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Fighting tomato blight with pennies
Smallest wood stoves
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How many batteries do I need for my solar panels?
Automatic chicken door
A year ago this week:
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Cutting oat cover crops for mulch
When's the best time of year to take a soil sample
Best pruning shears
Walden Effect Facebook page
So, I've been tearing up the virtual pavement trying to find Artemesia just the right date.
There was that nice Mini-Nubian buck who wanted her to come stay over
for a month...but Abigail and I begged our darling doeling not to go
since we would have missed her too much. A high-class Dwarf Nigerian
offered to meet Artemesia for a quick hookup, but he never told us his
phone number and didn't call back after he saw her online profile. (Poor
Artie felt so jilted.) Then there was the blue-collar guy who I was
trying to set her up with...until I took a closer look and decided maybe
I needed to be thinking about another sort of date entirely.
Two weeks, ago, the pooch test
appeared negative. But now, considering this lineup of goat butts, I'm
suddenly 50% sure Lamb Chop actually managed to do the deed in June
after all. Meanwhile, my post on a goat forum resulted in two expert
opinions, both in favor of Artemesia being knocked up.
So maybe I have a first
freshener on my hands, not a doeling after all? This would be wonderful
news --- winter milk starting up just about the time Abigail dries off,
plus a doeling who will kid while fat and happy on summer browse.
Before I started on my hike, Mark admonished me "You'll stay on the trail, right?"
Okay, yes, I'll admit
that as I got closer to Edith Gap, the trail got slightly trickier.
Orange blazes joined the yellow as a horse trail cohabited with my
walking trail. And, in some spots, only orange blazes existed to mark
both avenues. But after I figured out what was going on, I was okay with
The trouble happened when
my trail crossed the next forest-service road...and seemed to
disappear. While the higher-elevation portions of the Chief Benge trail
could just as well have been located in a National Park, this region
shows the reality of trail-building in the National Forest ---
clearcuts. Through some oversight, a clearcut had been smacked down
right in the middle of the trail, meaning that I was suddenly walking
through a thicket of five-year-old trees with no blazes in sight. Gulp.
Enter my handy, dandy
map. When walking over new ground, I try to bring along a high-quality
topo map at all times. And here's why --- the visual helped me figure
out how to bushwhack in just the right direction so I could meet back up
with the trail less than half a mile downstream. Success!
I think I probably used
more calories during my fifteen minutes being lost than I did during the
whole rest of the hike. And since the blazes were suddenly scanty from
there on out, I tired myself out yet more wondering if I'd actually
found the right trail and was heading in the right direction. Boy was I
glad to see this boardwalk at the upper end of Bark Camp Lake, proving
that I'd not only guessed correctly, but was also on the home stretch.
All told, I figure I might have walked about 13 miles that day. There's the half mile round trip from home to car to tack on, plus another mile or so from accidentally going around the long side of both High Knob Lake and Bark Camp Lake. (Oops.)
I'll admit that I wouldn't have wanted to walk longer, and I did end up with tired muscles and sore feet. But I learned that a hike of that magnitude is definitely not beyond my means, which is an empowering feeling.
I do think I'll wait a while before hiking the other half of the Chief Benge trail, though....
We went to see "The Martian"
on our last day of staycation.
Mark made the excellent point that if I was going to challenge myself to a long hike
that might push my capabilities, it was best to start as early as
possible. To that end, I milked Abigail by flashlight before dawn, and
we hit the top of High Knob a bit after 8. The mists were very heavy, so
I didn't get to enjoy sunrise from the tower. But I was too excited to
Instead I walked with a
big grin on my face...and photographed fungi. We've had a relatively
rainy week down in our valley, but I could tell that High Knob is much
wetter than even our soggy farm. How can I tell? I measure overall
precipitation for an area by fungal proliferation, and High Knob
definitely won out in that department.
I also enjoyed the fact
that high-elevation trees are already starting to sport their fall
foliage, making the hike particularly beautiful. In fact, I was able to
measure my downhill progress by the leaves beneath my feet. Up high,
sugar maple leaves coated the forest floor, but I eventually dropped
down into the land of tulip-trees, and then walked up onto a drier ridge
where blackgums dominated.
This is just a quick post to alert you to two special deals. First the freebie --- we ended up with three more boxes of Egyptian onion top bulbs. The first three people to email their mailing address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
will be the lucky winners of this delicious and easy perennial
vegetable! (Unfortunately, we can only mail these within the U.S. ---
sorry to our international readers.) The onions are now claimed!
The Chief Benge Scout
Trail has been calling my name for the better part of a decade. It's a
21ish-mile hike (if you tack on the optional addendums at each end) that
begins on the top of a nearby knob and runs down nearly to the valley
floor. A fascinating high-elevation ecosystem combined with the fact
that you can easily divide the trip in half added to the appeal. So why
haven't I hiked it yet?
In the first place, the
logistics have daunted me a bit in the past. While the trail is very
close to our farm as the crow flies, it's at least a 40-minute drive up
winding forest-service roads to get to any of the trailheads. And then I
started figuring in the extra time it would take to leave a car at one
trailhead while being dropped off at another, and the adventure suddenly
seemed like less fun.
Enter my long-suffering husband, who volunteered to not only drop me off, but to pick me up too. How could I refuse?
Oh, yeah, there is
the fact that I haven't gone on such a long hike in many years. Sure, I
used to log about eight miles a day while carrying a 50-pound pack as a
matter of course...when I was 22. But could I still go the distance? Tune in for tomorrow's post to find out.
Our flock of future layers
have developed a bad habit of flying over fences.
Our goat pastures are flattish and dryish, but otherwise contain some of our farm's worst soil. Seriously, nothing
but black locusts would grow there for the longest time. Even the
ground was nearly bare of herbaceous growth (aka grasses and weeds). So I
sent away a soil sample last fall, and the results confirmed my
suspicions --- this area needs help. The CEC was 7 and the pH was 5.2. No wonder plants kicked the bucket before they had time to get their feet under them.
What's the recipe for a
perfect staycation? One part adventure, one part spending time with
friends and family, and one part relaxation. As with everything else,
the trick is finding just the right balance.
un-homesteading related, but in case you're curious, my goal is to find
one interesting event for each day of our week off. To that end, we've
visited Bristol Caverns,
watched Star Wars episode 1 with Kayla and her husband (working toward
my goal of watching all six of the first movies in order before the next
comes out), missed the super eclipse due to clouds (oh well!), and had a
fun picnic in the park. Today, Mom's coming over, we'll probably head
to the movie theater to see The Martian later in the week, and I'm also
hoping I'll be brave enough to hike an 11.5 mile trail I've been eying.
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