Urban Agriculture

Ben wrote this weekend of how expensive things were getting. One thing that hasn’t seen a price increase is the composted manure at Stockmen’s, our local stockyards. The stockyards folks have neat piles of manure in various stages of decomposition, and are happy to supply urban gardeners with very affordable fertilizer.

Husband and I drove to the stockyards last Friday with his pickup, paid $22, listened to a lot of mooing, and watched as his pickup bed was filled up with some really nice manure. It was a great deal. It would have been really great had it been sheep manure, but our stockyard deals mainly in cattle.

It is very well rotted and crumbly, and mixed with good clean dirt (no weeds or seeds). We spent Saturday morning shoveling it onto our vegetable garden. It had to be done this fall, as it is such a rich mixture it needs a winter to “cool”, as it were, or it will burn young plants. We do this every other year. We had enough to add a 3 inch layer of it to our garden. I will till it under in the spring. The only downside was that it was a lot of work climbing in and out of the pickup bed, raking and shoveling it, filling up the wheelbarrow, etc. We eventually backed the pickup into the garden and unloaded the manure right off the tail gate. We were both really stiff and sore by the time all the manure was unloaded. I think we used every arm, leg, and shoulder muscles we possess getting this done. I look forward to really big veggies next summer. I am glad I don’t have to do this for another two years.

What is the most physically exerting activity you have done in the last while? How do you treat sore muscles? What fall tasks do you dislike the most?

56 thoughts on “Urban Agriculture”

  1. Last Friday I put the storm windows onto the downstairs of our 1925 house. These are the original wood ones with heavy (and I mean heavy) glass. There are 8 of them, each with an upper and a lower pane. It meant washing 16 panes on both sides (32) plus the outsides of the windows on the house (16 more panes). If that wasn’t enough, the upper and lower panes around the porch (which doesn’t get storms) also got washed (20 more panes) What with up and down the ladder, I was bushed before it was time to install the heavy things where they went. I was done by 11AM, and dozed off in an easy chair within 20 minutes.

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      1. I put the storm windows up on Steve’s little bungalow one time and only on the first floor. I can’t tell you how happy I was that he had a really small little home.

        Liked by 4 people

    1. Our house, 1924 vintage, also had the original windows when we moved in. They were wonky and drafty and all the previous owners, for 80 years, had put up with them. After a couple of winters, I replaced them all with modern double pane tilt-out windows. Washing them is easier, should we get around to it, and it made a big difference in our heating bill.

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      1. Our house is 1925. 3 years ago we did all the sealing and insulation short of new windows. Every winter we “plastic over” indoors in our bedroom and both baths, and it’s pretty tight in here. The windows are, I admit, unwieldy, but they’re also beautiful, so I guess we may keep ’em.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. I put in the storm window last week, the last of the original storm windows in this house. I went with combinatinwindows for all the others,but left this one because it’s where I put the window air conditioner in the summer. Installing an air conditioner over a cobination window doesn’t sork well – you have to build asort of wooden support over the bottom of the window – so I’ve been putting up and taking down this storm window for decades. I dislike is,because the window is five feet tall and heavy, and difficult to push into place, standing on a ladder. I may have to find a different solution for that window.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We added another raised bed in the back yard. It’s 3.5 feet by 6,5 feet and holds a cubic yard of compost & soil. That’s about equivalent to a pickup load. Since I no longer have a pickup, we had it delivered and the cost was considerably more than $22. It was delivered in the alley so I had to wheel it in from there. Took about an hour.

    The last few days I’ve been working on rebuilding a storage closet under the eaves in Robin’s studio. I’m putting up shiplap on the walls because getting wider panels up the stairs and into the closet is not possible. My saw is in the (detached) garage, so every board I have to trim to fit means going downstairs, out the back door to the garage and then returning with the trimmed board(s). The pedometer app on my phone says that yesterday I climbed 25 flights of stairs and walked 5 miles. Some of that mileage comes from a 2-mile walk in the morning and from a trip to get more lumber, but still.

    I don’t do anything for aching muscles. Usually a walk in the morning will loosen them up.

    Liked by 5 people

        1. It’s small in the sense that it’s more cosmetic than structural and it’s minimally disruptive, not like a bathroom would be.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Because of a mixture of osteoporosis and arthritis in my spine, I can do very little in the way of strenuous work. Even a half hour at the kitchen counter prepping veggies for dinner causes a lot of pain, especially in my upper back and neck. So I do everything in small spurts, interspersed with sitting down and leaning back in my recliner to take a load off. Last week I did manage to wash three of the six windows on our front porch on the inside. Hoping to do the outside of the three washed ones today and tomorrow. I’ve had my domestic fairy do windows, but she doesn’t do a good job. Neither does husband. So I prefer to do it myself. What’s the point in washing the windows if they milky after you’re done? I’d hire someone to do the outside if I could find someone reliable. Any recommendations?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Do you wipe them with newspaper? What’s your cleaning solution?
      But I know what you mean. Really getting them spotless and CLEAN CLEAN is hard.

      We’re lucky the windows all tilt in, except the large picture window.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Solo BWCA canoe trips are by far the most strenuous activity I do. Last one was in early September. A total body workout for sure. You really find out how strong your core is when you hoist that 50-lb pack onto your back–or paddle for an hour straight into a 20 mph headwind against 1-2 ft whitecaps.

    For those trips and anything else that exhausts my muscles, I take NSAIDs as needed, usually Naprosyn.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    That lovely composted manure gives me manure envy. I used to have a similar source of that here, but it has since gone away. I composted a batch of Ben’s Chicken manure this summer, and I hope it is ready to spread now. Does anyone here have a source of composted manure?

    For achy muscles I use everything already mentioned, plus massage is very helpful. I may have achy muscles later in the day. We are hiking the AZ Arboretum today. I am still rebuilding my core muscles that Chris mentioned following my two joint replacements. My strength and stamina are slowly rebuilding, but pandemic policies really interfered because of gyms being closed. I could not do the needed strength training to rebuild core muscles.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have handled thousands of tons of that stuff, and I always loved it, mechanically or by hand. Though I wish I could recapture the unique satisfaction I would get, spreading it on fields and almost feeling it working itself into the soil. The word “magic” has been greatly overused in the last forty or fifty years, but it really did seem almost magical. Exciting. Spreading dung on a field.
        Honestly, it’s not hyperbole.

        Liked by 4 people

  6. My most recent exertion was burying one of the kittens in the field. Rafael found it dead this morning, and now I remorsefully think back to how it had stopped running away from us over the last few days. It was just sick, I realise now.
    The last part of the grave was hard clayey/chalky stuff, but I seem to have the hang of it after burying a cat for Axelle 2/3 weeks ago. No aches.
    I don’t do anything about aches and pains, except sleep if possible.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Jane’s first response was, change all the food and water! The inference being, the poisoner has been at work! I got straight into conspiracy theory mode, “Of course! What was ******* doing driving past yesterday? Again? Down our dead end road? He doesn’t like me, therefore I don’t like him. He waited for me to go. Then he did it!” Now, honestly, I didn’t say that to anyone. And Jane and I separately, calmed down.
        I just wish I’d thought, PJ, and tried to catch it a couple of days ago, and let Laura have a look. But life has to go on. Meanwhile, Chelo arranged for us to meet Wednesday and get two of the upside down baths ready. Then we would stary catching cats. But today’s Monday, isn’t it? Not Wednesday? This morning she put the trap out, left a message on the catline, and went to work. Great, Jane looked in later and a cat was in the trap. So I had to take it to the vet’s to be sterilised. “Hello, I suppose Chelo has not called you?” “Ha ha, no she has not, ha ha never mind. We’ll call you tomorrow to fetch your newly sterilised friend.”
        Tomorrow I have a job, you know, for money. I don’t even remember what money looks like. But if I don’t personally fetch that cat, get it back quietly, and quietly intruduce it to the house which I still haven’t put in place, a disaster will probably take place, with another cat scrambling over the wall in a panic, into the concrete works. Thanks Chelo.
        But we’re on the road now, we knew what Chelo’s like.

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  7. Harvesting, and toting buckets of root crops to the basement, also the butternut squash. Husband gets spurts of energy at times, and I’ll come home to find him hard at work at something. And I may have told about window washing a couple of weeks ago.

    My muscles usually settle down by themselves after a day or two, but my favorite is like Jacque – a good full body massage.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Cleaning and organizing my closet a week ago was the last strenuous thing I did, unless you want to count carrying a bag of dry cat food and some groceries home in my backpack yesterday, walking the half mile home from the station because one bus doesn’t run on weekends and the other only runs every hour.

    As renters, we don’t really have fall chores, except for putting up window insulating plastic film. The job is made harder by the fact that one of the cats loves to eat the wax-paper backing from the double-sided tape, so we have to guard that from her. This year I will have to run some more spray foam into gaps between the floors and baseboards, which are growing because our landlady can’t afford to fix the settling of the house. I’m getting a little worried about it all, but not only can’t she afford to fix it, we can’t afford to move, so I guess what can’t be cured must be endured.

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  9. Fall(Autumn) tasks. When I worked on proper farms (ie no fruit), probably the only job I didn’t like, at any time of year, was anything to do with sheep. Easily avoided by steering clear of farms with sheep. I mean, why would you willingly subject yourself to that? I seemed to get caught sometimes though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You may have told us before, Fenton, but if you did, I don’t remember it. What exactly is it about sheep tending that you don’t like? I asking because of couple of friends of mine are contemplating getting some sheep – probably just a few – for their farm.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On the basis that I’ve already complained about most things, I don’t remember either.

        If a cow or bullock needs some kind of attention (and they don’t need shearing or dipping, thank God), they’re too big to heave around. So you have to have another way of keeping them still for a minute. Taking the hard work out of it.

        But sheep are smaller, and so, in unsophisticated, typically small farming Devon, at least in my day, we would have to wade into a pen of sheep, catch one, which wasn’t fun, and perform whatever horrible, boring job was necessary that day. Shearing dipping, clipping its hooves. I never wanted to learn to shear. So I’d “catch and tie.” Admittedly if you ever managed to catch the the thing, there are tricks to getting them next to the shearer and flipping them over so they were leaning upright against your legs, ready to be handed over. But tying those fleeces-I still cringe athe memory of that grease they have on the inside of them. Always too hot to wear a shirt, and anyway it would have got soaked in sweat and grease. I cannot bear sticky stuff on my skin.
        Someone else got the cheque (like my picturesque spelling?) for the wool and for the lambs, where the real money in sheep lies. I just got the work. I got paid, but I’d have been happy being paid to do something else.
        Nothing personal against sheep, don’t get me wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. But seriously, PJ. If your friends understand the work that’s involved, and in fairness, modern handling equipment is available, that I have no experience of – I understand that sheep can be fascinating, and wouldn’t want my curmudgeonliness to stop anyone.

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  10. I don’t like any fall chores. I’ve never really been able to figure out why except maybe I have a finite amount of yardwork energy and I use it all up in the spring and summer. I’ve been doing leaves two bags at a time right now because if I go out thinking, I’m going to do more, I won’t go out. I did move a couple of lilies last week.

    My big sore muscle time is in the spring. I could take several days over a couple of weeks to do my spring cleanup but like as not, once I go out, I stay out. There’s just one more thing to do then one more then one more. The satisfaction at the end of spring cleanup in my yard is immense. So knowing that I will be sore for a day or so never stops me.

    Believe it or not I actually got sore muscles in my studio a couple of weeks ago. One piece of my solstice card this year required an enormous amount of repetitive and forceful strength — die cutting some thing. And of course I had to do it 80 times — I was sore a couple of nights after that. Suffering for my Art!

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  11. Physical tasks: everything these days. Sure lost my endurance this past year. Still working on getting that back. And then I’m going to loose some of it again with the knee. OH WELL!

    Building sets can be somewhat physical, it depends. Lots of construction so carrying lumber, cutting, screw guns, lots of walking.
    Sunday morning I got a lot of things done outside at home; it felt good to do all sorts of random things. But after two hours I was pooped.
    Aspirin, massages, rest, Absorbine Jr., and just keep working those muscle moving.

    I’m not sure I dislike anything about fall… If fact, I’ve been in a ‘cleaning’ mode; tossing a lot of things. My friend Diane and I used to say ‘Fall! Gotta get this wrapped up!’

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        1. Oops, done it again.
          I wonder whether WP would provide tick boxes at the bottom of each post?

          Empathy required [ ]
          Not required [ ]

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  12. It’s been a while but I destroyed myself trying to match a glued down carpet installation in a huge conference dining room. Typically, you try to use rolls in sequence but another crew had started the project and left me a disaster. When laid out with pattern matched in the middle of two 90 foot drops, it was 9 inches off on each end meaning 18 inches of material needed to be either stretched or shrunk. Impossible, but I tried. What made matters worse, was a total lack of cooperation from the crew given me. I sweated , kicked, stretched basically alone. Exhausted, I gave up and told the contactor that I couldn’t do anymore. So the next day, Ohio Governor DeWine had to have his fundraiser on horrible looking carpet. All was not lost.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve had carpet wrinkle and be stretched, but not 18″.

      When I worked as a stage hand, sometimes we’d lay carpet and put up pipe and drape for conventions. It wasn’t glued down, except maybe taped on the ends or edges, and it was all one color, so not a big deal. But the install crew had to do the ‘Marley Jump’, to stretch the carpet out. (Named for the dance floor covering, ‘marley’, which is kind of a soft vinyl. And you jump / hop forward with both feet to stretch it.) But because of my bad foot, I could never do it, so I wouldn’t get called for carpet installs. Can’t say I felt bad about that. But I did a lot of pipe and drape!

      But I could do a cable dance!
      (jumping up and down on road box full of huge electrical feeder cable to fit it all in the box. )

      Liked by 3 people

  13. I exhausted myself with a carpet installation at Cherry Hills, New Jersey Lane Bryant. The carpet demolition was the worst I’d ever experienced. 1 inch strips were all we could get up even with machines. The crew assigned were from a local day job company. The boss said to hire 4 and only 1 would come back the next day. He was correct and the struggle continued mostly me alone. I had blisters on blisters on both hands. The night after finishing, I drove to Dayton and flew to Napa in California. My bandaged hands didn’t help attracting the female co-traveler.

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  14. Moving furniture around a week or so ago, for the annual furniture re-arrange, was pretty physical…

    I don’t mind raking, but anything involving digging I avoid.
    My least favorite fall task is listening to the neighbors’ leaf blowers.

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