Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An ordinary day on the homestead

A snapshot of life on Pagan Lane, on a typical summer day

No major thing happened today. No crisis erupted. No big project was attacked. I (Bryan) had a full day of home office work, an ordinary amount, around which I did my part in the tasks outlined below. Ceredwyn had tons of stuff to do beyond homestead chores, and fit in the following between her various items. No kids were home for most of today, as each attended a different summer camp.

Now, as I write this at the end of the day, with the sun setting through the forest downslope from the house, it feels like we didn't do enough. It's as if no major progress was made. Lots of routine process and maintenance happened, but are dwarfed by so much else to do!

So, from sunrise onwards, Bastille Day up in the Green Mountains:
1. Feeding animals. Ceredwyn fed the goats this morning, and is about to do so again now (7:15 pm). She fed the new chicks in their cage. She also fed the delighted dog and the bemused kittens.

2. Tending crops. We both did some light weeding, "light" mostly because there weren't any impending jungles, and we had other things to do. Ceredwyn sprayed some of the potato plants, which seem to be ailing. Overall, the big potato plot is booming:

I also hauled up some large weeds from random spots, to feed the upper compost (not the lower).

3. Tending the chickies. Ceredwyn (mostly) and I (a little) dragged the chickies' cage from the safe basement to the blazing afternoon outside. We stripped away the bottom layer of cardboard and shavings, transferring the former to some weed patches (to squelch them) and the latter to the upper compost (mmm, chicken manure is terrific). Then Ceredwyn put down a new cardboard layer, drawn entirely from boxen destined for recycling, and we dragged the chirping chickies in their cage back into the cool basement.

(Bright light on the left is a heat lamp)

4. Wrangling rocks. I scooped up a pail of gravel from the oddly-graveled spot near the upper compost, then poured it out into the rain garden's trough. That's a slender pathway cut through dirt, leading from the top of the raingarden down to the pond. These little rocks should keep the trough healthy. Alongside it are some water-loving plants.

(The newly-lined water trough runs down the center of that photo. The rocks are light-colored, often white. The rocks on the left edge have been there since we made the thing, constituting an ornamental boundary.)

Then I started work on a pathway from the basement back door. I'd already accumulated a stack of flat rocks. So I dug up the ground leading away from the back door, a very tough mix of clay, plenty of rocks, and tenacious grass. I shoveled down through it about three inches, then poured store-bought sand onto the newly-revealed dirt. Next, I set down the flat rocks, like so:

Walking on the rocks should press 'em down to a level surface. If it works, and it feels like it should, I'll extend the pathway.

5. Driveway repair. I continued yesterday's work of breaking down the strip of dirt running down the driveway's middle, a sort of extended plateau between parallel ruts, about 6 inches up. Yesterday I broke up one side of that higher ground, the right side, and shoveled the dirt+rocks onto the right rut. Today I did the left side. Now the overall effect is less uneven. Ceredwyn drove over it a couple of times, pressing down the freshly-shoveled dirt into a firmer mass.

Unfortunately, the ruts will reappear, in time. The dirt is simply too soft - it's actually, sadly, good farming soil. But the ruts might not be as low as they were two days ago, the central strip not quite so high. And I plan to keep pouring small rocks onto the ruts. Eventually, at some point, we'll have a firmly packed driveway.

6. Exterior wall improvement. Ceredwyn nailed up a bunch of Typar onto the back wall of the house. You see, when we bought our home, the previous owners hadn't finished the back of the house. Parts of it are covered with wooden shakes, as are the entirety of the other three sides of the house; parts of it are not. Bare concrete and wood have thus been exposed to winter winds for some time.
So Ceredwyn ordered some of this Typar, which is a plastic+insulation layer, and stapled it to the uncovered parts with a fine staplegun.

Here's an interesting part of homesteading: the town fire chief helped. Not only is Erik a friend, but he's head of the squad on which Ceredwyn serves. Ceredwyn has been doing a lot of hours of late. And today Erik climbed up a ladder to help with the highest parts, held the other side of wide Typar pieces, and so on. So there's a quiet bit of neighborly labor trading.
We also did the usual bits of daily home life, apart from professional work: waking up Owain so he could get to camp in time, making meals and cleaning the dishes, putting away laundry, talking with our daughter on phone from camp, getting our son from his camp, answering the phone, doing some bills.

And there's so much yet to do! That recent wood delivery remains unstacked, and enormous:

Is this kind of day survey useful to you, o reader? What do you think?


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