Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day Work

I'm taking advantage of the Labor Day holiday to get some work done for my garden.   Or at least that was the plan.  I slept in today, but managed to get out and get a picture of the garden area at 9:00am -- it was totally shady.  At 10:00 I had sun in most of the area!



So I get dressed up in my longer-sleeved shirt (it needs to be white), my boots (I need some new Wellies), hat and garden gloves to go rake some of the grass recently mowed on the pipeline right-of-way.  The temperature at the moment is in the upper 80s.  I lasted about 10 minutes.  Raking is certainly a different kind of exercise than I usually get.  On my calorie indicator program, it said I burned about 28 calories for 10 minutes of raking.  Of course, there is no indicator for 86 degrees in full sun, with a warm breeze.   Sigh.

Anyway, here's what I accomplished.  Now, how do I get this to the garden area?  I need to check the wheels on my garden cart.


Oh, btw, I have now adjusted my camera settings -- hopefully future pictures will come out brighter (and I won't have to adjust).  They were set for indoors.... oops!  Ok, now to go take my 11:00 light reading.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Garden Site Preparation

I am trying to determine the best site for my Keyhole garden.  The area that I call my garden is quite shaded.  So I will be taking pictures several times over the next two days to look at the sun/shade patterns.

This first picture is from a couple of years ago.  (Warning, I haven't edited the photos, so they will likely take a while to download).


See the dead limbs in the upper right corner of the picture.  That (dead) tree fell over into the yard.  I have since had it (mostly) removed.  The banana plants have mostly died since I stopped watering them every day.  The center of the photo is my old 4x4 garden with a bit of fencing around it, all overgrown with weeds.  The lighter streaks across the photo is where the sunshine gets through the trees.


Here's a photo from 2:30pm today.  The bananas have mostly died -- they're hard to see in the shadow. The green area in the center is behind the well -- I'm not using that space.  I will be watching that big bright area in the right center of the picture, though I'm pretty sure that is shaded in the mornings.

The keyhole garden is approximately 6 feet in diameter, and about 29" off the ground.   Here are the specifications from Keyhole Farms, where I bought it.

Here are some links on keyhole farming:

  • The description (one of several) of making these in hot and dry areas of Africa, and in locations in the US.
  • Here is an article on Keyhole Gardening in Texas
  • And an article on Dr. Deb Tolman, who championed this type of gardening in Texas.
I have collected paper and phone books, lots of cardboard as well as my compost bin and some bags of dirt, compost and manure that I have around.  I also have some dried grass from a recent mowing.  I plan to use all of these to create the soil in my garden.  I bought a paper shredder, and I'm thinking of shredding the paper goods to aid in the composting.

I have to figure out how to protect the plants from the critters.  Short term, I'll probably cure some bamboo, which I have way too much of, and use that to create a support for netting....  Hmmm, I might be able to slide it between the frame and the corrugated metal on the OUTSIDE, then clip the netting to the frame...  that might work.  On the other hand, if I plan squash (next year), it is likely to overflow the garden and onto the ground.  So long term, I'm thinking of putting a fence around the area with ground-level plants that deer don't like (like lavender).



In conjunction with the set-up, I will start thinking of what I want to plant.  I'm told that in shady areas, it's best to stick with bulbs and leafy plants.  But I plan to plant squash -- the fruits are shaded by the leaves anyway.  I also want to plant tomatoes, eggplant and maybe peppers -- those will be experimental for a while.

The other thing I'm looking at is information on preserving produce -- I certainly won't be able to eat it all -- even from this small garden.  I'm mostly going to focus on freezing.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Garden!

I have been wanting to plant another garden for some time.  In spite of the fact that I rarely cook, and have very little time, I have decided to go with it!  I ordered a Keyhole Garden kit from Keyhole farms. It was supposed to arrive yesterday, but UPS forgot to put it on their truck!  So I'm a little disappointed I didn't have the whole Labor Day weekend to work on it.  Oh well...

My brother-in-law asked me to keep him informed on how this project went, so I've decided to wake up my blog and document this little project here.  I promise pictures and more details.  But since it's not happening this weekend, I guess we will settle for this simple post for starters.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Insurance Question

With apologies to my readers -- I have been a bit lazy of late, and not much is going on here at the cabin.  I have a lot of time to think, and this question has caught my attention.  If you're not interested in politics, you can skip this one. :-)

[Stepping up on soapbox now]

As of recent GOP Debates, the "Insurance Question" has raised it's ugly head again.  One of my acquaintances on FB posted a video from moveon.org of a woman whose brother had no job, no insurance and no "governmental assistance" because of his age (mid-late 50s).  He came down with cancer and died in a lot of pain.  The question is asked (and she admits it's a poor question, and it is), "Should people be allowed to die because they have no insurance?"

These kinds of questions, with relation to politics, really irritate me.  Why?  Because not only is it a "yes or no" question that doesn't really lead to discussion, but it is a leading question which plays on our emotions and tends to put a damper on any followup.

Obviously the answer to the original question is "No."  But this has gotten me to thinking, what is the correct question?  I think the question should be this:
"There are people in our nation who are unable to get a job and therefore, without insurance who are unable to get the healthcare they need.  Many of them are dying without treatment.  How would you resolve these issues and save these people?"
 Let me start with an aside that I believe that our world and our lives are made up of series of systems and everything is connected to everything else.  So the answer to this question is complex.

My first "off the cuff" answer to this is that it shouldn't be the problem of government to deal with this, except that it was the government that caused the problem (in my opinion).  Now, they had help of course, but ultimately a lot of the problem stems from laws that have been passed over at least the last 150 years or so.   All of these laws were enacted with the benefit of the people in mind, but some have had a negative effect on the people they were intended to help.

I think that we need to go back and review many of the old (and some not so old) laws that have been passed to see what the consequences of those laws have been and if those laws need to be completely or partially repealed, and/or rewritten.  We need to look at Health Care, and the laws governing legal practices towards doctors and medical practitioners; at the laws governing the insurance industry (especially medical).  We need to look at all sorts of business-related, economics and tax laws that effect businesses' ability to hire and retain workers.  We need to review how we deal with illegal immigrants.  We even need to look at welfare and how we deal with indigent people.

All of these issues are involved in why a person in their mid-fifties who has lost their job and insurance and comes down with a serious disease would end up dying in pain because they can no longer afford treatment.

I want, however, to reiterate one important point that I made above.  Before doing anything, we need to look at the long term consequences of any changes we decide to make.  It's called a "risk assessment."  Most of our laws in the past have been made without any risk assessments (or so I would assume), and some have had consequences that have caused problems in the long term.  But simply repealing a law that "went wrong" will also have consequences.  We need to determine what those consequences are and rework the law such that it solves the original problem without causing additional problems, and transition those effected into the new situation with a minimum of "pain."

Unfortunately, I think the possibility of any of this happening with any politician is slim to none, because no matter what anyone does, someone is going to be unhappy and the politician will feel their ability to be reelected in jeopardy.  So the other thing I think we need is term limits!  But that is another topic all together!

[Steps down from soap box.]

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Trip to the Big City Today

Today, I drove into town to attend a funeral at the church where Marc and I were married.  I saw a lot of people that I hadn't seen in years.  I made it through the funeral pretty well until the last verse of "A Mighty Fortress" -- music always gets to me, and sometimes it's the strangest things... but I survived.

Afterwards, I went to the genealogy library and tried out the new camera I bought to take pictures (instead of photocopies) of the information I found.  I don't think they turned out well.  (I haven't downloaded them yet.)

On the way home, I saw the wildfire in the park -- not close to me, but closer than some of the other fires "nearby."  I looked at the odometer when I got home -- almost 100 miles round trip!

Got home and discovered... yes, the hummingbird feeders were empty!  Well... that's a day in my life.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday in the Woods

So I was particularly lazy today.  I purposely slept in, and awoke to find the humming bird feeder empty AGAIN!  I refilled it, only to have it empty again by 3:00 pm.  So this time, I filled two.  I've had lots of hummers in the last few days -- I think perhaps it is the beginning of migration season.  If so, it seems slightly early.  I wonder if that indicates that we might have a particularly cold winter?

I did get out for my walk this morning, but it was a little late, so I didn't walk a whole mile.  One good thing I noticed is that at 10:00 am, my garden area was wholly in the sun!

Even though I spent most of the day inside listening to the Tri-County EMS scanner, I did notice a few interesting things.  A couple of times, I saw Grackles (large black birds) on my seed feeder.  I also noticed that my thermometer got up to 101 degrees this afternoon (for only a moment).  Then the temp dropped quickly, vacillated a bit, then settled on about 96.  Strange, if you ask me.  I wondered if a bird or something was sitting on the sensor?

Tomorrow, as I'm sure everyone knows, is the 10th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks.  I have received only one email, but saw several posts on FaceBook of remembrances of the event.  While I too feel that we should "never forget," I found quickly that I am not up to reading through all the stories.  However, my choir sings tomorrow.  I think the song I have chosen is appropriate to the day, both for the lessons of the day, and the remembrance of the tragedy.  It's the song It Is Well.  The person who wrote the song had lost his daughters in a tragedy at sea, and yet, with God's help is able to go on with his life.  Here's a link to a version of this song sung by three young siblings that one of my choir members sent me.

"When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll.  Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, "It is well, it is well, with my soul." 
 

Friday, September 09, 2011

Wildlife on the Homestead

I have a lot of wildlife in my little woodland sanctuary and that is a concern when I review my plans for developing a garden and livestock (probably chickens at this point).  Since we've cleared the area, the deer have been munching on my bananas, the squirrels have been eating the birdseed and several other animals have remained unseen, but I know they are there.

I will have to protect my garden and livestock from the animals listed above and from raccoons, possums, skunks, armadillos, coyotes, and possibly foxes.  Oh, and wild pigs!  I'm afraid this will be a case of "if you build it they will come!"

I visited a friend for lunch today, then ran some errands on the way home.  Driving through the country, I saw something I don't often see:  a dead coyote on the side of the road.  Sadly, I drove around the corner and saw another one!  I think the combination of the drought causing scarcity of food and water, and the fires to the north of us are likely driving animals this way.

Hummer Wars!

On the positive side, I probably have a dozen humming birds around my feeder.  I filled it up this morning and it's almost empty now (about 5pm).