Squirrel on Mt. Magazine (part 3)

<– part 2

Woke up on Sunday morning around six to the sound of blackbirds.  I heard the nylon shushing sound of Squirrel shuffling awake.  He said something derogatory about birds and I unzipped the hammock.

While he was sitting up rubbing his eyes, I breathed life back into the fire and fished out my keys from the bottom of my sleeping bag.  Got a jacket out of the truck for little man.  Got my cook kit.  There’s something to be said about the convenience of truck camping.  Can’t say it didn’t help with the last-minute nature of this hike to just throw my bin-o-gear into the bed and trust that everything I needed was already in there.    Maybe that’s how I ease Momma into more primitive camping?

The boy goofed around with his water pistol and rocks while I got pop tarts and hot cocoa ready for him (and coffee ready for me).  It was beautiful and quiet.  There are very few better ways to wake up on a Sunday morning than the cool Spring dawn of May on a mountain in Arkansas.

“Are we going to church, Dad?”

“Well, we uh. . . ”

“Oh yeah,” he interrupted dryly without looking at me, “we were there all night.”   Dang, son.

I started packing up and he outlined his morning for me.  He wanted to go see the “ghost pool” – which was how he remembered Buckman’s Pool on the eastern side of the mountaintop.  Then the visitor’s center to pay for the campsite and buy a bag of polished rocks as his “goodbye present” before heading home.

We loaded everything up, gave the campsite a last once-over, then headed out.  Reverend Jerry Garcia waved at us as we drove past.  We waved back.  He looked very well rested and, okay, healthy.   Hiking his own hike.    Parked the truck at the horse camp and headed out to our last little trail.

The first picture is my young companion demonstrating how he’s holding his breath in the ghost pool.  You can see the remnants of the rock wall behind him.   He is explaining to me in the second picture how that must be the ghost hot-tub.  Given my (grateful) inability to see ghosts, I could neither prove nor disprove his assertions and so leave belief up to the reader.  There are, after all, more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in even Horatio’s philosophies.

On the walk back, we worked on noticing and identifying the wildflowers that punctuated the late spring greenery alongside the trail.

It was a beautiful morning and I was so close to celebrating a wholly successful hike when tragedy struck.

Well, 8-yr-old tragedy.   When we pulled into the visitor’s center, even though the sign indicated it was open . . . all the lights were out.   Someone, somewhere, was working on something and the young woman cleaning the place said that they wouldn’t have power until 11:00 a.m.

I tried to just leave a $20 to pay for the campsite and a bag of those rocks, but she seemed distressed at what her manager would say and no, she can’t take any money.   Squirrel didn’t say anything, he just left the center and stood outside crying.

He’s still a little guy and, man, he had his heart set on those stupid little polished rocks.  Normally, usually, I’d give him the “suck it up, buttercup” speech but this was his date.  He wanted it to be perfectly aligned with his plans and so far it was.   To have it go sideways at the very, very last minute was a hard blow for a little guy.   I gave him a hug and suggested we check out the lodge gift shop for a memento that would be almost as good as a bag of shiny polished stones.

He dried it up and moped to the truck.

I eased the Yota past the luxury cars parked cleanly in front of the lodge and we hopped out.  In the lobby, a small herd of chubby baby-boomers was coming to life.  Squirrel and I wove through the knot of recent retirees in their matching Harley Davidson costumes, talking about golf while their gratuitously pastelled wives complained to the cashier about the HVAC in their hotel room.  One beleaguered worker gave me a tired smile and asked if we were having a good morning.   I answered, “almost. . ” and explained the polished stone crisis.   Squirrel settled for a T-shirt he could wear to school the next day and I did my best to rescue the cashier from the still-ongoing entitlement fit being visited upon her co-worker.  (Except now it was some kind of issue about the restaurant, having moved on from the HVAC system.)

I sent him eye-rolling into the bathroom for a “just try one more time” before we got on the road.  He was asleep before we made it all the way down the mountain.



I woke him up once we got to Paris because I saw, out of the corner of my eye, what appeared to be a little park with a replica Eiffel Tower.

I geek out for little pieces of Americana (if you can accurately call the French connection here Americana. . .) and had to shake little man awake to see this.

He was glad I did.


And, because his name is Logan (no matter what I call him most), he had to take a picture of the county they surely named after him.   He forgot all about those stones.

Posted in Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Mt. Magazine State Park, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Squirrel on Mt. Magazine (part 2)

<– (part 1)

Easing into the overflow primitive campsites on Saturday afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice the motley array taking up the far south end of the area.  A huge transport van hauling a trailer.  An old Ranger with plywood sides lifting up a camper top.  Several tents, a hammock.  They were having a rowdy good time, but I didn’t see anything overly unusual other than the size of the group.

If you’re unfamiliar with Mount Magazine State Park, it is one of the state’s flashiest state parks.  A whole lot of money went into rebuilding a glorious lodge on the southern side.  There’s a nice paved road heading all the way up to the top and it, understandably so, is a nice tourist spot.  There’s a trail from the bottom to the top that Kat and I took on one dry July heatwave (and looking through my posts here, I can’t believe I didn’t write about it) but it isn’t the best backpacking spot because you still end up in a campsite at the top.

Heading over to the overflow at Brown’s Spring area does get you away from the mansions-on-wheels that will choke up the regular camping area.  And, truth told, you always find more interesting folks on the fringe anyway.


I usually shrink the pictures just a little to fit the text around, but this is the view from the picnic table on our site.  I can sit here for hours just looking out over that view.  Squirrel was hungry, though, so as soon as I tied up the hammocks we loaded up and went to the lodge to check another item off his list.

Here’s where this dips a little bit into a parenting blog.  See, that part above isn’t me.  I don’t get that.  When I head out into the woods, it is to get away from anything like this.  Little man, though, listed going to a gift shop as part of his perfect weekend so that’s what we did.   You don’t have to understand them to love them. . . and one of my main rules about backpacking with kids is that it isn’t about you.   The view was great, the food was decent, and Squirrel talked me into letting him have dessert (even though . . the s’mores. . . *sigh* okay).

We headed back to camp with plenty of sunlight left.  I got a fire going with wood scrounged from nearby empty campsites and a dead cedar branch I found.  Sat and watched him play.  Remember me complaining about that water pistol?  Yeah. . . that thing never left his hand.  He ran back and forth to the little stream nearby to fill it up.

While I’m watching him, I notice the caravan campsite has emptied out.  Gotten quieter.  Except for one guy, the oldest one I saw over there.  Looked like Jerry Garcia.  He wandered over and was just standing in the empty campsite adjacent to ours sort-of looking at the view.  I’ve run into all kinds of folks at campsites and out on the trail and, really, have only ever felt uneasy enough to move on once in twenty years (and that had more to do with the amount and variety of firearms they were carrying deep into the woods than anything else).  He was pretty obviously scouting the edges of campground etiquette and so I waved at him and offered him a s’more (because Squirrel was far more interested in enjoying the process than the product).

He chuckled something about not looking like he needed a s’more and introduced himself.  Asked me where I was from.  Said he ran a school.  A special school.  And they were out there on the mountaintop for a weekend retreat.  That explained why so many of them were teenagers.  The more he talked, the more comfortable he got in sharing, and the more I listened.   Don’t tell Bear Bait, but I have a pretty good measure that Squirrel is the smarter of my two sons.  And that’s saying something because big boy is sharp.  My little guy is staying near the fire, not looking like he’s paying attention at all but not missing a word.

When Jerry said he ran a school, I started asking a few extension questions and it didn’t take long to find out that, well, it really wasn’t so much a school as it was a church/homeschool group that took in kids who got kicked out of other schools.   Admirable. . . working with at-risk youth has been a key part of my professional life.  He gave a little chuckle about how their methods are a little unconventional, but praise Jesus, they work.  The next ten, fifteen minutes I hear how he and his family members who run the school have faith healed autism, tourettes, heart disease, demon possession, and a host of other issues.  I was eating it up.  The more he talked the more I asked and the more he told.  Great, friendly guy.  Invited me and Squirrel to their camp later because after the kids got back from a sunset vigil they were going to have church.   I shook his hand, explained that I promised little man a night hike, but thanks anyway.

Squirrel, never looking up from his stick and stone fort, gave a parting “Thank you, Jesus!” to Jerry as he headed off to spread Jesus to another campsite.  ’bout this time, the sun was dropping low.

Squirrel wanted me to take him to “the spot” one more time so we could watch the lights blink on in the river valley.  I-40 was on the horizon coming on like a string of white Christmas lights and it was just beautiful.  As we traipsed through the undergrowth back to camp in the dusk, the tinny sounds of Christian Contemporary music being blasted from a boom-box cut through the night.  The closer we got, the louder it was.  The prayer meeting was in full effect.

I made sure little man brushed his teeth before I tucked him into his hammock.  The moon will be full in a couple of days, so it was pretty bright even after the sun went down.  I gave him his stuffed Grobie and got him all snuggled in.  One more drink of water.  Then we settled down for the night.   It was 10:00 pm on the nose when they turned off the praise music.  Squirrel, still awake along with everyone else in the campground, murmured, “I know they’re getting their Jesus on, but it’s nothing but the devil in my mind right now.”  That cracked me up.  He’s more observant than I give him credit for.

(part 3) –>


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Squirrel on Mt. Magazine (part 1)

Thursday, driving Squirrel to school, he laid his criteria down upon me.   When I pitched the initial idea of a daddy-date, I really was thinking I’d be on the hook for some animatronic pizza and maybe seeing a new Marvel movie.  He started ticking off his list, though, and I got excited.

I offered him three possibilities:

  1. White Rock Mountain.  Gave him altitude, a moderately difficult trail around the top and maybe down Shores Lake Loop a ways, even had a base camp.  Upside – a little closer.  Downside – no restaurant.
  2. Devil’s Den State Park.  Not so much in the way of mountains, but very close.  Could hit a restaurant in Fayetteville on the way back maybe.   Upside – a lot closer.  Downside – no mountain.
  3. Mt. Magazine State Park.  Had everything he wanted, but was almost 3 hours away.  He opted for the mountain.

Standard protocol on a Kid Hike is that they have to make the shopping list.   He asked for a little help, so I gave him parameters but the list is all his.   Saturday morning, we woke up.  I got my Saturday mowing out of the way and threw the gear into the truck and off to the grocery store we went.

20170506_105103Saturday was a little bitter-sweet.  We found out on Friday that Momma transferred jobs, which was a great thing.  It opened up the opportunity for Squirrel to transfer schools.   He won’t be going to work with me next year.  Kinda sad about that.  Figured I’d have two more years to work at his school.  He didn’t take to me as easily as his brother did.  He’s a momma’s boy and that’s fine.  Bear Bait is my daddy’s boy.

I find that I’m more patient with the older boy because I understand him more.  He thinks like I think.  He feels like I feel.  Squirrel is a clone of his mother in just about every way.  There’s one way he’s pretty unique, though, and that is in his Love Language.  His main love language is gifts.  I used to interpret that as him just being greedy or spoiled, but it really doesn’t matter what the value of the gift is.  He just likes getting things from people he loves and he likes giving things to people he loves.

Since he rides to and from school with me every day, I end up taking him to the grocery store a lot.  I end up telling him ‘no’ a lot.   There’s always three, four things he just can’t live without.   I’m very much a “stick to the list” kind of guy.  I was sticking to the list when he brings me this $0.97 water pistol.   He wants it.  I think that’s just absurd.  I’ve been on countless camping trips, it’s just the two of us, what the hell does he need a dang water pistol for?   My mouth was all ready to let it go when I remembered this was his day.  What’s it going to hurt?  Sure, kid, throw it in.   You’d have thought I gave him a new car.

The trip down to Paris was beautiful and uneventful.   We stopped outside of Fayetteville for a cheeseburger and Squirrel chatted it up with some bikers at a gas station who let him look at their motorcycles.


Made it to the State park around 2:00.  Checked in at the visitor’s center and I let him pick out one of their fancy little walking sticks and three badges for it as a starter set.  An Arkansas State Parks badge, a Mt. Magazine badge, and one for the highest point in Arkansas.   He was giddy.  The campground was full, but I really didn’t intend to stay there anyway.  We drove over to the Brown’s Spring picnic area and parked at one of my all-time favorite drop-camping sites.   Squirrel grabbed his stick, made sure I had mine, and we eased down a small little trail to my very all-time favorite sitting spot.

I first discovered this spot several years ago and the view from there is incredible.  It looks north out over the river valley and you can see the Boston Mountains colored onto the horizon like a picture postcard.


We eased away from the edge and headed back with Squirrel in the lead. He wanted to go the top of Signal Point, so we got the maps out and I let him plot the next leg.

Around 4:00 we made it back to the truck and I began setting up camp while he worked hard at being a boy.   He gathered sticks and rocks, ran off to a nearby stream to fill his water pistol so he could shoot at sticks and rocks, borrowed my knife to whittle things, told me a million and one “facts” about nature that he made up on the spot.

He got hungry around 5 and began quizzing me about how I was going to find a restaurant up here on the mountain.  Was it more of a McDonald’s kind of restaurant or a dress-up kind of restaurant?  (More toward the latter, but trust me, we smell much better than the last time I ate there.)  What kind of food do they have? (you’ll find something)  Can we get dessert? (Sure, but what about the s’mores?) Can we get double dessert?

In all it was a pretty decent afternoon.  Things didn’t get all Flannery O’Connor strange until after dinner.

(part 2) –>

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Paternal Epiphany

My greatest paternal epiphany to date begins, not unusually, with Kat.  He’s been putzing out on me lately.  After two weeks of frigid monsoon April mayhem, May finally arrived like your first sane adult girlfriend and the weekend was going to be perfect.  Cool evenings, warm days, blue skies, full waterfalls.  I got some kind of text from him listing all the reasons he’s booked and I got to thinking.

The boys are now at the age where they’re just miserable to have together.  12 and 8.  It means the 12-yr-old acts like a man-sized 2nd grader whenever he’s around his brother and the 8-yr-old resorts to full-throttle attack mode as a way to assert his right to personal space and then the big one gets hurt because he won’t take a hint and starts yelling and then hulks out and goes all puberty-schitzo on everybody.  They’ll grow out of it in about 10, 15 years but there is a very real temptation to escape them.

You know you feel it, too, model parent readers.

But then Kat blocked off my first line of escape with excuses, so that idea was shot.  And, truth told, it is horridly unfair to Momma to leave her with that muddled mess of testosterone and partially-formed frontal cortexes.

It is hard, though, seriously hard to get them all out in the green together.  I can focus on keeping maybe one of them happy, safe, and comfortable at a time.  (You know, I need a husband. . . )  Momma is so out of her wheelhouse in the green that she’s a passenger only – and, let’s be honest here, but her happiness and comfort is the engine of the bus.  Once it runs out of gas, the vacation is way over.

It was mid-week, last week, as Momma and I were decompressing after an evening of particularly turbulent puberty – you know, door slamming and cracked-voice yelling and phone-grounding – when it hit me that there’s a way to do this.

I pitched it to her that part of Bear Bait’s problem, at least the non-biological part, was that all our family fun really did seem restricted by the lowest common denominator.  By necessity, we have to keep an 8-yr-old along and so Bear Bait is probably pushing back against that.  You know, quit treating me like a kid and all.   I brought up the idea of a date night.  Momma would take Bear Bait and, just the two of them, do whatever stuff they wanted to do.  I’d take Squirrel and do the same.  We’d share notes on Sunday.  She loved it.

When I asked Squirrel what he wanted to do, he didn’t even have to think about it.  He was very specific.  He wanted:

  • a mountain
  • a restaurant
  • a new hiking stick
    • badges to earn on his new hiking stick
  • a gift shop
  • camping overnight
  • hiking

I let Momma know that Squirrel’s date night was looking like an overnight trip and she thought it was a great idea (what?) and that I should do it.   I told her that it would likely mean that the big boy would want something similar when it was his turn with me.  She loved it.  (What??)

I went to Bear Bait and sized him up.  Boy will probably be taller than me by then end of the summer.  He’s already 5’6″ or so.  Weighs 125-ish.  He’s lost the middle-school pudge after a year of Jr. High track and taekwando.   I could throw a pack onto him and he would easily outlast me on any trail these middle-aged knees could take.  I pitched the idea to him and he loved it.  He wanted Momma to take him clothes shopping (“without Squirrel“) anyway.

I texted Kat and told him that I was a genius.  I just lined up two amazing hikes that will be fun for -me- still, after I make sure it is fun, safe, and comfortable for everyone else. . .  and . . . and . . . and everyone is happy about it!

The only place I know of that fits Squirrel’s list is Mt. Magazine State Park.  Next – the trip report.

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April showers bring mid-life crises

In between rain storms, as the clouds part enough to work in the yard, I’ve been putting the last few infrastructure touches on my garden.  Some of the seeds I put in the greenhouse last month have sprouted now, others were lost to the learning curve of too-damp soil and an inadequate greenhouse heating plan.  I’m on round two of germination.  All of my fruit trees made it through their first winter, though, and the blackberries are in full bloom.

When I should be tending to the HOA-mandated grass-length in my yard, what I’m really doing is what appears to be beating the hell out of myself and my new mountain bike.

I’ve been out three times with Kat on various trails now.   The last time, yesterday, was moderately successful from a medical standpoint (even if he did leave me wandering my way back out. . . one is never truly lost in the woods if you are already content and able to just stay there indefinitely, no?)   The last ride I ended up scratching my calves and thighs all to hell and ended the ride with a broken finger.   I would’ve gone to the emergency care clinic on the way back home, but I didn’t want to leave my new bike unsecured.   And besides, I told myself, what are they going to do with a broken finger anyway except give me one of those little metal foam thingies to wear?

My second ride left me with dinner-plate-sized bruises on my hips because that was where I tended to land.   I’ve since purchased a better set of padded shorts.

Momma looks at me with the kind of side-long wariness that indicates she’s probably like to say something, but counts her blessings that I’m not on a motorcycle or trying to pick up a redhead.  The boys are loving the unexpected first aid lessons that happen after each ride.  (“Hey, Squirrel, come splint daddy’s finger and bring me the peroxide.”)  My neighbors are casting significant looks at my front yard when they drive by to pick up their mail. . . but is it my fault that I can’t mow when it rains and when it isn’t raining, well, there’s trails I haven’t fallen down yet.   (okay, yes, I guess it is.)

To get through late Fall and Winter, I signed up for a martial arts gym.  Intermittent krav and jujitsu classes have been serving the dual purpose of catering to my little-man syndrome while also letting me sweat through coming to terms with my early 40’s through getting twisted and pummeled by folks almost half my age.  I’m going to have to let those classes slip until next Fall, though, because it is too pretty outside to be inside.  One thing that has significantly helped, though, and is why I mention this here. . . I spent a lot of time learning how to fall, practicing falling, and being dropped/thrown/rolled in those classes.   I didn’t realize how much that muscle memory helped me until I took up a hobby that seems to involve me falling off of things and landing on other hurty things.

I’ll end with this, because I know he reads it. . . but I wonder sometimes at Kat’s power of persuasion over me.   “Hey Mattdaddy. . do you like walking?”   (not particularly)  “Let’s put heavy things on our back and stomp up this mountain!”  (Yeah!)   “Hey, Mattdaddy, do you like riding bikes?”  (um..well..when I was 10.  Not so much since then.)  “Let’s do that, except on a mountain and with more falling down and bleeding!”  (Yeah!)   So I was walking my bike up a particularly steep (well, for me) incline because not only could I not find the right gear that allowed me to successfully counteract the persuasive force of gravity but my legs hurt and I was tired, it gave me time to reflect on why I keep getting into things that are – in the moment – so potentially miserable but so stinking fun at the beginning and end?

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Sprockets & Sermons

I got blood on my church shirt.

Wasn’t much.  Wasn’t on purpose, but still.

This Spring, it’s been impossible to get Kat to commit to a backpacking trip.  He went and got himself a new hobby, see.  We’ve done a lot of the trails around here, and he’s done more than I have.  There really just isn’t anything within reasonable “weekend backpacking trip” distance that we can grab packs and go.  At least nothing we haven’t done so often that (dare I say it?) it’s getting a little boring.

He ended up getting a mountain bike and that was the last I saw of him for . . well. . 2016 and the first quarter of 2017.  It snuck up on me that Northwest Arkansas has turned into a mountain biking destination. I’m not surprised and, well, neither is anyone who has ever gone into the green up here.  Lewis & Clark recently offered teachers in the area a 20% discount on bikes, and it is my birthday this week, so I bit.

Yesterday, I picked up my new Giant Talon 2.  I sent this picture to Kat and he sent me back a text to meet him at 7:00 a.m. at the Blowing Springs MTB Trail Head.  Told him I could come, but I had to be back at the house at 9:30 to get the boys ready for church.

9 miles and 90 minutes later, I had a new passion.  It was my first ever mountain biking trip.  I did alright.  Crashed hard twice, but not so bad that I had to stop riding.  Bloodied up my elbows.  Got the chain-oil tattoo on my right calf.  Made it to church, though (barely), and I’m still sore.  Probably should’ve put a little bandage on that elbow trail-rash before I put on my church shirt.  Can’t wait to go back, though.

I haven’t given up backpacking.  Nope.  Not at all.

But I wake up a good 3-4 hours before the rest of my sleepy family anyway.  And 20 minutes out the door can find me on some beautiful mountain biking trails.  Back in time for breakfast.

(and a shower)

((and ibuprofen))

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Expanding the garden space

Z. ditched me at the last minute. Change of plans.  Shame, too. . I had everything out and ready to go.  Guess it’ll be another week or two before we make duck sausage.

Checked the weather and saw that we were looking at a very un-February-like weekend . . . blue skies, highs in the 70’s, light breeze.  Sitting in the garage on sawhorses were six 10′ cypress boards already treated with water sealant, waiting on the expansion I’ve been promising myself.  I’ve been in the house almost two years now.  Since we bought it in May – and it, of course, came with no garden space – then I lost my first growing season.  Last year, I only had the one bed and got the garden in too late.  Priority, though, was getting my blackberries transplanted and the compost bin up and producing.


Back in November, I decided to write a few excel formulas to help my timing.  I plotted out the square foot garden on Excel and have been using it as my guideline.  Each square represents 1 sqft.  Yesterday and today, I pulled those cypress boards out of the garage and cut a couple of them into 4′ sections to make another 10x4x2 bed.  For my knees and my back, as well as for the visual aesthetic, I like the high raised beds.  The picture on the left is my general plan of companion plants.  Each code correlates to a table on another workbook page.


So here’s a few tricks, if you’re any good with Excel.  I named the First and Last Frost dates a LF and FF so that the table below can reference it in a formula.  Over the winter, as I was planning out my garden, I ordered my seeds and plugged in information from the seed packet – such as when to plant and how many days until maturation.  Under Seed Plant the value is just a formula based on the seed packet information.  So, for instance, my Red Cherry Tomato says start the seeds indoors six weeks before the last frost.  In the cell I typed:  =LF-(6*7) then told it to format the answer as a date.    I then filter by date and it tells me when I need to start putting seeds into my little peat cylinders in the greenhouse.

This weekend, I expanded my growing space by adding not just the 40 sqft bed, but the smaller medicinal herb bed (6x2x1) and the tall sunstealer bed (10x2x1) for a total of 72 extra square feet.  Because I only want a growing medium about a foot deep, I filled the big beds with a combination of old mulch and rotting straw I recycled from someone’s Halloween porch decor.  I’ll keep adding worm castings and compost to the bed as the straw continues to rot.

Since I’m now working with 112 square foot of happy suburban homestead growing space, I really needed a way to not miss anything.   I made another table.


So for this table, I just copied and pasted the Key column from the other table.  For Plant and PerSqFt I used Index(Match) formulas to pull the information from the first table so I really only have to enter it once.

=INDEX(Plants[Plant], MATCH([Code], Plants[Key],0))

=INDEX(Plants[PerSqFt], MATCH([Code], Plants[Key],0))

Now, the really fun part comes when I told it to count and let me know how many plants of that type are in my pretty little map (which I told Excel was a range named GardenMap).



And then, finally, a little bit of simple math to tell me how many healthy plants I need to end up with in order to fill each assigned spot.  =[@PerSqFt]*[@Plots]

Today, I added a final column to indicate how many seeds I’ve set.  Someone was throwing away a whole mess of those little dehydrated peat disk planter sets at the end of the year last year and I traded some blackberries for them.  You can see from the table what I planted this weekend.   I may have gone a little crazy with the peppers – but I’m hoping to maybe plant a few more than is currently in the GardenMap and either trade or give away the extra plants.

Other things I accomplished on this Spring-like, but still technically Winter weekend:

  • Dug out 2 wheelbarrow loads of compost from my biggest bin.  Dug out one of the two smaller ones that had gotten a little too compacted and anaerobic.  Relocated the two small ones so that now I have an easier 3-tier system.  Raw in the first.  1st turning in the second.  Final composting in the big hotbox.
  • Emptied out a tray of worm castings from my vermicomposter.  This is the first “batch” from my winter project.  I have about 1500 worms in it right now, give or take.  Some of them fell out into the raised bed and quickly dug in.  I’m cool with that.
  • Cleaned up the last of that massive Halloween decoration I recycled.  Other than picking up a fieldmouse from one of those bales of straw, that has been a pretty good find.  I ended up with eight rectangle bales of straw all for the cost of hauling it off.  What I didn’t use in the compost bin or for fill in the raised beds has been used as mulch around my new fruit saplings.
  • Put two sets of shelves into the greenhouse to hold the seedlings.  I am currently using it as storage for things that could probably move into the garage while I’m nursing seedlings.
  • Ordered a plastic ammo can, small resealable baggies, and labels.  Going to use that for seed storage.  No way am I going to need all the seeds I currently have.  (Well, I don’t anticipate needing them.)
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