Friday, January 27, 2017

Winter grapes


The hopefuls

After any number of grape tests, it turns out that the Concord seems to work the best here.  Not for wine, obviously - who wants to drink a wine that tastes like jelly?  But it grows and produces better than any of the other half dozen varieties I tried.

Frontenac comes in a close second - it grew and produced a few grapes a year.  Cabernet grew a little and produced nothing.  All the others burned down, fell off, and then sank into the swamp.  So Concord it is, and here comes the jelly. Expansion time*.

But who wants to buy a bunch of grape vines? Not I, so I'll be trying a couple of different ways to clone my favorite vine from cuttings.

Everyone, it seems, has a surefire way to start new plants.  One guy makes his cuttings, lets them sit for a few weeks until they callous on the ends, another puts them in water to root.  But I saw one dude who is a slacker after my own heart: he dips his cuttings in rooting hormone and just sticks them in the dirt.

In fairness, he seemed to have a little less success with this method than some of the others.  Also in fairness, I have no problem planting twice as many cuttings as I'll need grapevines, so long as the process is simple. Also in fairness**, he did his cuttings in the spring, when the growth had recently kicked in. I'm doing it in winter, which might work or might not.

But last night I made a few cuttings, stuck them in some left-over potting mix, and left them in a kind-of well-lit spot in the workshop.  If they take root, great, and I'll do it again.  If not, I'll try it again in the spring.  But one way or another, that 60' of fence line I cleared yesterday is going to be populated by grapes, raspberries, and blackberries soon.

* Of course, none of my renewed emphasis on food production this year has anything to do with the civil war being waged within our federal government.  And by none I mean all
** My, aren't we being fair today?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Welcome, liberal preppers

It's almost a Poe:
Colin Waugh bought a shotgun four weeks before November’s election.

An unapologetic liberal, he was no fan of firearms. He had never owned one before...Last month, Waugh added a 9mm handgun to his arsenal.

With Trump now days away from assuming the White House, Waugh’s preparing for the worst. He’s made “bug-out bags” stuffed with ammo, energy bars, and assorted survival gear for his wife and their three cats*.
Hmmm... Never owned a gun before - never liked them - but now owns two because he's concerned about possible government tyranny.  I'm betting he is suddenly very glad he was able to buy them with a minimum of fuss. Send in your NRA dues, buddy.

But be that as it may, I welcome the multitude of cat-herding, granola-storing nuevo preppers to ranks of the almost self-sufficient.  I mean that in all earnest. If Mr. and Mrs. Waugh and their cats are not prepared for SHTF, then when it comes they will be a burden on others.  To the extent they are prepared, they can be a blessing to others. I would rather live in a land full of self-sufficient liberals than in a land of conservatives whose children are on the brink of starvation.

Do I believe that there are going to be hordes of liberal preppers hoarding food and guns alongside their more traditional counterparts?  Not really.  Liberals are people of emotion, and emotions pass. They are scared now and trying to assuage that fear**.  But I don't really think that they will make a long-lived attempt to get and stay small-town or rural, to become more self-sufficient, to re-learn lost skills and to do the things that normal preppers*** do.

I do hope, however, that they do one thing normal preppers do: get some training with those guns, especially the 9mm, before you kill yourself or one of your cats. You are now a gun owner. Be a responsible one.

* Perhaps the only way Mr. Waugh could be a more stereotypical liberal would be for him to be storing up granola bars for his husband and their cats.
** I make an obvious exception for liberals who are long-term specialty farmers, permaculturalists, and the like - you know, the kind of liberals who are already doing things because those things are important. These people are preppers without even thinking about it.
*** if "normal preppers" is not an oxymoron.

Monday Randomness

Putts
Well, it feels like Monday.

I sure liked the old Golfing Obama better than the Let's-see-how-much-shit-we-can-break-on-the-way-out-the-door Obama. I seem to remember the Democrats did the same thing last time, too, including the Lizard Queen herself purloining a quarter million dollars' worth of artwork and furniture. Stay classy, Democrats.

Fortunately, Mr. Obama can make all the pronouncements he wants, and they will simply be un-pronounced on Friday. And it's not like Federal bureaucrats are going to be working extra hard this week to make changes they'll be ordered to unmake.

Since Trump won and his GOP now holds the national reins, I have found that my interest in politics has plummeted pretty much to nil. Yes, they're going to take the blame for a lot of crap that is still baked into our national Burrito of Comeuppance™.  But I sure feel a lot better about eating it with a right-wing government than a left wing one.

After careful consideration of the upcoming move from "picking berries" to "producing berries", I've decided to invest in a few thornless blackberry plants. Yeah, it would be easier and cheaper to simply transplant a bunch a wild blackberries from the field to the new trellis*, but the idea of fighting those thorns in an even more compact area just doesn't appeal.

On that subject, and I know it's January, but I may have to cook up a batch of blackberry jam this week. Though with as much jam as I already have lying about, I might just try to make syrup on purpose this time.

Even with water in various states of matter falling from the sky for the past 4 days, I didn't get time to clean out the barn.  But I did get the workshop mostly done and the garden planned.  I'm gonna need more beds, I think.

I'm also thinking about de-converting DiggingDog's ossuary into a potato barrel**. I'm not sure what to do with all the bones currently therein, however. Maybe build a cowapede skeleton from them.

And speaking of Irish, my mom sent off her spit-kit a few weeks ago and is awaiting the results with bated breath. It apparently bothered her no little bit that I was a lot more Irish and a lot less German than her asserted heritage would lead one to believe.  As the old saying*** goes: never, ever do genealogy unless you like surprises.

* Which is actually just an old fence, so don't get excited.
** I heard this really cool idea about how if you plant potatoes in a barrel, you can get a lot of them in very little space.
*** Well, I say it and I'm old, so it's old by association.


Friday, January 6, 2017