This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting to Blogger with such a large archive has become unwieldy. Also, your blogista, who is sewing a kesa, is not writing much at present. She has ceased adding new posts. Still-active links are here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Nope, not done yet

So, summer is half done... and so is the woodpile.


Chain saw, saw table (pallet plus wheelbarrow), Risa, glass of water, chair, hat, woodshed, oil, radio, finished wood, chopping block, woodpile. As you can see we stock smallwood. Most of the unsplit blocks here are maple. This new wood is not as dry as the old wood, which is okay; we'd take from the bin on the right until the bin on the left is ready. Maple is easier to split than Douglas fir. The woodshed is in shade, but as the day heats up past eighty, Risa will probably drop this activity and go inside, perhaps to put up this blog post.

Across from her she can see the garden. A soaker hose is replenishing the corn. Apples are dropping. A hen pecks an apple experimentally. Nope, not done yet.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gettin' out


I am in Florida to check up on my dad, 95, who is in VA care. We lost my mom in February, and he chose to go into care in May. I have kept the house up in case he might need it again.

He's made his mind up to stay where he is "for the duration," but requested I take him home for a few hours just for a visit.



It was ninety degrees out. He inspected the rooms, which were set at 78, then settled into his old outside chair. "This is a good chair."

We sat and listened to the mockingbirds. There was no other sound. "Sure is quiet around here." The neighborhood's Snowbirds -- Northerners who live here in winter, then leave to escape the hot summers -- are all gone, hence the quiet. Where they are, of course, it's 100 degrees right now. Oh, well.

I offered him a ham sandwich, made with heirloom tomatoes I'd planted here before heading for Oregon in May.


"Good sandwich," he nodded. This made me happy.

The next-door neighbor, a generous-spirited young (to me) woman who'd always looked out for my folks, stopped by. They were delighted to see each other.


Afterward, he decided he'd like to shop a bit at the Winn-Dixie. He drove all over the store in an electric cart, touching everything. He settled on a box of unglazed doughnuts and a pair of reading glasses.

On the way back to the medical foster home, he talked about shopping. "I never could stand those places when your Momma was shopping. I'd sit on th' bench and wait 'er out. But now, it's a treat to me to get out an' see such places."

He watched the pastures and citrus ranches roll by. "I have had a good day and it has perked up my morale. If they would let all us old people in these homes get out, with an attendant, and spend a little money at grocery stores with a list, we could shop for th' food banks. It would sure help make us feel useful."

Well? What about it?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Moat adjustments

The poultry moat here is so called because it contains ducks and a goose as well as chickens.

Peaceful rural scene
Everyone gets along better than some would have us believe, but the arrangement is not perfect. There have been altercations in the past between roosters and ganders as to who's king of the barnyard. At present, Susannah, the goose, is a widow and she constantly guards the ducks, some of whom are older than her in duck/goose years but whom she regards as her children. All seems peaceful.

Birds who act like banksters.
Lately the hens have taken to pecking and sipping eggs, however. We've tried all the usual remedies but recovery has been slow this year. They occasionally have a go at their own, but have a yen for the duck eggs, which lie about on the ground. The ducks have noticed, and are laying farther and farther away from the barn, usually in the grass margins of the deer fence, or hedge-in-progress.

We'll be separating the flocks. The ducks will get the "north pasture," because it has better grass for Susannah, and the chickens the "south pasture" as it tends to have more things chickens like, such as pill bugs. Both areas are part of the moat, surrounding much of our acre in a sort of crescent shape.

It's not a full moat, which would surround the garden on all sides. The ideal looks like this:

a) House b) garage c) wellhouse d) garden shed e) barn/poultry house f) garden beds g) fruit trees h) chicken moat i) optional goats/sheep j) truck access k) walkway l) shade trees such as mature cherry or walnut. Not shown: plantings of tea, spices, berries, grapes, lavender, etc. m) place for humans to zone out.
Whereas we are dealing with an acre that has been split diagonally by a seasonal creek, and has a house and driveway that lie right up against the garden on one side.

Moat in red
We can extend the moat along the driveway to the gate -- done that before -- at present there's a blueberry row in that location.

No hurry. A major point of chicken moats is the migratory habits of slugs. Slugs don't seem to migrate across our driveway. They're self-sufficient locavores, laying eggs in the garden, and not inclined to migrate away. So we let the birds in all winter, and they mine for the eggs.

Why we like to keep everyone in a "moat" at Stony Run is, it's where we and the garden and future cowpasture aren't, and it's where the orchard is. Unused dropped fruit doesn't have to be carried to the flocks, bugs associated with said fruit are disposed of, and the land in question thus has stacked uses, which is one of our permaculture goals.

All good; on the other hand, separating the flocks means we will do twice the barn maintenance, with the current barn demoted to a chicken house and the construction of a duck house elsewhere. And chickens and ducks and geese have overlapping (and relatively non-competing) pasture and bug requirements, which was a good thing when they were together -- now some bugs that were being snapped up in all areas will get a pass in the north pasture, and other bugs will get a pass in the south pasture. We really don't know the ramifications. It might not matter much -- and then again, it might. Thoughts?

Meanwhile, we're pretty sure we'll be finding the duck eggs -- and finding them intact.


Saturday, July 07, 2012

Heading out


Risa is off for part two of Florida Family Hospice. She's done what she can for the farm and others will step in during her absence ...

 ... meanwhile, it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood ...


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