I recently bought a Stihl string trimmer from a local hardware store. While I was shopping for that, I was looking for a lithium ion hedge trimmer too.
I’ve been considering buying a lithium ion hedge trimmer because keeping up with all the trimming that needs to be done using the giant scissors style trimmer is getting to be a real burden. So I haven’t been doing it. So things are over-grown. And now I REALLY need a better way to trim. Power cords are a pain on a large property and gas power is heavy and noisy. Lithium Ion batteries are a big improvement over the older NiCad batteries. That seems a viable solution. Continue reading “Black & Decker Lithium Ion Hedge Trimmer”
As a kid, the highlight of my week was laying on the floor of our living room and watching the weekly episode ofLost in Space. I thought that was the greatest show ever made! Many years later I revisited a few of those episodes and came away wondering, “What was I *thinking*?!” By modern standards the classic version left a lot to be desired. Still, I remember it fondly as a major part of my childhood as my love for science fiction bloomed. Continue reading “Lost in Space: No Place to Hide”
Marie and I rarely eat out. By rarely I mean almost never. There’s no reason for it. We have a fully functional kitchen that is well stocked with foodstuffs. Marie is an excellent cook and enjoys practicing that art. Most of the time. Sometimes she’d rather not. I am … capable, in the kitchen as well. I take a turn at the cooking several times a week and neither of us has died.
One occasion when we do eat out is Christmas eve. This is an annual celebration. We’re celebrating the anniversary of my proposal of marriage to Marie and her acceptance (she did not need to ponder the proposal for long).
The original event occurred at the Pere Marquette Lodge near Grafton Illinois. It’s actually in a state park of the same name. There is a wonderful, rustic dining hall there, and that’s where I popped the question and bribed her with a ring.
While we lived in the area, we would return to Pere Marquette every year on Christmas eve to celebrate that event. When we moved away and could no longer get to the actual scene of the event, we found similar locations to stand-in for that lodge on this annual celebration. Continue reading “Pottery House Cafe’, An Engagement to Remember”
I received the following e-mail from my editor concerning a writer’s contest I’d entered at a magazine I write for. Reminder: my pen name is Allan Douglas. I’m feeling pretty happy right now.
Happy to report, our blogger contest for July was a huge success and something we hope to repeat in the near future — we’re currently looking for more awesome prizes for the next one. Thanks to ECHO for donating two quality saws that we know suit our audience well, a couple of CS-590 TimberWolf chainsaws (valued at $399).
The winner of most unique pageviews on a post: Allan Douglas, author of “How to Grow and Use Elderberry Plants,” which garnered 3,098 unique pageviews in the month of July — actually the post performed that well in 1/3 of the month, since it was published on 7/20/16!
The winner of most posts in the month of July: April Freeman, with a whopping 21 posts!
Way to go, Allan and April, and thanks to all of our bloggers who continually offer their country-living insights to like-minded neighbors. We will do our best to bring you opportunities for more cash and prizes in the future.
Allan and April, we’ll be in touch shortly to set up shipping information for your cash prize as well as your new Echo CS-590 TimberWolf chainsaw, just in time for fall!
All the best,
Editor-in-Chief, Grit and Capper’s Farmer magazines
Early this spring my friend and mentor, Benny LaFleur, gave me a load of berry starts. These are roots and shoots that creep out from around his established rows. To clean up the rows he digs out these ambitious upstarts. Some of these ended up in my garden. In fact all of my berry plants have come from Benny over the past couple of years. Benny’s berry patch is much (much) larger than mine: almost a farm. And he has a ton of experience to share. Here is what he’s taught me. (Continue Reading …)
Black Box Blues is a sci-fi short story about a family whose starcar breaks down in a back-water solar system and are forced to seek help from the locals to get on their way again.
Published Mar. 17, 2016 by Reader’s Gazette.
Just as we emerged from the gateway two indicators came to life on our car’s console. The green light indicated that this cluster’s nav data had been picked up and stored in memory. The red one, that a piece of the car’s micronics had fizzled out of existence. Something profane immediately came to mind, but since the kids were on board, I kept the thought to myself.
“Something wrong, dear?” Rhiannah, my wife, sat in the front seat opposite mine.
“I’m checking it out.”
I typed a command on the keyboard and the computer ran a diagnostic check on all the car’s circuits. A moment later the results of the check-up scrolled down the console’s video screen. It displayed the part number of the defective module, what circuit it was in and on what board that circuit would be found. It also displayed a disheartening message:
THIS IS AN ESSENTIAL CIRCUIT IMMEDIATE REPAIR IS MANDATORY.
This time the profanity slipped out. Read the rest…
Black Box Blues pokes fun at the modern trend in automobile design – as seen by old shade-tree mechanics like myself who tend to prefer older cars and trucks because of their ease of repair. That was the impetus for this story, but the tale itself is about Tighe’s adventures with a less advanced species of beings as he searches out parts that will work in a cobbled together patch-up of his wife’s new starcar so they can resume their family vacation. I hope you enjoy it. D.B.
The opening act for this year’s garden was to plant onion seed and seed potatoes.
The onion seed was harvested from some onions I allowed to go to seed last year. I did not plant in neat, orderly, well spaced rows this time. I scattered the seed liberally (I have plenty!) and will harvest many of the young plants as green onions to attain proper spacing for the mature onions.
The seed potatoes, too, were kept from last year’s crop: those too small to do much else with. I put them in a box of dry wood chips (my surface planer makes small chips ideal for this). I closed up the box and tucked it away in a cool, dark spot for the winter.
When I opened it this week and sifted carefully through the chips for the spudlets, I found most of them had just started to sprout: perfect timing!
In the past, I planted potatoes in a deep raised bed in a more or less traditional manner. But to accomplish crop rotation that means moving add-on box sections and shuffling soil around – or (eventually) making all my garden boxes “deep” boxes. This year I decided to jump on board with the current fad in potato growing: wire bins. Continue reading …
My wife and I enjoy having a homemade pizza on Saturday nights. This pizza ends up being at least two dinners, sometimes a lunch as well. So it’s worth the effort we put into doing it up right.
Earlier this month my wife and I celebrated our birthdays — just 6 days apart. Part of our Birthday Week celebration was a trip to the Lodge Cast Iron factory outlet store in a nearby city where we bought several new pieces of cast iron cookware. One of these is a 16 inch cast iron pizza pan.
Around a hundred years ago (or it seems so) I worked my way through the management training program of a popular pizza chain store. On my way to management I learned a lot about making pizza by making and serving many thousands of them. One of the secrets of why a take-out pizza tastes better than most homemade is the oven. Continue Reading …
I love lasagna, don’t you? A flavorful concoction made of noodles, meat, cheese, and tomato sauce, layered in a deep pan and baked so the flavors meld. Yumm! My garden beds this year will be going lasagna.
Over the years I’ve tried several different techniques for the raised beds in my mountain-side garden. I have to use raised beds because the slope is steep enough that even a light rain washes away top soil that is not firmly pinned down by a thick carpet of grass.
Keeping the soil in these beds rich and productive has been my primary focus. When I established the beds I made my “dirt” using commercial compost, peat, and some native clay soil. I’ve added home-made compost each year. This involves digging-in the compost and turning the soil.
Lately I’ve been reading that turning the soil is not the best approach, but is a hold-over from large scale agriculture where the time and effort saved by plowing a field makes sense. In a garden, tiling and digging are less important as time savers when the soil structure is considered.
I started my quest when I began finding white fungus-like strands growing in the soil, especially near the wooden boxes, and asked myself, “What is that? And is it good or bad?” Research showed it is indeed fungus and it is good. Read More …
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who is not raising chickens. Everywhere I look are articles about raising chickens, plans for chicken coops, chicken tractors, chicken feeders, pictures of chickens, and people talking about how wonderful it is to have really fresh eggs.
That last part is what comes closest to hooking me. I love eggs. We eat eggs for breakfast twice a week, and use them in cooking. We’d eat them more often if they weren’t getting so expensive. I read that the commercial egg farms have been hit hard by avian diseases that required them to kill off significant amounts of their flocks. That kind of thing will drive the price up, and when this sort of thing happens, the prices generally do not come back down. It’s like the delivery services adding fuel surcharges because fuel was so expensive, but when fuel costs came back down the surcharges stayed in place. We will just be eating fewer eggs in our house now. Unless I raise chickens.