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Oct 2016

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Oak leaf gall

I can't quite decide whether to note down October 17 as the date of our first freeze or not. Our thermometer recorded a low of 34 and there was no visible frost up here on the ridge. But there was a thin skin of ice on the car windshield, and some of our pepper plants (but not others) got nipped. I guess that's the benefit of a ridgetop location --- we only get patchy frost while neighbors in the valley report a real freeze.

Jack O Lantern mushrooms

Whatever the decision on freezes, conditions are definitely autumnal now. And a hike at Lake Hope State Park turned up some lovely colors...if not on tree leaves. The image at the top of this post is some kind of gall I'd never seen before and I'm pretty sure the fungi are jack-o-lantern mushrooms...meaning that if I headed back in the dark, they should glow.

One year later

As a certified nighttime homebody, though, I'll just snuggle up with a warm cat and remember how different our life was a year ago. No plumbing, no power, no internet, no heat. How far we've come in twelve short months!

Posted Sun Oct 21 06:00:36 2018 Tags:
Deleting roots with new loppers.

We might be about halfway through our digging phase of the new project.

Digging around roots is more effort than the actual digging.

Anna's favorite loppers make short work of thick roots that need to go.

Posted Sat Oct 20 06:00:41 2018 Tags:
Flower arranging

Fencing class led the herb guild which in turn led me to attend a flower arranging workshop on Tuesday night. The class was led by a retired florist, and she gave us a lot of basic tips for making our own garden-related tabletop arrangements a success.

Start flower arrangements with greenery

First step: Start with greenery. Snip off any leaves that will be submerged since these will promote rot and wilt. And focus on something strong-stemmed first to build a firm foundation for the entire arrangement to rest upon.

Lemongrass in flower arrangements

Second step: Build up from there, starting with the heaviest item and working your way to more tender stems. Think about height to add interest --- our teacher did great things with sprays of lemongrass leaves, snipped so they didn't tower too far above the rest of the vase.

Herbal vases

Third step: Have fun! We all brought vases and plants from our gardens, mixed and matched, and ended up with plenty of colorful and attention-grabbing displays to take home.

Whether I'll stop simply bringing in big masses of zinnias out of my garden and plopping them in a jar, however, remains to be seen.

Posted Fri Oct 19 06:00:56 2018 Tags:
Wood chip delivery.

Anna arranged to have a local tree trimming crew download some fresh woodchips.

Posted Thu Oct 18 06:00:52 2018 Tags:
Putting up quick hoops

With a chance of a light freeze on Thursday morning, we spent an hour winterizing the garden. Hoses had already been rolled up in late September, so the next step was to put quick hoops up over the lettuce, kale, and spinach beds.

Defoliated kale

Well, over most of the kale beds. I squashed southern cabbageworm caterpillars twice a week on the broccoli and brussels sprouts, but the kale didn't get treatment and a third of the crop ended up looking like this. I left that bed uncovered in hopes the bugs will freeze back and the plants will regrow from the roots. Next year, though, I think we'll try to make netted quick hoops for the crucifers to lower my workload and save the leafy greens.

Picking peppers

While I was quick hooping, Mark was picking peppers and tomatoes. Now we're ready for a freeze...which I hope means the cold temperatures will float right by us and not quite nip our crops.

Posted Wed Oct 17 06:00:48 2018 Tags:
Yamaha generator one year update.

The Yamaha EF2000 inverter generator gave us the power we needed when we were waiting our turn to get the electricity turned on.

It always started on the first pull if the choke was set properly.

Once we got the power hooked up we drained it dry of fuel and it stores nicely on the floor in one of our closets waiting for a day when it might be needed again.

Posted Tue Oct 16 06:00:48 2018 Tags:

The Power of NowI don't usually review non-homesteading-related books here. But Mark's mantra on the farm is "work smart not hard." And the most powerful tool our species possesses is our a book about using your mind as a tool must be homesteading-related, right?

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm only a quarter of the way into The Power of Now. But there's so much meat that I've been reading it slowly, and I wanted to share while the first part is still fresh on my mind.

The author's thesis (at least in the first quarter) is that our conscious mind is a valuable tool that we should put down and rest when it's not in use. How do you know if you're not using your mind properly? If you're pondering the past or the future rather than focusing on the present, your mind is probably steering you rather than vice versa.

Previously when I've tried meditating, I've found the experience harrowing and frustrating. But using Eckhart Tolle's technique of simply watching my mind and asking myself whether every fleeting thought is past, future, or present, I've finally made a bit of progress in understanding what meditation is all about. And I've seen more mushrooms than usual during the meditation phase of my daily walk too --- proof that resting my mind pays off! If you give it a try, I'll be curious to hear what you think.

Posted Mon Oct 15 06:00:44 2018 Tags:
Rocky Mountain Sleet.

The easy way to photograph someone in a freezing sleet storm is to stay in the car and roll the window down if the wind is not blowing toward you.

Posted Sun Oct 14 06:00:58 2018 Tags:
Install cat door

Okay, so digging wasn't really the first step in creating a wood-stove addition.

With input from Mark's mom (and due to the relative cheapness of large, glass patio doors when compared to double-glazed windows), we decided to make the new room cover the area where our problematic, blows-open-if-you-don't-lock-it, leaky door currently is.

Which means the real step one was moving the cat flap to the other door.

Remove railing

Phase two was taking down the landing and steps we installed just shy of a year ago.

Now we're ready to dig!

Posted Sat Oct 13 06:00:47 2018 Tags:
Using treadmill to load firewood into basement.

If you are loading firewood into a basement maybe a treadmill can make it easier.

Image credit goes to ViralHog.

Posted Fri Oct 12 06:00:45 2018 Tags:

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