10.31.2009

The Little Trailer That Could

It's been one of my favorite pieces of equipment around the homestead. This lightweight trailer - it's fold-able, believe it or not - has more than made up its purchase price. It hauls stuff to the junk yard. It hauls hardware and tanks. It hauls mulch, like you see in this photo. Coming soon, it will be hauling fruit & nut trees home from the nursery.

The wheels are tiny, and the railings were definitely a weekend warrior project, but it does the job we need it to do. The weight is just right for the car. I can even pick up an end - easily - and move it/attach it to the car. It's the Little Trailer That Could, and it is well loved. Of course, now there's this used truck I've got my eye on...



[pic top: Spouse loading up the trailer with mulch. Pic bottom: Bandit warming up the gravel pile while we offload the mulch. Don't worry about us, Bandit! You just stay right there and relax, okay?]

10.27.2009

Moving via the Nailbiter Express

The stock tank: 8' in diameter.
The trailer: 8'x4', with 4' high rails.
The winds: coming out of the SouthWest at about 5-10 miles per hour.

A complete stranger came up to Spouse and asked "how far do you have to drive to get that thing home?" "Ten miles", Spouse replied. "Wow. Be careful."

Spouse drove the car and trailer, white-knuckled, all the way home. He probably would have bit his nails too if he didn't have to keep both hands on the steering wheel.

Average speed before the tank started tipping and pivoting: 40 MPH.

We - and the stock tank - made it home all in one piece.

[pic: Spouse recovering from the trip]

10.25.2009

Holy Smokes, It Was A Busy Weekend!

So, what did we do this weekend?
  • We purchased an air compressor for power tools, and an impact hammer with a half-dozen chisels.
  • We purchased the 8-foot round stock tank for Phase One of "Goose-Landia".
  • We purchased a better pond liner and other materials for a re-do of the hillside goose pond (version 2).
  • We purchased 7 cubic yards of pea gravel.
  • We rented a backhoe/loader for the weekend.
And what did we do with all that stuff, pray tell?
  • We re-dug the hillside goose pool so that there will be a lip and "french drain" on the side of the pool that faces the hill. No more muddy water!
  • We leveled and lined the Goose-Landia stock-tank hole with the pea gravel. (Leftover pea gravel will be used to re-line our walkways).
  • We used that blessed, blessed impact hammer to chisel rocks out of the side of the 1st goose pool, so that we could better arrange the interior/exterior design.
  • We used the backhoe to
    • dig holes for two more pomegranate bushes,
    • level, load and dump gravel into the stock tank hole
    • push back soil around the newly installed stock tank, and then
    • load a massive amount of mulch onto the tow trailer so I can move it to & re-mulch the many areas in need around the house.

Spouse says he wants a backhoe/loader for Christmas, and I don't think he means the toy John Deere ones we have at the local feed store. Anyhow, there are a boatload of stories to go with each project, and I'm gathering the photos to back them up. More posts, soon!

[Pic left: me with the impact hammer/chisel. Bless those air compressor tools! (Note to "Auntie" Jan: yes, those are safety glasses I'm wearing, I promise.) Pic right: the John Deere backhoe we can afford right now. Probably not much power at 1:50 scale, but it'd be a start, eh?]

10.23.2009

New Front Porch Draperies

Spouse writes: The un-hemmed Ikea white curtains for $30 a pair were a great way to minimize the sun exposure on the front porch. We were able to use 6 sets to shade the southwestern exposure of the house. That was two years ago.

After two years, the curtains became a rainbow of color from the bottom (early colonial mud) to the top (white-ish brown). And the sun bleaching, plus the wind, and plus the geese/dogs/chickens produced rips, tears and all sorts of sundry holes.

We looked for outdoor fabric, but at $15 to $20 a yard times the 42 yards (at 54 inch widths) we needed required more money than I wanted to spend. We ended up going with Saddle Tan Sun Screen by Easy Gardener, which the hardware box stores carry in large rolls for less than $5 a yard, and at 72 inch widths which meant that we only needed 24 yards of the stuff.

It took one three-hour stint just to see how it would work. After I got the process worked out, I did the rest in an afternoon. I used jute webbing for the top and the side reinforcements. For me the longest part was putting the 13 grommets in each of the curtain panels. Nine grommets are inserted on top for the curtain rings and one grommet for each side to anchor the panel to the railing.

During the trial run I used an inexpensive hand punch that looked like a pair of pliers. After the first panel my hands were pretty much done. For the rest of the panels I used a nice heavy anvil and cutter, which made clean cuts and tight grommets.

The top of each panel is attached to the still-functional Ikea curtain rods using shower curtain rings with roller bearings. The old Ikea curtains hung from fabric loops, which caught on the rod and required some “persuasion” (a.k.a. a long stick) to shut or open. The new rings and roller bearing allow the curtains to open and close without the need for any “persuasion”.

D.A. says that the best part about the new curtains is that they are slightly see through so you can still make out the view from inside the house.

[And a "before" pic (complete with puppies)]

Bugs That Go Crunch in the Night

Here's a quick lesson in gardening: always watch your cabbages, broccolis and other tasty greens, else they'll end up looking as skeletal as mine do in this pic. Once again, I'm happy to be here as an example of what not to do. You're welcome!

Seriously, however, you can control those brassica-eating worms and no-see-'ems with an organically approved Bt or a spinosad-based spray. If you look closely at the picture (or click to enlarge), you can see the plant is starting to recover with new leaves in the middle, four days after the original treatment. I went ahead and planted additional broccoli, cabbage, collards and other greens alongside the recovering plants, just in case the original plants don't make it. And if they do survive? Well shucks, I'll just have to think of something to do with all those tasty greens!

10.21.2009

Maggie Discovers Porcupines

She was crashed on the front porch dog bed this morning. Unusual, but I didn't think much about it as I set out to do the goose & chicken chores. A few minutes later she ambled gently out into the yard, where I then saw three porcupine quills sticking quite prominently out of her nose. Ahhh... so THAT'S what all the excited barking was about last night!

Put Maggie into a headlock, and yanked out the quills one by one. She was growling by the second quill. By the third quill, she was ready to take off. I let her go, whereupon she immediately attacked Bandit who was lolling innocently nearby. Perhaps she was blaming Bandit for last night's adventures?

[Pic: Maggie sniffing a chicken butt, probably much like she did with the porcupine last night, but with less trauma.]

10.20.2009

Misshapen Bushes

Let my efforts be an example of what NOT to do:



[Sorry this took so long to post. As usual, so much to do, and so little tequila to support the effort.]

10.14.2009

Mistake?

Uhh, I may have done something really stupid. In my haste to get the property quasi-cleaned up for a visitor, I trimmed our Texas Sage bushes... in the dark.

Okay, okay, I did have the outside lights on, but I'm now thinking that trimming at night might have been a mistake. Still, the bushes were growing so lopsided. Plus with the recent rains softening up the ground, they were all leaning at different angles, and covering up the view from the windows as well. (Dwarf Texas Sages, these are NOT. "Estimated three to five feet tall", puh-lease!).

Spouse and I have been trying to play catch up since the Summer of H3ll on Earth, and I've been carving out time where I can: between rain storms, or before/after work. Sometimes that means the only time I may have is after sunset. Anyhow, I'll post pics of what was done tomorrow - success or failure - when there's light enough to snap a photo. Perhaps that would be a good rule to keep in mind: only shape plants when there's enough light for photographs?

In other news, I've received permission to bring in my good camera to take photos at the plant nursery, and also to post here on the blog. I see some amazing things at work that would be lovely to share.

[pic: Butterfly on Plumbago flowers, taken at the nursery with cell phone camera]

10.09.2009

State of Mind, State of the Farm

Our neighbor is getting ready to throw his Spouse a major blow-out birthday bash, and I'm prepping music for possible inclusion in the mix. It feels like my old I.T. days: Spouse playing music on his computer while doing his work, and I've several applications going at once. Laughing at #conservativebible jokes on Twitter (where folks are making fun of some fringe group who is taking out the "liberal" passages from the Christian Bible). Tweaking photos. Burning playlists to CD. Checking email and the RSS feed reader all at the same time... is there any wonder why I used to be so ADD? No, don't answer that, and don't even joke "what do you mean, past tense?"

This weekend we're trying to get the patio shade drapes completed, and then clean up the porch so we're not looking quite so white-trashy. [Nothing like the threat of an upcoming visit from a friend to kick our butts into gear.] We're replacing the formerly beautiful Ikea white cotton-cloth curtains - which have rotted & shredded within a scant two years - with a more utilitarian, UV-resistant poly shade cloth we can get by the roll at the hardware store. Price will be as inexpensive as the Ikea solution, but should last longer. Geese shouldn't be able to gnaw through this stuff as easily, either. Rotten geese. Pics forthcoming. Of the curtains, I mean.

Speaking of white-trashy, we desperately need an outside storage area so we can at least hide all our stuff, if not perhaps even - gasp! - organize it. We're getting our act together to finally lay down the concrete base for the garage/storage/pottery studio. Need to do some exploratory digging to find which direction all the pipes & electric from the pump house are going, and if we need to re-route all that stuff away from the planned garage area. The good news: all the rain has softened the ground considerably. Perhaps we won't need to rent a jackhammer like we did last Spring.

The Fall garden is doing all right. Cabbage is already being attacked, so I've purchased some Bt (approved for organic gardening) to spray. Will have to wait for a break in the weather. We've had another inch-and-a-half of rain since last night, not that I'm complaining, nosiree. Just hoping there'll be some cabbage left to save! Otherwise, the plants are all enjoying the cooler temps (80's F) and wet weather.

Off to finish up the playlist.

[Pic: my sweet boy, Godzilla, the lead gander.]

10.02.2009

Motion

Fur in motion stays in motion:


Unless something catches it's attention:


Then it's back to motion again.