Saturday, October 31, 2015

Good Things Happenin'

Our roof is in the process of being repaired! It was scraped, duct taped (temporarily), and now has had self-adhesive metal tape, a primer, and elastomeric paint applied. It has one more coat to go. This is a happy thing!
Adam dug out the beginning of our shade garden and I put these lamb's ears in the ground. This pot divided into four little plants.
He sent me a text while I was at the farmer's market selling soaps and such. He was installing pipe into the trenches in the field! I didn't know he was starting that today. Below is the "T" where the garage pipe goes off the main pipe. He's joined the "T" and buried it already.
The pipe in its trench:
This is the windy section near the compost bins. Still some joining to be done here. He needs to buy more pipe; he bought all that our local Ace homebuilders' store had.
While at the market, a friend stopped by my table to show me her incredibly cute new puppy. Oh my!
It was a sunny, happy, busy day at the market with lots of vendors and lots of  boaters in town. We're heading into the holiday season when I sell more wares. Soon we hope this sign will say Red Robin Farm, and not just Red Robin Soaps -- and we'll be selling farm produce.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Dig, Dig, Dig

This week Adam has been digging long trenches to deliver water from the rooftops to his big water tank. It's quite an operation! I already showed you the short ditch from the back of the barn to the tank. Now he's started the  L O N G  ditch from the barn to the house.
I'm standing at the corner of this trench near the barn. It runs through the (future) chicken yard, to the fence in the distance. From there it will slant over to the house and receive water from some water butts that will be elevated on stands at the back of the house. The butts themselves will be higher than the big water tank in the back of the field. So even though the ground slopes up from the house to the back of the field, the water should gravity feed into the tank.
Maggie (or Maggie-Moo, as Julia loves to call her) adores the trenches. She clambers down into them, roots around in the dirt, flops her belly on the cool soil, and settles in. I bet she's a hole-diggin' dog :)
She's so adorable when she jumps over the ditches!
Adam digs a shallow trench first and then returns to deepen it. He will run PVC pipe through all of it to carry the water.
Today the water trenches look like this:
The cut-off trench (above) runs from the main trench to the garage. He plans to collect water from all rooftops to keep his 1000-gallon tank full. If the big tank ever gets full, the overflow will be directed to a ditch that runs on the back of the property.
If you want a refresher on where these buildings are located, on the shot above, #3 is the barn. The big tank is to its right in that tree's dark shadow. A short trench runs between those two. The long trench runs from the corner of the barn straight toward the road, slanting to the house (#1) when it hits the green grass. A side trench runs from the main one to the garage, which is a faint red square behind the house/carport.
His back has been sore. But he's loving the farm work. He loves the outdoors and being with his dogs. And it gives him much time for prayer and thinking, which for a pastor is important work too.
The trench running toward the house.
The wheat field is quite green and growing.
Remember the passion fruit we were waiting to ripen? I think the flooding ruined them. That's mold growing on the side, and they are all shriveled and mushy. But Adam will save the seeds from them, and perhaps we'll plant some new ones for next year.
My mother asked me today, "When does he do all his pastoral work?" Here on the farm blog, it may look like all we ever do is farm, farm, farm! But Adam is also a pastor, technically part-time. He gets up about 4:30 each morning and spends several hours reading and doing his sermon and lesson preparations. So never fear, if you're worrying -- he has time for both. He teaches three times each week, usually visits at least once each week, does special services and community involvement for the church, and of course tends to emergencies that arise like hospitalizations or family crises, in addition to occasional counseling. As many men through the centuries have found, pastoral work and farm work are a good combination. God teaches interesting lessons in nature when a man (or woman) has his hands in the soil. And the farmer has time -- mental time -- to ruminate and ponder on what God is teaching him. All these things are good.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Contemplating Soap Wrappers

I set up a small space in the back office to work on my soap business, Red Robin Soaps.
This room is full of books and toys and is supposed to be a restful, quiet place for children to play or anybody to read or rest.
Anyway, I'm pondering a change to my soap packaging. At the advice of the lady who runs a small gift shop where my soaps are carried, I bought some burlap strips and twine, hoping for a more natural look.
I've sold my soap naked -- with no packaging at all. I've also wrapped it in fabric and twine (which slipped off).

Later, I opted for little plastic bags with hand-written cheapo labels.

Then I upgraded to the small ziploc bags and printed labels I use now:
They look better than this -- this one is a bit mangled.
Soap must be exposed to the air for about a month after it's made, so it can cure (dry out). After that, I like it to be in a plastic bag, so the scent is preserved. The scent (especially lavender) tends to dissipate, and after a few months the soap just smells like ... soap.
So, while this looks pretty cool and natural, after a while this lovely bar of tea tree oil soap won't smell like tea tree. Which is a problem. Customers like a scented soap to smell like itself.
That's a very plain burlap look, simple. Here's the back. I'll keep fiddling with it.
One solution is this: after wrapping in burlap and twine, to put each bar into a small plastic sleeve. A friend gave me a few of these to try. What do you think?
I could affix a new label either to the burlap/twine (under the plastic), or to the plastic bag itself. Which do you think is better? Should I use the plastic at all? I wouldn't have to seal the plastic really; I could fold it over, or place a bit of tape on the back. I could also leave the plastic off altogether for just the little gift shop, since she wants a natural look. Advice needed from readers!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thousands of Green Babies

"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains." James 5:7
 Adam has been waiting patiently for his wheat to germinate. That quarter acre represents so much work for him, a new farmer. Would anything happen? Would the seed germinate? On Saturday the wheat had done nothing. But today he noticed a faint green sheen over the field.
 There's some unwanted grass out there too, yes, but the slender bright green is WHEAT!

 We are ridiculously excited about these slender, tender plants. We thought we'd have to wait until rain came, but evidently the moisture in the ground, plus the heavy dew we've had lately, were enough. And rain is forecast for this week, thankfully.
Today, Adam has been digging a long, deep trench.
 It starts behind the barn at his water barrels. Since this photo he's dug it deeper.
 It runs behind the compost bins. The doggies helped. See Maggie back there, in the trench?
The trench runs toward the big water tank, now on its side.
Soon this tank will sit on its bottom right there, on level high ground at the top of the field, and have a new liner in it.
 A 2-inch PVC pipe will run in this trench, carrying gravity-fed rain water from the barrels to the
tank, and then to the fields. Later another trench and pipe will run from barrels at the house, to the tank.
The dogs love helping Adam in the field. Maggie stayed near him well today. She liked playing in the trench and got quite dirty. This is the first photo I've gotten with all three of them.
The trench was full of cut pine roots, so her coat became sticky with pine tar. Julia had to do this:
Poor little thing. She cried and was pitiful. That's what happens to puppies who play in trenches!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

What's Happening Up on the Roof ~

Today all this heavy stuff arrived on our porch thanks to FedEx:
Waterproofing -- it's for the leaking roof. This is a roof paint.
And tape to seal it all up again.
It's so heavy that Adam brought the truck around to move the boxes elsewhere
To remind you: our contractor was supposed to have repaired our roof, but the heavy rains a few weeks ago proved that the roof was not repaired. Newly-painted walls were ruined, and newly-sheetrocked ceilings were as well.

As you see, we have staining and mold in living room, dining room, and Julia's room. Our contractor will be fixing this soon. We are providing the materials (as you see above), and he is providing the labor to repair the roof. We have opted to do a good repair, not a new roof, but a great sealant job. And before now, our home owner's insurance would not have covered a new roof in case of a storm or some natural disaster -- the age of the house and roof didn't allow for it. But after this repair, our roof will be covered. When you live in an area like this, with hurricanes and heavy rains and wind, you need roof coverage.

So, how 'bout some photos of Maggie? She's coming out of her shell!
enjoying her supper
enjoying my thumb

We're enjoying her a lot, and other two four-legged family members are warming up to her a bit. She and Beau even play and wrestle. She's fitting in quite well.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Winter Greens

The beds are covered with a nice tone of green from all the tiny leaves developing. They are past the seed leaf stage, and on to real leaves.
These are radishes. My bad photography skills didn't capture the biggest leaves.

The greens are coming, but slowly because of the cooler temps, and because we got so much rain flooding , and now for two weeks we've got NO rain :(   What's up with that? Adam's wheat hasn't germinated yet because of that. Ah well. God knows what He's doing, and we must wait. Meanwhile, the greens are coming along nicely!