It’s gray and chilly outside, but I have a fire in the new woodstove that warms the house and pleases me as I look through its glass window. I’ve been in the same house since 1970, so I’ve had plenty of time to plan and execute projects. I’d like to share with you some of my memories of those efforts in hopes that some of you will be inspired to take on similar projects of your own.
The biggest projects I did were in the 1980s after returning from my time with the Peace Corps in Africa. My house came with just an acre when I bought it, but I had been able to buy another acre or two while away, and I wanted to utilize it well for gardens. My home was built as a butter factory in 1888 on a hillside. The land dropped off sharply to a field alongside a little stream and some woods.
My first project was to terrace off the hillside behind the house and make a gently sloping access for wheel barrows, people and dogs to the field where I planned to grow vegetables and flowers. I wanted to terrace off part of the hillside so that I could have drier soil for growing fruit trees – fruit trees hate wet feet!
I was 36 years old when I returned from Africa and had plenty of energy but limited cash reserves, so I did almost all the work myself. I found a local fellow who sold me 13 dump truck loads of topsoil. He looked at the site and told me he couldn’t drive to the far end of the potential terrace with soil, so he dumped it all in one place and I had to move it with a wheelbarrow! The