Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"The world breaks every one of us. And afterward many of us are stronger at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially." — Ernest Hemingway

Children begin by loving their parents;

As they grow older they judge them;

And sometimes, just sometimes,

they forgive them.

Oscar Wilde

Now I will get on with what is left of my life, and it will be a mystery to the future.

The End.

The Painted Bunting has returned to the feeder. Sherry called me into the studio at 10AM this morning. There on the feeder sat a male Painted Bunting. In 09' they showed up on the 27th of December. This is the earliest sighting since I began keeping track in 05.

Sun and clouds mixed today. We will have a High of 63F. We hit our Low last night of 28F. Tonight the Low will go only to 39F which is manageable. The Relative Humidity is 93% and our dew point is 30F. The Barometer continues to be steady at 30.14. The chance of rain is 0%, and our winds will be out of the North/Northwest at 5 to 10mph. The sunrise cam this morning at 6:58AM and will set this evening at 5:28PM.

Here is a 'Dragon Fruit". This exotic fruit is in the cactus family, and is very good to eat. We found this on a property near the Prevatts. We will go over tomorrow, and harvest it. I am really interested to see how it taste. I will also get some of the cuttings of the cactus, and start my own. I do not know how old they must be before they produce fruit, but we are going to try.
Here is a nice big Barred Owl that has been living in the Hammock behind the house. I hear him all of the time.
He is very large, and very tame. He was easily approached, and photographed. I am a little leery of seeing Owls. There is a notion that a visitation by an owl portends the death of a family member. An owl was sitting in the Pecan tree in front of the house in Abell on October 30th, 2010. That was the day my boy died. I noted the Owl in my posting that morning. It was not until two days later that I found out Blaine had died that morning, sometime very close to the time the Owl was sitting in the Pecan Tree, looking at me. I doubt I shall ever see an Owl again, that I don't think about that Owl, on that morning at the end of October 2010.

There is a thick frost on the plant covers this morning. I checked on the Papaya and Banana covers this morning and the heater had kicked off last night. I suppose it was pulling too many amps, which caused it to trip the breaker. We put a tremendous amount of effort into saving them, putting up the tent frame, wrapping the frame with plastic, covering the plants inside the tent, and installing heaters. All for naught. The next time this happens (next week) I am going to put the generator inside the enclosure. It will run on a tank of gas all night with no load. The exhaust is sufficient to keep the enclosure warm. It may not be necessary now, I will have to see when things warm up out there.

I got approval on the glass selection for the Bohannan project last night. I will jump on that this morning. The plant is to get that done before we head north, in order to get the money we need to travel. My poor wife is living like a refugee again. This business is feast or famine. There is no equilibrium. No matter what happens, I must continue working or we starve. There is no "Family" leave when you are self-employed.

Well, here we go. It is time to get started. I will write one or two 'Thank You' letters this morning, and then get outside, and get to work. First I must get the heaters out of the banana trees, and try to warm up the studio for Sherry.

We had a fairly productive day. We did glass. I set up the tent over my outside work area, as they are calling for rain tomorrow night. I am deep into my latest commission. I will try and finish at least one of the three panels over the next two days.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The frost is on the citrus trees this morning. Today we will have sunny skies with some clouds. The High will only reach 58F. Our low tonight could go into the high 20's. The relative humidity is 91% and the dew point is 28F. The Barometer is 30.12 and steady. Our winds are out of the North/Northwest at 5 to 10mph. Our sunrise came at 7AM sharp, and will set this evening at 5:29. We have very short days now. The frost this morning was heavy. I was up before dawn, and recorded a temperature just at freezing. I checked the bananas and Papayas (which are under cover) and they seemed to have made it. I checked the raised beds (also under cover) and it was quite warm in side the shelter. I moved the heaters from the "banana house" into the studio, so Sherry will be comfortable when she makes her way out to work.

The citrus are pretty hardy, so I should not see too very much in the way of damage. We will see. Tonight, it is said to get colder. Next week, they say it will be even worse. How can this be? In December? An early winter, so it might play itself out before the new year. I am just happy to be here in Florida, and not up north, where it is really cold.

I have been notified the calendars for the BRW Memorial Scholarship Fund have shipped, and will be here next week. I will have to order more, as my first printing is already spoken for . I want to look over the finished product, so I can see what I have to do to modify them if necessary. Than I only need information as to where to send the donations. I will work on this during the week.

Time to start foiling. I have some glass work to do today. I am trying to limit my activities outside, as it is so very cold out there.

Sherry was in studio all day and I stayed in the house foiling. I got a lot done. The wind was blowing, and the temperature never got up to 60F, so inside was the place to be . I am not working on my outside deck (my work area) in this weather. I will limit my activities to the indoors.

Palmdale is all over the local news as the cold spot in the state. We were in the Mid-20's, and will be the cold spot in the state again tonight. We went for a walk at 4PM (the warmest part of the day). Blue caught a dillo, but we made her turn the poor thing loose. It must have been freezing to death. We completed our walk, covered up the plants, put the heaters in the veggie green house and in with the Papaya's and Bananas. They are in their own structure, covered with tarps and plastic, to try to keep them from freezing.

We ate out of the freezer and watched the News. Palmdale is going to be cold. Temperatures are going into the mid-to-lower 20's. We will pray for the farmers, the ones who lose more than just pretty plants and dooryard citrus. We will pray the damage is minimal.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Although we will have abundant sunshine today, it is cold cold cold. This is no great news, as it is cold everywhere east of the Mississippi. The relative humidity is 81%. The dew point is 36F and the Barometer is 30.10 and raising. Our High today will only hit 64F and our Low tonight is 31F. Our sunrise came this morning at 6:59AM and will set tonight at 5:29PM. Winds are North/Northwest at 10 to 20 mph. The chance of rain is 0%.

The big news here in South Central Florida in general, and Palmdale in particular is the cold air mass moving in from the north. We will see severe crop damage from this one. Field crops that have been recently planted will certainly be burned. They are picking like crazy to get what is up (tomatoes mostly) in. There is citrus that needs picking, and some immature fruit that is still setting. Damages are predicted to be in the $ millions. Here is what the Ag Agent has to say:

A strong cold front will move into the region late today, ushering in cold air for most of this week. Late tonight and early Monday will certainly be much colder and blustery, but low temperatures will not yet be cold enough to support low wind chills. The center of the Arctic air mass will make steady progress southward on Monday, with highs mainly in the low and mid 60s. This sets up the first of two potential freezing nights.

Monday night/Tuesday AM:
Wind chills below critical values ALL areas as winds will remain NNW 5-10 mph overnight, except NNW 10-15 mph near both coasts.

Low temperatures expected for the following areas:

Glades/Hendry: 27-30. Three or more hours at or below freezing possible.
Western/Inland Palm Beach and Inland Collier: Near freezing 30-33 (Lake shadow will play a big role in Belle Glade/Pahokee areas).

We will continue to cover up our plants today. I detest this type of weather. It is so damaging.

We continued work on glass today. Todd and Nancy came by after noon to visit for a bit. They brought along little Gavin. He got his load of bananas. Nancy wanted to see the coop set-up and check out the 'green house' over the raised beds. It was a very pleasant visit. Todd returned one book on raised bed gardening, and I sent him off with three Mother Earth News mags from the 70's-80's.

We continued working on glass until about 4PM at which time we started covering up some of the many, many plants that are cold sensitive. The weather man (during the noon boradcast) stated this is the coldest December 6th since 1937. He also specifically mentioned 'Palmdale" as being the coldest part of the state! On top of all of this, he said next week will be worst than this week! Distressing.

I began notifying folks about the BRW Memorial Scholarship Fund 2011calendars. I have orders for six so far. I have only ordered 15, so I have almost filled my first printing.

Well, as soon as the wind lays down, I will finish up covering the remaining plants. Until, I will sit in the warm, and foil.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Today it was generally clear, with a High of 75F. The relative humidity is 60% and the Dew Point is 55F. The barometer fell to 29.97. Our winds were out of the North/Northwest at 10 to 15 MPH. The sunrise came at 6:58AM this morning, and set this evening at 5:29PM. A cold front came through this afternoon between 2PM and 4PM. We had some rain with it, but the temperatures did not drop that noticeably. However our temperature tonight is predicted to drop to a Low of 39F. The coming week is to bring temperatures in the mid-20'sF. This is extreme for South Central Florida, especially in early December.

Today we cleaned up around the yard, installed tempered glass panels on the top oif the coop (for waterproofing) and built a platform for the coop. I sprayed the citrus as the bugs are feeding up in front of the cold front. We covered up all of the really sensitive plants. We built frames around the banana's and papaya's. We covered up the coffee tree, the orchids, the staghorn ferns, the star fruit, the mango, the pomegranate, and many other sensitive plants. We did not cover the citrus, although by tomorrow night we will probably have to, if the predicted Low of 30F is correct. This is a grueling process. We have over 25 citrus trees, plus many other tropical fruit and nut trees. This is in addition to the many Palms, Bird of Paradise, Dutchman's Pipe, Lilly's and other tropical and sub tropical species sprinkled throughout the yard. It is impossible to keep up with. However, we have so much time and money invested in these plantings, it is hard to stand idly by and watch as they all succumb to the cold. Mostly, they die down, and in a year or so they come back, much reduced from their original size. So, we will see what Old Man Winter has in store for us.
At 3:00PMn we headed over to the Prevatts for cake and ice cream, in celebration of Ethan's Birthday. The Grandparents, and Great-Grandparents were there, as well as Bill and his brother Mathew. Nancy makes a beautiful cake. We all jumped in and it vanished in no time. Nancy made Jess & John's wedding cake, and my birthday cake last year. I love her cake, and told her I was going to get married again, just to get the cake. Maybe in January...

We got back home and checked on the chickens. I had built a platform and placed it at the entrance to the coop about 6-inches off of the ground. The Frizzy's are unable to jump/fly to the coop entrance (I elevated the coop, 24" off of the ground, so Pinky the Pig had a manger to sleep in on cold nights), so a mid-level step was necessary. We watched as the Frizzy's tried, to no avail, to jump the 6-inches to the mid level step (they have a vertical leap of about 1-inch). I quickly threw together a couple of ramps and temporarily placed them on the coop. They worked! The Frizzy's made it into the coop on their own. This is a milestone in the flock's development. It is important the birds go to roost at night, and can get in to the laying boxes during the day, should the need arise. The one thing we do not want is to have the birds lying their eggs in Pinky's manger. This would present two problems; 1) it would necessitate crawling into the manger to get the eggs, and 2) Pinky the Pig would soon develop a taste for eggs, neither of which is a good situation if you want to collect eggs. So the hens must be made to go to the coop, and their laying boxes to lay their eggs. This is not difficult with 'normal' chickens, but the Frizzy's are vertically impaired, and so get special dispensation. Tomorrow, we will build a more permanent ramp for the Frizzy's, and, once the flower bed is complete, be done with the chicken coop. At the rate of $2.00 / dozen (the going rate for fresh eggs in Palmdale) we will need to collect only 176 dozen eggs, or 352 eggs per chicken to make the coop begin to pay. At this rate, the coop, pen, chickens, and all of the furnishings should be paid for by the time I am 70 or so. At any rate, it is all done now, and we are very much enjoying the experience. I have built a number of coops. It is always a great diversion. It seems I have always been fortunate enough to build them with someone I love. In this case, my wonderful wife Sherry. We really had great fun with it, and now that it is done, it was well worth the effort. This is something I have wanted for some time, was hesitant to do it, but with Sherry's encouragement, decided to go forward with the project. We did not need it, could not afford it, and really did not have the time to attempt it, but here we are, and I am happy we did it. It was a great diversion at a time I really needed to be diverted.

Tomorrow, Glass Glass Glass. It is time I get back to the busy business of life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mostly clear today. Very cold this morning. We had our Low of 40F at 4AM. Our High today reached 71F. The relative humidity is 51% and the dew point is 39F. The Barometer is 30.08. Winds are West at 5 to 10 mph. Our sunrise came at 6:58AM and our sunset came at 5:29PM. The chance of rain is 0%.

We were up this morning at 4AM. We packed up and headed over to the east side to our show in West Palm Beach, and the PGA. We arrived at 7AM, right on time for set up. Except, we were one week early! Now that was funny! We laughed it off, and headed back across the bottom of Lake Okeechobee. We stopped in Clewiston to see the Bananna Hombre. Yes, he had no bananna's, but he did sell these two pitiful bunches for $6. They are excellent. He promised to have some next week, so we will be set with plenty of fresh bananna's for the Holidays.
We continued west, across SR80 into LaBelle, and went to the farmer's market. We picked up some fresh veggies, and headed back to Palmdale. We spent the rest of the day finishing up the coop/pen. Sherry painted the coop while I built Pinky the Pigs fence and gate. It really looks nice. Tomorrow we are going to plant a flower bed in front of the pen.
We are already getting eggs from the chickens. We got one blue egg yesterday, and two from the frizzies today.

We got the frame put up around the beds. It worked great last evening. We will see how it goes tomorrow night, when it is predicted to go into the low 30'sF.
We took our walk at the end of the day into the scrub and over to the homestead. The oranges are still not ready yet. We did get a nice Queen Palm. I think I will take the shovel over tomorrow, and get some plantings for the flower bed at the pen.

All in all, a good day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It is brutal here this morning. The temperatures went down to 35F last night, and I am worried for the vegetable sets getting burned. Some have not yet been hardened off, so damage is likely. I will have to replace some of the more delicate ones. My goal is to get the frame for my cover built today.

Weather wise, today we will have abundant sunshine with a 0% chance of rain. Our High today will be 71F and our Low of 35F. was already hit at 5AM this morning. The relative humidity is 75% and the dew point is 32 F. The Barometer is steady at 30.16, which is a pretty high "High Pressure". Our winds are from the North/Northeast at 10 to 15 mph.
Our Sunrise will come this morning at 6:57AM. Our Sunset will occur this evening at 5:28PM.

It is my intention to finish the coop today. I need to build a door to the coop, some laying boxes, and a gate for Pinky the Pigs' fenced off area. I have to get the last of the raised beds planted, and I have to build frames for them, so I can cover them on cold nights. We have another cold front moving in on Sunday, so I have to get this done, or continue to loose sets. Once this is done, I must pack for our trip to West Palm Beach tomorrow. Saturday will be a long day, but we need to try to sell some glass.

Next week I will start on the floor system for the "Todd Shed" I have coming. We can use the additional 200 cubic foot of storage space (3'X8'X8'). This will only take me a few hours.

Todd came by this afternoon. He lost quite a few plants this morning. He said he turned on the sprinkler at 4AM, but the damage had been done. Very discouraging, going to all that trouble, and loosing all in one night. He is dead set on doing a raised bed similar to ours, and building a cover.

Well, here it is, 7pm Friday evening, and we just finished a wonderful meal Sherry prepared of roast chicken, sweet potatoes and peas.

I got everything in the pen done, except the fencing necessary to segregate Pinky from the birds. Sherry got the raised beds filled, and we planted the center one in seeds (no black plastic mulch on this one) which included beets,carrots, spinach, kale, Swiss Chard, and Sherry's herbs.
The forth and last bed was planted in potatoes, broccoli, and red cabbage. After all of this was done, I built "A" frames, attached them to the beds, and stretched clear plastic over the whole works. This will keep the frost off, and we are getting frost. I received an email from the ag-extension agent this evening: Beginning Sunday, and through next Thursday night, we will be getting some very cold weather. I will leave the beds covered until this passes, and probably through the first of the year, as the plants need to be hardened off.

We had a nice walk at the end of the day, and stopped by Maureen's to collect some tangerines. She has a really good tree that is throwing quite a crop. I have to make it a point to get over to the Homestead next week, and collect those oranges before they start to drop in the cold.

I am happy to have the pen/coop completed. The chickens seem content. Pinky the Pig seems to be enjoying her new digs. The raised beds are planted and under cover.
The yard is cleaned up, and the platform for the Todd Shed is my next project.