30 September 2013

Barn Wall Project

If you've followed this blog for the past few years, you know we take on summer projects. There have been several clean-up/fix-up projects at our barn and cabin this summer but this barn wall project required the most time and labor.

When we acquired the barn property in 2001 the stone wall at the entrance to the lower floor of the barn was in bad shape and leaning over.  This wall is over one hundred years old and as time pasted, the wall continued to slowly move more to the downhill and a gap in the wall widened. The following two photos show the wall before we started this project.

The first step in this project was to correct as much of the leaning as possible. Since the dirt behind the wall was pushing the top of the wall over, I used my backhoe to remove the dirt so the stone could be pushed back. With the dirt behind the wall removed I used a wooden block and an 8 pound hammer to pound each stone back, a fraction of an inch at a time. After a couple of weeks of hammering the two sections of the wall were reunited and upright.

To prevent the wall from pulling apart again, concrete and rebar were added on the back side of the wall.

With the old sections of the wall stabilized, new stone was added to patch/rebuild missing sections of the wall.  About 30% to 40% of the wall was replaced. The wall isn't perfectly straight/square but it does look like its been there for over a hundred year.

23 September 2013

Fall Fungus

After this weekend's rain I took a walk around the pipeline right-of-way through our woods to check on the recent reclamation reseeding. Along the edge of the right-of-way I checked on a stack of firewood logs and found several forms of fungus busy working on the logs.



21 September 2013

Autumn Olive Jam

A couple of years ago we made our first batch of Autumn Olive Jam and it's time to make some more of this tasty  jam. Since the degree of sweetness/tart will vary from bush to bush, be sure to taste test before picking. The late Summer weather was dryer this year and berries tended to be smaller so we needed 9 to 10 cups of berries to get enough seedless pulp for the recipe.

We used the following recipe from "dreams and bones" web blog to make our jam.

Autumn Olive Jam

Autumn Olive Jam ~ the Saga

8 cups of ripe autumn olive berries
1 cup of water
3 ½ cups of sugar
1 package of no-sugar-needed Sure Jell

Gather 8 cups of ripe autumn olive berries. (Be sure to taste test the berries as you pick. I've found the bright red berries to be more tart than the dull red berries.)

Add 1 cup of water to the 8 cups of berries and bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Run the mash through a sieve and you will have about 5 cups of pressed fruit.

Measure out 3 ½ cups of sugar. Take ¼ cup of the measured sugar and mix it with the contents of a package of no-sugar-needed Sure Jell. Mix it in with the pressed fruit and bring to a rolling boil. Add the remainder of the sugar to the boiling liquid and return to a rolling boil and let it boil for one minute.

Then can according to canning directions and cool.

This will make about six 8 oz. jars of well set jam. Nice and tart.

20 September 2013

Cruising With the Top Down

Gerry and Janet Miner took advantage of the beautiful last days of summer and went cruising in the Mustang with the top down.

19 September 2013

Wild Honeybees

As I've mentioned in my last couple of postings, the end of Summer is approaching as the days get shorter and the local wild honeybees are taking advantage of the fields of goldenrod in the neighborhood.

There has been a lot of news lately about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, but the wild honeybees in our neighborhood are doing quite well.

Earlier this Summer I had a swarm of wild honeybees land in a tree on the driveway to our barn. This swarn started a small colony in the tree which is only 100 feet from my garden.

During the Summer I continued to notice a constant "buzz" in the woods next to our cabin and tracked down a second bee tree in the neighborhood. This is a much larger colony with hundreds of bees coming/going through the one entrance. A view looking up the tree to the entrance. 

A more straight on shot of the small entrance to the hive. I needed a ladder to get this shot and was close enough to smell the honey.

Just a few weeks ago, I was checking some of the pipeline reclamation work through our woods and found this third bee tree. At first I thought this was a small colony  of honeybees due to the few bees at the entrance. Upon later inspection of this bee tree I discovered at least 3 different entrances to the hive, which covered a distance of 15 to 20 feet, with the main entrance at the top, 35 feet off the ground.

A view of wild honeybees at the smaller, lower entrance to the hive.

17 September 2013

Fall Wildflowers - New England Aster

I'm starting to see more signs of Fall as I walk around in the woods and fields. The New England Asters announce the end of Summer is near..

15 September 2013

Fall Fungus

As the warm days of summer cool down and the rainy days of fall return, the colorful fungus of fall start to appear. I haven't spent as much time walking through the fields and woods as I would like, but I did come across this bright colored fungus popping out of the cracks in the bark on some rotting wood.