Log – 2010

December 31, 2010

We were at our suburban home, and it was my day to get some real yard work done. Started early and rode it hard all day with the new Kubota L4330. It was a great day. I cut up into 5-foot segments a dozen to 14 downed pines, and stacked them at the property of the corner where they can be picked up. I tried to bring down a dramatically leaning dead pine, and ended up with the whole tree suspended in mid-air wedged among three trees. Now what to do? I decided I couldn’t do anything about it and would just let it hang there until I could bring a chain from the farm and pull it down. Then as I was bush hogging I decided to just give it a little fossil fuel shove with the bucket of the tractor. It shuddered, but stayed in position. Then another nudge. Another shudder, and then it fell. We ended up with quite a pile of logs.

I like the Kubota tractor. Not as powerful as Tractor, but clearly more nimble. I’ve decided to name him Scamp.

December 30, 2010

The electrical work is complete now, and it feels great to have it done. Now I need to purchase the retractable cord reels to use the new outlets and the fluorescent fixtures to make our grow light for starting seed.

December 29, 2010

The main focus today was on the electrical work that Brent Milner and his helpers Travis and Manlin did around the barn. New outlet on the south wall, new outlet in the ceiling of the shop, new outlets and lights at the sinks in the shop and storage room, new light switch in the shop, new range outlet on the front porch, and all the wiring for the horns for our chiming carillon. They worked until after dark but didn’t quite finish. They’ll be returning tomorrow to finish up.

December 28, 2010

Today was the annual Borden family Christmas brunch, so we were at the lake place most of the day. Finished up in the afternoon by raking the leaves. I have a full truck bed full of leaves parked under the barn now, and I need to get them put down so I can add them to compost.

December 27, 2010

Cold, but not quite as cold as the forecast had predicted. We reached a low of 24 this morning, with a chill factor of 18 or so. Nothing like a cozy home and a wood stove, though, to keep the winter at bay. And the sun is shining, so it will be easy to keep the apartment warm during the day with no fire needed.

December 26, 2010

This was the first time we had fired up the wood stove in several days, and it took two charges to get the apartment up to what we considered a “comfortable” temperature. Sure did feel cozy, though, with the snow flurries outside and the fire glowing in the stove. It’s good to be back home.

December 25, 2010

Returned to the farm after several days away to find we have a critter loose on the front porch. My toilet paper was shredded, and the recycling was chewed up and strewn around. Bummer.

Amanda had left two good-sized tomato plants in pots while we were gone. One of them looks really droopy and may have died. She had left the pots in a bed of pebbles soaking in water as a moisture source, but that apparently didn’t get to the plant.

December 16, 2010

Weirdly warm. The temperature rose each hour overnight. We didn’t complain, because we had a lovely walk over to the west side. I spent most of the morning on a frustrating call to HP about our printer, which is on the fritz. Now they are sending a replacement once I prove to them that I paid for an extended warranty. The afternoon was taken up with EfM.

December 15, 2010

Sleet this morning. Nothing like a wood stove on a cold morning when it’s sleeting outside. We enjoyed visioning for our church this morning, following up on some thinking I had done about it overnight. Here’s a hint: “Disruptive Generosity.”

This morning Amanda and I recorded the podcast, then I edited and published it. Then I spent some time cleaning up the compost pile after we killed a possum in it last night. Two sessions in the afternoon and a quick trip to town, then Amanda and I took a brief walk this afternoon.

December 14, 2010

15 degrees this morning, the coldest morning of the season by a good margin. Almost no wind. We assumed the worst, but when we walked out later in the morning, we found out just how resilient fall veg can be. The broccoli got clobbered, but it was already done. We had a couple of small chard, and they went down. Everything else made it. The brussels sprouts, the common cabbage, the savoy cabbage, the red cabbage, the kale, the collards, the garlic, the arugula, the romaine. They all muscled through the hard freeze and stood right back up straight and tall. I could fall in love with fall veg!

Finished the day with a nice (but short) walk, and then I had two late-afternoon sessions.

December 13, 2010

It’s nearing the end of the year, which means (as nearly all lawyers know) it’s time to get my CLE hours in. Today was an all-day update from the Elmore County Bar Association. Good to see some of the other Elmore County lawyers, and you can’t beat the price. Now I’m ready to report my hours!

December 12, 2010

Blisteringly cold wind. Started the day at 44 degrees and didn’t even need a fire in the apartment. Then it just got colder and windier. Truly a nasty day.

We spent it at church, then with Mama and the family at Outback in Montgomery, and then at a gathering at the house of our Master Gardener friend Tom Jawarowski. Tom has the most amazing collection of model trains I’ve ever seen in my life. Wow!

It was blisteringly cold and windy when we returned to the farm, but we decided to take a walk anyway, and we were glad we did. Once we got down onto the meandering trail, we were sheltered from the punishing wind and found it quite pleasant. We even spent some time on the West Knoll talking about the possibility that one of our children could build an earth-sheltered house there.

December 11, 2010

Got out this morning and had a chance for the first time in several days to do some honest-to-goodness farm work. Cut up the dead oak that I had cut down earlier over at the Greenfield, and then I brought it back in the bucket and dumped it with the other chunks on the lodge site. It’s ready to split and stack whenever we empty Pallet #6.

I then seeded Piccadilly again with ryegrass. Because I’ve now settled on a particular hickory where I plan to mount the tree stand, I paid particular attention to sight lines from it in where I distributed the seed. Finally, I cut the brush around the hickory as much as I could from the ground, and I cut down a dying oak that was obstructing a key sight line. Then I cut it up for firewood too.

The rest of the day I used to deal with paperwork. I had let it stack up!

December 10, 2010

Fred Rattan and I met at Bass Pro in Prattville and shopped for a tree stand. We’ve sort of settled on a Big Game Skybox Deluxe. Now I need to find one in stock somewhere. They didn’t have it in Prattville. I can buy it online, but it costs more there.

December 9,  2010

Our last Master Gardener class today! We really are sorry to see it end, but we did do a little high five about not having to brave the rush hour traffic over to Wetumpka every Thursday morning now. Another great session, this one on landscape design. Even though its primary thrust was understandably around a single family home, both Amanda and I came away with some good ideas about how we can improve the look of things. My main focus was on the area between the lodge site and the barn. Amanda, naturally, is much more ambitious. She wants to develop a landscape plan for the entire core campus.

December 8, 2010

Returned to the farm late Wednesday evening after spending a couple of days in Birmingham. Soo good to be back home.

December 6, 2010

Mostly, today was about cleanup. I took the chain saw to Farmers Feed, where I learned that it’s going to take several days for them to repair it. Came back through town, and because it’s December 6 and I was eligible for new every two, I stopped in at the Verizon store. Ended up with an LG Ally smartphone.

When I got back to the farm, Amanda had been working hard and had almost all the dishes already put away. She also had hung all the towels out to dry on the line. I pulled them off the line as Amanda worked to get her iPod set up on her new Mac.

December 5, 2010

Today was all about the Foyer Group gathering. I spent WAY too much time trying to rescue the bonfire in some form, including an aborted attempt to erect a windbreak to allow us a small campfire. Gave up. It was just too windy. Focused then on getting the chicken into the smoker, and that worked fine. Put the chicken on the grill to finish it with some barbecue sauce and immediately put the ribs on. Still struggling to get the smoker hot enough. I had trouble getting the cooking temperature much about 175. Next time, I’ll make sure the fire is going really well with the fire pile wide open before I assemble the smoker.

Rave reviews for all the food, the ribs, the chicken, the collards, and John’s cake. The only food that didn’t get raves was the spaghetti squash. I’m not concerned, but Amanda worries that people didn’t eat enough of it. We could tell everybody had a good time, though. Finished singing some Christmas carols while Jean accompanied us on the mandolin.

December 4, 2010

Largely consumed with prep work for our Foyer Group gathering tomorrow afternoon. I first pulled out all the ingredients for John Haynie’s cake and measured them so they could be getting to room temperature. Then I gathered up the little piles of twigs and branches and consolidated them near the entrance to Veg Hill so they can be ready . Then I cut down a hickory sapling and cut it into chunks for the smoker. Then I cut down a couple of pines and cut them up into segments so we can put them on the fire tomorrow as well. Finally, I took the smoker apart and cleaned it out well so that it’s ready to use tomorrow.

With the outside work done, I mixed up the batter for John’s cake and then took it to town to bake in the oven at the church. While the oven was preheating, I bought reflectors from True Value, bought groceries from Winn Dixie and Dollar General, and checked the mail. While the cake was cooking I installed the reflectors over the bush in front of the Little House.

When I returned to the farm, Amanda was busy with the microclimate bed, pruning back the lantana. The bed looks sadder but cleaner now. I loaded all the cut foliage in Tractor’s bucket to take it up the hill. It will be part of the compost that we make when we unload the cage the next time. I finished the afternoon with lawyer work.

December 3, 2010

Great weather for working outside. I worked this morning on a task that’s been nagging at me since July, which is the tangle of pipes near the pump house. Many of them have been lying on top of the soil, including the pipes that carry potable water to the barn and the ones that carry irrigation water This morning after my 9:30 session, I first dug out around the pipes so they could settle to their lowest point. Then grabbed the pair of PEX pipes that Dave Berry had routed from the 6-inch PVC pipe for rainwater harvesting and arranged them on top of the pipes, running in front of the pump house. With everything in position, but still exposed, I videotaped it so we can quickly get back to it later if we need to. Then I fetched 3-4 buckets of topsoil from the pile beside the East Orchard and filled in all the area, smoothing it with the shovel and rake. It looks nice now and more finished-looking than at any point since we dug the well. Before lunch, I put the auger on the tractor to dig holes for crape myrtles.

After lunch and a nap, I had a 2:30 session. When it was finished, Amanda and I worked together to get four crape myrtles. First she guided the auger while I drove Tractor, and we punched four holes. Then I expanded each hole while she placed the crape myrtles in position. I fetched topsoil, and she supervised the planting of each one. While she spread mulch, I first watered the humanure compost and then brought the hose up to use for watering. The whole operation took about an hour and 15 minutes.

December 2, 2010

The first half of today’s Master Gardener class was all about house plants. Not exactly front and center for Amanda and me, but a wonderful reminder that EVERYONE can grow something, even if they have no outdoor space and even if they have very little light coming in their windows. There are house plants that do well on the other side of a room from the window. And remember: the number one cause of death and disease in house plants is overwatering.

The second half of the class was about the Master Gardener helpline, 1-877-252-GROW, that we will help to staff when it re-opens this spring. Whether that means March 1, April 1, or sometime in between is currently up for discussion. We learned that the CAMGA (Central Alabama Master Gardener Association) helpline functions more smoothly and provides better quality information than almost any other in the state, and we also know why. There are several layers of unpaid, volunteer staffing ensuring that each of us actually working the phones will be properly equipped and thoroughly supported. We literally can’t mess it up. I know now what a wonderful resource the helpline is and why you’re guaranteed to get good information when you call in. I’ll be recommending it to all our friends come springtime.

December 1, 2010

Spent some time this morning with Brent Millner, the electrician who’s going to help us with several projects around the farm. Then Amanda and I hung out a load of clothes together before recording and publishing the weekly podcast.

November 30, 2010

It rained overnight, and the promise was for more rain in the afternoon, but the morning was sultry and relatively dry, so we decided to take a long walk on the east side of the property. It was great to get out and see what’s going on. When we returned to the barn I had Amanda go through a quick drill to make sure she’s comfortable shooting her gun. We’ll run through a couple more to make sure she’s comfortable shooting in all conditions.

Sure enough, it rained nearly all afternoon, so we were glad we had gotten out when we did. Spent the afternoon with a trip to town and reading up for Master Gardener and EfM. Temperature’s dropping!

November 29, 2010

Monday dawned with a stiff breeze from the SE and a prediction of rain later today. So we got busy. I loaded up Tractor with the chain saw and the seed spreader and drove over to Piccadilly, where I spread about 20 lb. of ryegrass seed. While I spread, I looked for good trees for a tree stand and picked out 3 or 4. I also used the chain saw to fell a dead blackjack that seemed to be leaning precariously over the Greenfield. Found it surprisingly firm, so firm I think we can cut it up for firewood. After the storm I’ll go back over there with a chain and cut it up. While I was doing that, Amanda was harvesting the last of the lima beans from Veg Hill. She’s pretty sure the Violet’s multicolored are done for the season, but she has some hope remaining that the Henderson bush beans will continue to bear a little longer.

I have given up on the armadillo traps for the time being. I pulled them (and the boards funneling toward them) this morning and put them away. I’ll pull’em out later if we see the problem recur.

Amanda and I worked together to remove the firewood that had been holding the row cover in place, and I restacked the firewood on its pallet sitting on the lodge site. Then I pulled the row cover and draped it over the blueberries. With the row cover in place, I distributed ryegrass on the Blueberry Strip. Then I pulled the row cover and stowed it under the pole barn roof. Amanda and I will need to work together when the wind is down to get it folded up.

Wrote Andra Johnston a check today for the balance on a Kubota 4330 tractor. He’s going to deliver it to Birmingham so I can use it up there, and then I’ll ask him to retrieve it and bring it to the farm.

November 28, 2010

Not much farm work. Emptied humanure buckets in the morning, but I managed to lose bucket #3 off the front-end loader bucket and promptly ran over it with Tractor. It’s done for. Since we were in Montgomery today to see Mama, I made a side trip to Home Depot to pick up another. Now I need to find those labels to mark it as the new #3.

November 27, 2010

Spent most of the day with our friends Carol and Fred Rattan. Carol’s in our Master Gardener class and Fred is a seasoned hunter, so I had lots of chances to quiz him about deer habits, how to attract and hunt deer, etc. Great day. Amanda and Carol both love to walk, so they happily visited together while Fred and I looked at trees, fields, rubs, and scrapes to plot strategy.

November 26, 2010

Our annual Friday-after-Thanksgiving leaf-raking party at the lake succumbed to the rain, so we fired up the smoker to have turkey for lunch instead of supper. It was a grueling cookfest.

Started the 15-pound turkey at 5:45 am. It finished about 10:30. I had the ribs on by about 10:45. We ate the turkey for lunch at about 1:30, and the ribs were done by about 3:30. By then I had the turkey fully carved, so I put the bones into the pot for soup stock by about 4:30. Finished the stew (about three gallons) by 7:00. My back’s tired from all the standing, but it feels good to have “vittles put by.”

November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving day dawned foggy, but with a promise of warm, partly cloudy weather for the holiday. I went out in the woods and cut down a hickory sapling for tomorrow’s turkey smoking. I also dug up the two blackjack oaks we had been watching so we can take them to Dave Gray today. Amanda had started a load of clothes when we found out this would likely be a decent drying day, and she and I worked together to get them hung out before we left for Pine Level.

The gathering itself was wonderful. Weather was magnificent, turnout was good, and everybody had a good time.

November 24, 2010

We began the day recording and editing the podcast. With Tim Ledbetter’s help, I found the breaker that I had tripped and reset it, so now the deep freeze and the panic lights are working normally. And now I feel foolish, because I’ve decided there’s a better location for the gun safe that didn’t require moving the outlet in the first place. Oh well . . . The gun safe is in now and anchored firmly in place.

Amanda spent most of the afternoon policing up the area around the Kids’ Trail while I worked inside.

November 23, 2010

We spent the morning using the chipper to make mulch out of the brush I had stacked up when I opened the Kids’ Trail. Then we went up the hill and mulched a little more. The result is a now imposing pile of mulch near the gate to Veg Hill. I finished up the morning by removing the chipper from the PTO so Tractor is now ready to attach the auger and plant four crape myrtles we got from Tom Jawaworski in Master Gardener. The afternoon was mostly indoor work, punctuated by a shower late in the afternoon.

As it rained I began working to install a gun safe in the shop. To install it flush with the wall, I decided to move an outlet a few inches to the left. Mistake. I thought I had cut the power to it and started working to disconnect it from the line, and I created a short that sparked. After I had done that, the outdoor panic lights are now not working, and I discovered about midnight that the freezer isn’t working either. The deep freeze is now on an extension cord while I work to find an electrician who can help me get things working again.

November 22, 2010

We were expecting a delivery here today  so I begged off the work day at the CAMGA Learning Garden to stay here and receive it. Amanda went on as planned. Working by myself, I first swapped out the bucket for the pallet forks, and used them to move the fire pile into position for our Foyer Group party December 5. It should be a humdinger of a bonfire. Then I picked up a pallet containing five bags of pelletized lime and placed it on the top shelf of the pallet rack to get it out of the way.

I dismantled three trellises from Veg Hill, storing the t-posts and the shorter PVC pipes on the pallet rack and placing the longer (20-foot) PVC pipes on their pallet. I then moved that pallet from where we had placed it this spring back up the hill to where the 6-inch PVC is stored. I need to buy two new tarps. The tarps I have on them now have clearly worn out and are ripping apart.

In the afternoon I put the bucket back on and finished cleaning up the firepile. Then I filled a wheelbarrow with topsoil for Amanda to use in planting her new treasures, some irises she brought with her from the Learning Gardens. While I tended to lawyer work, she planted and tended to broccoli cooking in the sun oven.

By the way, that delivery never came. They’re now telling us to expect it tomorrow morning.

November 21, 2010

Spent the morning before church shooting the video for the post about brussels sprouts and quickly edited the video so I could let the file be uploading while we were gone to church. Ended up away from the farm most of the day.

November 20, 2010

It was Saturday, and I had no sessions and Alabama had already played its football game on Thursday night, so Amanda and I had an unusual opportunity to work outside all day. We took great advantage of it. How nice!

I started the morning refreshing one of the rain bars on the driveway and rebuilding another. I also filled in a couple of rough spots with some fresh tar gravel. I did that so I could use the box blade (already on Tractor) before replacing it with the chipper. With the chipper attached, I headed across to the west side and began cutting up a downed maple close to the spine trail. Brought back a bucket load of segments to split later (about a 10-day supply of firewood). Then we fired up the chipper and began creating mulch. Amanda and I created one bucket full of mulch before I stopped for a trip to town, and then we filled a second bucket before lunch. After lunch Amanda worked on Veg Hill cleaning up for the winter and planting, while I filled two more buckets with mulch and deposited them outside the gate to Veg Hill.

We put out veg in the sun oven, but the intermittent clouds kept us from doing much cooking.

November 19, 2010

Absolutely drop-dead pinch-yourself gorgeous day. And wouldn’t you know it, I had four sessions plus some paperwork I had to catch up on. I spent almost all day inside. Amanda was able to get out, though, and spent several hours on Veg Hill. She painstakingly dismantled the purple hull peas (and the aphids riding on them) from their trellis. She also harvested and shelled lots of lima beans and cooked them in the sun oven.

November 18, 2010

Today was Thursday, which means a big class day for us. The only work we accomplished at the farm was hanging laundry in the morning before we left for Master Gardener and getting it off the line between Master Gardener and EfM. Returned to the farm after dark and watched Alabama handle Georgia State on TV. Good day.

November 17, 2010

Amanda headed to Montgomery to help sell jams for the parish hall fundraiser, so I was alone at the farm most of the day. Bought some marshmallows and used them to bait the armadillo trap.

Cooked okra in the sun oven. While it was cooking I harvested some broccoli and put it in the sun oven too along with a couple of sweet potatoes. The rest of the day was a couple of sessions and some paperwork.

November 16, 2010

Today is the one-year anniversary of the Big Move. Feels good to look back on our first year and reflect on the progress we’ve made. Still so much to learn, and that inexhaustible list of tasks remains inexhaustible, but we’re realizing now that we are slowly building the skills and tools we need to make Longleaf Breeze our home for the foreseeable future.

Spent the morning with some friends from Master Gardener touring Crooked Oaks, Pat Dye’s Japanese Maple nursery. I find the whole idea of Japanese Maples totally uninspiring, so I’m looking forward to an explanation of why I should get excited about them.

Didn’t get it. STILL find Japanese maples uninspiring. Sort of more demanding, MUCH more expensive beanie babies. I really don’t understand the attraction. They’re pretty, of course, but so are hickory trees, and I don’t see them whining about getting too much sun or needing to be grafted onto a stronger rootstock. So are pear trees, and you get a bonus in the form of delicious food. Howboutthat!

November 15, 2010

The day started out with light rain, with more rain forecast in the afternoon. I knew we needed to get that pelletized lime out on Veg Hill, and I also knew it would dissolve in moisture and start leaching into the soil. I also knew I had 15 40-pound bags of pelletized lime in the back of Cracker and that I REALLY didn’t want to handle them twice. For all those reasons, I decided to go ahead and distribute the pelletized lime in the rain. Got it done, but I was a real mess when I finished.

After I got cleaned up and Amanda and I had lunch, I drove to Andra Johnson’s to look at a Kubota 4330. Just what we were looking for. Put down a deposit on it, and he’s going to order a front-end loader for it.

Headed to town and picked up the mail, then went searching for bags of leaves. I only found three. Why does nobody put bags of leaves out on the street any more? Are they doing something anti-social like using their leaves on their own gardens? We must nip this kind of behavior in the bud!

Spent the rest of the day inside ordering seed and getting through e-mail.

November 14, 2010

This was Amanda’s day to provide refreshments, and she laid it all on the line with a full-scale British tea. LOTS of work, but most everybody at church seemed to enjoy it. We came back to the farm in the afternoon with Amanda’s friend Nelya McKenzie, who was visiting us from Montgomery. After spending some time showing her what we’re doing in the pole barn, we decided to remove the insect row cover from Row 6. What a delight! The fall veg just looks marvelous. Large, lush, and yummy. Brussel sprouts at the north end, then broccoli, three different kinds of cabbage, kale, and then finishing with collards at the south end. We fixed some of the broccoli and kale for supper.

November 13, 2010

Amanda spent most of the day in Montgomery helping to sell Christmas gifts for Epiphany’s fund-raiser. I loved having the time here at the farm. First I finished hanging out clothes to dry, then I set up a target and used it to true in the 20 gauge shotgun. Then I stepped back 75 yards and shot the target with the Savage 270. Nowhere. Not even on the paper. Got a new board and tried again. The shot was 18 inches above the target.

November 12, 2010

We helped this morning at the Elmore County learning gardens. Amanda worked longer than I did, because I had to leave in the middle of the morning to run several errands. We went straight to the lake from there to change out some linens and to leave a new key. Ran into Tom and had a nice visit with him before we headed back to the farm in time for a session at 2:30.

After my session, I worked to assemble the new smoker we received yesterday. During and after it, Amanda worked to cut down the purple hull peas on Veg Hill and otherwise ready the rows for the onset of winter. It’s poignant to see the garden shutting down. The fall veg, though, are still going strong. We really need to pull the row cover so we can see them better and enjoy them more.

November 11, 2010

This was Thursday, our big class day. Master Gardener in the morning, with Karen Weber first, talking about the various choices for annul and perennial flowers, and then Fred Fulton talking about bees and beekeeping. As usual, both talks were packed with useful information.

November 10, 2010

Amanda was gone most of the day, so I spent most of the morning doing lawyer work. Put out a spaghetti squash in the sun oven before I left for a series of errands that took up most of the afternoon (John Deere to look at tractors, UPS to send a package to Adrian, Farmers Feed to buy pelletized lime, and Wetumpka Fish & Game to shop for a new deer rifle). By the time I returned to the farm it was dark.

Amanda arrived at 7:30 and we recorded and published the podcast. It was 10:00 by the time I got to bed.

November 9, 2010

Another of those days when we were in class all day. First in the morning at the Elmore County extension office for a four-hour fruit workshop, then in the afternoon at Petals from the Past for a tour of their Orangery and instruction from Arlee Powell on citrus fruits. Just a wonderful, fact-filled day. We haven’t finished de-briefing yet, but we already have talked about 3-4 things we will do differently in the orchard expansion as a result of what we learned today.

November 8, 2010

Okay, now we know what a real frost does. It went down to 31 on Veg Hill this morning, and the effect was devastating. The zucchini, crookneck, African blue basil, the winter squash, even the pumpkins, all look dead or dying. Only the “true” fall veg (brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, kale, and collards) are still looking happy.

The liming truck came from Elmore County Farmers Coop today. Worked like a charm for the orchard, because Donald, the driver, was able to get close enough to cover all the present and future orchard space.

Not so much Veg Hill. I’m going to need to get pelletized lime for Veg Hill. There’s just no graceful way to spread the powdered dolomitic limestone. I was able to cover Rows 7-11, a and b. I’ll probably use the rest of the limestone on the grass, and use pelletized lime for the remainder of Veg Hill.

November 7, 2010

Away from the farm all day. We shipped my car to Adrian from Montgomery today. Now we are down one vehicle, which is good.

We stayed in Montgomery longer than usual because we attended a concert by the Adult Ensemble at the First United Methodist Church. Wonderful music. It was already dark by the time we left the church. When we got back to the farm, just time to eat a quick supper and burrow in with a small fire before bedtime.

November 6, 2010

Began the day slowly and enjoyed the relative tranquility of a clear, cold Saturday morning. I vacuumed Carma in preparation for shipping her to Adrian in California. Then I drove to town to run several errands. When I got back, we had lunch together, and then both of us did indoor work until kickoff for the Alabama LSU game. Bummer. Bama lost.

November 5, 2010

This was my morning to help with the grass at the church. Amanda stayed indoors enjoying the warmth of the wood stove and doing some online Christmas shopping. While I was in town I picked up 8 treated 1 x 8 x 14 to use to build baffles for our twin armadillo traps, which arrived yesterday.

I had two sessions in the afternoon. Before, between, and after the sessions, I helped Amanda as she worked to harvest the sweet potatoes. We ended up with less than a bushel. We’re a little disappointed, because we had high hopes of a more robust crop. However, we know what we need to do to get a better crop next year. We need higher pH, looser soil, and more plants. We also think we’ll trellis the sweet potatoes next year to give the foliage more room to stretch out.

November 4, 2010

Great day today at Master Gardener. We started with a comprehensive lesson on pruning from three advanced master gardeners, and we finished with a study of herbs from Maria Pacheco-West. Both sessions were well-designed, packed with useful information, and genuinely entertaining.

We returned to the farm after EfM, and both Amanda and I almost ran down to Veg Hill to check on things. We harvested our first pumpkin along with more okra. The tomatoes are now in a race with the first frost (now predicted for Sunday morning). We want to let them get as much growing time as possible before we have to pull them, so we will wait for the forecast on Saturday to decide to pull them. If we are able to leave them growing, they will get at least 10 more days of growing time.

November 3, 2010

Wednesday dawned cool and cloudy; really feels like fall. We started the day recording and publishing the podcast. While I worked on the podcast, Amanda worked to make arrangements to send one of our cars to Adrian in CA. By the time we had finished, the rain had started. Never heavy, but always present, a light, intermittent mist and grey skies. Both of us ended up working indoors most of the day. We’re afraid Amanda may be getting sick; she stayed home tonight rather than attend First Wednesday at the church.

November 2, 2010

Some showers this morning. Not a lot of rain (.09 inch), but welcome nonetheless. It did have the unfortunate effect of precluding the visit to the farm we had planned of the liming truck from Elmore County Farmers Coop. We’re now shooting for Friday, in hopes that the ground will be dry again by then.

Amanda planted lots of lettuce on Row 6 and several herbs she had been holding for the purpose. She also planted the two roses we had received from Petals from the Past on our birthday. She was working until nightfall.

November 1, 2010

Four sessions for me today, including one that ran unusually long. Then lots of paperwork in the afternoon. So I didn’t get any farm work done today. Amanda too spent most of the day working indoors, but she did make it out to Veg Hill in the afternoon to harvest a few cucumbers, beans, and a cantaloupe. Tonight was the All Saints service at Epiphany and I was the lay reader, so we had to knock off early to be there.

October 31, 2010

The old digital clock on the chiffarobe reminded us this morning that this is when daylight savings time used to end. Caused us to sleep late in the morning, but no harm done on a Sunday morning.

This afternoon we took a long walk on the east side of the property. Flagged a couple of bluejacks for Dave Gray. We’ll dig them up just before we head down there for Thanksgiving.

October 30, 2010

Low of 39 this morning. Amanda had her first chance of the season to enjoy a fire. Our friends John and Kathy Haynie brought John’s arsenal to the farm. After a light breakfast and a tour of the Core Campus (Amanda spotted two more hornworms on the tomatoes), we took turns shooting several of John’s guns to get a feel for which ones we need to buy. Lots of fun. I learned that Amanda is a better shot than I am even though she doesn’t seem to enjoy it as much.

There was little left of the day by the time they left except time for a nap for me (first things first!) and some lima bean harvesting for Amanda. Then on to a party in Auburn. Back late in the night in time to tumble into bed.

October 29, 2010

I awoke alone at the farm, because Amanda was in Birmingham for a presentation. First fire of the season! It felt wonderful to build it, and wonderful to work quietly in the glow of the firelight.

I got out early and emptied the humanure buckets and arranged them in the sunshine before my 8:30 session. I had a no-show for my 1:30, so I was able to get out and get the deer fence repaired before my 2:30. After the 2:30, I made a quick run to town for mail, wire nuts at Tallassee True Value, shooting targets at Wal-Mart, and to return the book I had borrowed on inter-library loan. When I returned, I walked the deer fence around Veg Hill to look for signs of where our armadillo is entering. I did find one gap on the west side, so I dumped a load of soil around the gap with Tractor. Harvested some more okra (will it ever quit?), admired the pumpkins but didn’t harvest anything, and then began trellising the tomatoes. I finished trellising the two better boys on row 10 by twilight.

October 28, 2010

Our first taste of hail in the wee hours of the morning. Master Gardener today was all about plant propagation. Just terrific. I returned to the farm this afternoon after EfM to find the pumpkins are doing great, changing color and getting big here as we approach Halloween.

The bad news is that the monofilament line of the deer fence has broken on the west side. One of my tasks tomorrow will be to insert an additional segment of line and re-tighten the line. I also need to empty the humanure buckets. And I have a full day of sessions. Friday’s shaping up as a busy day.

October 27, 2010

A most eventful day. We got a call from one of Amanda’s friends in Birmingham at 7:30 this morning asking if she was okay. Someone had hacked into her e-mail account and sent an appeal to all her friends telling them that she was stuck in London and needed them to wire her some money (using a false e-mail address, of course) so Amanda could get home. Fortunately, we don’t believe anyone fell for it, but the day has been occupied fully for Amanda by responding to all the calls and messages of concern from her friends. I had hearings in Wetumpka during the morning and have been helping Amanda with her hacking recovery most of the afternoon. Not much farm work for either of us.

October 26, 2010

Spent the better part of the day cleaning up the lake house from the various folks who had stayed there with us, punctuated by some good visiting time and a chance to enjoy the lake as well. Spent $170 at Piggly-Wiggly (store liquidating before closing) today; we just couldn’t resist all those 30% and 40% off offers.

Came back and spent most of the afternoon doing paperwork while Amanda got the storage squared away.

Tornado watch most of the afternoon and evening.

October 25, 2010

Our last day with Adrian. We just hung out and visited, with a long walk over on the west side of the property. Lots of pictures of Adrian at Hickory Seat, her favorite perch. We looked at a couple of possible house sites over on the west side, but mostly we just enjoyed the balmy weather. Night time after we dropped her off at the airport was sad, but also a peaceful time for us to begin returning to our routine.

October 24, 2010

Amanda hosted a baby shower for our cousin Mollie here in the barn this afternoon. Because our quarters are so small, it was an “all hands on deck” kind of experience, with everybody in the family, including Adrian, home from California, having several assigned tasks. It seems to have worked beautifully. The southern ladies who comprise our family would have pretended to have a good time even if they had been aghast at our primitive living conditions, but we think their joy and comfort was genuine. Even though dress was casual – the main gathering was on the back screen porch with October’s afternoon sun pouring in – Amanda got to break out her china and silver. And perhaps the most fun part was that we sent so many of our cousins home with treasures from Veg Hill.

Now we clean up, putting vehicles, tables, chairs, and people back where they belong, and then we rest. This is the sabbath after all. Yes, we rest.

October 21, 2010

lima-beansAmanda published on Facebook a great little pic of a pot of her lima beans. These are Violet’s multicolored lima beans. So fun!

October 20, 2010

A real milestone today, when we recorded and published our first anniversary podcast, #53. We were fortunate to have Adrian with us, so she joined in to help us think through what has remained the same and what has changed over the course of this first year. The podcast ran a little long, but we don’t mind.

October 17, 2010

When we returned to the farm after lunch with Mama, I watered the humanure compost pile. My rough calculation based on the flow rate of the hose and  the time I had it on is that I added a little more than 100 gallons of water before I began to see the water trickling out of the bottom. That tells me two things: (1) the pile was really dry, and (2) humanure compost can retain a startling amount of water.

I then paced off the orchard expansion to begin calculating how many trees we can add. I’m guessing that we can add six additional lines averaging 120 feet per line. Our present plan is to space trellised dwarf peaches, pears, and persimmons at 9 foot intervals, to space trellised blackberries and untrellised blueberries at 6 foot intervals, and to space figs and muscadines at 20 foot intervals.

October 16, 2010

Killed the entire day with a trip to Tuscaloosa to watch the Alabama – Ole Miss game. On the way up, Amanda and I began drawing up our “hit list” of trees for the orchard expansion.

October 15, 2010

Fixed one little rough spot in the deer fence this morning, but I have no indication that this is the way our critter is getting in. No sign of any disturbance last night on the wildlife camera, which I had trained on row 7-8.

We were scheduled to work the fire ant booth at the Fair today, so we decided to stop by GroSouth (Montgomery Seed & Supply, near the Garret Coliseum) to pick up some stretch ties and some onion sets. They had the stretch ties but no onion sets. What they did have was some terrible news, that GroSouth is closing the store. Bummer.

Working the fire ant booth was fun. Lots of visitors even though the coliseum floor was pretty dead most of the time we were working. Amanda did a great job roping people in, and we had such fun telling the little kids (especially the boys) about how phorid flies behead fire ants.

Tonight we explored the exhibits and made sure we rode the Scrambler. Ran into several of the people with whom we had visited about fire ants. It was fun to recognize them out on the midway and see how fun it was for them to recognize us.

October 14, 2010

Today was both our birthdays. Fun day. We started it with a trip to Petals from the Past, where the owner, Jason Powell, gave a great lecture on fall planting. Petals gives you an antique rose if you go there on your birthday, so both of us came away with an antique rose.

We had to leave Petals early to make it back to town for EfM, so we missed the tour. EfM was great today as usual. Wonderful group.

The bad news came when we returned to the farm. We have a critter INSIDE the Veg Hill fence. Stirred up the hay on several aisles, but it was dark when we were out there, so we can’t tell whether there’s been any crop damage. We’ve set up the wildlife camera at the head of Veg Hill, in hopes of seeing what it is that’s causing all this havoc.

October 13, 2010

Today was one of the most hectic days we’ve had at the farm in quite some time. We hosted Joe, Michelle and Smith, as well as Mama, Amanda’s cousin Jayne, and her husband Mike. And toward the end of the day Michelle’s mother Nancy stopped by to pick them up so we had a nice visit with her too. It was so much fun to have everybody here, but I think Amanda and I both will sleep well tonight.

At about 5:45 pm, after everybody had left, we recorded, edited, and published the podcast. Whew!

October 12, 2010

Entertained Joe, Michelle, and Smith at the farm this morning. Smith picked lima beans and then ate them for supper tonight. Amanda and I take that for granted now, but it’s a first-ever experience for our grandson.

October 11, 2010

Returned after a couple of days away to find lots of produce ready to harvest. The winter squash are simply gorgeous. The sunn hemp is blooming again, so I need to cut it.

October 8, 2010

This morning I walked around the core campus, marking every fruit tree by GPS location, as well as the boundaries of Veg Hill. Don’t know why I hadn’t done that months ago, but I hadn’t. I can now say with confidence that Veg Hill is almost exactly 1/4 acre. I can also say that there’s enough room in the orchard expansion for all the trees we’re talking about adding but not a lot more room, and I now know the difference in altitude between the upper tank and the lodge site (about 30 feet), between the upper tank and the lodge site (about 55 feet) and between the upper tank and the lower tank (about 75 feet). That will be important to know when we begin sizing the pumps and the electrical cable that will be needed. I think I’m ready now to begin articulating our “resilient energy/water flow” system.

Late in the morning I picked four 20′ lengths of 1/2″ PVC pipe from Tallassee True Value to extend the row cover to protect Amanda’s lettuce. Once again, they had neglected to cut the 3/8″ rebar for me, so I told George I would come back next week to pick it up.

October 7, 2010

Our speakers in the Master Gardener class today were Mallory Kelley, who talked about composting, and Dr. Charles Ray, who talked about insects. Mallory did well, although we are much more relaxed about what we compost than she would like. (We are comfortable composting meat scraps, meat, fats, etc.).

Dr. Ray is obviously knowledgeable about insects. Amanda thought his presentation was useful, but I was disappointed and frustrated. I had hoped to hear more of a big picture strategy, but what we got instead was a disjointed spray of data (“Now let’s talk about the borers; some are generalists, and some are specific”) that left me feeling increasingly hopeless as the morning wore on. Makes me want to design a decision tree for plant damage and then make it available online. Maybe Jan Garrett can help.

Returned to the farm in the afternoon after EfM and made a quick trip to Veg Hill. Picked another hornworm off the tomatoes, but I was also able to harvest another zucchini, and the winter squash and pumpkins are as happy as they can be. We’re beginning to see some insect damage now even under the row cover. It’s not devastating yet, just a hole here and there.

October 6, 2010

Worked at Epiphany in the morning but didn’t see Maurice at all, because he had already put in his time on Monday. Used the push mower to hit the area in and around the front ditch, then used the zero-turn to mow around the little house. Installed metal rings on the Epiphany sign to use in hanging the Beans & Rice sign. Then used the string trimmer on all the walkways.

We played host this afternoon to Mama and her friends Grace and Anna. Mama brought lunch, and Amanda provided a birthday cake from Publix to celebrate Grace’s and Anna’s birthdays. Just a delightful visit. It was only after they left at about 4:30 that we turned our attention to recording and editing the podcast, so I was working on the podcast right up until it was time to return to the church for First Wednesday. Didn’t actually get the feed document completed until after I returned Wednesday night. That’s dangerous, because my brain starts shutting down about 8:00 pm!

October 5, 2010

Returned from a brief absence to find a zucchini looking embarrassingly like a grossly oversized dildo. Gotta keep Amanda away from that boy. Killed a hornworm that was feasting on one of Amanda’s lone Cherokee purple tomatoes. She and I are both heartsick about that. Later she brought in a basket full of goodies. Squash, and more squash. Watermelons. Cantaloupe. One of our tiny pumpkins is turning orange. So fun!

October 3, 2010

Church this morning (we were ushers), then fellowship at the Little House, and then we drove to Petals from the Past for Arlee Powell’s talk on persimmons and kiwis. Arlee does a great job, and the more we learn, the more we are able to capture tidbits he drops in that would have sailed right over our heads earlier. For example, he talked today about how he grafts oriental persimmons on native persimmon root stock to improve their hardiness. We’re even beginning (gasp!) to contemplate a day when we might try doing some grafting ourselves.

Neither of us has paid much attention to persimmons in the past – always thought they were kind of boring. Yesterday’s talk (and the subsequent walk through the orchard with Arlee narrating) has changed that. We’ve now added a couple of fuyu persimmons and a couple of wase fuyu persimmons (slightly earlier to flower and bear) to the list of the plants we want to include in the orchard expansion. Arlee recommends strongly that we trellis them for protection against fruit loss in high winds, and we will do that.

Here’s how the orchard expansion is shaping up: almost no apples (they require a cover spray into July, and we would like to avoid that), 4-6 persimmons, 2-4 hard pears, 2-4 oriental pears, 2 pomegranates, 2 more plums, 4 more peaches, 4 more figs, 10 more blueberries, and 10 more muscadines. As things stand now, the only ones we plan NOT to trellis are the figs, blueberries, and pomegranates. We plan to introduce three kiwis on Veg Hill, but we will wait to do that until Auburn’s golden kiwi (specially bred for growing in Alabama) is released and available. We also plan to grow some citrus, but we assume that will all need to be in containers so we can move it inside on cold nights to protect it from freezing.

We also learned that the three figs we’ve already planted are vulnerable to freezing during their first winter, so we’ve decided to build a little teepee of (what else?) 3/4″ PVC pipe over each one that we can cover with fabric on the nights of hard freezes.

October 2, 2010

We began the morning indoors, dealing with email and correspondence. Then we drove to town for the Blessing of the Animals at Epiphany. I took the Flip camera and shot video of the animals (all dogs). After the Blessing, we looked in on the farmers market, which has really shrunk down now, just three vendors. We talked with two of them for awhile about varieties of okra, about squash bugs, and about guinea fowl.

In the afternoon I edited the Blessing video, and then I gathered the soil for our soil tests. We decided to create five sampling zones:

  1. SW Veg Hill (where we suspect some kind of allelopathic effect from the recent trees for the poor production there).
  2. SE Veg Hill where we have been unable to grow much effectively except muscadines).
  3. North Veg Hill (sort of the undifferentiated remainder of Veg Hill).
  4. Blueberries and azaleas – the strip north of the pole barn and the natural area above it.
  5. Orchard – both in the barn orchard and the east orchard, with a couple of holes in the area in between that we plan to clear for the orchard expansion.

I had envisioned this as a huge task that would take several days of hard digging; I worried needlessly. It turned out to be quite straightforward, if tedious. Working slowly but methodically, I dug 10 or so holes in each zone, took a trowel of soil from each hole and placed it in a 5-gallon bucket, mixed the soil completely, then placed a trowel of the mixture in the soil testing box. I did not try to wash the shovel, the bucket or the trowel between zones. It took me a couple of hours of steady work to produce soil samples for each of the five zones.

The soil testing lab will test one sample for each Master Gardener intern free of charge, and we will pay $7.00 for each of the remaining three samples. Mallory Kelley, our extension agent, will take them all to the lab on her way there next week. So we save the cost of shipping as well. And we should have the results in plenty of time to do any liming needed (here in central Alabama almost everyone needs to lime soil for veg), and let the soil soak it in during the winter.

October 1, 2010

We worked this morning at the Master Gardener Learning Garden in Wetumpka. Turned compost, refreshed beds, weeded, and installed a cold frame. As usual, we came away with several treasures, some we’re eating and some we’re planting.

This afternoon Amanda worked on Veg Hill clearing a spot for and then planting tardiva hydrangeas (one of the treasures) while I did lawyer work. Later, I brought her some topsoil for her hydrangeas, did some quick trellising to shore up the Evertender okra, killed a couple of hornworms, and watered the compost.

September 30, 2010

A full class day. Master Gardener in the morning; EfM in the afternoon. The speaker for Master Gardener was Dr. Charles Mitchell, and the subject was soils. The big Aha! was that the reason our southern soils are so low in organic matter is that they are decomposing 12 months of the year. One solution is to fertilize, but that doesn’t work for us; Amanda and I are more determined than ever to keep something growing on Veg Hill all 12 of those months to keep replenishing the organic matter in the soil (turning the problem into an opportunity).

The only farm work we accomplished was that Amanda did some harvesting late this afternoon, and I finished my comparison of the energy consumption of the two small refrigerators in the shop and the storage room, respectively. What we learned was a surprise. The smaller wine box, billed as able to use “so little power you won’t notice it,” used .47 KWH over a 24 hour period, and the considerably larger half-size refrigerator, complete with tiny freezer, used only .38. Never would have expected that.

September 29, 2010

After recording and publishing the podcast this morning, we drove to town together and went dumpster diving for cardboard. Came back with a treasure trove of those large boxes they throw out at Bonner Medical Equipment. While Amanda arranged them where she wanted to suppress weeds on Veg Hill, I moved the compost pile down closer to Veg Hill where we can reach it easily, and to get it out of the way of the fire pile I am about to build for our Epiphany foyer group. Man, does that compost look great. Smells good, too.

September 28, 2010

Another gorgeous, I mean GORGEOUS day. We started it inside, though, updating the planting database. Long overdue. Then we played together on Veg Hill, admiring the myriad sizes and shapes of the winter squash, and planning for next year. We’ve decided for the time being, for example, that Row 7 will be reserved for ornamentals. Today we talked about whether it might make sense to just maintain an annual rotation system, using the long rows 8, 9, & 10 in one year and the short rows 1-6 the other year. When a side is not used in a given year, we would plant it in sunn hemp so it simply produces organic matter. Not sure yet that we will do this, but it’s beginning to make sense. One drawback of this approach is that the easternmost rows are shaded until late in the morning. What fertility would we be sacrificing by losing so much morning sun?

After our conversation in the garden, Amanda headed for Birmingham and I stayed on the farm to check off items on her honey-do list. Hung out clothes on the line, made some phone calls, finished updating the database based on the new info, etc.

I drove to town at lunch time and had lunch at the Pizza Hut. I grieved over all the food that people left on their tables and that the server was throwing away. I remarked about it, and she said it hurt her too to throw it away but that it was required “by the health department.” I need to call the Elmore County Health Department and see if I can find out exactly what the restriction is. I can’t help but think there would be some kind of exception for compost.

After lunch, I turned the compost pile for what I now believe is the last time. It’s basically done now, deep, black, and luscious. Then I used the hedge trimmer on the mass of vines near the North Knoll and the string trimmer at the front entrance. They both look much nicer now. I also drilled holes in another stump on Veg Hill, and I used the bucket to smooth out some rough spots on the driveway. Then I switched to the pallet forks and moved firewood pallet #6 into position. Yes, it’s getting to be that time again!

September 27, 2010

Monday dawned just gorgeous and felt great. Low humidity, cool, breezy, just about perfect. The first real taste of fall, and we love it. Spent a delightful couple of hours on Veg Hill, spotting produce we hadn’t seen before, restaking tomatoes, and pruning muscadines. Row 6 (fall veg) is still looking great and growing well. This is the most progress we have ever seen from collards at Longleaf Breeze, because usually by the time the leaves get this big some critter has feasted on them.

After a session, I drove to town. Finished the day doing lawyer work and policing up my office. Amanda was smarter, spending the afternoon on Veg Hill planting new fall veg seeds.

September 26, 2010

I did mostly lawyer work this morning before church, and Amanda spent it catching up on her paperwork. Nice visit with our friends at Epiphany, then with Mama over lunch, and then with Amanda’s Uncle Clyde after lunch. He’s a gardener from way back, so we picked his brain about varieties of tomatoes. He said he always did well with Celebrity tomatoes, less well with “the Boys” (Big Boy and Better Boy). We don’t think we’ve tried any Celebrity, so we’ll have to give that a try. ACES recommends three varieties of regular-sized tomatoes: “Amelia VR (TSWV resistant), Celebrity Mountain Supreme (early blight resistant), and Sunpride (sets fruit well under high summer temperatures).”

We got 1.74 inches of rain today. Whoo-hoo!

September 25, 2010

Nice walk with Jonathon throughout most of the west side. So nice to get the Farmer-in-Chief away from Veg Hill every now and then, so I am indebted to company (it takes company to get her head up!).

We spent most of the afternoon watching football games, but Amanda got out and did some harvesting, and I turned the compost pile at halftime of the Alabama game.

September 24, 2010

Bush hogging all morning. Finished the east side, then headed over to the west side and bush hogged everything except the west meandering trail. Great to get that done. Then I cut a hole off the perimeter trail so I could reach the area where the kudzu is growing at the south border. It’s getting pretty bad there, so I need to stay on top of it. I gapped as much as I could. Next time I have some time I’ll go back there and gap some more.

Our friend from New College Jonathon Meeks visited us this afternoon and is spending the night with us. Great visit. As the day waned, we walked around the core campus with Jonathon, showing him what’s happening on Veg Hill, as well as our plans for the lodge and the orchard. Johnathon grew up on a farm in north Alabama, so he had lots of helpful suggestions about the way we could improve things. Some of his suggestions we can implement right away (like a simpler and cheaper way to build trellises). Some we’ll think

September 23, 2010

Class day. No farm work. Nada. First time in a while I can say that.

September 22, 2010

Began this morning watering the grass on the Blueberry Strip as well as the lawn grass. According to my self-imposed Tuesday-Friday schedule, I was supposed to have turned and wet the compost pile yesterday but didn’t. So this morning I did that, and then I removed the box blade and attached the bush hog. Bush hogged the “front” yard, the one between the lodge site and the barn. Then I bush hogged the pond dam and then circled around and crossed down below the dam. ALMOST got stuck, even as dry as it has been. So I probably will wait to cut that again until I have another tractor ready to pull me out if something unpleasant happens.

Then I headed down the perimeter trail and basically cut everything on the east side of the property. Feels good to have that done.

This afternoon Amanda has been busy spreading out on Veg Hill the newspaper and cardboard she and I have picked up it town. We probably need to say something on the podcast about dumpster diving for cardboard.

September 21, 2010

This morning was the meeting of the Central Alabama Master Gardener Association (CAMGA). Our first meeting as interns. A donnybrook, in which the members argued a long time over spending $300 on a computer for Auburn, people talked incessantly while the presider was trying to run things, and some guy in the back kept yelling loudly and boorishly at the assembled gathering. Not a pleasant way to spend the morning.

HOWEVER, the program was from Stan Roark on seed starting, and it was excellent. We learned all the MANY things we’ve been doing wrong in seed starting. So next year we get a fresh start, with starting mix, fresh seed, a warm place for the seed to germinate, and a fluorescent fixture that puts 4 40-watt fluorescent bulbs in CLOSE proximity to the young seedlings. We learned the Inverse Square Law of light distribution, which is that the intensity of light hitting an object declines by the square of the distance. So if object A 1 inch from a light and object B is 4 inches, object B will get 1/16 the light energy that object A gets. So we’re going to rig up a fluorescent fixture that can be mounted within an inch or so of the tender seedlings and then moved away from them as they grow.

I did lawyer work most of the afternoon, but late in the afternoon while Amanda was gone to town (getting LOTS of cardboard, by the way, that we can use on Veg Hill), I staked a couple of tomatoes, pruned the muscadines, and harvested a zucchini. After she returned, Amanda harvested veg while I prepared supper.

September 20, 2010

Today was miserably hot – high of 98 degrees. A little less humid than those horrible days in July and August, but by any standard, a rough day. I focused on physical work in the morning. Emptied the humanure buckets, then mowed the grass, then spread the buckets out to dry. Then I removed the hay and drip tape from the West Bed and removed the weeds in it by hand. Then Amanda and I worked together to spread newspaper on it, and then she covered it with pine straw. It looks much better now, and we hope, we sincerely hope, that the weeds won’t soon return.

I then retreated indoors, made several phone calls, and did some reading. Amanda worked on Veg Hill during the afternoon, bless her heart. and

This afternoon my brother Tom called to tell me there’s a problem with the AC at the lake, so I dropped everything, loaded up the shop vac, and drove to the lake place to check on it. The unit is 15 years old and may have a bad coil. If it does, they may not be able to replace the coil, and we may have to replace the whole unit. Bummer.

September 19, 2010

Thank God for last night’s rain! This was the first chance I had in many weeks to work with the driveway while it was damp. First I put the bucket on Tractor, scooped a bucket-full of clay gravel, and spread it on the bumpiest section of the driveway. Then I used the box blade to smooth the driveway. Then I traded Tractor for Cracker and just drove up and down the driveway to leave it smooth. It looks better and drives more smoothly now.

September 18, 2010

Amanda and I spent the morning at the church, giving away beans & rice. The highest number given away ever was 12; today we did 27. We’re pumped.

This afternoon I’ve mostly vegged doing lawyer work and watching football games. Roll Tide! Amanda and I did have a nice walk together out to think through possibilities for an orchard expansion. We’re tentatively settling on taking down the triangle of trees between the barn orchard and the east orchard, which would have the effect of opening up the two and turning them into one continuous (although not rectangular) growing space. It will be a LOT of work, and because there are so many trees that would need to come down, it probably means we wait another year to make it happen. But we’re thinking that in the long run it makes the most sense.

This afternoon after we walked, Amanda headed out to do more planting on Veg Hill. Bless her heart. Such a worker.

Tonight while we were watching the Auburn game on TV, for no discernible reason, we got a NICE gentle rainstorm. 1/2 inch of rain that fell over about 45 minutes. Thank you, Lord.

September 17, 2010

Put the grill back up on the pallet rack, and then I took some time to rearrange the lumber on the scrap lumber pallet so I could clean up the north side of the barn floor. Felt great to get that area policed up again. Then I brought around 3-4 buckets of hay and enhanced the mulching of the blueberries.

By the time that was finished, Amanda was finished with her indoor work, and we walked down to the area south of Veg Hill and looked at it again. She is very concerned about washing, particularly on the steeper incline areas. I understand her concern. She’s in favor of looking again at the area between the barn orchard and the east orchard. It would be a great place for an orchard, but it would require taking down more nice big hardwoods. It might also require taking down our signature tree, Sad Longleaf. Wonder if Amanda realizes that?

At the end of the day, after we traveled to town together, we shot a little video about bringing down the sunn hemp, and I cut it all down to about thigh high. Then we worked together as the twilight turned to night getting the row cover on Row 6.

September 16, 2010

Good news on the sunn hemp. Mallory Kelley, our extension agent, confirmed today that the sunn hemp is not going to set seed. However, she does recommend that we go ahead and cut it to keep the stalks of manageable size. Actually, we’ve already let it get too big.

September 15, 2010

Amanda left for Montgomery in the middle of the morning to visit with her Mom. That left me to make the trip to town. When I returned, I had the re-bar in hand and set about installing the hoops for Amanda’s row cover on Row 6. I was able to get all the hoops installed; turned out to be a little simpler than I had expected.

While I was working, I noticed that the sunn hemp is beginning to bloom. Scary. The last thing we want is to have that sunn hemp set seed.

September 14, 2010

A simply breathtakingly beautiful day. Lots of sunshine, low humidity, breezy. Just felt great to be outside. I started the day spreading super soil on the south end of row 7 and a little bit of row 6, so Amanda could begin planting some of our perennials there.

As I worked I began to nurture and manage a bodacious brain fart. We have a south-facing hillside to the south of Veg Hill that could be converted to a sun-drenched orchard. Amanda seems excited about the prospect too, and in typical Amanda fashion, is ready to get started immediately. She wants to plant fruit trees this fall, which means we need to start clearing NOW.

Exhausted from pondering this new project in the middle of our busy fall (busy,that is, with both Master Gardener classes and EFM classes), I decided to rest by moving the compost pile. Removed the cage from around the pile, removed the t-post that had been holding the cage in place, and then scooped up the pile is Tractor’s bucket and took it up the hill and dumped it. Then I replaced the cage and spread a layer of hay on the bottom of the compost pile. The new pile is now ready for use, and we started it with watermelon rinds from lunch.

With the new pile ready, I took Tractor up the hill and turned the old pile well, and then added water. Then I added water. Then I added water. You REALLY have to work to get a compost pile too wet. I was using the hose, so I didn’t keep track of how much water I put on the pile, but I just kept pouring it on, and it kept soaking it up.

In the afternoon, Amanda planted perennials on the south end of Row 7. I traveled to town and ordered a banner sign for the Rice and Beans giveaway this Saturday. I’m supposed to pick it up tomorrow. I also picked up the PVC pipe for the row cover on Row 6. The remainder of the afternoon for me was spent on lawyer work.

September 13, 2010

This was our first workday as part of our Master Gardener 50 hours requirement. We helped prepare the learning gardens at the extension center for the fall. This was a great time to help, because there was a small number of folks, and we got lots of one-on-one time with Linda and Dawn, two of the more knowledgeable master gardeners. We also drove away with black-eyed susan seeds, focacea seeds, black & blue salvia cuttings, canna lily cuttings, and two or three varieties of butterfly bush. These were all trimmings from the garden and would have been waste if we hadn’t taken them home. How delightful!

I spent a good part of the afternoon doing lawyer work, while Amanda harvested and weeded.

September 12, 2010

Got on a tear before we went to church for some reason. Picked up the radial arm saw and put it back on the pallet rack, then swapped out the pallet forks for the bucket and used it to take a couple of buckets worth of hay to the east orchard, where I used it to add to the hay circles around the four pear trees. Then I fetched another bucket’s worth of hay and distributed it around several trees in the barn orchard.

Sunday afternoon we drove straight from church up to Petals from the Past for an excellent workshop taught by Dr. Arlee Powell on fruit trees, concentrating this time on pears, apples, muscadines, and kiwis. We made ourselves sick eating delicious fruit! We have a better idea now of how we would like to augment our existing orchards.

September 11, 2010

We started the day slowly today. I worked on the video for pear preserves and a little lawyer work, and Amanda focused on housework. We then drove to Wetumpka for a Master Gardener workshop on fall transition for the garden. Great job all around, except for the presentation on composting, which had entirely too much “you must” and “you must not.” Think I’ll write something about that.

During the afternoon, Amanda worked on her intercultural work and I did lawyer work while we watched football on TV. She got out and did a little work in the garden in the late afternoon, but I stayed inside. Kind of a prissy day, huh?

September 10, 2010

Today was my day to work on the grounds at the church with Maurice. Got started there about 8:00 am and left him still working (but about to finish up) at about 11:30. While I was in town, I stopped off at Tallassee True Value and picked up a 1 x  4 and a stub of 1/2 PVC so I could start working on some jumbo clothespins we hope to use to attach the row cover fabric to 1/2 PVC pipe (which will be anchored on sticks of 3/8″ rebar). Then I stopped in at Wal-Mart and bought the thinnest bicycle tire tube I could find. My hope is to cut up strips of the tube to make big rubber bands to hold the clothespins together.

Totally frustrated trying to make the clothespins this afternoon. 1 x 4 yellow pine is clearly not up to the task. It didn’t just crack or break; it exploded as I tried to cut it to the appropriate size. Then I tried it again, and a second piece exploded. I may try to do this with some hardwood, or we may give up on clothespins altogether and just lay pieces of firewood on either side of the row cover.

September 9, 2010

Another great Master Gardener class today, this time on vegetable gardening. Lots and lots of good information, but the game changer was finding out about row covers for insect control. The Farmer-in-Chief was hot to trot, so we have ordered the fabric and the other supplies needed to attach row covers to 82 feet of row 6. Here we go!

September 8, 2010

The podcast (now moved to Wednesday to accommodate Master Gardener and EFM) took longer than usual today, because I had made a couple of mistakes last week and had to correct them today. The podcast (together with a session) basically ate the morning. In the afternoon, I made a trip to town that took longer than I had planned because I ended up having a long conversation with a couple of people and making a couple of unscheduled stops. But that’s sort of what life is supposed to be about, don’t you think?

In the afternoon, under Amanda’s supervision, I mowed and then used the weedeater to trim the grass on Veg Hill. I was careless and tore the drip tape in THREE places, requiring three couplers. I simply have to get better at this.

September 7, 2010

Another big day. Started by removing the cages from the four pear trees in the East Orchard, mowing around them, and hand pulling the weeds that I couldn’t mow. While I was over there, I mounted a hose reel on a tree near the East Orchard so Amanda can hang her hose on it.

Then I used the hedge trimmer to cut back the vegetation that had grown up (again) on the pond dam. That’s obviously going to be a regular maintenance item.

I sprayed 10% vinegar on the ground around each pear tree and stacked up two big piles of hay for Amanda. She used them after lunch to spread around each of the four pear trees. Then I replaced the cages. Both the East Orchard and the Barn Orchard look MUCH better now. While I was working on the orchards, Amanda was mulching on Veg Hill.

At the end of the day, our attention turned to pear preserves, which turned into a marathon operation. We estimate that we peeled and cut up about 45 pears over the two days, and we have 9 pints and 21 half pints of pear preserves put up now and ready to store.

Our pear preserves are different from what we have had from others. They’re much less sweet, more like eating pears than eating jam. And because they have so little sugar and we cook them so little, they don’t have that pretty amber color that people prize. They look kind of dull. But we have sampled our product already, and we love it.

September 6, 2010

This was a good day. I started the day removing the cages from the 13 trees in the barn orchard and stacking them over to the side out of the way. Then I used the lawn mower to mow around each tree as closely as possible, as well as a couple of other spots in the barn orchard that I hadn’t been able to get to with the bush hog. Amanda finished each tree by hand, pulling whatever weeds I had not reached with the lawn mower. Then I sprayed around each tree with 10% vinegar. While I was doing that, Amanda was busy on Veg Hill, working to get as many plants in the ground as possible.

Before lunch, I used Tractor to build two good-sized piles of hay in the middle of the barn orchard. While I napped after lunch, Amanda spread a generous layer of hay around each tree. Then I re-attached the cages late in the afternoon.

We weren’t through yet. Beginning about 5:00, I peeled and cut up pears for preserves while the canning water was heating on the propane burner. We used no sugar pectin and added about 1/2 cup of sugar for about 6 cu of pears. We had a lot of false starts but finished by about 7:30 pm.

September 5, 2010

Another gorgeous day, but becoming a little warmer. Went to church, then to see Mama in Montgomery and do some shopping. When we returned to the farm, Amanda started planting and watering, and I installed the two medicine cabinets we had purchased, a small one over the sink in the shop for me and a slightly longer one over the sink in the storage room for Amanda.

September 4, 2010

A simply glorious day, with clear blue sky that takes your breath away, a gentle breeze, and much cooler temperatures. It felt great to be outside. After a quick trip to the farmers market, we returned to the farm. I dug a couple of deep holes for Amanda to plant Better Boy tomatoes, and then I busied myself with remedial work on the driveway while she planted and mulched.

September 3, 2010

It was a dry, hot day, just right for applying sealer to the deck, so I used it to put a second coat of sealer on the floor of the deck and to seal the outside as well. It was nearly 2:00 pm when I finished, so I stayed inside most of the rest of the day and worked on lawyer stuff. Amanda was a mulching fool, covering nearly all of row 6 with our Longleaf Breeze mulch. Her fall veg looked much happier when she finished.

September 2, 2010

Had our first Master Gardener class today, and it was as doozy. Kerry Smith, the state coordinator for Master Gardener and a botanist, taught us all about plant physiology and taxonomy. Excellent lecture. If the other classes are at this level, we will be delighted.

After class, returned to the farm and recorded the podcast, and I edited and published while Amanda drove to Montgomery in search of newsprint at the Montgomery Advertiser. She came back empty-handed, though, because she was unable to find anybody who knew what was going on.

September 1, 2010

Had to wear a long-sleeve shirt when I got up this morning because it was honestly cool! Started the day using the string trimmer to cut back the grass around the pedestals of the deck, in preparation for sealing it later today. Then I spread super soil on the portion of Row 6 where we had hoped Amanda’s broccoli and cabbage seed would germinate. She’s given up on it now, so I was permitted to put some topsoil on it to open it up for her to plant some of her treasures she bought Saturday from GrowSouth.

This afternoon for me was all about applying the sealer to the deck. I don’t know what the right way is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the way I did it, using a pump sprayer. In retrospect, I think it would have been easier to roll it on. I think I may try that with the second coat.

For Amanda, this afternoon was all about getting her veg planted. Row 6 is pretty impressive-looking now. Hope it kicks in!

We finished the day with dinner with our friends Keith and Susan Powers in Wetumpka. Then back here to the farm to sit on the back porch together in the dark and dream together about our future. A most pleasant day.

August 31, 2010

Early this morning, with Amanda gone, I conducted an experiment, looking at three different ways to boil a pint of water. I used the induction cooktop and dutch oven, the electric kettle, and the microwave. To boil a pint of water, the kettle wins hands down. However, for what I actually do on a daily basis, the microwave continues to be the choice, because (a) I can heat exactly the quantity of water I need (hard to heat that small an amount in the kettle); (b) I can heat it in the actual cup I will use for drinking it; and (c) I can heat it only to the temperature I need, which is well short of 100 degrees K.

This turned out to be my day to accomplish lots of little tasks: (a) put up extra hooks to support the “emergency” clothesline on the south side of the barn; (b) put up a big hook on the south side of the barn for the chain that had been lying on the ground; (c) sprayed compost tea on all the rows of Veg Hill under cultivation; (d) spread compost at the base of the four muscadine plants and re-trellised a couple of them; (e) walked the lines of sunn hemp plants to cut away the vines that climb on them and the “look-alike” weeds that grow up among them; (f) mowed the lawn; (g) bush-hogged the southeast corner of the barn; (h) cut down four tomato plants that have quit and pruned and re-trellised a couple of others and (i) emptied the humanure buckets and spread them and their lids out to dry.

Amanda arrived a little after five, and after unloading the car, she headed straight out to Veg Hill.

August 30, 2010

Amanda left at mid-day to travel to Birmingham for an IDI session. Before she left, though, she harvested okra, peas, and watermelon. I cooked some of the okra in the afternoon in the Sun Oven, even though it was more cloudy than sunny.

In the afternoon after my session, I hit the grove to the west of the utility pad, encircled by the Kids’ Trail. You can stand on the front porch of the barn now and look up through the grove to see the other end of the Kids’ Trail, where it emerges to head up to the lodge site. And we have more branches and vines for our chipper!

August 29, 2010

It rained almost all night but showed virtually no rain on the gauge this morning. When the sun came up I figured out why. The sunn hemp (now about 9 ft tall) is weighed down with the rain and draped over the weather observation station. No matter how proud I am of its growth, I need to clip it back so we can get good rain totals.

A rare Sunday morning session for me, so I didn’t get any farm work done this morning before we left for church. By the time we returned from a long visit with Mama in Montgomery, it was 6:00 pm. The only thing I tried to do was to cut the sunn hemp. I decided to cut all of Row 5 back to avoid shading Amanda’s fall garden on Row 6. The sunn hemp is still growing, but I’ve cut it back to waist high or so.

August 28, 2010

Rare day for us to miss the farmers market in Tallassee, but we decided to head down to Dave Gray’s and Lynda’s farm early to help pick pears (and of course get some pears of our own. We left with three big shopping bags full of pears (about two bushels), a basket of peaches, and several handfuls of delicious golden muscadines.

Then we came back through Montgomery and stopped at GrowSouth near the fairgrounds, where the Farmer-in-Chief bought three kinds of cabbage, two kinds of broccoli, brussel sprouts, romaine lettuce, collards, kale, and seed for kohlrabi and white radish. She has her work cut out for her!

This afternoon I spread hay in a thick layer on the Kids’ Trail between the lodge site and the barn. It’s pleasant to walk on it now.

August 27, 2010

Yesterday and today was a quick trip to Birmingham. We have been spending more time away from the suburbs, so the suburbs seem less and less “normal.” I was simply unprepared, for example, for how huge the houses are in Vestavia Hills. Massive hulks on tiny lots. Weird.

From the time we returned to the farm until 6:00, I was in session straight through. I like making money!

August 26, 2010

Started the day recording and publishing the podcast. Then we made a quick trip to look at a tractor. It’s not as big and not nearly as powerful as Tractor, but it’s 4-wheel drive and should function as a good second tractor when we need one.

August 25, 2010

Ruffin and Cathy came to see us today. Before they came I swapped out the box blade for the bush hog and used it to cut the barn orchard and the east orchard. We had a nice visit with them, although it started badly when they had trouble getting up the driveway (fresh #4 stone is a real pain).

After they left I made a quick trip to town to check the mail while Amanda worked indoors and put a load of clothes on to wash, then I hung them out to dry.

In the afternoon Amanda planted her cabbage seedlings in some super soil I fetched for her. I bush hogged the north trail, then I picked up the last of the “big sticks” we had been using for firewood and piled them onto the fire pile. We’re going to have one fun fire when we torch that puppy; it’s getting bigger and bigger. With the big sticks out of the way, I blazed a short little trail through the woods from the lodge site to the back door of the barn. First I cut the bigger saplings and one real tree (a leaning water oak) with the chain saw. Then I followed up with the bush hog. Our hope is that this will function as a nice pleasant  way to travel from the lodge down to the barn. On the theory that we want our grandchildren to be able to use it to come see Grandmere and Buddy, we think we’ll call it the “Kids’ Trail.”

August 24, 2010

Today was the orientation session for the Master Gardener program. Looks like a good group – about 25 folks, and we’re looking forward to getting to know them better. We were also glad to have a chance to get to know Mallory Kelley, our extension agent. She has a chicken tractor – how cool is that?

When we got back to the farm, both Amanda and I spent most of the afternoon on indoor work, although I mowed the lawn and used the trimmer on Veg Hill, and she did some light harvesting.

August 23, 2010

A good day. This morning, after putting up the grill we used to cook the chicken, I grabbed a little clay gravel and filled in the rut that had developed on the rain bar beside the lodge site. Then I spent some time reorganizing the pegboard to make room for a few more tools. Then a quick trip to town to pick up the mail and get a couple of retention pins for the safety cletis hooks we’ve had hanging on the pegboard for several months. It took me a while to figure out how to cut them off, but I finally realized I could cut them with the bolt cutters. Duh! Once assembled, the hooks are now at either end of a very short chain we can use for quick lifts.

This afternoon I spread super soil on most of Row 6 (other than along the stretch Amanda had just planted). She will now spread it out as she plants the remainder of Row 6. I attached the pallet forks and picked up a pallet to collect the concrete blocks I had placed at the south edge of the grass plot. They’ve done their job now, and it was time to pick them up. They’re now up on the pallet rack. Soon after that, Joe Jeffcoat’s man brought me two more bales of hay, and they’re now safely deposited near the entrance to Veg Hill, along with the remnant of the last bale. I was glad I had moved the concrete blocks, because they would really have been in the way of where he had to back the trailer.

Finished the day reattaching the fence lateral that had come loose at the main gate.

Amanda discovered some sweet potatoes protruding from the soil this afternoon. We may be harvesting them soon!

August 22, 2010

During the morning before we left for church, I basically stayed quiet, reading the second of two books on composting that we had borrowed from the Tallassee Community Library. After church and a long visit with Mama (computer problems, resolved, I’m happy to say), we had just a little afternoon left. Amanda used it to pick purple hull peas and okra, and I used it to pull the grill down and cook chicken thighs. Once again, the grease caught fire. I guess I’ll need to keep the temp even lower when I’m cooking so much chicken at one time.

August 21, 2010

Started the day with a trip to the farmer’s market, where we bought a box of roma tomatoes to put up. Amanda’s put them out to ripen a bit more before we freeze them.

Amanda focused today on weeding and mulching on Veg Hill. We noticed that wherever we had spread hay grass was coming up, so we decided to use the hay to spread its seed. I filled in the ruts forming on the Blueberry Strip with the super soil from Froggy Bottom, and then I spread hay on top of that and gave it a good watering.

Amanda decided to finish the day by harvesting the remaining edamame, because something is systematically eating all its leaves.

August 20, 2010

After a quick trip to town, the installation of the muscadine trellis retrofit worked well. First I detached the muscadines from the trellis. I had to cut four tiny tendrils gripping the trellis, but I don’t feel too badly about that; it would have been much worse had I waited longer.

Then I detached the trellis from the hooks and pulleys I had been using, drilled new holes in the north and south standards, and threaded one continuous line from north to south on both sides of the standard. I hooked the line to the dead man chain using a quick link and a turnbuckle on each side. Now we can adjust the tension of each side of the trellis at both the north and the south end.

With the trellis in place, I reattached the muscadines to the trellis and tied them to train them to grow where I want them to go.

The afternoon was rainy. Not a lot of outdoor work.

August 19, 2010

Morning was consumed with a session and then the podcast. I planned the day poorly, so I had a session scheduled for 3:30 pm. Blew a hole right in the middle of the most productive part of the day. I’ve learned my lesson on that.

After the session in the afternoon, though, I got out quickly and was able to install a dead man (a 4″ solid concrete block buried 12″ under the ground, with a chain attached to it) at each end of the muscadine trellis. My hope is that we can focus tomorrow on removing the muscadine tendrils that have wrapped themselves around the trellis and retrofit the trellis cable to the dead men. Before doing that, though, I need to travel to town to pick up one extra quick link for the chain.

Amanda spent most of the day laying out cardboard on the aisles and covering it with hay. She’s a weed-killing fool these days.

August 18, 2010

A morning session, then I cleaned the mildew off the insulating seals of the refrigerator and the deep freeze. Then I bush hogged the field between the lodge site and the barn so I could take the bush hog off and put the box blade on. With the box blade on, I spread #4 stone on the uphill run of the driveway. It’s really treacherous right now, but I hope the stone will dig in and help the traction over time.

While I was working, Froggy Bottom brought a 10-yard load of their super soil, which we will use as compost on the existing soil. It really looks like good stuff, but expensive. 10 yards cost me $300 delivered.

After a trip to town, I filed two cases.

The Vantage Pro2 weather station has developed a problem, namely that it recorded wildly excessive amounts of rainfall on Sunday through today. I spent some time with WeatherShack, the people who sold it to us, and then some time with Davis, the people who manufactured it. Larry at Davis has a theory that I am receiving data from somebody else’s weather station and that it’s causing the erratic numbers. Following his instructions, I have changed both the observation station and the console to work with station #2 instead of #1. Let’s see if this fixes the problem.

August 17, 2010

A morning session, then a trip to town to pick up hog wire. Amanda left for Montgomery late morning to be with her Mom through cataract surgery. This afternoon I set up a trellis for the blackberries on row 13. Picked some purple hull peas and fixed them for supper.

August 16, 2010

Started the day with a session, then used the string trimmer around the barn. Put away the bag of snorkeling gear that has been sitting under the pallet rack and hung up the bag it was in so it’s out of the way.

Put a cage around the northernmost pear tree to replace the one I chewed up during the trenching, then I used the remainder of the hog wire to trellis the lima beans on 7A and the purple hull peas on row 8C.

After lunch, I mowed the grass and used the trimmer on Veg Hill while Amanda laboriously untangled the lima beans and purple hull peas and introduced them to their new trellis. Bless her heart.

August 15, 2010

Again, spent most of the available day (before and after church and traveling to Montgomery for a leisurely visit with Mama) on the organization of the shop. The shop is cleaner, spiffier, and more functional now than it has been since we moved here, and I think we can say the same for the storage room. Both Amanda and I both have additional storage space available when we need it, which is good to know.

Amanda continues to struggle with squash vine borers. She looks for the reddish wound on the stem and carefully slices the stem there to find the borer and kill it. Then she covers the wound with dirt to help it form new roots and have a chance of survival.

In general, last year we focused on one pest, the deer, that ate nearly everything we planted. This year, with the deer fenced out, we’ve found the damage from other pests to be just as troublesome and heartbreaking. We have much to learn.

August 14, 2010

It was raining off and on all day, beginning with an almost historic 5-inch rainstorm in the morning. This is doubly interesting when you consider that the cumulative total for Tallassee itself was only .9 inches. That’s quite a variation!

We spent most of the day working indoors, although Amanda managed to get out and check on her freshly planted broccoli and kill some squash bugs.

I spent most of the day putting utility shelves together and mounting them on rolling platforms. They’re all finished now! I spent the remainder of the day cleaning up and putting away in the shop. A little more work tomorrow, and I should be able to declare the shop ready for business.

August 13, 2010

Big day. Four sessions. It would have been five, but the last one stood me up. After the sessions were over about 3:00, I first pruned the muscadines. Then I started working on rolling shelves again. Got three shelving units mounted to platforms; now all that remains is for Amanda to help me put the top part on, and then I can finish them up. I also cleaned off the lone shelving unit not already attached to a rolling platform and got it mounted, so it’s rolling now too. Finished the day cleaning off the bookcase in the shop and transferring many of the books on it to one of the rolling shelves. The bookcase is now ready to move into the apartment.

While I was doing that, Amanda was planting teeny tiny seeds of broccoli on Row 6. She hates tiny seeds.

August 12, 2010

Primarily an indoor work day for me.

August 11, 2010

The sunn hemp continues to grow, and we’re just letting it go. At its tallest it’s now more than seven feet tall, although there’s a big section on the south end where it’s still less than four feet tall.

August 10, 2010

The shop is really shaping up now. There’s more open space where we can stage projects, and there’s a greater sense that things are “put away.” Next project is to finish building those remaining shelving units, and then on to my AFLC desk.

On Veg Hill, Amanda spent another morning killing squash bugs. We’re seriously talking now about skipping a year with squash and pumpkins, or growing none of them on Veg Hill. We’re also exploring varieties of squash and pumpkins that have high resistance to squash bugs.

August 9, 2010

The sprayer we’re using for the mushroom logs blocked up again, with a grain of sand lodged in the nozzle. I pushed it out from below with the business end of a safety pin, as I had before, and it’s working fine again. I’m probably going to have to keep an eye on that sprayer constantly.

Spent the morning continuing to arrange the shop and clear things out before my doctor’s appointment at 10:30. After doctor, I bought three sheets of plywood at Tallassee True Value, visited the PO, and came home.

In the afternoon I cut the platforms for the shelving units, but I didn’t end up building the shelves because I decided to build a platform for the pressure washer. So now all the sawing is done and the sawdust is cleaned up. Next chance we have to work, I’ll try to get the shelves built.

August 8, 2010

We’ve agreed on what we think is an elegant, simple solution to the issue of who decides where the shelves in the shop and storage room should live. Amanda owns the storage room and I own the shop. That means all the crap I care about lives in the shop, and all the crap Amanda cares about lives in the storage room. She decides where to put it and how to arrange it, and vice versa.

The morning before church and the late afternoon after lunch with Mama and shopping in Montgomery were for me all about cleaning off shelves and rearranging stuff in the storage room and the shop. Throwing away some, mostly storing it in a more coherent manner so it’s easier to find what I need.

The washing machine flashed error messages in the middle of its cycle this afternoon. We finally got it to work okay by unplugging it for a while and emptying it. Hope this was a one-time thing.

August 7, 2010

First morning without a heat advisory in more than a week. Yea! It did feel slightly cooler this morning, a most welcome development. After visiting the Farmers’ Market, PO, and Joyce’s stand in Tallassee, Amanda set about making war on squash vine borers, and I did a little pruning of the muscadines and then began cutting the platforms for our storage shelves. I finished the morning cutting the little blocks that fit between each platform and the bottom shelf (4 for each shelf).

The afternoon was all about assembling shelves. We built five sets of shelves today and bolted them to the rolling platforms. We have three remaining sets ready to assemble plus a fourth that is built but not yet on a platform, and we have one platform that’s ready to use for a shelving unit. So I need three new platforms, which means I need to buy three sheets of plywood. I think I’ll go with 1/2″ this time to cut down on the warping of the platforms.

I have plenty of bolts, but I will need 16 more 1/4″ zinc washers, four fer each of the four shelving units.

In between rounds of helping me with the shelves, Amanda spent most of her time freshening up her azaleas. We had used that Rodney Griffith topsoil, which is just awful. She painstakingly replaced as much of it as she could (subject to the limitation of changing the soil of a living plant) with good soil. She says she can already see that the azaleas are happier. Hope she’s right.

August 6, 2010

Started the day by mowing and trimming the yard to clear out a space to work around the microclimate bed. Used the saws-all to cut a corner off the deck joist so I could poke the irrigation header hose in, then I crawled under the deck and connected the new hose with the one I had routed earlier from the blueberries. Success! Amanda wants to wait until the fall to hook on the drip tape, which makes sense to me too. (Right now the microclimate bed is an intimidating riot of lantana, knockout roses, and cosmos.)

We pulled the plastic off row 6 and spread it out to dry on the deck. There was significant signs of dead vegetation, so I guess we got what we wanted.Amanda and I then spread out all the cardboard boxes so could lay them out on Veg Hill this afternoon.

After lunch and a trip to town, I hit Veg Hill with the string trimmer, and Amanda and I spread out the cardboard, spread out the plastic in a different place, and spread two strips of geotextile fabric in the aisle between rows 6 & 7. Then we spread hay on all the cardboard and wet the whole area down to keep it in place. The geotextile promptly blew off in the storm; we’ll reset it tomorrow and weigh it down with some firewood.

August 5, 2010

Began the day by recording, editing, and publishing the weekly podcast. Then I fixed the leak that had appeared in the 1″ header hose that I had trenched by the West Bed. Then I used the string trimmer to cut down the grass that had grown wild and forbidding around the transformer and standby generator. I hope I’m learning to manage implements more efficiently.  I knew I wanted to use the bush hog, but before I removed the box blade that was already on Tractor, I used it to smooth out the driveway entrance inside the main gate. Then I attached the bush hog and used it to do a quick cutting of the orchards and the hillside between the lodge site and the barn. Just before lunch I swapped out the bucket for the pallet forks and pulled the grill down so it would be ready to use to grill the chicken Amanda had bought at Costco.

Early afternoon was time for lawyer work. Then I made a quick trip to town. When I got back I had more paperwork, and then I spent some time on Veg Hill. The tomatoes are looking worse and worse, but the sunn hemp is looking better and better. We still can’t get the temp up under that sheet of plastic on row 6, so I think we’re going to need to give up and just use cardboard. Probably healthier anyway, because it will allow all the critters to survive.

August 4, 2010

Productive morning today. Amanda was in Montgomery caring for her Mom. I emptied the humanure buckets. I timed it from start to finish, and it takes about 50 minutes to empty six buckets. While I was doing that I was washing a load of dark clothes, so as soon as I had washed up from the humanure buckets, I hung the clothes on the line. Then I set about getting the drip irrigation extension on the West Bed. First I removed the soaker hose, pulled up the existing mulch, and weeded. Then I installed a “T” on the 1″ header hose to get header to the West Bed. Then I installed three short runs of drip tape that will combine to give us good coverage on the West Bed. Then I put the old mulch back in place and put some new hay on top of that. You can hardly see the drip tape now. Then I washed up again (lots of washing this morning!) and removed the clothes from the line.

Amanda arrived in the afternoon and picked a little veg for our supper with the Tom Bordens at the lake.

We’ve had a nice little afternoon shower for two days in a row, .19″ yesterday and .21″ today. One of the effects, though, was to keep the temp down under the plastic on 6C. We may never get the weeds killed!

August 3, 2010

Even by noon, the soil temperature at a depth of 1″ has not risen much above 100 degrees F, so I’m now doubting whether we’ll be able to generate the kind of heat necessary to kill weeds (130 degrees F for one hour) with the plastic we’re using.

Made progress on the trench for the drip irrigation extension this morning while I could work in the shade. I’ll probably continue when the sun goes down or tomorrow morning when it’s in the shade again.

Scott Ruppert came and tilted both air conditioners outward. Now we feel comfortable running either or both air conditioners whenever we want and for as long as we want.

Left clothes on the line into the afternoon and realized I had made a mistake when I heard the rainstorm arrived during a session. Had to sit there and talk calmly about divorce knowing the clothes were getting drenched. Bummer. Collected them as quickly as I could when the call was over, and then put them back on the line after the rain had passed. Now they’re safely dried, folded, and put away. And I have learned my lesson.

Amanda left late in the morning to be with Mama during her cataract surgery. She will return to the farm tomorrow.

August 2, 2010

Spent most of the morning on lawyer work, although I did get a chance to do some planning on our next drip irrigation project, an extension of the blueberry line over to the West Bed and the Microclimate Bed. Only when I did that planning did I realize that I don’t have enough 1″ header hose to complete the run. So I called Robin Robbins at Irrigation Mart, and he’s going to send me a little more.

This afternoon, after running to town to pick up Cracker, check the mail, and pick up some produce from Joyce Durham, we spread the plastic on the south end of Row 6 and the aisle on either side of it. As we were spreading the plastic, we heard the rumbling and bumbling of an approaching thunderstorm. The storm never arrived, but it stayed cloudy and cooler the rest of the day. Amanda spent the rest of the afternoon weeding and picking off squash bugs, and I spent it trenching for the drip extension.

August 1, 2010

Returned to the farm after a brief absence to find the sunn hemp has burst through the “up to six feet tall” barrier and appears to be continuing to grow. Glad to see it. The okra is happy and prolific, we had a couple of good-sized squash, and we picked lots of blackeyed peas. Squash bugs continue to be a problem, and the hornworms must be having their way with the tomatoes. We’re losing foliage on one or so plants each day. So frustrating.

Lots and lots of melons, although many are cracking, we assume from the extreme heat. The muscadine vines are still alive but growing slowly. The corn is alive but not bearing much. The first stand of edamame, having produced beans, has apparently decided it’s had all the fun it can stand and will now die.

It’s hot, brutally hot. When I went outside about 9:30 pm to pee, it was still warm outside. The heat advisory was set to expire tonight, then extended to Monday night, and most recently extended to Tuesday night. Will it become a little less punishing? We certainly hope so.

July 28, 2010

Ken Craig from Professional Chimney Services came this morning for his inspection of the wood stove and chimney. Great report. I summarized what he found as an update to the post on how we got through the winter.

We welcomed our daughter-in-law Michelle and her Mom Nancy to the farm today, so most of the morning was consumed in getting the place ready for them. Sweeping, general cleanup, watering, and dusting.

July 27, 2010

It felt a tad cooler today. Maybe just my imagination? I first used the weedeater and then the lawn mower to cut the grass, not only south and west of the barn but also on Blueberry Strip north of the barn. While the pallet forks were on Tractor, I pulled down the scrap wood pallet and cut some more plywood squares for Amanda’s melons. Then I swapped out the forks for the bucket and used the rest of the day to smooth out the driveway. I pulled most of the clay gravel from the East Ramp and a little from the pile on the lodge site. At the end of the day I staked a couple more tomatoes and harvested okra and peas for supper.

July 26, 2010

Today was more about lawyer work than anything else. Amanda headed for Birmingham, so I washed a load of clothes and dried it on the line between sessions. At the end of the day I walked down to Veg Hill and checked the muscadines. That was about it for farm work.

July 25, 2010

This morning we cut the sunn hemp on row 6 in preparation for Amanda’s fall garden planting; Amanda shot some video as I used the hedge trimmer. Both of us are curious now to see the extent to which the sunn hemp grows back.

We had a little excitement at church; I ended up serving as the reader on short notice, even though neither of us had ever done it before. I think we got away with it, but it was nerve-wracking!

After lunch with Mama and her friend Grace, we had a leisurely visit with Mama at her house, and then some shopping. Then to Jeffcoat for visitation for Betty Weldon’s sister Beverly, and then home to the farm. I put the pallet forks on Tractor and pulled down the scrap wood pallet so I could cut 21 small plywood squares for Amanda to place under her melons. She came back to tell me she’s going to need 12 more.

While I had the pallet forks on, I drove Tractor back to the North Trail and removed the trunk and main branches of the bluejack oak we had taken down. It’s now in the fire pile.

July 24, 2010

Began the day with a quick trip to town to the Farmers’ Market and the PO. When we got back I hung out the load of clothes Amanda had washed last night. They were on the line by 9:45, in full sun by 10:00, and when I checked them at 11:15 they were dry. While the clothes were drying we chipped up the branches from the two trees I cut down yesterday, and then we relocated the chipper to the spot up the hill near the lodge site and chipped up the branches there. By the time we finished that it was lunchtime.

In the afternoon I filed a couple of divorce cases and took the clothes off the line, then I drove Tractor to the head of  the North Trail and cut down a dead bluejack oak. I should have cut it down sooner; it was too rotten for firewood. I’m learning to resent bluejack. The tree is never that pretty and doesn’t provide good shade. It seems bluejacks are delicate, because they’re always dying on us. And then when they die, the branches become a twisted, knarled mess that’s constantly sticking you. It takes a LOT more effort to get the same amount of chips from a bluejack than we would get from, say, a hickory or a sweetgum. I’ll need to go back later to deal with the big chunks of the bluejack. My plan is to pick them up with the pallet forks and take them to the fire pile we’re slowly building above the east orchard.

We knocked off early so we could take some food to Betty Weldon; her sister Beverly died. Since we were out in the evening, we came back through town and picked up supper at Cozumel. After supper Amanda and I sat on the back porch and talked with the fans going full blast. It was a good day.

July 23, 2010

Much better day. Started with a good conversation with James at Wallenstein, who immediately diagnosed the problem with my shearing so many pins. I had started using a bolt and nut I had bought at True Value, which was an English bolt, 3/8″. The original equipment shear pin is a much harder grade M10 (10 mm wide) and 55 mm long. I hope that solves the problem.

I had hoped to make some progress on tilting the air conditioners this afternoon, but when I started removing them I got cold feet and decided to ask Scott Ruppert to look at them. He’s planning to be here one day early next week.

Because I couldn’t work on the air conditioners, I branched over and took down to good-sized trees that were close to the barn orchard. Cut them up and stacked everything up on the lodge site. We now have more than enough to fill a pallet on the lodge site. We also have a good bit of brush ready for the chipper tomorrow morning.

Finished the day with a violent thunderstorm. I’m glad to see the rain (1.54 inches), but we could sure use a calmer delivery system.

July 22, 2010

Rough day. I removed the bush hog from Tractor and attached the chipper, and we used it to chip up the pile on the north trail. Sheared a pin, but we were able to change it out in the field and get back under way. Then after lunch and a trip to town we took the chipper down to the pile on the east meandering trail and started in on it. Sheared two more pins! Then the chipper clogged up and we had to limp back to the barn to clean it out. Amanda spent every available hour picking squash bugs off the squash and zucchini. We are both exhausted (and I am discouraged) at the end of the day.

July 21, 2010

I was up early this morning and digging. I cut off the water supply to the irrigation system, then sawed off the old filter and removed it. I glued the adapters to the new filter so that it will attach to the 1 1/4″ pipe. Then I glued the new filter in line. I first thought I would wait for Amanda to return to help me, because glueing the final joint looked like a two-person job. Then when I saw how droopy the okra looked on Veg Hill West I decided I needed to go ahead and get some water down there, so I just bulled ahead with it. I think I got away with it.

Today was the first day to use our new clothesline. Yea! It worked really smoothly and dried the clothes more quickly than I expected. I shot a little video and posted about it.

July 20, 2010

Did some weeding this morning, and dumped five, count’em five leaking soaker hoses in the dumpster. Soaker hoses are a huge loser for us. Amanda has located a different kind of soaker hose, though, that she believes will last longer and take a tad more punishment. Instead of stretchy rubber, it seems to lay flat and to be made of something that seems more like fabric.

Amanda headed for Birmingham, so I was on my own most of the day. Spent most of the afternoon digging out the main line that carries water to the drip irrigation system, in preparation for replacing the filter with a larger, more robust one that we hope won’t clog up so often.

It was good to use the Sun Oven again, this time for okra. With Amanda gone, I ate supper earlier than usual and enjoyed the evening on the back porch listening to the night sounds. It’s good to live in the country.

July 19, 2010

Amanda drove into Montgomery to visit with friends and to shop. I first created measurement points on Veg Hill east, then I measured the height of the sunn hemp at each point and on each row, creating 84 measurement points. I trellised tomatoes and muscadines next, then weeded the west bed. I mowed the grass to the south of the barn and then to the west. Then I bush hogged the barn orchard while waiting for Joe Jeffcoat to bring a bale of hay. After he brought it I showered and had lunch. After lunch I lubricated and adjusted the dual flush toilet, which seems to be working more smoothly now. Then I put the sunn hemp measurements on an excel spreadsheet.

This afternoon after Amanda returned from Montgomery, we got the lawn mower out and mowed the tallest grass in the aisles on Veg Hill.

July 18, 2010

Great to be back at the farm after several days off and on at the lake. About all we had time to do was to eat supper and tumble into bed, but a good supper it was, all left-overs: okra, stir-fried veg, blackeyed peas, pizza, hot bread and butter.

July 17, 2010

Found out today that we’ve been accepted for the Elmore County Master Gardener program beginning August 24 in Wetumpka. We will be attending class for four hours each Thursday morning from then until Christmas, after which we will be required to complete 50 hours of community service between then and the following August. Amanda and I are both excited about the classes and looking forward to getting to know some experts who can answer the myriad questions we’re developing.

July 15, 2010

Bush hogged the greenfield and the Rifle Range entrance today, along with the portion of the perimeter trail on either side of the Rifle Range entrance, from the creek all the way up to Longleaf Grove. Bush hogged the open field adjacent to the spine trail just to the east of the creek. Also the West Knoll, including most of an ugly little bush that had grown into an eyesore.

Then I got ambitious and tried to cut the trail we have marked (but haven’t cut). That was a mistake. I wasn’t sure where the trail was, and I ended up backing into a stump and bending the framework of the bush hog. May have to get Andra’s help this time, because right now the bush hog is cocked alarmingly when I use it.

July 14, 2010

Bush hogged most of the east side of the property today, including the perimeter trail and most of the intervening trails that run alongside the creek. I forget sometimes how pretty those more remote parts of the property are. Probably need to get Amanda over there on a more regular basis to remind us all of what we are privileged to manage.

I left the farm at about 5:15 pm to meet Amanda, Mama, and Adrian for dinner in Montgomery. There was a chance of rain, so I closed up the south windows and the two doors. When Amanda and I returned about 11:30, the apartment was oppressively hot. Reminds me of how our bodies are accustomed to the rhythm of the temperature. That heat didn’t feel nearly as oppressive at 5:15 as it did at 11:30!

July 13, 2010

Back to the farm after a little break at the lake. Sunn hemp is now thigh high in some places and growing in all. We’re beginning to see distinct patterns in the sunn hemp height, all planted at the same time, all the same species, and all receiving the same amount of water. That tells me there are distinct differences in soil quality. My best guess at the reason is that the weak areas are still affected by the allelopathic affects of the oak and hickory trees that were growing there right up until this summer.

Harvested a little eggplant, okra, banana pepper, and yellow squash. The edamame is forming pods!

July 11, 2010

Welcomed home our daughter Adrian from California. It’s great to see her. She, her brother, and his family live TOO FAR AWAY.

July 10, 2010

Most of the day was consumed planning low country boil for a dinner party for our foyer group friends from the church. In the morning, though, I pruned the extra branches off the muscadines and tied a couple of the tomatoes to the trellis a little higher up.

Amanda was complaining about smelling a garbage smell from the compost pile when she was at the north end of Veg Hill (which is closer to the compost pile). The most likely cause is too much green, not enough brown, so I added all the crushed up paper from my office and scooped up all the hay I could and placed it on top of the pile. Hope that helps.

We have maggots in our compost. They seem to be just as happy as they can be. Because they’re about 3/4″ long, too long to be housefly maggots, I am ready to assume they’re soldier fly maggots and leave them alone.

July 9, 2010

This morning, after a session, we played host to our cousins Davy and Bettye Smith from Auburn. It was fun showing them around and answering their questions about what we’re doing and why. They’re such sweet people. Nice lunch at Johnny G’s.

In the afternoon, I bush hogged the North Trail, uncovering a downed bluejack oak. Loaded up the chain saw and cut it up for firewood but didn’t bring it back to the barn. I just left it stacked at trailside. Created a separate stack of the brush, ready for mulching. Then I did the same with the hickory that had fallen across the East Meandering Trail. Likewise, stacked the firewood segments beside the trail and created a separate pile of brush for mulching.

My chain saw is losing power under load. I need to take it to Farmers Feed and have them do a tune-up.

Amanda was busy the whole time on Veg Hill, filling in any gap she could find with purple hull peas and Henderson bush lima beans.

July 8, 2010

I put the bush hog on Tractor and cut the East Orchard, the Barn Orchard, and the grass between the lodge site and the barn. Then I headed over to the west side of the property and cut the spine trail, Piccadilly, the ridge trail, the Longleaf Grove trail, the meandering trail, and most of the Greenfield. Then I came back to the east side and broke through from the barn to the east ramp on the trail that had been socked in by swamp for so long. I started down the meandering trail but had to stop and come back when I hit a downed hickory tree. I need to get the chain saw down there and cut it up into segments, and then Amanda and I can try out our “mulching” system for dealing with the smaller branches.

On Veg Hill, Amanda filled in blank spots with winter squash and pumpkins. She also re-mulched the peach trees, because they’ve been looking poorly lately. She also watered the pear trees in the east orchard as well as all the trees in the barn orchard.

July 7, 2010

More taking it easy than anything else. We decided we needed a day of rest.

July 6, 2010

With the help of Robin Robbins at Irrigation Mart, we pinpointed the cause of the inability to water Veg Hill East. The controller was refusing to send a signal to anything on that zone. I switched from using zones 1-3 to using zones 2-4, and everything appears to be working smoothly. Still have the issue of the sprinkler on the mushroom logs, but I’ll deal with that later.

Something has eaten all but one of the tender young eggplants that Amanda started from seed and planted just a few days ago. She is heartbroken, and I don’t blame her.

The outdoor cooker arrived today that we plan to use this weekend for foyer group. Works well, but I’m concerned about whether the basket is going to be large enough to hold food for 15 people. Hmmm.

July 5, 2010

The squash are beginning to form, and so are the cantaloupes. Eggplants are coming along, as well as the peas. Lots of dead horse flies. All in all, a good day on the farm.

July 4, 2010

Hey, it’s a holiday. Spent the day with friends and family. Superb weather.

July 3, 2010

Absolutely stunning day. Noticeably cooler and drier than normal. We packaged up all the red wheat berries and froze them. 50 lb. is a lot of wheat. Then I cranked up the Whisper Mill and ground up 6-7 lb. of the berries into flour. We will use part of it in the brownies we fix Sunday afternoon, and Amanda will use some for her bran muffins Monday morning.

We’ve developed three problems with the drip irrigation system. The first is that the east tape on row 7 has sprung a leak. I cut out the leak and repaired it with a coupling, but the coupling is leaking noticeably. The second problem is that the mushroom log sprinkler isn’t sprinkling. Instead, it’s alternating between spurting and dribbling.

The third problem seems to be the most serious. I can’t get zone 1 to water. Right now I’m bypassing the problem by bridging over from Zone 2’s valve to Zone 1’s header, but I can’t keep doing that for long. I’ll need to call Robin Robbins at Irrigation Mart on Tuesday and see what he recommends.

July 2, 2010

Morning was mostly about lawyer work for me, while Amanda busied herself with her seed starting. In the afternoon, I spread the rest of the bale of hay we got from Joe Jeffcoat, using it to mulch the aisles and the blank spots on the rows. Amanda hopes the hay will help control the weeds; I’m mostly focused on controlling erosion by slowing down the speed of the flowing water.

This is the first time I have felt a need to stake an eggplant. Didn’t know you ever needed to do that.

In the evening Amanda planted her eggplant that she started from seed on 8A where the bush beans have given up.

July 1, 2010

Started the day by recording, editing, and publishing the podcast.

Drove to Wetumpka this morning (we call it “Mt Pilate” to our Mayberry) to visit Farmers Feed and Oakview Farms Granary. Oakview is a treasure. Joe and Patty both seem to be genuinely nice people, and Joe chatted with me in a leisurely way about the choices for wheat berries and for bread making. He thinks it will be hard to make the no-knead method work smoothly with whole wheat flour. He may be right. Ended up buying 50 lb of red wheat berries, 5 lb. of white wheat berries, a small packet of wild rice, a big bag of yeast, and a small bag of granola. Gotta keep Amanda away from that place. I fear she would go crazy.

At Farmers Feed I found an exact copy of the treasured hat I had left at Dave Gray’s and Lynda’s, so I bought two of them. I’ll keep one in reserve! I also picked up the chains Amanda had left to be sharpened, and I bought two more replacement chains for the extension chain saw.

In the afternoon Amanda and I beared down on Veg Hill. She focused on mulching the corn, and I spread hay pretty thickly across the north border and down the aisles. Then we put Longleaf Breeze mulch on top of the drip tape the full length of row 11 and about half of row 10. It’s slow going, and it uses up the mulch pretty quickly, but I think we’ll need to do it to control the buckling of the drip tape as it expands in the sunshine. We worked until after 7:00, when a thunderstorm interrupted us. Got 1.26″ of rain in about 20 minutes. That’s NOT the kind of rain we need, but I fear it’s the kind of rain we’re going to be getting more and more with global weirding in full swing.

June 30, 2010

Productive day, although it started slow. This was the first day we were able to be here to see the results of using the dehumidifier in the apartment. It certainly works to remove moisture, although no more than that removed outside. At one point it was somewhat less humid inside than outside, but at the cost of several degrees of warming. And it uses about 560 watts most of the time. We will continue to experiment. It’s possible the air conditioner will be a more energy efficient alternative than the dehumidifier.

I had two sessions in the middle of the day, so Amanda worked alone until about 3:00 pm., mostly cleaning up and reconditioning after the storm. I focused first on mowing the grass. For the first time, we agree, we have what is beginning to look like a lawn on the southwest and west sides of the pole barn. Then I turned my attention to redoing the tomato trellis. Got it finished, and then cut off a couple of the 3/4″ pipes we had been using for the tomatoes and used them to stake the banana peppers.

June 29, 2010

Returned after a quick trip to Birmingham to find there was no rain while we were gone. Can’t wait to get out on Veg Hill tomorrow and see how everything’s looking. Our new drip irrigation filter has arrived. Installing it is going to be a bear, but I’ll be glad to have it in. The first filter (1″) is clogging up too much. Can’t rely on getting a full day’s watering in before it clogs up.

June 28, 2010

I got out early this morning and set the tomatoes back up, but that’s only temporary. We’re going to need to find a more secure support system for them. Right now, we’re thinking to go with what we already own: t-post at either end, with a 10-foot section of 1 1/2″ PVC pipe lashed to the top of each post. Then lash a series of 3/4″ PVC pipes to the 1 1/2″ post, leaning in. We can then tie the tomatoes to the 3/4″ PVC posts.

Amanda focused on the corn. She was able to get most of it righted, but we lost a few plants. Helps us understand the wisdom of planting corn in blocks. We’ll need to be more attentive to that in the future.

Today we used the dehumidifier for the first time. Quickly brought down the humidity in the room, but at the expense of contributing a little heat. Good news: the dehumidifier uses only 47 watts, and the air conditioner uses only 135 watts. I’m no longer afraid to use them from time to time as needed, once we get the air conditioner tilted correctly and get the drip rail in place.

June 27, 2010

We were gone to Dave Gray’s and Lynda’s farm for most of the day for the Borden family reunion. Great visit.

When we got back, we found havoc in the pole barn and on Veg Hill, the remnants of the strongest storm we’ve experienced since we moved here. 1.38″ of rain, and 29 mph wind. Several of the tomatoes were knocked over, and lots of the corn turned over.

June 26, 2010

I started the day weeding. Amanda focused on the inside, because we were getting ready to welcome our friends Phil and Ann Friend for a visit.

Turned on the air conditioner in the apartment for the first time, and we were glad we did. It doesn’t have enough “tilt” downward on the outside, which means the water simply collects inside it and might flow into the wall if we’re not careful. We have the same problem to a lesser degree on the unit in the shop. We’ll start with it because it’s more accessible and appearance is less important. If we can get it adjusted successfully, then we will turn our attention to the one in the apartment.

The visit with Phil and Ann took most of the day. At the end of the day, I shot the video for the Horse Pal report.

June 25, 2010

Big weeding day. I don’t remember much else.

June 24, 2010

We began the day recording the weekly podcast so we wouldn’t have to come in after getting sweaty. Then we re-glued the numbers on the mailbox and replaced it on the post. I got the shear pin installed on the chipper, so it’s ready to get back in action now. And Amanda and I finished the morning with some weeding and a rudimentary trellis for the black eyed peas.

The afternoon was mostly inside work. First editing and publishing the podcast, then a session, then a long phone conversation with Adrian. Then e-mail at the end of the day. Meanwhile, Amanda worked hard on Veg Hill the whole time, planting pumpkins and sunflowers on Row #12 where the muscadines will go next winter.

June 23, 2010

After a quick trip to town (Danny at True Value helped me solve both the chipper shear pin issue and the issue with the tag on the truck), the rest of the day was consumed traveling to Birmingham, working at our house in Birmingham, and returning to the farm.

Someone (vandals would be my guess) knocked our mailbox over. Repairing it so we minimize the disruption of our mail service has suddenly shoved aside other priorities.

June 22, 2010

I guess today was my terrible, horrible, not good, very bad day. It started well enough, as I used some of that wonderful Longleaf Breeze mulch to cover the soil around Amanda’s freshly planted bull nose bell peppers in the morning. I was working on it as Amanda drove away to spend the day in Birmingham. Then things went downhill.

I tried to put the new tag on Cracker. The normal screws were missing; in their place, the used car dealer who sold us the truck, Prestige Auto Exchange, had cynically substituted simple wood screws, just enough to fool us into thinking there wasn’t a problem with the mounting, and his sneaky plan worked like a charm. Stymied.

Then I decided to use the chipper to chop up one of our piles and create more mulch. I got over-eager and tried to push through a log that was too big for the mulcher. It wedged in the disk and caused the pin on the powerline drive to shear. Stymied.

Then I opened the box that had been delivered down at the gate while I was gone to town. It was a cute plastic owl that uses solar power to turn its head and look realistic. The hope is that it will act as a scarecrow and keep birds from eating your crops. I mounted it over the blueberries. Unfortunately, the head wouldn’t turn. Stymied.

I gave up, ate an early supper, and went to bed early.

June 21, 2010

I had sessions this morning, but I did get the final editing done on the finishing of the deer fence. I’ll be posting about it in the next day or so. Amanda drove over to Wetumpka to get the tag for the new truck (which we’re now calling “Cracker”) and to make several other stops. While she was gone, I chipped up the smaller pieces in the pile down the hill from the pole barn. In the process I clogged up the chipper and had to limp back to the barn so I could remove the discharge chute and clean it out. This afternoon Amanda planted the bull nose bell peppers she had started from seed, and I weeded and staked a couple of tomatoes.

June 20, 2010
We were responsible for refreshments today at Epiphany, so getting everything ready for that was the 300 pound gorilla until after church. As soon as she cleaned up the dishes from refreshments, Amanda got busy right away and started planting winter squash. I took a nap, then I started using the weeding hoe. We’re having a nice dialogue about weeding techniques. She believes that pulling weeds by hand is the only way to pull them up by the roots and therefore essential to maintaining a good growing environment. I believe that it’s fine to use the weeding hoe to chop them off at ground level, and then come back and chop them again in 2-3 days if needed.

We had a couple more tomatoes that needed staking, so our never-ending supply of 3/4″ PVC pipe came to the rescue.

June 19, 2010

We got the chipper assembled this morning and began using it on a pile up the hill from the barn. In a matter of an hour or so, we had chipped a pile of debris we had been saving for it down to a little less than a cubic yard of finely chopped leaves, chips, and small twigs. I think we’re going to love using the chipper.

After we had finished that, I put the pallet forks on Tractor, picked up the round bale of hay, and moved it to a spot near the gate to Veg Hill so Amanda can use it to mulch the aisles.

We had a nice thunderstorm this afternoon (.24 inches of rain), so Amanda worked inside, and I edited video. A nice, quiet afternoon. I ended the day mixing up toll house brownies for us to cook in the Sun Oven tomorrow morning at Epiphany (we have refreshments). The forecast is sunny. Should be fun.

June 18, 2010

Amanda and I poured it on this morning with the splitter. The firewood is now safely split and stacked on pallets 12 and 1-5, lined up in the sunshine on the lodge site. 6-11 are under roof and will stay that way until we burn them this winter. So we have firewood stored up to last us through the coming winter (6-11) and the winter after that (12 & 1-5). Once again I overestimated how much firewood we had stacked up. Turned out we had basically just enough to fill all the available pallets; none left over. I could have sworn we would have excess wood, but that just goes to show that I haven’t learned to estimate well yet. I also cleaned off the porch where we were doing the splitting, deposited the bark and chips over in the “chipper” pile, and returned the splitter to its perch on the pallet rack.

This afternoon was mostly about paperwork, but I did fill in with Sakrete the void that had formed around one of the muscadine trellis posts. Amanda spent most of the afternoon planting more corn.

I started late in the afternoon trying to assemble the Wallenstein chipper. The documentation that came with it proved to be absolutely worthless, because the machine had come in a form completely different from that described in the documentation. I reached a point where I knew I would need Amanda’s help for the next step, and it was time to stop, so I did. I hate stopping before a task is finished.

June 17, 2010

Took the truck into town in the morning and purchased a “truck box mounting kit.” Carquest didn’t have it, but Advanced Auto did. Came back to the farm and installed the tool box before lunch. Cleaned out the tool box, which is now much more coherently organized.

In the afternoon, Amanda and I fired up the splitter and went to work on the firewood. By the end of the day, we had filled pallets 1-3. Pallets 4 & 5 are on the lodge site, so I’ll bring them down tomorrow morning so we can fill them. We’re still deciding what to do with any excess firewood. My best guess is that we’ll go ahead and split it and stack it, and then use it to fill #6 as soon as it is empty.

At the very end of the day we staked down a couple of weak spots in the deer fence. Still trying to decide if we have a critter who’s getting in.

June 16, 2010

Worked this morning with Maurice McCord on the grounds at Epiphany. Finished up my part at about 11:30 and left Maurice still working. After quick shopping and collection of mail, came home to find the Horse Pal at the main gate, so I dropped everything to set it up right away. While I was setting it up it trapped two horse flies, and there were three more in the jar just a few minutes later. Good to have a Horse Pal again.

I then set up the pallets for firewood. Couldn’t get Amanda away from her weeding and planting of corn (it was supposed to be in the ground by yesterday), but she promises to help tomorrow.

Cleaned out my truck tool box to transfer it over to the new truck. The new truck has a thick plastic sheet, however, and I’m unable to get a screw to grip in the metal below it. I’ve loaded it up in the truck so I can take it to Carquest tomorrow and get their advice.

June 15, 2010

This morning Amanda headed to Montgomery for some shopping and to return our lawn mower that quit on us. I hand-dug a trench for the 1″ header hose from the deer fence on the northeast corner of Veg Hill over to the mushroom logs. I used the Flip camera to record the location of the mushroom hose as well as the hose to the blueberries. Then I covered over the hose to the mushroom logs and set up the sprinkler inside a 3/4″ PVC pipe. I then set up a hose to dribble on the ground above the “tee,” so I can dig out there and set a 1 1/4″ cut-off. If I’m going to need to check the filter as often as this, I decided I want to have a cut-off nice and convenient for it.a

This afternoon Amanda focused on building up the hills around her potatoes, and I filled in the massive hole I had dug while trying to route the control wires for the drip system through the main electrical conduit (ultimately futile – Scott Ruppert ended up helping me simply stick it through the wall at ground level). In order to do so, I needed to find a better underground box for the household cut-off that I had uncovered. George at True Value found me a 14-inch coupling out in the yard that was just right for the task. All I did was to lash it around the bottom of the box, which had the effect of lengthening the box by about six inches.

June 14, 2010

Uh oh. Went out to pee this morning about 6:00 and spotted a rabbit hanging around the blueberries. Need to find a good recipe for rabbit stew.

We made good progress on the east side of Veg Hill this morning. First I disked it with Tractor while Amanda worked inside. Then we worked together to mark the north and south ends of the drip tape lines (from which it will become apparent where the rows and aisles fall). She then used the Earthway spreader to drill and plant sunn hemp seed. We sort of worked to stay on the drip tape line, but it’s clear that the rows will not be straight, and we’re not going to worry about it.

We had a problem this morning, when there was no water available to the faucet in the barn orchard. When I checked, there was no pressure anywhere in the irrigation system. I went up and turned off the main for the outdoor water supply and left it off for about 20 minutes. When I turned it back on, everything seemed to be working okay. This is something we will need to continue to watch.

Figured out the problem with the water pressure. First, I had to figure out that it had something to do with the drip irrigation filter, because everything served by the filter (all drip, orchard faucets, and Veg Hill faucets) was stopped, and everything not served by it (uphill faucets and household) was running fine. At first I thought there was something wrong with the filter, but then with the help of Michael at Irrigation Mart, I realized that the filter was simply doing its job; it was clogged with sand. Filter clean, and we’re on our way. I guess that means I’ll need to clean that filter on a regular basis.

This afternoon Amanda and I attached the drip tape to the header. Because the header row had to slant down, we had to “stairstep” the header hose down.

June 13, 2010

Got out early to see if I could see any difference in the crops on Veg Hill, and I could! The collards look prouder and stronger, the beans are high and proud, and the squash is looking healthier. In general, it looks like everything has kicked it up a notch as the result of getting a good supply of water.

After church and lunch with Mama, Amanda had a baby shower; I came back to the farm. First I dug up the box housing the valve and regulator for the blueberries and the greenhouse; I had buried it too hastily. I found the leak and repaired it. Then I finished burying the 1″ hose from the underground box to the origination point of the line of blueberries. Emboldened, I decided to forge ahead and install drip tape on the line of blueberries, and it worked! The blueberries got their first drip irrigation soaking this afternoon. At the end of the day I filled in a couple of holes with extra topsoil and smoothed them out by hand. A good day’s work for a Sunday.

June 12, 2010

Big day yesterday, because for the first time we were able to provide drip irrigation to our crops on Veg Hill.

The morning was primarily about shopping in town. We bought corn and a cucumber at the farmer’s market, peaches and purple hull peas at Joyce Durham’s stand, two programmed keys for the new truck at Ben Atkinson, diesel fuel at Petro, and seeds and a spreader at Dillard’s (The Country Store). Then we went from there to the barbecue at Southside Middle School and presented more than $250 in receipts from Tallassee businesses during the last week so we could get five barbecue plates for $1 each. What’s scary is that this wasn’t a particularly heavy week for us. Tallassee must be glad to have the Bordens.

We were back to the farm by lunch time. After a nap, I worked on paperwork for a couple of hours while Amanda pulled weeds and planted. We started about 4:30 on installing the drip tape.

By 7:00, we had all of Veg Hill West and the one row we’re already using of Veg Hill East. We haven’t yet finished Veg Hill East or Amanda’s herbs. We’ll work our way down to them in the next day or two.

June 11, 2010

We spent most of the morning delivering Lynda’s Horse Pal to her (along with a leisurely visit), then a shopping trip together, during which we bought a draw bar for the trailer hitch, several little items at True Value, and groceries. We also checked the mail.

After an early afternoon session, we took down the hickory tree and the small water oak on Veg Hill. We have now dispatched every tree on Veg Hill that is not holding up deer fence. I sure am glad we did it now before we spread drip tape out. It would have been a nightmare to try to bring down that hickory with the drip tape all across the ground.

Amanda has now planted all the corn seeds we own. Corn has disappointed us. We have so much to learn!

June 10, 2010

Took all day to drive over to Cartersville, GA and see (then buy) a 2007 Ford F-150 pickup. Found it on Cars.com. It’s exactly what we had in mind, a late-model truck with a regular cab, a long bed, and a tow package. Amanda is delighted that it’s air conditioned too.

Returned to the farm late in the afternoon to find a leak in the drip irrigation fitting for the blueberries. Bummer. Now I’m going to need to dig up the box again and find the leak.

We’ve decided to take down the lone free-standing tree on Veg Hill, a small hickory, before we deploy drip tape. I’ll take that on in the next day or two.

Got an anguished e-mail from Lynda needing her Horse Pal back, so we will take it down tomorrow (using the new truck) and set it up for her.

June 9, 2010

HUGE day, because we got the drip irrigation hose flowing under control from the shop. Yea! Started the day connecting the hose on Veg Hill East and the blueberries. Then I began digging a path from the blueberries regulator to the point where the drip tape will connect to the 1-inch hose. I got interrupted, however, when our friends Charlotte Williams and Patsy Gower arrived from Birmingham for a visit, which was delightful.

Amanda and I are going to need to be careful not to overdo the walks. We’re in training, but this is the fourth or fifth time we have asked our guests to walk further and work harder than is comfortable for them. We’re learning.

While Charlotte and Patsy were here, Scott Ruppert helped me thread the control wires for the drip irrigation through the ribs of the metal on the north wall of the shop. He always finds the simplest, quickest ways to do things. Quite a useful skill, and we’re grateful that he’s available to help.

After Charlotte and Patsy left, I installed the controller on the wall of the shop and connected the wires to it. I was able to turn on each valve manually and flush each zone on command from the shop. I was high as a kite. Then I began filling in the boxes. I still have some filling in to do on the run to the blueberries box, but the Veg Hill boxes are basically done.

June 8, 2010

Spent most of the morning in Birmingham, then returned to the farm in the afternoon. No rain while we were gone, so Amanda set about watering everything. After a late-afternoon session, I attached the bush hog and mowed the spine trail, most of Piccadilly, and most of the west knoll, as well as the ridge trail and the meandering knoll trail.

June 7, 2010

Away from the farm.

June 6, 2010

Started the day by mounting the screen door that I had painted yesterday. Next church, and then we headed for Birmingham.

June 5, 2010

Good day. We decided in the morning that if we were ever going to take down the 14″ DBH red oak on Veg Hill, this was the time to do it, before we deployed T-tape on it. So instantly, that became my second most important project of the day (behind getting that screen door painted so we could get it back up). With the screen door primed and after a quick trip to town to check the mail and visit True Value, I got busy.

All along I have delayed dealing with the big oak for fear that if it fell in the wrong direction it would take down a big swath of the deer fence. I decided to put as much tension as possible on it pulling it where I wanted to fall. I estimated the height of the tree using the shadow comparison method. I parked Tractor about 20 feet outside the danger zone and attached a series of chains and come-alongs running from Tractor to the tree, as high up on the tree as I could reach. Then I used the come-alongs to get the line as tight as possible.

When I started my first cut I knew the chain was too dull for the job I was taking on, so I swapped out the chain. I’m glad to say the tree came down exactly where I was hoping it would, missing the deer fence and all of Amanda’s crops as well. I cut off the smaller branches and piled them up, leaving the firewood-friendly skeleton. Then I moved down the tree, cutting the skeleton into segments. I filled two buckets with firewood, which I know from experience is about 2/3 of a pallet, or about 1/5 of a cord.

We had our most violet wind yet this afternoon, 27 mph. Knocked over one of the tripods supporting the sweet 100s and may have killed one of the sweet 100s in the process. We’re going to need a better system.

Late in the day, Amanda and I fashioned a trellis for the climbing beans using the busted cage from the Orient pear in the east orchard. Also built another tripod for supporting the peppers, then watched as the first tripod supporting the sweet 100s fell over in the wind. That’s obviously not working, so I need to rethink the tripods. Shorter? Anchored more firmly?

June 4, 2010

This morning we spotted a hummingbird hovering around the purple salvia even before Amanda could get it into the ground. Cool! I spent the morning in town, helping set up the tent for our church at the Relay for Life cancer event, then helping clean up the church nave, and then shopping at True Value.

In the afternoon I removed the screen door from the back porch and cleaned it with a solution I had bought at True Value. While the solution was working I dug up and replaced the underground box near the future fire pit (I had run over it with Tractor and squished it). As I was finishing up, the FedEx lady arrived with our shipment from Irrigation Mart. As the day waned I began connecting the 1″ hose to the drip irrigation system.

June 3, 2010

Another of those days (typical as of late) when there was a low chance of rain in the morning and a higher chance in the afternoon, so we got out early and made as much progress as we could in the morning. I focused on getting the boxes covered over and thoroughly set in the dirt. Unfortunately, I learned a valuable lesson when I ran over one of the boxes with Tractor and heard it buckling under the weight. I will buy another box at True Value today and replace it.

We also took delivery today of the chipper we’re giving each other for our 36th anniversary, a Wallenstein BX42S-G. The crate is assembled with screws that use square drive. Rather than bust it up, I decided to be patient and wait until I can buy a square drive bit to unscrew them. In the afternoon we recorded and published the weekly podcast. By the time that was finished and I had answered e-mails, it was time to head to Wetumpka to meet Susan and Keith Powers for dinner at Our Place. On the way there, we stopped off at Seed Processors and picked up a bag of dry molasses. I’ve never used it and don’t know quite how we will use it, but the folks at Gardening Organically swear by it, so we thought we would give it a try.

Amanda spent most of the day getting the herbs and ornamentals from Petals in the Past in the ground. Things are coming along!

June 2, 2010

Amanda was gone to Birmingham all day.

Got all the extra PVC fittings gathered up and accounted for and returned them to True Value. Dale will mark them returned later, and they’ll be reflected on my next statement.

Filled in the boxes just north of the barn at the “T,” and also the box in the barn orchard. Smoothed out the driveway north of the barn. It looks decent now and will look even better when things dry out a little.

Scott Ruppert came by and fixed the dishwasher again; it had slipped overnight. We re-glued the retention piece across the top, and we hope it will hold this time.

We also talked about his preference for the lodge. He suggests that he go ahead and frame up a 2 x 6 wall after the slab is poured and just let Bill’s folks hang their metal on his studs and purlins. That way, Bill won’t need to install doors or windows; he’ll just need to hang the metal and he’ll be finished. It makes sense to me, and I hope it will make sense to Bill.

At the end of the day I dug out around at the north wall of the barn where the main electrical service comes in. I wasn’t prepared for how far down that conduit goes. And then it runs right into a plumbing box that I didn’t even know existed. Called Scott McGill to ask him to help me figure out the best way to get those control wires in. Phone disconnected. Now I can’t reach Scott or Joey. Bummer.

June 1, 2010

Forecast called for low rain chances in the morning and 50% in the afternoon, so we hit the ground running outside. Amanda weeded and put mulch around the Cherokee Purple tomatoes. I used Tractor to smooth over the trenches in the orchards and the area between the barn and the lodge site. I then got the utility sink leveled up and ready to use. We still need to glue the two places on it that are broken off.

In the afternoon, the Farmer-in-Chief was back on Veg Hill. I decided all the recent rain made it a good time to dig a path for the control wires from the irrigation “T” to the wall of the pole barn, a run of about 25 feet. I was right that the rain softened the earth and made digging easier. The problem was dealing with the standing water that filled up every low spot. I eventually just removed my gloves and worked barehanded, pushing the wires down into the muck and filling in the trench as I went. Made it the full length of the run, so now I’m ready to install the controller inside the pole barn and run the wires up to it.

May 31, 2010

Memorial Day. We celebrated by inviting Mama to join us for lunch. Before she came Amanda and I filled in several of the trenches around the irrigation pipes, including a couple we had to dig anew because the thunderstorms of the last couple of days had washed into them and pushed the pipe up. Amanda is frustrated that we’re having to redo what we’ve already done. I share her frustration but regard it as par for the course rather than some dire malfunction that needs immediate correction.

I set about working on the various junctions that are involved in getting from the 1 1/2″ PVC line to the regulated (reduced pressure) 1″ supply hose for the drip irrigation system. Robin Robbins and I had both contemplated that I would curl the supply hose around to where it needs to be, but once I work with it, that seems unlikely. I’ll ask Robin when I call him tomorrow whether I can order 90 degree elbows. If I can, I think that will be the ticket.

Finished the day by sinking the last box in the system, the one that’s halfway down Veg Hill. Then I let the water run on the far south faucet enough to blow some of the dirt out of the line. Need to do that at several other points in the system as well.

May 30, 2010

I emptied the humanure buckets in the morning while Amanda weeded, and by the time we finished there was just enough time to jump in the shower and head to church. In the afternoon we visited with Mama in Montgomery, had a leisurely video chat with Joe, Michelle, and Smith in California, worked out how we will vote in Tuesday’s primary, made our usual Montgomery shopping stops, and returned to the farm. By the time we returned there wasn’t much time left for outdoor work, but that didn’t slow down the Farmer-in-Chief. While we were gone we got 1.58″ of rain, and her new tomato seedlings were pretty beat down. She ran out and stroked them encouragingly, hoping to revive them.

May 29, 2010

A big day for the Farmers Borden. It started early – really early – just a few minutes after midnight, when Amanda’s Mom called to tell us she was unable to get up out of her chair. She was okay, thoroughly lucid, but uncomfortable. We quickly put on clothes and drove the 30 minutes or so to her house and called 911 as we we were approaching. The paramedics were there very quickly and were able to help her get up enough to get her into an ambulance for a quick trip to Baptist East Hospital, where five hours or so of tests (resulting in a diagnosis  of dehydration and inner ear infection), medication, and fluids had her feeling much stronger and able to walk on her own.

We were back at the farm by 11:00 or so, and we immediately set about the tasks we had planned for today. Amanda busied herself getting her Cherokee Purple tomato seedlings planted while I dug out the box for the faucet closest to the gate on Veg Hill and then ran the 3/4″ line to the south end of Veg Hill. We were both rammin’ and slammin’, racing the thunderstorm we suspected was on the way.By the time it arrived, we had the water lines finished but hadn’t installed the southernmost faucet or the outdoor sink.

After the storm (.43 inches of rain) had passed, I finished installing the last faucet and utility sink while Amanda continued her planting. When my work was finished, we turned on the water to all of the southern part of the system (east orchard, barn orchard, and Veg Hill), and (Yay!) we have leak integrity. Unless something unexpected happens, we are now forever out of the business of running a hose from the barn down to Veg Hill.

We weren’t finished yet. The air-filled 1 1/2″ pipe had floated up in a couple of sections of the trench during the storm. Amanda and I started at the corner of the trench outside the northeast corner of the barn and worked our way slowly down to the gate of Veg Hill, pressing the now heavier pipe back down into the fresh muck at the bottom of the trench, filling it in with dirt and packing the dirt in place. We were both exhausted at the end of the day, but happy with all our accomplishments.

May 28, 2010

Typical divorce session load for me is one or two sessions per day. Today I had four. And there was a 50% chance of rain in the forecast, and we still had open empty trenches. So Amanda and I poured it on this morning and got the wiring run and the 1 1/2″ pipe run to the header valves location on Veg Hill. Now if we can get the faucets on Veg Hill in place, we will be ready for whatever the weather brings.

We discovered that gluing 1 1/2″ pipe is a two-person job. You need the second person to lift the pipe so it goes in straight. I guess we could have glued it down in the trench, but that would have been a LOT more work, particularly with the ever-present horse flies buzzing and biting.

Amanda spent most of the afternoon weeding. She likes to pull weeds up by the roots. It’s much harder to do than using the weeding hoe, but she believes it to be necessary, and I’m not sure enough of myself to tell her she’s wrong.

In the late afternoon I built the faucet assemblies for the three faucets on Veg Hill and assembled the utility sink and got its plumbing connections ready. We were interrupted by a shower, though, and I didn’t get a chance actually to install the faucets.

May 27, 2010

Returned the 12/2 wire I had bought yesterday. Amanda and I decided it just wasn’t all that important to get electrical power down to Veg Hill. Turned the corner with the blueberries, dug out for two boxes, and installed the faucet, but decided to wait to install the regulator so I could do so with the new connector already attached. Laid the control wire for the blueberries.

Amanda and I worked together to clean out the full length of the trench that will carry the 1 1/2″ pipe to Veg Hill. Next step there is to lay control wire back to the barn.

The Horse Pal continues to net fresh new victims. Still can’t say with confidence that we’ve noticed a difference in the population bugging us, but we’ll be patient.

May 26, 2010

Started the day talking to Robin Robbins about check valves. Realized I need to have a check valve on the main system. He is shipping it to me later today. Fortunately, this shouldn’t slow us down on closing up any of the trenches, because the check valve is to be installed right at the pump house. I will need to keep the area around the pump house opened up a few more days, but that was going to be the last area covered up anyway, so I don’t think it’s a problem.

Today I was able to connect up the primary “T” for the irrigation system. First we intersect the 1 1/4″ line coming down to the barn from the pump house to add a filter for the whole system. Then in an adjacent box we actually have the T. One side travels in 1 1/2″ pipe to to the faucets in the orchards and to the drip irrigation system on Veg Hill (as well as three faucets and a utility sink on Veg Hill). The other side travels in 3/4″ pipe to a faucet just up the hill from the barn, plus drip irrigation for the future greenhouse and the line of blueberries. There is a manual shut-off valve on each side at the T.

Getting the T installed turned out to be more complex than I had planned, and that was about all I was able to get done, but I finished the day with unfiltered water service restored and the stubs in place for both the blueberries and the greenhouse on one side and Veg Hill and the orchards on the other. Now we need to lay pipe and run the control wires to the three valves that will control them.

Amanda spent the day planting sunflowers and zinnias along the borders of Veg Hill. Both of us were tired puppies at the end of the day, but we both felt good about our respective accomplishments.

May 25, 2010

Our wedding anniversary dawned cool, cloudy, and breezy. An ideal day for working outside in the summer. We made good progress on the irrigation system, finishing the barn orchard and moving over to the faucets in the area between the barn and the lodge site. We have two faucets working now, and with no leaks! I shot some video of that little part of the system to help remember where the lines run. I guess I’ll wait and edit all the video together when we’re finished.

The Horse Pal continues to net new victims. We’re still aware of them buzzing about, but we’ll keep our hopes up as long as we see new flies in the trap.

May 24, 2010

Today I actually got started gluing the PVC. I started in the east orchard by digging out a space for the underground box and installing the faucet in the box. Then I worked my way around to the barn orchard. By the end of the day (with a big interruption), I was almost to the box in the east orchard.

The big interruption was to go pick up Lynda’s Horse Pal horse fly trap. I set it up at 5:30 this afternoon. By 7:00, there were about 15 horse flies already trapped in it. Encouraging!

They were still after me during my outdoor shower, but maybe if this keeps up over a 3-4 day period, we’ll actually see some improvement in the experience of the shower.

Our neighbor (and REL classmate) Jane Paramour dropped by this afternoon. She and Amanda had a nice visit while I glued PVC. Hope to see her again soon.

May 23, 2010

Left early for church, so I contented myself with quiet, indoor work. Posted about horse flies and edited the little video about trenching for irrigation. After church and lunch with Mama in Montgomery, Amanda focused on watering while I first returned the trencher to my neighbor Bob Clayton, and then attached the auger and punched holes for the underground boxes. I’m about out of ways to kill time now; pretty soon I’m going to need to start connecting PVC.

May 22, 2010

Started the day dealing with the spot just north of the barn from which most of the irrigation will emanate. Dug down to find the pipe, and then exposed it where we will “T” from it to two branches. The first branch will be 1 1/2″ pipe heading down to Veg Hill, and the second will be 3/4″ heading up to the future greenhouse and the line of blueberries.

When Amanda was available, we walked around together, deciding where we needed faucets and how the irrigation line will come into Veg Hill.

Then I made a quick trip to town to get to True Value before they closed.

During the afternoon I cranked up the trencher and made all the cuts. It was SO helpful to have Amanda sight down the line I was traveling and give me minute corrections as I went.

Exhausted at the end of the day. We celebrated finishing the trenching work by mixing up those strawberry daiquiris we bought a few days ago!

May 21, 2010

Amanda was still in Birmingham, so I spent the day alone. Started the day thinking through where the pipes should run for the irrigation system. After a late morning session, I set out for Auburn in 1-Ho to pick up the trencher. Got it back here and took about an hour just to get used to making it go where I needed it to go and do what I needed it to do. In the process, I tore up the cage on the northernmost Orient pear. I need to make two new cages when the dust clears from the irrigation project.

Finished the day by running the trench from the middle of the east orchard to the middle of the barn orchard. It has a drunken sailor look, but this is for the 3/4″ line, so I don’t think it will be a problem. I’m glad I learned on these lines. The trench for the 1 1/2″ line  will need to be straighter, because the pipe is not as flexible.

We met the Majors for dinner at The Pub in Montgomery, so I had to knock off early. Nice visit.

May 20, 2010

Amanda and I recorded the weekly podcast this morning before she left for Birmingham, and I edited and published it later in the morning. I’ve ordered the 1 1/2″ pipe from True Value, and they brought it at about lunchtime. So theoretically, we have at least the key components we need to get busy laying the pipe, although the bushings to go from my 1″ Ts to the 3/4″ pipe had still not come in this morning.

Another first for the Sun Oven: I used it today in partly cloudy weather to cook the chicken for the stew we’re making. We’re making the stew because we have veg in the deep freeze that we need to clean out to make room for this season’s crop. After the chicken finished, I put an ear of corn in for my supper tonight.

Put the cages back on the barn orchard fruit trees. I got caught up with stew-making and failed to get the cages back on the four pear trees in the east orchard. Hope to get that done tomorrow morning.

May 19, 2010

We got an early start on the fruit trees. Amanda had mulched all of them until late in the night. We needed to prune them, though. We moved from tree to tree and agreed on what needed to be cut. We didn’t argue about it, but we did have different opinions and reach our decisions together on each one. Had a mishap on one of the pear trees. One of the main side branches snapped off  when I was trying to install a limb spreader on it. We hope it will heal okay.

Amanda had to leave for Montgomery to meet Mama for lunch and to accompany her on her visit to the eye doctor, and I had a doctor visit of my own in Tallassee that took me through lunch and a nap. That afternoon I moved the 3/4″ PVC down the hill, and then I practiced gluing on it. Went well, but I need to make sure we wear gloves when doing the gluing so we won’t have dried PVC glue coating our hands when we finish.

Walked both sides of the deer fence perimeter line cutting back vegetation. Good thing I did. We had vines that had already grown past the top of the deer fence and above onto the trees holding the fence. We’re going to need to do that regularly.

I was late getting two sweet potatoes into the sun oven. Didn’t get them in until 3:15, and it was a partly cloudy day, but they still cooked fine.

May 18, 2010

We’re rethinking the whole “don’t leave bare soil” thing. The problem is that weeds are coming up through the mulch anyway. If they were on bare soil, we could hit them easily with the weeding hoe; in mulch they’re much harder to deal with. Nevertheless, we are weeding the mulched areas (and stirring around the mulch). Amanda planted three mounds of Early Fortune cucumber and did a lot of weeding.

Put up a trellis for the peas yesterday on Veg Hill row 8C using six t-posts, cheap wire, and string. Switched over then to the barn orchard and the east orchard, where I removed the cages from all the trees and mowed down the weeds around each one. Amanda worked until late into the night (so what else is new?) finishing pulling the weeds around each tree and HEAVILY mulching each tree with hay. She was exhausted at the end of a very long day.

May 17, 2010

We don’t deserve this, but we’ll claim it and be happy. We got .42″ of rain right after we seeded for centipede and spread straw. Couldn’t have come at a better time. Yea! So far I have no plans to water today, although our instructions are to KEEP the soil moist, so we may end up watering if it seems to be drying out later today. And it looks certain that we will be watering several days this week; there’s no significant chance of rain in the forecast for the next 10 days.

I started the day with lawyer work while Amanda worked to transplant the other compost volunteers onto Veg Hill. Some big animal turned over the garbage can again last night, so I fashioned a cage for the garbage can from the wood stove pallet and 2 x 4s that I hope will now make it impossible for an animal to turn it over.

Amanda also planted several seeds. Need to get with her and record them on the database.

We knocked off early so we could join several friends from Epiphany for supper.

May 16, 2010

Had a busy morning before we went to church. Pruned the muscadine vines of their last remaining side shoots. Now they should have no choice but to grow upward.

Watered all the centipede grass areas to settle the soil down, and I added soil to the strip north of the barn. Amanda watered several areas on Veg Hill, washed clothes, and swept the apartment.

Amanda and I worked together to shoot a little video for the Compost Volunteers post. I then cut two saplings and used lightweight wire to fashion them into a circle to use as a lid for the compost pile.

After church and spending the bulk of the day in Montgomery, we returned to the farm about 4:00.  I adjusted the size and shape of my compost pile lid; then I covered the circle with deer fence and mounted it on the compost pile cage. We’re calling this compost plan F! While I worked on that Amanda transplanted the compost volunteers from the downhill pile and watered azaleas.

With that work finished, we set about planting the centipede grass. I had planned to use two parts sand to one part centipede seed (the seed is TINY), but the instructions said nothing about sand, so I just put the seed into the spreader and started spreading. We WAY overseeded our little area, but there’s apparently no problem putting down too much seed. Then Amanda and I raked the seed in lightly and spread straw lightly on the surface. Set the sprinkler up and watered one section. I’ll move the sprinkler tomorrow morning.

May 15, 2010

Welcomed to the farm today eight members of the Serendipity Sunday School class at VHUMC, plus Amanda’s dear friend Fran Wells. Great visit. We had a chance to show off the apartment, the barn, and our plans for the lodge, and we took a long walk onto the west side. The group ran out of stamina before Amanda and I could show them everything, but what a fun group.

One of the most fun discoveries of the day was our friend Lara Waits’ discovery of squash, cucumbers, and/or melons growing in the spot up the hill where our compost pile had been. We’ll transplant them to Veg Hill and see if we can find out what they really are!

May 14, 2010

Amanda’s beloved Aunt Betty Somerset died on Tuesday of this week, and her funeral was today. We were up early and on our way to Montgomery to spend the day with the Somerset family. It was a good day, and a reminder that when all is said and done, the only thing that really matters — the ONLY THING — is relationships.

We did some shopping in Montgomery on our way out of town, then ran some errands in Tallassee. Got back to the farm about 4:30. Amanda set about immediately watering her newly planted treasures, and they seemed to need it. I bush hogged the east orchard, did a little mowing, and distributed dirt beside the microclimate bed and in the area on the northwest corner of the barn, all in preparation for planting centipede seed.

With those tasks out of the way, I strung the cable for the clothesline. It looks nice. Now we wait for awhile before actually using it, because we want to plant the centipede and give it a chance to get established before we start walking on that area.

May 13, 2010

After two sessions in the morning, we recorded, edited, and published the weekly podcast. I drilled the holes and installed the hardware for the clothesline laterals and bolted them to the posts. Then I used Tractor’s bucket to lift the bush hog and hit the loose panel with a sledge hammer to bend it back out.

Bush hogged the rest of the west side (trail from the greenfield down to the creek, ridge trail, greenfield, Piccadilly. Tried to back up into some light weeds, and that was enough to bend the housing in again. Limped back to the barn and used the torch to cut the loose panel off. It’s gone now; chucked it into the dumpster. Went back and finished the bush hogging on the west side, including the west knoll. It’s basically ready for Serendipity now.

Bush hogging sent my hay fever into the stratosphere. Absolutely miserable. Showered and lay down to recover. After I quieted down I checked on the muscadines. More pruning of the “other” shoots. One more pruning (probably Sunday or so) and we’ll be down to one good shoot per plant.

May 12, 2010

Productive day. Started by removing the extra dirt from the west bed (I had put too much there when I built the bed). We simply raked it out onto the ground around the bed. Then I brought in more of the Rodney Griffith topsoil for the lawn on the west end of the pole barn, curving around to the lawn on the SW quadrant. The topsoil is lousy, but it’s apparently what we’re going to get when we order topsoil from Rodney.

While I was working on that, Amanda was working on the west bed. She planted the abelia that hadn’t made it into the ground yesterday, and then after a quick trip to town she introduced six more tiny salvia plants. Covered with a thick layer of hay mulch, it looks really nice.

I hand-raked the soil on the west and SW into the afternoon. Then I drilled holes in the three 6 x 6s that will support the clothesline. Amanda and I started setting the three posts at 6:00 and finished by about 6:45. We’re getting good at this. I had left a lot of tools out, so it took me about 20 minutes to clean everything up and get it put away. While I was doing that, Amanda planted two or three marigolds and watered.

May 11, 2010

Attended a workshop near Auburn on terminating cover crops and transplanting vegetables. Developed a roaring case of rye grass envy. Their rye grass was belly button high. We planted ours too late, and it’s hardly gotten knee high. And of course now we’re bush hogging it. Had a nice conversation with Jan Garrett, though, about what we’re doing and the progress we’re making. It was good to see her again and to meet her intern Liz, an ag student at Auburn.

Made another trip to True Value to get the pulleys and turnbuckles for the muscadine trellis. Attached them to the laterals, and then attached the laterals to the posts. The muscadine trellis is now FINISHED! At the end of the day it was a real pleasure to tie the four muscadines to a string hung between the wires of the trellis. I will continue to prune them all this season to force growth along the lines of the trellis.

Amanda planted all eight of her azaleas in the little tree stand north of the pole barn, and then at the end of the day she planted all but one of the key plants in the west flower bed. She has discovered that I put too much dirt in it, so I will need to help her remove some of the dirt.

May 10, 2010

Started the day with a trip to True Value to pick up a 1 x 4 x 10 and a 2 x 4 x 8. Cut up both so I could replace the broken vertical and add the diagonal brace on firewood pallet # 4. That completes the pallet repair, so pallets #1-5 are now braced and ready to be filled when Amanda and I are able to focus on the pile of firewood up the hill from the barn. My guess based on the number of Tractor’s buckets we filled is that we’ll have more than enough firewood to fill them and will need to decide what to do with the excess. And I already have my eye on four good-sized dead or dying trees that we could add to the mix if needed.

Amanda spent most of the morning weeding, both in the microclimate bed and on Veg Hill. The mulching is helping, but it doesn’t eliminate weeds; it just slows them down.

When I was finished with the firewood pallets, I set about clamping and drilling the laterals to the posts for the muscadine fence. I held off attaching the laterals, though, because the posts needed to be straight and true when we set them. I set up a t-post at each end of the muscadine row, and tied a string between the two posts. That gave us a guide to use in setting the 6 x 6s. Amanda broke off her work to help me, and we worked the rest of the day to set all nine 6 x 6 posts for the muscadine trellis. We let the posts set overnight. They’ll be ready anytime tomorrow or later for me to attach the laterals and then string the cable for the twin trellis lines.

May 9, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day! Amanda’s Mother’s Day gift was a new GPS device for her car. Patti has been accurate, but her battery has failed, so we decided it was time for an update. We missed church to drive into town and meet Mama for lunch at 11:00, then we returned to her house. Dug up a dead or dying palm tree and planted two knockout roses and a holly tree in her back yard. It was a splendid day to be working outside. Crisp, cool, and sunny, with low humidity.

We shopped at Wal-Mart for storage bins, shower caddy (so Amanda can shower outdoors now that hot weather has arrived), and a few groceries, and returned to the farm.

May 8, 2010

Today was Amanda’s 40th high school class reunion. She was up early and in Montgomery most of the day visiting with her Mom and then the women in her class, so I was left to entertain myself. Cut the tall grass and weeds that had grown up on the north side of the pond dam; they really had started to look ratty.

Then I decided to do something about the informal assortment of paint cans, tubs, etc. that had been stacking up on the front porch. The few things that we really need got a place on the pegboard or an open shelf. For the bulk of them I built what I’m calling a “crap crate” out of a pallet. It just has some vertical supports that extend up two feet with enough wire wrapped around them to keep things from falling off when I move the pallet. The crap crate is full and up on a pallet rack now; I already see a couple more things that belong in it, though, so I’ll probably be bringing it back down during the next few days and filling it up even more.

I spent most of the afternoon adding diagonal bracing to firewood pallets 3, 4, and 5. 3 and 5 are finished, but 4 needs a new vertical, so I also let it be the one that will wait for its diagonal until I can buy one more 1 x 4 10 from True Value.

I’ve developed some kind of pain in my right forearm that really became a problem in the afternoon and excruciating at the reunion with all the hand-shaking I was doing. I need to get James to take a look at it soon.

May 7, 2010

Knowing I needed to remove the bush hog to smooth the areas around the barn for grass, I decided to go ahead and finish the bush hog work in the morning. After a session in the morning I set out on my expedition. Didn’t finish, because I had a mishap near the East Ramp. I was backing into a stand of privet and apparently backed into a stump, which bent in the housing of the bush hog. That set up a horrible clatter when the blades of the bush hog actually began slicing through that section of housing. Bush hog now lying in Tractor’s bay but out of commission until I can address that.

In the afternoon I built the west bed for Amanda and filled it with the Rodney Griffith “topsoil.” It’s ready now for her to plant.

Amanda spent the day planting two sisters and corn. She was exhausted at the end of another long day.

May 6, 2010

Began the day by recording, editing, and publishing the weekly podcast. I then began working outside. Laid topsoil down on the remainder of row 11C, which is just about all the good topsoil. Then I cut down the three trees in the SE quadrant of Veg Hill. Not a one of them fell in the direction I had planned. That’s not a good record. Fortunately, however, there was no harm done. No tree fell on the deer fence, any of Amanda’s plants, or the weather station. I worked through lunchtime bucking the three trees and getting them deposited on the pile of firewood up the hill, as well as gathering the loose branches and getting them piled up so they’ll be ready to burn when they dry out. By the time I finished that, I was tuckered for the day, so I took my shower and sought the indoors for lawyer work.

Amanda took over on Veg Hill and planted two sisters (corn of various varieties together with beans of various varieties), and a little squash.

May 5, 2010

Emptied humanure buckets this morning and let them dry most of the day in the sunshine. Cooked sweet potatoes in the solar oven for the First Wednesday gathering at Epiphany.

Amanda was planting almost all day as usual. Squash, cucumbers, zucchini, and others. Need to get the full rundown from her and get it on the database. I spent the part of the day when I wasn’t doing lawyer work distributing topsoil to the south end of rows 9 (that was the biggie), 10, and 11. Still a good bit to go on row 11, and we’re running out of the richest topsoil. Next I’ll start pulling from the pile in the barn orchard, but it’s a noticeable stepdown in quality.

Placed the order this afternoon with Irrigation Mart for drip irrigation equipment. Should ship tomorrow.

May 4, 2010

Returned to the farm after an absence of three days to find evidence of quite a storm event. We got 2.43 inches of rain yesterday. Blew things around under the pole barn and apparently even blew some of Amanda’s mulch around on the microclimate bed.

May 1, 2010

We played host today to Amanda’s friend and colleague Charlotte Brammer and her family from Birmingham. Before they arrived, we were consumed with cleaning up everything for their arrival. Nice visit. This was the first day Amanda and I had walked over on the west side for many weeks. It was good to be back over there but tough to see all the beautiful views gone, obscured by foliage. After the Brammers left Amanda mulched and watered until late into the night. I did lawyer work.

April 30, 2010

This was the first day in a long time that we’ve worked at the farm all day without even opening the gate of Veg Hill. We’ve been needing to bush hog for a while. The bush hog is a bear to put on, so I wanted to do everything we needed done with other implements for awhile before we put it on. We punched several holes with the auger in the west bed for Amanda’s abelia and a couple of other plants whose names escape me.

Then I put the bush hog on and started cutting. Cut the hillside between the barn and the lodge site, the east orchard (messing up one of the pear trees’ cages in the process), and the barn orchard. Then I headed down the spine trail, cut a path to Longleaf Grove, then along the meandering west trail up to the west knoll.

After lunch, a nap, and a session, I cut the perimeter trail and several of the interior trails on the east side. It’s amazing how soggy some of the interior trails are even after this drought. They obviously were thoroughly saturated. Finished the day digging six holes for Amanda to plant additional lantana.

Amanda spent the entire day in the microclimate bed. She planted all five knockout roses in those holes I dug yesterday, then she planted the six lantana.

I’m ready now to declare an end to hostilities in the Great Computer War. I’ve been using my system exchange from Dell for three solid days, and it hasn’t exhibited any of the tendencies to hang up or shut down that I was experiencing with its predecessor.

April 29, 2010

Herb day. Amanda transplanted the mint, the rosemary, and the sage, all into a bed that hugs the east fence line, really east of Row #1. I dug holes for five knockout roses in the microclimate bed, but we didn’t get the roses planted. We hope that will happen tomorrow.

It midday, we recorded, edited, and published the weekly podcast, this one answering the remaining questions from Blakeley’s class. Next week we will be back to a normal schedule on the podcast, except that we will be making up for some lost time with news from the farm.

April 28, 2010

Gorgeous day. Just about perfect. Amanda spent the day in Birmingham. I spent it getting the new computer up to speed and cleaning my office. Not much farm work, but it feels great to have a reasonably clean desk again. Took delivery on a tri-axle load of topsoil from Rodney Griffith. Pretty sandy, but it should work okay for the areas where we need to plant grass.

April 27, 2010

It’s getting to be bush-hogging season. Because it’s such a bear to put on the bush hog, I like to do everything I need with other implements first so I can leave the bush hog on for a while once I attach it. We had the auger on for the muscadine holes, so we decided to go ahead and punch holes with it for the azaleas north of the barn and the deep holes needed for the clothesline. As we were finishing that up, my new computer arrived (yea!), so I focused for the rest of the day on getting all the systems changed over to it. Amanda planted begonias in the shady spot of row #11, as well as lots and lots of tomatoes. We’re going to be needing more t-posts soon to use in staking the tomatoes.

April 26, 2010

Amanda and I spent about an hour this morning just walking around Veg Hill and thinking through what needs to go where. We have reluctantly decided to bring down the big hickory and the big oak on the south end of Veg Hill. We’re hungry for full sun, and they just interfere too much with that. That still leaves lots of shade on the edges of the garden from the trees on the perimeter, and because they are holding up the deer fence, we couldn’t do anything about them even if we wanted to. It also leaves a small hickory about at the midpoint of row #11. We may take it out next year, but it stays in for this growing season anyway.

Amanda spent the afternoon planting tomatoes. Slow growing, because the plants need to be buried so deeply. I spent the afternoon cutting, gluing, and bolting together the nine 48″ laminated laterals for the muscadine trellis and the three 60″ laminated laterals for the clothesline. Working on the concrete floor of the pole barn all afternoon was hard on my feet, legs, and back. I’m tuckered now, but I’m fresh as spring clover compared to Amanda, who is dog-tired from planting all the tomatoes and toting hay to use to mulch them.

April 25, 2010

We finished the big rain event with 1.26″. The farm is fresh and clean this morning, with low humidity, high puffy clouds, and a gentle breeze. We sat in bed and updated the database this morning. Feels good to be back to current status!

I pushed the dirt back in over where I had done the digging yesterday while Amanda checked on her new plantings. I then cleaned the straw from last week out of Carma, my Corolla. Then I decided to clean the shop vac, which turned out to be a filthy project. Once I had done that, I had no choice but to take an unscheduled shower before we went to church.

April 24, 2010

A nice soaking rain most of the day. Nice enough in the morning, though, for us to get Tractor onto Veg Hill and punch nine holes with the auger for muscadine trellis. Yea! I had been dreading digging nine 3-foot holes with the hole diggers. Let’s hear it for fossil fuels!

Dug around north of the barn and located the line where the unfiltered water comes in. Confirmed that it’s 1 1/4″. I can tee off of it and go straight east before taking a 90-degree right across the implement ribbon, then back west to the beginning of the apartment, then left (south) through the drive-through gate to the header of the drip irrigation system. Then we can tee off of that to Veg Hill East and Veg Hill West that Amanda can control from the controller in the shop.

Got my shower early because it was raining. Supper from Cozumel. What a treat!

April 23, 2010

Spent the morning after one session thinking through irrigation needs and developing the final take-off for my shopping at True Value today. Spent $583 after Jeremy gave me great prices. Met John Haynie at the church and talked through the drip connections there.

During the afternoon I did lawyer work, then finished the day with a helpful conversation with Robin Robbins at Irrigation Mart in Louisiana. Got his name from Jan Garrett. He could not have been more helpful or knowledgeable. Good news: control from the barn won’t be as expensive as we had feared. Bad news: I can’t get by on 3/4 inch to Veg Hill. It would be great to have 1 1/4 inch, but the supply line to the barn is 1 1/4 inch, so that’s what I’ll use.

.11 inches of rain overnight.

April 22, 2010

Spent all morning at Epiphany working on the grounds with Maurice McCord. It looks great now. Back to the farm about 12:30. Put collards in the sun oven, then a late lunch. Spent most of the afternoon doing lawyer work. I did unload the knock out roses from 1-Ho, and I put together the take-off list for all the things I need from True Value tomorrow for clothesline, for muscadine trellises, for the faucets, and to reinforce the firewood pallets.

Amanda spent most of the day at the lake place with Lynda and Martha Lynn but got back in time to record the weekly podcast with me before she went outside to water.

April 21, 2010

Today was the day to rearrange all the firewood pallets. 6 & 7 moved down to front and center position, 8 & 9 above them. 10 & 11 on the ground waiting. So now we have six pallets seasoned and under roof. 12 still on the house site. Emptied the wood from 5 onto the other pallets under roof and stacked 5 on the rack ready to take on firewood for 2011-2012. In the process, I carelessly broke one of the folding verticals on #6. It still holds wood, but I will need to prepare it after we empty it.

Moved the extra roll of deer fence up above the apartment, along with the three extra metal poles. While I was up there, I cleaned the stack window above the refrigerator, so it’s ready to open anytime now.

So far so good on the compost pile. The deer fence seems to be at least slowing the possum down. Time will tell whether this is a permanent solution.

The oregano has been so happy in the microclimate bed that it has started taking it over. Reluctantly, Amanda decided for me to dig it up and transplant the bulk of it to an alcove in Veg Hill where it will get less sun. Amanda planted lots of potatoes this afternoon: blue potatoes, red potatoes, and fingerlings. She worked until after dark, while I did lawyer work. We’ve got to figure out a way for her to stop working earlier in the day.

April 20, 2010

Court in the morning, then we met in Tallassee at mid-day to drop off Carma at Parker Tire for repairs and maintenance. .04″ rain in the morning, and cooler. The possum found it no trouble to walk right through the hog wire cage into the compost pile, where he gorged himself before slowly wandering off after Amanda went out and threatened him with the pitchfork. He’s fearless. This afternoon I secured deer fence to the hog wire with hog rings.

Amanda planted two salvia plants this morning on row 11 and spread salvia seed south of the two plants. We were rained out most of the afternoon (we’re not complaining, mind you!), so she spent most of the afternoon starting seed in containers under cover in the pole barn. Nothing measured by the rain gauge, though.

April 19, 2010

Two sessions for me in the morning, while Amanda prepared ground for veg. We drove to town together in the early afternoon. She bought a good bit of new veg at Crain’s while I shopped for PVC fittings with Barbara at True Value. I was pleased with the prices: $9 for a brass faucet, $17 for an underground box, and of course I already own all the 3/4″ PVC pipe I need.

After we got back, I filed a couple of cases and then we set about planting in earnest. I toted wheelbarrows full of compost and distributed them in the rows on Veg Hill while she planted Romaine lettuce, bell peppers, and banana peppers.

The plants started looking magnificent when Amanda placed hay around them for mulch, but we had to slow down when we realized the T-tape would have to be below the mulch. So any mulch we place now will have to be removed and repositioned after we install T-tape. So now it becomes urgent that we get that T-tape here fast.

We had a strawberry surprise. Last fall when I was disking Veg Hill in preparation for the deer fence, I had strict instructions to spare the strawberries so Amanda could transplant them. I forgot and disked them up with everything else. Today she discovered some of the strawberries growing not far from where they had been last summer. A continuing demonstration that life just wants to be!

Last night we had caught a critter rooting around in the compost pile, so Amanda and I decided we needed to act decisively. This afternoon while she continued to plant, I consolidated the topsoil pile over the field lines and the compost pile up the hill from the barn into one pile, which is now between the pole barn and Veg Hill. I built a 4 1/2 foot enclosure from hog wire just like the one for the humanure compost pile, and I have now installed a new compost pile on the field lines.

April 18, 2010

Ran hose in the wee hours to the spot where the azaleas will be and let it dribble on the spot for the first one and then the spot for the second one. Awoke to a brisk north wind; this is a first for the spring.

Dug holes for the two azaleas, but had to move them six inches to the south because I hit the plate for the lightning discharge system. Makes me really glad I did this by hand!

Delightful visit at the Somerset Family Reunion with Edsel and Charles Edwards, father and son living and farming in Troy. We really need to spend more time with them, because they’re just brimming over with practical information and clearly enjoy sharing it.

I spent a good part of the afternoon working with Mama’s computer while Amanda stocked up on groceries. Late in the evening when we returned to the farm, we loaded water and took it over to the pear trees (about two gallons per tree – they were thirsty!) and talked about where to put the parking lot for the lodge.

April 17, 2010

Got up a tad earlier than usual and drove to Auburn to have breakfast with Charles and Nancy Veale before we hit the big Auburn University plant sale, which was timed to coincide with the A-day game. Great-looking veg plants. We picked up Sweet 100 tomatoes, Big Boy tomatoes, collards, banana peppers, eggplant, as well as two big azaleas, a dwarf gardenia, an abelia, and one other ornamental whose name escapes me. Also bought two “broken” (torn) bags of ‘Mater Dirt, a high quality topsoil. $81.

On the way out of town, Dave Gray and I talked on the phone, and he gave me lots of advice on the placement of faucets in the orchards. He and I both thought the pipe I have on hand was 1 inch, but it turns out it’s 3/4 inch. Need to find out how big a problem that is. Need brass faucets instead of plastic ones, and I need ball valves instead of gate valves. Look for boxes that don’t have a real thick lid, because they allow me to place the spigot head higher up (and therefore easier to reach). Be careful to place the box so that the spigot head is in the middle of the box, not the end of the pipe. As we were leaving town we saw the traffic backed up on College Street going toward the campus and were glad we were getting out when we were.

This afternoon Amanda watered and watered and watered. How can it be so dry when it was such a wet summer, winter, and spring? I picked up the chunks of firewood I had cut when we were working on the deer fence and deposited them in the firewood pile. Then I turned the compost pile.

Then I pulled the hog wire off the pallet rack and fashioned a 4 1/2 foot diameter circular cage for the humanure compost pile. I decided I needed to turn the pile to get a good mix of humanure and straw. Glad I did. I started the pile no more than two weeks ago, and already, I literally have lost my humanure. It’s gone! All I have is rich, dark soil. This compost thing continues to amaze me.

Installed the auger so we could drill two holes for the big azaleas on the west side. Started drilling when I remembered that’s where the rainwater harvesting line runs, so we stopped. We’ll need to dig by hand.

April 16, 2010

Got nothing on the farm done, and proud of it because of the reason. Amanda was inducted tonight into the Robert E Lee High School Hall of Fame, which is where we met and fell in love. Amanda addressed the seniors in the morning, visited with the other nominees over an excellent lunch in the high school cafeteria – ah, the memories! She received her award and gave a short acceptance speech in the evening. So we were gone from the farm from early morning until late at night. Worth it. Worth it.

April 15, 2010

Woke up in the wee hours of the morning with taxes on the brain, so I went ahead and finished preparing our returns and got them e-filed by about 5:00. Wasn’t able to go back to sleep.

Lots of paperwork for AFLC in the morning. Purchased hardware from True Value at mid-day for securing trash cans from dogs. Three sessions back-to-back in the afternoon. Amanda arrived exhausted. We recorded podcast, and I edited it and uploaded it. Then I grilled chicken while Amanda worked on her talk for tomorrow when she addresses the seniors at Robert E Lee High School. She’s being inducted into the Robert E Lee High School Hall of Fame Friday night.

April 14, 2010

Amanda headed to Birmingham for several appointments. I paid $25 for Joe Jeffcoat to bring me one of those big round bales of hay. He assures me that he uses no chemicals in his hay fields, only in his pasture. Found him because of a sign he has on the road just south of Johnny G’s on Gilmer saying “Hay for Sale” with his phone number.

Cooked a sweet potato in the sun oven; may be the first time we’ve managed to enjoy a sweet potato without overcooking it. Just perfect. Cooked pork strips on the grill. It’s good to have a break from chicken every once in a while.

April 13, 2010

Busy day for AFLC (five sessions), so I spent most of the day doing lawyer work. Amanda did some cleanup in the morning, went to town and picked up the mail and some new shoelaces for me. She spent most of the afternoon transplanting the strawberries Jan Garrett had given us back in February and that we had heeled in in the south-wall flower bed. Turned out to be a much bigger job than she was expecting, because the strawberries had gotten so happy in the bed. “I should have done this a lot sooner.” She worked on those strawberries until well after sundown.

Cooked squash and then asparagus (I let it overcook) in the sun oven. Delicious!

April 12, 2010

My friend Walter Scott came to see us at the same time that Blake came to work on the computer. Busy morning! Amanda cooked green beans and a sweet potato in the Sun Oven while watering nearly everything. We are getting pretty parched, so the plants seemed grateful for the help.

I had a couple of sessions in the afternoon, and then Amanda and I drove to Auburn to pick up the other card that the kids had left with the Veales. Charles drove up as we did, so we had a nice visit with Charles and Nancy. Raced back here just in time for my Lawyers.com chat.

April 11, 2010

Returned from the farm from a 4-day trip to Memphis to find there was a violent wind that blew while we were gone. Must have knocked over the trash can on the front porch, and some kind of critter got into the trash and spread it all over the porch and the area to the north and south of the porch. Bummer.

Tallassee reported .48 inches of rain on Thursday, but we got only .37 inches. Glad to have it, though.

It’s good to be back home.

April 7, 2010

Mama came up for a visit with the kids. We started the day by recording the weekly podcast with Lee, Amanda, Mama, Joe, Michelle, and Smith. What fun! Let it run long, because we were having a good conversation.

We have decided that Lee needs to focus on the legal practice and let Amanda take day-to-day responsibility for the operation of Longleaf Breeze.

Said goodbye to the kids this afternoon. It’s been fun seeing them, but all good things must end.

April 6, 2010

Fun hosting Joe, Michelle, and Smith today. We cooked green beans, then sweet potatoes, then toll house brownies in the sun oven. We’re really getting into the rhythm of this solar cooking thing!

April 5, 2010

My Windows Vista disk arrived. Yea! So far, so good. All drivers installed. Need to transfer data now and install applications.

System hung up this afternoon. Here we go again.

Got the new Lawn Boy lawn mower running. Cranked the first pull, always encouraging for a new motor. I LIKE this lawn mower. I walk behind it, but it pulls itself, and at a good clip.

Moved the composting toilet around to the west end of the pole barn per instructions from Amanda. I keep thinking of it as a toilet, and she keeps thinking of it as an outhouse. One or both of us probably needs to adjust.

Amanda drove to Atlanta to pick up Joe, Michelle, and Smith and bring them to the farm. Smith seemed to enjoy the tour of Veg Hill and the East Orchard. He hasn’t made it up to the lodge site yet, but we hope we’ll do that tomorrow.

April 4, 2010

Happy Easter! Started the day by installing the outdoor sensing unit for the weather station in Veg Hill, on that post we set yesterday. Seems to be working well.

We were ushers this morning at Epiphany. Everything went smoothly. Attendance of 75 at worship, which we think may be a record. Gives you an idea of the size of our church. Lunch afterward with Mama and the Johnson family. Fun visit, and it was good to see everybody.

April 3, 2010

Big day for Veg Hill work. Started the day by setting the post for the weather station over on Row 5.

Amanda and I took a couple of hours laying out rows 6-12 with flags every 15 feet, and it was the best time we could have spent. Now we know where each row and aisle starts, plus we have a ready measure of distance on each row. So when Amanda says “I want to plant 10 feet of peas here, we’ll know quickly without measuring or pacing how much to plant.

We also used the Earthway seed spreader for the first time. It’s clearly designed for larger quantities of seed than we were using, but Amanda said it was much faster than last year’s process of hand-planting.

We finished up the day planting. Lettuce, spinach, carrots, parsnips, and lots more. Amanda and I need to update the Planting Database so it’s all reflected there.

April 2, 2010

Good Friday, traditionally the day to plant your garden in central Alabama. We celebrated by planting four muscadines on row 12 (in order, from the south, Dixie, Dixie, Cowart, Cowart) on 20 ft spacing. We also planted nine thornless blackberries on a short row 13 at the north end of  Veg Hill. Need to get the order from Amanda.

Found out that the disk I have with Windows Vista has a problem, so Dell is shipping me another. But here I sit with a computer that won’t work until Monday. Dell got me up and operating using an old XP disk I had lying around, even though I think I’ll not use it much. Typing this on the Dell D820 I had lying around.

April 1, 2010

Mainly a lawyer day for me, while Amanda systematically watered all the orchard trees, the flowers in the bed on the south wall, the blueberries, and the mushroom logs. Kept her busy.

Toward the end of the day, Amanda and I laid out the beginnings of the rows and aisles on Veg Hill. 1/3 of an acre is a LOT of garden space. Will we ever use it?

I uninstalled and re-installed Windows during the night, so I am seriously sleep-deprived right now.

March 31, 2010

Had a court date today, a rarity for me, that kept me tied up during the morning. This afternoon I unpacked and began setting up the Davis Vantage Pro2 weather observation station that was Amanda’s Christmas gift from me. We had decided that it would live in the middle of Veg Hill, so I’ve been waiting to know where our rows and aisles will be to unpack it. That’s getting close now, though. No problem on the distance from Veg Hill to the inside of the apartment. It seems to handle that just fine.

Farewell to our daughter Adrian. She’s headed back to Los Angeles tonight.

March 30, 2010

The deer fence is FINISHED! Well, not exactly, because there are still some nips and tucks still needed. An extra stake here, an extra stainless steel tie there, but the perimeter is now intact, and we think we’re ready to begin laying out aisles and rows. It was great to have our daughter Adrian’s help; couldn’t have finished today without her.

March 29, 2010

Morning clouds gave way to partly cloudy skies in the afternoon and warmth, but with hefty winds. Four sessions, so I spent most of the day indoors. Amanda and Adrian made a day trip to Birmingham.

Installed simpler hose reel (just a plastic rack, $3) on north side of barn. Seems to work great.

Paced off lodge components. Getting excited about building the lodge!

Enjoyed wandering around the core campus, seeing all the trees budding. All the newly-planted fruit trees are budding. Every one, no exceptions. Even the big wild persimmon is now budding. Spring is a wonderful thing.

March 28, 2010

Returned after a couple of days’ absence to see the farm busting out in spring budding. It’s exciting to witness. Nice walk in the afternoon. Saw a beautiful purple and yellow flower down by the creek. What is it? There are more bulbs coming up around it whose greenery looks similar, so we hope they’ll be bearing blossoms too.

Bought Lawn Boy lawn mower at Home Depot tonight after a nice dinner with the Toms at Cracker Barrel. Left the lawn mower on Will Call so we can come back with 1-Ho on Tuesday when we come in to have lunch with Mama and pick it up then.

March 24, 2010

Gorgeous day. Just a light haze, and nice and warm. Got most of the east line of the deer fence up, although we had to knock off early to go to the Lenten gathering at Epiphany and didn’t finish, but it was fun to show off Adrian to our friends at church. We hope to get the deer fence stabilized tomorrow morning before I have a couple of sessions.

Tim Ledbetter’s folks came this morning and got the utility sink by the washing machine installed. Now we are ready to bathe our grandson Smith on the premises.

More computer problems. Turns out we’re not over the problems. Bummer.

March 23, 2010

What a crazy day! Adrian woke up feeling terrible, so we all thought it would be best for her to go ahead and see a doctor today if possible. Mama came to have lunch with Adrian, and while we were walking her around showing her what’s new, Tim Ledbetter arrived to prepare for the work to happen on the storage room sink tomorrow. Within minutes after he left, Blake from Unisys arrived to work on my Dell computer, and that took about an hour and 45 minutes. While he was working, Amanda cracked a crown, so she headed for Birmingham to see Dr. Moulton. Soon after she left, Adrian left for the doctor’s office (and then to Atlanta), and Mama left to head back to Montgomery. Wild.

Finished the day with some lawyer work while Amanda traveled back to the farm. The deer fence waits patiently.

The big accomplishment of the day, and no one but me will realize how huge this is, is that my computer appears to be operating normally and in a stable manner with no disruptive shutdown all afternoon.

March 22, 2010

Mounted hose reel. Had to buy hose coupling to create a hose long enough to reach from the reel to the faucet. Cold and windy, just not pleasant outside. Spent most of the day indoors.  Amanda drove to Atlanta to pick up Adrian in Atlanta. Yea! Unfortunately, Adrian arrived with a sinus infection and really doesn’t feel well.

March 21, 2010

Church, then to Montgomery for lunch with Mama. Bought five more Home Depot buckets. We now own 11 identical Home Depot buckets and 8 lids. Surely that will be enough for all the farm work we need to do, plus six dedicated to composting toilet. Also bought hose reel for the faucet on the north side of the barn.

Rained a good part of the afternoon, so it was a good day not to be trying to get anything done at the farm. Spent all the afternoon and into the evening converting Mama’s data over to our old Dell laptop.

March 20, 2010

Purchased toilet paper holder and cypress mulch from Wal-Mart this morning. I hope the mulch will provide decent cover material while we search for something more permanent (i.e. free). Attached the toilet paper holder to the side of the composting toilet. Seems to work fine.

Spent most of the day with Amanda’s friend Marigene, who came to see us. Amanda chopped up some zucchini, tomatoes, and onions in the morning, and we cooked them during the on-again, off-again partly cloudy day.

March 19, 2010

Cooking weather!

Moved composting toilet to the east end of the pole barn (but still under roof). Amanda thinks it will be less noticeable and seem less out of place there.

Hung one of Mama’s still life paintings to the right of the back door, and installed blinds in the bathroom window. Amanda did a deep cleaning in preparation for the Toms’ arrival this afternoon.

Cleaned out the Sun Oven. Mixed up toll house cookie dough. We’ll cook it this afternoon while the kids are here.

Great visit with the Tom Bordens, Tom, Martha Lynn, Borden, Jack, Anna, and Ben. We made toll house cookies, built and fed the fire, waded in the creek, and sat around and talked. Thoroughly pleasant afternoon.

March 18, 2010

Lawyer day for me. Teaching mediators on Alabama law and taxes in the morning, dealing with computer issues in the afternoon.

Amanda in Birmingham most of the day.

March 17, 2010

St. Patrick’s day!

More rain. Recorded the weekly podcast this morning, knowing we would be unable to record it tomorrow. Cleaned out Tractor’s bucket of all the deer fence tools so we could swap to pallet forks and unload futon into shop. Swapped tables in my office. Measured, cut, and loaded geotextile fabric in 1-Ho for John Haynie’s greenhouse.

Amanda ordered blackberries, and I ordered Selco pruners.

While I finished the day with two sessions, Amanda planted all six of the remaining blueberries, two tifblue, two climax, one premier, and one brightwell. They had already started to bud, so she decided not to do any pruning.

March 16, 2010

Finally saw some sunshine today, although it was still brisk and windy. Had a little cooking weather this afternoon but didn’t use it.

Installed deer fence fabric the length of the long west line, turned the corner and finished about the west half of the short north line to the point where it intersects with the gate. We’ll continue at that point the next time we work on the fence, most likely this weekend.

Doing some thinking about the greenhouse, which we think now will be north of the barn just north of the line of blueberries. Tentatively 24′ long by 12′ wide, dug into the north side of the hill a tad, with a black concrete block wall on the north and west side (to store heat and to block the coldest winds), and glass (or perhaps plastic membrane?) on the other walls and ceiling.

March 15, 2010

Beware the Ides of March, when, at least at Longleaf Breeze in 2010, it continued cold and blustery. Promised partly cloudy skies stayed cloudy all day long, with a chilling NW wind, but at least no rain.

Worked most of the day on the deer fence. Attaching the fencing fabric is the toughest job so far. The fabric rolls are heavy, and the fabric has a tendency to puff out at the top. Even so, we made a good bit of progress. Finished the south run, turned the corner, and were on the way up the west side when we ran out of gas and daylight, in that order.

Measured out places for the six new blueberries from George. Looks like plenty of room for the 20 bushes we have decided are our ultimate goal, all in a single row immediately north of the pole barn, on six foot centers.

The bruce plums are budding, and the peaches are beginning to bud too.

Amanda was working in the flower garden on the south side of the pole barn when she spotted a small black snake sunning himself, curled up in a pocket next to the building. We hated to upset his home, but we decided it would be a good idea to fill in the pockets, so I did that late this afternoon.

March 14, 2010

Spring ahead. Spent most of the day at church and in Montgomery hanging with Amanda’s Mom.

Wildlife camera shows nothing at the compost pile. I had attached it to a T-post, which proved to be less stable, so when I redeployed it, I attached it to a nearby tree. The viewing angle is less ideal, but it’s more stable now.

Amanda agreed with my suggestion for the placement of the greenhouse. Need to be careful, though, because the greenhouse is adjacent to the utility chase. Need to make sure any excavation near the chase is handled very carefully.

We’re also firming up plans for the fire pit (SW of the lodge, just on the other side of the adolescent longleaf).

Finished the day with a nice walk over to the West Knoll and back.

March 13, 2010

Good to be back at the farm. Veg Hill is looking positively verdant, and the hillside north of the pole barn where the blueberries are growing is alive with fresh green from the rye grass we planted there. The barn orchard is coming along, but very slowly.

Had high hopes of getting started early and going at it all day on attaching deer fence fabric to the monofilament line. But more rain!! All day, with only a short break here and there. Worked indoors almost all day.

I played lawyer all day. Sure was nice to get caught up.

Amanda made the most of the day to order seed. She placed a modest order with Seed Savers Exchange and a large order with Southern Exposure. Need to put something about her orders on the site.

Got wildlife camera working and trained it directly on the compost pile. The collected wisdom of the foyer group tonight is that we have an armadillo. Oh joy.

March 12, 2010

I had lunch with the guys in “Lunch Bunch” today. This is a group of men who, with a couple of subtractions and additions, have been meeting every month for lunch together for more than 30 years. It was good to see them again. Watched from the table as one of the staff dumped great mounds of food into a cart, no doubt headed eventually for the landfill. Perfectly wonderful, rich organic matter about to become a storage problem.  Hurts to watch that. It just hurts.

1-Ho brought the futon and the wheelbarrow back to the farm. Got Mike Harper’s help to load it into the truck; now Tractor, Amanda, I will have to team up to place it on the porch so we can use it while Joe and Michelle are here.

March 11, 2010

Just a hint of green now on the barn orchard, the first hint of rye grass germination there.

The compost pile has morphed into a way for us to attract and feed wildlife. I put organic matter in the pile, even cover it with dirt, then the next day I go back and it’s dug up and gone. Need to set up the wildlife camera and see what kind of animal we’re attracting.

Worked on the house in Birmingham. Wish I could get Tractor and his bush hog to Birmingham!

It is such a joy using the composting toilet. It’s almost sickening to flush perfectly good humanure down the flush toilet when I’m away from the farm.

Recorded the weekly podcast.

March 10, 2010

Amanda now in Birmingham. PUNISHING rains last night, and continued all day. Should have done a better joy diverting the drainage flow around Veg Hill. We have a long river running more or less north to south down the spine of Veg Hill. It calmed down later in the day, however, and Veg Hill appears to have survived relatively unscathed. Glad to have that rye grass growing on it!

First sign of rye grass growing on the area west of the pole barn where the clothesline will be.

Edited composting toilet video this morning and wrote post on it.

Walked down to the creek midday between showers. Wildest I’ve ever seen the flow in the creek.

March 9, 2010

Finished our first composting toilet. Yea! Still to come is the construction of a three-bin composting structure, one bin for this year’s compost, another bin for next year’s, and one in between (with a roof) for storage of cover material. We have a few weeks to do this, but we really don’t need to tarry.

Took the Vespa into town. Good to see its battery was still strong even though I hadn’t cranked it in several weeks.

Got so focused on the coming storm that I wasted 2-3 hours of good cooking weather. I’ve learned my lesson: always have something you can throw in the Sun Oven if you have unexpected sunshine.

March 8, 2010

Worked some more on the composting toilet. Purchased hinges, bolts, and nuts at True Value for top cover. Now I need to mount hinges, cut hole in cover, and mount sides. Making progress!

Full sun with only a wispy cloud here and there. Put a sweet potato in the Sun Oven at 12:00 noon, and it was overcooked (ruptured) by 2:00 pm. I continue to be amazed at the utility and versatility of the Sun Oven.

This afternoon, took a long, leisurely walk on the East side. Several of the spots that had been flooded are now dry again, but it may be temporary. 1-4″ of rain forecast for the remainder of this week, starting tomorrow (Tuesday) night.

March 7, 2010

Amanda in CA. Lee edited old Veg Hill prep footage from November into 4:30 loop, uploaded to YouTube.

Sunday School, Church, and lunch with Mama.

Posted on blog about early prep and linked to video.

Edited video on disking and setting posts for the deer fence.

March 6, 2010

This is the first day I’ve started keeping this log. Wonder whether I’ll be consistent?

Amanda in CA. Finished installing monofilament line for deer fence. Shot video on last (South) leg.

Lee chose spots for greenhouse and fire pit, both subject to Amanda’s approval.

Began assembling primitive box for simple bucket composting toilet. Got the bracing on, and realized the diagonal measurements are off. Need to start over.

Pulled grill down for chicken I’m planning to buy tomorrow when I go to Montgomery to have lunch with Mama.

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