Saturday, April 04, 2009

gotta beat the wind

4/4/09 Saturday
It’s a beautiful morning out there. There’s not much wind though they say that will change by this afternoon, when it’s supposed to get up to 35 mph sustained with fifty mph gusts. So I want to get as much done outside as I can before this blows in. One of the things I need to do is put a cover on the front of the air conditioner to reduce how much sand blows into the house. I figure it would be educational for those of you who don’t live in West Texas to show just how much sand blew in with that last storm. Even some of the Midland and Odessa residents will probably be surprised for they don’t get it like this in the city. That’s partly because buildings block and disrupt much of the wind. In our case we are surrounded by plowed fields on all four sides with nothing to slow down the wind. Eventually we want to have lines of evergreens that act as windbreaks and will make a huge difference.

Here you can see how much sand blew into the house covering everything. Some of the sand you see on top of the humidifier (lower right side) is nearly a quarter of an inch thick.

We planted ninety Afghan pines last year but every one of them died. Part of that was because of gophers but the main culprit was my inability to get water to them on a regular basis. This is where having an irrigation system makes a difference. Last year we couldn’t afford much though I did buy some irrigation hose and fittings. They never got installed. All part of the constant frustration I have with not following through on good ideas.

In this picture you can see the difference where I moved a container that protected the carpet. This is twenty feet away from the air conditioner, where much of the sand blew in from. All of this in just a couple of hours.

This year should be better. Cherie is working and we already purchased much of the irrigation stuff. Plus, through the graciousness of some of our Christian family we have water lines run to most of the garden areas. Water is the key, the main ingredient for growing anything. That and a lot of work, weeding, pruning, fertilizing, and fighting bugs. Fighting bugs organically takes a lot more work and money than using common pesticides but putting poison on what I’m going to eat doesn’t really appeal to me. The squash bugs have been the hardest pest to overcome. Actually they pretty much beat me last year, wiping out an entire field of pumpkins along with the other squashes I tried to grow. They even attacked my melons too. Between them and the dogs we only had a handful of melons make it to harvest.

Here's my seed starting set up. All of these flats lay on top of an electric blanket, that is covered with plastic to protect from water. I need to run some electricity to it and plan on hanging the high powered sodium light above to provide the young plants with artificial sunlight. The electric blanket will warm everything up and greatly help in germinating the seeds.

I hear the wind picking up already and it’s only 9:30. One of the first projects on today’s list is to remove the gas tank from the tractor. That’s necessary to access where the gas leak is. While I’ve got everything exposed (the gas tank covers the entire top of the motor) I’ll go through as much stuff as I can to get this machine in as good a shape as I can. Today I’ll try to remember to go online and buy a shop manual for it. I don’t even know what kind of oil it uses.

Cherie took a part time job working at Stanton’s “Old Sorehead Days” or whatever they call it. I worry about her being on her feet because of the bad ankle but it’s her choice. Sure we could use any extra money but at what cost? I asked her to not overdue it and call me if she needs anything. She probably won’t as she’s half as obstinate as I am, and I’m way up there on the “Obstinate scale”. Speaking of scales, I’ve been having more slowdowns the last few days. Some weren’t too bad but others were bad enough to be detectable in my voice, with my words slurring and the monotone sound that often accompanies it.

When I went to work for the old man yesterday I helped pick up the tarpaper and other remains of the flat roof he has on one of his buildings that the high winds peeled off. He had a trailer full of wood sitting there. I asked what he was planning on doing with it and he said he was going to dump it. Folks, here’s another example of a need being met out of the clear blue West Texas sky. I would like to go back through this journal and list how many times this has happened. As I thought about the things I need, or would like, to do for this farm one of the concerns was “Where do I get the material for this?” In order to build the trellises I need four by four timbers along with stakes to hold them up. Plus I need to fence in the garden plots to keep the dogs out. They love to dig and lay under of on top of the plants, where it’s nice and cool.

So look at this pile. There are four by fours that are fifteen or twenty foot long. There is a pile of smaller size pieces of lumber that can be cut to make perfect stakes. The long four by fours are all pretty warped but that doesn’t really matter as I’ll be cutting them into shorter lengths to make the T-frames. I’ll show you how those work later, at least I hope to. It’s all part of what I learn about growing while online.

That’s it for now. Have to go out and beat the wind before it beats me up.

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