View from the deck.

The central stringer of a space saving staircase that will serve the deck from outside. A 2 x 8 goes on each side to complete the stairs. With alternate treads a 10 foot rise can be accomplished with only 5 1/2 feet of run. These are very steep stairs and need a stout handrail on each side.

The deck roof rafters in. This project will be on hold for a time while I see if I can recharge my bank account. I plan a corrugated clear poly carb roof.

Jan 23, 2015 – Mild streak forecast to last another week.

Taking a break from the rip out and rebuild of the oven, Crow and I finish the space saving staircase. Some stout handrails will be next.

A close up of a joint in the rail.  Inside is a 7″ piece of 1″ poplar dowel epoxyed and screwed in place.

The handrail installed. Because of the steep incline, the rail is only about 12″ from the top of the stringer. It is held in place with 2 x 4’s that have been drilled through from the edge with a 1 1/8″ spade bit then cut in half through the hole edge to edge. This makes a perfect saddle for the 1″ EMT rail. Two 3″ deck screws through the rail and into the 2 x 4 hold the rail firmly in place.

Bee surprise. Lincoln has had some old abandoned empty hives for a couple of years and has been saying he will someday get some bees. I have offered to house them on the farm sort of doubting they would ever arrive. Midweek I got a call saying the bees are arriving Saturday – can you pick them up? What I picked up was the colony you see on the right. The blue topped spray bottle contains sugar water 1:1 by weight. The large jar has the same stuff and the other spray bottle is plain water.
They say there are 30,000 bees in that box.


All the frames were badly in need of clean up. There was not time to become expert in or even acquainted with hive construction. We were not prepared. As a result we are using what is called a foundationless hive. There is no substrate for the bees to build comb on except for a thin ridge that protudes from the bottom side of the top bar. I made those on the table saw and have not added them at this point.

Adding the new piece with the protruding edge to the old top bars.

The colony up close (in its transport box.)

Their new home. The transfer involved opening the transport box (the top would NOT just come off and the bees were getting a little excited with all the jostling), fishing out the queen cage and plugging her escape hole with a small marshmallow, placing her in the hive and pouring the bees into the hive over her. Very few bees were killed or injured in the making of this movie (less than 10) and only one out of three humans present was stung.

Pecan flowers at one of my home trees – Apr 28, 2015.

The KARL92 heading up (bottom center) on May 2, 2015. Looks like we may have an early harvest.. The potatoes are doing well as are the tomatoes. The squash are in 1 quart milk cartons with the bottoms removed which is confining their roots so they are a little weak. I’m trying to keep the cut worms off the stems.

The Kohlerized Chinese thresher. The original diesel had such high compression that no one could get it started so… pushbutton start gas engine. The machine was missing three grease zerks and a manual in English.

Thanks to Richard Wieman for welding the exhaust risers.

Harvested one row of potatoes yesterday (June 23, 2015) and have picked a few tomatoes. The garlic will be ready soon. The wheat has another week at least.

July 6,2015 – Beauty and the beast. Kristina threshes rye at Redbud Farm – the trial run for the thresher. It has been extremely rainy here for weeks and is continuing so. The rye was a little damp and green and clogged the thresher some. After we finished here, I moved the thresher to Wade’s dad’s and we cut some Turkey Red which was dryer but had a lot of grass and weeds. The trash content of the thresher product was huge so I’m setting up the Clipper to clean it out.

Have harvested the garlic and potatoes. Made the first batch of sauce from the Romas I planted. Tres yum! Have lost 4 squash plants to something that is wounding them right at ground level. I’ve moved away the mulch and put some fine silica sand in the carton tops they were started in. So far so good.

Aug 15, 2015 – The mown and windrowed Red Fife field. This belongs to my new neighbor who started out enthusiastic about sharing but, on the advice of lawyers and insurance agents is now denying me use of it. The grain is suffering from fusarium head blight and is very probably contaminated with vomitoxin. On top of that, it was cut so late that the ironweed got huge. So huge it clogs the thresher so I am going to move the straw to my garden and field to use as mulch – a sort of sheet composting.

The garden mulched. Wade’s dad changed his mind on letting me harvest the wheat I had planted there. I think he wanted to put sheep on the field (in a hurry). Lesson here – get it in writing.

Aug 25, 2015 – The last of the straw has been brought over. You can see the neighbor’s (clean) field through the opening in the fence row.

Aog 29, 2015 – My field mowed. I’m going to plow this field. I don’t like to plow as the soil here is very easily compacted. The last plow was 4 years ago so I’m doing OK. The field needs to be mowed because my plow has no coulters. These are sharp disks that run out in front of the share (the plow blade) and cut the sod. Even with the field mowed the plow gathers grass and weeds sometimes so that it looks like there is a haystack folowing the tractor.

Ready to plow. Looks kind of cute, doesn’t she?

Some plowing done. In this method, you find the middle of the field and plow a 20′ straight furrow folding the sod over toward the center. You then lift the plow, turn the tractor around and plow another furrow along side the first also folding the sod toward the center. Lift, turn around and plow another furrow with your tractor wheels in the first furrow but make this a little shorter. Each pair of rows gets a little shorter. When you have 4 or five rows in each direction, you can make a turn with your plow down and you have the start of the circle you see here.

Sept 11,2015 – I’ve dragged the field – literally dragged a large oak log around the field and we’ve had some rain. Perfect for disking again BUT…

The tractor is broked. Will not run. Sounds like bad gas. Sputters and stumbles. I’ve drained the line, the carb and the sediment bulb. There were a few tiny flakes only. It still stumbles so a compression test is next.

Soooo… I’m going to shift gears, so to speak, to a new project – a rocket stove mass heater. A rocket stove mass heater is a wood burning device that uses a very small amount of fuel which it burns very efficiently to heat a thermal mass – usually a masonry bench filled with dirt. In this case it will be a greenhouse filled with dirt. The barrel you see is most of the outer shell of the heater in the place it will occupy when finished. The exhaust from the fire will pass through an 8 inch stovepipe buried in the trench you see roughed out here.

The trench near the barrel to depth. I was concerned that, since the silt soil here likes to compact at a depth of about 4 “, it would be very difficult to dig to the required 16 inches but not so. Just a matter of grunt and between you and me, I like to dig. Especially in this soil which contains no (zero) native rock. The black pipe through the center of the picture is the rainwater catchment system overflow. The little plastic tub on top of the barrel is where I wash my hands like a good boy.

The now familiar rusty barrel with its extension. The correct proportion between the combustion end of the “J” tube and the height of the riser requires a little more height than one barrel can provide. I’ll hold the pieces together with a barrel clamp.