Facilities Manager's Report: Late Winter

Goodness, it's been an interesting winter season. After record rains we enjoyed several weeks of mellow weather. This allowed us to continue our outside tasks, so much so I estimate we are three to four weeks ahead of schedule. Means more naptime for your favorite Facilities Manager.  

Let's see what I have been up to:

Yeah, Tamara's green shovel is stuck in the ground. A common sight. Actually it's getting ready to dig out a Ceanothus gloriosus that hasn't done very well here. Since this is the sunniest spot in the whole garden year-round, we needed to replace it with something worthy.  

But, folks, we have ourselves a problem! Sometime in December during the holiday cold snap a clay pot on the deck burst its sides! The agave probably contributed to that as it has grown and grown since potted a few years ago. Problem + new spot to plant = solution.

So out came the wheelbarrow and we put that shovel to good use and removed the ceanothus and installed the agaves in their new home across the path from their father, Oscar, the Lord of All Agaves! (One Agave to rule them all?)

There's Oscar to the left with his new sidekicks installed in their new mound. It's difficult to see but there's a big mound of gravel there to aid in drainage.

Next up, I took a walk around the property to see what I could see.

The new hen house housed our feathered friends exceptionally well. Dry, safe and warm (during the really cold nights they enjoyed a heat lamp), the ladies reward us daily with an increasing number of eggs. You may note the snow cleats on the hen house roof. These serve to retain the snow on the roof so that it melts slowly instead of avalanching off onto those below. 

Tamara's present on Christmas Day. A large, hand-made copper birdbath from Australia. It was very shiny when first set on the log base, but as it begins its patina coating, the birds are now using it. Personally, I can't wait until our boycat wonders what is over this lip-edge and gives himself a shower. (Tamara here - what a mighty gift! It will have a green patina in time, looking forward to that!)

I made this little bench from a set of stairs below the back door of my grandmother's house in Idaho. Probably been in place since 1955. My mother, who lives there now, wanted new steps, so I brought the old stairway home and pulled out the circular saw. It is a comfy seat for a quick break. And, you know, it's family. 

The beehive was lonely this winter. Yep, the bees left in October. So I put the hive in the shed away from . . .  whatever. A new package or nuc of honeybees will begin residence in early April. Not to worry, it will be moved back to the veggie garden. Those silly bees did leave us about 10 pounds of honey, but I am sad about their departure (so am I, FM).

My shovel and wheelbarrow deserve a rest, for sure. In a previous post, Tamara wrote how much gravel, woodchips and compost we moved with our barrows and shovels and backs and shoulders and muscles. Great exercise, but . . .!

My new garden boots. I am forced to move these Keens hikers to duty here on the farm. I bought these in 2014 for my trek that year to Mount Everest, and they have served me supremely well in the hundreds of miles I have hiked since. They are tattered and nasty, but I have a hard time letting things go.

Like these old Doc Marten shoes! Look at those things! Heavens! I have had these since the late 1990's, and they are my mud, dirt and chainsawin' shoes. I fear the time is near, however, when they will go to Shoe Heaven. I thought of sending them to the Doc Marten corporation as a "return" to see what they'd say. Haha, can you imagine?

Ranger the pickup truck has been busy this winter hauling yard and garden debris out of here. (Tamara here - I prefer to keep all debris on the property to decompose as it will, but from time to time we have an excess so it goes to the recycle place.)

One of my slow-moving projects is to decrease the dip in the part of the yard we call "The Swale." Mostly because it is a bit dangerous to mow on the riding lawn mower so each year I add some soil and some leaves. There are grass seeds sprouting in that dirt there. Of course, I won't be able to mow it for ages but that's okay. I have my little projects.

Here is this year's Big Project, i.e., replanking the deck. The pressure-treated 2x6s now in place are rotting, and so will be replaced with some lovely redwood planks. Actually, it's just 2x6 lumber, but I like the word "plank." Perhaps I can use it on Wordle? (Tamara here - I am really looking forward to having a new, stable deck.)

The new raspberry patch support system. I removed the old structure of filbert limbs screwed and tie-strapped together. It started to lean and fall apart, so I am going to try this cattle-panel method. 

Leeks continue to whisper: "With potatoes I make a fine soup." (Tamara - ok, ok)

You will note the splendid gravel and compost spread around the garden. Not to mention, the woodchips over in the berry garden. (Tamara here - all cleaned up for another growing season. We have greens and radishes already coming up!)

One project I did not finish. This is a pile of fir and filbert branches I wanted to haul away. I used to burn these each fall season, but I have been gardened out of burn spot. Hmm, how did that happen? Well, I just never got to it. Too many naps, perhaps. (Tamara here - I really dislike the burning thing, I prefer to let it decompose as it will - so hooray! My master plan is working.)

Tamara takes no naps. She has been busy in the hoophouse. With the sunshine recently, it's been over 80 degrees in there. The kitties and I like to take breaks in there when out on our walkabouts. 

Ah, farm stuff breaks. I had to go full Idaho-style repair when I found the hood on the lawn mower broken. Having grown up on a small farm in north-central Idaho, I know how to fix stuff. Not pretty, but functional. Here you can see a metal brace, duct tape and epoxy all in use. Toss in some baling wire, and it would be much applauded by our friends in the Gem State.

All in all, this winter has been very friendly with the weather. We did need the deep cold, and it was brief and then gone. And we did need the snow, and it was thin and short-lived. And we do need sunny, cool days in which to move woodchips, gravel and compost about the place. 

But I am looking forward to Spring. A big, warm and wet spring, please! That is for me. That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. Thanks for reading. Keep your baling wire handy! Cheers, FM and Tamara


  1. Lots of projects completed (even if they are endless). I love the new hen house. FM, maybe you could extend the life of your dearly departed shoes and boots by planting them ;)

    1. Love that idea! But, ask yourself, what would sprout?

  2. You have been busy. What a bonus to be ahead of the game come the Spring madness. I have never heard of snow cleats. Do tell? Still very chilly here but the end is in sight. Itching to get outside and get to work.

    1. Hi. Cleats give the snow and ice something to hold it in place so it does not slide unexpectedly onto your noggin. I have about 100 cleats on our metal roof to save our gutters and our hairdos!

  3. "Since this is the sunniest spot in the whole garden year-round, we needed to replace it with something worthy"... I am practically shouting at the screen... agaves! Plant agaves!!!... and I page down to see, you did it!

    1. FM here: Not often we beat dangarden to the punch! Heehee.

  4. The Doc Marten corporation will be happy to receive your old shoes, maybe put them on display in their shoe museum, proof of the love and use folk get out of them, and the difficulty to say goodbye to them.
    The broken Agave pot seemed to have a few pups growing inside? If so, did they get a new home too?
    I love (LOVE!) the upcycled "family" bench. You are very talented.

    1. Hi, Chavliness! Thanks. My Doc Martens had a turn behind the rototiller this afternoon. I may just keep them around. Of course, if they self-ignite into flames . . . well, it's time. As to the pups, yeah, I don't know what Tamara did with them. Maybe we ate them for supper? Heehee. Who knows? Thanks, FM

  5. What an advantage it is to have a Facilities Manager. Mine worked on projects all last growing season. Love your copper water feature. It looks like the slim, sophisticated cousin to mine which is a "tank end."

    1. It is a total advantage having a Facilities Manager! I am super lucky ;)

      The copper birdbath is great, now I'm curious about your "tank end" - sounds intriguing!


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