Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Heavy-duty rain gauge
Leveling a rain gauge

I love collecting weather data --- not only is it good, geeky fun, the endeavor also helps me decide whether the garden needs to be watered and it helps me keep track of our specific frost-free period.  Unfortunately, weather-tracking kept falling by the wayside when the tools of the trade turned out to be shoddy and quickly bit the dust.

Heavy-duty rain gaugeA couple of years ago, I solved the temperature-tracking dilemma by going completely analog, and now I'm hoping I've found the rain gauge that will survive winter freezes.  The inner cylinder measures up to one inch of rain, then the outer container gives you an extra ten inches of wiggle room.  In the winter,  you remove the inner cylinder, bring the frozen precipitation indoors to thaw, and then pour it into the measurer.

My weather guru sent our new rain gauge along in exchange for using our farm as a weather station --- he's tracking the way a nearby mountain impacts microclimates in our region.  He's had to replace two rain gauges (not sure out of how many -- quite a few) over the last seven years due to freezing, but that's much better than my previous rate of losing a rain gauge every year.

Now, to see if I can remember to thank him by keeping track of which days begin with fog....

Posted
Maggie
Orifice

Accross the creek and road

there is a dark patch,

likely a cave.

<3

Each walk,

sacred,

I feel those eyes.

<3

Visions of Indians,

a feeling of protection,

a fighter on my side.

<3

A collection of bears,

and owls,

a heron.

<3

My imagination 

scales the cliffs

to get inside.

<3

That night I dream,

passing a tree so hollow inside.

Meeting the eyes of the women in it.

<3

Their heads thrown back in laughter.

When they offer me a pawpaw,

I look down to see I have eaten half already.

<3

I believe in dreams.

I tell my shrink.

I tell John Lennon.

<3

I tell my sister.

I believe in dreams.

I tell a friend in facebook.

<3

They all agree but no one understands.

When I was manic I saw the other side.

Not of death but of consciousness.

<3

I learned it is real over there.

You can enter the cave 

and never leave.

<3

If you find the right tree

there are beautiful women

serving you pawpaws,

<3

Their heads thrown back, in laughter.

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Trimmer mower line alternative
Swisher trimmer mower rope line

Today I tried putting a piece of nylon rope where the trimmer line usually goes.

It worked pretty good till it got frayed, and it still kept cutting, but not as fierce.

Maybe soaking the rope in some sort of adhesive would extend the amount of cutting each piece can do before it needs replacing?

Posted
Joey chatter
I increasingly want that little padlock to look like a 4 leaf clover. If you're very lucky it's secure.

What could possibly go wrong:

So, Cloudflare can get a cert for any domain belonging to their customers, and will soon be doubling the number of https sites on the internet by doing so.

And, Cloudflare gets this cert from Comodo, which has in the past given fraudulent certificates for google.com to the government of Iran. And which was only not blacklisted from browsers because too big to fail.

Posted
Joey chatter
2

Then drop the bitcoin on the ground, and track how long it takes for it to be converted back into $$

Posted
Joey chatter
19

glass (ish) pie pan

Posted
Joey chatter
23

Why does pumpa not let me post meme images in response to comments?

Posted
Joey chatter
24

crush it

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Bug book cover reveal

My second paperback has a coNew coverver, a publication date (March 3) and a preorder page!  I'm not entirely sure whether I like the image, but then, I hated The Weekend Homesteader cover...until it slowly grew on me over the years so that I now find it delightful (yellow boots and all).  And Skyhorse has done a great job producing a full-color book priced at a steal (marked down to $11.55 at the moment), so grab one while they're hot!

In other book news, the ebook version of Trailersteading is on sale today for $1.99.  I haven't uploaded the expanded and revised version yet (still waiting on print-quality photos from a few contributers --- you know who you are and will get email nudges next week).  But if you buy now, you'll automatically receive an updated edition this winter when the new version is available, and will have saved 50% off the cover price in the process.  Of course, you could also wait for the paperback, which will be coming out in fall 2016.

Thanks for putting up with a day of self-promotion.  I can hardly wait to see the interior of The Naturally Bug-Free Garden, and I suspect you'll have to bear with a glowing post about that too.  I promise that serious content will return shortly to a blog near you.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Garlic day 2014
Planting garlic

I stressed myself out last week by playing hooky from the garden for three days while a writing project consumed my attention.  When I came up for air, I realized that it was time to plant twelve beds of garlic and two beds of potato onions before the end of the week --- yikes!

Whenever I get overwhelmed by homesteading tasks, Mark reminds me that, together, he and I can do anything.  Add in Kayla, and we managed to get all of the winter alliums into the ground in about 9 man-hours.  Time to quit early and enjoy the fall weather!

Red dragonfly

I've avoided posting anything specific about garlic here because I've pretty much said it all before.  Type "garlic" into the search box on the sidebar and you'll learn far more than you ever wanted to know.

The only thing we're doing differently this year is to cut back to only growing Music garlic.  It seems a bit dicey to put all of our eggs in one basket, but over the last eight years, this variety has consistently done better than all the others, and the huge cloves make cooking a breeze.  Maybe next year we'll try a few other hardneck varieties...but maybe we'll say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Posted
Joey chatter
17

worked pretty well.. planning a fig and pear tart another day. maybe with blue cheese?

Posted
Joey git-annex devblog
day 222 preparing for debian release

Made two releases of git-annex, yesterday and today, which turned out to contain only Debian changes. So no need for other users to upgrade.

This included fixing building on mips, and arm architectures. The mips build was running out of memory, and I was able to work around that. Then the arm builds broke today, because of a recent change to the version of llvm that has completely trashed ghc. Luckily, I was able to work around that too.

Hopefully that will get last week's security fix into Debian testing, and otherwise have git-annex in Debian in good shape for the upcoming freeze.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Pears as low-work fruit trees
Young pear tree"Anna, I think you've been doing some experimenting with pears on your homestead, but I couldn't find any recent updates in the archives.  Any luck with your disease-resistant rootstocks, etc.?"

--- Jake, whose excellent blog is currently one of my favorites.  His writing will definitely be enjoyed by those who love a combination of useful facts, zany humor, and unadulterated geekiness.


Good question, Jake!  I haven't posted much about our pear trees because they're mostly in the waiting stage at the moment.  We originally planted a Keiffer and an Orient pear (the latter of which shouldn't be confused with Asian pears), and they grew quite well...but produced fruits that weren't worth eating.  (Yes, we are snobs.  Yes, if you plan to cook with the fruit, these are probably still quite good varieties.)

Training branches on a pear tree

So, a year and a half ago, I topworked the young trees to change them over to new varieties --- Seckel, Comice, and an unknown variety that is supposed to be similar to Comice.  The two named varieties are reputed to be moderately susceptible to fireblight, and I have seen a small amount of damage from that bacteria, although not enough to really slow down the trees.  (The photo above shows the huge number of new branches the Seckel's central leader has produced during this growing season alone.)  Otherwise, the transformed trees seem to be immune to problems.  Like most pears, our trees grow a mile a minute and I'm kept busy ripping off watersprouts to ensure that the pears don't revert back to their original varieties, then training keeper branches closer to the horizontal so they don't all grow straight for the sky.

Pear fruiting spur

If all goes well, we should see several fruits on each tree next year, at which point I'll be able to tell you whether Seckel and Comice live up to their potential for producing delicious pears that are much less prone to diseases than apples are.  So far, except for the fireblight, our pear trees have been pristine.  Of course, there are apple varieties that are nearly as disease resistant, and we manage to grow several despite having cedar-apple rust coming in from all sides --- a focus on types that are able to fight off that particular fungus is a big help.  But, from a management standpoint, I'd say that pears have definitely been our easiest fruit tree, followed by apples, and then trailed further behind by peaches.  Of course, the peaches do shine in terms of producing soonest after planting, so it's all a tradeoff.  But, yes, plant those pears!

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Prompting a black-soldier-fly crawloff
Lots of black soldier flies

One of my favorite features of our black-soldier-fly bin is the clear plastic, which lets me see exactly what's going on inside.  While this might not be quite as cool as an observation hive (grimy grubs versus beautiful bees), the transparency does make it easy to notice how many larvae are working inside.  And, this week, the feature helped me realize that a bunch of black pupae were congregating in the bottom of the bin.

Escaping pupaeThe instructions tell you to flood the bin with water once a week to prevent this exact problem...but I forgot.  Luckily, it wasn't too late to harvest all of those yummy pupae.  A couple of hours after flooding, I dropped by the bin and saw that there were pupae filling the ant moat (which I'd luckily forgotten to fill with water as well) since they'd all tried to crawl out so quickly that there was a traffic jam in the entrance ramp to the collection bin.

Mark helped me collect all of the escaped pupae, and we ended up with about three pints worth!  In fact, based on how much the contents of the bin dropped in height after the crawl-off, I suspect we might have lost another pint of pupae before I noticed the great escape.  Luckily, "lost" pupae will just turn into lots of adults to repopulate the bin, so it's all good.

The moral of the story?  If you don't keep a close eye on your bin and need to do an emergency flooding, stand by to prevent escapes!

Posted
Joey chatter
12

There's something pleasingly symmetrical about the power and information inputs both being in the form of light.

Posted
Joey chatter
14

100 watt hours is 3 to 5 days power budget for me in winter... I think I did all of last January on something like 120 watt hours actually. [edit: Err, I am probably off by a factor of 12 cause I was talking about amp hours]

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Cat door locking problem
fixing pet door that sticks open sometimes

We've been having a problem with our pet door.

When Huckleberry squeezes through he rubs against the locking tab and pushes it into a position that blocks the door from opening back up.

I drilled a hole through the tab so we could plug a wire through it to keep it open.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Who lays the best eggs?

Egg yolk colorSince we've been averaging about half a cup of black-soldier-fly larvae going to the tractored hens every day (plus they get all of our food scraps), I decided to run a color test on yolks from our pasture versus from our tractor.  I hypothesized that the latter would have the most bright-orange yolks due to all their treats...but I was wrong!

Instead, the orangest yolks came from the pastured hens (although the leghorn egg was paler --- those flighty critters aren't as keen on scratching for their dinner).  It seems that even a daily offering of insects and pepper tops isn't enough to make up for the hens' lack of space to run around.

I should have thrown in a store-bought egg to make this comparison really perfect, but I can tell you from past experience that those yolks would be significantly paler than even the Leghorn eggs.  So, yes, you will be improving over store-bought with a chicken tractor, but for absolutely tip-top eggs, you need to use rotational pastures and to choose those varieties wisely.  Enjoy your orange yolks!

Posted
Joey chatter
4

I think I'll be able to improve the type error message some too, along the lines of "Couldn't match type PortConflicts with SanePorts"

Posted
Joey chatter
10

I'm just astounded that a) this can be done, type level unique list checking and all and b) someone did it in response to a 5 minute question and c) at the beautiful beautiful type error message

Couldn't match type 'False with 'True
    Expected type: 'True
      Actual type: ServiceTypes.UniquePorts '[443, 80, 443]

Aka

Hey dude, you can't run a tor bridge and a web server on the same host
(given their default configurations)

We're truely living in the future of programming... well, some of us are, some of the time. Rest of us are patching bash. :)

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
First fig and next wave of raspberries
Ripening fig

Our first fig ran nearly three weeks late this year, ripening up on September 18.  Even then, we only had the one until today, when I hope to bring in enough figs to make it worth our while to roast some.  Good thing that possible frost passed us by or this would have been a one-fig year!  Instead, with autumn warming back up through the beginning of October, we may get to enjoy gallons of them.

Red raspberriesThe blueberries are finally slowing down, but another row of raspberries is ripening to take their place.  It's a bit odd how our two plantings of red raspberries act entirely differently even though they are all clones of one Caroline plant.  The row closer to the north-facing hillside (meaning they get a lot of shade, even in the summer) ripened up their fall berries nearly a month before the sunnier row, but the shady berries were considerably smaller.  The berries turning color now are huge and copious, promising a bowlful per day for our favorite dessert.

What fruits are you enjoying this week?

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Sorghum
height of sorghum

How tall did our sorghum get this year?

Most were close to 9 feet, but the tallest was a little over 10.

It's the first year we've grown it. The plan is to see if the chickens will eat the seeds and save the stalks for our future goat population.

Posted
Joey chatter
3

needs more port 443's

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Two years of high-density apple growth
Two years of apples

I'd like to put in my order now for a May 2015 with no hard freezes to nip our apple flowers.  Because our high-density trees have grown remarkably over the last two years (2013 in the top photo, 2014 below), and I suspect they could give us quite a few fruits if the weather holds off.

Snaking an apple treeIt's a bit hard to get the full effect from photos like these, but trust me --- you feel like you're in a miniature forest when you walk by the row nowadays.  Mark's already talking about snaking the tops of the taller trees (see left) so they don't grow too far above his reach, and I'm itching for the leaves to fall so I can set out our second high-density row with this year's graftlings.  I wonder if I'll get as much joy from eating the fruits as I do from watching the trees grow?

Posted
Joey chatter
wikipedia is the little death, the mind-killer

Dali helicopter burning giraffe, robot emperor of the galaxy, for realsises? Watching "Jodorowsky's Dune" right now, and I don't know if all the craziness in it is made up. Is this a movie about a tragic failure to make a movie, or an alternate history in which SF much more interpenetrated the arts than it does in our timeline? All I know is, I don't want to know for sure... It's too much fun not knowing.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Busy Baggins birthday
Mom's fig tree

Unusually busy weekend around here.  I drove myself to town (horrors!).  Mark cooked himself supper without me (extraordinary!).  I met one of our blog readers and a couple dozen of her closest friends and family in the flesh (hi, Emily in Bristol!).  Mom showed off the one-year-old daughter of our Chicago Hardy fig tree (impressive!).  Lost 'seng hunters wandered into our yard (unusual!).  My weather guru warned of a possible frost Monday night (yikes!).

(Bet you can't add more parentheticals and exclamation points in a 88 word post.)

Posted
Joey chatter
possibly too traveled

Just had a "have I been to Vienna?" moment and had to go all the way to git memory to work out that no, I've only been to Graz.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Call of the Farm giveaway

Call of the FarmIt seems a little crazy to have two giveaways running at the same time, but we're overflowing with fun items at the moment and it seems like we should share the bounty.  You've still got a couple of days to enter our fig giveaway, but in the meantime, why not also try your luck for a just-released farm memoir?

I reviewed The Call of the Farm a few months ago, and was surprised to get another copy in the mail last week.  It turns out, the publisher used my blurb in the front of the book (a first for me!) and sent a more polished copy as a thank-you.

But I don't need two versions of the book, so one lucky reader will take home this fun farm memoir --- use the widget below to enter!  The entry options are a little different than usual, but email list subscribers still get an effort-free entry.  Thanks for spreading the word, and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted
mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Battery powered bar oil
Oregon battery powered 40 volt chainsaw

I've added bar oil to the Oregon battery powered chainsaw twice now.

Both times resulted in some overspill, which can be a problem if it drips down and makes contact with the sharpening stone.

The next time I plan to refill the original bar oil container it came with first, that way the amount will be exact and I won't feel like such an amateur.

Posted
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
No honey to rob
Partially drawn comb

Warre hiveIt seems like there's never as much honey in my Warre hives as I think there is.  I went out to rob the mother hive's top box on a sunny afternoon this week...and found that there was nothing to steal.  The fourth box was empty, the box below contained a good bit of honey but also some capped brood (meaning it had to be left alone), I didn't dig into the third box (but I hope it's also full of honey and brood), and the bottom box consists of partially drawn comb (photo above).  So, instead of stealing honey, I took away the empty top box, and will probably remove the bottom box later as well.

Of course, you don't really expect to harvest honey if you split a hive, so just having enough bees and stores to get the mother hive through the winter is good.  Luckily, two boxes full of brood and honey are supposed to be enough for a Warre hive, according to the experts, unless you live in the far north.  Since a Warre hive box is only the size of a shallow super, that seems counterintuitive to those of  us who started with Langstroth hives, but I'm willing to bow to wiser beekeepers, who report that the superior insulating ability of the Warre hive allows the bees to thrive with fewer stores.

Honeybees

Unfortunately, the daughter hive is also not doing as well as I'd hoped, and they may actually be in trouble.  I removed the third box (empty) and finally got a look in the second Empty combbox, which turns out to be full of drawn comb but absolutely empty of life (photo to the left).  That means I need to feed fast to get the bees through the winter.

More troublesome was the presence of wax moth larvae under the quilt when I peeled back the final piece of burlap.  Wax moths are usually a sign of a hive in decline, since they mean the colony isn't strong enough to patrol their entire territory.  I hope that feeding the bees will be enough to let them bulk up and defeat the moths, but realize that there's a good chance the daughter hive might perish over the winter.

While I'm thrilled that my hives seem to be bypassing varroa mites without chemicals, I'm still not sold on Warre hives being the way to go --- I'd like to harvest some honey sooner rather than later.  Unfortunately, my past experience has been Langstroth hives with conventional bees that produced honey but perished without chemicals or Warre hives with chemical-free bees that don't produce honey but do survive in a natural setting.  Time to shake things up next year, maybe trying out chemical-free bees in a Langstroth hive on foundationless frames to see if those would give us a harvest in a natural setting.  I'd love to hear from other beekeepers who have figured the puzzle out, in case you want to save me a few more years of trial and error!

Posted
Joey chatter
1

In fact, I had a debian and a git-annex sticker on mine and I took them off.

Posted
Joey chatter
pirate party

Best thing by far at the festival was not on the schedule, a loud, sloppy, sweaty set by 49 Winchester in a tiny record studio the size of my living room.

They had to go out in the street and pull 20 random people in to fill it, but wow, we had a good time. Arrrr!

Posted
Joey chatter
clumsy, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, clumsy

EmmyLou Harris has won 14 separate Grammy's. Obviously a few people will come to see her. The stage was put in a good place for a small venue like Bristol, facing several empty blocks of street.

Good so far, so why put a mixing tent right in front of the stage, 100 feet back? And bleachers for 50 next to it. Thus blocking the view entirely for 90% of the people trying to attend the concert.

I'd understand if this wasn't the 15th year of this festival, and if they hadn't gotten it right before..

Posted
Joey chatter
8

Switched to firefox after apparently too long on chromium. When did firefox become such an awesome browser?

Posted

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