Rotothingy.

Last night as I was rocketing home from work, I noticed an appliance dolly in the side yard as I pulled up to the house.  It’s never a good sign when an item meant to carry around appliances is out in the middle of the grass and it could only mean that Greg and Tom were up to something that I would probably tell them I hadn’t approved and to STOP IT.  I don’t recall signing any paperwork that mentioned appliance dollies.

As I was getting out of my SUV, Greg and Tom pulled into the driveway and loaded in the back of the truck…surrounded seraphim and cherubim…was the thing to till up the GARDEN.  I might have done a tiny dance right there in the driveway…which only adds to the neighbors’ case that I’m batty.

I went back to check the chickens to make sure that Vinny hadn’t taught them any other horrendous tricks.  Everything was good…everyone had their scaly toes on the ground where they should be.  So I grabbed my weed basket and headed for my favorite chickweed patch.  As I came around the back of the pool area, this is what I saw

greg 1

They were starting to till up the garden!!!

Although the fact that they had just started and Greg was already holding a finger gun to his brain was probably not a good sign…and look at that expression on Tom’s face…they’re clearly very excited about this garden project.

I fully expected the rotothingy (nope, not in the WordPress spell check) to be unloaded and parked near the garage and in a few days there’d be stuff hanging on it, like extension cords and jackets and eventually we’d forget we had it and the rental company would just charge us enough to buy the damn thing which is fine, because we had no idea where it was anyway and we’d end up buying tomatoes at the farm market.

But NO!  They were out there and the process was actually STARTING!  I skipped around and picked weeds for the Beak Faces, trying to look nonchalant, but still trying to keep an eye on the progress.  Finally, I gave up being stealthy and just walked over and watched.

I asked Tom why there was a dolly in the side yard and he replied that Greg’s initial idea was to carefully skin the sod off the ground and then transplant it into areas of the yard where there were dead spots of grass.  I looked over at the side yard and indeed, there was a small chunk of sod.  Apparently, Greg had tried his brilliant, money-saving idea and found that skinning sod off the yard is a TERRIBLE idea because it’s very DIFFICULT.  So you’ll notice that the idea seems to have been abandoned in the photos because Greg is just tilling the grass into the garden.  Also, it would have been two years from now by the time he’d gotten all that sod moved and replanted and then there would have been watering and “KEEP OFF THE GRASS” signs and remember Greg had already left the hose on for six hours, so the water bill is going to be ridiculous and by NOT moving the sod, we’re actually saving money, See how that works?

greg 3

Anyway, it was slow going with the rotothing, so I annoyed Greg and took a couple more photos and then took my basket back to the coop where the forlorn chickens were peeping sadly because they’d not gotten their chickweed yet and I’d been gone with the basket for what seemed like years to them.  I need to get them a clock…and maybe teach them to tell time…although they can’t even roost without drama, so I might hold off on that whole clock thing.

Tom and I had to take Emma to her school last night to test drive instruments for next year’s fifth grade music program. So, we left Greg to his own devices with the rotothing which is risky on a good day.  I don’t like going places at night after I’ve worked all day.  I think it’s because I’m old, because it never used to bother me.  We drove over to the school and there were two-zillion cars there.  Once inside they directed us to the gym where we had to fill out far too much paperwork for a music program and were given a “PARENT PACKET”, which is always terrifying because those typically include RULES which I’m bad at following.  The program stretched ON and ON and I griped MORE and MORE and then mothers started asking questions that were CLEARLY answered in the packet if they would just put down their phones and READ THEM.  The leader of the evening noted that she was not going to read the packet to us because we were perfectly capable of doing that ourselves and then she read the packet to us.  By this time, I was an axe-swinging-curse-mumbling maniac.  They had started the program LATE which always makes me mad and I hadn’t eaten all day and why can’t we just PICK an instrument and get out of there.  When they asked “are there any other questions?” and another mother raised her hand, I almost tackled her.  Tom kept giving me the “STOP IT” look.  Finally, they turned us loose to the “instrument petting zoo” and then we had to stand in line….which makes me even crazier.  Emma finally settled on playing the viola (YES!) which I told her was a good choice because orchestras are always in the air conditioning and flutes have to walk with the marching band in 900 degree southern Indiana heat.

Right about that time, Greg sent me a text image.  HE WAS DONE!  My spirits lifted a little!  We headed home and when we got there, Greg was cleaning things up and noted to me that I had just gotten my Mother’s Day present for the next five years.

garden

Then he asked where the Tylenol was…apparently running a rotothing is physically painful work when the ground is packed clay and hasn’t been turned over since the dawn of time.  I haven’t talked to him this morning.  Hopefully he’s not lying on the floor of his apartment in a full body muscle cramp.

So, the garden is finally tilled.  I guess they’re going to give it another till today to work it up a little bit more and then LOOK OUT!  I am going out there and I am going to PLANT like a fool!  Which is more accurate than you think, because I noticed this morning that the squirrels had trashed Greg’s carefully cultivated and planted morning glories that he was trying to train to climb the pergola by the pool…which also means, they’ll be digging up everything that I bury in the garden.

Which means this project is probably doomed because squirrels are jerks and I’ll end up buying tomatoes at the farm market this year anyway.

 

 

 

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Slide.

Sooooooooo, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the word “garden” in a couple of posts.  That’s because there still isn’t one.  Well, I guess that’s not exactly true…there are now four orange stakes out in the backyard stuck in various places.  See, this past weekend was all about the chickens.  They’re greedy like that.  Today was Monday and since I work full-time, I wasn’t around all day to harangue, nag and annoy my husband until he rototilled the darn thing up.

eggs and I square

I guess I didn’t do any gardening this weekend now that I think about it.  I grew that wheat fodder for the chicks…sort of gardenish.  I looked at garden plants when we went to Rural King…I think that counts.  I watered the plants, that I still haven’t thinned) in their dissolvable pots and plastic trays.  So that’s not a total loss.  Tom did stick the orange posts in the ground on Saturday to mark something out…the garden…some weird triangulation equation…where he needs to go with the pooper scooper…I’m sure it meant one of those things.

Actually, I had gotten home Friday afternoon and Tom asked me to come out to see where he’d laid out the garden.  I was impressed.  I hadn’t had to do any haranguing that day.

 

We walked out to the part of the yard that slopes away from the pool towards the woods and pond.

As we came around the end of the pool, I looked down the slope and there were approximately 116 orange fence poles (the ones that don’t match the chicken fence…read the whole blog…you’ll see) stuck in the ground all over the slope.

“What do ya think?”

“Ummm…Tom…we’re not going to have any YARD left.”

“You said you wanted it big.”

“Yeah…but…I think we’ll need migrant workers at this point.”

I tried to figure out exactly what SHAPE all these poles lined out.  It was either a star or the state of Maryland…and I’d say closer to the state of Maryland.  It seemed as though there were a dizzying number of bright orange fence posts stuck in the ground.  What kind of math did this guy use?

Frankly, I’d expected a completely different thing when he said he was going to “lay out the garden”.  I envisioned some white string and some stakes…this looked like the ground had sprouted quills.    As we walked around in the posts (orange…orange posts) I was getting more and more confused.  I told Tom again that I thought it was kinda….LARGE.  To which he replied that it was just like his drawing…which means absolutely nothing to me because I had NO idea how large he’d drawn it . I vaguely recall him asking some questions and then waving something printed out on the drafting computer in front of me and I was probably distracted by something shiny and I don’t remember anything about the conversation.

I do that.  I’ll agree to all sorts of things and then later I’m dumbfounded to learn that I agreed to any of it.

Anyway, I think I finally asked him WHY there were so many posts and what were those posts doing ALLLLLLL they way down by the edge of the yard near the pond.

Turns out, he had marked out several plots and was trying to find the FLATTEST spot on the SLOPE (see those two words?  One of them doesn’t work with the word GARDEN).

So…about that SLOPE.  Basically, the back of our property sort of slopes into this…um…wooded ravine that holds a creek that empties into the pond.  I guess I hadn’t thought about this clearly…I also don’t go out there much because I saw a SNAKE hole once.  How am I going to plant a garden on the side of a hill?  I stood there amidst the posts (ORANGE!) and thought about finally dragging all those plants in the dissolvable pots and plastic trays down to the garden and how I’d carefully plant them and water them and the garden would be so fresh and new and then…we all know what would happen.

It would rain and the whole thing would wash into the ravine.  Complete with my wood obelisk for my sweet peas and all my cute herb markers that I have yet to make.

Don’t they farm on the sides of hills in China?  Granted those are rice paddies, but I should be able to work this out, right?  I sure hope so, otherwise I’m going to be weeding  tomatoes in a kayak and screaming about snakes the entire time.

Till.

So, remember all those seeds and onion sets and plants in dissolving pots (I still haven’t thinned them)?  Here’s the thing…we haven’t turned over ONE inch of garden yet.  I don’t mean we haven’t turned over LAST year’s garden, I mean we haven’t turned over vast amounts of green grass to turn it INTO a garden.  You’re right, not only did we get chickens before we had the whole coop thing worked out, but now we have 8,576 plants and seeds and I keep trying to buy MORE and I have absolutely nowhere to put them.

We’re idiots.

AprilIt’s APRIL.

Seriously, I swear, when we started this whole idea we had GREAT intentions.  Tom drafted a garden plan in his fancy-pantsy drafting program.  Like, he spent a LOT of time on it.  There were different colors and different views and measurements and angles and math that I couldn’t even BEGIN to comprehend.   Like, worse than long division, kind of math. He used the word “triangulation” a couple of times.  Our big plan was that we were going to “lay out” the garden and then rent some massive rototiller thing and it all sounds so easy to me…except you know it won’t be.  I’m sure this is going to involve blood, sweat, tears, swearing, rock throwing, yelling, swearing, arguing and then more swearing.  You just KNOW this is what’s going to happen.  And then…THEN…we still have to put a fence around it that involves some twirly post digging thing and a fence stretcher so that we can keep the bunnies from Watership Down and the deer out of the garden.

I am not going to get discouraged.

I just envision myself in my cute apron and floppy southern-old-woman hat picking tomatoes and putting them in a perfect garden basket while butterflies flit around the garden and the chickens cluck happily in their pen.

The reality is that I’ll be in a  mandolin t-shirt and a pair of ratty shorts, a pair of purple crocs with my hair in a pony tail screaming about garden worms and giant orb spinning spiders that probably migrated here on a banana ship.

I love my dream world.

Grow.

When I was little, my grandmother and mother shared a garden plot with my aunt and uncle who lived just behind us on our block.  The garden plot wasn’t in either of our yards, but in the backyard of an old guy who was a worm farmer.  He had a giant claw foot bathtub near the garden that was FULL of giant worms.  Well, I don’t know how giant they were, but when you’re a girl and you’re about six, they are definitely GIANT WORMS.  He sold them for bait to local fishermen, but back to the garden story.

My grandmother was…mmm…what’s the word…cantankerous.  She ruled that garden with an iron fist and phrases like “YOU’RE STEPPING ON THE BEETS” or “GET OUT OF THOSE TOMATOES”.  I obviously was not much help in the garden unless I wasn’t IN the garden.  They canned a lot of their produce and I can remember coming home to the eye watering smell of vinegar in the house and there would be tub after tub of cucumbers soaking in pickling brine.  I’d poke them with a spoon and then hear “LEAVE THOSE PICKLES ALONE!”.  Grandma apparently ruled the kitchen with an iron spoon.

When I decided to take up backyard chicken raising, suddenly I wanted to grow food too.  Not just for me, but for the chickens who seem to love garden fare.  I happily announced, not long after the trip to the Rural King for chicks, that I wanted a garden.  It was received with surprisingly few comments from the family.  Keep in mind, that these people KNOW me and my love of new projects.  I’m always cooking up some fabulous idea that usually involves me giving a lot of directions and my husband and son doing a lot of work that I respond to by saying “Oh…I didn’t want it THAT way” and the usual response is that I’m going to end up with just my head in a duffle bag on the front seat of my car.

As per my usual, I was terribly excited at the prospect of growing food.  First of all…food is expensive, second of all…when you buy food in the store you have no idea whether or not they’ve beaten the spiders out of it.  I’m convinced that I’m going to be killed by a bunch of bananas some day that contain some sort of fang-toothed-forty-eyed-furry-legged spider from South America OR I’m going to buy some lettuce that has been irrigated with water that somehow contained a dead animal and I’m going to contract some horrible disease carried by…well, dead animals.  My husband thinks I’m a head case.  I think he should check the bananas for spiders.

Anyway, on another trip to the Rural King (calm down…I didn’t get more chicks…don’t think I didn’t TRY though), my son and I poured through all the seed packets, onion sets and seed potatoes.  I didn’t even think about the size this garden would have to be, I just happily kept tossing seed packets in the cart while Greg (my son) came trotting over with an arm load of other garden goodies like seed starting trays, those pots that dissolve in the dirt (do those have a name?) and other various garden bric-a-brac.  When I started ranting about corn, my husband decided it was time to go.

So we hauled everything home and Greg sat on the deck with a bag of dirt and a bag of peat moss and planted seeds in pots and trays.  Everything was carefully labeled with dates and the type of seed in the pot, something I’d never thought of doing but hey he’s an environmental science major so I just went along with whatever he decided because I have no idea what I’m doing.  We loaded up the freshly planted seeds on to the deck during the day and dutifully dragged them back into the house at night because Spring was dragging its great big green feet and didn’t seem to want to make an appearance any time soon.

Finally, the plants started poking their leaves through the dirt.  They were so delicate and so fragile and really very miraculous.  I suddenly became rather attached to them.  They were sort of like strange, green, leafy children that didn’t say much which made them all that much more lovable.  One day, I realized that I would have to thin out some of the 600 tomatoes growing in each pot…and the cute broccoli was starting to get so big and it needed to be thinned too.  It makes me kind of sad, because they went through ALL that trouble to germinate and now I was going to just yank them out of the pot and ruin their whole plant groove.  So I keep putting it off, which isn’t good for them, but works for me.   I plan on making my son do it because I make him do all the stuff I don’t want to do and although he’s oddly obsessed with fish, I don’t think he’ll have any problems with mass plant homicide.

plants

I still have far too many packets of seeds to plant…the ones that really don’t need to be started in a pot.  One night, I was discussing it with the indentured servants (read as: my husband and son) and I realized that this garden was going to be roughly the size of a football field if I really plant all this stuff.  I also don’t want to use any chemicals, so that means I have to WEED.  Remember what I said about spiders?  Have you ever seen those giant orb weaving garden spiders that are the size of hotdogs with four inch legs?

I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to hear me screaming from your house.