a different harvest

When I was younger, back when I could remember things and bend my wrists without flinching, I believed that my favorite time of year was Fall.  All these years later it’s still my favorite season.  Except that now, so are Spring, Summer and Winter.

Fall smells better than any of them.  In your face, Spring.  Those dead leaves tended by the crisp air make the smell of Fall unbeatable…not even by Summer hay fields or Spring flowers.

But it’s two harvests that make me love Fall most; the leaves, and the wood.

I got a good start on my fall leaf collection today.  Fired up the mower and made piles of shredded leaves, mixed with some of those nice green grass clippings, for a little head start on the composting process.  I emptied out the chicken run’s shredded leaf floor (it only took a couple of weeks for the girls to really demolish them), and started filling next year’s Spring compost bins with that material.

Then it was time to refresh the girls’ run with un-shredded leaves and start filling my newly built leaf bin.

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The other harvest, free for the taking: trees that have died or blown down in the woods over the Spring and Summer.  It’s probably the most satisfying of all outdoor chores; materials are free, just add muscle.  There’s really nothing that can compare with just-finished rows of split wood stacked in the barn.  Hard to explain.  You can sense all the warmth that’s waiting to be released when it’s most needed.

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yeah, pretty lame excuse

​Hello good friends, and my apologies for dropping off the face of the earth without a word. My thoughts are simple (as might be evident); I didn’t have anything interesting to say. If it wouldn’t interest me, I can’t expect it to interest someone else.

And then I kinda got sucked into the whole lazy thing.

The garden has wound down. Last night was our first real freeze. Frost on the windshields and brown pepper plants.

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I’m waiting for the rest of my free brown materials to fall from the sky. In the meantime, I fashioned a large leaf-collection bin, made from 20-some year old materials that were sitting in the barn waiting for their moment in the sun.

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The cold brings out the chainsaw. I use only deadfall trees from the property for firewood, and the scrub trees that die and fall are usually dry enough to use the same year. This year has been a little lean as far as deadwood. There was a nice big oak down, but that has to season till next year. It might just be a year for buying a little wood that some other fool cut up.

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I’m coming to the realization that cutting and splitting firewood in quantity is a younger man’s game. Somewhere along the way, I messed up my wrists and thumbs, and handling a chainsaw doesn’t suit me for long periods, nor does crawling around on the roof cleaning the chimney. But I’ll keep picking at it until I have to say uncle.

There’s not much activity in the garden. My fall cover crop mix is doing its job without complaint. After watching the deer happily grazing on last year’s crop, I decided to strategically place tomato cages to nip that kind of thing in the bud. So far so good.

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I planted garlic and shallots today in the space occupied by this year’s compost bins. And the lettuce plants that I sowed indoors in August are hitting their stride under a cloche.

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It’s good to be back in the saddle. But I reserve the right to be lazy at any time I choose.

twiddling my thumbs

Yesterday was one of those brilliant warm May days that makes you wish it was two weeks later so that you could plant your tomatoes. Busy hands help distract short attention spans.

So out to the little woods to clean up some of the mess that Mother Nature rudely left over the winter.

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I was happy to see that not all of the big bass in the pond had been made into fish Popsicles over the past two miserably cold winters…

The little Isa Browns are feathering out and enjoying their digs. I added a ladder to encourage them to enjoy different perspectives (like maybe from the roost girls?)…

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And it looks like the extra grass clippings added to the compost piles has started working…

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recycle a tire for firewood splitting

Not really garden-related, but useful nonetheless.  A simple idea that makes life simpler.

When I split firewood, I often use a splitting block.  But even when I don’t, there’s usually a problem; almost every time the splitting maul comes down, I need to bend over and pick up or reposition the log.

Enter the splitting tire:

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Simple.  The tire contains the split wood pieces beautifully until you WANT to bend over.

IMG_4069IMG_4070My splitting block and the hole in the tire’s center happen to be sized so that the tire can just rest on top of the block.  You could screw in a 2×4 frame for support around the top of the block if it’s smaller than the tire hole.