weeding with ducks on Big Dig 1 side B at PumpjackPiddlewick

It’s time for Big Dig 1, side B to commence! Our garden restoration may be slow but it is definitely gaining mileage. (Or is that kilometerage?) We have been working on it in sections, essentially as we needed areas.

We began with the duck enclosure as we needed a place to house the ducks. Then the veg garden cleared and planted, so we could eat. Big Dig 1 (side A) was third as we wanted at least some place we could entertain, if more or less only seasonally. Side A became our patio. And Big Dig 2, the bottom garden, has had some digging and clearing, just because it shouldn’t be ignored totally.

All areas of our restoration garden garner some attention year round as they are morphed from overgrown and buried under all sorts of debris into what we envision. And now it is Big Dig 1, side B’s turn.

But what do I mean by Big Dig 1, Side B? A quick history and outline. We have a barn that extends across the width of our garden at the top. In other words, to get into our garden you have to go through the barn door. Now our barn was left to go to rack and ruin, from what we can tell. And see.

The roof at some stage had decided to fall apart. And, at least at the back, we figure all the roof tiles had slid off, maybe over time, maybe all in one go, and crashed into the ground below. Where they lay and were slowly covered over with dirt, mulch, leaves, whatever, until buried and out of sight.

To sell the property (to us) a new roof was put on the barn. Result! So when we first saw our overgrown garden we had no idea that a good portion of it would be full of broken tiles. But with plans to restore the garden came digging, and with digging we started to find all sorts of things as well as some of our home’s story.

We started on one side behind the barn. We quickly dubbed it Big Dig 1* when we discovered the layer upon layer of broken tiles and how far down we would have to dig before clearing it all. And the sheer volume was also why we ended up only digging out one side of the barn. Side A took us a year to dig and clear.

So now we turn our attention to Big Dig 1, side B. Other than the bottom garden, this is the last bastion of overgrown, in much need of restoration area. And since it is what greets you when you enter the garden, it gets dibs on time over the end of the garden.

First there is the prep work to do. The whole area is overgrown with weeds. And there is a very large mound of dirt that came from Side A to shift. But there is a conundrum. We have to dig out the broken tiles on that side, and thus add to the mound of dirt, but the mound of dirt sits on the buried tiles.

Originally this dirt mound was going to assist in filling raised beds in the veg garden. But due to the lockdown this year we didn’t get to get pallets to make the raised beds. So the dirt mound was never used. The plan now for the dirt is to use it to level out the area in eventual preparation for a deck and lawn area. But first it has to be shifted out of the way. Sigh.

Actually first, there is the weeding, as even the mound of dirt is now covered in them. And so Big Dig 1, side B commenced this past weekend by pulling weeds, with the ever so helpful ducks of course. They do love gardening. Even Chewie (our dog) and Lappy (one of cats) gave a paw.

Weeding with ducks in Big Dig 1, side B works like this. I have a seat on the ground, on my gardening cushion for some level of cleanliness. (Ha!) Three buckets are to hand and one plastic bag.

One is for weeds. One is for found broken tile pieces that are already small enough to be used straight away on my veg garden paths. And one for large pieces of tile that need to be broken up later. The plastic bag is for the odd piece of broken glass or other piece of trash found and needing to be placed in a proper receptacle rather than our garden.

Added on to this, I have a three pronged sort of digger scraper tool for those hard to get out roots. (Nothing bigger as there is too much danger of harm with the ducks about.)

Now that I am prepped and ready, I pull, pull, pull. And when pulling doesn’t work, I scrape and dig. And in amongst all this pulling, etc. the ducks meander around me and help turn and loosen the soil, hunting for worms and bugs.

Occasionally Gabby (my now almost adult imprinted duck) decides my pulling hand is a chance to practice chesting. It’s a male form of dominance and territory fighting, using their chests to say ‘I’m bigger than you are’. Kind of like elk and antlers. And in the case of my hand Gabby is bigger now. Except my hand is pretty strong, so we have a good chesting bout.

Yes it is a slow way to weed. But the laughter and sheer fun of weeding with the ducks makes the time and effort worth it. And some projects simply take time anyway. It will be at least a year before this area is cleared of all the buried broken tiles.

*Big Dig 1 – Side A (with views to various mounds of detritus in Side B)

Top Garden / Big Dig 1

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