Friday, September 23, 2016

Splitting piss pine..

As noted earlier (Aspen Errors...7/8/15) we live in a mature stand of aspen, birch, and white spruce that are staring to die off. This leads to an abundance of dead or dying trees that need to be bucked up and split. Haven't even dropped the dead ones from this past year since there's still wood to split from last year. The birch and spruce are no problem since they split, dry, and burn well. But the aspen's different. The bark holds moisture that keeps split wood from drying and it's distinctive odor is often euphemistically referred to as piss pine. I've tried different ways over the years, but finally came up with a method to split and debark the aspen.
Start a split an inch or so from the edge.

Then rotate and continue to split an edge until you basically create a square log.

Then split the log into quarters.

Finally, split near the edge of the outer pieces to peel off the bark. Some have to to cleaned up with an axe, but in the end, all the barks off. While it takes a little longer to split, you wind up with wood that dries faster, burns hotter, and best of all, doesn't smell like piss pine.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fall colors...

Not much going on except trying to finish the summer projects before the snow flies. But we did have a decent sunset the other night...
And the backlighting from the sunset (alpine glow) turned the yellow aspen leaves orange...
Since his close call with the reaper, Ruty no longer chases squirrels and voles, but he still goes out to enjoy the fall sunshine. Instead of moving around to stalk critters, now he only moves to stay in the sun.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fall's coming...


August 2016 was warmer and drier than normal. The average high temperature was 70.2 degrees which was 4.3 degrees above the normal. The average low temperature was 52.1 degrees which was 5.7 degrees above the normal low temperature. This is the warmest average low temperature in 110 years of record. The average mean temperature was 62.1 degrees which was 5.0 degrees above the normal mean temperature of 56.1 degrees. The warmest temperature in August was 79 degrees, which occurred on 13th. The coldest temperature was 42 degrees, which occurred on the 31st.

After the very wet months of June and July...August was the only month this summer with below normal precipitation of 1.56 inches .For the summer season of June, July, and August, 9.82 inches of rain fell at the Fairbanks airport which ranks as the 6th wettest summer on record.

Looking to September, sunshine continues to decrease by 6 and a half minutes per day with the daylight decreasing from 14 hours and 33 minutes on the 1st to 11 hours and 20 minutes on the 30th. The average daily high temperature decreases from 60.5 degrees on the 1st to 46.2 degrees on the 30th. The average daily low temperature decreases from 41.3 degrees on the 1st to 30.1 degrees on the 30th. The average rainfall is 1.1 inches and the average snowfall in September is 1.8 inches.

And the leaves are a turin'.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mo' Taters...

Of course when you think of bringing in Taters...
  You'd think of this little lady (Growin' Taters 6/28/15), but no...

It's the time of year to harvest the garden. And this year, there's a bumper crop of red, yukon gold, and cal white potatoes.

Fall kind of snuck up on us this year, cause we had a relatively warm and dry August. But a cold front came through yesterday and we're supposed to get a hard frost tonight. So it's time to pick, pull or cover what's left in the garden. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A visit from Porky...

Yesterday the dogs were seriously barking, so went outside but didn't see anything. Later on, they started again, so Andy went out to check on it. She called to me and when I came out, she pointed up into a small spruce tree. When I walked over, I could see it was a porcupine, about ten feet up, looking for a place to hide. Now we've seen lots of porkys, they are everywhere in the interior, but this is the first time (that I can remember anyways) that one's made a visit to our backyard. So got the camera and took some pictures. He (she?) was pretty big, maybe twenty pounds or so, probably an old timer.
Figured we'd leave him alone and maybe he'd leave. After going inside for awhile, Andy looked out and saw him waddling up the path to the wood piles. So I grabbed the camera and headed out for a real wildlife photo. But the porky would have none of it. Shifting into his high speed waddle, he cut between some wood piles and headed off into the woods. All I could get was a shot of his butt as he waddled off to his next adventure. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ridin' into fall...

This is the time of year when it dawns on you that summer's about over, the leaves are starting to turn, and winter's just around the corner. So it's time to get serious and finish the summer projects. But more importantly, it's time to take advantage of the rare (for this summer anyway), sunny day. So we got the bikes out and went for a ride. No particular destination, just headed out on some of few twisty roads around here, (the DOT seems bent on straightening all the main roads), and enjoy the beautiful weather.

The Enfield ran great; the electrical problem's apparently solved.

A little while back, we went for a ride to George's memorial. He had been the long time BMW/Royal Enfield dealer for Fairbanks. He was somewhat retired, turning over the BMW business to the local Harley dealership (where they held the memorial), but still kept the Enfield side going. There were at least fifty or more bikes there, mostly BMW's, and Andy rode the only Enfield. George would have been proud.

 Photo from a nice article about George at:

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Stooped again...

Had a bunch of water issues on the addition to the new garage. Finally decided to dig up a new drainage and get rid of the water problems. That led to deciding to pour slabs in front of the three doors on top of the drains. So after mixing 14 ninety pond bags of reinforced concrete, here's somewhat boring photos of what we've been doing the last few weeks...
After digging up the ground in front of the door, putting in a bunch of drain rock, compacting the surface, then framing a stoop*.

Here's the stoop after pouring in the concrete.
After removing the framing, re-grading the gravel, and digging a drainage ditch to divert runoff, here's the completed stoop. Now there's only two more to finish. Hopefully it'll take care of the water issues.
*Stoop: From the Dutch stoep ‎(“platform", "pavement”). 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Watchin' the garden grow...

Not much goin' on here after 7-8 days of rain (about 4" so far). I'd post some pictures of my breakfast or lunch like some bloggers do, but then you'd just have to shoot me for clogging up the interwebs with pointless trivia. Been doing odd jobs, carpentry projects on the house and garage, but that's hardly worth a photo. I guess the best part of this recent weather is that the garden is doing great. We're eating lots of fresh vegetables and the berry bushes are really loaded this year.
The garden's doing great with all the recent rain.
And the berry bushes are really producing too.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

June weather summary...

National Weather Service's weather summary for June:
"June 2016 in Fairbanks was cooler and wetter than normal. This
follows 8 consecutive months where the mean temperature was above normal. The warmest day of the month occurred on 17th with a temperature of 85 degrees while the coldest was 40 degrees on the 3rd. The mean temperature was 60.0 degrees, which was 0.4 degrees below the normal mean temperature of 60.4 degrees.
3.29 inches of rain fell during the month of June. This was 1.92 inches more than the normal value of 1.37 inches. It was the third wettest June on record. The rainfall on the 5th totaled 0.45", breaking the daily record set in 1942 by 0.13". Then on the 11th, rainfall totaled 0.95", breaking the old 1940 record of 0.67". The highest wind speed was 37 mph on the 1st, while the average wind speed was 4.8 mph.
Looking forward to July, possible sunshine decreases from 21 hours 22 minutes on the 1st to 18 hours and 12 minutes on the 31st. Continuous civil twilight ends on the 27th of July. The average daily high temperature decreases from 74 degrees on the 1st to 70 degrees on the 31st. The daily low temperature decreases from 53 degrees on the 1st to 51 degrees on the 31st. The forecast for July from the climate prediction center calls for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation."



Ruty, like his namesake the rutabaga, hanging out on the deck. We almost lost him to an unknown illness last month, but through wonders of modern cortico-steroids, he's back, keeping an eye on things again. No need to worry with the watch cat on duty!

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Ride in the Park...

When you'd say you took a ride in the park, most folks around here would think you either meant Denali National Park, Alaskaland, or Pioneer Park as it's now called. But to me, the park has always been the Chena Recreation Area. Just a few miles down the road from our place, it's always been the area of choice to recreate, since it's so close and don't have to drive through town to get there.
Today, took the 850 Moto Guzzi out for a ride there. Surprisingly, there wasn't much traffic on the way out, most of what was on the road was heading towards town. The only incident of note was coming around a turn in the park, there was a large van parked in the middle of the road. And by the middle, I mean his wheels were on the centerline. So I slowed down and passed. When I looked over, I could see it was a tourist company van with with a load of passengers, probably stopped to take pictures. Hard to believe they couldn't pull over to the side of the road and turn on some warning lights.
Anyway, the rest of the trip was fine. Stopped at the 38 mile bridge, where there was a major issue with the river a while back. As meandering rivers are prone to do, it changed channels. Unfortunately, the new channel began to erode the abutments of the bridge. So the state built a huge berm, technically termed a training structure. That forced the river back into it's former channel. While hardly a natural area, it created an option for those who want to pull off the road and spend some some time at the river without being in a developed campground.

Parked on the dike at the 38 mile bridge. The interesting thing about the photo was that there was a clear blue sky out, but the photo looks cloudy, almost like a smoke sky. Go figure.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Back Hoed....

When we first got the tractor, couldn't figure out why most farmers had so many tractors. But then we started to get more implements, and finally figured it out.  It's a huge pain to change them out, so it's way better to have lots of tractors. Well we haven't gotten there yet, so every year we have to change things out. So in the fall, it's time to put on the rear blade. Then in the spring, the rototiller. Then the splitter, then the mower. Now finally put the back hoe on.

The back hoe cost almost as much as the tractor, so it was a major investment. But figured it was a real useful tool and besides, thought it'd be fun to learn to run something different. Well it was in more ways than one. Now whenever it get's put on the tractor, it's another adventure. First you have to remove the three-point hitch, then carefully back over the sub frame of the hoe, which you can't see once you're over it. Then when it's finally positioned correctly, hook up the hydraulics. You lift up the sub frame of the hoe using the side stabilizers and bucket until it connects to the locking clamps on the tractor frame. It usually take two or three tries and lots of cursing. Anyway, today it was time to dig out some stumps. After the trees are dropped, it's about about five years until we can get a big stump out. There's no way that there's enough power in the back hoe on the JD to rip out a monster stump. But after a few years of letting it rot, hydraulics rule. So the next thing you know, there's just a hole in the ground!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Riding weather...

After three straight days of rain, we finally got some decent weather. Now don't get me wrong, the rains keep the forest fires down and benefit the garden, but still, it's nice to just hop on the bike and go for a ride. Had been riding the 650 (First Ride...4/30/16), but decided to take out the 850 this time. Since I'm too cheap to buy 2 batteries, had to switch it over, but otherwise just needed to check the oil and tire pressure. Rode into town for some errands, then out past the University to the Goldstream valley where my friend Bill lives (Out to the Whites... 3/26/16). Had a nice visit, coffee with fresh brownies, then took the scenic route, via Fox and the Old Steese,  back home. What started out as a typical run to town wound being a fifty something mile tour of the valley. Pretty much fun.

Of course I forgot the camera, so took a photo when I got back. The dumpster sign had been buried in the back of the garage for years. Moved it outside when the garage was recently cleaned. When we first moved out here, there was a public dumpster just down the road. The sign was right at our mail boxes. One year an errant motorist took out the sign as well as most of the mail boxes. While we put the boxes back up, the sign lay off to the side of the road for years. When the Borough finally closed the dumpster site, I threw the sign in the back of the pickup and brought it home. Never have figured out a use for it, but I used to think I might put it up so it pointed toward my neighbors house. Or not; they probably wouldn't appreciate the humor of it all.