Day in the Dump(ster)

What do you get when mix rain with a steep, narrow, gravel driveway, and a monster-sized dumpster delivery truck – on a Monday? Drum role and cymbal crash, please…

A Recipe for Disaster. Ha Ha!

Not so funny if you are the driver who realizes you made a bad call and accidentally gets your 10-ton truck stuck in a foot of mud. But thankfully there’s a “wrecker” - a.k.a. Big Ass Tow Truck - that can even haul a gigantic dumpster delivery truck out of sludge mud on a steep slope.

This is exactly what happened at the reLuxe Ranch last Monday. But fret not, the story ends better than it started. Remarkably, the driver managed to keep his cool through the whole three-hour ordeal. After being hauled out of the originally planned drop location, he managed to unload the dumpster alongside our drive. And luckily, he works with his dad, who was “pissed” (driver’s word not mine), but will not fire him. I sent him home with some of Matt’s good beer to help smooth things over with his dad. I also promised the driver we’d plan the dumpster pick-up for a dry day.

Our driveway got a bit tore up in the process. So, I’ve been raking and stamping it down a little each day. It almost looks normal now…yeah, right.

There’s a whole ethical dilemma to having a 22’ by 8’ dumpster delivered to our supposedly “sustainable” reLuxe Ranch that I will cover in a separate, full-length post. But for now, let’s just say it was “necessary”. The picture below shows what I rounded up in just a couple hours from areas near the house.

Except for the concrete bags in the dumpster, the rest of the trash came with the property (lucky us!).

Mulch and Manure Mania

On Tuesday, yet another monster-sized truck navigated our narrow drive – for three different trips – to offload 24 cubic yards of hardwood mulch, 24 cubic yards of composted manure, 20 straw bales, and 10 railroad cross ties (heavy suckers). The fine folks at Farmer’s Mulch and Rock are superstars in my book. They threw in bonus “scoops” - yards of mulch and manure at no charge, delivered to our backwoods compound (yee-haw!) for free without batting an eye, and they have great prices on their products.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to have this much mulch and manure. For pile perspective, the mounds are slightly longer than our outdoor living/dining terrace (hiding behind the piles in the photo above) and are about five feet tall at the center. For utility perspective, this is about $800 worth of organic matter that will enable us to plant somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 heavy feeding annual plants in soil that previously looked like a mini-dustbowl, and it will keep on giving for years to come. We will likely need several more shipments of mulch because we plan to use it on all our foot paths to minimize erosion and reduce further compaction, plus we are spreading it liberally around our fruit trees. It may seem crazy to apply this much mulch and manure, but by investing in bulk materials and spreading heavily now, we’re saving ourselves 3-5 years of trying to do this with cover crops and our own compost/mulch operation. So it is money and wheelbarrow time well-spent.

Post-Hole Party Continues

Following our hole-digging adventures last week, this week we started sticking the posts in the holes in concrete. We got the corners mounted in the evenings after Matt’s work hours. Then we spent Saturday getting the gates and as many of the concrete mounted posts in the ground as we could. We got about 70% of the posts set.

We should wrap up the rest by this week. And of course, after that much work, you know what happened next…we had cocktails and soaked in the hot tub. Aren’t we so predictable?

Oysters Grown Here!

No, not raw bar variety we like to knock back with a nice mignonette and shot of vodka. I am talking about Oyster mushrooms. In addition to the morel patch and inoculated log piles Matt has made for us, he’s also been putting our excessive caffeine habit to good use. We save our coffee and tea grounds daily and then he layers them in a five gallon bucket with mushroom spawn. Once the bucket is full and the contents are well myceliated, (e.g. nearly hard as rock and covered with all kinds of white stuff) he starts squirting water on them until little baby mushrooms explode on the surface. Then he keeps squirting until they reach full size.

Our first flush (that’s what they call the fruiting of a the mushrooms) took off quickly, then didn’t do much, but our second flush looks like we might actually get enough to make a lovely pasta dish. As a bonus, once the mushrooms stop sprouting, the grounds will have been transformed into incredible compost for our greenhouse beds.

Matt bought his spawn from Trad Cotter, at Mushroom Mountain, a SC mushroom guy, whose farm we’ll be touring in March.