Tag Archives: Gardening

Death and life and death and life

It isn’t just animals that die, of course. People can (and do) die both suddenly and not so suddenly.

Case in point: one of our customers, who had been with us since almost the very first, died unexpectedly early in February of a heart attack. We did not discover this until late in the month when one of his clients contacted us directly. While it probably will not be the last time we have to do this, it is a bit odd and sad to have to make arrangements for the disposition of his client accounts with us, as the rest of his family knows nothing about what he was doing and has no idea how to provide hosting support to those clients. I’ve been working on notices to those clients, straddling the line between breaking news they may not know and yet being businesslike enough to make sure that they understand what has to be done.

But life carries on, no matter what happens to us. It may be difficult, it may strain the people left behind (one of my chief concerns should anything happen to me), but on it goes.

Peas, please

Another case in point: one of my mom’s old long-term neighbors (Jo, in case those of you reading this knew her) died in February as well, the same week Boots did. She had been receiving treatment for cancer that had invaded her brain, and they found out it had spread to her liver. She’d been in the hospital for a bit, but when there was nothing more they could do, they brought her home with Hospice care. She died that same night, around midnight.

But again, life carries on, and we move on with it.

Peepers

I knew someone once who was incredibly anguished about all the bad things that happen in life, and dwelt constantly on that aspect: wasn’t it horrible, life is unfair, it all seems such a waste, how can we possibly go through all this, and the same, ad nauseum, with no break of sunshine, ever.

Meyer lemon buds

How can we go through all this? How can we not?

Gunk is bad

I’ve been sick for about a week now. This in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the incessant coughing, some of which is so hard that it feels like I’ve pulled muscles. There’s also been so much coughing that the constant flexing of the abs has led to a severe ache, like overdoing situps or going a few rounds with a boxer.

My mom forced me to go to the doctor, which I did. Since I was coughing up and blowing out green gunk, they gave me a scrip for some anti-robotics…I mean, antibiotics: something very cool, and suited for me, since I can’t swallow pills and crushing them up all the time is nasty (and makes me not want to take them). It’s called Zmax, a one dose, extended release antibiotic that, as a bonus, comes in an oral suspension. Perfect for those of us with pill issues. How well it works remains to be seen. I can say that the smell (cherry/banana) is not bad. The taste, however, is, as it tastes like roasted ass. Or at least bad fish, something with which I’m a bit more familiar. Unfortunately, it isn’t for cough, and that’s what’s just killing me here. It makes it very difficult to sleep, makes my throat hurt, my ribs hurt, hell, I think I even almost pulled a groin muscle coughing so hard last night. There is only so much Nyquil one can take, and it tastes horrible anyway.

I’m hopeful that this is not going to hang around for three weeks(!), the length of time the doc said most people have been seeing this last. My ribs and abs can’t take it, and I’m anxious to get back out in the yard and get some more things in gear for the impending chicken arrival and the arrival of less schizophrenic weather so we can get our seedlings out of captivity and into the semi-wild of the garden.

Surivival of the seedlings

That might make a good title for a b-grade horror/sci-fi flick.

The seed flats that were blown over and crashed on the ground appear to be surviving, and even thriving. I did not get any photos today since I spent the bulk of the early part of the day in bed wishing away the nastiness that has infected me. Tomorrow, though, some pictures and hopes of sorting out what is where in one seed flat, given that my layout doesn’t match any longer. It wouldn’t be bad to be surprised by any or all of it, but it would help to know what’s what when we prep them to move to the frames. Also on th list: order more chicken and worm poop – our worms are about ready for their next tray, it seems, so eventually, we should be self-sufficient on that. I’m not sure how much poop three chickens will put out, but whatever they give will be cured and then added to the outside compost pile to add to the party. Heather tells us that our chicks will be ready probably the first week o March – only a couple of weeks away, so we need to get cracking (ha – get it?) on a coop for those critters.

Signs of life

Spring has sprung. Maybe not by the calendar, but there are signs. Tiny signs. Portents of things to come.

Broccoli, starting.

Seedling

A cuke (Beth Alpha), trying to unfold.

Beth Alpha cuke

I have a quarter flat started with sungold tomatoes, and the rest with other tomatoes, peppers, other cukes, and so on and on and on. I’m hoping that this week we’ll be able to get the mixes going and get some other frames in place. People like to remind us that it’s only February, and to that I say: it’s spring. Must be. Has to be.

Super Sunday

Superbowl day (and what the hell with this stupid pregame crap on Fox, anyway, reading the Declaration of Independence? This household polls 100% WTF.), but also a very fine Sunday to do various things around the homestead: a test mix of soil to go in one frame, to see how we liked it. The answer: we liked it very much indeed, and will be mixing up a huge batch in the coming week or so to fill a lot more frames to hold the seedlings we’ve started – and a whole lot more that will be directly sowed.

I finalized the area for the chickens and their coop,¬† spread some hay, put out another flat of seedlings, supervised my sister’s preparation of the guacamole, and let others put the kebobs on the grill. If I could drink alcohol at all, I’d be kicking back with a nice cold beer, noshing on chips and guac, waiting for the food. Alas, none for me. Guess I’ll round up some chips, though, and give those a go while I get some more work stuff done.

Enjoy the game, everyone. For the record, I picked the Patriots.

Birthdays, we got birthdays

Three, to be precise. We combined them into a single dinner to keep our (my) sanity intact, since I am also cooking for tomorrow’s superbowl dinner and next Saturday’s baby shower for Gabs.

But first, to the humor impaired fuckwit who took some weird offense at my “sarcasm” based on my being funny about the length of an error message presented by an application: it takes a certain arrogance to think that the entire world revolves around you and that every comment is directed at you personally. It does not, and it is not. Get over yourself. And thanks for the reminder about why it’s a complete waste of energy to try to respond with anything other than “Fixed.” when people like you open a ticket. Pity we didn’t know you’d be such an ass before we replied – but we certainly know now, don’t we?

The Boy turned 22 yesterday, and requested steak for dinner. We had ordered some bison ribeyes, so we had those, with baked potatoes, rice with shallots and parm (mom’s request), and roasted vegetables (red onion, zucchini, tomatoes). I also made a fresh batch of vanilla ice cream to go along with the cake.

Seven (and a half) for dinner.

Table for seven

Roasted vegetables. All gone.

Roasted veg

Burning down the house.

Lighting

A cake afire.

Fiery cake

The lights begin to dim.

Blown out

Quite a nice evening, altogether, but yet another in a series of very long days today for me. Today, in addition to work and the cooking, we also finally got some seeds started and I prepped an area – by hand, no less – about 56′ by 15′ to lay some seed¬† (a pasturegrass mix, no endophytes). This will be the area we’re planning to keep the chickens and their coop when they graduate from chickhood. I still need to clear a space and some kind of cage for them when they arrive later this month, as I’m definitely not allowing them to take over my bathtub for three weeks. Whatever I come up with will also have to be cat-proof, since without that, their lifespan will be quite short indeed.

Worm porn

How often do you get a headline like that?

We had actually received the worm can before receiving the worms.

Worm can

There are two more trays that go with this, to stack on top. This allows you to help the worms migrate up as they munch through whatever has been deposited in each tray. The spigot is to drain off the inevitable liquid that will accumulate: compost tea, not fit for direct human consumption unless you’re really brave and have no tastebuds. Lovely for plants, though.

The worms arrived via FedEx, and came with this helpful message.

Helpful message

Make a note of that: don’t freeze your worms.

The bedding material for the wrigglers is made of coconut fiber. It comes in a block, with an image of the happiest worm you’ll ever see.

Bedding

The block goes just as it is into a bucket of water. As it absorbs the water, it bursts out of the package and winds up looking a great deal like a bucket of poo.

Bucket o stuff

Once the bedding has soaked up most of the water and been broken up a bit, it still looks like a big bucket of poo. Fortunately, it doesn’t smell like one.

Ready

The bedding is spread into the bottom tray.

Bed's ready

All that’s needed now is the worms. They came bagged like this, and I was wondering just who got to count out a thousand of the critters.

Bag o worms

That’s a real pile o’ worms.

Pile o' worms

This lucky one was singled out for a closeup.

Singular

But they don’t seem to mind group shots.

Hand o' worms

Eventually, they tired of the papparazzi and made their way down into the bedding, happy as clams. Er, worms.

Tunnels

We’ve put some scraps in the can, to work out how much they’ll eat and how quickly, so we can gauge how much food they need and how productive they will be, in all senses of the word. These two had an early start on one aspect of that.

Worm sex

Worm poop

Mom had been out of town for the weekend, off gallivanting in another state. When she got back, she couldn’t resist opening one of the boxes of worm poop to take a look. It looks, I told her, as she held out two palms worth of the castings, just like worm poop: tiny balls of waste. I remember we used to see this a lot when I was a kid, in yards where the soil was rich and the temperatures not terribly extreme to kill off the worms. When I was much younger, we used to head out to Pirate’s Cove to go fishing. The adults would be fishing and drinking and the younger one would be poking at the fire, trying our hand at shrimping, and poking at the worms. You could be guaranteed to get worm poop on your hands at some point while playing with the worms before they met their grisly fate.

At the time, I didn’t really give much thought to the whole thing. After all, when you’re young, you’re indestructible and unconcerned most of the time with whatever is going on outside your own little planetary system. These days, my mind is awash with gardening and homesteading-related things. I’ve always had trouble sleeping because my brain won’t shut up, but it seems to be getting worse as time goes by. Sometimes I wish I could be like the cat curled up on my desk or the dogs curled up at my feet. They have that simple sleep and seem to know that when it is time to sleep, that’s just what you do. You don’t let your brain go off thinking about layouts for frames, how much soil needs to be mixed, whether to try a bunch of several kinds of tomatoes or several of a bunch of kinds of tomatoes – which naturally leads to the thought that the season can really be as long as you make it, so do you really have to choose? What about the trees, and where shall position the trellises for the climbing plants, like beans and cukes? If things go well, how much time will be devoted to canning and pickling, and who the heck will be eating all this stuff anyway?

I’m getting a bit sleepy now, and always think that those moments should be seized for a nap. Otherwise, the moment passes, and I’m off and running once more.

Frosty mornings

Our freeze/no-freeze/frost overnight betting pool – wouldn’t you love to be the weather person, where you really don’t need to get it right, ever? – turned out to be frost. I stepped outside with my sister as she was getting ready to head to classes: lock frozen, windows iced, clear and very cold. The veggies were covered in ice crystals, but not rock-hard frozen, and I suppose they’ll make it. The garlic is really the only thing that concerns me. I don’t eat collards, the broccoli, as I mentioned before, isn’t right, the brussels sprouts I don’t eat and are not doing anything from their transplanted states, and the lettuces/spinach seem to be just fine, although they also seem to be frozen in time, having not changed in size very much over the past couple of weeks. Looking across the road to our neighbors, I saw the western side of their roof covered in frost and glistening as the sun came up.

Standing outside for less than ten minutes made me appreciate even more having the ability to work from anywhere there is a connection to the internet. Even right at home, at my desk, with my heater going full blast under my desk to warm my feet after being outside.