We've been buckling down lately and taking care of fall tasks and winter prep around the house, and generally living the life of the Ant from Aesop's Ant and the Grasshopper fable. Mostly this has meant working in the yard.
Now that the evenings have been much cooler (we've been dropping into the 40ºs), the ticks and chiggers have abated somewhat and we're tackling the under brush closest to the house, chopping and hacking and snipping and pulling. We have lots of sore muscles at the end of the day, but it's a good kind of sore. We're hoping to create a buffer zone between the house and spaces we eventually want a patio or outdoor living area and the vegetation to help keep the ticks under control in the future.
I am pretty brutal when it comes to cutting things down—if we want a cleared space, everything has to go and it has to go permanently. Especially the little tree saplings establishing themselves close to the house. Aside from tick control, the thick vegetation is a fire hazard and winter storms can really wreak havoc with trees too close to the house.
We've started some pruning on the shrubs for fall and finished getting the deer netting up around the flower beds. (Just in time, too. The morning after we finished there was a family of 4 deer grazing around the house.) When spring comes I should have really healthy camellias and azaleas instead of the nearly lifeless twigs the deer left for us last spring. In fact, the camellia near the front door started blooming this week.
We had debated trying to aerate and overseed the lawn ourselves, but ended up contracting a landscaper (not the original landscaper) to do it since there were large sections that had completely died off. I am so glad we did. As the guy was getting ready to rototill the dead section he asked about the irrigation system, and I assured him no water pipes ran through the area he was about to till up. About 20 seconds later he had to stop because he'd hit electric wires. How in the heck would I have known the electrical wires for the irrigation system ran through the middle of the lawn?
Not only that, but they weren't even buried. They should have been 6–8" underground, instead they were laid on top of the ground and the sod laid on top of them. They should have been run up against the house, or at the very least along the same patten and just under the water pipes. Upon further inspection we could see the wires had been nicked multiple
times by the aerater, so I'm actually really glad he hit them with the
rototiller too, otherwise we would never have known.
Anyhow, after numerous calls to the builder (who has had several problems with the all the properties this particular landscaping company worked on for them) they sent out their current landscaping sub-contractor who really walked me through the system. We figured out that the wires that were cut actually hadn't been working anyhow; we had 2 water stations that hadn't been getting any juice for about 6 months, which is probably why that section of the lawn and shrubs were not doing well.
He showed me how to manually turn on each sprinkler station so we could water the grass seed we'd just added to the lawn and found that we have a leak at one of the station valves. He then sent over a quote to run the electrical up against the house and bury it, fix the leak, and replace all the electrical caps with grease-pack, water-proof end caps. Very reasonable and the builder has agreed to pay for the repairs.
Hopefully they'll be out next week or the week after to do the work. In the meantime, I'll keep sticking my hands into valve box holes to manually operate the sprinklers and hope no spiders have set up a home in there. *shudder*
And speaking of spiders. Oh. My. Lawd. There are some monster spiders out and about. I finally named the one (Lloyd) who has been living in a web across my office window for the past month. The pest control company came out for our quarterly check-up and told us these spiders are really active September and October and are mostly harmless. I just thought maybe they were trying to help me decorate for Halloween since they're building webs under the eaves all around the house. He knocked Lloyd's web down along with several others, rebaited the mouse traps, and sprayed along the foundation.
The garden is just about kaput, though the basil is still flourishing. I had thought to plant some fall veggies, but I think the space we set up our garden boxes in does not get enough sunlight this time of year to make the effort worthwhile. I want to try to move them forward out of the trees about 10 or 15 yards. I should probably float that idea by Scoob and see if he's up to it. We'll have to shovel out all the soil in order to move the boxes and his back is still bothering him.
On the job front, I've had a few phone interviews since I posted last. None in the local area though—one in Boston, one back in San Francisco, one in Austin, and one in New Haven. The Boston one sounded really good, but the company CEO is currently moving all the remote digital workers to Boston so they ended up not wanting to add another remote worker. The one in New Haven ended up being for Yale University, but they also want someone on site. I seem to have a skill set that is in demand, just not in demand here. At least not at the moment.
Happily my freelance work has picked up pace and the fall title list has been keeping me busy this week. (I actually out earned my unemployment check this week!) I also spent some time with a local friend who recently started her own business to help her map out an online marketing strategy and refine her current efforts. All pro bono, of course, but it could end up growing into something else. We'll see.
Anyhow, that's news here.