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.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

At the moment, it is 39F in Palmdale! Ouch! and it is only December 2nd. It may be time to begin looking further South for a place to live. 39F is too cold for December. We normally do not get those temperatures until late in January or early February. We may be in for a cold one. We will have plenty of sunshine today, but it will only reach a High of 70F. We hit our Low of 39F this morning right at Sunrise (6:54am). Our relative humidity is 81% and our dew point is 34F. The Barometer is steady at 30.18. Our winds will come out of the North at 10 to 20 mph. Our Sunset will occur at 5:28PM.

Yesterday, we began the day with a trip over to Todd's to look at the fiberglass shed he has offered us. I measured it up, and we headed to Sebring to get materials. Once we arrived at the Lowes, and I started shopping, it became apparent I was not going to be able to build the coop I had envisioned. The costs were prohibitive. I settled instead on a floor package for Todd's fiberglass shed, and headed south. We made a stop at the Habitat for Humanity and Tractor Supply. We got what we needed to complete the pen, and get a good jump on the laying box (as opposed to a 'coop', which I will build next year). We arrived home, Sherry made Pressed Cuban Sandwiches for lunch, and we started in earnest on the raised beds and varmint proofing the pen. I completed all of the repairs to the kennel, got it in place and everything bolted together. I sprayed undercoating along the bottom rail, and dug a 6" trench all the way around the kennel. Once the trench was dug, and the kennel placed in it, I replaced the dirt, and got started on the wire roof covering. Sherry was working away on the raised beds. She got all of the pole bean starts, tomato starts, squash starts, onion sets, peas, Lima beans, Egg plant, and corn starts, all planted in two raised beds. After she finished, she started filling the two remaining beds. She is quite the worker she is. I got the wire cover on the top of the pen (again, with Sherry's help), and all of the wood blocking done. I have a few things to do on the final varmint proofing, and then I am ready to start the laying box.

Today, I started the day by running over to Todd's to pick up "Pinky the Pig" (Sherry's name, not mine. I was going more for something like Jimmy Dean, as in Sausage). Todd promised he would tell no one of the name. After some time trying, Todd finally roped the sow and held her fast while Ethan jumped into the pen, and captured Little Pinky (which happened to be the first sloat he could get his hands on).
It was quite an effort to get the old sow roped, as she had been lassoed before, and managed to avoid the process for the better part of a quarter of an hour.

The old girl is protecting her litter. She continually rushes the fence, trying to keep us from her little ones.
Here is Pinky the Pig in her new home. She went straight for the chicken feed. Sherry fed her up on Papaya, corn and pizza, as well as the laying mash Pinky got to before the chickens found it.
She went right to the fence and tried to run through it. Once she realized she had no hope of excape, she started rooting around in the pen.
Here is the Donkey we met while collecting our chickens and a rooster at the Gateway Farm, which was little more than a trailer, a corral, and a make shift chicken coop. I was lead to believe I would be able to get some straight run poultry. No chance. We got an Old English Game Hen and Rooster, and two Cochin's. This was $30.00. Normally, you would pay no more than $20.00.
As soon as we got home, Sherry left for the farm store in Lake Placid to purchase the three chickens we saw yesterday. She got all three for $24. This bunch consisted of a Polish, and two Frizzy's (a cock & a hen). A much better deal then we got from the "Gateway Farm".
Once intact, the mixed flock got along surprisingly well. Pinky the Pig ruled the roost, chasing all of the chickens away from the food. The frizzy's and the Polish went straight to scratching in the dirt, as they had been confined to cages for quite some time. The Cochin's and Game Hen were still nerve shattered, having come from a stressful and confined environment. Once they figure it out, they will come to realize they have hit the Poultry Lottery.
Pinky the Pig even went at The Blue Dog. Before it was over, I was scratching Pinky's ears and belly. These razorback's get domesticated quickly.
Two feet in the trough, Pinky dined the entire day.

Once settled in, I went straight to work on the coop/laying box. Todd gave me a wooden shelving unit that consisted of 14-1X12X8 pine boards. Along with the 2X4's I picked up at the Builder's supply this morning, it was pretty much a cinch to throw together the coop.

I dug four holes and installed the landscape ties, attaching them at the top to the pen roof rail I installed yesterday to hold the wire. This served three purposes, 1) stabilize the top rails, 2) fence posts for Pinky's Pen, and 3) corner posts for the coop. After the post were in and fastened, I started on the floor. I installed the frame two feet off of the ground. This will give Pinky the Pig and good covered area to sleep in, should she so choose. Once the floor was on, I went to work on the roof frame. I followed this with the back and side walls, the roof sheathing and half of the front. Night caught up with me, so I was unable to build the laying boxes or the wire door front. Sherry and I collected up the birds, placed them in the box with some bedding, and secured them in.

While all of my work was going on, Sherry was filling the last of the raised beds, as well as making an exceptional meal of Tangy Baked Chicken in Guava sauce with baked sweet potatoes and peas. Wow, what a meal.

All in all, a very productive day. Tomorrow, I'll finish up what is left, and get ready for our show on Saturday.

Yesterday, we began the day with a trip over to Todd's to look at the fiberglass shed he has offered us. I measured it up, and we headed to Sebring to get materials. Once we arrived at the Lowes, and I started shopping, it became apparent I was not going to be able to build the coop I had envisioned. The costs were prohibitive. I settled instead on a floor package for the fiberglass shed, and headed south. We made a stop at the Habitat for Humanity and Tractor Supply. We got what we needed to complete the pen, and get a really jump on the laying box (not coop now). We arrived home, Sherry made Pressed Cuban Sandwiches for lunch, and we started in earnest on the raised beds and coop/pen. I completed all of the repairs to the kennel, got it in place and everything bolted together. I sprayed undercoating along the bottom rail, and dug a 6" trench all the way around the kennel. Once the ditch was dug, and the kennel placed in it, I replaced the dirt, and got started on the wire roof covering. Sherry was working away on the raised beds. She got all of the pole bean starts, tomato starts, squash starts, onion sets, peas, lima beans, egg plant, and corn starts, all planted in two raised beds. After she finished, she started filling the two remaining beds. She is quite the worker she is. I got the fine cover on the top of the pen (again, with Sherry's help), and all of the wood blocking done. I have a few things to do on the final varmint proofing, and then I am ready to start the laying box.

Today, Sherry will continue on the last two raised beds, and I will go collect the chickens, and gather up the last of the materials necessary to complete the boxes. By the end of the day
we should be done, and ready to move on with some glass.
Today, and with luck, we will have some early morning showers, with an isolated thunderstorm arriving in the afternoon. It will be cooler as THE FRONT moves through. By tonight we will see a 20 degree drop in temperatures. Our High today will only reach 73F while our Low tonight will hit 40F. The relative humidity is 94% and the dew point is 63/ The barometer is steady at 30.04. Our sunrise will come in another hour and a half at 6:55am. Our sunset will occur this evening at 5:28pm. Our winds will be out of the Northwest at 5 to 10 mph. Directly over the front, we are told we will see winds to 25mph.

This Great Blue Heron has been hanging out in the creek. This is a very young bird.

This is an Angle Trumpeter Sherry planted last spring. It is one beautiful flower!

The Beds are in and being filled as time permits. Sherry planted two of the bed today, with starts we started on November 15th. The third bed will be completed tomorrow, and we will plant this one in cole crops and potatoes. While Sherry worked on the beds, I completed the pen. Tomorrow we get our piglet and our chickens.
This beautiful rainbow appeared on our way to Sebring this morning.
And here is Sherry's very first papaya! She has been trying for three years now to get fruit. This is the first, as all of the others fall prey to the coons or the cold. It was really very tasty, a cross between a melon and a peach. We hope for more soon! Sherry collected the seeds, as she thinks this strain is cold hardy.

I am up at 4:45am this morning, thanks in large part to a massive 'Charlie horse' in my calf that had me dancing around the bedroom, whimpering like a baby. Oh the pain! Fortunately, I could 'pound it out', which gave me some relief.

Two nights ago, we went to look at the new addition to our farming operation. The Shoats had escaped from the pen, and were running loose around the place. Todd said they liked to get out and eat the "a-kerns" (we have a great crop from the Oaks this season, and the acorns are everywhere in great numbers) and 'wall-er' in the creek mud (there is no water to speak of, as we have had no rain in a month or more). The sow is confined to the pen (a 16' square structure of heavy gauge wire with a kick board along the bottom which is designed to allow a toe-hold to 'jump out' should the hog come after you). Todd was explaining the construction of his pen when Bill L. showed up to ask Todd along on a hog hunt that evening. Bill L is a very large man who works for the local electrical co-op and lives on the outside of town. He and Todd are the same age, and are great friends. So there we are, examining the sow and watching the children chase the sloats around the yard. Todd comments on the fact that the sow pig is "mean as a snake". Bill made the observation that " can piss on their face... and they won't be so mean, seeing they got the smell of a Man on them...". Ethan ( who just celebrated his 12th Birthday), pipes up and says " don't work. I pissed on that sow a dozen times and she's still mean...". Bill, taken aback at being contradicted by a youngster, shot back "...I said Man piss. You ain't nothin' but a boy...". The exchange was interesting, if not humorous.

Well, I must get started on my coop this morning. It should be done by tomorrow, as I go to pick up the fowl. We hope the piglet will come tonight. I have much to do to prepare for the operation. I have learned over the years that the biggest mistake anyone can make with chickens and livestock is to 'put the cart before the horse' and not have the pens and shelters in place and ready to receive the birds/livestock. Varmints are a huge problem here, and building pens to protect against these pests is fundamental to successful animal husbandry.

Well, enough of this. It is time to get started with my day.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today we had some clouds with a High of 82F and a Low of 63F. The winds were light at 5 to 10mph out of the East/Southeast. The Relative Humidity is 88% and the dew point 66F. The barometer stands at 30.11 and is still holding. The sunrise came at 6:54am and it set this evening at 5:28pm. The weather is changing. We are due for a cold front to come through in the next day or two. Temperatures are predicted to drop on average 20 degrees, with winds blowing 20 to 25 mph! I am looking forward to the change.

I was up this morning at 5AM. I wrote Mary a Happy Birthday message on her Facebook:

"It was, it seems, a long time ago, when I stood in Georgetown Hospital, and watched as you came into the world. You were a beautiful sight to me. I was greatly gladdened to see you arrive safely. You can not imagine the worry we had, waiting for you to get here. Other than the soap bars in the toilet (which caused me to dig up the entire septic system) and pulling the hat tree over on top of you and breaking it into 20 different pieces (this was the Christmas of your third year), you were never ever any trouble to me. You have been a great kid Mary, and I am proud beyond belief of the woman you have become. I love you. I miss you. I still worry after you. I hope your day is a blessed one. I pray for you always, everyday, several times a day, for your safety and your happiness. I hope you can be happy, and I hope you have a Happy Birthday! I love you.......Daddy" .

Than I wrote her a Happy Birthday email, and I sent her a Happy Birthday text message. She is a great kid, and I hope she had a safe and Happy Birthday. I will call tonight, at around 9pm EST to see how her day went. I am hoping to catch her before she goes out for the evening.

Last night we found a Kennel for sale on Craig's List. We called this morning at 8AM. The Kennel was located in Leigh High Acres, and the owner was willing to get off the price a little (we had priced a 10X10X6 at $450.00). We ended getting this 12 X 12 X 6 kennel for a buck fifty. So, I unloaded the truck, and off we went. We spent some time chasing down a chicken supplier (which we finally found), picked up some hog feed, and stopped for lunch and some shopping at Walmart. I got some sets for the garden, picked up some lime and a bag of fertilizer.

At around 1PM we got to the kennel. It required some disassembling, and some materials will be necessary to make the proper repairs, but it is a good kennel, and a good deal. We stopped and picked up most of the repair materials at the Tru-Value in Labelle, and headed back to Palmdale. Once here, I off loaded the kennel, made repairs, and assembled three of the four sides. I can not go further until I have two additional corner brackets.

Once finished for the evening on the kennel, I went straight for the raised beds. I fertilized utilizing some pot ash, lime, and 4-6-8 fertilizer. I mixed this in really good, installed the drip irrigation system, and covered with "black mulch". Tomorrow I will plant the starts I purchased today, as well as the starts I started when we arrived on November 15th. So this year, we will have our garden, our chickens, and our hog.

Tomorrow I have to build the coop, bury the kennel 6" in the ground. put on a wire top, and build a divider down the center of the pen (half for the hog, half for the chickens). I also have to get the 'hav-a-heart' live trap out, and get it up to speed. I will be trapping coons soon.

On Thursday we get our chickens, and our hog. I am really looking forward to this! We will have our own little Palmdale farmett. It is good to have projects, other than work, that allows me a distraction. I like chickens, and the resultant fresh eggs. I have never had a hog before, so this will be interesting. It should be an efficient use of our scraps, plus we have a huge acorn (or as they say here, A-kerns) crop this year, which is a good source of hog food. The build out of the coop will be fun. The last coop I build was with John Calvin last year. We threw one together over a two week-end period in the summer. It was a chicken coop and goat house all in one. Our coop is not going to get nearly as involved. We will only have two or three hens and a rooster, so we will have just a small nesting box, accessible from the outside of the pen. We will see. It is a project in progress. I have a structure at Todd's that will work, but it is so nice we are probably going to turn it into a garden shed. I will need to build a floor for this structure, so I will probably pick up the materials for this tomorrow along with the materials I need for the coop and the divider.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Today we had some clouds. Our High was 82F and our Low tonight will go down to 63F. The chance for rain was only 20%. Our relative humidity was 88% and our dew point was 66F. The barometer is 30.11 and steady. Our winds were light out of the East at 3mph. The Sunrise came at 6:54AM. The sun will set this evening at 5:28PM.

Blaine with one of his first Chain Pickerel. This (for a short time) garnered him the nick name "Pike".
Here is the Bass Blaine landed on his Cotton Contrill top lure, fishing a Zebco 202 on a graphite rod. I was very proud of the kid on this trip. He really had it down my now.
Not even rain, wet and cold could dampen his mood. This guy was always smiling!
"Pike" with another chain pickerel. For some reason, he loved catching these things.

I was up before dawn, writing a letter to someone near and dear to me. Someone I care very much for. Someone who is some danger. I write a lot of letters I never send. This one goes in the mail tomorrow, and it goes off with a prayer. I started work on The Blaine Reynolds Whorl Memorial Scholarship Fund 2011 Calendar (s). I was partially through one when Ethan & Kylie came by for a visit. We gave Ethan the predator game call gift we picked up at the Bass Pro Outdoor World this weekend. It is his birthday gift. He seemed to be pleased with it, but he is hard to read. I do not think he likes to get as much as he likes to give. Todd stopped in for a visit. I paid him up for the shell pad, and he delivered a truck load of good top soil for the raised beds. We filled two beds while we stood around talking.

Todd left, and Sherry headed off for town to do the weekly shopping. I went back at the calendars. I completed two by the time Sherry returned. We unloaded the car, and went for our evening walk. I wish I would have taken along my camera, as there was much to photograph. We walked the woods through the bottom to Todd & Nancy's. The path is clear, as Ethan uses it for his 4 wheeler path. We looked over Todd & Nancy's row garden and inspected the Hog pen. The piglets (sloats) are really cute, and it would be hard to put one to the knife, although I doubt Todd would have a problem with it. We visited for quite some time, said our good bye's and headed back across town. I am determined to build a pen, and get one of these little beauties. I discussed with Todd purchasing a fiberglass out building he has laying around his lay down area. He is not using this thing, and, if I can get it at a reasonable price, I can turn it into a garden shed/chicken coop. We shall see.

I received a parcel from an old friend today. I used to fish Lake Heritage in Gettysburg back in the 80's. Blaine was just a wee lad at the time. I would take him with and we would spend the weekend fishing together. He was but 4 or 5 at the time. I would always take photos of Blaine fishing, and of what he caught. Afterwards, I would write a 'Thank you' letter to Kevin. Well, Kevin kept these things all these long years. He saved them in a journal. Well today I got the photos and the letters I had sent. It was a very touching to read the letters, and relive these wonderful memories. I have included some of the photos here. I have often (of late) told the story of Blaine and me fishing along a point where we had been hitting good bass. A boat pulled up and we were talking about fish we where catching, where and how. The fellow in the other boat asked Blaine's age. "5" I replied. "Can he fish?" asked the other boat. I turned to Blaine and said "...Son, hit that piling..." at which time he took his Zebco 202 push botton with a Contrill Top Bait and cast at the pole. The lure hit the pole and fell to the water, at which point a HUGE bass hit the lure. Blaine landed the fish next to the boat where I easily netted it. Man, was I ever proud. The buttons nearly popped off my jacket, my chest had swelled so from pride at my boy's fishing abilities. Really great memories. I will scan and load the photos here. I owe Kevin a great debt of thanks for these small mementos. I have so few. I always thought I would have plenty of time to gather up a life times worth, but I was shorted by time. These mean all the more to me.

Here is the Letter, in full;
"September 26th, 1988

Dear Kevin,
Thanks for allowing Blaine, Bill and me the use of the cabin. Even though we were unable to connect with any lunkers, we all had a really great time on plenty of pounders. Small fish are better than no fish at all, and it really gave Blaine the chance to "get his feet wet" on fresh water. By the time Monday came around, he was casting like Roland Martin. Now it seems like a day doesn't go by that he won't ask when we're going back to Kevin's to fish. I think you can see by the photos just how happy he was to be there.
I can't tell you how much I appreciated the opportunity to take my son on that fishing trip. Raising kids is a lot like raising bird dogs, and although I haven't taken to putting cigars out in his nose,when he hard mouths or shooting him in the ass for hunting wide, I hope that the more time I spend with him, the better we'll know each other. Remember when Bud was a pup? He'd mess up a bit, but you always took him. Now you wouldn't think of going bird hunting without him. I guess it's the same with me & Blaine. I'll let him mess up a bit now, and later, well, maybe he'll take me. and who knows, maybe he'll take you along too.
Thanks again Kevin. It really was a great trip!

Your Friend,

I followed with a hand written PS, "Me & "Pike" Whorl, we'll be back up next month. Pike's looking to get a "wall hanger"! Hope he connects. See you than, S."

These are the memories that keep me going. These are the memories I cherish more than any possession.