Most seasoned men know that Mothers Day simply means that any projects previously in the "honey do" cue now take on an exponential importance and so they wisely prepare in advance.
Weeks before Mothers Day we up the caffeine, try to get plenty of rest (aka "why are you just sitting around?") and formulating our best "less is more" strategy.
The "less is more" strategy is where a guy tries to make a simpler project look much, much more difficult than it really is so that when he finally tackles it he appears to have done something monumental. Remember: perception IS reality!
That brings us to MY or should I say HER Mothers Day project: the dreaded pergola!
The queen bee has been prompting me to build a pergola for her climbing, vining plants and I, of course, have been resisting, using the typical male counter-arguments like "Uh, well, I'll need to do some measuring there" and "Gosh, I'm going to have to figure out what type of soil is under there because is could be hazardous" and finally employing the: "I need to draw out a diagram to scale with plants, buildings, shrubs, etc. It could take weeks" defense.
But Mothers Day negates all such sanity. It's the "Get out of jail free" card of projects and once laid on the table it has to be accepted and implemented. But, we seasoned men scoff at this "Get this project done" card and face it head on! We take this simple project and twist it around to our advantage and use it to buy ourselves new saws, hammers, nails we don't need, tools we'll never use all in the name of "The Mothers Day" project! Ha! We scoff at your project! Mothers Day has become Fathers Covert Tool Day! Haaaaa, haaaa, haaaaaaaaa!
So, we come full circle to the queen bees most recent project: the pergola. On first glance this was just a matte of digging four holes for posts and then attaching 2x4's to the top for strength and looks.
But, seasoned vet that I am, I announced that this project was very, very advanced and would need rented, very advanced post hole diggers; laser levels with geo-tracking that produced holograms of the posts in their places along with any neighboring sheds, dog houses or garages; quick drying cements, land graders, fiber optics, satellite images and so much more.
I appeared to sweat just at the thought of starting the project, but, admitted that since it was Mothers Day I would suck it up as best I could and accomplish the task no matter how many blisters, splinters or decafs I had to endure!
We'll cut this short (maybe because I have to take someone to get a Mothers Day ice cream cone, maybe not) and show the photos.
Man, we are on a tear tonight with the blog posts!!
Today at Inheritance Farm Permaculture we had a semi AHOD (All Hands On Deck) Day. Erin decided that with Sam out of the picture for a couple of days that today would be a good day to tackle a total revamp of the front yard (followed a pig moving event).
Yeah, we're not talking sticking a few peonies in the corner and calling it a day type of stuff. No sir, not us. That's small potatoes ( a little garden lingo there) and we're not about small potatoes here.
We're thinking big. Like "Hey, let's put a pond in…" big. Like, "Hey let's sheet mulch my whole front lawn with cardboard and straw, re-plant a cherry tree, mulch a few paths with a truck load of wood chips and then toss in some herbs and comfrey" big. That'll show Sam!
So, after a few hours work by Erin, Jess and her mom, followed by the late arrival of yours truly the end result will make any permaculturist weep, in a good way. Geoff Lawton, eat your heart out!
So, you've been eagerly awaiting more pictures from our spectacular grapevine pruning event held at The Gilmanton Winery & Vineyard and you've been diligently checking our blog page for updates, but, alas there's been nothing.
Well, treasure hunter, your bounty has come in!! Feast your eyes on a dozen hard working souls toiling under the hot sun and fighting off hordes of dreaded black flies in the pursuit of learning to be accomplished pruner-ers. (I know that's not a word, but, it seems to fit.)
And now, without further delay: The Pictures!
Sooo, you may have heard that we, Inheritance Farm Permaculture, held a grape pruning workshop at the fabulous Gilmanton Winery and Vineyard. WHAT A TIME!! It's a beautiful place and you can have brunch (which we did) or go to a wine tasting or have some wine with your brunch *wink, wink* or host an event there.
If you didn't make it (and yeah we're looking at you) shame on you! Marshall and Sunny (what a great name!) Bishop treated us royally and started the day with free coffee and fresh cooked pastries. We would have loved to post pictures of the pastries, but, alas, they weren't around long enough for a photo op. And the rumors are true: some of us *may* have had more than our share, just saying.
Anyway, we have pictures, pictures and more pictures of the days events.
First up: Classroom time!
Here we are looking all fine and phat as Marshall gives us the in's and out's of basic pruning. Damn, what a good looking bunch! And did I mention we had FREE coffee and pastries (not that's it's on my mind or anything)?
Next up: We hit the secret laboratory!
Marshall then took us into the guts of the operation and showed us around his workshop. Here's where the magic happens and it's pretty impressive to see all of his wine making equipment. BUT, the wine making workshop is happening later in the year (and you WILL be there, right? RIGHT?) and so we didn't tarry long at this stop, it was time to get to work.
Wholly Moley! The vineyard looked huge and Marshall had already pruned most of it, but, left a section just for us!
This man was soooo gracious. He took his time and gave us one on one instruction about grape pruning and released us into the wild (ok, our section) to hack, cut and basically try to destroy his vines.
We did our darndest and with his gentle patience we prevailed at the task we came to learn.
Along the way to our section of the vineyard we had to pass the alpacas and who came a runnin', but, Cocoa! He was cute on cute with some more cute thrown in for good measure.
More photos are coming, but, until then here's a short video of Marshall helping Randi prune a vine.
Oh, and buy the apple wine. Trust us, you'll be sending us Christmas gifts after you do.
Permaculture Design Principle #1: Observe and Interact. This takes many forms and often, I have to be reminded that I'm already doing it as I'm scratching my head over a (perceived) problem. This principle leads so nicely into the old permie saying, "The Problem is the Solution." Anyone who has been designing for any length of time has heard this quite a lot. It's another way of saying "Make lemon-aid." One of the best ways I heard it expressed was a permie venting about his ducks, who just wouldn't stop mudding-up an area of the paddock that he really wanted to use for something non-muddy. No matter how many times he offered them pools and waterholes elsewhere, all they wanted to do was go back to that one spot and dig in, creating mess like only ducks can. The end of the story? "Well, I solved it: I dug them a pond right there, and moved my garden elsewhere."
Here's one of our more positive experiences with this: The front lawn used to be... well, lawn. Before Sam and I took over, it was a beautiful carpet of neatly trimmed grass. I barged in last year with my sheet mulch and grand plans to turn it into a zen garden. It gets lovely afternoon sun, and I wanted a place to sit quietly. I planned out all my flower beds, and my herbs, and Sam planned a little pond for frogs and water noise. Then spring came and an invasive plant had spread all over one side of the walk: problem #1. That plant was not supposed to be there. But then I noticed that the bees were all over it as one of their first nectar sources. Problem is the solution! Leave the plant! Good.
Next: I did this to myself, but I managed to wear a path right through the middle of the flower bed. All fall and through our no-snow winter, I have been stepping off the side of the doorstep and cutting through the dormant garden to get to the barn, wearing down the soil into a packed path. As I stood there pondering whether to be mad at myself for this hard-pack earth, Sam reminded me: "Observe your interaction. Looks like you needed a path." Huh. Problem = solution: I will make it an official path, and have more edges in the garden. Perfect!
Okay, so what to do about this last one?
We have a cat. Like most cats, he likes to be outside, but he will come inside for a few days of gorging on the free food and sleeping in a nest of blankets. And while he's inside, of course, he stinks up his litter box after all that cat food gorging. We have been through several types of litter, but we really don't like the environmental impact of the scoopable ones. I mean, the container is about the only saving grace (those buckets make great nesting boxes in a chicken coop!) but we only have so many chickens. So, last time we were at PetSmart, we were totally hook-line-and-sinkered for this new wood pellet litter. Biodegradable! All natural! Great!
Around the same time we put in that litter, I also planted flats of pumpkin seeds. That night, Dill (our cat in question) got into the seedlings, dug them all to pieces, and poohed right in the middle of the dirt mess. I cleaned it up in quiet rage, blaming the new litter. I put him outside, set toothpicks and elaborate plastic coverings over my replanted fresh soil, and then let him back in.
That night: total destruction, with no mind to the tooth pick mines I had planted.
I went through about three rounds of this before I finally decided it was ALL the cat litter's fault. Who wants to pooh in wood chips, after all?! Stupid marketing, we were drawn in and should have known better.
But now, wait a minute. Observe and Interact. Problem is the solution.
Observe: the cat likes the dirt.
Observe: the cat poohs outside just fine, without the need for store-bought litter.
Problem: the cat is using an inappropriate box of dirt.
Solution: put garden dirt into the litter box.
Why haven't we thought of this before? We have a farm full of dirt. We have compost piles that will sit for a year or two, so any chance of toxoplasmosis should be long gone by the time we grow in it. Why not use the garden dirt he is determined to dig up, and then dump it into the compost? He's probably already using the pile on his own when he's outside, right?
My pumpkin seedlings - the few who survived the onslaught - survived. And so does the wisdom of Principle #1. Make the problem the solution, people. Don't kill the kitty; just listen to what he's saying about his pooh preferences. Walk the path you need to walk, and stop worrying if the plan you imagined isn't what ended up happening. Maybe what ended up happening was the right thing, after all.
Ray is part of the Ray and Randi duo, who actually don't live on the farm. They have a micro-homestead in Gilmanton, but are VERY active over at IFP and are guest bloggers for them.
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