Kennel Update: K2 is move-in ready

Some time ago Debbie Ramey, who rescues dogs and horses was renovating her horse barn and had a bunch of 5 feet wide by 6 feet high American Kennel Club welded wire kennel panels in there that she wanted to be rid of.  She asked me if I could make use of them here at Piney Mountain Foster Care.  Oh, yes, I could!  So she donated them to us and my friend, Trucker Tim, and I went down there with his truck and trailer, loaded all those panels on his trailer, and hauled them back here.

K4 For short term and emergency housing

Tim lives near by.  Tim also has a barn.  A barn with lots of extra space inside.  He offered to let me store this trove of panels in his barn where they would be out of the weather until I found ways to use them all.  I used 6 of them (one with a door in it) to build kennel 4.  The rest went into Tim’s barn.

With the north wall of Kennel 2 Inside complete I just need a front panel for it to make it usable.  The 10 foot long kennel panels I have on hand are too long for this application.  One of those worked okay on Kennel 1 while I built a proper front panel with door, but in this position it just won’t work.  I am rapidly filling up the empty space that was created by selling  the stack of white oak lumber.  So I went down to Tim’s place and retrieved a few of those 5 foot panels.  I mounted 3 conduit hangers, which I use to attach the tubing frames to the concrete walls with concrete screws, in the opening.  Then I used those as a hinge for the 5 foot panel.  I hold the other end tight to the wall on the other side of the opening with rubber straps to keep the dog inside.  This is just until I get a proper front panel with door built.

Then I got Josie’s Karunda dog bed and water bowl out of her outside kennel (K1) and moved it into the new inside space (K2) — leaving  the barrier I have over the small door between inside and outside areas because Blade is still in  K2 Outside.  I took out the small igloo style dog house that was in K1 Outside for Josie and assembled a large one in there for Blade.

Josie had been running in the play yard while I did all this.  Now it was time to get her back into K1 outside and let Blade out for his turn.  While he played with Blondie Bear I removed his Karunda and water bowl out onto the sidewalk outside the kennels, closed the outside door to K2 and removed the barrier between K2 Outside and K2 Inside.  Then I removed  the barrier to K1 Outside and moved Josie into K2 Inside through the kennel building and secured the makeshift door/front panel.  I put the K1 barrier back into place and went outside.

I moved Blade’s bed and water bowl into K1 Outside and called Blade to come get his treat and go into his room.

He came running, stopped short and gave me the side-eye, “That’s not MY room.  What are you trying to pull?”

The short version is that he became Blade the Belligerent and I had quite a time getting him into his new room.  But that’s another story.

Josie, on the other hand, was delighted with her new expanded living space.

Now when I give her a treat, instead of munching it down where she stands, like she always did before, she takes it to her inner sanctum, gets up on her bed and noshes on it there.  Also, she has been kind of bad about barking at anything that’s moving about in the woods above the kennels at night.  Last night she curled up in her “bedroom” and slept all night.  We didn’t hear a peep out of her.

I swapped Blade and Josie’s rooms because Kennel 1 does not have an inside room ready yet.  Blade has a plush coat of long fur to keep him warm.  Josie doesn’t.  Josie is still underweight too.  She needs this shelter for the cold snap we’ve got coming this week (Low of 20 predicted Tuesday night).  It’s just a couple of nights, then it warms up again.  By the time it turns cold again I should have Blade’s (new) room done as well.  Then everyone can get inside and away from the cold.

I need to sell another lumber pile.  That will free up some more space and give me funds to start buying insulation to go in the roof and buy paint for the walls.  Getting rid of the bare concrete block will go a long ways toward brightening the place up.

And doors.  I need to install guillotine doors that can be opened remotely via a cable and pulleys.  These will keep the cold and wind out at night and keep the dog inside or outside when I need to do that.

Step by step, we are getting there.

 

Ground-shaking News

In the news feeds this morning is a report of another earthquake here in East Tennessee.  This time a 3.0 magnitude quake centered in Knoxville.  That’s not far from us.  I didn’t feel anything, but it gets me to wondering about the frequent earthquake reports I’ve been seeing:  is Tennessee about to tear itself to pieces or is this normal and we just haven’t noticed it before?   Let’s ask the experts.

www.Eartquaketrack.com says East Tennessee has had: (Mag. 1.5 or greater) Continue reading “Ground-shaking News”

April Fooling

Garden Freeze Prep

In the 12 years I have lived here in East Tennessee, the latest snow or frost that we have had was April 2.  That was the year we were trying to put in a house for my mom on the lower end of our property, and the snow and mud stopped construction for a few days.  April Fool!

2014 sets a new record (at least in my personal experience) with snow and a frost on Tuesday night, April 15.  Much of my garden is in, the fruit trees have blossomed, most of Marie’s flowers are up … this was not a welcomed gag.

It rained Monday night, but the temperatures had been up in the 60s and 70s for the past week.  So the soil was warm and the rain started out warm.  The rain continued on Tuesday, but the temperature was falling off, Monday’s low temperature of 52° F would be Tuesday’s high, heading for a predicted overnight low of 26° F.  Rain turned to sleet then to snow, but with no accumulation.

Early in the evening the precipitation stopped.  Temps were in the mid 30s now.  We scrambled around to cover as much of what we could cover to protect it from the coming frost.

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Signs of Spring

Spring time here means rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  Our mountain retreat will seem more like Seattle for a month or so from late February through most of March.  The ground will be soggy, the rivers run full, and we make good use of umbrellas and wide brimmed hats (like my fedora).  Not only does it rain often, but some will be very heavy rainfalls, which can lead to the washing out of driveways and roads.  Crusher-run gravel comes at a premium price at this time of year as residents scramble to repair damage to their drives and access roads.  This year with all the budgets cut, including road maintenance, some of our normally top-notch roads are deteriorating rapidly.  One that we normally use as a short-cut into town has become all but impassible because of the pot holes.

Spring Colors

Trees blooming in SpringOn the brighter side; we also enjoy the brilliant colors of spring; all the fruit trees burst into bloom practically overnight, the pink and white of Dogwood trees and the lavender of Redbud trees, yellow of Forsythia and bright red of Quince.  The irises and day lilies have already put up their spiky green leaves and will soon flower into purple, orange and red blossoms.  Pansies are already putting on a show, and a multitude of ground covers are popping open in purple, pink, yellow, and white flowers.  Continue reading “Signs of Spring”

The Ups and Downs of Mountain Living, Part 3

Piney Mountain Road – Icy

This is part three of my on-going yammer about life in the mountains.  In Part 1 we looked at getting established, in Part 2 we looked at the physical necessities of life here.  This time we’ll look as the more esoteric aspects.

In east Tennessee winters are normally pretty mild.  This winter has been an exception: in early January we hit an overnight low of minus 1° F, the lowest temperature in 20 years.  My relatives in Nebraska and Colorado laugh at me, saying that’s a balmy spring day to them.  We have been spoiled by the normally temperate weather we enjoy so much here.  Aside from this year’s cold, we do have some special challenges.

One is that temperatures vary with elevation.  Newport sprawls out along the Pigeon River on the floor of the valley and is around 1,050 feet elevation.  At 6,593 feet, Mount LeConte is the highest point in our immediate area (we can see it from our front porch) and the difference in temperature between there and Newport can be dramatic.  There are dozens and dozens of other mountain peaks that range between 1,500 and 4,000 feet.

After a snow, we often have continued school closings on days when the roads in Newport are clear and the weather seems fine.  This is to accommodate the people who live in those higher elevations where it has not warmed up enough for things to start melting off.  Road ice is the major issue.

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Scrambling Time

Today I was scrambling. I’m not talking about eggs either – although I did scramble up some eggs and fried some turkey bacon for breakfast this morning.  The scrambling I’m referring to is the dashing-frantically-around-to-get-something-done sort of scrambling.

FenceboxIt rarely gets cold-cold here in Tennessee before December. If we get snow at all it’s in February. On the rare occasion we’ll get a snowfall around Christmas, but that’s very rare. On that basis I was not in a big hurry to get my garden boxes covered in plastic for protection from winter weather, since winter weather was months away yet.  Except it’s not.

The weather guessers have been saying that we can expect overnight low temperatures around 29 degrees over the next couple of days.  That’s cold enough to do some serious damage to my squash.  Rain is expected as well – although it’s not clear if the rain will be first then cold or the other way around.  They’re not talking about snow, so I suspect it will be cold overnight and rain during the day after it warms.  If that’s the case, my lettuce and Brussels sprouts should be OK, they just need protection from the cold winds.

A couple of weeks ago I bought my annual roll of 6 mil semi-transparent plastic which I use to cover the boxes.   It’s been sitting here, ready to go to work ever since.  That 29-degree forecast is for tonight/tomorrow morning, so today is the last day I have to get this done.

My garden is done all in raised beds, because we live on the side of a mountain and this is the only way I can garden that doesn’t just wash away every time it rains.  I have fence boxes made from PVC pipe and poultry mesh to keep the rabbits out of my crops.  In the winter I can add the plastic sheeting to provide better protection from the elements.  How much protection is needed depends on what is inside.

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First Day of Spring?

Originally published Mar. 21, 2013 by Grit Magazine

I arrived at work at 7:30 AM, following a grueling 150 foot commute.  The traffic was terrible.  Normally both dogs march along shoulder to shoulder at the ends of their leashes.  I tell Cochise, “Play yard,” or “Home” or “Mail box”, or (his least favorite) “Work” and he heads off in the right direction.  I tell Blondie, “Stay with Cochise” and she obediently strides along beside him wherever he goes.  Normally, but not today.  Today I’d started the pickup truck earlier to warm it up before Marie headed into town and her work.  Blondie really, really wanted to go for a ride; so when we came down the steps she was intent on going in that direction.  Cochise smelled something fascinating down in the yard and really, really wanted to go that way to check it out.  So they strained in opposite directions, neither one in the direction I needed to go.  We worked it out eventually, but it was a disorganized swirl instead of the usual orderly parade.

Yesterday was the official first day of spring.  It is cold and foggy this morning.  There is a possibility of snow.  I was wondering what happened, when I remembered something I saw at the Source of All Wisdom (Facebook), “The first day of spring and the first spring day are not necessarily the same, and can be separated by as much as a month.”  I’m glad now that I didn’t put my potatoes in their garden boxes last weekend, I’ll do that next weekend.  But I had planned on working at opening the garden for summer session this week.

The winter gardening session was disappointing; it was too wet and cold for much of what I grew.  Still, we did get a fair bit of lettuce (until it got crushed by condensation that froze into ice on the inside of the greenhouse) spinach, beet tops, onion greens, garlic greens, carrot tops, as well as the last of the summer’s carrot roots.  I got enough Brussels sprouts for one meal – but that is the best I’ve ever done with these sprouts; normally the looper worms gut the plants and kill them in days.  By using a greenhouse vented with window screen I kept the moths away in the fall so the plants had a chance to grow to maturity for once.  I had to cover the top vent with plastic after a particularly wet spell practically drowned them out as well.

The Swiss chard is just now getting any size to it.  I’ll get one decent harvest from that when I pull it up to replant the box with something else.

On the positive side, our local Lowe’s store now carries composted chicken manure.  That will help in rejuvenating the soil in my boxes.  I used composted cow manure last year with disappointing results.  Slowly, very slowly, I’m learning what works.