Around The Farm: Spring Maintenance

This is my fourth spring on the farm, and, I’ll be honest, the first three all found new and fun ways to kick my ass. I mean, the year that I bought this place I didn’t have any animals to take care of yet, but I also didn’t have, like, a lawn mower.

Just for reference, if you turn your back on this property for 24 hours, this is the kind of thing that happens…


Moving on to six acres of country land without a lawn mower is totally a rookie mistake. Because that shit will take over inside of two, maybe three weeks. It’s like the goddamn Day of the Triffids every single day around here.

Then after I got the mowing under control, there were the animals. Then there was the garden and the back field. Oh, and that massive rubble pile that had to be cleaned up. But this year, this year, I feel like I’m ready for all of it. I’ve got mowers and tractors, an upgraded weed whacker, a rototiller, and an effing machete.


Bring. It.

I also have a ghostbusters-style weed sprayer backpack.


Yeah. I am so ready.

So here’s what Spring 2015 has looked like so far:

Spraying the driveways, walkways, and garden paths. Say what you will about chemicals, but I learned the hard way that this is absolutely necessary 2-3 times a year, unless I want to spend $10k on new stone for the driveway every year and 100 hours weeding the pathways, which I do not. I’m not trying to be an asshole here, but anyone who mentions “vinegar” or “hot water” to me as weed control methods and isn’t trying to manage 6 acres of land with a full-time job and without full-time crew of landscapers can kiss my ass.

Battery Upgrades. You guys, everything died this year. Not in a “let’s bury it” way, but more in a “I’ve had my jumper cables out every weekend since February” way.


The truck is alive again, and in desperate need of some regularly scheduled maintenance (also, I basically got peed on by a racoon during the taking of this picture, but that’s another story for another time…) So all’s well, clearly. I also did this weird thing a couple weeks ago and actually took the Kiterpillar (and a case of beer) off into one of the fields behind my house to enjoy the awesome weather with one of my friends instead of, like, using that time to use build a duck house or a bee hive or an effing patio table, or anything else on my list.


And it ended up being the most perfect and awesome day I’ve had this year. Except when when I tried to drive back to the farm, the golf cart totally died, necessitating a half-mile hike through the hills to get home, and then driving back with my car to jump-start the damn thing. So that was fun. (I mean, it actually was fun because there was a case of beer involved… but it really wasn’t convenient.)


The golf cart now has a new battery. I also may or may not be missing a chunk of hair from using the machete to hold my cow-hide covered seats up while trying to change the damn thing. There also may or may not be a bloody mary in that picture that might explain some things…

And injuries or no, I still need to charge or replace the battery on the mower (and a belt on the blades) and do my yearly maintenance on the tractor before everything is running smoothly this spring.

Garden, Round 1. It’s only really been “green” here for a week. Maybe two. And yet my garden is already green in all the wrong places…


My mom (always the trooper) came up last weekend to help get things under control. We did some light weeding..


Have I already mentioned in this post how much I love my tractor?

We also added some compost from my pile of two-years-of-animal-poop into the raised beds…


Also, the chickens helped…


Of course they did.

There’s still some tilling, planting, and cold frames to put in place on this side of the garden. And a blow-torch (or something similar) to use on the other side of the garden. But I’ll be damned if the whole thing won’t be beds and gravel walkways in the next month.


It’s a ton of work, but I’ll tell you, I never feel better than when I’m celebrating a lot of hard work and the end of a Spring day…


If that isn’t the quintessential picture of my life these days– paint on my hands, dirt under my nails, enjoying a glass of wine on my golf cart as the sun sets–then I don’t know what is.

Next up: Cold frames, installing bees, building (and installing) garden beds, and planting trees.

I’m not nearly done with my Spring maintenance yet, but I’m gonna get there…

35 Responses

  1. Does anyone know if the roots from her vegetables will soak up any of that Round Up? It was sprayed on the gravel only.

    1. No. RoundUp’s job is to be drawn into the roots through green leaves to kill the roots.

    2. We’ll find out if/when the vegetables keel over.

      I have never used landscape fabric, but I would try that under the gravel as a possible long term weed preventer vs. multiple times of applying RoundUp.

      1. We tried that fabric stuff 3 years ago in our garden and overall if felt like a bust….it was almost like we needed to replace it each year. I can get back to you with the brand name (maybe brand matters?), but we got it at that blue home improvement store.

      2. I’ve sprayed the walkways for 2 years now with no ill affect on my veggies!

        There is weed fabric under the walkways… I should have used a double layer, apparently. 😉

        1. The former owners of my home used the landscape fabric, and it is worthless. Weeds grow right through it. If you are wanting something to put under the gravel for long term, try black plastic sheeting. As for flaming weeding. My neighbor uses it in his yard, and it works wonderfully!!

          1. There’s nothing like a big “blowtorch” to tame those weeds! We are going to be working on organic certification so chemicals are out of the question and we need to show three years “clean.” Neither do we want to ingest those nasty chemicals. There are other ways to destroy weeds and some of them are fun. Like the blowtorch. Or a mower on the tractor or ATV, then plastic sheeting and gravel.

  2. Mom,
    It could be the garden dirt itself and she could plant with no chem absorbtion after 48 hrs. Especially ~ No Promlem Mom, it being the gravel walkways…
    Weeds know no fury like a DIY’er weilding a bad ass serrated machette with a case of beer….just saying
    Does indeed sound like your prepared well and more comfortable because of important things learn from past springs.
    Constant growth…
    jlc 🙂

  3. Flame weeding is a cool thing. Works well in gravel and where you don’t want chemicals. And it is fun!

    1. Well I was joking about the blow torch, but now I’m thinking it might be a good idea… don’t want to burn down my fence or boxes though.

      1. I have an Inferno propane torch. Got it from one of the box stores, the orange one I believe. I hook it up to a small propane tank, the kind used for a gas BBQ grill. The I strap the tank on a dolly for ease of moving it. It doesn’t throw flames, it just has a flame at the end like a large lighter. It’s fun.

        1. Mother’s day is coming – wouldn’t that be a nice present from the animals?

  4. Oh my goodness! I am in love with your garden space! I am just doing containers again this year. I would love to put a bunch of raised beds in my front yard but hubby says no. 🙁 I am enjoying your site so much, keep up the good work!!!

  5. LMAO at work! You do have a way with words

    The Tough Brush/Poison Ivy stuff has kept my weeds from coming back – for two years so far with one application. Not my favorite thing to donate to nature, but nature keeps seriously intruding in the wrong places!

    Day of the Triffids – my favorite!

  6. I used multiple layers of cardboard over the areas I sprayed topped with about five or six inches of double ground mulch, then sprayed with water to keep wind from blowing it away. Reapply mulch as needed. I still have no weeds in this area. This was four summers ago. Not sure how the worms felt about it though.

  7. You have such a nice head start this year! Keep it up! As for the weeds, I would love to be a “green” chemical free person, but with a fiance that sells farm seed and chemical for a living, I am never going to win that battle. But I never have to pull weeds!

  8. Looks like a lot of hard work, but very fun too! Glad to see your mom’s helping you so much too. Can’t wait to see how it looks as the year goes on!

  9. You Kit, are like the modern definition of the “Bees Knees” an inspiration and example of what can be accomplished with a plan ( I now make lists ) determination, hard work, a bit of help from the nugs, family, and a hug now and then from the mini-butts. The feeling, fun and enjoyment of designing and building things with your own two hands is truely unique.
    I have an ex-Hawkey Football player (Hyden Fry days-circa 1985) friend and past fellow employee who’s yard looks like Bush Gardens, that because of his love for nature and creating beautiful things with its help and to keep his hobby interesting and become more knowledgeable became a Master Gardener. I (love your tractor) have a brother who’s been in the landscaping and lawn irrigation business for 20 yrs. who is very successful and quite knowledgeable.
    Since moving from the big city to my paradise ranch three years ago I (love your tractor) have made some improvements. Mostly on the shop/garage building which was only six yrs old but never finished. Sorry..not to ramble but a wee bit of history to get to subject matter, On the area in front of the house which is one of two built along the Wapsi River by two brothers in 1949 out of lumber they aquired from an old torn down church, previous owner had placed pea-rock under the deck and in the 10ft. area around the front and sides of it that were overgrown with 4ft. thistle and 16 species of noctious weeds. The meat of my reply being, I was told then by a Pro-Landscaper bro and my Master Gardner Ex-Hawkey Football playing past fellow Corn Wet Milling employee, competitive crossword at break time friend
    and also read it on the lable of the container containing roundup/24-D that it was a stematic herbacide and I could plant flowers after 48 hrs. However, with each of many types containing the weed killing agent the waiting period may vary some but not much, what isn’t drawn into the roots in two-three days dissapates to a safe level unless you live in California…then you may have to wait for a couple of months if allowed to use it at all, let alone have water to make it grow.
    The old burning method used before the invention of all the new herbacides they have these days is a good one and I sell about two of the three foot long torches a week out of Iowa’s largest farm store network I (love your tractor) work for. A little two wheeled dolly with a 20lb. propane tank strapped to it makes it much handier so you don’t have to carry the tank around.
    You’ll be planting fruit trees before long, you have the room and I ( love your tractor) feel a few varieties of grapes to to make your own signiture, Black Feather Farm wines would wrap Black Feather Farm in total kewlness…
    tractor rocks

  10. Hmmm. Blowtorch for weeds, I’ll have to remember that. I’m always looking for excuses to convince my husband to buy me impractical tools we have no storage for!

  11. I am on the hunt for weed killer. The beautiful brick pathway that I spent so much time laying was consumed last year by thistles and other unpleasantness. This year, I will show no mercy. The driveway is a lost cause I’m afraid. In other weeding news, fire totally works, although it’s helpful to have a sidekick with a hose to protect your barn, your fence and your dog. I only had to leap over the fence once to get away from the flames. And in my opinion, you know you live on a farm when a simple chore like gardening and weeding requires the tractor.

    1. I thought my driveway was a lost cause a couple of years ago, but that year-long weed killer really does work. Same with my brick walkways three years ago… I’m with you. No mercy.

  12. That pile of weeds is inspiring! I just bought myself a machete. What took me so long? Life just got 110% better. As a bonus, it scares the neighbors that are up to no good in a new and very pleasing way.

  13. It’s amazing how much time it takes to maintain the landscaping around a house. I used to have time to make progress on things, now with a 9 month old and a slight resemblance of a social life, it’s almost impossible just to keep up!

    Right now my lawn is looking like it could use your machete. I’m sure my neighbors REALLY appreciate the current state of things. #cornerhouse

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I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.