Splitting Wood, Lugging Rocks, Building Fences -- So Much to Do, So Little Time

After a fun-filled season of swimming, biking, kayaking and otherwise cavorting in warm sunshine, it's time to get cracking on all the chores I've been too busy to attend.

Actually, I've delayed tackling these tasks not so much because I've been preoccupied by recreation but mostly because I vastly prefer working outside in cool conditions without a plague of mosquitoes, gnats, bees and other flying pests so vexatious during an insufferably incendiary summer.

Coinciding with the first frost the other day, I harvested my final pepper, and because last spring I didn't plant any late vegetables such as brussels sprouts or butternut squash it was time to rip out the desiccated squash vines, remove the tomato cages, turn over the garden and begin dumping a layer of compost over the asparagus.

It's always a shock to see bare soil again after months of so much lushness.

While busy in the garden I noticed the netting over the blueberries needs mending, and the bushes require pruning. I added this to my mental list of chores.

A couple of weeks ago I described a new enclosure I'm building for table grapes I plan to plant in the spring. I'm happy to report the work is nearly complete.

I've also almost finished transplanting about 200 spruce and pine seedlings that had to be moved to make room for the grape vines.

For someone who heats with wood, cutting and splitting is pretty much a year-round activity, but from now until late spring is primetime logging season. Not only is this winter's supply cut, split and stacked in one woodshed, but next year's as well in a separate shed. If I had a third shed I'd have it loaded as well.

As far as I'm concerned, you can't set in too much firewood – as long as you keep it dry.

I'll have even more cordwood when I cut down – or arrange to fell – seven large oaks along the driveway. Ordinarily I cut my own trees, but these are too close to the wires and I don't trust my aim.

I also don't on principle like to bring down centuries-old trees, but these behemoths have been dropping enormous limbs with alarmingly increased regularity. It's only a matter of time before one takes out a car, or worse, turns me into guacamole when I innocently stroll out to get the mail. Sorry, oaks, you left me no choice.

The other day I cleared a new path from the garden to my network of hiking/logging trails, and to keep it in character with all my other woodland avenues I plan to line its borders with rocks. The only problem is I've exhausted my readily available supply of stone when filling in holes around new fence posts for the grapevine enclosure, so I've got to roll some over by wheelbarrow from a hundred yards away or more.

Last week, by the way, the tire burst under a heavy load of posts, and so I replaced it with a solid wheel. It's always something.

The leaves are finally starting to turn, and while most people look forward to the fall foliage the change in season means one more labor-intensive task: raking. I don't have a lawn, but I do keep all my trails clear of leaves and other debris because I don't want to trip or slip when I'm lugging firewood, rocks and other heavy objects.

The easiest procedure would be to rake everything to the sides – but that would waste so much excellent mulch. So I rake the leaves into piles and then stuff them into 35-gallon garbage pails to dump among my seedlings. This takes about a week.

Even though I'll be busy with so many cool-weather chores I won't pass up all fun and adventure.

Fall, of course, is a favorite time for hiking, and as far as I'm concerned kayaking is always in season – you simply have to adjust your apparel.

Same goes for running, though one component may be short-lived.

My buddy Bob and I always finish our daily rambles with a plunge in the pond, but with dropping temperatures these dips have become more abbreviated. I'm hoping to make it to December, but we'll see.

Oh well, better get back outside with the tools. Daylight is shrinking, and there's still plenty to do before dark.

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