Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer cleaning & other good stuff

This week as been different kind of week.  When I took Bradley, my grandson, to Oklahoma city to meet his Dad for the summer visit, I came up close and personal with one of Kansas' finest deer.  Punched him/her dead center and then ran over the lifeless creature.  Fortunately my truck sits up high and nothing vital was broken.  Upon returning home and taking my truck to the body shop, I found out that because of a spring time hail storm they were still booked six weeks out.  My truck, lovingly named "Ricky", has finally been taken to the shop to have the damage repaired.  Six days without a truck to haul things is an eternity.  Once I got used to having a truck, it's now difficult to get along without one.

So this week has been dedicated to doing those things on the ToDo list that just never seem to get to the To Done list.

Why, you might ask, am I showing you a picture of the inside of my refrigerator.  Cleaning out the refrigerator has been on the ToDo list so long I forget when I ever put it on the list.  You will have to imagine what the inside of a neglected bachelor's refrigerator would look like because  I'm not showing you a picture of that but let's just say it wasn't pretty.  Ziploc clear plastic containers are a bachelor's friend.  When cleaning out the refrigerator, if the contents of a container can't be recognized, the whole thing is pitched in the trash.  In some cases there's a high possibility that a new life form has been cultured from weeks and months of incubation.  Things seem to get lost in the back of the refrigerator shelves and have babies.  Anyone else have that problem?
In the last post I showed the platform for development of the natural spring at Terra Nova Gardens.  I had two bridge supports for each side of the platform in place.  Two of these railroad ties will be placed between the bridge supports to make for a very solid support for the platform.  These ties were from Craig's list and for free.  My favorite price.  Much work is needed before the ties are placed and covered with a platform.  That's the last thing of the spring development.
One more panel to install and the south side will be completed.  Then the back side will be under construction and hopefully will be finished in due time before the sweet corn, what there is, ripens.  I will be needing two more fence panels but the fence company has a huge pile this time of the year.  I may get some extras just in case repairs are ever needed. 
Ha, yeah, as you can see the weeds are still kind of out of control.  I kind of gave up for a while this year and am working on the fencing.
This is a bottle of wine that I sealed up in 1973 when I made many bottles of wine.  It has survived three moves and was tucked away in the food storage room area before is was cleaned out.  When I found it I said I would open and enjoy the contents when the food storage room was finished.  It has been a year since that happened and so it was time to see if it had turned to vinegar or if it was well matured wine.  It was very clear and had a nice smell.  Yeah, you can tell I'm really not a connoisseur.  Any way it turned out to be gag me sweet but just this little glass made me a little light headed so I guess it has some alcohol content to it as well.  Yeah, I'm not a drinker either. I might have to use it in a cooler or something to cut down the sweet.  I'm just amazed it's still drinkable after 41 years.  I was only 25 when I bottled this thing up.  A lot of life has happened since then.
Of course other people's projects are in the mix as well.  Any time I get to use my chainsaw is a good day.  My cousin never fails to give me a good day.  This tree branch fell off a monster cottonwood tree that must measure at least five foot in diameter.  The branch fell and wedged up against a small tree.  The challenge here is that there is a nearly 45 degree bank under the branch that ends in about a 10 foot deep ravine with standing water.  Nothing like a good challenge.  Another cousin of mine chose to help with support and brush piling which is a big help and is just plain a safety factor.  It's never a good idea for an amateur to play with a chainsaw alone.  It took about 1 1/2 hours to cut and pile it up.  Then it was on to grass mowing.
Yes, the grass .... well the green stuff .... has been mowed and the edges have been trimmed.  I would hardly call what's growing there grass but it sure does look nice after it's mowed.  This is the newest property I bought and will be getting deed any day now.  The city accepted my bid over 60 days ago which is the required waiting period for the owners to respond before they give me a free and clear deed.  The two houses in the picture were for sale but have been purchased and will become rentals after complete renovation.  Three days were spent digging and chopping out tree stumps that were allowed to sprout up every year in the chain link fence.  It was three hot sweaty days but they will never sprout up again with the stump and roots removed.  My thought is eventually to have flowers all along that back fence and maybe an arch with climbing flowering vines over a bench to sit on in the back corner of the yard.  On August 5th, this property will be used for the National Night Out observance.  It will be quite a deal with the neighborhood from what I understand.  The street will be blocked off and all residents will be invited to a block party.  The first of many neighborhood events on my property I hope.
That's it for now.  I hope all is well with everyone and life is good.  Just another wonderful day in the neighborhood.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer is here

Sorry about the absence from my blogging.  I know it's been too long when I get comments asking where I've been.  It's been a busy couple of months.  Trying to mesh several schedules together and getting in some garden time has made for less time to blog.  Of course there are always other people's projects to keep life interesting as well.

I suppose I should give an update on the prostate issue first.  I've talked with my Urologist doctor and he explained all the options from just actively watching to surgery and a couple in between.  One of the options is called a seeded radiation of the prostate.  That's one I have decided to have done.  The process has started and several doctor visits must happen before the actual procedure.  This procedure involves implanting 50 to 100 radiation active seed pellets in the prostate with needles.  The side effect is possible swelling for a couple days and maybe some pain but mostly back to normal after a couple days.  There's hardly any down time.  That will take place on August 21st.

Friends, family, and doctors have been after me to get a colonoscopy for years .... well, ok, decades.  I finally decided to get one done.  It was every thing I expected with the clean out and more.  The doctor's words were "We found three super small polyps and removed them.  I've good to go for five years.  They provided me with pictures but I'm not putting up on here.  Yes, I can hear those sighs of relief.

OK, enough with that health stuff.  Really, I feel fine and don't have any qualms about the end result.  In my mind cancer is dead.  It just doesn't know it yet and life is good. 

This is what happens when June gets 14 inches of rain and the garden is so wet that hardly anything can be done in it.  About the only thing that was planted was tomatoes which are not going to produce any thing and eggplant that seems to be holding its own but still no blooms.  Every thing had to planted in mud and just never really did well.  This garden, Terra Nova Gardens, was hit with a late frost that killed every thing and then three weeks later after replanting got hit with a seven inch rain that flash flooded the entire garden and had a 100 plus wind with hail to enhance the storm.   After that continuing storms kept the ground saturated.  To add to the extreme weather, July brought 70 degree days and lower 50 degree nights.  That's really not the right temperatures for summer vegetable crops.  The tomatoes just sat there and didn't grow.  My Urban Ranch, where I live, the tomatoes got a whiff of the neighbor's yard service weed spray and didn't die but are very sickly and quit blooming so there's only a hand full of tomatoes for this year's enjoyment.  It's not the best year for gardening here.

Wouldn't you know in the middle of the June rains one of my water storage barrels sprung a leak.  The barrel was emptied with a five gallon bucket and dumped back into the big water tank.  Yeah, I know there I am again laying down on the job.  My arms weren't long enough to reach down inside the barrel so I assumed my favorite position and to loosen the pipe union on the inside of the barrel.  I actually found a PVC bulk head fitting that's specially made for putting a spigot or a pipe on a barrel.  It is found at most home improvement stores for a very reasonable price.  It doesn't get any better than that.

Since the corn got flooded and hailed out my next plan was to punch a hole through the deep mulch and fill the empty hole with my special potting mix and plant more corn.  The deep mulch of a foot deep last fall has now composted down to about four inches.  The corn is now about six inches high but it was a good thing I planted two kernels in each pocket because the germination was terrible.  Even at two kernels per pocket some didn't have any germination.  I planted two beds of green beans and out of about 70 pockets only a couple germinated or some critter ate them when they sprouted.  It just really not a good gardening year.

My neighbor always plants potatoes every year.  This is his potato patch.  They are really doing well this year despite the rain, wind, hail, and floods.  They are the star of the garden this year.  I have potatoes as well and mine are doing well but my plan was to plant them in four layers.  It was a good plan but my failure to buy enough seed and store the seed properly made the layering plan less than successful.  Next year will be a better year for sure.  The two layers that I planted are looking good and hopefully the potatoes will be as good as the plant looks.

 Of course I couldn't stay away from other people's projects.  This is a set of stairs that I've been working on over the summer.  These two steps were in sad shape when I started.  The big oval circle had a big chunk missing and the smaller circle had a hole into the step that had to be filled with gravel and Cement All.  Then the entire step was skimmed with a coating of Cement All Rapid dry cement mix.  It was the first time I'd ever done anything like that.  The steps had been covered with that ugly green carpet that you see on the right and was not too healthy for the concrete steps. 

The next other people's project is for my cousin and will be cutting up a fallen branch in her back yard.  It's kind of tricky as it's a hanging branch that has fallen across a ditch and is held up by the bank opposite the tree.  This will have to be analyzed and carefully taken apart piece by piece.  When I went on disaster trips we called these widow makers.  Lots of careful study and having the wisdom when needed will be given to this situation.

This is the beginning of the development of the natural spring at Terra Nova Gardens.  The pipe you see sticking up is a ten foot pipe and is sunk down about six feet below the water level.  It will eventually have a hand pump mounted on it to pump up water into five gallon buckets for garden use.  Of course this is just a rough cover to keep kids and animals from falling in the mucky spring and hurting themselves.  The railroad ties will be leveled and two more supports will be used to strengthen the platform.  Plank flooring from other disassembled pallets will cover these pallets to make the platform stronger.  Right now a five gallon bucket is used to dip water out of the spring to water the plants in the garden which I haven't had to do because of the wet weather.  Eventually this spring will provide water for an irrigation system for the entire garden.  There are brain storm plans for a 300 gallon holding tank with possible expansion and a 275 gallon elevated irrigation tank for garden watering.  This will be a many year project to complete.

Fence building continues.  The first fence panel for this year has been installed with another in the wing lying on the ground.  The tree and brush clutter on the right has been cleared in preparation for the last two fence panels for this side.  Then the only side left will be the back of the garden.  It's a 64 foot stretch with 8 fence panels.  Each post is concreted into the ground for added strength for the 100 MPH winds.  All the fence that has been installed came through the hurricane force wind just fine.  Over engineering does have its place in the garden I guess.

The EPA has not contacted me about any soil removal.  I saw evidence that they have been at Terra Nova Gardens taking samples this spring.  The first time it was a sample here and there.  The second time it was a sample every square foot.  I swear they had come back a third time to take more samples but still no contact.  I think they just can't find any contamination but they are determined to be thorough in their attempt to test the soil.  It's ok by me.

I should be getting my deed for the next property that I bought any day now.  This one will be more of a community property and only be beautified with flowers and maybe a bench.  The history as I've been able to find out from folks in the neighborhood was that the house burned down in the 1980s and the lot was abandoned.  The neighborhood sort of took over the care and used it for events like block parties and even a wedding.  It's a perfect spot for just that and I assured them that it would remain for them to use but I would take care of it and over time beautify it a little.  It's a really nice corner lot that's amazingly flat.  It measures 44 by 60 feet.  Not real big but good sized for $100, don't you think?

Well, that kind of brings you up to date.  I'm having a great summer even though the garden is pretty much resting for this year.  My presence in the farmer's markets will have to be more often for this year.

How's your summer been so far?