Sunday, May 16, 2010

how does your hoopy house grow

So this year, after a decade of all-but-failed attempts at gardening, I decided to build a hoop house - or as my friend calls it, a hoopy house. I've been researching and collecting materials for it for months now and spent the last two weeks installing the thing. It's built out of 3/4" pvc pipe and 6ml visquine. I built the boxes out of rough-cut, which I know I will have to replace later, but it was the thing to do for this year. I built the frame and put the plastic up a week or so ago, so the ground below has been warming (thawing) ahead of the outer ground, which is still frozen pretty much solid. I tilled the earth below the raised beds and took out as much of the fireweed roots and debris as I could.
As I was doing this, I discovered planks and wire - evidence that former residents had worked this same soil at one time. One of the planks lined up exactly with the spot I was putting my boards down along. Eerie.
Last week, I finally managed to get a load of fishy peat delivered - which is extravagant, but now that I realize how much soil I have, I'm glad I did it. It would have taken forever with the pick-up. It did take quite a bit of doing to transport the dirt from the road, where I had it unloaded, to the hoopy house - I did this by loading up a sled a zillion times and dragging it across the 3 feet of snow and then the melted new exterior garden area. It took more than 20 trips, but worked pretty well, actually. By noon, the soil was in place, Thea and Liam had finally given up trying to extract food or attention from me and had immersed themselves in a mud puddle, and the sun was shining on the whole operation Saturday. So when Thea went down for her nap, I decided to plant. Starts and seeds flew, and pretty soon, the beds were full. It was a beautiful sight and one I'd been working toward for months. Liam was pretty excited, too, pitching in with putting the starts in the holes and watering after me. We'll see how it goes from here, but so far, it looks good.
The chickens, however, are another story. I had several die last week from some strange nervous system disorder, and many more were walking funny. So I asked at the store where I bought them and was recommended some vitamin powder. Got the powder, and then misread the mixing instructions, which resulted in feeding the birds some obviously toxic drink. It took me a day to catch on, and I lost 4 more yesterday and today and at least two more are on their way out. I think I will buy 10 more as soon as I get this lot outside and see if I can do a better job the second time around. Liam was quite upset about it all today - said he didn't like to see animals hurting and dying. I said I agreed with him, though we were eventually going to kill them to eat them. He said he understood that, but this was different. We'll see. Thea had a different reaction - she was all empathy, wanting to help care for the birds, etc. It was very interesting to see.
This was the first week of the new summer schedule, where I have them every other weekend and Wed-Friday each week, so five days one week, three the next - in theory. This week was a 5-day week, and I quite enjoyed having the crew for a longer stretch of time. I got a chance to relax into a routine with them more, and we had a lot of fun, though much of it was stolen moments between projects and work. We did go to a marimba concert on Friday night at Liam's school, which was awesome. Thea danced her socks off, literally, and Liam got so overheated from running around the school breakdancing that I had to make him sit a song out and cool off. Youzers.
I've really noticed Thea's intellectual development shifting the past couple weeks - she seems to be developing more of an imagination - I see a lot more creativity in her play, and her sense of humor, which has always been at the forefront, has also expanded. She just loves getting a laugh.
This is Liam's last full week of school before he shifts over to his summer schedule. It's going to be nice to have a more relaxed morning, and I won't miss having to drive to McNeil every morning for the next three months, that's for sure. But he gets so much from school, I worry about him being stimulated enough. He got to tour the first grade classroom last Friday and you should have HEARD the steady stream of information about this new level he gave me when he got off the bus. I've rarely heard him that excited, but you could tell he was looking forward to the challenge. I'm excited for him. Onward and upward.

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