Sunday, June 27, 2010

And the Landscape Decision Was...

About a month ago, I posted that we were trying to decide what to do with our 'new construction' scalped earth. The only thing I knew for sure about it was that I didn't want to lay sod. We're trying to be 'green,' and I'm convinced that lawns aren't the best thing for the environment. For over a year, we've been trying to figure out what else we could do.

So two weeks ago, the sod truck came.

Yes, I caved. We had several landscapers come out to give ideas, and I did a lot of reading, and in the end, sod was the only thing that made sense for our landscape. Almost anything else would have involved replacing the irrigation system, since the pipes are so close to the surface, plus massive soil amendments, since 2-3 feet had been stripped off the ground to level it before the house was built, and all that's left was hardpan clay. You can see in the picture above what the ground being sodded looked like.

We had them put Bermuda sod in the area between the house and the apartment, where not even common Bermuda seed would grow.

Then there was the area between the front yard and the front pasture, which has pipes running all through it.

And finally, the area down near the road, where the construction debris and erosion meant nothing would grow, but where we needed space for cars to park.

There's still the large area behind the house that's just weeds now. We'll worry about that in the fall, and I'm still hoping to do a naturalized meadow and butterfly garden there, since the soil is diggable.

We don't plan to use herbicides or pesticides on the new lawn, so the weeds will eventually move in, of course, but the bare earth is covered, and it's so much more enjoyable to look at.

I'm trying to avoid the 'lawn alternative' web sites I'd been reading, but for anyone interested, a great site is Please don't tell them what I did! :->

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Storms Pass By

Rain is passing us by....nearly every day recently, storm clouds form all around us, and we can see other areas getting rain, but it ignores us. The other night we had a spectacular storm, but didn't get much rain out of it. We watched from the front porch as lightning branched all over the darkened sky for an hour. After the lightning converged in front of us into something resembling a fireball, with a crack of thunder at a frequency I've never heard before, it occurred to us that perhaps we might be better off in the house. It was beautiful...but not much rain.

Last night, the clouds started forming again. The view in the picture below is to the south, where our weather normally comes from. You can see the goats looking toward their shelter, trying to decide whether it's time to take cover.

After a while, the thunder clouds began gathering. There was one in particular that was shaped like a mushroom cloud. If the atom bomb had never been invented, would I have seen it as so ominous?

As I stepped into the front yard to get pictures, I realized that there was a huge dark cloud right over our house. Finally, rain!

Ten minutes later, the rain was done. It was better than nothing...but not much better.

The storm clouds are all around us again this afternoon. I'm sure today will be our day...

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Always Ask the Turtle

Lately turtles from our pond have been climbing the hill to the front pasture, and trying to get out to the road from there. They're blocked by the fence, and I've been picking them up and returning them to the pond. I mentioned that to my sister, and she told me a story by Gloria Steinem called 'Always Ask the Turtle,' in which she did something similar only to find out that the turtle was making great efforts to reach an egg-laying spot. I can now imagine these poor turtles cursing me all the way back down the hill.

So this morning when I found Irving the cat watching a turtle en route to the fence, I decided to follow the turtle to see where it was trying to go.

Evidently I needed help, so the goats and Irving followed me.

Irving was intensely interested in....and puzzled by...the turtle. The turtle made a valiant effort to get through the fence, but it was just too big.

So I carried it back out through the gate and across the road to our neighbor's property, and released it under the neighbor's fence. Our neighbor has a couple of hundred acres, and a large pond, so I'm sure it'll find a good home there. The turtle scampered away on its mysterious (to me) mission.

I'm struggling with whether to cut the bottom part of the fence so that the turtles can get through. The fence is intentionally designed so that smallish predators, like foxes, can't get through easily. It seems to have worked, as we haven't lost any of our ducks or cats to ground predators. I'll have to think about what the greater good is in this situation.

Here's a link to a version of the Gloria Steinem story. She ties the cute story to the need to be wary of totalitarian instincts on both the political right and left. Always ask the turtle!

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