Diggin’ Dirt

May 18, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010
Diggin’ Dirt

I have been wanting to expand this flower bed for a while and I decided today was the day. The Irises planted there came from my Grandmother’s garden. She has been gone 25 years now, but it seems like only yesterday for me.

She was someone real special in my book and these flowers are like a house warming gift from her. Thanks to my cousin John who saved bulbs from her original flowers they can be shared and loved with other family members.

On a cold and wet day late last fall Sonny and I quickly dug a bed and planted these bulbs. It was such a shoddy job that I prayed they would survive. At the time we were not sure when we would be back out here and winter was fast approaching. I was so excited when I saw the green leaves sprout up earlier this Spring and now the proud purple blooms that are atop strong stems. But as pretty as they are the old flower bed didn’t do them justice.

If you know anything about West Virginia you know that it is a rock farmer’s paradise. Digging this bed would not be for the faint of heart. So equipped with my spade, wheel barrow, and hoe I dug in. I peeled off the layer of grass first. It can be used later to fill in bare spots in our yard. Then I turned the soil with my spade. Sounds easy but each dig scraped and crunched against stones that ranged in size from marbles to near softballs. That was the first layer. The next thing was breaking up the hard clay and rock under that. Since I am no longer a spritely chicken (truth be told if I was a laying hen I would already be in the pot) I took frequent rests on the porch swing. It took all day but now the Irises are flanked on both sides with soft beds waiting for new plants.

The work was hard but anything of worth is. I slept well that night. It was a sleep of exhausted satisfaction. I think my Grandmother would be proud and happy that her beautiful Irises still live on.


The Trouble with Rainy Days

May 18, 2010

This girl expects play time no matter what the weather

Tuesday May 18, 2010
Linda Jobe

I awoke this morning at 6:30 to the rumblings of a thunderstorm. That should have been my clue to just stay hidden in the house for the day. A nice breakfast and a good cup of coffee or two and it looked like the storm had cleared. I decided to go visit my cousin and his wife and to pick up some sweet potato plants at a little place in town that I had ordered last week.

We call our farm Pot Hole Farm because the road that runs up to our house has never been kept up. No one has lived in this hollow for years and so the County Roads Department has never bothered to come down this far. That is a whole story in itself.

No matter that the puddles and ruts are deep enough to swallow my Jeep Liberty I have no fear. I have navigated those potholes many times before. This time I got about a half a mile down the road and was faced with a huge oak tree that had fallen across the road. This is a fairly common occurrence out here when trees lose their grip on the mountainside. There was no place to go but backwards. I have to tell you, I am not the best backer upper in the world and this road was curvy. My tracks looked like a snake slithered through the mud, but I eventually made it to a place where I could get turned around. Of course, I forgot to mention that there is a steep drop off and no guardrails.

I was glad to see my front door after that experience. We live in a pretty remote area and we have no cell phone service (for miles) and no land line, which along with the pot hole road repair is another tale. I had to email Sonny at work to get someone to cut down the tree. He came through for me and the State came to my rescue, but of course it was a process.

After all that mess, I decided to stay put for the day and play kick ball with my best buddy Ruby and that was ok with me. Fallen trees and muddy roads are just part of living in the deep country backwoods. That’s ok too. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. By the way, it’s raining again and tomorrow could bring more and another adventure. LJ

The Gravel Arrived and the Work Starts

May 6, 2010

It may be Cinco de Mayo but there will be no fiesta until the days work is done. Ronald and Vicki are hard at work shoveling stone. Stone has to be laid inside the garage before the cement is poured. This is where the motorcycle, tools and parts will be stored. The two open bays will accomodate the tractor, lawnmower, and various other farm gear. Later they will put some forms in place for the “entry ramp”. Some dirt and gravel filler a 3-4″ of concrete and we will be ready to go.

Building of the Barn

May 5, 2010

Finally the barn has build has begun. After saving all winter getting by on bread and water our builder Ronald and his faithful assistant Vicky (his wife) was almost ready to get started. Ronald and I worked out the best location and discussed how many bays and even talked about putting a cement floor in one along with a garage door. That turned out to be a great idea. I could use it to change the oil on the cars and store the tools there allowing me to clear out the electrical room. The open stalls can hold the tractor, mower and most other things.

Ron staked out the 25’x36’ outline with a line and a 50’ tape. Once things were squared up he marked where the 4”x6” main posts will be placed. Linda’s cousin John has a old Ford 4060 tractor along with a new post hole attachment on the rear. He offered to come over on that Friday to start putting the holes in. After everyone left Linda and I were looking at all the handy work that went on that afternoon and suddenly noticed a pretty big tree near the stream that had a pretty pronounced lean. After a second glance it was clear that if that tree roots were washed out many more times it would more then likely hit go down and could hit the corner of the barn doing some serious damage to Ron’s handy work. I quickly grabbed the Homelite and got busy. As I dropped cut the tree it began to drop and it hit exactly on the corner of the staked line that would have eventually been the corner of the barn. Linda got started dragging the brush away and I got to cutting that big boy cut up. We got the brush removed and stacked in about 3 hrs.

On Friday John completed putting all 13 holes in the ground. Ronald returned on Monday to estimate the lumber, screws, J-channel and the metal for the roof and sides and associated 2×4, 2×6 and 2×8’s. He submitted the order and set a delivery the following week. After the delivery they got their generator running and started at it hard and fast. It rained a few days here and there but in no time they got it framed out and ready for the metal to be hung.
The green tin (actually it is not tin) went on the roof and they finished it off with a ridge vent. The white metal went on the sides pretty quick until Ron figured out he was shorted on the white screws. Lucky for us Ron has some extra’s left over from a earlier job he recently finished.

By the next Friday, Ronald started the install on the garage door. He wrapped up that project in just a few hours. A week later he got the delivery and used the wheel barrel to haul and spread the 5 tons of gravel he needed to level out the floor before the concrete gets ordered. It is nearly finished (see below).

Alternate Power System

May 5, 2010

Wanted to take a few minutes to explain my back-up charging system that I use to keep my batteries charged. I got this great package from Lowe’s and have been very happy with it so far. I had to do a few minor mods and tossed the switch box that came with it. My Xantrax inverter automatically detects the generator, syncs the cycles and controls the charge for my 380 amp batteries.

The Guardian 8kw provides around 25 amps to feed my batteries on those days that give me little to no good sunshine for a couple of days. This only happens during rain storms or heavy snow falls. Typically last winter when the days were short and the sun was low in the sky we got buy just fine running the generator for 1 hr in the morning and then late in the afternoon for about 1 1/2 hrs.  But on days with fair to moderate sunshine it just sits there looking good.

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