Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Busy Weekend on the Farm

back of barn with DeKalb Ag sign
Lots was accomplished from Thursday through Tuesday, some little things, some big. Bought a new battery for the Graveley and got it tuned up and running. Mowed a small brush patch behind the barn, which is a nice shaded space that faces uphill towards the house, and finished mowing the tall grass we left up in front of the house for the winter as wildlife habitat. Hiked up to the back edge of the property and put red blazes on the trees as a demarkation of our property line. Also placed three no trespassing signs on trees at three obvious entrances from the old road behind the property. I hate to see signs like that, but I also hate to see people with guns cruising across our land, especially when I'm out with the dogs. Cathy brought over my old DeKalb Ag sign that has been hanging in our garage, and I mounted it on the back of the barn: a little Northern Illinois in West Virginia. This sign goes all the way back to when I was in college at Southern Illinois University, where students from DeKalb put these signs in their dorm windows.
front of the barn
Over the winter, we brought electricity from the fuse box in the house down to the barn. More than 125' of 3/4" PVC conduit, and a difficult connection beneath the deck and up through an electrical outlet. Now we have power to run tools and lights, and there is an exterior light that can be switched at the house.

Saw my friend Laurie over at Whitegrass and she invited Cathy and me to come by that evening for the staff dinner. Got to meet lots of new people and reconnect with some old friends. It is basically a highly interconnected expatriate community with origins largely from Washington.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Cathy and I hiked up Red Creek to the crossing to Little Stonecoal Trail. The water was too deep for a crossing, plus it was freezing. We went back downstream and discovered the high water route to Little Stonecoal. It was a perfect day for hiking, sunny and 65 °F. The dogs got to play in the water and run like fools all over the forest.

I learned how to split locust for fence posts, and made supports for the eight apple trees. Hard steady work with a sledgehammer and maul, but I know the posts will last. Sixteen locust posts for eight apple trees equals more than $100 for the same number of metal T-posts at Tractor Supply.

The phoebes were back so early this year, and bluebirds were checking out our bluebird box on the fence in front of the house. The trees are budding, the coltsfoot was in full bloom all along the driveway. It is always the earliest wildflower to bloom, even before the snow melts. The raspberries were budding, the garlic was coming up, but nothing else yet.

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