Sunday, July 6, 2014

Family Canoe Number One

We went for an afternoon in the canoe the other week. It was the girls first time in a canoe I think, definitely Baby E's, not as certain about Little M, she's been in a sit-on-top kayak, but I am not certain of whether she has been in a canoe or not. Anyway, we went up to our favorite local fishing spot, which is a small lake nestled up high in the woods.

The canoe did great, the mister and Little M caught two smallish fish (the lake is stocked), and the baby did alright for the most part, with a break in the middle for me to go for a bit of a hike up the nearby forest service road while she napped on my back.

Overall, I would say our first outing was a success. Things to do better at next time mostly just includes timing it earlier in the day so the littlest one isn't desperate for a nap! Also, the mister has to my knowledge never paddled a canoe for any distance before, and since I've got to be up front with Baby E, he needs to be steering in the back. Let me just say that his J stroke was non existent... So we need to remedy that at some point...

I'm hopeful that we will be able to get out at least one more time for a day trip in the canoe, maybe a day that will include more paddling than fishing and floating around, and I'm even overly optimistic that maybe we will be able to get out overnight... Of course, overnight would require some gear that we don't quite have all together yet, but again, I'm overly optimistic that we might be able to patch somethings together and make it work... we shall see :)

I spent a lot of time on the water in my teen years, and I'm quite comfortable paddling for extended trips in the backcountry, in kayaks or canoes, and so I'm not worried about that aspect of things at all. It's more getting the gear together, and figuring out sleeping arrangements so that we can manage the youngest during the night...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Irrigating the side garden

When I started actually planning the side garden layout over a year ago, one of the things I thought about was how were we going to keep it watered. You see, the old garden, or as I've been calling it, the lower garden, is right beside the main 3" irrigation pipe going down to the middle and lower fields from our turnout. That makes it simple to run a hose off of the irrigation line and set up 2 sprinklers, one on each end of the garden. We don't have them on a timer, but every morning, or every other morning, I make sure to toggle the valve on the hose off the irrigation line to turn the irrigation water on to my garden for about an hour give or take.

I've wanted a more user friendly and automated set up, but the irrigation water is rather sediment-filled. In fact, chunks of various sized crayfish are common (and sometimes whole, live crayfish - the other day I had to flush 4 live ones out of the grass irrigation riser in sequence!)... The hose and simple sprinklers we have in the garden currently don't get clogged up often, but a timer with a screen on it would definitely need more unclogging maintenance, likely making the time savings actually nonexistent! What we really need is a screen/filtration system, but that would likely then necessitate a pump, so at the moment we aren't quite going there yet.

The side garden, though, is located much closer to the house, and further up the slope from the irrigation pipe, so in terms of water pressure off the irrigation system, we would likely have trouble getting even the low pressure sprinklers in the lower garden to work up there. So that means watering off the house well water. I don't have a problem with that, after all, we keep the small patch of grass near the house and orchard watered using well water. But it seemed like I could be more water efficient in the garden by using drip irrigation or some sort of smaller sprinklers directly on plants, and thus avoid watering the paths, thus saving all that water (and avoiding all that weed growth!).

Initially in the lower garden I had planned on using drip irrigation, but without a filtration system on our irrigation water, that just wouldn't work. I realized this after several summers ago we put drip irrigation off the irrigation pipe on the orchard, and not even a year later the drip line was so clogged up that it was basically useless. It makes sense, the drip tubes are 1/4, plus all the little drip holes are even smaller, so even fine sediment would build up and clog them, even without the chunks of crayfish!

The benefit of having tried the drip irrigation in the orchard is that I had a bunch of semi-functional parts on hand last spring when we were setting up the side garden irrigation. I used much of what we had on hand up while assembling a workable system to irrigate the (then smaller) side garden. Of course, I had to go bit by bit using house water and basically flush all the drip irrigation tubes out, but it worked alright for the raspberries, 2 rows of strawberries, and peas, plus a loop around the rhubarb and in the herb circles.

This spring I purchased additional drip lines, and some drip emitters, as with the doubled area, I was needing more areas irrigated. It was working alright, although the drip lines for the herb area was the dregs of the old orchard stuff, and was piecemealed together and most was not functioning at all, let alone enough to keep the area wet enough to really fill in. But it was working enough to keep the plants in there alive, and there were a couple extra spots to fill in marigolds and some other flowers and herbs.

But then the bottom row of tomatoes started getting pretty wilty, and I realized that we needed two runs, to operate at different times, so that there wasn't so many drips off of one hose. At the moment I've ordered another timer, with several outlets, so that I can have the main single timer on the house, and then split it down by the chicken coop and have several different systems going in sequence every morning. This way I hope to be able to add microsprinklers to the herb area, and have the tomatoes get enough water. I expect the irrigation system in the side garden will take me several years still to nail down the right components and such for each sort of plant/pot, especially as the garden expands over time to completely fill the fenced area, moving the pigs to another area yet to be determined, but I think we are on the right track now!

Friday, May 23, 2014


When we bought our place, we knew we would need some sort of fenced area for the dogs, so they could be outside with us more, and outside unsupervised more. Over the almost 5 years we have been here (and how it has been that long I have NO idea!!), we got used to the lay of the land, and moved things around (like the chicken coop), and established new garden spaces, and slowly we worked out where the fence would go, and what it would contain. We decided that it made sense to have that fenced area for the yard, for the kids too, so that there would be a 'safe' area where the kids could play, with the dogs out with them. We decided that having the existing orchard separate made sense, and having the new side garden and chicken area, as well as the lower garden, adjoining the yard also made sense.

I can't speak enough of the benefit of letting the space work as it is for a while, and making updates and changes slowly, once you see how you use the place, and what the strengths and weaknesses of the different areas of land are. As a result, we're pretty happy with where the fence is going in, where the gates are, how the overall area works within the larger landscape of our property, and how our play, garden, and living spaces work within the fence.

Building the fence has definitely been a learning experience for us, one we have taken slowly, and one that has shaped us in more ways than we likely realize. We started the fence 2 years ago (!), redid the posts last spring, and finally are at the last stage in the final side. Much of the fencing material was free, either fencing and posts existing on our property in other areas, or as trees cut into poles, mostly from our property. Early on, I bought a great book - Fences for pasture & garden, by Gail Damerow, which really helped as we imagined and installed the fence. The details were especially great for figuring out things like H-brace tensioning, which I had never done before.

Just as we have learned from installing the fence, so to has my husband learned from building the gates. His first gates were flimsy things with short lifespans, but these latest gates have been things of beauty, with the strength necessary to last.

Although at times we get frustrated with the number of things still on our dream list for this property, and at the slow progress we seem to be making, when we sit back and look at the pictures of when we moved in, and compare those pictures to how the place is now, we are somewhat awed of what all we have accomplished, even if it isn't near done, or quite under control yet!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Photo annoyance

Since the story of my life right now seems to be that in order to do what I want/need to do, I first have to slog through any number of other tasks to get clearance to do the thing that I am wanting to do, of course I've been trying to post for several weeks now, but have been low on space on my computer to download pictures to accompany a post.

Of course, clearing more space on my hard drive means moving old pictures across to the external photo drive & associated back up flash drives, but that means I needed to fix some broken links, and I had been putting off doing any moving of pictures until I weeded down the number I had. These are photos from when Little M was born, and I had been at first insistent that I would first, before moving them, work up some photo books to have printed. Of course, she was born over 4 years ago, and no photo books have yet manifested, so likely I need to accept that I will have time for that sort of activity later in life, but not right now, and move on (ie get the darn things off my hard drive).

Of course, doing so resulted in iphoto loosing the links to the photos I was trying to download, which meant yet more time spent wading through photo files, moving them around, and re-importing them. Talk about a pain in the rear! I've had several of this sort of problem with iphoto, but since in reality it is due to my overloaded hard drive being just too full, I guess I can't really blame iphoto. I'm not sure I will ever really get used to being so far behind on things, but the reality of having small kids is having limited time, and limited money, which for me has definitely meant being behind on any number of things, thankfully none are really critical, which is likely why I get behind!

Perhaps later this week once I have the photo files sorted back out, I will post an update on our spring - May is my absolute favorite month here, so I've got lots of fun photos to share, and lots of associated adventures.
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