Sunday, January 5, 2014

Planning, planning

It's been a while since I posted and I guess things both just got away from me and things have been uneventful in the garden and around the home. But now that the holidays have passed I'm looking around the house, inside and out, and beginning to plan.

It was an eventful Christmas for our family. The season seemed to fly by with Thanksgiving so late and a certain busy-ness to the season that I just haven't felt before. I mean, of course it's always busy with events and visiting with people, but this year seemed to be something else with days seeming to fly by without actually enjoying any of my favorite things. Not to say that it was all bad. My dad came to visit for a long weekend, which was low key and good. I got out and about a little and did a few fun activities at home with the kids. Then, the Saturday before Christmas, a nasty stomach bug struck. First the Kidlet, and a day later Gamer Hubby and I. My mom and stepdad had come to visit and my mom succumbed to the crud a day after us. Somehow my stepdad and Honeybee escaped unscathed, thank goodness! However, it ruined a lot of our plans in that last week for fun stuff. I was glad to have finished my wrapping and we did get to fit in Christmas light viewing, but everything else fell by the wayside. I felt a bit disappointed by it for a day or two, but then as soon as Christmas was over, I was ready to just move on.

Usually I like to keep decorations up until New Year's and enjoy it all, but this year, I found myself chomping at the bit to take it all down and start cleaning and organizing.

To be honest, the cleaning thing wasn't entirely new. I've been feeling driven to clean and de-clutter for a couple of months now. My house is not and will never be spotless, but more than anything, I like to keep clutter down and keep up with basic cleaning: vacuuming, sweeping, bathrooms, and kitchen. That's a big challenge with two young kids though. Both because they are on a mission to constantly cover the floor with every toy in the house and offer up a million interruptions when I'm trying to do any single cleaning job. Case in point, vacuuming yesterday: I started early, before all the toys were spread out, and cleared the floors, pulled out the vacuum, emptied the canister, and vacuumed. The whole process took twice as long as it needed to and I was a growly, frustrated mess by the end. That's pretty much par for the course and it's the end feeling of frustration that I have a hard time shaking that discourages me most. I feel like I keep putting so much energy into cleaning, but can't “catch up” or even maintain very well. I need to let go, and I'm making progress there on lowering my expectations, but it certainly can frustrate.

In any case, this post wasn't about cleaning. It's about putting things in order and GARDENING! On the productive side, Gamer Hubby is home, so I decided we should make the most of it and do something we've been putting off for way too long: cleaning out the garage! Woo! It's been great though and now all my chicken stuff has a real home instead of being stuffed in the garage haphazardly. We also have room to build that chicken tractor I want and other useful things.

That chicken tractor is partly what led to my current garden planning obsession.

My little coop and run feels a little small for the girls to spend all day, everyday in, but although I've let them do it, free-ranging around my unfenced yard just isn't a good idea in my area. Between the hawks, racoons, random loose dogs, rumors of minks, and other baddies that would like to eat my chickens, I feel lucky nothing has happened to them yet. So, I've been letting them into my fenced garden since November. It's great because it protects them from a lot of predators, if not the arial guys, and they can stretch their legs and scratch for a few hours. However, it gets me looking at my garden often and thinking about what I'd like to plant come spring and what I'm going to do with the girls once I do start planning. 

So the chicken tractor solution is easy, and I even have most of the lumber for it. That's just a matter of getting it done. I'm just starting to tackle the garden plans though. It might be over-eager, but between reading some great gardening books, some inspiring gardening and homesteading blogs, and not planting a garden last year with Honeybee being so young (and intolerant of sitting in the garden without eating fistfuls of dirt and/or woodchips), my mind has been buzzing with plans and ideas. Many seed catalogues aren't even out yet and I've been checking my mailbox obsessively for them. In the meantime, I'm planning the hardscape in my garden.

With all the deer, my garden is currently a fixed size surrounded by a fence in the sunniest, yet most convenient to the house, spot in our yard. Unfortunately, that also means it's on quite a slope. While it makes for good drainage, it's a bit too good, and I had soil and wood-chipped paths sliding down a bit two years ago and soil that dried out too quickly. I think it would really benefit from some basic terracing in the form of creating level raised beds. However, that is going to require some purchased materials and I'm working on how to do that while keeping costs down. I did score some free old cedar decking boards which aren't the prettiest, but will certainly work to contain soil. The upper part of the garden is a steeper slope than the rest though and I'm considering cinder blocks for their ease of stacking and stronger support. That's a rather expensive material though, so I don't think I'll be able to justify that for all the beds. Especially considering I'll have to buy soil for all these beds too. So I'm not sure what will be best. I'm scanning freecycle for more free boards, but also considering bricks or the 12”x12” pavers too. What have you guys used? Especially if you need one side longer than the other.

Everything seems so expensive, but I also see blogs with people doing things on the cheap, so I'm inspired to make it happen the best that I can. I'll keep you all updated. Suggestions on other ideas in that vein are welcome too.

And I'll keep scouting for those seed catalogs. A girl has to have priorities.

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