Yesterday I attempted to get a bunch of things on my to-do list off. Filed my income tax, paid some bills, made some phone calls seeking information. Like, where can I get a kitchen compost bin for free/cheap? Where can I get topsoil cheap? When is the local sawmill open and what do they charge for the lumber I want? Can I borrow a gardening book from a neighbour today? Unlike many, I want to get on the flyer list, not off, and for the second time I phoned in a request to get on. I guess that is so unusual that they didn't believe me the first time.
Largely the info calls were unsuccessful, although after a fourth try I did get someone at the sawmill who told me to just drop by and pick up the lumber I wanted. I forgot to ask if they took credit cards (most likely they do but I just wanted to make sure) so I thought I'd drop by the bank for some cash in case they didn't. And since the post office was next door to the bank, I'd check my mail while I was at it. Here, we don't get door-to-door delivery, but have mailboxes at the post office.
Anyway, I was successful getting cash at the bank, but there was no mail for me. And when I got to the sawmill, the owner's wife told me "the boys" were in the woods and due back any time so I could wait if I wanted. After a few minutes of chatting and looking at various dusty knick-knacks around the office (handmade by customers) I said I was going down the road for tea at a friend's and could she call me when the boys showed up.
When I arrived at my friend's place she called a neighbour who whisked over and we all sat down to tea and biscuits with my friend's fine china given to her by her husband's grandmother. After a half hour or so of chatter about this that and t'other thing, I got the call from the sawmill lady, the boys were back and whenever I was finished at tea I could come on by.
Another half hour of chat and tea and I drove back to the sawmill. The owner met me on the driveway in and directed me to follow him and his giant black dog down a very muddy road behind the mill, across a creek and up the hill into a field. He pointed to a muddy wet pile of 2'x8's under a blackberry bush and told me I could take whatever I needed from that. The planks were all about 7' long, perfect for my needs, except I wanted some of them cut in half. He told me to pick out what I wanted and take the planks needing cutting to "the young feller" at the mill and he'd cut them up for me.
I wasn't sure but I gathered that he was giving me the planks, they were scrap to him, but I thought asking his young feller to cut them up was probably pushing the limits of free. Anyway, I picked out twelve planks and drove back to the mill and asked the not-so-young feller to cut four of them in half for me, which he did.
I then drove back to the sawmill office to offer payment for the job. The giant black dog bounded out from the sawmill and stood in the road in front of me, I couldn't pass him and he showed no inclination to move. Finally he spotted his master walking toward the office and slowly turned to follow him, allowing me to do the same.
When I went into the office the sawmill owner charged me $2.00 "nuisance fee". I only had $1.75 so he took that. I want to build four garden bed frames and these planks are enough to do that, $1.75 plus gas is a not-bad price.
I have an abundant source of free horse manure, some of which I have already shovelled into garbage bins awaiting the frames. I will lay down some of the cardboard from my moving boxes, put the frames on top and the manure inside. I will also need straw and topsoil, I don't expect to get a deal on the topsoil so that will be the expensive item. But I am hoping that I will only need to get topsoil once, the manure should be rotted enough by next year to not need any more store-bought topsoil. I will not use all of the garden frames this year, some of them I am starting for use next year.
On our trip down The Valley when Josh and Kim and Eva were here I noticed a small shop that sold old wooden windows; I was thinking I'd go back and pick up a few for use as cold frames, maybe my garden frames could do double duty.
I have also joined the Acadia Community Farm to get a small allotment out on the dykes and hopefully some experience and advice from fellow gardeners. The Farm has a small field divided in half, one half for personal allotments and one half for a community garden producing food for the local food bank and the university dining hall (the field is on university land). Every member is required to put in time in the community garden in addition to work on their own allotment garden. I look forward to the allotment as a great learning experience and a decent-sized garden space ready-made. In the meantime I can start a few things at home in one of the garden frames and have the rest of the frames developing for next year.
Josh and I were looking at the playset in the back yard while he was here and he suggested turning it into a greenhouse. It faces the wrong way for a greenhouse, but it could work. I am debating whether I really need a playset for grandchildren who live thousands of kilometres away, or would I be better served with a greenhouse. I'm leaning toward greenhouse.
It's A-frame shaped, so a few planks and some heavy-duty plastic thrown over the whole thing will turn it into a decent greenhouse I think. Maybe some strawbales around the base. The straw will help insulate and will generate heat as it rots, or so the theory goes.
And that will be one less plot of back yard that doesn't need mowing. My real goal in all this is to greatly reduce the amount of lawn mowing I need to do.
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