Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another hot day

5/11/08 Sunday
(The date is all I managed to write for this day)

5/12/08 Monday
With another season comes another round of battles with the local critters. We had a swarm of bees that found a way under the house yesterday. Saturday we noticed them trying to find a way in. I used up a can of wasp spray and killed a hundred or so with a broom. Then they weren’t there. Come to find out they had found a way from the other side of the house. I didn’t notice till I went to turn of the water on the spigot I had installed at that end. There were two or three swarms we had to deal with last year. These were the “Africanized” killer bees judging from their level of aggression. Saturday in Midland a swarm had attacked a lady and pet dog, killing the dog. These weren’t that bad but sure let you know when you were too close. I ran to Walmart and bought some more spray along with some foggers. Getting up early this morning I threw a canister under the house. We turned on the air conditioner to prevent the fumes from coming up. It seems to have done the trick. Time will tell.

We have lost three of our apple trees to gophers along with fifteen or so of the Afghan pines. There are gopher holes everywhere along with what they call “ground squirrels” out here. They dig bigger holes. You rarely see any of them. The gophers spend most of their time underground though I think they come up to map what direction to dig to kill as much as they can.

There are a ton of fat happy aphids on all of the black eyed peas. And it appears that we have spider mites on the green beans. I don’t know what it is but the leaves are all mottled and messed up. Perhaps it is the water. I took this picture of where I watered with a soaker hose one time. You can see the mineral deposits on the surface of the dirt. We already know that watering during the day with a sprinkler is bad. The water that lands on the leaves evaporates leaving this mineral and salt film that burns the leaves. It’s too bad we can’t afford to buy enough soaker hoses to water everything. I’ve been running the sprinklers at night, using a flashlight to see where it’s going and the alarm on my phone to tell me when to change the sprinkler’s position.

Yesterday was nice and cool. Cherie and I worked together on some flowerbeds around the house, rebuilding the rock border around the mailbox and planting some flower seeds. We were going great guns till I found the bees. That sure rained on our parade and I lost my enthusiasm.

So I’ve been out at it this morning. Had to come in and rest at 9:30. Makes me feel like I’m an old man, having to take breaks like this. But it’s ten now so I’ll get back too it. It’s going to be a hot day in the low to mid nineties and tomorrow will be hotter so I must take advantage of the morning coolness. This heat sure drains me.

It looks like some of the rye is ready to harvest. That could be a problem. I’ve been cutting it with the lawnmower and using it as mulch to protect the plants from our intense West Texas sun. If the seeds are viable I’ll have rye growing where I’ve used it for mulch. We are still trying to figure out how to harvest it. I sharpened the small hand sickle we found in the garage. (One of the few things that didn’t get stolen from here) It cuts good but is not very efficient. Will I gather a bunch of grain heads in my hand and cut them from the stalks, then throw the heads into a sack or the wheelbarrow? Perhaps I can just cut them, letting them fall to the ground where I can rake them up after mowing the stalks down. Or maybe I can just run the mower over them and catch it all in the grass catcher, thus threshing the seed out of the heads. Then I can spread out a tarp and throw this into the air, like they did in the old days, and let the wind blow the chaff away while the heavier seeds fall to the ground to be gathered later. It’s all a new world to this city boy. Looking out over the field it is gratifying to know I did this, planted it all by hand with a rake, sometimes in the snow.

I am rested now and will take a pain pill. As much as I hate them they allow me to keep going with fewer breaks to let the back muscles relax and unknot. But I always pay for it later.

Go figure. I write about critters and guess what? We got our first rattlesnake for the year. Cherie was cleaning out the egg crates and flats we had for starting seeds when I heard “Oh MY, Oh MY”. There was no doubt something was wrong so I ran over. Sure enough, it was a rattler tucked in right where Cherie had just picked up a bunch of egg crates. It was a small one as rattlers go but dangerous none the less. She had the puppies go inside immediately. They knew something was up and wanted to jump in and be a part of whatever it was. Both of them stood barking at the screen door as I took care of the problem. The snake made many strikes at the hoe while I maneuvered to get at its’ head. There was some kind of odor when all was said and done. I don’t know if it’s from the venom or something the snake emits but it was definitely there. We let the dogs out after I put the snake in the burn barrel and they were all over where it had been. I sure hope they have an instinct to stay away from rattlers. Some dogs do, some don’t.

2:30 – I just got back from the landfill. Picked up some fence posts and a tarp. I will use the tarp when we thresh and winnow the rye. I don’t know what the word winnow means but it seems to fit so I’ll throw it in. There were also some bits of water hose I picked up as well. It’s pretty hot out now so I will be going out to work in short intervals. First I must unload the truck and then I think I’ll go get some more rocks for out front. Haven’t done anything landscaping wise for a while because I’m focusing on the garden but will spend some time on that today.

Just a note; I mixed up a batch of compost from the green clippings I mowed. The two foot long thermometer we got from Odessa’s extension agent shows that it is 150 degrees inside so that’s pretty good.


Jeff said...
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Jeff said...

Bob, I may not be much at farming, but I can help with the roots of some words! The word winnow comes from the Middle English word windwen, where you separate the grain from the chaff by tossing it into the air, and letting the wind do the work.

On this one, I tip my hat to Patrick Gallacher, my ME professor at UNM!