Posted: October 7th, 2012 | Author: eliza | Filed under: life, nature, yard | No Comments »
fall colors in the meadow behind our house
fall colors in the meadow behind our house
Monday was Presidents Day, so Mike had the day off from work and we made a kind of impulse decision to drive over to Vermont and buy some butternut wood! We needed some more butternut wood to finish our kitchen shelving project, and we were surprised to discover that none of the local hardwood lumber yards sells butternut! Turns out it’s not that popular. Mike took a look around the internet and found a place in Marshfield, VT called Vermont Wildwoods, that sells salvaged butternut wood – we didn’t realize that, sadly, butternut trees are suffering a blight that’s killing them off pretty quickly (similar to Dutch Elm disease that killed all the elm trees a few decades back). Vermont Wildwoods sells “irregular” butternut wood cut from the fallen and disease-killed trees, paying loggers to leave the healthy trees intact and instead salvage the wood from the fallen trees. The wood from these trees has interesting and irregular grain patterns, and the whole concept seems pretty cool. So, unable to work in the wood-shop since we’d run out of usable wood, we decided to take the day off and go fetch some more wood from Vermont. The trip was four hours heading due west, through Crawford Notch and the White Mountain National Forest, into the hills of Vermont. It was perfect and sunny out, and we got to check out lots of snowy peaks, cute little tourist towns, busy ski slopes, old farm houses and winding country roads along the way.
The guy from Vermont Wildwoods was super nice and helpful, letting us pick through a huge stack of butternut lumber to find the right planks for our job. It seems like he normally works with builders on big-scale architectural projects so he did a nice favor in letting us show up (on a holiday!) and dig through his wood for this little small-potatoes project. We took plenty of time to pick just the right pieces. My parents let us borrow their truck for the trip, so we had room to carry all the wood home. Now we’ve got this huge stack of wood waiting to be planed down, glued, sanded, cut up and assembled into our kitchen shelving!
We got married! It was really fun.
Sometimes (many, many times) it seemed like a crazy idea to get married at our house, in our back yard, in the middle of trying to renovate our house, especially since our back yard was nothing but a giant pile of garbage and tenacious weeds and brambles. But I think the whole idea is about being together, with your entire family and your whole circle of wonderful human beings, and being who you are, how you are, all together. We wouldn’t want to get married in some impersonal place, all dressed in white and made up to look like different people. We just wanted to have a big fun party with everyone we love, in our own space. And we did, and it was great. I wish we could have so many of our favorite people together in one place more often.
We cannot thank our friends and family and neighbors enough for all the incredible amounts of hard work that everyone did to help us get everything ready!!!!! We got SO MUCH work done in a big hurry because of this big exciting deadline, and because of the generous help of so many friends and family!
Our back yard has definitely never looked this beautiful before, and may never look this good again. Giant collapsing wreck of a barn notwithstanding. It was pure magic to see our back yard transformed into this beautiful space filled with loving faces, bright wildflowers and bunting, delicious food and drink and music.
If you wanted to see 1,000,000 more photos of the big day, you could see them here.
we’re all working like madmen and look at this lazy bum sleeping all day.
naming update: we can’t get a name to stick to this cat. I previously reported that her name was Lina, but that only lasted a week. We just call her Kitten, and she always looks up when we say it.
We resolved to make some major improvements to the yard this summer and pitted ourselves against the mounds of half-buried garbage and rubble and relentlessly energetic grass and weeds. It’s been an fairly grueling, time consuming, buggy, sweaty, muggy, muddy crusade but with some great help from friends, neighbors and family, it feels like we are making progress. Hopefully our back yard will one day be fully transformed from an overgrown dump to a beautiful space to hang out and enjoy the view.
We spent the first half of the spring and summer pretty thoroughly occupied with trying to conquer the wild, bramble-covered and weed-choked land out back. We have two acres, and what ground isn’t occupied with the dilapidated barn has been covered with an impenetrable jungle of thistles, burrs, vines and weeds that grows to shoulder-high in full summer and is completely wild and impassable without a machete. So this year we’re trying to clear out as much land as we can and mow down the weeds before they get too big to tackle, and seed some nice soft grass, hoping to be able to enjoy more of our land during the summer. We started with hauling away lots of garbage that was left around the land by the previous owners. There were the shredded remains of several huge (inflatable) plastic swimming pools, a handful of mangled kids’ bicycles, plastic kids toys and trucks, pool floaties, lots of pepsi cans and milk jugs and just general garbage strewn about and hidden in the weeds, making for a lot of surprises when we’d accidentally mow over bike parts or soda bottles hidden in the knotted grass. We found a nest of at least 30 garter snakes living in one of the crumpled swimming pools! Imagine Mike’s surprise when he gathered up a heap of soggy plastic in his arms to drag it away, and found it squirming with dozens of startled snakes!
There were tons of tiny babies, and lots of huge adult snakes too. We felt a little bad displacing them, but the heaps of crumpled plastic garbage had to go.
Rainy May weather made the grass go crazy and we found that even if we spent every waking hour mowing, it was still growing faster than we could cut it. I suppose this is a common springtime homeowners lament. We decided we need to sow the whole thing with wildflowers or something. Anything that doesn’t need to be mown. We were super excited to get a new mower, which at least made the fight a bit fairer! Mike wishes we could get a riding mower, but I think we can use the extra exercise. Could do without the blackflies though.
Sometime around June, our amazing neighbors Mike and Fausto took pity on us and offered to help out. Fausto brought over his brush hog and weed whacker, and Mike brought his giant tractor, and they made SO much progress, transforming seas of brambly mounds to tidy fields and stone walls.
Man. Good neighbors are the best. What a difference it has made!
this afternoon a dozen cows wandered into our yard to nibble our lilacs! the dog was super terrified and ran inside to hide. she’s not much of a guard dog! the ladies ambled around our yard nibbling stuff for a few minutes while we called the neighbors’ farm to report the visitors. Farmer was already out chasing them, and they were herded back home within a few minutes, so it was only a quick visit.
It feels like such a luxury to finally have a real kitchen, with a sink and oven and everything. I can finally cook! We still have a lot of work to do on the kitchen, but we’re feeling so happy with what we’ve got so far.
Now that the snow’s melted, the yard is looking ghastly. Mud, dead grass, all that crap and garbage we forgot about when the snow hid it in the fall. There was just a lot of flotsam and jetsam scattering the yard when we moved in last year – dozens of big plastic toys, two deflated swimming pools, all kinds of old tires, metal roofing pieces blown off from the deteriorating barn, etc. We started hauling away some of it last year, but there’s still a lot left. Anyway, we decided this summer’s going to be the summer of cleaning up the yard! Last week we made a few good trips to the dump…
Definitely still need to haul a few more big truckloads off to the dump. Also next week we’re planning to rent a brush hog mower to tackle the explosion of brambles and wild jungle in the back forty (last summer we tried to tackle it with a big-time mower and had to give up as we nearly broke the machine!) and hopefully our little wilderness of thistles and burrs will become a nice soft barefoot-friendly lawn. We’ll see how that goes – although we might not be able to improve the exterior of the house just yet, I hope we can make some progress on cleaning up the land.
We also took the first warm afternoon to work on our underground dog fence, which got messed up by the snowplow near the end of winter. The dog fence is such a blessing when it works, but it’s been a hassle to maintain – hopefully we dug it deep enough this time that it won’t need to be fixed again for a long time.
we only live like 45 minutes from the ocean, so why don’t we go there more often? this summer i swear i’ll go to the beach more!!
this is Scarborough State Park beach, we went over there one Saturday morning because our usual dog walking trail through the woods got so yucky with punky crusted snow, seas of mud and lakes of snowmelt. So the beach seemed like the best place to let the dog frolic off-leash without having to slog through crusty snow and mud. Beach was indeed perfect, Laika had a great time, made new friends, played with lots of seaweed, chased gulls, jumped on surfers, and only drank about 2 gallons of sea water.
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