Fall officially arrived yesterday at our house.
Not meteorological fall, or the equinox, of course. Those have already occurred. At our house, fall arrives officially when we move plants.
The weather yesterday cooperated enough so that we could get the barn/workshop/storage shed conversion almost complete. There are odds and ends left, but nothing terribly major and the space is now functional, thanks mostly to Jeremy’s dad. Ed loves projects like this and he has created a pretty amazing multi-functional organized series of spaces out of what was once just one squarish garage. It helped that we got rid of a lot of stuff from there in the process, too. The garage before was a catch all, and it had caught way too much. Jeremy is becoming famous for his purges, and this one was a success.
This area at the front of the barn is, well, the barn. We call it Critter Alley. The low pens on the right are the two inside runs for the ducks. The tall pen at the back right is unoccupied currently but is being called the dove house in preparation for its planned occupants. The lower cages on the left house Cocoa the retired classroom lion head rabbit, a crotchety old girl, and Porkchop, the current classroom guinea pig, when he is home on break. The upper pens are as yet empty. The top of the duck pens is a potting area with double windows facing the yard and house and shelves to hold pots. This area is separate from the workshop and storage areas so that in winter, with a curtain of some sort over the entrance to it, we can heat it just enough to keep critters safe and water from freezing.
Outside is the new double outdoor run for the ducks. It is roofed, which will be a big help for many reasons. The wall blocks will help hold the mulch in the area that tends to get muddy. Chickens are hell on mulch, so we are hoping this will help.
This was complete by early afternoon. After a break, Jeremy worked at reorganizing the barn, post-construction, and cleaning and changing animal cages and bedding. With the new cage designs, he can do most of it with the shop-vac, which makes that chore a little less chore-ish.
While he was doing that, I began the process of moving plants inside in anticipation of temperatures in the 30s last night. We are collectors of many things and plants are one of those things. Many go outside for the summer, and they will tolerate early fall temps with only a little sulking, but some just can’t do 30s. We will probably have more beautiful, warm days before the night time temperatures stay consistently in the 30s, though, so we decided to just move them to the potting bench in the barn, where it will be easier to move them back out for a couple of days.
There are many plants packed onto that bench, including lemon, lime, and mandarin orange trees. Hooks in the ceiling in front of windows hold 3 hanging baskets with house plants, too. Not everything made the cut yesterday to get into the barn. There is a very sad brugmansia outside right now, for instance. We over wintered it in the basement last year and gave it what we thought was a prime spot outside, and it is a pathetic spindly thing, so it has been chosen for sacrifice. (To be fair, we are TERRIBLE at letting go of plants, so don’t be surprised if this gets a second, second chance. We didn’t dig dahlias or cannas, either…yet.). Everything needs to be checked for bugs before going in the house, too, and then we have to find places for them, so not all of the plants in the barn may make it into the house. Depending on the winter and how frequently we have to heat the critters, some may get a chance to fight for survival in the barn.
It was just about dark when we finished, so we closed the windows on the chicken coop for the first time since spring and came inside. All of the windows of the house were open, and we sat for quite awhile under blankets before reluctantly closing them. Dogs expand and contract with the seasons, and were curled in balls, noses under tails, except Barney, an under-the-covers kind of dog, who shared Jeremy’s blanket. Gracie was in her winter spot, curled against the bottom of the refrigerator. The parakeets, moved into the house from their summer in the barn, were quiet under a blanket.
When I went to bed, I threw an old knotted comforter from my grandparents’ farm on the bed. That thing must weigh about 20 pounds, and I swear, even after 25 years, it still smells like my grandparents’ house. Before falling asleep, I crawled out of bed and reopened the bedroom window about 6 inches. Tucked under that comforter, it needed to be cold.