This season has been remarkably warm and remodeling our home has taken priority over many of the fall and early winter projects that normally fill our time. This year we put up no tomato sauce, no sauerkraut, very few pickles and we didn’t even make any wine. The food dehydrator only worked for a couple weeks back in puffball season and the freezer only got a few packets of tasty goodness from the abundant first harvest celebrations of summer. As we are coming into the final stages of our renovations, I took a few days off from inside work and managed to tidy and sort out some issues for both Mother Nature and the critters that we share our space with.
A few weeks ago, when the last of the mowing was done in the park adjacent to our house, I had noticed that the person driving the mower took extra care to throw the clippings into rings around all the new trees that we planted with trees from ECO-Tours of Wisconsin Inc. That little bit of extra mulch could mean the difference between whether a tree makes it through winter or not. As busy as I was with house demolition, construction and finish work, I had no time to devote to our own yard or the several pressing needs that our own property had. Since our own house got a major overhaul, I thought it only fitting that our chickens should have a bit more protection from the elements as well, so we built a greenhouse right over the top of their coop, allowing them a bit more run and, when times turn colder, an extra layer of protection from the storms. This also seemed like the last good chance I would have to do a bit of raking and mulching before the deep frost made its way into the ground. Being able to work outside in Northeast Wisconsin after the middle of December is nearly unheard of, but this week I was working furiously to get the fence moved, compost piled high, left over building materials covered and out of the elements and the several small brush piles combined into one.
Wouldn’t you know, I finished up just before sunset on the solstice and that provided a wonderful excuse to light the longest night of the year fire in our fire pit. I had a bit of two year old elderberry wine, tried to write a bit while sitting around the fire, and as the night wore on, a fine snow started to fall. Morning greeted us with a silvery white coating on everything. The east River itself looked as if it were a shimmering ribbon of molten silver and the sky was touched with vibrant oranges and gold. The rewards of living at the end of the street are that there are no more houses closer to the river, so we get views that one would think were in the country.
Other than collecting a dozen or so Christmas trees to use for mulch for our acid loving plants, I think that my winter yard work is done. As the winter wanes, I will have some grape trimming to do, but other than that I think I’m ready for my long Winter’s nap. In my effort to utilize as much cast off material as possible in and around my house, I have found several innovative ways to improve both the soil quality, variety of microclimates and expand the variety of perennial food crops that grow here. This year we also added another “parking space” along the driveway, so guests can have a safe place to park a car overnight. We used open pavers to allow water to infiltrate and plants to grow up through the paving material. When the spring comes, we will be planting creeping thyme and chamomile there. May your efforts toward living sustainably be rewarded all year long and may you find the abundance of nature in all that you do. Blessings this holiday season.
From all of us at ECO-Tours, Peace & Prosperity in the coming year and thank you for your interest in our efforts. Planting native trees for over twenty years.