Fall clean up: starting the squash beds, plus… this could be bad!

On my list of things to do today was to prep the squash beds for winter.

Of course, things happened, so I started much later than intended – past 2pm – and didn’t get as much done as I’d planned on.

Here is how it looked when I started.

The first thing I had done we pick up the bricks we’d used to weigh down the plastic we used to cover the beds in the spring, and again under some of the plants to protect the stems or support heavier squash.

You can really see which bed had the most successful plants!

Also, notice the raspberry canes to the left on the foreground? Or, should I say, the bare raspberry canes?

The deer have been nibbling the leaves off those, as well as the sunflowers!

I had brought out both the potato fork and the spade to see which would be better to work on the beds.

It turned out to be the fork. After a year under the mulch, the ground was a lot softer than before, but even with the fork, I had difficulties getting past the rocks. We have only one good spade. I don’t want to break the blade on a rock!

Here is how they looked when I finished for the day.

The bed on the left was still a real chore to dig up. With each section I lifted with the fork, I had to break up the soil by hand. That gave me the opportunity to pull out weed roots and the more in-the-way rocks. The bed on the right was much easier to work, and I had a lot fewer rocks that needed to be pulled out. The squash plants were also buried so they can compost directly into the soil.

I was really happy with how much easier the soil was to work with. To compare, I had pushed the spade into the ground next to the mulched area. After working for a while, I took off my jacket and hung it on the spade. A few minutes later, and a gust of wind turned my jacket into a sail and down it went. So I pushed it into the ground again, this time, standing on the foot supports and bouncing my ample weight on it a few times, then hung my jacket back on the handle. The next stiff breeze, and it fell over again! And I didn’t even hit and rocks when I was pushing in the spade! What a difference, working under the mulched squash beds. Not only was the ground much easier to work, I was finding SO many worms! What a great sign. 🙂

The next area I will dig up will be the long row at the back, and then the pumpkin hills in the middle. The one hill nearest the back row, I might enlarge to create another longer bed, but the other two are so surrounded with crab grass, I’m just going to dig up a roughly 4′ x 4′ area and pull out as many rhizomes from there as I can.

The main reason I had to stop, though, we because I started to feel rather unwell. It took a while for me to realize something.

I hadn’t eaten yet, other than a couple of freshly baked cookies, before I headed outside.

Usually, I do my morning rounds outside, then have breakfast while going over the trail cam files. Today, I was out earlier to make sure the gates were open for the septic truck. (Which still hasn’t shown up.) Then I heard someone in the kitchen and with our kitchen being so small, I decided to wait until they were done.

Then my husband came over and informed me we were almost out of butter. He is having a good pain day today for a change, and was up to making cookies, not realizing we didn’t have enough butter to make them. Normally, we would have done our monthly shop by now, and there would have been a whole bunch in the freezer, but we had to take care of other things. We’ll be going in a couple of days.

So I made a quick run into town to pick up a few things along with the butter. I’m glad I did, because once I had a data signal, I started getting texts from our plumber. I’d sent him pictures of our well pump when I was in town yesterday, as he requested, and he was responding to them


The first thing he noted was that the new pump is 1/2 hp, while the old pump is 3/4 hp. My brother bought this pump and he knows the system very well, so I knew it would work. It’s just not as powerful. After seeing the pictures of the old pump, from various angles, he thought the problem might be in the well itself. This is something my brother and I had talked about, as he thinks the foot valve might be leaking. The problem is, this is a very old system. He has actually worked in there before – about 20 years ago! – and that was probably the last time anyone has gone into the well.

So aside from it getting harder to find parts for it, it’s going to be fragile. If he starts opening things up to see what’s what, we might end up with no water at all. I could go to a company that specializes in wells, but they don’t like these old systems, either, and he said we would most likely be told we need a new well drilled. We could instead replace the submersible pump in the well, along with the pump in the basement, and that would take care of all sorts of potential problems down there. I asked him for an idea of what those pumps cost, but before he could get back to me, I had to leave town and head home, where I would no longer be able to get text messages. I sent him a message to phone me later and headed home.

Once at home, I emailed my brother to pass on the info, since he knows the system way better than I do. We both agreed that we should just get the pump in the basement switched to the new one, then see how it goes. If we still have problems, then it would be time to have someone go into the well and see what’s what. I hope it doesn’t come to that. Over the years, the well cover has been damaged. It’s a concrete circle with bent rebar handles embedded in the concrete. At some point, one of those handles got broken right off, and the other is bent down against the concrete. I’m not sure how we would get it open.

So I ended up calling the plumber back and leaving a message about starting with switching out the old pump in the basement and seeing how that goes. I also called the septic company to see if they are still coming out today, but we’ve had no call back from them, either. Which is really, really unusual for them.

I don’t like have the gate not only unlocked, but open, for so long. At least I can keep an eye on it through the live feed of the garage security camera.

It’s still afternoon as I write this, but it feels like it should be several hours later, right now!

I have such an urge to just go to bed right now.

The Re-Farmer

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