Log – 2011

December 31, 2011

Lot of time in Montgomery visiting with Mama, stocking up, and helping Mama with a couple of her chores. Tonight about 16 of us Epiphany folk went to supper together at Our Place. Good to be together with dear friends. First year in a long time that we have not been with our friends Butch, Charlotte, Bob, and Patsy. Funny; I actually went to bed a few minutes before the new year arrived. First time I’ve done that in decades.

December 30, 2011

Great day. Started with a session, then some paperwork. Amanda and I went to a “book club” meeting in the middle of the day, then we stopped off at the Wetumpka Library and joined. Back through Tallassee to check the mail, and then home for a nice walk. One of these days we’ll need to get some work done, but it sure was fun to relax this way.

December 29, 2011

A drop dead gorgeous day. Started crisp and cold, and warmed up nicely to 60 degrees or so by the afternoon, so that Amanda and I worked indoors at mid-day with the doors wide open and enjoying the sunshine.

Saw the first brussels sprouts forming this morning, always an exciting sight. We recorded the podcast this morning, and I published it in the early afternoon.

December 28, 2011

Most of the morning was taken up with a medical checkup for me. I was able to read my EfM lesson while waiting, which helped. Amanda read hers at home. The good news on the checkup is that all the signs are improving (lost 15 pounds, blood pressure steady, A1C down from 6.4 to 6.2).

First chance for me to get out and walk this afternoon, and it was great. Lots of surface trail erosion from that 5 inches of rain while we were gone, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying being out in the woods. It’s good to be back.

December 26-27, 2011

Returned to the farm after several days of traveling to find we got lots of rain while we were gone. All told, we’ve received about five inches of rain during the last week. Wish we already had the rainwater harvesting tanks in place!

Erosion has taken its toll on the driveways, but the cover crops and mulch on the orchard and Veg Hill are doing their job well. It’s a relief to see that the soil there is largely undisturbed. I’m struggling with a cold I brought back from my grandson, so I’m being lazy. Amanda is feeling the effects of the trip as well, so most of our work these days is indoors.

December 16, 2011

First order of the day was to clean off my desk in the shop, get through all the mail, and pay all the bills. Got that finished, and then used Tractor to close off the East Ramp. This afternoon after lunch I had several errands to run in town. While I was there Dave Gray called. He came by this afternoon, and Amanda and I had a good time showing him around the lodge, Veg Hill, orchard, etc. Back to paperwork this afternoon, but I’m finished now with it!

December 15, 2011

Amanda was up and out early to help in the Master Gardener learning garden. I got the volume control working on the speakers, and finished packing up the Sony receiver, the Pioneer DVD, and the Epson projector. When UPS came today to deliver a package, I handed them the receiver and the DVD, but they’ll need to come back tomorrow to pick up the projector (Amazon has scheduled a pickup, and he needed Amazon’s label to take it).

This afternoon Amanda brought back several irises and a redbud tree that was growing wild in the learning garden. I dug a hole, and we worked together to plant it up just east of the lodge. Before we did, however, I insisted that she learn to drive Scamp to deliver the topsoil we used. Long overdue. She did well.

Finished the day with a nice walk on the west creekside and east creekside trails, then up and along the north trail before we returned.

December 14, 2011

Awoke this morning to the smell of smoke. At first, we were concerned that it was on our property, but it turns out to be way out in the Tallapoosa Valley, perhaps somewhere on the EV Smith property. Striking how far the smell of smoke traveled.

This afternoon we recorded the podcast so I can publish it tomorrow while Amanda is traveling.

December 13, 2011

Got the Epson 8350 fired up today and rather quickly concluded it’s just not bright enough. I frankly don’t know how any projector could be bright enough for that room, with windows on the wall the way they are. Maybe if we had a basement room dedicated to home theater with total control over the lighting, but not there. So now the projector goes back, and we’re shopping once again for an HDTV. The problem is that now Amanda’s standard is 106″ and I have to talk her WAY down from that to keep it affordable. Bummer.

December 12, 2011

A dreary, cold December day. We spent most of it inside working on the Christmas letter, and I also worked to get the home theater components for the lodge talking to each other in the shop. We had a nice walk this afternoon.

December 11, 2011

Awoke this morning to discover that, sometime fairly recently, all my key client files have been deleted from my computer, and they’re not in the Recycle Bin. Virus scan comes up clean. Fortunately, I have them backed up, but why did this happen?

Amanda and I spent the day with a quick stop at the church to meet with Arnold, then on to Birmingham for a Sustainable Futures seminar with Ed Passerini and several of his students from across the years. Good group. Lots of good, honest conversation about what’s really happening to our species. We’ve all agreed we need this to continue.

December 10, 2011

Some quiet work this morning. Then to Montgomery to see Mama, Tommy and Taci, and Linda and Rich. Nice lunch and visit at Mama’s house afterward. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it back to the farm in time for our walk.

December 9, 2011

Most of the equipment arrived today for the home theater in the lodge. The Onkyo receiver sounds great. I’ve already figured out that I need to return the DVD player (not Blu-Ray, my mistake) and the stereo receiver (just not good enough, sorry, Sony). So glad I bought everything at Amazon. Tom Bray came over late this afternoon and helped me program the receiver correctly. Great to be able to play iPod right through the receiver. Now I have to figure out how I want to send the signal from a power amplifier to two sets of speakers. I already have impedance matching volume controls, so I’m leaning toward a simple connecting block. Means I’ll never get more than half the amp’s output at either pair of speakers, but I think that should be enough.

Amanda harvested cauliflower and broccoli this afternoon and we steamed them for supper. So tasty! I bet we’ll go bigger with cauliflower next fall.

December 8, 2011

Started the day with a session that (unusually) ran two hours long. Next we recorded the podcast. The Epson HD projector came this morning, a day ahead of schedule. Took delivery this afternoon on two more bales of Joe Jeffcoat’s hay, these costing $45 apiece. Don’t know how long we’ll be able to afford this!

December 7, 2011

About .75″ of rain overnight, and then the wind started to blow. Knowing as we did that the weather would be really uncomfortable this afternoon, we got out this morning for a nice walk. Spent most of the rest of the day getting ready for EfM and ordering most of the components (sans Hsu Research speakers, which we’re hoping to listen to in California) from Amazon.

December 6, 2011

This morning was mostly about getting paperwork done and getting to the CAMGA Christmas meeting, at which Amanda was elected Secretary for next year. The other big news from CAMGA for us was (a) Mallory says the curriculum I prepared for Advanced Master Gardener is fine (and that I basically have already done enough to earn Advanced status even without the other studies I have planned) and (b) Amanda and I will be teaching a class on 2/6/12 at AUM on organic vegetable gardening.

This afternoon when we got back to the farm, I opened up the bag of ryegrass seed I had purchased on Saturday and spread it heavily between the lodge and the barn. By the time I finished, the rain was pouring. We then retreated inside for a while but made it back out at the end of the day for a nice walk on the west side.

December 5, 2011

Amanda got all of her lupin and black oats seed down on Veg Hill today in anticipation of tonight’s rain. I was unfortunately locked inside making decisions for the lodge. We both got in a nice walk in the afternoon.

Tonight we discovered a leak under the kitchen sink in the barn. Need to call Tim tomorrow.

December 4, 2011

Daughters of the King was cancelled today, so we drove in to Montgomery to have lunch with Mama, Grace, and Anna. My first trip to the Arrowhead buffet since my Type 2 diagnosis, so I was apprehensive. Actually did pretty well, with an omelet, veggies, no bread, and a small dessert.  Amanda and I had a nice late afternoon walk. BG reading was normal tonight.

December 3, 2011

I volunteered to help this morning with the Tallassee Christmas parade. My task was to line up folks in one of the four flights that made up the parade. Lots of fun, great weather, and a good time. This afternoon was mostly about choosing speakers for the lodge. I’ve tentatively settled on a set of speakers from Hsu Research. My friend Tom Bray thinks I’m making a mistake to select them without hearing them, but I don’t think I have much choice. That’s life in a small town.

Tonight was the Christmas party at the church. We met in the Little House. Not a huge crowd, but genuinely enjoyable. Great food!

December 2, 2011

Some quiet work this morning, then I removed the cardboard from the pavilion floor of the lodge and blew it off carefully and completely, including the dirt I had pushed up on the east end of the pavilion floor. Then I began spreading the cardboard among the blueberries. It took most of the afternoon, but I got all the cardboard spread and hay piled on it. I love the look of freshly mulched fruit trees.

Amanda spent most of the day working indoors. She’s circling in on the designs she wants for the quilts she wants on the beds in the lodge and having the time of her life with it.

December 1, 2011

Started the day cleaning up the apartment for Mike and Barbara. Then I worked to upload to upload the slides from Emerald Mountain so we could include them with the podcast. Slowed down, because there was some kind of technical problem getting the upload accepted at SlideBoom, but I eventually got it working. Got the doors to the lodge secured, and then shifted my attention to logging in Master Gardener hours. I’m now at 199. That’s almost to the point where I have logged all the hours I need for Advanced Master Gardener. Of course, it will be much higher by the time I’ve completed the requirements.

This afternoon we had a nice visit with Mike and Barbara, who stopped in on their way up from Fairhope. Took them all over the Core Campus and had a nice walk down to the creek and back. Tonight was First Thursday at the church.

November 30, 2011

Began the day preparing our lessons for EfM this afternoon. This afternoon Amanda and I made several measurements in the lodge and are getting comfortable with our plan on the home theater arrangements there. We tentatively plan not to have a conventional TV screen; instead, we will install an HD projector and shoot onto a 106″ screen that we will roll up and down as needed. Allows us to use the end of the family room for bookcases during those times that we’re not actually watching TV or showing a presentation.

This afternoon when we returned from our walk, we recorded the podcast we will publish tomorrow, a reprise of our presentation on organic growing and simple living to the Emerald Mountain Garden Club.

November 29, 2011

Drove to Auburn in the morning to hang out with the Joes at the Veales’ house. Then we drove to Callaway Gardens, had supper together, then to ATL to drop them off at an airport hotel (they leave at dawn tomorrow to return to LAX) before returning to the farm late tonight. A long and tiring day, but a good one.

November 28, 2011

It rained off and on all night long. Got up early this morning and e-filed three cases. Joe, Michelle, and Smith were here by about 8:30, and we had a nice long day with them. Shortly after they drove away we were in the truck headed to Emerald Mountain for a presentation on organic growing and simple living to the Emerald Mountain Garden Club. Fun group. The presentation went well, and we enjoyed the visit. Back to the farm in the dead of night to tumble into bed.

November 27, 2011

We were out early this morning trying to get black oats seed down on Veg Hill and ryegrass seed down on the Blueberry Strip and the hillside interspace in anticipation of the rain. We made it! We were a little late to Sunday School, but people seemed to understand. This afternoon we worked indoors as the rain fell. I put on the carcass of the turkey to simmer in the big dutch oven, and we threw together a stew including collards, lima beans, tomatoes, and peppers, as well as some frozen corn from the store. It was our supper. After giving it a chance to cool, we put it up in one big container and several quart containers. Somehow we found time between showers and between tasks for a nice (but short) walk.

November 26, 2011

I edited the tour of the lodge (at 13 minutes, one of our longest) during the wee hours of the morning, and uploaded it to YouTube just before dawn. I wrote the post early the next morning. The main event of the day was smoking a turkey and a couple racks of ribs so we could serve them for supper when Mama came to see us. They turned out well, although as usual I had trouble getting the smoker up to temperature. The game was thoroughly satisfactory (a big victory for the Tide), and it was a delightful supper. We served the turkey with green beans from our garden, Amanda’s cranberry salad, corn bread from our own corn meal, and some dressing from Publix. Topped off with a tiny piece of chocolate cake from the wedding for dessert.

November 25, 2011

Put in a couple of hours this morning before dawn and whipped the presentation for Emerald Mountain into shape. I’ve figured out more now about how to use PowerPoint to intersperse photos with the text, and it seems to work smoothly. Even uploaded it to SlideBoom so it will be ready for us to use next week for the podcast.

First thing this morning I installed the new smoke detector over the door of the apartment. I spent most of the morning doing a deep cleaning of the lodge. It’s as clean as I can reasonably get it, and I love it. Makes me feel good to walk in and see all the wood chips and dust out of the way, even from the inter-stud gaps. I also dropped a little of the sand in front of the pavilion to ease the transition from the driveway to the lodge.

This afternoon after our walk, Amanda and I recorded a video tour of the lodge.

November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day! Beautiful. Oddie and I took a walk early this morning. I was interested to see how the root cellar felt in the cool of the morning. Predictably, it felt warm in comparison to the outside air.

Got the smoker thermometer connected up and working this morning. In anticipation of using it to smoke the turkey Saturday, I’ve set the alarm for 165 degrees on the food probe and 270 on the ambient air probe. Also set a minimum of 200 on the ambient air probe so it will signal if the temp falls too low.

Thanksgiving at Dave Gray’s and Lynda’s was wonderful as usual. Lots of food (although I ate responsibly), lots of time to visit with family. A little lighter crowd than usual. We were both exhausted by the time we returned, after dark.

November 23, 2011

We got an early start this morning, because I needed to make a trip to town and pick up supplies for Scott before Amanda and I traveled to the lake to rake leaves. We were the last to arrive; Tom, Ruffin, Anthony, Hunter, Mark, Jack, and Ben were already hard at work when we drove up. We started immediately loading the leaves in Cracker’s bay and transporting them down to the water’s edge. When we finished about three hours later we had a healthy pile of leaves. I was willing to come back after they had dried out to burn them, but Ruffin tells me Anthony and Hunter couldn’t wait. They started burning them in the afternoon and had them reduced to ash by nightfall.

Back at the farm, Scott and I plotted strategy. We’ve decided that there’s no need to wait for the new windows to arrive before we blow in foam insulation. As soon as we’ve finished wiring for the A-V, we’ll be ready to blow in the foam. Among other things, that means there should be no foam insulation sticking to the window hardware.

After my nap, Amanda and I took a long walk and recorded the podcast I will publish tomorrow morning.

November 22, 2011

Got started early this morning sweeping up in the lodge and got far enough along that I was able to finish the four north rooms before the electricians spread out their equipment. I’ll wait now until they’ve gotten to a stopping point before I sweep up in the family room. At Johnny’s and Matt’s request, I’ve taken delivery on the big transfer switch, so it’s now sitting in the shop awaiting the time when they can wire it up (they’ll do this when the metal is in place). Later in the morning, I swept out the root cellar. It’s good to get it cleaned out. Looks more spacious now that it’s clean.

November 21, 2011

We made a staggering number of decisions with mind-jerking speed this morning, as we walked through the lodge with the electricians and discussed where to put lights, fans, switches, and plugs. Scary. Both of us were exhausted by the process, made more challenging that we were doing it with a lot of noise in the background. This afternoon we walked through again in the peace and quiet and made sure we’re comfortable with the decisions we made.

Nice walk this afternoon, and then dinner with the Tom Bordens. It was nice to see Mark and Ashley and their children; it’s been too long.

November 20, 2011

I was up early and headed to Montgomery to teach Alabama Law and Tax Aspects of Divorce to a group of mediators in training. Large group, lots of questions, fun morning. Lunch in Montgomery, then back to the farm for a nap and a little editing of the corn meal video before our friend Kathy Marth arrived from Ashville, NC. The three of us had a nice walk, and we enjoyed showing her the lodge. Then a quiet, simple dinner and good conversation.

November 19, 2011

Amanda fixed some of her delicious blueberry bran muffins for our breakfast this morning, and then Jonathon and I worked together on a couple of cleanup chores. First Tractor and I picked up a huge chunk of fat lighter and moved it out of the way (that is, well away from the lodge). Then Jonathon and I loaded a couple of the extra strips of metal from the lodge roof and slowly moved them down on Tractor to join the metal leftover from the barn construction. Really helps the look of the lodge to get the area around it cleaned up.

While Jonathon was still here, Charlie and Janean arrived for a brief visit. We toured the barn and let them see how we live, then we walked up to the lodge and walked through it, and then we walked around on Veg Hill. On the way up and back, we also told them about the orchard. We’re hoping they can bring our friend Joe Elmore with them next time and stay a little longer.

After Charlie and Janean left, Amanda, Oddie, and I took a brief (about 30 minutes) walk before returning for lunch and to listen to the Alabama football game (no TV). Strange goings on in the BCS, with the #2, #4, #5, and #7 teams all getting beaten this weekend. Wow. Now our task is clear: we must win next Saturday when we play Auburn. We must win.

November 18, 2011

Beautiful day. Got out early before Jonathon Meeks arrived and cleaned up trash around the lodge. Also gathered up the cardboard on the barn floor and blew off the lodge floor. Then a little paperwork before Jonathon arrived. Amanda was busy most of the morning doing a deep cleaning of the apartment and porch and then to town to pick up sandwiches for lunch.

When Jonathon arrived, he and I walked through the lodge together. He had some good ideas about electrical outlets, particularly his suggestion to put an outlet behind every door (because we’ll never cover that up with furniture so it will always be available for temporary use). I also think I’ll ask Johnny and Matt to mount a twin duplex on either side of the bed in each room for phone charging, lamp, computer, etc. Jonathon and I also talked about making at least one bedroom and one bathroom handicapped accessible (meaning a 36-inch doorway). I’m not sure it’s practical, but I understand how we might welcome that capability at some point, so I’m going to ask Scott about it.

After the three of us had lunch together, Amanda and Jonathon looked at Veg Hill together while I took a nap, and then we took a long walk together. Shannon from Home Integrated Solutions came to talk about AV for the lodge, and I’m excited. For about what I was planning to pay for a good TV and sound system, Shannon and his folks can place all the equipment but the screen and speakers in one of the closets in the middle bedroom and give us a single programmable remote that operates everything using an LCD screen. Shannon can even program that remote with a setting called “Alabama Football” that will give us the video from the TV and the audio from the radio tuner. I think that’s genuinely cool, and so does Amanda. Shannon’s system will include two speakers on the east porch (“Do you think they’ll produce enough sound to dance to if we want to? Oh yeah, no problem.”) and one speaker on the west porch that will produce enough sound to be heard at the fire pit.

After Shannon left we mounted Jonathon’s corn sheller on Scamp and started grinding corn. It was surprising how fast the sheller worked. A handcrank design, more than 100 years old. We worked until after nightfall blowing the chaff off the corn kernels using Adrian’s little fan, and then we ground the kernels in the Whispermill to make corn meal.

Jonathon and Amanda worked to pack the corn meal into bags while I made corn bread from it. Delicious! We had it for supper along with some collards for the garden (not Jonathon’s favorite, but Amanda and I loved them as usual, and these were made better for us by the addition of our FIRST shitake mushroom from the mushroom logs!), some leftover salmon, and some leftover baked beans.

Good day. Good day.

November 17, 2011

The big deal today was the windows for the lodge. I’m confident I requested 2040 (2 feet wide by 4 feet tall) windows for the north wall of the lodge, but they arrived is 2030, one foot too short. They also came with gridlines, and Amanda HATES gridlines. Spent most of the day making phone calls and thinking through how to handle it. Still a little up in the air, but we’re circling around a solution.

I have cleaned out all the shafts for the root cellar now. They’re ready to use for ventilation, electrical, and amateur radio. Also discovered that the tables in the closet got some water on them from yesterday’s rain. So I spread them out in the sunshine to dry.

Amanda and I recorded the podcast after lunch, and I edited and published it just before supper.

November 16, 2011

I was in a CLE conference all day in Wetumpka, and Amanda had a doctor’s appointment in Montgomery. Watched helplessly on my phone’s screen as a tornado formed and threatened the Tallassee area. So far, though, we’ve learned of no damage that resulted from the storm in the Tallassee area, and the damage reports are minimal throughout central Alabama.

November 15, 2011

Most of the day was consumed in getting Adrian and Eli safely in the air on their way home to California. Simply a wonderful visit. So relaxed and pleasant. Can’t wait to see all our children again soon.

Oddie and I headed back to the farm early today, so I had the chance to take a long walk covering both the east side and the west side. The sunflowers have all succumbed now, so the trail where they were growing so riotously is ready now for bush hogging.

This afternoon I edited and posted the fire time lapse video.

November 14, 2011

Hangin’ with Eli and Adrian all day today. Relaxed, unhurried, fun. Spent some time both at the lake at the farm. Thoroughly pleasant day, with a nice long walk. Accomplished little beside getting things packed up for their return trip tomorrow.

November 13, 2011

Good morning at church. I taught a Sunday School lesson on the Apocrypha, which went well. This afternoon we spent preparing for Adrian’s and Eli’s arrival tonight at the lake. Grilled salmon and eggplant, made spinach dip, and mixed up bran muffins.

November 12, 2011

Spent the morning clearing and burning everything I could that was stacking up around the lodge. Now I need to order one of those construction dumpsters from Advanced Disposal to deal with the rest of the debris. I’ll plan to call Advanced Disposal about that Monday.

Took a nice video time lapse of the fire. Fun to watch.

During the afternoon I dismantled the tomato trellis. I now have 3 20-foot lengths of 2″ PVC pipe and 60 7-foot lengths of  3/4″ PVC pipe tied into bundles of 12 each. They’re stored over the apartment. While I was storing them, I took down the old tiles we had been saving from the barn. We’re thinking we may be able to use it on the backsplash above the counter on the screen porch, or maybe for the area beneath the wood stove.

We had a nice walk late in the afternoon.

November 11, 2011

Breathtakingly beautiful day. I was out early and was able to get the fire pit completely built before a 10:30 session and then lunch, interrupted by a visit with Gordon Hudson, who came by to talk about my insurance. In the afternoon I landscaped around the fire pit. It’s looking pretty spiffy now. Next Oddie and I enjoyed a long and wide-ranging walk. Among other things, I walked the path of a new trail I’d like to cut to connect the Greenfield with the meandering trail. It’s heavily sloping, but nice a pretty.

Finished the day with a session.

November 10, 2011

Cold and windy, just not pleasant to be outside. Amanda and I spent most of the morning indoors doing paperwork. This afternoon we recorded the podcast, and then we traveled to Wetumpka to close out my old Regions business checking account and to shop for stone and tile at Lowe’s. We returned after dark with 52 stone in the back of the pickup. I had to unload them tonight because Amanda is taking Cracker to Birmingham first thing tomorrow morning. Fortunately, they came right out with a minimum of fuss, and the pallet containing them is now loaded on Tractor’s pallet forks.

I was working into the night getting the podcast edited and published, but it’s done now.

November 9, 2011

Two sessions this morning, then a nice brisk walk before EfM in the afternoon. After EfM, it was mainly about getting through e-mail and paperwork. Still so much to do. During the afternoon I used Scamp to begin excavating for the fire pit

November 8, 2011

We decided this morning to make “wedding stew.” Basically, we threw into the stewpot all the leftovers we hadn’t already frozen and are willing to freeze now. The stew contains barbeque pork, chicken Parmesan, potatoes and carrots, a little Chinese mixed vegetables, some hot & sour soup, some pasta salad, some cooked green beans, some buttermilk, a little half & half, and a heaping helping of fresh tomato, cooked fresh okra,  and cooked green beans (these from Veg Hill). Amanda’s also adding an Anaheim pepper for a little kick.

Later this morning I got Scamp after the fire pit site. First I raked the sticks away to leave a bare spot. Then I used the bucket to scrape away about 6″ of soil. Then I used the shovel, hoe, rake, and a level to create a level bed about 5 feet wide (the fire pit will be about 4 feet wide, so I left a little cushion). The next step is to purchase and set out the stone from Lowe’s. I know people say I need to be buying fire brick, but I don’t expect the fire to get that hot, so I’m living dangerously and just using stone.

This afternoon I attended a diabetes education class at Tallassee Hospital. It would have been helpful if I had taken it right after my diagnosis. By now, it’s just redundant. Amanda was already out walking when I returned, but I was able to join her so we could finish the walk together.

November 7, 2011

Good day. Mike Scanlon dropped by to talk about a tankless propane water heater for the lodge, and he and I ended up talking about several other things as well. I’m seriously considering what they call a “demand system” for the outdoor shower here in the barn. It would pump water and recycle it right back to the cold water until the hot water got up to temperature. What’s appealing to me about that is that we wouldn’t be dumping all that water out on the ground, and it would be activated by a push-button. I can easily see myself pushing the button to start it, then going inside to take off my clothes. Then when I came back out I would have instant hot water. Luxurious!

Lee Patterson was working a good part of the day on the HVAC for the lodge. 3-ton variable speed. Ductwork will run in unconditioned space, so we need to make sure it gets a good slathering of foam insulation.

Spent most of the afternoon working on the carts for the tables and chairs and finished loading by tractor light on the floor of the lodge. I’m proud to say that all 8 tables and all 64 chairs are now safely stored on rolling carts.

Amanda spent most of the afternoon cleaning up the lake place. She and I both were exhausted by night-time. So much food left over. So much food. We’ve composted more food during the last week than we would during a typical year, and that’s after saving every morsel we possibly could. It’s just awful.

November 3, 2011

Been neglecting the log as preparations for the wedding gather momentum. Today’s podcast is all about the wedding preparations and how they’re affecting the farm. Amanda and I are exhausted. We’re having a great time with all Adrian’s and Eli’s friends who are here for the wedding, but we need to get some more sleep!

October 31, 2011

Found out today that our original scheme on the HVAC – to keep the ducting in the conditioned space – probably won’t work. Too much furring. So the best option appears to be to run the ducting in the space above the living space and keep it extremely well insulated.

Scott is just about finished framing the living space now. We ordered the windows today (too late – they’ll probably take two weeks to get here). Scott showed me some pre-finished flooring that seems like a wonderful solution. Fairly affordable, and we don’t have to pay anybody to come in and sand and finish it after we put it down.

We have the wedding program designed now. If I do say so myself (I designed it), it looks clean, understated, and handsome.

October 30, 2011

Good to be back in church this morning after a forced absence of two weeks for travel and hospitality at the farm. The afternoon was all about traveling to Birmingham for a bridal shower with Adrian and Eli.

October 29, 2011

Amanda headed to Birmingham at mid-day after organizing many of the photos for the wedding video. I continued working on the video here. Today was my lost day. I worked for 12 straight hours on the video. Fortunately, I can say that it’s basically done now. I want to watch it a couple more times and make sure I’m satisfied with it before I encode it to Quicktime. Good to have the bulk of the work behind me as Adrian and Eli arrive.

October 28, 2011

Today was pour day (concrete) for Milt Thomas and his team for the root cellar, the lip over the root cellar, and the shower walk. As nearly as I could tell, everything went smoothly.

Today was also the day that Edzard Vanzantin sent us the cover crop seed he had promised us. We opted to use a mix of black oats and lupins (120 lb lupins to 24 lb black oats) on the 1-acre orchard floor, so that turned into my project today. I started out mowing the orchard floor and got about 2/3 of the way through before I decided that I would be better off mowing on top of the seed. So I inoculated the lupins and spread it. Then I followed up with the black oats. Then I finished by mowing the remainder of the orchard floor. It was 5:45 pm by the time I finished. Amanda and I had time just for a brief walk before supper time.

October 27, 2011

Amanda spent the day in Birmingham. It was a long hard day of driving and errand-running, and I’m grateful to her for it.

Published the podcast this morning. Turned out to be time-consuming, because there were so many references in the podcast that I needed to include as links on the show notes page, but it’s done now.

With Scott Ruppert’s help, I was able to open up all five of the ports to the storm shelter this morning. There’s still a little debris in one of them, but it shouldn’t be too hard to remove.

I spent the afternoon at Dave Gray’s farm helping with the Montgomery County resource tour. Most of my work was getting the pear cider operation started and operating the grinder and the press once things were under way. I left, exhausted, at about 5:40, got back about 6:30.

October 26, 2011

Milt and his team poured concrete for the rest of the slab today. And Scott made good progress too. All but one I-beam is in position now. The south, west, and north walls are all framed up. However, I think Scott framed in 2 x 4 windows on the north wall, when I intended for him to frame in 2 x 3s. Need to talk with him about that.

Good discussion at EfM this afternoon. Nice walk when we returned, and then we had a long, productive web chat with Adrian and Eli. It’s coming together!

October 25, 2011

Baking day. Loaded up the car with all the utensils and ingredients we need (we hope) to drive to Mama’s house to bake a dozen cakes. Should be fun!

We worked all day and returned to the farm about 7:00. We baked 12 cakes, allowed them to cool, wrapped them securely in plastic, and stored all 12 of them in Mama’s freezer. We will bring them out and let them thaw Thursday of next week to be frosted on Friday in preparation for the wedding on Saturday. It was an exhausting day, but we kept our good humor through it all, and we’re both delighted the job is done.

When we returned, Scott Ruppert had already framed up the south and west wall of the family room and had the first two I-beams in place. Man, he’s fast!

October 24, 2011

This morning was all about the lodge. Worked with Johnny to get the temp power set up; it’s in place now. Then Scott Ruppert and I popped lines for the key walls he needs to get started framing. We talked through the location of the main entrance door and the window on the west wall of the family room. All this time, Milt and his folks were working to prepare the slab under the screen porch and the pavilion for pouring. They’re going to wait until Wednesday to pour so Johnny and Matt can lay conduit Tuesday.

I did mostly quiet work in the afternoon preparing for the wedding. Amanda traveled to Montgomery to buy the ingredients for the cakes.

October 23, 2011

We began the day letting everybody wake up at their own pace. Michael was up early and preparing his breakfast for everyone. Wonderful continental breakfast of breads, cheeses, nuts, and fruits, washed down with apple cider. Next we recorded the podcast, which ran about 36 minutes. Then we took a walk over on the east side and included the East Ramp so I could check on everything over there. We finished with a quick tour of the orchard before the group loaded up in their vans and drove away.

Amanda left as soon as they drove away to make it for Daughters of the King, which worked out great for me, because I had time for a nice nap. Then I edited the podcast, which was a little trickier than usual because of long pauses and variable volumes. Amanda and I finished with a nice walk on the east side and the north trail before coming inside for a nice restful evening. Good day.

October 22, 2011

Busy this morning with preparations for the students. Pulled out the rubs and rubbed them down. Pulled veg and rolls out to thaw. Cleaned the apartment. Cleaned the shop. Then I worked on paperwork while Amanda finished preparations.

Had delightful lunch with the students at The Tipping Point. Then I came on to the farm to start the ribs while they waited for a straggler. When everybody got here, we had a brief orientation, and then we headed over to the East Ramp to start the fire. Wonderful progress in a short amount of time. The big pile of lumbering debris that was to the left of the perimeter trail is now no more. We then spent some time on Veg Hill. Nearly everybody picked something they could take with them. Next I took Scamp over to the East Ramp to bank the fire, and the rest of the group walked over to the West side. When I was finished with the banking, I joined them, and we had a nice walk before returning to the barn.

Back at the barn, our attention turned to preparation for supper. Emily fixed turnips, chard, and sweet potatoes. Amanda fixed broccoli and green beans. I fixed ribs and rolls. It was a nice feast we could enjoy while we watched the Alabama game. Most of the students bedded down on the back porch, and Emily and Sam slept in their tent. A few others slept under the stars.

October 21, 2011

This rarely happens to me. I found myself so stressed out this morning about all the tasks I need to complete before the students get here this weekend that I felt my concentration beginning to wane. AND my blood sugar jumped up (a common reaction among diabetics to elevated stress levels). Calm down, Lee.

I built a list of all the tasks so I could tick them off. This morning I buried a snake we had killed yesterday so the students wouldn’t have to deal with it, put the garbage out on the street, wrapped up and stored the jumper cables that have been sitting on the floor of the shop, mixed up toll house brownies, ordered the projector for Adrian’s wedding, and dug an 80-foot trench for temporary power. Plan your work; work your plan.

Next I bush hogged the north trail. After lunch, I bush hogged everything on the west side, including the Green Field. Even had time when I got back to get in some paperwork before we took our walk.

October 20, 2011

Weird kind of day in which I worked hard but don’t seem to have much to show for it. Started the day with a session, then I put the auger back on Scamp while I was waiting for Amanda to finish with the minutes for CAMGA so we could record the podcast together. After we finished recording, I edited and published it while she did paperwork for the wedding. After lunch, I poked two holes for Johnny to install temporary power beside the lodge (one for the pole and one for the ground rod). I then removed the auger, attached the box blade, and used it to smooth out the driveway. I was starting to trench down from the holes to the meter when I noticed the stumps west of the lodge. We definitely want to get as many of them in on the fire as possible, so I spent most of the rest of the afternoon moving stumps to the East Ramp. It’s a long trip, so it was slow going. Amanda and I finished the day with a short walk along the north trail and then around to the East Ramp and then back again.

October 19, 2011

Today was my day to offer my spiritual autobiography in EfM, so putting the finishing touches on it occupied most of the morning. In the afternoon after we had run a couple of errands in town, Amanda and I took a long (cold) walk with Oddie. When we returned, I moved firewood pallet #9 into position. It turned out to be a longer job than usual. Not only did I need to move both the car and the truck out of the way; I also needed to move two pallets of folding chairs and a third pallet of tables that we’re storing in preparation for Adrian’s wedding. It took a while to move all those pallets, but I didn’t get in a hurry, and everything got moved without damage or incident. First fire of the season tonight!

October 18, 2011

The pad for the conditioned space of the lodge is poured now. Unfortunately, we had to be gone during all the excitement. First we dropped off Oddie at the Vet so he wouldn’t be underfoot while Milt and his folks were working. Then we renewed my driver’s license at the courthouse in Wetumpka. Then we drove to Lanark in Millbrook for the CAMGA meeting and a brief tour of the Lanark grounds. Then to the place in Millbrook that will supply the granite for the lodge (the Farmer-in-Chief has selected Tropic Brown). Then to Whitewater Ridge to do some more planning for the wedding. We’ve now been able to downgrade the threat of rain on Adrian’s wedding day from a catastrophe to a big problem we think we can solve. Then back to town to pick up Oddie and check the mail, and then back to the farm and a long walk in the woods. A good day.

October 17, 2011

Beautiful day. An early morning session that ran long. Oddie and I did some bush hogging on the east side this morning, and I brought a load of clay gravel over for the driveway from the East Ramp. My big accomplishment was to bush hog the cut-through between the pond and up the hill to the East Ramp. Got stuck in the process, but I was able to get extricated. Had a little problem when the spring pin slipped out of the bar on the bush hog, so I limped back to the barn. After lunch, I drove into town and ran several errands, including buying a new pin to replace the spring pin that’s lost and lying somewhere on the east side.

With the pin back in place, Oddie and I finished the bush hogging and brought one more load of clay gravel. Then I had to stop for a late afternoon session. After that was done, Amanda and I walked on the east side. I had time to install Category 1 pins on the box blades. I was removing the auger from Scamp when I ran out of light.

October 16, 2011

Returned from a conference and a four day absence. Sure was great to be back home. Long walk this afternoon with Oddie. Okra was not well picked, but it is now. The strawberries I planted Saturday didn’t make it. The sunn hemp on Rows 10-11 is out of control.

October 11, 2011

A long session this morning, then mostly paperwork in the afternoon before a mid-afternoon session. Good to get caught up (sort of). We had just enough time for a short walk late in the afternoon as we were losing our light.

October 10, 2011

Nice visit with the Hughes family during the morning. We made the most of the time before the rains arrived; Amanda, Laura, and Deborah were busy harvesting on Veg Hill, and Sam, Joel and I walked around the orchard. Sam also got a chance to use the Quick Dually mower. The rain had set in by the time they left, so Amanda and I both spent the afternoon doing paperwork. I didn’t finish, but I made good progress.

October 9, 2011

This morning we encountered problems with both printers and couldn’t print either Amanda’s homework for Daughters of the King or our outline for the Sunday School lesson we had prepared. Bummer. No time to deal with it, though, because we needed to clean our home and get to the church. Sunday School went well and Rob Morpeth was wonderful as always.

The afternoon was consumed getting ready for the Hughes family. We still had a lot of beans to snap when they got here, but they were good-natured about it and joined right in. Had a good time with Joel and his family. They’re such nice people. We were busy canning (Sam and Laura did most of the work) until nearly 9:00 pm. I took Joel’s suggestion and just left the beans in the canner overnight.

October 8, 2011

This morning for Amanda was totally focused on getting the invitations for Adrian’s wedding in the mail. She made it, delivering all but a handful (about which we need to gather more information) to Sabrina at the Tallassee PO slightly before they closed at noon. This morning I emptied the humanure buckets and then drove to Montgomery to attend the workshop on backyard fruit production at Hampstead Farm. Amanda had put on a load of clothes to wash this morning and then forgot them, so we had to (Gasp!) use the dryer this afternoon.

Oddie and I took a short walk this afternoon. We’re hoping Amanda can join us soon. After the walk, I set the posts and hoops for row cover on Row 9 (the fall veg row this year). I finished during the first quarter of the Alabama football game, listening to Eli Gold on the outside speakers.

October 7, 2011

A morning session, and then I continued installing software on the computer. One of the applications I added was my Canon photo management software, which freed me up to finish the deer fence post. So it’s up now on the site.

This morning Amanda noticed that a few of the sweet potatoes were rotting in the ground, so we have run out of time; we need to harvest them now. First I pulled all the foliage and dropped it in the compost. Then I used the spade fork to turn the earth as gently as I could, uncovering each cluster of potatoes and then untangling them. As I dug and gathered, Amanda arranged them on the work table so that they’re able to get air but no direct sun. We got a decent crop, certainly better than last year, but not as many as we were expecting, and badly misshapen the way last year’s were. Next year we know we will  double dig before planting sweet potatoes, which should help with the shape. We will also trellis the foliage, which should give it a little more room for leaves.

Oddie and I finished the day with a long walk over to No Wheels Land. I had forgotten how much land there is over there; we really need to make that land bridge to No Wheels Land a project, maybe after the chickens. Then we encircled the pond. Another project for the future.

October 6, 2011

Morning for me at the Master Gardener intern class while Amanda addressed invitations for Adrian’s wedding. This afternoon we recorded and published the podcast, and then I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get my computer back in shape before heading for town for First Thursday.

October 5, 2011

Missed several days on the log during which we canned (on Saturday) a new mess of green beans. Amanda says we now have 33 quarts put by, but we’ve given away four of them, so I guess that means we’re down to 29. Sunday we drove to Petals for Arlie Powell’s walking tour of the persimmons. My blood sugar is staying under control, which is remarkable given that I had a hard disk crash on Monday morning and my life has been in a bit of a turmoil since then.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was a bit of a blur. Both of us worked inside all day. No walk for me, but Amanda and Oddie did get in a brief constitutional at the end of the day.

Tim Ledbetter and his folks were here early today with Scott Ruppert to place the drains in the slab. I spent most of the morning getting my computer back in shape. Amanda spent the morning in surgery for a skin cancer spot on her forehead. Both of us were in EfM most of the afternoon.

After EfM, between computer tasks, Oddie and I took a long walk. Amanda had to stay quiet and avoid raising her heart rate in the wake of her surgery. We walked across the dam and plotted where the crossing would be if we wanted to jump the creek a little further south. Then we crossed the creek down close to Rifle Range and followed the creekside trail back to the spine. Then we followed the spine up to the work platform before taking the cut-through to the north trail. Neither the creekside trail nor the north trail was plotted before, but both of them are now. I just need to get them transferred from the GPS over to the property map.

September 30, 2011

Started the morning with a quick visit from Ruffin and Cathy, on their way from the lake to Gulf Shores. We were delighted they stopped by and enjoyed showing them what’s going on in the orchard and on Veg Hill. I then drove to town to meet Maurice and work on the grass at Epiphany. One of the grindles broke off on the Cub Cadet zero turn, but fortunately only AFTER I had done most of the cutting I needed to do with it. Maurice was able to do most of what was left with the tractor, and what he was not able to reach I hit with the string trimmer. I tried to crank the push mower, but the spring was broken on it, and it wouldn’t wind the cord back into the mower. Bummer.

Back at the farm, after lunch, I got Jonathon and Johnny’s help again. Basically we’re getting comfortable that the 2000 volts is enough to shock a deer. We’d like for it to be higher, but we think what we have is enough. I went ahead and added the nine warning signs to the fence and the little scent caps as well. The “apple essence” really does smell nice. I can see why deer would be drawn to it.

While I was doing that, Amanda was picking okra and green beans. We’re banking green beans now for a canning session planned for tomorrow. Amanda and I finished the day with a nice walk over on the west side and then across the dam to the east side to check the mail. Good day.

September 29, 2011

Amanda and I were sitting down to record this week’s podcast (now on Thursdays instead of Wednesdays) when Scott Ruppert called to say he and Tim Ledbetter were up on the lodge site ready to mark locations for Tim’s plumbing. We had a good session with them, and satisfied ourselves that everything is likely to work smoothly. Now we’re waiting for Milt to come and dig trenches for pipes, and then Tim’s folks will come back to do the rough plumbing.

This afternoon I mowed the aisles on Veg Hill and then took down the sunn hemp on a few more feet of Row 9 so Amanda could plant some of her garlic there. She didn’t get to it, though, because the green beans have gone wild and are producing again. She picked three big baskets full of green beans. So we’ll be canning soon, we think Saturday afternoon.

With that done, I could turn my attention to the electric deer fence. With the help of Johnny and then Jonathon at McGregor, I was able to confirm that I have between 2000 and 4000 volts on the fence line all the way around. I think we wanted 6000, so I’m looking forward to visiting with Jonathon about it tomorrow when he comes in.

I took the clothes off the line and then mowed the south and west grass, and then I also mowed the Blueberry Strip. Good to have that done. I love my Quick Dually!

September 28, 2011

Scott Ruppert arrived early this morning so he and I could pull string for the interior walls of the finished space in the lodge. Now all is ready for Tim Ledbetter and Scott Ledbetter to do r0ugh plumbing and electrical. Amanda and I spent the remainder of the morning studying for EfM and the early afternoon in EfM class. I had a session when we returned, and then we had a nice walk.

September 27, 2011

We were up early and away to Montgomery for an all-day workshop “All About Trees,” the CEU conference of Alabama Master Gardeners. Amanda and I helped with refreshments and cleanup, so that stretched out the day a little more.  Great workshop, well-organized, and informative. Mostly about ornamental and shade trees, but enough principles carried over to fruit and nut trees that I’m glad I was able to be there.

Finished the day with a walk on the east side, then used the cut-through to go to the north trail. We were losing our light by then, so we took the short way back to the barn.

September 26, 2011

This morning I staked the eggplant, scooping 2 or three good-sized fruit off the ground in the process. Then I bush hogged the area around the orchard in preparation for mowing the fence line. Before I put Tractor away I bush hogged the meandering east trail and the area between the lodge and the barn.. Back in the orchard, I moved several more of the fiberglass posts so I could weave the mower in and out and make it about halfway around without stopping. I think I will move a couple of t-posts at the north end, and then I’ll be able to make it almost all the way around (will have to stop where the charger is connected to the fence, but I can live with that). That should speed up the mowing process.

Then I used the string trimmer on several of the orchard rows and re-buried the drip hose on Row 2 – blackberries. I’m going to work to bury every bit of the header and drip hose so I can mow wherever I want without fear. It’s slowly coming into focus.

Late in the afternoon Amanda and I took a nice long walk over to and around the west side. Hope we can keep this up.

September 25, 2011

Church this morning, then several of us ate lunch at Acapulco Grill while the ladies were doing their Daughters of the King thing. Then back to the farm and a nice, long walk in the afternoon. Good Sunday.

September 24, 2011

This morning was the time for cleanup. I pulled the cardboard left from the big shipping carton in which the Quick Dually 36 had arrived and deposited it inside the gate of Veg Hill so it will be ready for us to use for mulching. Pulled the wood components and used them to build a fire and burned all the scrap wood from the lodge as well as the pile of scrap I had built up just east of the orchard. Had quite a conflagration at one point.

Another adjustment to the compost pile. Used galvanized wire to bind up the chain link at the bottom. Will it hold? We shall see.

Finished the day making another big pot of stew as we watched the Alabama Arkansas game. Lots of winter squash, green beans, and okra.

September 23, 2011

Spent most of the morning at the dermatologist’s office. Stem to stern exam, resulting in two suspicious spots removed. I should hear biopsy results within two weeks.

The new fence testers arrived, so this morning I got out and used all three of them in succession to test the voltage coming from the Parmak SolarPak 12 charger with the fence completely disconnected. All three testers showed less than 2000 volts. Talked to Dan Hummell at Parmak, who STILL claims it’s a tester issue. Now he wants to send me yet another tester that he says is more accurate than the 5-light testers McGregor has been using. Why didn’t he say that while I was waiting for the 5-light testers to arrive?

This afternoon Byron Abrams and his cousin Ken brought over their wine-making equipment and took time to show us how they made their batch. What fun!

September 22, 2011

The big project today was to rebuild the cage around the compost pile. The cage built with hog wire and chicken wire held up well against the critters, but Oddie patiently picked at it until he could get into it. By this week, putting things in the compost pile had just become an inefficient way to give Oddie table scraps.

I started with four t-posts in a square 50 inches wide. Then I cut two lengths of chain link fence 12 feet long. One runs east and west, with sides folded up on the east side and the west side and attached to the t-posts. The other runs north and south, with sides folded up on the north side and the south side, and also attached to the t-posts. In addition, where the two strips meet vertical corners of the cage, the strips of chain link are wired together at several points, particularly low to the ground. I topped it with a sheet of chicken wire strung between two 48″ lengths of 3/4″ PVC pipe (had to get 3/4″ PVC in there somewhere, you know).

Between sessions working on the compost pile, I had my consultation about my diabetes with Dr. Marcial Mendez. I assured him that he would find me to be a highly compliant patient. I’ve already filled my prescription for metformin and will begin monitoring my blood sugar levels tomorrow morning.

September 21, 2011

Can’t claim much farm work today, unless you count the podcast this morning. Good visit in EfM this afternoon, and I filed three cases afterward. At the end of the day, Amanda headed to Montgomery to run several errands; I got out and finished mowing the orchard, and then I mowed the blueberry strip. Gorgeous sunset.

September 20, 2011

This morning I finished my study outline for Advanced Master Gardener so I could share it with Mallory at the CAMGA meeting today. She wasn’t able to be at the meeting, so I just left it on her desk. After the meeting we ran several errands in and around Wetumpka before heading back to the farm. I had an afternoon session, and then I worked on the deer fence. Johnny at McGregor spotted one of my problems: I had neglected to insulate the gate rings from the ground, resulting in a wholesale power loss at the gate. I’ve fixed that problem now, but the fence is still registering rather low voltage. I’m waiting for those replacement fence testers to see where the problem seems to be.

Late this afternoon we got a nice shower to go with the one in the wee hours of this morning. .12″ of rain early this morning, .77″ and counting (it’s still raining as I write this) this afternoon, for a total of .89 inches. Finished the day with a total of 1.44 inches. Yes!

September 19, 2011

Found out today that I am diabetic and that Amanda has another basal cell carcinoma. Double whammy. Within that context, though, it was a pretty good day.

Talked with McGregor and then with Parmak, the company that manufactured our charger, and determined that the charger may not be working, but the little five-light tester is certainly not working correctly. So McGregor is sending me two more testers (to make sure one of them is good). Then we’ll start doing some diagnostics.

Oddie has gotten into the compost again. I’m redesigning the compost enclosure again, this time using chain link. Bought four more t-posts and a 50-foot roll of chain link at True Value today. I sure hope we can figure out a way to keep him out of it.

The lawn mower arrived today. Quick Dually 36. I ordered it with the mulch kit, but it didn’t cut well with the mulch kit. Fortunately, they packed the side discharge chute with it, so I swapped it out, and now it’s cutting well. I cut about 75% of the orchard before I stopped. Then when I got close to the house I decided to use the lights and cut the south and west yards. Fast and clean. I think I’m going to like it.

September 18, 2011

A wonderful Sabbath day. Spent most of the morning writing a page on “What We Episcopalians Believe” for the web site. Then to church, where Amanda and I taught the second in our two-lesson series on the same subject. After worship, we spent a good part of the afternoon in Montgomery with Mama before returning to the farm and a nice, long walk over to the west side.

September 17, 2011

This morning I met Milt Thomas, who’s going to pour the slab for the lodge. We had a good conversation not only about the slab but about several other little tasks I hope he can accomplish at the same time. We also addressed our plans for a parking field east of the lodge that I hope will accommodate about 25 cars. Then we drove to town to run several errands. Interestingly, the farmers market is already shut down, apparently for the season.

When we returned to the farm, I sank a t-post beside the gate of the electric deer fence so we will have a place to hang the gate strands when the gate is open. I rigged up an insulator and a wire loop so we can easily hang the handles there. It should keep them out of the way yet not in contact with the ground, in the unlikely event that we choose to open the gate with the fence still energized.

This afternoon I staked the tomatoes and wrote our Sunday School lesson for tomorrow before Tom and Janet Bray arrived to watch the Alabama football game with us.

September 16, 2011

Big bush hogging day. Oddie and I started on the North Trail and traveled the full circuit. We even re-cut the bridge from the North Trail over to the Work Platform, which I had been neglecting for nearly a year. Had trouble relocating one portion of it, but it’s done now.

Then we bush hogged the entire east side of the property, including one other trail I hadn’t touched in a year or more. Felt good to get that done. Lots of places now where we can walk!

When we returned from town, I worked on Cracker’s windshield. Some stubborn stains and marks on it. Glass cleaner did nothing about them, but I was able to get some results with half white vinegar and half water. For particularly stubborn stains, I used full strength vinegar. It looks better now, but still not perfect.

September 15, 2011

Spent most of the morning at Tallassee Hospital getting a 2-hour glucose tolerance test. Yeah, my blood sugar is high, and we’re trying to decide if I’m diabetic. Amanda helped again at the Master Gardener class.

When I got back to the farm, I put a load of clothes on to wash. Then I wired up the gate of the electric deer fence. I finished the morning wiring the negative pole of the charger to the ground rod and running a hookup wire from the positive pole to the three lines of the fence. The fence is basically ready now; I’m waiting to talk with Tom Bray about how I can reduce the power for Oddie’s initial encounter with it.

At the end of the day I went on a tear. I bucked up the big pine tree that had fallen on the dam, and threw the (now manageable) pieces into the woods to rot. Then I bush hogged the dam and bush hogged the trail below the dam so I could take Oddie along it and let him find an alternative way to get to the pond after he gets shocked by the deer fence. Finally I used the hedge trimmer to cut the vegetation at the water line. The dam looks much more inviting now.

As the light waned I pulled the whites off the clothesline and folded them up. Good day.

September 14, 2011

We recorded and published our 100th podcast this morning. Woo-hoo! Then we spent the rest of the morning preparing for EfM.

This afternoon the corner knobs arrived for the deer fence, so I used them to finish pulling the deer fence line. The next step is to install the gate. Soon after that, I’ll be ready to energize the fence, but before I do, I need to talk to Tom Bray about lowering the shocking power of the fence. I’d like for Oddie to get a mild shock the first time he touches it, not something that’s going to make him afraid of his own shadow.

September 13, 2011

Amanda and I had separate doctor’s appointments today, she with a dermatologist in Montgomery and I with my internist in Tallassee. She had a lesion removed that seems likely to be basal cell carcinoma, and I learned that I am either diabetic or borderline diabetic. I’m to have a glucose tolerance test run at the Tallassee Hospital to know for sure. Either way, it’s going to mean some constraint on what I eat and require that I be more attentive to getting exercise.

As I was driving into the driveway, I got a call from John Powell, who lives about three miles away, telling me that Oddie had shown up there and was playing with his dogs. I sure hope this isn’t going to be a regular thing. When I got back to the farm, they were bringing the tables and chairs, so I took delivery of them with Tractor. They’re now safely stored beside Cracker in the barn. I used the hedge trimmer to take down the sunn hemp on another 35 feet or so of Row 9. Amanda plans to plant the fall veg on row 9 this afternoon. That should leave only 15-20 feet at the end of Row 9 for onions and garlic. Both of us did quiet work for most of the afternoon. Late in the afternoon, we walked the North Trail, and then I grilled chicken.

September 12, 2011

Some paperwork in the morning, and then our friend Leigh Ricketts arrived from Birmingham. Just a great visit. We showed her the lodge, Veg Hill, the orchard, and the barn, and then we finished the day with a long walk over to and around the west side of the property. Finished with a chance to sit on the porch and chat before she left for Birmingham, just minutes before my 8:00 pm chat was due to begin.

September 11, 2011

Church this morning; we taught Sunday School, so we needed to get there early. After church and refreshments, we drove to Petals from the Past and had a chance to be part of Arlie Powell’s walking tour of the orchards. We always learn so much when we go to these events. He’s so knowledgeable. We returned to the farm about 6:15, exhausted but glad we had done it.

September 10, 2011

A good morning for finishing several smaller tasks. First I mounted the charger for the deer fence on its post using two screws. Then I removed the weather station from its post and installed an improved temperature sensor with aspirating fan. I can already tell the difference in the temperature. On a bright sunny day like this, the temperature would normally be reported at 3-7 degrees above the true temperature; now it’s right on the button matching the thermometer I keep on the front porch. Next I mowed the south lawn, the west lawn, and the blueberry strip. Then I mowed several of the aisles on Veg Hill. By then I was basically done with outdoor work and retreated to enjoy football, first Auburn’s game with Miss State and then Alabama’s with Penn State.

Amanda was busy with indoor work in the morning, and then spent most of the afternoon planting fall veg on Row 9. Need to make sure we record her planting on the database so we can get back on track with it.

September 9, 2011

Good morning. I’ve been neglecting the area outside Veg Hill on the north, west, and south. I’m doing a decent job keeping the east side cut because that’s where my humanure compost is, and I’m accessing it regularly. So today I bush hogged those areas I had been neglecting.

Oddie had nosed his way into the compost pile by lifting the chicken wire away from the hog wire at the bottom and had eventually capsized the cage confining the compost pile. So today I emptied the cage and transferred the contents down the hill to the work platform; then I turned the cage upside down and carefully attached the chicken wire to the hog wire every eight inches or so with galvanized wire. Then I put the cage back in place and left a nice bed of hay to start over with compost.

With that done I attacked a couple of tasks for Amanda: I cut another 15 feet or so of sunn hemp on Row 9, and I picked up the biggest part of the poly down around the bottom of  row 6 and put it in the dumpster. What a mess. We need to be careful never to do that again. The poly starts deteriorating in the sun after 2-3 weeks, so that needs to be the limit of how long we leave it out there before we collect it and dispose of it. And that’s a waste. So I’m going to be in favor of our not using plastic to kill weeds in the future.

I’m beginning to shop for a commercial walk-behind mower. I’ve more or less rejected the Husqvarna, because it’s too hard to put it into reverse.

September 8, 2011

Today started out well, hit a trough in the middle, and finished well. Started at Epiphany at 7:30 this morning cutting the grass, hitting the buildings and sidewalks with the string trimmer, and blowing everything off. It looked quite nice when I left about 10:00. After running some errands in town, I stopped by the Husqvarna Demo Day on Hwy 229 and talked to Hubert Boatright about a lawn mower for the orchard. Given what I’m trying to accomplish, he recommends a commercial walk behind. I’ve got some research to do.

The bad part was at home when I learned that the guys I was thinking were going to come in with a good price for the concrete actually came in higher than the first bid. Bummer. Then I worked and worked and couldn’t get my driveline to extend.

The day got better, though. FINALLY got the driveline loose with lots of tension from come-alongs and a hearty dose of PB B’laster. And then Scott Ruppert lined me up another concrete guy who’s going to come to see me tomorrow morning. Maybe we can get this going soon.

Bonus: Just before a 4:30 session, I was able to get the 6 foot copper ground rod and the 4 x 4 x 8 set for the electric deer fence. Now that the post is set, it should firm up during the next few days so I can go ahead and mount the charger on it, maybe Saturday morning.

September 7, 2011

We recorded and published the podcast this morning, program #99. Next week is our century podcast! We weren’t sure we would stick with it when we started, but I think both of us really enjoy it, and you seem to appreciate it as well.

Had to go back and make some adjustments to the polywire I pulled yesterday, because it turns out I installed the corner knobs wrong. But that’s done now, and I added another circuit this morning. I’ve had to order two more bags of corner knobs, so that will slow down the fence installation for the next few days while I wait for them to arrive. While I’m waiting, I think I’ll go ahead and try to sink the 6-foot ground rod and mount the charger (it needs its own separate post).

I’m having a devil of a time getting the auger mounted on Scamp. The driveline is stuck and won’t extend. At one point, I even tried exerting a little gentle pressure on it with Tractor, but even that didn’t tug it loose. I’ve left it for the night now with penetrating oil on the top of the joint. I hope it works its way down and helps to loosen it up.

September 6, 2011

Good morning. I got out early, and it felt GREAT to be working outside with the breezy weather and cool temps. Got all the fiberglass posts in place for the deer fence, and then I went around and attached the plastic insulating clips to the fiberglass posts. After lunch I started pulling polywire and made it all the way around on the outside before a shower interrupted me.

September 5, 2011

NOW, we’re getting our rain! Good strong rain during most of the pre-dawn hours. .70″ by 7:00 am. 1.88″ by 4:00 pm.

Busy day of cooking for our dinner tonight with Susan and Keith Powers. Iced the cake during the morning. Then a nice visit with Lida Sease. Turns out she’s a high school classmate of our niece Kara. Started ribs at 12:30. Started rolls at 3:15. While that was happening, Amanda was preparing peas and green beans, and cutting up crudite and fresh fruit. And Susan brought potato salad. We ate inside because it was raining and windy, but by the time we finished supper, the rain had calmed down enough for us to enjoy sitting on the back porch to visit. Fun evening. It was all over but the shouting on the rain by bedtime. We finished with a little less than three inches. Less than we were predicted to get, but probably about as much as we could take during one two-day period. I’m delighted.

September 4, 2011

The rain from Tropical Storm Lee started in the wee hours with just a light shower here and there. We had .03 inches by dawn, .4 inches by noon. Emily Conner and Samuel Gray came down to plan their course that includes a visit to Longleaf Breeze. We were nervous that all the rain would get in the way, but we needn’t have worried. Lots of rain-free time and even a little sunshine. Weird. Finished the day with only .87 inches of rain. I guess – I hope – we’re still looking at tomorrow (Labor Day) as the main rain day.

I am embarrassed to say that I somehow have lost all the data from the first eight months of 2011. I’m so sorry.