Thursday, April 14, 2011

Playing in the Dirt

Today I spent pretty much all day at my parent's house. They have needed to get some yard work done, and I am anxiously waiting to start my job on Monday, so they told me to come over and bide my time by doing yard work.

Today consisted of multiple tasks, the first of which was cleaning out the raspberry patch (that I pruned on Monday) of all the dead growth and the decapitated tops that didn't make it out of the patch. I don't think that it had been done as thoroughly as I did it in about five years or so. I was instructed to use the long-handled pruners before my parent headed off to a funeral, but quickly switched to hand pruners so I could get at the stuff I needed to as close to the ground as possible. There were plenty of stalk butts (like cigarette butts, but for the raspberry stalks. There is probably a better word for this, but my mind is ready for bed so this will have to suffice) from previous years that needed to be cut off.

I could tell that this was a favorite eating perch for birds, as I found a couple of starts that I believe were current bushes (my parents have a current bush up by the house), a couple other tree seedlings, some walnut stashes (which the squirrels probably dragged in and forgot about), and one mouse skull. I was most surprised about the skull, but I guess if you are a mouse, you might as well die happy while eating sweet sun-ripened raspberries. I know I would be fine going that way.

After the three hours that it took to clean that out, I started burning the dead growth. Dad was over sitting on a stump of an apple tree we cut down a few weeks ago burning some of those branches. He ended up getting burned on his lip with the wrong end of a hot stick, but I think it will heal pretty quickly. I don't think it even blistered. It just melted the skin a bit. Still not pleasant, but as burns go, probably pretty superficial.

Next we went to start the tractor to till up part of the garden. When I was a kid, Dad would always do the tilling with his hand tiller while the kids did other things like pull weeds where he couldn't till or get the ground ready to plant. Now that he is retired, he had moved to a disc that he pulls behind a small tractor. He still has yet to give in and buy a riding lawn mower, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he just might do it some day. Or maybe he'll just get an attachment for the tractor and mow the lawn that way. It might corrugate the yard, but it never was very level anyway. All my friends informed me of that one day when we were playing croquet. I told them that it added an extra challenge to the game.

After dinner, my in-laws came over to plant a few things in their garden. There wasn't a lot to be planted (they forgot some of their seeds), but on the way down I found some quail scratching at the spinach and lettuce that we had planted for my parents the day before. I fear for the sprouts this year for that reason. My parents have also seen pheasants roaming the garden, so unless my parents are quite vigilant, we might not have much produce this year.

After the in-laws took off, we ended up getting a bunch of starts for our yard from my parents. They gave us five raspberry starts (since all but one died from last year), three chrysanthemums, two lavender starts, some grape hyacinths, and a couple different types of ground cover, along with a bit of chives.

We drove home and got Munchkin to bed, followed by a twilight planting session of all the things we got. It was dark by the time I got the raspberries in, so I lost one of the starts to the darkness. I think it will become mulch for another one of the plants because I couldn't even find it when I brought the pot up onto the deck in the light. We're headed back tomorrow, so I'll just get another start. All that time cleaning out the patch gave me the opportunity to scope out where the really good starts were.

And don't think that Wifey was just twiddling her thumbs the whole time. She ended up completing her first dress made with a pattern for Munchkin. She had made one before with a friend, but they steered clear of the patterns. So my mom took it upon herself to get Wifey using a pattern. It turned out really well, and Munchkin thinks it is fun to get new clothes. When she tried it on, she grabbed the skirt and swished back and forth. In her book, that is a big thumbs up. I'll have to put up some pictures soon.

And Mom informed me that she was going to the store tomorrow with Wifey to look at more patterns. I think that Wifey's new-found love for sewing awoke Mom's long-time love for sewing, so they are feeding off each other right now. I'm just glad that I'm starting a job on Monday (did I mention that I got a job?) so that I can feed Wifey's new addiction. I don't know what it is, but women like to sew things for little girls. My mom did, and I know my sisters did. Now my wife does. I'm guessing that they like it almost as much as I like playing in the dirt.

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