Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wearing Mosquito Bites With Pride

Fall is such a great time of year.  The weather is starting to cool down, and the fields of flowers are spectacular.

And other flowers too.

As a result of our mouse experience, we threw away everything except the drawers.  

And in the end we had to throw them out too.

Note to self:  Never hose off particleboard

Now we just bring more things with us.  
  • Air mattresses  
  • The thingy that blows up the air mattresses
  • Head protection against the mosquitoes

And we make sure there's enough gas to warm up the coffee that's left in the Thermos.

We went to pick up something to eat at a restaurant in town, and met a farmer who likes to take his tractor to breakfast.

He restores one every year, and likes taking them to shows and festivals.  I think he said it was made in 1950.  It started up with one try, and he told us about a tractor museum near Lee we should check out.

I love tractors, and hope to have one some day.  Retro Man says I love tractors that somebody else maintains.  He has a point, as I rely on him to maintain all things with an engine.

After breakfast we went back to Tree Ring and did some bush hogging with the city weed wacker.  It reminded me of the saying "don't bring a knife to a gun fight".  After two hours we had only cleared an area about 10 by 40 feet of trees and brush, and the weed wacker died multiple times until we just stopped trying to use it.

The only negative on this trip were the mosquitoes.  They didn't seem too bad when we got there, but by nightfall it seemed like the word got out.  Of course we remembered to bring the air mattresses, but forgot the bug spray.

Usually the itching after a visit to Tree Ring brings opportunities to explain why I'm itching.  Which leads to discoveries of others who have lived on farms.  They have lots of good advice and funny farm stories.

Unfortunately no one has any advice for what to do about those bites you get through the seat of your chair at the camp fire.  

Or how to stop itching them.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Burnt Toast

I put some bread in the toaster oven and then lost track of time researching how to keep mice out of cabins.  

I suddenly realized it's been a while, and went in the kitchen to see flames a foot high and a room full of thick smoke.  I stood there with a glass of water screaming for Retro Man, who from a dead sleep ran down the stairs, unplugged it, grabbed oven mitts, and took it outside. 

So many lessons:

  • Marry someone smarter than you 
  • Never leave your toaster oven unattended
  • Chinese smoke detectors aren't worth shit, so get a new detector every year not just a new battery 
  • Replace your toaster oven more often than every 15 years
  • Clean the pan in your toaster oven more often than every 6 months
  • Make sure you know where your fire extinguisher is
  • Get one for your kitchen if you don't have one
  • Know how to use it
  • Periodically shake the fire extinguisher, as the contents can cake up rendering it useless if you need it
  • Don't put your toaster oven directly under kitchen cabinets
  • Just laugh when people make fun of your ineptitude in the kitchen 

At least I didn't throw the glass full of water into a plugged-in/stuck-in-the-on-position appliance engulfed in a grease fire.

Just waiting for the smoke to clear.

This blog is worthless without pictures.


On a positive note, i
t only took me one second to realize getting a picture of the flames was out of the question.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

October's Light

We went to Tree Ring on Saturday.  The first cold front had come through, and the weather was supposed to be beautiful!  

As soon as we got there, we opened the camper to air it out and found a surprise.

We'd gotten moused.

Actually many moused.  

The short version:  We went to town to get cleaning supplies, started to clean, decided we better take everything home to clean it more thoroughly, loaded all the sh$t (literally) into the van, and then decided we're just going to throw it all away.

And then it was time to head back.

After closing the camper, we found a little friend.

We surveyed the landscape.  All green and beautiful. We'll have to explore next visit.

Checked out some flowers (and bugs).

The fields were full of daisies.

And moths who love daisies.

 And other flowers.

As we were closing the gate on the way out, we decided to take the long way home through the Preserve.

We found Beautyberry.

Lots of water.

Beautiful scenery.

More flowers.

Some turkeys.

And a quail family I wasn't quick enough to get pictures of.

Most people love October because it's the start of fall, but I love October because of the light.   

As we rounded a corner, the sun was setting on a field of ferns that just seemed to glow.

This is why I love October.

And the reason why this trip was so worth it, despite getting moused.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vacation in North Florida

Recently RetroMan and I went to North Florida for a few days.  Of course we spent a lot of time at Tree Ring.

While traveling around, we passed many fields of watermelons and trucks carrying them to market.

We met with the County Forester to discuss the next 5 year plan for Tree Ring.  We're going to leave the land fallow for 2-3 years and then plant native Longleaf instead of Slash pine.  He recommended a fire lane be cut around the perimeter, and the Forest service can do this for us pretty inexpensively.  That's good, because before the clear cut it took us about 2 years to cut the tiniest fire lane.  We began clearing a lane again after the clear cut, but each 100 feet took about an hour - those logs are heavy.  It's about a mile around Tree Ring, so I am glad for the Forest Service's help.

We are getting more serious about building a cabin at Tree Ring - layout coming in a future post.  Since we live about 2 hours away, we wanted to spend part of the trip asking the locals about people they trust - architects, people interested in some weekend work helping RetroMan build, site planners, well diggers, the electric co-op, the county building department, etc.  We met a lot of awesome people and have made some good connections.

One of the things we wanted to do during this visit was to stake out the perimeter of the cabin - 24x38 feet.  We were having trouble doing this with all the log debris, so we hooked the trailer up to the van and moved a bunch of logs to a burn pile at the back of the property.  

The stakes were too tiny to really get an idea, so we tried to pulling the trailer across the spot the cabin would go.  We never did get anywhere near it, but we got to sit on the pretend porch and check out the view.

All we needed were some banjos and some grass to chomp on.


It took about 2 hours to move all the logs, and this great idea may have been the beginning of the air conditioning problems we've been having ever since.

Note to self:  The van is not a truck.

City people are so stupid.

Lots of flowers on this trip.

Beardtongue - Pentstemon

Clockwise from left:  Bog Yelloweyed Grass - Xyris difformis
Lance-leaf Arrowhead - Sagittaria lancifolia
Marsh-pink - Sabatia

A field of Carolina Redroot by the dry pond.

Up close.

Carolina Redroot - Lachnanthes caroliana

Fleabane - Erigeron annuus

St. John's Wort - Hypericum prolificum

I think this is a weed, but it's very pretty.

Meadowbeauty - Rhexia mariana

It had a little spider on it that I thought was cool.

A purple flower I haven't identified yet.

And a pretty pink one.

I took all of these pictures with my new Samsung S5.  They look great on the phone, but after downloading, I don't like the pictures taken when it's cloudy.  It was so convenient not having to carry both a camera and a phone (in case we got bitten by a snake), but I will next time. 

We did a lot of other fun things on this trip like tractor shopping, visiting Cedar Key, and 'The Swamp', but I will save it for another post.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nearing The End Of Spring At Tree Ring

Here in Florida, we've had the most amazing Winter and Spring.  Usually the air conditioner is cranking heading into May, but this year it has been much cooler.  I thought this might delay Spring, but that hasn't been the case. 

The Sand blackberry bushes are right about where they have been in prior years.  We should have lots of blackberries by the middle of May.

The Florida Scrub Frostweed, also known as Clustered Rock Rose, is in bloom.

As are Purple Twin flowers.

I have spent hours trying to figure out the name of this flower.  If anyone knows, please share.  I think it's a weed, but it's very small and pretty - almost like a small ground orchid.

I think it is what creates this beautiful carpet of color in the cow fields.

The Horrible Thistle is flowering.

The resurrection fern is open throughout the live oak.

Native wire grass (I think) has popped up across the clear cut, and by fall will be thigh high.

This is salad that fell out of its container turning into Tree Ring during our last visit.  

I put some lettuce in front of all of the gopher tortoise holes I could find.

 Soon summer rains will be here, and there will be even more flowers to blog about.