Sunday, September 23, 2012

More baby chicks and the ditch

Look at the baby chicks!  They are getting so big so quickly!  I've been trying to condition them to not be so skittish when we humans have to intervene.  We've been trying to make it a point to feed them out of our hand a few times a day.  At first when we'd put our hand in the box, they'd flip out, peeping like mad and jumping around like popcorn.  This instinct is slowly being replaced with them instead being interested in us, which you can see at the end of this short video as the woken chickens being to come closer, craning their necks to see what's up.

Just about done with the drain around the foundation.  So far, it has worked perfectly.  I still have a few tons of brick and stone cart away, though ...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ditch Digging

A long time has passed since I last posted anything here at Greg's List.  The summer has been relentless with tons of things going on, weeks of crazy heat early in the season .. seems like there hasn't been a whole lot of time to put together a worthy post.  On top of that there wasn't anything particularly note worthy to post about.  

It is very likely that the following post is also not note worthy enough to post on, but I shall regardless.

Well, we are in the midst of a pretty large house project.  It has come to our attention that water has been making it's way into our basement.  This has been an issue since we've moved in, but recently there has been another breach and all sorts of silt and mud are collecting as the condition worsens.  There really is no damage to speak of, but if the issue is not addressed damage will ensue.

I took a few videos to document my progress,.  So far I've spent 6 hours digging with a total of 9 hours total.

One of the problem areas is here on the right side where at one time there existed a doorway into the basement.  At sometime the door got bricked up and had concrete poured in and then dirt filled in over the top.  Water at the base of this structure seeps in when it rains hard.  The job now is to excavate until the bottom of the door is reached.  At that point we will scrub the joints clean and apply ample amounts of hard setting tar.

The previous owners when they decided to seal up this door way had decided apparently that it would be a good idea to dump in as many spare bricks and rocks as fill for the hole.  The biggest hassle of this job has been trying to pull these mini-boulders and bricks back out of the hole.  The job is utterly back breaking.

The new water breach looked like it was created by erosion from roof water run off.  That and possibly a burrowing animal.  We decided to put in a french drain around the back of the house that leads toward the back deck where there is a water catch system in the making already beneath the deck.  Eventually the plan is to have this water tiled down past the front of the house where it will be carried away toward the culvert on the edge of our property.  The project is a lot of physical work, but it will be well worth it to not have the moisture in the house.

We took some time this season to and do some staining and rudimentary landscaping.  I never did get around to finishing the staining, but we did manage to stain the kids' play set and back deck as well as a few of the wooden items in and around the back garden.

The garden took a beating during those very hot 100+ weeks, but there are still plenty of goodies.  Here is some basil that is looking good.

Seems like the last few years our peppers have not been producing as well as I would like.  There is still time, though, so I hope they all hurry it up and get some growth!  This jalepeno plant is loaded with peppers!  I can't wait to stuff them with cheese and bake them!  Or throw them in with beans and rice or in a chile .. 

The grapes in the green house have kicked butt this year.  We have a bunch of them washed and frozen in the freezer and they are awesome! They are chewy, icy, intense grape explosions!

A panorama of our semi-cluttered yard .. 

.. panorama of the inside of the green house ...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hops, Morels and greens

Two and a half years ago I built a simple trellis and planted some hops that I purchased an Jung Garden Center in Fitchburg, WI.  I picked up four varieties, Cascade, Mt. Hood, Nugget, and Willamette.  The first year, as expected, did not see much of any growth.  During this time the hops got themselves established.  Last summer my Cascade was completely overrunning the trellis and I harvested a nice amount, but I was too busy with the roof to attend to the drying and curing and thus lost the harvest.

This spring, however, I am taking the task more seriously.  All four varieties have come back this season with a vengeance and I got a wild hair that my calling may be in raising hops, so I have taken to propagating these four varieties.

All four plants are going nuts and little shoots have popped up everywhere.  I have taken these and am trying two approaches to rooting them out.

Well, this idea didn't turn out so well.  You can propagate many plants by simply taking clippings or their shoots/suckers and put them in water.  Within a week or two they form roots!  Not so with hops it seems.  Or maybe some other condition wasn't right.  Regardless, I killed half a dozen decent shoots.

This next method of propagation I learned from reading a few articles online and so far it seems to make the hops shoots and cuttings very happy.  The mix is mostly perlite and vermiculite mixed with a little Foxfarm planting mix for nutrient.  If these babies all make it, I'll have 40 plus hops plants ready to put in this summer.  They won't be productive this summer, but they'll be in a good place to put on weight and hopefully bare fruit next season.

Everything else in the greenhouse is doing really well.  The grapes are really taking off and tiny little grape bundles have formed everywhere.

Kale and lettuce are all doing nicely.  We have begun thinning out this bed and replanting many kale in other free beds in the greenhouse and outside.


Kale, lettuce, thyme and .. lambs quarters??

Lillian found morels at Nana's place in New Glarus!  

And, of the last bit of news I would like to show you my latest creation, which is a honey mead that I just started last week.  There is about 16 pound of honey in this thing.  In about two weeks I will add about 15 pounds or so of juiced strawberries!  Then it will sit until after it has become winter .. the nearest this should be opened is probably New Years Eve .. better to wait a whole year!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Winter dome work

Oh, it's been another long winter.  Not as long as some in recent memory have been, thankfully.  In fact, the weather in January and February this year have been some of the warmest on record.  This did not pass by me unnoticed, so it was with little hesitation that I decided to get busy on finishing work on the dome.

When I left the dome last .. Spring??  Wow.  Time just flies .. regardless of the fun level!  When I left the dome, it was pretty much as you see in the picture below.  I'd recently devised a way to mount the Solexx panels by 'sistering' custom cut cedar boards onto the existing pipe.  But, it was at that time that we got the news that it was time to put the new steel roof on and gut the kitchen, both of which superceded all other project.

But, with the awesome unseasonable weather, I was able to start on finishing the dome exterior.  I'm not certain of the exact count, but at this point I think I had about 80 cedar boards yet to fashion and probably close to 60 triangles to cut.  My process was getting more efficient at this point and I think i was able to produce about 16 of these boards in 4 hours.  16 triangles took about 1.5 hours to cut.  Add about 3 to 4 hours to mount the parts.  This worked out to .. oh .. somewhere like 30 or 40 hours to finish the job of covering the dome.

Those days we're almost surreal.  We'd just gotten a fairly heavy snow storm which left us with a good 6 or 7 inches of snow, but the sun was out and warm!  It was simply irresistible to not be outside working, so with my 'Droid and a small set of speakers and a few layers to keep warm I would work outside through the weekends and through the weekdays in the evenings.  I shot this little video to try and capture some of the feel.

Now, only a few weeks later, the days are reaching into the 70's and temperatures are getting into the 90's and 100's in the dome - and it's only MARCH!  Windows and basic ventilation are next on the docket.