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Brad's Blog

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July 1, 2015
The heat is always with us, although fans in the night get our spaces below 75.   A lot of people (including us) in the NW don't have air conditioning because heat is usually transitory and it always cools down at night...  My personal challenge will come tomorrow playing 3 hours at a farmer's market in 100 degree heat...
Anyway, the garden loves it, as long as we pour water on it continually... So here is the garden update for this month:

The poppies are promiscuous and pop up everywhere, here by the peas, which I shelled a bowl full today...


The cherries are about a week from being ripe.  You can see the birds get some, and if you look closely some are slightly sunburned.  The upper half of the tree is loaded and out of reach of our 12 foot ladder, so the birds are welcome to those, and tend to feed near the top.  Crows and robins are common feeders so far...

Here's the row crops, healthy first date sweet corn on left, potatoes on the central right, and young carrots in the right corner.


With the heat the spinach planted to the right is bolting to flower, so it's a good thing I planted a second date of green beans which emerged last week (to the left)..  We'll harvest the spinach soon.


The raspberries are just entering gallons type production...  We sold almost all we had today...


The blueberries are ripening but I'm too busy picking peas and raspberries for now--they'll gain a little flavor waiting...


The grapes are going to be very prolific this year, just forming clusters now...


The first broccoli is forming a tiny head.  The later the better, since they will be larger if they hold off, but heat makes them bolt also.   We usually get most of our broccoli from the side sprouts after the main one is cut...


The tomatoes have hardly started setting fruit, and were slow to grow--possibly fertility issues.  We always have too many anyway.


Here's the squash bed with volunteer sunflowers ready to bloom on the left.  Under them are cucumbers, and the rest are mostly buttercup and acorn squash.  On the right wall are some scarlet runner beans and behind the fence (not visible) some skinny new asparagus starts...

July 7
As the young philosopher Calvin observed, the days are just packed.  On the 4th I got up by 6 and picked raspberries for two hours, worked on my costume for the 4th parade (winter coat and snowpants and fur cap on one of the hottest days of summer, stuffed with packets of ice to make it endurable, holding a sign which had smoke bombs on it which read on one side "safe and sane" and on the other, "hot enough for ya?"  And playing the harmonica).  Before the parade I set up the sound system and 20 chairs for listeners, then I played for an hour after the parade, and returned after an hour break to play for another hour with my old time musician friends...   In the late afternoon, having discovered minor incursions by deer into our main garden/orchard, we started putting up deer fence around the perimeter, which may get finished any day now...
Since then the heat and picking raspberries have been a constant, as well as churning out pots...  The cherries are ripe now but are more patient than the raspberries, so I've only picked a few to eat...
More fires have broken out, including a 2000 acre forest fire about 10 miles east of here on Lake Pend O'Reille, and it's as dry here currently as the driest part of August.  The air's been smoky for the last day or so, which also often happens in late August.  But the weather service is predicting a break in the hot dry weather starting next week, so it may settle out peaceably.  But the potential for wildfire has seldom been higher...


July 16
In spite of the garden and pottery keeping us way too busy, family occasions and Sundays make for chances to get out and enjoy summer.  Then it's back to picking raspberries and cherries for a couple hours a day and canning (like the 36 quarts of cherries I canned the night before last).  So here are the latest fun photos of summer:
We hiked up Brickel Creek Sunday, just prior to the area being closed to motorized traffic due to extreme fire danger. 
Part of the hike was up the creek, which Butters clearly enjoyed.

Not sure what this robin sized bird was...


But this blurry photo was enough to convince us we'd finally seen a lazuli bunting...


female western tanager


male western tanager...  We saw probably a half dozen of these...

A new flower called monk's hood...

Back home we've had a small family of cordilleran flycatchers living by the blue cabin.  This one has a little bug...
The baby could hardly fly at first...


A family almost-birthday canoe trip on the Little Spokane river yielded some nice bird photos

red breasted merganser


eastern kingbird

At a bend in the river usually noted for the pretty bluff above, a fire last week came down to the water's edge and left the brown trees singed and dying...
Our nearby fires have been mostly controlled but it was windy today and everything is tinder dry.
This evening I canned another 21 quarts of cherries and picked 4 gallons of green beans.  Summer....

July 18
The pair of red necked grebes had one baby this year, and we noticed it was riding on a parent so I got this photo of them in the water lilies:


July 21
Speaking of grebes, sometimes it appears there are two babies, one riding and one in the water.  Haven't gotten close, which would mean scaring them...
Yesterday I picked 4 gallons of green beans in the early morning and pressure canned 14 quarts last evening...  Then the shelves have been emptying so I'm throwing about 70 pots a day in addition to glazing and firing the previous ones, still can't keep up with sales at this time of year.  
Fires are breaking out all over the west, like Tubbs Hill in Coeur D'Alene, and some fire north of here that we could see the helicopter with a bucket while we swam this evening.  The dry heat's continued unabated, although there might be a couple days in the low 80's this week. 
    A couple of the chickens have been getting loose, including the pesky rooster, which has been okay except they like to rotoroot the garden, so I was improving the deer fence to make it a chicken fence around our most sensitive crops...  We're eating broccoli, spinach, and green beans, and even a couple tomatoes, which is about a month early for us.  Because we've watered steadily, our corn is imposingly tall and lush and currently tasseling.  Also our trumpet vine has bunches of flowers for the first time since we bought the house (which is  over 10 years ago now, which I know thanks to the blog, which is also just over 10). 

July 24
We're having our first sprinkles in months, barely enough to settle the dust, but more may be on the way...

My grandparents always had a trumpet vine in front of their little farm house, and now after 10 years, the sickly one we inherited with our house is finally strong enough to have sevefal blooms.  I thought commercial hummingbird feeders were patterned after these flowers, but I've seen our local hummingbirds near but not feeding on these flowers, which may have too long of tubes for them...
Canning, gardening, potting, and swimming continue, although a break in the heat is expected for the next couple days, so swimming may take a break...

Books read and other media of note
The Stone Wife by Peter Lovesey.   An enjoyable British whodunit, I intend to read more from the author...

Endangered by CJ Box. Concise prose and a hardhitting if overly connected storyline make for page turning action in this latest adventure of Joe Pickett, game warden.

Shakespeare's Planet by Clifford Simak.   Late in his career he wrote this book of marooning at the end of a space tunnel, and it tended towards lots of talk and little action, and a dissatisfying ending.   He was one of my favorite SF writers in my youth...


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