Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some Women Turn to Drink in Times Like These

To quote a well-loved saying at my house, I've been busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. There are about 50 loose ends flying around and it's making me nuts. I'd like to tie up a few projects but weather, insurance companies, a literary agent who will remain unnamed, my colleagues, my children and Mr. D refuse to cooperate. Like the proverbial hamster on the wheel, I run and run and run every day, repeating the same series of phone calls and emails, prompting and prodding and getting no results. The lack of progress is demoralizing and making me crazy.

And then! Yesterday we got approved to schedule Mr. T's second set of dyslexia tests. I checked that off the list and we'll have the results before the IEP meeting at the end of next month. A small success, but critical to morale this week.

I knuckled down and made headway with the YA novel I'm editing for my agent. If my printer doesn't break down, I'll have it in the mail sometime on Friday. Just in time to begin dealing with 1,900 tree seedlings arriving tomorrow. Due to extraordinary wet and cold weather, getting them in the ground will be a challenge. We have 2 choices: wait for a professional to have time to squeeze in our job or throw a tree-planting party with 25 of our closest friends and do it ourselves. The latter is looking like less work, believe it or not.

Someone asked about how we plant those trees--it involves a quick spade into the ground to make a slit in the soil--tuck in the tree after dipping the roots in Soil Moist, press the soil back together and stamp the earth down with your very muddy boots. My record is 100 trees in one day--I was great with child (read: pregnant) and had a bored toddler in tow. I may be required to beat my record this spring. Hence my strong motivation to tie up a few loose ends around here.

Then there's the matter of compost and garden planting. Traditionally Mother's Day is the weekend to plant in Wisconsin, but I don't trust the calendar this year. The weather had been strange, 70 degrees one day, blowing snow the next. I'm a little afraid, frankly, and I've stayed away from the veg. patch. I'm a lazy composter, tossing it all on a pile and leaving it until spring when I pull out the bottom portion to till into my soil. I think an industrious person would turn their compost over every week--it speeds up the process. I'm not industrious. But I can refer those of you who are to this website: Compost Guide--they have advice for lazy and super-advanced compost people. Check them out!

Nope, I'm a bigger fan of worm poop for flowers, grass and house plants. It never burns a plant, it's safe for the environment, it has NO odor and it's really cheap if you can get it locally. We get ours from the CSA farm up the road--50 cents a pound. You can make your own buy raising the little red wigglers, but at 50 cents a pound I figure I can't go wrong. I'm telling you, no matter how black your thumb is, you cannot go wrong with this stuff. Check out Wacky World of Worms for more information & pictures of Actual Worm Poop, or ask around at your local farmer's market for what will probably be a much better deal on worm poop. Worm castings make the best fertilizer and it's a lot friendlier to the planet and cheaper than anything else on the market.

Since Mr. D and Team Testosterone spread most of the 260 pounds on the lawn, I'll go get another 50 for the strawberries, veg. patch and flowers.

When you live on 60 acres, everything is done in jaw-dropping mass quantities. We use this:

Wheelbarrow & Spade Shovels


Mr. D's lawnmower (for lawn, trails & clearing between tree seedlings)
Rototiller is in back.

And most frequently this:

The Four-Wheeler (I swear I'm NOT a "redneck woman," but Lord knows some days I feel like it) Also, the spreader attachment and last fall's sunflower seed project still waiting to be cleaned up... The garage is a pit these days.

Trees are purchased in lots of 100, prairie seed gets planted by the pound--instead of talking "beds," we talk "acres" when we plan the year's projects. Restoring this property has involved 4 government agencies at the federal, state and county levels. I make regular calls to the DNR, the county conservation program and the USDA to manage various projects and tax benefits. We've cut, cleared, planted, tilled, mulched, dug, filled and burned out here. We have a 1-year plan, a 5-year plan, a 12-year plan and a 20-year plan. While our neighbors head up north on summer weekends to sit around a fire pit and boat on a lake, we're back in the woods gathering brush into huge bonfires and roasting marshmallows. We spend summer evening strolling the trails, checking on the tree seedlings and admiring the prairie. We spend fall afternoons cutting dead trees and putting up fencing to protect the young trees from rabbits and deer. Owning this land is a privilege and a responsibility--but Mr. D and I wouldn't have it any other way for our family. Our tenants include 2 bald eagles, deer, turkeys, rabbits, possums, raccoons, squirrels, owls, hawks, bats, woodchucks, millions of insects, thousands of songbirds, hundreds of mice, and some claim a coyote. (I promise glorious photos soon--especially of the eagles and their nest!)

I should start listing my occupation as "Conservationist" instead of "Homemaker" next time I fill out paperwork... Anyway, I wrote this by way of explanation in response to those "WTF?!?" comments I've been getting lately. I didn't want y'all to think I was crazy, going around buying 260 pounds of worm poop and 1,900 trees. (Some folks have poor measuring skills--I recall decorating for my junior prom in high school and sending out the valedictorian to get enough rope to reach from the floor to the ceiling of the gymnasium. The girl came back with 200 feet of rope.)

Tune in tomorrow when I take on Sarah O's Show and Tell challenge!


  1. I must correct my Green Girl because I was also in the gym decorating for said Prom. The amount of rope purchased by validictorian...300 feet. Her instructions were...go to hardware store and get enough rope to go 1/2 way to the ceiling of the gym and back. You betcha, I still remind said friend of the error

  2. I've been busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.....hahahaha - I'm going to use that one!

    If I was closer I would join your tree party!

    Green girl the has a nice ring to it!

  3. oh my goodness. that is a lot of work. i'm just frustrated because i can't get to the sewing machine and you have a zillion trees to plant!! and a book to edit!!!!

  4. Enviro Girl: when do you write! I'm turning my award winning but not published manuscript into a YA for my agent! Just today I was shaking a firm finger at myself because I am soooo behind schedule. This inspires! May your agent find the book a home!!!

  5. You need to have that planting party for sure! Just a few too many to do yourself, huh?

    Must admit we compost grass/garden stuff, veg and fruit go to the dogs in their BARF diet patties, but I've never heard of the worm poop's kinda neat!

  6. Wow, I stand in awe of your farming prowess. If I were closer, I would SO be there to help you plant trees. I really would.

  7. Mr. G. is making me a composter for our deck that turns so that it gets mixed up more often. I'm pretty excited. Hang in there, woman.

  8. my dad used to say that about the one-legged man. i always wondered, wouldn't he be not busy? like kick one ass and your on your ass for the duration?

  9. I wasn't say WTF before, but now I think I will!!!!!! I think you'd do great with a push mower on all that acreage! LOL!

  10. After watching Julia Roberts on Oprah, I'm totally INTERESTED in worm poop. Kinda. Sorta. I am planning on buying a composter this week. Maybe the worms will come next year. I have incredibly, wormy soil anyway.

    Conservationist? Hella, ya! Fill in the blank with "Sassy Girl Blogger/Conservationist"!

  11. Now I'm tired. Oh wait, I was already tired.

  12. One Hundred Trees in one day! I hereby hand over the mantle of "Tree Planter Extraordinaire" to you!

    Our compost heap is amazing. Throw a heap of pizza boxes in, and five minutes later you have yummy black soil and a heap of bugs. Of course, around here the same thing happens to ANYTHING you leave lying outside, so maybe I shouldn't pat myself on the back too much!

  13. So I have a the soil in Wisconsin like Nebraska? You know, basically you dig a hole, drop some seeds and stuff grows. Because here it does not work that way...clay soil is the very devil.


Spill it, reader.