If you have only visited the the little farm house via the blog, you may not notice the thing that is different about the front yard in this photo. To me, the difference is major. We cut The Stump.
The photo above shows The Stump as Brandon is cutting it. When we bought the place, over a year ago, I was surprised to find that one of the first comments from men, when they came to visit, was usually about how the dead tree will need to be removed. They would comment about this this even before they commented on the tarps that functioned as siding, or the general dilapidated state of the house. I could almost see the gleam in their eyes as their muscles began to twitch as they imagined what power tools and heavy machinery would be involved in stump removal. It must be a law of male lawn maintenance that a dead tree can not be allowed to stand.
I was unconvinced for a long time, which is why cutting the stump didn't happen until now. I had already moved the irises that were growing on our mysterious dirt mound to the base of the stump, and was contemplating how I could get a flowering vine to grow up it. When we would sit in the yard under the shade of the pear tree, the stump was often a topic of conversation as we tried to decide what, if anything, we should do with it.
The decision was finally made to cut the stump to a lower height, thereby reducing it's visual impact for those of us that felt it was an eyesore (Brandon), and freeing up the view of the neighbors lovely pond from some of the best sitting places. This was not a decision that was made lightly, and I hope it's not one that I will regret. I kind of liked The Stump just the way it was.
Stump cutting wasn't the only thing happening around the farm last weekend, there was also lots of electrical work inside the house, mowing, and some tomato plant planting. Finally. I'm behind my garden schedule, as usual, but was happy to see that the garden carpet technique is making planting things as easy as I hoped. In the photo above you can see the dark soil matted with nice organic mulch as it was when I rolled the carpet strips off. The soil was moist and crumbly, and filled with earthworms. Perfect dirt, and easy as pie to dig small holes and plop in some tomato plants.
I even learned to use the weed eater just so I could knock back the weeds in the garden. Despite my not so careful planning, not all of my beds are far enough apart to drive the mower between them, which leaves weedy patches ready to drop seeds in the garden beds. The weed eater is not fun on the arm muscles or the back muscles, but the worst part is getting the stupid thing to start and stay started! I now have so much more appreciation for anyone who uses a weed eater. I have a feeling that if left up to me, I would learn to love weedy edges or use a pair of scissors. Once the weeds were knocked back, I was pleased to see the garlic, turnips, and radishes were still thriving.
When I showed Brandon my very fist garden harvest from our new garden, he was super excited. I could tell because he said "thank goodness it's more radishes." Just what I thought, too!
While the photo above looks like it's a picture of weeds, it's really a photo of my new asparagus bed. I had given up on the asparagus and was getting ready to chop up all the weeds when a frilly little frond caught my eye. See it in the foreground, right in the middle, looking like a teeny pine tree? That's asparagus! If you look closely in the weeds, you can see even more. I can't believe they are so small. I don't remember my established asparagus being so small when I first planted it, but it must have been. Aw, cute little babies!
This bed of kale is out of control. I broadcast the kale seeds, from some I saved in years past, and really put it down thick since I wasn't sure if the seed would sprout. They must have all sprouted, because I have about five kale plants for every square inch. I dug some up to transplant, and I also pulled it out of the ground by the handful to make room for some of them to get larger. I cooked up some of this baby kale, but I should have removed the stems, not just the roots, because even baby kale has a tough stem.
Can you see what's different in this photo of the back of the house? I'll give you a hint. There are two of them, and they are illuminating! We have exterior lights at both the back door and the side door now. So exciting. The lights have motion sensors, and Brandon and I were so pleased with working light fixtures that we sat in the back yard at dusk so we could admire them. When the lights would switch off I would walk forward until they would detect me and turn back on just so we could watch it get dark while our lights were on. Nerds, huh?
Brandon has been very busy with electricity these days. I'm missing most of the action, since I still have to go to work, but he is off for summer vacation, and as he says, he spends his days pretending he is electricity traveling to and from the breaker box through the outlets and light fixtures trying to make sense of the electrical pathways. He's getting very good at it, and sends me progress report texts like this one, which I received last week:
"2 outside lights, 3 live wires attached to switches for interior lights, 4 switches, one high/low fan switch, 6 outlets (5 of which are GFCI - one of those is an outside plug in weather proof box), one bathroom heater and three new breakers. All 100% operational. Not bad."
I agree, not bad at all.