charging the Takeuchi
After some cold nights (12 below freezing) my Takeuchi bobcat refused to start. Cold and tired battery. The best way to charge the battery is to pull the cab forward on its hinges and then you have direct access to the battery. It is heavy and best done with an assistant. In the past I had an anchor point in front of the Take and winched the cab forward. However, there was no anchor point for the Take this time just a 2,400 gal rainwater tank. The last time I had no anchor point I attached the negative charging wire to the body and the positive to a nail which I inserted into a slot in the fusebox. I really didn’t want to do this again. So I pondered and created my own anchor point. I found an 8ft fence post, located it between the loader and the body of the Take, attached a hook and winched the cab up. Effortless and the charging was uneventful.
work in the orchard
This year, for the first time, my first row of apple trees produced apples but the second row which is nearest my neighbor’s fence did not, and the trees appeared lackluster. I diagnosed this to competition from vines, shrubs and small trees, some of which have thick roots 10ft long which have been out competing my apple trees for compost nutrients. I am avidly reading The Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips in order to thwart the pests that nourished on many of my apples. He makes the interesting point that wood chips from hardwood trees create beneficial fungus for fruit trees. So I have worked hard to clear the growth between my trees with an eyehoe (what a wonderful invention). I then spread manure from the stables, layer newspapers thickly and now, with my Take recharged I ferry loads of woodchips and dump and spread over the newspapers.
When the orchard is respectable I will bring in a flock of helpers to scratch and turn up over wintering pests. A couple years ago I improvised a simple chicken shelter which has a couple of nestboxes and I will clean it up for my chickens.
water and nutrient infiltration
I dug a trench alongside part of the orchard to capture and infiltrate rainwater run off. I am now filling it with hardwood (mainly) logs, the idea is that the wood will decompose and the nutrients and fungi will benefit my fruit trees along the lines suggested in The Holistic Orchard book (and will also physically block the growth of tall weeds in the ditch).
clearing the slope bordering the vegetable growing area
My main vegetable growing area is fenced in and along the southeast border a thicket of privet and briar sprung up over the past several years. I tolerated the growth since I reasoned it provided vantage points and shelter for insect loving birds which were helping me control pests in the vegetables. However there were two problems – a) the roots invaded my raised beds – there is one type of small tree which has very long wily roots which evaded all my attempts to obstruct it; b) in the winter, when sunlight is dear, the wild hedge blocked the sun from my frost ridden beds. So I worked hard to cut down and remove the growth and have been chipping away with the chipper, carried and powered by my tractor. This mulch I have also been adding to the orchard. Some chipping remains and when the clay soil has dried I will bring out the tractor again and chip away.
winter hive protection
My bee hive faces south. Chilling winds tend to come from the west and north. On the west side I have a window which allows the sun but not the wind access to the hive, and on the north side I have plywood protection.
how the clover fares
I recently installed a 20ft by 4ft raised bed and sowed half of it with crimson clover and the other half with white (ladino) clover. The crimson clover is larger but both seemed to germinate equally well. However, following the recent cold, the ladino clover almost disappeared while the crimson is holding on well. Will be interesting to see how they comparatively perform in the spring.
veggies for eating
.I am not using crop covers right now and my collard and turnip and mustard greens are surviving, tho at time the collard looks a little bedraggled.
A tasty (and healthy) dish is newly hatched eggs (yes my younger hens are laying in the winter without artificial lighting), collard, greens and garlic stir heated, eaten with home made whole wheat bread.
So these are some of my winter tasks. And on the inclement days, Coursera, the free online college course compendium, awaits. I just completed calculus, precalculus and a fascinating history on mankind from 250,000 years ago to the present.