Wintertime by Facilities Manager

Greetings! This week Tamara takes a much-deserved blog-a-cation while I share my recent activities here at Chickadee Gardens. While my time during good-weather months is spent on big projects, i.e., a hen house, rebuilding the deck, napping, our cold-weather months are spent addressing small stuff. I enjoy little projects because they usually are not physically demanding and I can use a cold rain-shower as excuse to come inside for a cup of coffee and a slice of freshly made bread with a topping of a friend's marmalade. 

This winter (2022-2023) has been gentle on the property and structures. At least to me, it has. Tamara can tell you about the plants; I know she does so weekly. So please understand there's not much garden-talk below. Let's start with a wheelbarrow and a shovel.

A giant truckload of wood chips arrived a week ago. Thank you, ChipDrop. Now, it's not the cleanest pile of chips we've received, but it works for paths and such. I move 10 loads a day, which takes me less than an hour. I call it my light workout because frankly the chips aren't heavy and I like the smell. And please note on the package box there sits my faithful Sony radio. I like to listen to sports talk programs and, of all things, pop music. Keeps me going, I guess. Makes me feel younger than my Medicare card suggests! Yikes!

I am covering the woodland garden on the west of our property. Replenishing the old chips to keep the weeds under control. Works quite well, actually. Looks nice and helps to retain moisture in the dry months. Tamara seems to enjoy raking the piles. 

The Entry Path to the woodland. Now, this load of chips features a great many long pine needles. I wonder if they will help with weed control. Are conifer needles slightly toxic? Hmmm. (no, FM, they are not)

On the other side of the property, I have spent time removing the lower branches of these fir trees. A big branch busted off during the December snow storm and poked a hole in the poly of the greenhouse. And, you know, I want the chicken yard there on the left to receive some sunshine to dry it out and help plant growth in there. Our hens are not gentle on plants, and it was kind of a muddy mess. So, with the sunlight it should improve. By the way, I repaired the hole in the poly with that expensive tape that the loud fellow touts on television by riding in a clear-plastic boat. Worked like a charm. Sticky. Very sticky. Don't put it on your face! Not good!

This winter's fourth load of fir boughs with some filbert limbs tossed in. We go to the nearby bark/compost business and I pay to leave this behind. Then, when I need compost I pay to have some delivered. I pay both ways. Kind of like taxes! 

I keep an eye on our many trees and shrubs in case they start leaning in the wet soil. This is a recently gifted eucalyptus tree and so is just planted. I'll leave the ropes in place until probably May. Just to give it a go in its new home. 

No, it is not a Frank Gehry-designed beehive. It is an empty beehive. Sadly so, too, because it means the bees must have absconded in November. I tend to leave the hive alone, let Nature take its course. Of course, I treat for mites and added some pollen patties for food, but after the recent warm weather led me to check for activity inside, well, I found a field mouse couple making a home in there. There were very few dead bees in the hive, so I know they left. And, it is the fourth year out of five our bees have flown away. Is it my breath? My hair? I do not know, but I will replace them in April or so. We just like having them around. Geesh, bees!

Here's a new device, a blower that pumps air into the space between the two layers of poly in the greenhouse. Supposed to provide some insulation and strengthen the poly in the event of snow. And it works. When inflated the greenhouse looks all smooth and puffy instead of like an old pony with big ribs. And when it rains when the poly is inflated? Well, you cannot listen to pop music, that's for sure. 

The old John Deere lawnmower is another project ahead before the grass grows. It lost its engine cowling last Fall due to . . . umm . . . your faithful FM's poor decision-making skills. So I plan to clean it up, install a bumper and go with the flow. This ain't no fashion show!

And there is the cowling. I will attempt to see if its recoverable, but I suspect not. The point of this picture is the cart in which the cowling rests. I aim to clean it, varnish it and fix the tires. These carts are super useful, so we can put it to use. It may see some wood-chip action. 

Ever take a picture of a gravel incline? Impossible. Well, this little slope has caused many an Open Garden guest to take a short slide under their shoes. Tamara and I both have found ourselves on our bottoms looking around for witnesses. So I aim to dig out a staircase and use those bricks next to the rototiller as steps. Oh, it will be rustic, but better.

Our orchard is split in two halves. I planted a fescue and rye mixture five years ago. The fescue grows in clumps, which I swear played a part in weakening the mower's cowling because it is so bumpy. So I spread about 50 pounds of bluegrass seed to the lower orchard last fall. It came up, happily, and I look forward to a more "filled in" field this spring.

The upper half of the orchard did not receive the bluegrass seed. As you can see. I plan to remedy that with seed probably in mid-March or early April. I wanted to test it, and so it will be interesting to watch how fall grass is different than spring grass. 

Hard to tell, but the lower half (on the left) seems more green than the upper half (on the right). Perhaps I am just imagining things. Anyway, it's how I pass my days. 

Surely, we cannot have a blog without dear little Annie giving us a look. She takes care of all of us, including her elderly brother Hobbes. Annie is not a project. Well, now, she does demand food and her blankets a certain way, but she is our sweetie. 

So that is it for FM this week at Chickadee Gardens. Winter has been not too bad for FM. Many little projects completed. Many more to do. But our wonderful life is like that. We are blessed. Cheers.

And that's a wrap, thank you so much for reading and commenting. We love hearing from you! Happy gardening everyone!


  1. Anonymous8:16 AM PST

    It is lovely to read another point of view at the chickadee garden. I can see how Annie isn't your project, pure love that she is, but as she takes care of the bunch of you I suppose you may be hers :-D
    The fresh mulch looks great. Ever consider getting a mulcher?
    Looking forward to that rustic staircase.

    1. FM here: Hi. Thanks for the comment. Annie is the best. Thanks. As to a mulcher, we have not needed one in seven years. My shovel and I mulch! Great exercise.

  2. It may be winter but you've had plenty to keep you busy! I like the idea of moving the chips in daily increments - much better on one's back! I've decided again using chip drops here because they'd have to be dropped in the driveway to avoid blocking the neighborhood road and there's no way my husband and I could handle a substantial drop within a single day.

    1. FM here: I hear you! Chips can dominate. If only I could train the hens to scratch-move the chips across the lawn! Haha, talk about a real mess. Them hens not be tidy. Thanks.

  3. It's so satisfying to get jobs like these done during the slack period before the mad rush of Spring happens. What is the name of the tape you use? I have had little success getting anything to stick to our poly covering which is becoming more ventilated each season.

    1. FM here: Your question led me to simply look up the name of the tape, a name that has escaped me for weeks. Flex Tape! Be sure to use the clear version. Also, it is expensive and there is not much to the roll. The tape has a clear cover to keep it from sticking to itself. Haha. I kept trying to stick it with the cover on it, and it slid off the poly. Okay, I figured it out. Just be ready because once you place it on the poly it is not moveable. Good luck.

    2. Thanks. will look for this. Have had the most success with Gorilla Tape but as it's black the greenhouse looks like it's covered in dirty splotches. It only seems to last a year and a bit. Clear will be a nice change.

  4. This is amazing! Everyone needs an FM. I enjoyed seeing things from your point of view. You've got quite a few projects to keep you busy. And, don't feel bad about the lawnmower. At least you never dropped a tree onto your power line and caused the meter to rip out of the side of the house on the 4th of July when no one was available to come fix it. Ahem. I don't know what sort of fool would ever have done that. Nice to see Annie at the end. Makes me wonder what a blogpost from her perspective (or the chickens' perspective) would be.

    1. Anonymous3:54 PM PST

      FM here: HI, Jerry, and thanks for the chuckle! I would never guess who is responsible for that July 4 debacle. But I hear ya. Been there. Done something like that. Yikes! As to a blog from the hens? Hunt and peck at best!!


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