Cold Air Kisses & Harvest Wishes

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Well, it is getting to be that time of the year. The mornings are darker and cooler, making it difficult to want to get out from under the covers, especially when you have a cute hound cuddled up with you. The air has a gentle nip to it. The trees are starting to turn brilliant colours and the garden is starting to wind down. We are now entering one of my absolute favourite seasons, Autumn!

The autumn weather is my jam. I run naturally hot, so spring and autumn is when I am most comfortable doing some major work in the yard. I can do a lot of heavy lifting, building and rock hauling without getting completely uncomfortably hot. That being said, they are also both extremely difficult seasons to get motivated to want to do work in the yard. In spring, I am so excited to get out biking or fishing that I have to force myself to make work days in the yard. Usually the excitement of planting our summer garden gets me motivated to get the work done. The autumn though is a different story. There is not a lot of incentive to get things done. Part of my brain thinks, just leave the work to the spring and enjoy the weather by going for walks in the woods with the dogs, or a bike ride along the river, or enjoying a hot chocolate in the hot tub while looking at the last days of the beautiful flower barrels.

We usually mange to get ourselves motivated enough to give the garden beds a good clean out for the winter in preparation for the spring. This year though, we are trying to motivate ourselves enough to get 4 new walls built. Yes, there is some motivating factors about having 3 new garden beds to add more plants to next year, but it’s still difficult. So far we have managed to talk ourselves into it…while at the same time giving ourselves excuses to not push as hard as we normally would. It dawned on me the other day that as long as we have the posts into the ground by the time the ground starts freezing, we could technically be filling the wire cages until mid-November. That kind of thinking takes the urgency off now, which really isn’t the best thing. Yes, we can do work until November, but it is also a lot colder the later we wait and there is a lot of finicky wire work that I generally need to take my garden gloves off for…meaning I will need to have bare hands in that cold weather.

So I pushed it a bit this week. There were definitely a few days earlier this week that I didn’t feel like going into the yard after work to build rock walls. Kurt also wasn’t really into doing the walls so I had to really push myself. Usually one of us will push the other, but when both of us are unmotivated, then one of us has to fake being motivated, or we don’t get the work done. I was the faker this week.

We flattened out the bottom wall area and dug the post holes over a week ago. We also cut the posts to the heights they needed to be for cementing. Then we realized we didn’t have enough posts, so I went and bought another one. Then we realized we didn’t have enough cement, so we put off cementing the posts we could. Luckily we had the forethought to look and see if we had enough wire, and we didn’t so we were able to pick up that while grabbing cement. Add in a few days of rain, and a full week went by without any work. And instead of staying home last weekend to get some work done, we decided to go camping instead.

So on Monday, we were bound and determined to get the post holes cemented in. With the use of my uncles cement mixer, which we have kept since putting our fences in this spring, we managed to get the posts cemented in with plenty of evening to spare. I was starting to feel the natural motivation from the excitement of seeing the wall take shape.

Tuesday was rainy so my dad came over and we began to learn how to use the lathe that my other uncle gave to me. He no longer used it and made a deal with me that he would give me the lathe, but next time he was in town, I owed him a stellar home-cooked meal. Sounds like an excellent deal to me! I was glad to have my dad over to learn the lathe with me. It is just a small starter lathe, which is a little less scary that one of the large scale ones. We managed to make a large dowel! It was a good start. I had watched a lot of youtube videos and was ready to start understanding the feel of what I had watched. By the end of it Dad and I were feeling good and once I invest in a few more wood turning tools, I will spend a lot more time making a few simple projects like honey dippers and garden dibber/dibble/dibbler (so many variations of the name). If you aren’t familiar with it, it is a tool that has markings on it so that you can poke holes into the ground at the right depths for planting seeds. I’ll make a tapered one that gets a little wider for planting small plants that we have started in the house as well. Seems like a fitting item to make on the lathe. We will certainly get good use out of it and it is perfect for getting comfortable with lathe skills.

Anyways, back to the walls. On Wednesday I was no longer excited to continue working on the walls. Toward the end of the work-day, I got a text message from Kurt saying “I don’t have any wall motivation”. Ditto! But it was time to bring on the fake motivation. So I forced myself to say that I was going to work on it one way or another. Technically I could do the tarping and wire by myself, and I was going to get it done. The fake motivation worked and Kurt was willing to help out when we got home.

We started with the crushed gravel footing. We dug out a little trench where the wall was going to sit and backfilled it with crushed gravel, which we pounded down. I am not sure how important this piece is because the wiring is all attached to the wood posts, so we shouldn’t see sag, but better safe than sorry!

Next we rolled out the landscaping fabric to go along the back of the wall. Once cut, we stretched it out and slid it over the posts. We made sure there was plenty of slack to go over the crushed gravel bases. This helps keep large weeds from growing in our rock walls. They will grow along the front and some of their branches will thread into the wire, but it is easy removal. If one started in the base of the wall, it would be impossible to get the root out, so we gravel and fabric the footing of the wall to make sure we don’t have that issue.

Once the fabric was on, we started adding the wire. We started with the wire along the back of the wall first. That was nice and easy, though we do have a spot where it bows a little. Unfortunately, where the path comes down to the flattened area is a little steep, so the wire naturally has a bit of a bow coming off that steeper grade onto the flat sections of the wall. Not to worry, we are used to this from our other walls that follow slopes.

Along the front side, we once again did a small chicken wire first, then the larger wire overtop. We do this because the rock size can sometimes be inconsistent and we have had too many smaller rocks delivered. Rather than not being able to use them, the smaller chicken wire ensures that those rocks can’t slip out of the larger wire, allowing us to fill the walls better. Once on, you almost don’t even notice the chicken wire inside the bigger wire because it is small gauge.

As we went along the front, we once again had a few bows in the wire, or slack sections. As we fill the wall, if we find that it wants to curve outward, we will add a 2’x4′ along the back of the posts in that section so that we can secure the wire to it to help stop that sag. I don’t think we will need to do that, but it is good to have a solution thought up in case we do need to make that decision while we are building. It will help us keep the momentum going.

Thursday we were going to start filling the rock walls but disaster struck. On Wednesday night, our oldest dog, Ellie, was really sick. We were up all night with her and she ended up at the vet first thing in the morning. She was in bad shape with what looked to be a bacterial infection in her tummy. She had to spend a night at the vets on IV fluids and antibiotics. Later in the day on Thursday, our younger dog, Basil, also ended up with the same symptoms, but not as bad. She didn’t have to stay at the vet, but got sent home with antibiotics and special digestive tract food. We were in no shape to haul rocks up and down the hill with only about an hour of sleep in the previous 24 hours. Plus we needed to keep a very close eye on Basil to make sure her symptoms didn’t get any worse.

So here we are, Saturday morning. Both dogs are at home and resting. Ellie will likely have a long recovery, but is at least acting a bit more like herself. Basil avoided the worst of the symptoms but will also need some solid recovery time. We are home for the weekend, and intend to do some work on the rock walls tomorrow. My goal is to get at least one section, if not two, filled tomorrow. I’ll fake the motivation again if I have to!

Moving into the week, we are also going to start pulling some of our plants out of the garden beds to get the beds ready for winter. Our cucumbers and zucchini’s are done and can come out. I will also pull the celery and freeze it for use in winter soups, stir fry’s and roasted vegetable packets. Then we will cover the bed to keep weeds from growing.

Our tomatoes and peppers are still producing and will be left in until October. Likewise, the strawberries are still providing lots of delicious fruit. They stay in all winter and the leaves mulch the plants so that they come back in the spring.

That’s it. A bit of a long update, but it has been a week since my last update, so there was a lot to tell. All the best to our gardener readers who are also getting their gardens ready for the fall harvests.

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