Here is the front lawn in spring ’22. Now we see that all of our work last year is worth all of the effort. Pete has just mowed so I went out to take pictures showing how the grass seed grew in quite well.
Not all drainage problems are dealt with yet at the base of the rock walls but the largest majority of it is so much better now. Above is an example showing how much better the erosion is controlled where the grass is planted vs bare ground.
In the middle is our own “grassy knoll” pun intended. I put dead furrows on the downward slope of this hump of dirt between the trees. Wildflower seed is planted there but not yet sprouted. I transplanted extra flowers, mostly red poppies, from the garden in rows also.
You can see that one breakthrough in water drainage occurred after last night’s rain. It made a gulch right down the center of the mound. The seed and tiny transplants only can hold so much. Everything that can be done is complete at this point. Now, we will have to wait for the warmth of summer to help get things sprouting, growing, and holding the soil in place.
We begin to add dirt and seed after the rock walls are complete. Here is how it looked from the porch on the basement level. It took all summer long to make the rock retaining walls and fill in the area behind them for our front yard. Pete ended up doing the most of this work as I simply worked the garden below. The fall weather began to tell us to get moving a bit faster as we noticed winter getting ready to kick-in full blast.
It will not be a level yard but it will be a lot more gradual slope, giving us room to enjoy ourselves in front of the house. Peter back blades smooth the fill dirt and the surface begins to take shape. What a change. The next step is lots and lots of hand raking to smooth it all out. We scatter 25 pounds of grass seed and fertilizer (16-16-16) evenly over the dirt. The seed just started springing up before the cold of winter closed everything down. Spring of 2022 will tell us if we did it right. Having a lawn in this front yard should reduce the amount of erosion around the house due to uncontrolled drainage.
The west rock wall will be sloping down to our driveway when it is all done. Landscaping-wise, it starts off looking somewhat unremarkable with the first rows laid. The base has the largest boulders that the tractor can move. What is unexpected is that the rocks are placed with their longest sides laid flat for increased stability. The rise in height is slower this way, but the goal is to put enough strength and weight in the structure to withstand nature.
See the large flat stone at the end on the right? This was pulled into place with a chain across the hill. There are intentional gaps in the wall allowing for drainage. Remember, no one wins a war against nature. Water always wins, so it is important to invite it to a place you want it to go. With this view, you can see how the land has natural rock outcroppings stepping up the hill. A lower 10-foot rise where we are building the rock walls and another 10-foot rise behind next to the house, that we have made into a rock garden.
This process took all summer long to complete two walls last year. It was not a job that was hired out to a landscaper as we sat drinking tea on the deck and watched. You don’t have to be rich, just be willing to go out every day and get dirty and sweaty. Nose to the grind-stone. We can do almost anything if we have the where-with-all to put the effort out and the stick-to-it to finish it.
Before we can fill for the lawn landscaping we have to try to level out the existing area. You know, push the high spots into the low spots and discover where there are rocks. We have a plethora of boulders at the Woelk’s in Elk. They vary in size from human pickup-able to nothing short of dynamite can move me.
There are two majestic firs in the middle that have a large mound of dirt between them. We have to leave this dirt so our main water line remains at least 5 feet below grade or we will have broken water pipes in the winter. The building code calls for 4 feet of cover but we have learned the hard way over the years to go the extra foot. Fixing a water line in freezing conditions is not a fun way to spend a day.
Peter discovers a dynamite daring boulder on the south side of our house. It is bigger than our Kubota and will simply remain right there. Our landscape will incorporate that into the rock garden above. Besides, it is probably part of that rock garden anyhow.
Walking back up to the house after a hard day of work, my husband has finished leveling and making a flat base course area for building the rock retaining walls below.
Creating a Front Lawn doesn’t seem like a really complicated thing to do. But, it is something that takes a bit of design when you are on a steeply sloped property.
You can see the steep slope combined with a natural rock outcropping along the side of the house here.
Previous tasks that we have completed involved building up our driveway to insure accessibility all year long. Mainly, lots of gravel. The year before, we also cleared the shrubs and trees in an area above the garden and leveled it out planting grass to slow the flow of water before it reaches the garden.
Erosion and drainage may not seem very important for a lawn but remember that water is one of the most powerful things in nature. Water made the Grand Canyon…
I woke up to sprinkling rain this Spring morning, so I decided to cancel putting the rest of the seed in the garden. Bake for Rachel’s party dinner for 20-40 hardworking people, totally simple right? Here is the start of the rye dinner rolls on my kitchen counter. Begin with rolling up a golf ball of dough, then dip the top of the roll into a bowl of beaten egg and milk, and dab it on the plate with the caraway seed layer. The egg and milk is like Elmer’s glue for the caraway seeds to stick. You can’t beat the taste of fresh herbs, grown in our garden last year. Yum.
The rolls are then covered with a damp cloth and set aside to rise before baking.
Did you know I used to do cooking like this on a beautiful 45 ft yacht named the “Second Wind”? I cleaned the bottom of the boats moored at the pier, for $20 cash. That is how I met the Andrews family. They invited me for a ride with them to Maui. I happened to cook the fish they caught for our dinner. The father hired me to work in their galley on weekend inter-island trips because he liked that meal. It was a dream come true weekend job at the end of high school for me. I got to see amazing places and the owner gave me a generous expense account to stock the kitchen whenever we pulled into port. I was able to learn to cook fancy stuff.
I’m glad I didn’t pass this opportunity up. Sailboats cross the ocean quietly. There is a special beauty on the ocean at sunrise and sunset painted neon skies to admire. At night the sky is so very dark out on the ocean, and the stars so bright. During one 2 hour watch at the helm, in the middle of the night I counted 14 shooting stars going across the sky.
The rye dinner rolls come out of the oven and cool on wax paper. Next, are white dinner rolls coming out of the oven. I like to paint them with melted butter right when I take them out.
The main course for the gathering will be simple soups, cream of corn and an alternate of ham with bean. Sorry, no pictures of the soups, cause they just aren’t all that interesting to look at.
I like to cook. 🙂
This big batch of chili cooking began on a prior day as I put beans in water to soak overnight. But, in the morning I combined the remaining other ingredients into the big roaster/slow cooker and put it on low all day and night. We grew the pinto and kidney beans, tomatoes sauce, and onions in our garden.
Here is how the chili appears the next morning. It is a really different color after it has had the opportunity to simmer overnight. It almost looks like a different batch doesn’t it? Now, I taste and add salt or spices if needed.
I add these last peppers to give it some zing and only need to be added an hour or so before you plan to eat the chili. I remove the seeds and the veins holding the seeds in the middle of the pepper to keep the heat down. If you leave the seeds in you will have a HOT batch of chili.
Be sure to use gloves to prepare the poblano peppers or you may find yourself with burning skin, a runny nose, and tearing eyes for the rest of the day. I only did that once and now I have no problem remembering to go into the art studio and grab a pair of gloves to handle the peppers.
After I have removed the seeds and veins I put the peppers into a blender. Pour into the chili, and stir. Let the soup simmer again about an hour before it is ready to serve. Bon appetite!
When the chili is done, are able to eat multiple meals until we get tired of it. Then I simply can the 5 quarts that are leftover to store in the pantry for later. By the way, this chili tastes better every time you heat it up. Most homemade soups tend to.
The Woelk’s are mostly self-sufficient, striving to be responsible neighbors that help to conserve resources in our community. We plant a large garden each year that supplies food all year long to us and the local food bank. Growing and cooking our own food ensures that we always know exactly what ingredients are in our food. We have high hopes this will allow us to live a long and healthy life. Contact me if you want the recipe that I used to make this.
Across from the Winco parking lot this morning, in north Spokane, there was a massive land clearing/logging operation going on. I marveled at the capabilities of the giant track hoe, machinery has always gotten my attention. Once a contractor always a contractor, ya know. Anyhow, the mind gears start to roll around my mind as I wonder.
The land is on the corner of N. Nevada and E Jay Ave, in Spokane WA. This building is described as the Spokane International Academy on Google maps.
Is the school expanding?
It was a swath of land fully covered with old pines. In one day this track hoe had all of them laying uprooted in piles of lumber (decks) over 20 ft tall along the edge of the property. Wow. Take a look at the video to see how high the stack of logs is compared to the cars going by.
Then I notice a broken-down RV parked in the back forty of the Winco parking lot. A vehicle that has certainly seen better days. There is no license on it. The windshield, door glass, and even the window in the overhead sleeper are all broken out. It must be cold as heck to sleep in there.
There is no license and a shopping cart full of bags and garbage is parked next to it. There is a bike laying under the rear axle. Just then the back door opened and a hand threw a bowl of liquid onto the parking lot. Oooooo. A few moments later a man stepped out bringing a walker with him, he squared himself up and proceeded to walk up to the street corner to stand with a sign. You can see him on the left side of this picture.
Was this RV previously parked in those trees?
It doesn’t look like it could be driven very far. I guess it could be one way to get the homeless off of your land, simply clear cut it and move them off.