Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SoapBox Thoughts and Happenings

There is so much going on right now. So much to share, discuss, celebrate and try to prevent. I hope folks will bear with me, and maybe even join in.

The smell of election is in the air...again. The CONservatives have been running attack ads against Iggy the prodigal son and then had to announce that it turns out they miscalculated earlier projections and now Canada, too, faces record budget deficits (likely for multiple years). This has the Libs and many of their supporters fairly drooling at another election chance. All three of these situations annoy the crap out of me.

I don't think it says much about a population when one party thinks attack ads against another will work, and it says even less about that population when this does work (even if the negative information presented is true). I wonder if anyone was surprised to learn about our new forecast deficits. Personally, I think we can expect reality to end up around $100B. And as for another election, nothing is going to change federally (for the longterm positive) unless the public gets a hell of a lot more active and considerate locally.

Moving to the landfill situation, I have been meaning to mention that I saw a crew out clearing blown garbage a week or so ago! Trouble is they only cleared about half of the "buffer" area. I suspect this fenced are is some kind of legislated buffer zone but I can guarantee that it is insufficient in size for such a windy area. I'm afraid I don't have updated pictures, I was cultivating the field for dad when I saw the workers so I did not have my camera with me. I sure hope they send more workers back soon though, because they MIGHT have cleared out 1/10th of that which has blown free, so far. As for the trash heap itself, I cannot believe how fast it is growing. I shudder to think of the ooze which will seep from beneath this man-made mountain in the decades to come. Unfortunately, aside from writing here I have not expended much energy into actually trying to solve this problem.

On a lighter note, the lake is still very much full of life...if less than I think should be the case. I went down to the shore late last week (after winter went away again) to dig up some more 20 year old manure and straw/hay which is nicely age-composted. My arrival startled a new gosling daycare that had been resting on the shore. I feel a little bad because I send them swimming off to the safety of the reeds whenever I come down, but it cannot be helped really.

In the last picture, you can see one little fella heading off by itself. It went off with its parents and, being the underdog supporter I am, I couldn't help but wonder what happened to its siblings and suspecting that it'd end up a pretty spoiled little gosling.

The greenhouse is also coming along nicely, although it has been such a cool spring it has required the use of two small heaters that my parents had. Mom was mentioning that in a week or so she will be harvesting the spinach which was first planted, so we should see a fresh crop every 3-4 weeks. I hadn't realized just how quick it comes in. They can see we need to get a larger dome greenhouse which can be used year round. I am thinking about putting some strawbales up around the outside of this greenhouse come august. It would not be pretty but maybe we can keep it somewhat active right into November.

I reset the main compost pile a couple of days back. I was unhappy with the pile's winter activity, or lack thereof, but pulling it apart and repiling it with a nice amount of water seems to be doing the trick. I can't find a compost thermometer up here anywhere though!!

I have also decided to get into vermicomposting (worm composting). Even with a smaller herd of cows we build up a huge amount of manure and straw/hay. We have about a decade of winter barn accumulation sitting in a huge pile in one of our fields and I just started building a new pile today, altho I am aiming more at a windrow with this one. Considering the main local commercial greenhouse brings its castings (worm crap) from about 6 hours away, there is at least SOME kind of market to tap. Plus, breeding a lot of them will provide my mom's laying hen business with some tasty living protein which just so happen to be one of a chicken's favorite foods. I should be able to accomplish this even in winter, by using excess straw bales.

Goodness, what a cohesive and strong planning group could accomplish.

I'm just about finished building the first chicken tractor too. If the wind stays down tomorrow I will be finished then, although I should really paint the whole thing with linseed oil which would take a couple more days. I'll add pictures when it's all finished.

I put in a little patch of garden myself this year. I thought I'd give the Three Sisters a try so I got the folks to pick up some corn, climbing beans and squash seeds. However, I didn't really research that far...or read all instructions for that matter. Sooo, it may not work out so well. I basically did everything but the squash wrong. I planted the beans at the same time as the corn instead of a couple of weeks later. I also planted the corn in groups of two rows instead of single rows or planting all three kinds of seed in individual mounds. Oh, there were some peas added in there as well, I planted them outside of the outside two rows. Ah well, should be interesting to see what happens. I actually think there is space remaining in which I could seed a second patch. I may do so even if it means breaking a bit of new ground.

I think I'll leave it at that for now. Be well and good to each other, brothers and sisters.


linda said...

Wow, you have been busy! I love how the green house is coming along especially. I didn't know spinach was such an early crop. Hope you are enjoying it!
An allotment neighbor is into the three sisters and I was there for his planting. He put all the seeds together in a mound, watered and said, "we'll see". He said he was doing it mostly wrong as well, but it had worked this way for him last year. His spacing between mounds is about 12 inches at most.It will be interesting to see his and yours as well.

MoonRaven said...

While I'm sorry that you have to deal with the usual political nonsense (your electoral situation up in Alberta doesn't seem that different from ours down here in New England) and the landfill next door, it's good to see your pictures of lake life and the greenhouse which certainly seems full of greens (spinach--and did I see kale?). The vermicomposting seems like a good idea. And I want to hear how the chicken tractor and your 'Three Sisters' experiments turn out. (We have started a garden here but the cool spring has kept things from growing too fast. Maybe we should get a greenhouse...)

Good luck with all your work.

SoapBoxTech said...

Linda: Mom and dad had their first bits of spinach tonight. They cooked it tho, silly old people and their habits. Baby spinach like that would just melt in the mouth and I bet they lost 3/4 of the nutrients. Ah well, made them happy.

I'm curious to see whether my 3 sisters patch does anything too. Nothing but some weeds yet, although we've really only gotten a couple of really nice warm day yet. Today was one!

Moonraven: Thanks for the wishes. I certainly understand what you mean about cool springs. Our garden doesn't have much growing in it yet either.

I don't think you saw any kale in the greenhouse. I doubt my parents know what it is and I am only recently aware of it, barely. I'm sure I'll be posting updates of all the projects.

Oh, and I had meant a federal election, although the Alberta situation is troublesome too.


linda said...

Good news! The neglected 3 sisters at the allotment are sprouting. I swear the owner hasn't been around since two weeks ago! We have had lots of rain though. Seems to be a no nonsense approach? I wish you luck on yours and hope you will keep us updated. Your spinach story inspired me to go buy some seeds for later in the season, if I can make room that is.

Walter Jeffries said...

Great looking greenhouse. On the compost, I don't use a thermometer, just my hand to check the heat. I tend to run static compost piles and be patient with them. This works even for composting big animals and produces great fertilizer.

You asked about pigs eating coal over on my blog. I suspect you mean charcoal, that is burnt wood, rather than what I am familiar with as coal (the mined stuff). The answer is yes, our pigs eat charcoal when they get the chance. In the process of cleaning up the fields we've had many a cookout in the pastures. The pigs seem to be quite fond of chewing on the burnt logs. I suspect they're getting minerals from the charcoal.

SoapBoxTech said...

Hi Walter. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

I am kind of new to the composting thing but I just started using my hand as a thermometer as well. Our big manure piles do compost themselves but out method takes soooooo long. I am working on my patience but I'd really like to see these huge piles compost a lot faster than they do currently.

Thanks again!