Sunday, June 30, 2013

Cherries, an up-date

I had several people respond and two crews show up to pick sweet cherries.

These cherries were extremely difficult to capture on camera.  They are Stark Gold.  The tree is exceptionally cold resistant and the color seems to fool the birds....but only for a while.

The first crew was from Village Summit.  Marcus Brown is the lead guy from Village Summit and he is very dedicated to fixing the food desert found in older, city neighborhoods.  My eyeball measurement is that they picked about seven gallons of sweet cherries to take back with them.

Harvest method was to spread tarps and either shake branches or to knock them from the branches with a pole.
Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the Village Summit crew.  I try to do better when they come back to pick peaches.

The second crew was from Growing Community (Community Garden).  They showed up at about 6:00 PM.

I was going to prune the tree anyway.  It seemed smart to bring the cherries to the pickers rather than try to lift the pickers to the cherries.  Poles for knocking cherries from branches are leaning against trunk of tree on extreme left of picture.

This young lady rocks at picking cherries.
This 22 year old farm girl is amazing.  She holds a PHD from Illinois.  She put a new spin on Iwan-Auger theory.  And she cooks and knits.  Proof that you don't have to be from an elite suburb to be an elite person.
The funniest moment of festival was when somebody was watching me trying to knock cherries from the branches with a pole.  They said, "You know, Joe, you could harvest a lot more cherries if your pole was bigger and stiffer."  And no, they had no overt appreciation of what they had just said.  We will not bring Freud into this discussion.

If by whiskey...

This is a classic piece of political oratory.  It should be studied by every voter.  Modern politicians tend to be a little more subtle.

"My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise."

 The label if-by-whiskey refers to a 1952 speech by Noah S. "Soggy" Sweat, Jr., a young lawmaker from the U.S. state of Mississippi, on the subject of whether Mississippi should continue to prohibit (which it did until 1966) or finally legalize alcoholic beverages


All pictures borrowed from the internet.

Weight control

Weight gain:

I got on the scale this morning.

I gained 3.5 pounds in the last three weeks.  This is not good.

Less of this and more bananas

Yellow Jackets:

The boys asked me to spray the yellow jacket nests behind the basketball back board.  So I mixed up a right stout batch of Sevin and blasted it up their backside (the yellow jacket's, not the boy's).  Imagine my surprise when an enormous, black, hairy bug with claws and an 8" wingspan erupted from behind the back board.

OK, it was a bat, not a bug.  Apparently, they do not like cold jets of liquid blown up their knickers.

Sweet cherries:

I have calls out to some of my friends.  While mowing I noticed that about 1/3 of the sweet cherry crop was on the ground.  The racoons and possum found the tree.  There are still about 7 gallons of cherries on the tree.  We will see if any of my friends can bend their schedule on short notice.  I suspect the racoons and possum will finish the tree off tonight.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

PT update: June 29, 2013

I went for  a long run today and it kicked my butt.

The temp was about 65 F.  The dewpoint was about the same.  My glasses fogged up repeatedly.

Total run was 8.5 miles + an additional half mile cool down.

My electrolyte was Peach-Mango-Lemonaid.  Yum!

I saw 4 vehicles, two other joggers !!!!! and a bicycle rider.

I uploaded a very short video clip because photos cannot do running water justice.

My run took me across three streams.  This is the prettiest sounding one.

I think that is water cress growing under those dead branches.

Main branch of the Thornapple river.  The water is about 18 inches deep.

Turn around point.  The Eaton Township Hall.

One advantage of running an out-and-back is you can stash your electrolyte bottles and lighten your load quickly on the way out.  If you have not guessed, I treat long runs as a series of 3 mile runs.

Garden log: Star date June 29, 2013

Same plot.  Different faces.

I would barely make a callous on the tip of a really good gardener's pinkie finger.  I am pretty good at taking pictures and typing.  I am really not as good as this blog makes me look.
---End Disclaimer---

Two of the of the tricks of making a garden productive are
  • Pay attention to your plants and make adjustments when things are not right.
  • Have a plan of succession and act on it

Pay attention:

Most years the adjustments involve watering.  This year the rains have been very good to us.

I was walking by the barn orchard (note to gentle reader, we have many plantings or orchards on the estate) and the peaches did not look happy.  They showed the symptoms of Nitrogen deficiency.  Pale green color: Check.  Wimpy shoot extension: Check.  Heavy sod around base: Check.  The boss forgot to fertilize the peach trees in this orchard:  Check.

Shoot extension should be at least 12", leaves should be darker green and the leaves larger.  White bucket in background contains urea, 46% N.  Two "handfuls" were broadcast within 3 feet of base of the peach trees.

Succession plan:

In a typical year, a good succession plan would involve plantings that overlapping like shingles on a roof.  The mature vegetables would be harvested and...behold, the next generation would be in place with a substantial canopy.  They would be productively photosynthesizing most of the sun falling on the garden row and have a massive head start on the weeds.

This season has not been typical.  I am getting back into the game and the season feels like it is half over.

Most casual gardeners are one-and-done...a bit like half the teams that go to the NCAA Basketball tournament.  The dynasty programs have a plan of succession.  Not just game-to-game, but also season-to-season.  Strive to be a dynasty program.

The next generation:

Happy Rich Cut-and-come-again Broccoli.  Incredible plant.  Bees adore the flowers.  If given fertilizer and water it keeps throwing mini-broccoli heads, and more heads, and more heads.  Similar cultivars are Apollo, Green Lance and Endeavour.

Improved Dwarf Siberian Kale

Winterbor Kale.  Expensive seed.  The others were broadcast in the flats.  Winterbor was individually planted.

Deer casing the joint.  Next to Jade green bean seedling.  Trouble is a-brewing in Mudville.

A close up of how rough the seed bed is for the Super Sugarsnap peas.  Big seeds can blast through rough seed beds.  Wimpy seeds (like carrots) need fine seed beds.

My wife loves Sugar Snap peas.  I love my wife.  This will be her row.  It has easy access and will be trained up snow/construction fence to lift it up to an ergonomically correct height for picking.

Good luck.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Total Firearms

Rainy day in Michigan.

I took my two daughters to Total Firearms in Holt, Michigan.

I called ahead.  They advised that I bring ammo.  They also advised that they really wanted them to shoot 100 rounds through a 22 LR before graduating to bigger stuff.

Mr Rick Burroughs very patiently walked them through the plan.  Rick has been training new shooters for 40 years.  He has the patter down and knows what questions they will ask before the trainee does.  He was unfailingly calm, patient, explained things clearly and emphasied safety.  I highly recommend Mr Rick Burroughs as a trainer for new shooters.  He took everything in stride with nary a hiccup.  Not everybody can graciously accommodate left-handed, right-eye-dominant shooters with overly protective dads.

Oldest daughter and Mr Burroughs getting started

Close-up of oldest daughter making holes in paper.

Two dazzling smiles.  Happy campers on a rainy day.  Range was seven yards.  They were shooting a Ruger 22/45 (Mark III).  The guy to the left was shooting a Glock 45.  Guy to the right was shooting a Springfield Armory 40 S&W.  I am very proud of my girls for being able to concentrate with the heavy boomers going off while they were shooting.
You don't suppose these girls are competitive.  Do you?

Then back home to the mother-ship for cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing.
There are few situations that cannot be made even better by the liberal application of sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and love.

We will be back.

2013 Rainbow clan gathering

Imagine a town of 30,000 people springing up in your zipcode overnight.  Imagine that town has no infrastructure, no tax revenue.  Also imagine that many of those 30,000 have a very "flexible" understanding of the concept of private property and less understanding of personal "camping" hygiene than your average Haitian.

You have a Rainbow Gathering.

The natives are not impressed.

My understanding is that the locals intend to support the increased demand for public services via bake sales.  Previous efforts in other locations were hampered by theft of baked goods.  Rumor has it that the most popular recipe for these bake sales involves blueberry muffins that have their shelf life and mouth feel enhanced via an undisclosed amount of lactose.

Locals are also investigating a technique for improving the longevity of small engines by purging the alcohol from gasoline.  The actual method involves partially filling a 5 gallon gasoline container with gasoline and then adding water to bring it up to the 5 gallon mark.  Diffusion of the ethanol into the water is accelerated when the five gallon container is left in the sun.  Most recent calculations by the Montana School of Mining and Petroleum are that the gasoline should be ready for separation by July 21.

My expectation is that you should be able to get a good price on VW Micro buses by mid-July in Southwest Montana.

Tell them "Joe" sent you.

Work bench

My youngest son has been in need of a work bench.

He is a doing kind of kid and did not have a space of his own.  He would do most of his serious wrenching in the driveway, on the concrete apron in front of the garage.  There were potential downsides regarding small pointy objects and vehicle tires.  Plus, several of his projects were, ah, negatively impacted when vehicles backed out of the garage before a thorough inspection of the flight path had been surveyed.

Youngest son had many objections to the new plan.  His biggest beef is that the benches (tables) were dimensioned for stand-up work.  He thought he ought to be able to sit while wrenching. 

The tables are 40.5 inches tall, 32 inches deep and 48 inches long.  For background info, I anticipate my youngest son will stop growing at about 6' 2".

It looks to me like he overcame his dislike and started nesting.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My everyday carry on long runs

Hello all:

This is what I carry when I intend to run more than 3 miles.  The load varies.  Sometimes there is insect repellent and sun screen.  You will notice many of foot care products and many "Boy Scout" Be Prepared items.

A three compartment fanny pack with 7 inch piece of reflex tape added.  Buckles knotted to keep the straps snug.  $5 from Yea-Old-Big-Box store on close-out
Outside pocket.  A few coins.  A pill container with aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, Tums, loperamide, diphenhydramine.  Some mints and bandaids.

Middle compart:  Nikon Coolpix L26 camera (not shown), lip balm, toenail clippers, compass, triple antibiotic salve, more bandaids, pen, $10, lighter, wax soaked fire starter pads.  Missing from this picture is a pocket knife. 

Main compartment: Bottles of electrolyte, spare socks, tissues (a life saver on at least two occasions), stocking cap, water purifiers, 50 feet of 1/4" nylon rope, a Clif bar, a pen.  Not shown: enough plastic grocery bags to stuff compartment tight to eliminate content bounce.
Electrolyte is typically a half liter (about 17 ounces) bottle for a 6 mile run, two bottles for a 9 mile run.  I pre-position bottles on three mile intervals if I am planning on running more than 10 miles.  Temperatures above 88 degrees F jack up the amount of liquid I need to carry.

I mix my own electrolyte because I am cheap and I want to drinking plenty of it.

In a clean, one gallon plastic container (known as milk jugs in our household), I mix 8 ounces by measured volume of table sugar, 1 measured teaspoon of non-iodized table salt, and two packages of of which is always Lemonaid.  Fill with clean tap water and shake until sugar is dissolved.

I figure it costs about fifty cents to make a gallon and there are more than seven half-liters to the gallon.  A single bottle of commercial electrolyte costs over a buck.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Long runs

I am starting to get a little bit of feedback on what I have written.  So far the most common observation has been, "Wow, how can you run 6 miles?"

The answer is that I find each run fascinating.

I was raised to believe that saying "I'm bored!" tells the listener far more about the limitations of the bored person than it does about the environment.

Start of run.  67.5 degrees F.  Dew point of 67.0 degrees.  I might get wet.
 I carried my camera in my pocket and took pictures of some of the highlights from today's run.

Laguna rose

Sweet peas

Close-up of sweet peas

Yacht club
Crown Vetch

Therese Bugnet holding her own in Reed Canary Grass
White oak, 36" diameter.  Storm damage.  You ignore Mother Nature's tempests at your own peril.

Chamomile.  Dominant species for 20 yards along edge of wheat field.

Close-up of chamomile

Lodging wheat in Farmer Dennis's field.  He has a heavy crop and last night's rain and wind blew it down where the sprayer's tires had gone and weakened the stalks.  Then their neighbors toppled like dominoes when deprived of their mutual support.
This little creek is near the headwaters of the Thornapple river.  It drains to the north-west.

These are worth a dime in Michigan.  I collect them when walking but not when running.

Hare-bells, Day lilies, Datura, Hollyhocks, farm implements and a Rottweiler (upper left corner, peaking around bush).  What is not to adore?

Almost half way.  This is where I drop down to a walk and drink my electrolyte mix.  I have seen zero vehicle traffic so far.
Day lily

Hops climbing a guy wire.
1962 Dodge Lancer.  Be the first on your block

I can get you the phone number if you are interested.

A small church

It is reassuring to learn that I am not the only older citizen who appreciates the benefits of a high fiber diet.
Another, choice Perennial Sweet Pea.  In cooler weather these are the palest of shell pink.  As you can see from my hand, they are monsterously large.  Sadly, I have yet to get their seed to grow on my place.
American plums growing along Spicer Creek.  Spicer Creek flows to the east and empties into the Grand River.  These are on Farmer Edmond's property and I want to get his permission to pick them when they are ripe.
This shot is to give you a sense of what these roads look like as you run down them.

Dogbane.  This plant is related to milkweed and is much sought after by every insect that harvests nectar.  There is approximately 75 feet of this as the dominant species (probably one clone that spread by roots) along a corn field.  I smelled this, turned around and then identified it.

I think I can get somebody a good price on this classic auto.  It is a Cadillac, built when they were so large they were issued their own zip code.
Finish line.  Five and a half mile mark.  Walking the last half mile really helps me recover.
Dry patch

End of run.  Made it without getting rained on.  14 vehicles spotted in one hour and 20 minutes.  This run took a little longer because of the photos taken.

I find this run and all my other routes enchanting.  It is a story that unfolds a little at a time.

If you are running too fast to notice these kinds of things, well, you are running too fast.

I was raised to believe that saying "I'm bored!" tells the listener far more about the limitations of the bored person than it does about the environment.  My parents raised me well.

(Thanks, Dennis)