Halfway Through the Summer

The time flies again and I feel like I managed to do exactly nothing. This is not true, of course, only I managed to do just enough to be ever so slightly behind what needs to be done. I was in part hampered by the extremely hot weather, but mostly by the fact that I only have two hands, and by now I do all heavy work around the house solo. Thus I am in a perpetual state of frustration and a feeling of inadequacy.

At least I have managed to repair half of the walkway to our house.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

The tiles sunk in the middle about 2 cm over the years since it was built in 2017 so I need to dismantle it piece-by-piece, add some gravel underneath, compress it, and re-assemble it. I have finally some use for the stones that I managed to collect in my garden over the years as well as the leftover gravel from house renovations. Here you can see two buckets of fine stones and a wheelbarrow full of gravel, all collected from my vegetable patches and flower beds and sieved from the soil when preparing the substrate for bonsai. This gives you some idea about the natural state of topsoil around here and why fields were replaced by meadows as soon as centrally organized agriculture stopped being a thing. I can run out of a lot of things, stones not being one of them.

The other thing that is half-done is firewood for winter.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I wrote about this wood last year, these are offcuts from making palettes and furniture, and it is a lot of work, and I mean a lot of work now as well as in winter when I will need to carry each of these sacks down to the cellar. But it is very cheap – about 1/10 of wood briquettes or paletted firewood. Since I am not good at selling knives, I can more easily afford to spend time doing this than to spend money on better fuel. Even though I spend with it about two months’ worth of labor, at this price it actually saves me about two months’ worth of living wage, so it is worth it. I really do not need to go to the gym, I get my workout at home – I just bagged 3700 kg of firewood in three weeks.

I do not know when the other half will be delivered so today I took a little break from all my work and I made shrimp for lunch. I like shrimp, but they are a treat that I eat only a few times a year. I did not do anything fancy, just french fries, deep-fried shrimp, and some steamed vegetables. The steamed vegetables were from the first harvest of this summer, the first pattypan squash and a few bean pods.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

I planted five different kinds of beans this year to get some variety. Shame, really, that the red pods lose color in steaming, they do look quite appetizing and colorful when raw. The result was good anyway – each type had a slightly different texture and taste, so the final dish was quite delicious.

I do hope to manage to do some work on knives before the next batch of firewood arrives. I would also like to take a few photos of my bonsai trees for the Bonsai for Beginners series. We’ll see.



  1. Jazzlet says

    Is it ever possible to be up to date with what needs doing around a household, especially one with land? I don’t know, but I suspect not, I’ve never managed it. Anyway the path is looking good up to where you have done, and I guess it will drain better now?

    That is a lot of wood to sort.

  2. Ice Swimmer says

    More than a ton a week in addition to other things. I’m impressed as well.

    Is the soil till from some past glaciation there? Here in Tampere, Finland, till from the last ice age is the most common soil type.

  3. chigau (違う) says

    I grew a bean called “Royal Bugundy” for many years.
    I screamed the first time I blanched them for freezing, they just went green!
    A really good bean. You could leave them to dry on the vine, if needed.

  4. says

    @Ice Swimmer, the bedrock here is strongly metamorphosed shale -- phyllite, with quartz veins. The topsoil is accumulated eluvium from said phyllite. Thus the stones around here are either extremely hard pieces of quartz, in size from the tip of one’s pinkie to the size of two fists, or crumbly soft, flat-ish flakes of phyllite. The clay is ochre-colored, with very low iron content and high sintering temperature. The area was under the ice during the last ice age, afaik, but the soil is local and not till.

  5. says

    @chigau, I think the red bean is “Royal Burgundy”, although I cannot be sure, I have tossed the seed bags. I will leave most bean pods dry on the vine, as I usually do. Only in the last week of August I will harvest those pods that have no chance of ripening and I will either freeze them or can them.

  6. says

    Your doing a great job and I can only imagine how exhausting it is to do it all by yourself. That kind of work truly isn’t a linear function where one person only needs twice the time two people working hand in hand need.

    Yay for beans. They don’t seem to agree with our soil. This year, an amazing number of one bean sprouted and grew.

  7. says

    @Ice Swimmer, some places around here, two meters deep you reach the bedrock. There are places in my garden where the bedrock is less than one meter deep in fact -- when I was digging the foundations for my workshop, after about 90 cm the excavator started to scrape the weathered face of the rocks, but when excavating the septic tank, it took about two meters to reach the rock -- and that is a distance of just about 30-40 meters. In some places in the forests around here we actually have rock outcrops. This is an edge of a named hilly area -- Smrčiny/Fichtelgebirge. Further south/west into the really hilly area in Germany, the shale becomes more and more metamorphosed and turns into mica. Even further toward the center of the hills the bedrock changes, as expected, into granite, where the highest peaks are to be found. The geology is quite interesting, although I am personally not a geology nerd.

  8. says

    @Giliell, you are correct that one person does less than half of what two would manage. I do not know exactly why, but when my nephew occasionally can visit and help, we tend to do more than twice the work I can do alone, and I am less tired at the end (and I am not letting him do most of the work). I think you miswrote? Because beans are actually prospering in the poor soil around here. They tend to be the only crops that really prosper, most other crops just plod along -- if they survive at all.

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