May

Key Tasks

Time to open stack windows. Move firewood from front-and-center position. Heating season is over. Make sure all firewood for next season is cut, split, and stacked, and get it out in the sunshine if it’s not already seasoned. Suppress new blackberry primocanes. Late May is a great time to take new muscadine cuttings for propagation.

May 1

2014

We recorded the podcast early this morning so Amanda could head back to Auburn for her landscaping class. After I edited the podcast, I discovered that I had left the good camera up at Horseshoe Bend. Vester confirmed that it was there, so I took off. Then EfM. Then a session. This afternoon I tried to take a picture of me mowing, but it was out of focus. I think I left the lens on manual focus. Finished by mowing the yard around the barn.

May 2

2014

The CAMGA plant sale (pricing day) was the main event this morning. Then back to the farm, where I touched up the rough spots on the outdoor sink cabinet at the lodge. Then I glued one side of Amanda’s wooden music stand and left it clamped overnight. I also introduced Oddie to his collar. Found his attention level to be 39. At that level, I can pretty much depend on a nick to get his attention. Used it to discourage him from the chickens and to discourage him from entering the microclimate bed. We finished up the night feeding the fish and leaving everything primed to take care of the ladies at first light so we can head to Wetumpka at 6:00.

May 3

2014

Up before dawn so we could take care of the chickens at first light and then drive to Wetumpka to deliver plants to the CAMGA plant sale. We stayed and worked for about three hours. I delivered a couple of trees to Angela Peltier’s house, then ran a couple of errands in Wetumpka before heading for home. One of the errands was to pick up two big plastic barrels to use in watering the pecans. They had been used before for vinegar, so there’s a really strong smell, but they’ll be safe to use once I rinse them thoroughly. Back here at the farm, I glued the other half of Amanda’s music stand. Then I blew off the pavilion and porch, and Amanda and I worked out the seating arrangement for her shower tomorrow. Oddie spent about three hours off leash this afternoon, a real breakthrough. I had to nick him several times, but the ladies got through it well and so did he. It’s basically an adjustment of his mindset from regarding my commands as optional to regarding them as mandatory. He’s coming along.

May 4

2014

Oddie had his first morning walk off leash today. What a relief! He stayed relatively close to me the whole time; I never had to correct him, and he got several chances to sniff and pee. This afternoon Amanda had Skye’s baby shower. I managed to get almost all the keys distributed to the Borden family members – everybody except Brooke and Anthony, Joe and Michelle, and Mark and Ashley. Oddie was well-behaved throughout, although he was on his leash when company was here. This afternoon we rotated the run for the ladies. They’ll begin moving the opposite direction tomorrow morning.

May 5

2014

Amanda was gone all morning to Montgomery. First order of business was to hang out the load of tablecloths from yesterday’s shower. While I was hanging them out I put on a load of darks. Then I did a factory reset of the Airport Extreme and then a factory reset of the Airport Express and got everything tuned up and working smoothly. Then I stopped on the way down to the barn and cleaned out the sand filter. The cut-off on the incoming water is insanely difficult to turn; I hope it will loosen up with continuous use. Then I hung out the dark clothes. Then a session, then I drove to town to change the sign at church and run some errands. This afternoon I dug up the irrigation junction on the Blueberry Strip and reattached everything. In the process, I had to replant one of the blueberries, but it was worth it. We should be able to water zone 3 now with a lot less wasteful puddling. This afternoon I had my first shower of the season when I wanted it to cool me off. Summer’s coming!

May 6

2014

My favorite kind of day, when I never left the farm. Amanda was gone to Wetumpka most of the day. I worked like a pig this morning on Veg Hill, repairing about five little breaches in the drip irrigation system. Then the big job was replacing the drip tape on the entire trellis line. This is the third tape I have placed there, and it keeps getting nicked by lawn mower and weedeater. So this time I dug the trench deeper. It took more time, but I hope now it will stay undamaged for a longer time. By the time I finished trenching and covering (including a little supplemental covering with Scamp), it was past noon. Shower, lunch, and nap. This afternoon I did some quiet work first and then filled the two 55 gallon drums with water. It takes about 10 minutes to fill one drum from the hose. I also learned just how insanely heavy a 55-gallon drum of water is: 458 pounds. Once I filled it, I couldn’t tip it over to empty it, so I used a short hose to siphon off the first 15 gallons or so. Oddie is still doing well with his training, staying away from the chickens, coming when I call, and entering the crate without protest when I tell him to. He’s much more pleasant company, but we don’t yet trust him enough to leave him alone and wandering free.

May 7

2014

Well here we are back at a year. Woo-hoo! Thank you Leigh Warren! Got out while it was cool and flamed poison ivy near the lodge and in the natural area between the barn and the lodge. Also flamed the dam of the pond. Then a break for some quiet work. We pulled the Primos Truth Cam photos of Bed #2 today, and they are a big disappointment. I mounted the camera too low for us to see anything in the bed itself. I’ve now ordered a mount that we hope to use to mount the camera higher and tilt it down to the surface of the bed. Here’s hoping we can use it to see more clearly what’s eating our food! This afternoon Amanda and I punched a couple of holes on the East Ramp and set the railroad ties that will become the posts for the gate we will mount there. The first hole was by far the more difficult. Scamp beat at it for about 10 minutes before it finally gave way and the auger started biting. The second hole was faster and simpler. We used one bag of sakrete between the two holes. **#####2013. **Amanda planted eggplant in Beds 1 and 14, pepper in Bed 14, and basil in Bed 13. I think we had our last fire of the season this morning. This must be our latest last fire yet. This morning I cranked up Scamp and started leveling the ground around the raised beds. I used better soil at the north end because visitors are most likely to see it, and I held the sandy soil for the south end. But it’s much more level now. I know there will be little spots here and there that I need to address, but the bulk of the work is done, and I’m willing to call the raised beds finished! After the leveling work was done, I mowed everything. Still need to hit Veg Hill with the weedeater. Drove straight to town for some errands and an early afternoon session. When it was finished, I took the sheets of plexiglass to True Value to cut them in half. VERY tedious. I was probably at True Value for an hour and a half, most of it consumed in cutting plexiglass. I also bought three sheets of 3/4″ treated plywood and a surprise for Mother’s Day. I arrived home exhausted and took a nap before we headed to Auburn to meet David and Bettye Smith for supper. Returned with four shopping bags full of Uncle David’s books. Cool!

May 8

2014

This morning we snapped the pic of Oddie and me for the podcast, and then I published it while Amanda and Adrian visited. Then I read EfM. Then I measured the mailbox and cut out a piece of plywood to cover the nasty looking letter residue. I drilled two holes for screws, which I will use to hang it for painting. Before leaving for EfM I taught Adrian to use the Quick Dually. She picked up on it immediately and used it to mow the grass around the lodge. After EfM I printed the bulletin and sent out the worship notes. Amanda drove to Montgomery to see Uncle Clyde’s and Aunt Betty’s house before it sells. I spent the time mowing on the orchard floor. It was brutal, but I’m glad to have it done. Then the fish and the chickens. **#####2013. ** Amanda seeded Beds 3 and 4 with sunn hemp. I called the doctor’s office today to get some help with my sinus infection. Mendez was booked, but I was able to get right in to see his nurse practitioner, Barbara Watts. I like her and asked to see her regularly now instead of Mendez. I have a 5-day antibiotic regimen that she believes will address the sinus infection and get me some relief. I hope so. This afternoon I mowed the north yard of the lodge for the first time. It looks much better, but I’m uncertain whether it will keep looking nice. May grow back right away. Then I mowed the blueberry strip before retreating to read two weeks’ worth of EfM.

May 9

2014

This morning was all about the mower and the weedeater. Worked on Veg Hill and the border of the orchard and both ready for Amanda’s guests tomorrow. It looks shipshape now, although I did leave two rows un-mown (and pretty wild-looking) in preparation for the chickens. This afternoon I made two cakes for the Lee Ladies, and after Amanda and I drove to town I made the butter icing for them and applied it. So now the cakes are ready and won’t need anything other than being taken up to the lodge.

2013

Appointment with Maddox (dermatologist) this morning. Then a little shopping in Montgomery before returning to town for EfM. A session in the afternoon.

May 10

2017

Morning was all about chores around the farm. Mowing and weedeating, mostly. Also lots and lots of laundry. This afternoon we moved furniture to and from Mama’s house and Adrian’s apartment as well as moving things here.

2014

This morning was all about getting everything ready for Amanda’s Lee Ladies gathering. Started by emptying the compost tumbler, always a filthy job. I added some hay and hosed it off, so it’s much more presentable now. But with the ground so wet I wanted to avoid getting Tractor back on the grass, so I left the tumbler down close to the barn for the time being. The gathering itself went smoothly, although the size of the turnout was less than we had expected. Only 13 ladies actually made it, but they seemed to have a great time together. After the ladies left, we did a little quick cleanup before loading up and heading to Loachapoka to play for the wine-tasting there. A delightful evening. Playing background music is really fun, because everything is so relaxing.

2013

Amanda planted: (1) Bed 2 – watermelon seeds (Crimson Sweet, yellow–from Ann-Marie Stark), and Longleaf 2012). (2) Bed 11 – corn (Hickory King “hominy corn,” Earth Tones dent, and Pencil Cobb) and cucumber seeds (Straight Eight and Poona Kheera). Got out early and worked to bury all the drip header and joints on the orchard floor. Then I mowed the orchard. Finished about 1:00 and came in for lunch. This afternoon I did a round of maintenance in the orchard. We have lots of peaches this year. I think every peach tree, even the tiny new June Gold, is bearing something. No sign of fruit on the muscadines yet. The Carter’s Blue apple is bearing again; I’m about ready to stop worrying about its chilling hours. Several of the pears are setting fruit this year. We should have a chance to find out how some of them are going to taste! No fruit on the persimmons yet. I continue to be disappointed with the growth of the blackberries, but we do have lots of berries forming, so we’ll get at least a modest crop.

May 11

2017

Started the day with a session. Then to Wetumpka to tape Jane Mobley’s video on sharpening bypass pruners. Then some errands in Wetumpka.

2015

I spent most of the day working alone while Amanda was in Montgomery. I did some general policing on teh barn floor, moved the chickens, and then I tied up some of the blackberries on the orchard floor. I extended the drip line on Row 4 after the mower had jerked it loose last week. Then I ran to town for some errands. This afternoon Gary came from Auto Glass now to replace Cracker’s windshield. After he left I flamed the pond dam and fed the fish. Toward the end of the day I measured for and cut the strip of geotextile fabric we’re using for cucurbits on the south end of Veg Hill. I repurposed some header hose for the drip line and extended it, then I covered the bed with the geotextile and weighted it down with the rocks I could find. I need to find some more somewhere.

2014

Great morning at church celebrating the 25th wedding anniversary of Mike and Elizabeth Harber. Then to lunch with Mama to celebrate Mother’s Day. Then hurriedly to Wetumpka with ALB for Whorehouse auditions at Depot. Then home to take care of the chickens and the fish before nightfall. Oddie has regressed in his training, and I blame myself. Twice in succession, I let him out in the dark without his collar on. He responded by going straight for the chickens and disturbing them. The first time I chalked it up to an anomaly, but the second time I realized I had made a big mistake. I’ll now need to make sure he NEVER goes outside without his collar on or without supervision.

2013

Amanda left early for errands in Mgmy. I cranked up weedeater and used it to police up the orchard, which now looks pretty orderly. Then I bush hogged the west side before stopping for a late lunch. After lunch I mostly worked on paperwork, although I did take out time to tie up the three new muscadines on Veg Hill. Amanda’s cold just seems to get worse and worse. She returned late this afternoon from dulcimer with almost no voice. Late this afternoon we were down at the pond together feeding the fish, and Oddie had an unfortunate encounter with a tiny snake. We think the snake bit him and injected venom before Oddie even knew he was there. He immediately started limping, which didn’t bother us much. When he became lethargic, though, we decided to take him to the emergency vet clinic in Montgomery. After antibiotics, steroids, and pain meds, Oddie’s apparently going to be fine, although our credit card is $347 lighter. Wow.

May 12

2014

This morning I emptied the humanure buckets and moved the compost tumbler back into position up by the lodge. Then Amanda and I struck most of the tables and chairs on the main porch, leaving just three tables and a dozen chairs for the EfM group coming on Friday. Then I removed the firewood pallet from its front and center position in the barn. Then to the church to change the sign and spruce up the Little House. I worked outside this afternoon, and let Oddie run free. Twice he wandered over to bother the chickens, and twice he got a warning nick and quickly retreated. So far, so good. Late this afternoon when I was getting the chickens bedded down for the night, I noticed a breach of the chicken coop, presumably caused by Oddie’s jumping on it. Tomorrow I will need to see about repairing it.

2013

A hectic day, but a good one. Both of us are still struggling with the aftermath of a cold, Lee with a cough and Amanda with laryngitis. Welcomed Bill Blackerby as supply priest at church. Drove to Mgmy to take Mama to lunch at Mimi’s. Then back home for a short visit before we picked up Oddie at the vet. Then a brief visit with David Kirkpatrick at his hotel before we headed back to the farm. A late afternoon nap before a light supper.

May 13

2014

Spent the better part of the morning putting together the slides for our presentation tonight at the Wetumpka Public Library. Lots of new pics and a couple of new items for discussion. Later this morning I pruned all the apples and pears on orchard row 12. Stopped at the end of 12. This afternoon we took several more photos, and I added them to the presentation. It’s getting to be a huge file now, but I think that’s okay. The presentation in Wetumpka went smoothly, although the attendance was low, only about 10 people.

2013

Had fun puttering in the orchard this morning. Suppressed blackberry primocanes and weeded, tied peaches and plums to the trellis, ditto muscadines, peaches, and apples. The Jonagold still has no signs of life, but it seems the only casualty in the orchard proper. Wish I could say the same for the rest of the fruit trees. In addition to the Blueberry Strip, the two rows of figs and pomegranates south of the Lodge got hit hard. I had nine – six figs and three pomegranates. I lost four – three figs and one pomegranate. Saw the precursors of blooms on the self-fruitful muscadines for the first time this morning. We knocked off early to drive in to Montgomery and pick up David Kirkpatrick. Lovely dinner at the home of Wayne and Linda Gill with David, as well as the Gills’ friends Pete and Liz Land.

May 14

2014

I let Oddie go out with me this morning to take some old carrots to the chickens. He stood back as long as he could but then made a dash for them. The ladies retreated to their coop with a big kerfluffle, Oddie got nicked, and it was an unpleasant experience for everyone. But it’s probably a learning experience we needed to have sooner rather than later, so I’m glad I did it. We used the morning to record the podcast, and then I had a session in town this afternoon. Met with Tom Bray this evening and satisfied myself we can live with the quality of the Ibanez amplifier.

2013

Got out early and bush hogged the east side in its entirety. including the North Trail. Amanda kept Oddie in while I did to make sure he didn’t get out and overdo it. She released him on my suggestion once I was working around the lodge, but Oddie still stayed close to the barn. That tells me he’s still feeling pain. I’ve reluctantly decided to give up on those solarizing panels. I placed the plexiglass above the apartment so it will be there if we need it. I will take the plywood back to True Value for credit. I found a sheet of conventional poly under the barn. It was big enough to slice down the middle and create two whole-bed solarizers. I placed one on bed #7 where that pesky wheat is growing and anchored it in place with some firewood from the south end of Veg Hill. The second sheet of poly is folded up and sitting on the pallet rack where the chain saw lives. Amanda terminated the kale growing in Bed 15; found that it had been infested by stink bugs.

May 15

2017

Big day today, because I was able to be home most of the day. Amanda was gone all day at the Governor’s Mansion and then caring for her Mom. I started by hanging out a load of clothes. Then I ran to town to check the mail and change the sign at the church. Back at home, I picked up the coop with the two pullets in it and took it out on the orchard floor. I bush hogged a section of the orchard floor close to where they will be, and then I used Scamp to fetch the four concrete blocks on which the coop sits. Placed the coop on the blocks. The waterer was dripping too fast, so I took it inside and adjusted the nozzle, and got it to work normally. Then I ate lunch. This afternoon I did quiet work for a while, then mowed the barn lawn and Veg Hill. Then I got a shower. I recorded two move Divorceinfo U videos, but I can’t use them because you can see the sweat on my face. I’ll need to find a cooler place to record.

2014

We were up and out early this morning to meet Jean Kerr and drive over to the Alabama Welcome Center on the Georgia line and play with the WSPP for the Tourism Day festivities there. It was fun to see how surprised the people were when they stopped in at a rest stop to see free food, music, giveaways, etc. Not sure if it’s an efficient use of our tourism dollars, but it was a fun event for us. Back at home, I unclogged the rain gauge that had registered no rain through the last monsoon. It was full to overflowing, so we’ll never know how much rain we got, but we know it was at least 2.03 inches.

2013

Oddie has apparently turned the corner with his pain. I went outside at 6:00 this morning and didn’t see him, I called him. A few minutes later he came running up, clearly ready to play. I took him off his pain medicine this morning. Recorded the podcast before spending most of the day in Montgomery. By the time we returned to the farm we were both exhausted.

May 16

2017

The pullets seem to have survived their first night outside just fine. And it’s clear both groups are aware of the other and interested, which I regard as a good development. The next time I move the ladies, I’ll probably cozy the little girls up to them so they can begin getting to know each other in earnest.
Most of the morning was wrapped up in Master Gardener monthly meeting. Then this afternoon at the lake, trying to see if there was any life left in the old water heater (there isn’t). This afternoon late, I bush hogged the way between the barn and the pond.

2014

It was 44 degrees outside this morning. Built what I think will be our last fire of the season in the wood stove this morning. Cozy! Then we prepared for EfM in the lodge. which was a sweet, tender closing with some dear friends. I sure hope we don’t lose track of them. I put another coat of paint this afternoon on the wood panel that I will attach to our mailbox to hold the numbers for our address. It should be ready to attach tomorrow. I attempted to repair the breach in the chicken coop, and it’s going to be more complicated than I had realized. I think the simplest way to repair it may be simply to staple a layer of goat fence to the outside and not to try to repair the hardware cloth. Bummer.

2013

Today was mostly about EfM. We drove to Montgomery early to pick up Amanda’s driver’s license at the emergency vet. Then I read my EfM lesson before we headed to Lan Lipscomb’s house for our final celebratory meeting of the year. Then back this evening to the farm. Fed the fish late this afternoon. Amanda harvested some great-looking peas.

May 17

2017

Rebuilt center trellis post for #15 this morning and then installed trellis on that bed for Amanda’s sweet potatoes. I then drove to the lake and drained the water heater, which took more than an hour. Then back to the farm for lunch.

2014

Oddie charged the chickens again this morning. Sure am grateful for that collar. I quickly got him away from them, but I know they were terrified. Beans & Rice at the church this morning. We had 51 families, even though the amount of food is way down. Then I printed the bulletin, then home where I cleaned off all the pruned branches from the orchard floor and piled them up to dry out so we can burn them. Then I mounted the numbers on the black placard and attached it to the side of the mailbox. Tonight Amanda and I drove to Millbrook and saw the Marvelous Wonderettes. Such a great show!

2013

This morning I re-recorded all the Keen McGee riffs for Adrian, cut them, and loaded them on to her Dropbox for her. Then to town for two sessions and to print the bulletin. Then back home for a nap. This afternoon I mowed the fence line on the orchard, always a time-consuming job. You can’t rush it, because you’re weaving between fence posts everywhere you go.

May 18

2014

I’m going to celebrate here. Oddie had his first morning where he sat and watched me work with the chickens and did not try in any way to intervene. He whimpered and cried some, but he stayed put. Needless to say, I praised him profusely. This afternoon we were there for the final Marvelous Wonderettes show. So proud of our daughter, not only for her performance, which was great as usual, but for the delightful way she upped the game of the overall production. Tonight we had supper with Adrian and Jeff in the lodge.

2013

Beans & Rice this morning, then we ate lunch with Jimmy & Betty Weldon and Barbara Trogdon. Then Amanda went to Opelika to play with the Loachapoka Pickers, and I made strawberry-grape jam in the water bath canner. I used no pectin in it, which apparently was a mistake. It quickly separated into juice on the bottom and solids on the top. This afternoon Dave Dean came to look over the outdoor countertop to see what can be done with it. After he left, we took a long walk on the east side, crossed the creek at the bottom, and then walked back on the west side. Took the lopping shears and clipped as we walked.

May 19

2014

Amanda was in Montgomery most of the day. I groomed Oddie and then took him to the vet. While he was getting shots and a new tick collar, I changed out the sign at the church. This afternoon I blocked the chickens into the run (added some water to keep them hydrated) and attached a sheet of goat fence to the back of the chicken coop to cover the breach that Oddie had caused. Then I started working on the wheels. Cutting the all-thread into bolts is the slowest part of the job, and I’ve managed to lose my good hacksaw blade for cutting metal. I will pick another one up tomorrow when we pass through town.

2013

Good day at church this morning, although worship attendance was disappointing – only 14 people present. Jimmy Weldon and I pulled the drip hose from the Japanese maples on the north edge of the church property so we can get the lawn mower in between the trees and get control again. Then we tried to pick strawberries at Oakview Farms but couldn’t find where it was happening. Back at the farm, took a long walk at the end of the day in the wilting heat and humidity. Today I took my first tepid shower of the season (to cool off).

May 20

2017

We had Beans & Rice this morning. By the time we got back home, we were both exhausted, and we both napped. Then Amanda harvested some garlic that hasn’t done well, and I put the pullets together with the big chickens out on the orchard floor. I made a little video about it. We had to cut short our working time, because we showered and headed to Loachapoka this evening for our annual wine tasting.

2014

I made an interesting discovery this morning: chickens are fond of sweet potatoes. All three of us shared one big sweet potato last night for supper, and we had a few pieces left over, so I placed them in the run last night. This morning it didn’t take them but a few seconds to discover them and commence chasing each other around the run with their little treasures. Such fun! Most of the day was taken up with the CAMGA meeting at Jim Scott’s garden, where we received our gold name tags. Yay! When we returned home I filed a couple of cases and then had just the briefest time to work on the wheels for the run before it was time to retire.

We continue to struggle with voles on Veg Hill. After some research this morning, we decided to order a Victor rodent trap, which is due for delivery tomorrow. Amanda has reached out to Patrick Cook, the critter guru at ACES, who is surprised at the severity of the damage we’re describing. He’s planning to come see us soon. For my part, I mowed and trimmed Veg Hill this morning, doing my bit to remove cover that might encourage them to nest. Then I used the weedeater on the orchard and the hedge trimmer to bring down the lantana in the microclimate bed. I wasn’t in favor of cutting the lantana, but Amanda believes it necessary to control the weeds. Then I went to the church and cut the ditches on the front of the property and the area around the Japanese maples where we had removed the drip hose. Also used the weedeater back on the playground.

May 21

2014

It took the better part of the morning and into the afternoon, but the chicken run is now on wheels! On two of the four corners, wheels fold up when the run is stable, and I can flip the wheels down when I want to and lift up the other side, which allows me to roll the run pretty easily wherever I need it to be. Then I cut down a sweetgum tree and a hickory tree in the shade garden Amanda is creating up by the lodge. Then a shower and quiet work the rest of the afternoon. This afternoon we recorded the bumpers for the podcast and I cut everything together. Ran too long, but it’s good stuff.

2013

CAMGA meeting and Mallory Kelly’s baby shower. Took up most of the day, but we did have time for a walk at the end of the day, which was unfortunately marred by a horsefly that tormented Amanda for about 1/3 of the walk. I had a horsefly visit me while I took my shower today. I guess they’ve arrived!

May 22

2014

Published the podcast this morning using a photo of Amanda using the compost tumbler. Then several errands in town in the morning and a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, followed by getting Mama’s new scanner installed and working. While I was at the doctor’s office I read a book about soap making and learned the basic process. It assumes, however, that you’re using store-bought lye crystals. The whole idea of our soap-making is to make good use of the wood ashes to make the lye, so I’ll need to take some liberties with the recipe in the book. But at least I know more now about how the process works.

2013

First task this morning was to mow and weedeat around blueberries and the barn. Then to the church for a session and to print the bulletin. Then I had lunch at Hardee’s, ran some errands, and headed home. No nap. Amanda and I argued about where we could place a horseshoe court. I wanted to place it parallel to the north wall of the lodge and just a tad north of it, but Amanda was concerned that would be too disruptive. We settled on a site northeast of the northeast corner of the lodge, sort of nestled in the trees. It will require the removal of one 7-inch pine tree but nothing else of substance. We shot the levels, and there’s a 6-inch rise from one end to the other. I think we can live with that. Then we planted five trees, two crepe myrtles, a magnolia, and two others that are “something with purple in it.” Hey, they’re free, so we’re not complaining. I delivered some hay to each tree, and Amanda arranged it.

May 23

2014

A hot day, but a good one. This morning I met with Betty and Andy Stricker and Miles Hathcock to talk about plans for their venture. This afternoon I attended to several tasks for Amanda on Veg Hill. We moved the trellis structure from bed #4 to bed #14 so Amanda could use it for the sweet potatoes. Then I set up a baffle and the trap around that hole that we think is housing an armadillo. Then I set up cages around two of the tomato plants. Then I pruned and secured the kiwi and muscadines on the trellis on Veg Hill. Amanda likes the idea of dedicating the smaller table to her needs, but it was too low for her to use comfortably. So as night fell I removed its legs and attached four longer legs made from TYP 2 x 4s. The smaller table is now the same height as the larger work table. We still haven’t figured out where everything should live, but we’ll do so soon. **hanging garlic for site

2013

Designed Mama’s achilles tendon stretcher this morning. Then recorded & published the podcast. Built and installed a lift post to keep the garlic curing in the barn from dragging the ground. This afternoon we attended Fred Evans’ funeral in Millbrook. It was a long day, but a good one. We had planned to linger in Wetumpka for dinner, but Amanda really wanted to come on home, and I didn’t argue too much. Planning to celebrate our anniversary tomorrow night.

May 24

2014

Spent most of the morning policing up the front porch of the barn from all our recent projects, including cleaning up the planting table Amanda will be using as well as mounting the vice and grinder on my work table. Then I loaded up the pressure washer to take to church tomorrow for Laura and Michael. Then we drove to Birmingham where we had a leisurely, delightful visit with Charlie and Janean at Horses, Horses. Then to the recycling center in downtown, and then to Evelyn McKinney’s wedding. We didn’t leave there until nearly 11:00. Amanda, bless her heart, drove home.

2013

I made strawberry jam today, and that’s about all I did. I decided to write a brief article about it, so I’ll just point to that.

May 25

2014

Today was all about celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. We exchanged greeting cards this morning, including a wonderful trip down memory lane with the order of worship for our wedding 40 years ago. We wrote our own vows and wrote the worship service – very 70s. At church we renewed our vows in worship. Then we drove to Montgomery to have lunch with Mama at the country club. Then we visited with her all afternoon (interrupted for me by a wonderful Sunday afternoon nap).

2013

We celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary today. This morning I cleaned up the canner and dishes from the strawberry jam yesterday, and I moved the jam into the root cellar. While I was there I swept out the cellar and moved the shelves from the east wall to the west wall because it’s a little darker on that side away from the ventilation port. Then I installed the battery on the Vespa and slowly got it running again. It’s really rough, but I was happy just to get it cranked up again after almost a year of just letting it sit there. This afternoon I drove the pickup to the lake and met Amanda there (she had come directly from Loachapoka). Ruffin, Tom, and I did some repair work to the pier, adding a separate board over the existing decking so we had something firm to hold the cleat. It looks ratty, but it buys us another season while we wait for the water to go down so we can do a more permanent repair.

May 26

2014

This morning was mostly quiet work, recovering from being away from the computer and Internet through most of the weekend. Then we drove to Auburn to celebrate Memorial Day with Bill Shell and several Master Gardener friends. When we got home we cooked a big supper to celebrate our anniversary (first time for us to be together alone).

2013

As suggested by Jerry Denton, I walked down to the pond this morning a little before 6:00 and just sat and listened. I heard lots of wildlife. but I neither saw nor heard any evidence of bass feeding. I will report this to Jerry when he comes to see us, but I think it’s unlikely to change his suggestion that we go ahead and stock with adult bass. This afternoon I used the hedge trimmer to bring down all the tall weeds and grass at the water’s edge on the shore of the dam, then Tractor and I bush hogged the dam and the trail behind the dam. Then I blew off the porches and pavilion at the lodge. At the end of the day Oddie and I took some white bread down to feed the fish. We seem to have a good population of bluegill and a lot of bullhead catfish.

May 27

2014

Amanda headed to Wetumpka this morning to help in the Learning Garden, so I was on my own. I caught up on my quiet work first, then I drove to town to change the sign at the church and run several errands. This afternoon I nursed the mower to get it started (really need to buy a new battery) and mowed the Blueberry Strip, the lawn around the barn, the portions of the orchard floor that we’ve used recently for the chickens, and Veg Hill. Then we fed the fish and put up the chickens a little early to get ahead of the approaching thunderstorm. Finished just as the rain was beginning to fall.

2013

I have neglected the filter of our drip system. Realized it this morning and cleaned the filter thoroughly. Need to check it weekly during the drip season. The largest branch of the larger LSU black fig on Row 16 is beginning to wilt. What’s going on? I did a good bit of mowing today, first north of the lodge and then the orchard proper. Put the ribs on for tonight at mid-day soon before Jerry Denton dropped by. After spending some time studying the pond and the fish that came up, Jerry’s suggested strategy is as follows: * Add about a ton of agricultural lime now. * Add pond fertilizer now, and about one bag per month through October. Adding a bag of fertilizer is simple. Just cut open the bag and leave it near the water’s edge. Let the natural waves and currents pull it out of the bag, and then come back several hours later and collect the bag. * Stock anytime now with 200 or so 6-8 inch channel catfish. * Also stock anytime now with about 100 adult bass if we can get them (they’re hard to find). If we can find them, we can fish for bass beginning in June 2014 (they spawn in April), but it would be even better to wait until the fall of 2014. Probably the best way to fish for bass is with worms. * Buy catfish food and feed the fish daily. It’ll become one of the highlights of our day and a lot of fun for visitors. Throw a scoop of food out and see how fast they take it. If it’s gone in seconds, we can feed more. If it’s still there after 3-4 minutes, we should feed less. * Use chicken livers to fish for catfish only. Use a cane pole instead of a rod and reel.

May 28

2014

The drip irrigation system has been watering erratically lately, so I decided to change batteries, do a factory reset, and reprogram it. I did that this mornning. Zone 1, Veg Hill, gets 2 hours beginning at 4:00 am Mondays and Thursdays. Zone 3 (the west portion of the orchard and the Blueberry Strip) gets 2 hours beginning at 6:00 am Mondays and Thursdays. And Zone 4 (the main portion of the orchard) gets 2 hours beginning at 8:00 am Mondays and Thursdays. Zone 2 (the pecans in pots) gets 30 minutes every day at noon. Now I will observe to see if that’s the schedule we’re getting. It started watering for no reason this afternoon. May have to get the manufacturer involved to sort it out. This morning we started out over to the Greenfield to lay out the pecan orchard there, but we postponed it because the trail was overgrown. I bush hogged most of the west side, including the Greenfield (it would have been impossible for us to lay out the pecans there — grass was too tall). Finished up just before noon and stopped for lunch. Oddie had come on back on his own and — this is the good news — had not involved himself at all with the chickens. I take that as a good sign indeed, because it means he’s generalizing the principle that he needs to leave the chickens alone even if we are not around. This afternoon Amanda and I walked over with the Measuring Twins and laid out the trees with 40 foot spacing. We also tentatively located the little tower for the water barrel. When we returned, I repaired two breaches in the drip irrigation lines serving the Blueberry Strip and served up water to the blueberries almost half of them for the first time this year. Then I bush hogged the area to the south and west of the lodge.

2013

We visited Linda Griebl this morning and had a chance to see all of her garden areas. So jealous of her fully grown and amply producing fig trees! She’s a whiz at plant propagation, so she has all kinds of weird and wonderful ornamentals growing. Then on to Wetumpka, where we shopped for pond fertilizer and catfish food at the coop, then to Wal-Mart where we bought fishing poles, corks, and hooks, chicken livers, and elastic thread, as well as eggs. Also a pump to siphon the old gas from the Vespa and some fuel sysytem cleaner to use with the new gas. Amanda pulled something in her neck, so she took it easy in the early afternoon. I used the new pump to siphon the old gas out of the Vespa, replaced it with new gas, and added some carburetor cleaner. Tom and Jack came by this afternoon and we looked through the garden together. Then we tried, unsuccessfully, to get two hoses free from a manifold (the manifold was twisting inside). Then we fed the fish their first fish food. It was actually a little disappointing, because we didn’t see any fish large enough to eat a pellet whole. We basically just saw a lot of tiny fish taking tiny nibbles of it. After Tom and Jack left I got out in the Vespa and took a long ride. It’s slowly improving, but it’s still running really rough.

May 29

2014

We began the day recording and editing the podcast on the pecans. Then I took Scamp over to the Greenfield and did a selfie for the podcast showing me cutting down the dead blackjack. I then brought it down and cut about 6 segments of it. Stopped with a little gas left in the chain saw in case there’s an emergency. When I returned to the barn I mowed around the lodge. Today I began an experiment with fermenting the chicken feed. I started soaking in the morning and fed them the mash this afternoon. Bette’s a little slow accepting it, but the other three snapped it up.

2013

We are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel on vole control, because we have a plan. We’re going to terminate the cover crop we had planted in beds 3 and 4 and plant them with summer veg. That gives us four beds – 4 feet by 64 feet – of raised bed real estate, so it’s a pretty good garden in and of itself. Adrian is coming here to live in June and Joe and his family are coming here to visit in late June and the first week of July. When Joe has departed, we will first pull up all drip irrigation on Veg Hill. We will pull up beds 6-16 (five is already planted in perennials and Amanda would like to leave it undisturbed if possible). We will stack the beds, each weighing about 250 pounds, in the back of the garden. Then we will use Scamp to pick up as much of the topsoil in the beds as possible and deposit it in a pile. Then we will use Scamp and some hand work to prepare a pad for each bed, replace the bed, and install voleproofing (hardware cloth) in the bottom of each bed. Then we will refill the beds with topsoil and re install drip irrigation. It will be a huge series of tasks, but all doable. And when we finish we should be out of reach of the voles! Today I set up tomato trellis on bed #13. Then I used the weedeater to bring down the black oats in 7, 8, and 12. This afternoon. after feeding the fish and a quick trip to town with Amanda, I took down a small pine tree near the lodge (used a come-along to make sure it didn’t fall in the wrong direction!). Then I bucked it for firewood and mulched its branches. I then did the same with a good sized sweetgum that was dying from the top down. I ran out of energy and day and didn’t get to mulch its branches; they’re just spread out on the ground right now.

May 30

2014

The fermenting has already begun! The chicken feed has a definite sauerkraut odor, not at all unpleasant. Bette’s still slow to eat it, but I can’t tell whether she doesn’t like it or is just last in the pecking order. Today was perhaps our most humid day of the season so far. Palpable moisture in the air most of the day. We started the day planting three trees up near the lodge. Did our first mulching with pecan waste. Then I made a big circle around Tallassee to run errands, returning after lunch. Then I used the weedeater on Veg Hill, around the barn, and around the lodge. Then I blew off the pavilion, main porch, and back porch. Then we set up the tables and chairs for foyer group tomorrow night. Then I blew off the porch in the barn before taking it in. My shower felt so good!

2013

This morning I started out mulching the limbs from the downed sweetgum and stacking the firewood cylinders across the driveway. Just as I was finishing up, Amanda arrived, and dramatically expanded the job. We started cleaning up the forest all around where I had downed the tree, including the forest on the other side of the fire pit. And we kept creating new mulch. Relatively little firewood, but lots of mulch. We worked hard until 1:00 or so. I showered and had lunch, but Amanda kept working. This afternoon we recorded the podcast and then drove to town to pick up the Corolla and so I could print the bulletin. While at the church I downloaded a software program I hope will help me learn Morse Code, called JustLearnMorseCode. Then I edited and published the podcast when I got home.

May 31

2014

Three of the four chickens continue to scarf down the fermented feed, and Bette continues to lag behind. She’s eating well in the run and seems to have plenty of energy, so I’m inclined to simply continue watching her. It’s been 5-6 days now since Oddie needed to be nicked for any behavior. Great news. I’m proud of him. The morning was all about Clifford Flood’s funeral. We picked up Jean and drove to Grace UMC in Auburn. Then the funeral. Then we stopped for lunch and ate it as we returned. This afternoon was all about preparing for the Foyer Group tonight. Put the ribs on to smoke first thing, then replaced table roll on one of the tables (bird poop). Then fish and chickens. Then grilling a LOT of chicken. We had a violent thunderstorm hit just as we sat down to eat, so we hurriedly moved the four tables away from the south wall of the porch to get away from the rain blowing in. Everybody seemed to have a great time. I made a fascinating discovery this afternoon. Not only does Bette prefer dry food to fermented food; so do the other hens as well! Now I’ll simply find ways to consume the fermented food, but I’m going to be offering them dry crumbles as well. I know this: Oddie LOVES the fermented food, so he’ll be happy to eat it even if they’re not.

2013

Big day. I got a call from Donald at Elmore County Exchange that he was ready to bring his lime truck this morning. Also a text from Jerry Denton that his friend Wayne McClendon was bringing channel catfish for the pond. I hustled to dismantle enough of the deer fence for Donald to get his liming truck into the orchard. Then I puttered in the orchard until Wayne arrived. He started by liming the pond, then he did a criss-cross pattern in the orchard. There was a little blow-over on the blueberries, but I hope not enough to do serious damage. The rest of the day was all about putting the three-wire electric fence back together with the gate up at the north end instead at the southwest corner where it had been. It required moving several t-posts and rethreading roughly 2/3 mile of polywire (that was by far the most time-consuming). The BIG EVENT of the day was Wayne McClendon’s bringing 200 channel catfish and stocking them in our pond. Jerry Denton came with him. The catfish slid right in and disappeared, so now we need to start feeding them. We should be able to fish for 1-pound catfish by October. After Wayne and Jerry left I got back to work on the fence. The fence is stabilized now, but the job is not complete. I still need to move one fiberglass pole and install another. and I need to put back in place about 10 “Warning – Electric Fence” signs. I was dog-tired by the time I finished for the night.

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