Monday, September 21, 2020

Another day in Paradise

Ivan Shiskin: A Rye Field

I got rye (the grain) planted in the garden annex. Rye is almost miraculous in its ability to grow in cold weather. It is one of those things that people plant when things really go to crap, that and turnips. At one point the Weimar Republic denominated currency pegged to sacks of rye.

As a go-to-hell-plan, there is much to be said for seeding your garden to rye and turnips in the late-summer or fall and then turning it over for green manure in the spring. If things go to hell, you can always let them mature and eat the turnips, turnip greens and rye. You can always break new land for your garden or plant part of what you put into green manure.

The annex is where I had potatoes, sweet corn, honeydew melons and cucumbers planted this summer.

More dirt

I like talking dirty to my wife: Clay, silt, loam, peat, much, histosols, sand, podzol, histosol, alfisol...

We are still working on the water management issues around the foundation.

In response to a question Dave asked in Comments, we are putting down 6 mil, black poly film beneath the paving squares.

Mrs ERJ opted for 16", concrete square pavers and we are spacing them a half-inch apart so they can float. We are grouting them with "barn lime" as bagged sand is unavailable locally. "Sharp Builder's sand" is $6 a bag and lime is $3.

I vaguely remember reading about encouraging moss to grow in sand between pavers by adding milk. Milk is rich in calcium, phosphorous, potassium and nitrogen. Moss supposedly increases the lime/sand's resistance to washing out and looks kind of cool. Does anybody out there have any solid information about jump-starting moss getting a toe-hold?


Zeus is having a bout of mange on his butt. I mixed up some lime-sulfur and started treating him. It smells terrible. I will dose him every-other day and we will see what happens in a month.

The electric fence

I found a short that had been plaguing me. I feel really stupid. It was one things where I remember thinking "I gotta make sure I take care of that before I move on." And then I didn't.

The short was where I ran a feed to Sprite's fence. I use a modified set of vice-grips to connect to a wire on Sprite's fence which then feeds her entire perimeter.

I disconnected the vice grips from her fence before moving the cattle into my pasture. They were ever-so-close to a welded wire feedlot panel that I just KNEW they would eventually short out.

Moving cattle can be an exercise in controlled chaos. Once you get them moving in the direction you want them to go, you don't want to interrupt the momentum by stopping. The stress increases by a factor of ten if they squirt out sideways.

I kept them moving and I paid the price for being forgetful.

One of Sprite's calves made the decision when to move paddocks. She simply walked through the paddock division fence.

It was more damaging to my ego than anything else. I would have left them in the paddock another day or two but it was not to be. Paddocks I thought should get 7 days of grazing were getting five and a half days and so on.

I went through the usual process of training cattle to respect the fence and there was not enough juice to make them jump, even when it laced them across the ears. That simply would not do!

I knew I had a serious problem and could not rest until I found it.

Then I found and fixed the short.

They are staying where they are supposed to be and I can hear arcing across fence insulators. That is a happy sound.

Chance meetings

I was filling the truck with gas in Charlotte, the county seat. The guy on the other side of the gas pump was wearing a tie. I made a comment. He responded.

He is a lawyer.

I commented "I hope we never meet professionally."

Then he said, "Truer than you know. I work for the Prosecuting Attorney's office."

One thing led to another. I learned that in Eaton County the "default" for looting/arson is to request that bail be set at $25,000. The bail proposed by the Prosecuting Attorney's office moves depending on multiple factors.

That compares to Portland/Seattle's $1000 bail...when they bother to assess bail at all.

I groused about arson being treated as anything less than aggravated assault or manslaughter. The gentleman on the other side of the gas pump declined to comment but he seemed to listen to my opinion.

God bless small towns!


  1. At my place moss just spreads between pavers, and porch bricks, all by itself with great vigor. On my back patio I tried to stop it without success and finally gave up. I expect you will find the same .---ken

  2. A bath in a borax and hydrogen peroxide mix is a good way to kick-start a mange treatment plan. Sarcoptic mange is very contagious - those mites will often move to the other dogs. Hope Zeus is doing better soon!

  3. I had a german shepherd that got regular mange outbreaks. Turns out she had lyme disease and every couple of years the mites would get ahead of her lyme compromised immune system and she'd have an outbreak leading to a skin infection. Is there any prevalence of lyme disease up there?


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