Saturday, May 25, 2024

A touch of grass

I mentioned trimming the tall grass along the garden path stone border. Here's a visual. This section is under a tree, so the grass here is not as thick and tall as most of it was. But now it's all gone!

The last of the tall grass along the border wall in the south forty. Note to self: get rid of the moss.

I'm going in to the market this morning. I haven't been in a while. I'm hoping there will still be asparagus, but the season is winding down. It doesn't help that the weather has been so chilly and wet. Also on my list: strawberries, goat cheese, chicken sausages, and egg rolls.

Friday, May 24, 2024

View from the Mars rover

Oh, wait. It's just a nid de poule (pothole) out on the vineyard road. There are quite a few of them. It rains, they fill up, they drain, they dry. Until they're filled in by the town.

There are definitely signs of liquid water on this planet.

Tasha was groomed yesterday, as planned. She looks great! So clean. So soft. It won't last.

I took advantage of a partly sunny morning to do some yard trimming. The grass along either side of the garden path was more than knee-high. Mowers can't cut it because of a raised stone border on either side of the path. A weed-eater (strimmer) would work, but the string on mine breaks against the stone every time and I spend more time re-winding the string than I do cutting. This time, I used the hedge trimmer to cut the grass down to the height of the wall. That went surprisingly well and took no time at all. I wonder why I never thought of doing that before now. I also used the walk-behind mower to get into some of the smaller places that the riding mower can't go. I declare the yard well and truly mowed! At least for the next week or so.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Tile traction

There are a couple of places out in the vineyards that get very muddy in wet weather. Tractors are heavy. They sink in the mud and make deep ruts between the vine rows. In an effort to mitigate that, this grower spreads broken tiles over the emerging ruts. With each pass, the tiles break a little more and lessen the impact of the heavy tractors. At least, that's the theory.

Old broken tiles in the vineyard.

Today is a busy day. Tasha's groomer is coming at nine this morning. I have to plug in our extension cords so her mobile grooming RV has power. The RV carries its own water, but she needs electricity. And she has to park out back because the RV won't fit in our driveway. Fortunately, I have a couple of very long extension cords that do the trick. Then I've got to get a shower and go to the bank for some cash to pay her (should have done that yesterday, duh). I've also got some mowing to do in the spaces the new rider can't reach -- that'll depend on the weather. Let's get to it!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024


The new lawnmower was delivered yesterday. They guy who brought it over from the store gave me a crash (um...) course in how it works. I think I retained about a third of what he showed me. After he left, I climbed aboard and learned by doing. I began to get the hang of it so I decided to start mowing for real. The grass was relatively dry and it wasn't raining.

Most of the north and west forties seen from the deck.

The mower cut the tall grass with very little effort. Granted, I had the cutting deck raised to its highest lever as is recommended when cutting high grass. But I was impressed. I stalled out a few times, of course. Overall, the cutting went well. Toward the end it started raining, so I stopped. A mild thundershower skirted us to the north.. I realize that I will have to adapt my normal cutting pattern to the new mower. That will take some trial and error over the summer.

The rest of the north forty.

Still, with all my fumbling, I did in an hour what was lately taking me two or three days to do. Some trim work remains as well as the strip outside the hedge and along the road, but that won't take long. This morning I think I'll go through the owner's manual to be sure I'm doing things right. And there's one lever that remains a mystery to me. I hope to find out what it does.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Window boxes

They're called jardinières in French. It's the generic word for a planter box, whether it's on a window, on a table, or on the ground. Last year we planted geraniums in our kitchen window boxes. This year, we're trying œillets d'Inde (French marigolds).

If they survive, they'll fill in nicely.

When we first moved into the house, I planted marigolds in the ground around the real fake well. They were great. The next time I planted them there, they were devoured by slugs and snails. I haven't tried again since. Until now, and in a different location. I figure that the window boxes might be a little safer being off the ground. Also, slugs and snails might have a hard time crossing the rough stucco finish on the house's exterior. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Over and over

Here's another shot of the clover field from yesterday with a little context, that being the vineyard parcels that surround it.

Clover and vines.

We were invited to a neighbor's house for drinks last evening and had a nice time. We learned a few things about the goings on around town (the neighbor is our mayor). Today, for example, work starts in the newly replanted vineyard parcel behind our back gate to drive the posts that will support guide wires to hold up the vines once they've grown a little more. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Crimson and clover

This is some variety of clover which, I think, was deliberately seeded in a vineyard parcel that was torn out last year. Once the old vines were removed, the parcel was plowed and left fallow. This spring, as you can see, these clover plants grew and flowered. The clover adds nutrients to the soil acting as a natural fertilizer. Some nearby parcels have clover planted between rows of grapevines, but their flowers are white. Whatever color, they're pretty.

Flowering clover.

So, yesterday Ken and I bought a riding mower. We had previously decided not to get one yet, thinking that the walk-behind mower we just bought would be fine for another year or two. But it's not. It turns out that it's just too small, meaning that cutting the grass is a lot more work and takes longer. I was kind of resigning myself to that, thinking that I could tough it out for another year or two.

Then, on Thursday, I went to our local BricoMarché (a hardware and garden supply store, like an American Home Depot, but smaller) for some seeds and happened to see a riding mower that looked interesting. And the price was good. I wrote down the model number and went home to tell Ken about it. He dove into the research and we concurred that this would be a good machine for us. The added bonus is that the store is having a deal this weekend: for every €100 you spend, you get a €20 store credit on your fidelity account. Which means that our purchase would net over €300 in credit for future purchases! That clinched the decision.

The machine is now bought and paid for. We await delivery next week. In the meantime, we have to make room to park it in the garage (it's too wide to fit through the garden shed door). I'm going to have to learn to drive again. We'll keep the smaller walk-behind mower for cutting in the corners and the narrow places where the rider can't go.

Until then, the grass continues to grow.