Tag Archives: Trees

Landscaping

(Edit: 8/28/18 I wrote this post over three months ago. Today, while looking at my writing app, I see the little word “draft”. I had never published it! Silly me! So without further ado…)

Imagine your house (either the one you currently live in or one you have lived in at some point). Now imagine if all the land surrounding that house was bare ground. Now throw in a bagillion rocks, and a few weeds here and there for good measure. Not a pretty thought, is it? Kinda depressing?

That’s how I feel about the land immediately surrounding our house. Yes, it’s understandable since it is a construction zone. But that doesn’t make me any happier when I look at it.

So, while I was delayed on working on the actual house, I decided to do something about the landscaping.

When the house pad was cut, it left behind a fairly steep hill of barren, rocky soil. But in my mind’s eye, I see beautiful terraces, filled with edible and decorative plants that provide beauty and habitat all year long.

When we had the backhoe last fall, I did the rough (and I do mean rough) cut of the terraces. This spring I have slowly been building the terrace walls.

The stairs were built out of railroad timbers we had on the property. The rocks are all native to within 50 feet of right there!

I completed this triangular section first because that is going to be Pajii’s area and I wanted him to feel like he could plant if he wanted to. Besides, it was the easier section to do!

A friend of ours came by one afternoon to help out with stacking rocks.

The circled rock in the picture below was just one of several 100lb boulders I needed to dig out and move.

All of the whiteish rocks below it are the rocks I piled under it when I levered it up, until I could roll it out of the hole.

In the picture below you can see the completed terraces on the right of the steps, and the not-yet-started hillside to the left. The huge boulders were dug out of the hillside where our well is now. They were placed in such a way as to become part of the landscaping. There are several more that you can’t even see just to the left, and many more that got used as a retaining wall over by where our garage will go.

So I got a bit of the terraces done on the left side of the stairs, and while at the hardware store, succumbed to an impulse buy of a dianthus bush. I just loved the color of the flowers and the fact that they are supposed to bloom from spring all the way till fall!

So, I had to find a place to plant them.

The very first plantings in the terraces. 😄

I also decided to pick up a few more landscaping plants that I know I want. And as the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 40 years ago. But seeing as how I’m not (quite) even 40 years old yet, I figure the best time to plant is now.

Lilac

Red Haven peach tree

Double Delight tea rose 🌹

The first bloom on the rose bush

I also bought some annuals to plant in pots around our trailer to pretty things up a bit.

Our fruit trees that we planted last year are doing well. The cherry trees blossomed out in late April and I thought for sure they’d be killed by a frost.

Cherry blossoms with Mason bee 🐝 busy pollinating

And they almost were! We were surprised by a light frost at the very end of April. Not that it’s unusual to freeze that late, but all of the forecasts said we were going to stay above freezing that whole week. But everything seemed to be ok despite the freeze. The next night was supposed to get nearly as cold, so we decided to play it safe.

The apple trees wrapped against the cold look like weird lollipops.

Apple blossoms

Yesterday, I checked on the cherry trees, and lo and behold, they’re loaded!

And last but not least, we bought some native/locally adapted plants from the state nursery and will find places for them to go once the terraces are completed.

For now, we have been busy trying to finish up the septic system. But we’re almost done with that, then I again won’t have anything to do, so I will go back to the terraces.

Now, remember that house you thought about at the beginning of this post? Think of all the bushes and trees and flowers that actually do surround it. Are there any that you’ve ever thought, “If I had been in charge, I would not have planted that”?

Well, guess what. We are in charge of everything that gets planted here on our land. It’s actually rather exciting to be building our land from the ground up. While it is a lot (a lot) of hard work, it’s awesome to be able to make it how we want it and only have to deal with what nature handed us, not what other people thought was a good idea. And so far, with the exception of the dianthus, I’ve put quite a bit of thought into the plants I’ve chosen.

One day, it’s going to be beautiful!

Advertisements

Homestead Update: still waiting, but being productive

I didn’t realize it had been so long since I last did an update on the house progress until I posted about Pajii’s new garden beds and saw the half-sided house in the background.

So yeah, this picture was taken on January 26th. We haven’t seen our contractor since that day. Our house sits there, half sided, getting snowed on. We finally gave up on being able to get ahold of him and have found a new contactor to finish the job. They will start as soon as they can fit us into their schedule.

In the mean time, we’ve been keeping pretty busy around the homestead with other projects that needed doing.

We were blessed with unseasonably warm and dry weather for most of January and February.

Picnic lunch in the February sunshine

School outside in February?

We decided to take a Saturday and finish the concrete patio outside our completed well shed (I’m putting together a post on that, I promise). The existing concrete was leftovers from when we poured our house footers. We were hoping we’d have enough left over from the house slab pour, but the calculations on that were perfect. Not short, but no leftovers either. So we had to go buy bags of concrete to finish the well shed slab job.

Prepping the 4’x7′ section

IT’S ALIVE!!! This concrete mixer was my dad’s and has been sitting on this piece of land, completely unprotected, for at least 12 years. And it still worked!

Concrete work is dirty work.

We mixed 3 bags of concrete at a time in the mixer, then poured it into a bucket to schlep it into place.

It was actually really easy to move the concrete around such a small area with the bucket.

You can see the chicken wire we put down as an added strengthener. Every so often, we’d reach down and pull the wire up so it was floating in the slab rather than pressed down to the ground.

While Hubs mixed up another batch of concrete in the mixer, Pajii and I would scree the freshly poured stuff so it stayed level with our existing slab and the forms we built out of 2×4’s.

The finished slab. It makes getting into the well shed so much easier!

Another project we worked on was some driveway maintenance. We had put in a culvert last fall and it needed a bit of upkeep.

Adding and compacting more dirt over top of the culvert.

Hubby cleaning out some collected sediment inside the culvert.

There were a few gardening type things to do as well. Since I don’t plan to start a garden this year for myself, it was great to get some dirt under my fingernails, so to speak.

Spreading pine needles collected from our church’s landscaping. This area will eventually be our fenced in garden with raised beds, but right now it is a parking area. We thought it best to use decomposable material rather than gravel to combat the mud in this area. Besides, the pine needles were free and we were saving our church some money since they didn’t have to haul it all to the dump.

I had some flower bulbs I needed to get in the ground. So I made a couple new areas for flowers along the pathway going from the upper level down to the house pad.

This area eventually became a perennial flower bed. Once the spring bulbs come up, we’ll plant some more summer type perennials in this bed, too.

And, since I had gone a little crazy buying flower bulbs last fall, we had plenty left over to plant in other places as well, such as around our cherry trees.

Oh, and we finally finished the stairway that leads from the upper level down to the house pad.

These stairs are made from railroad ties that have been sitting on this property for over a decade.

And, if you’ll remember the panels that blew off the side of the hill?

We finally got them back up to the pad. All 29 of them.

Even Flower Girl was able to help once the panels were at the top of the hill. The panels are heavy for a 5 year old, but she’s strong and has a will to help.

This girl, even with a gimpy knee, was amazing in getting all those panels back to the top.

So even though we haven’t been able to work on the house, we have not been idle this winter. January and February we’re filled with a lot of time outside.

And then March blew in and winter finally settled in.

So, we’re back to being stuck inside and working on other projects.

But Spring is just around the corner. And our new contractor said it shouldn’t take much more than a week to finish the siding and roofing once they get started. Rest assured we’ll be shouting from the mountainside when that blessed event finally happens.

In the meantime, keep warm and busy friends.

Change of plans

First, we had to delay starting our house because we had to move to Portland for almost 2 years to help care for the Hubby’s mom. 

We ended up needing to plan a bigger house than we originally thought in order to accommodate Hubby’s folks moving in with us.

Then we had to completely move the location of the house from one side of our 40 acre property to the other because the original site didn’t have a good spot for septic.

We planned to get more work done over the winter, but the weather did not cooperate.

And here we are, having to change some of our house plans. 

Yet again.

Plotting the original corner of the house

It wasn’t a major change, we just changed the directional orientation of the house a few degrees. It amounted to moving the house about 15ft. Not that big of a deal, except that it really cuts down on the amount of driveway and parking area we’ll have. It was just feeling…Well, cramped. 
And yes, we do have 40 acres, but only about 3 of those are not on the side of a steep hill. And the house pad is carved out of the side of one of those hills. So we are kinda limited on space in some ways. 

But I digress. Since we changed the angle of the house, we had to look at where the detached garage is going to be built and how to get more space.

Which made us consider doing some earth moving in a area where we planned to put our orchard.

Which would give us much more space on the house pad, but where to put the orchard instead? 

Which made us look around and decide that the other logical place for the orchard is actually better. 

Which made us realize once again that when plans have to change for one reason or another, there’s usually a silver lining. I could go down the list at the beginning of this post and show how  because we had to do it differently than originally planned, we’re actually better off now than we would have been had our original plans gone through. 

In the Bible, James tells us that when we make our plans we need to realize that God is the one who is ultimately in control and we can only follow through with our plans if it is his will (James 4;13-15). Similarly, Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

We try to remember these truths when making our plans, and realizing that when plans change, it’s all for the best, in one way or another.

Now is the time… Again

The Hubs and I went round and round discussing if we should do it.

On one hand, it’s a great deal.

On the other hand, it represents more work for us.

And yet, could we really pass it up?

Or should we wait till the opportunity rolls around again?

Who’s to say that we’d be any more ready then?

And really, by doing it right now rather than waiting, some parts will actually be easier.

But, ugh, the extra work. And all while trying to build!

And the whole time, this blog post’s message was running through my head. Now is the time!

So what did we do?

We bought the trees.

A local nursery was running a killer deal on fruit trees. We got 5 trees for the price of 2!

Eventually, we want to plant even more fruit trees, but we want to start with root stock and do some grafting, etc. Hubs has been learning all about that stuff. But THAT is definitely a project for later down the road.

For right now? Let’s get some trees in the ground, man! Yes, it means more work, just one more thing (or rather, 5 more things) to take care of. On the other hand, we’re going to have equipment up here soon that will easily and quickly dig the holes for planting, so that will actually make it easier. And we’ve brainstormed a way to make watering a simple task. When we get it set up, we’ll let you know how it works.

When you’re developing property from the ground up and want to end up with a bona fide orchard, you gotta get started ASAP. Fruit trees take a couple years to mature and start producing. As I said in the article I linked to above, if we had actually planted trees when we first started talking about it many years ago, we would have gotten to enjoy those trees for several years before we moved. As it was, we never planted. There was always some excuse. 

And the opportunity was wasted.

And when we finally DID plant a couple trees on our homestead? We up and moved away for two years. But even then, buying and planting those two trees was worth it. We have since moved our house location away from where they are planted, but they are still there and doing well. And they have now had two years in the ground. Two years head start on everything else we plant now.

So when we learned about the sale, we debated and hemmed and hawed, and then we remembered the lessons from three years ago. 

And we bought the trees.

Now is the time. 

Maybe not the perfect time. But it is THE time. 

Because it is never going to be perfect. There will always be some excuse. 

You just gotta make it happen.

So for now, our five little trees (three apple and two cherry) huddle together near the house pad, waiting for us to decide where is the best place to plant them. 

These, the beginning of our orchard.

Oh, the hopes and dreams wrapped up in those few sticks growing out of the dirt in some buckets.

Maridy

Planting Dreams

This is another post from our time before we moved to Oregon. I found it buried on my computer. I remembered writing it, I just could never find it. It’s the continuing story of our apple trees on the homestead (for the beginning, read here).

We finally got our trees planted! After buying them, they sat in their buckets, attached to our EZ-Up shade shelter for waaaay too long.

20140529_114104

It was hard to keep them watered enough with the heat and wind. And they got stressed fairly badly. The horrid windstorms we had which ripped our shade pavilion apart also ripped the apples off the trees. The last time I saw the trees, there was only one little clump left (and now we won’t get to even partake of those few since we moved, if they even survive – sad face). So, before we knew we were moving, we finally made the time to plant them so they wouldn’t die. We have so many dreams attached to those trees.

20140622_141114

Flower Girl “helping” dig.

20140622_141117

The Hubby and my dad taking turns digging the lower hole.

20140622_144727

I know how to handle a shovel, for sure!

20140622_150434

The lower tree is planted.

20140622_170710

The girls helping tamp down the compost in the upper hole.

20140622_171624

Princess Girl actually helping to shovel dirt into the newly planted tree.

20140622_182314

Staking the tree so it won’t blow down (look how little she looks!)

A lot of the leaves, especially on one of them, were turning brown and crunchy and I was concerned that maybe they had gotten too stressed.

But I’ve learned through my gardening years not to give up on anything too quickly. And sure enough, just before we left for our fateful visit to the Northwest, I took these pictures of the new growth happening. I was so happy to see those signs that they were going to be ok.

And then, not even one week later we decided we needed to move to the Northwest to care for family. When I got out of the car after that trip and saw my beautiful little trees, I wept. Who would be there to care for them? They aren’t nearly established enough to possibly even remotely survive on their own. But once again, family stepped in and saved the day. My mom says that she’s willing to go up a couple times a week to water them. That means hauling a 5 gallon container of water up to the property with her, lugging it out of the car, waiting while one tree is watered, more lugging to get to the other tree, more waiting, then heading home. We appreciate her so very much! And now those little trees can grow and thrive, even while we’re gone, and when we move back we’ll have full fledged apple trees. Thanks, Mom!

Update: Mom sent me a picture on 4/17/15 and the trees were blooming! It was so amazing to see that they had survived the rest of that summer and the winter.

20150417_113450

And they survived the whole summer of 2015, too! Mom and God watered them as needed. Though they did get a bit stressed, they made it through. Sounds like my own personal journey. 🙂 So far this winter (2015/16), they are getting plenty of moisture through rain and snow, so that’s a very good thing. And hopefully by this summer we’ll be moved back to care for them ourselves (hey, I can dream, can’t I?).

Oh, and I DID get to eat an apple from our tree!

20140811_141343

The girls and I went back a month after our move for my cousin’s wedding. The apple was small and tart, but oh, so delicious! We didn’t have any apples in 2015 since there was a late freeze that came through and froze all the blossoms off everything. No one got any fruit last year. But, that’s life in the high desert. Hubby and I have plans in our heads of how to protect our fruit trees in the future. But first we have to BE there in order to do the protecting. One step at a time!