Art of Proprietation

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Toiling and tilling

I've been working in the back field. We have about four acres of level land there. I think it has been used for pasture and one previous owner told me he tried to grow corn. We're working towards a large propagation area for vegetables and goat pasture.

The soil is not full of clay. That's to good part. It's pretty sandy, not a lot of organic matter, certainly not any depth to the soil. It is going to take a lot of amendment to make it productive. That's some nicely aged cow manure in a pile on the left. We spread a layer of black plastic to smother that area on the right. We let it cook for about a month under the August sun. It did a pretty good job on the vegetation.

The next step was the scarifying blades on my box blade. I used it to break up any roots. I was also working on an area of pasture that needs remediation after the logging. Partly because it got torn up. But we also have a infestation of evil weed. It's a climbing vine, an alien evasive from Italy called black swallow wart. The pasture is on the perimeter of the field and the logger pulled a few trees out of it. And with his skidder, it didn't seem to take much effort.

This is what the ground looked like when I got done with the scarifying blades. I decided that even after the boxblade, there are too many roots to till. I didn't want to risk my new tiller on the first day.

Those are the tines of the tiller. It did a great job on the soil, breaking up the sod, cutting roots.

Here is the results of my tilling.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Apple Picking

This is the Apple tree that came with the house I bought...

The farmhouse we live and work in was built in 1893 and the family that built the house produced cider from their orchard. This is the last tree I have left on my land from them. It's a very old tree and it doesn't produce every year. But this is a good year.

We picket about 40 pounds today. They aren't super pretty. They've got some lumps. But they taste pretty good. And they are ours.

A gratuitous picture of the boy being cute

And with the wife...

I was hoping someone out there could help me identify the variety of this tree. Any guesses?

Are there other aspects of the tree that would help identify it?

After picking apples this afternoon and blueberries on Saturday, my wife suggested pie for dinner. Sometimes you just have to say what the heck....

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Friends with Benefits

That's my dependable old Audiovox 9155 cell phone. Well, at least it was old dependable. I got it in 2003, to replace another old Audiovox phone. Audiovox is not exactly a chic brand, but these phones have treated me well. It has a larger battery than most and I think better reception. And I haven't had to sign a contract to get a new phone.

But the point of this is that the most used buttons have started to not function reliably. The button is a typical printed circuit keypad, pushing the button forces a conductive layer down on a parallel set of contacts closing the circuit. Similar to TV remotes and many other devices. I tried cleaning it, but no avail.

I looked at the new phones Verizon would give me for signing a new contract. But I couldn't find one I felt it was worth signing a contract for. Instead, I bought the same model phone off eBay and scavenged parts out of it. That's the donor phone on the right.

I am not much of an electrical engineer. Luckily, someone else did all the engineering on this. I just had to take it apart and replace the offending keypad with the one from the eBay phone. I think it involve five small screws and some snap fit joints.

I am really happy I don't have to get a new phone. Learn how to program it, transfer my numbers, etc. And the phones I would have considered, I think Verizon would have tried to make me up my service level for anyway. I am a little concerned though. There used to be hundreds of auctions on eBay for compatible batteries. Now there are only a few. The next time I need to replace the battery, I may not be able to. But I think I probably have a year and half to three years (depending on how good the battery from the donor phone turns out to be). But then I probably will have to bite the bullet and get a new phone. Till then I guess I am foot loose and fancy free...

And in other news, we got about ten yards of poop.

We need to improve the soil in the backfield. We called around and compost was available for $55 a yard, minimum of 10 yards plus delivery. Luckily, my wife has a friend who found us a source of organic cow manure. And we didn't have to put all ten yards in the van! The friend had access to a small dump truck and we got the bulk of it that way. We got maybe two yards of old, dry, well composted manure into the back of the van (on a tarp) and onto a small trailer a friend loaned us. The rest came in the dump truck. Friends with benefits.

Here are some pictures from our first trip away from the house as a family since we got the goats a year and half ago.