Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Not bad for the end of December...

We planted rye grass to green up the place. You can buy a bag for a 50 lb bag for about $15 and it goes a long way. Rye will only grow in cool weather and it does need some rain. By the time it gets above 80 degrees or so it will be gone. If it is a wet year and it goes to seed, it will return next fall. Otherwise it needs to be planted again.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Back to the second building at last...

Well, it has been a year since we put on the roof and the building has been waiting for us while we worked on landscaping, garden, taking care of family matters and just plain everyday chores.
We have attached 2X4s to the outside so we could place the windows in their frames and the side cross pieces are what we will attach the tin siding to. This also establishes the floor grade so we know where the top of the floor will be. I beleive in most places there will always be a change in elevation from one end of the building to the other, even when it looks like the ground is level. That is why when you first stake out a building you need to pull a string with a string level to get an idea of the difference in height between one corner to the next.

To frame the windows we used 2X8s. This is calculated by adding all of the componants that make up the thickness of the wall: 4X4 + 2X4s on the inside and the outside+ the tin and trim on the outside+ plywood, tar paper, lathe & plaster on the inside. We then fit the windows inside of this frame and put trim up on the inside and the out side to hold the window in place . The bottom of this frame needs to slant down as to not let water collect on the sill. We then caulked around the trim to create a water tight seal.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The permanent garden begins

I knew the permanent garden was going to take time to create. Here the planting season is really year round but I was focusing on a spring planting which is January for blue & black berries, asparagus , grapes and march 15 for some cooler soil tolerant seeds.

We picked a spot in the front of the property that was already cleared . With the help of our neighbor with a bobcat we cleared back another 30 ft or so and cleaned the area of trees that were felled 20 years before.

Another neighbor with a tractor smoothed the land out. I can not say enough about buying into an area with great ,helpful and reasonable neighbors When you live in the country it is so important to have barn raising minded people surrounding you, we are very grateful.

The next step was to determine the paths and planting beds which I marked with stakes and string. I decided to make the paths 2 feet wide and the beds 4 feet wide. I covered the beds with 6" of compost and added Basalt, green sand, soft rock phosphate, molasses, organic fertilizer, lava sand, humate, corn meal, Epsom salt and gypsum, all this because I started with sand. The paths I covered with 4" of cedar sawdust because it is very cheap in our area and it will keep the weeds out, the moisture in and distinguish the path from the beds.

We borrowed a tiller from another neighbor and mixed every thing in. The soil is black gold!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Fall Clearing

Here we cleared out dying and crowded trees giving us more options for buildings.
We have found that is helpful to clear an area to the point that we can pull a measuring tape to establish the boundaries of future buildings. What we do is use red flag wire markers which are easy to move. This has given us a visual on how far apart the buildings will be and how that placement will feel. Many buildings have been plotted and moved by this practice.

In fact we had planned a storage building in front of the closet . When we flagged where the future house would go we discovered that a building in that space would have not fit , so back to the drawing board. It is so much easier to move flags than to move buildings.
The most important part of planning is to think from the end as much as possible. This is something we are consistently aware of and we have make mistakes ( like the first building starting out as a tool shed we could whip up in a month turning into the office that we are living in) We are trying to think through our priorities keeping in mind our the end vision.
There is the balance of comfort, necessities and beauty which are tugging on each other all the time.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The August Jungle has arrived....

The garden around the house has really matured with the help of rain and not too hot temperatures.

The barrel garden is being planted for fall, in our zone 8 this is the time to plant some vegtables, like broccoli, carrots, bush beans, for harvest in the fall and beyond.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Side Story" Mary June and Ida

When Richards Mom (Mary June) was a Teenage girl in the 1930's, she went to school with a wide range of children , from all walks of life. Sometime during the year another girl moved into the area. She was small, an only child and very poorly dressed. The teacher said" I want  to introduce a new student to everyone, her name is Ida"

The new girl looked the class over , took her seat and was returned with the one smiling face and voice of Mary June saying to her:"Its looks like you could use a friend". They became fast friends and Mary Junes' Mom invited her over for lunches every  Sunday  where she sat at a table with a family of 8. A far cry from what she was used to.
Fast forward through education, marriages,children, living far apart and then in the same town again. Idas' 1st husband pasted away leaving her with a mountain of Credit card debt which she had to keep working to pay. Then she met her 2nd husband who loved her dearly and was well to do. She was able to retire comfortably.

When Mary June developed Alzheimer they remained friends as well as they could. Near the end of Mary Junes' life, when she no longer knew her, Ida sat down next to her and said" Mary June my name is Ida,your oldest friend, do you remember me? And Mary June replied "Well, truthfully, no I don't remember you, But I can tell by the kindness of your voice, that I would want you as my best friend"

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease that steals a person away from friends and family. They are still alive yet not available, like living with a stranger.
One day she closed her eyes,  her head dropped and she started answering back to someone that was talking to her in her head. It was decided that she should be but in Hospice to releave her husband for a few days.
From the moment  she was put in Hospice, she started to be very agitated so they gave her some morphine. It settled her down and she started the transition into dying. Her skin got mottled and thin. Her ears started to flatten against her skull. The breath became more labored. No water or food was given, so after a few days the tips of her fingers and toes turned purple. This purple moved slowly towards the heart . She then started the death rattle, which is when the breath is labored because of water in the lungs.And soon she was gone from her body, free from pain and attachment to this Earth.
 She was such a kind and gentle being, happy until the end.    She will be missed.......

Friday, June 15, 2007

June Blooms....and Frogs

Here is one of the resident frogs we have. Since it has been such a wet year there are hundreds of frogs. It is really cool when it rains and is overcast, the frogs start singing their mating song. It can get really loud and when they really get going they fall into a wonderful rhythm, there is not another sound quite like it!
I love this picture, this guy is in his element and in bliss!

The summer has been quite cool and very pleasant. All the plants are going crazy, they have plenty of water and moderate temperatures. It has been in the low 90s and upper 80s which is perfect for the jungle.

Even some funny looking mushrooms!

The sky rockets are Happy!

The back yard is filling in nicely, Yes! this is where some of our time has gone!

Passion Vine in bloom, BEAUTIFUL!!!
But beware, they are VERY invasive, they will take over and spread far and wide if you let them!

We planted Wax leaf along the driveway to create a consistent border and more privacy. I am spreading cedar sawdust as a mulch to deter weeds and hold in moisture. I know, you can barely see the truck and I am behind the camera! But I wanted to show how green it is!

The Day lilies bloomed on and on!! -

First year garden and the barrels are holding just fine!

And the closet is still on hold waiting in the background!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

High speed internet comes to the Ranch

Even in the way out country you can be high tech! We were so tired of snail e-mail. I was not able to send very large files to my clients and the speed was pathetic to say the least. So we had a little dish set 50 ft in the air, pointed to the tower that was about 5 miles away. It took 3 men to get it raised and then it was tied with guy wires to secure it from the winds. We hid it in the trees so you don't really see it at all.
It took us about 2 weeks to clear the area of a dying tree and under brush so it wouldn't be so difficult to maneuver it up. It is always scary to bring down a tree , especially when they are 40 ft tall. We have a 40 ft extension ladder that we used. But balancing on the ladder holding a chain saw and cutting the limbs one by one is something to take very seriously. This is why it took so long to get the job done. We had to calculate where best to place the ladder, how the limb might fall and making sure Richard could keep his balance!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

This is a very wet year......

This fawn was born just on the other side of our fence. We didn't see it at first and we walked right by it. It lay soooo still and we could hear the mama not far away. It is amazing how their instinct is to lay so perfectly still , that by doing so they are safer than trying to run. I am sure if it tried to run it couldn't get very far. It was probably only hours old! It was gone by the next day.

When it rains alot the spiders spin webs by the hundreds. On the paths we would run into the "made overnight food traps" every morning. These spiders are big, some the size of your palm! They don't attack or bite, at least they havn't bit us.
They are so amazing to watch building their webs. How they will climb up trees and jump off in just the right way to anchor a thread to another branch. Then climb up another tree and do it again and again until they have enough threads to stitch them together in a circle. They let out the thread and walk along then with their feet they join them together. What an amazing insect. Then a bird will fly right through this work of art and the spider has to start all overagain!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The fence is up and the planting begins

We started putting more furniture in the island to set our living room decor. It also established the turn around circle drive which we are so glad we planned the driveway this way. It really helps to have options !

Richard made some pillars that define the gate. He used the cardboard like forms you can buy at Home Depot and used the extra cement form the floor pour.

We decided we wanted a fish pond with a fountain and placed it in the corner so it would not be so conspicuous.

When the electric company cleared the easement for a neihbors electical line, they shreded the trees and dumped the mulch at our place for us to use. This mulch is what we used to define the walk ways of the back yard.

It was still a little cool but everthing was starting to grow. It was a cool spring and the soil was still pretty cold for anything to really take off.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Setting up a temporary garden

I was getting the garden bug and we hadn't decided where to put the permanent garden yet, so we bought these tubs for $2.00 each that farmers in the area receive salt licks in . They are the perfect size for container growing. We made a mix of the native sand with compost , filled the tubs and had instant portable gardens. The fig trees Richard grafted from an old fig tree where we were renting are on the far right. My vegetables are on the left rows: corn, tomatoes,squash, bell peppers and asparagus from seed. Normally we can start planting the middle of march, I was definitely late this year.
For the fence we just put up t-bars and used the left over fencing from the office fence . Then we put up tie wire above that to discourage deer from jumping in. Because the area was so small the deer never tried to jump, its because there are to many levels and obstacles for them to see the depth of field.
In the background we had a 1500 gallon water tank in which we bought water from our neighbor.
We ran 500 ft of hose from their house and filled up the tank. Because it was such a wet spring, we only had to fill it up about once a month. We used the water for the kitchen, shower and garden watering.
We used a submersible pump to deliver the water. As a side note we would put the hose through the top lid and if we did not remove the hose after we were done watering, all the water would siphon out after the pump was turned off. It was quite a shock to think we had 3/4s of a tank left when all the water had drained out!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Birds Nest in the kitchen

This was so amazing!
Since we had such an open kitchen a smart little wren decided to build her nest up on a wardrobe we set up to keep my city work clothes safe and sound. The pictures with the eggs was taken on 4/1/07 and the picture with the little beaks sticking up was taken on 5/24/07. They were gone within a week after that.