, soap, pepper spray, cd’s hanging, motion sensor sprinklers or lights… they’re all bunk. Just go out and get yourself two 8′-tall 2×4’s and rip them up the middle so you have four 2×2’s. Then staple some chicken wire a couple feet up. That’s it. Simple as that, and you don’t have to worry for years. No more peeing on your trees after every rain. No more lights flashing on and off all night long. We’ve used this for all 25 trees in our orchard and the only tree we’ve lost was due to a bulldozer gone wild. No advice on keeping wild bulldozers out of your trees, sorry.

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My husband is halfway through installing gutters on our house. As soon as he’s done with the gutters and our plumber has come out to clean up the atrocious mess above the septic system, we’ll be able to seed the mud all around the house with grass seed.

The boys have enlisted Daddy to do BB gun practice and sparklers. They’ve been bringing Daddy homemade cards and little gifts. It’s all kinds of adorable. They’re stoked that he’s home.

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Things are really starting to green up all over outside. The delphinium and sedum are already a few inches tall. I got them all trimmed of last years growth, so they’re ready to rock.

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Yesterday I finished tilling the future soft fruit patch and built a large raised bed to house the 120 strawberry plants I have coming in soon. I might toss in some perennial herbs, too, if there’s room. I used some of the leftover landscaping posts and some rebar I scavenged free to build the beds. I’ll do the end by the fence with large stones from around the land. I put all of the rotted wood from around the garden space in the bottom of the beds because I’ve read it’s good for raised beds. Hugelkultur or something like that. I didn’t have enough rotting wood to fill the bottom, but some is better than none, I guess.

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Today I helped my husband plant the fruit trees, then went back to work tilling the little garden patch that I had started the other day. Guess what I found a lot of?

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ROCKS!

I eventually had to stop because I threw the sheer pin on the tiller. I was sore, tired, and dirty anyway. It was a good excuse to call it a day. I got almost the entire section done. Maybe if it’s nice tomorrow I’ll row it up and plant out the taters. We’re still getting cold nights. It snowed over at my parents’ house today. Yep… still not time to plant this jungle of peppers and tomatoes residing in our living room.

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See the three little bamboo stakes sticking up from the tilled dirt? That is where I encountered three rocks bigger than my head. Yet another thing to do tomorrow – dig those suckers up. Pretty sure that last one nearest the tiller is the culprit that broke my sheer pin. The joys of busting sod.

That’s it for now. Hope y’all have a good weekend. Come see me at the Menominee VFW Post on Saturday from 9am-noon at the farmer’s market if you’re in the area! I’ll have peppers, herbs, celery, and some flowers for sale.

 

Yesterday I was able to get several more holes dug and filled with new posts. I am over halfway done with them, halfway through the week. We had some good thunderstorms roll through today, but if the weather picks up tomorrow and Friday I should be able to finish all of the posts by Friday. I won’t fence it in until next week when my husband is home. I fenced in the chicken run by myself and it wasn’t easy. Four hands are definitely better than two.

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See all the new trees in the chicken run? We got two more honeycrisp apples, two purple plums, and four cherry trees. The boys also brought home two unknown trees from school for Arbor Day. They’re fine in the pots for a couple days until I have time to dig holes and get some protective fencing up around them. The deer here will eat a tree down to a nub in one night… hence the fenced-in chicken run.

I bought  the new fruit trees at a local nursery. There was an older woman there who I got to talking with, and she remarked on how many trees I bought. I told her this was nothing, in a few weeks I have a few dozen more on the way and hundreds of plants to get into the garden. She was taken aback and said, “Well, that sounds a lot like work!”

Yes. Yes, it does.

I love this life in the country, work and all!

This morning I went to my third farmer’s market in Menominee, Michigan. I had yet another successful day, and got to chat with more of the vendors. We were outside for the first time of the season – not by choice. All morning the clouds kept rolling in to cover the sun, rain spit on us intermittently, and it was windy as all get out. I forgot my coat and an umbrella and all sorts of stuff, but my boys had fun playing in the van with their toys and setting up a hotwheels track to fling cars out into the pathway. Despite the crappy weather, I enjoyed myself. One of the other vendors loaned me a blanket, and one gave me her jacket. I’m so glad we moved to this area. There are so many wonderful people!

When the market closed up, we headed over to a nursery just outside of Peshtigo to check out their fruit trees. A little bird told me that they would all be potted up by Saturday. Yikes! They had hundreds! I’m interested in getting a few more cherry trees, but after talking with a few of the nursery workers who have cherry trees, I’m not so sure. This winter was extremely cold, and although cherry trees are rated well for zone 5 (which is our zone), many of them died because of the insanely low temperatures. I have to think about this a bit more. At $35 per tree, that’s no small investment for something that might up and die on us if we have another coldtastic winter.

After we got home, the sun came out and the wind wasn’t as bad. The boys and I went to work on the garden fence, getting eight holes dug and seven of the posts tamped into place. They were such good helpers. My oldest even helped tamp a few of the posts in using our heavy breaker bar. They’re getting so big!

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Yes, each of those posts are 8′ long. Can you tell where I ran into an impossibly large rock in each hole? Haha! Damn things. Going to be really fun when I till it the first time. At least I was able to get each hole a minimum of 21″ deep. I plan on eventually having an odd assortment of bird houses nailed to the top of each post in the garden, so I probably won’t cut them all even. I like the character.  No, the posts aren’t in a straight line. They are following the curve at the top of our driveway. Someday I would like to have a sort of hedge between the garden and driveway. It would act as a really good drift fence in the winter so the snow I shovel doesn’t jump right back into the driveway.

Anyway, eight holes done means I only have 33 left to dig! Woohoo! I should be able to hand dig these all this week if the weather stays nice. I need to run into town and pick up some concrete to get the corner posts set. I was going to rent an auger to get all the holes dug in one day, but I think I can handle this. Now that the solid week of rain storms is over.

Here’s a little graphic I made of the garden area as I have it marked out. Section A is the chicken run. I will have a door going right into the garden from the run so I can let the girls stir it up in the spring and fall. Section B is going to be a heavily mulched partition where all of my perennial soft fruits will go. I went overboard and bought two of each of just about every soft fruit bush that Stark Bros sells. The yellow line is where our electric line runs. Because I have a deep mistrust of their “12 inch depth,” I am going to follow the line with 4′ wide raised beds (in black) so I don’t accidentally dig into the line. Section C is the main, annual vegetable garden, with perennial flowers and herbs lining the fence so I don’t have to worry about continually tilling all those angles. Section D will be where I plant a cover crop of buckwheat, some clover, and some of my other grains. Eventually I’d like to move the grains to the lush bottom of our southern hill.

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So that’s it for today. Hope y’all are having a great weekend!

May 2014
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