Our new home is in fact several years old. The house itself is quite nice and liveable as is, but the yard… The yard needs a lot of work. I wanted a house with a lot of land, and I got that in the sense that the area is spacious. But it is missing about 18 inches of soil from the kitchen stoop to the back fence. It is common practice for developers to save costs by skimping on landscape, or even to sell homes with bare earth only. But I’ve never encountered a project where the developer just decided not to backfill at all. But that’s what I’ve got: a yard that is more like a hole.

Still! Lots of possibilities abound for doing something nice and interesting when the time comes to fill. But first, I have to deal with the jungle that has grown up in the last seven years. Here is the yard when I took it over:

The original backyard: chest-high in lalang and swamp beyond
The original backyard: chest-high in lalang and swamp beyond

After cutting and burning all the brush and grass, here is where I am now, two weeks later:

The backyard after two weeks of thrashing
The backyard after two weeks of thrashing

(I had some help. Mind you, this is Ramadan, so I’m good for about an hour of work before dusk. Start any earlier in the day and there is no water to quench your thirst when you’re done.)

Now I have found that the back fence has not just been overgrown, but has been completely vanquished. At least one tree has toppled on to it, and I fear there is another trunk under the last big mound of vegetation. While the fence has been down, all manner of viney, creepy plants have wound in and out of the fence, tying it to the ground. So my next step is to reclaim my property line with the aid of my trusty parang. The parang is the local version of a machete, but with nice heft and weight, curved and balanced for easy swinging. They sell straight-from-Brazil machetes in the hardware store too, but in my opinion, the parang is a better tool.

Stay tuned: my adventures with the yard will be chronicled in breathless detail here as events unfold.

[divider type=”thin”]

Strong back weak mind: Filling the backyard with dirt a wheelbarrow at a time without the benefit of an honest shovel.

Don’t be fooled by the rocks that I got: Building a dry laid stone wall with my bare hands.


Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

Join the Conversation


  1. Was that your dad commenting?

    I like what I read on his farming concept. Husband and I have agreed to have similar farming ways and concept as what your parents have. Umm, just need to get a land.

    Is it so peculiar to have a dream of quiting job in the capitalistic vulturistic corporate world to toil under the sun and getting our hands soiled?

    Hmm, I’m on my “I am gonna comment on every post in here” again.

  2. I has the son of a farmer from Peck Michigan-yes, an honest-to-god peckerwood- among our subsribers at Three Roods Farm this season. He took an interest in my tools, aepecially my parang. he commented that it was constructed along the same design principles as a samurai sword. In cross section the parang is triangular which gives it more heft and sharpens better. I have a brazilian machete that I brought back from the west indies cut from a sheet of steel. I much prefer the parang. I have a “chop chunki lima”parang, symbol of quality, so they tell me.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply