A Porch of My Own

A Porch of My Own

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cutting Cedar

When I had the cedar cleared, there was some hand cutting work to be done on the front fence line. After getting caught up on other things I decided today I would finally start on that.
It had been about a year since I used my Husqvarna cordless chain saw so I was anxious to get that going again. First thing I found out was why Rick always had a paper feed sack under his chain saws. To soak up the chain/bar oil that leaks out when it's stored! The case I have has a tray in the bottom so I was ok there. Rick had a gallon jug of the oil so I filled the oil reservoir. The battery had kept a charge all this time. I don't store it with the saw so there was no oil on it. It started right up!
I tightened the chain a bit, loaded supplies in the Mule, and went to the road. I'm starting at one end of our place and working my way across. There were a few little cedars Juan had cut that were tangled in the fence so I cut those out and threw them inside the fence.
I had a second gate put in on the road because there was no way to access half of the properly without going through the longhorns' pen. There is a cedar on each side of it just outside the gate. Juan, the contractor that cut the cedar, hand trimmed them on one side. He would have done more but I was ready to be finished with contractors.
Today I trimmed them both up. If you don't have any experience with Texas Hill Country cedar, they are hard to deal with. They don't grow with one main trunk but have multiple branches and form a round ball shape. You have to work your way in, cutting as you go. Because Juan had cut one side it was easier for me to get close and do the cutting. The small one looks kind of puny but it will grow and keep its upright look now.
I was almost finished cutting for the day when my chain jumped the bar. I got it back on and was up and running again!
Juan left one corner of the property wooded just inside the fence line and he cut a tractor size path, or sendero, through the woods. I love it in there! Cool, shady, quiet, and private. He cut a turn around at one place so I was able to drive the Mule into that and work from there.
Some of the sendero was blocked with cedars Juan had cut outside the fence and tossed over. I was able to cut these out of the way except for one place. It was a complete tree and it has to be cut up before I can move it. I saved that for another day.
There is some sandy soil in this one area and up under a pile of cut cedar you could see where water had been standing when we had rain lately. The ground was still damp and covered with a tiny green algae. A place for wildlife to find water temporarily. I like finding these little things that make this the sort of place where animals would be happy.
With cedar cutting comes cedar stacking and I did a lot of that also. That was always my job, and Sarah's too when she was home, although on big projects Rick had to stack also to keep up.
This was my first time doing the cutting. I sure missed my partner today but I found I had learned a lot working with him out here for 26 years. Of all the work we did out here, cutting cedar was the thing we loved doing the most. It gives instant gratification and opens up spaces, maybe a view. We mostly cut in the cooler months and every time a cold wind blows in I remember those times and feel the urge to load up the Mule.
We always felt closer to nature doing this than anything else we did here. Working a while, then taking a break, sitting in the shade drinking water, and listening to the wind rustling the cedars. That smell they release when they move.
There's something about sitting on the ground on the edge of the woods, wildflowers all around, some so tiny you only notice them when you get close, the air so clean, the peacefulness of it. So today I took a break and sat on the sandy soil in the wooded area, enjoying the work I was doing and the results of it.
And tomorrow and next week I hope to do more of the same!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Farm and Ranch Report

I've been gone for a few days so when I got home it seemed like the garden had really grown!

Years ago we had great success with some blackberries. For one season. After that, nothing. We replanted a couple of times and still never any blackberries. A couple of years ago we tried again. We haven't had any blooms until this year. Not many but there's hope we might have a handful!

I planted one little nasturtium for my mom, who loved them. My Papa planted them for her every year when we were kids. One of the rare tender mercies he showed his daughter. It has its first bloom!

The garden path I added has settled and hardened. When I had the new fence put up the gate was moved to the orchard end so I could get the lawnmower in there without going through the vegetable garden. I like how it adds another element to that section.

The poppies are fading and the larkspurs are taking over. Rickie always made sure we had flowers throughout the growing season from Spring through Fall. Yellow Englemann's daisies and irises are blooming now also. Later we'll have Mexican sunflowers and zinnias.

The Mexican buckeye my friend Debbie gave me in my mom's memory has lots of seed pods this year! It had two last year and none before that. Her stepfather's dad, 98 years old, grew this tree from a seed!

The Texas Bird of Paradise is showing off by the bunkhouse. It's only two years old and it can take the cold weather where the Pride of Barbados variety can't.

Antelope Horn Milkweed, a native wildflower the Monarch butterfly caterpillars need to survive. We have several that come up in the yard every year.

We've had some rain so things are green here. The live oaks have put back out and the grass is growing, making Woodrow and Gus happy.

In the vegetable garden the tomatoes are blooming, the corn and cucumbers are up, and the peppers, squash, onions, cilantro, and pinto beans are growing. Something has eaten the basil. A dill plant came up from last year's seed; I cut some to put on potatoes and green beans for supper tonight.

The grapes are loaded with little clusters of blooms and we have a few peaches, not many, and the little plum tree has lots of plums for its size.

Looks like we've got the start of a pretty good gardening year!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

If I Could Only Fly

Last night I dreamed again that Rickie came back. I have this dream every so often. When he first died I found myself thinking often that he would come back though I knew he wouldn't. But my mind thought it anyway. Or maybe it was my heart doing the thinking.

The rain woke me up, blowing loudly against the windows. I tried to go back to sleep, to pick the dream back up. Sometimes if I'm only half awake I can get back to my dreams. But the wind and rain were persistent and I never could go back and find him. The dream just evaporated.

It's been a crummy week. Lots of things going on that have made me feel sad and overwhelmed. Some big, some small. But even the little things seem determined to pile on. The lawnmower won't start and I'm in the process of learning to change the spark plug, waiting on the rain to clear out. Which shouldn't be hard after I've already learned to change the oil and replace the battery in the Mule. And the new washer makes a squeaking noise, like a belt squeaking or something. I'm ignoring that right now because it's not causing problems yet.

I used to have a sign that read "it's not the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe." I feel like one more thing going wrong, no matter how small, will be the one that does me in.

Everyone has these weeks, I know. I'm not special in that. But it's been that kind of week for me. It'd be pretty sad if the woman who completed her room addition almost singlehandedly was done in by a squeaky washer.

This afternoon late I walked back to the ridge, hoping to find some peace. It's been cloudy all day and the low light makes all the new leaves on the oaks such a bright green it looks unreal. As if someone edited the photo to an unnatural shade. I didn't find the peace I was looking for though I found some beauty.

On the way back I stopped to pick up a little skull fragment from one of the deer Rick or the boys shot in the last few years. We had a place back on the hill where we put out the share for the scavengers. When the cedar was cut this was cleared and the bone fragments are scattered.

Like the fragments of my life.

"I almost felt you touching me just now, I wish I knew which way to turn and go.......if I could only fly, if I could only fly, I'd bid this place goodbye to come and be with you. But I can hardly stand and I got no place to run, another sinking sun and one more lonely night."