Necessary and Unnecessary Tasks

It’s been almost two years since we first saw the farm and about six months of full time living on the farm. This was our first spring of being able to see a lot of the hidden dogwoods and some different ground flowers. The wildflower seeds sown last year seem to do be doing better this year (wild violets and Star of Bethlehem). Our older, larger dogwood trees have flowers with some little streaks of dark pink around the edges. While it gives the tree a pale pink tinge, it may also be a sign of anthracnose (disease). American dogwoods seem prone to a number of diseases. We may look for some Asian dogwoods to plant as they are hardier and not susceptible to disease. The Asian dogwoods look just like the American dogwoods but bloom about a month later.

We are able to enjoy spring in a more leisurely fashion because the pond builder has done a lot of clearing work the last twenty months. We still have endless weekends ahead of tidying up the forests but the clearing tasks do not seem as pressing. Our focus this year will be the construction of the new koi pond. Our friends Felicia and Carl threw a spring fling koi event in their backyard, bringing in a koi dealer for live koi and equipment. Necessary task: We had preordered the aerated bottom drains which need to be in the ground before concrete is poured. Unnecessary but cool: a new measuring board for the koi and a large measuring tub for the koi. Felicia assured me I could fit in this tub as well. The large black measuring board is in centimeters and inches. Some of our koi shows determine size categories with centimeters so I really did need one…

Very necessary task: meeting the concrete contractor. I am hopeful that the concrete work will be scheduled in a few weeks. He’s vey enthusiastic about concrete and has given us ideas about how we can use concrete. Lots of unnecessary ideas for now but maybe in the future e.g. a bridge, a treehouse, decorative stamped and or colored concrete. I could see having his number at the top of our random projects list. We do need to decide soon where the equipment area will be and what kind of future pergola footings might go in now. While the best place for the equipment would be in the middle of the long side, I would prefer my equipment on the short side. We are also thinking about the landscaping and I might try to create some hilly terrain rather than flat.

Part of our forest cleanup includes moving out woodpiles that the former owners had created. Neatly stacked and covered with tarps, we have several woodpiles on the property. This is one of the woodpiles we moved over the winter and the large gray tarp was partially in the ground so we left it there. Necessary task: I asked the pond builder to get rid of the tarp while I went to the Farmers Market on Saturday. While at the market, I received a text – “Animal living under the tarp. Going to borrow your shotgun.” I was worried it was a skunk because for the last two weeks we have definitely smelled Pepe le pew in this area. Pond builder put two shells into the tarp and also into a den like looking hole at the base of the tree. Saw some animal run away but not sure if it was a skunk. I have renamed this unpleasant spot in the gully ‘skunk hollow.’ I also found the source of our lovely odor – an owl or buzzard must have dropped a skunk. It was mostly gone and recognizable only from some of the leftover black and white fur, some bones and that smell. Unnecessary task – shooting a shotgun shell or two into an empty den. Rob N. – the shotgun is lovely. Very light, little kickback and not too noisy. Did we really need to shoot at an empty hole? Maybe not but it was fun.

Necessary task: Tall dead trees close to where we walk and drive our vehicles need to come down. Pond builder spent about ten minutes calculating if he could drop a very tall dead pine into the pasture (preferred) or find an angle back into the forest without killing live trees. The dead pine had a little curve to it at the base making it somewhat unpredictable. I’m always nervous being the watcher as he notches the tree and then starts the final cut. He did a good job with this tree and we only lost one young black walnut tree.

Unnecessary task: an outdoor tree stump table. Here’s one of those random tasks that I enjoy. Some cedar boards were rough milled and I used them to create a round top for a large stump. It will probably be a nice place for a squirrel to enjoy his black walnuts. Some day when my Sango Kaku maples are large and provide some shade in the area, I can set my drink and snacks on the table. I’m sure I’ll be making some more random tree stump tables on the property.

Slightly unnecessary task – growing ramps. My daughter has a friend who is pursuing a masters in something like food research and is quite an expert when it comes to ramps. I had never heard of them and it turns out they are quite the foodie item. So I now have a brand new box waiting for some bulbs from Etsy. I also bought some seeds which should be planted in the fall. I’m going to try some of them in the box right away, the rest in the fall. Very stubborn germinators. On Easter Sunday, we were at a James Beard nominated restaurant in Asheville, NC and they had ramps on the menu. They are only in season for about four weeks and delicious.

Super necessary task – running water hoses out to the tea garden and the squash garden in Nadine’s pasture. When you have a lot of space, it seems easy to just put a hügelkutur box anywhere or plant a new garden … BUT they’re not always near a water source. So I’m driving around with a 30 gallon watering tank and it literally took me hours to do some of the new growing areas. (I’m also kind of slow and inefficient.) Now I have some lines hooked up to splitters and sprinklers which cuts down my watering time significantly.

Kind of necessary task – making another hügelkultur box. Do we need it, no…but it’s very close to the house, like steps away from the breezeway. I have put in some tomatoes and basil for easy access when I feel too lazy to walk to the main garden. It would be a nice place for some cool weather greens as well. I think we need to think of some other projects for our rough milled wood. We are currently using an Alaskan portable sawmill system but having a larger, semi-permanent sawmill might be on our Christmas list…

Kind of necessary task – repotting cedars and pines. We have a number of cedar and pine seedlings on the property and some of them are never going to be allowed to grow where they are trying, or just won’t make it. So I have started a project to dig out the little guys, have them grow in the vegetable garden all summer and replant them this fall in places that we would like new cedar or pine stands. The growth rate is ten to twenty years depending on if the tree happens to be a fast or slow grower. A long term project but something to look forward to on my 80th birthday.

We love having the space to try out new projects. Our farm is like puttering around in your garden or workshop, just on a slightly larger scale. We just need to be a little more thoughtful about starting projects that don’t add to our weekly maintenance list. 😂


  1. Barb Wescott Black says:

    Hi Lori,
    I love reading and following your Koi stories. What an adventure. We don’t live too far away, so someday we just might check out your Southern “retirement life”. Be well, barb black

    1. lorivertin says:

      I hope you do!

Comments are closed.