Friday, June 15, 2012

Gardening, Who Will Win?

I've just come inside for a cool drink after a couple of hours of weeding, transplanting and trimming in the morning heat. It is going to be 23 degrees this afternoon so I will need to find some shade to work in.

I am encouraged by all the beautiful flowers in my flowerbeds and discouraged that I seem to have some visitors that are eating away at my plants. One of my favorite plants is the hollyhock and this seems to be a favorite salad for our resident groundhog. Other plants have all the tender leaves chewed off them or all the flower buds. My husband has another suggestion as to what be eating my taller plants out in the front yard.

One morning last week as he turned right at the corner of our street he spied two deer meandering down the sidewalk past some town offices. He is thinking perhaps they are nibbling on the taller plants out front and if so, then I may as well say good-bye to them..

I had already mixed up a spray of water and some old dried chili peppers I had around after I replaced them with fresh ones..I sprayed my green peppers in the garden and my pea vines as they were getting gobbled up..this did not seem to desperation I thought if my plants are going to be eaten and killed off, then I will do it myself and mixed up some water with pink Mr. Clean..As I looked at my plants this morning I did not see further damage. Even my beautiful burgundy blanket flowers seem to have escaped as I also sprayed them..much later I remembered to prevent deer eating plants spray water, mixed with an egg, as they don't eat protein...

I tie stakes around my plants when I see they are being nibbled on, I fenced in the vegetable garden and one year had to enclose all the lettuce in order that I didn't have to share it with the rabbits. Now usually I'm quite fond of wildlife, hearing the birds singing all day, seeing the chipmunks run along the deck, watching the hummingbird drink from our feeder then sit on our clothsline. But once they intrude on my territory with the idea of having breakfast, lunch and dinner, even snacking in between meals, that gets my dander up! We have tried for three years to live-trap the ground-hog and set it free miles out in the country to no avail..instead we caught squirrels and racoons.

I told my husband as we finished planting our vegetable garden this week, if the animals keep eating the garden, then next year I'm grassing it in..the neighbour twins were outside weeding just the other side of our garden and commented: "that would not be like you at all, what would you do without your garden?" They have shared much our our produce over the years as I tend to grow more than we can eat. I also share our produce with Jim's daughter, she loves going  into the garden and picking snowpeas to eat. Next year I hope to introduce our granddaughter Claire to planting a few seeds.

I am even thinking perhaps I will dig up the coneflowers and many other flowers the animals are eating and plant something else that they aren't interested in. But I can't seem to give up trying to have a few hollyhocks even though the one out front has buds but not ONE green leaf on it. My double one out back has two or three leaves left and bloomed last year in spite of the ruthless trimming:

     It's always fun to invite some guests to join us around the table..

     We talk and laugh, tell tall tales, drink wine without reading the label...

     But unwanted guests, the four-legged kind who lack an invitation..

     Just give us a splitting headache and add to our aggravation..

     How to be rid of them, what do I do, makes my head go for a spin...

     As a friend of mine used to say: "There's going to be a war..and I'm going to win!"


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

P.E.I. Renovation, Part Two

We are now back home from renovation number two. When my brother-in-law mentioned we had accomplished a lot in six weeks I realized, we have accomplished an amazing amount of work with the help of family and new friends on the island..Three weeks of intense labour in 2011 and three weeks of the same this spring.

We met our goals for this year with time to do some extra work. Last year the entire house was gutted and filled with insulation, plus much wiring was started. This year our goal was to put a cement block wall in the basement and a cement floor. Also the house needed new eave troughs and down spouts. The original eave troughs were made of wood. We kept them partly as a memory of the past plus part of it will go on what I hope one day will be my garden shed.

The first part of an almost ten day job in the basement was to rent a conveyor belt to take out much of the dirt from the basement..what a lifesaver that was not pailing out the dirt..hubby built a homemade tin trough which helped us to slide down 4 pallets of cement blocks to the basement...he then proceeded to make a cement block wall 5 blocks high. A cement truck came two days in a row. 
After such a hard, strenuous job on the wall, we decided to hire a couple of men to pour the cement floor and smooth it out..looks marvelous down there now..a neighbour was asked if he'd be willing to help hubby and his brother make our new steps..they turned out well and we've made much use out of them already..

We will have a terrific amount of storage in the basement now with the newly poured cement shelf which was all dirt before. The funny part but also a very hard part was putting a lot of the dirt we took out, back in for backfilling behind the wall..I also gathered up every stone or rock I could find for backfilling..the men were so exhausted after this job, thankful it was finished. They went on to do more wiring upstairs afterwards, a much lighter job.

We emptied out my shed, no light task either, it was full of many items from the previous owner. Some we will keep, some went to the dump. We also cut the top off a large steel drum and it burned wood or old straw steady for about 5 days..I don't know how any farm survives without one..I also made a huge fire pit after we had a huge burn on site..lining it with bricks from a chimney we tore down and rocks painted white from hubby's barn. My shed got a new door and a new smaller door at one end of the second floor. My hubby is eyeing the shed for his workshop!. I said if that happens, he will need to build me a brand new garden shed..I wonder who will win!

My step-son joined us for two weeks and his fiance joined us for the second week..They both worked hard. My step-son being an arborist trimmed all our apple trees,  plus various other trees..he then planted many sugar maples, two red oaks and pines on our property. I planted a smoke bush, a varigated dogwood, a lilac tree and two witch hazel bushes. My hubby and his son dug up many plants from back home which are all in the above picture. Jim also made the bench. One of many which will be placed around the property so we can one day sit and enjoy the fruit of our labours.

 Trails were made through the woods, more trees were planted in there, mostly hardwoods. Lots of flowers blooming, many I don't know the names of yet, so must find a book of island woodland flowers..also want to be able to identify all the trees.

The three weeks went by very quickly, I managed a couple of afternoons off to go beachcombing or shopping in Charlottetown, but my husband Jim never took a day off..Hard as the work was, it is a labour of love. We feel the hardest jobs are behind us until we start working on his barn and the garage. But for now the house is our priority. We found the huge willow tree out back was a great blessing. A cool place to sit when having our tea breaks and snacks. 

We are finding it harder each year to return back home from the island as the house inside and out has more personality now and we are putting our stamp on year we are thinking of taking our holidays in September..There is still much to do but we can see the end of it all in our mind's eye  better now..As we enjoy our summer back home delighting in our granddaughter Claire we will continue to plan and save for next year's renovation, bringing us closer to sitting on our newly built deck on the island and not doing one lick of work for a couple of hours or even all day!