Monday, January 31, 2011

Recovery going well.

This morning as I felt the injured shoulder from holding up a tree last Friday. There is a lesson to be learned here for anyone trying to do things on the cheap.

My friend came over and agreed to cut some trees as we have most mornings since the odd dry spell has hit the Southern Oregon Coast. He says to me, "Well, I don't like the lean of this tree... ..I don't want to cut it."

"No problem! My land, my responsibility, I'll do it," I said.

With that the chainsaw starts and my friend begins the cuts. I am over him, in an already unsafe position pushing the large conifer towards the valley below. Suddenly its getting heavy, and the chainsaw binds.

He starts to panic realizing the last cut was a bad cut. The tree not only starts leaning towards the orchard area of the property but also towards the Coos County Electrical lines. I am holding it up now with all my might as I exclaim to him to get the head of the splitting maul to use as a wedge, anything!

He disappears, I am left holding up a large tree. I start praying & telling the tree thank you for not hitting the lines. I hear things slamming near the house and moments later he is back, I am decidedly weaker from the experience. I do not know how much pressure is against me, but I know I am losing this battle.

He tries to sledge the splitting maul head in with the back of a Collins axe. It doesn't work and the vibration is killing me. He then slams the head of the Collins axe into the tree and begins to use it as a wedge using the head of the splitting maul as a hammer. The tree slowly lightens but each vibration is a single going up the tree like the first signals from Tesla's first radio broadcasts to the entire property exclaiming, "Hey these humans mucked it up! HA HA!"

The tree is now more stable, and we exchange ideas as fast as a river in spring. He runs back towards the house leaving me with the tree again and drives the mile to my neighbors. He grabs a come-a-long and our neighbor to rush back & help. I am now exhausted, losing my strength, and grip but not my resolve. I won't let this tree harm the other trees let alone the power lines!

Between 5 & 10 more minutes pass by & my friend returns with the Come-a-long and some chains. We quickly hook everything up to a Port Orford Cedar below and get to pulling the tree in the other direction. Few moments later it comes down with a thunderous safe crash downhill away from the power lines & away from the apple trees.

Lesson learned by all.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wednesday I was dumb...

Yep, I am saying it. Wednesday I wound up dropping and limbing trees again. I then did the usual of tossing or carrying logs up the hill. Then I decided to go crabbing with a buddy that heard the crabs were running. What a mistake that was.

First we checked out Bandon. Not only was the bar having high seas, but the 9' waves breaking at the beach by the lighthouse also caused 3 separate sections of breaker waves at the Coquille River mouth. The crabs don't like crossing that bar since the jetty went up long ago when there is high surf. Next time I will check Magic Seaweed and get the true lowdown on weather and ocean / surf conditions.

So we pulled out of Bandon and headed up to Charleston via 7 devils. I will never take the full run of 7 devils ever again. Seeing that monoculture desert that some idiot thinks is a forest was just too much for my soul to take. By the time we got to Charleston I was starting to succumb to exhaustion both physically, and mentally.

We stopped at the furthest docks and I put the traps down, 4 hours later I had 4 crabs to my name that were keeper Red Rock crabs. The traps though were heavy with baby Dungeness crabs. Always just under by 1/2 an inch. After watching the last light set over Cape Aragos my friend and I set for home. I was utterly exhausted.

Thursday I awoke nearly unable to walk at all, and as such I did nearly no work. To put a finer point on it, I think I know what the character "Cotton Hill" would of felt like if he was real. I say nearly because I walked out to a clearing in the orchard and started planning a keyhole mandala garden. We will see how things go today, at the moment, I am feeling still a little crabby.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Long day yesterday, rough morning today.

Current: Overcast
Wind: E at 5 mph
Humidity: 70%

Yesterday I dropped trees in the morning and hiked the logs for splitting back up the hill 2 at a time till the lunch whistle blew. Then after running errands in town I went back at it till my knees gave out. At that time I went over to Myrtle Point to visit a failing cattle ranch. Damn shame of it too, it has so much potential for permaculture and profit.

Later last night I BBQ'd up some steaks, red yams from Coquille Produce and fresh peas. Great evening under the stars last night. As a shooting star passed last night I learned of a friend passing on. I should be sad & grieving but this is one of those times I am happy a person passed quickly.

Not sure if I will work today, but for now, I am just thinking of good times since life and death are nothing but cycles of nature.

Peace, stay green.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recovery and light planting.

Current: Mostly Cloudy
Wind: W at 1 mph
Humidity: 84%

While I recovered today from yesterdays high surf at Bandon Lighthouse I watched and observed a bald eagle in a disagreement with an owl. Beautiful rare sight.

I also started moving around more composted manure around the property, moved plants that needed to be. Started making a trellis for a rose and a honeysuckle plant that will bring fragrance into the house during the summer and fall months while cooling the house as well.

I also moved a currant, 2 blueberry plants (Duke), in order to make room for the lime tree that was planted last fall. The lime tree also got a dose of compost. It was a great day to just be outside and observe the property. Great powerful waves...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I refuse to work today....

Air 41°F
Sea 50°F
Current: Cloudy
Wind: N at 0 mph
Humidity: 77%

I refuse to work today because...


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Needed: A garden cart and a method...

Current: Sunny
Wind: E at 3 mph
Humidity: 62%

The garden cart wheels buckled under the duress of moving timber in the mud, uphill. So, does anyone out there have an idea of how to move cut firewood up 30 vertical feet easily? If so I would be interested. :)

Caber Toss Morning

Current: Mostly Cloudy
Wind: NW at 3 mph
Humidity: 87%

I don't believe it is forty-two degrees outside. I have been up since before sunrise tossing logs up the hill like I was in Scottish Highland games in order to get them over to the area that firewood is kept.

Sunrise was a little late this morning since it really is mostly cloudy. Few people hunting this morning for waterfowl thankfully. Which allowed me to see scores of Canadian Geese flying south.

I did prepare another article regarding biochar. Well, its more of a simple tutorial but I need my photos resized and that might take a little while. So, until later, stay green and peace be with you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A simple biochar tutorial

Current: Sunny
Wind: N at 0 mph
Humidity: 68%

I was getting ready today to start a fire in the ol' wood stove when I saw a very charred log inside. I pulled it out, started the fire as usual and got warm. Then it dawned on me, this can be used as biochar in the garden.

So, here goes, the simplest biochar tutorial.

1. Take a burnt out log from the wood stove, or wood burning bbq grill that you didn't clean out yet. Take those nice charcoal chunks and mash them into dust in a bucket. You can do it with your hands if you want. I used an 8# mini-sledge in a 5 gallon bucket while wearing a face mask. I don't want to breathe in charcoal dust, and neither do you! I didn't want to make dust, but I wanted smaller then a log to its just lightly broken up.

2. Clear the mulch back to the soil, dig a small trench, and fill with some of your charcoal.

3. Next add some composted manure. In my case a year old half-bag of chicken manure I got from McKay's. Guys, a little liquid of your human waste won't be half-bad either on top. This all helps gets food to the millions of micro-organisms going. This phase is generally referred to as inoculating the biochar. It honestly would of been better to burn a small fire here and let is smolder out with compost on top, but this is to show how easy this newly rediscovered gardening technology can work for the betterment of your soil and plants.

4. Next I used a hand rake and lightly worked it all in together, and done. Plant, and replace the mulch. Bam! You are now done. Easy-peasy wasn't it?

I will make another version of this soon as soon as I work out a way to deal with my photos. It might take a while, its a nice day and there is a lot to do.

Slowing down a little today.

Current: Mostly Cloudy
Wind: SE at 6 mph
Humidity: 86%

Yesterday I worked in the rain removing debris from falling alder trees the day before. I was caber tossing logs halfway up the hill while piling debris branches. The soil is very muddy and squishy on the hillside so I wound up straining both left ankle and right knee. As all people live off the land know this cannot stop me, and later today I will be moving more up hill so it can be split and stacked. Other scrap wood is being used in swales and for biochar.

Peace & stay green!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chopped and I dropped...

Current: Rain
Wind: S at 9 mph
Humidity: 84%

Just finished dropping some alders in zone 1 and zone 2. It has brought in more light to the upper most area of the property which is still protected from winter winds by old growth forest to our immediate south. Rain became heavy at times so I called it quits and went inside to warm up. Some of the wood was cut for making a new bed, rest was cut for fire wood. Branches piled to make swales.

Biochar revisited, A future for Coos County?!

Eric Knight posted about my little biochar experiments. In case you missed it, here is what he had to say,

Field Trial Data Base; The new version of BiocharDB has been released! To see it, please visit

The Guide to Conducting Biochar Trials

The Guide to Conducting Biochar Trials is a 32 page document that covers all aspects of designing and setting up a biochar experiment in a nursery or field plot. It covers quick and easy methods for testing biochar suitability, designing replication and controls, how to do soil testing and how to analyze your results.

Good Luck,

I am currently downloading the pdf file to read and absorb. Thanks Eric!

For those of you that missed it, biochar is a great way to improve your soil or pasture, without chemicals, over the long term (several hundred years). Improved pasture conditions are win win for every farmer no matter what they grow.

Biochar has had my mind reeling into very esoteric ideas around the acreage. For example, what about mixing it with worm beds to inoculate it? What about a Vicktor Schauberger compost system with biochar?

I wonder if Coquille will ever get a biochar plant? If I had the money I would certainly bring one here! :D

In fact, a biochar plant would do more for the long term for Coos County, be it for the farmers, the dairies, the cranberry growers, the people in the valley from Coaledo to Myrtle Point. Here, take a look at this.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Doing some reading during biochar days.

Current: Cloudy
Wind: SE at 2 mph
Humidity: 88%
River expected to flood Sunday & Monday.

While waking up this morning drinking in my infusion of caffeine to jump start my brain. Good thing too because the book "Smart Permaculture Design" by Jenny Allen is more then a book filled with pretty pictures & insightful, amazing information on permaculture gardening. There was a passage that really spoke to me & resonates with me each time I go into town be it Coquille, or all the way to Coos Bay & Northbend.

To paraphrase, the author went to a friends orchard and was delighted how nice everything looked, it was brilliantly green, and she plucked an apple fresh off the tree & happily bit right into it as many of us would.

The farmer on the other hand pulled out his knife after plucking his own apple and started to cut the skin off with precision as if he had done this for a long time. Meanwhile the author ate happily reveling in the juiciness on a warm late summers day. She then asked, "Why are you cutting off the skin?"

The farmer remarked, "I never eat the skin anymore, I know what I spray on it."

Food for thought isn't it. It is for me and makes me wonder each time I walk into Safeway.

Stay green, & peace be with you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My little bio-char experiment

Current: Cloudy
Wind: NW at 3 mph
Humidity: 80%

So, this is what I am doing since I have become fascinated with biochar and how it can help improve the soil around here. So I am doing an experiment.

First, bed will be my control. It is merely tilled earth that had compost over it for 6 months.

Second Bed - This will be as above, but with rotted chicken manure used to help smother the fire and inoculate the biochar.

Third Bed - This biochar will be smothered with compost and horse manure.

Fourth Bed - Biochar will be made green, seasoned, and dry woods. Then smothered with , & soil, manure, & vermicompost.

All composts have some seaweed matter in them as it is a valuable resource for the garden and comes freely while crabbing. Certainly win -win!!!

Trenches were dug for the various beds, soil still being moved. Very tired since I did not sleep not prior since mind is going over various uses biochar could have for this community.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Anime Tentacles in Coquille?

Current: Showers
Wind: S at 8 mph
Humidity: 81%

No no no, nothing that insane happening in the world yet. No, this is worms reproducing. I take it as a sure sign of the property doing well and getting healthier.

Peace & Stay Green!
Current: Cloudy
Wind: S at 8 mph
Humidity: 81%

Yesterday I read up some more on Biochar while entertaining a guest here at the homestead. I am both sold and not sold on biochar. Something about it seems too good to be true. However I contacted a mechanical crafter buddy of mine and we are discussing ways to make it for long term applications, but for now, I am devising ways compiled with the information from Mother Earth News for use here on my property.

I am also dealing with constant winds removing the much needed tarps from my outdoor cob kitchen. What I do today aside from run errands for medicine... ..I got no idea.

Peace, and stay green.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Learning... this time, Biochar

I have been learning how to improve the thin soil here on the property as I move into the larger orchard I am building west of the home. I came across a discussion about biochar so I looked it up. Interesting science from meso-central America that still can work and have benefits today.

To learn more, read this article at Mother Earth News.
Current: Cloudy
Wind: SE at 3 mph
Humidity: 58%

Yesterday I cleared more brush, cut up a fallen tree, split the wood, & stacked it for drying. It should be good for next winter, and I am already filling the woodshed for next winter with trees that have either fallen on thier own or from clearing for orchard land.

Very luckily there is intermixed mature alders that will now provide an abundance of nitrogen into the soil as the roots die back. This is normal for alder trees, it is what they do in forests. Sadly it cost us tax payers millions of dollars to learn this in Alaska. Seems when we cut down stands of old growth forest the alders became rampant up there in the Last Frontier state. When the tree dies, due to some sort of symbiotic relationship with a bacteria that loves to give off nitrogen due to how it consumes whatever it does for food.

So, by cutting the old growth alders down, I get a free nitrogen boost in the soil for the surrounding of where the tree was. Free fertilizer.. think about that from nature by helping nature along with what it was going to do anyway!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rough weather & start of new year.


Current: Sunny
Wind: SE at 2 mph
Humidity: 63%

And a New Year. What a mess of things, wind storms have knocked down trees. It has been hailing on and off the size of quarters & dimes on and off. Computers are back up and running. New phone lines were installed, and more. What a freaking mess of things. Not to mention, yours truly who finally got on OHP had it taken away 4 days later. I have made it to a doctor finally despite numerous injuries. But that's the state of our nation. Some people who provide food for this country can't afford to go to a doctor, and find themselves being doctor.. ..often.