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March 2012

Weeding is too soon this year

This winter was very short.  And while some of you may enjoy that, we did not.  It means work will last longer and be far more miserable this year as the bugs and diseases are rampant, and weeding starts much earlier, and it may even kill off some strawberries as it is too hot for them.  I’m having to keep my greenhouse open and vented and check carefully for overheating.  It’s quite difficult at times.  But, we have managed to make a start in the garden nonetheless.

As usual, business starts with the unexpected.  Hope got her lead rope stuck on the wire again.

 On to the good stuff!  Arlis and dad made a potato hiller to pull behind the tractor.  This makes much better rows much quicker than we could.  They planted 50 pounds.

 Two rows of onions and the black tarp over the corn to keep the crows away again.  Once these plants are old enough to escape the crows, we’ll move the tarp down and plant more.

 PLANT ME!!  PLANT ME!!  Not yet, sorry.  Everything from lettuce to zucchini to fig trees are waiting in the greenhouse.

 The freezer experiment did finally pan out.  We took the lid off, and managed to grow cabbage:

 and carrots:

 My herb garden came back with a vengeance this year with oregano

 mint

 and rosemary (the rosemary is a bit weak)

 My cherry tree is blooming and has blossomed since this picture

 pear

 The apple tree Arlis ran over with the tractor..snicker…has actually made a great comeback!

 My almond tree (Arlis is the backdrop)

Everyone’s happy this spring….except for George.  I thought I had George tamed….but if George tries to flog me one more time…we will have George nuggets.

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Update of the cleanup of the Rinnie tornado

I kept meaning to bring the camera to photo the tornado area of Rinnie.  I finally remembered to bring it and noticed quite a bit of cleanup had been done.  Here are the pictures I took.  Bear in mind I’m on a highway going at 55, so they’re not the best.  Click on photos to enlarge.
I don’t think this was actual tornado, just high wind b/c it’s so far from the tornado spot.  But I do see this barn all the time and did notice the damage as from that night.  That’s a metal roof.
 Still a few trees to pick up.
 There used to be a front to this business.  You can see the rolling door is bent out of whack.  This business houses trucks that drive cramped up chickens in little bitty cages for slaughter-leghorns, cages about 6 inches tall or less, 3-5 to a cage (and people always ask why God allows such things to happen to people…sigh)
 I wonder if this is the horse that went for a ride?  🙂
 Here’s the house that made the news the most.  That’s inside wall you looking at.  They’ve cleaned up a great deal here.
 The bottom two are where I tried to photo where the twister came through the ravine and parted the forest leaving a huge dirt path in it’s wake.  The trees completely demolished the poles and wiring that ran through there.

Wild animals take….I’ve lost count now.

We’ve had coon trouble, boar trouble, say hello to bears!!!  I know I’m excited, how about you?  We thought it was a coon getting into our trash, nope, bear.   It started out as one/two cans turned over.  We set a trap.  We caught Boy, but no bear.

So tonight, I heard it.  Mya was going nuts.  But, what we saw did not appear to be from a raccoon.  If it is, that’s a BIG raccoon.

In fact, it moved the raccoon trap to the other side of the wood pile over to….here

and drug the garbage out about a half acre.  Arlis had a high power rifle and flashlight.  I put on the gloves and picked up the trash…what is that?  We heard a LOUD noise.  The bear was tearing the T-mortal out of our neighbor’s barn.  We left the trash for morning.  I don’t think it would attack, but I’m not stupid.

One goal reached. It’s amazing really

One goal of ours was to be self-sufficient food wise.  It’s amazing how much humans have lost in ability.  So we can type, fix a machine, and wire a radio-yippideedoo, but can we feed ourselves for a whole year?  Spring is coming, and I can’t WAIT for the lettuce to be edible. (Marcus practically goes out to the greenhouse everyday with dressing in hand)
  But I am eating a glorious supper made from homegrown beef, the last of the home grown carrots from last year-
 and more homegrown potatoes from last year-
tender ribeye, honey sweetened carrots, and potato soup.
 Oh, and baked mincemeat cookies, with added chocolate chips-everything tastes better with chocolate. (all ingredients for these were bought in the store.)
Such an amazing feeling of accomplishment.  Wonderful to do!  We used the last of the peaches months ago.  We have plenty of tomatoes left over, but we’ll still grow some this year.  And we will NOT be growing green beans this year.  We have waaaaay too many beans from last year canned still.  This is just so cool to me.

What I’ve learned-the Red Pontiac potatoes have proven better in quality, quantity in harvesting, growth rate, and storage life compared to the Kennebec potatoes that are supposed to be long lived in storage but aren’t.  We will use the new storm cellar that should be here in another month as a root cellar next year.  I can then tell you if it works better than this year’s…experiment.  So far, storing roots in the fridge outside turned to it’s lowest setting has proven effective.  Be sure to keep the dirt on, and keep the carrots in a closed container.  The potatoes were kept open in cardboard boxes.  The smallest ones went bad first, and the reds have lasted far longer than the yellows.  The white onions actually outlived the red onions, even though we researched it to be the opposite, and did fairly well too.  We also had heard that you can keep roots in the ground until the first freeze or all winter even.  This did not work for us.  The onions rotted, and the potatoes almost did.  I’ll be sure to update what happens using a root cellar next year.

One tornado, two tornado, three tornado FOUR!

This may be a serious entry, but please laugh when you can.  It makes it bearable.

Last night we got hit…again. 

I grew up in Knoxville.  Now, that means that we had a basement.  Just about everyone did I suppose.  So when it got bad, we just went downstairs.  And it never got bad.  I never took tornadoes seriously, for whatever reason, until I moved here.  When we first moved here, we had no idea what we were doing.  We didn’t realize that moving west, actually meant moving 1/2 mile up in elevation, and therefore meant real winters and real storms.  The first thing I wanted was a root cellar.  This could also be used as a storm refuge.  Nope.  Bedrock is two feet below the surface.  No one has basements here.

So…we make do with other root cellar options and try to find places to hide when storms are coming.  But after a while, I’ve had enough.

Yesterday morning we were given a tornado watch that would end at noon.  I have yet to figure that one out.  Then they extend it to 2pm, then 4, them 8, then 2:15AM.  It’s really ridiculous to where you don’t take them seriously anymore.  But yesterday’s storm became a problem.  It changed as time went on.  A twister landed south of Cookeville.  (Now-go mapquest this to truly understand) and north of Sparta where I believed it killed at least one.  It stayed on the ground through Monterrey.  Monterrey is the town we drive through in order to get to Cookeville.  It was like it was making a straight line for us.

We had already been in the bathroom earlier from a storm that hit just a few miles north of us.  We were fine, but we did hear a loud noise that we never figured out what was.  So, with Kindle in hand, we go in the bathroom under a foam mattress and watch the radar.  I had already been messaging others to get the scoop and let people know what we did.  Just as it got near, the power went out, and our kindle was useless.  We crawled in the tub where prayers and tears flowed freely.  It never came.  We waited, and waited.  Finally, I tried calling to ask where the storm was on radar. 

I had to put the phone on speakerphone and raise it up from under the mattress and call about 10 times to get through.  The lines were jammed, or we lost a tower.  Not a good sign.  I finally get through to my aunt and father where I spend 15 minutes trying to get 2 seniors to figure out a radar so I know whether it’s safe to come out and get blood in my legs again.  Not to mention that three people and a dog cramped in a tub is not a pleasant smelling experience either…especially when the dog starts to pant….

We get an all clear and call people we know to live where it hit.  When we felt safe, we started lighting candles and got a tractor battery from the shed.  Arlis hooked up a converter and we had emergency lighting if necessary.  (If I’m not mistaken, my dad taught him this trick-so kudos to him!)  We tried using an old oil lamp.  My dad kept telling me how dangerous they were, and since everything was always dangerous, I didn’t worry too much about it.  I should have.  As much as I romanticize about the past, the lamp is going away.  Turn the wick up to where you can see it, and it sputters, flames large, and smokes strongly.  Turn it down to a safe flame level, and the sparks fall into the oil.  We blew it out, there was a spark in the oil.  We put it on the soaking wet front porch a while.  Another experiment that almost went terribly, terribly, wrong.

We got out in the truck and went for a drive.  Everyone was without power, no damage that we could tell.  So, we went to bed before 8PM.  Around 10 or 11, a friend calls to tell us another is coming.  I can’t express the pleasure I felt.  We still have no power, so I can’t look at the radar.  We listen to the radio and it turned out to be nothing.  By now, we had already learned of deaths VERY close by, and felt the impact of it.  Another prayer was said.  We always pray His will to be done, that if it’s time it’s time.  But we do pray for it to be swift.  No lingering deaths please, by all means.  About to go back to sleep, Arlis jumps out to answer the phone close to midnight “The national weather service has issued a tornado warning for your area…”  Completely useless…again.

This morning, we do our usual checking to see if any of our bulbous cows have exploded with a calf yet…nope

 Somehow the greenhouse made it in one piece and lots of lettuce has arrived!

 My fig tree is very happy with over a foot of growth so far this year!

 One pea pops up

 And the beets have become a little more daring.

 My flower garden is unappreciated at the moment.

 And the ones earlier mutilated by chickens (it’s chicken run season already) has grown healthily.

Another wave to hit tomorrow.  We have tentative plans to be in the Walmart at Crossville, or to have my family with me at the Playhouse since it’s in the ground somewhat.  We are also currently making plans to place a shelter in the ground.  This will be costly and difficult, but I’ll post shelter updates when the time comes.

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