I hope the new year finds us all making plans (not resolutions) to find ways to start growing our own food, buying more locally, visiting more Farmer’s Markets and local farmers in our areas. I haven’t blogged since last August; and not because I’ve had nothing to say; just couldn’t get it out of my head and typed out. I’ve probably been in a funk. Sometimes I focus on silly things like still being single after all these years and that can temporarily keep me from being the active, creative and dynamic person I know I am. So, it’s time to dust myself off and get back to what I know and love and to new adventures. At 58, it’s time to get moving! I’ll just blame this round on old man winter.
There have been so many topics in my head and a few rants. I’ve been in the new house since the end of July and it’s been somewhat of an adventure. The house sat empty for five years and didn’t sell until I bought it. While it’s the right house for me, it’s proving to be a bit of a bugger with a few hidden problems that have surfaced. I’ll admit they’ve stressed me out. Things such as: coming home several times to a flooded basement; backing into the garage door because I didn’t wait long enough for it to rise completely; breaking the glass stove top to a tune of $400; and leaving the hose on for nine hours one summer day. Yes, yes, I know, there are others with worse problems than mine; and while I acknowledge that and know that I am a pretty lucky person, it still doesn’t help during these albeit minor events. Often what goes through my head is the comment: “if I only had a mate who would be here to help me” or “shit, ‘insert name here’ can deal with it!” So, yeah, I can freak out, which actually some might consider not being able to handle it, but hell it gets it out of my system and then I can deal with the situation. And yes, I do handle whatever comes my way. Just don’t talk to my dogs or the cat because they may tell you differently, but they still love me anyway!
Taking a pay cut after moving back to the Mid-Atlantic has its disadvantages, but there are many trade offs such as the quietness of the country, seeing the stars at night, and little traffic. It’s a bonus for me. I am nine miles from work taking windy, twisty two-lane roads. There’s very little traffic to deal with on these roads and I only have to dodge the occasional idiot crossing the line or deer. The drive to work has filled my head with subjects to write about. One that gets my panties in a knot is littering. Out here, I have noticed many like to toss their garbage onto the sides of back roads and it is depressing to see. They also toss bags of deer carcasses hither and yon. I drive through this four-state region and I mostly see it in West Virginia. At least with the snow covering, it’s temporarily hidden. So some other time I will write about this and what to do about it, if anything!
Recently, I sat down with the seed catalogs and started putting together my list for the 2014 growing season. I’m getting excited now! Mate or no mate, I’ve got gardening plans to put together! I also want to build a greenhouse and potting shed. I would like to try to find building materials that I can repurpose such as old doors and windows and build the shed. I also need to put up a fence around the perimeter to keep the dogs from chasing rabbits and cats; but have to wait until the ground thaws. I’ve decided on the Red brand fencing with the green posts that you can just stick into the ground. The backyard is about a ¼ acre plot and that is more than enough land to grow whatever I want. This spring I will be planting three cherry trees, blueberries, American hazelnut, redozier dogwood and elderberry shrubs. I was able to get the cranberry viburnum planted last September in front of the house. The front yard is about ¼ acre as well and I just may take half of that and plant red clover. The soil, or clay and shale, actually needs help. I’m considering using sheet mulching methods to plant the clover seed to begin improving the soil and reduce the amount of grass. Wildflowers will find a place in the front and back. I want to attract as many birds and bees as possible here. Walking through the neighborhood, I often wonder why most continue to plant and keep up grass. It’s too much work for me. I like grass, don’t get me wrong, and it has its place in some regards, but I would prefer to have a yard filled with shrubs, herbs, vegetables and fruit, trees and pathways. I’m beginning to think the West Virginia state animal is the riding mower. I may not make many friends with the neighbors, but we’ll deal with that on a case by case basis, or not at all.
With some of the problems that I’ve experienced with the house, I’ve begun to think of ways to turn these problems into solutions. The flooding of the basement has to do with the sump pump and the pipe that leads out into the yard. The builders placed the pipe about two feet in the ground and it extended about 40 feet out. The problem started when the water being pumped out had no exit except into clay soil which then backed the water into the basement. The pipe eventually broke apart at a joint about 10 feet from the house underground and blew a hole up to the surface. What you need to realize is, I did not know the pipe actually ended into clay and that’s what caused this problem in the first place. So I had the pipe repaired and thought all will be good. Then in October we had five inches of rain in three days. I opened up the basement door one morning to find 6 inches of water covering the entire basement. Luckily, there’s nothing down there but the furnace, water heater (up on blocks—yeah West Virginia!) and the de-humidifier (also up on blocks). I don’t have the refrigerator or cars in my yard up on blocks, just critical house components in the basement! Oh now I understand what didn’t sink in or wasn’t relayed to me when I bought the house.
The problem was resolved by a friend who cut the original pipe and attached a new 20 foot pipe out into the yard. Within a few days all the water in the basement was gone and out in the yard. I swear this house sits over a spring. Where is this water coming from? The sump pump constantly runs and empties water into the back yard. I added another 20-foot section because the water was too close to the house. And all was dry and good again, until I went away one weekend in December and came home to another flooded basement. Shit! The pipe, which is above ground, froze and the water filled the basement again. I didn’t think to remove the eight inches of snow from ton too of the pipe before I left town. I had had enough and proceeded to temporarily lose my mind, then set about to resolve this problem. I removed the snow and covered the pipe with a 10 inch blanket of straw. Within a few hours, the water was receding from the basement.
So far I have mitigated this problem and in the spring I will bury the pipe. But as I have stood and watched the water flowing from the pipe, ideas began to form in my head. Maybe I can redirect this water to something useful? Why not build a small pond? Why not build something where I can divert the water to the gardens? Or possibly have an underground cistern. There are many possibilities here. As long as we don’t have a drought, any one of these ideas would work. So instead of only collecting rain in barrels, I would have another source of water. I know there’s a lot of lime in the water, so I will test it to see what it is in its chemical makeup. The land slopes down away from the house so this would work in redirecting the water to a pond.
There are other problems I’m experiencing with the house and hopefully my creative mind will come up with new ideas to work with the house instead of against it! I have plans to transform this property into a beautiful oasis of edible plants, herbs, shrubs and wandering garden paths. I have an 11 month old granddaughter and my gardens are something I hope she finds exciting, interesting and full of adventures! My daughter has inherited my gardening prowess, which comes from many generations before us, so I hope my granddaughter does as well.
I may never find a mate, but as long as I can see the bright side of problems that surface, and creatively find solutions, and spend time in my gardens, I’m happier than pigs in muck. And come on Spring! I need to get that motorcycle back out on the road!