Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spreading Manure

Today I spread some aged manure on the garden plot.  Living with horses has many advantages one of which is a nearly endless supply of very nutrient rich compost. 

The mowing crew.

My mother taught me gardening and the love of it has stuck with me all my life.  When I lived in the city I only had a small strip on the south side of my house where I could cultivate a small crop of tomatoes and maybe a few pepper plants.  The rest of the property had too much shade and not enough sunlight to support a vegetable garden.

Here is a few photos from previous years:

While I like to can, dry and freeze a lot of my harvest it is nice to eat fresh from the garden.  The above photo shows tomatoes, jalapeno and red chili peppers ready for a batch of homemade chili.

A feature I noticed right away when looking at the farm was a perfectly situated garden spot chosen by the former owner. I wasn't going to grow a garden last year because we had so much going on having just moved. In the end I threw a few plants in the ground anyways and we enjoyed this first garden on the farm.

Here is the garden about mid summer 2016:
From left: Sweetcorn, tomatoes, cabbage, bell, cayenne and jalapeno peppers.  

This year after some extensive soil building I'm looking forward to many hours spent working my little plot.  Back in the fall I covered the entire garden with leaves once they all fell and now I'll continue to cart loads of manure up and start tilling it in.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Springtime Flowers

The last time I was back in the woods the ground was covered in dead brown leaves. This weekend I took a walk back and discovered the renewal of spring in full bloom.

My knowledge of botany is limited so I have no idea of the name of this ground cover. In any case it sure is nice to see things greening up finally.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Double Crank for the Motobecane

After much consideration I decided to swap out the triple crank for a double on my titanium Motobecane. For years I've always liked the utility of a triple crank on my bikes but since moving to the farm I don't find myself with the time or the desire to head east to ride in the hill country. The roads around my area are very flat as can be seen in the photo so really a double is right at home. And let's face it the Motobecane is a performance bike and a double crank completes the look.

When I decided to make the change last fall I perused that online auction site and found a used Ultegra crankset with bottom bracket for fifty dollars.  The new to me double is from the same line as the triple I was using so shares the same classic looks.  I'm not a fan of the newer style big blocky looking cranks that are on the market today.  

The crank is not a compact model but I did replace the 53 tooth big ring with my existing 50 tooth. I'm not a strong rider by any stretch and the 53 just feels like too much gear to me.  I did leave the 34 on for low gears and it works fine on the very occasional rises I encounter on my rides.

Another positive outcome of the change was realized because the double runs on a slightly narrower bottom bracket than the triple. This moves the chain rings closer in towards the frame and the chain line now falls more in the middle of the cogset where I do most of my riding anyways.  Now the drive line feels noticeable smoother while underway and I'm not missing the triple at all.  

With the farm came an outstanding 40' X 60' pole barn which is quite a change from the single stall garage I had back in the city.  I now have more than adequate room for my collection of bikes, motorcycles and tractors. I don't have to push everything to one side when it comes time for maintenance.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Life On The Farm - Forestry Project

Moving from the city about a year ago to a farm in the country has been a life changing event to say the least.  In the past I spent much of my free time with my bikes.  Living in the city with only a small lot to take care of left ample time for velo-related activities. Never one to shy away from some honest hard work I've found that the farm provides a plethora of projects to work on to keep me busy and fit.

Since I'm not so focused on the bike world I have decided to start a new topic on the blog and call it "Life On The Farm". Over the past year I continued to document my projects photographically and I'm going to make an attempt to get back to posting these endeavors here.

The back of our property is made up of a small three acre woodlot. We have Oaks, Maples, Hickory among other deciduous species.   A few weeks ago because of the lack of snow and the fact that the ground cover is dormant I decided to start cleaning up the area of downded branches and trees.  Our farm sat vacant for nearly ten years so there is lots of sticks to be picked up.

I've always enjoyed being in the woods whether mountain biking; hunting or simply sitting still watching the birds.  Even though the woods is only a meager three acres it doesn't seem to matter and I spend a lot of time being back there. And best of all I can call it my own. Well, maybe eventually I can when the bank is paid off.

A couple weeks ago we had a few days of very strong winds move through the area.  The fifty-plus mph gusts brought down a large Ash.  Years ago the woods was filled with many beautiful and tall Ash trees.  Unfortunately the Emerald Ash Borer moved in and decimated the Ash population.  Several of these trees are on the ground but many more are still standing dead waiting for the wind and gravity to have their way.

The first weekend after the wind storms I headed back and with the help of Wyatt and the RoadQueen we got busy converting this giant to firewood.  I'd rather have a forest full of healthy Ash trees but I suppose the one consolation is we won't have to buy firewood for quite some time.

When the Ash toppled it took out a couple smaller trees one of which it bent over fully and held there under tension.  Anyone who's been around woods and chainsaws knows this is a very dangerous situation.  After cutting as close as I dared to the area where the two trunks made contact I rigged up my winch to a thirty foot tow strap and eased the larger trunk off the smaller.  This way I was able to keep well clear of the danger area. The Ash slid off easily enough but I wasn't sure what the smaller tree under tension would do once freed from the weight of the Ash.  In the end it only whipped up a few feet.  Its base was splintered pretty bad at ground level.

The next day we sawed the massive trunk into managable pieces (see opening picture) ready for transport back to the woodshed.

Here's a shot of Wyatt tending the fire.  We're in the process of burning out an old stump using branches that are too wet or rotted to be burned in the indoor woodburner.