Monday, November 28, 2016

The accidental gourds

Veggie tales.
So anyway, I was working over the long holiday to layer-cake the lovely and gracious Rogue's new raised bed.  You know, a layer of leaves then a layer of grass compost.  A layer of leaves and a layer of chopped ivy.  A layer of leaves...

But while emptying out the compost cage to transfer a couple wheelbarrow loads of yummy goodness to the bed, I happened to notice a bird house gourd* hanging in a nearby fence. Then another, then a few more.  All in all there were about a dozen of them, bigger than last year's purposely-grown ones, none with any bug damage at all, just waiting for me to dig through the Jerusalem artichoke stalks and pick them.

The thing is, we actually grew some last year on purpose.  And a few actually made it to what passes for young adulthood for gourds, while the rest were destroyed by the Squash Bug Panzer Divisions.  So I had tossed the survivors into the barn to dry them and when they rotted instead, I tossed them into a pile behind the compost cage. While I forgot about them, they did not forget about growing a bounty of damage-free veggies for me to give away to my sister-in-law for her art class.  It's a win-win all around, except that I won't do that again, because I really have no use for gourds.

Instead, I dropped a couple of pumpkins back there, covered them with weeds and ivy, and we'll see what, if anything, grows next year.

* a functional name if there ever was one, as they are not much for eating but are just fine for various craft projects, including making Section 8** bird houses.
** Birds move in as soon as the paint is dry and the house is destroyed within a year.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Blackberry bed, v 2.0

Make the back yard great again
So anyway, a couple years ago I tore down a raised bed that ran along the south side of one of my barns.  It was about 30' long and 3' (one and a half cinder blocks) wide, and 2 blocks high.  It never really produced anything, for the simple reason that it sat beneath the roof edge in such a way that most of the rain landed outside it. And I'm too lazy to water*.

However, tearing it down left a really convenient spot for piling toys, pieces of siding, empty dog food bags**, you know, all the stuff you really don't want to look at from the relaxing comfort of your sun room. And the lovely and gracious Rogue has been making noises about planting more flowers next year. So a new raised bed needed to be added. And that's the best available spot.

There are a few things I did differently with this one than the last, failed bed.  First off, it's deeper and wider, so it should catch more water and should hold moisture a little better.  I've also added one of those "half barrel" water collectors to the house downspout nearest this bed, so each rain should provide about 30 gallons of water to be used at that bed's convenience. Then I added cardboard to the bottom, theoretically to stop the weed growth from beneath***.  But since it's 3-4' deep, in reality it's unnecessary; weeds aren't going to grow through that much soil. Today I filled it with leaves and will add grass compost and other rottables that should make it plantable by spring.  It might not be full, but something will be growing there.  Maybe cilantro again, which I really missed this year. Maybe Indian corn. Who knows?

But I also added something beneath the cardboard that I should have been using the whole time: a double layer of chicken wire, laid between dirt and cardboard.

One of those odd things I've always noted in planting is that I have mole runs in my raised beds. You reach in to plant something and woah, there's no dirt beneath the surface.  Or you water and it all runs through, soaking nothing.  There's a series of tubes, a virtual internet of nothings running through all the beds.  And why not? I work hard to create an environment in which worms thrive, and moles eat worms.  Eventually they are going to find the happy hunting grounds and make lots of convenient access tunnels.  Hopefully a couple layers of chicken wire overlapping will make such a banquet unaffordable.

If that doesn't work, you can probably look forward to another post about the antics of Digging Dog, the Anti-Farmer and inhumer of cattle femurs, who thinks the best way to catch moles is to remove the environment in which they live.

* That's not technically correct. While I am lazy, the Catch 22 for me is that I'm on a cistern well, not a deep well.  So in those times where it is most necessary for me to water the garden, my water supply is at its lowest, and much more needed in a house with 7 kids and all the dishes and clothing that go therewith.
** and a deck, seriously.
*** Really I just had a buttload of cardboard to get rid of, and beneath 4' of dirt is a good place to get rid of it.

Monday, November 7, 2016

So who's gonna win?

Trump leads in Nevada and Iowa, FWIW
I don't know.  And the reasons I don't know are two:

1) I don't know how much my own desire overrides my analysis, and
2) I don't know who I want to win.

Oh, I voted for Trump, and I would love nothing more than to fall asleep tomorrow night to the dulcet sounds of MSNBC anchors weeping. I would love to see the Clintons hauled off in chains, the Bushes humiliated, the very cogs of the political establishment smashed to pieces.

But I'm also sympathetic to Huck's argument that a Hillary victory gets us through hell faster by driving headlong into it, as well as Kunstler's argument that only with a Hillary victory will the right (left) people take the blame when this whole political/economic facade collapses.

Do I want to be ruled by an Osirian blood cult in the hopes that people will throw them out after the collapse, or would I rather throw them out tomorrow and hope that the collapse - which is coming just the same - doesn't bring them back?  I don't know.

I have prayed for two things out of this election: that God's will be done, and that the result be a blowout.  And I'm not sure that those two prayers are compatible.  For there are certain things coming that may be hurried by the election being tied in the electoral vote, then tied in the courts, then maybe thrown to the House.  Is it God's will that all of federal government legitimacy be completely destroyed by lawyers?  As far as I know, it could be. Judgment is like that.

However, I do have an inkling of who the pros think (not say, think) is going to win, based not on my own analysis of phony polls* or my double-minded wishes, but on an objective measurement: what the candidates did yesterday.

A month ago, Hillary was taking 5 days a week off and campaigning in deep red states like Missouri.  Yesterday Trump, Pence, Hillary, Bill, and Obama all campaigned in Michigan. Michigan that no one ever had Trump competitive in. Deep blue, safe, voted-Democrat-six-times-in-a-row Michigan.

Given the assumption that candidates personally campaign where it will do them the most good at the time, the fact that both candidates and all of their surrogates were in deep blue Michigan yesterday tells me that Michigan is in play. And if Michigan is in play, so are other not-so-blue states, and Trump is probably going to be your next president.

We'll know tomorrow night by 9:00 central time.  If Trump wins New Hampshire or especially Virginia, you're probably going to see a Trumpslide.  If he loses North Carolina or Georgia, it's probably going hard the other way.  If things go as the map says above**, it's going to be a very long winter.

* LA Times has Trump up by 5, ABC has Hillary up by 5.  They cannot both be correct, and ergo at least one of them - and every other poll with results close to that one - is phony. The problem is that you cannot really know which one.
** Because there's one thing the map doesn't note: Maine divvies up its electoral votes by congressional district, and Trump is leading in district #2.  Give him one of Maine's votes and it's 269-269.