Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is it spring yet? Never mind summer.

Another week of typical confused Michigan weather: days in the 70s, then 50s (same day), and almost 2 inches of rain after a couple very dry weeks. We dodged a frost by 2 degrees last night, and the next few nights could be touchy. Right now, I'm very thankful for living on a slope. Our cold air tends to slide right across the road to the neighbor's. A friend thinks it's going to be a cool spring, good for brassicas and spinach. I guess I can live with that.

The rain brought the pond back up after it had dried to mud. It's only about as big as a bedroom, but last year we had frog and toad cacophonies, I mean choruses, for weeks. So far this year, it's been spring peepers and a couple nights have been warm enough for gray tree frogs. The ducks are happy again. They don't seem interested in nesting, but they love to scarf up seed from under the bird feeders.

The garden is pretty much in; it's still too cold to put out the basil and peppers. We went permaculture this year, following the keyhole garden strategy outlined in Gaia's Garden. While digging one of the circles, my spade hit something hard. (Damn!) After several more hits, we got curious. Turned out to be an old septic tank! That explains the chunks of black plastic pipe I kept digging up. No sign of water, so I'm assuming it's an old tank.

In homesteading, I've come to realize that everything you have is an asset! The lead pellets and blocks and wheel balancing weights I found are actually trade items for a muzzleloader hunter. The old doors covered with lead paint can be sliced up into covers for a cold frame. Maybe I should paint over the lead first. Still working on what to do with the 2 dryers left behind in the pole barn. Any ideas? The motors ought to be good for something.

In keeping with this philosophy, the newly discovered septic tank became an in-ground cistern for collecting rainwater! All I need to do is lift the lid, clean it out, run a couple downspouts into it, drill a hole in the lid and fit it with a hand pump from Lehman's catalog, and we'll be all set to water the garden all through those dry Julys. Add some filters and we could drink it! That all sounds soooo easy.

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