Monthly Archives: January 2009

A New Year

With the New Year starting, I guess it’s time to wrap up the old year, and what better way to do that than in the form of “a Christmas letter”. So let’s begin:

I had a busy year. It started off with the installation of water collection barrels and the deconstruction of the back patio railing that was falling apart. I’ve made great strides in converting the wood into a bench, but it’s not finished yet. February was spent building new gardens. March we adopted our new dog D’Argo (more later), so I had to switch gears and start building a fence for the front yard to contain the dogs, and hopefully keep the deer out (not). The fence is roughly 350 feet long and contains quite a large area. I had to build 3 gates and bought the last gate (right) and installed it just before the New Year. The fence, including electric fencing, and an additional garden along the driveway took me until late July to finish. Then I started experimenting with wall smoothing, turning the dining room wall a lovely blue using natural clay plaster. In August, I started on the new mudroom. That project is awaiting cabinets, but it’s currently functional and a great place to store work boots and such. The last project of the year was smoothing all the hallway and livingroom walls. I got all but the front wall done, which I will start next week. On top of all those projects, I’ve been training D’Argo, and gardening (fighting Bermuda grass), and attending a class and workshops on market gardening and sustainable agriculture.

Peter had a quiet year: a training class in Dallas, another here at home. He gave me a hand on occasion, but mostly he brought home the bacon (for which I am eternally grateful, especially during these tough economic times). He put some new radio antennas up in the backyard, and he’s been eagerly pursuing his ham radio hobby.

Odo’s life was turned upside down when we adopted D’Argo in March. I can’t say he and D’Argo are buddies now, but he does tolerate, and even derives some comfort from, D’Argo’s presence. We had a scare in late October when we discovered a growth on Odo’s toe which wouldn’t respond to non-invasive treatment. We finally had to have the tissue biopsied, the results of which were, thank goodness, negative. The swelling has finally decreased with a course of steroids, and he’s doing just fine now.

For D’Argo, on the other hand, life couldn’t be better. He has a comfy home, a choice of two beds, food twice a day, treats for doing fun stuff, gophers to dig for (and sometimes catch), and weekly trips to the Canine Sports Academy to play with other dogs that don’t growl at him.

That pretty much sums up last year. So what’s ahead, you may ask? Well, this being my 45th year on this good green Earth, I’m hoping to take some time off and see a few new birds. I’m planning a trip to South Texas and we’re going to Albuquerque for my Birthday, to track down my nemesis the Rosy-finch. We’ll be making our way to Montreal for a wedding this summer, and I’m hoping to find some time for birding there, too.

I have one last wall to smooth in the livingroom, then I’d love to tackle another redecorating project, like our bedroom or Master bath (time and money will tell). We need a driveway gate, there’s lots of dead wood that needs cutting for firewood, there’s another fence project in the works (back property line). I’m rebuilding the lasagna gardens into raised beds surrounded by a 24″ deep root barrier. If that successfully keeps out the Bermuda grass, I’ll build all the new gardens in the back yard using that model. Speaking of the back yard, I plan to regrade the back to avoid further flooding, and will hopefully install a new stone patio, so we can make better use of our picnic table. The chicken coop is another project I’d love to tackle this year, in hopes of getting my first chickens in 2010. I also need to build a proper bed for the blueberries (and add more bushes), so I can better control the pH and the invasive grasses. Same goes for the strawberry bed and the rhubarb garden (sigh!). No one ever said homesteading was easy. It’s a learning process, and I’m learning a LOT!