Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I have been meaning to get a post up for several weeks now, but events keep intervening.

The main event has been a series of trips to visit my Primary Care Physician for what amounts to upkeep and maintenance.   All the usual tests have been run, I’ve been poked and mashed and sampled.   

Since I am an official Cholesterol Unbeliever, I really don’t care what my numbers are.   Unfortunately, my PCP is not so enlightened.  I am not obese, I am not sedentary, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink to excess, I don’t eat a lot of processed foods and the only time I feel a lot of stress is when my doctor is telling me I’m going to have a stroke if I don’t take the liver killing drugs being flacked by the pharmaceutical industry.   

So I was not particularly amused by her telling me that “at least” I wasn’t diabetic.   My response was “Of course I am not diabetic.”   Oh, and my bone density is above normal.   What a  big surprise (not).   I need a different PCP, one who doesn’t treat me like a moron just because I bother to do some research.

What was accomplished was a diagnosis of a UTI, which I was pretty sure I had one of.  So I took the recommended antibiotic and promptly got a vaginal bacterial infection since the antibiotic killed all the good bacteria in there and allowed the other residents to take over.   When that is treated, I intend to utilize a bunch of yogurt to repopulate the area and hopefully all this BS will be over.

Meanwhile, my beautiful dog Ruby went out and stuck her head in a bunch of poison ivy, which I did not know until I petted her assiduously and then worked hard, got hot, swept the sweaty hair out of my eyes and then transferred urushiol to my pillow.   So I have a poison ivy outbreak that includes most of my forehead, the area to the left of my mouth, several patches in various and sundry spots including the back of my right shoulder and under my left breast.   

Ruby was not happy to have her whole body shampooed including her ears and face.   I have washed just about everything in my bed and most of my clothing and it seems that perhaps the outbreak has stopped spreading.   

My dear husband’s soothing comment was “It’s a good thing you aren’t trying to get a date for the prom right now.”

I refrained from murdering him.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we have put 30 pints of beef broth into the food room.   Since the freezers are almost full of meat, fruit, veggies and sundry other items amongst which are the hickory blanks from which chair spindles are carved, we decided to can the broth.   

DSCF0469

We’ve been picking vegetables on a daily basis.  This is a representative sampling.   

DSCF0482

Sometimes there are more beans, sometimes less cucumbers.   Sometimes we find a giant cucumber that was growing in the alternate universe and got heavy enough to drop back into this dimension.

At any rate, the other day we had 36 pints of tomato puree to can, and right now we have another 7 gallons of tomato simmering down on the stove, which will end up making another 30 pints of puree (approximately).  The food room is almost as full as our freezers.

*****************************************************************

The labyrinth has been a joy to me in the midst of all this craziness and hard work.   I had a couple of people come to walk it a week ago.  What a nice interlude, to show them the labyrinth, walk it, talk to them, show them The Havens and receive all their admiration.   

It was looking quite spiffy for them, as the Naked Ladies I planted out there a couple of years ago have decided that conditions are good.

DSCF0465

My good blog friend Daisyfae has a daughter who lives in Turkey.   When she mentioned that this young lady was coming home for a visit, I made so bold as to ask if it was possible for her to bring me a rock from that country.  The answer was a resounding YES, and so this rather fine specimen of dolomitic limestone from the Bornova Flysch Zone, which is where Izmir lies geologically.

DSCF0458

It arrived accompanied by a box of fine dried Turkish figs, which are all gone now and were much enjoyed.

It is so nice to have international friends!

*********************************************************************

We picked grapes too, the Marechal foch row was ready first

DSCF0471

It had a lot of really nice bunches on it.

DSCF0472

Then a few days ago the Baco noir grapes joined their friends in the fermentation vat.   It’s about time to pick the Chamborcin as well.

********************************************

I have to leave you here….   a client awaits my attentions.

 

Every once in a while the phrase “It’s like Grand Central Station around here” passes my lips.  There was a while, back when the economy crashed, when it was more like a crossroads in  the middle of nowhere, but those times have passed.

Last week really seemed to epitomize the sort of busy-ness that brings that  feeling to the fore.   As fearless readers of this blog are aware, we are in the midst of getting our place prepared for installation of a solar array.   There is a seemingly infinite regression in jobs like this.   The very first thing we had to do was move the big rocks out of the terraces on the root cellar.   That was so we could have the mountain range dirt pile placed on it.    Before the dirt could be moved, we had to buy and install landscape retaining bricks so the dirt would stay where we wanted it to.   And so forth and so on.

The next part of the job is to get Jim’s shop arranged in such a way that the inverters (and ultimately our back-up batteries) will have a safe, secure and weather proof spot to live.    Over the years, the barn has begun to severely show its age, and Jim’s shop was far from being any of those things.   In point of fact, last year the door of the shop devolved into such decrepitude that it could not even be closed, much less bear any resemblance to an actual door.  At any rate, we have people working to remedy the situation.

The shop has been radically changed.    This is how it looked before Jim started cleaning it out.

DSCF9827

Outside the barn, once the clearing up was begun, looked like this.  Notice the “door”.

DSCF9825

 

After all the gear and detritus was cleared out, the workers came it and removed the sheetrock and 1/2″ styrofoam board insulation from the outside walls and ceiling.   At that point it became obvious that the previous owners’ idea that cardboard and 1/2″ masonite would be adequate barriers to keep varmints out of the space between the floor of the barn loft and the ceiling of the shop area was ridiculous.   As our poor workmen began to tear down the interior, they were showered with sticks, nuts, sunflower seeds, straw, and sundry bird and rodent leavings.   The squirrels and starlings and rats and who knows what else had found that six inch space to be a delightful place to live.

At any rate, after deconstruction and cleaning, the space looks like this.

DSCF0439

Outside, the barn looks like this now.

DSCF0422

Right now we are waiting for the electrician to come and do his magic.   When he is done, there will be proper wiring in the shop, including 220V and several circuits WITH circuit breakers.   Additionally, the origin of the  electrical service to the barn out by the meter pole will also have a circuit breaker box and a couple of proper outlets so we can run our pool and concrete mixer in more safety.   Granted, that box “does” have fuses, but we would like something more updated.  After the electrician, the insulation contractor will do his thing.   Then the actual windows, doors and sheetrock can be installed.

So, in addition to having workers in and out of the yard and barn, we have electricians and insulation contractors knocking at the front door so they can make their measurements and estimates.   Of course, my regular procession of clients proceeds through as well.

Did I mention that we have a young man working for us two days a week?   We do.   He is the epitome of youthful strength and enthusiasm, and was instrumental in the moving of rocks listed above.   He has also helped us split wood, move dirt, build rock wall, and I don’t know what all else.   Observe the transformation in the back area of the property.

DSCF9824

DSCF0438

To add to the list of jobs going on, our lovely tenant was taking his wife and family to Walmart when his spouse informed him that she had forgotten her list and they needed to go back and get it.   For some reason, this infuriated him; not that Walmart is that far from here (less than 2 miles), and not that they had gotten that far (to the end of the block).   He drove around the block and pulled into their carport, yelling and carrying on.    She hopped out of their van and ran into the house to get her list while he sat impatiently in the van with his foot on the brake, muttering imprecations.  She got back in the vehicle, at which point, still yelling at her, he stepped on the gas and promptly drove the van into the side of the house, since he had neglected to put the thing in park while he waited and had forgotten he was in “Drive” rather than “Reverse”.

So we have had the insurance people ringing the doorbell and the phone, as well as the contractor who repaired the damage:   one exterior door and 7 studs in the wall with all the associated  demolition to siding and interior that that entails.

Are you surprised to know that on Saturday morning, when things were all quiet, I was not all that polite to the hapless Jehovah’s Witness who rang my doorbell, disturbing my peace?

However, things are getting along.   The wood fired oven platform/barbecue pit area is now walled.   We finished that yesterday, except for the coping stones around the top.   I think it looks rather splendid, actually.   When there is actually an oven it will be really cool.

DSCF0413

DSCF0416

For the first time in years, the path along the back of the house is a path, rather than a repository for rock designated for the wall.

DSCF0417

Lest you think all is perfection here, there is a project at the end of the path that has been put on indeterminate hold.   The sewer line at that corner was dug up and then promptly reburied when winter arrived.   There is a need for the entire line along the back of the house to be dug and replaced without the dip in the middle and with a proper drop so that the drains will remain clear.   I have no idea when that will get done.

DSCF0420

We have a couple of other projects going on.   The fence line marking the north border of the Stroll Garden will be changed.    We are rotating it 90 degrees to extend towards the vegetable garden.   That will make the pond area part of the Stroll Garden.  Tomorrow, our worker will dig the post holes for the new line, and the fence will be built shortly thereafter.

DSCF0425

Just to the north of that is the garden fence, with the raspberry bed in front of it.   In short order, I am going to dig out a path next to that raspberry bed, and then Jim is going to build a bird cage over the raspberry patch.   At the far end I will install a small blueberry patch.    The cage will also keep out the rabbits and the squirrels and the groundhogs, so I believe that we will be the benefactors of the berry bushes rather than all the wildlife.

DSCF0426

Another project that will be completed PDQ is the pouring of a concrete slab on which to keep the compost piles.   Here again you can see a transformation in the area.

DSCF0330

DSCF0421

It was while I was trying to find a good picture of the mess sort of indicated in the first picture above that I discovered how very very good I am at framing photographs in such a way the big messy areas of the yard do not show up!

Meanwhile, the Petite Prairie is absolutely beautiful.   The culmination of the Stroll Garden proves how very worth while all the improvements around here really are.

DSCF0419

***********************************************

For those of you who have been following the saga of the mouse in the house, I can report that all the attempts Impy was making to catch that mouse that fell from the attic were unfruitful.   She, however, was.   And so now we have her and her litter of progeny disporting themselves about the house.   The young mice are about an inch long and very very cute.   Also, they are very very fast and very very light, so the cats are not catching them and neither are the mouse traps.

Now.   I have a few hours before my first client, so I intend to go work on the rain garden, which needs some severe curbing on its enthusiasm.

And rain.   We need rain.

Talk to you later.

 

Baby rabbits

I have never made any pretence of particularly loving rabbits.   They can be a nuisance, one which we went to quite a bit of trouble to fence out of the vegetable garden.  They serve their place in the world, though.   The fact that we have a healthy population of them at The Havens accounts for the presence of Barred Owls and Great Horned Owls.   I’m sure the black snakes are happy to find a tiny tender tidbit upon occasion.

I was out watering my potted plants this morning during the break I had between a couple of clients.   As is my custom, I was gazing about the place, admiring the view while I was waiting for the right amount of water to flow into the whiskey barrels full of beans and morning glories.  I am very pleased with them.

DSCF0076

The Petite Prairie is looking pretty good right now, despite the dry weather we have been having.

DSCF9807

The silky dogwood was looking a little peaked, so when I was done with the pots I made my way over there to give it a drink.    Of course, the hose had to kink during the trip across the lawn, so when I turned the spray nozzle on, nothing happened.   I laid it down and attended to the kink.    The water began to gush out of the nozzle, and very soon afterwards I heard a vociferous complaint from the bed just below the dogwood.    It was a very loud complaint indeed, and obviously was coming from an infant.

I investigated, and this is what I found to be the source of the racket.

DSCF0409

Honestly, this little baby bunny seems way too small to be able to make such a very loud noise.

After I photographed the Small One, I placed him carefully back in the nest with his siblings.    Of course, I had to document it all.

DSCF0408

My client had arrived, so I carefully put the grassy cover back over the babies, and went in to do her massage.    She admired the baby pictures.   Although we both  agreed about rabbits in general, we also both agreed that when they are so very small they are very cute.  No way could I exterminate them, even if they will probably be chewing through my iris stems when they get older.   I just found a Naked Lady stem that was full of buds that some rabbit decided looked edible.    I guess it wasn’t that edible, because it only chewed through the stem, it didn’t bother to actually eat the buds.   I have to admit I was perturbed.

So anyway, a little while ago, having finished the massage and my lunch, I thought I’d go back out there and see if I couldn’t get a better shot of them in their nest.

I was interested to discover that in the intervening three hours, Mama Rabbit had been around to tend to her youngsters.   The grass and twig cap on the nest had been seriously beefed up.   And if you take a close look at this next picture you will notice that there has been a further change.

DSCF0410

 

Apparently she had not quite finished furnishing the nest when I took the first picture.   Now there is a beautiful soft layer of rabbit fur encasing the babies.

I covered them up again.

They really are very cute.

We live in an older home, and are aware that it is certainly not mouse-proof.

Every once in a while a pioneering mouse finds its way inside.  Sometimes it goes back outside and invites its relatives to join it in colonizing the place.  This seems to have been the case this summer.

Jim opened up the liquor closet a few weeks ago and surprised a mouse  squatting in the middle of the shelf.   What it thought it was going to do with all that scotch, gin, bourbon and assorted liqueurs is beyond me.   Maybe there was going to be a big party upstairs.

That particular mouse did not get to attend the putative festivities, since Jim immediately set one of the mouse traps, baiting it with some fine cheddar cheese.   The mouse departed this mortal plane later that night.   It was evident that there was probably another mouse in the house though, as the remainder of the cheese was gone when we checked the trap in the morning.

We re-set the trap and waited.   Apparently eating the remainder of the cheese with its dead relative close by was creepy enough that the mouse that did the deed was not anxious to return to the scene.   At any rate, the cheese got stale and no further mice were caught.  Hopeful, we decided that maybe we were wrong, and there weren’t any more mice.  Or that they had left for more salubrious climates.

Alas, it was not so.  A few days later, Jim opened one of the cooking utensil drawers and surprised another mouse, who squatted amidst the barbecue skewers, sieves, and steamer baskets looking up at Jim in great consternation.   Jim was startled as well, and slammed  the drawer closed.  The mouse departed, posthaste.

Mallory and Impy were of the opinion that it had taken up residence under the stove and the adjacent cabinet, and kept that area of the house staked out on a regular basis.  The mouse was cagey.

The other night, though, it was thirsty.   It takes a pretty bold mouse to use the cat’s water dish as its source of water, but this mouse was desperate.   We had gone to bed and things were more or less quiet.  The mouse was creeping across the dining room on its way to procure a drink when Jim felt a similar need.  He turned on the light, catching the mouse in the dead middle of the room.    Quickly, it darted under the couch.   We rounded up the cats and set them on the scent, but once again the mouse had managed to escape.  It did not stop once it was safe under the couch, but continued out the other side.  Apparently it found the baseboard heating unit to be a convenient refuge.

Things didn’t progress much on the mouse front for the next few days.   We were not so sanguine as to think it had moved on, though.

Last night it was wandering around up in the attic.    Suddenly, it made a misstep, and fell down inside the framework that supports the whole house fan.   Under the fan is a set of aluminum louvers that is about 30″ square.  When you turn on the giant fan that is in the attic, the suction is such that it pulls the louvers open.   We had been awakened by the thump and subsequent scrambling about of the mouse, arose from our bed and were standing under the fan and pondering what to do.   Mallory was fascinated, as she is fascinated by all the odd things that her people choose to do.

Jim poked the switch, the fan began to turn, and the louvers opened.  The mouse fell through the fan opening and landed on the carpet about six inches in front of Mallory.

Since she is blind, it took her a few seconds to get the scent of mouse and realize what had happened.  The mouse was squatting on the carpet, stunned by its fall from the attic.   I think it hoped that if it just stayed very still maybe no one would notice its dark grey mouse form on the white carpet.

“Ha!”  Mallory finally said, once the musky mouse scent reached her. “It’s raining mice!  What will they think of next?”

Unfortunately, the mouse was faster than she was, and escaped into the back bedroom.   We apprised Impy of the situation.  Once again, a baseboard heater provided refuge.  For the rest of the night Impy had the mouse pinned down.  Every once in a while we would hear the cat crashing into the metal base board heater when the mouse stuck its head out from its refuge, hoping that the coast was clear.

It is unknown at this point whether Impy succeeded in catching the mouse.   Stay tuned for further developments….

I walked the labyrinth this morning.

I’ve been doing that a lot lately; taking new rocks in, mostly.   Several years ago I joined the Labyrinth Society’s 365 Club.   The goal was to walk a labyrinth every day for a year.   I started out strong, but after about a month and a half I stopped doing it.   It seemed that what should have been a meaningful spiritual exercise was becoming rote and routine, and I didn’t really like that result.   So I stopped trying to make the 365 day goal.

Maybe I will try again this year.   I don’t know.

I do know that I have been very inspired by Twylla Alexander’s labyrinth journey.   She made a commitment to walk one labyrinth created by a woman in each of the 50 states.   She recently completed this journey, or at least the first part of it.  The second part is to write a book about it.   Her break in the journey turns out to be a pause to create her own labyrinth.  Many of the women whose labyrinths she walked are going to send her a rock for her labyrinth.

My labyrinth was one of the ones she chose, and her visit was special.   One of the results was to rekindle my relationship with my own labyrinth.   I also decided to refurbish the inner circle.    Today I was taking a couple of new denizens in, and while I was at it I took the rock I had chosen to send her along.   While I was making this pilgrimage, a sort of prose poem came to me.

*****************************************************

About Life’s Journey

Sometimes you walk alone; sometimes you have company.   Both ways are good.

Often there is a path for you to follow; but sometimes you have to create your own.   These both are valuable experiences.

Love is all around you; never forget that it is infinite.

When you are looking for answers, leave no stone unturned.

DSCF0350

You never know what is hidden on the other side of an interesting but not THAT remarkable rock.

DSCF0351

It is good to look at things from more than one angle.

DSCF0348

DSCF0356

Always try to finish what you start; but be willing to be interrupted for beauty, friends, and rest.   Procrastination is not always a bad thing.

**************************************************

Now, I have procrastinated long enough.   I must go dig my potatoes, and work on establishing order in the rain garden.

 

It has been a long slog, but the remodel of the inner circle of the labyrinth is finally complete.

The whole thing started only a week ago even though it feels like it was a month of Sundays.   As you may recall, the weed/grass situation vis-a-vis the special rocks in the inner circle was becoming impossible.   After due consideration, we decided that “something” needed to be done.   Neglecting many other projects, not the least of which is getting the Dragon’s Teeth re-situated and the rain garden weeded, I proceeded to dive headlong into the revamping of the inner circle.

Let no one think that this remodelling project was the only thing accomplished in the interim.   No massages were cancelled, and I kept the laundry done, the dog walked, the cats fed, and the garden watered and tended while all the following was going on.   And in addition, Jim went off to work for his final few days at the Commissary.

So, to recap, I began be removing the rocks from the inner circle.

DSCF9794

As soon as the land was cleared, I began digging a shallow ditch around the circle where all those rocks used to be.

DSCF9821

This process didn’t take nearly as long as I was afraid it would.   I spent a couple of afternoons on this phase.   It was quite ironic that I was already generating dirt that needed a place to live within literally hours of having moved the pile of dirt that was formed from just such projects in the past onto the root cellar.   However, that particular project resulted in some low places that needed fill, and so my labyrinth dirt went towards accomplishing that.

After the ditch was dug and leveled, I put a nice layer of road base into it.  Last Saturday morning, the day after his “last day of work”, Jim went off to Lowe’s and acquired rebar and quickcrete.   The rebar was cut to appropriate sized pieces, wired together, and placed in the ditch.

DSCF9833

It is propped up on nice little flat rocks so that the concrete will flow in and around under the rebar, thus making the resulting pour strong and stable.

Note the little cement mixer.   There is an amusing little story about that:   Lo these many years ago on a fine spring morning, my dear spouse looked at me and said, “I’m going to run some errands.”

This was no big surprise, errands are run on a regular basis around The Havens, but on this occasion he was gone a very long time.   Eventually, he returned home in a state of elevated mood and informed me he needed to take the truck off to pick up something he had purchased.  It seems that as he was driving past the Civic Center he saw a sign for a “Tool Sale” and decided to look in on this seductive event.

What had caught his roving eye was a small cement mixer, for which he promptly forked over a little more than $100.   I need not tell you that I had no concept of why it might be a good idea to have a cement mixer.   In all my childhood experience, whenever cement needed to be mixed, it was done with a shovel in a wheelbarrow, and whatever was good enough for my Daddy was good enough for me.

“No really,”  my spouse informed me with great pleasure and excitement.   “It’ll come in handy, you’ll see!”

It wasn’t that much money, didn’t make it impossible to pay our bills that month and he was so happy about it.   I didn’t give him a hard time.

I have to say that that cement mixer has never seen a year since when it was not used for some project or other.   He sure as heck was right about it coming in handy, and last Saturday was no exception!

We started off the project with 15 bags of quick-crete.   This is basically concrete mix in an 80 pound bag.  We knew we would need more than that, but that was as much weight as Jim cared to put on our little pickup, and we figured after we got that poured we would have a pretty good idea of how much more mix we would need.  Laboriously, Jim moved each bag to the wheelbarrow and moved it to the mixer, then lifted it up and poured it in.   Adding water, the little mixer turned and turned and the concrete mixed up nicely.

Then Jim tilted the mixture and poured it into the trench, while I pushed it around with the hoe so it didn’t over flow.   While he went through that process again, I spent quality time with the trowel smoothing out the pour and agitating it to bring the fines to the top so we would have a nice surface.

Eventually, we got to the part of the circle where the bench and the pile of rocks was.   At that point, it was not possible to tilt the concrete directly into the trench.  We brought our mortar board out and poured it onto that.   From there, it was my job to shovel it into the trench and smooth it while Jim was mixing the next batch.   We came to the end of the 15 bags, and decided it was time to take a break.

We estimated that we had made it about 2/3 of the way around, and so we thought we would need 8 more bags.   Just for insurance, Jim decided to buy 9, figuring that if there was left over we would be putting it into the garden retaining walls in the next few days.  Jim took his break on the drive over to Lowe’s.   I forget what I did while he was gone, but it didn’t involve a lot of sitting around.

He got back with the second load, and we proceeded to pour some more.   It only took another couple of bags to get to the point where we could pour directly into the trench, much to my poor arm’s relief.   (For the record, my forearms are still sore from that little section of shoveling wet concrete.)

Ironically, our estimate was off.  It turned out we needed ONE more bag to complete the pour, and so off Jim went to procure that bag.   As he made the trip, I placed the direction rocks into the wet concrete and generally admired the job.   It seemed obvious in retrospect that we would need 25 bags to complete the job, because clearly it was going to take EXACTLY one ton of concrete to form the inner circle.   In short order, the buyer returned and we finished the job.

After we cleaned up our tools, I documented the finished circle, still wet and curing.

DSCF9843

 

One of the things I decided about this project was that I was going to document my rocks.   So, the following morning we set up a portrait studio over by the sauna, and I proceeded to transport all the special rocks to that location and shoot them individually, along with a tag that indicated where they were from.  Each photo was also assigned a number.

Here is an example of the result.

DSCF9991

It was during this process that I discovered that my ability to write numbers in order was impaired.   I have one rock whose number is 43.5 because I forgot to list it until I was far down the list.   I also found myself re-numbering rocks when I turned a page and read 117 as 111 and so labeled several rocks with the same identification number.   But I got it straightened out, and it was actually important because when I placed the special rocks back onto the circle I made a map of where they got put.

I am having the pictures printed out, and I will make a notebook with a page for each rock.   The page will list its number along with information on who procured it for me if it was a gift, and any little story that revolves around it.   That way, in the future, other people will be able to understand what is special about each rock without having to extract the information from me personally.   This also guards against any memory losses I might have.

As I was taking rocks off the labyrinth, I was gratified to be able to remember the details on most of them.   Despite that, there were several “Mystery Rocks” that turned up during the process.   I did not toss them out because of that.   My decision was to replace them back in the circle close to the location where they were unearthed.   Maybe in the future the clouds will clear and I will remember where they came from.

Anyway, it took me two days to get them all back into place, what with the mapping project and having to actually do massages for clients in between working on the project.

But this afternoon, I finished the job.   It really looks good.

DSCF0060

 

Here’s a close up of the North West end of the inner circle.

DSCF0073

Eventually, the concrete will weather a bit and not be so blindingly white.

I have to say that the whole project has made me realize just how incredibly blessed I am with family, friends, and strangers contributing rocks to the inner circle.   Without them, I wouldn’t have Antarctica, the bottom of Sydney Harbor, the Great Sandy Desert, or the floor of the Arctic Ocean.   I feel very honored indeed.

The only thing left to do is to create the notebook and redraw the map.

But first, I have to go walk Ruby.

 

Going solar

After wanting this for many, many years, we have finally made the step towards putting solar power to work for us here at The Havens.

This is not a commitment for those with no financial resources!   Even though the prices for solar panels have come down radically, and even though we will enjoy a tax rebate on the purchase of them, the initial cost just for the solar panels was right around $6,000.   Just recently the steel angle iron for the frames was purchased, to the tune of about $1300.   Next we have to pay the guy to construct the frames, doing the welding and drilling holes and I honestly don’t know what all else.   Then we have to figure out what kind of inverter we want, and order that.   Also on the way here are the storage batteries, another $2400.

Like all projects, there is an almost infinite regression that goes on in order to have the project done.   With this project, the first thing that had to be done is figure out where we wanted the solar farm to be installed.   Initially we thought we might put in in front of the vineyard.   But the city of Lebanon has a zoning ordinance that states no structures on a property should be closer to the street than the front of the house, although it is possible to get a variance.   Our house is so far from the street that it probably would be possible to get such a variance, but we were not really wanting to get into that sort of legal shenanigans if it wasn’t necessary.

Eventually, we decided that the right place for the solar panels would be out near the barn, just to the east of the root cellar.   Unfortunately there was a big pile of dirt out there which we constructed over the years as we removed dirt from various and sundry path and garden projects.   We called it “dill hill” because for several years we had a huge crop of dill volunteer on it.  So we needed to have the dirt pile moved, and since there was NEVER enough dirt on the root cellar we decided to have it moved there.

I don’t have a “before” before picture, which shows all the piles of wood and stuff that was in the way of accomplishing this feat.  But they had to be moved.  Also, before we put more dirt on the root cellar we had to build up the retaining walls on either side of the door.   We bought the retaining block, and with the help of a college student looking to earn money during the summer, piled them up properly.   He also helped move the wood piles, etc.

Then we had a guy come over here with a Cat skidsteer and move dirt.

DSCF9817

Here you see the beginning of this phase, and dill hill to the right.   The retaining walls in place.  That small pile of wood was not in the way, but I moved it to the wood shed today after the work was all done.

This is how it looks this morning, after the straw mulch was ground, spread and watered in.

DSCF9823

Notice the clump of asiatic lilies on the right side of the root cellar.   There also happens to be a fig over on the right side by the door.   It was purposely buried up to its neck, and hopefully this will not kill it.   Just in case it does, last week I laboriously dug several rooted sections out from its underskirts and heeled them in in the vegetable garden.   I am happy to report that all of the starts have survived and are starting to send up sprouts.   I found it endearing that our equipment operator carefully avoided the clump of lilies during the work, even though we told him that it would be find to crunch them down, that they would come up from their bulbs next year.

DSCF9830

Next to dill hill was a pile of manure that I purchased from a friend who is a dairy farmer several years ago.   I used some of it as mulch after I acquired it, but stopped using it as soon as I realized how infested with pigweed, smartweed, ragweed, lamb’s quarters, and I don’t know how many other undesirables it was.   We had our equipment operator spread that mess of nutritious weed supply thinly over the grass area in the savannah.   Since we mow that lawn, the weeds won’t matter as they will be mowed off before they can get big and make more weeds.   And I’m sure the grass and trees will appreciate the fertilizer.

The manure pile was full of locust, maple, elm and god knows what else kind of tree roots.   Those are now on the burn pile.

Next to the manure pile was a volunteer silver maple which we will cut down in the very near future.   It has to go, as it is in a location that shades the solar panels.   We needed to take it out anyway.   It was sick:  even though it was only about 8 years old, it was already forming a hollow trunk as it rotted out from the center.   We will also be removing volunteer catalpa red cedar trees, both of which are also sources of unwanted shade for the panels.

See what I mean about an infinite regression?

This next shot is documentation of what happens when you let poke grow without disturbing it.   That big branchy leggy mass is the root of a poke plant which lived on dill hill.   For the record, bear in mind that the piece of firewood next to it is 16 inches long.

DSCF9829

 

 

Good thing we had a piece of earth moving equipment to get it out of there.  It had roots that were every bit of 10 feet long.   Impressive.

Here is another part of the infinite regression.   This is our barn, picturesque and historical.   Although it looks somewhat the worse for wear on the outside, the inside structure is sound.   It has a certain charm lent to it by the fact that the rafters of the hay loft are oak which was steamed and bent to form the curve of the roof.

However, you can see there are certain problems.   The door on the left leads into a nightmare of left over pots from the garden, hickory that was supposed to become spindles for chairs but is now too dry and hard to use (shortly to join the firewood supply), glass in waiting for greenhouse construction.  It  turns out it is also prime ground hog habitat.   They are busy constructing a ground hog condominium utilizing the cement slab floor of Jim’s shop as a ceiling.   They are about to be evicted, as they neglected to sign a long term lease for use of the barn as a home.

The door to the right leads into Jim’s wood shop.

DSCF9825

DSCF9827

This shop is the place where the inverter and the batteries are going to live.   Since batteries don’t really appreciate being frozen, and the inverter (a rather costly piece of electronics)  needs to live in shelter, the shop must be made weather tight and insulated.  Not the least of the necessities is a door that works!

But of course, before any work can be done on the room, all the stuff needs to come out of there.   As you can see, the fact that we have lived here and used the barn for 16 years has resulted in a massive accumulation of items ranging from nails and screws, to bee hive components, to a freezer that has been converted to a lagering cooler and sundry other brewing equipment, to a lathe that weighs enough that it takes two very strong men to move it.   An exhaustive inventory would probably make a fascinating document, but I have no idea what else is in there.   We are about to find out…

Clearing and repairing the barn is part of the infinite regression.

We are stimulating the economy in a big way, and progress towards actually having solar power tied to the grid and filling storage batteries for us to use, thereby eliminating the vast majority of our carbon footprint, is being made.

Stay tuned for future developments….

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers