Friday, October 30, 2015

Image result for rhubarb

I got some Rhubarb wine brewing... I almost forgot several ingredients; the tannin, calcium, and yeast nutrient. Well I dug out some stuff, mixed it together in a semi-sterile manner and threw it in.  Thinking about it after the fact I thought "I hope I didn't just destroy 5 gallons of brew".  My nose still burning with the smell of urea, I decided to do some research on the old and rotten smelling yeast nutrient! The store that I bought it from hasn't been in business for yeeeaaarrrrs... Hmmm.  Well, who knew that urea was a component of yeast nutrient? Eeww. So, I guess everything is fine.  Hopefully this attempt turns out much more delightful than previous attempts... Only 6 months till I find out.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What happened?

Since May... I did lots of planting; some things grew and thrived, some struggled and survived, some flat out died. The dream for some semblance of Eden lives on.
 I bought a little 23 hp tractor that has helped with some of the work... but I'm doing a lot by hand. This terrace in the middle of the hill for example I scooped out with a shovel, mattock, and pick:

Amy and I got married in June and had a nice week (short) honeymoon up in the Canmore/Banff area. Since then I have been pretty busy around the little farm. There have been several challenges. I'll try to highlight herbicides, weeds, and deer.

We had issues with some persistent herbicide residue. The place was a thistle forest when Amy moved here, neighboring lands have quite a few weeds. The "Chaparral(TM)" that Amy sprayed when she moved here has worked wonders keeping the thistle at bay for a few years - things are under control enough now that I'm trying to hand weed ten acres.  Anyway, throughout the growing season it became obvious that something was not right with our plants in various places. 

Aminopyralid residuals were persisting in some of the soil that I had planted in and evidently lingering on some grass clippings that got used as mulch. When I researched the active ingredient I found out it can be damaging down to parts per Billion!  The best way to get rid of it is to increase biological activity to help it break down - so lots of compost tea was made and sprayed.  Most of the plants suffered through, and some grew out of it - but it handicapped a large portion of the peppers that we planted... so much so that about 50% never really fruited, oh and it knocked the crap out of our tomatoes - the ones that lived were for the most part just curly leafed wierdos.

Typical tomato; peppers and some potato's looked similar:
Only a few Raspberry's hurt by mulch:
 Hubbard Squash:

Not wanting to spray I tried solarization to kill the grass where I wanted to establish my blackberry patch.

 This wasn't an epic failure... but not a huge success either. It got hot underneath for long enough to get a pretty good kill on stuff.  Then the deer came in and trampled little holes all over... And because of the UV and heat the plastic got ridiculously brittle. I had pie in the sky idea that I'd be able to use the same $100 sheet of plastic for multiple patches.  Nope. Suprisingly the grass was pretty quick to grow back and so I sprayed the evil kill-all spray.  I am trying to get over my temptation to get 
 Weed-B-Gone. Around the house and lawn and in the garden we have field bindweed.

(picture from wikipedia)

 This stuff is the HoneyBadger of weeds. Link PG-13 for language.  I've heard the only way to get rid of this stuff is to sell the property... might be true, but I also read that it's got medicinal value.  I'll need a calming effect to put up with this stuff.  Plasticulture? HoneyBadger don't give a $@#&! Even with black plastic in my row of peppers this stuff has such an interwoven and resilient root system that all underneath the plastic was a mass of vines looking for a hole to pop out.  I want to commit to more organic methods like decimating a plot with pigs... but that could be hard with an established yard. I think sheet mulching is the way to go, it's just going to take some time.

We had a wedding reception. That was fun.

 The night of the reception, August 22nd, we got the first killing frost. 200' of peppers that were hobbling their way through a herbicide affected life were pretty well killed off by that frost.  And the the frost killed a few of my bottom-most frost pocket hills of squash and nipped at the leaves of those near the bottom.  This revealed the booty to the deer who decided they no longer cared that I had an electric fence fortress protecting them.  The creatures came and fattened up on at least half of my crop.  That was a blessing I guess - I don't know what I would have done if I had harvested any more.

Despite the challenging pests I did manage to grow about 10 pounds of jalapenos.  Those and the Chinese 5 color peppers seem to do really well here.  I took 9 pounds of jalapenos to a local market... they only paid slightly more than nothing per pound... I didn't have time or enough crop for a farmers market... but I won't be doing that again.  I didn't even make minimum wage for picking them, let alone the growing time and expense.

Good lessons in farming this summer.

Happy Fall.


P.S.  The Blackberry patch is in and there are ten different varieties I hope winter well.

P.P.S. I'm one run into a 34 week training plan for a 50k run. It could be fun... or something.  I'll keep you posted if I can even get my weekly milage over 50k - thankfully that's still 3 months away. At this pace that'll be my next blog entry.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

New and noteworthy

Ok Jimmy, this ones for you.  I have only taken 3 pictures with my camera since the last post.

New and Noteworthy... This book - I'm stoked about it. My name and mug might be in the book,  but the reason I gladly paid the asking price is because the Castles  are a wonderful place to climb and get away from the hustle and bustle common to so many roadside crags.  I have lots of good memories of climbing with Ron and other friends there - not to mention a certain unfinished project that epitomizes rock climbing in my mind.  Typical of Ron's books there is a likely going to be a little adventure trying to find some of the routes/rocks... Life is an adventure, Go Get IT! If you want a copy give me a shout and I'll give you Ron's phone number.

I see that Ron's guiding website isn't accepting traffic... seasons change, it seems we are both chasing off after the ladies in our lives. That is my major distraction - I have a bit test next week and then a wedding one month from today!

 And there's the plants... I should blog for posterity sake about all the plants...

That beautiful lady has 10 acres and I had a bag of seeds I couldn't say no to... Our first date was making salsa... based on the tomatoes and peppers you might correctly guess that I'm hoping for a lifetime of dates.

And the pictures don't include a multitude of other things that we have planted this spring: cherries, raspberries, honeyberries, pine trees, mulberries, blueberries, elderberries, aronia, blackberries, and buffaloberries.

I haven't been climbing much, but there is a new season right around the corner.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Welcome 2015

I don't quite have time to put mental energy into writing all about my turn of the year ice climbing trip with Jimmy. He did a pretty good write-up of it found here:  The trip down to Cody and the "Big Boy Ice" was great.  I hadn't trained nearly enough and I found myself just trying to survive keeping up with Jimmy's enthusiasm.  It was the grace of God that my body didn't fail going climbing 8 days in a row. I definitely didn't do my share of the leading or trail breaking, but I tried to make up for it by cooking good food. Whining was kept to a minimum with the knowledge that there was a cooler of brew waiting in the car.  I knew my guts couldn't stomach multiple nights of dehydrated meals so this was definitely not a lightweight trip... Definitely could have gone lighter.  We didn't even drink all the beer... maybe we could have, but we splurged on pizza and Mexican a few nights.  I'm hopeful that I can crank a little harder on the next "big" trip but it seems like my life is consumed with other things now - trying to balance career, relationship, etc. Growing older... but staying young and pure of heart and hopeful - that is my endeavor.

This was climbing day 7, on "The Matrix" up in Hyalite.  We got 6 pitches in that day... and climbing this pitch I was so tired I could barely hold on to my tools at the crux... had I known how hard the climbing was I may have been less attentive to the camera, but the scenery was just too good...


Monday, December 22, 2014

Hi all,

I guess this could be as close as I'll come to a Christmas card.  I'm training to be a sanitarian, living and working in Polson, MT now.  I found a job where I can be nerdy about food and use at least one of my college classes to contribute to the greater good.  May no food-borne illnesses come your way this season - wash your hands and put those left overs away promptly ok?! If you aren't aware I am also now in a new career field in my "part time" job - there I'm doing Industrial hygiene... Had to have a cautionary statement read for me recently after I squirted some Dr. Bronners Magic Mint soap in my eye.... ouch!

I'm looking forward to getting out and exploring the Mission Mountains - especially now that the days are getting longer.  Moving here in the dead of winter has been a big culture shock, thankfully I've been spending quite a bit of time with my girlfriend.  She's interested in ice climbing, but Glacier isn't a very easy place to learn.  Very imminently I'll be going back down to Bozeman and Cody and thereabouts to do some climbing for a week.  I would offer to make social calls but my buddy is training to go to the Eiger and I think the schedule is going to be mostly climbing.

Humor me as I make one last plea; I need some photo contest help... find it at Photo Hold'em Tournament- ROUND ONE - COLDFEAR
you can vote on each bracket... There are some dang good photos to look at and you don't even have to burn a calorie to enjoy it.  Note: mine is wayyyy down toward the bottom (and just close the sharing popup if you aren't into that - don't let it scare you away from more voting).

Regardless of if you vote or not, if you are reading this i would love to hear from you and hear how you are doing. Especially make a point to Send a note if you vote So i can follow up with those of you who are interested in helping me along. Hopefully I'll have some fresh material soon!



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Keep dreaming.

I might just be having flashbacks from Whitetail peak from a few weeks ago... or maybe its a warning? Or maybe I've been reading too much David Roberts... anyway in this dream I had last night I had just climbed up something, I guess my partner and I had both soloed up something. I was feeling exposed and challenged. I wanted to take a rest on a snowy ledge and I was toying with the idea for a while, but it seemed too icy... it didn't seem like we were wearing crampons?  I found myself hugging a rock out cropping when my unknown partner got up to the ledge and decided to have a seat ... but he shot off b/c it was too slippery, then he flew across a bit of a chasm, it was glaciated, and smacked into the other side and sort of stuck there. I wanted to go throw him a rope, but the glacier calved off and as they say - that was that. I wanted to go back to sleep and finish the dream to see if I could find him, but I didn't...

I must get past Deborah - a wilderness narrative and on to The Mountain of my Fear. And I will get past fear - especially the fear of suffering.  Yesterday God graced me to get through my fit test with a head-ache, now onward - tomorrow I ice climb!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Diatribe on a dream.

Lunges and all manner of working out has me itching to climb.... So I called a partner trying to gin up something for the week but we digressed as I started picking his brain about possible unclimbed ice. It didn't take long and we were talking about the various dynamics of ice climbing roulette and I was getting another well needed lesson in how and where to get your life snuffed out by an avalanche and especially the particulars of how a person could do it on the East side of Glacier National Park. That talk pretty well popped the bubble of most plans I'd been trying to come up with.

As legend has it, one of Montana's ice climbing pioneers from here in Great Falls revered the East side of the park as "futuristic" because the conditions are so fickle (HAZARDOUS). He spent the better part of a decade trying to do some of the stuff, but I'm not sure what all he did. Because of the wind that generates on and to the East side of the divide, the littlest amount of precip can become a deadly problem. Two inches of snow can blow around and then wind-load on the lee side of a mountain, things may never really bond well to a glacier or a lower angle ice climb - I forget about long climbs being a source of snowpack to slide.  Back to the park - avalanches tend to run and pretty soon because of how big and bare the terrain is in the park, the situation is usually pretty high gravity. I guess for the big aesthetic waterfalls a good season for things on the East side of Glacier to be SAFE would be when we have super drought and then it gets cold... But, it's not supposed to be a dry winter, We've already gotten plenty of snow for things to be forming weak layers up high.

Sometimes good advice stinks, but I know wisdom comes with the price of experience. Thanks Ron and Gerald, Dexter, Don... and all you other lunatics - keep sharing your stories.

Edit add on: it seems like it's that time of year! It's a somber time for some as three notable mountain people just perished in slides down in Chile... This helpful bit from Outside showed up on Facebook courtesy of Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. The reason for this add on is that I just visited the GNFAC and they have updated things a lot since my last visit. There is an interactive map that will link you to all the US Forest Service Avy centers  for forecast info... a great help. AND I'm stoked I can finally get a visual on where "Lionhead" is and not feel like a dolt listening to the forecast over the phone.