Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rock wall completion!

Boy, there's nothing like finishing a big project to make a girl feel good. Randy and I spent the morning working on the rock wall again, jostling those balking boulders into place.

DH was able to use his amazing tractor powers to move the remaining rocks over to the area under the windows where I'll build the perimeter of a flower bed.

Randy also dug and poured the footings for the deck today, and is in town getting more supplies. There's a real, honest to goodness deck in our future....

It started raining just as we finished up. The timing could not have been better. Once the rain stops, I'll get out there and rake out the soil to level it and groom the grade a bit. Next step, topsoil and grass!

I guess while it's raining I'll just keep surfing the 'net for plants that would be happy growing in rock walls...

Hope you're having a lovely long weekend,


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The slow emergence of green

Youngest is feeling sick today, so I'm home. It's a bit of a blessing to be off work, in a way, as I got to catch up on my school work and write a test for my last course while he slumbered upstairs.

We've had a couple of lovely changes around here, not the least of which is the emergence of green.

DH has been outside every morning raking topsoil and chicken manure compost around the yard, seeding areas and getting them to grow. It's hard to explain how wonderful it is to come home to this particular colour of green every day after the last two years of nothing but sand. I love our home, but an especially wide smile spreads across my face as I pull in the driveway these days - it's like an unexpected surprise, all that green.

Yesterday I came home to a pile of fencing materials - apparently the fellas had come to drop off our gear and will start installing the fence tomorrow! Our big ol' dog has no idea the freedom in store for him once the fence is up.

I'll miss watching the coyotes run across in front of the house at dusk, but not the nagging worry that they may want to eat our cats or our old dog.
No more elk in the yard, no more deer. I can start planting my garden in earnest very soon.

On a completely different note, I'm reading a book called 'Spark'. It's about the science of the brain...on exercise. Dr. John Ratey talks about all kinds of different brain imbalances (ADHD, anxiety and clinical depression among them) and different research done about the effects of exercise on brain chemicals. Interestingly, he doesn't reject the idea of medication, but looks at multivariate situations in which medication and exercise (either or both in combination) are used to successfully treat individuals with various difficulties. The evidence is pretty convincing, and makes me want to get everyone I care about and work with out doing something active. If you get a chance to, you should read it.

Off I go, to dig in the garden.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day weekend

Saturday was our second anniversary of buying the property here - the official start of the biggest darn project ever.

Last year on Mother's Day weekend, I got up on a ladder (at times supported by the bucket of the tractor) to seal the cedar shingles on the second story...this year I was back up there, sealing the shingles on the south side again! Hmmm. A tradition in the making?

Hopefully not every year will involve me getting up on the roof for one reason or another!

The next phase of the yard work has begun in earnest - the rock wall. The top picture shows where we stopped on Sunday afternoon. It took DH and I all of our combined efforts on both Saturday and Sunday to get it to this point. Thank goodness for our big-ass tractor.
DH was able to move the rocks over using the tractor, and between the two of us we leveraged, shifted, budged and swore these stones into place. All in all, rather satisfying.

The wall will continue out as far as the near edge of the photo on the right. I think we may have, in two days, accomplished about 1/3 of the wall's total length.
Part of what made it so difficult is the size of the rocks we had delivered (I picked out some humdingers!).

The idea is that we'll be able to walk out the double doors onto the deck (not yet built) and have a level exit to the upper yard. The rock wall will diminish in height over the length of the courses and curve gently toward the soon-to-be lower lawn so that we can have a gentle slope of lawn from upper to lower (for ease of mowing, etc).

You can get a bit of an idea from the picture of the house on the right. In my mind it's already finished. I can look at the photo and see it with the grass in and growing, some wooly thyme and other rock loving plants growing in the wall, and the deck all finished. Maybe housebuilding requires that one be an optimist. Or delusional. Or somewhat of both.

The final photo here is to show from what is the existing mini-deck the point at which the real, big deck will meet the soon-to-be lawn. The garbage can (actually a compost can) gives you an idea of how big these pesky rocks are!

Things am learning while building this rock wall:

1) Rocks like to stay put. They don't want to move, it is not in their nature; thus the saying, "solid as a rock"
2) I don't like being brought up hard against my physical limitations, and am not used to being unable to do something I've set my mind to. No matter how much I try, how hard I think, how much I push, some of these rocks will not budge. (See item #1).
3) Much as I like low-tech solutions (leverage involving crowbars and shovels), the diesel-powered solutions can make life easier.

Of the things I've learned so far, I think #2 is the most important one. I'm used to being able to tackle problems and shift them or change them, or find some kind of solution. Not possible when confronted with a rock that weighs as much or more than I do! This particular building exercise is not just to exercise my muscles, but to exercise my ego control. Hard to do, but worth it in the end.

Hope the weekend was lovely in your part of the world,