Vince has been a busy boy this week. It seems the new lifestyle is agreeing with me and I have both the energy and desire to get more things accomplished each day. I even took the initiative to begin and complete needed activities that were not on the Judy do list. The first part of the week was spent working outside and the latter part doing inside chores. There was a slight deviation from the minimalist efforts this week, when a “deal” was found on some very good tea and some smaller size work pants. I personally view this tangential move more as a necessity than a deviation because they were needed contributions to the lifestyle change. It’s hard to enjoy a refreshing cup of hot tea while holding one’s pants up with one hand! These additional expenses will of course be tracked on the budget worksheet. I did cancel DirectTV Now this week, so that money can be used to offset some new needed items.
Since I am somewhat of a farmer in retirement, watching the weather has become more important to me. I plan what I want to accomplish outside and inside each week based on the projected forecast. While the temperature forecasts are pretty close to actual, the precipitation forecasts are not very accurate for this area.
The major outside activity this week centered around getting the garden ready for planting. Much of the compost pile was transferred and tilled into the garden. After tilling, that area was raked flat. A new area was tilled for blackberries and sand and acidifier were added to the soil to accommodate proper growing conditions. When I began to dig the holes for each blackberry plant in the tilled area, I hit limestone too close to the surface. Blackberries don’t tolerate high pH so this area wasn’t going to work and a new planting area will have to be developed. In this part of Texas, the top soil is only 1 to 3 feet deep. Below the topsoil is a hard limestone layer that varies in thickness but averages about 6 inches. Finally, there is a more porous limestone material that extends down many feet. Limestone causes our soil and well water to be very alkaline and it’s the main reason many types of plants are hard to grow in this area. Compost, peat and acidifier help but its a constant battle with alkalinity, as the peanut gallery proclaims. “ they don’t have this problem in Missouri!”.
Once a good portion of the composting area was emptied, the chicken coops were cleaned and the waste material was dumped in the emptied area. It will take about 6 months for this material to breakdown to the point it can be used in the garden.
I use three types of tillers in the garden and around the fruit trees and each serves a much needed but different purpose. I have a rear tine tiller, a front tine tiller and small cultivators. The first two tillers are used to perform most of the heavy work and they always seem to run without fail. The cultivators are another story. They are very temperamental and require constant attention (I could draw a similarity here but old age is teaching me the less said sometimes the better :). They will run fine one day and the next day none of them will run. I use the cultivators to break up topsoil and to mix additives into the soil. The cultivators need to be running in a few weeks to facilitate fertilization of the fruit trees. After diagnosing the current problems, parts are on order and I hope to have them running again next week.
A new project on the horizon is automatic chicken coop doors. Every morning the coop doors need to be opened to be let the chicken out and every evening the doors need to be closed, once all the chickens are safe inside the coops. These activities pretty much coincide with sunrise and sunset. If the doors were automated, then we would have more freedom to be away at these times of day. Of course there are commercially available doors available, costing hundreds of dollars, but those are just not in our budget. After surfing the internet for ideas, I came up with a couple of designs that might work. Besides giving us more freedom, building doors will allow me put into practice some of the new electrical and mechanical skills I have been exploring. I ordered some of the needed parts, but it will be a few more weeks before I begin putting this project together.
Finally, as if I don’t have enough pokers in the fire, I have been thinking about board games. I really enjoyed playing board games when I was growing up and chinese checkers was one of my favorites. Sure, I could just buy a game, but where’s the fun in that? I would like to construct a playing board out of some really nicely grained wood and then either turn the playing piece on my lathe or find some nice marbles to use. With less and less TV, Judy and I have more time for more interactive activities. I sure hope this doesn’t cut into her knitting time! 🙂