Sunday, March 16, 2014

Writer's block, so... more on gardening and other backyard pursuits

Still no piece on hunting with the nephew, I just can't seem to get it out on paper.  However, I have done quite a bit on the back yard, and I've started back into archery again.

First, a pic:

This is how real estate folks sell houses: a panorama shot of my back yard.  Images are closer than they appear.

Yes, the barren grass stands out, but what I see are improvements:  thriving trees and vines, a pond that is still mostly keeping it together, and a straw bale with a target in it. At right, the spectre of the shed looms...

The biggest good news for our yard is that the boysenberries are growing vigorously, the pomegranate survived my hacking at it over winter, and the fig is finally producing, keeping me from cursing it.  It already has figs the size of my thumb. (Tom, I have great hopes for your figs, too!)

We've also put peas into the ground.  Typically, this is getting close to being too late in the year, but I think we'll get a few in a couple of months.

One of the more labor-intensive activities was tying up my boysenberries.  I'd neglected them over the winter, and they needed to be raised up off the ground, untangled, and some of the old vines removed.  I'm no expert on pruning them, so I erred on the side of caution and kept all the vines coming up that were close enough to be tied onto the trellis.

Two years ago, I'd cut river reed from one of the nearby levees, drilled 5/8" holes into some redwood 2x4's, and trained them up.  Over time, the river reed (Arundo donax, a local invasive) had deteriorated, and so I pulled out the old cross bars and considered replacing them with some hardwood 5/8" dowels from the local big box yard store.  One trip and a price of $2.85 per dowel convinced me that a quick trip out to the levee to cut my own new river reed would add a nice touch of rustic charm to the back yard.

Ah, the rustic charm that comes from being a tight-wad... a river-reed trellis.
But my favorite "improvement" was the purchase of a straw bale for use as an archery target.  You see, I've been meaning to start up again, but couldn't bring myself to grab my gear and make the five mile drive to the archery range for the three or four shots I'd be able to physically make before wearing out my atrophied muscles.  Pretty pathetic, I know.  But the target in my back yard, plus signing up for a certification class to teach archery, have lit a fire under me, and I've been shooting nearly every day for the past ten days.  I'm even up to nine or ten shots a day.

Squirrels, beware.


Bud said...

About those figs. I dug up a fig sprout from the front yard and planted it in the back just a few months ago. I almost gave up on it bacause it is not budding. In frustration I snapped off the top of one of the shoots (whatever they are called)and found that it was full of milk. Do you think it will eventually bud?

Josh said...

Hey, Dad! Might as well keep watering it. Ours just started leafing out about two/three weeks ago.

Rock chalk Jahhawk!

Hippo said...

Wasn't so much writer's block for me, Josh, as internet block. It is raining very heavily in the city (although annoyingly not here just sixty clicks away) and all the signals went down for nearly two weeks!

My fig is doing OK. Bearing in mind it was posted as a 12" sapling from Chicago to Texas and then hand carried out here to Angola, I am amazed it survived. All the leaves had fallen off but it developed two at the top and then two sprouts at the bottom. The top then died off but the two sprouts have developed into leaf laden branches so I just snipped the dead top stalk off.

And, blow me down, as I am typing this, it has STARTED TO RAIN!!!! This is only the second time in two years!

Josh said...

I'll be danged, Hippo -- I just noticed you'd commented on my blog here back in March! I've got to get it together. So sorry.

Apparently, quite a bit has happened in your life over the past two months. Get better, alright?

As for the fig, they drop leaves every year, but they are hardy trees. I'm sure that, if it's getting water, it'll be alright. At least, I hope so.