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My work is getting harder now

 
Posts: 111
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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We're an aging-in-place couple (me 67, Robert 71) renting an old house in the suburbs on 3/4 acres in Northeast Georgia from a friend who says we can do anything with it we want. For the last two years, I've been busy taking down diseased pine trees, laying out rough guild areas, building a small chicken coop, and planting perennials, all while fighting the battle of killing off all the poison ivy, English ivy, and Chinese privet. (When we moved here, the trees were covered in PI and EI, which is one of the reasons they were so sick, and you had to wade through it on most of the ground in the back yard.) I've had my work cut out for me, and I've made pretty incredible progress for a little old lady trying to be a bushhog.

Until this year, Robert would mow the lawn. Now I have to do it because it kills his back. Also I have to do whatever cleaning gets done inside or outside because it kills his back. I wound up in the emergency room a few months ago thinking I was having a heart attack because, apparently, I'd majorly pulled something in my chest while dragging around big 4' logs. At least I now know I have a very strong ticker and am not likely to drop dead from a heart attack anytime soon! But, since early June, it's been too hot for me to do much of anything outside, so I've been getting frustrated. I have to force myself not to buy plants to plant; I've got a cutting house loaded up with things to plant in November, but no idea where I'm going to plant it all.

I'm just wondering how those of you in a similar situation are coping. I'm trying to be patient, but I am mindful of how quickly nature will undo everything I've tried to do. Also how long it takes for things to get established. I know, I'm supposed to be working with nature, but something there is that doesn't love a lawn and wants something to harvest!

 
gardener
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Being in the south, i have come to the conclusion that july and august is our winter.  By that i mean hunker down and keep cool. Think of 3ft of snow on the ground and you are locked inside. Only there is no firewood to cut. This is a reasonable rout to take. Annual garden is about dead, grass isn't growing, etc.

Now that september is here, things will get more active. Seeding pasture, fall garden planting. It's like spring time again.

I guess my suggestion is time the work with the conditions.
 
Posts: 1913
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I think maybe you have to be more realistic. As I'm the one who wants to do all the growing and farming at my house I do it all with very little assistance from my spouse. He doesn't care what I do, so long as he doesn't have to help much. This has always been an acceptable arrangement for me. This obviously limits my ability to accomplish things though.. I mean, sure, I get the things done but instead of getting a greenhouse 5 years ago like I'd planned I'm getting one this year and it's taking me all summer to complete.

Don't kill yourself over doing it. Take it one small project at a time. Give yourself some grace. Also, perhaps this isn't the life you should be living now. Perhaps a small suburban lot you can put intense amounts of time into to get a harvest out of is the better way to go. Only you can decide.
 
pioneer
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Diane Kistner wrote:We're an aging-in-place couple (me 67, Robert 71) renting an old house in the suburbs on 3/4 acres in Northeast Georgia from a friend who says we can do anything with it we want. For the last two years, I've been busy taking down diseased pine trees, laying out rough guild areas, building a small chicken coop, and planting perennials, all while fighting the battle of killing off all the poison ivy, English ivy, and Chinese privet. (When we moved here, the trees were covered in PI and EI, which is one of the reasons they were so sick, and you had to wade through it on most of the ground in the back yard.) I've had my work cut out for me, and I've made pretty incredible progress for a little old lady trying to be a bushhog.

Until this year, Robert would mow the lawn. Now I have to do it because it kills his back. Also I have to do whatever cleaning gets done inside or outside because it kills his back. I wound up in the emergency room a few months ago thinking I was having a heart attack because, apparently, I'd majorly pulled something in my chest while dragging around big 4' logs. At least I now know I have a very strong ticker and am not likely to drop dead from a heart attack anytime soon! But, since early June, it's been too hot for me to do much of anything outside, so I've been getting frustrated. I have to force myself not to buy plants to plant; I've got a cutting house loaded up with things to plant in November, but no idea where I'm going to plant it all.

I'm just wondering how those of you in a similar situation are coping. I'm trying to be patient, but I am mindful of how quickly nature will undo everything I've tried to do. Also how long it takes for things to get established. I know, I'm supposed to be working with nature, but something there is that doesn't love a lawn and wants something to harvest!



Diane, one of the things I struggled with, and still do, is to keep the zone theory in mind.  It seems best to start right at the walls of your house and work outward, making sure whatever area you are working on is "done" before moving further out.  I understand it isn't possible to do that completely, especially when you are battling an invader that is trying to undo your work.  Some work simply needs to be done further out.

The only other advice I can give you is to try to notice all the work you have done, rather than the things left to do.  There will always be things to do.  Always.  I will die long before everything is "done", so I try to take some time to look at the things I have accomplished and enjoy them rather than getting overwhelmed by things yet to be.  It's also nice if you have one place, however small, that you find peaceful, and spend some time there just watching the bees and birds and things going about their business.  It takes some of the pressure off if you know you will never be "done".  I could have another 100 years, and I'm pretty sure I would have things I still wanted to do to my place.  That being said, does it really matter if I have 100 things left undone, or 150?
 
Diane Kistner
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elle sagenev wrote:I think maybe you have to be more realistic. As I'm the one who wants to do all the growing and farming at my house I do it all with very little assistance from my spouse. He doesn't care what I do, so long as he doesn't have to help much. This has always been an acceptable arrangement for me. This obviously limits my ability to accomplish things though.. I mean, sure, I get the things done but instead of getting a greenhouse 5 years ago like I'd planned I'm getting one this year and it's taking me all summer to complete.

Don't kill yourself over doing it. Take it one small project at a time. Give yourself some grace. Also, perhaps this isn't the life you should be living now. Perhaps a small suburban lot you can put intense amounts of time into to get a harvest out of is the better way to go. Only you can decide.



We don't have a choice of where we're going to live. I expect we're going to die here...or at least live here until we're ready for a nursing home! But you do make a very valid point. I'm no spring chicken anymore. The way I've been working the back yard is to section it off, kind of like developing the layout for the Zone 1 and Zone 2 areas, but mindful of the zones further back. I think what I need to do is stop worrying so much about getting the 160' back fence planted with a hedge barrier and worry more about what I'm going to do with the closer zones. I've been eliminating a lot of lawn so far, so there's no reason I can't keep doing that! LOL!

I'm thinking maybe I need to focus on getting things like figs and berries established (already planted a plum and a pear) so I'll have some relatively quickly producing perennials. The asparagus bed I put in the first year ought to start producing better next spring, and I've got mushrooms popping up all over...and a praying mantis showed up, which I take as an omen that I'm doing something right!


 
Diane Kistner
Posts: 111
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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Trace Oswald wrote:
Diane, one of the things I struggled with, and still do, is to keep the zone theory in mind.  It seems best to start right at the walls of your house and work outward, making sure whatever area you are working on is "done" before moving further out.  I understand it isn't possible to do that completely, especially when you are battling an invader that is trying to undo your work.  Some work simply needs to be done further out.

The only other advice I can give you is to try to notice all the work you have done, rather than the things left to do.  There will always be things to do.  Always.  I will die long before everything is "done", so I try to take some time to look at the things I have accomplished and enjoy them rather than getting overwhelmed by things yet to be.  It's also nice if you have one place, however small, that you find peaceful, and spend some time there just watching the bees and birds and things going about their business.  It takes some of the pressure off if you know you will never be "done".  I could have another 100 years, and I'm pretty sure I would have things I still wanted to do to my place.  That being said, does it really matter if I have 100 things left undone, or 150?



Great advice, Trace. One thing that gives me an awful lot of pleasure is to see the critters that have been attracted to my little unruly corner of the world. A praying mantis on my lawn chair yesterday! The honeybees that come to drink from the splashed rocks at my pond. All the scoliid wasps that are bombarding my horsemint! The anoles and the baby anoles. And my two little peeps, of course, who squawk so delightedly when I go out to see them.

Okay, I think I've mustered the will to cut the grass today....

 
master pollinator
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This is such an important topic!  Here's another thread on it, which may have some helpful ideas:  https://permies.com/t/56826/permaculture-projects/Aging-place-permaculture
 
Posts: 85
Location: Southeast Missouri
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wayne fajkus wrote:Being in the south, i have come to the conclusion that july and august is our winter.  By that i mean hunker down and keep cool. Think of 3ft of snow on the ground and you are locked inside. Only there is no firewood to cut. This is a reasonable rout to take. Annual garden is about dead, grass isn't growing, etc.

Now that september is here, things will get more active. Seeding pasture, fall garden planting. It's like spring time again.

I guess my suggestion is time the work with the conditions.



You can pretty much add September in the hunker down months.  We are building a pace in the woods.  From Oct to May I can work from sunup to sundown with a couple short water breaks and a 20 minute lunch break.  From June to September, I may spend 10 hours out there but probably only get 6 hours work done due to having to take breaks to hydrate and cool down.  If I don't listen to my body and work within its limits, then I'm unable to go the next day or so.  Trying to squeeze in more time by pushing in the heat is self defeating.  I've got 2 herniated discs and arthritis in my back.  My wife has had both hips replaced.  We do what we can, then choose not to worry about it.  We are both 61 and I know that in the next decade we are going to face some physical challenges.

Hope hubby is able to get some relief for his back.  Might be time to see if there is some younger relative or local kid who would trade labor for some home cooked goodies and/or a little cash.  We both try to focus on what we can do and be thankful for that rather than feeling blue about what we can't do.  It is the only thing that keeps us from getting discouraged and giving up.
 
Diane Kistner
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Bob Gallamore wrote:You can pretty much add September in the hunker down months.



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