Never again this summer

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Every summer, I’ve suggested we not purchase more new plants or trees. It’s too much work getting them established. All I wanted this year was a few flowers for hanging baskets and mulch for the beds. I’ve spent way too much of these last summers working outside--- hot, covered up against the sun and as protected as possible against chiggers--- trying to keep things going. Not fun.

Years ago, we reluctantly struck our large garden after we agreed it was becoming too much work during years of drought ---work that mostly fell to me after initial prep and planting--- which Zack really gets into. After that, he’s on to other projects, and maintenance becomes a job I never wanted. It was costing too much for water, and there were years when no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t keep things alive. Those were some pretty pricey tomatoes when we did the math. So Zack sold our expensive, nearly new tiller to a neighbor for fifty bucks, something I’ll never fully understand. With all the old equipment in our barn, what would have been the harm in keeping it?

We switched to Keyhole Gardens, and that’s been a sketchy thing. They first year was wonderful, then not so much. Some years they performed well, but other years were awful. Operator error, no doubt. I’ve heard that for some reason tomatoes don’t do well in them. Our experience bears this out, but I kept trying. Raised gardens work particularly well for things the resident wild bunnies . Luckily they can’t climb. I’m not averse to sharing, but they didn’t get the memo--- and totally decimated tender new plants. So the broccoli and other things moved up in the world, literally. Bunnies aren’t crazy about tomatoes or squash-- which may explain their success in particular in this area.

Two years ago, disgusted with our lack of Keyhole Garden tomato success, Zack planted some in the ground. They did pretty well, and I was beyond ecstatic that he watered them himself. Last year, we designated an area in our back yard, tilled a patch of land and planted there. While we both agree that it’s exhausting keeping new things alive in our hot, Texas summers, we just can’t seem to give up. Every year, Zack agrees with me when I say, “never again”. And each spring he goes out and buys tomato plants and “just a few” new trees, rosebushes or vines. And in addition, this year there was sod, the straw that will break this camel’s back. This was to be Zack’s project.

I whined in a previous column that wild hogs are tearing up our front yard this year. It wasn’t enough that they invaded and destroyed other huge areas of the ranch. The last week’s been awful. Zack’s tried hunting early and late. He’s been sporadically successful, but can’t keep up with them. They keep making more--- faster than he can cull the herd. Not even the dogs hear them sneak into the front yard in the middle of the night. I guess we’re all too tired to wake up. If only we could catch them in the act, Zack would let them know in no uncertain terms that this behavior demands the big guns.

We were supposed to start today on repairing all the fences around the large yard. Buying barbed wire and t-posts wasn’t exactly how I’d planned to use our stimulus money. We see trails where hogs are coming through the old fences. They’re in such bad shape even after our many repairs, it’s a wonder the cattle haven’t just walked right through. So this job’s been on the list for quite some time. The problem is that there are too many other things on the same list.

After seeing the mess in his previously well-tended front yard, Zack decided before dawn that instead of starting the fence today, he’d instead dash into Waco for St. Augustine sod--- to lay where the hogs so thoughtfully roughed up the ground for us. The problem with this is that they’ll probably tear up the new sod tonight. He was back by 8:30 am. He grew too hot laying the sod, came in, sat down and cramped up so badly that there was no way he’d be going out to water in almost 100 pieces of sod. So guess how I spent my day? I’d like to say “Never again” again. But I know it won’t do me any good.