Thursday, December 15, 2022


In my fever to get things done around the property, I hit upon the idea of putting in an orchard. Not a massive orchard, you understand, but a domestic sized orchard with a few apple trees, a pear tree or two, maybe a peach tree, and a specialty tree: I wanted to plant a crabapple tree in memory of my friend Natalka's mother, Daria Husar Struk, who died in 2020, at age 100. Daria was a marvel. She even picked her time to die very well: just before the advent of Covid-19, which she would have enjoyed even less than the rest of us. Daria loved the pink blossoms of a crabapple tree, and I discussed with Natalka my wish to plant a tree in her memory. The first summer I moved here, an excellent young guy named Mark built four raised vegetable beds for me. Mark has a business called Gourmet Greens Organics, and he's a wealth of knowledge about planting vegetables. I sent Mark an email, asking if he'd come and inspect a flat area on my south lawn for its suitability as the site of a dwarf orchard. This flat area had previously been a large gravel children's play area with swings and slides and a climbing apparatus. I'd removed most of the gravel, depositing in on my neighbours' driveway, whereupon goldenrod plants took over, rooting very lightly amidst the gravel. Mark agreed that we could plant a drawf orchard of about eleven trees, but first we'd have to cut down about a dozen old pines that were casting too much shadow on the lawn. (Notice I refer to "we". In truth, the only "we" part of this operation has been the sunny afternoon that I pulled up lots of dead goldenrod.) Mark chainsawed down the pines and a dead spruce or two, plus one maple which will make excellent firewood a few years from now. Yesterday he brought in a wood chipper and - you know how it is when you steam spinach? You put a mountain of spinach in the steamer and four minutes later you have one small helping of steamed spinach. That's what the wood chipper was like. There's maybe a few bushels of wood chips on the south lawn, but those chips will be like steamed spinach at the base of my fruit trees early this spring. However, I know very well that this will be a legacy orchard, for I might not be here by the time the first apple is picked. Stand by for photos.


Last year I decided I wanted to replace the heavy wooden gates at the south entrance to the property. Each gate was an impenetrable 8 feet by 8 feet and they weighed a ton. Because of their weight, they had started to drag on the ground, making them very hard to open when a service truck needed to drive onto the property. Also, they looked formidable, as though they should come with their own moat and drawbridge. I liked the more open, friendly look of a set of metal farm gates. Happily, steel farm gates come prepainted in green, and I'm a fan of colour, especially when I don't have to apply it. I ordered a set of farm gates and the corresponding bolts from a nearby farm supply business, and they promptly delivered them. I figured I'd install them myself....till I picked up one of the gates and found I could only move it about a foot at a time. In my nearby little village, finding a handyman would be harder than finding a hardware store and, believe me, there's no hardware store here. You want hardware? You're probably driving to Orangeville, whether you like it or not. Now, oddly enough, the Home Hardware store in Orangeville is well equipped, and it even has a notice board in the front entrance, with the services of several handymen advertised. I took some cards, and the first one to call me back was Casey. I asked if he could install farm gates. He could. He did, and very efficiently, too. Here's my farm gates. They sure look nice and level, just the way I'd hoped. Now I won't have to dig a moat and install a drawbridge. Thank you, Casey!


Winter has set in. It's not my favourite season. It doesn't even get fourth prize in the My Favourite Season contest. I flat-out dislike winter. So my strategy to avoid winter is to take up home improvements to beguile the weary days till it's warm again. It's embarrassing to remember how many years ago it was that I removed the very damaged roof on the well shed. I'm thinking it was maybe August of 2019. I removed the entire roof, which was no mean feat, putting a claw hammer through my forehead in the process, then covered the entire shed with a layer of heavy duty vapour barrier. That was a brilliant move, because it enabled sunshine to come into the shed but kept the rain out. I definitely intended to put a proper roof on it before that first winter, but it didn't happen. And as time went by, I really liked being inside the well shed. I built a new wooden cover for the well, cleaned out the interior of the shed, painted the exterior, and I was pretty happy with it. But with a property like this, you always have to look ahead to a time when someone else will own it, and it's unlikely that person will appreciate vapour barrier as a roofing material. So I went to see Trevor, who works at McKinnon's Timber Mart in the nearby village of Hillsburgh, and asked if he could recommend someone to put a metal roof on the well shed. And that's how I met Rod. Trevor gave me Rod's number, I chose my preferred style of red metal roof, and Rod brought over a buddy about ten days ago. So here I am with a lovely red metal roof, which looks exactly like I laid an open book down on top of the vapour barrier. Even better, Rod built the new roof on top of my vapour barrier, making me feel that I had been part of the process all along. Isn't it handsome?