Workers gone, we took a couple days off. Slackers? Maybe.
The weather got into single digits again, so for the last few days we did a bit of escapism and a bit of hunkering down, both.
We did spend a couple hours mocking up one section of retaining wall before the weather arrived., to try out our method so we'd be ready to roll when we were ready to work outdoors again. We're planning to build the wall in place before pouring the post-hole concrete. We had different ideas about it and wrangled the materials around a bit (it is an awkward job, at best). In the end, we think we came up with a method that will work pretty smoothly, and that we both agree on!
When the blustery, snowy weather shut us down as expected, we took the opportunity to go into town to bathe... we like to say how we got set up perfectly for showers at camp, but it still takes a good deal of motivation to get the fires burning, haul water, heat water, and reconfigure for showering, especially when the best time window is when the weather is too cold or blustery for construction -- not super conducive for showering. You really don't want to know how infrequently we bathe, or how long we can wear a particular shirt... living in a pop-up depending on water haul has shifted our habits considerably!
In town we also took a day for Christmas shopping and even did a load of laundry. We got a thermostat for the pop-up that goes down to 35 so that we could leave the heat on when we go out of town -- so now half of the pop-up is dedicated to unfreezables. When we got back from our 24 hours away, some things had frozen, so we probably have to set it at 40 next time!
Then yesterday, back at camp, I spent a day packing boxes and Chip spent a day doing dishes. It was still cold, but Chip got a hot fire going in the white tent, and setup an organized multi-stage dishwashing station. I worked in the pop-up. We were amazed that he could spend an entire day working through our huge pile of dirty dishes, and that I could spend an entire day packing boxes!
Today we headed into town to mail boxes and pick up some lumber we realized we needed for our retaining wall -- the panels are very cumbersome, and they also leave a gap between the posts and the metal siding. We decided to add short vertical pieces of 2x4 behind the posts and in front of the metal, to aid in building and to add rigidity to the wall.
While in town we also dropped off our recycling, picked up some groceries, and visited a couple of breweries and coffeeshops. We have always encountered friendly and encouraging folks in Grants whenever we mention our goals. -- like the very supportive farmers at the market last summer. Today we met Jonathan from Mt. Taylor Coffee Company who was super -- he's a gardener himself, and uses coffee grounds in his compost, but the shop produces way more than he can keep up with. He happily offered us three day's worth of grounds to add to our hard-pan planting beds, and encouraged us to stop in again to pick up more. Not only that, he directed us to the county extension office, where his dad is the master gardener! It also turns out his wife runs the farmer's market. The beauty of small towns!
We did head over to the county extension office, where Chase spent a generous amount of time talking with us about our land and the greenhouse. We all know that our land will need copious amounts of organic matter. Chase agreed with us that it makes most sense to add organic matter and work that into the soil before investing in soil tests. We plan to add coffee grounds, horse manure (from our land and maybe from a friend's corral), and our meager amount of our own compost (we only have 10 gallons of bokashi-fermented food waste since July). We might also supplement with some arroyo-bottom silt, which we learned is what the garden center sells as topsoil. We'll take that from the clogged culverts so it will serve to improve the road.