Since my bill-paying job consists of sitting and writing software code, I spent a chunk of the Labor Day weekend doing actual labor. Weather permitting, that’s what we do for part of our weekends: labor on the land as part of our ongoing jungle reclamation project.
We repurpose the equipment and material left behind by the previous owner whenever possible. We inherited a lawn mower that didn’t run, so Chareva took it to a repair shop recently and found out it didn’t require much of a repair. She’s been using it to tame the area behind the house, which includes a small orchard. Before we started reclaiming the land, these trees were getting strangled by weeds and briar bushes. Now they’re starting to grow fruit.
Some months back, I hacked through a briar jungle near the creek, which I recounted in a post titled Chicken Man Goes Jungle Whacking. I’ve since learned that jungles grow back if you don’t engage in regular whacking. In the picture below, the area on the right is where I’ve started a re-whacking campaign. The left side of the picture shows how tall the jungle weeds have grown since the original whacking campaign. (I should have had Chareva stand in there for a height reference. The weeds are a bit above waist-high on me.)
Given the time between whackings, I had forgotten that much of what’s growing in the jungle is poison ivy. It’s been hot and humid here in Tennessee, so I wore a t-shirt while taming the jungle. Bad move. The weed whacker’s brush blade was splattering my arms with bits of poison ivy as I worked. Both arms are now covered with patches like this.
The area immediately in front of the house used to be a covered with shin-high ivy — some of it poison ivy, some just ivy. I hated that stuff. If I took a long-distance shot at the disc-golf basket you in the picture and missed to the right, the disc would disappear into the ivy. I could step right over the disc and miss it. I also wondered, as I pushed the ivy aside with my foot, how many spiders and snakes were in there. So I finally took the weed whacker with the saw blade attached and hacked through it, then raked it away. Chareva spread grass seed over that area yesterday. I hope we eventually end up with something like a lawn there.
Our dogs have had a decent-sized back yard as their kingdom since we got them. A few weekends ago, we decided to expand the kingdom. Chareva pounded in a bunch of t-posts along the side yard while I was at work, then we spent the next day stringing fencing material along the posts. We also used some old gates that had been sitting around. It’s not a pretty fence, but again, we want to use up as much existing material as possible for now. Someday we’ll section off the property with a nice split-rail fence.
The dogs were delighted with the expansion. Their fenced-in area used to stop at the back corner of the house you can see in the picture above. With the addition, they now have twice as much yard to roam. When we let them out to explore, they ran around like excited children, sniffing and digging and barking.
The farm part of the farmland is coming along, but our pumpkins aren’t doing well for some reason. Several of the vines shave shriveled, and we only see one actual pumpkin growing so far.
We haven’t had any chicken-killers show up lately, so we still have seven egg-layers. Chareva ordered another 20 chicks that should arrive next week. This time she requested “unsexed,” which means we’ll get a mix of males and females. The plan is to eventually pick a rooster to keep with the hens so the flock will reproduce. The other males will be raised in movable chicken yards to scratch and fertilize the land. Then they’ll go in the soup pot. The ultimate goal is to have a constant supply of eggs and chicken meat without having to buy more chicks.
For our Labor-Day activities, I attacked that huge wood pile. I’ve mostly gotten over the fear of using a chainsaw, but I still have one unbreakable safety rule: I don’t cut anything with it unless Chareva is somewhere nearby. If I happen to lose control and remove a chunk of my body, I want her to be aware of my predicament long before I manage to drag myself back to the house. So while I cut logs, Chareva whacked away at more of the jungle at the front of our property.
Chareva doesn’t like wearing a big helmet with a facemask, so today she donned a baseball cap and sunglasses, then wrapped a cloth around her face. She looked like someone preparing to walk into a bank and yell, “Give me all your money or the teller gets whacked!”
I’ve spent three sessions with the chainsaw hacking away at a log I now call The Beast. My chainsaw, despite being a 22-inch Farm Boss, isn’t long enough to slice through The Beast, so removing each chunk requires at least six different cuts – two of them cutting sideways. The chainsaw is heavy and The Beast is hard as a stone in some sections, so I get in a pretty decent workout with each session.
The logs are all piled on top of each other, and my biggest concern is a finding myself in the middle of an unscheduled log-rolling contest while holding a running chainsaw. So after tackling The Beast, I plan to cut up the rest of the wood by starting at one end (the downhill side, so the chunks roll away from me) and working my way in, cutting whichever log is sticking out the farthest. I don’t expect to be finished anytime soon. There’s rather a lot of wood in that pile.
On a final note, someone in comments asked about Rascal. He’s doing fine and has endeared himself to all of us – including me, the guy who never liked cats. He’s taken a shine to me and occasionally takes naps in my lap as I write. Then he wakes up and starts batting loose items around my desk.
I’ve been referring to him as Little Man, although after his recent trip the vet, he’s considerably less manly. After our sad experience with an abandoned kitten, we don’t want Rascal to contribute to the population of unwanted pets.
Happy Labor Day.