Notes from Three of Earth Farm: Spring Prep

Spring has come into fullness, as only spring can do. The leaves on some of the trees are full on and beginning to darken from that mouthwatering spring green, while others have not yet reached their full size. The lilac is beginning to fade and the rhododendron buds are popping. We’ve had a string of gorgeous days, and the April showers are already a memory. We will be needing more rain soon, and I fear we won’t get enough. Again. There are already brush fires in Rochester and surrounds, a few miles away. I saw and smelled one Thursday when I drove down I-5.

Speaking of rain, or not enough of it, I did one of my least favorite outdoor tasks this week and I’m so glad it’s over with: get the water to my garden. This year I finally made good on my intention to see if the closer water sources still worked. My mother said not, but true to my personality, I had to find out for myself. I am misleading you about finding out if they work though. What I did was dig out the buried valve on one, which took over an hour of digging. When the shovel hit metal, it was like striking the treasure chest. I was quite satisfied with myself just for that much.


I knocked on my 92-year-old neighbor’s door. He had told me a while back he didn’t think the pipe was broken under the driveway near his house, just that it was turned off, but now he doesn’t recall that he knew anything about it, but that the one farther down toward my house was more recently used; meaning my mother watered Daddy’s corn from it the summer he died in 1995. Robert remembers he ate some of that crop. It was the last garden until I reimagined it.

In his trademark gentle, non-alarmist voice, Robert reminded me which water meter box was mine down by the road in case there was a geyser when I turned the valve with a pipe wrench and I needed to turn off the water. “Those gaskets and such rot over time,” he said. Twenty-five years probably qualifies as “over time.”

I could get a plumber to do it, but I imagined the whole driveway dug up and I wasn’t going to open that can of snakes. I dragged out the hoses. I actually got them strung out with minimal trouble, made a route adjustment from last year, and DIYd a sprinkler location change that stays out of the way of the weedeater AND, for the first time, hits everything that needs to be watered by getting it up higher. Now, if only someone else would make the garden beautiful again. And repair the fence.

Yes, it takes all of these to get water from the house to the garden. Very inefficient.


I gave up on finding a youth group or Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop that wanted to earn money to remove the two seasons of winter blow down in the wood lot and did it myself yesterday. It was not as onerous as the 20 seasons worth I removed a few years ago. I got one side of the trail done—eleven piles and 2/3 of the job. I did not move the piles down to where they can be loaded into a truck for disposal. I REALLY hate that task. It looks more like a park, and less like a fire hazard. I found a single trillium, and some Indian pipe. Really, it could look like a park—it could look like the Rhododendron Species Garden I visited Thursday—with some money and a gardener. I’ll be satisfied with the clean forest floor, and I won’t skip a year again. Now, what extravagance should I treat myself to with the money I didn’t spend on help?



I bought a second wood rack and restacked the wood pile that fell a few weeks ago, presumably when one of the pieces on the bottom of the too full stack broke. I was motivated to do it so the sweet man painting the deck could put his equipment there overnight so it wouldn’t be in the way of my Airbnb guests.


I know, it shouldn’t be next to the house. Fortunately, it doesn’t sit around. I love fireplace fires; I will use all of that and more next winter. I did make sure it isn’t touching the house, if that matters.

The deck painter brought a helper when he started prepping two days ago. When I found him working alone at the end of the day, I asked him what happened to his helper. “He’s a millennial,” he sighed, as if that explained it. “When I told him we would be working eight hours, he was shocked. ‘Eight hours in one day?'” He didn’t stick around, and yesterday Steve came alone. He has been a painter for 40 years. He says his wife tells him it’s time to get a helper. Good help: hard to find.

There are new steps to the studio/workshop over the carport, replacing the rotted ones. A wheelbarrow ramp (my idea) and new steps behind the carport will be finished on Monday. (The Littles are going to love that ramp; it’s like a luge track.) I will be glad when these guys are done. I had to wear noise-cancelling head phones to block out the blaring far right “Christian” talk radio station while I was at my desk working on my writing project, even after I asked them to turn it down. The muscular, heavily tattooed builder is a pastor; he tells everyone he meets, lest they overlook his born again status. My sister wonders if he’s considered that God might be speaking through the birds and trees and can’t get through. I thought about asking him; maybe it would have made this week’s sermon.



To be topped with plywood, roofing stuff so it won’t be slippery, and 2×4 “bumpers.”

There have been people working intermittently inside the house since September (and the upstairs bathroom floor was done before that, and the floor in the Airbnb bathroom two years ago). I’ve been painting one thing or another for the past year. The contracted work is complete, but for one small thing. My painting goes on. (Photos in another post.) Other than reroofing in the next weeks the contracted outdoor work will be complete in the next week or so too. All of them (except the step builders) have been highly considerate of my need for them to work around Airbnb guests.

Very soon it will be just me again, and the man who mows weekly from now into September. Last week I thought he was going to abdicate, sending me into a full out sleepless panic; but he did it after all. Carrying on.

There was a deer in the driveway yesterday. Maybe I will work on my fence today and plant the rest of the seeds, now that there is water.




4 thoughts on “Notes from Three of Earth Farm: Spring Prep

  1. Ahhh, garden talk. It’s like pillow talk between seasons as they rise and fall, propagate and fade. I’m fatigued just hearing about your full days, but I know how beautiful that garden is in the summer months: you reap what you so lovingly sow ♡ 


    1. And now the sun is shining through the window at my desk, making it hard to see the computer screen. My signal that it’s time get dressed and head outside for the next task. 🙄 P.S. The garden is definitely not beautiful right now.


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