Sunday, February 27, 2011

Diggin' Your Scene

This sudden emergence of warm weather has also brought about a flurry of activity here. Basically, Jack and I have been working our butts off. A friend of ours (Rurality and her Hubby) gave us this old tiller. The motor had seized up on it, and for the most part, it had seen better days. I was a little sceptical that it could be made to run again. However, Jack found a new motor for it, after determining that trying to repair the old one would cost about the same thing. He then proceeded to tear the tiller completely apart, clean every bit of it, paint and grease everything and now we have a new (old) tiller! It works really good. I still have my teeny front tine for small areas and touch up but this rear-tine makes short work of breaking new ground and large areas. My plan now is to acquire some old manure to spread and till into the main garden.

I have also been working on the gates but that has turned into a much more complicated project than I originally intended. After hanging the one leaf I saw that the ground was so out of level that I would have to dig out several inches on one side. This was going to leave the makings of a big mudhole. So, after some deliberation, I decided to remove the gate, grade the area and lay brick pavers to make a nice, level entryway over which the gates will hang. This will also deter any critter from trying to burrow under the gates. I've had, for some time, a few cubes of miscellaneous pavers that I had scavenged and had been meaning to do something with and one type I had was just enough to do this. As you can sorta see, this is adding a bit of time and effort to the gate project but it is going to look really nice.

Some of you noticed this little critter in the background of my last post. After I decided that Lika needed to go live with another family I figured it would just not work out for me to have a dog. I was working a lot, the dog would be alone all day and Lika proved most wouldn't go for that. And I wouldn't want the dog to be alone. I refuse to cage or tie a dog also, even with company. Well, after I got laid off I kinda figured I would not be going back to construction. Things have worked out that I am here the vast majority of time, so I have time to devote to a dog but I did not pursue getting one. Then my little niece Katybug called and begged me to take this little pup a friend of hers had found on the side of the road. I came very close to not doing it but she swore her parents would take it to the pound if I didn't and I believe they would have. So, I said okay and they brought little Chigger to me. This was back in October and she was just a wee little thing. I didn't say anything for a long time because I didn't know if it was going to work out but I think Chigger is going to be a great asset to the place. She is just the sweetest little thing. She stays right with me and Jack all day and is content. She mostly just asks for someone to play Frisbee or kickball with, which I try to often. She is not a very big dog but tries to be watchful and alert. I am hoping I can train her to help watch out for the chickens when we get them but not sure how well that is going to work. She has a great deal of fun here now though and loves to burrow after the moles in the yard, snorting just like a pig the whole time. She's diggin' it here too.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back To Scratch

I didn't realize how long it has been since I last posted! This gorgeous weather we've been having has had me distracted. I've been spending large amounts of time in the garden or just on general outside projects. We often times don't really have a spring to speak of; it just goes from winter to HOT, so these actual spring temps are great.
Yesterday was quite windy and cool though, after a stormy, rainy night, so I decided to go back to the ol' pantry projects. I had received the sanding discs I ordered but was waiting for a not sunny day to come inside and use them. When I first saw the discs I thought, this ain't going to work. If you held them just right in the sun you could see just the vaguest sparkle of diamonds; it didn't seem near enough to grind concrete. But, those are some powerful little crystals. I only went up to 400 grit (the pack went to 2,000) but it produced a very nice, smooth surface. The 50 grit knocked down the rough areas and then I just worked my way up. I suppose if you used the entire spectrum of grits you could produce a virtual mirror finish.

I know these are not really good shots of the surface, and the sealer is not on yet either, so it doesn't really show how polished it is but I was quite pleased and actually surprised that they did as well as they did. I was afraid nothing was going to fix that surface but it even took down the uneven areas in addition to polishing. It was a major pain in that you MUST use the pads wet, so you have to keep water standing on the surface. This keeps the dust down but throws a slurry of fine concrete over everything. You use the pads with a stiff backing pad and screws onto a 4" side grinder. I did cover the cabinets with plastic sheeting but it was a freaking mess. I would only recommend this remedy if there is no other choice. I spent all afternoon cleaning the pantry and kitchen area but it did fix the counter top. It is nowhere near perfect but it is acceptable now, even for me and ya'll know I can be a bit picky. Once I have the concrete back splashes installed I believe it will look pretty good.

After cleaning everything I installed yet another shelving unit above this window. I am also going to install a few hooks to the underside of this shelf to hang drying herbs and such.
Now, to install the flooring. I am very excited about that. The back splashes will be poured outside and then just set in place so there will not be any more messes in here and not affect the floor.

I have also been working on the garden gates. The other side is up and installed. I now just have to set the hinges and hang this side; which I am about to do today. I am real happy with the way these gates have turned out. Completed pictures soon! I wanted to show my method for plumbing this post though. I know it's not rocket science but some people have never done it before. I pulled a string line down the fence to line this post up by and painted my marks for both side on the ground. With the other side of the gate up I simply measured from the inside edge of the hanging leaf to the inside edge of the post to make sure I had enough space for the next leaf. Always measure at the bottom of the post and then plumb up. As you plumb you will have to keep checking the bottom and adjust a little, as plumbing will move the whole post a little bit. Two kickers, which you go ahead and nail on before you start plumbing, hold the top both ways. This is a very easy and simple method.

Now, if you can ever get your hands on some of these things, called turnbuckles, you will bless my name every time you use them. Bless in a good way, that is! These things make setting posts or plumbing walls a snap. You just get the post halfway plumb and then nail on the turnbuckle. Then, turning the threaded part there, push or pull the post into alignment. They are about 3 feet long but made to nail onto a 2x4 of whatever length you want. Oh, and they have that hole through they foot to stake them to the ground but you can also turn them the other way, which the turnbuckle itself nailed to the top of the post. We usually use them that way on walls.

Now, back to work!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Speaking Confidentially

I've been told a number of times, and even accused a couple, of my house only being built for one. I never thought that was a conscious action but over the past couple of years I have begun to wonder if perhaps it was subconscious. The house is small by most people's standards although I don' think it's unbearably small. However, I must admit, it does not contain, as one fellow put it, 'much room for a man to put his belongings.' Not much storage for a man's clothes or his personal items for the bath. Just as I always envisioned that I would one day find a permanent partner, my better half so to speak, I also imagined that there would be another half to this house. One that contains all the niceties for a couple to live together in comfort. A walk-in closet, his and her vanities and so on. But, you know that old saying, "man plans and God laughs".
And I am beginning to see more and more of myself in this one half of a house. It functions perfectly well on it's on. It's comfortable with it's one-halfness. It doesn't 'need' the other half. Granted, it would function more to the original thought if both halves were here. It would be nice to have the whole function and design of both halves. It wouldn't look so odd to most people. Both halves together wouldn't provoke uncomfortable questions from friends and strangers. Most of all, it would then be very comfortable for two people to coexist here.

It just gets so much more complicated as you get older. When you're young and you pair up, most people don't have much anyway, so there is no stepping on each other's toes over property and such. You're not so old and set in your ways. It doesn't matter as much if your sweetie wants to iron the clothes before they are put away. Sure!! go ahead! Now, after you are older, it's more like, just hang the damn things up and get them out of my way.! Iron them later! I'm not used to having 'stuff' over there! I want my 'stuff' here. My 'stuff' has always been here. Find another place for your 'stuff'. This is especially bad if you are older and have mostly been alone all your life.
I like my aloneness sometimes. But I like to have a partner to go places with. To snuggle up to at the end of the day...and so on, if you know what I mean! I like knowing I'm not here alone in the night.
Building the other half of the house would be adding a tremendous amount of effort and hard work to a project that has already about worn me out. Sometimes I don't know if I could do it. It's too hard. As old as I am just let everything stay the way it is; I don't feel like fooling with it. You know, would it really be worth all the work and sacrifice and making due at my age to have the other half? Most of the time I feel a resounding yes! Yes, if it is done right and not just something thrown together. Yes, if the two halves are actually going to work correctly together and function as one. But no, if the two halves are only going to exists as two separate entities simply joined by a common walk way. I've worked too hard for that also.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Give It Away

I made a really good score on some free plants the other day thanks to some righteous friends down the way. I know some people that live in a 'intentional community', what they used to call a commune. Cool folks and Allen has actually been doing some house framing for some of them. He told me they were looking to give away some trees, so I emailed and sure enough, they said come on down! After I got there Sara kept showing me other plants I could dig if I wanted. I ended up with a large witch hazel tree (which was what I went for), a LARGE blueberry and hopefully, many rootings from said blueberry, if they will take. That is what you see in the bucket there. I also got a good size Rosemary shrub, marsh marigolds, spearmint, irises, a redbud, and 3 or 4 forsythia bushes. And maybe something else I forgot. I was very appreciative and offered them to come dig stuff at my place. Even though we only live about 20 minutes apart there is some difference in our flora, as I have several species they don't. It is really awesome to be able to swap extra plants with folks.

So things here are cranking up with the warm weather. The strawberries are poking out of the pine straw I put around them. I bought a few more the other day to replace a few that died last year. I hope this year's harvest is better than last year's pitiful few. I need to add some manure to their soil.

On the other hand, the cabbage and broccoli are really cranking up! They are in their element I guess with these sunny, mild days and cool nights. Hopefully, I will be harvesting cabbage soon.

The broccoli is coming along too! I think the cold got to a few of the blossoms because I have a few heads with a rotty spot where the head would form. About half are forming a nice size head though. I think they have put on an inch all the way around just this week.

One good thing though, is even with the rotty spot in the center, these heads are putting out little heads to the side, so I should still be able to get something out of them. I am very excited that these are doing so well as this is my first successful growing of broccoli. I tried once before, years ago, but I think I waited until it was too hot.
I have another row of much younger cabbage behind the broccoli, so I should get staggered harvests of that. Even though it was some work, I think starting the cabbage and broccoli last fall and overwintering it was not a bad idea. I will have a very early harvest this spring. Perhaps this fall I will start one planting early enough to harvest in the fall and then stagger the rest. At any rate, it certainly works to over winter the stuff.

I have a lot of other stuff coming up in the garden so I will post a little more of that soon. I know not much of this is real exciting but maybe I'll have something else soon! I do have lots going on at any rate. Due to that I haven't been taking time to comment on a lot of ya'lls blogs but I am dropping by! I guess I just haven't felt like I have much to say lately; either here or there. But I am reading.

Hope ya'll like the new blog design. If any of it is hard to read then let me know. I try to keep legibility in mind and I know some colors affect everybody's eyes differently.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rock Bottom

I think in this photo Jack was saying something about, if he didn't hear from me by nightfall he'd call the rangers after a day or two. Seriously, he keeps little two-way radios in his truck for such hiking adventures. Even though we were both getting cell phone service he insisted I carry the radio. In fact, the hike might have been a little easier on me if I hadn't had to carry all the stuff he insisted on! lol! It wasn't that bad really and it is good to be prepared. I guess too, that is just what you get by dating a Marine who was actually in combat.

The sign at the beginning of the trail suggested a picnic, fishing or a swim when you get to the bottom and I'll say, had the weather been warm, it would have been a most beautiful place for it. I never saw an area where the water was murky.

If you enlarge this photo and look closely smack in the middle of that rock bluff, amongst the pine trees, you will see a large house. The park itself is apparently not very wide because you will see private residences every so often along the rim. Thankfully, there are not a lot. I guess there ain't a lot of people that can afford such construction. But what a damn view from your deck.

This was one one of the steeper parts of the trail on the way back up. It was a good workout!
Sorry the photo is a little washed out.

This was a little side trail on the way back up also. A good excuse to go out and sit on this rock and rest for a minute! The pictures just don't give the feel of the immensity of the canyon unfortunately.
So, if you are ever passing through Alabama, or live here, or have ever thought about coming here, I would definitely recommend that you visit Little River Canyon, if you enjoy hiking or camping and nature. Oh, there was also an official bird-watching trail on this end, near the trail I hiked to the bottom. It didn't cost us anything to get in but if you go to the south end of the canyon, to the 'beach', there is a $3 use fee. Sounds extremely reasonable to me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beauty In The World

These are the falls that are considered the start of Little River Canyon in northeastern Alabama. Jack and I went up yesterday to spend the day here and enjoy the beautiful weather we've been having. It was about the perfect day. Temps were in the high 60's and very sunny. I had been up here when I was much younger but Jack had never been and didn't know such a place existed in Alabama.

Most people are unaware of the bounty of natural resources in Alabama. In fact, Alabama is the most biologically diverse state east of the Mississippi. It goes from this to white, sandy beaches. We got whatever you would like, nature-wise anyway. This park also host many endangered plants and animals, including one plant they say doesn't occur anywhere else in the world.

I was absolutely mesmerized by the quality of the water and I have done nothing in editing to accentuate or embellish the color. The water here really is that jewel like blue-green. Jack was most impressed by the place.

We drove about half of the rim and stopped many times to hike and eat the picnic lunch we had brought. There were very few other people around so it was very peaceful. The top of the canyon is at slightly over 1,100 feet with the bottom of the canyon around 750 feet.

There are about 6 major hiking trails, which the park service claims are not maintained, but I thought they were in great shape. They all range from easy/ moderate to very strenuous. Camping is allowed but not down on the canyon floor. You can however, hike down to fish, swim and just walk around.
I hiked to the bottom at one point while Jack stayed topside. I think he was remembering our trip to the Grand Canyon. It was only abut 3/4 of a mile down though, so it turned out to be easier than we both thought. Now, it was quite strenuous coming back up, with parts of the trail just as steep as what I remember from Bright Angel. I think Jack could have handled it easily though and he said he would go with me next trip.
I'll have some more photos of what I saw once I got to the bottom. It was truly beautiful.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Groove Is In The Heart

I tell ya what..! between getting to fall back into my clay work and the sculpture and workin' with hot metal and this gorgeous span of weather we've been havin', my mojo is workin' overtime!!! My juju is jumpin'!! I got it goin' on, I'm tellin' you. Ha!! Well, I think the gate project has been rather successful anyway. I can't wait to show ya'll but you're going to have to wait until they are installed to see the whole project. Just snippets 'til then! I am basically finished with them except for cleaning and spraying them with a sealer. Oh, and I have to weld the hinges on but that shouldn't take long. I laid out the opening where they will go today and Jack started digging one of the holes for the posts. This is a 2-piece gate and each section probably weighs 80 pounds each, so the posts to hold it need to be substantial.
I did have to go buy some more expanded steel, so that broke my plan to make them entirely out of scrap. I just didn't have as much of the grating that I thought I did and couldn't come up with anything else that would work. The gates need to be solid for the most part to keep rabbits and such from slipping through and making a feast of my garden. By having to buy more steel though, I discovered a local steel supply that I never knew existed and wow, what a great help this is. I had been driving to Birmingham up until now but these people are just down the road and are very nice. I talked to them for a while and they said they gladly sell their drop or whatever I would need. Score!!

I am very excited to have these things done and my garden on it's way to being a real decent project. To me, if the area looks neat and well-kept it is better incentive to get out there and weed and plant things. Of course, if I continue to work at home I think I will have plenty of incentive for the garden. At least I won't be so wore out at the end of the day I don't feel like dragging myself out there.

Tomorrow Jack and I are going to take a day off and do a little hiking at one of our state parks. I'm excited about that; it's a really pretty part of the state. I'll be sure to get some photos for you all!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let Me Ask Ya'll Something

Hey, I got a question for you all now; well two questions actually! This is for anybody who may raise beef to sell to individuals or any individual who has recently bought a whole or side of beef from an independent farmer. What is beef going for, per pound, these days in this situation? A neighbor of my Mom's recently gave me a price per pound by hanging weight and I am trying to determine if this is a good deal or not.
Also, for those who might own some acreage; what is a decent charge for someone storing hay on your property? This hay takes up probably 1-1 1/2 acres.
Thanks so much if anybody has any idea on these questions. I know prices can vary quite a bit around the country but maybe this can give me some idea.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Easier Said Than Done

This countertop is being a butt, to say the least. Yes, I did screw it up with a bad initial finishing job, so I can't really say much! Unlike many bloggers that only show their successes, I will show you when I bomb something and I have no problem admitting mistakes or screw-ups. I believe I mentioned earlier that the surface did not come out well, but I don't believe I posted any pics of it. Basically, what happened is that the surface cement, after it had cured, was becoming powdery and flaking up, exposing the sand and aggregate below. I am a bit confused on this one though. I know the mix was a little wet when I first poured but I've seen mud poured almost like soup and still get a hard finish on it. Also, after this countertop, I poured the little slab in the basement, and just to be safe, I mixed that slab rather dry using the same mix. It is doing the same thing. Now, initially I thought the mix was too wet and this water sat on the surface too long, causing the surface to weaken. But this really doesn't make sense. I've seen concrete slabs totally submerged by sudden rain, with the water standing on the slabs for hours, and they still finish fine. Now, maybe I'm just that poor a finisher, but I have finished many yards of concrete with no problems. I don't know if the mix was old or what. It came from a place that stores theirs outside and they may not move much of it, meaning it will sit there for a while, but the bags appeared fine when I bought them. No holes, no water stains.
Now, the photo above was taken AFTER I had applied a topping coat to correct the problem. Tearing a slab out is a major pain and I really don't want to do that. Besides, the rest of the countertop, below, seems fine. I applied one coat of topping mix (which is basically portland and sand with bonding agents) very thinly, and it adhered well, but it made a very rough surface. So, I applied another, thicker coat, using additional bonding agent, and troweled a smoother finish on it. Now, it is nowhere near smooth enough but it is better than what was there. I have ordered a pack of diamond sanding/ polishing pads to put the final finish on with. I think most countertop contractors finish their product this way anyway, rather than rely totally on a troweled finish. So, we will see. It's an experiment anyway. Who knows? it might come out with a much more beautiful surface this way.

After I finished with the countertop and was letting that cure, I decided to start the gate for the garden. The weather has been beautiful the past couple of days and promises to stay that way for about a week. I couldn't resist getting out my welding gear. I've been meaning to build this gate for some time and my desire to have a truly fruitful (no pun intended) garden this year means I've got to to get the fence and gate up to par to keep the deer and 'coons and rabbits out. I am truly embarrassed to show you all what I use for a gate now. Plus, it's a pain to go in and out of. This new gate is going to be awesome, if I must say so myself! I am building two, 3 foot wide panels, so you can open one side or both to get larger things, like a lawn tractor, through. It's cool! I can't wait to be finished. Oh, and I am building it solely from scrap metal that I have laying around here. I am not going to purchase anything, except maybe the hinges, if I can't make those.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I'm Walking


If It Is Not Too Dark

Go for a walk, if it is not too dark.
Get some fresh air, try to smile.
Say something kind
To a safe-looking stranger, if one happens by.

Always exercise your heart's knowing.

You might as well attempt something real
Along this path:

Take your spouse or lover into your arms
The way you did when you first met.
Let tenderness pour from your eyes
The way the Sun gazes warmly on the earth.

Play a game with some children.
Extend yourself to a friend.
Sing a few ribald songs to your pets and plants -
Why not let them get drunk and wild!

Let's toast
Every rung we've climbed on Evolution's ladder.
Whisper, "I love you! I love you!"
To the whole mad world.

Let's stop reading about God -
We will never understand Him.

Jump to your feet, wave your fists,
Threaten and warn the whole Universe

That your heart can no longer live
Without real love!

~ Hafiz ~



*Fats Domino

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Colder Weather

It's funny how that sometimes when it snows the snow sticks on the tree limbs and sometimes it doesn't. I like the way it looks when it outlines the trees.

We only got about 2-3 inches of a very dry and powdery snow. The way it was coming down last night, Jack and I thought we might really be in for quite a snowfall this morning but it apparently stopped around midnight. So, no sledding this time.

Well, I've got lots of work to do anyway. I'm going to attempt to fix the concrete countertop I poured in the pantry. See what I can do with that. My pantry flooring also came in so I'll go pick that up tomorrow probably.

They are calling for warm temps this weekend; like around 60 during the day, so Jack and I may go on a little hiking foray up to Little River Canyon in northeast Alabama. It is a really beautiful area. I'll be sure to take lots of pics if we go.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Walking In Winter

Some of you may remember way back in September, when I did that weathervane restoration right before getting laid off and going out west with Jack. Well, since I took off out of town so quickly, I never got to see the weathervane actually installed. Until today, that is! Jack had been wanting for us to take a day and go into Birmingham to just goof off and basically see what we could find to explore. So, we decided to go this morning. It was actually snowing here at the house when we left but didn't think it would last long and it didn't. It did, however, stay very cold. So, anyway, we went downtown to where the church was that I did the weathervane for and walked around some. We walked up to the church to get some photos and you know what? The vane was actually turning too! It works! That made me happy that my repair on the bearings in that thing had worked. At least for now!

Walking back from the church we saw this sweet message inscribed in a pretty badly done concrete sidewalk patch.

The area that this church is in has long been a rather funky, hip part of Birmingham. A gathering place for artists and musicians but also the homeless and sometimes kinda shady elements. Back when I was in college it was really THE place to go. Lots of restaurants and bars, pool halls and such. Or, at least, it used to be. I was sad to see that many of the restaurants and such had closed down and in their places quite a few vacant buildings. There was the occasional sleeping pad of a resident homeless person in the doorway. Trendier areas have sprung up in some of the Birmingham suburbs.

I was happy to see that this old place was still there. This is the entrance to Charlemagne Records. And yes, they do still sell records as in LP's. You kinda have to know where it is because if you are not looking you'll just walk right by it. When I was in college, and we are not going to say how long ago that was, CD's had not yet come out. They did before I graduated I think but for the most part people still bought cassette tapes and LP's. Charlemagne's has all the old, obscure recordings of groups nobody has even heard of and current stuff too. It's just a neat place to go. If nothing else to look at all the funky stuff on the walls. It made me think of a time so long ago though. A much more carefree and wilder youth. A time when I didn't have to worry about home and property insurance and such things. Hell, a couple of my guy buddies from back then that I used to go to bars with are dead now. Been dead a number of years. I was also much less sure of myself back then. Ah well...

Jack and I splurged on a good lunch at one of the restaurants in the area and then we went across the street to one of the oldest and most well-known health food stores in Birmingham. In fact, Rurality sells her soaps there! I used to love to go in this place because you could find all kinds of neat hippy clothes and foods, teas and just all kinds of natural, 'green' stuff. Now you can get most all of it at Whole Foods or Publix. Except for the clothes and I did score a cool, very comfy cotton recycled top for $7.00. After we got in there I realized that both Jack and I had on leather coats though, and we were getting some eye darts from some of the resident vegans. Good thing I had my knife on me but Jack bought some tea, so they chilled a little. Oh well, like we always said at work, screw 'em if they can't take a joke.

The pic above is of the fountain that is located in the center of the 5 Points area. Of course, because of the Goat guy and other various elements a lot of the Bible thumpers around town have said for years that it is a demonic alter and such crap. And it's located right in front of a church. You don't hear much about that these days though, so I think most people have gotten over it. It's just a whimsical fun thing. It was designed by Frank Fleming, who lives not far from here and is a native Alabamian. He just likes to sculpt animals and vegetables. He does some really cool bronze okra pods.

So, we had a fun day and on the way home we stopped and I used my very last 'safety bucks' from work to buy the flooring for the pantry!! Woohooo!! It had to be ordered but should be here in a few days. I'll be showing you all pics of that soon. The local Lowe's was also having something of a clearance sale and I got several nice shelf brackets for half off and a couple of nice woven storage boxes, also half off, that will be great to store a few things in the pantry in. I don't know if all Lowe's are having this sale but it might be worth checking out if you are in need of similar things. Some items they were just marking down $.50 or some crap but a lot of it was 50% or more off.

Well, I didn't mean for this post to be so long but I guess I rambled. Anyway, see ya'll soon.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Left-Handed Path

This past weekend, during the wonderful spell of warm weather, I continued my work on the garden path. I didn't get a tremendous amount done but did get about 10 feet on each end of what I already had. Better than nothing I guess. I also put up some long overdue metal trim on the clerestory section of the roof, so that is completely finished. Anyway, the landscape timbers here are pinned in place with 2' rebar driven down through the timbers. Once those are secured I simply fill the walking space with gravel.
Here, the ground outside the path is where my fruiting plants are; raspberries, blueberries etc. and on the inside of the path is the vegetable area. You can see the garlic poking itself up through the mulch there. Lot of people say you can't grow that garlic you buy from the grocery stores but that is what I planted. Heck, I don't know if it will work or not but every clove I planted sprouted and looks healthy so far. It's been so cold this winter I didn't think it would sprout so soon but it has. The store was having a special on a 3 lb. bag of garlic so I said, what the heck. Won't hurt to try. I did not plant the whole 3 lbs. though! I only planted about half of it.

This gravel is what we call '89-10'. It is a fine crushed limestone and you can even get it in a light brown color. It is great for paths because it packs very hard and it's tough for weeds to grow through it because it's so dense. You just soak it with a hose after you place it, or just let it rain on it, and then you can pack it by hand or just walk on it. It is relatively cheap. On this recent load I got around 13 tons for $150. Now, for paths and general landscaping, 13 tons goes a long way. The price does fluctuate some, as with anything that must be hauled, depending on the current price of gas.

Speaking of gardens, HERE is an article on the USDA's recent deregulation of genetically modified alfalfa; I'm sure a lot of you have read it by now. Sounds like Monsanto lined the right pockets this time. I know there are a lot of panic-mongering, woo-woo organic sites out there that get a little overly dramatic about some of these issues but this is one that could really cause some serious harm. And yet another case of our government being bought by corporations. Now, more than ever, people need to be taking more control of the food we eat. Please consider growing as much food as you can and growing only open pollinated varieties. I know a lot of people are really busy and don't have the time like I do but this is really important. The government will have us all down to eating nothing but corporate food from factory farms if they can.
And yes, I also know that the USDA in Maryland reads my blog every morning. I have two separate site meters that confirm this. Maybe they are just interested in house building! Maybe. Even at that they are wasting taxpayer money reading blogs when they should be working. Just like our government.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Signs Of Life

Today dissolved into a rainy, dreary mess but the previous three were just absolutely beautiful. The warmth and sun from those days were just what I needed to help rejuvenate my cold and listless self. Even the plants perked up and seemed to grow a couple of inches after I pulled their plastic house back so they could see the actual sun. The cabbage and broccoli seem to have been in a state of suspended animation but I noticed this morning that little broccoli heads are forming in there!

The cabbage is trying to form heads too. Tonight the temps are supposed to drop back again and they are forcasting a little snow for Friday, maybe, so these plants will go back into their sleep but I imagine when real spring comes they will really shoot up. I have another row of cabbage that are about half the size of these on the left, so their harvest will be staggered at least. Just a few more weeks and I will have made it through winter with still viable plants and no real greenhouse.

And success with the coldframe!! These had actually sprouted before the warm spell but that really helped them shoot on up. I was surprised to see how warm this frame would get, even on a 30 degree day, so now I know it is entirely possible to sprout stuff all winter long. It may take just a little longer but it does work. During this warm spell (we had days around 60 F.) I did have to be very careful about venting the coldframe, as these little sprouts would have fried had I not opened the frame. I also had to water about every other day, every day if sunny, because the soil dries out quickly in there.
The loose leaf lettuce is growing the quickest with the head lettuce next. The carrots have finally sprouted and are starting to really go but those crapping onions have yet to sprout. I never have luck with those.
But, as God as my witness, I'll never buy lettuce again!!! heh, I hope.

I also saw a few more signs of growth. Seems I'm not the only one anxious for warm weather. I have some other daffodils down by the mailbox that are up about 6 inches. I hope these don't get killed back by the cold. I have enjoyed the snow and all this winter but I am very ready for warm weather. I am very anxious to start gardening in a major way and as it looks as though I will not be working my 'real' job this summer, I will enjoy the cool summer mornings spent in my garden, rather than bent over formwork or a rebar mat.

A fine, misting rain was falling this morning as I was about covering everything back up. It was still in the 50's then, but by tomorrow the cold will have returned. I thought the mist on this sage plant was so pretty. Like little jewels encrusting it's leaves.

Well, I was wrong about Jack not coming back. He called and has come by a few times to talk. I think a few people got the idea that I threw him out but that was not the case. His leaving was his decision. I guess people just assume the other because I have been prone to run men off in the past. Anyway, he is trying to make amends and we are talking about things. I still feel cautious about things though. If he had been a sorry slug like some men I'd have no problem telling him to kiss my ass but he is so helpful and hardworking. I know that sounds like I'm just in it for 'labor relations' but it is more than that. He can be a little moody at times but God knows I have my moments. And a bad temper to boot. I have to learn that I am not on a construction site anymore. So, we'll see....