Monday, June 22, 2020

And back to hot! A general update.

Well, summer hit hard last week. Lots of temps in the upper 80s. The garden is loving the heat but isn’t so happy about the complete absence of rain. It’s a bit disturbing how dry we are so early in the summer. The catchment basin, which normally holds water until mid-August, is almost totally dry. More a stinky mud pit than a shallow pond. I doubt the wood frogs had a chance to develop from tadpoles, poor things.

Chris did a hive check on the new bees and all appears well. He’s got capped cells in the frames and they are actively working all day. My tomatillos are starting to flower and the last bees adored them. Hopefully these guys will like them too as I purposely planted three near the hive.

The wee chicks are 11 weeks old and running around the fruit pasture like crazy things. The older flock is paying more attention to them through the fencing and I’m going to try to integrate them next week. As this is my first time combining flocks I’m more than a bit nervous. 

Chris continues to make great progress on the upstairs railing. We’ve poured black colored resin into the cracks and voids in the two cherry newel posts, stained the middle pine posts black, and stained all the panel wood black as well. The bottom support rail is in ash and we’ve burned it like the dining room table top (which I just realized I never posted about). We’ll do the same to the ash rail cap. He’s got to cut the goat panel to size, I’ll paint it, then it’s on to assembly. 

NY is now in phase 3 reopening although most the rest of the country continues to see rising COVID-19 cases. Hopefully we continue our favorable trend. Our favorite restaurant is reopening this week and we’ve decided it’s time to venture out. We’ll use only the outdoor seating and hope for the best.

Dad has spent the last two weeks in South Carolina getting his new house prepped for his moving in. His house up here closes soon and I’ll be heading south to help him get settled. We’ll definitely miss having him so close but I totally understand the desire to get away from our hard winters.

working on the railing 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Cold again

The last three days have been cold and overcast. Really cold. Like 42 degrees in the morning cold with little climb throughout the day. And for some reason that has just squashed any urge to actually accomplish anything. We did a few things but ultimately just gave in, tucked in, and read books. 

Here’s what we did manage to do though:
NY is slowly and cautiously opening back up. We are in Phase 2 which means non-essential retail stores are now open and outdoor dining is allowed. We’ve done neither. But it’s nice to have the option.

Dad gave me his extra flower starts and I got them transplanted into the kitchen garden. They’re going to fill in the flower quadrant nicely.

Chris has the newel posts, bottom and side supports for the upstairs railing cut, sanded, and ready for staining. Actually he’s already burn-finished the bottom supports and is now waiting on decent weather for the stain. 

The gardens have been weeded and caterpillar spray has stopped the darn things from eating my kohlrabi, cabbage, kale, etc, etc. Onions are coming up, garlic looks great, and I’ve actually got some potato plants poking out of the tower. I also have three volunteer plants growing in my carrot bed. Oops. The peas are flowering and the greenhouse plants are growing well. 

I made baguettes the other day and experimented with using sourdough starter in place of the poolish. Worked great and I got a malty rich flavor. Had trouble with browning and getting a good crust though.

That’s pretty much it. If today is cold again I intend to get off my duff and at least work in the studio. I’ve got a towel warp I want to get on the loom.

Chicks are growing

Flowering peas

Tater Tower

Volunteers and wee carrot fuzz

Friday, June 12, 2020

Painting the doors

The doors to the Bridge are at the top of the stairs and have been left builder white ever since we installed them. I just couldn’t decide what color I wanted them to be. And since the clerestory windows are white with black trim I figured the doors didn’t look too bad. But they didn’t look good either.
Kind of blah
I finally decided to paint them flat black. I confess I chose that as it’s also the color we painted the Bridge ceiling and we had paint leftover.

Fortunately I love it.

Much more “finished”
I painted the Bridge side the same. It really pulls everything together.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Adding a drip system

Next up for greenhouse improvements was a drip water system. Chris had already relocated the rain barrel so now we needed a way to get the water inside to the plants. We bought an inexpensive drip irrigation system off Amazon and set it up today.

We ran the line from the water barrel through the wall, and then along the South wall. From that main line you run T-junctions and connect short runs to drip nozzles right beside the plants. It was fairly quick and quite easy to set up. 

Why yes, I am squatting in the pepper bed. Why do you ask?
Lines running to the bed 
Red caps are the drip nozzles  
You screw them loose/tight to regulate flow
This is the first time I’ve used anything like this so I’m not sure how long to leave the water on. I’ll just have to keep on eye on the moisture level and plant color with adjustments as needed.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Greenhouse improvements

After working in the greenhouse all spring I realized I needed to make some improvements. Mainly in the layout of stuff. I had bags of soil, planting trays, pots, tables, and just stuff all over the place. I was always tripping and scooching around things. 

I removed the metal bistro table and chairs first. It was fun to sit in there but with summer sun on the way it was too hot. Then I lined up my two work tables along the south wall and neatly organized all the soil and pots underneath them. Tools went into my garden basket or the wooden planting box to keep them corralled.

And here it is now:

So much better
I’ve actually got room to move around. It looks huge now!

Kale, arugula, and lettuce beds
I planted peppers in the East bed to see if they do well over the summer. They generally like the heat so I’m hopeful I’ll get a good crop.
Newly transplanted peppers
I also planted two cherry tomato plants. I’m using leftover goat panel from the bridge railing as a trellis (waste not, want not) and I’ve arched it across the greenhouse.
Base of the tomato trellis 
I’m going to use green stretch tape to secure the vines as they grow. My dream is that the tomatoes will hang down for easy harvest.
Trellis up and over
 And we can now sit and relax outside. It’s great to have a spot where you enjoy all your labor.
Table and chairs outside 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Arch Art - Success!

It worked! Chris ended up using the same form but put it up on several layers of thin boards. Once he’d built the arch he was able to knock those boards out causing the form to drop a good four inches.

Everything settled, crunched, and held.

For size reference 

It’s so cool!
It sits on the left side of the driveway just past the tractor shed so it’s wonderfully visible.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Arch Art

Way back in 2015 Chris tried to build an arch. It was just a fun thing to do with no purpose beyond yard art. So when it collapsed during construction he abandoned it to focus on house related projects.

But it was time to give it another try.

Watch out kitty!

It’s actually got space between the form and rocks
Attempt #1 didn’t work as the form just wouldn’t knock free. You could clearly see gap between the rocks and form but it was caught on the right edge.
Then the right side collapsed and that was it. Gotta rethink the form supports and try again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Bees, part two

We were very sad that our first hive failed. Discussions with bee folk suggest mites as the culprit but we don’t really know. We’re going to do more frequent mite tests and see if we can keep this hive going.

Bees in a box 
Activity always brings everyone running.
Curious chickens 
Curious dog
Curious cat
Everyone together now!
We didn’t let everyone hang out too long. Once Chris actually started getting out the frames we shooed away the cat and chickens.
The good dog got to stay longer

But not too long
It only took a bit of buzzing to drive both me and the dog far away. Soon more pictures of the transfer. Chris reports the all went in just fine and we’ll give them a few days to establish as home. It’s great to have bees again!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Venturing out

With the garden pasture complete I can now easily lock the big chickens out of the fruit pasture. Which means I can let the chicks out to explore without worrying about them being harassed. I won’t be integrating the flocks for many weeks yet but this gives yet another opportunity for the flocks to safely see each other.

The first out was the barred rock. She wasted no time leaving the run and coming to see what I was doing.

What’s up?
Then she called the others.
Check this out!
A few pecks on the ground...
Hmmm, tasty.
And everybody came running.

I stayed nearby to keep an eye on things (cats, dogs, chickens, hawks, oh my) and they had a grand time exploring and tasting everything they could reach. After about 20 minutes they opted to settle down back in the run and I closed the pop door. 

A very successful first excursion.