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Seasons Journal: Living On The Land

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I'm writing a journal/report on what's happening here that I can save to document what's happening this time of year on the land. Because it is documenting a season I can spend more time on it and keep a record .. and keep up to date on goings on .... and later use it for land stuff. kind of like my calendar .... so it is still evolving. This journal is listed in a directory called journal I think...something like journal of the seasons: living on the land ... the idea is to supply the basic info of what is happening on the land in each season so people starting out on the land ... will have and idea what to expect and also be an historical record ... a kind of almanac and be searchable by dates and years to go on my website and eventually on a cd to show how to live on the land .... because it took me over 25 years and I feel I'm just now getting down some of the things and seeing how it all fits together ... no sense in other people reinventing the wheel .... especially when this crazy economy slows down ... some people may have to rethink what they are doing and this may be an option for them ...

How To Use This Journal Of The Seasons

There are two basic ways to search this journal: first, you can search by key words ... to find about beans, weeds, corn, and you will find each reference to that topic as they occured in the season. For example, if you searched for tomato, you would first find references to starting transplants, and move through the season with each new reference. Handy guide from planting to storage.

The next method to search by is by date. If for example you wanted to find what was happening at a particular time of the year, you could search by date. Each date is in a form of ==) mm-dd-yy (==

You could search for March by searching for ==) 05

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Journal Of the Seasons

==) 04-28-01 (==

past few days sunny cold ...high around freezing but really nice having the sun ... too many cloudy days this winter ... lake effect snows even now caused a lot of clouds ... I guess the great lakes never fully iced over this season. The snow cover this season was exceptionally good and the trails for the snowmmobile were the best in a long time ... cut about 2 to 2 1/2 years supply of wood so far and still cutting ... also able to to go into the hard to get at low areas with all this snow covering and making good trails posssible in bad areas (wet, uneven terrain).

(offline email) writing offline ... wasn't able to go online today (tue 03-27-01)... my email account partner is not yet back on her schedule..... so I do not have a regular schedule each week to go online yet.

SYSTEMS: trying to get all the systems setup for electric ...and computer... the test page I setup ... On the land .... was based on a generic page where all the photos are labeled ..... 1.jpg for the big one and 1r.jpg for the reduced one ... etc.. so I can use the same numbers for all my photos and save time using the same generic page ... fill in text if I want ... in general only one or two photos on a page will have an enlarged page behind the small one ... on the test land page only a couple of photos were ok to put online .. the close up of the piece of wood was good (at 8 inches) because it shows I can take close ups ...I used a tripod ... flashes in the house work best under certain light conditions and not as well (grainy) under others ... I'll figure out the best conditions. ... out doors .... it was overcast for a lot of the shots and full sun works best .... with my old camera full sun was always best ..... anyway the test page showed I could get photos that are good for online web work ... which is what I wanted it for .... and having the ability to take closeups with the special setting on the camera is a bonus ...as I could take pictures of seeds and small plants if I need to .... and especially good is the low cost of the pictures (mostly the one time cost of the camera) AND the ability to erase shots ..... so I have that system set up to some degree. snow conditions are also not that good because the snow tends to be too bright compared to every thing else ...

camera tripod: the tripod you gave me was damaged in 2 places (maybe that's why he didn't want it ??? ) the main control on the camera was bent pretty bad and a piece was broken off ..... lucky for me I was able to put the part in the stove and get it red hot and bend it back to the correct shape and it works great now ... another part was missing and I was able to replace it so that works ...the tripod was the same brand as my digital camera so it fit right on the camera !!!!! Argus has been making cameras since 1936 .... and they have a great guarantee ... 1 year $7.50 and mail back to them ...they fix or replace ... after that ..if it fails they will sell another at wholesale price. so the webpage setup has moved forward ... lots of work on little bugs in the system but pretty good setup up now.

generator system ... I want to suppliment the charging system for my batteries so I don't have to use the generator as much so I'm going to wire up the car to take an extra battery that I can switch on when the engine is running so it can charge on the ride back and forth to town each week. that means I will only need to run the generator when I'm online and I can add to the charge then instead of having to do the full charge ..... we'll see how it works out.

time online ... trying to keep the time I actually need to be online for online work ... uploading stuff to my website ... downloading picture from the camera ... downloading my science news articles instead of reading them online.... downloading weather forcast ...etc, and doing most of my computer work offline with my old 386 notebook ..... I'm writing this email offline and I'll copy and paste it into an email next time I go online. I will work on my html pages offline and view them online to see how they look ... once I get a system down it should work out ok ... this computer the 386 notebook is basically a word processor (runs best in DOS) as it takes too long to load stuff in windows 3.11 but I find I can do most of what I need this way so it work pretty good.

I'm getting ready to take a break from all this systems work ... and get back to a normal schedule ....

still lots of snow 1 foot and more in the woods .... last year at this time I was planting some early stuff in the gardens (that was an early year) .. any time after the end of march is when the snow is off the fields.

will go back to work on cutting trees at the site tomorrow .. I lowered the rackers on the chain saw blade and it cuts really fast now ... logs over a foot wide and it cuts so fast it feels like cutting soft wood ... a small adjustment can make a big difference.

waiting for spring

==) 03-31-01 (==

Beautiful with snow on all the trees!

Had another late spring snow storm about 6 inches wet snow. I was hoping for rain to melt and start moving towards gardens, but it looks like rain is now not forcast till later in the week. With the ground under the snow not frozen (at least in our area) when the snow melts it can go into the ground instead of running off and causing erosion. But we are loosing a lot of heat from the sun that could have been heating up the soil if the snow cover was off ...as it is the white snow reflects almost all the heat. Generally it takes a real rain or a strong warm wind to do any serious melting. Meanwhile, working on other projects.

Electric: set up wires from the car battery (+ just as it comes in from the alternator) and - on the engine at the ground connect. Put a 30 amp fuse right next to the connect to the + and ran the wires (#10 gauge for least resistance) safely around the engine across under the windshield (in the engine compartment) and found a rubber plug that allows access to the passenger compartment through the firewall and then ran it along near the gear shift (standard) and on to the back seat foot area on the non driver side. Right near the stick shift within reach of the driver I added another inline fuse that has a rubber snap off cover and a fast blow 30 amp fuse that looks like a chip and pulls out easily. This serves as an on off switch (cheaper than the other 12 volt switches. At the battery end in the back seat, are 2 medium small alliagtor clips like the ones found on jumper cables.

I tested the system today. with a half charged battery it was drawing between 8 and 6 amps ... just about the same as a house battery charger. On a 80% charged battery it was only charging at 1 to 2 amps. Since I will only be driving about an hour total (back and forth from town). I will be getting maybe 6 amp hours on a 1/2 charged battery and very little on a nearly full battery, I decided to try charging 2 batteries at once. The total amperage seems to be the total of the 2 batteries separately ... so it seems to make a lot more sense to charge 2 batteries at once. With 2 1/2 charged batteries, we may be able to get 10 to 12 amps per hours of drive time. I will test this out next time. Also because hydrogen gas can be released in charging I will travel with both back windows open some and the fan running all the time in the front to minimize any problems with that. The second battery will be behind the drivers seat with jumper cables connecting it to the other battery and the altenator.

Since we do not want the discharged batteries to draw down the car battery when I connect them, the fuse (next to the stick shift) will be taken out and the plastic cover closed before the car is turned off. That way when I install the batteries the fuse will be out and only after the car is started will I insert the fuse and connect the system to the alternator, by then the voltage in the line will be up to about 14.16 volts and the generator will pump current to all the batteries as they need it. So far so good. Next time to town will be the 1st full test.

Meanwhile until I get a solar system, I will suppliment this charge with a charge on the batteries whenever I use the computer. The 486 computer I have to use on the internet needs the generator to run, because it is such a power hog. Planning carefully to go online only to do online things and using my old notebook 386 to do offline work, the time running the generator will be kept to a minimium. The weekly charge on the batteries when I go to town once or twice a week (to do intown jobs for pay and go to events) together with the minimium time online with the generator will provide just enough for my electric needs. My big DC flouresent lamp (equals about a 70 watt bulb in light) uses about 24 watts (2amps!) that lamp is only used when the smaller lamp will not do. The smaller lamp is really great ... it uses about 1/4 of an amp (it can go 8 hours on the same electricity as the big lamp would use in one hour. Because the small lamp is setup on a lamp holder that is like the one used on drafting tables ... the lamp can move all over and be positioned to be right where you need it. It is plenty bright enough for reading and close work and well a general food prep work. So the small lamp is used almost exclusively. The small black and white TV uses about 1 amp and when it is on the small lamp is off. The 386 notebook computer uses about 1 1/4 amp so it takes about the same as the TV. I generally use the computer and TV whenever I want because the small lamp saves so much electricity. I will soon have a pretty good idea how much I need per week. Up until now I brought my battery to town once a week when visiting and charged in on the grid with a regular battery charger ... it put out about 6 amps at best.

FOOD: cutting up cabbage and carrots (1 full head a week and equal amounts of shredded carrots ... they are mixed dry in a container for the week. This cole slaw mix is stored for the week and a serving at a time is added to a meal ... non fat italian dressing is added instead of mainonaise and sometimes cheese or raisons. Good roughage, high vit A (pro vitamin a beta carotene from the carrots) and anti cancer properites from the cabbage family. Have to get back into making corn bread soon ... but the workshed is full of new storage and I need to grind corn soon. Received the grinder cones I ordered from the grinder company C. S. Bell ... we have the #2 grinder. It is advertized as a heavy duty hand grinder but we have it set up to run on an 1/3 hp electric motor with a pulley ... we are careful to run it at the same speed you would normally hand grind and it works great ...the grinder is set to a medium grind and then the corn is ground a second time for a finer grind .... it makes a somewhat course flour ...it feels like flour but has some grit. the extra set of burrs ($30) should make it last longer than we will.

CORN BREAD: Dry soybeans that we grow and boiled until tender and ground with a meat grinder they are then mixed in the ratio of 8 cups dry corn meal with 6 cups wet soy from the meat grinder. water, some sugar (about 4 tablespoons) and often 4 super ripe bananas (for moisture) or apple sause, or mashed fruits are used. The corn meal is soaked for at least 1 hour by itself to soften it up ... because the water swells the small corn pieces from the grinding and insures that they all cook completely ... because we use a somewhat course grind.

Today is a Saturday ... I usually do not work on the weekends but needed to catch up and wanted to test out the battery set up with the car.

May go online latter tonite.

==) 04-08-01(==

Major melting. Been in the 40's and 50's for most of this week. A thunderstorm (first of the season) went through last nite with some rain, but not a lot. Today is 45 at 8am and lots of wind. The snow is still not off the fields. But in town at lower elevation, the snow is off the lawns. The big difference between here and town is in how soon the snow melts. The snow reflects a lot of the heat from the sun, and it usually takes rain to do a lot of melting or a good wind with warm conditions. Once the snow melts then the sun can warm the soil pretty fast because the dark color absorbs heat. So the difference in the date the snow is off the fields makes a big difference between the town and here. For example, now all the heat from the sun and the warm air is warming the soil in town. Here it is very slowing melting the snow, reflecting any sun and putting the heat into the great heat sink of the cold snow. So once the snow gets off the ground in town, they are rapidly warming and we are still on the slow track. We generally have a larger snow pack to begin with so this starts the cascade effect ... more snow ... longer to melt... further behind .... but once the snow is off the fields we are warming at about the same rate as town ... but are already a week or 2 behind. Some years if we have a big rain ...enough to melt all the snow in both areas at about the same time then we almost catch up to town. If we have a good snow pack and keep the frost out of the ground, like we did this year, and town has a part of the winter without snow pack that lets the frost get in the ground then they have the slow down effect of having to melt the frost layer in the ground. There was a little bit of that effect this year but not much. We had a lot more snow because a few times the lower towns got rain or rain and snow while we got snow. So we a still snow covered on the fields. In the woods, where it takes longer to melt we have snow up to your knees or deeper in drifted sheltered areas. This week is forecast to be in the 50's and even 60's so with a little rain, more wind, we should have the snow off the fields soon.

The snowmobile trails are still passable ... for light loads, so I am moving some of the cement blocks that have been frozen in ground here. Other wise I will have to move them with the cart. I bring a shovel to fill in bare parts of the trail if I need to. Getting ready to put the snowmobile away and get out the tiller. Probably this week as soon as the blocks are moved to the site.

Replaced the rubber diaphrams on the chain saw carberator last week and for a full day the saw ran great. Idled nicely and had plenty of power. Then suddenly it acted like it was short of gas (ie: ran better with the choke on). Rechecked the carb work .. looked good. It may be that the line from the carb to the bottom of the crank case has a leak. That line takes the puff puff pressure from the bottom of the crank case and uses it to pump the gas into the carb. There was a small leak that I fixed and it improved but there still seems to be a problem. It will take too much time to take it apart further, so I'm waiting until a rainy day ... somewhat dissapointing not having it running as I go into this busy season because I may need it on town jobs if I have to cut down trees in landscape work. I may try to get my backup saw running if it looks like less work.

Have my calendaers out to check on what was happening at this time of year the last 3 or 4 years. On April 1 in 98 = peepers; 96 + 99 snow off fields; 96 1st robin;

On April 8 in 98 1st planting. On March 21 of 2000 we were plantng peas But that was early. but we had a big snow storm on April 8 of that year ... most of the planted crops (except potatoes) did well anyhow and we had very early peas.

Next project this coming week is to fix the fence around the garden where ever it is touching the ground from winter conditions and get the fence charger going to keep the deer out before they get started.

battery charging in the car worked pretty good. Charging 2 batteries. Need more work on how long it takes to charge to what level. A lot of driving this week charged them both up to full but ...that was more driving than normal. Have 2 batteries connected under the sink running the system now. They are charging when I use the generator for the internet and will move to the car next town day.

==) 04-09-01 (==

One Day's Melting With A Strong South Wind
Same Location Over 24 Hours

End Of Winter

==) 04-23-01 (==
[Click On Date To See Related Photos]

Since the snow has melted it has warmed up rapidly. The past week has been in the 40 at nite and 60s, 70s, and 80s today. Everything is happening too fast. Frogs are going full blast now (peepers). Lots of sunny days so the soil is drying out fast. Had to water already because of the sun drying the soil over small seeded plantings.

Planted most of the cold weather crops. In wide rows, we planted 40 of buttercruch lettuce, 40 of carrots 3 types, 2 rows of sprouted (till roots start to swell) snap peas, sugar ann and cascada. Already had to water the shallow planted crops in this area.

In regular rows planted: 2 140 foot rows of decicco brocolli with 35 feet of cabbage danish ballhead at the end of each of these rows. With room in between the rows to plant another row of snap peas as a second crop ..to be removed when they mature and the brocolli starts to need room.

Planted 3 row 60 foot of carrots: danvers 126 (used last year stored pretty good, red cored chanteney, and royal chanteney .. for winter storage.

Planted 3 rows 60 foot of New York Early onions from my seed and fedco because I need to keep growing my own seed for this variety ... it is the best storage onion that can be grown from seed and is open pollenated ... excellent ... but hard to find seed for ... fedco warned may be last year for seed. and seed only stores one year so.... will try to save seed consistantly. this is grown between 2 rows of century peas for dry pea storage. These long vines are flipped from left to right and right to left when they start to get tall to make a z pattern and they take up very little room this way while keeping the pods off the ground and cool ... must dry well to store .. makes split pea soup.

Potatoes: ordered seed potatoes from a different supplier this year (local) as Agway has upped its price to a crazy price $19/50lbs. ... I ordered 50lbs of Kennebec (main crop storage) and 50lbs of red norland (early crop not a good storer) for less than $12 a bag ... I really do not need all those red norland but buying by the pound at agway would have cost that much for 10 lbs so I'll give some away .. maybe to hank lincoln or the kennedy farm.

Tilled and fertilized all the cold crop areas before planting.

Tilled in the rye from last year that over wintered laying on the ground to speed breakdown ... it took 4 or 5 tillings to incorporate into the soil... that is too much work and gas ... so this year I will try tilling at least once in the fall to get more break down by spring ... the laying down the stalks method did work good. ...it seems it is the root network that makes it hard to till. lots of organic material so this looks promising if I can find an easier method. one plot of tilled in rye will be planted to potatoes ... the other to corn ... hoping to avoid the corn seed maggot problems I had last year with the soy beans.

Set up the water system a little early because it was getting so dry. Will have to keep an eye on low temperatures for a while so as not to freeze the pump ,... may cover with blankets. The 55 gallon drums of food (kraft) containers are great for storage and being at the top of the slope of the garden, we can use a gravity feed system for small waterings. 100 gallons of storage and can be increased by adding more drums. I need to get more drums as I use them for the root cellar (covered with hardware cloth to keep out rodents) and for storage of all my seeds (beans, corn, soys, dry peas). 1 inch diameter black plastic drinking water quality pipe has lasted over 15 years with no problems (drained in winter).

First solar shower of the season today. Having the black plastic pipe laying in the sun is enough to get it really hot ... by mid morning ... to take a shower or waiting till later in the day ... 5 or 6pm after work to take a shower ... by midday it may be too hot to use without adding cold water.

supper is cooking now .. signing off.

==) 05-03-01 (==
[Click On Date To See Related Photos]

==) 05-05-01 (==
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Very busy. Have had very warm conditions with almost constant sun. 70-85 degree days, 50-60 degree nights. Fierce sun and drying conditions on the soil. The early plantings of cold weather crops: carrots, beets, onions seed (NY Early), lettuce had to be watered once or even 2 times a day. So the top 1/4-1/2 inch of soil would not dry out completely. The extra work of watering was saved in have almost no weed growth, because watering was done with a fan watering nozzle and only the width of the planter wheel was watered in single rows. Wide rows were watered and wide row peas were left dry and weeded with the in-row-weeder. This spring has been so hot and sunny that is starting to catch up to an average spring. May 2 we had june berry bloom. In only one day some of the blossoms were starting to fall off.

Marked out the new snowmobile/walking trail though the woods to the new cabin site. Very good path for mostly level to gradual slopes. One incline but with enough room to get up to speed. Whole new area of woods to look at.

Potatoes are cut to seed size and have been in stacked boxes outside in partial sun to help get then more sprouted. They are growing faster in boxes than if I set then out. Cold for the next few days ..40pm 60am ... 30pm .... then warming ... will be ready to set out the potatoes right after the warming begins.

Tomatoes were planted in quart container with garden soil with very little compost (to prevent damping off). Usually I keep them warm in the house with night wood fires but it was so warm this year I kept them in the cold frame ... I will cover with blankets and plastic tonight 40's ... but will move indoors tomorrow 30's. Saved a lot of work having them in the cold frame and not having to make fires to keep them warm at night. They dry out in a day and 1/2 or so ... in this heat and sun .. highest temp in the cold frame was 93. Even during 85 degree sunny days, string to open more as it gets real hot ... helps a lot.

==) 05-13-01 (==
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