Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gardening, Fishing, Tires, Chicks, and more...

We've been very busy the last ten days or so. I took a couple of days off to spend with my son in Kalispell. He and his wife are starting a garden this year so I brought my tiller down to work the ground up for them. The garden spot is in the pasture area so It was tough work breaking up the sod. I made several passes to get down as deep as the tiller would go.  I'm a bit envious of their soil.  They have about a foot of rich, black topsoil.  We have about two inches before we begin adding compost!

The rototilling was only a small part of the reason for going.  He took me out on Flathead Lake to do some fishing.  Naturally, when I'm along the fish mostly stop biting but he managed to catch six.  He was a little disappointed but in the afternoon when we checked in at the boat ramp he had the largest catch of the day.  They only had fourteen fish total.  Everyone except one guy only caught one and the other guy got three.  We were down about two-hundred feet which is why the fish's belly is extended.  When they come up that fast they don't have time to adjust for the pressure difference.  He was still good eating though.

The weather was overcast and cool with a little wind.  This lake can get ugly real fast so I'm glad he has a large boat.  He was telling me about a boat that he saw flipped by the wind.  Fortunately there were others nearby who fished them out of the water.  The boat sank in 200 feet of water though. 

One of our daughters was having sewing machine problems so she sent it home with us to see if I could fix it.  I took the opportunity to hem up some jeans while I was testing it.  It worked perfectly for about 20 minutes then started messing up.  I looked it over very closely and finally found a broken part.  We ordered a new bobbin holder off the Internet.  When it gets here I'll find out if that fixes it or she needs to take it to someone who knows what they're doing.

I did some re-arranging in my "toy box" and Scott helped.  My toy box has my muzzle loading supplies in it along with a few other things.  Scott had a special attraction to my tin skillet I use when camping "primitive."  I was getting my shotgun wads out so I could go turkey hunting this week.  I'm using my 12 gauge muzzle loader this year.

The wood shed is empty so I'm working out of the outside pile.  That means I have to split a wheelbarrow load of wood every day.  (Actually, I have a couple of days supply split and stacked in the wood shed "just in case.")  This is the amount of wood we go through every day.  We'd be using less except I'm still boiling down sap for syrup so I have to keep the stove going all day.

Something tore through the fence around the chicken pen so they've been entering and exiting at will.  I think it was the dog but it might have been the rooster.  I've never had this problem before so I don't think the hens did it.  At any rate, I put a double layer of wire over the hole this time to be sure that they stay inside unless I let them out.

We have one hen that's broody.  She's been on the nest for a couple of days now.  She's got five eggs under her.  I mark them with a crayon and when she gets to about ten or twelve eggs we'll start eating them again.  I'll leave the marked ones there for her to hatch out.  She's kind of protective so any time I check to mark or gather eggs I get pecked several times.  It's mostly bluff though and doesn't hurt.

The last couple of nights have been down to about 26 degrees with heavy frost.  I checked my blog from this time in 2010 and we still had snow on the ground then.

For now though the ground is clear and thawed out so we've been getting the garden ready to plant.  This compost is a couple of years old and is perfect for the garden.  The dog is acting as an observer.  You can't see him but Scott is riding in the backpack carrier on my back.

Our old strawberry bed wasn't doing much so I tilled it up this year along with some other spots we're going to get planted.  Susan is going to put onions in the places I've tilled up.  The ground is deep, soft and rich but it's taken years to make it that way.

Scott is observing while I scatter compost.  He likes to stand up and swing way over to the side so that he can see better.  It's good practice for me to keep my balance!

We're putting in a greenhouse here this year.  Nothing fancy, just some raised beds with PVC pipe ribs and plastic sheeting.  We'll put tomatoes in when we plant it.  It is new ground though and will take some work to get it level.  You can't really see it in the picture but there's a large hump in front of the tiller that needs to be leveled.  Note the stump in the upper right corner.

Finished!  Note the pile of rocks next to the stump!  I have the tiller set for a shallow cut to take off about two inches at a time.  I used a Miner's pick to loosen the ground and probe for rocks.  I don't like hitting rocks with the tiller for obvious reasons.  Once I've found and extracted the rocks I run the tiller over the ground to pulverize the soil.  I put the blade on the tiller and used it to push the dirt from the hump to the low spots to get everything level.  It was about two hours of work total.

It began raining lightly as I worked.  By the time I finished the clay was sticking to everything including the blade and tires (and my boots).  I kept working until I finished though.  This time of year you do what you can when you can because I've seen the rain move in and stay for a month at a time. 

Susan is pruning blackberry bushes.  We'll be moving these this year.  They're in a bad place and we get scratched up every time we walk past them.  They'll be living in the far corner of the garden soon and away from high traffic areas.

Scott is "helping" Susan weed the garlic.  He's also stepping on the little plants so we'll see if it hurts them any.  It's hard to get things done because someone has to be with him all the time which often cuts our production by half while one of us watches him.  He's worth it and we love him dearly but it does make life a bit more challenging.

Obviously Grandma didn't want these covering the plants so Scott decided to play musical frost frames!  It isn't going to hurt anything though so we let him play to his heart's content.

The partially weeded garlic patch with the plants we put in the ground last fall.

It was time to get the studded tires off and go with regular tires for the summer so I jacked up the car and dismounted the studded tires and mounted the summer tires then put them all back on the Cherokee.  I'm glad to have that done.  For once the beads seated easily which makes the job much more pleasant.  My little Harbor Freight tire machine has paid for itself many times over the last couple of years.  It would have cost us $60.00 to have it done at a tire store.

We're getting down to the last 20 gallons of birch sap.  We've had cool, rainy weather this week which made it nice running the wood stove since we needed it to keep the cabin toasty warm (instead of blistering hot!)

We went for a bicycle ride last night.  Susan rode hers to a fire department auxiliary meeting during the week while I took care of Scott so she has more "ride time" than me this week.

Scott's favorite play area is near the thetherball.  There's lots of sand to dig in.

Here he's helping his mom make dinner at her house.

Now he's watching Sesame Street reruns on Netflix at home.  In case you haven't noticed, he loves climbing on things which sure keeps us on our toes.  (No short jokes please!)

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