Delay Due To Wasps

I have a reputation for diving into projects.

I like to jump in feet first (not head first because that would be silly – you never know if there are rocks) without checking the depth or looking for alligators or figuring out just exactly how much time I will need before I can drag myself back out of the water.

When I couldn’t stand our strange, uneven, brick and 4×4 back steps any longer – I ripped them apart.  I had a plan (I always have a plan.) and it even included new steps. It also included removing old wood chips, sand and boards around the landing area, making a new brick landing and reseeding with grass. John wasn’t super happy when he came home one day to discover the two foot drop out the back door. Not even my elation at finding a nice concrete pad underneath it all (or my plan) seemed to bring him any joy.  Probably he knew what was coming next – a lot of months without back steps.

He was totally right.

But we have steps now!  And a nice brick landing. And… a really big disaster of gravel and dirt and half ripped up weed barrier. But that’s okay, because this month I was doing the final step of the project. I would haul away the sand and gravel and replace it with dirt, throw some grass seed on it and it would be done.

And then I saw them.

Great Black Wasps.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen them. And while I was unwilling to put my finger in the picture for size reference I can tell you that they are well over an inch long. Huge wasps. Scary looking wasps.

And totally fascinating.

Because, of course, I put my shovel down and looked them up. I found out they are non-aggressive and not even the Orkin man removes them as a matter of cause. They are solitary nesters, excellent pollinators and feed a ridiculous amount of grasshoppers and katydids to their young.

So I watched the wasps, and discovered that there were a number of holes, right in the sand I wanted to remove. I watched longer and saw one dig her hole deeper. I watched them come and go and not bother the dogs that walked over the top of them or me sitting a few feet away. I watched one fly back to it’s nest carrying a katydid. (I did mention that they were quite large right?!?)  I got my camera and watched a bit more…

Then I sighed and put away my shovel.

I ripped apart the steps a year ago… at this point a few more weeks isn’t going to make a difference.

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Just a Quick Ten Minute Job

There are small jobs.

There are large jobs.

And, in my family, there are the infamous “ten minute” jobs.

“Ten minute” jobs always – always –  morph into something much larger, more time consuming and gigantic than anyone was expecting. A “Ten Minute” job is the one that ends up taking two trips to a hardware store, and finds problems inside of problems. In my family the words “I just need help on a quick ten minute job” have been met with dread and fear.  I’m not sure why any of us even think it’s possible to do a job in ten minutes. I certainly should have known better…

My dad came to my house with a Kaboda equipped with a winch, a rusty cable, a three-hundred pound lead weight and a plan and told me it would just take ten minutes to get the unwanted willow branch onto the ground.

So deceptively small looking. So very heavy.

…I should have known…

We enacted the plan.

And then there was the part where the 300 pound weight went up in the tree and stayed there instead of coming back down so the old rusty cable could start to cut the branch. More weight was added, different angles were tried…

Hours later the plan was working. We might not have been “sawing” the branch off, but we were certainly “sanding” our way through it.

Look at that sawdust fly!

My dad and I are long on stubborn. The branch was going to come down and with a bit of extra rope and planning…

It did.

Down it comes, nice and slow and just in the right spot!

Five and half hours after we started it was all sawed up  and hauled off.

Around here, as I should have known, that’s just your typical “ten minute” job.

“Cleaning”

…Five. … Six! …

I was cleaning the girls’ room…

…SEVEN!!! …

…emptying out the space behind the door, on top of and under and over the doll bed that was hiding there.

…EIGHT!!!

Finding eight dirty, crumpled socks smashed in the doll bed along with old school papers, an assortment of toys, random bits of garbage and other dirty laundry sent me into full blown mom freak out mode.

Perhaps you are familiar. It involves high pitched squeaky voices, excessive use of the word “seriously”, a significant amount of arm waving and glassy eyed children who just show up to watch the spectacle without taking in any of the information.

When the arm waving wound down and the children went back to “cleaning” other areas I stomped downstairs with an armful of things that belonged elsewhere in the house wondering why on earth the kids thought it was acceptable to just throw stuff in piles in the corner and call it clean.

Seriously, don’t they realize that their toys have places to go I thought as I chucked tape into the dresser drawer that houses the world’s largest “junk” drawer.

“These things have places they belong!” I hollered up the stairs as I tossed crayons and markers onto a shelf in the office.

At what age do they actually put things where they belong instead of just throwing them in piles I fumed as I tossed nail polish on my closet shelf. I had to do it twice. It fell off the first time because of the pile of unused baby carriers, clothes that are only “barely” dirty (different from kinda dirty – those go on the chair), clothes that need mending, a bag of nail polish that was never unpacked from Thanksgiving, jeans with a broken button, and an old e-reader.

*sigh*

It’s possible some of us never learn.

 

 

 

Ready For Winter

The chickens are ready for winter and it’s a beautiful sight. Chicken Coop Ready For Winter

They live in an old hay wagon which was converted to chicken coop that we move every few weeks all spring, summer and fall. It works beautifully. The wire floor means I don’t have to shovel out a chicken coop and the easy mobility means the chickens can roam out away from the house and gardens all summer long.

I love my chicken coop.

But in winter the chickens need a little extra warmth. So every fall, at the last possible second, we pull them up close to the house, plug in a heated water bowl and stop up that drafty underside with a ring of straw bales. Today was the last possible second.  John and I moved the bales around the edge as Clara jumped inside, out of the wind and snow, letting us know where we needed more straw.

Maybe my chicken coop doesn’t fit your definition of beauty but as I stood back, job finished, chickens ready for whatever this winter may throw at them, the sun peeked out through the clouds.  The straw shone golden in the sunshine, it’s clean smell filled the air and it was just my kind of beautiful.

If you’d like to see what the chicken coop looks like without it’s winter wrapping check out:

The Indecisive Chicken or When Chickens Fly

A Cup of Tea

If you wake up a mom, she’s going to want a cup of tea.

While her water is heating, she’ll get herself some yogurt.

But, a kid will see her yogurt and want it. So she’ll give it to them.

Feeding a kid will remind her that she needs to check on the baby ducks. So she’ll leave the dad in charge of breakfast and go outside.

Once she checks on the baby ducks, she’ll decide to do the rest of the chores.

After she does the chores, she’ll run the dogs and water the plants.

Then she’ll come inside and remember her tea. She’ll take the warm water out of the microwave and put in a tea bag.tea

While her tea steeps, she’ll clean up the kitchen.

Cleaning up the kitchen will remind her that she needs to change the laundry.

When she piles the clean laundry on her bed she’ll pass by the bathroom.

That will remind her that she needs to brush her teeth.

Brushing her teeth will remind her that she still hasn’t eaten her breakfast, so she’ll head back to the kitchen.

Her kids will be off playing so she’ll take her yogurt to the computer and check her e-mail.

Checking her e-mail will magically alert the kids to her presence and they will all come crying about the rampant social injustice within her household.

Crying kids will make her grumpy, and when she’s grumpy, (and tired) she’s going to want a cup of tea.

But when she goes in the kitchen to get it…used tea bag

… it’ll be cold.

 

This is not always how it goes. Many days John makes my tea and thrusts it in front of me somewhere in the middle of this progression – he’s a good man!

 

Perfection Pending

They Needed Storm

Yesterday the girls and I cooked a pudgy pie dinner over the fire in the orchard while I continued the after pruning clean up. Things were going swimmingly, (I was the only one who burned herself) and then the marshmallows came out and we discovered a problem.

They couldn’t find a marshmallow stick. Clara and Jane climbing tree

Let me just repeat myself. We were standing amongst 32 fruit trees that had just been pruned.  I was sorting the branches into different piles, ones that were fire wood sized and ones with everything smaller. Small and large piles of brush were everywhere.

And my children, the ones I like to think are above average on all counts, could not find an appropriate sized stick with which to roast a marshmallow.Ivy running in orchard

Their first sticks were short enough to be laughable under any circumstances. But look carefully at the photo below and you can see not only their very short sticks but also the giant pile of branches stacked right behind them.Clara and Ivy eating marshmallows

Ivy attempted to convince me to cut one of my firewood logs a bit shorter for her to use for her next stick – I refused. Though I think my cousin was right when he said I should have. Just so I could have seen her try and smash her marshmallow on the end of a three inch log.

I took pity on them and sent them to a brush pile.

They still couldn’t find a stick.Jane roasting marshmallow

It took bit more wandering in the orchard-turned-brush-maze and another hint or two from me before they came back with sticks even Jane could use.Jane eating marshmallow

It’s a good things spring is here, I think winter may have rotted the girls brains and we’ve got some learning to do.DSCN7832-(sm)

Next lesson: How to find a rock…