Log – 2012

December 31, 2012

PT in the morning, then we spent the rest of the day preparing for the New Year celebration.

December 28, 2012

This was the big day when my extended family came to celebrate Christmas. We had about 30 folks all told, and everybody seemed to have a good time. At the end of the day Amanda and I drove to Montgomery to pick up some prescriptions for Mama.

December 27, 2012

Thought I had an appointment with Dr Hartzog this morning and didn’t realize I was mistaken until I drove in to Montgomery. Hurried back out to the farm, where we first recorded and I edited the podcast. Then we spent the rest of the day cleaning off the front porch of the lodge. I moved all the metal to the metal storage area east of Veg Hill. Then I pulled down the lumber pallet and loaded the extra boards on to the lumber pallet. Then I loaded up the tiles and dropped them in the dumpster. The big job was building a storage pallet for the windows. This may have been the first construction I’ve done in which I made no false starts. It came together pretty fast and held the windows well with a little room to spare. We finished at nightfall.

December 26, 2012

The fall veg continues to thrive on Veg Hill. We enjoyed cauliflower, cauliflower greens, collards and kale last night at supper. A stormy Christmas night; today it’s all about the wind.

December 16, 2012

Good morning at church, then a nice lunch with Mama to celebrate her birthday. This afternoon we got RAIN!

December 15, 2012

Up early to walk to Big Mag with Amanda and harvest magnolia leaves for Betty Weldon. Then Beans & Rice at the church. We served 50 households with something like 1800 pounds of food. Feels good to be part of something like that. This afternoon while Amanda was gone to dulcimer I cleaned off my desk and sorted through mail. Felt even better to do that!

December 14. 2012

PT in the morning, then errands in Wetumpka before a CLE workshop in Wetumpka. Picked buttercrunch lettuce by flashlight for the turkey sandwiches we had for supper.

December 13, 2012

Delightful visit with Will Denton this morning. We had originally seen it as a liberal/conservative conversation, but Will had discovered the October Thing, so the conversation proved more wide-ranging.

December 12, 2012

PT in the morning, then had another chance to get out in the orchard. How pleasant. My favorite activity on the farm. Sessions in the afternoon.

December 11, 2012

A session this morning and one in the afternoon. On the breaks from that work, I made whole wheat rolls and Amanda did more Christmas decorating in the lodge. We also emptied her grandmother’s washboard and moved it to the lodge. Moving it proved a little too much for my left arm, so I spent more time than usual under the ice.

December 10, 2012

We made the most of the dry weather this morning. I had early PT, then errands in town. Amanda worked in the lodge. Then we enjoyed a nice long walk over on the West Side before eating lunch. The rain came in the afternoon, and I had two sessions. A good day.

December 9, 2012

This morning I published Papaw’s essays. We had a good morning at church, then lunch with Mama and a couple of shopping errands in Montgomery, then back to the farm for a short walk as night fell.

December 8, 2012

Early focus was on moving the love seat from the barn to the lodge. In the process, I clumsily broke of the legs. I’m attempting to repair it with wood glue and strap clamp. Will know more when we loosen the clamp and begin to test the strength of the joint tomorrow evening.

December 7, 2012

Another apology for another lapse. I must be more disciplined. An early morning session, then PT for the rest of the morning. Then this afternoon an extended visit onsite with Matt Robertson. The good news is that we can do most of what we wanted to do. The bad news is that Matt is encouraging me to install a bigger system than I had in mind. We may need to dial it back. After he left, we had a nice walk on the East Side.

December 3, 2012

PT was a little harder today, I think because I didn’t make time for my exercises yesterday. Made it a point to go through the full routine this afternoon. This is the first day I have converted from Lortab and Tordol to OTC ibuprofen. So far so good.

Amanda has now fully planted all 12 of her raised beds. The westernmost four of them, ##5-8, are not yet irrigated. We also planted five small lemon fig cuttings today, all in the same spot. We’re hoping that at least one of them makes it; we’ll cut off all but the strongest one.

December 2, 2012

I lost my composure with some of my fellow church members this morning and messed up what should have been a delightful visit with Wells Warren. I feel terrible about it. We had a nice visit with the book club this afternoon, though. Amanda and I both enjoyed showing them the orchard and the raised beds down on Veg Hill.

December 1, 2012

I must apologize for a week-long hiatus of updating this log. During the interim, Tom and I finished the last three raised beds in our initial collection of 12 beds, and we talked about the raised beds in our podcast. The big distraction, though, has been my surgery on 11/28, a manipulation of my shoulder. Other than a brief and brutal bout of constipation Friday morning (I believe caused by the Percocet I was taking for pain), the results have been immediate and gratifying. I now have much more range of motion and at lower pain levels, but it’s all about continuing to push those levels in PT so I will retain them.

November 24, 2012

The focus of the day was preparing for Mama’s visit. Up early to apply rub to the turkey and the ribs. Then I filed a couple of divorces, then a quick trip to town. Amanda clipped collards and chopped them along with onion. I started three fires simultaneously in the lodge (wood stove, outdoor fireplace, and smoker). Mixed up cobbler as the game was starting, and then we settled down to watch the game. We’re still figuring out how to manage an event in the lodge: how to move the tools and supplies we need from the barn to the lodge without making a dozen trips back and forth.

November 23, 2012

This morning I worked at the lake with Tom, Ruffin, and Cathy to get all the leaves Ruffin and Anthony had already raked into the fire. Then we looked at the floating dock together to plan how to put a new surface on it. This afternoon our Master Gardener friend Betty Stricker brought her husband Andy so they both could see the farm. We had a great visit that lasted until dark.

November 22, 2012

Today was mostly focused on the Robinson gathering at Dave Gray’s and Lynda’s farm. Delightful gathering with perfect weather. We did have time for an ever-so-short walk when we got back, before night fell.

November 21, 2012

PT in the morning for me while Amanda drove to Montgomery for some pre-Thanksgiving shopping. Then we spent the rest of the day running some family errands. A beautiful afternoon.

November 20, 2012

Spent the entire day with Smith. What a fun day! We spent the morning picking up, picking apart, and eating hickory nuts. Then at lunchtime we went to see Tom Jawoworski’s trains. This afternoon we played games and worked puzzles. Then we drove back to Auburn to drop him off with the Veales.

November 19. 2012

Eye exam in the morning in Auburn. Then this afternoon I swapped firewood pallets #11 and #12 so we have only the small pieces in the barn. We can use those larger pieces better in the outdoor fireplace in the lodge.

November 18, 2012

Good morning at church, but a long one. Amanda was elected to the Vestry today. This afternoon we walked, and then I tidied up a little on the porch of the barn so we could put the unused hardwood up on the pallet rack, and we emptied all those boxes out of the pickup truck, most of them onto the back porch of the barn.

November 17. 2012

Beans & Rice this morning, and this afternoon we welcomed Charlie, Janean, and Joe Elmore to the farm. Lunch first, then good conversation, then a tour of the orchard, barn, and Veg Hill. Then dessert and more conversation before they hit the road. What a fun afternoon! Didn’t mar the spirit at all that the Tide was rolling silently on the big screen in the lodge while we were visiting. Tonight a most unusual upset of #1 and #2 put Bama back in the hunt for the national championship. Altogether, an excellent day.

November 16, 2012

PT in the morning, then back to the farm to welcome Mama and her friends. Great time. They stayed until almost 4:00, and then Amanda and I had a nice walk.

November 15, 2012

Today was all about preparing for Mama and her friends to visit us tomorrow. This morning I got the cake ready and put it in the oven and then headed to Montgomery for a doctor’s appointment. Amanda watched it and took it out when it was done. Took longer than it should have, so we need to find out what’s going on.

This afternoon we helped unload and distribute food into 54 bags so they’ll be ready for Beans & Rice Saturday morning. Got home about 4:15 and started working on the lodge. Took boxes down to the barn, squirreled away others here and there, burned scrap in what turned out to be a big fire. Worked until well after nightfall, but the pavilion and the East Porch look better than they’ve ever looked.

November 14, 2012

Amanda was gone to Birmingham all day. In the morning I cleaned off the porch of the lodge and moved a pallet of firewood into position. Also cleaned up the stack of 3/4″ PVC tomato trellis poles and moved them to the pallet rack. Then a visit w/ Dr Turki in Montgomery. Then to Costco and then home. Bought and cooked 24 thighs; we had two of them for supper and froze the rest.

November 13, 2012

It was pretty much an indoor day today. We recorded the podcast, and then I edited it and prepared it for publication Thursday. PT in the afternoon.

November 12, 2012

Found out at dawn that Tom was going to be unable to make it today, so plans changed at the last minute. Got out ahead of the rain and spread ryegrass seed on the uphill portion of the old driveway and on the parking areas on either side of the driveway as well. It was raining as I finished up.

Then I spent the rest of the day plowing through paperwork in the shop. Amanda toiled away almost the entire day unpacking boxes in the lodge. She’s making excellent progress, but her body is sore. She needs to pace herself.

November 11, 2012

Church this morning, and then we stayed past 2:00 for Amanda to meet with the Daughters of the King. Drove home past the Battles for the Armory and heard the cannon fire continuing when we got back to the farm. Took a walk in the afternoon and ran into Jeremy and Chris, who were setting up a shooting house and another feeder. The deer have chewed through a whole tube during the past two weeks, so we know they’re active.

We were almost out of light when we got back, but we used the little bit of light remaining to level up a spot for bed #6. Because we want it to cozy right up to the pole for the weather station, I had to do the last 18 inches by hand. Gives you a real appreciation for the difference fossil fuels make! While I worked on that, Amanda planted strawberries in #10. She’s having a little trouble leaning over to the middle of the bed, so I’m going to cut her a 2 x 4 just a little wider than the bed, so she can put her weight on it to get her body further over to the middle.

November 10, 2012

Out early this morning to cut and drill the ends and sides for two more beds and place them down on Veg Hill. Then I set a fire up by the lodge and burned a good bit of extra cardboard that had been lying around as well as the scraps of lattice that Scott had left from his work. Then some quiet work in the apartment and a nice walk over to the West Side by myself (Amanda had dulcimer in Loachapoka) before heading up to the lodge to watch the Tide be beaten by Texas A&M. Not pleasant.

There was some good news for us in it. The College football radio app on my iPhone delays the signal more than the /tv coverage, so we were able to synchronize Eli Gold to the game by pausing the DVR. The problen is that the stations keep stopping, probably because of hiccups in the Internet, so each time we lost the signal and regained it we had to re-synchronize.

November 9, 2012

Tom came this morning to help with the raised beds. I had not prepared as I had before, so we didn’t make as much progress as we had before. Only one bed this time, #5. We did cut and pre-drill all the components of #6, so it should go faster. And if I  am so fortunate to be able to cut and pre-drill components for #7 and 8, there’s a chance we could get all of them (#6-8) done on Monday when Tom returns.

In the afternoon I readjusted the level of #5 so that now looks straight from the pole barn, and I filled it with Super Soil.

November 8, 2012

Edited and published the podcast first thing. Then worked on lesson for EfM. Then EfM, followed by PT.

November 7, 2012

Mostly indoor work in the morning, then to Montgomery for a series of errands, including picking up some books from Mama’s attic and buying flooring for the outside closet from Lowe’s. Then more indoor work late in the afternoon before we recorded the podcast.

November 6. 2012

The day started with the delivery by Froggy Bottom of another load of Super Soil. Then I did some indoor work while we waited for the soil to dry out from last night’s (wonderful!) rain. This afternoon I put the chipper on Scamp, and we headed down to the bottom of the North Trail where a good-sized (14″ DBH) white oak had fallen. It turned out to be one problem after another. We managed to produce one bucket of wood chips for about two hours’ work. By the time we finished, Amanda was feeling a little under the weather, so we decided not to go watch the election returns with friends as we had planned.

November 5, 2012

The morning started with a visit to the neurologist, which took longer than it should have because they had me assigned to the wrong doctor. T”he verdict is that my shoulder shows signs of freezing up and that I may need Hartzog to put me to sleep and release the cords that are holding it in place. As Miller puts it, my shoulder is “in the process of turning into concrete. During one of the many long periods of waiting, I noticed a high chance of rain for the night. Tom Crain and I had much to talk about, but we cut short my actual therapy so I could rush back to the farm, disk the orchard, and sow lupin and black oats.

There was still about 30 minutes of light left when I finished, so Tractor and I headed over to the West Side to bush hog the greenfield where Chris had sown his deer mix. Amanda planted into the night, sowing clover, lupin, and a cover crop mix of peas and oats.

And then we got rain! 17/100 of an inch. Would have loved more, but we are grateful for what we got.

November 4, 2012

We observed All Saints Sunday this morning. Amanda had refreshments, so we were unusually late getting away. Then a little lunch and a nap, then to Montgomery for shopping before we attended Evensong at First UMC. It was wonderful to relax and just WORSHIP.

November 3, 2012

This morning I ran drip tape in beds #9-11. They’re ready for action. This afternoon I took down one of the two shower curtains we had used for privacy while Adrian was staying with us. Then Chris Sewell arrived, and he and I walked over to the West Side to talk about places where he could set up a stand or a shooting house. At his request I disked the greenfield and Piccadilly. He will seed them with deer mix in the next few days and I will bush hog, and then we’ll pray for rain.

November 2, 2012

This morning we met with Bo Johns and formulated our plan for Amanda’s VALIC IRA once it arrives at BB&T. Then we picked up 8 TYP 2 x 4 x 8s, hoping to use them to narrow the beds enough to use the 48″ hardware cloth on the bottom of the beds. Got home and,right after lunch, worked about two hours and concluded it just won’t work. The staples aren’t strong enough, so the hardware cloth falls off once the soil pulls it down. Amanda had to leavw for a funeral; I smoothed out the beds and filled three of them, #9-11. Couldn’t fill #12 because I ran out of Super Soil.

November 1, 2012

Early to Montgomery to remove the sutures from the spot on the back of my hand where Dr Maddox had removed a mole. Then shopping at Publix and Costco before returning to the farm just long enough to fix lunch before heading to EfM. Played hookey from PT because Tom was gone and used the time to install drip irrigation hose for each of the four beds. Should have also installed valves too but didn’t.

October 31, 2012

We recorded the podcast in the morning. The afternoon was mostly indoor work.

October 30, 2012

Ken Craig stopped by today from Professional Chimney Services. First he cleaned up the rust on the stove in the barn. He used some medium grade steel wool on the rust spots, then Greased Lightning, then more steel wool and Greased Lightning. Then he applied high-temperature flat black paint. With that done, he added another 30 inches or so of pipe, which we hope will be enough to stop new rust from forming. While he was up on the roof he checked our chimney and said it’s almost completely clean, with the tiniest bit of soot and no creosote. This indicates we’re burning exclusively seasoned wood in an oxygen rich environment. We’re so proud!

With the stove in the barn fixed (we hope!), we headed up the hill so Ken could install the ash drawer on the stove in the lodge. When he was finished, we had a nice visit over a cup of coffee (tea for me) before he had to hit the road. It was still cold and blustery this afternoon, so both of us worked inside, Amanda in the lodge and I in the shop. I did find time to build a small fire in the wood stove in the lodge, so it’s now ready for a real fire whenever we want to build one.

I just typed this with two hands! I’m not able to use the fingers of my left hand individually, but I am able to do a two-handed hunt and peck that’s faster than the old right hand only system.

October 29, 2012

A day pretty much consumed with injury care, first a too-long PT session and then a checkup in Montgomery w Hartzog.

October 28, 2012

First fire of the season this morning, although we probably could have gotten by without it. Great morning at church welcoming Bishop Marray, baptizing a child, confirming four, reaffirming one and receiving one.

October 27, 2012

#11 and #12 went in easily this morning, although we encountered a large and angry colony of yellowjackets when I knocked down some of the canna lilies. We did our best to leave them alone, in hopes they would return the favor, and they did. We enjoyed a pleasant walk with Tom on the North Trail and a relaxed lunch afterward. After a nice nap, I decided that #11 was listing to port and decided that this was the time to fix it. I used Scamp to pick up the SW corner and remove some material, then pick up the NW corner and remove some material. I was gratified to see how I am able to work alone and move a bed around once I take weight off even one corner.

It was getting steadily cooler during the afternoon, so I moved firewood pallet #11 into position outside the front door of the lodge. It’s highly likely we’ll have our first fire tomorrow.

I then decided that the yellowjackets may be subdued because of the cold weather and decided to bush hog the canna lilies I had knocked down earlier. I guessed right. Immediately after I bush hogged I gave them a wide berth, but 45 minutes later when I checked on them there was simply no activity.

Finally, as night fell, I pulled the grill down and grilled burgers for me and a couple of veggie “Grillers” for Amanda. We enjoyed while watching the Tide roll against Miss State.

October 26, 2012

Tom and I made good progress today on the raised beds. We built #9 and #10. Everything is in place to build #11 and #12, and we hope to do that when he returns tomorrow. The only wrinkle is that #12 is so close to the canna lilies that I may knock some of them down in the process, but Amanda understands and seems okay with it.

October 25, 2012

Up early to record, edit, and publish the podcast, this one on our faith and subsistence farming. Then I started preparing the sides and ends for the next four raised beds. I had to be late to EfM to finish, but I got them all done! Tom is due here tomorrow morning. Scamp is already out on Veg Hill. My plan is to be up and out early so I can deploy transit, shovel, level, cordless drill, and screws.

October 24, 2012

A morning doctor’s appointment in Montgomery, then lots of shopping at Home Depot, Costco, Wal-Mart, and Cartridge World. This afternoon I refined the bulletin more, and Amanda and I took a nice walk over to the West side.

October 23, 2012

Amanda and I spent the morning traveling to and participating in a pecan workshop in Autaugaville. Well done and really helpful. After the workshop, we worked to plan the organic veg workshop in February with Mallory and Chip. We’re now talking about an all-season veg workshop that opens it up for us to talk about fall veg, early spring, and traditional summer veg.

On the way home we shopped for cover crop seed. When we returned to the farm I started a set of ribs. They weren’t ready until 9:30, so we didn’t have them for supper, but they’ll be delicious later.

October 22, 2012

A morning session, then I worked to build the bulletin for Sunday, a humdinger.

October 21, 2012

Church in the morning, then a quiet afternoon at the farm. I emptied the humanure buckets this afternoon. Decided to retire bucket #6, whose lid is no longer fitting well. Need to get a new bucket #6 ready to go. Tonight Tom and Jan Bray came over for a simple supper of clam chowder and corn bread.

October 20, 2012

The fall veg is looking great. This morning was beans & rice. This afternoon we drove to Montgomery to see Tom Sawyer at ASF, then returned to the farm for a walk. I removed the hoops and rebar from #13 this afternoon.

October 19, 2012

Another day of mostly paperwork. The morning was mostly about a session and the weekly podcast; the afternoon was mostly running financial errands in Montgomery.

October 18, 2012

I was up reading this morning about 3:45 when I noticed that we had a 100% chance of rain for the next two hours. Got out and spread ryegrass by trucklight in the driving rain on either side of the driveway and around the fire pit. Poor Oddie felt like he needed to be with me, at least at first, but eventually he thought better of it and retreated to the barn. Smart dog.

Inside work this morning.

October 17, 2012

Nice walk this morning on the West side, then some paperwork before I drove to town for lunch with Arnold and Zoe. This afternoon, more paperwork, and then I cut all the 4 x 4 posts I could (I’ll need Amanda’s help for the remaining cuts because the boards are down to only four feet long). Late this afternoon I grilled chicken thighs.

October 15, 2012

Began the day with a long PT session. Then returned some of Mayor McCain’s campaign signs to his wife Patsy. This afternoon I worked on Veg Hill. I had several mends to do on the drip irrigation fittings, then I used Scamp to fill #16 with soil, which is now ready for Amanda’s garlic.

October 14, 2012

It was great to return to the farm after an absence of a few days after celebrating our birthday with Mama in Montgomery. The fall veg are doing reasonably well in the raised beds. #13 had a drip mishap, which I repaired this afternoon. Fortunately we caught it before it affected the plants. Nice walk over to the west side this afternoon. It’s getting to be bush hogging time again!

October 9, 2012

Began the morning by finishing the editing of the Chalice Bearer Instructions. After Amanda has reviewed them for form, I will upload them and ask Fr. Arnold to review them before I send them out to the group. Watered all three beds for two hours today. It’s great to be able to do that so easily now.

I spent most of the day on indoor work, getting through documents in the shop. I did have time to begin policing up the porch area, which has become quite cluttered.

October 8, 2012

The day started with a PT session. As soon as I got home, I started working on drip irrigation for the raised beds. I got drip tape into all three beds that Amanda has planted, although I have not made any attempt to bury the header or the spaghetti hose. I will wait to do that until all eight beds that will pull off this header are complete and I can bury everything.

This afternoon I built the bulletin for next Sunday and uploaded to the website.

October 7, 2012

Church in the morning. This afternoon Amanda took Oddie to the Blessing of the Animals, and I stayed at the farm so I could prepare tools and supplies for Tom’s arrival. I doubled the u-bolts on the harnesses we use to lift the raised beds and brought out the shovel, rake, long level, and torpedo level. I also positioned t-posts at the top and bottom of /veg Hill to form the western edge of the next row of raised beds (#9-12).

Tom and Amanda guided the bed into position as I slowly lowered it with Scamp. Worked very smoothly. After Tom left, Amanda planted in #14 while I finished filling #15. We’ll need to order more Super Soil before I fill up #16.

October 6, 2012

I prepared toll house brownies first thing this morning. We finally burned that stack of boxes on the porch and moved the ladder, which freed up the view to the South for our Book Club members. I smoothed out the soil in Bed #14 while Amanda prepared lunch (chicken tetrazinni, lima beans, salad from Cathy Saylor, and store-bought rolls). Then I bush hogged around the lodge.

October 5, 2012

Great morning. I was up early to set up the transit and to lay out tools. As promised, Tom arrived at 8:00, and we started by taking terrain rulings under Bed #14. Then we started moving in sides, ends, and posts and assembled #14. Checked with level to see where we needed to dig down or build up. Then we lifted the bed with Scamp, made the changes, and the bed was level. Repeated the process with #15 and #16.We got stymied positioning #16, though, because the u-bolt on one of our harnesses gave way. All in all, though, a superb morning’s work.

Tom stayed for lunch, turkey sandwiches on the lodge  porch. After he left, I used Scamp to fill #14 and #15 with Super Soil. Then I had to stop to shower and get ready to drive to Birmingham for Sustainable Futures at Roho.

October 4, 2012

This morning was mostly indoor work, followed by EfM and then PT this afternoon. I did find some time to pre-drill the holes in the sides for two beds and the ends for one. I left all the pieces laid out on Tractor’s pallet forks over by the pile of Super Soil. I also used Scamp to even out the ground just East of Bed #13. Basically just picked from the South end and added it the North end. I left Scamp out on Veg Hill.

October 3, 2012

Today’s major event was traveling to Birmingham to visit with Dr Winfield Fisher, neurosurgeon. /First, he said what we all expected him to say, which is that it doesn’t seem wise to attempt any surgery while my function continues to improve on its own. The big news, the surprising news to me, is that, given the severity of my injury and the slow pace of my recovery, he thinks it unlikely that I will ever regain full function of my arm/hand. I’m still digesting what that means.

On the way back to the farm, I stopped and bought six kale plants at Petals from the Past. Spent most of the remainder of the day when I returned plowing through paperwork in the shop.

October 2, 2012

This morning I used Scamp to finish excavating for Bed 14, and then I mounted rebar and hoops on 13 so it will be ready for insect barrier the moment Amanda has it planted. This afternoon was PT, then I drove to Eclectic for lattice. They didn’t have it but will order it and have it in by the end of this week.

October 1, 2012

This was a “lost day” in terms of farm work. Traveled to Birmingham for NCV and needle EMG in the morning and MRI in the afternoon. Exhausting.

September 30, 2012

Rainy day. Very small crowd at church, but we had a great conversation in Sunday School. We had lunch with Mama in Montgomery and killed most of the afternoon there.

September 29, 2012

Tom arrived early today, and I had already laid out most of the tools and supplies we needed. We marked the drilling holes for the sides and ends and carried them down to Veg Hill. By then the Ruffins had arrived, Ruffin Cathy, Anthony, Brook, Bryce, and CeCe. They helped us assemble the first bed and level it up. As usual, the leveling was the slowest, most tedious part. Tom had a good suggestion, that I use Scamp for leveling before we introduce any of the wood. That’s what we should have done this time. I then used Scamp’s bucket to fill the bed with soil. It took about six buckets full to fill the bed. By then the Ruffins had left; Tom and I worked to smooth out the surface of the bed. My suggestion to Amanda will be that we call this bed 13. That will leave us able to accommodate as many as 16 beds if we decide to build that many.

After Tom left, I followed his suggestion and used Scamp to do the gross leveling for the next bed. Much faster.

By then it was 1:00 or so, so I decided to knock off for shower, lunch, and nap. During the afternoon I seeded Veg Hill lightly with ryegrass, working to get out ahead of the rain predicted for tonight.

September 28, 2012

Sort of a weird day. I was supposed to drive to Birmingham for an EMG and NCV at 1:00 followed by an MRI at 3:30. However, when I called this morning to confirm the tests, I discovered that the first two tests were scheduled for next week. So now everything has been postponed until Monday, and there’s a chance I could be at Kirklin Clinic from 9:30 until 8:00 pm. I’m chewing nails.

Used the extra time to shop for the fittings I need to use Scamp to lift the raised beds so we can work on leveling them. Also scheduled a PT session, did some paperwork, and printed the bulletin. At the end of the day I tentatively positioned the first raised bed I hope Tom and I build tomorrow. Tonight I designed the bed on Google Sketchup.

September 27, 2012

Today was mostly quiet work, although I did take some time this morning to plan strategy for the sequence of the beds. I think we’ll build them in rows of four running north and south, starting with the westernmost row. As we build each row of beds, approach it from the east to fill it with soil. I had a PT session set this afternoon after EfM, but I had to miss it when we learned that Mama had been taken to the ER when she had very high blood pressure at her exercise class today. We drove to Montgomery and spent the evening at Baptist South. I eventually returned to the farm, and Amanda stayed with Mama until they got her into a room about 9:30, then Amanda returned to Mama’s house and slept the night. Mama has a catheterization Friday.

September 26, 2012

We needed three people to go in three different directions with only two cars, so I made my trip early to Tallassee to pick up two Category 1 pins for the disk so I could pull it with Scamp (allowing me to leave the bush hog on Tractor). After a quick session in the middle of the day, I got the pins on the disk and mounted it on Scamp. Disking itself happened pretty quickly. Now we’re ready to get started on building the beds themselves.

September 25, 2012

First order of the day was exercises, then I tried once again to get a good flame from the torch. Lots of smoke from acetylene only, then as soon as I supplied oxygen the torch “popped” and extinguished. Finally gave up and used the shop jack to stress the joint repeatedly until it eventually broke off. Still don’t have a working torch.

But I do have a working bush hog. I was able to bush hog all of Veg Hill (at least the part that’s accessible to the bush hog). Next step is to put the disc on Scamp and disk the areas I bush hogged. Then we’ll be ready to build beds! This afternoon I had PT, and then I was able to get the Epiphany video finished.

September 24, 2012

Drove to Montgomery this morning with Amanda to pick up tile and then to go to AirGas out beyond Maxwell. They were terrific, taking the time to show me the right way to light my torch and even cleaned out my tip at no charge. This afternoon I cut most of the housing, but it’s still hanging on by a remnant. Will resume work on it tomorrow.

September 23, 2012

Really early start at Epiphany this morning. I got there at 8:00 to record the outside bell, take several outdoor photos, and set up to record Caleb playing “Amazing Grace” on the piano. All this for the video we’re producing for the Tallassee Chamber of Commerce. Spent most of the afternoon in Montgomery visiting with Mama.

September 22, 2012

The day started well, as I gathered all the hog wire trellises off Veg Hill, secured them with lightweight galvanized wire into easily stored circles, and stacked them up just outside the deer fence of Veg Hill. Adrian then shot some video of me using Tractor and the bush hog to take down all the vegetation on rows 2-4 (we don’t use row 1 any more). Things went awry when I carelessly backed into a stump, which bent the bush hog housing in and caused the blades to bang against the housing when they spin. When I tried to use my oxy-acetylene torch to cut off that section of the housing, I discovered that it’s not working, apparently because I have allowed the oxygen to leak out. I consoled myself with Amanda’s help by cutting the 4x4s into 11 1/2″ lengths.

September 21, 2012

The day started with a LONG  PT session. A quick rest at the farm and lunch with Tom Bray. This afternoon I began bundling all the 3/4″ PVC pipe I had pulled from Veg Hill into bundles of 10, a task made almost perfectly difficult by my arm injury. I stopped after three bundles and bush hogged around the fire pit and the grassy area East of the lodge. True Value delivered my lumber today; it’s now ready to use in building the raised beds.

September 20, 2012

Early part of the day was indoor work, focusing on research on raised beds and prep for EfM this afternoon. After EfM, I finished pulling the t-posts off Veg Hill (we must have 30 or more on the pallet rack now). We also have a pile (50 or so) of 6-foot 3/4 inch PVC pipes. Right now they’re all in Tractor’s bucket; Perhaps tomorrow I will wrap them in bundles of 10 or so and put them away. Also need to put away the two 20-foot lengths of 2″ PVC we were using as the backbone of the tomato trellis and the 12 or so lengths of hog wire that right now are just lying on the ground inside Veg Hill.

September 19, 2012

Gorgeous day. Got out early and worked most of the day to pull drip tape, t-posts, and hog wire, including a couple of t-posts that seemed almost set in concrete. Felt great to be out there and working.

September 18, 2012

Today was dominated by my injury and the recovery from it. In the morning was a visit w/ Hartzog. For the first time, he’s talking about the possibility of putting me to sleep to free up the shoulder. We’ll make the decision after my visit in October w/ Winfield Fisher. /this afternoon was a LONG PT session. I did have time at the end of the day to do some planning on the reboot and to recondition the topsoil pile.

September 17, 2012

A little rain last night. Cloudy morning. I got out on Veg Hill this morning and shot some video for a “before” look. Then I started harvesting sweet potatoes. Big disappointment. I guess because of the mole or vole, all the sweet potatoes I found were already rotten. Went ahead and pulled the trellis.

I pulled the drip tape on every row that I knew Amanda wasn’t using. Worked like a pig and ended up with a big pile of drip tape near the Veg Hill gate. I rescued all the couplings from the drip tape and cleaned them up so we could use them later.

By the time I finished this Amanda had returned from Montgomery, so we shot her stand-up open and then broke for lunch. After lunch, the rain set in so I dodged showers to load the old drip tape into the dumpster and leave it on the  street to be picked up Friday. I also started cutting the tough weeds that have taken root in the super soil, but a shower came up and stopped that.

September 16, 2012

Up early to prepare for church. Then lunch with Mama in Montgomery, then a nice long visit in Montgomery and several errands before we returned to the farm this afternoon.

September 15, 2012

Beans & Rice continues to be a juggernaut ministry of Epiphany. Today we gave food to 54 households from 9:00 sharp until a few minutes after the announced ending time of 11:00. Then I had a nice visit with Jeremy at True Value about the cost of materials for raised beds (works out to about %81 per 4 x 16 foot bed). Then lunch at Acapulco Grill.

September 14, 2012

First thing was a long and brutal PT session. By the time I got back to the farm Mary McCroan was here with her husband Keith. We enjoyed showing them the buildings and growing areas and talking about our plans for the future. This afternoon Amanda had to run an errand into Montgomery. I mowed in and around Veg Hill.

September 13, 2012

Up early to edit and publish the podcast. Then I did quiet work before EfM this afternoon.

September 12, 2012

Started the day with some quiet work. Then I used the bush hog to spruce up the area south of the orchard. I had shied away from this section during the summer, because I was afraid I wasn’t up to it in terms of my strength. And it was good that I had. It didn’t take long before I had rolled Tractor’s right rear tire into a hole and couldn’t drive out. I ended up using the bucket to pull myself out about six inches at a time. Needed all the strength I could muster to get it done.

With the area south of the orchard done, I traveled over to the West side and bush hogged several of the trails I had skipped on the first pass to save time. Now I can say that almost all the trails have been bush hogged within the last week or two and are thoroughly walkable.

This afternoon I had a session early, and then Scott Ruppert arrived to talk through several nits and nabs we have for him.

September 11, 2012

The state E-file system changed formats, which required that I reformat my forms, so that’s what I did this morning. Then we traveled to the church to help with the photo shoot for the church’s Chamber of Commerce ad and several errands around town. Then I used the hedge trimmer to bring down the tall weeds the mower had missed around the fence poles. Finished the outdoor work mowing most of the aisles on Veg Hill. We need that reboot!

September 10, 2012

Amanda was gone to Birmingham today. I started with a LONG PT session, then lunch, then nap, then I mowed the Blueberry strip, then paperwork, then I mowed the orchard fence line. By then my arm was shot, so I showered and did paperwork for a while.

September 9, 2012

Delightfully cool this morning. We actually had to pull that high-priced quilt up over us in the wee hours. Church was wonderful, as it is whenever Rob Morpeth comes. After church and rest, we took a nice walk on the West side. Good to get back out on the trails!

September 8, 2012

To Birmingham this morning (with a side trip to Epiphany on the way up to print the bulletin) to be present for the memorial service for Sherri LaBeau, Bud Flora’s daughter. Then straight back to Epiphany to mow the grass. John Haynie, bless his heart, had beaten me to it, so all I did was to mow the triangle out in front of the nave.

September 7, 2012

First order of the day was to get Sunday’s bulletin finalized. Then we drove to New Harmony Church for the funeral of Candy Jones’ Mom. We remained there for lunch and a nice visit with Charles and Sylvia and several of the Master Gardeners. Then I mowed the grass south and west of the barn. ‘Then a short walk to check on the East Ramp and the driveway. The muscadines are trailing off. They sure have been good!

This evening we picked up supper from China Garden in East Tallassee. What a luxury!

September 6, 2012

Up early for arm exercises and recording this week’s podcast. Then to EfM, and then PT. I was done for by then.

September 5, 2012

Big changes today. Rodney Griffith was here bright and early and had the new driveway cut by 10:00. His folks were working the rest of the day digging up material from the East Ramp and trucking it to the new driveway to make it more or less level.

I started on the orchard floor with the Quick Dually and finished with the orchard floor itself. Now I need to mow between the two strands of the deer fence. I overdid it, though. By the time I finished, my shoulder was really talking to me.

September 4, 2012

First order of the day was cleaning up after our meat-cooking extravaganza yesterday. I wiped down the gas grill and put it back up on the pallet rack. Then I put both tractors up. Then exercises for my arm. After I finished the exercises, I put the bulletin together and loaded it on the web site. By then it was time for lunch and PT. Then a late afternoon session before supper.

September 3, 2012

A delightfully restful Labor Day holiday. Up early for breakfast and exercises for my arm. Then we just visited in the lodge through lunchtime. I started the smoker after lunch and put the ribs on. We had a nice shower this afternoon, about 7/10 of an inch. This afternoon I grilled chicken thighs, mahi burgers, beef burgers, and eggplant.

September 2, 2012

It was good to welcome Rob Morpeth back at Epiphany today. He’s such a blistering intellect. His Sunday School lesson explored the consistency between quantum physics and Christian theology. Fun stuff. Then lunch with Mama and a quiet and restful afternoon. This evening I pulled the grill down from the pallet rack and grilled hot dogs for supper.

September 1, 2012

Got an early start this morning with the Quick Dually. I was able to mow much longer than I have before. A big part of it was that I was fresher in the morning, but I’m hoping also that my strength is building. I’m approaching the halfway point with the orchard mowing. When my strength waned I switched to the bush hog. Started with the new grassy areas flanking the driveway, then moved to the strip east of the orchard. I mowed the dam and then the path below the dam. All the east side is now bush hogged and ready to use. A little more work on the west side, and I’ll be finished with the bush hog for a while.

This afternoon we drove to Montgomery for Starr Brooks’ funeral. Then back to the farm this evening to see the Tide roll against Michigan. So proud of my team . . .

August 31, 2012

I mustered at Tallassee Rehab at 7:15 this morning so I could get in a full PT session and still get back to the farm for a 9:30 am session. Had time for a brief muscadine harvest before lunch.

This afternoon I bush hogged all of the East side except the trail below the pond. Also got in one more rotation around the orchard with the Quick Dually.

August 30, 2012

I had a truncated session this morning, then I cranked up the Quick Dually again and mowed about 1 1/2 laps around the orchard before my hand got too tired. Then I bush hogged the North Trail. By the time I finished that I felt like finishing that second lap around the orchard.

August 29, 2012

I bush hogged most of the west side this morning; I picked up most of the trails we tend to use the most. I cut it short because my hand and arm were really beginning to hurt, but I felt good about making as much progress as I had.

This afternoon I fixed some toll house brownies to take to the church for the long range planning meeting.

August 28, 2012

I’ve been gone since dawn Sunday so I could attend Emily’s memorial service in Laurinburg, NC. What a tragedy. But the service was beautiful. I’m proud of my family and proud of my nieces.

This afternoon I cranked up the Quick Dually. Made it all the way around the orchard, but by the time I had made it around I was done for. Need to build some strength back!

August 25, 2012

Amanda is in Georgia to help host a baby shower for Charity, so I am alone today. I know I will be gone to NC for Emily’s funeral well into Tuesday. I’m now expecting that Isaac will become everybody’s focus while I’m gone, so I’m working to get the farm ready today. Moving flashlights, chairs, pruning saw, and whistle into the storm shelter. Filling gas tank of truck. Filed a divorce and kept a close eye on the reports of Isaac’s progress.

August 24, 2012

This is getting painful. On the way home from visitation in the wake of the death of our niece Emily McQueen Borden we learned of the death of Starr Brooks, Amanda’s dear friend from childhood. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

August 23, 2012

Awoke during the wee hours and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I went ahead and published the podcast. An early PT session. Then to New Orleans for funeral visitation for our niece Emily.

August 22, 2012

Our cousin and insurance agent Gordon Hudson came to see us this morning to update our coverage now that the lodge is finished. Then I upgraded the software on this site and that of Epiphany. I tried to upgrade the Divorceinfo blog but ran into a glitch and couldn’t do it. I’ll need to find out more about the problem and see if I can resolve it.

This afternoon I cranked up the Quick Dually and used it to knock down some high weeds we had missed earlier on the Blueberry Strip. Then later this afternoon we recorded the podcast for tomorrow on what we’ve learned in using the clothesline for two years.

August 21, 2012

Today was the big graduation meeting for Central Alabama Master Gardeners Association. The stars of the show were the 21 graduates who were named Master Gardeners, including our friend John Haynie. It was also the day Amanda and I were certified as Advanced Master Gardeners, she in organic home-scale vegetable production and I in organic home-scale fruit & nut production. Okay, back to work!

August 20, 2012

Amanda had to leave early today for a dental appointment in Birmingham, so I had the morning to myself. I started the day building a to do list and proceeded to work through the list item by item. First I processed and filed a divorce. Then I made several calls. Then I built a “T” bar from PVC pipe. Then I met with Rodney Griffith about our driveway. Then I had PT. Then I harvested muscadines and okra. Good day.

August 19, 2012

Long morning at church. Spent most of the afternoon designing the bulletin for the instructed Eucharist for next Sunday.

August 18, 2012

This morning Epiphany had Beans & Rice in the parish hall. Pretty impressive to see the sheer volume of food we’re sending out the door. We served 42 households, the largest number ever.

This afternoon I drove to Atlanta to meet Amanda after her cross-country trip. In retrospect, it was too much to do beans & rice and then do all that driving. I was really sore by the time I got to Atlanta and not able to welcome Amanda properly. A good night’s sleep helped.

August 17, 2012

I had four sessions set today, so that became the focus of the day. I did manage to spend a little time harvesting fruit and dealing with the garbage, but most of the day was inside.

August 16, 2012

My brother Tom and my great nephew Jack came to the farm to help today. Tom was gracious enough to take time to learn to operate the Quick Dually and soon had the Blueberry Strip looking great again. He was having so much fun operating it that he would then went on to mow the clothesline lawn as well.

With this task behind us, we headed for the Lodge. Tom climbed the ladder, and Jack handed him handles to install on each of the stack windows. We also opened the stack windows so that we have ventilation moving through the Lodge now. In the process of installing the handles, we realized that Scott had placed the stack windows but had not actually installed them. I need to get with him when he returns to make sure we get that handled. Jack also christened the reed organ with a beautiful song. I have it recorded on my phone and need to upload it to Facebook.

I had another grueling physical therapy session this afternoon. I will be so relieved when I can close the book on this whole chapter of my dislocated shoulder and damaged brachial plexus.

August 15, 2012

I have begun a concerted effort to accomplish tasks with my left hand. This morning I managed to brush my teeth entirely with my left hand. I got out the Quick Dually mower and managed to knock down a couple of rows of grass before my left hand became exhausted. My shoulder is also getting very tired, but I know that’s good for it.

August 14, 2012

The morning began with a visit to Dr. Herzog in Montgomery. He seemed genuinely pleased with my progress, in particular the arm strength and hand strength. In contrast to my last visit, when he was disappointed with the progress, he seemed upbeat and indicated we were on the right track. This afternoon I focus mostly on paperwork, then a quick trip to the Lake before joining Tom and Jan Bray for supper. I’m trying to convince Tom and Jan that the vacant lot just to the right of their house would be a great place for small orchard.

August 13, 2012

Thank goodness for kindly older brothers. Ruffin gave up time from his lake vacation this morning to drive down to the farm and help me with chores. He used the hedge trimmer to take down all the tallest weeds on Veg Hill. It may be only psychological, but it sure helps my feelings to get some of those weeds tamed.

August 12, 2012

It’s been a little more than a month since the skiing accident in which I injured my arm. Improvement has been painfully slow, but we are seeing it. Right after the accident, I had almost no control of any muscles below the shoulder; now I can make a weak fist, raise and lower my elbow, and flex and roll my wrist. I am just beginning to be able to extend the fingers of my left hand.

The muscles around my shoulder have atrophied at an alarming rate, so the stars of this little healing drama are the physical therapists at Tallassee Rehab. I am exploring new ways to torture myself as we work to improve range of motion in my hand, arm, and shoulder.

Perhaps the most vexing challenge is getting a decent night’s sleep while minimizing my use of sleep-inducing drugs. So far the most effective techniques have been cussing and prayer. Slight edge to the cussing. I continue to type with one hand, so I have broken down and ordered Dragon Speaking Naturally, due for delivery Tuesday.

August 7, 2012

I was way too late doing so, but I finally cut out the blackberry flouricanes today. Hoping to get the primocanes tied to the trellis line today with help from Joe and Adrian. We got several of the larger pieces of furniture secured in the lodge today with Joe’s help, and Joe also mowed the aisles on Veg Hill. I had to walk ahead of him so he knew where to mow. This is the worst Veg Hill has ever looked.

August 6, 2012

Our grandson Smith is here from CA with his Mom and Dad. Great fun letting him pick apples, pears, figs, and muscadines off the tree and eat them in the orchard. One of the trophies was a winesap apple, but most of them were Annas. Both delicious!

August 1, 2012

Spent most of the day running errands in Montgomery and at the lake. We’re seriously behind on farm work.

July 31, 2012

Rain, glorious rain! It started last night and then stopped, then restarted in the wee hours and continued until almost noon. Gentle soaking, life-giving rain. Finished the day with about 1.5 inches. And then there’s the 2/10 of an inch we got on Monday, so the total for the event is about 1.7 inches.

July 25, 2012

Spent most of the morning showing the lodge and the barn to Rick Rogers from Birmingham, who’s considering building something like them on his land in Waverly. In the afternoon I tried to print the bulletins at the church but had to abort because the toner cartridge was empty. Then to PT, where we began for the first time doing range of motion exercises with my shoulder. While I was gone, Eli mowed the Blueberry Strip, then the yard, then all the orchard. Really helps the looks of the place.

July 24, 2012

Good day that started poorly. Appointment w/ Herzog (orthopedist) this morning, during he sounded decidedly gloomy. Reminded me two or three times that I may never regain the full use of my left arm, and the prescription he gave me for nerve pain would have cost $190 after insurance. I said no.

This afternoon Eli and I got the privacy curtain up so Amanda and I can take an outdoor shower even while we have guests in the lodge. Emboldened by our success, we opened the electric range and got it working. Tonight before supper we burned everything we could on the pavilion floor, leaving the pavilion looking more shipshape. Just before I turned in, Eli and I walked down to where I had pre-marked the yellow jacket nest and poured gasoline into it. That should do it for those bad boys.

July 23, 2012

Kind of a sleepy day. PT in the morning and inside work in the afternoon. I did get out with Oddie and mark that yellow jacket nest on the pond dam. Now Eli and I need to go back tonight and smother it.

Late in the afternoon I finished and forwarded to Mallory Kelley my curriculum for Advanced Master Gardener certification. Feels great to have it done.

July 22, 2012

Today I was installed as the verger at Epiphany. After worship, we cleaned the facilities from top to bottom, a “deep” cleaning. It took longer than we expected but went well. My arm is staying swollen more these days.Need to talk over w Harzog Tuesday. Tonight we hosted the Brays for supper. Before supper Tom was able to decrease the volume level on the west porch speakers and confirm that they still sound fine. What a relief!

July 21, 2012

Today we made what I hope is the last big move of our lives, emptying the storage warehouse in East Tallassee and getting all the contents under the roof of the lodge. Admittedly, we now have many boxes to open and empty, and a fair amount of assembly remaining. But I choose at this point to revel in the progress we have made getting everything consolidated on the farm. It just feels wonderful. Eli was magnificent, and a hearty thank you to our friend Caleb Hart and his brothers Joel and Andrew.

July 20, 2012

Eli and I spent the better part of the morning connecting the Airport Extreme and Airport Express and exploring the limits of the reach from the barn to the lodge. We learned that the signal from the barn makes it all the way to the lodge but not into the lodge. Lunch today with the EfM group.

July 19, 2012

The morning began with another grueling physical therapy session at Tallassee Rehab. Then several errands in town, including a stop at the church to print and place the bulletins. This afternoon we recorded the podcast using our presentation to CAMGA. Tonight, First Thursday.

July 18, 2012

Today we began the gradual emptying of the storage warehouse in East Tallassee and the placing of the items in the lodge. Eli was magnificent. He and I made four separate trips to East Tallassee, each time returning with a pickup loaded to the brim with items from the storage warehouse and unloading them into the lodge. Then Eli made a fifth trip by himself. Then he and I made a sixth trip together. We now have it down to just the heavier furniture, and with help on Saturday, we should get this done quickly and leave an empty warehouse behind. We will still have piles of boxes to go through, but we can do that at our leisure with everything under one roof.

July 17, 2012

We were up and away early this morning so Amanda could serve as secretary for the CAMGA Board of Directors and then for the Camga members’ meeting. Ordinarily I would have missed the meeting, but today we presented the program on our effort to become more resilient. It seemed to go well, but I was so exhausted when we returned to the farm that I thought I might be getting sick. Collapsed into bed and felt better after a few hours of rest (not much sleep).

July 16, 2012

Not much farm work today. Instead, the focus was on divorce work, verger arrangements, and preparations for our presentation to CAMGA tomorrow.

July 15, 2012

Settling into the humdrum routine of recovering from my accident. This includes lots of sleeplessness at night and frustration with no discernible improvement, but it also includes a gratifying and heartwarming outpouring of support and offers to help from friends and neighbors. Sure could use a good night’s sleep . . .

July 14, 2012

Made the transition today from the lake back to the farm. This afternoon Adrian and Eli made good progress cleaning the lodge; they plan to finish that this afternoon as they prepare to set up housekeeping there. Tonight we enjoyed dinner with a group of Epiphany folk at the Weldons at the Relay for Life dinner. Lots of fun.

July 13, 2012

First PT visit went well, but that quickly paled in comparison with the great development at the farm this morning. I can bush hog! I have to travel a little more slowly, and when I need to change cutting height I have to stop so I can use my steering hand on the three-point hitch. I then used Scamp (smaller 4-wheel tractor) to pick up some clay gravel and repair the driveway. I am high as a kite on crack to know I can operate both tractors. That gets me functional except for mowing, chain saw, weedeater, and brush trimmer. We’re gonna make this work!

July 12, 2012

Given what we had experienced during the last six days, we could hardly have asked for better news from Dr Harzog (orthopedist) today. He was able to confirm that there is no rupture or tearing on the brachial plexus. That means the nerve is only stretched. That means in turn that the prognosis is very positive for the nerve to reconnect itself over time. Needless to say, we’re all relieved and grateful. Now begins (starting at 7:00 am tomorrow, to be exact) a months-long course of physical therapy and celebrating the tiniest of improvements. We are delighted to learn that the course is likely one of months of physical therapy rather than one of years of surgery and bone grafts. We also learned that I have two compressed vertebrae, so there’s a material chance I will need surgery at some point in the future. That, however is a subject for another day’s worry. Tonight we party hardy and get to bed early to be ready for that early PT session tomorrow morning.

July 11, 2012

Here’s what I posted on Facebook today with the latest news:

I was water-skiing Friday afternoon when I fell forward and dislocated my left shoulder, chipped the bone in my left shoulder, and damaged the nerve that serves the left arm, called the brachial plexus. The dislocation was reduced without incident Friday night after the doc satisfied himself that “hauling on it” (his words, not mine) wouldn’t make matters worse. The vexing challenge that has all of us scared right now is that my left arm is hanging uselessly from my body. Little sensation below the shoulder and almost no motor control. We saw a big improvement on Monday morning when I discovered I could flex my elbow, but very little improvement since then. Due to return to the orthopedist tomorrow Thursday afternoon, after he has had a chance to review the three MRIs that I had yesterday. Hope to know more about long-term prognosis then.

July 10, 2012

No big change to sensation or motor control today. Just a tad more strength in the ability to press thumb against index finger. Got through those three MRIs just fine.

July 9, 2012

My apologies that my farm log has become an injury recovery log, but this is the 300-pound gorilla on our farm right now. Here’s what I posted about it on Facebook:

Discovered this morning that I could move my elbow! Can’t tell you how psyched I am about that. Good visit this morning with Dr Harzog, orthopedist, who says it now appears likely that I will continue to see gradual return of sensation and motor control. He has no idea how fast or how slow. Due for three MRIs in sequence tomorrow, the first of my neck to rule out injury at the spinal cord, the second of the shoulder to learn more about the dislocation, the fracture, and the reduction, and the third focused on my brachial plexus, that all-important damaged nerve. Closed MRI. I will take Xanax beforehand to reduce likelihood of claustrophobia.

July 8, 2012

I’m sorry that I’ve been remiss in not updating the log more often. This has been a most unusual week, made more interesting when I fell water-skiing and dislocated my shoulder.  The challenge is that the fall also severely damaged my brachial plexus, the nerve that serves my left arm and hand.  I’m frightened by this, because Longleaf Breeze is not set up for a one-armed farmer. I’m watching eagerly for signs my sensation and motor control are improving. I can type with one hand easily enough, but I can’t operate farm machinery with one hand.

July 2, 2012

It’s interesting to see how little the grass has grown during the 11 days I was gone. I guess that’s what temps in the 90s and no rain do for grass. Before the heat wave set in, though, we got enough “normal” days to get some of the tomatoes to ripen, so Amanda’s now bringing in lots of tomatoes and cucumbers fresh from Veg Hill.

Note: I’ll be attending a 10-day meditation course beginning Wednesday, June 20. I’ll be away from phones, Internet, etc and will not be updating this log until I return.

June 19, 2012

Amanda was up and early and headed to Wetumpka this morning for the CAMGA Board meeting and then the CAMGA membership meeting. I first bush hogged the key trails on the west side. They should be good for the next couple of weeks anyway. Then I re-trellised the tomatoes.

By the time I finished that, it was time to head to town for a series of errands (copying bulletin, picking up a new door, mail, medicine), and then I met Adrian and Eli for lunch at 1220. This afternoon we used the hedge trimmer to bring down the weeds on the rows where Amanda wants to solarize.

We recorded the podcast together, our longest ever, and it was nightfall before I finished editing and publishing it.

June 18, 2012

We were dreadfully late getting back to the farm, so we got a slow start this morning and enjoyed our time visiting with Ed. Amanda and I enjoyed showing him the lodge and the barn, and he was unfailingly complimentary as he saw what we had done and how we had done it. Can’t tell you how much it means to have him see what we’re doing and approve of it.

As Ed was nearing the end of his visit, I started mowing the orchard, and then I finished after he had left. This afternoon was mostly about catching up on paperwork, paying bills, balancing the checkbook.

June 17, 2012

A thoroughly enjoyable Father’s Day. Started it in church, and it was good to see our friends there. Then we drove to Peach Park and had a brief visit with Adrian and Eli. They sang a Father’s Day song for me, which was wonderful. Too brief a visit, but it was great to see them.

Then on to Stacie’s house in Birmingham for the Sustainable Futures group with Ed Passerini. Good conversation with a small group about issues that really matter. Then back to the farm so Ed could spend the night with us.

June 16, 2012

Up early and out to dismantle the chicken wire “cage” on Row 2. Good riddance. What a waste that cage has been.

Then I mowed the aisles on Veg Hill before turning my attention to mowing the grass lawn to the south and west of the barn as well as the Blueberry Strip. Discovered another yellow jacket nest when I got stung twice. Bummer.

This afternoon Eli and I “dry-stacked” the hardwood for about 1/2 the gathering room in preparation for Scott to come Monday. It’s our hope that this will allow him to move more quickly across the room.

Tonight after dark I poured a cup of gasoline into that yellow jacket nest and covered it with a board.

June 15, 2012

After too many false starts, Scott finally was able to start nailing down the hardwood floor today. Boog also came to work on the cabinets. He made some progress but was unable to attach the knobs because the vender had failed to include screws.

I was out early and continued working on weeding and mulching the asparagus. It was actually Amanda who finished the job, leaving it looking quite nice and orderly for the first time in many weeks.

This afternoon we did a lot of cooking and food prep before taking dinner to Mama’s to share with Mama, Adrian, and Eli. Then we played bridge until too late.

June 14, 2012

Amanda and I recorded the podcast first thing this morning because she traveled to Birmingham to be with Adrian for her epidural procedure. As soon as we finished recording, I had a morning session. After Amanda left, I edited and published the podcast. There was a 40% chance of rain in the forecast by noon, so I checked the clothes on the line. They were already dry after two hours hanging in the sunshine – what a contrast with the winter, when we need them to hang all day! Then I drove to Wetumpka to pick up a pneumatic floor nailer from the DoIt Center there. After lunch, I drove to Farmers Feed to pick up four rolls of landscape matting and six bales of straw for the return trip.

After the matting and straw were safely stored under the pole barn roof, I started on the asparagus, which had become completely overgrown with weeds. Each plant must be carefully and meticulously weeded by hand, because the delicate ferns are just as thin as the weeds. It would be SO easy for me to pull up a fern thinking it was a weed. It went slowly, but I was able to weed about 2/3 of the stand and to mulch about 1/3 of it before the rain came.

Amanda returned after nightfall, exhausted from a long day of playing “sandwich generation,” caring for her Mom and our daughter simultaneously.

June 13, 2012

Frustrating day. I drove to town early to pick up a nailer and nails so Scott could get started on the flooring, but the machine Jeremy gave me was actually a stapler rather than a nailer, and it won’t work with hardwood. Drove back to town and picked up two (manual) nailers, neither of which worked. Scott himself drove to Eclectic to get a nailer, and it turned out theirs didn’t work either. He now has found one at the Do It Center in Wetumpka, and I’ll pick it up tomorrow.

Eli and I removed all the labels from the windows today. At least that went well.

This afternoon Amanda and I found the yellow jacket nest and marked it. I went out at dusk, doused it with gasoline, and blocked it off with a board. We’ll see how effective a kill we got. I’m concerned because, even at that late hour, there were still yellow jackets arriving and leaving.

June 12, 2012

A busy day. This morning Scott installed closet shelves in the lodge while I worked to connect the speakers in the home theater system. Amanda spent most of the morning cleaning the barn in preparation for Adrian’s and Eli’s return. This afternoon I managed to power up the TV. The DVD looks great, and the speakers sound great in the gathering room, but there’s some kind of problem with the speakers on the east porch. They just don’t sound good AT ALL. Really distorted.

This afternoon Amanda spotted a rabbit on Veg Hill, and when I tried to shoot it with the shotgun I slammed the scope against my nose and came away quite bloody. After that, Amanda was out on Veg Hill when she stepped into a yellowjacket nest and came away with about 10 stings. We’re nervous, because she’s allergic to yellowjacket stings. We immediately put ice on them, hoping that will reduce the swelling and pain. We make quite a pair.

June 11, 2012

Today the TV arrived, and Scott and I had it up and installed by lunch time. He put the interior doors and locks on, including an extra keyed entry and deadbolt we realized during the morning was missing, so I ran to town to pick them up.

The big decision of the morning was about the range. The one we had ordered from Sears was too tall for the space. We’ve tentatively selected a slide-in range instead. It’s more expensive than the free-standing range we had ordered, but it fits into the space. Now the question is how to make it work. It needs a back lip of counter, so we’re hoping Scott can construct a shelf across the gap and that Dave Dean can top it with a strip of granite.

This afternoon we carefully wiped down all the granite countertops, working to rid them of the grit that had been present on them since installation. We agreed that we had made progress but that the job probably wouldn’t be finished until another wiping or two. At the end of the day we walked the North Trail and the meandering east side trail with lopping shears, cutting back branches that encroached onto the trails. It’s amazing to think of what progress we’ve made, particularly with the North Trail. When we first cut it it was wild and wooly. Now it’s quite pleasant to walk.

June 10, 2012

Good morning at church. Today we dedicated the new doors of the nave during worship, and then we heard a poignant, heartfelt description from Nancy Dupree about the painful journey she traveled dealing with her husband’s alcoholism. This afternoon we talked with both children, while Amanda braided all the garlic she had picked yesterday morning. We took a long walk over to the west side carrying lopping shears to clean up the trails as we went. When we returned, we worked together to hang up the six bundles of garlic Amanda had braided. They’re now hanging fragrantly in the shop.

Today I made the decision to join the Vergers Guild of the Episcopal Church and to begin work on the Vergers Guild Training Course. There are many vergers (lay people specially trained, equipped, and empowered to make worship a welcoming experience) but a smaller number who have completed the training course.

June 9, 2012

Got out before dawn and covered the wood flooring with poly in preparation for the rain they’re predicting this evening. Later when she got up, Amanda pulled 127 garlic bulbs ahead of the rain and arranged them on the work table under the barn roof.

Also measured the gap inside the component closet where I’m planning to mount power strips. For reasons I cannot explain, 3 inches has become 2 1/4 inches, but I think I have found a power strip that fits nicely.

Researched methods of getting Internet to the lodge from our cellular travel router. It looks like the best bet to start will be an Apple Airport Extreme attached to our CTR, paired with an Apple Airport Express in the lodge. I think I’ll just have to order them and see if they get the job done.

June 8, 2012

I was sleepless in the wee hours this morning, so I walked up to the lodge and turned on the sconces. Just the effect we were looking for! Plenty of light to see faces and to see your food, but very soft and warm. Can’t wait for Amanda to see it.

Most of the morning was about sweeping out each room of the lodge, including the gathering room. It feels great to see it coming together. Amanda and I walked through the lodge with Scott, agreeing on where to place shelves in each closet. He’ll install the shelf supports before he puts down hardwood floors.

Scott grouted the backsplash this morning and installed the locks, so now we can begin moving equipment into the lodge. I spent most of the afternoon cleaning off the east porch and the pavilion. They look so much better now. Also had a chance to clean out the closet where we store tables and chairs.

June 7, 2012

So much fun this morning walking through the orchard. A little bit of pruning, but mostly training and inspecting. All the sconces are installed now, so I need to get up to the lodge at night and see how they look.

 

June 6, 2012

We were out late last night visiting with the kids at the lake, so both of us got a slow start this morning. I didn’t harvest blueberries as usual, but Amanda picked some later to take to the lake so the kids could take them to David and Barbara Sabin. I got out on Tractor and bush-hogged all the West side. I think I can say now with confidence that every trail we have has been recently bush-hogged. There are some that need some lopping work, but everything’s walkable.

Scott was here most of the morning working on the backsplash, and Matt and Johnny were working on the wiring. Everybody’s due back tomorrow. I fixed another blackberry/blueberry cobbler this afternoon, this one for supper tonight with the Brays.

June 5, 2012

Up at dawn to pick blueberries (I LOVE blueberry season), then the usual quiet work until time to awaken Amanda.

Got up to the lodge and installed all four patio speakers without incident. Ran into a problem, though, when I started to install the in-wall speakers. Took me a while (why couldn’t they cover this in the installation guide?) that I was supposed to use the tiny little metal hook to pull the grill off the speaker so I could tighten the screws holding the speaker to the sheetrock. All six speakers (the four patio speakers and the two gathering room speakers look great. I’ll have to wait a while, though, to see if they also sound good.

Dave Dean came this morning to install the granite. It looks very nice. It’s a honed finish instead of a polished finish, and they did a chiseled edge instead of a rounded edge. All very spiffy, in keeping with our “rustic” look.

I killed a seven-foot rattlesnake on the porch of the barn today. Why didn’t he slither off when I poked at him?

This afternoon I made a blackberry/blueberry cobbler to take to the lake to have for dessert tonight with Adrian and Eli. Then I walked up the hill and programmed in the location of each switch. When Johnny and Matt come tomorrow, I want to fill in the locations with what they control.

June 4, 2012

Picked blueberries before Amanda awoke, then made a quick trip to town to pick up casing for the two doors of the lodge. I bush-hogged the east side this morning with Oddie’s help. When I got back, I dismantled the horse pal and cleaned the ball, the screen cone, and the jar. This afternoon I worked indoors ordering most of the home theater components and plowing through correspondence. Amanda and I had a good time walking through the lodge and noting the changes; we also planned out towel bars in the two bathrooms. Then we took a nice walk on the newly bush-hogged east side before returning to fix supper.

June 3, 2012

Not much time at the farm today. Church in the morning, and we were glad to welcome Adrian and Eli to be with us. Then lunch with Mama at Arrowhead, then to her house. I napped while Adrian and Eli began working on a new music bed for the podcast. Then we played bridge before stopping by Tom and Jan Bray’s to see their daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. Home, finally for supper and bed. A wonderful Sabbath.

June 2, 2012

This morning I opened up the lodge so the woodwork can get nice and dry and be ready for Ray Miller’s folks tomorrow. The big project, the time-consuming project, surprisingly, was grilling the chicken thighs. I had five, count’em, five flareups, each one of which required that I take the chicken off the grill, let everything calm down, and then put the chicken back on. Tedious! I’ve ordered a new trough, because my original one is rusting through. But the main thing I think I need to do is to find a way to reduce the fat in the chicken I’m cooking.

Opened the stack window in the barn this afternoon. The big project of the afternoon was to clear everything off the kitchen counter in the barn and scrub it down to get rid of the greasy film that had settled on it. It looks much better now; the question is how long will it last?

The north window on the west end (in the playroom) has stripped out its mechanism from the wood. Hope that’s not going to recur. I’ll ask Scott to take a look at it and see what approach makes the most sense. I’ll also ask him to go around and tighten any others that seem to be getting loose.

I needed to return Scamp to the barn, so on the way I scooped up a bucket of clay-gravel and smoothed out the transition from Kool’s approach to the concrete under the pole barn. Used the left over portion to smooth out the approach for Cracker as well.

This afternoon I drove into town for a single purpose – to print, collate, and staple the bulletin and leave it in the narthex. Plenty of time to reflect on my decision to stop working on the bulletin at the end of July and feel better about it.

Tonight we drove to the lake to have supper with Adrian and Eli. We sure are doing a lot of driving these days.

June 1, 2012

Lee Patterson’s folks came this morning to set the outdoor unit. The heat pump is now operating well. As I had hoped, it takes it almost no time at all to bring the lodge down to whatever temperature you want.

Amanda headed to Montgomery for shopping and errands, so I first headed up to the lodge to check in on Lee’s folks and on Boog, who had come to fix the lazy susan. While they continued working, I buried the drip tape on Rows 16-17. Then I upgraded the trellising on several tomato plants. Ran out of twine. Need to buy more.

This afternoon while Amanda was gone, I set up a first attempt at a privacy curtain on the north roofline of the barn so Amanda and I can take a shower and I can use the outdoor toilet even while we have guests in the lodge. It was a failure. The little shower rods I bought from Wal-Mart weren’t nearly strong enough and kept falling. I’m going to need to install more permanent ones.

May 31, 2012

Paperwork early this morning, then Amanda and I recorded the podcast. Eli arrived about 9:00 and immediately started working on rolling the area east of the lodge so we could spread straw there. I flitted back and forth from his work to the lodge, where Boog and his folks were setting doors in the cabinets and setting the home theater shelves. I realized at the 11th hour that I hadn’t made any arrangement for getting cords from the TV over to the component cabinet, so Boog and I came up with a solution there, basically a big hole I can stick my arm through for retrieving cords, to be covered later with a sheet of finished 1/4″ plywood.

After we finished spreading straw on the grass, I set up a quick trellis for Amanda’s green beans while Eli took a phone call, and then I took him out to the orchard to teach him how to suppress primocanes. The blackberries are peaking right now.

This afternoon was quiet work for me: editing and publishing the podcast, correspondence, and dealing with the aftermath of a horrendous thunderstorm. Whatever happened to gentle rain?

May 30, 2012

This was my day to work at the lake. First I used the walk-behind to mow the lawn and Blueberry Strip here. Then I drove Cracker to the church to borrow the trailer. Brought it back here and loaded the walk-behind with some difficulty because of the steep incline. I now have a spot where I can load and unload more easily where the incline is less severe.

Drove to the lake. Eli and I looked over the steps and decided what we needed from the hardware store. We tested our theory about how to do it by attaching the step Rod had retrieved, and that worked smoothly. Eli drove to the store to make the purchases while I mowed the grass and blew off the sidewalks. The grass looks MUCH better now. When Eli returned we covered the step with the astroturf we had found in the storage room, and then we attached it as we had the first. The steps now seem serviceable.

Amanda and Adrian were in town all this time and cooking up a plan for the four of us to meet back at the lake for supper. Turned into a very late night.

May 29, 2012

Started this morning editing the centipede video, then a quick session before it was time to hang out a load of clothes and re-seed the centipedegrass. Then I seeded it on the section east of the lodge as well.

This afternoon I re-buried the header and drip hose on the orchard floor, and then I mowed the orchard floor. Spent the rost of the afternoon first shooting the stand up close for the centipede video and then editing it, and it’s now finished.

May 28, 2012

Left the sprinklers on all night by mistake. Seems strange to be thinking this way, but it’s a wonderful validation to me of our “splurging” on a drip irrigation timer/controller rather than planning on turning the zones on and off from memory. We humans just forget things. Delightful holiday with Mama, Adrian, Eli, and Adrian’s friend Emily Hendrick who stopped by on her way down to Florida. Got back to the farm a little before 9:00 and stayed up working on the centipede video.

May 27, 2012

Church this morning and then lunch this afternoon with Mama, Adrian and Eli. Back to the farm in the late afternoon. Amanda and I finished spreading straw as night fell.

May 26, 2012

Got out early this morning and trellised the tomatoes. Amanda’s been asking me to tend to it for several days, and I can see why. They were flopped over and lying on top of each other. But with the addition of a 3/4″ PVC pole for nearly every plant, they’re up off the ground and looking much better positioned for growth now. Didn’t realize until I got into it just how time consuming it would be!

This afternoon Adrian and Eli helped us seed centipede on either side of the driveway. You just can’t get in a hurry with centipede. There are several steps, and each one is important. First we cleared the land of any loose sticks we could find. Then we cut the centipede with sand and spread both around. Then Adrian drove on it with the Corolla. Then we spread wheat straw on it. Then we turned on the water. We got about 2/3 of the way down and then ran out of straw. Fortunately, we realized we were out in time for Amanda to run to Dadeville and pick up some more. We will probably spread it over the remaining 1/3 this afternoon so we can get the water going on it as well. Shot video of the process, so we will have a nice Organic Moments video on planting centipede grass seed.

Late this afternoon I got on the phone with Craig Savage at Bikes LA. He talked me through the process of getting Amanda’s battery out of the bike, so now it’s on the charger. The problem, though, is that the engaging pin of the lock won’t fully retract, so we can’t slide the battery in and out. Craig’s going to call the US distributor Tuesday and will find out how to get the repair done.

May 25, 2012

Today is our 38th wedding anniversary. Had some fun with it on Facebook.

Amanda was in Montgomery most of the day helping Mama get a catheterization of her heart. I started the day at Epiphany helping Maurice with the grounds. Then Eli and I had lunch, and then we began work on moving the fire pit. We decided on a spot out in front of the lodge in a spot where you see it as you approach after parking. We spread over the area some of the top soil the septic tank folks had pushed up, and then we dug out 6-8 inches in a big circle. After getting it to a roughly level state, we poured in a little shot and leveled it up nice and flat.

Then we dismantled the old fire pit and placed the stone on a pallet on Tractor’s pallet forks and brought the stone around. The first course is the slowest, because we needed to make sure it was (a) really round, and (b) really level. We stopped after the first course and filled it with shot, and then we added the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th course, which went pretty quickly. We finished by pouring soil in around the outside of the pit so that the first course is now completely buried by shot on the inside and by soil on the outside.

May 24, 2012

We were away from the farm at the lake most of the day, but we did return in time to record the podcast late in the afternoon. I hate it when we have to do that, because it means I’m editing and publishing until well after suppertime, but we got it done. Good to go to bed in our own home again.

May 23, 2012

Johan and his wife Pam came by this morning to talk through with Eli and me how we might harvest rainwater from the roof of the lodge. His best suggestion is to use two cisterns on the south side of the lodge and one cistern on the north side. The problem is that this is a LOT of money, and I’m pretty sure I can’t justify that kind of money to water ornamentals.

After talking with Maurice about Kenmore appliances, Eli and I spent the rest of the day getting the water line completed. We finished late in the day, but we did finish. Seven faucets, about 480 feet of 3/4″ PVC pipe. We both felt terrific at the end of the day. I find it difficult to put into words how energizing it is to work side-by-side with my son-in-law. It was a thoroughly satisfactory day, and I’m grateful for it

May 22, 2012

So much fun today to have Eli helping at the farm. First he trenched from the pex water line over to the trench where it goes up the hill to the lodge. Then he dug out the holes for each underground box. He worked hard! Unfortunately, neither he nor I thought about how tender his hands would be, and he wore a big blister from the shovel. Should have given him a pair of gloves from the beginning.

May 21, 2012

We’re becoming increasingly concerned about how vulnerable the driveway is to erosion from a sudden rainstorm. We REALLY need to get some grass seed and mulch down ASAP. Tentatively closing in on centipede seed, which is a $7-800 decision, so we’re not making it lightly.

The blackberries and blueberries are coming in really well now, and we have four tiny persimmons forming on one of the fuyu persimmon trees. We have several apples on the Carter’s Blue, which is either (a) great news that it will produce even with low chilling hours or (b) terrible news that it is in the death throes and is setting fruit is its last gallant act to produce some seed. Surprised that we still see no fruit on the Bruce plums, which are now in their third year.

May 20, 2012

Eli and Adrian went to church with us this morning, and it was fun to show them off. Eli got tired during Sunday School and had to go lie down, but we get tired sometimes too, so we certainly understand. The afternoon was all about gathering up what we needed from the farm so Adrian and Eli will be comfortable at the lake place for a few days.

May 19, 2012

Spent most of the day hosting Adrian and Eli, meaning we were in and out at the farm and traveling across central Alabama. We spent some time at the lake, some time in Loachapoka where all of us joined in with the ‘Poka Pickers, and of course some time at the farm as well. We’re tantalized by the prospect that Eli and Adrian may be spending more time in New Orleans, which would mean they would be free to spend more time with us here at the farm. More on that as it develops.

May 18, 2012

Started the day scooping up Scamp-buckets full of that load of clay gravel Rick Jones left for me at the west end of the lodge and using them to fill and smooth the deep ruts in the driveway. I spent about an hour and a half and got the worst problems corrected on the main trunk of the driveway. Also smoothed out the approach to our two main parking places inside the pole barn. Still to come are the first portion of the driveway that connects with Dark Corners Road, as well as the first downhill portion of the main spine trail where the rain bar has given way. That needs a lot of work.

AnnMarie Stark Hewitt joined us this morning for a nice, leisurely visit. We showed her the barn, the lodge, and Veg Hill. Then while Amanda was gone to town to get sandwiches, AnnMarie and I walked through the orchard and then down to the pond.

This afternoon was mostly about getting things cleaned up and ready for us to come to the lake place to meet Adrian and Eli. They arrived at the lake about 8:15, and we had a late supper and good conversation. It’s great to see them again.

May 17, 2012

Busy day today, but almost all of it away from the farm. Started with a visit to Boog’s to see the home theater shelves, which are looking beautiful. He’ll now sand them and get them ready to bring over and install. Then on to Wetumpka to get 5 lb. of centipedegrass seed. Decided while we were there to get two bales of straw, which we PACKED into the trunk of the Corolla. Then on to Lowe’s to pick out a medicine cabinet and then to Wal-mart for groceries. Then a quick drop off at the farm before we ran to the church for EfM, our final meeting of this term. After EfM, we picked out doorknobs at True Value. We chose Cambridge from QuickSet, but we couldn’t find stainless steel knobs for the outdoor prep area and will need to order them online.

Then back to the farm to record, edit, and publish the podcast. By the time I finished that, it was 6:30, time for us to come in, but that’s when I started working with Amanda on Veg Hill. First I removed the hoops and the rebars supporting them. Then I mowed the aisles. Then I used the hedge trimmer on the rows and brought down the black oats. Finished up the day (or night) mowing the lawn. The farm is much closer to ready now.

May 16, 2012

Huge day today in terms of the changes on either side of the driveway. Rick Jones and his helper Thurston were at it almost all day with the bulldozer, excavator, and dump truck, and their work really shows. There’s a 140-foot strip on either side of the driveway after the big turn that about 25 feet wide where we can now park cars. Then another 150-foot strip on the east side only, interrupted by a couple of hardwoods and an adolescent longleaf that we elected to leave in place close to the lodge. We should have plenty of room for parking cars. Now the  challenge is to purchase centipedegrass seed and get it down and growing as quickly as possible.

I was exhausted at the end of the day, because I had been on my feet all day.

May 15, 2012

This morning we drove with two Master Gardener friends and met many other CAMGA members at the lake place maintained by retired attorney Jim Scott. A marvelous 10 acres of private gardens, fascinating sculptures and playful experiences. He must have boundless energy and imagination. I told some of our friends that it reminded me of my visit to the Louvre: after about an hour and a half I was simply overwhelmed and felt like I couldn’t take in any more.

This afternoon I focused on cleaning up the big pile left by the installation of our septic tank and getting the stumps from it into the big wood pile that Rick Jones will be removing tomorrow.

Harvested nine gorgeous and tasty kiowa blackberries late in the afternoon, and we had them for dessert with the last of a left-over container of ice cream. Yum!

May 14, 2012

Amanda left early this morning for Atlanta with Dave Dean to pick out granite. That left me able to design my own day, so I started with installing the coupling to fix the leak in the header that feeds the figs and pomegranates on Rows 16-17. With that checked out, I shifted to the orchard. Conditions after the 3.5 inches of rain we’ve had the last couple of days were ideal for digging, so I used the morning to bury all the drip hose and header that were still above ground on the orchard floor. Then I used the trimmer to clean up around the remaining fruit trees. The orchard is now as clean as it’s been since we planted it, and it feels great. This afternoon after some indoor work, I got to the job of trellising the tomatoes. Most of them haven’t yet earned the right to be trellised, so the main focus today was simply to get the 40 or so 7-foot lengths of 3/4″ PVC pipe down and get them stored in an accessible place. Then I took down the trees that are in the way of the field lines for the septic tank (Dale Mask phoned me today to tell me that he’s moved his schedule up and will be installing the septic tank beginning tomorrow!).

May 13, 2012

Good morning at church, followed by a nice leisurely lunch with Mama to celebrate Mother’s Day. During the afternoon we had a video chat with Joe, Michelle, and Smith as well as a phone call with Adrian and Eli. Didn’t get to walk because it rained all afternoon. Not that we’re complaining . . .

May 12, 2012

Early part of the day was mowing and trimming at Epiphany. Finished up and home by about 10:30, so I started in immediately mowing the fence line around the orchard. When that was done I used the trimmer to get all the tall grass by the posts. The fence line looks nice and neat now. I then started on the rows of fruit trees and got rows 13, 12, and 9 done before I ran out of gas. By the time I got in, though, it was raining pretty hard, so I decided to call it a day and hit the shower. This afternoon I prepared Amanda’s Mother’s Day gift and then spent the rest of the afternoon doing quiet work indoors.

Tonight Amanda and I attended my 40th Lee High School class reunion. Just a delightful evening and a chance to see many old friends and find out what people have been up to. In general, my expectation was correct: the women look great and the men have all gone to seed.

May 11, 2012

Amanda was with Mama at the hospital in Montgomery most of the day. I started by mowing the Blueberry Strip, interrupted by delivery of 168 gallons of propane. Then I moved over to the orchard and got most of the orchard proper mowed. Now I need to come back and catch the fence line. This afternoon I caught up on a lot of paperwork before we walked together over to the west side.

May 10, 2012

Busy day and an exhausting night. We began this morning recording the podcast. Took time off from editing and publishing it to hang out light clothes. While I was doing that Rodney Howard arrived to extend the trench, which kept us busy most of the morning while Matt and Johnny were preparing the big transfer switch. The power stayed off from about 11:00 am until about 5:00, when Matt and Johnny finally got the power restored. They still have some work to do on the transfer switch, but at least we have our power now.

During the afternoon the guy came from APEX to install the gas line for the tankless water heater. After he had done that I laid Tim Ledbetter’s pex in the trench, so that when he left I was ready to cover the trench over and seal it up.

As I finished my shower at the end of what felt like a long, exhausting day, Amanda learned from Mama that she had taken three nitroglycerin tablets today and still was experiencing chest pains. We hurriedly grabbed a few items of gear and drove to Montgomery to pick her up and take her to PriMed. After a two hour stay there, they decided that she needed to go to Baptist South for more tests. We stayed there until ______.

May 9, 2012

Scott Ledbetter and his folks were here bright and early but unable to lay the water line to the lodge because I had failed to have Rodney extend the ditch. Bummer. Rodney’s due here tomorrow to finish the job, and then I’ll invite Tim’s folks and Billy Robbins to come and lay the water line and gas line, respectively. Emptied the humanure buckets this afternoon.

The electrical is coming along nicely. Plugs in, lights in. Working on the plugs outside. Amanda will pick up additional lights in Montgomery tomorrow.

May 8, 2012

Returned to the farm Tuesday morning after a lovely time at Lee Williams’ wedding in Mobile and then a REALLY QUICK trip to Houston for the funeral of Amanda’s Uncle Julian. Drove all afternoon and night Monday and arrived this morning about 2:00 am, exhausted. Found the farm really grown up with weeds. That sucker needs some mowing like nobody’s business. No time today, though. This morning was all about opening the trench between the utility area and the lodge. The afternoon was all about repairing the outdoor watering line we severed in the process! Ain’t it fun?

Also this morning, I did a comprehensive inventory of the outdoor sconces. We own 13 with 3 more on the way. 1 has broken glass, so I’m returning it for replacement. Several have broken loops, and I’m just dealing with those. Several have broken loose from the housing, and I’m going to glue them with some epoxy.

Late this afternoon I got the water restored to the faucet near the lodge. Used three couplings and trashed a “T” to do it, but I got it done. Now I need to address the nick in the irrigation header, and I need a coupling for that that we don’t have. So that means several days’ delay. When I order the coupling, I’m going to order about 10 more than we need so we’ll have a supply of them on hand. Ditto the couplings for drip hose and drip tape. We need to have lots of extras on hand, because I imagine we’ll be using them for the rest of our lives.

May 3, 2012

We recorded the podcast early, then a morning session, then Boog and I worked on the home theater shelves. Everything looks solid; it’s all coming together well. This afternoon I edited and published the podcast in between making arrangements for the next stage of work on the lodge.

May 2, 2012

Somehow I lost May 1. I think I spent most of the day working on that pile of debris NW of the lodge and moving it to the burn pile.

Today, May 2, the morning was all about our trip to Union Springs to tour Bonnie Plants with the Master Gardeners group. The sheer scale of the growing of young plants they are doing there takes the breath away. Flat after flat, pot after pot, table after table, hoop house after hoop house, row after row. It just goes on and on. This company is the headquarters and the largest growing center. Together, the various growing centers supply plants to all 48 contiguous states. Fascinating. Not a lot we can do with it, because everything they do is on such a different scale from ours, but we were still glad we made the trip.

EfM this afternoon, then catching up on paperwork and a brief walk.

April 30, 2012

I spent the bulk of the day on three big sweetgum trees close to the lodge on the east side of the driveway. Each about 14-15 inch DBH. Got ’em all three down, cut up, and deposited on the fire pile by the end of the day, which is a HUGE load off my mind. There’s still some work to be done, but nothing on the scale of those three. The rest of this I sort of know how to do now.

Had a real scare with #2. You don’t cut off a tree completely when you fell it; you notch it in the direction you think it wants to fall, and then you cut toward the notch from the other side to cut off more and more of the tree’s connective tissue, which causes the tree (if God’s in Her heaven) to lean in the direction of the notch. It usually doesn’t sever completely until the tree is close to hitting the ground. In the case of #2, it got caught in a big hickory tree at about a 45 degree angle, not totally severed. The first thing I did was cuss. Then I CAREFULLY clipped away at the trunk until I thought, I hoped, that it was totally severed. Then I hitched a chain to Scamp and wrapped it around the tree, and started pulling. Luckily, I guessed right; it was severed, it came loose, and it dropped.

April 29, 2012

Delightful morning at church observing Stewardship of Creation Sunday with Pat Wingo, and we had a pleasant and helpful visit with him at Sunday School after worship as well. This afternoon I did quiet work, ordering a couple of things from Amazon and then installing the first of the two volume controls for the outside speakers at the lodge. We finished the day with a long walk over on the west side.

April 28, 2012

Amanda spent all day going first to her Lee Ladies gathering in Montgomery and then to the Lee County Festival. I spent the entire day clearing the driveway. I made good progress; it was good to be able to keep my head down and work all day. At the end of the day I was exhausted, truly exhausted. That burn pile I’m building is the largest one I’ve ever assembled; trying to find out how long I have to wait before I can count on it to burn completely.

April 27, 2012

Good morning. Amanda had to leave early for the Lee County festival. I spent the first couple of hours working on the drive link for the auger and eventually got it loosened up. Then I pulled it apart and cleaned it thoroughly. This time I’m trying a lighter oil instead of grease. Hoping this will make it easier to use after it sits for a while.

With that done, I then started on the driveway. Worked for a couple of hours before knocking off for lunch. This afternoon I didn’t fell any new trees, but I did a LOT of cleaning up of trees already on the ground. I got most of the area cleaned, although I still have a little cleaning up to do.

Tonight Tom and I had supper together tonight at Cozumel in the absence of both our brides, Jan in NY and Amanda at Lee County.

April 26, 2012

Recorded and published the podcast this morning. The afternoon was about trying to pry apart the two segments of the drive bar of the auger. No luck yet. This evening we went to the Elmore County Bar Association dinner. Good food, delightful visiting time, and NO program. A thoroughly pleasant evening.

April 25, 2012

A quiet morning building an entirely new bulletin for our Sunday worship, and preparing for EfM. No outdoor work. This afternoon we attended EfM and then returned to the farm for more quiet work and a late afternoon walk.

April 24, 2012

Spent all the morning and into the afternoon working to bring down and take to the burn pile one big double-trunk blackjack oak at the top of the driveway. I hate blackjacks. A self-respecting oak tree sometimes twists and turns because the environment forces it to. Blackjacks do it just for spite.

This afternoon Amanda and I ran several errands in town and then picked up David Kirkpatrick to bring him to the farm for a tour and supper. Delightful evening. We miss David and Jan both.

April 23, 2012

Had our first fire in a couple of weeks. Yes, I had already moved the firewood pallet, but I was easily able to pull a little firewood from one of the pallets down on the ground. Ken Craig from Professional Chimney Services called bright and early to let me know he was 30 minutes away from the farm and on his way in. He worked all day and got the wood stove and outdoor fireplace installed and the chimney punched through for the fireplace. He will return tomorrow to finish with the chimney for the wood stove.

I spent most of the day felling trees on the west side of the driveway. I still have a couple of the larger trees that I saved for a less windy day. By the end of the day my allergies were really kicking up.

Amanda spent most of the day weeding and mulching. We were on pins and needles during the day wondering whether we need to deploy frost blanket tonight. Finally decided late this afternoon that with a forecast low of 41 and a 5 mph wind, we’ll chance it and leave the frost blanket in its box.

April 22, 2012

Second Sunday in a row that we missed church, today for the Somerset family reunion in Troy. The group is getting steadily smaller, but it was a good visit. Afterward a nice visit with Mama in Montgomery before we headed for the farm and a nice walk together.

April 21, 2012

Put the ribs on at 6:00 this morning. The only work I got done today was at first light, when I pulled the dead Nesbitt muscadine and replaced it with another Amanda bought yesterday at Petals. I wanted to get it in the ground just as soon as I could. Blakeley and Hunter and their friends Erica and Hank arrived about 9:30, and we had a delightful visit. Saw the orchard, the lodge, Veg Hill, the pond, and lots of trails. It was fun showing off the farm.

April 20, 2012

A morning session, and then to Boog’s shop to set up the home theater shelving. After a quick trip to town I moved the firewood pallet back up on the pallet rack (we’re officially out of the fire season!). I mixed up a batch of rolls but couldn’t use the sun oven for them – too intermittent. I cooked them in the toaster-oven in the apartment – three batches.

This afternoon I got out in the orchard and puttered, my absolutely favorite activity. My new favorite toy is a 2″ magnifying glass in a plastic case that I can carry on my tool belt for looking at buds, tiny fruit, etc. Such fun!

April 19, 2012

A doctor’s appointment this morning, and then Maurice and I worked to get the critical grass cut at the church. Then we had a nice lunch together at Sheila’s. This afternoon we recorded the podcast, and then a nice walk before I worked on editing and publishing.

April 18, 2012

Read EfM this morning. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to EfM itself, because the limited scope representation webcast I had hoped would be archived did not appear to be archived, so I decided I needed to stay with it. Spent the afternoon mowing, trimming, and bush-hogging to get ready for this weekend.

April 17, 2012

Amanda was away from the farm all day. I started by removing the seedlings from the grow light and placing them on the work table out on the barn floor. As soon as the rain calms down I’ll let them get some direct light. It’s good to be turning off the grow light, which really clocks our energy use. With the seedlings out of the way, I cleaned off the table on which they had been sitting (still some light staining from the heat mat, unfortunately), and broke down the table. Then I cleaned out the shop so I can move all the shelves from the storage room into the shop. We’ll do that when Amanda and I can deal with it together. We’ve got something that died in the storage room and is beginning to smell.

I had an 8:30 session that fell through on me, so I ran over to Boog’s to talk through the home theater shelves. He has the plan now and will call me after he gets the sides cut so we can draw out the shelf locations together. To help in doing that, I have the shelves redrawn with what I hope are the exact dimensions I want Boog to use now. This should make it easy for me to communicate with him when we get ready to draw it out. A late session in the afternoon, and the day was basically done.

April 16, 2012

Returned to the farm after a delightful visit to Texas (San Antonio for a conference for Amanda and Houston to visit her Uncle Julian) to find the grass overgrown on the trails and Oddie, bless his heart, had overeaten at the vet. The good news is that the blueberries are looking wonderful and there are some tiny muscadines beginning to form. Lots and lots of blueberry blossoms, which bodes well for this year’s harvest. The winesaps (800 chilling hours) are blooming more than the Annas (250 chilling hours). Dave Gray is seeing a similar phenomenon. My theory is that it’s a sign of stress. We shall see.

April 11, 2012

Another big day at the lodge. Scott Ruppert arrived early and finished installing the baseboards. Then he turned his attention to the crown molding in the gathering room and made good progress on it. Boog and Tracy have more or less completed work on the kitchen cabinets but Boog and I were interrupted (again!) in planning the home entertainment cabinet by the arrival of our wood flooring. Getting the flooring (8 pallets’ worth) unloaded and neatly arranged under cover on the slab took me the better part of two hours. Later in the afternoon, Scott and I pulled off the tiles for the wood stove and arranged them in their approximate location. He and I have agreed that we’re now ready to plan for Ken Craig to come anytime Tuesday or later to begin his work.

April 10, 2012

Our friend John Huggins brought us about three dozen unwashed eggs from his chickens this morning. We each had one for breakfast. I chose the lone oversized one, which turned out to have a double yolk. I did not notice that they “stood up in the pan” better than our usual free-range eggs, but they both tasted great.

April 9, 2012

A good day. Started when the guys arrived from Advanced Insulation Technologies to do the second traunch of the insulation work. They were at it all day. At the same time, Scott was working to hang the interior doors. He got all of them hung, and they look (and feel) great. While all that was happening I first used the lawn mower to cut the aisles on Veg Hill; then I brought down the lupin and black oats on row 1 (which we haven’t used for a couple of years), as well as rows 4-5 but for a stray onion here and there that we’re saving.

I next looked to the orchard. Starting down on Row 13, I slowly worked my way up, pruning and training all the fruit trees. I found quite a few primocanes in the blackberries and suppressed them. Amanda discovered a breach in the drip hose, probably caused by my mowing the other day, so I repaired it. The kiowa are bursting with fruit; this is the first year we’re going to get a decent harvest from them. The thornless blackberries haven’t begun to set fruit yet, but I’m hopeful.

I finished the day building 40 feet of trellis for Amanda’s tomatoes. That’s 1/3 less than last year. I think she’s dialing it back on purpose so she can give more tomato plants away.

April 8, 2012

Wonderful Easter morning at church. We took time to take the church photo right after worship, and then left immediately to meet Mama for lunch in Montgomery. Nice long visit with Mama in the afternoon, and then we returned to the farm. Talked with all our children in the car on the way back. Some paperwork first, and then we walked.

April 7, 2012

This morning I rushed to town to get the Easter bulletins printed and in place and get back to the farm to be here and meet the folks from Advanced Insulation Technologies in Auburn, who were due at 11:00. They never showed. Kind of a bummer.

I worked on paperwork most of the afternoon. Then Amanda and I finished the day with a nice long walk.

April 6, 2012

Boog and Tracy installed the first of the cabinets this morning in the lodge, and they’re looking great. Boog and I were working out the details of the home theater shelves when Amanda reminded me of how late it was getting; we had to stop to run to the community Good Friday service. Then a nice walk in the afternoon before we put on the happy clothes one more time for the Epiphany Good Friday service. Yet another reason we Christians are so happy at Easter: we’re exhausted from Holy Week.

April 5, 2012

Bush-hogged the east side this morning. I sailed right through all the soft spots I was concerned about, and then got deeply bogged down on one of the uphill trails where I had no idea there was a problem. I think I must have found a wet-weather spring. For whatever reason, Tractor’s front axle was just about grounded out before I knew there was even a problem. I hurriedly backed down and left it alone. I’ll come back later and clean it up when things have dried out.

Finished editing the raised bed video this evening. Nice, short, and simple. I uploaded it and then realized I had left some clips on the timeline, which ran the running time way up above 15 minutes (the video actually runs only 3:37). So I had to start over and re-upload, but it’s done now.

We played hookey from Maundy Thursday. So naughty!

April 4, 2012

Amanda headed out early with Cracker to pick up the first of two pallets of our tile at Henry Tile Co. in Montgomery. She also had a doctor’s appointment and several errands in Montgomery. While she was there, I was bush-hogging the west side. I didn’t try to mow the Greenfield; instead, I just cut pathways through it. But basically, everything else on the west side is bush-hogged and walk-ready. Now I need to work on the east side, which will be a tad more challenging because of several low spots where Tractor might get stuck if I’m not careful.

Amanda met me at EfM. Afterward we both did indoor work for a while and then had a nice walk over on the west side.

April 3, 2012

This morning I started mowing the orchard floor. It’s slow going, because it’s long overdue. I’ve been intentionally letting the orchard floor go because I wanted to give the lupin every chance to go to seed, but it’s time now to get it under control. Dave Gray joined us for lunch before the workshop on grafting, and I enjoyed showing him what we’re doing in the orchard and in the lodge.

The workshop was well-run, although the gnats were much worse there than they are here at the farm; I guess it’s the lower altitude and the proximity to the river. Amanda and I were both able to be useful, which also made it more fun for us.

This afternoon I finished mowing the orchard floor and spent some more time editing the raised beds video.

April 2, 2012

Great day. We hooked up the big trailer and loaded Scamp on to it. Drove to Jean’s and filled her beds with the Super Soil from the pile that had been delivered. We had LOTS of Super Soil left.

In the process, I got Scamp’s front left wheel buried up to the axle in a hole in Jean’s back yard I hadn’t spotted. I was proud that I kept my wits about me, emptied the bucket of its full load of soil with the shovel, and then used the bucket to push myself out. No damage.

This afternoon we brought Scamp back to the farm, and then I took the trailer straight back to the church. It’s great to have that behind us.

Late this afternoon I cooked up a big mess of okra, tomatoes, and peppers that had been frozen during the summer. Also grilled a package of 24 chicken thighs from Costco. Trying to empty the deep freeze so we can defrost it and make room for this summer’s bounty. I started cutting the raised bed video while we were cooking.

April 1, 2012

We were at the church early because of all the little tasks I needed to complete. The service went smoothly, and the conclusion of the six-week spiritual gifts workshop went well too. We drove to Montgomery for lunch with Mama, the first time we’ve been able to do that in months. Then back to her house, then shopping, then back to the farm for a quick walk before nightfall.

March 31, 2012

We arrived early at the church to help get everything ready for the lunch bags for the funeral. We moved Pam’s casket into the nave early, and Arnold presided over a brief service accepting her body. The funeral went smoothly, even though it rained JUST as everybody walked outside and the ladies served the family members their sack lunches.

During the afternoon I worked on the plans for the home theater shelves while Amanda and Jean were in Loachapoka. Nice walk when she got back.

March 30, 2012

Several errands in town this morning, including getting the bulletin copied and placed. Then I worked with Maurice to mow the grass, clean out the end of the ditch, and blow off everything. The grounds look good now for Pam’s funeral.

March 29, 2012

I was a day late and a dollar short this morning at Jean’s house; Froggy Bottom had already come and gone when I drove up, and our super soil was already deposited. I was unable to find anybody who could copy the bulletin, but Betty Weldon promises to get the new toner cartridge to restore our church copy machine to functioning form if I call her this afternoon with the model number for it.

We recorded and published the podcast today, this one about our plans for bringing chickens into the mix as soon as we finish work on the lodge. This afternoon I worked with Maurice McCord on the grass at Epiphany.

March 28, 2012

I was in session most of the morning and had just enough time to pack a lunch and hit the road to the church for EfM. Good session at EfM; Jean did a great job leading the session in the Sharptons’ absence.

Nice long walk this afternoon.

March 27, 2012

Amanda headed out early for a CAMGA work day. I washed a load of dark clothes and hung them out, then washed all the old towels and hung them out. Finished cutting the asparagus update. I also paced off the space on either side of the driveway where we will need to reinforce the turf. It’s 175 feet on both sides, then an additional 65 feet on one side. Should be room to park 40 cars if we have an attendant to coach people, and in a pinch we could park another 10 wrapped around the barn.

Washed two loads of clothes and made a batch of whole wheat rolls and cooked them in the Sun Oven. We planted Bill Shell’s Japanese maple this afternoon at the end of the day.

March 26, 2012

Good day. Amanda left early to pick up the new bathtub for the lodge. While she was gone, I had an errand to run in town and a brief meeting with Arnold about the bulletin for Palm Sunday. When I got back, I did inside work for a while before Amanda returned with the tub. Scott and I unloaded it (surprisingly light). Scott’s racing along getting the plywood down in the lodge, and it’s looking great. It’s also fun to smell the fresh plywood in the lodge. worked on the

At Amanda’s request, I cut down the lupin on Veg Hill. I wasn’t able to get as close as I would have liked to the hog wire that forms the trellises, but she could tell a difference. Late in the afternoon, after a session and a long walk, I made good progress cutting the asparagus update.

March 25, 2012

Good morning at church. This afternoon I took time to plant the Wonderful pomegranate that Amanda had bought at Petals. I used it to replace the Wonderful that had died during the winter. It’s looking great in its new spot. I decided that, trench or no trench, Rows 16 and 17 needed some water, so I stretched the drip hose back into position but loosely so we can pull it when we begin the trench.

We had a nice short walk, and then showered and met Tom and Martha Lynn to travel with them to Auburn to hear Lavone’s choir do the Evensong at St Dunstan’s. It was fun to hear them and even more fun to visit with Lavone and Susan and Tom and Martha Lynn at supper afterward. We talked, we ate, we drank, we laughed. Nice evening.

March 24, 2012

Today was all about Jean’s raised beds. I had loaded the truck yesterday afternoon, so I just worked on videos this morning while waiting for Amanda to get ready to go to Jean’s house. We worked all day at Jean’s until nearly dark, stopping about 40 minutes for a delicious lunch in Jean’s kitchen with Dan, Kelli, and Xander. The project went fairly smoothly, although it involved a LOT more digging than we had planned because every bed was on a slope. The transit was invaluable!

We got some good video of Amanda putting the beds together, so I need to edit it soon.

March 23, 2012

Got out early and began cleaning up the lodge so Scott could get in and begin his work. I also re-stacked all the plywood so I could get at Jean’s lumber that was at the bottom of the pile. We found a problem with the tub in the east bathroom, namely that somewhere along in the sheetrocking process, somebody ruptured the cardboard protection over the tub and stepped in the tub with nasty, gritty shoes. The result is that no amount of scrubbing (first by blowing it out, then with plain water, then with dishwashing detergent, then with Greased Lightning) will get it truly clean. Amanda struggled with this for decades at our house on Misty Lane, and she really doesn’t want to go through it in her brand new lodge. I understand her frustration. We talked with John Huggins, who couldn’t have been more accommodating. He genuinely seems to want us to be happy above all.

This afternoon we shot the video for an update on the asparagus, involving our covering most of the ferns (excepting a couple we decided needed a tad more growing time) with soil to a level point. We also pulled most of the lupin and covered the space between the rows of ferns with hay. The problem I have is that I have more of Amanda’s voice over than I have video.

During the afternoon I did most of the work cutting the pieces for Jean’s raised beds and pre-drilling the holes in them to attach to the 4 x 4s. We also got a chance to video Amanda doing all the work so we can use it in the video later. I worked until after dark finishing the preparation and loading everything in the truck, and Amanda worked even longer bumping up her tomato and pepper seedlings.

March 22, 2012

This was mostly an indoor day. I started by editing the water faucet video some before Amanda awoke. Then when she had left for Mama’s I traveled to Montgomery to see my dermatologist but found out only when I got there that he didn’t have me scheduled for an appointment. Oh well . . . Drove back to the farm frustrated about the unnecessary trip but relieved to have some extra time.

Finished editing the podcast, including constructing a new podcast template with the new intro and outro. Then I finished editing the water faucet video. I let it process during the afternoon and uploaded it this evening.

Skye arrived during the afternoon from Tallassee True Value, and he and I needed some time to unload all the plywood Scott Ruppert had ordered. It was simply too heavy for poor Tractor, so we ended up busting the bundle and unloading it in stages. In the process, the lumber I had ordered for Jean’s raised beds ended up on the bottom of the pile.

This afternoon I wrapped up the extra chicken wire and got it stored above the apartment, along with the left over drip tube. Also cleaned off the work table so we can use it for bumping up all the seedlings that are now in the shop. Might have known that Amanda noticed the hose I DIDN’T get a chance to wrap up rather than all the things I did get done. Par for the course, I guess.

Late this afternoon, dodging rain showers, Oddie and I walked the North Trail and the meandering east side trail, using the lopping shears to cut anything that protruded into the trail. So pleasant to work in that way.

March 21, 2012

Worked today to add a faucet just OUTSIDE the fence line near the humanure compost. Amanda helped me shoot a video about it for Organic Moments. I started by digging a shallow trench from the existing water line through the gate opening to a point just outside the gate. I didn’t want to get too close to the compost pile, because when I empty the compost pile I need to be able to scrape it with Tractor’s bucket. The problem was that I chose a point that was still too close to the existing hickory tree, so we ended up having to thread the 3/4″ PVC pipe carrying the water down and through two good-sized hickory roots (didn’t want to sever them – too important to the tree!).

The project went fairly well but for an unscheduled trip to Tallassee True Value to pick up the 45-degree elbow I needed to deal with the tree roots. While in town I took time to copy the bulletin for Sunday and place it in the nave. Got the faucet project finished and used the new faucet to water the compost by the afternoon.

Amanda will be gone tomorrow, so we recorded the podcast this afternoon, all about our removing the “beginners learning subsistence farming” tag from the web site and podcast. Now, if you notice, it says “Subsistence Farmers – Always Learning, Always Teaching.” This is more descriptive of our present mode, now that we’re spending so much time teaching others what we’re learning.

March 20, 2012

Good day. Amanda was up and out early for the CAMGA meeting. I first completed the hay mulching of the Blueberry Strip. It looks nice now, as it always does after fresh mulching. I then moved enough of the re-bar and hoops from Row 9 to Row 2 so we could set up a chicken wire protection for Amanda’s tender early spring veg. Then I started to mow the lupin and black oats on the orchard floor, but I thought better of it when I saw the lupin beginning to flower and set seed. Looked it up, and sure enough, it is capable of propagating itself. Nothing would make me happier than to have on orchard floor full of self-propagating lupin. So I decided to hold off mowing.

I worked this afternoon on extending the water line across the Veg Hill fence to a point convenient to the humanure compost pile. I need the water more handy because I’m not doing a good job keeping the pile wet. When it becomes too dry (the dryness demonstrated by a profusion of ants), it stops breaking down the way it needs to. I trenched up to the existing water pipe inside the fence line and picked my spot outside the fence line, but the spot I picked has two huge roots protruding into it, I assume from the huge hickory tree just a few feet away. I think I’ll move it a few feet rather than chop those big trunk roots.

This afternoon and tonight, Amanda and I were working until after dark on that chicken wire. The 6-foot roll isn’t wide enough to span from one side of the hoop to the other, so we had to piece together 8-foot lengths. Tedious, but it got the job done.

I missed the CAMGA meeting today, but both Amanda and I were awarded bronze stars for 100 hours of service. I actually have a little over 500 by now, so when they award them next, I may have enough hours for that coveted gold card. Oh boy.

March 19, 2012

Repairing the ruptured drip header proved surprisingly easy, and I had it finished within about 45 minutes. Spent the rest of the day laying down cardboard and hay on the Blueberry Strip. It’s more or less finished now and looks much better. I, on the other hand, feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. So does Amanda, who spent most of the day weeding and planting on Veg Hill. Neither of us felt like walking this afternoon.

March 18, 2012

This morning before church, I confirmed that we do have two header couplings on hand. That frees me up to proceed with digging up the header and splicing in a new segment of it to replace the one I ruptured with my spadefork.

Great morning at church, oriented as it was around the baptism of Xander. Lots of visitors with CHILDREN! After worship, we adjourned to the parish hall for a celebration. Then Amanda and I headed to Wetumpka for book club meeting, which was wonderful as usual. We didn’t return to the farm until after 5:00, but we immediately changed clothes and hit the trails, and we got in a nice long walk before nightfall, including time to host Joe and Michelle on a video walk-through of the lodge. We think they were pleased.

March 17, 2012

In the morning before leaving I lengthened the drip hose on Row 18 to the east and Row 19 to the west. Also Row 0 (the olives).

Spent most of the day planting shrubs at Epiphany. For some reason, Al decided to buy more than 100 of them. We had four Mexicans doing most of the digging, and Debra McCord and I did most of the planting. Exhausting work. I left at 3:00, and Al called later to tell me they got them all in by the end of the day.

This afternoon I poked a hole in the header trying to lengthen Row 18 to the west. Now I will need to dig up the header, use two couplings to splice in a new segment of header, and bury it again. Bummer. Hope I have the couplings on hand; I fear I don’t.

Got the utility light connected at the end of the day and gave Amanda a chance to see it. Not diffused enough. Back to the drawing board.

March 16, 2012

This morning I fetched the extension ladder from the lodge and climbed up over the apartment so I could throw down the extra drip hose and the Romex I had up there. I then began measuring where we will need to add drip hose and in what lengths. I got interrupted before I could finish, though, so I still need to pace off how much I need on Row 0, which has the two olives. Once I do that, I’ll be able to compare what I find with the supply of drip hose on hand and see if I need to order more. I’ll also need to check our supply of couplings and nipples. Fortunately, in this round, at least, we don’t need any new header.

I took my bike to town for the first time today. It was a thoroughly successful trip. I stopped at the PO and was heading home when I realized that the handlebars were rotating on me. I purchased a hex-key wrench at Advanced and used it to tighten the loop and then drove to CarQuest, where they were able to sell me a set of fixed hex keys that I think will be more serviceable.

Tom Bray stopped by this afternoon. After examining the manual, he asked me to try to start Scamp. Cranked right up! I later told Amanda to touch him and then told her she had just touched the man who repairs tractors just by looking at them. Tom and I visited for a while on the porch while Amanda finished – FINISHED – planting her peas. If she gets good results, we’re going to have quite a crop of peas this year.

March 15, 2012

We recorded the podcast first thing, but I didn’t take time to edit or publish, because I needed to get to my appointment with Mendez. I just could not have asked for better news. Here’s what I posted on Facebook:

Okay, I’m officially jazzed. Since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in late September, I have lost 30 pounds. My A1C (long term blood sugar) is down from 6.4 to 5.9, my blood pressure is way down, my bad cholesterol is down and my good cholesterol is way up, and my resting pulse is down. In between telling me all about how that socialist Barack Obama is wrecking our health care system, my doc said “this is just an all-around great report.” There’s even a chance that if I keep this up I might lose my status as “Type 2 Diabetic.” I’m already grieving.

I found out another error in the bulletin, so I returned to the farm to correct it and then headed back to town to print the bulletins at the church. On the way out of town I picked up the chicken wire we need from True Value.

Back at the farm, I edited and published the podcast. After a nap, I headed out along the trails, sprinkling fire ant bait on all the fire ant mounds that have sprung up. We’re using Amdro fire ant bait.

March 14, 2012

I read my EfM lesson early this morning so I could be at the church helping Maurice with the grounds maintenance by about 7:30. Worked most of the morning, returning to the farm with just enough time to shower, prepare lunch, and dress. We went first to EfM for an hour, then to Roxie’s funeral. While in Wetumpka we stopped in at Wal-Mart and Farmers Feed for supplies and made it back to the farm by about 4:15. We caught up on paperwork for 45 minutes or so and then walked.

The sheetrock isn’t fully hung in the lodge, but they’re already starting to mud and tape. They must be waiting for more sheetrock to finish up. I’ll check with John tomorrow and make sure.

March 13, 2012

Started the day with paperwork. Then I cleaned out both outdoor closets of the lodge to make room for the sheetrock hangers to get in and do their thing. In the process, I cleaned out a good bit of debris from the closets, so I emptied the garbage into the dumpster. Then I turned my attention to the orchard. For too long, I have neglected capturing for the database the exact varieties and location of each tree. It took about an hour and a half, but I now have an up-to-date database of all the trees in the orchard, with chilling hours for most of them. Amanda and I have agreed that we will address chilling hours this week in the podcast, so I knew I needed to have an accurate database for that.

This afternoon Amanda and I began covering the asparagus spears with soil. We’re excited to see that we have ferns now from about 80% (roughly 40) of the crowns. We’re still hopeful the others will come on for us, but we’ve decided to go ahead and cover with soil those spears that have already emerged. Then she and I shot one segment of her pea video. Working title is “Mulch once, plant twice.” I worked inside to cut the footage late in the afternoon, and she worked on Veg Hill to continue her pea planting. She promises lots of peas this spring!

March 12, 2012

The sheetrock hangers started today. Man, they move fast!

This morning while Amanda was in a doctor’s appointment, I drove to Wetumpka to shoot B roll for the Master Gardener video. While there I learned about the 7 ways to grow potatoes experiment, so we shot a quick video of it. Worked out well, even though there’s lots of wind noise.

March 11, 2012
Spent the morning at church and then the afternoon in Birmingham at the Sustainable Futures forum. This is the first time I have been aware of just how far apart my beloved mentor Ed Passerini and I are on what’s coming. He’s still confident we have plenty of energy – mostly solar and wind – and it’s just a matter of allowing the technology to develop to harness it. I think all those impressive gains depend on petroleum and that the petroleum supply is declining. Hope he’s right.

Still enjoyed the day. Good to be with people who have an outlook similar to ours if not identical.

March 10, 2012

I spent the morning re-cutting and uploading all four Organic Moments videos. They now use the right terminology for ACES and have Adrian’s announcement. Amanda was gone most of the afternoon to Loachapoka. I spent the afternoon working in the lodge getting the speaker wires pulled. The main pull for the component closet didn’t work out as I had planned; I have solved the problem by building in another port just below the one I had planned. Now everything seems to be fitting fine.

While I was working on the main pull I noticed that the west wall of the family room is REALLY springy. I left Scott Ruppert a message about it, so I’m hoping he and I will talk it over Monday morning.

When Amanda got home we walked together, and then I used the first can of foam on the little places where I still wanted a little more insulation. Tomorrow morning before church, I will try to finish the caulking of the double boards.

March 9, 2012

Thought I had an appointment with Dr Mendez this morning, but there was some kind of mixup. He doesn’t even come in on Fridays. So I ran a couple of errands and returned to the farm. At the PO, I received the decrees I needed for my client in China and decided to send them straight on to him.

Back at the farm, I did paperwork in the shop for about two hours, and then Adrian and Eli called so we could work together on the announcement blurbs for the podcast. Then lunch and a walk before two sessions in the afternoon.

March 8, 2012

This morning I edited the orchard mulching video. A morning session, and then Amanda and I recorded the podcast. This afternoon I checked carefully the insulation work in the lodge. They did a great job. It looks tight as a tick.

An afternoon walk (feels more like May than March) and then a late afternoon session.

March 7, 2012

This morning I reported early for lab work at Dr Mendez’s office for lab work in preparation for my checkup on Friday. Then back home to finish mulching Row 13. Then EfM in the afternoon. By the time we returned at 3:45, Josh and Bobby were already basically finished blowing in the foam, so I didn’t get a chance to catch them on video. Too bad.

March 6, 2012

Josh and Bobby from Insulation Technology were here early this morning and taped up all the windows and one of the doors. They will leave the other two doors open at first for ventilation and then close them off when they get ready to spray close to them. I had a session this morning, then some paperwork. A quick trip to town, and I used two tubes of caulk to seal the double studs in the lodge. I probably need about three more tubes to finish.

I had hoped to do some mulching today. During the morning the wind was too high to manage those big sheets of cardboard, but I was able to mulch all of Row 13 in the afternoon. Amanda was busy mulching strawberries, so I did quiet work. I also removed the box blade from Scamp and replaced it with the mulcher, so Amanda and I can do some mulching during the next few days. She’s concerned that we will run out of mulch.

Late in the afternoon I decided to start mulching alone because Amanda was hung up mulching her strawberries. I was disappointed to learn that Scamp has a seat interlock so that if you try to leave the PTO engaged and get out of the seat, it cuts the tractor engine off. Bummer. What a waste! I’ll talk to Andra next chance I get and see if there’s anything I can do. Meanwhile, I have transferred the mulcher from Scamp over to Tractor.

March 5, 2012

A good day. I was up early and edited the Japanese maple video before dawn. Then I e-mailed the link to Mallory and Kerry. I took a long bike ride this morning. I had set out to pedal to town, but I thought better of it along the way when I realized that I had no lights and no lock. So when I returned I spent some time pulling out the accessories for the bikes and beginning to install them. It was while I did that when I realized that my 1/4″ socket drive has broken, so then I traveled to town (in the car, not the bike) and got a replacement.

I also mixed up a batch of rolls and cooked them in the sun oven; this is the first time in several months that I have prepared whole wheat rolls, and they smell so good!

While that was under way, John Huggins, Ray Miller, and Scott Ruppert arrived to talk about the sheetrock and the painting for the lodge. Amanda took a LONG time with Ray to work out the shade of finish for the cabinets. I can tell she’s getting really dug in about using a natural stain finish rather than paint for the trim in the lodge, so I see that as yet another battle I’m going to lose.

During the afternoon I finished up the pruning in the orchard proper, and late in the afternoon after our walk I pruned the muscadines on Veg Hill. So that’s the last of the spring pruning of the fruit trees this year. It’s good the trees are so small, because this is going to get more time-consuming as they get bigger. I won’t be able to keep putting it off the way I did this year.

March 4, 2012

Morning at church, of course, and then well into the afternoon. I got tired of waiting on Amanda, because it seemed to me that she and her lady friends were just chatting rather than having a meaningful meeting. When we got home, it was cold and windy, but Amanda and I were able to shoot the stand up close for the asparagus video before we walked.

March 3, 2012

Most of the day was at the church. I am one of three people who agreed to act as volunteer auditors for the church’s books. We got started a little after eight and finished up by 2:00 or so. We all felt good about the process. Thorough, careful, but at the same time done with a gentle spirit and affirming of the hard work that our treasurer Betty Weldon has done so well for so many years.

Amanda was gone most of the afternoon to Loachapoka, so when I got back to the farm I grabbed the adhesive and went after those screws in the OSB. I have walked the perimeter of the lodge about five times now. I told Amanda I’m confident I missed a screw or two, but not many. I also discovered that one of my speaker wires on the west wall was too short so I just replaced it. No time like the present, because it will never be this easy again.

I then switched out the pallet forks on Tractor for the bucket and started carrying loads of debris to the dumpster. I didn’t finish, but I made good progress. When Amanda returned, she and I spent some time talking through clearing for parking on either side of the driveway. We’re going to be taking down even more trees, but we think the effect will be pleasing because it will open up the view of the valley to everyone as soon as they make the left turn at the top of the hill, without in any way sacrificing our privacy from the road. We think we’ve figured out places to park about 40 cars, which should be about as many as we would ever want to park with us here. After we finished that conversation we took a short walk (we were losing our light).

Supper tonight was our last undated container of soup. This was a quart of fish soup we made back in the summer when Adrian and Eli were visiting with us. Delicious! I made corn bread to go with it, which is tasting better and better as I learn what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, it’s also sticking badly. We’re going to try to find a cast iron pan of some sort that will fit comfortably in the toaster oven.

March 2, 2012

What a great day! I started early by retrieving some of our home-grown compost from the work platform down the hill from the barn and placing it in the wheelbarrow. I also cut and marked for the purpose that made it easy to check 8 inches (for the trench depth), 15 inches (for the distance of the trench from the center of the row), and 12 inches (for the spacing of the crowns). I grabbed the shovel and started on the south end of Row 10, digging two trenches. We ordered 50 crowns and they needed to be spaced on 12″ intervals, so I dug each trench at 25 feet and 8 inches deep, staying just outside the drip tape. After we shot Amanda doing some of the digging for the video, we also shot her mixing in some lime with the native soil and placing the plants. We covered each crown with our compost and then finished with a little native soil and a generous splash of water.

During the afternoon I finished the wiring of the lodge. Got both speaker brackets installed and the wires pulled for the East Porch, and I also pulled the dual coax that Tommy had given me for the dish network installation. I finished the day with the daylight waning gathering up all the wires and tying them together so they will interfere as little as possible with work of the foam insulation guys on Monday. I had hoped to begin putting adhesive on the screws that were sunk in the OSB, but I just ran out of light.

March 1, 2012

Tim Ledbetter and his folks were here early this morning to attend to the installation of the faucet over the serving west porch counter. Looks like it will take a little retrofitting but will work. I had a couple of sessions this morning, and while I was doing that, Amanda was meeting with Boog Headley to put the finishing touches on our plans for the kitchen cabinets. Our neighbors to the west are cutting down trees. This is unwelcome for both of us, outrageous to Amanda. I’m trying to help her see that there’s not anything we can do about it.

This afternoon we recorded, edited, and published the podcast. Amanda managed to plant all her strawberries, and I pruned all of rows 4, 7, 8, and 9, plus all the “old orchard” trees except the two plums. First time I’ve needed to use the lopping shears to prune. I guess that’s a milestone of sorts, huh? Tonight we had First Thursday at the church. We had scheduled “hymn practice” that turned into “a hymn-sanging” session. Lots of fun and laughter all around.

February 29, 2012

Spent a good part of the morning policing up the front porch here at the barn, breaking down cardboard boxes, stripping their plastic tape off, and stacking them for use as mulch. Spent the remainder of the morning meeting with Gregg Linn about our five screen doors, two here in the barn and three for the lodge.

Afternoon was all about EfM, and then I tried to prune but got run inside by a shower. Ended the day with a session and then grilled some chicken.

February 28, 2012

A good day. I got the receiver working with the iPod again, then confirmed that the two new patio speakers sound beautiful so I can put up their brackets in the lodge. Then I put all the components – including all the Hsu speakers – back in their boxes to keep them safe until we’re ready to install them in the lodge. Next, Amanda and I turned our attention to the seed starting. I used the soil blocker to assemble the blocks in the flats, and Amanda distributed the seed in four flats.

This afternoon I pulled down the heating mat and grow lights and put the four flats on the heating mat to await germination. When we have germination, I’ll turn on the lights. Near the end of the day I started the long-overdue pruning process. I covered rows 1-2 and one June Gold peach. I’ll take up with Row 3 whenever I can get back out there. Finished the day with a session.

February 27, 2012

This weekend we were away from the farm to attend Georgia Organics in Columbus. We’re so jealous! Well organized, well attended, and a fun group. We also learned a lot. Today, after a session early, we spent the morning and early afternoon with Bill Shell and the afternoon helping out with a seed starting workshop in Tuskegee. We returned to the farm late.

February 23, 2012

Matt and Johnny called me this morning; they had a job fall through and found themselves with a free day, so they came on to do their outside work (conduits, outdoor plugs, sconces, etc). Joey and one helper came to secure the metal with longer screws, and I worked on getting the brackets installed for the speakers. Amanda and I recorded and I edited and published the podcast this morning.

This afternoon we enjoyed a (truncated) walk, and then I focused on the stew while Amanda took Oddie to the vet.

February 22, 2012

Big day today. Started with some paperwork, and then I got two of the speaker brackets mounted and the cords pulled. Now  I need to re-block one of the speakers, which will be somewhat time-consuming, but at least I know how to do it. Agreed with Bill Morgan on what to do about the screws that are poking through. Joey and his guys will be here tomorrow morning to add new screws on the top plate, the bottom plate, and each of the cats. I’ll then go around and put a dollop of adhesive on the screws that are floating free in the OSB.

Got the outdoor speaker brackets installed on the SW porch. I ran into a problem installing the bracket for EPL speaker and will need to re-block it. That’s the task for tomorrow. I received the little pump I ordered and set it up to begin emptying the dumpster of all the water that’s built up in it. The wonderful thing about this little battery-powered pump is that once it fills with water it acts as a siphon, so you use the battery only to fill it with water, and then I can turn it off and just let it siphon.

Nice web chat with Adrian and Eli this afternoon. They’re getting more serious now about a move to Louisiana, and Amanda and I are supporting them in that. We think it makes great sense for both of them.

I’m making good progress with designing the shelves in a “Boog-friendly” way, that is with an 8-foot height instead of nine.

Tonight was my first attempt at Chalice Bearer at the church. Many, many mistakes, but we got through it.

February 21, 2012

Amanda was gone to Wetumpka a good part of the day for a CAMGA board and membership meeting and some errands. I began the day with some paperwork. Then when the gutter contractors arrived I talked through with them where the downspouts should be. Then Tracy walked through the kitchen cabinets with me. Later when Amanda returned and I walked her through it, she was excited at how things are shaping up.

I emptied firewood pallet #10 and took it up the hill to stack with the other empty pallets. We now have 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 empty and know they’ll be the only empty pallets, so anytime we want, we can start splitting and stacking the COPIOUS firewood we have stacked everywhere around the core campus to fill them up.

We have an enthusiastic go-ahead from Mallory Kelley on the format of our Organic Moments videos, so when time permits I’ll begin cutting the Japanese maple grafting party video. Finished up the day making red beans and rice for Fat Tuesday supper. Amanda put on some Zydeco music as we worked and we took time out for a little Zydeco dancing. Fun evening.

February 20, 2012

Managed to change the battery on the flip video camera this morning. What a relief! It’s like a new lease on life for our trusty old camera that we had basically decided was done for. Good to have it working again.

Scott and I have diagnosed the problem with the screws in the metal in the lodge. They tried to use the same short screws they normally use for metal straight onto purlins, but there was 1/2 inch of OSB in the way, so the screws are basically not attached to anything that matters and will start to back out over time. The solution will be to get Bill to send us about 1500 2″ screws. We will back out the screws that they tried to sink in the base plate and top plate and replace them. We will sink new screws that bite into the blocks we installed as Bill had directed. And for the screws we have to leave in place that bite into nothing, we will go around and place a dollop of high-quality adhesive on the little tip sticking through the OSB to limit their ability to back out.

Scott and I agreed on the size of the shower in the West bathroom and the placement of the speakers on the east porch and the SW porch. This afternoon I had two sessions, but Amanda and I had time before they started to do some work with the lopping shears on the west creekside trail and the north trail. Also found time to wash a load of darks and let them dry on the line.

February 19, 2012

We stayed an unusually long time at church today. Amanda’s Daughters of the King group had lots of information to cover and several activities, and it was 2:00 by the time we got home. That’s a long day. Not much time for anything but to get in some paperwork and a walk before we lost our light.

February 18, 2012

We were up early and on our way to Quail Hollow Gardens (Pat Dye’s farm) for the 3rd annual Japanese Maple Grafting Party. Learned to graft and actually grafted 15 or so Beni Kawa maples.  We shot some decent video for an Organic Moments on the Japanese maples with Amanda hosting. It rained all afternoon and night, so Amanda and I were both wet and exhausted when we returned, and we left up there the Japanese maple we were supposed to bring with us. Bummer.

February 17, 2012

Spent most of my early morning editing the blueberry video. Then a session and some paperwork before lunch. After a quick trip to town, I started on the speaker wiring in the lodge. Got the two long runs done. Now what remains is to mount the brackets and pull the wires through, as well as the last runs from the volume control to the East Porch speakers. Nice walk at the end of the day.

February 16, 2012

Amanda was busy running errands with our friend Roxie today, so I spent a good part of the day working with Final Cut Pro on our videos. It took a while, but I was able to find a codec that works well to take flip video and puts them in a form where I can work with them in Final Cut Pro without rendering. At the end of the day, I dabbled a little with the speaker wire before Amanda returned and we had our walk.

February 15, 2012

We really have a tough time getting much done on Wednesdays, and this one was no exception. Amanda and I prepared our EfM lessons early this morning, and then I worked on paperwork in the shop while she worked in the apartment. During the afternoon we did EfM, then printed the bulletin, then checked on the storage, and then had a nice walk before dark. Another day gone . . .

February 14, 2012

We basically spent the day on the fruit tree pruning workshop that Mallory Kelley and Chip East taught at Dave Gray’s farm this morning. We got there early and helped set up, and then stayed late to help and to visit. Then we had a leisurely lunch together at Sweet P’s before running some errands in Montgomery. Returned to the farm with just enough time for a nice walk before we lost our light. We took a long detour to explore a trail that would bridge the pond spillway and open up a big swath of property on the east side that we’ve not yet been able to enjoy. The main challenge will be to find an entry point for the bush hog, but we think we’ve found it where the spillway connects with the creek-side trail.

February 13, 2012

A session this morning, and then indoor work before we headed to town for a series of errands. This afternoon I discovered that this was the last day to return our DVD player to Amazon for a full refund, so I had to jump in the truck (Corolla was in the shop) and take it to Montgomery to the UPS drop there. One of the disadvantages of life in a small town, now that our lone UPS dropoff location has closed.

February 12, 2012

Low temp this morning was 21. The promised wind didn’t materialize, so we may get some damage. Church in the morning, then Amanda and I had a nice long walk this afternoon. When we got back, she felt good about working on Veg Hill and so finished removing the beans from Row 9. I worked indoors on the church web site and the bulletin while continuing to install Final Cut Studio on the Mac Book.

February 10-11, 2012

Attended the Alabama Fruit & Vegetable Growers Conference in Auburn Friday and Saturday. Learned a lot, formed many impressions, some of them positive. I hope to write something about it soon.

Saturday morning before we left for Auburn, in anticipation of the hard freeze Saturday night, I put hay around both the olive trees and re-staked them. Hope they make it through!

February 9, 2012

Today was all about the lodge. Matt and Johnny spent most of the morning here. While Scott worked on the framing of the SW porch, they did the nips and tucks we were holding for after the metal got put on. They added a 110 outlet for the range, plugs over the outdoor serving area, plugs on the SW porch, additional boxes for volume controls, and a new outlet for the new configuration of the home theater setup. They also pulled the main electrical cable through the lodge to the main switch panel and pulled the line for the controller for the tankless water heater.

After I had a morning session, I pulled speaker wire. I have six more pulls and I’ll be done.

February 8, 2012

Today was mostly about EfM and getting the bulletin ready for this week.

February 7, 2012

Had a big breakfast with Mama this morning, and then we returned to the farm. Scott’s making good progress with the outdoor prep area; it’s really going to look quite spiffy when he finishes and should hold up well to the weather. I took down the okra today on Veg Hill. After all my assurances to Amanda that I was going to need the chain saw to bring it down, everything came down with lopping shears, although a couple were a real stretch because they were so large.

This afternoon Maurice and I worked to spruce up the grounds at the church, and then Maurice followed me home so we could show him the progress on the lodge. After he left, Amanda and I had a nice long walk, and then she worked late in the garden dismantling the green beans. It’s slow work, but she’s making really good progress.

February 6, 2012

Good day with the Adult Learning class at AUM. They were an engaged, inquisitive group, and we enjoyed the time with them. We blew our carefully designed schedule, but they were good-natured about it. This afternoon I rearranged and re-wired Mama’s TV, VCR, DVD, and cable box. Now, for the first time in years, she can watch a DVD again. Amanda and I finished the day with a brisk (the sun had gone down and it was cooling off!) walk and spent the night with Mama.

February 5, 2012

Mostly an indoor day. Church in the morning and well into the afternoon. Then a nap, then paperwork, and Oddie and I delivered a tree stand ladder over to the other side of the property. By the time we returned, it was time to blow off the porch and make blueberry cobbler for Arnold and Tom who came to watch the Super Bowl with us.

February 4, 2012

Amanda spent most of the day at Loachapoka. I spent the morning building the bulletin for next week and then printing and copying the one for tomorrow. Gotta figure out an easier way to do this. This afternoon I cleaned up the pile of metal and wood debris that had formed on the southeast corner of the lodge. Good to have that done. I also cleaned up the much smaller and neater pile of debris that Scott Ruppert had left, and then I blew off the porch and the pavilion. Finished by putting hay around the newly planted figs and pomegranates to protect them from extremely cold temperatures. I was finishing that task as Amanda drove in, so we set off on a walk together. It started raining while we were walking, so we both got pretty wet, but the weather is so warm right now it didn’t bother us much.

Today we met another neighbor, Tommy Emfinger. Nice visit. He was over picking huckleberries, so he showed us what they look like and how they taste. The dried berries are sweet but not that pleasant to eat. He puts his in waffles and eats them for breakfast.

February 3, 2012

Good day. I started the day bucking up that sweetgum I had felled on Wednesday. Then Amanda and I worked together to plant six blackberries, one persimmon, one peach, and two olives. This means we’ve now planted all the fruit trees we had for this year, by my calculation 39 trees. We are so proud!

Now I can spend tomorrow spreading straw on the olives, figs and pomegranates as well as reinforcing the olives with a couple of reeds from the creek. And eventually I need to mulch everybody, and I also need to get everybody placed on the orchard plot of the planting database.

It rained most of the afternoon, so we spent it indoors preparing the outline and PowerPoint for Monday’s class at AUM on Organic Vegetable Gardening. I’m continually blown away by how knowledgeable my bride has become about her craft. Pretty cool.

February 2, 2012

Today was almost exclusively devoted to driving to Albertville and back for the funeral of our friend JB Bruce. Good visits with his wife Shelia and with their kids Josh and Amber. We were exhausted when we returned to the farm, but we got in a nice long walk, and then Amanda weeded and planted (“It feels so good to be back in the garden”) while I was publishing the podcast indoors. Looking forward to a full day of working at the farm tomorrow. Need to buck up that tree in the orchard, for starters.

February 1, 2012

We recorded the podcast this morning because I knew it was going to be unusually difficult doing it for the first time using Garage Band. Then later this morning I was able to cut down a tree in the orchard that we had decided we needed to bring down before we plant olive trees out there. Didn’t have time to buck it up, however, because the rain set in. This afternoon Amanda and I had a nice walk for a change.

January 31, 2012

Three sessions for me, an unusually heavy day on the office front. We found time in between sessions, though, to plant two figs and three pomegranates just south of the lodge.

January 30, 2012

Spent the day in Birmingham. I basically hung out at the Apple store restoring the functionality of my Mac Pro. Amanda had a dentist appointment and an IDI appointment at Samford.

January 29, 2012

Spent the morning at church, including training for me is a chalice bearer. This afternoon we finished some inside work, and then we planted longleaf pines. We finished the box this afternoon as dusk turned to nightfall. That means we’ve now planted 330 longleaf pines again this year. Yea!

January 28, 2012

We spent most of the day away from the farm, Amanda at Loachapoka with her dulcimer work and then in Montgomery for several errands, and I in Birmingham for the Episcopal Outreach Summit. A good day for both of us, but both of us are glad to be back home.

January 27, 2012

Spent most of the morning with a session and then paperwork. This afternoon I planted the Sam Houston peach and the Darlene muscadine while she continued cleaning up the lodge. Then Amanda and I planted more longleaf pines. We’re down to less than 1/3 of the box now, so we’ve planted at least 200 so far.

January 26, 2012

The forecast was for rain this afternoon and tonight, so we got out early and worked outside during the morning. Emptied the humanure buckets first. Then Amanda and I planted longleaf pines, I’m guessing 150 or so. Then because Joey and his team left the lodge, we cleaned up around the lodge until it was time to stop for lunch. After lunch, Amanda worked in the rain to clean up the lodge interior, and I worked indoors.

January 25, 2012

Not much work today. An appointment with an ophthalmologist in Auburn most of the morning and EfM most of the afternoon. Hoping to get some work done tomorrow.

January 24, 2012

Yet another day when Amanda had volunteered for duty that took her away from the farm most of the day. She and I made the most of her time here in the morning. She had given up on the clothesline for at least one load, the whites, so she brought them in from the dryer this morning and I folded them and put them away. Then we worked together to hang out the dark clothes on the line. With the little time remaining before we lost her, we shot video on the flip for “How To Plant a Rabbiteye Blueberry in Alabama.” One long loop, but I think I can make it work.

This afternoon we made stew, starting with a whole chicken we had been thawing for a couple of days that I cooked in the Sun Oven. We added cabbage, black-eyed peas, broccoli, green beans, corn, okra, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and hot peppers. May have added a little more heat than we intended, but it tasted great.

January 23, 2012

Some rough weather rolled through this morning, but we seem to have weathered it okay. Spent most of the morning working indoors, first on church work and then a few nips and tucks on this site. During the afternoon I planted all but two of the remaining blueberries. I had time to finish, but I wanted to wait so Amanda could shoot some video of me doing it. We may make this the first of our Advanced Master Gardener videos. I had a late afternoon session; by the time it was finished, it was nightfall.

January 22, 2012

It’s so rainy, so wet. We’re not getting THAT much rain, it’s just that it’s so dreary. Unrelenting moisture everywhere. The porch has been damp for about 10 days running. Our clothes are stacking up and need to be washed and dried, but we haven’t had a good drying day in more than a week. If this doesn’t let up soon we may have to use the dryer. Ugh.

This afternoon we drove down to Dave Gray’s farm and picked up a box of longleaf pines. Now in addition to the blueberries, figs, olives, pomegranates, persimmon, and blackberries, we have 330 longleafs to plant as well. Better get busy!

January 21, 2012

Another rainy day, and another day when we were able to get good work done in spite of it. It rained overnight but slacked off from about 7:30 until 9:30, and I was out most of that time planting blueberries. I have all but nine planted now. I’ve managed to get most of the early season berries on the west end of the Blueberry Strip, and most of the mid and late season on the east end. By the time the rain set in – and I mean set in – I was inside and hauled out the flute for the first time in many years. I’m at rank beginner stage, struggling to make a decent sound with  a high C, but hey, I’m at least starting. I did make a trip to town to pick up the mail and to buy some staples for the speaker wire, and I cleaned out some of the trash that had been stacking up in the lodge.

In the afternoon I began pulling speaker wire. I pulled for the left front, right front, and center channel, the three easiest pulls – I wanted to cut my teeth doing those, because I knew they would be the easiest. Then when I started pulling for the left and right surround, I realized that my plan was inadequate. I was planning to use our 6-foot ladder, but it just didn’t feel stable enough. I’m going to wait and work from a larger ladder so I’m able to do most of the work from the floor rather than needing to hoist myself up on the beams.

January 20, 2012

It was raining most of the day, but we made the most of the breaks we had. We had a medium-length walk on the east side, and it was raining as we returned. Then an hour or so later, we got another break and used it to heel in a few trees we had received from Willis Orchards. The bulk of the day we spent indoors, but we did walk together to the gate at the end of the day to check the mail, bring in the dumpster, and close the gate.

January 19, 2012

Amanda and I were up at 3:15 this morning so she could drive our friend Roxie over to Atlanta and back for a series of doctor appointments. She was gone all day and exhausted when she returned tonight. I spent most of the day in preparation for our special worship service to welcome Bishop Kee Sloan at Epiphany. In the morning I rustled through the deep freeze and found enough of our really meaty cabbage soup to share with the group, so I pulled it out to begin thawing. I also mixed up toll house brownies and cooked two batches in series in the Sun Oven.

Joey Morgan and his guys arrived about 10:30. We walked around the lodge and identified a couple of issues that we were able to resolve. I then planted three more blueberries before lunchtime. In the afternoon I turned my attention to the bulletin for tonight’s service, which I had held off finalizing for confirmation of the hymns. That and preparing the soup and brownies occupied most of the afternoon before it was time to head to church to prepare for worship.

January 18, 2012

Decided on the location of all the 24 new blueberries this morning. It was a little like working through a Rubik’s cube, because I wanted (a) to get most of the early bearing bushes on the west end and the late bearing bushes on the east end; and (b) to make sure every bush had some pollinators of another variety as close as possible. The new arrangement is memorialized now on the Orchard Plot of the Planting Database. I started planting, but after I had planted only two I thought better of it because it’s going down below freezing tonight. If I wait and plant tomorrow, there’ll be no threat of below-freezing temps for several days.

January 17, 2012

Amanda spent most of the day in Wetumpka, first for the monthly CAMGA meeting and then to run errands – don’t want to waste a trip to Mt Pilate, you understand. I started the day inputting hours for Master Gardener credit from the posts and podcasts during 2011 and 2012. It was worth it; I now have 364 lifetime hours!

Later this morning I took the lopping shears down to the end of the spur trail and cut a human-sized path through to the Creekside Trail on the west side. It feels great to have that done. I then collected as much stone as I could find and placed stepping stones across the creek. Also placed stepping stones across the creek down near Rifle Range where the perimeter trail crosses.

This afternoon I was proud to show off my work to Amanda as we walked together. We got in a nice long walk and finished just as the rain began to fall. Good timing. We finished the day with .46 inches of rain.

January 16, 2012

It felt great to be outside today. Temps a little milder, and winds a little lower. We walked around the north trail (I scampered down the ditch to the creek with Oddie), then back to the driveway and down the east side and back up again across the dam. The pond was so beautiful; I stopped and told Amanda, “this is your yard.” Pretty cool.

When we walked back up we made several decisions together about those fruit trees: (1) run a separate drip hose line for the two figs and the three pomegranates we plant on row 17, to leave the existing drip hose line free to supply a couple more figs on the east side of the storm shelter entrance; (2) replace the AU Rubrum plum tree at 15.2 (we confirmed that it’s dead) with the Sam Houston peach from Petals; (3) plant the June Gold from Willis at 15.3 where the Celeste fig had died; (4) plant the two olives at the north end of the orchard proper, north of Row 1 (I ran drip header up there; why didn’t I reserve a row # for it too?); and (5) leave the 9.7 spot at the east end of Row 9 vacant for the time being. We also talked about where to plant her pumpkins on the orchard floor and settled on using what will eventually become Row 6. I’ll go ahead and install drip hose for the length of row 6, but we will not bury it. We will pull it at the end of the season when she’s finished harvesting to protect it from the Dually.

January 15, 2012

Oddie got blessed today at Epiphany, at the Blessing of the Animals. In the afternoon we worked indoors and then took a long walk, although we waited a little longer than we should have to do it. By the time we were out, my shorts were not quite enough. When we got back I put my bike together and took a short spin on Dark Corners Rd. It was great. I would have gone further if I had on more clothes! When I got back I put Amanda’s bike together, so we hope to ride together tomorrow.

January 14, 2012

Amanda spent most of the day at Pioneer Park in Loachapoka at Second Saturday. Among other things, she had her first dulcimer lesson and ended up purchasing a dulcimer. She entertained me while I prepared supper with her renditions of “Old Joe Clark,” “Ode to Joy,” and “Go Tell Aunt Rhody.”

My day was at Petals from the Past for Arlie Powell’s workshop on small fruits. He was even more transfixed than usual with his poisons, but there were plenty of tidbits between the poison raptures for me to be glad I made the trip. Jason’s glad too: I spent about $160 on a persimmon, one more blueberry, five blackberries, three pomegranates, two figs, and one peach. I continue to be fascinated by how much time Arlie takes to prune a muscadine, about two hours per plant in February, plus a fairly heavy pruning adventure in June and again in late July.

January 13, 2012

Big day for deliveries today. We had a freight company deliver bicycles, UPS delivering a couple of cables, FedEx delivering speakers for the lodge, and later FedEx delivering a DVD player for the lodge. I spent most of my day unloading blueberries and unpacking some of those treasures. We worked in a long walk in the middle of the afternoon and found it absolutely delightful to be outside. Sunshine! Some wind, but we stayed low as long as we could and avoided the worst of it.

January 12, 2012

This morning we recorded the podcast, and then had a nice walk before showering and heading to Birmingham for the funeral of our dear friend Elaine Friel. We are so blessed that we can live on the farm yet be a day trip away from all our old friends. Lately we have found ourselves traveling to Birmingham more often than we had expected either to marry people or to bury people. Give you one quick guess which we prefer.

Turned wicked cold and windy during the day. By the time we returned to the farm after dark we were long past ready to burrow in for the night and relax by the wood stove. Good to be able to travel, even better to be home.

January 11, 2012

We grabbed the lopping shears on our walk today and made a good bit of progress on the meandering east trail and the spine trail. Actually got about 1/2 the way down the west creekside trail too. Basically, we were using the loppers to cut anything that hung into the trail or lay across it. After we cover what we can get with the loppers, I’ll come back with the chain saw and get the branches that were too big for the loppers.

January 10, 2012

Another rainy day. We spent most of it indoors. I was working on the bulletin for this week, and Amanda was reviewing papers for a panel on which she will appear in San Antonio in a few weeks. I took time during the morning, though, to load up Scamp’s bucket with the remaining black oats and lupin so we could run over to the Greenfield and spread it if the rain let up. We got our break about 3:00 and made the most of it. I spread the black oats on the northern 3/4 of the Greenfield and lupin on the remaining 1/4, and Amanda and I worked together to spread lupin on Piccadilly and the pass between the Greenfield and Piccadilly. The rain was falling again by evening. We had a nice supper with the Brays. Tom and I worked on the schematic for the home theater system, and Amanda and Janet looked over process on the three quilts Janet is making for us to use in the lodge.

January 9, 2012

A rainy day, but we used it well. Used the first break in the showers to get in a nice long walk, and then the second to take Cracker to George Brown’s farm. We bought 23 blueberry bushes, several premiers, a few Brightwells, and lots of Tifblue. Now we need another break in the rain to plant them.

Tonight the Tide beat LSU soundly and secured the BCS National Championship. What a magical night. We’re so proud of our team.

January 8, 2012

Good day (but a long day) at church. By the time we returned home we had just a few minutes to walk outside before it was time to get ready for a visit from our priest, Father Arnold.

January 7, 2012

Wonderful day, but not on the farm. Amanda and I rode with four other Epiphany members to Birmingham, where we were part of the worship services investing Kee Sloan as our new bishop for the Alabama Diocese. After the service, we drove out to Arnold’s house and had a brief but delightful visit with Arnold and Zoe. That afternoon we and a surprisingly small number of Episcopal church members met in a leisurely question and answer session with Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop. She was gentle, wise, thoughtful, and honest. We were so glad we stayed for the visit. I posted about the day on the Epiphany web site.

January 6, 2012

Spent the better part of the day designing the shelves that will hold the home theater components (and as many books as possible) in the lodge. Placement of the screen and speakers is semi-critical, and we have a blank slate to work with, so we’re taking extra time to make sure we get it right.

Washed all the white clothes, hung them on the line, and collected them near the end of the day. Nice walk at the end of the day, and I grilled 24 chicken thighs in the late afternoon.

January 5, 2012

This morning I re-stretched the drip tube on Row 16 to see what we can accommodate by curving it around back on itself. We could add one fig and four pomegranates or squeeze two figs and three pomegranates. We’ve tentatively settled on two figs – an LSU purple and an O’Rourke – and three pomegranates – a Wonderful, a Cloud, and a Russian.

We recorded the podcast this morning, and I edited it and published it this afternoon. Had some time to work with Oddie on his “fetch” behavior, and he’s making good progress. Maybe I’m making good progress due to his good teaching. Either way, it seems to be working.

First Thursday tonight at the church. Amanda harvested and chopped, and I stir-fried collards and kale.

January 4, 2012

Major blunder yesterday. I read the forecast of a low of 25 overnight and believed it. Decided the figs needed some cold to help prepare them for the winter, so no straw around their trunks. The low actually went down to 18 instead. I’m sure they were shocked. We won’t know until spring just how bad the news is, but it’s going to mean some damage. Should have reacted more cautiously and covered them with straw.

The day warmed up nicely. I spent most of the morning inside going through correspondence. Spent the afternoon dealing with screen doors for the lodge and the barn. We’re upgrading to much heavier doors with nice heavy closers.

January 3, 2012

Our first seriously cold weather of the season. It was 26 degrees this morning, and it’s supposed to be colder still tonight. This morning I organized a “listening session” so Amanda could hear three versions each of four songs, all played through the Onkyo receiver and the AP 840 outdoor speakers. All three versions were played on my iPod. Version 1 was an mp3 file played through a direct digital link to the Onkyo, letting the Onkyo do the digital to analog conversion. Version 2 was an Apple lossless format file played through the digital link, and version 3 was an mp3 played through the headphone jack, letting the iPod do the D-to-A conversion. On each song, I mixed up the order in which I presented them to her and offered her no information about which version she was hearing. I simply asked her to rate them based on her preference for the way they sounded.

I had thought I heard a clear difference between versions 1&2 on one hand and version 3 on the other but no discernible difference between 1 & 2. Amanda heard differences, but there was no consistency about her preferences. Each format was the winner on at least one song. What that tells me (at least in the realm of the outdoor speakers) is that there may be an advantage to direct digital connection of the iPod, but if so it’s a subtle one. Ditto the advantage of using lossless format vs mp3 format. This is actually good news, because it frees us up simply to play mp3 files for outdoor listening and dancing purposes. I’ll still plan to design the system around direct digital connection of the iPod, because I think I hear a difference.

All bets may be off in the main listening room, where we’ll be using the Hsu speakers and may hear the difference between lossless and mp3. I won’t know that, though, until I get the Hsu speakers and have the chance to listen to them. May do a new listening session then.

I had neglected for too long a couple of spots where the cold water line had become exposed to the air on its way down from the utility depot to the barn. I worried about it this morning and knew it would be more of a threat for freezing tonight, so this afternoon Scamp and I dumped a couple of buckets of topsoil on the exposed section.

January 2, 2012

Spent most of the day cleaning up and preparing our home to welcome our friends Debra and Maurice for dinner. Did have time, though, to replace the firewood pallet. I think this is the longest in the season we’ve ever gotten on one pallet.

January 1, 2012

This morning I was successful in installing a new gasket on the valve of the Coleman camp stove so that it now works well again. Such a relief.

Great morning in church. We gathered a group around the piano to practice one of the hymns to practice before the service, and it made a huge difference. Our first integrated bulletin (including the readings from the Book of Common Prayer to cut down on book juggling) was well received, but we have some notes on how to make it better.

This afternoon we set about making New Year Stew. Cooked the chicken on the Coleman stove, and then let the chicken cool while we enjoyed a long walk. We were both working hard chopping and stirring until after nightfall. We think this is one of our best soups ever.

I have also been successful in getting two versions each of four “test” songs on the iPod. I chose them because they seem to be particularly demanding on the spectrum and clarity of the speakers. The first version of each song is a regular mp3 file, and the second version of each song is recorded in Apple “lossless” format. I want to confirm that there is an audible difference between the lossless version and the mp3 version when the iPod is connected to the home theater receiver digitally and played through the outdoor speakers. The best news would be that there is not; then I won’t have to worry about using the lossless format.

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