Today we spent another afternoon playing in mud—this time weeding and reseeding our sorry-looking front yard in the rain. We’d been keenly awaiting green day since the first daffodils started wilting. When it finally arrived this week, it brought an intolerable rash of weeds and few new grass shoots to the little hill in front of our house—driving us to take action this weekend despite the bad weather.
Again, we have our new septic tank to blame. The installers reseeded the lawn after they tore it up last fall to install the tank, but the weather was so dry the seed never took, and opportunistic growth is now making the hill look more barren in spring than it looked all winter.
Even when our place was abandoned, it had a naturally lush lawn (here's a shot from last summer), so we wasted no time in sowing new Kentucky bluegrass, rye grass, and organic fertilizer, which should all get a good soak in the next few days. Eventually we’ll probably plant some ground cover and wildflowers, rather than conventional grass, but given our limited time for gardening this year we went for a quick fix.
Our planting process was ordinary; the extraordinary part of the day was our visit to the Essex County Co-op (http://essexcountycoop.net/) in Topsfield, where we bought seed in the morning. I’ve been waiting for the chance to write about this place, as it’s a one-of-a-kind bonanza, in service primarily to the local equestrian set but dating to harder times in Essex County, after World War I, when farmers needed an affordable source of livestock feed and food seed.
Animal husbandry is the primary focus, but the inventory is wide-ranging, incredibly handy, and mesmerizing for a newcomer to the region like me.
This entire aisle is stocked with wild bird feed, feeders, and related products.
Live birds, such as these chicks, are sold a few aisles away.
Here’s the livestock health and beauty aisle, stocked primarily with horse grooming product—from equine shampoo to hoof wax.
Coyote urine granules keep the deer out of your garden, and this liquid fence bans snakes from your corral.
As a wool sock addict, I get weak in the knees when I see the Co-op’s selection of Fox River and John Deere work socks. I also love work gloves, and I’ve never seen a wider variety than what’s sold here. Same goes for the range of pet sympathy cards.
I asked Kevin to threaten divorce if I start wearing Woolrich, but the men’s line is another story. For Kevin, the flannel shirts and wool vests are utilitarian cool and, obviously, practical given his task for the next year.
Finally, there’s the eminently helpful and experienced staff. Store manager Jack Donaher helps greenhorns like us to find our way through this wonderland. It’s worth a stop even if you’re just visiting from New York or Boston.