I'm getting within a few feet of the end of the trench. Then it will be sifting time. Sifting you ask? Well, see, according to this landscaping for the do it yourself type, a retaining wall should have a few inches of "compactible gravel" underneath it. I don't have those nice, manmade landscaping blocks, but I have a couple dozen boulders about 2 foot on a side that a neighbor didn't want anymore. She wanted the nice manmade blocks. We got the boulders last year for the price of time and sweat and hauling them away for her. We've been told by other neighbors that to have someone bring those suckers to your door is easily in the hundreds of dollars.
So when the trench is done, we'll need to line it with gravel so the boulders sit nicely and will sink in the gravel and won't move. Now I can't really afford to buy gravel. I just found out what it would cost to do that - something on the order of $35.00 per yard, and an extra $40.00 to have it delivered. Our dirt is plenty rocky. I can get my own gravel on sight for some sweat and time. I made sifting frames last summer for a similar job. Hardware cloth (metal screen) in a 2 x 4 frame on a "topless" table does just fine.
It is dusty, dry work. We shovel dirt on the screen, use our hands to work the dirt through the 1/4 inch mesh to get most of the fine material out, then dump the remaining material onto another screen with 1/2 inch mesh to get the nice "compactible gravel". What's left is larger rock, 1 inch and more. The larger five and ten pound rocks get put in their own pile instead of going through the screens.
I know a lot of people don't have the time or the inclination to do a lot of work like this. It's true that if we had the money, all of our planned projects could be done in a couple of weeks if we hired a landscaping contractor with heavy equipment. That would definitely be easier on the back and provide more or less instant gratification.
However, I'm not just cheap. I am trying to teach my kids about work. My dad did that for me and my siblings by having us work in his office when we needed money as kids. He started us cleaning, then later had us running to the post office with the mail, or filing. Later he let us transcribe his dictation tapes or do his billing. I can't pay my kids with money, but I can make them work. Hopefully, they will appreciate it when all the landscaping is done and they won't argue when it's time to mow the lawn, or weed the garden, or sweep the porch. And hopefully they will realize that to work with one's brain is so much better than with one's back. There's no shame in manual labor, but it is definitely less efficient in our modern world when there are so many machines available to do it for us.
The weather is getting warmer. That means we'll be getting up earlier to work in the cooler morning hours. It helps keep them from sleeping in forever. I know, you can say it - "You're such a mean mom!" I get it from my kids too.
Since today is Saturday, tonight is "Get ready for Sunday". That means we have to do the "Who is going to bathe first/next" battle. You wouldn't believe how they all want to put it off. They all want to be last. I don't get it. The first one to bathe gets the cleanest bathtub, right? Just a thought.
Oh, before I forget - we harvested radishes today, and spinach and lettuce too. I'm afraid I haven't been diligent about watching the vegetables. I think the radishes are a little "old". At least they'll be good for my daughter's favorite radish relish. No one else in the family likes it so much, but she loves it. Go figure.