Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yesterday was a productive day, and I was able to set up the tarp under the upper bridge and treat it with Thompson’s waterseal. I taped a screen into the greenhouse window so I can get the air but not the bugs. The upper windows open as the day warms and I leave the door open at points but I have found that the wasps and hornets quickly start making nests if I leave anything open too long. Now I can keep the window open till the late fall.
This morning the weather cooperated and I was able to cut the lawn and the orchard. Water is still flowing out of the 1000 gallon tank from the pipe where I cut it, but I sealed off the lower end so no small animals or insects could get in. I took out one of the PVC pipes in the garden and it wasn’t hard. I hope I can get Mike to help me with that cleanup. There is a lot to do. The asparagus are still coming up and I had another bunch this morning.
I am now grading papers at Mill Mountain, and after I finish the next one, I am heading off to Wolfe Creek to try my luck again.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I ate a half dozen spears of asparagus right out of the ground, the best way to eat them. I checked out my watering system for the orchard, and there are no leaks. The 250 gallon tank is about half full, and a few more days of rain should fill it. The fruit trees are doing very well with plenty of fruit on five of them. Even if we don’t get any new rain, the trees should be good for at least two weeks with the wet soil. I trimmed around the electric fence and the full current should keep the deer out. Another year or two will make the trees big enough to not worry about deer.
Back at the house, I heard a parula warbler but no scarlet tanagers yet. The greenhouse is doing well and I will continue eating spinach and tomorrow some of the first lettuce. The peas are about six inches tall.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Yesterday, I headed for Wolfe Creek to try my luck. My knee was a bit tender from all the stuff I did yesterday, but I was guided to a terrific pool by a friendly local and I didn’t have to move more than a few feet. I had a good fish on with a black wooly bugger but lost it, and then landed a small red-eye bass. My poppers brought no action but fishing them was a lot of fun.
Today, I went for a bike ride at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and that brought back a lot of good memories. My ex-partner and I used to ride here regularly and I hope she is keeping up her biking. It was something we both liked to do, and I hope to do a lot this summer on my cross-country trip. My knee felt fine after the ride so that bodes well for the summer.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Last Monday I got my second shot of Syn-Visc One, and to my surprise, it was not very painful at all. Now, the two valiums I took 45 minutes before surely helped calm me and Dr. Barranco said that because I didn’t clench up, the shot wasn’t bad. My leg hurt Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but now, on Friday, it is holding up well.
I took a hike up to the poplar grove to look for morels, and immediately found one, and then it took me twenty minutes to find a second. There were a lot of deer tracks up there and there are many turkeys around so I think they are getting most of the morels. When I got home I chopped up the two morels, cooked them in a little olive oil and then added three eggs and had a wonderful breakfast.
I was able to start treating the first bridge with the Thompson’s water seal, but it is still going to be tricky to get a tarp under it with just one person. Mike doesn’t seem interested right now so I will have to improvise.
I went fishing this afternoon on the North Fork for the second time this spring and I had some luck. I caught two bluegills and a chub on a wooly bugger. Nothing big but a lot of fun.
Last week I had to replace the propane refrigerator, which had broken down. I looked into buying another propane one but they are very expensive. To replace the 12 cubic foot one in the house would have cost over $3000 and I wasn’t using a quarter of it. I checked out how much electricity a compact electric would use (the 3.1 cubic foot one I purchased uses 337 kilowatts a year, so a little less than a kilowatt a day). Right now I am getting over 4 kilowatts a day from the sun and my use each day—including the refrigerator—is between 1.8 and 2.5. I should be fine until late November and by then, if I have to, I can shut the refrigerator off and keep my salad and stuff in a cooler (so it won’t freeze) in my truck. By mid-February my charts show that I am getting over 2 kilowatts so by March I am sure I will have enough electricity to put the refrigerator on again. The 3.1 cubic foot model only cost $200 so that is a real savings over a propane one, and I won’t be using any more propane for refrigeration, which should be a real savings.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15 and there is no prettier place than the hollow right now. Wild geraniums, foamflower, trilliums, toothwort, spring beauties, chickweed and rue anemone along my road. I heard a black-throated green warbler and the Louisiana water thrush has been back for a while. I expect the scarlet tanagers to be arriving very soon and then the indigo buntings.
I have finished treating the cabin with Thompson’s water seal. I had hoped for Mike to do the ladder parts, but since he was too busy, I did them myself. I had to put some shims under the step ladder and I hammered in a garden post when I was using the extension ladder, but overall it went well. I am a little shaky up there but I won’t have to treat the cabin for another five years.
A few years ago I bought a lilac bush and I thought I had lost it when the tree cutting company cut it down accidently. I hadn’t warned them while they were clearing around the house and I though the lilac wouldn’t make it. However, this spring I have my first lilac blossoms.
Last week, I rerouted the water to the hot tub since it isn’t in use. It wasn’t too hard, just a couple of PVC fittings and the job was done.
The greenhouse is working well. My beans are up, the tomatoes are doing fine, the strawberries have fruit on them. I have been eating fresh spinach and the lettuce is just about ready. I set up some strings for the peas to climb and they are doing quite well.
I will have to clean up the upper part of the big garden when Mike gets a chance to help me. The quicker I do it the better since weeds will grow in the mesh fencing and around the solar fence wires. The protected orchard part is doing terrific and each of the trees is loaded with blooms.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A great walk with Rob Solomon in Wildwood Park: Redbuds peak, dwarf larkspur, coltsfoot, small flowered crowfoot, large flowered trillium, violets, golden alexanders, marsh marigold, jack in the pulpit, spring beauties, wild ginger, Persian speedwell, ivy leaved speedwell, purple dead nettle, bitter cress, common chickweed, great chickweed, dutchman’s breeches, solomon’s seal, fairy bells, ground ivy, large flowered bellwort.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring is certainly in a rush. This past week we had a couple of very warm days and many wildflowers came out, with the redbuds leading the way. Along the hollow road are rue anemone, coltsfoot, wild geranium, and cut-leaved toothwort. Up the side hollow the bluebells are coming in very fast. Spring beauties and violets down by the gate and in the pasture, henbit, purple dead nettle, tower and field mustard, cress and speedwells. I am so lucky to live in my hollow, even after the long and difficult winter.

Friday, April 2, 2010

On Tuesday March 30, I took an easy hike down my road and to the orchard. I saw hepatica and cut-leaved toothwort, rue anemone and blood root, along with the remaining coltfoot. At the orchard, purple dead nettle was flowering. The walk was probably a mistake since my knee was throbbing the rest of the day. I called Barranco’s office and the paperwork for the Syn-Visc One is underway. I should be able to get the shot within two weeks.
My greenhouse experiment is proceeding well. I ate a few leaves of spinach and the reseeded lettuce and peas are doing well. I also planted two Early Girl tomato plants and I’ll see what they do. I have until July 9th (which I leave for the West coast) so I can probably fit a few more things in.
On Thursday, I planted some bush beans and the left over strawberries are growing very fast, lots of blossoms so I should get at least a few berries.
As I was equalizing the solar batteries with the generator, I was able to get many of the cells up to 1270, so I think the batteries are fine for now. The sun should take over until the late fall.