I thought I’d share some snow pictures after this recent storm and added it to my “Gardeners Notebook” for future events. Another way of looking at it is: What we do in the winter?
Before I started up my small 8HP snow blower to make some paths I was curious about the heavy snow pile on the new “Growhaus” I built this past year. Notice the snow load. Now this is supported by the ¾” electrical plastic conduit tubes and the internal treated 2” X 4” box frame running the 20’ X2’ wide top. I was pleasantly gratified that there was no collapse of the design, although the end conduit was pulled inward 2”. Later on I will place another support conduit tube adjoining the outward one. Eventually as we progress in design modifications we will do a final article on this. (See previous article in the archives.)
The small first Growhaus with the strawberries did fine.
The test plants all did well: beets, star baby lettuce, cabbage, carrots (for seed) and parsley. At this point I am already planning for next summer’s crop of sweet potatoes since it is a bit cold up here in the mountains (2500 foot elevation) to have a good sweet potato crop. The entrapment of warm air will provide ideal sweet potato growing.
The snow load on the steep sided roof of the north side of my home did not slide readily off. Sticky snow? Perhaps. Notice the curl of the slow slide off the metal roof. There appears plenty of space for my future guttering I want to install. I am about half way on that project having put in 1’ wide 1/2” marine plywood as a trim and soffit boards. I mention this as when we install guttering (to collect rainwater); most builders will put in inexpensive facia composition board trim that will not support a bird’s nest. Note again that snow load, certainly some of it will catch on the future guttering and the 12 inch spacing for long nail supports will be surely tested.
I might add that I am strongly in favor of metal roofing, screwed down-not just nailed, for its strength and longevity. The average composition shingle new roof shows extreme wear after two seasons in this locale, and it is costly and time consuming to keep replacing roof coverings. More on this someday when we talk about building construction in detail.
As I had indicated last week, my 8HP walk behind snow blower belts gave out after two trips up and down the 1500-foot driveway. Also the shift lever connecting rod clip at the end of the rod rusted through. Alas, I confess I was remiss in keeping up with fall maintenance this year and the snow blower is stopped. A 25-cent clip and 10 dollars in belts has made me dead in the snow. This season I will load the machine in the utility trailer and haul it to Blacksburg Power in Christiansburg and let their professional staff bring it back to life and do a good tune-up. I just cannot find the energy to mess with mechanical things in freezing weather; of course if I were 50 again, well I would be still trucking along. Lesson learned: you cannot skip maintenance.
I do have another snow blower though that attaches to the front of my Garden Tractor and since there will be more and bigger snows this year, (see woolly bear predictions) and although my 4X4 vehicle does well in snow, it piles up too deep at the creek crossing. And the occasion arises where we may have to get out sooner or later. So I snow blow. I note www.sportsmansguide.com is selling the wind-weather cab cover for your walk behind snow blower. See item # AXX-168473.
This year, 2010, I do intend to purchase a new Kubota BX25 tractor with a snow blower attachment, plus a heated cab. I want the inching and easy hookups that are available on new tractors. I think this BX 25 will be a great new Garden Tractor and safe too for its low center of gravity. Take note: my current Garden Tractor and all accessories will be sold in the Trading Post if you are looking for a good deal.
My Christmas presents were practical. Diane bought me a package deal on the RIDGID ™ battery operated tools at Home4 Depot. This was a hundred dollars cheaper than www.Amazon.com. The advantage of RIDGID ™ tools is their warranty that even covers batteries. These are professional contractor tools and will be included in my will, as they will last a long, long time. I try to get good tools. My old drills and tools were still working, so I donated them.
My new years resolution is to expand this website, now approaching 900,000 visitors this year. Thank you Dear Readers. There is so much to comment on, but the focus of these uncertain times is food and I will be stressing more and more on gardening and small animal management. In order to complete my focus I bought a new Sony HD Camcorder and will be delving into making movie clips for you. Keep in mind that I am just beginning this series and have yet to master video, although I had in the olden days a great deal of training in the Navy while working as a technical instructor, the art of making 16mm film movies. I think the transition will be viable and with Dear Wife Diane’s help on the computer I will be competing with Hollywood by next fall-well I hope so.
My daughter, Doctor Christina Steel Ph.D., was able to brave the storm and visit with us for the holidays. Together we made a movie on “Making Rye Bread”, and with a bit of editing and a title board we hope to present it to you this year. Christina is now teaching college in Norfolk and we are so pleased for her accomplishment to graduating as a Ph.D.
this year, 2009. Her specialty is in bioscience, of course, and she provides me with a great deal of updates to my thinking.
The Solar Greenhouse was refurbished this winter before the snow came with a new skylight and interior painting. I will be starter planting this April for setting out plants in mid May. I could not resist during the storm to slip into the Solar Greenhouse and enjoy the warmth. Being an herbalist I hope to install a tub inside the SGH for herbal baths that have such a historic history of success that are still used in Europe, and perhaps spas in this country. I did note that http://www.sportsmansguide.com/ item AXX-119693 offers a small on demand propane fired water heater that looks ideal for filling the tub. Now if I can keep my toads and frogs out, hmmmm, maybe a cover. I would like to place a very small pond on the end, with palm trees, for a goldfish, and my amphibians that eat the unwanted bugs. Serenity can be yours too.
While the snow is blowing and it is getting colder the Bunny people out there will realize that bunnies get cold in outdoor hutches too. The nest boxes are all stuffed with hay for Miss Bunny to snuggle down in and munch on. The group bunnies in the large runs also get cold so I place, every day a layer of hay on the floor and as they poop on it and it layers it becomes a compost pile and generates heat-rather like living in a wild bunny burrow. I also enclose the open doors from any wind and they are quite snug. I had to order two extra heated water bowls from http://enasco.com/ and I note they have jumped in price but comparatively on the net they are a fair price. My rabbits consume six gallons of water a day and 150 lbs of top rabbit food a month in this cold weather. I do not count hay. So this investment goes a long way towards rabbit white meat-one of the best sources of meat on the table.
It appears I will be doing chickens again this spring, starting about May 15th when it is warm enough, and the chicks will grow best at that time. I have some friends helping me refurbish my chicken house, both rooms with the clean up and covering the walls and ceiling with builders cardboard about 3/16th thick. I will defer on the old baby chick starter articles and pictures and give you a fresh article next spring.
Other things to do are feed the wild birds and they get a peanut cake of suet each day. The Blue Jays really tear off chunks. I plan on making two new big feeders as I am expending 50 lbs. a week at the current rate as the Doves beak the seed out in search of their favorite seed. Speaking of Doves when we set up this farm in 1983 we had 2 doves. We now have over 25 pairs. One good reason that the birds are re-populating is the food and there is no Dove hunting here. Diane and I enjoy these late years sitting in the bay window breakfast nook watching the birds each morning and evening. I am always amazed at the varieties that shift through the seasons and how they keep an eye out for me with the seed bucket.
Lastly in the day-to-day routine is feeding the dozen or so barn cats. In this cold weather I feed them kitty kibble and a big can of dog meat and kitty fish mixed in to keep up their warmth. They burrow down in the barn hay and make quite cozy nests.
Best wishes to my Dear Readers, and at the rate we are going we will have One Million visitors to my web site (where the tally is posted all the time on a counter) by the end of January. See www.Back2theLand.com . Not bad for a rural Homestead, eh?
COPYRIGHT: 2010, Back2theLand.com, Mark Steel