I am slowly moving my way through a couple of my flower beds, but it is really slow going after two years of neglect. It is so easy to get so overwhelmed that I just want to quit and start over. I’m trying to stay focused, trying to enjoy it rather than seeing it as a chore, and I do, sometimes. Sometimes, though, I’m just too busy and it all feels like too much.
One of the things I’m doing to cope is getting rid of, or at least planning to get rid of, a few beds that are just too much. One of them is going to be an opening to the new garden, and I let the sheep in there to start cleaning it out. There wasn’t much there at all, a ratty forsythia that bloomed for the first time this year. (Figures!) There were some really tall tiger lilies that we rescued, some daffs. Not much else, so a good candidate for downsizing.
One bed that I’ve been really focusing on cleaning up is right in the front of the house. I put it in April of 2004, and it had been a real mess before I did it. There was a bit of a bed at the end, filled with bindweed, vetch and ragweed, not much else. We put in that stone wall, which made it really pretty.
One thing I can say is that the lasagna layering worked really well at improving the soil. Unfortunately, it also created super bindweed. That stuff just absolutely thrived in the great soil, and smothering it with cardboard and stuff didn’t slow it down at all. It’s taken me three passes so far this year, and I hope I’ve pulled enough roots and new growth to maybe perhaps kind of stunt them at least. God I hate bindweed.
I’ve now mulched half of that bed, to the local lilac that I got at the town plant swap that same year, and honestly, it’s the only thing that I actually want that is thriving in that bed. Well, that’s not really true. The tulips did well, and now that their foliage is gone, mulching heavily is a good thing.
So anyway, slow progress. I kept using the center part of that island for random sheepie pens, just because it was handy. But that has done a real number on the grass there. We finally got all of the spent hay moved off, and boy was that a chore! As I’ve been pulling manure from the horse stall, Frank’s been forking some hay off that part and covering the manure with it, to keep the flies and smell down.
The other side of the center island is where I used to have so many lilies. The damn hated ugly nasty lily beetles (can you tell I hate them?) have done a real number on them, sadly. But this year, I’ve got chickens. I deliberately weeded over there first, because the chickens follow me around and scratch on whatever new dirt I expose. I’ve only seen one actual live lily beetle, and quite enjoyed squishing it. The chickens are now spreading out pretty far from the house now, so we think that our local bug situation is well in hand. Yay! Chickens that eat lily beetles — surely I can sell those! We’ll see how many lilies actually bloom first, though. It’s too early to know yet if they also eat Japanese beetles, but I’ve been tossing them every grub I dig up, and they sure love those.
I’m very popular when I weed. The chickens get all the bugs, and I’ve been feeding the weeds to the pigs. Oh yeah, we started (finally) training the pigs to the electric fence. We aren’t so popular with them at the moment because they haven’t quite figured out what it is that is zapping them, and keep biting the fence. Ouch!
When we were moving sheep today, I picked up the bottle baby and he threw his head back, putting a horn smack in the middle of my face. Ow. He’s the same one who did that to my ear earlier this year. I think I understand why some shepherds prefer polled sheep. I’ve got a nice gash on my face now. Hurts.
We also harnessed up Prince on Sunday, and he loved it. So did we! I’m off to visit Pearl — any day now we should have a baby. More pictures later when I’m more organized and have another break.