Tuesday, June 14, 2011

7-13 June, 2011 Rain, storage sheds and moving ...

It's definitely the monsoon season here.  We had two days of solid rain this week.  We didn't get much done outside but we've filled every barrel and tank with water from the rain gutters! 

Some of the aspargus is finally showing some growth.  I've tried several times to get some asparagus beds established and I think we've finally succeeded with two beds.

The rain helped a lot of new seeds sprout.  This is lettuce that Susan planted.

Our rhubarb is doing great.  We have three beds established now and will start some more outside of the garden this summer.

Susan potted some mint to sell at the farmer's market.

Our two surviving apple trees are in full bloom now.  So far it looks good.  Some years the blossoms get frosted off.

Went to a neighbor's to do some shooting and had to take some pictures of their baby goats.  They have three but the third one was out grazing with the nanny. 

This is our goat foraging on his tether.  He isn't a baby anymore but he's not yet full grown either.  Must be a teenager now ... which kind of lines up with his attitude at times also.

The cat decided to have a little fun with a Christmas decoration he found.

He's under the sink looking for a mouse.  There's one in the house but I can't set the trap when the cat's in and the times the cat caught it it played with it until the mouse escaped.  Now the hunt is on once again.

We have a daughter and son-in-law coming here to live.  They bought some lumber to build a shed with so we've (Susan and I) been putting it together.  There wasn't enough lumber to do it the way I wanted to so we put it together the best we could.  Some of the lumber was cut wrong as well which I didn't find out about until construction had begun.  About half the 2x4 "studs" were a full eight feet long while the other half was cut properly.

We can't get the rain to stop long enough to get it built so I finally put a tarp over the whole thing and worked under it.

The back and both sides finished.  We're going to add some more wall studs later along with beefing up the roof and possibly siding.  It'll have to wait though.  We need to get it together enough to store some things in for now.

Smile!  Yea, right!  Put the camera down and get this thing done before the rain and wind pick up!

Our "foundation" is shipping pallets and they're not quite level.  The front is going to need some "tweaking."

My "tweaker" in place.  In this case it's a rope/pulley type fence stretcher.  The rope and pulley system gives me precise options over a ratchet type set-up and with a  tug backwards on the rope the pulleys are locked into place at the perfect length.  And eveything is square.  How's that go ... "You might be a redneck if you square up a building with a fence stretcher?"

And the filling begins.  They have a storage unit so this one is to give them a place to keep the "must have" items close at hand.  I'll have to finish the door after they get up here.  It's a good thing we live in a very low crime district.

We spent a couple days helping with packing and transporting things to storage.  This is Hannah, one of our grandkids I mangaed to bore to sleep.  She'd been with her mother at the farmer's market and was completely worn out.  She slept for several hours.

This is Barbara (the one moving here) holding her nephew while Hannah plays.

Becky - The Mom!  Driven to drink!  Her hair hangs down to her waist making her easy to spot in a crowd.  I just look for the girl with hair hanging below her coat.

We borrowed an extra pet carrier from another daughter.  When I got there the kids wanted to show me what they'd learned how to do that week on their bicycles.  Jonathan also showed me the cracked helmet from his bike wreck.

And David, the middle boy ...

And Andrew, the youngest boy ...

And Anna, not to be outdone by the boys brought a skateboard to try out.  She's a little camera shy today.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

3-6 June, 2011 Carpentry, horse shoes, shooting, bicycling and rain...

We've had some nice days and some rainy ones and since much of our work is done outside we try to get as much done then as we can.  Rainy days are good for working indoors.  I finally broke down and  began using mosquito repellent when I'm outside.  They simply love drawing blood from me.  They seldom bother Susan ... unless I'm around then they snack on both of us.  We have accomplished a bit the last couple of days though.

We sorted through the sawmill slabs to find wood suitable for the next building phase on the porch.  (The cat is, of course, supervising our board selections!)

Since these are the cast-offs from the sawmill we have a bunch of sides we can put to use.  They do not have straight edges so we use a chalk line and skilsaw to make our own.  I usually cut one side, leaving as little waste as possible.  Next we measure the narrowest point and use it for the next cut.  That way the board is as wide as we can make it.

This is what we did last year to get through the winter.

Here we've begun with the front.  I measured how long we wanted the slabs and set up a small steel square for a stop to slide the boards against on my radial arm saw.  That way I didn't have to measure each one prior to cutting it.  It also makes the lengths more consistent.  You can see what the slab profiles look like in the wheel barrow.

The completed front from the deck side...

And from the front side.  I'm driving in the final nails holding the top board in place.

I finally got a chance to shoot the muzzle loader I put together from a kit.  As you can see there're reason they call them "longrifles."

It's pleasant to shoot and the sights were nearly perfect when I installed them so I didn't have to waste time getting it sighted in.  I worked my way up to 70 grains of Pyrodex "P" for a maximum load.  I'll get the chronograph out before hunting season and measure the velocity using different loads and different sizes of powder.  I usually use 2F black powder for hunting loads.  It's a light rifle and I was surprised at the recoil.  The small, deeply curved buttplates are designed to fit against your arm instead of your shoulder as in modern rifles.

First shot at the 100 yard target.  I can kill a deer with that!

The mornings are still cold with about half of them below freezing so we've fired up the wood stove every morning except one.  When it's going we also cook breakfast on it.  In this case it's pancakes.

Susan's homemade french bread.  It is as good as it looks.

Thyme that Susan dried and is putting in a jar for storage.

We rode bicycles out to check the mail yesterday (the 6th).  On the way back we took a back road home and came in from the north end of the lake.  From this direction you can see about half of the cattail mats on the lake.  There's a National Forest access at the end of this road.  Very few people know about it.

More of the cattail matts.

Susan taking pictures.

Susan wasting film ... er ... storage space on the camera.

We like riding bikes into Fortine to check the mail but it's about 15 miles round trip and takes us longer than planned.  We always see people we haven't talked to in awhile and by the time we all get caught up on the news we've used up half the day.  It's nice though. 

While I was doing my laundry and Susan was working in the garden we stopped for an afternoon game of horseshoes.  I got tired of the stakes they send with the kits always working loose so I used a couple of steel weight training bars and drove them into the ground.  They haven't worked loose like the short bars do.

We try to keep up on the mowing by doing small parts daily.  If we stay caught up we won't need to use the power mower.  Neither of us like the noise or smell of gasoline fumes.  The longer we've been away from town the less we can tolerate noise and exhaust fumes.  It's amazing how it can often cause physical symptoms.  The first comment people make when they come here is how quiet it is. Our kids have difficulty sleeping when they visit because it's so quiet. 

We have a daughter and son-in-law moving onto the property.  They've grown tired of city life and want to give our lifestyle a try.  They parked their motorhome at the new homesite and a bird quicky moved into it by building a nest inside the grill.  She was quite adamant about remaining on the nest too so I guess it will stay in place until her eggs hatch and young ones leave.

We started building their storage shed but got rained out about the time we finished the first wall.  Our son-in-law will be here tomorrow (actually today now) and if the rain will let up we'll get more done.

Friday, June 3, 2011

1-2 June, 2011 Moose on the loose...

Cloudy days lately but we've still gotten a few things done.  We moved the solar panels out of the garden area yesterday (2nd).  Like a lot of things in NW Montana their "temporary" location stretched on for quite some time!  I'll be mounting them to the tower next week when we have some clear days.  Today it's raining so it's a good day to catch up on writing and indoor projects.

Susan has lots of reference books for different plants and their uses.  Here she's in front of the stove reading up on a current project.  She keeps threatening to write a book with fewer plants listed but more uses for each one.  (I wish she would.)  Every book it seems has a little bit of information the others don't have.  If it was all consolidated into one book and separated into different geographic regions it would make life easier.

Susan is stripping off dried parsley leaves to save for future use.

Ahh ... gardening in NW Montana!  We've been covering the potatoes at night to shield them from frost.  It really is June now, isn't it?

Susan harvesting Oregano in the garden...

... and drying it above the wood stove.  We've been concentratng on growing and saving more herbs and spices.  She's also cultivating peppergrass to try as a pepper supplement along with lemon balm for lemon flavoring.

Here she's getting ready to plant leaf lettuce.  To the left are some celery plants and the square beds behind her are where she planted carrots.  Our garden space is filling up fast.

These are celery plants.  These are one veggie we haven't figured out how to propagate ourselves.  That's on our bucket list for this year.

On the way into Eureka Wednesday we saw a momma and calf moose.  They have the most awkward gait of any animal I know of yet they cover a tremendous amount of ground quickly.

Fortunately for us they stopped long enough to take a few pictures.  These are on the telephoto setting and taken through the windshield so they aren't the highest quality.

We stopped at the tire store and raided their stack of discarded tires before coming home.  They're always happy to see us since they have to pay a fee to dispose of them.

I cut the sidewall out then we use the tires for planting beds.  I knife works better than anything else I've tried.  A sabre saw works okay but it's noisy and slow.  It takes some effort but a knife slices through much faster with no noise.  I imagine Kershaw would shake their head at the things I've used that knife for.  We pick the widest tires they have because they hold the most dirt.