A Good Start on the Garden, Some Stream Cleaning, and We’re Having Babies. Raccoon Babies.

D. tilled the entire area that I blocked of with a tarp last October. And then some.

Last weekend, the weather was nice and we packed up and left for the farm Friday night after work, stopping in Verona to buy some wine at a friend’s store and subs from the sandwich shop next door.  Then we stopped in Mt. Horeb and dug some rhubarb and chives out of a friend’s garden.  It was dark by the time we arrived at the farm and we just checked on a few things and started a fire in the wood stove in the shack to warm things up.
We ate our sandwiches and cracked open a couple of beers and talked about what we planned to do on Saturday and then read books for a while.  We heard some noises in the night and in the morning realized that some of the areas of the outside walls that we’d shored up with sheet metal in the fall had been breached by raccoons.  And that we have baby raccoons sheltered inside the walls.  We’ll have to fix the walls again, but we need to wait until the baby raccoons are able to leave and go foraging with their mother at night.  I don’t want them living in the wall, but I surely don’t want them dying in the wall and stinking to high heaven.
In the morning, we drove to Darlington for breakfast and a trip to the hardware store and then continued on through Cuba City to Hazel Green where we’d made arrangements to buy an old Briggs and Stratton rototiller.  A 68 mile round trip seems like a long way to drive for a rototiller, but the price was right and I sort of enjoy the drive.  Besides that, we were buying it from a friend’s brother-in-law.    Upon returning to the farm, I pulled back the tarp I’d laid down in October to block the sun and kill the grass and weeds to make tilling easier.  I found the rhubarb that we knew was there and I was surprised to find irises and chives, planted who knows how many years ago or by whom, and didn’t manage to find the asparagus that we know is there, but it’s early yet.  D. dragged the beast of a rototiller up the hill so that we could till the area.  Actually so that he could till the area, but I remained nearby, digging out multiflora rose with her evil backwards sticking thorns everywhere we walk near the garden and the orchard.  Digging it up or poisoning it is effective, cutting it back just stimulates it.  Our strategy for weed control is to attack the areas that we use and that we look at a lot first and then move on to other areas.  I also used the spade to cut the wild parsnip roots below the soil surface where ever I came across them.  I’d just as soon use mechanical control to irradicate weeds where possible rather than resorting to herbicides.
Now that the garden is tilled, we can get the potatoes in as soon as possible.  The weather didn’t cooperate this week, but I may be taking this Thursday off of work to get the potatoes in.  We listened to the wind continue cracking the willow tree.   We looked out from the porch of the house and considered whether we might build a cabin where the house now stands once it’s gone.  The layout of the farm buildings really was well thought out.  The house was well back from the road, but the view from the porch is pretty and it is close to the big barn, the (former) chicken coop shack and the pig barn.  It’s also right next to the garden and orchard, the yard light and the pole where the electric meter is.
We’ve had some high winds this week and I kind of hope the branch is down the next time I get out there.  Failing that, I hope the tree guy we were referred to can stop out to give me an estimate the next time I’m there.  By early evening we were starving and I suggested that we cook dinner and skip drinking wine so that we could still till between the garlic rows and mulch there with some of the old hay from the barn so that we can keep the weeds down.  Once that was done, D. parked the car in the lower level of the barn which we don’t usually do, but with thunderstorms likely and the possibility of large hail, it seemed like a good precaution.  There was a little rain overnight but no hail.  We woke up early and D. got up and went for a walk, ostensibly looking for raccoons.  He saw one, but it was too far away for him to do anything about it.  It started raining, and I thought about trying to bring him a jacket, but I didn’t know where he was and I didn’t want to end up in any possible line of fire, so I stayed inside and started the coffee and started chopping vegetables for an omelet.  Luckily, he was down near the barn and just ducked into the lower level until it stopped sprinkling.

Our stream is small, but really windy and fed by multiple springs. D is out there in the middle of the picture.

After breakfast, I used the garden wagon to move the compost pile from the north side of the barn up to the garden area.  It took about four trips and then I caught up with D. where he was working his way down the stream picking up trash that we’d stacked on the banks a few weeks ago in addition to any new trash that he found.  Respecting my bizarre desire to keep the bones we find, he separated bones from trash and recyclables.  When we got as far downstream as we were planning to get, we walked the stuff up the hill in two five gallon buckets, noticing along the way another huge tractor tire in the middle of a patch of tansy in one of the pastures.   I don’t know if we’d not walked that way before, or if we’d only walked that way when last year’s tansy was still standing up.  At any rate, I’d not noticed it before and I suppose we should roll the damn thing out of there before the tansy really gets going this year.

D. also measured the doorway for the spring house and fitted the sides of the doorway with lumber repurposed from a building that we are taking down.  We also brought the rusty hinges home and a la Mythbusters, I soaked the hinges in Coca Cola to see how much of the rust would come off.  They’re better, but they will still benefit from a wire brush or some attention from the grinding wheel before they get a coat of Rustoleum paint and attach a new door to the frame.

We’re looking forward to the next few weeks.  I’ll get the potatoes in and the first weekend in May, we should be able to plant my onion and leek seedlings as well as the lowland plants including blue flag irises,  marsh milkweed and mountain mint which is really a misnamed lowland plant.  And we can work on irradicating garlic mustard.  Anyone want to come out for that?  Learn how to make pesto from it or throw it on the ground, or haul it up to the compost (we could use more green matter in there)  I really don’t care.  Well, I don’t care as long as it hasn’t gone to seed.  In which case we’ll need to put it in piles and burn it to destroy the seeds.  And if it has gone to see it won’t be any good for pesto.    I might be around from late in the afternoon on Thursday May 5th to the Sunday of that weekend.

We accomplished most of what I was hoping for last weekend and I didn’t have any of those, “What the hell have we done?” moments.

Two barns and the dilapidated house are all visible in the distance
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