Monday, April 28, 2014

Severe Weather

It's been a wild day weather-wise. Prairiewind and I have just returned from the neighbor's underground storm shelter after tornado warnings were issued for our county. The storms that prompted the warnings have also resulted in 7 confirmed deaths so far tonight just south of here in/near Fayetteville TN. These storms started down around Huntsville AL and just kept forming and reforming, with 5 or 6 separate cells moving through the same areas one after another. Along with several strong tornadoes there has been very heavy rains resulting in flash flooding with roads washed out and/or underwater throughout middle Tennessee and lots of folks are without power tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are going out to all those effected by the severe weather in the southeast yesterday and today, and more bad weather is forecast for tomorrow as well.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Just sitting here listening to the rain on the roof, it's supposed to continue for the next 3 days, with bouts of severe storms mixed in for that whole time. Before the rain started falling I did manage to get out and pick a bit of spinach and lettuce from the garden, and harvested the asparagus.

This raised bed was actually planted late last fall, and somehow despite the very cold winter I managed to keep it from freezing. The floating row cover helped, and on the nights were the temp dropped into the teens I also threw a couple quilts over the top. I know from experience that spinach would take temps down into the high teens and still keep going, but the lettuce is tender and I thought for sure I'd lose it during one of the cold snaps. Somehow it survived, and although it didn't grow much during January and February it's more than making up for it now. Some of the spinach is getting ready to bolt, so I pinched off the tops of those plants in the hopes I can extend their life a bit more before I have to pull the plants. It's been nice not having to buy organic salad ingredients this winter.

I haven't removed the row cover yet, and may not, it is nice to be able to flip it over the plants when bad weather is forecast to help keep hail from flattening everything. It's also working great to keep the rabbits and insects from eating their fill. There are a couple broccoli plants in the back left corner, I think this is the first time I've ever grown any type of brassica plant without it sustaining damage from cabbage looper caterpillars. 

The raspberries are growing well, and a few of the plants are showing flower buds now, so they will be fruiting soon.

I'm getting itchy to move north, and once again I'm torn. Do I stay here to harvest and preserve some of the organic fruits (raspberries, blueberries, peaches, apricots, cherries) or do I leave them to the birds and bugs? I won't be heading out for at least a little while yet, no matter what my intentions might be. My almost-son-in-law is currently living in my camper over in North Carolina while shopping for a 5th wheel. In the meantime, he has received a job offer in Utah, and he and Prairiewind will be flying there May 11 to spend a week working at the company and checking out the area. I'm guessing he'll wait to buy a 5th wheel until he decides where he's going to living, since he doesn't own a truck to move it. So I'm probably going to be here in TN until at least the end of May by the time they sort everything out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar

I had to go to the post office today to mail off my taxes, nothing exciting there. When I got home and got out of the truck I spotted what at first glance I thought was a bottle brush in the grass next to the driveway. On closer examination I discovered it was a HUGE black fuzzy caterpillar! It's hairs are a very dark, glossy black, and when it's curled up in a defensive posture there are bright red bands between its body segments.

Knowing that some fuzzy caterpillars can be rather unpleasant to touch due to a toxin in the hairs I picked it up with the sleeve of my jacket and carried him in the house. Into a canning jar it went, and then I started looking it up on the internet. Seems this 3" long critter is a Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar. They overwinter as caterpillars, and due to the size of this one I'm guessing it was born last year and may be getting close to pupating. I set up the critter enclosure with some willow branches and a wild violet plant as these seem to be favored foods according to the info I found online. They are very nocturnal, eating and moving around almost exclusively at night. I'll see how it does tomorrow, and if it's eating well I plan to keep it until it metamorphoses and then set it free so it can find a mate.


Monday, April 14, 2014

I broke my blog!

This post is a test. Hopefully it actually shows up! I had decided last fall to move the blog to Wordpress and managed to get that installed on my personal website and had a redirect from here, but somehow along the way I managed to not only break the new WP blog but this one as well! They've both been down for months, with occasional attempts to fix the mess with no success. It got so bad a couple weeks ago that I deleted WP from my website, but that didn't fix Blogger. So I tried reinstalling WP on the website, but then I couldn't even get the FTP to work. It's still broken. :(

On a positive note, I THINK I've managed to get Blogger to work again, but only by deleting the most recent posts I had on here. At least there wasn't anything too important that went missing.

Not a whole lot else has been happening, at least on the Caboose project. Disassembly has actually started, I've taken the window out of the door but only because the doorknob decided to freeze up and I was locked out. I have found a builder that makes chassis for tiny houses, and will be talking to them eventually about building a new frame/chassis for the Caboose, but the price tag is pretty steep and Uncle Sam's got his hand out and wants to get paid first.

The grass is green here, we've been eating spinach and lettuce and asparagus from the garden for several weeks, the trees are mostly done blooming and the bluebirds have 4 eggs in the nest box on the front porch again this year.  I don't have picture of any of this, so you'll just have to take my word for it. :)