This past week I had a chance to go fishing on the river with a friend of mine from St. Louis.  We had planned on floating eleven miles of the Meremac from a local outfitters access down to my brothers farm.  One of the things that just drives me nuts about float fishing from open top kayaks is that these boats are made for the weekend floater who will have a small cooler strapped to the stern of the boat.  There isn’t any god place to stow a spare rod or small tackle bag/box.

I had seen a very expensive custom fishing kayak that had the rod holders but all of its storage was designed to keep gear dry. We’re not floating class one rapids on our local streams.  I want to be able to reach back and grab my tackle, a water bottle or a knife without pulling, screwing or having to untie some sort of lidded compartment.  Milk crates worked great for furniture for most of my life, why not for a simple fishing trip.

So I put together a pair of these simple racks for our trip.  

IMG_8275 IMG_8276 IMG_8277

After a full day of use I only have one modification I want to make to the design.  I want to add another pole holder.  Everything stayed where it was suppose to and the tiedown strap on the stern turned into a nifty handle for pulling the boats out to the truck after our arms were cast out.  Sadly the fishing sucked from the stand point of meal prep.  A whole lot of tiny small mouth bass and some goggle eye, but nothing worth keeping.



I had an additional week off after this years county fair that I used to finish up a few dangling projects.  The loft was originally planned to be divided so Theresa could have a studio for painting.  After we finished the shell of the building and started on insulating the south wall, discussions turned to leaving the loft open.  The north wall got the same treatment as the south,  insulated and sided.  Busting up the openness of the loft, even with a wall of recycled french doors and dormers would have really been a mistake.  We’re happy that there was absolutely no argument on the decision.



I was gifted a pair of sign lights that matched the other exterior lighting but wasn’t sure where, or if,  I was going to be able to use them.  When I set up the ladder to install the track for the loft doors I was able to put a tape on the subject and realized a perfect spot for the light.  I moved the diamond LX sign down about eight inches allowing the fixture the perfect purchase.


Everything is bolted up for the door trolleys.  Now I’ll just have to get the doors started.  The wood should be sufficiently dry now to complete the assembly of the doors.


July Garden

IMG_8088 An unusually cool and foggy morning for July.  It’s been very pleasant this whole week.  Most of our garden is doing pretty damn good with the exception of the cucurbits.  The straw mulching provides perfect hiding places for squash bugs and I’ve not kept up on spraying and egg squishing.  



We planted a second round of sweet corn the first week of July.  The sweet potato rounds are starting to cascade vine out of the rings and the bean arches are doing a half way decent job.  

Second planting of sweet corn.


Last of the spring cabbage.

The last of the spring cabbage.

Riley is all feet, legs and a fat head.

Riley is all feet, leg and head.  She’s seven months old and nary a brain cell between the ears.  She’s sweet and all puppy.  Her size makes me forget that she’s still just a baby.


Potatoes are ready to be dug in the foreground.  The bean arches in the back were moved this year.  half planted with Kentucky wonder and the other with a speckled drying bean that I can't recall.  It's not doing all that well.

Busted Flowers

Busted Flowers

I had always envisioned a grandkid kicking a soccer ball in the loft as the destroyer of the stained glass. Fortunately there wasn’t anyone hurt when a friend missed the last step down to the landing and fell shoulder first into the panel.

I think I’ll get a little learning done on the fine points of stain glass repair or maybe build something all together different. The part of the whole procedure that I least look forward to is getting the panel frame out of the wall. The stained glass is framed in a cedar surround and it was snuggly fit into the wall opening. It could be a real pain in the arse getting this damned thing down.

Lean On Me

Lean On Me

Over the weekend I managed to separate the rocks from the clay in a sufficient amount as to dig four footings for the lean-to posts. My arms feel so much longer now. Digging or setting fence posts where you want them is a crap shoot in our ground. We ooze rock from our soils.

After getting the Sonotubes placed and poured on Friday I started setting my posts and cutting rafters on Sunday. All went so much better than I had anticipated and I was able to start running the purlins. I was very pleased to get as far along as I did.

Early May

We’ve got most of our garden in the last two weeks.  I have moved the old chicken coop back to the south end of the footprint of the old run.  Ripped off the old tin from the coop that was flapping in the wind, mismatched and full of holes.  The coop will now be reused as our garden shed.  It’s nice to have all the tools so much closer to the work.

The high tunnel is nearing the end of its life.  To be honest I did not expect the untreated wood to last as long as it has.  It was framed with a bundle of culled 2×6 lumber that I picked up for next to nothing.  I have learned so much from the mistakes of building my own, limited access structure.  If I ever get another high tunnel It will be large enough to till and run the loader inside it.  One of our neighbors just set up their new high tunnel.  I’ll be picking their brain while they are setting out on their new experience.

It’s about time to get another order of round bales of straw.  Rolling them out as mulch mats has saved us countless hours of weeding and watering, while adding a wonderful environment for a plethora of earthworms.  The low end of our garden plot had alway been the least workable of our soils.  Heavy clay that lacked the addition of all the compost that the ground closer to the pile received.  We had rolled out straw the last two years and planted our squash and sweet potatoes there.  This spring I ran the tiller through and was amazed how much of the organic material had been carried back into the clay layer.  I turned a spade length out to give it a look and was thrilled to see the shovel meet clay on the bottom two inches of the shovel.  For the longest time this area of the plot was a “no go zone” after a rain.  It would take at least a couple of days to set foot there without sinking to your ankle, and when it did dry out it set into concrete.  Now I can walk through this same area not leaving much of a trace.  I’m such a dork that I get excited about being able to dig a planting hole with my hand.

We planted a small plot of sweet corn and some hybrid beets right before the rain came in on Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesday I transplanted some kale and swiss chard starts from the greenhouse.  It’s been very wet the last couple of days so I’m only getting into plantings where I can tread on the straw.

I’ve planted all of our paste tomatoes along a fence line for the first time.  I’ll be trying out a little trellis idea I had using tree limbs and baling twine.  I hope it works well.

Little Plucker

I thought that we had finally come to an armistice between canine and poultry.  A peace had endured to the point of several of the cockerels that had avoided the last round of butchering were free.  My hands got too damned cold and my friends whiz-bang chicken plucker had a belt blowout during the processing.  They had lucked into a reprieve from their immediate death sentence.  I cast them out of the cozy confines of the coop to promote poultry peace.  They were paroled to the barn and dog free hog run.

The parolees had thus far made good on the terms of release.  In the process the dogs, new puppy and poultry had become less and less concerned with each others business.  Life was becoming downright tolerable for all involved and it appeared that the former moniker, Chickenkill Hill, was fading into an unpleasant corner of my memories.

We had gotten into the habit of letting our blue slate turkey out for a strut.  Goober would come out to great visitors and entertain kids.  He would follow my wife and me into the garden and all around the house.

After a long day of cleaning and preening the whole damned place in preparation for our Mother’s Day event I sat with my head in my hands looking at the weather forecast on the computer.  Tired and oblivious to what was happening less than thirty yards on the opposite side of the monitor.

I can only assume that the puppy was in a playful chase of Goober when she caught him.  I only assume that the instincts of tens of thousands of years dogdom kicked in.  Their fairly new found docile and flippant attitude towards strutting tom and scratching cockerels turned into a full blown plucking.

Not a mauling and murder.  I thought that was the case when I realized a ruckus was at hand.  I was surprised to find three dogs sitting at what looked like a really fresh turkey dinner.  A nearly plucked turkey, with his head laying under paw.  The whole lawn area between home and barn was strewn with turkey plumage.  I was certain he was dead.  I ran out hollering at the dogs and thinking with every step that Goober had meet his end.

He was alive.  I picked him up and took him back in the coop.  I shooed all the other birds into the run and shut the coop off to provide some security.  I had yet to really look him over till I was assured he would not come to any further harm by fang or beak.

After looking him over I found a couple of small puncture wounds on the thighs and a couple of skin tears from where he had been so rudely plucked.  I had my doubts that he would survive the night.  That there might have been some internal injury or that shock would have just shut him down.  I left him to rest.

About an hour later I returned to check on him and he was on his feet!  I was almost certain I would have found a dead bird.  He looks like a drunken, broke and horny sailor after a nightlong ass whooping from stumbling into a bar full of pissed off transvestite Philippino hookers but he’s still sucking air.

Rough but breathing.

**Sadly Goober passed last night.


A Beautiful Day


Wil and Forrest played a wonderful show.  The weather cooperated, staying sunny and warm and the winds died down in time for the show.  We had a really fine potluck spread and the fish;  spoonbill, fresh caught bluegill and catfish, was damned good!

Mother’s Day Music

We’re finally going to have some more music ringing out from the barn on Mother’s Day evening. We are welcoming Wil Maring and Forrest O’Connor in for a fine evening of entertainment.

Frying up some fish and asking everyone to bring a side dish. If you’re interested in coming out just leave me a comment and an e-mail address and I will send on the information to you.


This past week has been spent getting the garden ready for planting and working on converting the old chicken coop into the new garden shed.  Our raised beds that were framed with untreated culls from the lumber yard and deck boards salvaged from my parents deck replacement have withered and died.  I popped what remained out of the ground and hauled them to the burn pile. Roughly leveled the ground and tilled some of the area up.  The remaining beds that dodged wrecking had been spared by the early plantings of my wife.  Now we have three lone islands of raised bed surviving till the next round of destructive wrath of all things rotten.  The garden fence caught a little of my lumberjacking skills when I dropped a lightening killed oak just a little too close to the line.  I crushed a panel, or one could say I redesigned a panel.  It could be used to fence a creek bank.  So I have given the fence some needed attention and replaced the redesigned panel with one of a rather vanilla conception and did some minor repairs all the way around.

The nasty ass old chicken coop was moved out of the footprint of where its run had been.  Tens years of chicken crap, straw and hay.  Layer upon layer of build up will now get a chance to breath new life and plantings.

On a side note;  We had butchered a whole mess of cockerels on a warm winter day,  as many as we could finish processing before the two of us had to hit the sack before returning to our day jobs.  The remaining four birds were left out of the crowded coop because they were part of a feisty gang turning a peaceful place of safety into a hellish scene from a sorority slasher movie.  Well the gang of four has survived.  They have taught our dogs that they are not to be chew toys.  A feat I have not been able to convey to the canine crew myself.  I may cautiously be able to turn our birds out in the near future.

As for the coop; It’s getting a makeover.  I lined the inside of the building with barn siding and plan on replacing the old salvaged storm door with a Woody-made replacement.  The roof and its hole filled mismatched metal will be removed and replaced as well as the addition of a new front awning.  The water filled double pane aluminum clad window will also find itself a new life at the recycling center. That opening will be filled with a barn-wood shutter.  The whole idea here is to get the garage stuff into the garage.  The barn stuff into the barn.  The garden stuff into…you get it.

We moved the cattle panel bean arches to a new location.  They’ve been in the same spot for about five years.  It was time to shuffle the deck.  Last year we didn’t even sow a bean seed.  All our beans we volunteers.

We will wait for another week or two before we plant our tomatoes.  A couple of years ago I had dipped all our cages in a 10% bleach bath before we used them.  I looked back through my little garden notebook and realized that year was our best tomato year.  Lack of wilt and fungus on the plants and a bumper crop.  Not sure if the dipping was at all responsible.  I failed to make any detailed notes on weather conditions or if I had started the seed or bought the plants.  Having nothing to go on besides the end result.  I plan on a return to the dip and a better accounting of conditions this year…or not.  I think I write stuff like this so that in two or three years when I re-read this I piss myself off for dropping the journaling ball again.

Theresa had me mow all her raspberry brambles.  I had never done this before.  Usually we have gone through and cut only the old cane.  I hope we haven’t made a huge mistake.  I’ll bet that worst case we will be a little light on the berries this year.

No pictures!

In almost all of my postings since the introduction of digital camera technology I have become lazy in my attempts to use the word.  I have become dependent on the photo to describe what’s going on, when there is so much more to the story than a picture can relay.  So for this entry there will be no digital image crutch.  I’ll soak the next post with everything picture perfect.

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