Well, it’s been awhile since I have posted anything. In the meantime the grass has been growing, and my trustworthy John Deere 750 tractor mowing deck finally bit the dust. We have almost 4 acres to deal with, and subtracting the house, barn, outbuildings, etc., we have probably close to 3 acres to mow.

When we moved here in 1985 from a small city lot (in a big city), we had no experience dealing with this amount of mowing. For the 1st couple years we went thru 3 or 4 push mowers and one “hand-me-down” Sears lawn tractor my dad had given me. The “yard” had a number of obstacles which destroyed 2-3 mowers (bent shaft). Being inexperienced (and idealistic), we expended perhaps up to 15-20 hours/week mowing with equipment designed for a city lot (it seemed like between my wife, older kids and myself that we were mowing constantly). At one point, when the lawn tractor and the mower gave out, I was doing the entire area with a weed eater (I should’ve been committed for a pyschiatric evaluation at the least!).

Anyway, in 1987, I came to my senses (my wife would dispute the fact that I have ever come to my senses!) and invested in a John Deere 750 tractor with a 3 point hitch rear mounted 60″ mower deck which ran off the PTO). This handled the bulk of the mowing. However, due to my beloved wife’s creation of an obstacle course with her ever-increasing gardens, we also had to hand mow close to an acre. And on top of that is the @#*&# weed-whacking!!!!! The big tractor with rear mount mower is excellent for mowing large, unobstructed areas. However………we do not have large, unobstructed areas except for the rear 1 acre field.

So…over the years, it seems we have been spending 10-20 hours/week fighting a losing battle to keep the grass cut and the weeds under control. So…in my fantasies, I have imagined myself somehow figuring out how to cut down on the amount of back-breaking, grueling labor expended to maintain our acreage. In my fantasy world (for the last 2-3 years) was a zero-turn mower.

Well, last week the JD mower deck finally rusted thru after 23 years of faithful service. What to do, what to do???!!! Truthfully, I do not like operating under pressure, and had not figured on this happening. Anyway I called John Deere and found out it would cost about $2500 for a replacement mower deck. No way did I want to spend this amount of money, especially considering the obstacle course that we have. So I decided to pursue my fantasy of a zero-turn mower……

Stay tuned…..

Raising the Bar in the Garden, Raised Beds

crafty hands make handy crafts!
crafty hands make handy crafts!

Handyman has been repurposing. repurposing is close to my heart because it fulfills all those frugal plans that I coddle in my dream plans of being the most virtuous wife, ever. I know that isn’t on the list of people around me, but it does sometimes translate into saving money. For things that they would rather have, if given a choice between …oh I don’t know, raised beds for my garden veggies or new spring clothes (for some) or new tool gadget from Home Depot or Sears (for others). See? Repurposing is good.

Handyman made me a raised veggie bed from old barn boards that were just scrap from the pig barn that the former owner had torn down (halfway). We kept the boards in the regular barn which is on its own road to ruin, now. It is time to make use of these things or forever throw them out.

First, though, I had requisitioned the initial boards that were cut for the garden frames for a nifty idea I found while blogging. A organizational shelf area of boards and concrete blocks to store extra pots and buckets. Cheap, easy, and it helps with the outdoor clutter that was accumulating around my new greenhouse.

I can hardly believe what a difference the survival blogs have made for me. Handyman is addicted to them, and their convincing arguments for the value of growing your own food have translated into the garden projects that 15-20 years ago I so coveted.

This is the power of being on the same page.

Important marriage advice for everyone in every area:  “Get on the same page and life won’t feel like such hard work.”

Peripherals: The Greenhouse

Not having weighed in here for a little while, it was time!

A household is so much more than the shell of the house itself, there are furnishings, interiors and exteriors, and there are the out buildings, which I am calling the “peripherals”, here. Nowadays, even the garage is connected to the main house, so we don’t think too much about peripherals, but in olden times these outbuildings were important. Think about it: the barns, the chicken coops, the summer kitchens… wow, the outhouse! Most of these were connected to an agricultural mode of living, but sometimes we have our own need for “little buildings”.

I’ve always been the garden nut around here, but in light of the present economy our focus has turned towards a greater sufficiency for good food. Thus, the addition of a small green house!

Just like having a computer and realizing, hey, a pair of headphones would be nice, a printer is really useful… the outbuildings serve the same purpose of expanding the household’s capabilities. We didn’t have to have a greenhouse, but in a cold climate it sure will be nice for starting plants that need a jump on the season. I always thought green houses and conservatories were pretty, anyway.

We also learned that important lesson on silicone caulk, too. Handyman can tell you more about that in the future, because he just finished the onerous job of cleaning out the faulty caulk from one of the windows that blew out during a recent storm- the ‘non-setting’ of the expired caulk just wasn’t going to hold against the kind of winds we experience around here. So one down and numerous ones to go….
Remember to check the expiration date on that silicone caulk before you buy!!!

Right now I am very happy with the little green house and have started to use it, despite the fact that I have to figure out a way to shade it through the summer months. It gets full sun and heats up quickly. A framework of removable screening (lathe fencing) is going up around it soon.

Tool sheds, gazebos, all sorts of out buildings get added as time goes by.