I had to split the tractor again. The clutch pressure plate levers all broke. Weird. I was quicker at it this time, though. It’s running nicely now.
We were fortunate to get another load of seasoned firewood, so we’ll probably end up using maybe two cords this winter. We’re using more now that we have more. We have lots of green wood to cut and split, including some humongous chunks of maple. That’s great wood for burning. We’re also gradually figuring out how to manage fires in the woodstove. It seems like it’s best to get it up to a high temperature (600º F) before switching the bypass damper and activating the catalyst. Otherwise, it smokes.
We’ve checked out a couple farmers markets last weekend and today to see what kind of produce they’re selling this time of year so we can improve our year-round gardening. Leeks, garlic, onions, potatoes, kale, radicchio, and a great find: January king cabbage.
Heather planted garlic all over the place last fall. It’s looking great so far.
Lots to catch up on:
The garden was later than usual this year but quite productive. We had days in the 80s into mid-October, so the harvest kept coming. I picked an ear of corn a day for dinner for about two months. Heather made lots of pasta/pizza sauce and salsa with the tomatoes and peppers, and salsa verde with the green tomatoes when the frost came. Heather planned a second crop of potatoes after harvesting the first, and she got a great second harvest.
Grant’s garden in the pasture was a huge success. He just covered the issue head with lots of wood chips during the winter, then planted in late spring. He had lots of corn and zinnias, and he was harvesting melons into early November.
The deer finally discovered our garden a few weeks ago. They’ve decimated some of the greens that we would like to harvest through the winter. I guess we’ll have to come up with some defenses.
Heather has planned a bunch of garlic, boy in the garden and next to the pasture. We’re going is not concerned by gophers again next year.
It looks like the commercial hazelnut harvest was good this year. They harvested the orchard behind us at the end of September and made a second round in mid-October just as the rain was coming .
We started using our woodstove in mid-October when weather abruptly turned from hot to rainy. (Then the rain went away again, but the cold stayed.) We have less than we would like for this winter, but it is enough to make a difference. Plus, when we get installed upstairs in mid-December, we hope that will help a lot. We bought a catalyst for the woodstove, and we’re gradually learning how to use the stove efficiently. We should have plenty of wood for next year, though. A lot of it is pine, and I wish we had more hardwoods, but it’s all free, so we’ll take it. We have probably split and stacked about two cords so far, and we still have those big chunks of pine to cut and split.
Speaking of splitting: I’ll probably have to split the tractor again. The clutch is slipping, and I’m guessing one of the springs on the clutch may have broken.
Today was pruning day. This is the first year that I haven’t done major renovations on the plum tree. The pear tree also got a light pruning as well as the young fruit trees. The grapes got the usual treatment.
After a record-breaking hot and dry summer, this winter has been really wet. We had a week or so below freezing between Christmas and New Year, so hopefully that was sufficient for the plants that need it. Otherwise, temperatures have been pretty normal. January has been pretty mild.
Heather moved the herbs from row 1 of the garden to the south side of the house.
Good news from the beehive: so far, the bees have survived the winter! On warm sunny days such as today, they venture out of the hive.
I finally got around to addressing the coolant leak in the tractor last week. I decided to try the easy option first and pour a bottle of Bar’s head gasket sealant into the radiator. I’ve cycled the tractor through warm-up/cool down a few times, and the amount of steam coming out of the exhaust seems to be diminishing. I also changed out the milky engine oil. If this fix doesn’t work, I’ll have to take the engine apart and install a new head gasket.
The first row of corn is up, and I planted the second row today. The potatoes are up, too. Instead of thinning the tatsoi, I tried transplanting every other plant to give them enough space. We’ll see how they handle it.
With the tractor running again, I was finally able to do some grooming on the driveway (I had to wait for rain, too, to loosen things up and keep the dust down). While I was using the tractor, it suddenly died. It turned out to be a buildup of deposit on the rotor in the distributor. A little sandpaper took care of it.
I forgot to mention, the bees died over the winter (probably from mites). Alden got a new nuc a couple weeks ago. Yesterday, he added a second brood box and two supers back onto the stack. We hope we can figure out how to help the bees survive the winter. We sprayed for mites last year, but apparently it wasn’t effective.