the good, the bad, the ugly

First, the ugly. This is a cottonwood tree. It’s stately, huge, and we enjoy its shade and the gentle quaking of its heart-shaped leaves. Yesterday we watched a pair of woodpeckers cavort around its massive trunks, and then a young squirrel, also searching the thick peeling bark for snacks. There are many dead and hollow branches, that besides threatening to fall on our house, porch, woodshed or beehives, have sheltered birds, squirrels, raccoons in the time that we’ve lived here. This tree also has an even darker side than the potential to smash our little house to smithereens or at least take out our power if it ever falls in the wrong direction. It provides fuel for arsonists.

Apparently this is a yearly threat. Our elderly neighbors send their grown sons (who still live at home) out in the early morning to turn on their sprinklers so their lawns, and their down of cottonwood snow are not a target for neer-do-wells (which is a nicer name than I called them to one of said sons. He nodded in agreement). A few years ago Mrs. D’s yard was set ablaze, and her dog house caught on fire. I said that if I caught them doing it again I’d feed them to my dog… We were lucky, that only our mulch path was a target, and that we live in a brick house… our next door neighbor on her way home from church, an 83 year old vision in an aqua suit, wearing chunky heels with her jacket draped over her walker, shook her head and said that it was “Just ugliness and the devil”.
I am definitely planting that woman some tomatoes and a salad bed in her yard this summer- she offered that I could put in another garden bed on her side of the fence last fall (our yard is pretty maxed out until we finish the house and don’t need a truck-sized aisle down the middle). She said she’d have her son hose down our front yard when he did hers “if we didn’t mind”… no, ma’am, we would not. But luckily it rained all night and into the morning, so hopefully that’s all of that kind of drama we’ll see this year. The log border and cardboard under the new raised beds I just built on the side lot was still smoldering in the afternoon until I dumped buckets of water on it… hopefully the biochar will fuel some explosive flower growth in the future to combat the ugliness of bored youth and destructiveness.

Here’s the bad… bad dog that is. I promised pics… here is the aftermath when she broke into the chick brooder. No chickies were harmed, just slobbered on and scared. Whew! Close call. The door was closed, but the “secret door” to the basement from there was open, as was the rear basement door since we were doing yard-work and had to get the reel-mower out. The dog was smarter than us and waited until we were out of sight to commit her caper.

They’re getting big… much bigger than this! They’ve graduated to the little big-girl coop (the tractor) which we moved across the yard into the dog-free chicken/garden compound… I took the floating row cover off and top-dressed the garden with compost yesterday, and am planting out seedlings today… hopefully the pepper plants survive the stomping that Bella gave them- I absentmindedly set their seed-flat on the bench, which she hopped up onto to get a better view of “her” chickens. Oh dear. Sometimes I want to wring her cute little neck… but she’s just a dog. Why should some dirt and plants be different from others? Gotta stay three steps ahead…

Here’s the good part: 8 cu yards of composted horse manure and straw delivered to our side lot for a steal! Bella didn’t help me spread it but she thought it smelled great.
And the start of the side lot garden, which will be a mix of edibles and ornamentals:

Alright, off to the house to feed the dog, feed and water the chickies, plant some broccoli, cabbage, and kale seedlings, seed potatoes from last year’s tiny crop, and some bean, squash, and melon seeds, bake a sourdough pizza to go with the stew in the crockpot (and add in the last of the summer’s dehydrated eggplant and last year’s parsnips) and pasta salad in the fridge to feed the guys who are jacking up the roof on our house today, and then phone-interview a potential intern this afternoon. Whew! And this is my day off. 🙂 Such is the life! Hopefully we wrap up in time and have the energy to go see Al Scorch (ha. Scorch.) play a free show tonight… I could use some banjo/fiddle/bass pick-me-ups!

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