Sunday, July 06, 2008

A weekend in the country

We spent a lovely long weekend at the cabin. The Chief got a primer coat and a first paint coat on the front deck before the rains came Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, because the paint hadn't all dried by then, some of it didn't last. The rains took care of some of it, and a local critter (the Chief suspects a raccoon) left its mark on the bottom step.

Thursday I went to the neighborhood nursery and came home with four 5-gal. buckets of compost, a huge bag of pachysandra, four 1-gallon pots of dicentra (he had been having so much trouble selling them, he had given up and was giving them away!), a ladyfern and a royal fern. And the price tag for this carload of stuff? All of $18! Friday I fired up the tiller and got to work. That machine is a real workhorse and also put me thru my paces. The thing bounces like crazy when it hits rocks, and I hit plenty that morning, so I got quite a workout controlling the tiller. The routine was pretty straightforward; till the living daylights out of a patch to be planted, throwing aside the largest of the rocks (i.e., fist-size or larger); scatter compost, setting the earthworms into a "refuge" (empty coffee can); till the compost into the remaining clay; plant some pachysandra; introduce the worms to their new home; scatter grass seed over the patch. Move to new bare spot and repeat the whole process. Because it's electric, I needed to get all that pachy planted before the rain started, which I managed. In fact, the rain very obligingly waited until I had everything put away, not just the tiller and its 100' extension cord.

I'm so glad I bought that tiller last year. Given that at least our section of the Mountain State is essentially shale with a very thin, sparse dusting of clay, it would be impossible for me to plant a thing without my lovely little tiller. And boy, does it hold up. It automatically stops when it gets weeds wrapped around the tine disks or picks up a rock. Usually I just had to stop & restart it, but once I found it had two fist-sized rocks wedged between the tine disks in different places. It didn't break, it didn't bend, it didn't burn out the motor, it just stopped until I cleared the rocks and reset it. To plagiarize the old Timex slogan, it takes a licking and keeps on ticking!

Thursday we also ran out to get a few things we'd forgotten to take with us, and came home by way of one of the local farmer's markets. The first of the peaches were in; still a bit green, but I bought some anyway. By Friday I couldn't stand it any longer; those peaches smelled so good I had to bake 'em up! I didn't have a copy of my favorite peach pie recipe with me, but no matter; I guessed at the flour/sugar/spice mix that went in with the peaches, eyeballed the amount of peaches to cut up, and hoped for the best. Not as good as if I'd had the recipe, but the Chief seemed to think it tasted just fine.

We saw quite a few deer this weekend, including a doe/fawn pair, and I spotted a hummingbird and a big black butterfly checking out the rhododendrons.

The homeowners association arranged for gypsy moth spraying this spring (we had a disgusting plague of the little monsters last year), so between that and the rain, the foliage is nice and thick and lush this year. That means more flowers on the rhodies, too, and the pachysandra and euonymus I planted last year, which barely survived the drought, are looking quite healthy & happy this year and the grass the Chief planted last fall is flourishing. Whether it's the greenery or how cool the rain kept things this weekend, the birds seemed more active and vocal. It's so much nicer waking up to birds than to an alarm clock!

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