Encouragement (for Life as well as the Garden) Gardening Tips Readers Trapping voles

Cutting the Mountain in Half — Even When You’re No Longer 20

Some very meaningful comments were made on the last post. This will serve as an answer to the folks who took the time to voice their feelings and the many who didn’t, but have similar concerns.

You’ll recall last year I cut up the 35 foot tree that fell on my property. I’m only this year getting to move the logs.

Since they were too heavy for me to lift, I tied a rope to each log and pulled it from the wooded area adjoining the back of our property to our carry-all trailer where I put limbs.

I’d pull, go forward a few inches, pull again, and then continue the process until I got it to the trailer. Each log took about 20 minutes because it was so heavy.

The entire time I was doing this I was thinking about how fortunate I was to be able to do it. It was very invigorating and exciting because I’m finding a way to do things that I thought I might not be able to do.

Addressing Reader’s Concerns

Patricia (one of two readers with the same name who left comments) wrote , “At 71, I realize all too quickly I am not 20 and indestructible anymore.”

At almost 75, I feel that age is a definite advantage. Hopefully, we’re much more wise than at 20 and more knowledgeable as well. If we’re living a healthy lifestyle and keeping active both mentally and physically we should be able to do a lot.

Betty said she tries “to slow down and enjoy the process of ‘washing the dishes’ or whatever else I’m doing–as if doing it were the whole point and not the having it done.”

She knows this secret to enjoying life. If we can enjoy the small things of life, then we can be “happy” even during the difficult times.

As Pat brought out, there will always be repetitive tasks as long as we’re alive.

Gail said, “inspiring and a great reminder on being in the now, and as Betty said, actually enjoying the washing!”

Tammy has just bought a homestead that they’ve wanted for many years. The work involved in that can definitely be overwhelming. And Tammy, I’m in hopes that the information on TMG will help you stay out of overwhelm and enjoy every minute of the process.

Kay wrote, “At 74, I seem to always be in overwhelm!! my thoughts now are should I deal with starting seedlings or just buy them from the High School vocational group.”

Kay, why not make a plan to allow yourself to buy a few plants from the High School group when the time comes.  In the meantime, start a few seeds on your own. If you have my book Secrets to Seed Starting Success, you know how easy it can be.

By allowing yourself the backup plan of buying plants, it takes all the pressure off of your seed starting. Try not to take things so seriously.

Kay also said, “and I look at all the work outside that I will have to tackle in a couple of months!!
Along this same line Steve said, when we finally “peep out of our holes — we find what we left clean is messy and what we left messy is worse.

Strategy for Cutting the Mountain in Half

If we don’t take on more than we can handle (too big a garden, too many borders) and if we work consistently little by little when the weather allows through fall and winter, that should take care of the problem Kay and Steve and many others face.

If you’re using many of the ideas I’ve suggest in the more than 600 posts on TMG, you won’t have to till the soil, your beds will already be prepared and ready for planting, your flower beds will also be ready and things will look pretty much in order by March.

You’ll still have plenty to do, but it should be handleable.

In the past when I’ve mentioned to various people that I work outside a little each day through the winter (as long as there is no snow on the ground) they can’t understand what there is to do.

Here are some examples of what can be done right now:

  • Look for vole holes and trap. Now’s the perfect time while garden beds are easier to see.
  • Transplanting — plants, bushes, and shrubs are dormant now, so it’s the perfect time to transplant
  • Take cuttings of shrubs or bushes that you need more of and stick them in the ground to root
  • Prune rosebushes and anything else that needs pruning
  • Cut last years dead blackberry canes out
  • Edge borders and mulch the edges heavily. (This will really help with those spring weeds that pop up.)
  • Mulch blueberries after a nice rain.
  • Cut back dead vegetation in your borders and leave it in place.
  • Thin perennials that need thinning for a more robust performance this year. (large clump of daylilies, mums, asters, rudbeckias, ground covers, etc.)
  • Move straw or other mulch to the garden and pile it up in various spots, so it will be easily accessible when you need it in the spring.
  • Plan where you’re going to plant your onions and spring lettuces.
  • Haul away limbs and logs that you don’t have the equipment to “grind” for mulch.

(I’ve seen people pile up limbs in huge piles. This is a real welcome sign for snakes and some other undesirables. Years ago, I knew a fellow who did that. The next year he set the pile on fire and dozens and dozens of snakes went in every direction.)

  • Cut ornamental grasses (If you feel that you’ll still have severe cold in February and March and need the tops to protect it’s base, wait until the end of March to cut.
  • If you have a fence around your garden, work to get out the wire grass that intertwines with the fence. Try to dig out phlox, chives or anything else growing into the fence. (Do the best you can with this.   It’s hard to get it all.)
  • Check your garden and know what’s there while you can see everything. That way you can avoid “surprises” later in the season. (Groundhog holes — that kind of thing.)

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve found this post helpful in cutting down the mountain of work you felt was ahead of you.

Gardens give us the opportunity to enjoy life even more. And to provide healthful food for ourselves and our families.

It’s important to try to enjoy every minute of what we do.

And we don’t have to be 20 to cut the mountain in half. 🙂


  • You’re inspirational…and I feel that should be the aim of all teachers. We are all teachers whether we plan to or not. Since we all “row our boat” down the same main channel, it’s a good thing to throw a rope to a fellow rower, and that’s often just some encouragement. We CAN do it! And being realistic about WHAT we can do helps a ton. Keep throwing the lifeline, my friend!!

  • Theresa-
    I believe I need to print and laminate this entire post. That way I can post it on the wall so it is the first thing I see when getting out of bed. I need to remind myself of these wisdoms daily.
    I have had to take an emergency trip to Texas as my Mom is having surgery today. Things are piling up on me quickly.
    This post couldn’t possibly have come at a more appropriate time for me.
    Thank you from the heart.

  • Thanks for your last couple posts. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last July. I feel overwhelmed all the time but this advice helps me remember that every step forward is helping me move over all the bumps in the road! Your hard work and drive really inspired me.

  • Raven and I also found this post inspiring and helpful and printed out the “What to do now” list.

    Also in our seventies, taking on creating a homestead from scratch on beautiful but wild and overgrown land in rural Alabama can be intimidating, but has proven to be incredibly rewarding on so many levels. We have learned to both push ourselves physically as well as pace ourselves. We often remind each other to “eat the elephant one bite at the time.”

    Financial limitations can even lead to better outcomes by forcing us to discover better ideas for implementing projects. For instance, we used some of our savings to take advantage of an incredible discount buying a Steelmaster Quonset style building, but have not been able to come up with the chunk of money needed to do all the steps involved to have the concrete slab properly prepared.

    We came across some Steelmaster customers who have built their buildings in high tide coastal areas by putting them on wooden decks resting on posts. This allowed us to buy only the materials needed for the very next step, like starting with the 6X6 posts, digging the formidable holes for them one by one, and setting each one perfectly in place. I still have a few holes to go, but I’m eating that elephant one bite at a time.

    Then I can buy whatever 2X12s I can afford to begin the deck – one bite at a time! We have seen time and time again that unforeseen “delays” turn out to be what we see as gifts from God!

    The plan was always to build the building on either the slab or now, the deck, but “delays” gave us the chance to discover other building examples that first built a short wall, then put the building on top of the wall.

    Our building measures 16 feet at the top of the arches. If we wanted to add a loft, it would have to be with limited head room. Now we will add a sturdy two foot wall onto the deck, which will add 2 feet to the overall height of the building, ample headroom for an actual 2nd floor! The plan is to eventually build a small frame building onto the front of the Quonset building.

    Eating this elephant one bite at a time!

  • Theresa

    I have to cut that mountain in many many halves now as I am getting older also, as some of your readers said.

    I have all my seeds ordered and sorted, know exactly where I am going to plant them in the garden and in trays to get them started.

    Liz and I are going to go to Mexico before I start my seeds. But when I get back, I can start prepping the garden for planting.

    You are so appreciated, God Bless


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