Back Forty

Back Forty and life update

I’m trying to get back in the habit of journaling or blogging. I’ve been feeling rather flat and it is good for me to write. I find it easy to write but hard to dedicate the time to it when there are so many projects calling to me during the little spare time I have in the spring. So I’m writing this post in bits and pieces as I snag a few minutes during lunch and the mood hits me right.

I’ve spent most of that time in the yard the past few weeks. Sandy and I ripped out most of the vinca and other vines next to the fence. We mulched about half of the paths with cardboard and cypress mulch, and I’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, and leeks in six of the eight half whiskey barrels that used to be our rain barrels. I gave up on these rain barrels because 1) although picturesque and rustic, they were beginning to rot, 2) they were clogging up and breeding mosquitoes, and 3)I discovered that when we were in drought I never had any water stored in them anyway. A lot still needs to be done and I hope that I’ll get more done before the mosquitoes hatch out.

Sunday, I dug up all the leeks in the bed next to the fence, because I’m going to plant my butterbeans there this year. The babies were planted into a barrel for next year’s harvest, and the others were cooked in chicken broth. Some I froze as base for soup, and some I baked in the oven with sliced fennel. I tossed them with a little melted butter and olive oil, poured a little of the broth over them, and sprinkled lemon pepper and fresh parmigiano cheese on top. Oh my God, so good. I planted fennel (a bulbing variety) this year and I hope it is a success since this vegetable is very pricey in the grocery store.

I found a local supplier of loom reeds and he is making me two stainless steel reeds for my Macomber loom at a little more than half the price I can get them elsewhere. Plus I can pick them up and avoid shipping charges! I’m really happy about this, because I am still trying to save money for the India Flint workshop trip. It is due sometime within the next several weeks. I am going to consummate my marriage to this loom by a complicated double weave rag rug project based on the instructions in a book called Weaving Contemporary Rag Rugs that I’ve want to try for years, but I didn’t have a loom that was heavy duty enough to weave a good rug.

My day has been made! I just heard that the Rhino Times is going out of business, and is in tons and tons of debt. I hate this publication with intensity. It is difficult for me not to curse like the worst sailor you have ever heard when I talk about them. I realize that the hole will be filled by another hatemongering group sooner or later, but hopefully the next one won’t target my friends personally.

The end of the spring semester grows near, and sweet summer months with little stress and activity beckon. I’m going to kick it off with a trip to Lake Waccamaw the week after graduation. Sandy and I are going to make it an art retreat for the two of us.

Back Forty

Back Forty Update

After a trip to the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market and Lowe’s, our garden is finally starting to look a little better. Still a huge amount of work to do, but the four of the half whiskey barrels are filled with soil and I planted Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, San Marzano and Roma tomato plants from Handance Farm, and one barrel is devoted to hot peppers from Weatherhand Farm: Habenero (for Chuck and Leslie), Jalapeno, Hot Banana, Poblano, and Thai Hot. The Sweet Banana went into a pot by itself. The sweet peas are starting to come up. I still have squash, zucchini, fennel, and thyme plants to put in. Considering a rock garden along the sidewalk. I guess I’ll get around to planting my butterbeans and field peas this week or next.

Playing catch-up from three years of neglect is not easy. I have been concentrating on ripping out the vinca and English ivy and honeysuckle from the north side. Now that the next-door neighbor’s family stripped that yard and dug out the mess on her side of the fence, I need to jump on the chance of putting an end of the roots on my side. There’s a lot. Fortunately, I can also go around to the other side of the fence and pull out what is coming back over there. The chain link fence is ugly, but it will make a good support to grow some veggies along there. Now that the mulberry tree is gone, it is probably the sunniest place in the yard.

I don’t know what the plan is for that house. It’s nice to have no one living there. Especially nice not to have someone who battles Satan loudly living there. I can relax in my yard and I love it. The fact that they haven’t cleaned out the inside and only come by to pick up the mail once a week is making me a little nervous. I told Sandy that maybe we should consider putting up a wooden privacy fence (lashing the panels to the existing fence) in case Chris moves back. Before she moves back, so she’ll be less offended. But, we need to make our first priority the bathroom, before one of us sits down on the toilet and ends up in the crawlspace.