Makers Facing Spring Crunch!

After a long winter to plan, dream, bid-snipe, and over-buy, we find ourselves in the middle of “crunch time” this week.

What Happens in Crunch?

This is the time of year when living in one of the in-city “coops” is actually a much better deal than trying to build a resilient backwoods enclave for yourself in retirement. All those winter plans have to get done.

A quick walk through and some before and after views will lay some of it out.

For example, we had a bunch of feral cats come live in our screen porch over the winter.  Elaine, being kind, loving, and all, said we should let the Ficus  run wild.  “It will keep the weather out and the cats warmer.”

Well, so much for theory.  In practice, the tree shrubs got so big that possums and raccoons were able to crawl up them and rip out the lower screens around the deck.  So, here’s the before shot of the front of the house:

And here’s what wild-man George can do with a couple of battery-powered mini chainsaws and a tractor to clear up the debris in all of 38-minutes…

That door-looking thing, with the possum proofing white outline, will be history in a couple of weeks when I cobble up a new deck.  And the whole lower area of screens is going away, too. Because while we love the wildlife and all, when they start doing unauthorized remodeling of the screen porch, time for them to get back out to Ma Nature.

Elaine?  She loves the massively improved view now that we’re not peering out from a dark porch…

And, I have to say, you can see a good ways around the property from up here.  Not as well as from one of the drones, but pretty damn good.  I’m trying to have all the projects nailed down before Elaine’s birthday (*81) in mid April, but wow – what a project list this year.  Telling yah…

Plants and Plans

The rack of small plants in the hydroponic starting units in the recording studio are popping right along. I may get some of the lean-to greenhouse cleared out of last season’s vegetables and the spinach moved in this weekend.

The others are a little slower on the uptake, which is fine with me.  Because honestly, it’s going to be tough to figure out which of the hold-over plants will go.  For example, we still have some tomatoes now and then…and peppers….

But as you can see, a lot of parts of plants that didn’t survive the wintering over – and that’s just more time-on-task waiting for me…

But so is the Solar…

Saturday morning after the column was done, it was time to schlep 10-new solar panels from the carport up to the propane tank where they are staged to replace the old panels in the background:

But while all this is going on, this is also the time of year when administrative paperwork comes up.  Like doing the taxes in TurboTax which was double counting the disallowed wash sales numbers in one of our accounts, so that’s looming as a “get tuit.”

And if this (and the book writing isn’t enough, there was a note from the county tax office that it’s time to renew our agricultural exemption.  I assured them we were still here, still aging, and still on plan. But, you know how government rolls.  “Nice chat, but do the paper…” so there’s that.

Plus, we’re trying to figure out what to have handy when the kids land when the crappola hits the fan. Busy?  Oh, yeah.

While I have the parts to finish the dronetenna project, I’m in the limbo land of too many competing deadlines. You know the time management vise, too, I’m sure…

Pallet Gen Shed

One more project – which has been germinating – is what to build for an enclosure by the power/service entrance and transfer switch. Because the genset can’t keep sitting in the middle of my shop, as it has over winter. I need more room to make bigger (and better) messes.

Then it happened.  Saturday, as I was unloading the solar panels, I noticed that pallet that they’d come on was a perfect size!

Plan is to knock off some foundation piers, set the pallet on that, scab over the pallet with some OSB for a floor, and toss up some 2-by-4s for a quick enclosure and that, in turn, will hold the (recycled) tin roof.

Brilliant.  Minimal leveling, the pallet is close enough to square, I can zip the whole thing together in 3-hours, maybe 4, depending on how pretty I want to get with the fit and finish.  (For a genset shed???)

Point is, when I was burning the carboard the panels had come wrapped in, the pallet was just too dang gorgeous to tear up.  Message from the Universe that it’s sympathetic and it’s sending ready-to-finish kit parts like the pallet at random.


Now, let’s go bang something…

22 thoughts on “Makers Facing Spring Crunch!”

  1. George and anyone else removing overgrown shrubbery: What’s the best tool, if any, for cutting growth too thin for a small chainsaw and too thick for a hedge trimmer? I’ve been using a mini-chainsaw with 3/8 pitch to slash down this stuff and it’s really hard on both the hands and the saw, ripping the chain loose far too often. I wonder if there’s a tool that will make quick work of this stuff with a clean cut and enough reserve power. I”ve yet to find this tool. It would ideally be battery operated. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep hacking away with the chainsaw.

    • The best tool is probably a bypass branch pruner with two-foot handles. It’d be labor-intensive. The easiest might be a chinesium cordless Sawzall clone with a 12″ Milwaukee “garbage” (old work) blade. I don’t think there’s a truly great solution.

  2. Next time you or E boil potatoes, save the water and when it’s a reasonable temperature, water the tomatoes with it.

    You’re welcome…

  3. The best tool is the one you have with you when you need it. Favorite pocket tool:

    Just small and light enough to fit in the pants pocket comfortably, but still has a high level of functionality. It has good pliers, a mediocre blade, and serviceable scissors, and all the tools lock open. Those are the minimums I require for a pocket tool. It has a lot of other tools I use from time to time. Most of the competing multi-tools are either too big, too heavy, too small, or don’t have scissors. Used it for years, and have never damaged a tool. Still looking for that Goldilocks pocket tool: Locking knife, scissors, pliers under 5 oz. The biggest fault of the Powerpint is an undersized blade. Screwdrivers could be a tad bigger.
    My favorite small scissors are on the Leatherman PS4 (now discontinued). Surgical grade. I bought a couple of used ones to keep on hand when it was discontinued.

  4. olfart: me too, down to final sixth of what was stored onsite, aging rounds for splitting and prepping the big wood move from upper 40 to near the house. Straw hats in winter …

    George: there was a note from the county tax office that it’s time to renew our agricultural exemption. I assured them we were still here, still aging, and still on plan. But, you know how government rolls. “Nice chat, but do the paper…” so there’s that.

    If’n I had some AG forms it would go something like this: Note, please add me in to the available set-a-side programs for not growing hay or wheat. I am good at this. I should also ask for some remuneration for the pigs I won’t farm, not having grass or grain.

    Please send the check(s) to my address of record. Thanks in advance, Egor

  5. George,

    Are your hydroponic plants finding their ear in the studio? If my recollection is on track, there was a write-up in Bird and Tomkin’s “The Secret Life of Plants” about plants responding to music. Anecdotally plants responded favorably to classical over heavy metal genres. Mind you that’s going back a stretch in time to 1973 so perhaps there’s something out of a more recent vintage?

      • LOL! Try some Hawaiian Hula for a real thrill!
        Speaking of hot stuff… did you catch my post of adventures in the hot power box? My power factors are .86 and .70 on the two legs. Ugh! Larger capacitors on order from China. Pisses me off that I’ve been pissing away money to the crappy power company out here at the end of the string. From what I researched on PF, you are doing just great with a PF above 95. You want a little ‘wiggle room’ there as it varies with load.

        • Some utilities charge by PF, especially for commercial and industrial. I’ve been “ASSured” by my local power COOP that they charge by pure KWH for residential, not KVAH. For now, I’ll just trust them. Still, knowing your PF averaged over time does make sense.

  6. Poor man’s ravioli
    Pasta dough.
    Take the bottoms of two egg cartons wrap with cellophane.. spray it with spray greese.
    Lay the pasta dough on the cellophane.. gently push in the dips ..
    Take hamburger or sausage onions and Italian spaghetti seasoning frie it up then in each of the dispute 1 tsp of hamburger mix..
    ( you can put a half tsp of spaghetti sauce in if you wish)
    Put a few sprinkles of cheese on top
    Then after coating the edges with egg beaten lay another sheet if pasta dough on top.
    Spray the cookie sheet flip the egg carton over allowing the now made Italian ravioli to lay on the pan .. slice a small line in the center of each ravioli to allow steam to escape bake coat with butter sprinkle cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees until done can cut the squares apart and cover with sauce

  7. Poor man’s barbecued chicken.. slow cooker..
    Bag of chicken breasts ..take out what you want..
    One cup of your favorite barbecue sauce..
    1 cup of chopped onions 1 cup of chopped celery ( I like celery wife doesnt)
    Give it a stir or two covering all the chicken..
    2 tbsp of minced garlic..
    Sprinkle shredded cheese on top put on slow cook ..don’t peek till later

  8. Same here..I have to put in storage 150 lbs of sugar fifty of brown sugar..I was offered a house in an eco village this week .. straw bale . Still trying to convince the boss that this would be a good thing.
    Tried to convince the grand daughter that she should take it..

  9. Yep, this is my crunch time. Time to restock my supply of firewood for winter 2025. Already got next winter’s stock on the front deck, and almost finished burning this year’s stock from the back deck. I’ve located a huge downed oak tree, about 32″ in diameter that fell sometime in the past couple of months. Root ball is about 15′ across, so when I cut the tree loose George may feel a tremor about 100 miles south of us. The plan is to cut the tree into about 5′ lengths in the hope that my tractor can manage to get the pieces up the hill to the splitter.

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