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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things as they are and things to come

There is a hint of fall in the air here for a few days -- with rain, which has been hard to come by -- and some signs which I am used to ascribing to the arrival of late August, such as the bloom of the chickory, and September, such as the croaking of Canada geese flying low in vee formation toward the south.

We have been promised high eighties and nineties next week, but it's too late for me; something has triggered my nesting instincts and I've become interested in battening down the hatches! I'm not the only one; at the worker-owned Bi-Mart which I frequent (in lieu of bigger boxes), the aisles where one finds weatherstripping and caulk are being mobbed.

My big project this year was the barn; that's slowing down now.

I've checked its interior rooms, of which there are now four, and it looks like my roofing efforts, for once, have been effective. I found the polycarbonate relatively easy to work with, and I hope I can still say that after the coming winter.

There has been a spate of effort in the garden at last; drawn there by the advent of hundreds of zucchinis, I discovered the effect of neglect on the weed population and have begun trying to keep up. paper and straw are the tools of choice. 

As the pea vines died back, I cleared away both them and their trellis and prepped that part of the "bean" bed for some new plants, which are coming up in the newly remodeled potting room. This has opened up the view from the kitchen window considerably.

We are still adding a lot of material to the compost heaps. As we do so, we turn around to check the grapes, which are having a banner year and coming along well. From time to time we are narrowly missed by falling apples, which we give to the compost -- they're not quite ready to use for much, though they aren't too bad steamed with hot cereal and such.

Speaking of compost! We have gone back and forth about a composting toilet for years. The established rules: not expensive, not in the house, not in the dark (light switch and magazine rack), easily reached at night, no fighting through gates.

This one was given to us. I have built a throne room for it between the tool wall in the potting shed and the poultry room (reducing their space, but acceptably). The floor is framed, with ground cloth, sill plates and joists. The recycled storm door is white and the barn and potting shed doors are red, so you can see where to go at night (important as the days shorten), and the poultry fence is out of the way on the left. Potty is vented through the rear wall and the fan has power.

We managed to mangle the seat cover (it was getting brittle) and the step (ditto), hence the homemade lid and cinder block step. These should be fine.

Potatoes and squash are looking good. Cucumbers failed. Tree fruits good. Blackberries almost nonexistent. Seeing very few pollinators. Tomatoes very sparse. Plenty of wind, but still no ears on the eight-foot cornstalks (Stowell's Evergreen). Never a dull moment.

The foot valve died on the well, an d the pump men were here today. One of them eyed our woodpile, and asked who our "wood guy" is. (I put up about two thirds of it myself, from ice-storm wood). So I am not the only one thinking ahead to long dark nights!

The fall plan will be to keep walking around with the caulking tubes. And make a lot of grape juice and apple butter. 


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