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Friday, April 9, 2010

Harvesting Grass

No, not that kind! LOL!
Spent the day working on the garden, it's ready to be planted. The strawberry plants are looking pretty good, they looked a bit sad for a couple of days, still might lose a few, but the majority of them are looking great and are perking back up nicely. PB got the water system for the garden back up and running. It consists of a homemade water barrel next to the skycastle, the rain from the roof collects in there, next it is gravity fed into another barrel half way between the skycastle and the garden. There is a black poly pipe coming from that, it goes down to the garden, snakes through the top of the fencing and hangs over the center of the garden. There is a valve on the end of the black poly pipe, that goes into a regular garden hose with a shower attachment on the end. I can water everywhere in my garden with that set-up.

Today, I spent the day collecting the dead, waist high grass that grows in clumps around here. I use the dead grass as a mulch. Last year, I harvested it by grabbing a big clump with my hand and cutting as close to the base as possible. It was hard work, my back often reminded me of that fact, and I ran the risk of grabbing something nasty with my hands, cactus or snakes. Today I figured out a better way of harvesting the grass. I took a hard rake, (not the kind you rake leaves with), I would take the head, push it into the base of the grass clump, give it a slight sideways move, then pull back, that would break off the dead grass, leaving the living grass behind, the grass would come off in neat clumps that I could stack beside me. Next I stacked it on a strap that was on the ground. When I had all the grass I could get from a particular area, I would use the strap to hold the grass bundle and carried it to the garden. I thought of those pictures I have seen in National Geographic of old ladies, all hunched over carrying huge bundles of grass or sticks, bigger than they were.

I did two big bundles of grass this way and had enough straw/grass to cover 2/3 of the garden with about a 3 to 4 inch covering of mulch. One or two more bundles like those and I'll be done. It went lots faster using this method. I learned a couple of things, don't step backward while doing this on a cholla infested, rocky slope, and don't harvest any grass that is growing near cactus, especially the cholla, that is very nasty stuff, the spines are just as likely to be on the ground as they are on the plant, it is not worth the pain if I rake up cholla spines with the grass. I was lucky, no twisted or impaled ankles.

We have strange trees here, most trees turn colors and drop their leaves in the fall, not our trees, our oaks keep their leaves all winter long, only in spring do their leaves turn yellow, gold and orange then fall from the trees. It gives the appearance that the trees are dying, but it's a rite of spring. The nice thing about that is I get to rake up all those leaves to use in the garden to amend the soil and to use as mulch.

This evening, I had to walk down to my neighbor's house after dark, I had a half gallon of milk that needed to go into the fridge, it wasn't going to be cold enough tonight to keep it here, and we had a mostly overcast day so not much charging for the batteries. The trip down and back went without incident. Going back up the steps to the skycastle, I noticed a box on the steps that needed to be tended to. It contained spices and herbs, I needed to pick out what I wanted to keep and what needed to be tossed out. So I was halfway up the steps, in the dark, using a tiny LED flashlight when I heard something on the ground behind me.

Shuffle, shuffle, crunch, crunch...

I turned to look and saw a half grown skunk eating some leftover dog food. I immediately started up the steps, the skunk turned and pointed the business end toward me, fortunately it didn't go off! I stayed on the top step while the skunk ate the remainder of the dog food, I waited until it was finished and had decided there was nothing else good to eat and went on its way, then I went back down the steps, collected the bottles I wanted and zipped back into the skycastle. They are pretty cute, especially when they are not fully grown, but cute or not, they are still quite capable of causing a stink if they want to. I'll have to start being more careful when I walk around at night, with the warmer temps, there will be more critters walking around too.

Need to explain why I left dog food outside at night. No, I don't have an outside dog, my baby stays inside where it's safe. A few days ago, we were adopted by a stray cat, no collar so I don't know who it belongs to, but whoever it belongs to, the cat likes our place better, so I guess we have a cat now. It is a nice looking cat, full grown, looks well fed, is pretty friendly, and it is very vocal. We have had other cats come and go, eventually they move on, or go back home, not this one, it sits outside and meows insistently until one of us goes outside with a hand full of dog food. This evening, I didn't get the food out until late in the day. The cat didn't eat all of the food, so that was what attracted the skunk.

New rule, feed the cat during the day, remove left over food, or throw it far behind the skycastle. No more food outside at night.

I named the cat Kiki, that's what I say to the cat when I go outside, it's short for kitty kitty kitty, it comes out kee kee kee, so that's the cat's name, KiKi.

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  1. Wretha
    do your dogs sleep outside?
    Have you thought of bringing in the dog food bowls at night.

    We do, otherwise the 'coons and 'possums over run the yard and take over the place after dark.

    We are ordering the tobacco book next month. hank you so much for posting about it.
    And want you to know that you have created monsters. Those knitting looms are great.
    Thanks for posting about that too.


  2. Selene, I didn't explain everything, no my dog is normally an inside dog, the reason there is dog food outside is because we have been adopted by a cat, we have been feeding the cat outside, this night, the cat didn't finish her dinner. New rule, feed the cat during the day ONLY, no more late feeding. :)

    I have no shame about creating loom knitting monsters... ;) The more the merrier!

    Thanks in advance for purchasing the tobacco book, it's worth it, there is so much great info in there.

  3. My daughter has planted strawberries and I'm hoping to benefit from the harvest. Sounds like you work hard. Wish I had the stamina. While I don't knit on a loom I do knit and have four projects going right now.

  4. I have to start bringing my dog food in at night. Thank you for the reminder. I have cat and dog food on the front porch but my big dog is out there too. He's only 11 weeks old right now and I don't want him running into coons this young. I sure will be glad when he's old enough to keep them away. He's a great pyr.

  5. I live right on the Texas Gulf Coast and the biggest garden pest I have is racoons, deer and armadillos. I had a run in with a skunk a few years back. I sit on the beach ands take pictures of the sunrise. A skunk walked right past me and I did not move for several minutes while he wandered around. Another time I was sitting on a rock and an armadillo walked almost right up to me. I got some really good pictures of him as he was just feet from me and the sun was rising as he came to me. The Houston Chronicle published the armadillo picture. Armadillo's carry leporsy so I won't touch one. I was worried but he never touched me. Texas has the highest leporsy count among humans when compared to all the other states. It is because people get out of their cars and collect the bodies thinking armidillos are born dead along the side of the highway.... Anyhow I am glad the skunk did not get you...

  6. Wretha...a friend of mine has skunks that come up to her patio door and she feeds them by hand! This is in Colorado...and I told her maybe she should be rethinking that idea...but she says that they are so cute!

    One thing about the city, biggest wild things we have here are the rats! About the size of house cats sometimes!


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