Monday, September 28, 2009

Reclaiming the barn

Jay cleaned out the top floor of the red barn last week, making its lines sharper and the possibilities for 'remodeling' more visible. It is a cavernous space, some 40' square, on three different levels. The large central area could be used as a dance floor if the rough oak boards were sanded or covered. And a few steps down, there is a potential bunkhouse, about 40' x 10'. The pigeons that were roosting in the roof seem to have moved out, which is good news. Their guano line down the middle of the floor started eating into the wood. I now imagine that central space as a gallery cum seminar room, at least in clement weather. Currently it's open to the elements in various degrees, with the large loading bay in the front, and gaps between the vertical oak siding on the other walls. In the summer the gentle breeze keeps everything cool. The dutch barn design was ideal for loose hay. Now, as a barn it's obsolete. But as an architectural structure, it's pretty impressive.

But there is one problem. It still smells of goat. A little while back I fenced off most of the ground floor where they had enjoyed a free run. Today I raided unused fence-lines for 12' stock fencing, and sealed off their last gathering place. They still have the bull pen and the chicken coop for shelter. But now the barn can begin to sweeten up. One day I will clear out all the straw inside, and re-imagine the whole building. Then the dust would begin to recede too.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcoming the Other

I carefully planted hops and a grape vine to climb up poles from the earth onto the trellis covering the elevated front deck. The grape started climbing and then got stripped by caterpillars. One of the hops has reached about 10' and slowed down as if awaiting instructions. But something I did not plant has really taken off. It is coiling on the deck planning its takeover. Extensive googling turned up the name Cyprus Vine, and it is loved and hated because of its vigor. It has the softest fern-like leaves, and bright red five-pointed star flowers in profusion.

For Derrida true hospitality (if there is such a thing) happens when you even welcome the stranger who may destroy your house. Welcome Cyprus Vine! But I think I will keep a watch on it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Crows 'n corn

The garden was a modest success this first year. Drought was a problem in the absence of a watering system. And open sowing faced huge challenges from local 'weeds', i.e. the plants already there. I never had time to hoe, nor the material for loose mulching. Everywhere I used landscape fabric things worked quite well. But the soil still needs improving. And only a few giant sunflowers actually made it. Zinnias were a great success - sown in the cracks of soil after weedfabric was taken up. Lots of cut flowers. Amazing basil. Lotsa squashes.

The final challenge came from four crows who descended like umbrellas with teeth on my few corn plants. And then the heirloom tomatoes. I never realised quite what a formidable problem they must be for farmers. I thought of scarecrows, but wondered whether wily crows would be deceived for long. Cheekwood has an exhibition right now.

And here is Van Gogh.