Archive for August, 2011

Irene Who?

August 28, 2011

We cleaned up the yard, battened things up pretty tight based on the forecasts, bottled up a store of RO drinking water (tank only holds 3 gallons), and settled in for the storm, but so far it has been a disappointment. Some wind, but not much more than you’d expect from a good thunderstorm, and some rain, but I’d estimate less than 2″ in total – the river came up nicely, but isn’t even close to slopping over onto the landing. The power went out for about five mins, then popped right back on. It’s supposed to blow westerly pretty hard toward the end of things, so maybe that will do some more damage. It’s just as well really; we’ve got plenty to do without repairing storm damage…

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Borrelia burgdorferi!

August 18, 2011

Aka Lyme Disease – that’s what was plaguing me this weekend. Alexis suspected as much, with her keen diagnostic sense, but I figured it was just some virus, until this popped up on my side:

So it’s not a virus at all, it’s a tick-transmitted spirochete. That rash is ‘erythema migrans’, and it sealed the diagnosis (it looks even more like a bull’s eye now, since it’s clearing out between the edge and the center), so now I’ve got some doxycycline (100mg, 2x per day, 14 days) and I’m feeling fine except for the big red itchy thing on my side. I was actually already feeling a lot better before the rash even showed up, and apparently that’s the insidious thing about Lyme – if you don’t get the initial symptoms that bad, tough it out, and don’t get or don’t notice the rash, it can go undercover, mess with your joints, and even get across the blood-brain barrier. So, if you have weird virus-like symptoms – for me it was mild headache, dizziness, and fever to start with, then severe sweats and chills, then on about day 3 when I seemed to be coming out of it otherwise, headache much more severe than the usual virus – also weird was no runny nose or cough or any type of respiratory symptoms. But, apparently the presentation can vary widely – beware, and get it treated!

cloth diapers

August 18, 2011

The contents of our shared washing machine this AM reminded me of an NPR piece I heard the other day; it was from the national news but featured a local company that’s doing great selling cloth diapers – not so much for ecological reasons, as because it can cost 80% less (not counting labor) to use cloth. And from the sounds of it, the technology has come along significantly since my sister and I were little -back then it was folded cloth rectangles and the safety pins with the plastic ducks on the heads.

the romance of iconoclastic ideas

August 14, 2011

An online person named Kris de Decker writes an interesting website called “Low Tech Magazine“, where he offers a unique read on technologies old and new. He recently linked this blog in an article on pedal powered equipment. But the latest article, on solar powered factories, er, ‘crystallized’ (more on that later) a theme that’s I’ve been digesting mentally for quite a while.

I am a lifelong enthusiast in renewable energy technology, and I’m currently working with friends on our own project in this field, so I hope nothing here leaves the impression that I am sour on the potential of renewable energy to make a difference. But this article set me off a bit, both in terms of technical accuracy and this more subtle complaint.

The basic idea of his article is that while there’s a lot of focus on renewable energy as a source of electricity, well over 50% of our energy needs go to heating, a need which (he says) is poorly met by electricity. Which has a grain of truth to it, but in his enthusiasm he goes un-necessarily off the rails. Consider:

Although it is perfectly possible to convert electricity into heat, as in electric heaters or electric cookers, it is very inefficient to do so.

This almost qualifies as a howler.

(more…)

Bud grafting, bush-hogging

August 14, 2011

Last Friday evening I bud-grafted the plum rootstocks over to peach varieties, using budwood from the peach trees we’d previously planted between rows. Then, yesterday I went up to Five Islands to do the annual bush-hogging of the fields. I used the smaller Kubota tractor and a 4 foot rear deck rotary mower – it is driven from the PTO and has two metal cutting blades under a protective steel enclosure. The blades are pivoted to swing out of the way if they hit something solid, which they do with some regularity on the rougher ground.

I started by hoisting the mower up by its edge and sharpening the cutters with a big angle grinder, which is probably futile given the rocks, but made me feel better. Things went smoothly, but by the end of the first field there was a weird vibration, and I noticed that the right-angle gear assembly that transmits power from the PTO to the mower disk had come loose. I got some lunch, then grabbed some wrenches and investigated – the gearcase casting was held to the welded steel mower deck by four 5/8″ bolts, and these had vibrated loose. The nuts were still present, though, and I could just barely sneak a half inch ratchet with a 7/8 socket up under the mower disk and hold the one end while I tightened the other. I had no further trouble, and proceeded to mow the south field and the west field down by the water – I didn’t get to mowing the orchard, which is getting to need it again already. I left the mower on the tractor for next time.

I felt weirder and weirder over the course of the day, which I initially attributed to either a bad night sleep or the hot sun. By the time I was finished it was pretty obvious that I was coming down with some kind of virus or something, so today is a quiet, dizzy, headache-ey sort of day.

If 2008:1929::2011:1937,

August 5, 2011

Does that mean that time moves 267% faster now? Apple trees still grow at the same speed. I’m going to try to sneak up to 5isl this evening and bud graft the peaches…

Bud grafting class at Curtis Pond Nursery

August 3, 2011

Delton Curtis gave a MOFGA class on bud grafting last Saturday at his place in Thorndike. Delton grafts several thousand trees each year for Fedco, and he co-taught the bench grafting class I took in Unity the spring before this last. His place is a real inspiration, with fruit trees everywhere, ranging from newly planted nursery stock to ancient wild apple trees that he cut clear and has grafted over to recognized varieties. Here are a few notes from the class:

He favors 6′ plastic deer netting for fence – buys from AM Leonard – catalog or http://www.amleo.com.
He also prefers their paraffin budding tape to Fedco’s, since it’s thinner and he thinks it breathes better. It’s wide, so he cuts it in half.
He prefers whip and tongue grafting for apples, pears, plums – since he can do it sitting down in his garage.
With peaches he has no luck with W&T, so he bud grafts them – recommends plum rootstock, since the Lovell peach rootstock isn’t hardy up here.
For cherries he lets the rootstock grow a couple years, then does a bark graft in the spring
A lot of his nursery stock is on relatively new ground; he buys compost by the 12yd dump from a local place, uses some kind of lime substitute sold by the same outfit (Hawk Ridge facility, in Unity). He also uses 10-10-10 at about half a bag per row (maybe 150′ by 3′?) He got a very nice stand of winter rye that was almost ripe when I was there; he said his plan was to bush-hog it down and let it re-seed for this winter. It got me excited again about trying some grain, either at home or in 5 Islands.
To control various critters that eat the tender leaders of the young trees he sprays a few times a year; borers don’t seem to bother trees that small.