Archives for category: hobbies

You can still buy a magazine called Mother Earth News but it’s not the Mother Earth News I remember from the 1970s.  Back then it was full of do-it-yourself, back-to-the-land articles like how to convert an old truck into a water pump or how to tan hides using goat urine.  Schematics of neatly sectioned homesteads like the one above were a regular feature.  Those drawings really struck a chord with me.  Something about those neat rows of corn, compost bins, and tidy greehouses attracted me like heaven on earth. Now that I think about it, they probably were a major contributing factor to the particular path I followed through life.

Not that I followed the path singlemindedly.  There were numerous distractions along the way.  But the idea of developing a piece of land and harvesting the fruits of that labor have always  powerfully attracted me.

And so it was that Mary and I started talking about a garden last winter.  I’ve had a lot of gardens over the years but not recently.  The problem in Union Valley is critters.  This place is crawling with rabbits, moles, voles, turkeys, squirrels, bears, and deer.  Especially deer.  Deer have nibbled our roses and fruit trees into oblivion year after year.  The last garden at our house, my son’s, was denuded in a single night by deer just as he was about to harvest.

Mary and I schemed on how to outsmart the critters with chain-link fences, raised beds and electrified deterrents.  It all started to sound like something we might need to mortgage the house for so I went back to square one.  What I came up with  is the modest layout in the following photo:

By using scrap lumber, cinder blocks, and home-made hinges we’ve kept the cost at $100.  The frames are covered with plastic deer netting.  The bed is protected from moles with a steel mesh bottom.  The frames are hinged so that the garden can be tended from either side.  Last summer we installed gutters on all the roofs that feed barrels from which the rain water is pumped to larger storage tanks.  We hope to water the garden exclusively with rain water.

Home-made hinge.  The pins (bolts) can be easily removed from all the hinges on one side of the bed so that the garden can be accessed from either side.

Home-made hinges, scrap lumber – the old Mother Earth News would be proud of me.


20140401-090822.jpgLOST AT SEA?
We rode the 35-mile River Mountain Loop yesterday on our bicycles which was a great workout and good training for our upcoming Sierra/Cascade ride. The whole thing is on a nicely paved bike path. It begins at our Lake Mead campground and climbs 1200 feet – which is good. We’re going to be doing a lot of climbing on the upcoming Mexico-to-Canada ride. Midway through the ride you have a spectacular view of the Las Vegas Strip from afar with snow-capped mountains in the distance. I enthusiastically recommend the ride.

The weather was unexpectedly pleasant since high wind had been forecasted. It wasn’t until the last ten miles that we fought a headwind. Later in the afternoon the wind calmed and I decided to take advantage of that by flying our radio-controlled (RC) airplane – the Apprentice S. There is a large vacant parking lot down by the lake set aside for RC flying. It used to be parking for lake visitors but Lake Mead’s shoreline has retreated about 500 yards due to a sustained drought since 1985.

Anyway, so I started flying my little airplane around and all of a sudden the wind picked up. I landed; the wind stopped. I took off and the wind came up again. This little scenario was repeated about five times before a ferocious and sustained off-shore wind came up when my plane was down by the lake. I turned it toward me to fly it back to the landing strip but the wind was so strong that the plane was going out to sea even though I was giving it full power into the wind. A wave of panic flooded through me. The brave little plane was struggling but continuing to lose ground. I knew that the battery charge would soon give out and all hope of recovery would be lost. The plane would crash land far out in the lake or possibly on the other side of the lake even!

I thought of Malaysia Flight 370 that disappeared over the Indian Ocean recently. Would the Apprentice S share its fate?

But no! Valiantly, against all odds, it seemed to be making its way back to land. It had almost disappeared in the distance but now it was clearly growing as it crossed the sandy expanse between the shore and the landing strip.

“Come on, little plane!” I muttered in encouragement. “You can do it!”

Again the wind gusted. The Apprentice S bobbed and weaved. It dipped and rose. It veered left and right. But it was nearly out of danger at last. If the battery ran out I could always crash land it, I realized. At least it was over dry land.

When it finally made it to the landing strip I brought it down slowly. The wind was still so strong that it was basically hovering when its wheels touched the ground. I cut power and the wind promptly flipped it over backwards. Not pretty, I admit. But my baby was home. Safe. Out of the clutches of that evil, gusting wind. Whew!

We’ve got two credits to spend tonight after getting home so late last night from shopping that we went straight to bed. These “credits” are 100% self-imposed and are automatically earned one per day. The process serves to keep us from OD-ing on marathon sessions of the AMC series, Breaking Bad, all six seasons of which we purchased on DVD.

The first-run broadcast of the series has ended and we somehow were never aware of it during its run but we’re fascinated by it now and can’t seem to get enough of it. Hence, our self-imposed limit of one episode per night. (We’re afraid of becoming a couple of junkies.)

For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s the story of a high school chemistry teacher who learns he has terminal cancer and decides to make some serious money for his wife and kids before he dies. He starts cooking methamphetamine and is drawn into the morally depraved world of drug dealing. Quite gripping – and quite affordable. The cost is only a little over a dollar per episode.

A majority of our fellow snowbirds have succumbed to the allure of mobile satellite TV system which, I admit, is tempting. So far we have resisted. We find that without TV we spend our time slightly more productively by reading, crosswording, etc. (Like I said, slightly.) By having a finite number of episodes on DVD we feel constrained to “control” ourselves.

We’ve been at Lake Mead near Las Vegas for a few days. They have a wonderful bike trail here of 35-mile length with lots of up and down which makes it great training for our upcoming Sierra/Cascade bike ride which we hope to start in May.

Had to buy a new battery charger for the RC airplane which compelled us to drive into the heart of Sin City yesterday. I took the plane out this morning and did about thirty touch-and-go’s down by the lake. There’s an abandoned parking lot there that’s perfect for take-offs and landings.

The weather has cooled down into the 70s and 80s so we think we’ll hang out here until it gets hot again. Southern Utah, our preferred destination, is pretty high and still cold.