I didn’t sleep well on Thursday night.
To be completely honest, I had been so concerned about damage to the house (minimal) and truck (pretty bad) that I hadn’t even thought about my garden until one of my friends asked about it.
And then I had a flashback to the disaster in last year’s garden, when two days after planting everything we had a huge storm come through and wash all the seeds out of place, and then half of them didn’t sprout. Ugh. Only our garden this year is about 20 times bigger, fully planted over the course of two days, and I was sick over the thought of redoing all that work.
Needless to say, it was destination number one on Friday morning.
Thankfully the rows were all still intact, which meant that the seed should still be in place in the marked hills.
Not so great – the tomato plants were gone. Like they had never been planted. The onions were chopped off about 4 inches from the ground, their beautiful green tops massacred. And the potatoes plants were just stems. No leaves.
It made me sad.
I had to put that aside though, because we still had a ton of fencing to install, and now repair, also. Several rails had holes from the hail. Initially it was just defeating to think that we were going to have to cut out those rails and replace them, but we did find a tutorial on repair for vinyl fencing. So that cheered us up a bit.
The downside of the buckets of rain was that the ground was now a soupy mess, so instead of wearing down the auger bits we had to fight to keep the auger from getting stuck in the ground. Talk about trading one problem for another!
The good news was that once Party Boy learned how to finesse the auger in the mud we made much faster progress, finishing the back fence and about 2/3 of the west side fence.
No pictures today…
As predicted, Thursday brought rain-heavy clouds and muggy warm temperatures. We proceeded to the back of the property and began to work on the post holes there, still taking about 30 minutes per hole because the ground was just that hard.
I kept a watchful eye on the sky and my favorite weather app – Weather Underground. Most of the rain was missing us and going to the north. Some thunder but no lightning, so we were able to just keep working.
The funny thing about augers is that they have bits. They’re like a giant drill and the drilling edges at the bottom that start the hole in the ground have a tendency to dull when drilling in ground like ours. We didn’t know this, but learned the hard way (as we are often wont to do). Thankfully, Tractor Supply is nearby and stocks auger bits. Along with tons of other fun country-life-type stuff. As the designated errand person I had already made a run to the closest Tractor Supply and bought their last auger bits. The next closest was 20 miles away and we desperately needed new bits.
The auger was so worn down that we weren’t making any progress and there was other stuff that Party Boy wanted to look for, so he and I packed up and headed out to Tractor Supply.
We got our auger bits. And a few other things that he needed.
On the way home, the weather took a turn for the worse.
The funny thing about Texas is that most of our worst storms tend to develop in the late afternoon and evening. And Thursday’s weather had provided the perfect cocktail of ingredients to unleash our first severe storm of the season.
As we were driving home a severe thunderstorm with some circulation passed our house only 5 miles to the north. It was scary, but we made it home and got packed in for the evening.
And then, it hit.
In all my life, mostly spent in Texas, I have never experienced the type of hail that we got when round two rolled through our town.
It started like a normal hail storm. You could see pellets hitting the ground about every 5-10 seconds. And then? Then it seemed as if the sky opened up and in the course of 5 minutes dumped more hail on us than I have ever seen. At 65 miles per hour.
That’s the pile of hail off our roof in our front flower bed.
And that’s Party Boy’s truck. Being pelted. Normally his truck is parked in the garage. But, remember the concrete delivery? The concrete that was currently occupying his space in the garage? Yeah.
The rainbow. Also the river of rainwater flowing down to the neighbor’s pond. That now also contains the remnants of his chair and his bird house.
Not pictured: 24 now destroyed tomato plants, 150 onion plants that appeared to be victim to a weed whacker, and 15 potato plants that looked like they had been victimized by a gang of marauding rabbits. Also, the trees that had their bark peeled from their trunks by the hail and the brand new vinyl fence rails now bearing holes where it looked like they were shot.
But, as my Dad likes to say, everyone was safe. Things can be replaced, but people can’t. We’d just have to deal with aftermath on Friday.
I decided at the end of last year (October-ish) that weekly spreads weren’t working for me so much anymore. I wasn’t keeping up and it was getting harder and harder to fill the journaling with fuzzy memories of what we might have been doing. And then of course, came the weeks with only a couple of pictures. It was causing so much stress.
So I quit, and rolled it all into a monthly spread. I much prefer having too much for the two page spread than not enough. I can always make another page for the missing stories, but filling in with fluff is not my thing!
I kept up with the monthly spread this year, and thought I would share the first quarter’s layouts today.
Wednesday was a much happier day than Tuesday at the start. With the auger back and properly attached to the tractor we (okay, Party Boy – I don’t get to excited about these things) were extra hopeful that we could make some real progress on the fence.
We started out by setting the three remaining corner posts. It was a long job that took most of the morning thanks to the very fine clay soil that we are
blessed lucky tolerating having on our property. When it is wet it’s like a slimy, slippery mess. And when it dries it’s like stone. Neither are conducive to drilling post holes, and you almost have to wait for a good soaking rain and then be available to work the dirt 3 days later, when it is optimal for any kind of digging. And we didn’t have that luxury.
Since we knew that the bolt had broken because the auger got bound up we were being careful and taking it slowly. And each post hole was taking about 30 minutes to dig. Then another 20 minutes or so to set the post and we got two posts done by the time I needed to run out for some supplies and an early lunch.
I came back and had to sit in front of the house for about 20 minutes while the Lowe’s delivery put two full pallets of concrete in our garage. While I was waiting MOTS came out to sit in the truck – she’s the designated helper in my absence for her Dad – and she started regaling me with the tale of how they put the post closest to the house in and how it’s so close to the house that you can’t slide paper between the post and the house and on and on.
There’s no secrets in this family.
As soon as I got the car parked I went and looked. Party Boy came up behind me and with an embarassed grin asked me what I thought.
I thought I wasn’t sure how he got the post that close. I also thought it was a good thing that I wasn’t home when he drilled that hole.
But it was done.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent drilling more holes, installing more posts and finally starting to install some rails. By the time I left for church we had a pretty good run of posts in.
Please ignore the wonky third rail on the right. I wasn’t home to supervise the initial installation and there were technical difficulties. But I was too excited about the visible progress that I had to take that picture.
We had a fence!
I cleaned up and left for church with MOTS and Chaos. Hollywood had been sick, so she stayed home.
While I was gone Party Boy managed to finish the run at the front of the west side of the property, which meant that on Thursday we could work on the back property line.
To be honest, Tuesday dawned a little bleak. The weather was beautiful, but we just weren’t sure that we would be able to find enough to do to fill up a full week of vacation without that auger.
Still, we headed out to the backyard to get busy on what we could do.
To prep the are along our back fence line we had to trim a tree and also cut down a couple of others altogether. That left us with a massive amount of trees and large limbs laying around the yard needing to be dealt with, so that was our first mission.
We started cutting the larger limbs and trunks into firewood sized pieces for the fire pit we plan on building (maybe later this spring?). Those got piled together and then the branches and brush got thrown on the burn pile.
The whole time we were working there was a little quail running around squawking and being the dense humans that we are, we just ignored her more or less.
In the middle of that job the concrete guys starting knocking down the berm on the side of our house that they’d be using for fill dirt, along with the half-dead trees that occupied it. So Party Boy went to assist with the hauling off of those trees and I kept moving brush. I didn’t go up to help with the other stuff, because the last time I worked in that area I got a massive case of poison ivy.
We broke for lunch and then went back out to our original work when I saw them.
Quail eggs. Completely exposed. We think that she had laid her eggs under a large branch, that we had of course moved, cut up, and carried off. We felt so bad! We covered it back up and hoped that she wouldn’t abandon the nest. Both birds were keeping a careful eye on us from near the neighbor’s pond, so we tried to steer clear as best we could. No wonder she’d been so panicked and running around. She was trying to lead us away!
We continued cleaning up when Party Boy got a call from the tractor place saying that auger was ready to go! And they closed in 30 minutes. And they’re 28 minutes away.
We high-tailed it to the truck and raced over there, pulling in at 5:29. Turns out there’s a little bolt that is designed to give if the auger jams in order to protect the transmission. They replaced the bolt and we were good to go. We also grabbed a couple more bolts and some spray for the garden (to combat fire ants in the vegetable garden, so it had to be organic and safe).
Stopped at Lowe’s again on the way home and then ate dinner and grabbed dinner for the kids.
I can’t tell you how excited Party Boy was about getting the fence back on track!
Last week Party Boy took the week off. He had one goal in mind for his vacation week – fence our property.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. (with respects to Charles Dickens, of course)
On Monday, he practically leaped out of bed and promptly crowed that he had let me sleep in. Til 7. It was nice, I’ll admit, but it didn’t scream VACATION, ya know? We dressed for work and went out to the back to start unpacking the fence pieces that had arrived a couple of weeks back.
It also happened that we had gotten permission (finally!) from both the city and the HOA to start construction on Party Boy’s new workshop. As we were getting outside the concrete crew arrived to start dirt work on the foundation. He met with them and then we were off to dig post holes and set corner posts for the fence.
He bought an auger for the tractor especially for this job, though I imagine we’ll use it quite a bit for planting the mini orchard that we have planned, among other jobs in the future. That auger made the job so much easier and faster than hand digging. And considering that we were digging over 100 post holes? Yeah, not doing that by hand.
Anyway, we got the first three corner/end posts set and were drilling the fourth when something snapped and the auger quit working.
Seriously, I thought the week had just gone down the drain.
We loaded up the whole thing – no small feat consider how long it takes to get that thing on and off the tractor, which involves a block of wood, a grease gun, and a rubber mallet – into the bed of the truck and drove it back into town for repair. They couldn’t really estimate when it might get looked at, but probably not for a couple of days.
On a happy note, the tractor store had chicks!
I texted the picture to MOTS who begged me to bring them home, even offering to build a tiny yard of chicken wire to house them. No go…
We spent some time on the drive home discussing how we’d be able to salvage the week. Stopped at Lowe’s to gather some random supplies, then picked up lunch.
I was hopeful we could salvage his week off and still get some work done. He was less convinced.
We spent the better part of the afternoon planting half the garden and determining the property line for the final corner post (if we got our auger back).
Party Boy ordered a vinyl fence, post and rail, to be delivered. So, the night before the expected delivery he was calling me from the airport to see if I had heard anything – I hadn’t. A while later my phone rings, and the conversation goes a little like this:
Duck Dynasty Delivery Guy: Howdy. I’m delivering your fence tomorrow.
Me: Oh good! We were wondering about that…
3DG: How you gonna unload this stuff anyway?
Me: Ummmmm… A little bit at a time, I guess. Not sure how it is packaged?
3DG: Nope, no can do. You have a forklift?
Me: No. It’s our house, we don’t have a forklift. We do have a tractor, I guess we could use the front end loader to lift stuff off.
3DG: That might work. Or, do you have a tree or a post?
Me: (confused.) Yes… But I don’t…
3DG: Great! We can just tie it off to the tree and drive off from underneath it!
The next day, I left to go get lunch and get diesel for the tractor. I had told Party Boy about my discussion with the delivery guy the night before and he had laughed and shaken his head. He was convinced that there was another way or that the guy was joking with me.
When I came back, two very happy men with long beards (one of which looked a lot like Uncle Si) were driving out of my driveway and they happily waved and drove off. Party Boy was standing in the driveway holding the delivery receipt and looking a bit shell-shocked. The fence material was stacked neatly, suspiciously near a tree in our backyard.
Me: They tied off to that tree and pulled the trailer out from underneath it, didn’t they.
PB: Yeah. There were a tense couple of minutes when it looked like it wouldn’t budge, but then they got traction and it just slid right off.
Me: Told ya.
I can’t make this stuff up.