Archive for June, 2010

Buckwheat and Pipe Guck

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

buckwheat610a.jpgToday the buckwheat crop in the greenhouse reached its full size and needed to be tilled in. I should explain that Alice and I garden in only half of our garden space both in the greenhouse and in our outside garden each year. In the other we plant as many crops of buckwheat as we can, and when it gets buckwheat610b.jpgfull size, we rototill it in for green manure. We usually get 3 crops a year, and after the last one we plant a cover crop of annual rye to give the soil a green blanket for winter. The next growing season, we swap halves and grow buckwheat in the other side. Over the years we feel it has improved our clay soil.tomato62910.jpg I usually let the soil rest for a few days, till it again, and then plant the next crop of buckwheat.

Our first tomato is doing great. It is on our outside hanging plants, so it is a Roma. They are extra work because they need daily watering, but we wisely put them near the walkway to the pond anyway, so I just divert one of the buckets to the hanging tomatoes each day.aliceclean610.jpg

Alice is still plugging along with her cleaning. I saw her up on the counter top like a bad cat, and she looked so cute up there that I had to take a picture. She likes to go through each cupboard, remove everything, clean the cupboard, and put things back. I saw great sense in this the other day. She was doing this job under the kitchen sink, and came and got me to report there was water on the cupboard floor under the sink. On investigation, I determined the drain pipes had come apart with the tiniest gap between them. Tiny enough that it isn’t obvious, but big enough such that when the sink empties, water drips out and onto the floor and the contents. I had to take several pipes apart under there to get at the problem, and discovered the crossover pipe was almost completely plugged with what plumbers call “pipe guck.” (just kidding, I don’t know what it is called, but it is miserable stuff!) I took the pipe into the workshop and worked a wire through it, and attached a piece of rag to it, and pulled it through numerous times. GUCK! Whatever we pay plumbers they earn it.

Success!

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

dock162920.jpgThe dock is in! I did some head scratching and came up with a better way to stabilize the vertical pipes while the dock was being launched. I also cut off all the excess pipe so that weight wouldn’t jeopardize the launching. The dock was then pushed out into the water on its floats, and hooked onto the pipe cradle near shore.dock262910.jpg

Grabbing my cordless drill and pipe wrench, I headed out to the dock to try to get the new vertical pipes installed and this project over with. I carefully removed the screws that were holding the pipe and auger out of the water, and then gently lowered the pipe to the pond floor. Then I twisted the pipe with hands first then pipe wrench to attach and stabilize it. This was all a bit tricky, because I couldn’t stand on the dock since it was too tippy and my weight ruined the geometry, and standing in the canoe meant everything dock362910.jpgI did with both hands pushed me away from the work site. Eventually I managed to get it all done though.

After all that work Franco and I enjoyed our after supper 2 mile walk again. I carried my backpack with 50# of sand to help me condition for my upcoming Grand Canyon hike in October, and Franco carried his stick, which he asked me to throw for him at intervals. We made a pretty good team tonight. I had plenty of energy and so did he.

After we got back from our hike, I did the usual of shedding the pack (ahhh!) taking off my hiking boots, and closing up the greenhouse. dock462910.jpg I had my new camera along that just came in today’s mail, so I used it to take the last picture of the dock with the canoe tied up next to it. I have to admit it looks pretty good.

Disaster!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Today was our in-town day, and a fine one it was. We took the truck because I needed to get a bottle of oxygen for my torches. We went to the Suomi Restaurant which seems to be out habit the last several times. Then I dropped Alice off and did the errands. I picked her up at about noon, and drove to the lumber company to get a sheet of plywood for the camper project, and then home. We did stop and get 3 more quarts of strawberries on the way home to give to our neighbors the Krumms.

After unloading we had some lunch and then I took a nap. When I got up I started back in on the dock project. I needed to drill about 13 3/8″ holes in each auger pipe. These go on the end of the dock and help hold the thing up (along with the floats under the dock.) I got the holes drilled, hauled the pipes out to the pond along with the tools and fittings I needed, and then tried to slip the pipes in their carriers. I started with the bottom one, and got it part way, but needed to lift the whole thing up to get it the rest of the way through. If that step had worked, I’d be able to report a completed dock here. But no! I turned my back to get something to prop it all up and the thing flipped over and tore out 2 pretty substantial lag bolts in the process. Disaster! So we put it away and had some supper. Tomorrow is another day. I already have plans how to fix it and make it stronger. And I think I’ll ask for help holding the thing up when I insert the pipes tomorrow.

In other news, I called my neighbor; the one who borrowed our tipi so his son and his family could sleep out in it while they were visiting. I learned the visit went great, and that the novelty of sleeping in a tipi lasted the whole three nights they were here. We plan to leave it up to air out completely, and will then go over and take it down until the next time. If you haven’t already done so, you can look at a slideshow of us putting the tipi up by scrolling down and clicking on the appropriate link.

Dock Progress

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

The hard part of the newdock2010.jpg dock installation is over thanks to some help from Alice. Since the front pond, where this dock is now installed, fluctuates its level each summer, I had to put the near shore end of it in a couple of feet of water. This dock rests on a cradle made of pipe. Yesterday’s blog entry showed how I made the driving points for the vertical pipes. The horizontal pipe slips over the verticals and tightens up with set screws. The help I needed was to have some eyeballs on shore to tell me where to put the vertical pipes. I couldn’t see whether they were straight while working in the water. Working together we got it right after two tries.

Next I have to drill some holes in the pipes that will hold up the far end of the dock. I’ll put some pins through these holes and adjust the height as the pond level goes down. We’ve had such nice rain this summer that the pond is pretty much at its top level.

I also worked on some paperwork for the environmental group I volunteer for. I’m the treasurer, and also write the newsletter and maintain the membership list. Here is a picture of my work area:folkpaperwork610.jpg I worked on this month’s donations and the mailing of thank-yous for donors. We also send a very nice shopping bag with our name on it to all new members.

Tomorrow is our weekly trip to town to run errands. I’ll be dropping Alice off so she can get some work done, and then I’ll run the errands, and pick her up when I’m done… usually mid day.

Dock and Berries

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Strawberry season is upon us. We’ve had about a week of beautiful berries. Yesterday we used them all up, so today we went on a quest for some more. We’re buying local, especially after watching “Food, Inc.” the other night. I’m a lifelong vegetarian, so the images of how we treat our “meat animals” was hard to watch in the first place, but even given that, it seems we’re on an insane path with our food. One fellow suggested the department of agriculture set forth a goal with our food production that we’ll have fewer people in the hospital next year compared to this year. What would change if that became the goal? It is a strange world we live in when a goal like that seems so radical and unlikely.

Anyway, we drove to L’anse first to get some paperwork signed for a project I’m working on for FOLK. Our drive around L’anse and Baraga on the way home bore no fruit 🙂 So we decided to drive to Nisula and get our berries at the Hulkunen farm. Since Prickett Lake was right on the way, we decided to make the short detour to look at our old friend. I had heard the hydro part of Prickett was down, so wondered if the lake was down also, but it was up to its usual level. Back in the car and on to Nisula to be greeted by the sign that said the berries were sold out for the day. We stopped anyway and chatted a bit, then headed home. Somewhat wiser, we called the only other place we knew about, and luckily they had berries and agreed to hold 6 quarts for us.

Supper tonight had several local components. We had greens from our garden, asparagus from our friends the Krumm’s garden, and strawberries from down the road.
Alice preparing local food

During the day I was working on the pipe supports for the new dock that will go in the front pond. I’ll need to drive the pipes into the mud in the bottom of the pond, so needed to fashion a point for the pipes. I decided to slice a triangle out of a small section of pipe, and then pound the result together to make the point. I used the acetylene torches for the first one, and it worked pretty well. Unfortunately I ran out of oxygen just as I was finishing it, so the torches were down. For the second one, I used my metal cutting band saw to cut out the triangle. It was a bit slower, but the results were as good if not better:
Homemade point for dock pipe. We’ll see hopefully tomorrow if the metal work I did will work or not. Hopefully some pictures of the new dock installed will be forthcoming.

Nice Rain, but still had to water

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Today was cloudy with intermittent rain all afternoon. The outside garden is not requiring any watering at all, which is different for us during the normal dry month of June. The inside (greenhouse) garden is another story. I’ve often thought it would be neat to have a greenhouse with a retractable roof similar to those in sports stadiums. That way you could close things up at night or on cool days to keep the p6252716.JPGheat in, but on the rainy days open up the roof and let the rain pour in. If such a greenhouse exists, I’m sure it is outside our price range, so we’ll continue watering.

The greenhouse tomatoes are doing very well this year. We planted several Brandywine plants this year, which is a new variety for us. We’ve been told they taste very good, and that is enough for us to want to try them. For the past several years we’ve gotten enough tomatoes to freeze and some to dry as well. These go well in our salads such that we seldom purchase tomatoes from the produce section of the grocery anymore.

I hope to launch the new dock in the front pond soon. Its job will be to give me a platform for dipping water from the pond to water in the greenhouse. I’m short some pipe, so will have to make a trip to the hardware for another chunk. It will be nice to stop eroding the side of the hill that I walk every other day to dip my water buckets.

Town Day

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Today we drove into town for our usual in-town-to-do-errands day. Franco was in his kennel, which I kind of hated to do because the deer and horse flies are getting bad. They seem to bother him, but he makes them pay. I’ve seen him catch several of them and chew and swallow them with a so-there look on his face.

First we dropped the car off to get the broken passenger side mirror fixed. Then to the Suomi Restaurant for breakfast and a good visit. I called Auto Pro from the breakfast table on the off chance they were done with the repair, and they were. So I drove Alice back up there and simplified the end of the day for her (otherwise the guys from Auto Pro would have had to drive down and pick her up.)

Once we went our separate ways, I did my errands, then swung around to Charlie Eshbach’s place to pick up some cedar lumber for the Estivant Pines. I loaded it up on the pickup, and went inside to find my red flag to tag the overhanging boards, only to find I’d left it home. So I improvised and tied one of my red shopping bags on. It worked great.

Once home I let Franco out and unloaded everything. It took a long while to get everything organized. After that I went to work on a FOLK project, which kept me going for most of the rest of the day. I felt like I was back at MTU, except minus the paycheck.

Franco and I did our after dinner walk. It started to rain just before we left, so I traded my sweatshirt for my rain jacket. By the 1 mile walk, we were both wet and ready to bag the last mile. It is still raining a nice gentle soaker as I write this.

Tomorrow I head up for the pines early. I’m taking Bill Leonard along. Bill in the new go-to guy for the MNA sanctuaries in the Western UP, replacing Charlie Eshbach. He asked me to show him the ropes in the Estivant Pines, and I figured there would be no better way than to have him help me carry lumber.

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

The Tipi

Some pictures of the tipi raising are HERE.

Tipi

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Today we put up our Nomadics Indian Tipi