It was all done by noon on Thursday. By "done", I mean that there are still several holes in the walls-- and furniture out of place (to provide access to the holes)-- and one or two other little things that cropped up during the process. But at least we have the house to ourselves again, and eventually we'll patch the holes, repaint a few rooms, and have everything even better than before (I hope). And we shouldn't (*vigorously knocking on wood*) have new leaks popping up every few months, now.
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These past few days of cooler weather were just what I was wishing for. I've been making the most of them by getting some of the mulching done-- so much easier to do when it's cool and dry!
I'm trying to use pine straw (or in some cases, a mix of pine straw and assorted fallen leaves) as much as possible-- particularly for the (relatively speaking) "new" flower beds. When necessary, I rake, but some of the places we recently cleared (in the woods) have a thick enough layer of straw/leaves that I can just lift it into the wheelbarrow with the pitchfork. That pitchfork is heavy, but "pitching" is still easier and faster than raking first.
Some of the straw underneath the top layer is already partially deteriorated, but that's fine. If anything, it's probably even better for building/improving the soil. (The downside is that the sooner it breaks down, the sooner I'll need to add more mulch.)
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Saturday afternoon, my parents brought us some loads of mulch-dirt (mulch that's broken down so much that it's practically turned into soil) from the piles at Grandpa's pond. (He sometimes gives the local power company permission to dump the chipped wood that is created when they have to clear branches and trees from the power lines. The power company is glad to have somewhere to get rid of the stuff, and after it sits a while-- not that long, in our climate-- it's useful as mulch.)
We'll use most of it in the new raised vegetable beds, but I've also already used it to fill a couple of planters and a few small nursery pots, where the three water-rooted viburnum cuttings are now adjusting to life in soil. (Fingers crossed!)
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While Mom and Dad were here, they also helped us clear the sod from the area in front of the garage. Dad used the tractor to take off almost all the grass and some of the soil, too. That saved us hours of back-breaking physical labor! We'll work on leveling out a few spots and clearing the edges he couldn't reach. When it's "right", there's a thick landscape fabric/weed barrier to put down, and then we'll have a load of gravel delivered.
Once the gravel's here, we can start spreading it in front of the garage, where we'll have a backing-out/parking area-- but we'll also start digging out the path in the yard to prepare it, too, for weed barrier and gravel.
I can't believe we're so close to finally getting that gravel path finished! I have hopes that the gravel will cut down on the amount of dirt/sand/grass tracked into the house. I'm sure some will still sneak in, but there should be an improvement-- not to mention that gravel will look much nicer than our current "exposed soil with weed edging" situation.
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Removing sod (and possibly a couple of weeds) from the perimeter:
There's more of that to do before we're ready for the gravel.