Thursday, August 28, 2008

The summer is flying by

It's been a busy season and my camera has been on the fritz for the greater part of it. I've been reluctant to buy a new one because I'd rather not contribute to the creation of another disposable thing made in China. So now I've been handed down a camera second hand and I'm back in business taking pictures for my blog. This season I have been kind of overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I've had to do. It's inevitable in this place where we are trying to build a village that I should get distracted by everyday community activities having to do with helping keep the village running and growing. I've also been consumed by the task of gardening for the Bobolink eating co-op, which has been a struggle with the weather this season.

Fortunately I have been making progress on some things. So far the vineyard, though a little nibbled by deer, seems to be surviving and growing. I've been harvesting black locust trees from out along Woerhle Rd to use as posts for the trellising system the vines will grow up. Black locust is a very rot-resistant tree and makes posts that last as long or longer than treated posts and grows like a weed along the road. Using real tree trunks for posts will also, I think, give the vineyard a more natural look. I will be installing the posts this season and they should be pretty well settled by next spring when the vines will be trained along them.

Some greenwood cuttings of vines to be planted out in the vineyard. I took the cuttings a few weeks ago. They only take a couple weeks to form roots and will be established in the vineyard by the end of the season. This is a much quicker way of multiplying my vines.

Last year when I came here, I brought a bunch of vines from Madison and ended up having many extras which I gave away to others here, creating sort of a boom in the grapevine population here at DR. Rachel planted a few of these vines in her garden and this year one already produced a significant crop of grapes. Since she was away for the harvest, she allowed me to take the grapes, and I'm making a small batch of wine with them. It was inspiring to see such a harvest of beautiful grapes in such a short time from my own vines. Of course mine are not fruiting yet because I had to temporarily store the vines in a nursery row while I waited to get access to land to plant. I expect I should have a small crop next year in the vineyard though and the following year the vines should be close to full bearing.

Another project this season has been researching and buying a power system. Right now, I am typing on my computer powered by my own solar power. I was able to get some of the components for my systems second hand from Tom, another DR member. I also bought some batteries, an inverter, and another solar panel. It's not a huge system, but big enough to power my simple needs in my small house. I should be able to power a stereo, lights, a laptop, and a few other low power items with the current system even during the short days of winter.

The garden has been a mixture of success and failure this season--I guess as it usually is--but maybe more failure than I'm used to. The early and heavy rain delayed planting not just for me, but for most farmers in the region. I planted potatoes three times and still most of them rotted in the ground. Next year I will wait and plant them later to avoid the wet weather and to be able to harvest them closer to winter, when its easier to store them. But the rain here continued through July, so it made things difficult for many crops beyond potatoes. Fortunately, some crops like peppers and eggplant are flourishing in the rain, and are the best I've ever grown. The rain also made establishing the vineyard much easier because it meant I didn't have to irrigate to get the little vines root systems going.

Another efforts this summer has been gathering wood for building. Since all the wood we use if building has to be reclaimed we all have to either buy used wood from local people who take down houses, or we have to do the demolition ourselves. I've been working on scavenging wood from a couple different places. Recently I was getting some barn siding from a local barn. I'm using this to side my garden shed and my house. I also hope to get some posts and beams from the site for use in my future house, the progress of which has been set back slightly by the fact that I've decided to make it bigger than originally planned. I have also completed taking down a small house in nearby Rutledge from which I was able to get many 2x4s, 2xs, and sheets of plywood and OSB.

These are some of the peaches from the Dr orchard. It's been really great to have fresh fruit again this season. These peaches were so delicious.

Last week I started putting siding on my garden shed to cover up the OSB, which looks really ugly and didn't contribute to the quaintness of my garden one bit. I took siding off a barn recently and decided that the wood was a little too crappy to put on my house, so I thought I'd practice on the shed before getting better wood and putting it on my house. Despite the crappiness of the wood, the siding looks really good. I will put some one by two strips on to cover up the gaps between barn boards. I've been asking around and calling up the local radio show to try to find barn boards I can use for siding. I stopped by one house on the way to Kirksville that had a few nice looking outbuildings that weren't being used. An older man with a big cowboy hat answered the door and said that though he didn't use the buildings he didn't want them taken down. I will keep asking around. I've got to get the house sided before winter.

I have a lot of things to do still before it gets cold so I suspect I'll continue to be busy for a while yet.

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