Monday, August 23, 2010

The Pig Sty is a Pig Sty

We have a couple of piglets coming so were building a pig sty and run in the blue shed that houses the chicken run.

Like any project the first thing is to clear out all the crap, er valuable stuff, that has been stored in the place where I want to project my vision.

  A nice comfortable, watered and heated pen for the porkers.  That we may better enjoy there porkitudinous in about six months.  The doors at the back couldn't swing as the floor inside was patched toghether over the dirt so out came the trusty sawzall.

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that the shed only has a very limited lifespan.  No foundation and rotting walls.  We removed the rear roof earlier this summer.  Time to start considering a ground up rebuild.  Whats more important a new, bigger shop or a new animal barn.. Ah well I can't afford it right now anyway so here's hoping I can patch the old blue shed through another winter.

For now, after the clean up we will build a 12 by 15 two sided stall.  Using the back wall where the door is and the wall to the left.  I will have to reinforce the floor and walls with some 5/8th ply that I have salvaged.  I will cut a 3 by 2 foot door so the pigs can get out into the fresh air at the rear.  And from there to a pasture run.

I will leave the two walls up and fence off the back.  Better get busy as the Pigs are due Friday.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Red Dawn

We heard the Martin Mars water bomber flying overhead yesterday.  Those billowy clouds it's flying over is smoke from the Binta Lake fires.
Smoke Clouds
Several have joined up and the fire is choking the valleys with smoke.  Yesterday they pulled the fire crews off the line as the wind was making it too dangerous. Today we can hear a lot of aircraft activity.

We took a drive over the Mine road to Francois lake and the view was unbelievable.  I have never seen anything like it.  To the East it was black as night.

Some friends of ours in Fraser Lake spent last night evacuating an older ladys ranch south of town.  They are getting their own things in order just in case. This was the view in Fraser Lake yesterday at 3 p.m.

Some of the  farmers South of Fraser lake have just opened the fences and left their cattle to roam.  Hard to evacuate 500 head of cattle with a few hours notice.

Hopefully it will rain hard in the next couple of days.  There was a little spit of rain yesterday, but not enough to even wet the ground.  The smoke does make for some nice pictures of the Sun.

We are O.K.  and in no danger, as we are situated 17 K west of Town and there's a lake between us and the fire.  Just as a precaution were going to go to town and get a couple of hundred gallons of gas just in case the fire cuts the power lines.  And maybe some more pickling jars.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In a Pickle

A friend of ours garden has reached harvest time and due to health reasons he's been unable to do his preserving this year.  He has a very prolific garden that he has worked on for years.  Really an inspiration and the fellow that gave me the idea of getting a green house operating.
Can't be beet.
 So we have been harvesting before it all goes to waste.
Bounty from the Earth.
 And yesterday I had my first pickling lesson!
Batch number one!
What a thrill.  It's something I have been wanting to do for quite some time.  We have a cold storage system, and a couple of freezers but there's certainly an attraction to making canned preserves.  Actually one of these days I am going to use real cans.  As they stand up better to life in a Boler trailer.  But for now I am pouring over recipe books and a good friend is giving me hands on lessons.
Sometimes this Gardening thing goes to my head.

Hope your having a great day!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sleeping Under The Stars

We set up some foam pads in the garden and have been sleeping under the stars for the last couple of nights.  Watching the heavens unfold and the spectacular Perseid meteor shower.  It was like being Ten again and I was tempted to get a jar full of sugar and a rhubarb stalk, and maybe a carrot with some dirt still on it,  to munch on while we watched the show.
The Blue patch are the sleeping bags in the middle of the tire garden.

The dogs loved it!  Pretty exciting sleeping out with Mom and Dad. Cleo snuggled between us, claiming more than her share of sleeping bag for the whole night.
Come on Mom! Plenty of room.  We'll just warm up your side..
Xena was constantly looking over the garden and several cats dropped by to see what was going on.  I even saw the Dogs looking up at the star filled, moonless sky.

The first night around 3 a.m. a cow had lost her calf and spent an hour or so letting the world know of her search.  Last night went a lot smoother, dogs settled down and the cows were in the top pasture until almost sun up.

This week we repaired the main water line to the Green House, which had broken at a valve.
Honest, the excavation is safer than it looks!
Lesson for next time: don't bury valves down in the ground.  The excavator made the six foot deep hole easier to dig.  That fixed, we installed the drip irrigation system in the green house.
line shut off and pressure regulator to the half inch distribution run

Ah, nothing like running water close at hand.  We are now fine tuning the drip system.
The I gallon per hour drippers are moderated by an inline valve

  We have a hand hose that comes off a reel to water the small potted plants. And an inside faucet that I can run a hose from to water the nearby cherry tree:
A Prolific, and still small,  Cherry Tree.
The weather has steadily been getting warmer and drier.  Evidenced by this fire at Binta lake South of us.
Binta Lake fire:  About 10 Klicks away

The Martin Mars water bomber is now flying from Fraser lake and is busy all day long.

Yesterday we drove to Smithers to pick up some parts for the irrigation system.  Well, O.K.  truth be told we drove the 200 klicks for a Venti Starbucks Coffee Frapachino.  And it was delicious.

Speaking of delicious, I made some tofu poutine and a stir fry for supper. I cut the firm tofu up into small cheese like cubes and fried it in  olive oil with mushrooms and onions.  Not even close to the artery clogging, mind boggling tasty beyond belief,  real thing.  But  it was a Delicious facsimile.  
Nice way to dress up a spud.

Today's projects are fine tuning the drip system, getting the Tomatoes and Cukes strung up, installing H.I.D. lighting and in the afternoon doing some gardening for a friend who is unable to walk due to surgery.

Maybe top that off with another night under the stars.  Ah, it's a tough life..

Sunday, August 08, 2010

When the rubber hits the Pallets.

We've wanted a flower bed on the East side of the house.  The problem is that during the winter the snow slides off the roof and gets very deep,  necessitating removal via skid steer.  A process that wrecks havoc with flower beds.  Leaving the snow there isn't an option as it will melt and invariably seep its way into our poorly waterproofed basement. But wait.  There's more.  We are Re-Tired!  And we have the raw material:  tires and soil.  And thus is born the inverted tire bed on removable pallets.

 When winter bekons I just pick them up and move them over to the safety of the re-tired garden.

I collect pallets from the local hardware store.  They are a very useful item.  And the  people at various tire stores in the area are happy to see me show up and deplete their used tire pile.

I make the soil from compost, old horse corral soil, sand from our own pit and a bag or so of perlite.  Sifting the mixture through the Blomm-omatic 2000 soil sifter ensures a light, rock free mix.  The Pebbles left over find their way to the driveway.

There is a trick to turning tires inside out.  And I had forgotten it.  Even with my friend, RT's help,  it is nearly impossible to do it if the tire is ornery.  The trick is to find a "sweet spot",  a place an inward bulge can be made and then working that ever larger until the tire "flips" on it's own.  Trying to completely turn the tire is a losing proposition, that even the strength of a gorilla will not overcome.  We even tried to do it by running over the edge of a  tire with the skid steer.  No hope there.

Patience, persevereance and several litres of water later:

A little paint and voila bump proof cat litter boxes.  Er, flower beds.  The green on on my left is right side up.  The others are upside down awaiting paint, some geotextile for drainage, and soil.

 The flowers are growing rapidly in the green house so we may even see some blooms before it snows.

Speaking of "the hair of the dog that bit you:"

Well Cleo isn't doing any biting but surely appreciated losing about a pound of hair, during our week long summer season..

It's 13C today, the grass still wet from yesterdays showers.  The rain seems to have cleared the air of forest fire smoke.  A great day for a sweat which my friend, Chief Joseph is having at 2:30. today  Drop by for an "aboriginal sauna" if your in the area..

Thursday, August 05, 2010


The sky is overcast with smoke from the 400 or so fires that are burning in B.C.  There are a couple of major ones within a 50 klick radius of us.  That means a very red sun and a constant smell of smoke in the air.

When I went into town in the late afternoon I spotted the tail of a huge Martin Mars waterbomber that was moored for the night in Fraser lake:

It's not easy to see the scale of this huge plane.  The tip of the tail has to be at least 40 feet off the water.  It is going to be pretty busy for the next little while.  Until we get some rain.