Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Esox Lucius

I finished the pike carving . . .

Overall, I am pretty happy with it.  I really like the paint on the body, but the mouth seemed a little less pike-like than I wanted.  Next time, I might carve the fish with an open mouth.

This was a pretty simple project.  It would be a good starter project for someone looking to try decoy carving.

Feel free to share - enjoy!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Getting Close!

I finally got around to painting the pike decoy.  I started it last December and had it ready for paint a back in February!  Where has the time gone?

I have to add some grey-green details on the back and on the face.  I need to work the mouth / lips in brown and the gills in a light yellow-brown.  I also have to add the eyes as well as apply a thin grey-green wash to the upper half of the chain pattern on the sides.  About one to two more hours of work to go.

It is amazing how much you need to look at pictures of pike to really understand their coloration.  There are patterns and details you miss when you just catch a fish and throw it back.  I had to really look at the chain pattern on the side, understand the relationship of the gills to the fins, think about how to layer color upon color to get the change in shading.  It has been more than an exercise in carving, but one in looking.

Stay tuned for the final pictures!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Aching Back

We went from a late season frost less then 2 weeks ago to temperatures into the high 80s degF.  The weather heated up, and we had frequent thunder storms.

Though the warmth has been good for the garden, the storms weren't so good for one of the larger maples on our property.

A few nights ago we heard a big creak, and then the power was out.  I large branch fell off the maple and took out the power lines to the house.  Luckily we have a generator.  We were able to keep the freezers running, as well as getting a little light and air conditioning until the power was returned.

The branch was 30 feet long, and almost 2 feet in diameter at its base.  I spent 5 hours limbing the branch, cutting debris, and hauling it to the brush pile behind the barn.

I can't imagine having to do this by myself in 5 hours without power tools.  My chainsaw and tractor were a huge time and work saver.  I still had to load all the wood and branches.  My back was so tired.

A front pushed through, and today has been cold and rainy.  Our highs were only in the low 40s degF.  What a change!  We had 4 tons of wood pellets delivered today.  We usually take delivery of them in the summer (the prices are usually better then).  The pellets came on 4 pallets, each with 50 40-lb bags.  The delivery man used a fork trunk to drop off the pallets, but I had to restack one of the pallets to make some room in the garage.

Its almost June, but we fired up the stove to keep warm.  A good night to rest my back, and ponder how different life would be without all the modern tools to make life easier.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Deer Fence

We had a little trouble with deer last year.  They did some damage to a few of the tomatoes, and hit the green beans and radicchio.  They even ate some hostas and other flowering plants.  Their numbers are on the rise. I don't want to lose any more vegetables - especially as we expanded the beds this year.

The obvious solution is some deer fencing.  The problem was that I don't want to sink fence posts in the yard.  I hate the permanence of fence posts, and our 'soil' is nothing but rock and hard pan (the joys of being in a valley which had its origins with ancient glaciers).

My solution was to put metal fence posts into cinder blocks and secure them with concrete.  If I decide to move the fencing, I just pick up the blocks / posts.  I chose 5 foot posts and 5 foot deer fencing.  The fence wraps around three sides of the vegetable beds (about 100 feet of fencing).  I ran plastic coated wire around the tops of the fence, and secured the deer fencing (actually it is heavy-duty plastic netting) to the wire.  It took about three hours to put up the fencing (excluding time time to let the concrete cure).

I had to figure a simple way to make an opening in the fence.  I was thinking about some form of swinging gate, but realized the netting / fencing was pretty supple.  I just supported a portion of the netting on split rings, and allow it to slide on the wire.  It is secured on the side with clips  . . .

. . . but it can be easily opened to allow us in to work the beds.

The fencing is 5 feet high.  It won't stop the most determined deer, but it should be enough!

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Frosty Start...

Though we have had warm weather recently, a cold front came in late Sunday and had its way with the gardens.  The temperatures dropped below freezing last night.  We had a hard frost.  The grass was all covered in white.

The beds were frosty.  The potatoes were covered in white ice crystals.

Unfortunately, they did not make it through the thaw.  We lost them and the green beans.  The beans we will replant.

I hope the potatoes come back on their own . . .

One good aspect of the frost - the knotweed took a good hit.  I won't need to cut them back this week.

Good thing we didn't plant our warm weather plants yet!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Garden Progress

The gardens are really starting to come alive.  We have had great weather, and I have made the most of it.  I decided to replace the old arbor.  It was very rotted and had been pretty chewed up by carpenter ants.  I pulled out the silvery lace clematis and put in a smaller arbor.  We'll put is a new clematis soon.

I moved 2 yards of soil into the new beds.  These larger beds are for tomatoes.  The tomatoes and other warm weather plants will be going in the ground in a few weeks (still on the lookout for frost in these parts)!

The spinach I put in last fall made it through the winter fine.  We'll be harvesting some this weekend!

The kale has sprouted. So have the onions, carrots, sugar snap peas, and a few potatoes.  The green beans are very slow to emerge.  Time to start thinning some seedlings!

The trees are really starting to leaf.  Beautiful.

For those who follow my feeble adventures in the garden, you might remember that I pamper a lone trillium.  We have been caring for a single plant in the shade garden.  It is back this year - and it looks like it will bloom!  Wow - it took us 6 years to get to this state!

I'll do a little soil amendment work to some of the vegetable beds, break bead on weeding, mow the yard again, and finish the deer fence around the vegetable beds (we had a little problem with the deer last year - I hope the deer fence we use will work).

I hope you get outside and enjoy your gardens!