The clean-up of 40 plus years of storage begins. A little follow-up is needed to clarify this; my Dad and Gene were both pack-rats to varying degrees. Dad would buy four bolts when only one was needed and the leftovers were thrown into a drawer. This went on with damn near everything. Any small bit or screw found a home within a jar, can, drawer or corner. Gene carried on the tradition along with holding on to whatever part he was replacing. This little habit has caused no end of pulling my hair out because the bad part was thrown back in with the good ones…or what I think are good ones…hence the pulling of hair.
So, enter me. Those of you who know me really well, know that I’ve got a bit of an anal streak within (I can hear you laughing Mr. Leavitt). The first order of business was cleaning out each and every drawer, holding on to only those items worthy of being retained. You can’t even begin to imagine how big of a job this was, and continues to be. Before I got rid of anything Mom and I called our good neighbor, Sam Walker, over to the house and offered him first dibs on anything. Sam looked it over and told us we needed to get hold of David Stansbury. He thought David would be happy to take the majority of it and then Sam could cherry pick what he wanted from David whenever he needed…that way he wouldn’t have to store it himself (smart man!).
David came over later in the week and I told him he was welcome to anything…with the caveat that if he took one item, he took it all. He pondered it for a moment before agreeing to it. Thankfully David brought over his pickup. By the time he left, the entire bed of the pickup was full. I mean full of 5 gallon buckets of nuts, bolts (up to big 1″ buggers), washers, fittings etc… I imagine his steering was a bit light on the drive home. It was the beginning of a long process of thinning the herd. It’s an ongoing process taking place not only in the garage, but the house, barn and all of the other outbuildings. We’ve made huge strides in fairly short order.
Sam has been a great source for me. He’s the go-to guy for answers regarding how to do, or who to see. We had Sam over to dinner and I told him I was planning on going to Spokane on the weekend to have some more work done on the old Chevy pickup. Sam said I couldn’t go since he needed me to feed his cattle while he was gone to see his daughter Wendy in Spokane. It’s hard to explain, but for me this was quite an honor being bestowed upon me…at least as far as I was concerned. I hold Sam’s opinion in high regard. To give you an idea, I asked him what kind of boots I should get for working in. He didn’t hesitate when he told me to spend the money on a pair of Nick’s custom boots out of Spokane. Apparently Nick used to work for the famed “White’s” boots in Spokane before opening his own shop. Mine should be done in time for a birthday present to myself in June.
Back to Sam…he came by about a week or so ago and asked me if I’d like to help him and Robert “Bunk” Ayers re-build a cattle guard up in the hills off N. Pine Creek road. I jumped at the chance. Sam picked me up about 7 the next morning. We drove up to Bunk’s ranch, loaded up his tractor (not the small orchard variety) and got to it. I hadn’t worked that hard since, well, since I tilled the garden. It took all day. It was hard physical work and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope I get to play with them again.
Mom had asked me to till the garden. She commented that Gene only scratched the surface and she was hoping I’d really get down into it. So I set the tiller to go as deep as it could and fired it up. It didn’t take long at all to realize the reason Gene only scratched the surface…just under the surface was a constant, healthy bed of rocks…I mean everything from little 1″ diameter rocks to the ever-present 14″ variety. This causes the tiller to jump, buck and run at damn near every moment. I managed to get it done, but will tell you I felt as though I had gone six rounds in the ring with Ali. All I can say at this point is “get used to it”.
I asked Mom what she thought about putting in raised beds in the garden. I thought for sure she would balk at the idea. I was surprised to find out she had asked both Dad and Gene for them, but neither wanted to go to the trouble or expense of it. After getting into it, I can understand their reluctance.
We decided to make them out of recycled railroad ties (dont’ even start with the “they’ll leach into the veggies”…just don’t go there). We decided on making three 16’x4′ rows and three 8’x4′ rows. Since the ties are 8′ long this should mean we only have to cut them in half…I hope. I am currently on the road, but will be home tomorrow…there should be 60 ties waiting for me to be unloaded off Sam’s flatbed trailer. At about 100lbs each I should get a good workout.
We had a pretty good time deciding on what should be planted where. The long ones contain; 1) lettuces & greens, 2) cucumbers & peas, 3) carrots & beans. The short beds; 1) strawberries, 2) beets & kale, 3) herbs. There’s a few other odds and ends mixed in as well as a non-raised area for melons and raspberries. We’ll end up enlarging the garden to include; asparagus, probably some more berries and other odd assortments of things.