Archive for February 28th, 2010

There truly are very few dull moments around the Havens.   My mother’s method of dealing with the words “I’m bored” was to order the speaker into an unspeakably boring task, such as washing the walls and ceiling in the kitchen.   Around here, that sort of method of handling boredom is always available.

For example, yesterday we burned off the tall grass choking the labyrinth, and so for the moment we can see most of the rocks.   I started raking the paths yesterday but quit very quickly because another section of the yard was also being burnt off and a “fire watcher” was needed to make sure we didn’t set the neighbor’s place on fire as well, since we were working right next to the fence.

That spot is where the Japanese honeysuckle (an extremely invasive exotic here in the Ozarks) had really established a beachhead.  You can see it in the background on the right of this picture of the root cellar garden.

Believe me, it is as well established as it looks in that picture.   I had a very hard time finding a shot that includes that part of the yard because it is truly wild and weedy and awful.  There are certain portions of this property that don’t make it into the photo archives very often, and this is one of them!  But the honeysuckle just keeps spreading and spreading, so we truly HAD to do something about it before it took over the whole back line.

There are several methods for dealing with a scourge of this sort, and one of them is glyphosphate weed killers.   As organic gardeners we shun such methods, so first Jim went out there and tried weed eating it off.   Ha.  The mixture of honeysuckle, buck brush, thick grass, elm sprouts and god knows what else was more than a match for that appliance.   So yesterday we burned some of it, and then we just got in there and started cutting it back with pruning shears and digging out roots with the shovels.   Jim went off and bought one of those double sided weed whackers with which you can absolutely mangle your ankle if you are not careful.   But as it is a hand tool, it works very well against the honeysuckle.   So now the area looks like a mud hole.  We are going to have to keep after it all summer to make sure we have actually won against the honeysuckle.   Like any guerilla warfare situation, the enemy hides underground and in the jungle, waiting to attack when you least expect it.  We sort of have a handle on it, but there will be an ongoing mopping up operation for the foreseable future.

Needless to say, by the end of the morning, we were sweaty and completely imbued with smoke, so we came in, had a bit of late lunch and rested the rest of the day.

Another item of interest occurred recently in the Japanese rock garden.   During the snows, I noticed that one of the rocks seemed to have become sunken.  Of course, it had to be the biggest rock showing this phenomenon.  In this shot, it is the one in the middle, and you can see the snow dipping into the depression on the right side of it.

This situation only got worse as the weeks went by, and visions of sink holes swallowing whole houses began to appear in my imagination.   Lest you think this is just a silly fantasy, people who live in karst limestone regions are never far from imagining such a thing eating their house.  While Jim was in Costa Rica, the rock sank an additional eight inches, and as soon as he got home he got busy to find out just what the heck was going on.

Fortunately, in our case it was NOT a sinkhole, for which I thank all heavens and stars.  Where I walk Ruby there is an old sinkhole which covers about four acres and is a good 50 feet deep, so I was envisioning our entire property disappearing into a hole in the ground.

However, what it was was the ancient septic tank of the house that was on this site before this house was built.   It had a timber lid, and the timbers had finally rotted out.   We got the rock off the site before it dropped down into that hole, which is about four feet deep.   It would have been a major pain in the ass (and back) to get it out of there if it had fallen down into the old tank.   So now, if anyone is bored or looking for something to do, they can go out to the dirt pile and load up the wheel barrow with some soil and pour into that hole.   Once we have it back filled we will restore the weed barrier and the gravel, replace the rocks.

What are the odds that we would choose to place the biggest, heaviest rock of our arrangement squarely on the old timber lid?   You might think those odds slim, but apparently they were 100%.   We are just happy that we had not acquired and spread the ornamental gravel that we are going to be raking in patterns before the old septic tank made its whereabouts known.

Well, I’m off to finish my labyrinth raking project now that the temperature has gotten up to 40.   I’ll start off with a coat on, but you can be sure that will be doffed fairly soon.

If I get tired of that, I can go work on the root cellar, where I still need to get the bermuda grass rhyzomes out.  Or I could start removing the henbit and chickweed from the flower beds.   Or I could clean the detritus out of my front flower bed.

Hope you all have a nice relaxing Sunday.   Anyone who is bored is welcome to come over here and help weed, rake, haul dirt, or do battle with the honeysuckle.

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