So we had our TV – less home invaded by two adults and three kids (aged 4 to 10) for the weekend – Hubby’s brother and his family. I say invaded, but really, we were absolutely delighted to have them. They drove all day to come and help us dig holes and plant things and cut down trees and bushes. They said they wanted to do some ‘real work’ for awhile. And take pictures of their kids doing ‘country’ things like building forts and planting trees. The kids were pretty disappointed that we did not have chickens or goats yet, but made do with the house pets. One of our dogs outweighs any two of the kids put together, but by the end of the weekend, even the littlest one could boss her around – the pooches soaked up all the attention. The cats were less impressed, and mostly hid out, but that just gave the kids a new thing to stave off boredom – cat stalking.
The weather co-operated, sort of. It was clear and sunny, and sweltering – almost thirty degrees Celsius on Sunday. Not ideal for yard work, but certainly better than cold and rainy.
On Saturday, I grabbed my hand pruners to cut a couple of eyeball – poking – height dead branches from the crab apple tree. Five minutes later, I was searching for pruning shears for two kids to help. Twenty minutes after that, their mom came out with the bow saw, and by the end of the morning, we had cleared a big, gorgeous area under a maple tree that had been completely obscured by caraganas and lilacs. It took hours and hours, and our sister-in-law spent even more time cleaning up the ground and raking everything out. It was not a job we had planned to tackle, but it is much appreciated – now we’ll have a shady spot to kick back with beverages on those thirty-degree days. Sis says it is her housewarming gift to us, and I can’t think of anything I would have liked better!
Meanwhile, the boys (all three of them) dug post holes. The little guy was really enthusiastic about digging, and motivated the adults to keep at it, which was an accomplishment all in itself. While Hubby was digging by himself, one of the ground squirrels came by to tell him off, and was so busy watching Hubby while it ran that it fell in one of the post holes. That one was good for a laugh!
The kids were fascinated by the hummingbirds at the feeder, and the littlest one would holler every time one came to have a drink. “Hummingbird! Hummingbird! Hey. guys, come see the…oh, it’s gone now…” It was pretty cute.
Somewhere along the way, I wanted to identify a couple of plants that I was wondering about. I had my wild plant book and a ten year old shadow, and we wandered off into the woods beside the house. it turned out that yes, in fact, we do have stinging nettles, and also tons of chokecherries and possibly wild gooseberries or currants, though I will have to see them bloom to be sure. We also disturbed a frog. Instead of shrieking and being grossed out, my niece tried to catch it. When she couldn’t, she asked me to help. We dragged the poor little guy in and set him in a jar on the windowsill until suppertime, when we let him go again.
Having kids around really brought back memories of my own summers on my Auntie’s acreage when I was a kid. I hope they had as much fun as I always did.
I was also very impressed at how little water an extra five people used. Now, this family has been on missions to third world countries where water is precious, and know all about conservation, but really, the five of them used less water than the two of us usually do. They did, however, eat more than we had accounted for. After going through a loaf and a half of bread and a whole box of cereal by the end of the first day, we made a quick run into town for groceries. It would have been less of a deal if the weather had been cool, and we could cook on the stove without heating the house too much, but in this weather, we were kind of down to sandwiches and cut veggies.
We accomplished a lot over the weekend. The boys finished digging all of the post holes for the goat yard, and started putting the posts in, as well. They also dug a bunch of holes for our latest delivery of trees and bushes, and my sister-in-law and I planted blueberries, currants, blackberries, hazelnuts, cherries, apricots, apples, pears, and a plum. I now have four big circular flower beds in the front lawn, though they mostly won’t hold flowers this year – we never got around to building the raised beds for the strawberries, so they are living in the flower beds with the roses. It will actually probably be quite pretty. Brother-in-law figured out how to get one of the painted-shut windows open, and we took down storm windows and hung screens for the summer. Hubby and I also put in fifty asparagus plants and a couple of rhubarb roots. Those ones looked kind of dead, so we will see if they actually grow or not. Sister-in-law and the kids moved most of the brush pile for the kids to build a fort with – ‘coincidentally’ in the spot where we had wanted to move the brush pile to. Then there was a lot of pruning, and clearing the sitting area. All in all, I am not sure if they will want to come back, with all the work we made them do, but it moved us forward by weeks on the digging, planting, and building, and we are very grateful for that.
Of course, now the forecast is for frost tonight, so it appears that planting out the peppers and tomatoes was, in fact, premature. Oh, well – we’ll find some old sheets and towels, I guess…
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