Thursday, September 28, 2017

Facilities Manager Fall Report

Hello! This is Facilities Manager here, writing a guest post this week about all the little projects going on behind the scenes at Chickadee Gardens. Fall is upon us and I've been busy . . . so let's take a look at what I'm doing. Lots of little stuff, and I enjoy puttering around, but mostly I love spending time outside, especially before the fall rains. Right now, my chores are focused on preparing for the cool and cold weather so I'm afraid you won't see beautiful plants and flowers. I don't speak Latin! Haha! But here are a few photos I took of some of my current activities.


 Before we begin, here's a plant photo to liven things up. Now, we go on to the more utilitarian images:



My priority project before the snow flies is installing 100 stainless-steel roof cleats on the surface of the metal roof of our house. You find cleats and such in alpine areas that receive great depths of snow. The cleats serve to hold the layers of snow (and ice) on the roof to prevent could-be fatal chunks of cold material, i.e., ice and snow, from sliding wholesale from the roof. I mean "fatal" in the sense of humans and gutters. Our new gutters really suffered last winter, and so I am installing these cleats to at least slow down whatever snow and ice that accumulates.



If you read Tamara's recent blog about our flock of Destructo Hens, you may recall that I created a new, much-larger chicken yard. It has worked beautifully. The hens are happy, the eggs keep coming and the Master Gardener sleeps at night. The new gate is a gate built by the previous owner of our property; it allowed access to her tiny veggie garden. I changed the wire, painted it, added structural support and turned it on its side. As it is very long it demanded a big, strong fence-post. I sank an 8-foot, 6x6 post to address the need. All in all, I got lucky as the gate hangs well and swings fine. I even rode my lawn mower in the other day to mow down the ever-aggressive blackberries.



On the eastern boundary of our property we face an overgrowth of blackberries and English ivy, not to mention just general weeds and filbert trees. Through our work this year we established the orchard, the veggie garden and the berry patch. To discourage the ivy and the blackberries from reaching into our property I spent several days with my shovels, rake and lopers. I cleaned about two feet of dirt along the fence, laid down layers of plastic and then spread gravel atop that. Oh, I know, the gravel will erode and slide from the plastic but I am hopeful creating this boundary will help. 



Along the fence above the new boundary I continue to add 2 x 4 inch fencing to reduce access to larger, ground animals such as raccoons and small dogs. Our deer fence features 6 x 6-inch openings, and I plan to add the smaller-opening fencing around our entire two acres. This is a great cold-weather project. Probably kind of muddy though. Oh, yes, mud is coming!




Open burning is allowed again in Columbia County. At least in this part of the county. I was able this week to burn a small pile of old plants and branches/leaves removed from our laurel trees. I have some dead branches in trees near the driveway so I foresee more burning. Not so much that we have a smokey haze like we did this summer. We've had enough of that!


I won't be burning this pile of stumps and clumps. Much too big. And I think it would smolder for weeks, and, more importantly, it is illegal to burn such "slash piles" so near a community. So I plan to take it apart with my trusty chainsaws and save the wood for further use. I will probably haul the filbert clumps to a chipping business that accepts them. Not to worry. (Tamara here: I would love for these to just remain as a hiding place for small critters and just to decompose as they're not really in the way, but I think I got out-voted.)

 


This is one of several glass trinkets we found attached to the previous owner's fence around her garden. We moved them to the gate near our present veggie garden. Again, re-purposing. Plus, they are pretty and shine in the sun. Facilities Manager appreciates pretty.



Also shining in the sun is the big crop of dill billowing out of our garden boxes. We need to learn to make pickles, I guess. Next year! Yes, we will be more prepared next year and plant cucumbers that make the best pickles. I wonder if we can dry the dill and just keep it? (Tamara here - yes, we can, FM!)




These are the new shelves for drying some vegetables as well as storing our "canned" goods. Also a new-to-us freezer, gifted by my brother. Thanks, Tom! We have bags and bags and bags of frozen beans, corn and tomato sauce in there. All set for winter. We recently canned our cabbage in the form of sauerkraut, too. It is pink and very tasty. 



At least we won't suffer from scurvy! 



Meet Oscar! A gift/loan from Tamara's mother, this is Oscar, a large agave (Agave parryi var. truncata). Oscar is kind of like a bulldog with a collar of large nails. DO NOT MESS WITH OSCAR!! Tamara here - I blogged about our visit to Cistus Nursery and my mom's desire to find the perfect agave. You can revisit that post here.  


As a balance, our statue of the Buddha rests peacefully gazing out to the rising sun. Our Buddha reminds us to be present and mindful each day. We count our blessing and we -- Tamara and myself -- take care of each other. We love our gardens and our chickens and our cats and each other. We thank the Buddha for the quiet reminder. 



Finally, again, fall is officially here. The leaves are turning, some are falling, the dew is up each morning, and we are preparing for another season or two. This year has been memorable and successful. We plan to enjoy the next three months (and onward) happy and satisfied. 


That's it for this week at Chickadee Gardens (and Blue Jay Lane Farm). Thanks for reading. We appreciate your kind interest and support. Cheers, FM. Tamara here -  thank you Facilities Manager for all you do and for writing a Blue Jay Lane Farm blog post! You keep things well-tended out here and we're all grateful.


17 comments :

  1. Roof cleats! I'm utterly ignorant when it comes to anything snow-related - snow is just a concept here. I'm very impressed with the chicken yard and all your fall projects. You two are an unstoppable duo, as the continuous progress in your wonderful garden attests.

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  2. Hi, Kris. Thanks for writing. I installed some 60-odd cleats today and did not slide off! I am unsure which is the most successful point! We appreciate your interest. Keep on gardening (and cleating, if necessary). FM

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  3. Wow! I lived 55+ years in Massachusetts where snow was a way of life for the entire winter and never heard of roof cleats. Did you know you can also pickle zucchini? I have a great recipe, it's delicious!

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    1. Hello, Alison! Well, up here at 354 feet of elevation we need roof cleats! Haha! Count yourself lucky, I guess. As to the zucchini, I happen to like it. I remember the old joke that the word "zucchini" is the Italian word for squash you can't give away! Cheers. FM

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  4. Thanks for the update, FM! Interesting about the roof cleats. Look forward to seeing how they worked. I appreciate this entire blog, so is hard to pick one thing. Your new gravel strip along perimeter/adjacent to fence is awesome--star maintenance move. Additional mowed strip on the OTHER side of fence is darn handy too, but just mowed (not graveled). Seems you get all the less-pretty jobs. Who but a fellow maintenance nerd would care about a gravel strip along fence line?! I guess I am both a plant nerd and maintenance nerd...the latter out of a sort of laziness...I'm fascinated by clever things that set up one's world to be easier functioning and less work(!) in the long run. (Is that "less work" a misnomer??)

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    1. Hey, Alyse! Great to hear from another maintenance nerd. That is a fine idea of cutting back on the other side of the fence. I think I can bribe the property owner with corn or tomatoes. As to the cleats, I will update you if and when they come into play. Meantime, take care and keep on nerdin'! FM

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    2. Long live maintenance nerds!

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  5. You've accomplished some ambitious projects. Surely there are some interesting roots in the slash pile that can be used someplace to adorn the garden?

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    1. Thanks, Barbara. Dang I wish you hadn't said that. Kind of like land-based driftwood. We go to the coast, which is 70 minutes away, and if we have the truck why we must bring back driftwood! It's automatic! Haha. Well, you are correct; there is some interesting wood-forms in there. Let's see what Mr Chainsaw leaves behind. Cheers, FM

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    2. Well, I LOVE that idea, Barbara. Yes, I see some interesting shapes that can find homes throughout Chickadee Gardens. Yay!

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  7. Fifi LaFontaine12:11 PM PDT

    Oooh you guys, I can't believe your progress! Cheers to y'all!

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    1. Come see us, Fifi. You can help me do some more cleatin'!!!!

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  8. Richard Hoffman6:06 PM PDT

    I'm truly impressed by your activities, Facilities Manager! You and Tamara are making the gardens safer, more practical, and those improved chicken areas are a real garden saver. Bravo!

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    1. Thanks, Richard. I just like things organized. I am thinking the Dewey Decimal System might be put into play somehow!!

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  9. Nice work all around. The snow cleats made me laugh, but hey - the climate really DOES seem to be changing. Maybe we actually WILL get snow this year again...? If nothing else, they would certainly stop you from falling too far, should you slip when doing other work up there.

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    1. My thinking exactly, Anna. I positioned myself above the cleats often as my legs tired during the four-hour project. I was afraid of sliding from the roof, but also frightened of ramming my sit-down area into one of those cleats!! OUCH OUCH OUCH!!

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