First section of wattle fence done

I would have preferred to use broad leaf ligustrum as my weavers but I didn’t have the time or money to harvest so frilling many to have a fence made out of them.  Instead I found a guy who had just cleared out a batch of invasive bamboo and had a thousand linear feet or so. I had him trim off the leafy bits and leave me with the straight stalks.  Driving in the posts (juniper that don’t rot in 20 years) took me 6 man hours. Weaving in the wattles took 2 man hours.  Total length that I built is 32 feet.

The poles will be cut level, when I am done.

This is the effect of not having my posts in a good line. Also some poles had a bit of crooked to them.

Lessons learned:

  • Green bamboo is more flexible and better.
  • Once the diameter is over 1″ it becomes hard to weave
  • Make sure your posts are lined up!  Use a tight line to guide you.  I got off a little and it caused some bamboo to break around that pole.

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Another Rainfall Harvesting Tank Installed

So the front orchard is going to need water. I could have just run the irrigation hose to the back tanks, but noooo that would have been easy. Instead I chose to harvest more water off the front of the house where very little water is harvested.  I already have two 55 gallon barrels taking in water on the front, those water the fig tree. They only catch a fraction of the rain from 1200 sq ft of roof surface during a rain. So I put in another rain downspout, and ran it under the sidewalk. The tank is a 330 gallon IBC tote, painted and with a shade cloth to mitigate algae growth.

Downspout then goes under the sidewalk before turning the corner. The trick is that I met the pipes that lead into the house from the City of Austin and couldn’t bury my pipes deep.

The easy way to tunnel under a side walk is using a water hose with water going full blast and shove it under. It erodes out the dirt and I can reach under and pull out the rocks.  Took 20 minutes to dig the trenches on each side of the sidewalk but only took 10 minutes to burrow under.  So the premise is the water will fill up the pipe, go down, then go back up the pipe and fill into the tank because the tank level is lower than the starting downspout level.

The 3″ lines go to the tank and up, the smaller 2″ lines fill the same trench and will go to the swale downslope.

Then it rained a week later, the tank filled up and then overflowed, because I forgot to drill anti siphon holes on the top of the overflow U, the entire tank drained out. But I discovered that at the end of the rain and fixed it, so the tank filled 1/2 full before the end.

The tank has a 3″ inlet pipe and a 2″ outlet overflow pipe. The slope of the side of the house puts the overflow lines at an odd angle because I only had 45 and 90 degree elbows to use.

The front orchard has 8 trees in it: 2 Texas Persimmons (at least 40 years old), 2 jujubes, 2 Pomgranates, and a VDB fig.

The Texas persimmons turn black when ripe. I measured 19% sugar with my refractometer, but they don’t very taste sweet.

The backyard dual tanks of 660 gallons. Overflow goes to the middle swale in the yard.

The Pomegranates and Jujube trees.


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Front yard Orchard status May 1, 2017

Another Spring upon us. The winter was inconsistant with periods of cold and warm, thus most of my fruit trees didn’t get enough chill hours to bloom.

In the front yard, I got a Celeste fig planted near Biff Polywog, our sea dragon.

Celeste Fig and a sea dragon. Fig has a anti-deer cage.

The front yard swale now has 2 Jujube trees (Honey Jar and ?), 2 Pomgranates (a Wonderful and an Eversweet?), some family purple Irises, and soon another Fig from Dad’s place I call a Center White as it is a white fig with closed eye.

Texas Persimmon on left, and on the swale, the Pomegranates and Jujube Trees. Note the anti-deer cages to protect the trees.

Bought a roll of driveway rebar wire to make tomato cages and tree protector cages. It was tough to work with but it does the job.


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Clean dust off a panasonic lx100 camera

The LX 100 camera is great compact 4/3 sensor camera. But it is prone to dust on the sensor which is likely pulled in by suction as it telescopes out.

Taking the camera apart is a chore, but I’ve read someone using a vacuum to apply suction to the lens assembly to pull out dust. Didn’t think much about it, but when I got dust on my sensor after 6 months, well. Had to try.

I turned it on and off twice to get the dust semi-airborne I hoped. Then turned on my vacuum cleaner and using the extension hose, i held it on the front side of the lens assembly then turned the camera off, which collapses the assemble and hopefully exerts positive air pressure. I repeated this 5 times. Then checked the camera using a white background. Poof, dust on sensor gone! Boy, was I surprised. I wanted to make an adaptor out of cardboard between the camera lens and the vacuum, but it wasn’t needed.


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Harvested 8 Arctic Frost Oranges

My little orange tree at Schick that I bought at the nursery with unripe oranges this spring, finally ripened up and I harvested 8 oranges off of it.  Possibly ripened by thanksgiving. Definitely ripe on Dec 8.  Plan on making some cuttings to ensure the plant lives in case it dies this winter. The other tree, at my house didn’t have oranges this year. Dunno if that is a function of 3″ of soil on a rocky slope, or the youth of the plant. The Schick property has far better soil.

Easy to peel, and sweet.


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Handle mounted on spoon knife

The spoon carving knife I forged this summer at summer camp has finally been heat treated and tempered. With a propane blowtorch I got it up to cherry red for a few minutes then plunged it into vegetable oil. While it didn’t temporarily catch fire, it did harden the blade.  Then I treated it at 400 deg in the oven for an hour.  I’m hoping for a hardness of 54-60.  Other knives can’t scratch it now, and it was a bear to sharpen, so I know it is harder, but not how much.   Next I’ll sand the handle to 200 grit and coat with oil, although I do kind of like the roughness for handling it.

Spoon Carving Knife with handle of Juniper.

Spoon Carving Knife with handle of Juniper.


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Pad poured for honey house and shed

After a few months of on and off excavation, the pad has been poured.

The excavation in the limestone was around $1800, the form $200, the concrete $1700, and the pumping $500. Not cheap, but I wanted a strong foundation.


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Shed excavation nearly done

Ground is sloped at about 16%. Having to excavate a step foundation for a monolithic slab.  Hopefully soon we’ll build the form.

Deep end is 2' shallow is 6"

Deep end is 2′ shallow is 6″ Area is 210 sq ft.


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Keyed Scarf Joint

For some odd reason, I’m a little obsessed with scarf joints. Dunno why. I notice them when I travel and see old structures. I took photos of them at Czocha castle.  Anyway, I’ve had it on my bucket list to make some and it has taken up way too much brain time. So I made one to get it out of my system.

It started out cutting down a hackberry tree in the back yard. Lopping off a straight limb and then hatcheting it to reasonable square. From there, I used my japanese plane to make it square and flat. Once I have useable dimensional stock, I then made a template of the joint and drew it on the side of the stock to guide the saw cuts.  I may have made the points a bit too sharp as it was a pain to get a chisel in there, so next time, a much lower angle of attack.

If this scarf joint was used for some serious load bearing application, I’d have used a 1:8 ratio of thickness of beam:length of scarf.  Since this was a demo I just did 1:2.

The complete keyed scarf joint. The peg would normally be sawn off flush, but I leave it proud since it is a demo joint.

The complete keyed scarf joint. The peg would normally be sawn off flush, but I leave it proud since it is a demo joint.

The two halves of the scarf, with a cedar peg.

The two halves of the scarf, with a cedar peg.

I'd made a 1x1 before from hackberry but it was not good wood nor green.

I’d made a 1×1 before from hackberry but it was not good wood nor green.

Used these plus the carpenters square and plane to make the stock dimensional.

Used these plus the carpenters square and plane to make the stock dimensional.


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Finishing up Celtic Kraken leather notebook cover

Once the leather was cut, I had to square up the rough cut.  Then the design went on pretty fast. After that, the cutting and tooling was long and methodical.

 

End result, I like!

Front coverInside


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