Monday, December 17, 2018

Almost Home

Am I trespassing or welcomed?  Which is it?
This past weekend we were traveling through a local small town and decided to try and find the house we had attempted to buy 15 years ago. It took some effort, dead-end streets, back-tracking, but we found it. We were living in a tiny house in Nashville with three rapidly growing boys and wanted to move to the country.  Not everything is quite as I remembered.

It needed work back then, paint, carpets, deep cleaning.  We were willing to tackle the job because we were young and strong. Not many big houses on good sized lots were in our price range. The builder had made some cost-saving decisions which lowered the value but most were things we could tolerate or fix.

Inside the drive-in garage, the house was not built on a block foundation but is sitting atop solid bedrock.  It is protruding up from the ground inside along the back left side.  I considered it to be sturdier, but our real estate agent said it was shoddy craftsmanship to avoid the expense of excavating a large hole.

The builder had also used cedar tree trunks cut from the property as support poles for the porch. The spot where the dark blue car is parked is graveled not poured concrete.  It appears the present owners are not concerned about making these types of cosmetic improvements.

The land is about as bad as it can be without being a desert.  It is solid limestone bedrock with only an inch or two of soil.  If cedar trees can't survive, it's bad land.  We weren't going to be farmers and Bill hates to mow, so that didn't bother us.  I envisioned rock gardens tucked away in little cubby holes along wooded walking paths.

We even liked the fact that the land backs up to a railroad track.  Neither of us wanted anyone moving in behind but now there is a new subdivision being built in front of the house across the street. This house is right on the road.  We would still have been living in a construction zone like we are now.  Being off away from traffic is now something we cherish.

There was one feature I absolutely loved.  The land was previously a quarry, which is common in this rocky area of Tennessee.  I had to get it.  My own rock quarry.  Who owns a rock quarry?  

We decided it was our dream house and told our realtor to immediately drive an offer across Nashville in Friday afternoon rush hour traffic before the office closed.  He made it with seconds to spare but called to say someone beat us by two minutes with another offer.  I cried. 

Now as I look back, I realize not getting it was definitely the best.

Additional links about exciting rocks:

A Famous Rock, Berlin, Tennessee

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Necessary Destruction

Once upon a time, long, long ago in a county far away, my prince and I were traveling and noticed a large group of cars parked on a roadside surrounding a microphoned auctioneer in the back of a truck.  The land beside the road was being sold.  We stopped to listen.  He was rattling on and on and on and on.  No one would bid.  I wondered why so many people but no bids?  Within seconds, I was bored and ready to leave until I noticed Bill slowly raising his hand!  My heart stopped!  NO!  I began shaking my head as I glared at my knight in suddenly tarnishing armor! The auctioneer's attention and the whole crowd turned to look at us.  Bill nodded, tipped his visor and the jousting began.  

"What are you doing?" I demanded between clenched teeth.

Bill whispered two words.  "Too cheap."

"So what?  We haven't seen the land, it could be a nuclear waste dump and you are spending our life's savings." My heart was racing and my world was crashing.

"SOLD!" barked the auctioneer as he pointed to Bill.

The crowd circled around us, congratulations were offered and introductions made.  They were the family of the previous owners and curious neighbors.  Only two other people in the large crowd were interested in buying the land.  Now it is ours.  

We were in the right place at the right time and my knight wisely grabbed a blessing.  The land will be our retirement.  It was selectively cut years ago and this is one of the old logging roads regrown.

Some of the large, older trees have become diseased.  This is normal and it is healthier to selectively cut the biggest ones to give the younger saplings room to grow.  We want to preserve our enchanted forest and keep it flourishing.

We hired a logger to cut only the trees that are 16' inches and larger in diameter at chest height.  Those chosen to be harvested were marked with red paint.

We decided to inspect and make sure it was being handled correctly.  Even though it is the best thing to do, the destruction before my eyes made me gasp and broke my heart.

It was raining, no one was working so we decided to snoop.  The machines were massive and reeked of exhaust fumes even when silent.

"Posing for a picture in the opened jaws of a sleeping dragon is not fun," said Scooter.
There was one area circled with markers not to be touched.  It was the old family cemetery of the previous owners.  We met them briefly when we purchased the land and suggested they continue using it in the future - they declined.  The young ones had all moved away. 

I never knew these people but would like to record what little information is left on their headstones in hopes this present day electronic medium will outlast the stone markers.  I doubt it will. 
Jonas Chairs
Died Mar 5, 1899
Gone but not forgotten

2 LC
B 1863
D 192(?) 

Using paper as a grave marker is really a bad idea. 

We wore orange hunting vests for safety because it was big game season.  Even though no one but Bill is allowed to hunt on our property, in deep woods, it's hard to know where one person's land stops and another's begins.  My son Joshua accompanied me on the hike.  He said if I couldn't make it back out of the mud, he would sling me over his shoulder (like a neanderthal) and carry me.  He is so manly.  

Scooter had the best time of his life.  I am happy to report he rode in the car there and back without throwing up once.  

"Mom, why are we stopping?  My feet aren't tired.  I haven't smelled every leaf, acorn, stick, tree, mushroom, or rock; neither have I drank from every muddy puddle." said Scooter.  "Stop smiling at Joshua and let's get going."

"Yum.  So many new flavors."
I, Sir Knight Scooter am on a quest to discover the Holy Grail, an old moonshine still, hidden deep in a valley on the backside of this vast hill.  It is rumored to have been smashed by government revenuers years ago.  

"Did I find the moonshine still?  A gallant knight never drinks and tells."


Friday, November 30, 2018

November's Garden (2018)

This year's garden is extremely different from last year's November garden. The weather went from 90 degrees one day, to 40 the next and has not warmed back up.  We didn't have a fall but went straight from summer into winter. We put the hoop houses up the second week in November - last year we put them up in December.  To my surprise, some of the plants have managed to slowly grow.  

It became cold so quick, I was not able to finish planting.  The bitter cold 19-degree night killed the seedlings on the front porch so there are many empty spaces.  

The parsnips planted in the strawberry/watermelon bed have been growing since early spring are ready to be dug but it has been too muddy.  

Planting snow peas under the okra plants was a good idea but the weather has been too harsh.  They haven't grown fast enough to bear pods so I will chop them up for salads. 

This is the fence where the tomatoes were planted in the spring.  In the closest area, Fava beans are growing and carrots are in the back.  This weather has been so crazy I have no idea if they will bear beans.  

Fava Beans

Danvers Half-long
The winter radishes don't mind the cool weather but they can't handle the bitter cold.  Some were planted under the hoop houses, and others were put in the open.  My plan was to harvest the ones in the open first, then save those under the hoop houses for later.  When I pulled them, it was surprising to see how much difference the coverings made.  The one on the left was under the hoop house and the one on the right was not.  All of the seeds were planted on the same day.

White Celestial Winter Daikon Radish
It is easy to know when the winter radishes are ready because they begin to push up out of the soil.   

There are countless vegetables that will survive in cold weather and the flavor is fantastic. This winter I wanted a greater variety than last year so I pulled out my large box of seeds and planted a few seeds of each kind.  There were quite a few favorites I didn't get planted (sugar beets, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, savoy cabbage, Afina cutting celery, cauliflower...)  but as of today, these are the survivors.  Not all will look like the pictures in seed catalogs because I have been harvesting the outer leaves for meals.  Also, there are some not pictured that I have no idea what they are called.  I just know they did great one past winter so I saved the unknown seeds.  Whatever sprouts, is what I eat.

Toscana Kale
Fordhook Swiss Chard
Buttercrunch Lettuce
Georgia Southern Collards
Scarlet Kale
Pai Tsai
Michihili  Cabbage
Green Seoul
Tokyo Bekana
Tokyo Bekana
Red onions
Chirimen Hakusai

Perpetual Spinach
Morris Heading Collard

China Choy
China Choy


These are the last ones I managed to plant and they probably won't make it through the winter.  If the weather happens to turn warm, they might survive.

Tatsoi      Brunswick Cabbage
Canton Bok Choy      Bloomdale Spinach

Harvesting the sweet potatoes has never been easier. They just popped up out of the ground and landed in my basket. It was magic.


Reese came home to visit and he volunteered to dig them.  He didn't even break a sweat.  Later in the evening, he received the best reward you can imagine for tired muscles.


Doctor Scooter was on call for physical therapy sessions.

Additional Links

Scooter explains his magical healing abilities