Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Rain and Miscellanous Doin's

Many springs ago, it seemed like it rained every time I set something out.  And it feels like that this spring, though I don't want to get too comfortable in that feeling.  I have been planting things out for days, cold weather things: lettuces, chard, kale, and a couple of perennial flowers / herbs, depending on how you want to look at them (Elecampane and Valerian officinalis).  Potatoes were planted and beet seed sown.  We extend beds a little each year.  It's one of those things you just can't do all at once, since there's so much rock in the ground.

They're a lot of work to get out of the ground, in some spots they're all chunky pieces from gravel-sized to softball-sized.  Other times, there will be flat rock that are almost smooth on one side.  There is no rhyme or reason as to what's where.  I prefer not to use the jackhammer unless we just can't find the edges of the rock.  So we use the heavy iron pry-bar, a rock behind it to act as a fulcrum, and the shovel to wedge in under the rock while we push the soil underneath.  Lots of times, we have to stand the flat rocks on edge and roll them out of the way.  I'm always happy when we can get a big flat rock out of the ground in one piece, not only for the obvious reason, but also because the rock is an addition for the walkways.  The bigger the rock, the less grass there is to come up in the cracks.

Yes, I know if I wanted to keep the grass from growing up through the cracks between the rocks, I could apply weed-killer, either ready-made or home-made, but I worry about it leaching into the soil of the garden beds nearby and thus killing out those things I have raised from seed, been given by treasured friends, propagated under a jar, or otherwise made some kind of effort in order to have it.  Yes, there are even things that I have bought as plants --  Rugosa roses, currants,  lilacs, gooseberries, Russian sage, grapevines, etc., that I would be devastated if they were killed by the leaching of poisons I'd applied to a nearby area.  Not to mention how hacked off I'd be if poisons migrated to any of my fruit trees.  My son knows how to weed-wack between bricks and such but Hubs either has no such skill or doesn't want me to know he has it, not sure which. 

A new raspberry bush is planted in a pot and setting on the patio.  So far I've managed to pick off two new shoots and they rooted right away.

So now I have three raspberry bushes where there was only one.

The Spicebush has been set out and promptly pruned by rabbits or rats.  Or mice.  I stepped out the patio door about a week ago and almost stepped on a dead mouse.  I am not much of an expert on vermin, and so I have trouble knowing what's a mouse and what's a rat.  Hubs says, aside from the size difference, mice have white bellies and tails.  And I kinda thought its tail was longer than I remember seeing on the rats.  It was very small and so I understand how it could take the bait out of the trap without tripping it.  Since then, my spinach has not been nibbled on.  I have kept them under chicken wire barricades because I have been greeted each morning by a rabbit in the yard.  They are a pain to chase out, because they run a little way ahead and then stop and wait for you to catch up, so you have to practically follow them to their exit point.  On Monday, Hubs filled in the spaces between the gates and posts with extra pipe, and I put some concrete pavers on the ground where there were gaps between the bottom of the gate and the ground.  It means we can only open the gate in one direction but that is a small price to pay.  Haven't seen rabbits in the yard since then but there may be some.  I would never have believed rabbits can go through the spaces in chain link if I hadn't seen it myself.  But I think they have to be in panic mode to do it.  Yesterday I smelled a grassfire in the air.  *Sigh*.  That means more rabbits, fieldmice and rats will be on the run from the fires and coming to the residential areas for shelter.  I'd feel sorry for them if they didn't do so much damage.  I find it hard to understand why ranchers are allowed to burn their pastures, but I guess there are some politics involved.  Most of the big ranchers around here are also attorneys or doctors.  They swear they can't raise cattle without "burning off", otherwise known as a "controlled burn", yet people in other states manage to do it quite well.   There is, as I write, a fire in Woodward county that has burned 23 thousand acres, including several homes, and nobody on the news has mentioned its origin.  If they don't ever say it's cause, you KNOW what I'M gonna think.  Hmmmmpppppphh.  That could just as easily be us.  Spring is a scarey time for me and it's not just because it's tornado season.

I've about depleted my supply of D-Con what with all this mouse / rat activity, so while we were shopping last weekend we looked for D-Con in those little paper bags.  I don't like those plastic trays.  It allows the rat to overeat when the outcome would be the same if he just ate a little, and D-Con is not cheap.  Plus the trays are easy for dogs and birds to get into, and they WILL eat it.  They say it won't hurt the dog because the dog can throw it up.  But I've known cases where it DID hurt a dog.  If a cat eats a rat that has consumed D-Con, it can cause retinal bleeding in the cat.  We've occasionally found a dead bird on the property.  I know birds only have a certain life span and maybe it's not unusual to see a bird just drop dead out of the sky.  But still.  Whatever you do, people, please, PUH-LEEEEEZE, don't ever mix D-Con with peanut butter.  Yeah, the rats love it.  But so do dogs and birds.

The only place we could find what I wanted was at Atwood's, and it was $35 for a small tote bag holding 65 little bags.

At Tractor Supply, they had a different brand in little paper bags, but their price broke down to $1 per little bag.  We will continue to try to trap as often as we can and just use the bags in the garage, where the rats slip in so easily when the garage door is open.  I leave a bag in a coffee can lid on the floor and that way the rat is dead before I even know we had one in there. Some people say they don't think D-Con works anymore but I see the evidence that it does.  I think maybe they might not realize it takes a couple days for the rat to die, or maybe they just have more rats than they thought they did.  We are a prime example.  We caught rats in the Have-a-heart trap all summer last year and were shocked that there were so many.

I also bought a package of two mousetraps.  Here again, it's a cruel way to die so I'm not sure I'll try to use them, now that I've thought some about it.  It's death for an unsuspecting bird and a trip to the vet for the cat, and that's if I'd even be able to catch her.  We have skinks (brown lizard-looking critters) that hang out near the cistern and I sure wouldn't want to get one of those in the trap, either.  They are great bug-eaters and they can get into all the same places that a rat could. 

While I was writing this, I saw I had an e-mail and it was from Carole, who sent me THIS link.  How appropriately timely.  Heh.

Atwoods had their seeds discounted, but Holy Cow!  I'm not at all sure that's much of a bargain since the beginning price is $1.75 and up to $4.  Carole has gotten packets of American Seed at her Dollar Store there in Joplin and the price per pack is less than a dollar.  I looked in my local Dollar Store, and no such luck. 

I was on Pinterest the other day, and I found a post about Phytophoto Dermatitis.  Yipe, that's scarey.  Go HERE to see that post about sensitivity to parsnips and other related plants.  That led to THIS website which gives some great identification tips for one of the offending weeds that you can accidentally come in contact with: Giant Hogweed.  I'm glad I saw this.  I probably would think it is yarrow, or wild carrot.

On the other hand, Carole sent me a link to a website that tells us there are microbes in the soil that we absorb through our skin and/or breathe in, that alleviates depression and other maladies.  There are several reports online HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.   Probably more.  I just did a search on "digging in soil good for depression".  Well I just guess if I get Winter Depression again, I'll go outside and dig a hole.  Heh.

Oh, and I have to show you this.  If you're in the mood for a wonderful You-Tube rendition of "Hallelujah", sort of, watch Father Ray Kelly HERE, done at a wedding over which he presided, this one will make you laugh and cry at the same time.  Gosh, I sure hope he doesn't get sued for doing that. 

We are supposed to have rain, off and on, now through Thursday night.  I'm grateful for the timing as seeds have been planted and new plantings are beginning to dry out a little since the light rain we had 3 or 4 days ago.  The peas are up now.  Most of the fruit trees are beginning to bloom.  The jonquils are opening up.

It's turned off kind of chilly, so I will probably stay out of the garden today.  I need to bake bread, anyway.  I have a cast-iron skillet that's starting to stick and I can re-season it while the oven is on.  And the kitchen needs a good cleaning.  Hubs spilled something and didn't wipe it up completely, so I had to mop on Monday.  He never wipes off counters, and he spills his coffee down the front of the cabinet.  My dishwasher pump quit working so I do dishes by hand now, not that I so much mind it, as most of my pots and pans don't fit in the dishwasher anyway, it's just that I get a little tired of being the one working in the kitchen.  I don't know why men are so poor about cleaning up after themselves.  Maybe that's a generalization I shouldn't be using, but I do know this is a complaint I hear often from other women, especially since *some* men don't ever clean bathrooms, either.  If there are any men reading this, rest assured, Buddy, you're not fooling anybody but yourself when you say, "But you do such a better job than I can." 

The basil seeds that I planted in trays are ready to be separated and transplanted into their own little pots.

The wintersown seeds of Curly parsley and Ammi Majus have come up in their milk jugs.  This is a tricky time for wintersown stuff.  When there are tender little seedlings inside, you can't let the soil dry out.  You can't let the sun shine directly on the jugs.  You can't let a big burst of water hit them.  And  you can't let them stay outside during freezing weather.  Lots of babysitting involved, depending on the weather conditions, and this is why I keep telling people that wintersowing is not completely trouble free.  

All our tools are scattered around in the kitchen and dining room, and lots of them can be put away now.  We are as far as we can go with the living room floor till we find out where we can get a kit for our sliding glass patio doors.  We are getting lots of drafts through that door.  We looked into buying a nice pair of french doors but apparently they don't make them as wide as sliding doors are and I do not want to make that doorway smaller.  We can get custom-made ones but probably for not less than $3,000.  Yes, that's right.  Three zeroes.  After doing some research on the Internet, I have learned that weatherstripping and gaskets need to be replaced in sliding patio doors about every other year.  Sheesh.  I bet that's never happened for this door, and it's at least ten years old.  Our problem is we don't know it's manufacturer.  And of course we are still waiting on the furniture.  I'm still trying to feel good about that stain color on those new cabinets and starting to consider painting them the same cream color that was used on all the woodwork.  Seems like, when you redecorate, there are always these little challenges that come up.

So I guess I have pretty much outlined my day for today, I'd best get up and at it.  Y'all have a good day, I hope you are having good weather wherever you are.  Rock on!  xoxoxoxo

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