Urgent Gardening

I am exhausted and groaning a bit from overwork.

We went from overnight freezes and daytime temperatures reaching only to 40-50 degrees (F) to the mid-70s. The forecast calls for steadily rising temperatures reaching the low 80s by the end of the week. So we went from too chilly to work outside to an urgent “Oh, crap! We’ve got to get the garden planted!”

Friday morning EJ woke up early and we drove to the Farmer’s Market at a nearby town to pick up the plants I had ordered from the co-op. He had signed up for some overtime at work so when we got back home he took a nap while I finished rearranging the garden boxes in the front yard and got most of my herbs planted. We need to buy more dirt so I can fill and plant the remaining three boxes.

We rested on Saturday (Shabbat) and on Sunday I mowed the lawn. The local plant nursery was having a tremendous sale on fruit trees, so EJ drove there and bought two cherry trees. He also bought a spearmint and peppermint plants I had asked him to get. I will plant them as soon as we get the dirt. Somehow, two berry bushes and two bags of seed potatoes snuck into his cart when he wasn’t looking. We will have to be careful until next pay day, but prices have increased drastically in the last few months so we are trying to buy items when they are on sale.

EJ planted his trees and put fencing around them so the deer don’t eat them. He also planted his berry bushes inside the garden fence–I think to make them less attractive to bears? Meanwhile, I started rearranging the garden boxes in his garden, while checking with him about how he wanted them placed. This year EJ decided to place the boxes along the back fence of the garden where they take up less room. He said this is the last year we will move the boxes because it’s actually a lot of work: I have to move the pallets to where the boxes will go. I usually put one pallet on top of another to make them higher. I shovel the dirt out of a garden box into the wheelbarrow. I move the empty box on top of the pallets. Then I shovel the dirt back into the box. Then I start on another box.

This morning I was out in the garden at about 7 am to finish rearranging the boxes. I try to do as much of it as possible because I don’t want EJ to aggravate his chronic back problems–also, he still has a 10 hour day of work ahead of him. Besides, the boxes are all shapes and sizes, and I am really good at “tetris-ing” the boxes so they fit well together without much wasted space. Of course, once he got up, he helped me move some of the larger boxes. When he’s not around, I lift the large boxes and “walk” them to where they go.

I reached my goal of getting all the boxes arranged today. I figured that the sooner I got the boxes moved, the sooner EJ could start planting. He was able to get some of his veggies planted. It was pleasant working in the pleasant coolness of the morning. The rest of the week is supposed to be warmer, and it’s uncomfortable working when it’s hot.

I was going to call it quits after working in the garden, but I figured, “Hey, I’m already really dirty” so I cleaned out the coop a little. The chickens sleep on straw bales that I put on top of the small coops that are inside the large coop. Over time, the bales get a hard crust of dried poop on them. I dragged those bales out into the garden. EJ can use them to help fertilize his garden if he wants. I replaced the bales with cleaner bales that had been tucked away and not pooped on. They had been blocking the second little chicken door. I wanted to be able to open it so there is cross ventilation on hot days. I raked out some old loose straw from the floor. I should rake out the straw from inside the smaller coops, but I had used up all my energy. It will have to wait for another day.

Now that we are planting, the chickens aren’t allowed in the garden. They still have a generous outdoor pen to frolic in; it’s just not as huge as the garden. It’s just as well that they are restricted to their pen. The cats found a hole in the garden fence a year or two ago which allows them to come and go. The chickens finally noticed it this year and a few of them have been escape into the wide, wide world. We have coyotes and other predators so it’s really not good for them to get out. Fortunately, chickens like to be with their flock so it’s quite easy to guide them back into the garden. I blocked the hole so they couldn’t escape, but now that they are shut out of the garden, I unblocked it so the cats can get in and out.

After I finished cleaning the coop, I went inside and took a shower. I decided to wash my filthy clothes. I sorted through the laundry basket to get clothes to wash with them. That kind of morphed into doing several loads and washing ALL the clothes. At least I can sit down while they are in the washing and drier. Soon I will be drying the clothes on the clothesline, but by the time I finished working it was too late and I was too tired to do it.

After I rested a bit, I took Hannah Joy for a walk to the mailbox for our mail. I was tired and my feet hurt but the day was beautiful and I felt she deserved a walk. She loved it. So did I.

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