Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chapter 96...NY, Rocks, and Spring

Off Grid...Chapter 96

Mike and I are back from NY and we had a wonderful time visiting with Mike's family. I'll pass on the traffic but the company and food was great.

BTW, this is one of the reasons Mike and I originally left NY. It took us more than an hour to cross the George Washington Bridge and it wasn't even rush hour. Heck I think there are more people on this bridge than are in our town, lol.

OK, time to tell you about our week since we've been home.

Monday 5-10
We left NY at 8pm Sunday night and drove through the night. We hit some freezing temps Monday morning in VA. This made me worry about the tomato plants I planted in the garden.

We got home Monday morning and we are exhausted. I checked my garden and sure enough some of my plants looked frozen..not good. But on a good note the plants that I took special care of inside the house did great. I'll tell you what I did.

I read about making a temporary type of terrarium to keep my plants alive while we were gone...and it actually worked. First I got a plastic container and I put my pepper plants and 1 zucchini plant inside the container. Then I got bamboo skewers, taped 2 together to make them longer, and taped 4 of them to the corners of the box. Next I watered the plants. Then I laid plastic out on the table, put the box and plants on top, and wrapped the plastic around the skewers and taped it closed without the plastic touching the plants. I know it sounds crazy but it really worked. A week later my plants were healthy, moist, and green. Here is what it looked like.

We really didn't do much today except get rest and try to come back to life. It was a busy week and a very long night.

Tuesday 5-11
Today I went into town to go to the High School for new tomato plants and also to do some grocery shopping. While I was gone, Mike worked on our gate. Over the winter it started to sag as gates will sometimes do. Mike got it straightened out and no more sagging.

Wednesday 5-12
Since we have been gone for a week, Mike is determined for us to get started and finish the ditch. He would like to do 3 buckets of rock per day which should be really easy. We still have a pile of rock from last year to start with. It's down by the spring/bathtub area so it's going to take a lot of trips back and forth to get the rock up top. We can't have rock dumped into the ditch by Jimmy's guys because their trucks will damage our pavement. So we will start at the top and work our way down one tractor bucketful at a time.

While Mike starts working on the ditch I work on my garden. First I pull out any of the plants that look like they froze. Some of them seem OK so I will leave them and see what happens. Then I re-plant my whole garden.

Here is Mike dumping the white rock into the ditch.

Next he works on placing the rock neatly in the ditch.

This top part will be our easiest section. Each day we will work our way down. By the time we get to the curve in the driveway the ditch will start to get deep and it will take us much longer to fill it.

Mike did 3 buckets today.

He also painted an extra satellite dish we had. Just cleaning things up.

Thursday 5-13
Today I am in the ditch helping Mike. He goes down to the rock pile, loads up and then brings the rock to me. He dumps it in the ditch while I place the rock. He keeps running back and forth while I work in the ditch.

Working my way down.


Another 3 loads are done.

Friday 5-14
We are waiting for Brian, one of Jimmy's guys, today. Mike wants to start working on the pond. First we need to clean up the mess from our spring by making a ditch for all of the water to run into and eventually it will go into the pond. Mike also wants to make some more flat land and turn around areas on our property. We have many many knolls that can be cut down and laid over to make flat spots for driving, turning, or parking. We also need some of the extra dirt to use on our pond wall.

While we wait for Brian, Mike and I start working on the ditch. We are up to an area that has a lot of gray rock from last year. Since we are using the big white rock we need to take out any of the gray rock that might be visible. We are going with the white rock instead because we think it looks cleaner and it's also less expensive...and we are going to need a lot of rock by the time we are done. We will take out the gray rock by hand, put it into the bucket, and Mike will dump it in the deepest part of or ditch. Then it will be covered with the white rock.

Mike picks up gray rock and puts it into the tractor bucket.

After the bucket is full he takes the rock down and dumps it into the deep part of the ditch.

We continue working our way down the driveway. After 6 loads we are still waiting for Brian but the ditch is looking good.

Woo hoo, Brian is here. Mike tells him to start digging a ditch for the spring first. Here he is digging.

He is doing good on the new ditch.

While he does that Mike and I take a ride around the property. We go up to the back top of our property to ride the fence line.

Here is the view from the back part.

As we ride along the fence we come across a lot of downed trees. We are losing so many this year. The Locusts in our area are in trouble and they are dying. I'm not sure what's causing it but it's bad.

Trees down and they are big ones.

I hate seeing all of this but we can't fight Mother Nature. It's just really sad to see so much life die. Another big job we will have is cutting up all of the trees to use for firewood. We have enough wood to last us years. Now we just have to find the wood stove which we are still looking for.

We ride back down to check on Brain. He is buried in the muck with the backhoe and tearing p the land. We knew this would happen. Springs are not dry. So we will have a mess before it gets better. We need to give it some time to dry out. Brian gets out and Mike has him work on the area by the fire pit. He starts to dig it out to make it bigger for a turn around. Then he takes the excess dirt and dumps it on the side of the pond wall. We need a lot of dirt for the pond.

Here is the old fire pit getting bigger and bigger for a turn around area.

While we are talking to Brian we hear a loud crash. we all turn just in time to see a huge tree come down...and it's a live tree. Mike and I take the 4-wheeler to check it out. It came down way behind the barn. The tree looks massive and we can't drive around it.

Then Brian has trouble with the backhoe so he has to leave to fix it. After he is gone Mike works on changing our chain for our gate.

And then he paints the chain because it was rusty. Yup, that's my man...everting has to be neat and clean

It poured later on. We are going to have a huge mess where Brian dug out. Sure, we needed it to dry out and we get clobbered with rain.

Saturday 5-15
It's strawberry season. I asked Mike's daughter if she wants to go strawberry picking with me. She said her and her daughter will go. The boys have no interest in strawberry picking, lol. I found a farm that is about 45 minutes from us so we will go when she is available. I can't wait. It's time to make some strawberry jam.

Mike took me into tow to go to the small flea market and also the Farmer's Market. I am looking for local honey because it helps with allergies and also local beef. I am so tired of buying beef that tastes bad from the grocery store. It's my day, there is a couple from a local farm who sell their beef. They sell by the piece...which is more expensive but they also sell by the 1/4, 1/2, or whole steer. I would be interested in the 1/4 of the steer and that is $3.25 per pound. There beef is grass fed, with no hormones, no antibiotics, and no steroids. I buy a couple of steaks for Mike to try. I hope they are really good.

When we get home I work a little on my garden. I plant some cucumbers and then I put powdered jello around my plants. I have no idea if this is any good but I just read that the plants will like the nutrients. Who knows? I'll let you know if I see a difference, lol.

The rain last night made a mess of our spring. We now have a big puddle.

And lots of muck.

We also get some washout on our driveway where the pavement ends and the gravel begins. That will all get fixed when we finish paving. The paving keeps everything so much nicer and cleaner. For now Mike will just scrape our gravel as any washout happens. It's still a huge improvement over the washouts we used to get.

Oh yuck...more rain tonight. Here is our misty view.

Sunday 5-16
It looks like we are having May showers instead of April showers. I am a little worried about my garden especially the tomatoes. Last year everyone's tomatoes got blight because we were too wet...well it's not looking good so far this year.

We hook up the trailer and go to Lowe's to look at plants. We need to get some for the back of the house. We found some Dwarf Burford Hollies and some Arborvitae. Both kinds of plants were half price...woo hoo and we got 10% off of that. That's my kind of sale. We bought 11 different plants. Now we just have to wait for the rain to stop so we can plant.

You guessed it. It rained the rest of the day and night with some brief, very brief, dry periods. We did get to crank up the grill and made Mike a fresh T-bone steak. He was very disappointed because it was very tough. OK guys help me out. Does fresh grass fed beef equal tough meat? I really don't know anything about this. I was expecting Mike to have one of the best steaks of his life. Well I was very wrong about that. So please if anyone knows cattle....tell me about it and what to look for. If the healthy beef is all this tough then it's not worth the money. I can live without beef but Mike loves a good steak once in awhile.

Well, we have had a pretty good week since we've been home. We are ready to work but it looks like the rain is going to slow us down. I hope you all enjoyed our story.


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