It’s 75 degrees today in Franklin. I’d say Spring has sprung. Good weather for some farm work.
While I was sitting at a desk writing software for a living last week, Chareva took advantage of the warmer weather and doubled the size of the chicken yard. All the fencing behind the barn (right side of the picture) is newly installed.
We haven’t let the chickens into that area yet because we still need to put a net over it. It wouldn’t do the chickens any good to peck some fresh ground and then get carried off by a hawk.
Chareva and the girls have also been working on getting the garden going.
Cardboard? Yeah, I wondered about that myself. Chareva tells me the cardboard prevents weeds and attracts worms.
This year’s crop will include (assuming all goes well) broccoli, kale, spinach, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, squash, green beans, sugar-snap peas, zucchini, strawberries and sweet potatoes.
I continued my war against the briar jungle a few weekends ago by clearing a large area around our creek, which runs between the front and back pastures you see in the picture below. Before my two days of hacking away, we couldn’t see the back pasture from where I took this picture. That’s how thick the jungle was.
I also learned the value of a good helmet that weekend. I cut through a vine as thick as my wrist that had wrapped itself around one of the trees. Turns out that tree had a dead limb that was held in place by the vine — as I discovered when the limb fell and delivered what would probably have been a knockout blow to an unprotected head. The helmet absorbed much of the impact, and all I did was stagger like a drunk for a moment before recovering.
I had originally planned to clear the jungle at the back of our property as well, but I was overcome with a dose of realism. I work full-time, I’ve got a roast to write and produce before the low-carb cruise in just six more weeks, and clearing another acre or so of jungle could have easily occupied all my weekends. So I went looking on Craigslist and noticed an ad titled Reclaim Your Jungle.
The crew that did the reclaiming used an impressive machine that basically sucks weeds, bushes, briar patches and small trees into the front and grinds them into chips. In a matter of hours, they cleared an area that would have taken me lord-only-knows-how-many days with my rotating saw. It was money well spent.
The two areas you see behind our back-yard fence in the pictures below were briar jungles before. We couldn’t see much of anything past the fence. Now we can see all the way to the hills behind our property.
Shortly after that area was cleared, I looked out the window one day and saw this: deer wandering down from the hills. We counted six of them. They’ve probably been visiting that area regularly, but we couldn’t see them before.
With the last of the briar jungle gone, I was able to spend part of this weekend doing tasks more appropriate for my tools, such as tackling the dead tree along our driveway.
That’s the tree that once dumped a big, heavy branch onto a spot where Sara had been standing just moments before. We told the girls not to play near the thing anymore until I could cut down the remaining branches.
I don’t plan to cut down the remaining stump. It’s not dangerous, and it’s right in the middle of an approach to one of my disc-golf baskets. Jimmy Moore demonstrated a tendency to hit that tree during our rounds, so I want to leave at least part of it in place.
The limbs I cut down are already dry enough to burn, so we’ll be chopping those up for the wood stove.
Speaking of the wood stove, I heard something making noise inside the stovepipe this morning. Chareva opened the top of the stove to take a peek — I of course was looking for a weapon in case a small badger jumped out and attacked her. Turns out a bird had made its way into the stove.
It sat there calmly for a moment (long enough for a picture), then suddenly panicked and began to fly around the room. This caused the girls to scream — which to a small bird sounds like “we’re going to catch you and eat you,” so it flew around the room even more desperately. After attempting several times to snag the bird with a fishing net (as I did my part by capturing the effort on video), Chareva finally opened a window and the bird escaped to freedom.