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July through September, 2009

Landscape Mode

As part our continuing landscaping efforts, we decided to order a load of topsoil and work on the area immediately east of the Main House. These big trucks can deliver 16 cubic yards more quickly and economically than the 5 round trips it would take with our dump trailer.

When it comes to spreading a lot of topsoil, having neighbors with big toys turns days of hard work into a one hour spectator sport event.

Once the topsoil was spread, we seeded the area and set up sprinklers. After two weeks, sprouts of new grass can be seen. The new grass will have at least two months to get established before Winter sets in. At left of the house is the grass we planted last Fall. At right of the house is stone we placed on a slope that drains the front of the house. At far right is the slope we hydroseeded last Fall; it will need more topsoil. The red truck is delivering large boulders to be used to landscape the slope below the South Patio.

Over the Summer, Gary (with a little help from Dan and Jennie) shoveled over 4 cubic yards of soil out of this area to expose and fix a leak. Then he shoveled in 4 cubic yards of gravel to replace the soil, with two layers of plastic to direct water away from the most likely leak areas. Any moisture getting below the plastic will quickly drain through the gravel and below the leak areas. The final layer was covered by one cubic yard of decorative rock. This area gets blasted by wind currents, so we decided to put in something that would not blow away! We will put in more moss rock later.

A major project for this Summer was terracing the steep slope extending down from the South Patio. Here, our landscapers discuss the rough terracing they have done with their heavy equipment.

The terracing will consist of retaining walls built from lichen-covered boulders and timbers left over from construction of the house. This was one of the easier placements; other placements required the heavy equipment to sit at an alarming angle. Of course, the boulder serves as a counter-balance; the interesting part comes when the boulder is unhooked.

We had no delusions landscaping would be finished by the time we hosted the Cork and Fork kick-off party. People like our house for these events because it has a very open architecture inside with easy access outside to the large South Patio, making it easy for people to circulate. The weather was pleasant, so many people chose to sit outside. Around 8:00PM the weather further aided the hosts by issuing sudden gusts and threats of rain that chased everyone home.

The party's over; back to landscaping.... It was perhaps inevitable equipment would get stuck. The operating characteristics of skid steer machines causes them to dig up the terrain. In this case, the slope gave way and the machine slid over sideways, threatening to roll. They had to call in the excavator to rescue it from the brink.


This month, we were visited by Wanda, Wanda Jo and Frances (Gary's mother, cousin and cousin's husband), who passed through on the way to and from Kansas. Jan (Pauline's sister) and husband Mike came to visit at the end of September; they arrived from England very late on the 28th, enjoyed a fine day of mid-70's weather on the 29th and several inches of fresh snow on the 30th. They will be staying to mid-October so may have a chance so see our fine Fall weather.


Sidebars

Parting Shot
Pine Bark Beetle



Pine Bark Beetles have been attacking pine trees throughout North America. This year, evidence of infestation finally showed up on our property. In mid-June, the tree pictured above looked healthy (look for it just left of top center). By late August it was clearly at death's door. We suspect all but the smallest pines have been infected (apparently, the beetles prefer larger trees). This Winter, we will cut down the unsightly ones and leave a couple of the larger ones to become snags. 99% of our trees are Douglas Fir and are unaffected by this beetle, so our forest won't be wiped out. However, the density of pines increases as one goes up the canyon, and there are large areas of dead trees there.


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