As seen in back (and front) yards

In the last month we’ve been spending a lot of time outside and working in the yard. And in that time we’ve seen a number of weird and unexpected things in the back and front yards of our home. First and foremost is April, the homeless woman who we helped out with a sandwich and is now determined to pick our weeds or sweep our steps in exchange for another meal. All the while telling us how the sod we moved from the back yard to the front looks like crap. Not really the way to win favor with someone, but then again, I have been suspect of her social skills since I first saw her (talking to herself).

The news of the back yard is mixed. There is progress with the garden we are trying to create and, like April and her story, some of the things we’ve uncovered in the backyard are a bit discouraging. (no, I’m not talking about Che) Since we moved in we’ve been finding trash strewn about in the back, we think thrown into our yard from the house behind us. I have been meaning to take pictures of some of the stuff to document the whole thing, but once you get in cleanup mode the last thing you wanna do is break for the camera. For me there are few things as disappointing as feeling like your property has been violated. When Lauren had her bike stolen I was pissed for along time. You lose your trust in every stranger on the street and how can you walk around in public when you feel like that? When we got in a car accident it was different because the guy was there, held accountable, and we were made ‘whole.’ If my dog (or someone else’s) steps on a nail in the yard or eats some chemical that a neighbor dumped over the fence and into my yard what recourse can I take? In the backyard, every time I pick up a spring or an empty spray paint can or a piece of old drywall I feel helpless and used.

Until now I have only had to pick up and thing or two at a time, while cutting the grass for example. However, on Sundays, Jorge and I usually take a stab at cleaning up our very own Superfund site. A couple weeks ago we were finishing up a weekend of backyard work when I tugged on a piece of red plastic in the back corner of the yard to find a whole bag of old drywall attached to it. We got the shovel out and started our own remediation on the Vargo Brownfield. Two trashbags, several Colt45 cans, some tools, and plastic cover to an air conditioner later we retired for the night. Since then I have started removing shovels full of dirt – and often laden with broken glass – from the top layer and throwing them into empty soil bags. Then I throw the whole bag away. It really is like a remediation operation. Soon we’ll bring in Georgia red clay and ‘cap’ the whole thing.

But all the work is not without progress. The raised beds are in and herbs have already been planted. We need more soil to fill up the rest before planting other seeds. Also, the weather keeps shifting on us. So while we planted some seeds in the 70 degree sun of the weekend, the low last night was 20 and we may have lost them all. To create the beds we took up soil from two spots in the back and transplanted them into the front. It looks really weird (like crap according to April) but we think it’s taking hold (and I doubt she could do better). We even bought some bulbs and other plants to put around the foundation of the house.

And that brings me to the front. On Sunday (Easter, one of the few days of the year that hardware stores will close) we were winding down the day by preparing the ground for some foundation plants. I was using the fork to break up the hard ground when up sprang an increasingly scarce commodity ’round our parts: water. I had hit and cracked the main water line into our house. Now we know that the line carrying all our water into our house is plastic and only buried about 3 inches below the surface. We got the water turned off thanks to a neighbor with a key, dug out the area surrounding the break and patched it yesterday. But the cold weather continues to compound our problems. We were afraid it might freeze last night but we made it through. Now were just waiting to see if it leaks again and then we’ll cover it completely.

That’s not even the strangest thing to be seen in our front yard. Lauren and Jorge came home one night to find a hawk on the front porch. A hawk that they walked right past and into the house. The thing didn’t even move! Yes, every day is another, even more strange, non-stop roller coaster thrill ride of domestic excitement at our house.

3 thoughts on “As seen in back (and front) yards

  1. Very interesting post. The garden beds are really photogenic, and so is the bird of prey. The Superfund aspect of the operation pretty much blows…how much does it cost to do a wooden fence around the property?


  2. My mom and her partner are super into birding. I shared the porch picture with her and asked what kind of bird she thought it was. Here is her reply…“It is a juvenile buteo, which is a kind of hawk. We think it is probably a Red-shouldered Hawk but cannot rule out a Red-tailed Hawk. I won’t go into the details about how we came to that conclusion. 😉 Both occur in Georgia and might be found in a city. Juveniles in particular show up looking for food in a variety of habitats. Either stunned or sick could be the answer to why it landed on their porch.”


  3. AWESOME! I think I see big birds swooping around in the woods behind and to the west of the house sometimes. If we see this guy around the porch again we’ll give him a name. Maybe, Buteo. We’ve also seen a big barn owl sitting in the back yard at night.


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