May 2014

Curse You, Red Baron!

We had yet another violation of our sovereignty the other night, of the four-footed variety. My daughter burst into our bedroom at 1:44 AM to announce that the chickens were making alarm sounds. For those not blessed with chickens, they make a lot of different sounds, but the alarm noise is unmistakable – it sounds like panic and primal fear, which of course it is. It means, “Something is trying to eat me! Come help!” Luckily, my daughter and son […]

How NOT to Prep with Propane

The local Agway was having a great propane sale this past weekend – refills for only $10.99. I had an empty tank waiting for just such an opportunity, so off I went on Saturday morning. Turns out a lot of people had the same idea. When I got in the propane line, there were three people in front of me, each with a tank or two. Except for one lady – she had 12 empty tanks in the back of […]

DIY Hose Manifolds and Splitters

Water. It’s critical to everything. But it’s especially important to my garden and orchard. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about transporting water from a house spigot to the end of a hose. In the case of hose, you absolutely get what you pay for. To get to the bottom of my orchard I need to transport water over 300’ – I know a thing or two about hoses. Permanent underground irrigation down to the orchard is on my […]

I finally got the new pullets together with the old girls. Sort of. Yesterday morning I discovered that some critter or another had tried to dig its way into the tractor. Perhaps a skunk, but I didn’t smell anything, so more likely possum. Whatever it was either never made it in, or didn’t bother the chicks, because they were fine, albeit a bit more nervous than usual in the morning. If that’s even possible. So my son and I loaded the […]

AAR: Power Outage

I’m sitting at my desk at 11:45 on Tuesday, minding my own business, like I always do. Clear skies, no wind, no rain, sunny and warm(ish). Everything seems normal. Then, the lights in my office went out. A split second later, I heard a loud BOOM! Uh-oh. This exact evolution has happened several times over the last 10 years here. There’s a fuse on a power pole at the corner of our road and the main road, and when something […]

Tiller Hacks

I decided to go big on a few easy-to-store crops this year, rather than try to grow a lot of veggies I don’t eat, or that require even the slightest extra effort to store. A man’s got to know his limitations, and mine is not having the time or desire to learn how to can. Hopefully that’ll change someday soon, but for now, I want food that I can throw in a five gallon bucket and forget about. With that […]

Scenes from the JIT World

“Just in Time.” A lot of people don’t realize how this Lean Thinking concept can potentially rule their lives. I had a dramatic example of it a few days ago. First, JIT is a business philosophy that started in the manufacturing world, and has spread to retail, finance, and just about everywhere people try to pry a buck out of the economy. Simply put, JIT is a the concept that “inventory is bad.”

Weeds and Love

I’ve been obsessing over my pea patch lately, probably because it’s about the only thing I have growing so far this season. I suppose it’s kind of like being an only child. I’ve taken to weeding the rows every day. Is it necessary? Probably not, although it’s certainly a fertile patch of ground, and the method I used to start the peas probably contributes to the weediness of it. You may recognize this as last year’s corn patch, and after […]

On Sunday morning I took a walk up into the woods. I kept hearing a strange sound – like a swarm of angry bees somewhere off in the distance. My first thought was, “Cool! Free wild honey!” But then I realized the sound was more mechanical in nature, and I began to realize that I was hearing a quadcopter buzzing through the woods.

Out in the Yard

I love having a yard. Wherever we end up, I hope we have an even bigger, better yard than I have right now. Of course, I don’t mean the typical American suburban yard, with iridescent Chem-Lawn grass, bag after bag of dyed mulch, buried irrigation lines, and a few artfully arranged Bradford pears. No, my lawn is not my yard, and truth be told, my lawn looks like something a real estate agent would have a cow over. My yard […]