|the spring showers view from the back deck|
Springtime at The Shack
Morel mushrooms are sprouting, the dogwoods are in full bloom, and the weather is warm enough that I light the fire in the wood stove only at night. But I don't wake every hour or so, shivering, to add wood. I made my meals on the grill, including one huge mushroom feast.
|morel mushrooms grown on my land|
Birds are singing. Deer are grazing. And flowers are blooming everywhere. The views are breath-taking as I watch spring storms roll in and back out.
Spring showers also mean water in The Shack. Not the kind I carry in (I do not have a water source onsite yet). Spring showers brings the kind of water that drips in from the leaking roof. I catch some of it so that I can water my plants during drier times. But I need a good, solid rain collection system.
- fix roof (nail down the flapping metal sheets at the least)
- add gutters
- plan and install rain barrel system
- decide whether to insulate The Shack or tear it down
Intruders: Garlic Mustard and Tent Caterpillars
I read an article in the local newspaper (local to The Shack) detailing how horrifically damaging the garlic mustard weed is. Deer won't eat it and in 5-7 years it can destroy a forest floor. And guess what I have growing a-plenty on my four acres? Yes. The dreaded garlic mustard weed is in full flower at my place. The best way to eradicate it is to pull it out by it's roots. I spent hours pulling flowers out of my woods. I only cleared a spot smaller than my teeny apartment.
|invasive Garlic Mustard weed|
Garlic mustard is not my only unwanted intruder. I wrote about my discovery of my tent caterpillar infestation after my last visit to The Shack. I broke down and used a bit of chemical spray on my apple trees. In the meantime, I studied more about those plentiful "worms" in my trees. I want to control them naturally, if I can. But when I returned during this visit, I noted that while my apple trees looked a bit healthier, many of my other trees were under siege. One tree was completely covered and looked a bit like a prop from the Blair Witch movie.
|ominous Tent Caterpillar tent|
My precious new "antique" rose was also covered in hungry caterpillars. I sprayed the rose. Then went on to knock the web-like tents down from trees -- one highly recommended way of controlling these pests without chemicals.
How did I knock down worm nests from trees, you ask? With a looooong piece of skinny PVC pipe the previous owners had left behind. It was a bit like using a pole-vaulting pole (made of a limp noodle) to poke a water balloon stuck in the top of a tree. Focus, aim, poke, if successful run away to dodge the dropping worms, and repeat. I had thicker PVC pipes of the same length, but the light pipe was easier for me to lift for a longer period of time. As a side note: I did not work up the courage to get under that Blair Witch-like tree and knock the massive webs down.
- pull the flowering garlic mustard from the remaining 3.9 acres
- learn to better identify the first year garlic mustard plants (they look different than the 2nd year flowering plants) so I can pull them also
- pole-vault pole poke the remaining 500 worm-infested trees in my woods
Flower Beds and Rock Gardens
I planted two teeny dianthus plants and another small lavender plant. Planting and weeding my miniature flowerbed with a pickax. I truly began to wonder about my sanity. Who would work a flowerbed with a pickax? Who would bother? Why am I bothering? As I chopped the stone littered ground, and made puns about rock gardens, I noticed the gladiolas had broken through the rubble and the lilies had little buds. Later, I came out and picked some mint leaves for my water. Sitting on the deck, sipping my mint water, I decided that I'd stick with the flower bed... if for no other reason, for the fresh mint.
- install that trellis!
- transfer the climbing rose from my apartment balcony to the trellis - before it gets big enough to want to climb
- find a way to plant the sunflowers - as something feasted on the sprouts that were present during the last visit
Miscellaneous Thoughts and Feelings
This weekend, it seemed like each thought I had, and each thing I did, added more to my to-do list.
- buy or cut a big "round" for a chopping block
- install the amazing hand-wood splitter I have that is still in it's box - waiting to be useful
- cut my downed trees for winter firewood
- make a compost bin before my DIY version of a "luggable loo" gets full
- save money for the septic installation
- patch the air mattress (Willy's toenails are SHARP!)
- save money so I can remodel or rebuild
- decide if it would be better to remodel or rebuild
- on and on and on
- and on and on and on
Late Saturday afternoon, I sat on the deck and rested my sore muscles. I felt overwhelmed. I began to wonder, what had I gotten myself into. Full of fear, I started texting a friend. I focused on how much I had to do and how little I had gotten finished. He texted back. Trying to be supportive he said things such as: it's okay to just sit there and relax. It's okay to have days to go up there and do nothing. Just enjoy.
He really made me a little bit mad. It's not that easy to just sit and enjoy when weeds and worms are threatening my woods. There is just too much to do in general. I feel old and out of shape. I'm not physically strong. I'm not good with DIY. What can't he understand about all of that?! What if I can't do this?
But later, I understood his point and I relaxed. I am already doing it. Things will get done if they get done. And won't get done if they don't. In the meantime, I will enjoy the gorgeous views.
Lessons from Others
I wrote about my encounter with the turtle as I was leaving. That turtle was a calming presence. I also continue to read the homesteading adventures of others and most appreciate the articles that address some of the harder truths about the dream of homesteading. Homesteading Honey's article How We Afford to Homestead is a good example of some of the thought processes and decisions that lead to successful homesteading.
I'm feeling much better today. Those to do lists are far less overwhelming and I'm feeling good about my transition to the land... as slow as it may go.