April

Key Tasks

Time to start turning and watering the humanure compost and start a new pile. Plant heat-loving vegetables (corn, tomatoes, beans, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and peppers).

April 1

2014

Filled beds 9-12 with soil and smoothed them out, then used Rodney dirt to fill in around the beds and smoothed them out. Took time in the middle of the day for a session and changing the sign at the church.

April 2

2014

Tom came this morning and helped with the raised beds. We had a little harder time than we had before getting the four pads (for Beds 13-16) prepared, and I had given up hope that we would get all four beds placed today. Fortunately, however, the placement went smoothly, and we were able to get the fourth bed placed just before noon, when Tom needed to leave. Even had time for the three of us (Amanda, Lee, and Tom) to enjoy a cool glass of water on the porch admiring our handiwork. This afternoon I used Rodney dirt to fill in the low spots in and around the beds. The next full day I have, I will start early with the compressor and work to get hardware cloth on all four beds in one day. That way I won’t need to put up the compressor and take it back out again.

April 3

2014

Published the podcast in the wee hours of this morning. This morning I cut all four sheets of hardware cloth for beds #13-16 and deposited them on the floor of Veg Hill. So now they’re ready for me to attach the next chance I get. Then EfM at the church and printing the bulletin. Then we drove to the lake and back. This afternoon I loaded up the compressor in Scamp. I will keep it there and shuttle back and forth. That way I won’t need to drape all those heavy cords across the yard. I’ll just drive it back to the barn periodically to recharge the tank.

April 4

2014

The fireflies are back! Went out to pee this morning about 3:30, and the woods were alive with the flickering lights of the fireflies, more than I’ve seen in decades. Could it be that we’re providing them a healthy environment? I certainly hope so. Started out with high hopes and the best of intentions this morning to get some hardware cloth attached, because the chance of rain was zero all morning. Then came hard, driving rain. Chance of rain had been changed from zero to 80 and then 100% in the space of about 45 minutes. Weird. Then the rain went away again, and I was able to attach hardware cloth to all four beds before I stopped for a shower and lunch. This afternoon Amanda and I ran several errands in town. Then we did some quiet work before feeding the fish.

April 5

2014

Weather today was perfect. Cool, breezy, not to sunny, just right. Today was all about preparing for and then enjoying the visit from our friends in Birmingham. First I mowed a couple of patches where the grass had grown up extra fast and high. Then I took longer than I had expected to get the compressor and its hose retainer put back together in the wake of the raised bed do-over. Then I tried unsuccessfully to get the weedeater cranked before giving up on it and blowing off the porch of the barn and the pavilion and porch of the lodge. The pollen on the lodge porch was as bad as I’ve seen it. Then I showered and did some indoor work before we headed to 1220 to meet the group. Delightful visit here after lunch, and then a quick nap before heading to foyer group at the Harbers’ house.

April 6

2014

A rainy day, but a good day. Started with Sunday School and then worship. Then fellowship time in the Little House. Then to a cast meeting for Tecumseh, which we’re now pronouncing with a long “e” sound at the end. Then to Super Foods to buy catfish feed and chicken feed. Then home. Took some time to think through hymns for Palm Sunday before relaxing for the evening.

April 7

2014

A really lazy day. Spent most of the morning pulling everything together for Palm Sunday: bulletin, narrative, music, etc. Then correspondence in the afternoon. Almost finished with my 2011 taxes. That may not sound special to you, but it’s huge for me. This afternoon after we walked down to check on the flow of the flood waters through the creek pipe (suitably “angry”), I attached a sheet of hardware cloth to the bottom of the chicken coop. Now the girls will be reasonably secure from predators, but they won’t be able to scratch while they’re in the coop. That means we’ll need to let them out during most every day to wander about.

April 8

2014

Today I pulled spaghetti hose for the last four beds and then filled the beds with soil and raked the soil smooth in each bed. As I worked I discovered that we finally have some asparagus spears! Counted seven spears. When I see a few more, I’ll feel comfortable harvesting a meal’s worth for us actually to eat.

April 9

2014

I hung out clothes today and folded them after they were dry, but most of the day was focused on trenching for the irrigation header that will run between the last two ranks of raised beds. It will run from north to south between beds 9-12 on the east and beds 13-16 on the west and supply those eight beds. Then it will run on down and provide water to the asparagus bed.

April 10

2014

Hung out clothes for a third straight day, and we finally have worked our way through most of them now. Then I spent most of the rest of the day on quiet work: publishing podcast, preparing for EfM, a morning session, EfM, printing the bulletin, and then correspondence in the afternoon.

April 11

2014

This morning I heard the night bird for the first time this season! Such a lovely sound in the quietness of the night. This morning Oddie ran off some vultures that were hanging out up by the lodge. I haven’t shared this with Amanda yet, but I think they were there because they smelled the compost putrifying. Need to get some more browns in there fast! This morning we drove up to the lake to deliver some laundry and to place keys for Ruffin and Cathy. This afternoon I started building the manifolds for the drip irrigation of beds 9-16. Spent probably two hours on a futile attempt to improve my technique before giving up and deciding to live with the leaks. But by the time I had built two of the four manifolds my strength was gone, so I gathered up my tools and closed out the day. Back in the barn, I decided to clean out the rotating tool tray and replace the sagging particle board shelf on which it sits with the last remaining plywood shelf.

April 12

2014

Reported to the church about 9:15 and set about mowing. weedeating, blowing, etc. Worked on the grounds until about 11:45, when Amanda and I knocked off to head to Loachapoka for dulcimer group practice. We stopped off at Super Foods on the way back, then to the church to get the truck and my tools I had left there. Then home to feed the fish and relax for the evening.

April 13

2014

20th anniversary celebration at the church was a huge success. Well-attended, well executed, delicious food. Just an all-round good day. I was exhausted by the time we made it home.

April 14

2014

Finished up the last of the drip irrigation manifolds before the rain set in. Scott Ruppert was working a good bit of that time on removing the concrete top from the outdoor serving area on the porch of the lodge. It was remarkable how quickly he was able to work once he got the right tool. I spent most of this afternoon figuring Mama’s taxes and getting them filed.

April 15

2014

Awoke during the wee hours to the news that they have dramatically lowered the forecast low for tonight from 37 to 32. And when Tallassee is 32, that means we’ll probably get down to 29 or 30. So here in mid-April, we’re looking at a killing frost, particularly for the fruit trees. Unfortunately, there is virtually nothing I can do to protect them. I spent most of the day on taxes. Update: The low temp turned out to be 36, so I think we escaped any major damage.

April 16

2014

Decided more or less on the spur of the moment this morning travel to Prattville Farm Supply and buy four pullets. We brought them home in two closed cardboard boxes, and they have already settled into life in the coop. The big issue is Oddie, who keeps wanting to treat them like prey and go after them. It’s been an exhausting and frustrating day.

April 17

2014

Oddie stayed inside, on his leash, or in his crate all night. He’s settling into more of a routine, accepting that his new life is one lived in a more confined manner. The girls seem to have fared well overnight, but we do not yet have any eggs. They managed to spray all their food around the coop, so we’ll go through a lot of feed if we don’t get them out and free-ranging. By the end of the day we had two eggs! We let the girls out during the day, and it was absolutely fascinating to watch them forage for grass and bugs. They just loved scratching and running free. Toward nightfall all three went back in the coop without our having to do anything.

April 18

2014

Lots and lots of rain. We had Good Friday worship service this morning, then a handful of us lingered to begin getting the nave ready for Easter worship. At home, I stayed indoors most of the afternoon and worked on taxes and made good progress.

April 19

2014

Amanda left at 4:00 this morning to take Adrian to the Atlanta airport. I headed to Beans & Rice at the church. It was a busy morning; for a while this morning we only had seven folks. Then I lingered to print the bulletin before heading home to meet Amanda and then to Loachapoka. When we returned we let the girls loose in the garden. I fashioned a temporary run from goat fence that accomplished nothing; they simply walked right through the big holes in it and could probably have flown over it if it had been finer mesh. So even though it was futile, it was a good learning experience!

April 20

2014

Easter was wonderful. Wells called our lay people “a well-oiled machine,” and he’s got a point. Things did go smoothly.

April 21

2014

Spent most of the day buying the materials for and building a run for the chickens. 8 x 8, with 36″ high walls. 1 x 4 bands at top and bottom, with 2 x 4 utility fence walls and chicken wire top. Even has shade cloth over a little more than half the space in the run. Yet it’s still light enough that, in a pinch, one person can move it to a new spot if needed. Oddie is still struggling. After he made a nuisance of himself jumping on the Veg Hill fence. I listened to him yelp and squeal for about three hours while I worked on the run. Seriously questioning whether he’s going to make it.

April 22

2014

This morning I began by moving the run to a different place in the orchard where we could see it more easily. Then I removed the feeder and the waterer from the coop and moved it (with the ladies inside) to the orchard. They made the trip well and immediately took to the run. I was pleased to see how happily they used it, and I was a bit taken aback at what they do to and 8 x 8 square in the course of a day. The ground is loose, trampled, and churned up. The vegetation is not all gone, but there is certainly less of it. This seems to be exactly what the turf needs, so I’m delighted. But it does mean that we will need to move the ladies frequently, especially when we try to accommodate 12 birds in a run of this size. This afternoon I closed up the irrigation trench serving beds 9-16. I still have a couple of tapes that need to be swapped out, but that’s not urgent. I also need to change out the tape that serves the one trellised row on Veg Hill. I am becoming increasingly pessimistic about Oddie’s living peacefully with chickens. The one chance we gave him to go see them in the orchard, he ran around the run and barked and harassed the chickens no end, stressing them out terribly. Amanda’s looking into some kind of flexible barrier we can set up around the run. I’m more interested in finding another home for him.

April 23

2014

The main focus of the morning was digging out to find out where I might be able to insert sand filters. After a couple of hours, I was delighted to find a spot before the line splits that’s PVC only, meaning I can insert the filter without any help from Tim Ledbetter’s folks dealing with the PEX. I have uncovered the full section. Today I bought the adapters to transition from the PVC to the threaded connectors of the filter. I forgot to buy the underground box I need to house it in, but I can easily add that later. Now I just need to find a day when I can work without interruption and with full access to the hardware store until I know the water is back up and running well. After extensive research, today we ordered an e-collar for Oddie. I’m becoming more intrigued with what it might allow us to do in training him, not just to leave the chickens alone but also to stop jumping on people, to wait politely by the door, to go quietly and quickly to his crate, and lots of other things. Hope I’m not expecting too much of it!

April 24

2014

Recorded the podcast this morning and published it this afternoon after EfM and printing the bulletin in town. I also picked up that large underground box I need. The e-collar has arrived and will need to charge for 24 hours before first use, which will be on Saturday morning.

April 25

2014

Started out the day getting the ladies squared away with a new spot for foraging. Then a visit from Scott and James to plumb the outdoor sink at the lodge. Amanda will be relieved this is done. Then I hitched up Oddie’s collar long enough to let him begin to experience the positive tone and associate it with praise and a treat. Then some indoor work. Then I loaded up some scrap from the floor of Veg Hill in the pickup. Then I cut some fresh sticks for Tecumseh to use during his talk tonight. In the process I dropped Rhona’s good concave pruners (black metal) on the floor of the orchard somewhere. By some miracle I found them. Then I delivered the load of scrap to the City Shop and drove to Loachapoka for most of the day, then to the Patterson Log Cabin for rehearsal, then home.

April 26

2014

Spent the first part of the day at the Lee County Gathering at Loachapoka, marked by two great classes. The first was on the harmonica, with Ray Major. The second was with Guy George on the steel pan. Both were revelations, and I now can envision playing both the harmonica and steel pan on a regular basis with the dulcimer group. Then this afternoon we drove to Horseshoe Bend to present Tecumseh there. A minimum of technical problems, and the performance was fun.

April 27

2014

Today was “Low Sunday” at church. Gentle and mellow but with decent attendance. Then we had lunch with Mama, Adrian, and Jeff. Then we came home and got a long-overdue Sunday afternoon nap.

April 28

2014

Spent most of my day installing the sand filter on the water system. It would have gone so much more smoothly if I had guessed right on the size of the existing pipe. I had concluded it was 1 1/2 inches but it turned out to be 1 1/4 instead, and I didn’t figure it out until I had already opened up the water system. Took two trips to True Value (I HATE threaded pipe joints), but I finally got it closed up by mid-afternoon. Spent the rest of the afternoon mowing the blueberry strip and the grass south of the lodge.

April 29

2014

The main task today was to deliver and install Mama’s new computer. I was able to get everything working as it should be, except that she doesn’t have MS Word installed, and I wasn’t able to get the scanner working. Lingering issues.

April 30

2014

Amanda was gone to Auburn all day and then to Horseshoe Bend. I celebrated the day with lots of mowing and weedeating.

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