We made a decision early on that instead of lots of knick-knacks littering up the house (especially in the foyer and great room) we would instead decorate with house plants. And seriously, why not? With so many windows and so much light, it makes good sense to pepper the house with living green things. Unfortunately taking care of lots of green living things is a lot of work and as our population of plants grew, it became more and more difficult for me not to inadvertently kill them.
So back in late 2018 I started looking for someone to help out. First I tried to find a company that would come here every week and see to the plants’ needs, but all I found were places that only deal with commercial sites and office parks. So I listed the gig on Craigslist and found someone. What then started out as a pretty decent arrangement slowly devolved and after about 9 months I let the person go: they had become very unreliable and nearly killed one of the very few plants Agent Smith and I adore and have thus named.. And of course just a couple months later the pandemic hit, so for the next year and a half I was trying to keep everything alive. It’s not a super difficult task, but it does mean a regular investment in time: which is something I don’t always have, so back in late summer of 2021 when the pandemic was easing, I decided to take a stab at finding another person to help out here on a regular basis. Only this time I was going to expand the role: instead of just spending a few hours once a week taking care of the plants, I figured why not also get help with one of the other big chores here: cleaning and refilling all the bird feeders. Plus if I did find someone and they were interested, there were always small mini-projects to fill the hours in exchange for money
So this time I tried out ZipRecruiter.com and Indeed.com. I had absolutely no luck with the former, but the latter proved a gold mine. Within just a couple of days I had five strong candidates who were very interested in the gig. And then….in the middle of the super easy-peasy online meeting/interviews the site is happy to facilitate, a last minute applicant dropped into my inbox. He was able to do an online/FaceTime/Zoom/whatever-that-site-actually-uses the next day, and midway through the interview, when I found out he lived just a few miles down the mountain, I asked him to come up for an onsite visit.
Long story short: he’s now been working for us for almost two years. He started the month before the shed began construction and me driving out to Ohio. He’s quite solid: keeps the bird feeders and baths clean and filled, plus the shed is always tidy. The later is critical is it means it is unlikely for any diseases to be transmitted, as there are several nasty things that affect song birds. (Do a web search for “Common Bird Diseases” and you’ll get a listing of things like Salmonella, Avian Conjunctivitis, etc.) Occasionally something comes up and Agent B misses a day, but I use those rare occurrences as my opportunity to take stock of what we might need or what is going unused in the shed: often times this means a small pile of stuff to be thrown out or donated.
Not only does Agent B handle 90% of the wild bird chores, but he is awesome with the plants inside the house. Showing is really better than telling, so here are some galleries of what things look like right now as I write this post.
First off the foyer and great room.
As you can see we have many many happy plants. And the stuff in the fireplace is incredibly happy. (If you’re not a regular reader, just know that a few years I cleaned out the metal screen curtains and log holder from the fireplace and turned it into a terrarium of sorts,)
Plus Agent B has managed to resurrect the tiny orchids in the foyer. I had considered both total lost causes, but as you can see in the pics below that were taken today, over the last two years he has pulled them through.
Another lost cause, or so I thought was the orphaned ficus. It was brought to our place by the first plant person — the one that became very flakey. She left it in the studio building and never came back for it, but by that point it was infested with some sort of bugs and I ended up moving it outside. This was back in 2019, so the poor tree sat outside in its tiny pot for the next three years. It was blown over and stripped of all its leaves again and again by our winter storms and slightly scorched by the sun in the summer months. But Agent B persevered and kept an eye on it. He’d move it to sheltered spots depending on the season and he provided it with regular water. Earlier this year it seemed to be trying to make a comeback, so I decided to show it some mercy and purchased a pretty Lechuza pot and DeVault dolly for it. Agent B handled the repotting and we moved it into the north hall.
It is now one of the prettiest and happiest tree ever.
Here are few pics. Sadly I didn’t take a good “before” pic of it just after its repotting and instead had to resort to grabbing a still from a video. But has you can in the last few months the tree has gained a totally new lease on life.
One plant Agent B has pretty much neglected in a very good way is Juan. Juan is our favorite cactus, but at some point the first plant person decided all our cacti needed lots of water. Thus we almost lost Juan — and we did lose about half of our other cacti. Juan ended up sitting outside for week in the middle of the summer without a pot to allow his roots to dry out. Thankfully that helped: and then he had a six month strict no-water regime. The event left some really evident scaring, but he has slowly recovered. Agent B now dribbles a teeny tiny bit of water about once a month and turns the container so Juan’s list isn’t quite so great, but at least the spiky dude is still with us.
Here are some early pics and then one taken the other day that shows the scaring. Remember folks, cacti really really do not like water.
But it’s not just plants in the great room and foyer (and Juan in the kitchen!) We also now have plants in other rooms. Like a couple of tiny African Violets in my office along with a funky succulent and a few others. Oh and the tiny container the succulent is in: Agent B made that as well as the tiny pot the air plant rests in.
He also crafted the dragon pot and wee blue ones that reside in the dining area of the great room.
Plus….even our bathroom now has happy plants!