Farm Log – Current

May 10, 2013

This will be my last update on this farm log. I’m now going to begin entering this same information on the Perennial Farm Calendar, whose format will help us (and you) see how things change (and how they stay the same) from year to year.

Got out early and worked to bury all the drip header and joints on the orchard floor. Then I mowed the orchard. Finished about 1:00 and came in for lunch. This afternoon I did a round of maintenance in the orchard. We have lots of peaches this year. I think every peach tree, even the tiny new June Gold, is bearing something. No sign of fruit on the muscadines yet. The Carter’s Blue apple is bearing again; I’m about ready to stop worrying about its chilling hours. Several of the pears are setting fruit this year. We should have a chance to find out how some of them are going to taste! No fruit on the persimmons yet.

May 9, 2013

Appointment with Maddox (dermatologist) this morning. Then a little shopping in Montgomery before returning to town for EfM. A session in the afternoon.

May 8, 2013

I called the doctor’s office today to get some help with my sinus infection. Mendez was booked, but I was able to get right in to see his nurse practitioner, Barbara Watts. I like her and asked to see her regularly now instead of Mendez. I have a 5-day antibiotic regimen that she believes will address the sinus infection and get me some relief. I hope so.

This afternoon I mowed the north yard of the lodge for the first time. It looks much better, but I’m uncertain whether it will keep looking nice. May grow back right away. Then I mowed the blueberry strip before retreating to read two weeks’ worth of EfM.

May 7, 2013

I think we had our last fire of the season this morning. This must be our latest last fire yet.

This morning I cranked up Scamp and started leveling the ground around the raised beds. I used better soil at the north end because visitors are most likely to see it, and I held the sandy soil for the south end. But it’s much more level now. I know there will be little spots here and there that I need to address, but the bulk of the work is done, and I’m willing to call the raised beds finished!

After the leveling work was done, I mowed everything. Still need to hit Veg Hill with the weedeater. Drove straight to town for some errands and an early afternoon session. When it was finished, I took the sheets of plexiglass to True Value to cut them in half. VERY tedious. I was probably at True Value for an hour and a half, most of it consumed in cutting plexiglass. I also bought three sheets of 3/4″ treated plywood and a surprise for Mother’s Day.

I arrived home exhausted and took a nap before we headed to Auburn to meet David and Bettye Smith for supper. Returned with four shopping bags full of Uncle David’s books. Cool!

May 6, 2013

I continue to struggle with a cold/sinus infection that is sapping my energy. Contented myself with some indoor work and light outdoor chores before driving to town for three sessions that dwindled to two. When I returned, Amanda and Oddie were already out walking. so I joined them for a nice, sedate constitutional.

May 5, 2013

Returned after four days’ absence to find the forest more leafed out, the grass taller, and the asparagus looking positively radiant. Peas are looking good too. Lots of strawberries, and a few were undamaged by birds.

May 1, 2013

Amanda was in Auburn all day. I was struggling with a cold, so I sort of babied myself. Set up the new Verizon 4G router with the Longleaf network, which worked just right without any hesitation. Yea! I also reset the password on the router itself to make it a little more secure. Confirmed that my plexiglass was cut up and ready at True Value, so I drove to town to pick it up. Also checked the mail and shopped for a little corn at Joyce’s. Back at the farm, I built two solarizer frames before lunch with the plexiglass, then took a leisurely nap after a light lunch. Then I listened to and set up the podcast so that it’s ready to publish tomorrow.

Bad news tonight. Amanda lifted one of the solarizing panels to move it to a different bed, and it shattered. Obviously, my idea about how to support it was not a good one. Back to the drawing board.

April 30, 2013

Decided to work today on the solarizing panels for Veg Hill. The first required operation was to cut the plexiglass into six 48″ square panels. Tried scoring the cut as I had seen described on the Internet. The cut veered off the score and basically trashed half a sheet of plexiglass. Jeremy says they’ll cut it for me, so I’m taking it this afternoon. It turned out that not even Jeremy had the proper equipment to do this correctly, but Wade could do it out on the yard, so I left it with them. Printed the bulletin at the church and left it in the narthex.

We washed and hung out more clothes today than I can remember our ever cleaning in a single day. We filled up the line and had more waiting to hang out as soon as some of the lighter weight items dried and were ready to remove.

April 29, 2013

Started with some early work in the orchard, training trees to the trellis line and a little light pruning. Then Tom picked me up, and we drove together to Blue Creek Marina to pick up the boat. Tom drove it on the water while I drove his truck back to the lake place. Then we had a great time re-learning how to put the cover on the boat.

This afternoon Amanda bought eight sterile 9-11 inch sterile carp. To put them in the water we first placed the closed bag in a shady spot of the pond and let the temperature adjust. Then we cut the bag and released the fish. Amanda also bought some white bread, which I had a good time using to feed the fish. It’s a good way to see what kind of fish we have in the pond. Then I did a little bush-hogging around the orchard and the pond. Finished the day with some continued training and pruning in the orchard.

April 28, 2013

Good morning at church. This afternoon I took a little dog food down to the pond to see if I could get any fish to come up and get it. Hard to entice them in when Oddie is running around in the boat, or worse, swimming around the boat. Next time I do this I may let him stay in the apartment with Amanda.

April 27, 2013

An exhausting day, but a good one. We were slow to rise because we had been so late getting to bed. Some quiet work, and then I ran errands in town. Back to the farm for more research on the pond. Then we headed to Jim Scott’s house for the Garden Party. What a fun evening! Dog-tired when we got home.

April 26, 2013

This morning I re-buried the cutoff valve north of the barn and THEN discovered that I had not left enough room down in the tube actually to turn it off. Duh! Dug it back up and put it in right and then re-re- buried it. The gravel is dirty and needs a couple of rains to wash it off, but otherwise the area looks good.

Then we drove to Auburn to meet with Dave Cline about the pond. He could not have been more helpful. I’m going to post about it while my memory is fresh. Several errands to run in Auburn, then we drove straight to Montgomery and ran several errands there before we took Mama to the Robert E Lee High School Hall of Fame banquet. It was absurdly late by the time we made it back home.

April 25, 2013

Read EfM lesson during the wee hours and then went back to sleep, so I was a little slow getting up this morning. Recorded and edited the podcast, then EfM at the church, then printing the bulletin, then a quick nap before it was time to go to the Elmore County Bar Dinner.

April 24, 2013

The forecast was 0% chance of rain in the morning and 60% chance in the afternoon, so I got out early and finished my trenching for the drip tape. I had enough time to dig up the cutoff valve north of the barn that had been leaking. It looks like I’ve stopped the leak now, but I’ll need to watch it to make sure.

Then a trip to town for a chamber of commerce lunch program on disaster preparedness. Good program, and a delightful visit with Liz Britt and Jeanna Kervin about the Mt Vernon Theater. Then quiet work this afternoon.

April 23, 2013

This was my day for drip irrigation. I started early and finished late, and I poured it on most of the day. Started by extending the header down between beds 3 and 7 and then between 4 and 8. It now terminates underground just below the south end of rows 4 and 8. I created manifolds to serve 3, 4, 7, and 8 and attached valves and tape on all four beds. By the time that was finished it was about 3:00 pm. Need to stop and celebrate. This means that all 16 beds are now complete, filled with soil, dripped, and ready for use. I still need to attach number stickers to beds 1-4, and I also need to smooth out the soil between the beds to enhance mowing and to make them attractive and make it easy to walk among them.

Then I started fixing leaks. First I dug up and reconnected the manifold between beds 11 and 15 and reburied it. Then I repaired the leak on the east line serving the asparagus bed and turned on the west line . Then I dismantled and reconnected about five valves that had begun to leak badly. Then I went from bed to bed shortening the spaghetti hoses wherever they were hanging too far outside the bed. Then I installed a “T” in the main header line so I could extend the header to the old row 12 where the kiwi and muscadines are growing now. I started trenching to extend the drip tape all the way down that line and just ran out of gas. Hope to finish it tomorrow.

April 22, 2013

Tom and I had an easy time of it assembling, placing, leveling, and filling bed #1 this morning. So now all the beds are finished! This afternoon I started dripping the rest of the beds, starting with 1 and 5 and then moving to 2 and 6. Hoping to drip 3 and 7 and then 4 and 8 tomorrow. When that’s done I have a few nagging leaks that need to be addressed.

April 21, 2013

Up early this morning to open the gate for Lynda and to start the ribs. Some last minute trimming of weeds here and there, and we were ready for the Williams to arrive. We first spent time down on Veg Hill, with Jude and Jasper harvesting and chowing down on all the ripe strawberries. We all admired the tender asparagus spears coming along, as well as the muscadines and kiwifruit on the trellis. The boys helped us chop the collards. Then we walked slowly through the orchard and checked on the fruit trees. We culled some of the peaches that were too abundant on the tree. We then fetched some wheat berries to mill for the bread and the toll house brownies and produced the flour. Then the ladies and the boys hung out in the lodge while Hunter and I cooked the bread and pulled the ribs. Plenty of time for conversation about how they might make homesteading work. After lunch we played around outside and drove Scamp before they had to leave. I was exhausted and took a nap while Amanda cleaned up in the lodge. Then both of us did more cleaning before supper. A good day.

April 20, 2013

Mixed up some fresh rub this morning. We had to report to the church early this morning to let everybody in for the wedding, and we stayed until near the end of the reception to take the flowers back to the church for worship tomorrow. When we got home I first took a nap, and Amanda worked on potting flowers. Then I mowed Veg Hill and the rest of the orchard and used the weedeater on Veg Hill. We cornered and shot a rather large rabbit inside the Veg Hill fence today. I just hope he or she is not the harbinger of things to come.

I rubbed the ribs tonight and left them in the fridge overnight.

April 19, 2013

A rainy, chilly, windy day from before dawn until just before dusk. Amanda, bless her heart, had committed to spend it mostly outdoors at Loachapoka. I spent it all under cover except for one trip down to Veg Hill (no new asparagus spears) and to pick up the shop vac and firewood at the lodge. I did get myself filthy working to clean up the shop. Glad that’s done. I also worked on our 2011 tax return. That’s right. 2011. So shoot me.

April 18, 2013

A little indoor work this morning, and then I reported to the church early so I could work on the grounds. It was already in good shape from Jimmy’s and Jerry’s work, so I picked up trash, then used the weedeater and the blower. EfM this afternoon, then Amanda went to Loachapoka and I mowed at the farm. First the blueberry strip, then the orchard. Finished the south part of the orchard below Row 4 and still have the north portion to do.

April 17, 2013

Amanda and I fashioned the trellis for #1 this morning. Trying to avoid sinking t-posts in the hardware cloth, we stretched one long run of hog wire the length of the bed. It meant cutting a length of hog wire into two lengths, but it worked fairly well, and I think that run of hog wire can stay together permanently now.

I marked half and quarter marks on beds 1-3 today. Now whenever Amanda wants to do something with half a bed she has a ready reference mark.

April 16, 2013

This morning I terminated cover crop on #7 and #8 with the weedeater, It worked well, and I enjoyed seeing the effect of that cover crop on the soil (lots of biomass on top of the soil and lots below the soil line too). This morning I got a full tour of Gary Quay’s rabbits. We’re thinking about two does and a buck, a cage for each, and two larger cages for the kits. I need to build a roofed structure that’s 8 feet wide and either 8 or 12 feet long.

This afternoon I cut the bottoms out of four five-gallon buckets to add to the potatoes growing on Veg Hill. I have a total of four buckets that I cannot now use because two each are stuck together. Can’t figure out how to pry them apart! Left two with WD-40 soaking in the space between the buckets. and hoping that does the trick.

We had a nice visit in the late afternoon with Sid and Nadene Hilton. They own some property between Clanton and Billingsly and are exploring ways to build a small structure on it so it can become their home. Their funds are limited, so we talked about moving a travel trailer onto the property to live in while they think about a pole barn. I suggested they wait until they are living there to begin building, but I think they’re committed to building now.

April 15, 2013

Tom and I installed bed #3 this morning. Only one more to go! We actually were able to level up the pad for #4 as well, so we’ll have a leg up when we work on it. I filed an extension of time to file taxes. Now I need to use the momentum to go ahead and get the actual returns (2011 and 2012) done.

April 14, 2013

Great morning at church. We started with a great Sunday School “lesson” singing songs from the Alleluia II book. Fun worship too; Wells walked away saying “That was a really fun service!” After church Wells, Lee, Amanda, Jim and Kara Shea Davis, Tom Bray, and Jimmy and Betty went to lunch together at 1220. Good conversation. This afternoon when we got home I filed Mama’s taxes.

April 13, 2013

Started the morning at Beans & Rice, where we apologized for the low levels of food available and just started giving away what we had. Things were well under control with plenty of help, so I left about 9:15 and returned to the farm. I packed up about three gallons of wheat berries and then it was time to leave for the Somerset family reunion in Troy. Nice visit with Charles and Edsel about chickens, geese, rabbits, and goats. Several shopping errands in Montgomery, and then Stephen and Bev Wittkop came to see us at the farm. It was after 7:00 by the time they left.

April 12, 2013

Had everything ready for Tom this morning, and we managed to do the cutting and smoothing needed, build one bed, get it lined up and leveled, and fill it with soil. We’ve decided that it takes a morning to build and equip one bed. Nice lunch after we finished.

We have a continuing problem with mice in the laundry room. Shane came again from SWAT and refreshed the bait, and Amanda will be shopping for mouse-proof containers we can use for laundry hampers. Hope that does the trick. This afternoon I did the cutting for bed #3, so we should have a leg up when Tom returns on Monday.

April 11, 2013

Began the day publishing the podcast. Then I blew off the pavilion and front porch of the lodge. Then I milled flour and mixed up toll house brownies. Used what was left of the morning to read my EfM lesson while Amanda prepared the lodge for company. The EfM group arrived at 11:30, and we had a nice visit. Mike Edwards lingered after we dismissed and I took him on a tour of the lodge. He seemed genuinely impressed with the passive solar design.

April 10, 2013

Today was our presentation at the Elmore Extension office on Raised Beds and the Home Vegetable Garden. We were up early and did a final run-through to make sure our timing was okay, and then we headed first to town for Amanda to buy plants at Super Foods and True Value, then over to Wetumpka. The presentation went well, with lots of good questions and a surprising number of good contributions as well. Then to Farmer’s Feed (yes, more plants), to the PO, and then to Wendy’s for me to eat and check online while Amanda shopped at Walmart. By the time we got back to the farm I was exhausted and the day was pretty much gone. We did take time to record the podcast, though, before supper, and I edited it late tonight.

April 9, 2013

Froggy Bottom brought our Super Soil today, and then Amanda left for Birmingham. I filled #1 with Super Soil and then loaded up the two sheets of lattice in the truck to take to Eclectic. Got a refund for them and then came back through town to check the mail. This afternoon I watered the humanure compost (man it took a lot of water!) and then did quiet work. At the end of the day Amanda and I shot two new photos to include in the Lunch & Learn for tomorrow, and I edited them into the presentation before going to bed.

April 8, 2013

Amanda and I drove to Montgomery today to appear on Channel 12 to promote the Lunch & Learn on Wednesday. Then lunch with Mama, then a short visit before returning to the farm.

April 7, 2013

This morning I finished uploading two more volumes of Papaw’s writings and sent out a message to the family to alert them that they are there.

April 6, 2013

First task was to clip back the tall grass that was getting too close to the outdoor shower.

Amanda wanted me to terminate the cover crop in 16 and 11, and I was unable to get the gasoline hedge trimmer cranked. I will take the trimmer to Farmer’s Feed when we drive to Wetumpka, but in the meantime I decided I need to be resilient enough to do this manually when needed, so I bought a pair of hand hedge trimmers at True Value. I also mixed up another batch of toll house brownies, this one for the book club.

April 5, 2013

Started the day mixing up a batch of toll house brownies for the folks at Tallassee Rehab. Delivered them there and then some errands in town.  We spent all afternoon in Wetumpka at Farm Day and learned all about chickens and rabbits.  I’m ready to get with Gary Quay now and let him get me started raising rabbits for meat.

April 4, 2013

Published the podcast this morning and then turned my attention to the EfM lesson for this week on the Catholic Reformation. I finished up with a little time to spare and used it to upload a few more of Papaw’s essays to the Internet. It’s coming slowly, but it’s coming! This afternoon was EfM, then when we returned I transported a little more firewood from the lodge down to the barn. The weather was unpleasantly cold and damp, so we stayed inside the rest of the day.

April 3, 2013

Scott Ruppert came by this morning and we talked through the very short punchlist remaining. Then to PT for my final session. Wow, now that’s a milestone!

This afternoon we recorded the podcast (on moles and voles) before raising the height of the grow lights. We harvested both of the two (count ’em, two) asparagus spears. Man, were they delicious! Really sweet. Just hope there are more where these came from. It was a good day.

April 2, 2013

I had discovered two slow leaks and two really bad leaks in the drip system for Veg Hill on Monday morning, but I didn’t take time to address them because I knew I needed to focus on bed-building while I had Tom’s help. So this morning I spent about an hour and a half digging, repairing, testing, and re-burying drip irrigation fittings. Everything’s fine now, but I’m concerned about the joint between the spaghetti hose and the header between the tops of 11 and 15. It’s more fragile than I would like. If it comes loose again, I’ll probably need to dig it out a lot more, re-work the joint, and then bury it much deeper.

I next looked at moving the gate for the deer fence around the orchard. There’s nothing about it that looks particularly challenging, but I do need some more of the wire clamps you use to ensure a good connection around the gate opening. They’re not widely available, so I’ve ordered them from McGregor. Should be here within a week or so.

This afternoon I worked on paperwork in the shop and scanned in Papaw’s essays as I worked. It was fun going back through his work and becoming reacquainted with him.

April 1, 2013

A good day. Tom and I spent most of the morning working on Bed #1. We leveled up a pad and built the bed. Then we secured hardware cloth to the bottom of the bed, leaving two strips unsecured. We stopped for a nice lunch together before Tom had to leave. This afternoon Jayne brought her friend Ramona along with Ramona’s daughter and two granddaughters, and we had a delightful visit with them and showed them the orchard and Veg Hill. At the end of the day Amanda and I finished putting hardware cloth on the bed, so it’s ready now for soil.

March 31, 2013

Just a wonderful day. Started with breakfast in the lodge with Brandt Montgomery, our supply priest. Then I had the privilege of removing the black drape from the outside cross and replacing it with the white. Wonderful and engrossing Sunday School lesson from Brandt on the civil rights record of Bishop Charles Carpenter. And then the Eucharist! What fun!

This afternoon we welcomed Mama for lunch, and then Connie, Gary, and Jayne joined us for a delightful visit. Needless to say, we were exhausted at the end of the day.

March 30, 2013

A good day. Started out weedeating Veg Hill. Then I buried the coax cable connecting the antenna to the UHF radio. Then burned the boxes up at the lodge. Next I toured the orchard, checking for freeze damage. Also began thinking through in earnest how to move the gate to the north end of the orchard. Need to rob a couple of the grey t-posts from the east border to use on the gate, because the gate needs to look as good as possible (very visible to lodge visitors). All this time Amanda was unpacking books in the lodge. After this, we put together two pots of stew and cooked them on the stove in the barn.

March 29, 2013

PT first thing this morning. We’re getting close to Pomp and Circumstance.

Some errands in town and then back to the farm. I mowed Veg Hill but still need to hit it with the weedeater. Tom Bray came late this afternoon, and we reconnected the coax running between the antenna and my ham radio. Good to have it working again. Now I need to rebury the cable. Afterward, he and I talked at length about water management and PV.

Tonight was the Good Friday service at the church. It really was a beautiful, almost haunting service. Now we just need to get some more butts in the seats! Jimmy, Betty, Cathy, Jean, and Tom worked to revest the nave after the service. Then all but Tom and Jean went to supper at Acupulco, and Sam joined us. Delightful visit.

March 28, 2013

Pulled all the frost blanket this morning. The strawberries appear to be totally happy. The kiwi got clobbered, even wrapped in frost blanket. I sure hope the damage is limited to the foliage and that the plants are okay.

EfM and the Maundy Thursday prayer vigil this afternoon and evening. We were late getting home.

March 27, 2013

Amanda was gone to Montgomery most of the day. I had an early session and then worked on Epiphany business – getting the liles allocated correctly. This afternoon I filed a divorce and then Oddie and I took a long walk on the east side. Every now and then it’s fun to walk alone so I can get off the trails and explore how the parts of our property fit together.

We got a fair amount of damage from the freeze. Some of the buds on the tips of the blueberry bushes got clobbered, but most closer in to the trunk appear to have made it okay. Several of the figs got hit pretty hard, but there were relatively few leaves already out, so I think they’ll be okay. The olives seem to have come through okay. Ditto the peaches and the plums. Neither the muscadines nor the apples had produced enough budding to be at risk, so they seem fine. The big surprise to me is the pears, where I’ve got thin, delicate blossoms that appear unhurt from the freeze. Need to watch them over the next few days and see if they were hurt more than was immediately apparent.

Down on Veg Hill, the strawberries look happy under frost blanket. The foliage of the kiwi got clobbered even inside their frost blanket, but I’m hoping the plants are still healthy; that was the purpose of the frost blanket.

March 26, 2013

Mostly indoor work this morning, fine-tuning the various worship services planned for this week. So much to think about during Holy Week! Checked on the strawberries and kiwi mid-morning, and they seemed to be handling the cold fine. Made the decision that we did NOT need to remove the frost blanket from the strawberries. This afternoon we drove to Wetumpka to present at the Wetumpka Library on getting started with your spring garden. Poor turnout because it was so cold and because we’re in the middle of Spring Break, but it was a great group with lots of questions.

March 25, 2013

Tom and I worked most of the morning and got all the pieces cut, drilled and placed to build the beds the next time we work, and it looks now as if that will be a week from today. We then had a nice visit in the lodge before he headed home. This afternoon I cleaned up all the tools from the morning and then got the frost blanket down off the storage area over the barn. Then I installed frost blanket on the kiwi and the strawberries. Then I put the frost blanket back up and out of the way. Good to get things cleaned up.

March 24, 2013

A really good day at church today. Wells Warren joined us as supply priest, and I had my first go at thurifer. We did have two members of the congregation do some coughing. but they were good-natured about it and seemed to recover quickly. Lunch with Wells and the Brays at Acapulco while  Amanda was in a vestry meeting, then the Weldons joined us for a tour of the farm and to get some veggies. Late in the afternoon I dug up the ruptured water line, repaired it, and recovered it.

March 23, 2013

Lots of indoor work today while Amanda was gone to Montgomery for a festival with the dulcimer group. I got on a wild hair this afternoon and decided to dig into the software for Harmony One remote for the barn and get it working better. Emboldened by my success with that, I turned my attention to the water line on Veg Hill. I used Scamp to do most of the heavy lifting and got it all rerouted pretty well. Unfortunately, the last pass with Scamp must have stressed it too much, and it ruptured. Had to just turn it off at the end of the day.

March 22, 2013

Tom and I started working on the raised beds this morning but didn’t make much progress. We discovered a PVC water line running under where we were excavating for #1, and as we were deciding how to address it, the rain started. Tom, Amanda, and I adjourned to the lodge and had a nice visit, but that’s about all. This afternoon was mostly indoor work, interrupted by a trip to town to pick up some PVC fittings to address that water line.

March 21, 2013

Edited the kiwi video this morning and prepared for EfM. This afternoon after EfM, Jean Kerr and I changed out the banner in the nave, and I had my first chance to burn incense in the thurible. This afternoon late, we recorded and I edited the podcast. Didn’t actually get it published until just before midnight.

March 20, 2013

PT in the morning, then we spent all afternoon in Montgomery. We brought down from Mama’s attic all the books we had been storing there and loaded them in the pickup. Then stops at Publix, Earth Fare, and Costco before returning to the farm.

March 19, 2013

We spent most of the morning in Wetumpka. Dropped Amanda off at the CAMGA board meeting at 8:30 and then shopped at Lowes and Wal-Mart before reporting for the membership meeting at 10:00. An excellent presentation on hummingbirds, with far more useful information than I was expecting. After the meeting we stopped briefly for lunch before heading back to the farm. This afternoon we hosted Jim and Kara Shea Davis, who have a farm operation similar to ours and were looking to find out more about our approach to growing food.

March 18, 2013

Got the chain saw after the pile of scrap lumber up by the fire pit this morning and cut it up so I could burn it in the fire pit. Amanda then added some scraps to it. We had a nice fire going in the pit by mid-morning. While it was burning I planted the two loquat trees we had gotten from Linda Griebel. I bent the drip irrigation line from #9 southward to cover both trees.

Seeing the foliage filling in, we decided to take one last look at the view from the West Knoll, so we had a nice walk over there and back. Then we drove to town. As we returned, we started getting large raindrops on the windshield.    We pulled in under the lodge roof to load some groceries to take from the lodge to the barn, and while we were parked there the bottom fell out on a hailstorm. About 1/2 the size of a golf ball, so I’m reasonably confident we didn’t get any damage to the roofs, but what a noise! That storm calmed down, but about an hour and a half later we were working together on the porch to plant potatoes in 5 gallon buckets when the sky turned about as ominous as I’ve ever seen it. Seeing that we were under a tornado watch and a severe thunderstorm warning, we decided to retreat to the storm shelter. This was our first actual use of the shelter in a severe storm, and we learned some things. We learned that it really does feel safe in there because you are so protected from the wind and the debris. We learned that we need to have a bottle of wine or two and a little water stored in the shelter. And we learned we need to keep a couple of umbrellas stored there. After a severe storm passes, you feel safe to leave but it’s often raining hard. So the umbrella allows you to make the trip back inside without getting drenched.

March 17, 2013

Today was Father Arnold’s last day at Epiphany, a tender time. We had a reception for Arnold and Zoe after worship, and then they stopped by the farm for a few minutes on their way out of town. I was exhausted after they left and took a long nap. Then Amanda and I did some indoor work.

March 16, 2013

Beans & Rice this morning. Such powerful ministry. This afternoon I planted four golden kiwis, two females and two males. Amanda shot video of my planting the second female. so I need to edit it now.

March 15, 2013

Good day. Laura Williams called this morning and asked to come hang out on the farm while Tallassee Tire was working on her car. We had a delightful visit with her and enjoyed showing her around. Even while she was here, I managed to plant three Granny Val muscadines on Veg Hill and a Brightwell blueberry on the Blueberry Strip. Love the new compost from Dave Gray!

March 14, 2013

Big problems with occupied the morning. The browsers were reporting that the site was infected by malware. Turns out they were reacting to the large number of comments I had identified as spam and quarantined but had neglected to delete. EfM in the afternoon, and then we helped to sort and shelf Beans & Rice.

March 13, 2013

PT in the morning, then some inside work and some cleanup from the workshop. We recorded the podcast late this afternoon.

March 12, 2013

The workshop was a big success. We packed about 60 people in the gathering room for the instructional portion of the program and then split into two groups to tour the core campus. Lots of rave reviews.

March 11, 2013

Today was all about getting the lodge and the farm ready for the workshop tomorrow. Mallory, Candy, and Mary arrived shortly after 9:00 and we worked until noon or so bringing in food, striking furniture, cleaning tables and chairs, and setting up tables and chairs. It’s going to be cozy, but we think comfortable for those who come. It rained almost all afternoon; we got .84 inches, and almost all of it gentle and soaking. Yea! Just what the grass seed needed.

March 10,  2013

Busy morning at church, then it was cleanup and clean out time. Wish I had two more dumpsters right now; I could probably fill them up. We’ll just get rid of a little bit each week. The pavilion and the porch are looking great, and the pole barn is looking better than it has looked in months. Good to be getting control again!

March 9, 2013

Another busy day of cleanup and preparation for the workshop. Milt was the first to arrive and began removing the forms from the concrete walk. Then Jerry, then Jason, and then Rodney. Amanda finished her rose pruning, and I burned up the hill and buried drip line. Jason was the last to leave, spending a good bit of time spreading seed and then blowing hay before calling it a day.

March 8, 2013

Good day, almost all of it spent burying the drip header, hose, and tape that I had set out out Wednesday and yesterday. About 1/2 of the tape on the Blueberry Strip is still exposed, but everything else is safely covered so that when Jason spreads seed and hay he’ll be creating turf I can mow without worry.

March 7, 2013

Extended the drip irrigation header all the way to a point north of the lodge, and then I branched off from the header twice, one for Row 16 and one for Row 17. I also gathered all the old drip tape to put in the dumpster.

March 6, 2013

PT in the morning, then some errands in town before I returned and deployed new drip header and drip tape on the Blueberry Strip. At the end of the day we recorded the podcast on record keeping.

March 5, 2013

Finished filling in the low spots around the raised beds and tested them by running the Dually through all the gaps. Somehow we managed to get the gap too narrow where the weather station is, but it works fine everywhere else. Then I applied numbers to all the beds. We can tell at a glance now which bed we’re working on. Rodney Griffith’s work continues here on the core campus, and it just looks better and better. Today most of the work (and the noise) were concentrated right here around the barn.

March 4, 2013

Up early to burn scrap up north of the lodge. While I was burning, Amanda was cleaning out under the barn and feeding me more scrap. Feels good to get it out of the way. This afternoon I picked up several loads of “junky” topsoil from just south of the lodge and used the wheelbarrow to distribute them in the low spots between the raised beds. Then a late afternoon session.

March 3, 2013

Another cold day. Morning at church, then this afternoon I cleaned up some items around the barn that need to be burned. Then I parked the tractors in the barn.

March 2, 2013

Spent most of the day doing indoor work, mainly redoing the template for the Organic Moments videos. Tonight we had dinner with Larry and Pat Sharpton along with others in the EfM group. Delightful evening.

March 1, 2013

PT in the morning. Then we drove to Montgomery for the Home & Garden Show. Kind of poorly run, but we enjoyed it and had a delightful visit with Kelli Kerr’s parents afterward.

February 28, 2013

Jason arrived early this morning ready to spread gravel under the pole barn. I dropped everything and started working with him to move all the equipment and supplies out to leave a bare floor for the gravel. He finished up with grading of it after we had cleaned it off, and it looks great now with the gravel in position. We recorded the podcast this morning. EfM this afternoon, then I edited and published the podcast before taking Amanda’s bike to Tom Bray’s house. We worked on it for two hours before finally deciding that we need a new lock and the wrench needed to change it out. We also need a new extension tab that rides on the lock. I need to call Craig Savage at Electric Bikes LA.

February 27, 2013

Amanda and I presented this morning at the Alabama Garden Club meeting in Montgomery. Great group, with lots of relevant questions, and we had 90 minutes! We stayed for a good explanation of the Cypress Nature Park and then lunch. Then a brief visit with Mama and shopping at Costco before we headed home. I headed to town while Amanda prepared seed starting. When I got back, we started working on the grow light. We took down the chain system and replaced it with a rope and pulley system we can operate with two feet on the floor. It took about two hours, but we finally got it finished about 6:30 pm. I left my cordless drill up on a 6 x 6 by mistake and will need to retrieve it later.

February 26, 2013

Rodney Griffith’s guys tore up the core campus today putting in the underground drainage lines to get water from the lodge to the barn. Quite a mess, but I know we’ll be glad when it’s done. I spent most of the morning doing indoor work, but I did hang out a huge load of clothes to dry. This afternoon was all about cleanup, cleaning off the work table in preparation for Amanda’s work starting seed. I also installed two fire extinguishers in the lodge, one on the big east porch and the other on the SW porch.

Late this afternoon when Amanda and I tried to take down the grow lights, I realized that I couldn’t get my gimp arm high enough from the stepladder to loosen the chain. So we just removed the heat mat (all we really need right now anyway) and left the chain in place. I may buy a taller ladder at True Value tomorrow. Probably need one anyway on general principle.

February 25, 2013

Rainy, cold, and windy most of the day. I did indoor work most of the morning and an appointment with Mendez in the afternoon. I did find a little time to fix the popping noise on the screen door, which had been caused by some caked-up paint. It’s a’ relief to have that done.

February 24, 2013

Planted about 100 longleaf pines today, all in the core campus. We concentrated on the area that had been burned, which we hope will give the young seedlings a leg up on their competition. I was pleased that my shoulder held up as well as it did to the dibble work for so much planting. When we had planted a few days ago I started flagging after just 25-30 plantings.

February 23, 2013

Spent most of the day at Bill Shell’s house at the Japanese maple grafting party. Nice people, good times. I shot video with James Barnes on knife-sharpening, which I need to edit. It was late by the time we returned.

February 22, 2013

An early start today for the grape workshop in Auburn. The big takeaway for me from the grape workshop and from the visit to Whipporwill Vineyard afterward was that it’s not hard to make dry muscadine wine. The reason muscadine wine tends to be sweet is that we’re in Alabama where people love their sweet tea and like their wine sweet. They make wine sweet because that’s what they can sell. This evening we took Adrian to Atlanta to catch her flight. After dropping her off, we stopped in at Trader Joe’s and then drove home. It was almost 9:00 by the time we were back.

February 21, 2013

The farm was a busy place today, because Rodney Griffith and his crew built up the driveway immediately south of the barn. It’s going to be so much nicer to use the driveway when he finishes, much more level all the way from street to parking stall.

We recorded the podcast this morning, on our plans for the growing season and the changes we’re making. Today was our first day to use the new music. Yea!

The Efm group met here this afternoon. They really seemed to enjoy using the lodge. It’s good to know we have a place to meet if it ever becomes too awkward to do it at the church.

February 20, 2013

Finished up getting through all that paperwork this morning. PT in the afternoon.

February 19, 2013

Amanda was gone to the CAMGA meeting in Wetumpka most of the day, so I used it to run through paperwork. Didn’t make it all the way, but I made good progress. We had a nice long walk at the end of the day, while it was warm and there was still a little sunshine.

February 18, 2013

Mostly quiet work in the morning. This afternoon it warmed up, and I finished the pruning in the orchard. Yea!

February 17, 2013

Church in the morning, then to Montgomery for a quick lunch with Mama over pizza before Cabaret at the Cloverdale Playhouse. Then Costco, then home. Good day.

February 16, 2013

Beans & Rice this morning at Epiphany. We gave away about 1700 pounds of food to 46 families. Things were hopping! This afternoon I emptied the humanure buckets and spread them to dry in the sunshine, then spent the rest of the afternoon planning our SS lesson for tomorrow on the Johannine Letters.

February 12, 2013

Still cloudy. Worked indoors in the morning while Amanda traveled to Wetumpka to return the projector. Then some pruning in the orchard.

February 11, 2013

Almost no outside work today because it rained almost all day. The main focus of the day was building our presentation for the Tallassee garden club, hanging out with Adrian, and working on the bulletin for the first Sunday in Lent.

February 10, 2013

Good morning at church. This afternoon and evening were all about our driving to Atlanta to pick up Adrian. We were crazy late getting back.

February 9, 2013

Good productive day today. Up early to knock down the ryegrass on the Veg Hill floor. We still have several holes that need to be filled in so the Dually can negotiate the aisles. Then I scooped up the rest of the scrub oak down the hill, split it, and stacked it on #1. Dave Gray arrived in the early afternoon with a load of delicious compost. Then I finished #1 and moved it and #12 out on to the orchard floor. At the end of the day I ran the fuel out of the splitter and put it back on the pallet rack. I still need to clean up the wood chips, but we’re basically finished with the firewood for the next several months.

February 8, 2013

A little paperwork first thing, and then outside to down a mid-sized (12″ DBH) scrub oak that had lost most of its top branches. After cutting it up, I split it and used it to fill #12. There’s still a good bit of it still split and ready to use on #1. This afternoon we had a good, constructive visit with Matt Robertson and Rodney Griffith to talk through design and sequencing on the infrastructure changes. By the time Matt left about 4:30 pm, we had just enough time to run to town to pick up Kool at Parker Tire before they closed.

February 7, 2013

Good visit this morning with Caudil Miller, who seemed genuinely pleased with my progress. I am now RELEASED from his care as well. Now that leaves daily exercises and once-per-week PT as my only obligations flowing from the injury. This afternoon after EfM we drove up to Scott Ruppert’s house to see his concrete countertop. Both of us liked it, so we’re ready to proceed with concrete on the countertop on the outdoor serving area.

February 6, 2013

Found another standing dead tree down below the barn and cut it up for firewood. It filled most of #12. I need to find another 1 1/2 pallet’s worth, and the firewood will be done for a while. So tired (and a little sore) at the end of the day, but I feel good about the progress.

February 5, 2013

Amanda was gone to Birmingham for most of the day. I split and stacked most of that downed sweetgum during the morning. Filled up #11. Moved #10 and #11 out on to the orchard floor and moved #12 into position to be filled next.

This afternoon I did quiet work and then a session at 4:30 pm. Spent two hours entering my master gardener hours (hadn’t updated them since 12/31).

February 4, 2013

Really productive day outside. First I moved the gas grill back under the pole barn. Then I cut down the tree on the spur trail leading to the West Knoll. I split it and stacked it on #10 and filled up #10. Moved #10 outside the pole barn and moved #11 in. Then I cut down a huge (about 20-inch DBH) dead sweetgum on the downhill trail leading to the creek and cut it all into lengths. Started splitting and stacking it on #11 when I ran out of time and had to prepare for a 3:30 session. After the session I drove to Tom’s to help him paint his train layout base.

February 3, 2013

Church in the morning. Spent most of the afternoon preparing for Tom’s and Jan’s visit for the Super Bowl. Put rub on the chicken and rib eyes, then moved the grill up to the lodge. Some quiet work, and then it was time to welcome them for the game.

February 2, 2013

Reluctantly decided during the wee hours that I needed to uninstall Office 2007 and reinstall Office 2003. Just having to redesign too many systems. Did a full backup of my C: drive while I drove to town and bought a couple of fittings for Tractor. Then I installed the fittings (designed to make it easier for me to lift the bush hog).

With that done, I packed up the chain saw and a couple of lifting chains and drove over just below the pond dam to the dead oak we had spotted yesterday. It fell just where I wanted. Cut it up and began splitting and stacking on Pallet #10.

This afternoon I uninstalled Office 2007 and installed Office 2003. Oh, it’s so good to have my queries and my menus back! Can’t imagine for the life of me why Microsoft would leave 2003 users so orphaned. Guess I’ll die using my ancient Office 2003, now 10 years old and counting.

February 1, 2013

Another good day for outside work today. It was just beautiful, which made it pleasant to be outside. This morning I swapped out Tractor’s forks for the bucket and filled the bucket with smaller rounds from the old firewood pile. I supplemented the wood from Tom Crain’s land with rounds from the old woodpile and managed to fill Pallet #9. Put the forks back on and started moving pallets.

First I moved 6, 7, 8, and 9 out on the orchard floor just south of the muscadines on row 9. Then I moved the three pallets blocking access to firewood pallets 3 and 4. Then I moved #3 to the lodge and moved #4 over so it will be more accessible (just need to move Cracker). Then I methodically moved all three of those pallets back in. By then it was getting downright cold and the sun had set, but I went ahead and fetched #10 (next empty pallet) and put it in position under the barn roof.

January 31. 2013

Nice visit with Ashley this morning. I think she got what she wanted with Amanda out on Veg Hill. Now we wait to see what if anything gets published. Right after she left Rodney Griffith arrived. We told him what we wanted, and he did a lot of measuring. Left him measuring as we were leaving for EfM.

January 30, 2013

Cold and rainy. Got a chance to see today how much the fire affected the soil erosion, and we’re paying the price. That rain came rushing off the hill through the blueberry strip and across the driveway. Quite a torrent.

This afternoon we recorded the podcast, part 2 on food storage.

January 29, 2013

Best day in a long time for outdoor work. We knew tomorrow was forecast to be rainy and that Ashley wanted to come shoot the garden tomorrow as well, so we decided today was the day to get Veg Hill cleaned up and looking presentable.  Soon after breakfast I started with the weedeater and cleaned the spaces between the rows of beds. The work was most ticklish, of course, where I had the drip hose and spaghetti hose lying on the surface. I finished, though, much faster than I had expected to. Emboldened, I decided to go ahead and bury the drip hose. It took most of the day, and the work really slowed down at the head of the beds where the spaghetti hose came off, but I finished by about 4:00.

Even had time to split firewood; I filled up about half of #9 and filled up Scamp’s bucket with the remaining wood from Tom’s land so that it’s out of the weather. Tomorrow I can finish even in the rain. Dog tired at the end of the day but feeling a real sense of accomplishment.

January 28, 2013

Appointment in the morning with Hartzog. I edited the Selma presentation while I was waiting to see him.

I am RELEASED! My arm is nowhere 100% of course, but this is one less doctor whom I have to visit on a regular basis, and that feels great.

This afternoon I moved Pallet #6 out into the sunshine so it could begin to dry out and season. The rest of the afternoon was all driving to Selma and preparing for the presentation. It went great. Returned to the farm exhausted.

January 27, 2013

Exercise and then church in the morning. Lunch with Mama in Montgomery. This afternoon we rehearsed the Selma presentation for her, and she asked great questions. We made it back with a little light left, so I tried mowing on Veg Hill. I’ll need to do a lot more leveling between beds if I’m going to avoid getting Dually stuck.

January 26, 2013

Spent most of the morning walking the fire line and dousing hot spots. Then I got the apartment ready for Amanda’s return, then off to Atlanta to pick her up. Then shopping at TJ’s, then home. Great to be reunited with the woman I love.

January 25, 2013

Quiet work in the morning, then to Prattville to meet Ricketts. She was late, so it was 4:30 by the time I returned. Brush fire! Called 911, and Friendship Fire Dept did a great job. The boxes I had left too near the fire had caught up and had started a fire on the blueberry strip that spread north and west, including burning all around the lodge. Fortunately, the lodge was unscathed. I was beat to a bloody pulp by the time the fire was thoroughly under control.

January 24, 2013

Spent most of the day other than EfM splitting and stacking all that wood from Tom’s land. I also built a fire for all the bark and scraps that had been stacking up. Had quite a fire going with all of it that burned into the night. #6 is now full.

January 23, 2013

PT in the morning. While Tom and I were working together, we talked about my splitting firewood, and he told me that he was doing some clearing on his property and that there was plenty of hardwood available. That became my project for the rest of the day. When I finished PT I drove home in Kool and swapped it for Cracker. Drove to Tom’s farm and found where they were doing the clearing. The guys working there could not have been nicer. Fetched me a 16″ DBH oak, held it for me to cut it, then helped me cut it, and even helped me load it. Stopped for lunch, then drove home and collapsed. After nap, I started splitting. Nice. So pleasant to split green wood. Filled up the rest of one side of #6 and started on the other side when I ran out of light and energy and called it a day.

January 22, 2013

Got all the software downloaded and then loaded on to our new Harmony One  universal remote. Worked great from the first time. Now four remotes are replaced by one recharging remote, and the four original remotes are stowed safely in a drawer. Just before heading to town and errands, I loaded the acid into the new battery for the Vespa. When I returned

January 21, 2013

Drove to Auburn this morning for the funeral of Lan Lipscomb’s mother. Had a nice lunch with Laura Williams at a pizza place in Auburn. As I was pulling back into the farm, Chris called from True Value to let me know he was bringing my 2 x 12s.  This afternoon I moved Firewood Pallet #8 out from the barn to a cleared spot east of the lodge. Then I repaired Pallet #6. I used a 1 1/4″ spade bit, which turned out to be just the right size for the larger pipe of Pallet #6. The 2 x 4 slides easily but holds when it’s in position. I put a dab of grease on the nipple before I screwed it onto the pipe, which I hope will make it easy to remove. Late this afternoon I split and stacked the rest of the wood south of the orchard. #6 is now a little less than half full.

January 20, 2013

Exercises and church in the morning. followed by a lengthy meeting at the church. Turned out to have nothing to do with me, so it was more or less a waste. This afternoon I took a walk on the West side with Oddie before cutting up the larger tree south of the orchard. I split and stacked into the night, filling up #8.

January 19, 2013

Up before dawn to drive Amanda to Atlanta to catch her flight to LA. Took a long walk on the north trail and the east side. I noted several trees that can come down for firewood, but I first want to use the wood that’s south of the orchard. I started with a small hickory this afternoon. #8 is about 1/3 full now.

January 16, 2013

PT in the morning. then some errands in town before returning to the farm for lunch. We recorded the podcast in the afternoon, then I split the white oak I had stacked in Scamp’s bucket as night fell.

January 15, 2013

Amanda was gone to Wetumpka most of the day for CAMGA and errands. I did my exercises in the morning, and then had a morning session. I then got into my HP printer, which has been doing a lousy job of printing lately. As I had suspected (and hoped), it was simply due to bad ink cartridges. With new cartridges installed, it prints fine.

Next up was Firewood pallet #6.

January 14, 2013

Some paperwork in the morning. This afternoon I moved the splitter and pallets into position and started splitting firewood. Heartbreak. That big pile of oak and hickory north of the pole barn is too far gone to split cleanly; it’s basically garbage. Not sure what I’m going to do with it. I was able to use enough of the pile west of the lodge to fill up pallet #7. Pallet #6 turned up missing an upright, so I’ll need to cut a new one and – this is the hard part – loosen the end cap on the steel pipe so I can re-thread the upright on it.

As for where we’re going to get enough firewood to fill the other five pallets, clearly we need to harvest the white oak that has fallen down near the creek on the North Trail. After that, we’ll be looking for fresh deadfall or for trees that are still standing but doomed. Amanda joined me late this afternoon and helped stack the split pieces; I can move so much faster with her help! We then took a quick walk as we were losing our light.

January 13, 2013

The Quick Dually cranked right up this morning. Good day at church. I came on home, leaving Amanda to participate in what turned out to be an absurdly long meeting. While she was gone, I had lunch, took a nap, and got the Dinky Link working with the DVR. The home theater equipment is now “Harmony ready.” A brief walk when Amanda returned late this afternoon, and then I pulled down the gas grill and cooked burgers for supper.

January 12, 2013

I started the day with two main tasks: I wanted to install the Dinky Link for the home theater equipment in the lodge, and I wanted to get the log splitter running after 19 months of disuse.

The Dinky Link proved easy to install and operate, and it worked the first time, right out of the box. I got it working for the Onkyo receiver and the Panasonic DVD. I held off on the DVR because we have a UHF remote for it that shoots right through the cabinet doors.

Feeling my oats, I turned my attention to the splitter. For reasons I cannot explain, before putting the splitter up I ran all the gasoline out of the fuel tank, fuel lines, and carburetor bef it ore storing it, so there was no gasoline to turn to shellac in it. I filled it  with fresh gas, opened the fuel port, and pulled the crank. Voila! Cranked literally on the first pull. Emboldened, I charged the battery of the Quick Dually and left it charging all night. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had two big jobs go so well in one day. Yay! a

We had a nice walk this afternoon after Amanda returned from dulcimer. Tonight I ordered a Harmony One universal remote off Ebay.

January 11, 2013

A nice quiet day. One of those wonderful days when neither of us left home all day. Amanda spent most of the day packing up Christmas in the lodge. I spent it doing paperwork in the barn. We did find time for a nice long walk in the early afternoon. Hot and sweaty on Jan 11; weird, just weird.

January 10, 2013

I had read my EfM in the wee hours, so after we recorded the podcast this morning, I was able to concentrate on editing and publishing it. EfM in the afternoon, and then PT. Tonight Amanda and I packed up the Christmas tree. Now I have to find a place to put it!

January 9, 2013

Today was all about pallet moving. I had three stacks of material stacked on pallets in vehicle bay #3, and I had to move them first so I could use all three bays for Tractor. Then, after moving both Cracker and Kool, I picked up firewood pallet #12 (now empty) and stacked it with the other empty firewood pallets. Then I moved firewood pallet #2 into front and center position. Then I moved those materials back into bay #3. Whew!

January 8, 2013

We were super lazy this morning after the late night last night. Matt Robertson came with his plumber Jerry, but we lounged around and watched the game again until nearly noon. PT this afternoon and a nice walk.

January 7, 2013

A morning session with Beverly Crain (hand therapist) in Montgomery, then right back to the farm to prepare for the Big Game. Tom and Martha Lynn joined us to watch along with Mama. Amanda chopped up all the veg for stew and left it for me to use; I cooked a chicken and worked on the stew most of the afternoon. Also needed to prepare corn bread and cobbler, and I just ran out of time. The game, however, was magnificent. Mama spent the night with us.

January 6, 2013

Today was a big day at Epiphany because this is the Very Day, Epiphany. Lunch with Mama in Montgomery and a long nap for me while Amanda ran errands.

January 5, 2013

This morning we washed and hung out clothes, and then I harvested collards while Amanda prepared for her baby shower for one of her dulcimer buddies in Auburn. This afternoon I spent too much time watching the game between Ole Miss and Pittsburgh, but it turned out well with an SEC victory. Prepared the collards for the Epiphany bonfire.

January 4, 2013

PT in the morning, then helping Amanda put clothes on the line, then a long walk before a late lunch. The afternoon was all paperwork.

January 3, 2013

An appointment with Hartzog killed the morning; I waited two hours and 15 minutes to see him. Then straight to EfM. A session late in the afternoon, followed by exercises.

January 2, 2013

PT in the morning, then some errands in town. Emptied the humanure buckets before lunch. Had a nice walk on the East Side this afternoon before cleaning the smoker. Then we recorded the podcast as night fell.

January 1, 2013

Began the day slowly after last night’s celebration. Nice breakfast, then we all walked on the West Side.