Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fall Projects

About 12 or 14 years ago I built a 24 x 16 pole shed out of used utility poles. It was mostly for hay storage when we were boarding horses in a more serious way and needed additional covered storage. It was built on a budget with many expenses spared. It wasn't pretty, but it was functional. You can never have too much storage space on a farm until you get older and need to thin out your stuff. I added a shed roof to the north side of the building and a short while after Stitch moved in It was determined that a small greenhouse was needed on the south side. Again, every expense was spared. There was very little actual money spent for materials and it showed, but at least it was functional and you could grow food in it for longer than you could if it was outside trying to survive on its own. The door was salvaged from a friend's remodeling project, windows were from old houses and remodel projects around the area. I bought some of the lumber new, but much was salvaged.
It ain't pretty, but it is functional. Then winter happens every year and the snow and ice fall off the roof onto the salvaged storm windows which don't use tempered glass. They break.
Here are the windows that we removed last weekend. Pretty sad.
So I was left with no south wall. A triple wide glass entry door that was being replaced by a local  homeowner came up a couple of months ago on our local ISP site. It was free for the taking, but moving a 106" x 80" door took some doing. My neighbor loaned us himself and his snowmobile trailer (he doesn't actually own any snowmobiles) and we hitched it to our truck and away we went. It was a monster to move, but we did it and brought it home.
Basically, it is three 3' wide insulated glass doors in one large frame. After the removal of the old windows and reframing for the "new" glass we were ready to install it.
Using the tractor to lift it over to where it need to be and with the help of my neighbors, Rich and Heather, and my friend Yvonne, we managed to get it in. No, it didn't go smoothly and we had to raise the top part of the frame because someone (guess who?) measured incorrectly. It was a quick fix and with the strength, determination, and wisdom (thank you friends and neighbors) we got it installed!
I'll seal it up against the weather, put some snowguards on the roof to keep the snow and ice up there until I can remove it safely, and wait until spring to put it back in service. I am really tired now.

In other news, Dakota is back for the winter while his owners  go off to suffer in Arizona until about May. He is an easy horse to deal with and he has spent a lot of time here, so he knows the routines. Yes, his eyes are blue.
Remember the maple tree in the backyard and all its beautiful colored leaves? Here it is today, nearly naked with its leaves on the ground. We know what comes next.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Color and Changes

The colors are going fast, but they all turn at different rates. Some are at their brightest and some have withered and fallen to the ground. Once in a while we get an early version of one of those Edmund Fitzgerald storms that will strip the trees of everything they had.

Some mornings going to work are still pretty nice with the timing of the sunrise.
And then I zoomed in on the Coast Guard Station and Artist's Point. It's about five or six miles away as the crow flies.
 The critters on the farm, both wild and domesticated and some in between are doing their fall thing. The options for them are to eat like there is no tomorrow and hibernate, migrate to somewhere warm, or tough it out. Most seem to go with the latter option.

Red squirrel doing what it does best.
A feral cat that we think is a female has been hanging around for a few months and we have been feeding it lately. She looks ferocious, but will only let me get about ten feet from her before she leaves.
A very colorful bee that matches the trees, but not the corner of the house. If you look closely you'll see that I need to stain the house next spring/summer. It'll take me all winter to get motivated to do that if I get started soon.
A chickadee wondering what the hell I'm looking at.
The mule keeping an eye out for trouble.
A sign that the weather will soon be a bigger factor is that the ships carrying freight are staying closer to the north shore. I caught this one sneaking past me yesterday morning.
As Elephant's Child reminds us, "Clicking on any of the photos will make them embiggen."  If that's what she says, you know it's true. Visit her if you want to see what it is like "down under."

Sunday, October 8, 2017

It's Still Falling and Empty Bowls

We are about at peak color now. The skies are different, the weather is cooler, and the days are shorter. I need to stay aware of my own Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) tendencies and try to stay happy. Time to start using the daylight light fixtures, getting outside and walking, and keeping nutritional needs focused. Trying it without anti-depressants as I find their side effects somewhat, you know, depressing.

Last weekend was the 14th Annual Libra ride. which brings local equines and their human caretakers, especially those who have birthdays around this time, to gather for a ride, competition, and a delicious potluck. The event has been hosted by this farm for those years. This year was delightful and delicious as usual. The ride was down a local county road which is covered in maple trees, followed by an in hand competition in our arena. There were eleven entrants in that. The competitors scored each other and yours truly had to add the scores to determine the winner. Here is some of the group.
Our friend borrowed the Colonel, our faithful mule and with map in hand had some fun convincing him to go through the obstacles.
Ultimately, Stitch was the winner with our little mare "Beezer" as determined by the other competitors. Here they are checking the mailbox.
The food prepared in my home and the food brought by the rest of the participants was wonderfully delicious as always. I didn't need to eat for a couple of days afterward, but I did anyway.

Ahh, the changes. Morning sun last week.
Filtered light on the Lake Superior Hiking Trail just down the road from the farm.
This is a piece of the maple tree next to the house.
October skies.
The harbor entry.
Birches Aspens across the road.
The yard.
Yesterday was a lovely day. I insulated the garage ceiling with cellulose, which is a blown in process, with equipment I borrowed from work. I don't heat the garage, but I like keeping the vehicles cozy in winter. Later in the afternoon I went to town to participate in our local Empty Bowls program which involves some pottery. Since I can easily make a serviceable bowl or two I thought it would be a good idea. You see, about 12% of our county's population needs some or a lot of food assistance to get by in the world. Granted we only have a little over 5000 people spread out in a fairly large area, but they all need to eat. People sign up to help make the bowls, local potters help finish them and later there is a sale of these hundreds of bowls along with a fund raising feed at one of the local churches. Last year was the first time I got involved if only to make a few bowls and eat some tasty food. There were a lot of people signing up to participate, even some from out of the area (how cool is that?). It was my intention to do it again this year, but my bowls would be nicer. So I get a phone call last week from the Art Colony to assist one of the teachers in the session I signed up for. I haven't thrown a pot for six months, but I'm game. I ended up making a few myself, but helped six people, nearly all of whom had never made anything on a potter's wheel, make what I hope will be serviceable bowls! Hannah, the actual qualified potter, was in charge of the hand building pots. It felt good to be useful and teaching is a talent that I never pictured myself having, but it was fun and for a good cause. If you are interested in more information it can be found here and some photos can be found here.

From the drive into town yesterday.
I drive this route at least every weekday and never get tired of it. Happy autumn to you all!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Goodbye Frisky, hello autumn

Frisky was a Welsh pony cross who was a diminutive equine of about 12 hands and about 400 pounds. A cute little guy who had worked at stables as a riding pony for kids and was quite tolerant of their antics. A few years ago our neighbor's kid was having a sixth birthday party and we gave all the kids a short pony ride on Frisky who came out of retirement for the occasion. Some of the kids were a bit nervous getting on him, but once the braver kids did it they all wanted to. By the end of the session you could see that Frisky was getting tired of it, but he did what he needed to do. It was about five or six years ago that we took him in to our "retirement home" so he could have a quiet life just grazing and wandering around the pasture. His pasture buddy, Timmy, was put down at the ripe old age of 30. Here they are together.
 Then Frisky moved in with Vedas, our big Fjord mare, and they kept each other company until her passing last summer. 
 Frisky put up with all kinds of nonsense from human beings, but never lost his dignity and remained a faithful friend until today.

He had occasional company with our other horses, but preferred his own pasture and got to stay in at night with nobody to compete for his food, water, or space. He was pretty tired this morning and I was going to leave him inside for a while, but he insisted on going out anyway. Who was I to say no? Stitch found him this afternoon a short way into the woods where he had died. He will be buried next to his old buddy, Timmy. Frisky was 31 years old.

The trees are continuing to change color and fall will be in the air after this next cold front passes through. Here are some from this morning.

 That's a 'shroom on a mule muffin.
Maple in the woods.
Geese in the pasture.

Flowers around the yard.
Here is a nice one I got from my friend, Ann, who was out bicycling with a friend not too far from here. They were under the maple canopy which will be changing for the next few weeks. As always, click to embiggen.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Casinni, cranes, and colors

 Artist's concept of Cassini diving between Saturn and its innermost ring.

I watched much of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's control center's last couple of hours following the Cassini spacecraft's final moments before burning up in Saturn's atmosphere.  I've been fascinated by space stuff since Alan Shepherd's first Mercury flight.

When it finally plunged into Saturn's atmosphere it was going well over 70,000 miles per hour (112,654 kph). Radio contact was lost and Cassini was no more. It was launched in 1997 and took seven years to get to Saturn. It orbited Saturn, checked out the rings and the moons (Titan, Europa, and 50 plus others) and gathered data for thirteen years about the makeup of all these places that only existed in little more than our imaginations previously. Amazing things like water on Titan, ice jets spewing from Enceladus and unbelievable things about the rings. There are volumes of things I could tell you about, but I only have what's left of my lifetime. Follow the link above and be amazed. At the end of its twenty year mission everyone in the control room looked a bit misty-eyed. After so long and all the dedication and time put into it I can't blame them. The scope of what they have been a part of is nearly unbelievable and will continue to educate and fascinate for many years to come.

You may wonder what connection I have to such a thing. I wouldn't have believed it either, but I owe it to my father. Remember when he was a foreign student at N.C. State back after WW2? Some faculty would bring the foreign students to their homes for dinner and discussions and broadening horizons. What I didn't know until after my father, Otto, died was that he had kept up a correspondence with the young daughter of one of the faculty members he met at one of these dinners. Otto regularly corresponded with hundreds of friends and relatives throughout his life and in going through mail that kept coming from these people (I did respond to all of them in one way or another)  I found several from Jim and Barbara in Pasadena. It was hand written from Barbara about Jim's exploits at the JPL there and had all this cool stuff about the satellites and probes that NASA sent out into the universe. It turns out that Jim was the Deep Space Radio guy transmitting and receiving from all these probes. He's the guy setting up communications with Mariner, Viking, Galileo, Deep Space 1, Dawn and numerous others. Holy shit!

About five years ago Jim and Barbara were on their way from Pasadena to visit their kids near the Adirondack Mountains of New York. They stopped my my humble abode for a quick visit and I was thrilled, honored, and overjoyed at getting to meet them. I lost contact for a while and am now trying to re-establish it. Wish me luck!

The sandhill cranes stopped by for a visit. Probably thinking about heading south for the winter. At least the have the sense that god gave geese to figure out that this is a good idea. They probably spent a winter here once and that was enough. They were way down in the pasture, but since they are about four feet tall I spotted them when going out to feed the horses this morning.

Fall colors have started in earnest now. With the wet conditions all summer and a gently cooling fall predicted it should be a good show this year. Predictions being what they are and Nature being what she is I'll just keep my fingers crossed and my eyes open for some good photo ops.