Now they just need to grow.

Only two short weeks ago, we were delaying putting in the garden because of night-time  hard frosts. And now, I need to be extra careful transplanting the starts in, because it’s hot (really hot) and dry. And those weather prognosticators? Paid to lie. Everyday this week they’ve predicted temperatures lower than what we’ve experienced (only to ‘update’ later in the day, with a more accurate ‘forecast.’ You can’t really call it a forecast if you’re announcing it in the moment. I can do that with a thermometer.

In any event, the garden is almost entirely in, and up. Seeds, prompted by the heat, are sprouting in record times. Seedlings, delicately watered three times a day, are surviving the heat, and transplant shock. This is the first year we’ve planted the garden entirely by seeds–starts nurtured in the basement during cold and carried out daily to enjoy the sun on warm afternoons. It’s much less expensive this way, and you have more control over the variety–not doomed to the fancies of our local nurseries.

It still looks meager, but in two weeks this will be going gangbusters. And, the hard part is done–just a little weeding and watering to maintain. We could use the break. We’ve been going apace since the trees arrived the first week of April. Now, we can catch our collective breath…before returning to building projects that’ve been on hold for the outdoor work. We’re going to try to finish the upstairs bathroom, which has been storage for a couple of years. And, we bought a new toy.

I’ve been watching for a used chipper since winter. It’s been an education. Not everyone needs a chipper–you have to have a lot of tree debris to make it worthwhile. We have acres of tree debris. We have a ‘burn pile’ the size of a small house–and no appetite for the burn (especially in such hot and dry conditions.) And we have endless uses for the chipped mulch that a chipper creates. 

After much research and asking around, we opted for a chipper that runs off the tractor PTO. They’re sturdier, and, if you properly plan your worksite, they use less fuel. They’re substantially more expensive, because they have to be sturdy enough to withstand the extra horsepower of the tractor. (Whoa, Nellie!) While the stand-alone models take much abuse and wear out–the 3 point chippers can last forever. We looked at everything on the market–and came out with a wish list for a self-feeding, horizontal feed model. We not getting younger, and the gravity feed chippers guarantee a lot of overhead wrestling with awkward materials. There’s a safety feature in it too, since self-feeding keep your hands further back, away from the awesome grinding machinery.

The sticker price on our wish list was daunting. Used, was our best bet. Unfortunately, we’re not the only one’s who’ve done this research, and good used models last about two seconds beyond when they’re listed on craigslist or marketplace. But I am nothing, if not steadfast in the search.

This past week there have been a bonanza of ads for chippers. There was an ad for the exact one we wanted (WoodMaxx), for about half the cost of new. I jumped at it. It did require a six hour drive to get it, but I’ve gone further for less. Rick came with me this time because…well, a chipper is the ultimate guy purchase, and it’s a tough load (over 950 pounds of it) and tie down. He was pretty nonchalant about it, until it actually happened. Now he’s thrilled. It’s not perfect; it will require a little maintenance and modification–which is right up Rick’s alley. 

Because, of course, it wasn’t quite as described in the ad (see title above), but not out of any dishonesty. We have done very well over the years, scrounging, often purchasing  used, high-ticket items from folks who had more money than sense. The people from whom we bought this item never needed it in the first place. (It had a total of 6 hours use, in the four years they owned it.) And, they’d assembled parts of it, backwards! Rick just shakes his head. He’ll have it up and running perfectly in a couple of hours. Now, if we could just get a break in the weather.