Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Land Weekend

The Land Weekend held from June 12 to June 14 was very successful.  The meeting was held on the morning of June 14 and went quite smoothly, thanks to Ted's facilitating.  Hannah and Will took notes and the minutes should be out before next years meeting.  

Two major projects were undertaken; clean-up remodeling of the kids bedroom and clean-up remodeling of the loft.  Below are some pictures of the final results of the loft job.   A bright red bunk bed with a folding double futon in the bottom was put into the kids room.  The pine siding was completed in the loft and a double futon with a memory foam mattress on top was put into the loft along with new lights and new bedding.  A trap door was also installed so the hole down the ladder can be made child safe.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Apple Blossoms and Barney

LandBlog - April 9, 2009
by Carol
Through the mist of a light rain, a blush of soft pink apple blossoms dominates the orchard today.  Spring, with all her joy of renewal, is announcing her arrival where ever we look.  Indian warriors guard the road just before we enter our drive, the daffodils of various petal shapes and hues wave, the tiny wild violets encircle the wood area, the deciduous trees are fat with buds, the meadow grass grows inches everyday.  When the sun shines I want to roll in it.  I did go out under the stars to sit in it the other night, but a familiar acrid smell quickly dominated my senses.  I think I was in Marty's piss zone!
Spring brings lots of activities.  In addition to what Marty wrote about there have been some other noteworthy events. 
  • We now have in residence a barn cat.  Megan arranged for a pick up of two free spayed and neutered cats from the Ukiah shelter.  Cats, so they claimed, who were good cats, but a bit too wild to be adopted as house cats.  I decided to call the  calicoed female Cat, and the big gray male, Barn.  We erected a chicken wire barrier in the back half of the barn, put out food and drink, and left to themselves for two days.  After the 48 hour initiation, we opened the door.  Cat darted out, fled around the corner and has not been seen since.  However, I thought Barn was still around, and kept putting food out for him. But I did question if I was feeding Barn or the wood rats who have again taken up many barn explorations.  Megan and Isabel visited a week ago, and they heard a cat!  The next day they saw Barn stretch and then dart from the cat bed I had supplied.  Isabel suggested we call him Barney, which I thought was a laudable idea.  So Barney is now the official resident of the barn.  I seldom see him, but often hear him when I put out a small ration of daily food, and at night when he likes to prowl and yeow outside the house.
  • The greenhouse is packed with over-wintering ferns, begonias, gardenia, and geraniums on the wall side.  The bench houses flats of starts that Megan, Isabel and I put in on Friday, March 27th. We have two varieties of tomatoes, cukes, and basil, plus cilantro, sugar snap peas, summer squash, sweet peppers, and spinach.  Many were up in five days!  The green house is a fantastic cooker when the sun shines, about 15-20 degrees warmer than outside.  So there are starts ready for those who live in the lower latitudes.  It's way to early for most of these plants up here. I'll keep just one of each for a greenhouse plant.I need to get some brassicaceous, greens and lettuce started for here.
  • Our poison oak is coming on strong as ever.  On Tuesday I donned all the protective apparel and tackled the patch that goes down the hill from the woodshed and borders the path.  It has always been a hazard, so easy to brush against, plus Bill Eastwood told me last year that it should be cleared because it was a fire hazard.  It was tough, but satisfying work.  I missed Will who is usually with me for poison oak work.  I liberated the wild rose from all the oak, so it should now thrive, and still have a bit of final clean-up, but you will see the area is much improved.  We have a huge mound of viral pulled poison oak to load in the truck.  Maybe this weekend, when Will and Hannah are here.
  • Marty and I just have to stretch the subterranean chicken wire across the top end of the garden and then back fill the trench Ray dug in February to complete the rabbit-proof fence.  Marty and Ray have been working on ideas to rabbit-proof the gates, and then voila, we can start again with land gardening.
  • And, oh yes, remember the illegal trees, almond, two buck-eye and catalpa, that Will, Katy and I planted last spring.  All have buds....that's a very good survival rate for The Land.
Signing off as the gentle spring rain continues....time for some soup.
Your gal on the land,  Carol

Seeing-Eye Dog for a Dog

by Marty
Overcast at 12:20; rain is promised, but no sign of it yet.
The big news is that Helix is now stone blind. Lives in perpetual night. What does he think? We can't know. I put a bright purple collar on him so we can attach a leash and lead him to food or water if it's necessary; but he seems to get around, by memory, hearing things, smelling things, telling by his feet whether he's on gravel (the driveway) or grass. And of course Jack is his seeing-eye dog. I spend time with the two of them every day in the upper meadow under The Little Tree All By Itself after I do my determined painful aerobics-jogging according to the instructions in my Johns Hopkins White Paper on Arthritis. I sit there watching birds with my Swift binoculars (7x25, 400 ft.at 1000yds). When I call Helix he comes over and slams right into the chair. He is always turning his head this way and that, so he appears to be seeing; but he's not. He'll stand in one spot, turning his head, then just lie down. He follows Jack and me down the driveway, as he followed us up. But all in all he does get around.
I redid the wiring in the socket by the floor in the cloak room, with Derek's instructions. Got it right on the third try. Now there's a combination socket and switch ($12.99) governing the current down to the box on the side of the barn, where you will find two toggles when you figure out how to open the box: one for the juice in the shop, one for the electric pump. We keep the shop toggle on all the time. If we want juice in the shop but don't want to be running the pump at the same time, we turn off the one to the pump.
I also cleaned the little thimble-sized barrel-shaped filter inside the Paloma water heater. This has to be done about once a year. The filter gradually accumulates a residue which alters the balance of air and gas to the burner; gradually the flame turns from blue to yellow. The hot water still works, but the yellow flame blows out easily when there's a gust of wind and everybody shouts, "There's no hot water!" You turn off the gas, remove the three plastic things, unscrew the two screws on the bottom, remove the entire cowling, clean the filter with a toothbrush I leave on the top of the medicine chest, then put it all back together. Stand on a ladder. Easy.
I repaired the door to the pump house. One of the hinges had come loose. Did a dump run. Fixed the leak in the dog bucket with Goop. I made six racks out of cedar decking for holding the tiles when we play Mexican Train, using the table saw and the dado cutters at an angle of 10 degrees and a thickness adjusted to the thickness of a piece of paper to get the slots just right for the tiles. Carol chopped away some poison oak on the path from the woodshed down to the meadow and has been planting starts like crazy in the greenhouse.
I have ordered from Amazon some books on woodcarving. I would like to have a quiet politically correct creative hobby in my twilight years. I want to make little wooden toys and rattles for my proliferating grandchildren. I have zero artistic talent, but also zero ambition to master the craft. My efforts will simply be amusing. People will think, "Isn't that great that he's started something completely new when he's so old! It's a good sign!" You see, in my long years up here I have developed a relationship to wood, a feel for it, since wood is practically all we ever talk about -- as Louie has pointed out on more than one occasion. The fact is, I look forward very much to starting this hobby!

Thursday, April 9, 2009