Sunday, July 12, 2009

The old girl goes to town

The old girl finally got to go to town today. I am talking about Bessie and Bull River. Bessie has been hiding under her blanket in the shop for the last year or so. Being such a fine warm Sunday afternoon it seemed like a good time to whip that blanket off of Bessie and drive her out of the shop. We pulled the blanket back and there she sat, looking as good as she did 78 years ago. We poured some fuel into her, hopped in and fired her up. She started with the first turn of the key. Like the rest of us, she needed a few minutes to warm up, get things working, then we headed her to the open road.

The old girl just chugged along; she is no speedster, but for 78 years of age, hitting 35 mph is pretty darn good. If you think what the roads were like 78 years ago, going 35 mph down them must have been quite exciting. Her brakes are mechanical so its a good thing she doesn't get going to fast; her braking ability is proportional to her speed ability. Good enough if you aren't going to fast (or down a steep hill). I think Bessie is a very elegant gorgeous old girl.

Bessie came home with my Dad one day many years ago but came to live at our house as Dad didn't have room for her. She was in rough shape, but with a lot of hard work, time and money Dad and Gary got her back to her youthful looking self. Those two men spent many hours working together on Bessie. Sadly, Dad passed away (1994) before he got to enjoy touring in her, but he has been for a ride in her. Gary now owns this beautiful lady; we both love her.

It was a short drive through Bull River but a fun one. A quick spin down the road, through the townsite, finishing up with a quick stop at the neighbour's. The old girl still runs great, hope I run half as well when I am 78.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The beach in my garden

Gardening. Seems pretty simple. Put a seed in the dirt, add water and sun and it grows. Right? Hmm, not here, I seem to do things the long hard way.

In early spring we tried to burn off the piles of pine needles burying the jungle of weeds that were left from last fall. (No garden last year, letting it rest. Really.) The ground was still to frozen so we ended up with a smokey mess. We waited six weeks or so and burnt it off again, this time with better results. Two large piles of ashes.

Six weeks after that the taskmaster gave me a couple days off so I spent them turning the soil (term used loosely) in the garden. I think I need a rototiller. The garden that didn't seem so big, seemed pretty darn big when I was trying to loosen the weed regrowth and uncompact the clay like soil. Two days of this digging and I was hunched over and walking like I was 147 years old. It was too early to plant (still snow on Baker Mtn.) so I let the weeds grow once again.

The preferred planting time came and went, (end of May, early June) without any action in the garden. All my attention was focused on the view out of my blasting helmet as the taskmaster had decided it was time to resume the refinishing project on the house. After many, many days of blasting I finally protested, put down the blast hose and spent a couple days redigging and leveling the garden, again. This time I did get seeds and a couple of plants in the ground.

Now the fun starts. Trying to keep that garden patch watered. No matter how much I watered, the dirt was dried out after six or seven hours. My pumpkin plant (Barb's suggestion) was wilting terribly. I dragged the hose back over and let the water run for a couple of hours, hoping that if I could get enough water in the ground the plant would perk up. I did and it did. I went out to the garden after dinner to move the hose to the other side. The ground felt a little squishy when I stepped onto the sha
ke that forms the walking path. My foot slipped off the shake throwing me off balance. I struggled to stay upright, my arms windmilling wildly, I was going down. I managed to keep from ending on my keester in the mud, but I did lose my shoe. I had to reach down into the mud that was shin deep and pull my shoe out of the muck. Good thing there was no one with a video camera around, you'd be laughing for days. Guess I got the soil wet enough.

Mulch. The garden book says I need mulch to keep
the moisture in the ground. I had half a bale of straw left so I used that to mulch the squash and pumpkin, but in a 725 sq ft garden that did not cover quite enough. I had the taskmaster bring me all his sawdust and wood shavings from the shop and spread that around. Still not enough.

During June, the month of blasting, we went through a lot of blasting material, corncob grit. It is everywhere right now, inside and out. Where it has covered the dirt in the garden, no weeds are growing. On the lawn area we had reseeded, the corncob grit was acting like a mulch and keeping the soil damp and the grass was finally growing. The light bulb went on! We had bags and bags of used grit ready to go to the dump. I did a little Google research and discovered that I could reuse the already well used grit as mulch quite safely. It only took about 3 hours in 30 C temp to spread the grit around.

Now my garden looks like a beach, a nice white sandy beach. We'll see if my agricultural experiment works. Some of the seeds have sprouted, but not my carrots. I really want carrots.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Blink and it's gone.

Where the heck did June go. It was here, then blink, it was gone. Let's see what I remember.

I seem to recall a cattle drive that went up our access road providing dinner theatre entertainment for our guests;

corn/glass blasting the logs;

dates with Coyote where he very gallantly carried me without complaint over the creek;

passing the final permit inspection on our 'do-it-ourselves' 3 year workshop project; blasting, finding more wildlife (bats, turtles and a grizzly);

a road trip to Wetaskiwin in the '33 Chev; blasting; an evening spent helping out at a fabulous local wedding; a rainy day where I got to spend some time in my studio; blasting; sitting outside enjoying the warm evenings as it stays light till almost 11 pm; a daytrip to Lethbridge to explore Costco; my 29th wedding anniversary dinner at the Jaffray Pub & Grill and prepping/planting my 25' x 29' garden. How's that for a long run on sentence.

Trying to garden at Dusty Acres can be a real challenge. The soil here is a sandy clay that forms a cement like crust after a good rain and an hour or two of sunshine. Not to mention the local wildlife that seem to think that whatever grows within their reach has been put there for their dining pleasure. But there are a few things that do seem to like to grow here despite our -30 C winters and
hot dry summers.

The various honeysuckles surrounding the back deck provides welcome shade and fragrance in early July. The yellow, orange and pink blooms are a favorite of the hummingbirds.
The peonies this year were fabulous; the burgundy ones bloomed early, but the baby pink ones were at there best a few days ago. I threw in a few pics of other 'survivors' from my garden.

My 'other' garden, the vegetable one, is going to be quite a challenge. The soil is very poor and keeping it watered sufficiently is going to be my daily job. I have planted a wide variety of veggies, we'll see what manages to survive my purple thumb attempts at gardening.