Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflections of "Old Dave's Garden" blog

October 2009 "Old Dave's Garden" was born.  It's been just over two years that this blog has recorded the some what strange and entertaining antics of Old Dave in his garden.  My goodness, who would have thought anyone would follow such a blog but at present there are 27 followers.  This week the total page views rolled over the 7,000 mark.  I am indeed humbled.  My very first comment received brought a surprised look on my face that anyone should not only read the post but feel inspired to leave a comment.  It has been a refreshing journey that has brought sadness, joy, inspiration, compassion, challenge,  and many more things of character building.  Many thanks to those of you who read and comment here on this blog.

January and February were spent in the basement working on a food storage area.  The plans were aggressive and the project didn't quite get completed but January of 2012 the project will continue.

In March Spring sprung and tulips bloomed beside the daffodils announcing that Spring had arrived.  Cleanup from the winter began with great anticipation of gardening, flower planting, and continuing outside projects.  A trip to Las Vegas to visit family and to celebrate what was to be my Dad's 87th birthday and his final one.

April brought one last blast of winter with snow which didn't last long but brought much needed moisture.  Rains abounded through out the month as grass started it's growth for the year and made the ending of winter a joyous time.

As April rolled into May the poor man's living patio once again came to life as flowers were planted in hanging baskets and along the retaining wall.

June ended the school year which brought much joy to my grandson since he was to leave to visit his Dad in California on July 4th for an entire month.  The rabbits were foiled by covering the lettuce with a screen and the first salad harvest was eaten with lip smacking enjoyment.

July brought the hottest month of the year to us and many 100+ days with no rain were endured.  Gardens suffered but produced the first tomato from the garden.  The automated gravity feed watering system worked flawlessly and most likely saved the garden from burning up.  While my grandson was absent visiting his Dad a free standing fort/tree house was erected in the back yard and a swing set from the neighbors refurbished and anchored in the ground.  It was a busy month.

In August some garden cleanup along with much yard work was done.  What started as a simple faucet replacement of a couple hours ended by a total replacement of the sink and all plumbing to the drain pipe in the wall taking about a week.  It was quite a project.  Returning to school saddened my grandson for a while but then it was good to see all his classmates again.

September began the process to buy Terra Nova Gardens from the foreclosed property website.  A fall garden was planted just before leaving on a fishing trip into the high country of Nevada.  The limit for Trout was brought back to enjoy during the winter months.  The fall garden, "Mesclun lettuce", started producing.

October inspired the Mesclun to prolifically produce and a salad a day was the norm.  Yard cleanup, dismantling the gravity feed garden watering system, and continuing to work on the back yard patio kept me busy. 

A very warm November kept the fall garden producing and allowed more work on the backyard patio.  Many hours were spent at Terra Nova Gardens scouting, dreaming, planning, discovering, and even some clearing of the land.

December gave me a great Christmas present.  The official deed to Terra Nova Gardens came in the mail just before Christmas.  Now I actually own the land and serious planning has begun.

Overall it's been a grand year and I'm so excited about the New Year of 2012.  How much can an old guy with stand.

So I leave you with this old Irish blessing and pray your New Year is the best.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Terra Nova Gardens are now Mine
Good news. Terra Nova Gardens are now mine.  My imagination is running wild and dreams are way bigger than I could possibly accomplish any where other than in my mind.  Garden planning has filled up my spare time.  Yeah, like who has any spare time. 

I really thought that the closing procedure would have signing involved but it didn't.  I just handed over the final payment and they gave me a receipt and we were done.  It was quite uneventful and was nothing like closing for a house.

After paying the payment, now .... in three to four weeks the deed will arrive in the mail. (Big sigh)  It's a good thing that I'm a patient man.  I just had to visit Terra Nova Gardens after knowing that the property is really mine.  I sat on the section of tree that has been down for years and dreamed about how it would look in a couple years.  This section of tree will have to be chainsawed up and removed as it's right in the middle of the garden area.

It's difficult to know where to start.  I expect the cleanup will take a few days before I can stake out the beds.  Because of evidence of den type critters I feel the need for a fence.  The flowers around the outside of the fence will be a first line of defence.  My plan is to eventually have a fence that is 64 inches high with an additional six inches sort of under the ground.  My thought is not bury the chicken wire fence straight down in the ground but to flare it out semi horizontal under the flowers.  That way if digging critters do get through the flowers their claws will catch on the wire when they try to dig.  I'm thinking that it will discourage their digging.  What do you think?

This is the total plan for the first 60 feet of Terra Nova Gardens.  It's the clearest in that it doesn't have many trees.  It just has weeds, vines, and brush.  This is a three year plan if I don't have too many distractions.  It will put 35 beds into production.

This is a great picture to show height of the bank in the back of the property.  The first 60 feet straight back toward the bank is fairly level.  If you click on the picture to get the full size, it gives a getter look at the bank.  This bank is on the west side of the property and will be a great asset to keep high wind bad weather from damaging the garden.

This will most likely be the last post about Terra Nova Gardens until Spring.  Now the focus will be on inside projects that are down in the deep dark food storage area of the basement.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Terra Nova Gardens Post
Yes this is yet another post on the Terra Nova Gardens.  I can't help it.  My imagination is running wild with anticipation.  Can you tell?  These two properties together would be almost an acre of land which would net, after a major clean up, about half to two thirds of an acre to turn into gardens.  That would be more than enough to keep me  busy and out of trouble for many years to come.  Don't you think? 
You may have to click on the picture to get a bigger view of the properties.  As you can see there are many trees.  The left road in the picture has a major bank that drops down to the flat part of the property.  I'd say that the usable part of the property is about half.  The rest on the left of the property will be left in trees to hold the bank together.  The bank is about a 45 degree climb which may require a stairway in the future project plans.

Here's a little higher up view of where the property is situated.  You can see that it's surrounded by city but yet kind of isolated from the city.  The property lines in this picture are both properties.  The one that's mine and the one that will be in foreclosure soon.

Here's a closer look at the properties.  I have marked where the turkeys were and if you click on the picture you can get a bigger picture.  You can see why I'm concerned about them crossing the road.  It's a major thoroughfare and I wouldn't want anything to happen to Tom and his girls.

It's difficult to decide what to do first when spring comes.  Now I have to rethink my backyard gardens as well.  That will have to be more immediate vegetable gardening fresh for the table.   The storage and give away will come from Terra Nova Gardens.

I know that some of you have exciting plans as well or at least plans that will require lots of work.  I better start going back to the gym this winter to strengthen up for the coming year.

Well that's all for now.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Terra Nova Gardens
The new property (Terra Nova Gardens) paperwork is moving along.  We are now into the final phase of the process.  The owner has not responded to the pay up notice so now the title is being cleared of all the liens and back taxes.  This should take about another 30 days.  It's almost 100% assured that I'll have the deed by January or maybe by Christmas.  What a present that would be.

Bradley and I drove out to the property today because I had made some discoveries a couple days ago and I wanted to get some pictures of what I had found.

I discovered that a flock of wild turkeys had taken up residence on the property just north of mine.  There is one magnificent tom and about 20 hens.  I walked over all the properties all the way to the fence.  Most of the rest of the properties belongs to the city. This property with the Turkeys on it will come into foreclosure in January and would be a great addition to the one I have.  It's cheaper, bigger, and would require a lot more work to clean up.  Two major cottonwood trees would have to come down to open up the property to allow gardens to get sunshine.  In addition to the two cottonwoods there are many downed trees and four inch sapling trees to clean out.  It would, however, made the property a tad short of one acre of land.  What you see in the above picture would be left in woods as it begins the steep climb to the top of a bank which needs to have the trees to prevent erosion.

Here's a little better picture of Tom and his harem.  He is a magnificent bird.  For a fleeting moment I thought, "Thanks giving dinner", but then the thought left.

Another shot of this beautiful bird.  They had actually climbed up the steep bank and were now across the busy highway in a small patch of  brush cover.  Cars were stopping along the road just look at the flock of wild turkeys in the midst of the city.  Now I expect I'll have to find out what to plant in my gardens to feed the flock.  I wouldn't mind having them hang around.  Hopefully, they will become accustomed to me being there and working the gardens and not cross the busy road any more.

Here's Bradley, my grandson, standing about half way up the bank.  He tried to climb to the top but it got too steep and he didn't make all the way up to the top.  His first visit to Terra Nova Gardens in his words, "Grandpa this is awesome but it looks like a tornado hit this place."  Don't you just love the uninhibited truth that kids speak?

The second discovery was this very wet spot.  I found several other bigger spots like this one including one that flowed water under the road through a culvert.  That one belongs to the city and I seriously doubt that I could buy that property.  Since we have not had any rain for about three and a half weeks, I suspect these spots are natural springs.  I may have to rethink the water issue.  Most folks would think this is just an old mud hole but I on the other hand thought it was a remarkable find.  I just have to figure out a way to utilize it for watering Terra Nova Gardens.  I took samples of the water and soil to be tested by the county extensions service to see just what the issues, if any, there are.

As you can probably tell I am quite excited about the purchase of the property and hopefully but this time next year it will look quite different.

Have a great day.  What are your plans for gardening next year?
Last Garden Harvest and Working on the Patio

Hi everyone. Thanksgiving once again has passed us and for me it was a time for reflection on the past year and thinking about all the things that I have to be thankful that are in my life. Because of a recent event, I reflected much on how grateful I am to have had such wonderful parents. It's so sad that many kids of today's generation will not experience the love of parents as I have. The normal stuff such as food, clothes, shelter are other things that I am grateful to have. I can't ever remember going hungry unless I wanted to go hungry in my life. I've always had a car since I was 15 years old. I've been able to purchase and maintain a house since the early 70s. I have truly been a blessed man.

I am thankful for the health that I have because without health I could never be able to do what I feel is my calling in life, which is helping others in need. I am thankful for the family and friends that support me during the down times and rejoice with me during the good times. I am especially thankful for my blogger friends that I have acquired over the course of the last couple years. You are the best encouragers ever.

What are you thankful for?

The last of the harvest came on October 21st. The tomatoes were small compared to earlier in the year but with the weird weather they just kept getting smaller as the year progressed. The green peppers started out slow and really didn't start producing until the hot weather of July was over. Then they kicked in and produced prolifically until the cold weather killed the plants. This batch of green peppers now resides in the freezer to be consumed when the cold winds of winter are blowing outside.

Mesclun salad mix still surviving after several mid 20s night time temperatures. I am starting to like the tough rugged nature of this salad mix. Chuck informs me in one of my comments from the post about the Mesclun salad mix that a Mesclun salad goes for $10 in Chicago. I've eaten at least a $100 worth of salad and as you can see it hasn't put a dent in the plants. It appears that there are four different plants in this mix. I have no idea what their names are but here's a picture of the different plants.

Now you probably will be saying, "Hey I only see three salad leaves and one carrot." You would be correct. The fourth plant in the salad mix is the normal yellow leaf lettuce that I'm accustomed to seeing. Unfortunately there were only two plants and I ate them. The calendar says that the carrots should be ready but as you can see they are just a bit small. They are quite tasty though. The leaf on the left by the carrot just looks mean and tough doesn't it. It's the one that seems to be the bully of the mix and has taken over almost entirely. Ha, I suppose it's the one that has the most nutrition. I keep eating as much salad as I can until the cold temperture finally puts an end to the experiment. I would count the Mesclun Salad mix experiment a great success .... well that is after I finally got over the weed look of it. My family and friends couldn't believe that I would actually eat such a nasty looking thing. It just proves the old saying to not judge a book by the cover or in this case a plant by its looks.

Ok, let's move on to the backyard patio. I've been attempting to get as much done as I can before the extreme cold weather and snow set in. Some will remember the slow progress I made during the spring and summer months. It seems that things have a way of getting me side tracked. There has been a little bit of a set back in the progress but nothing that will keep it from being finished .... eventually. :0)

Two years ago a retaining wall was built for a friend of mine who was selling her house and needed some curb appeal. About 30 blocks were left over from that project and took up residence in my side yard. Being the conservative minded guy that I am (cheap), I thought it would be just the thing to use for the retaining wall of my backyard patio. So the first layer was dry fitted on the buried concrete block foundation. After the dry fit, the blocks were removed one at a time, the top of the foundation was cleaned with a wire brush, construction adhesive was applied, and the block was set in place. Twenty four blocks for the first layer were glued in place. A trip to Menard's was supposed to be to gather up about 25 more blocks to make another layer but instead it only brought disappointment when the blocks needed to match the others had been discontinued and the replacement blocks were not compatible. So I had to pull up the other glued down blocks and replace them with the new design. The old blocks will be used for the fire ring so it won't be a total loss.

So life goes on at the Urban Ranch. Things get built, progress is made, and all is well with my soul.

I would be interested in hearing about any projects that you have in progress.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where has Nebraska Dave been?

Well, folks it's with a sad heart I write this post today. Two weeks ago my sister called with a message that our Dad of 87, who fought the good fight against bladder cancer all summer was beginning to slowly deteriorate. The cancer was in remission but the chemo and radiation wore down his strength.  She suggested I come for a visit. He lives in Las Vegas and I live in Nebraska. My daughter and grandson decided to tag along to see their grandpop. Upon arrival we were told that he had taken a turn for the worse and was now in a semi comatose state. When we arrived at the Long Term Care facility, I immediately went to his room and talked to him. He opened up his eyes and looked at me intently for five minutes as I talked, then closed his eyes. It was to be the last conversation I had with him. Five days later he passed away peacefully.

Dad started his life in a small town in Nebraska and lived all his youth years on a farm. His school education was 9th grade but he just had a way of knowing how to fix things, build things, or come up with solutions for a problem. He was a self taught truck mechanic and had his own business for over 20 years. He retired at 55 and moved to Las Vegas where he and Mom worked as trailer park managers for many years. His attitude for positive living influenced all those that knew him and his humor kept all entertained. He was indeed my hero and a great Dad.

While in Las Vegas I took Bradley fishing at a small stocked city pond close to my Dad's long term care facility. We didn't catch any fish but he had a good time throwing out the plastic fish and reeling it back in. The weather was good most of the time but one day it did rain .... well, they call it rain. It got the street wet. They have a term there they call dry rain. That's when it actually rains but because the temperature is so hot it evaporates before it hits the ground. That happens during the summer hot months.

There's not been much activity with projects or gardening the last couple weeks. All that's left to do is to dig up the potatoes. The broccoli and carrots are not going to reach maturity but the Mesclun salad greens are still growing like weeds. (pun intended). I haven't heard anything from the new property yet but I expect to hear something any day now.

My daughter was in a car accident right before we left for Las Vegas. Someone cut across three lanes of traffic on the Interstate and then slowed way down. She was able to get slowed down but the car behind her didn't. The car hit her so hard that neither the trunk nor the two back doors could be opened. It blew out the back window as well. It's a blessing that Bradley was home with me as he would have been in the back seat. Now we have to go car hunting. I'd rather take a whipping in the town square than buy or sell a car or a house. I'm just not good at wheeling and dealing. It's a good thing that I have a friend in the car business. Oh, yeah, Lydia had a few bumps and bruises but she was OK.

Remember the storage room project of last winter? Well, it's about time to start working on that project again. Maybe, just maybe I can get it finished this year. :0) I still have hopes of working on the backyard patio project but the weather is starting to get cold with the threat of freezing rain and snow. So it's time to move the working projects inside for the winter. Does anyone else have winter projects planned? It's only about a month until the first of the seed catalogs come out. That's always a joyous time for me. How about anyone else? Which seed catalogs do you like and order from?

I've been working on the GRIT garden planner program for the new Terra Nova Gardens property. Whoa, I can have a lot of garden beds there. The beds will be 4'X8' but without board or rock borders. They will be raised just by natural tillage. I will have four foot pathways between the beds. Each row of beds will be six deep so for every 32 feet I can have 18 beds. The area in the video that's flat is about 50 or 60 feet wide. I can have about 35 to 40 beds without too much hard work. I want to work on some other things before get into gardening on that scale. A ten by ten patio in the back of the beds with a simple fire ring will be one of the first things on the list to be able to burn the brush and weeds.

Then there is the water issue. I see another gravity feed system in the planning stage. I have a source to acquire 55 gallon barrels that could be ganged together and store as much water as I wanted to store. I would put the barrels as high on the back bank of the property as I dare without being visible from the street. That would give me at least a 45 to 50 foot drop to the gardens. That should give me a good amount of hose pressure just from gravity. Water for the garden would have to be hauled. I figure my little Ford Ranger (Ranger Rick) would be able to haul 110 gallons at a time. At 8.34 pounds per gallon for water it would be about 917.4 pounds which is about the load limit for Ricky. If I pull off the road on the street above the bank, gravity would feed the water into the barrels for the garden watering.

Where would the water come from? I will be beefing up the rain water system from my house. The total roof area is 800 square feet and with a possible .62 gallon per square foot rain collection for every inch of rain, it would be a total of 496 gallons for every inch.

Whew, big plans with a lot of work. I expect this will be a work in progress for the rest of my life. What do you think? I haven't even thought about the fruit trees, berry bushes, or bee hives yet. My mind is spinning with the possibilities.

I really need to go now. I need a coffee break after thinking about all that work. Ya'll have a great fall in the yard and garden.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New Post on Old Dave's Adventures
Click here to see new post. 

Clean up the Yard and Garden

The yard cleanup has begun.  One of my trees and the two neighbors with like trees has dropped all their leaves.  However the neighbors with Maple trees have another two to three weeks before they begin their leaf drop.  So this is only round one of the yard leaf cleanup.  I will have to do another round of cleanup before winter sets in.  This picture is the poor man's leaf chipper.  It looks a lot like a lawn mower.  Doesn't it?  Yeah, old Chomper the lawn mower comes through again.  His 30 weight oil is a little stiff in the cooler weather but once he gets going, he can crunch leaves with the best of them.

The first round of leaves go straight to the compost pile.  I have a limited space for composting so the second round of leaves with have to go to the yard waste and let the city compost it.  Next year I should have more space to garden and more space to compost.  Here's the picture of the Urban Ranch compost pile.  Next spring it will be much smaller.  I will peel off the layer that I just added this fall, scoop out last year's layer and use it for the garden, and pile this years layer back on the compost pile.  I just don't like the method to always be turning the pile to keep the composting active.  My two year method works for me and I'm sticking to it.

I pulled out the rest of the garden as it was definitely spent.  There were two grocery bags of green peppers and a few little teeny tiny tomatoes.  All the garden debris went into the yard waste bags to be set out for the city to take away.  I don't want to take any chances of disease or bug eggs make it to next year's garden.  After all that work, I just have to take a break and enjoy the great fall day.  The temperatures have fallen into the upper 20s a time or two but the hanging baskets have not been bitten my old Jack Frost.  The Impatiens have really put on a display this summer.  The side bar Begonias have done a great job as well but they are starting to show a little wear and tear around the edges.  It's going to be hard to beat this display next year.

The last harvest except for the potatoes was a big one from the green peppers and not so much from the tomatoes.  Now if I can only come up with some thing to do with all these peppers.  Any suggestions?  Anyone?  Anyone?

I have dismantled the automated watering system and drained all the hoses.  The hoses are stored in a big barrel and the timers go inside for the winter to keep them from freezing.  The tanks and barrels have been all been drained for the winter.  I'm kind of sad to see things winding down for this year but I'm already planning bigger and better things for next year.

I hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Time to Eat the Mesclun Lettuce and Work on the Patio

I guess it's about time to sample the Mesclun historic cuisine of chef Platt of the famous Q's restaurant in Colorado.  I've been told not to let it get too big and cut it don't pull it.  OK, if you don't hear from me for awhile, call poison control cause I accidentally ate a weed and not the lettuce cuisine. Ack!!  OK, so I exaggerate a little but I did see a bug in the lettuce patch the other day. It was one of those big fat leaf munching worms.  Ha, it was on a bind weed.  Even the worms don't like this stuff.

The carrots are a little sparse but seem to be coming along.  If the weather holds, I just might get a carrot.  Out of the 80 carrot seeds planted, about a dozen give or take a couple have sprouted into plants.  I suppose I really should give them some water as the promised rain of the past few days turned out to be only .3 of an inch.  So for the last month and a half we have received a total of just a bit more than one inch.  Not a lot for six weeks.  Normal rain fall for September is 2 inches and October is 2.5 inches.  We are well below that.

I've been working on a patio in the backyard that will end up being a fire pit patio when completed.  It's been an off and on thing when more important things aren't happening so it's made slow progress this summer.  I have the hardest part completed which is the concrete block foundation for a retaining wall which surround 3/4 of the patio.  It will be a real asset to the back yard.  You can kind of get an idea of how it's going to look when completed.  I've set the first row of retaining wall blocks on the foundation.  The entry to the patio will be at the bottom of this picture and be about five or six blocks wide.  The actual patio level will be about the level of the front row of smooth flat blocks.  Yeah, I know the yard is getting a little scruffy again.

I have one last parting shot of the Poor Man's Patio for this summer.  With the first frost date of October 15th fast approaching it could come at any time now.  This has been the most successful attempt to beautify the trellis so far.  It's going to be hard to beat this year.  A daily automatic watering and a shot of Miracle Grow every three weeks probably did wonders to help things stay blooming.

I hope you all are having a great fall.  The leaves are just about all off the trees and now it's time to round them up and get them in the compost corral.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Returning to the Garden
Before leaving on the fishing trip I scoured the city to find seeds for a fall garden.  One lesson learned from that experience is to buy the seeds in the spring because there are no seeds for fall gardens.  So finally I found one lonely seed rack at the local nursery with very limited seeds.  I purchased the last lettuce, carrot, and broccoli seed packs on the rack.  Carefully, I set out to plant the seeds as indicated on the packages.  I lightly watered them for the next couple days and then left to head out to fish in Northern Nevada.

Upon my return, much to my surprise this is what the planted lettuce looked like.  It really looks like a patch of weeds to me.  It was the ugliest lettuce I've ever seen.  I dug out the seed pack to see exactly what in the world I had planted in my garden.  Here's what it said.  Q's Special Medley chosen by Chef John Platt and exhibits flavors, textures and colors as varied as the acclaimed cuisine of Q's restaurant in the historic Boulderado Hotel.  Imagine that?  I had planted acclaimed cuisine of Q's restaurant. .... It still looks like weeks to me.  I guess that I'll let the mess grow a little more and maybe even sample some of the foliage to see what Chef John Platt is serving to his customers in the historic Boulderado Hotel.  Sorry, it still looks like weeds to me.  How about you?

Next up is the broccoli.  Only three out of the eight planted germinated.  That's not a very good germination rate.  I hope the broccoli can endure some cold weather because in just a few short days the October 15th first freeze date will be arriving.  With temperatures in the middle to lower 40s at night it just might happen any day now.

The carrots were even worse.  Out of the 80 some planted, I could only find four plants growing.  I guess that I've got a lot to learn about fall gardening.  It's been a pretty pathetic experience this year.

The tomatoes are definitely on their last leg and will be ripped out before the week's end.  It was a strange year for tomatoes.  However, the green peppers sprang to life after the long hot month of July was over.  I'm harvesting bags full of green peppers from the eight plants that did nothing until the end of July.  Gardening this year was a trying experience that caused me to learn a lot about the patience of growing plants.

The bid on the foreclosed property has been excepted and now the notice has to be sent to property owner to pay up or else.  If he does not respond, then the waiting period will be 60 days before we can move into the final stage of clearing the deed and making the final payment to actually own the property.  Patience patience patience.  I just might own a piece of property for a Christmas present if all goes well.

Now that the bid has been excepted I may start to clear out some of the weeds and foliage to help with the spring preparation.  If I don't end up with the property, then it will just be a good deed for the property owner.  What do you think?

I still have a backyard project to finish up before the snow flies.  The patio with fire pit has quite a bit to get finished.  I still need a few more foundation blocks to set then the work will go a little faster.  A small retaining wall and the main patio blocks have to be put in place.  I better get started.  Well, right after another cup of coffee. 

Enjoy the fall weather as often as you can because winter is on the way.  Farmer's Almanac says for my area that the temperatures for winter will be normal but the winter will be wet.  I guess I better make sure the snow blower is ready to throw snow as one inch of wet equates to 12 inches of winter snow.  The grandson will like that.

Oh, yeah, it's just about time to make that fall soup and start baking bread.  Have a great day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Fishing Trip

The fishing trip started from my home in Nebraska and went straight west on I-80 the entire length of Nebraska.  A stop in Wyoming to see the two grand kids in Green River and the path continued on through Utah.  It took me over a section of I-80 that I had never traveled before.  The above picture shows the land on the west side of Salt Lake City, Utah.  It's nothing but hard packed salt.  This goes on for at least a hundred miles or more.  It's absolutely worthless land to grow anything.  I'm not sure what it would be good for.

Almost as soon as the state line was crossed into Nevada the landscape changed to scraggly trees and sage brush.  What a change.  I still not sure that this land could grow anything of value and either cows or horses were seen grazing the brown turf.  So far I was not impressed with the soil of these two states.

Finally after two days of traveling, arrival at the the destination was accomplished.  Another guy brought the tent we would be using for the stay at the National park camp ground.  It wasn't much to look at but it did have hot showers and flush toilets.  That's always a plus for me.  As you can see there are no trees.  The 6500 feet of elevation must be above the tree line.  There's only that scruffy brush and brown tufts of grass to look at.  It was a good camp site for the three days we were there.

Every morning we awoke to this view of the lake.  The temperature would be cold enough to frost up the car windows so it was probably middle twenties.  The morning camp stove coffee tasted pretty good with the cold temperatures.  Perfect stillness with not a ripple on the lake.  About noon the wind would come up enough to make a few waves on the water but still not too bad.  By noon the warm clothing layers would start coming off as the temperature would climb up to about 75.

By day's end, we caught many fish.  This picture shows the afternoon catch for one day.  Since we could only have five fish each in possession at any given time, we only kept the biggest ones and ate fish every day.  By the third day we had eaten all the fish we could stand and just fished for fun with catch and release.  We decided to cut the trip short by one day and come back home.  It was a great trip and I'll definitely be doing it again next year.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Plumbing is finished and fall garden planted

As is with my tradition, flatbox furniture is just never designed right.  It's just too flimsy for me.  To beef up the back of this sink cabinet, special pieces of OSB board have been installed.  Much better for moving to the final resting place and for attaching to the wall. 

After a few more small issues the cabinet is finally in place with a new faucet and fully functioning plumbing for hopefully another 45 years.  Now that this project is completed I can concentrate on my real passion which is gardening.

At last look the lettuce is up and growing well.  I think I saw broccoli up but since I've never grown broccoli before, I'm not sure what a sprouting broccoli seed should look like.  No sign of a carrot showing itself yet.

This is the second video of the property in foreclosure that I've submitted a bid to buy.  You hear me getting more and more out of breath as I struggle through the tangled jungle to give you a picture of the interior of the property.  Until next time be safe in all gardening and construction projects.

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Ever Video of potential property

This is my first attempt to use the HD video camera that I won from a GRIT Magazine blogger.  She was allowed to give away two cameras for a Purina promotion.  It's been a learning curve for sure but I am amazed at just how easy it was to upload the video and how well it turned out.  I even edited a portion off the end of me bumbling around trying shut off the camera.  Hopefully I'll get better at this and have more footage later as improvements begin for this property.  This property is not much to look at right now but by this time next year it just might be in a little better condition.

I hope enjoy the tour and be sure to leave a comment about what you think.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Finally one for old Dave
At the end of day three score one for old Dave the very non professional plumber.  So now the score would be faucet repair 2 and old Dave 1.
Remember that old pipe that had become one with the pipe in the wall.  Delicate surgery was performed on the pipes to extract the inside from the wall drain pipe.  The tools used for this ever so delicate surgery were a sawsall, a hammer, and a chisel.  After one hour of surgery, the extraction was completed.  It was difficult surgery as the wall pipe could have broken at any time which would have caused cardiac arrest.  (No not the pipe silly.  On me.)  Thankfully that didn't happen.

Here you see a dry run for the plumbing just to see if all will be well.  Only one seal is missing and a run to the local hardware store with rectify that.  A little adjustment on the P-trap wall pipe may be needed but everything is starting to look good.  Score one for old Dave.

Those that have followed my blog for awhile will know how much I love to put flat box furniture together but there are times when it just can't be avoided.  This is one of those times.  So with gritted teeth and a sharp box cutter the assembly procedure begins.

Well there she is.  The completed cabinet.  Ain't she a beauty?  The last couple flat box projects the door and drawer pulls never have a long enough bolt to hold the knob on.  Another run to the hardware store with correct this issue .... again.

So I think I'll take a three day holiday and hit it again next week.  Well that is after I haul three sliding glass doors for a friend one day, take a trip to Melvern Iowa to help saw up damaged trees from the baseball size hail, and attend two birthday parties on the last day.  Well one of the parties is for me so I can't complain.  It's a great life if I just don't weaken.

Now where's that recliner.  I think I need a nap from just thinking about this weekend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This is why I love working on plumbing

The last rain here was a real gully washer. Much to my surprise the next morning as I toured the garden and checked the official bean can garden rain gauge, it was full. It had rained a good four inches over night. Being 40 feet above the river level and no where near any flash flood creeks, my garden and property were exempted from any damage. Not so for some other folks. Stories came out about sewers backing up into houses and basements collapsing due to ground water pressure. Low lying streets were under water for a time as the storm drains just couldn't handle the torrential rains of the night before.
The decision was to replace that old faucet in the 1/2 bath that has been causing grief. As you can see it hasn't been used for a while. It's time to put this sink back into use. The wrestling match between the old bathroom faucet and me ended with faucet - 1 Old Dave - 0. Of course it teased me with the deception that I was winning by making it just hard enough to test my demolition skills. After wrangling the rusty faucet lock nuts with 45 years of corrosion and finally using a sawsall to remove the old faucet, the false perception was that fight was going in my favor. Alas after the battle raged for two hours and a feeling accomplishment came over me, the final test with water pressure on showed the error of my thinking. Water pressure on and sink faucet off, all was good. Hot water on, all is still good. Cold water on, spray on the wall and water dripping on the floor. Cold water off. Spraying and dripping quit. Hmmmm, defective faucet. The thought crossed my mind that my idea about using a used faucet laying around to save a buck was a dumb idea turned out to be true.

Home improvement store here I come .... again. That's not all that bad because on the way home seeds from the local nursery will be purchased to plant the fall garden. The faucet display just happened to have a clearance sale on the exact faucet needed. Yahoo!! So once again it's time to drain down the water system, remove the some what used defective faucet and replace it with a nice new one. Hopefully this one will last another 45 years. Then it will definitely be some else's problem. Ok, so let's begin.

Yeah, it's a messy job but someone has to do it. I keep trying to get my soon to be seven year old Grandson to help but he's not having anything to do with bathroom repair. He keeps saying, "Grandpa, I'll have a job," which means he'll be hiring someone else to do that job.

At the end of day two it's the faucet repair 2 Old Dave 0. Ah, the joys of working on 45 year old plumbing. The new faucet was great and installed just fine but just a little drip started from the stopper in the sink. Well, OK, a dribble. So no problem a new stopper came with the new faucet. Yeah, however, removing the old stopper was not possible and well, I broke the sink trying all different methods trying to remove the rusted solid plumbing under the sink. As you can clearly see that 45 years ago all the plumbing was metal which corrodes and rusts together magnificently. Another issue is the pipe that goes into the wall. After decades of close contact the two became one. Now the rusted pipe has to be chiseled out of the galvanized pipe. Oh, boy, I'm looking forward to that.

As the sun sets on the Urban Ranch, the faucet is installed. Yeah I know the sink is still missing. Tomorrow is another wonderful day in the neighborhood and who knows maybe just maybe the 30 minute repair could be almost complete.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cleaning up the garden

Cleaning up seems to be the task at hand these days.  After letting the yard go in July, it's a never ending task to get it back to submission.  I've been wanting to cut down a bush near my garden beds but just have not gotten around to it.  Today is the day to tackle the task.  My old knees just won't take the bending down too much any more so I tackled this task sitting.

Nothing like a little nap after a hard job completed.  That's the beauty of not being on the clock.  Resting and naps are when ever needed.  You can see a few Sequoia weeds in the left background and the pile of cut bush on the right behind me.

When the day is finished, two garden beds are ready for fall planting and the bush is now bundles of yard waste waiting to be set out by the curb.  Now the task will be to dig out the bush stump and expand the garden by one raised bed.  After the yard cleanup it is really time to rest and recover for tomorrow is another day of cleanup and building.  The work is never done around an urban ranch.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bradley's Fort is complete
The major project for July is complete.  There was a bit of a stability issue but with both cable and wood bracing the issue was brought under complete control.  It was the talk of the neighborhood for a couple days but now it's just part of the normal circuit of playing in the neighborhood.  I'm sure there will be some additions and tweaking as time goes along.  The second wind and rain storm blew through last night with no harm to the Fort.  It's a full two weeks into the testing period and no problems what so ever.  I'm declaring it a successful project that's completed.

Now the yard?  That's another matter. Due to the focus on getting the fort finished before Badley's return, as you can see, the yard suffered from neglect.  After a month of neglect it looked pretty bad.  Mutant Ninja weeds sprouted up where my patio project was in progress and put on hold during the month of July.  I really thought about getting out Big Bertha my chainsaw but reconsidered it and resorted to the old fashioned hand pulling weeds method.

After two days of blood, sweat, and tears that produced 11 bags of yard waste, the wild habitat yard was brought under submission.

It's amazing what a little hard work can produce.  Now I need to attack the garden and the chain link fence line behind the garden.  It looks like I just might be growing prairie grass in the garden.  Then of course there's the side yard.  The alien plant from outer space is trying to make a come back.  Some hacking will be needed there as well.  How would I ever be able to keep up with acres if I had that much land?

One last parting shot of the neighborhood gang enjoying the fort.  Yesterday even one of the neighborhood girls joined the boys of the neighborhood and tagged around with them most of the day which was mostly spent in the backyard in the fort or on the swing set.

The garden seems to be winding down already.  The cucumbers are wilting and the leaves on the tomatoes are curling but the production is still there.  The green peppers never did come back after the initial six peppers.  The plants look good they just aren't producing any more peppers.  The onion and potato tops are drying up but that's supposed to happen about this time.  I'm thinking about planting a fall garden so I'll probably be pulling out the cukes and replanting the spring salad area . 

It seems there's always something to do around the Urban Ranch.