26 Oct

2015 Fall Edition of the Hepburn Home Page

carrots in a basket

carrots fresh from the garden

Carrots are all that’s left in our garden. Even after several hard frosts, the tops still look green and alive. Fall is a great time of the year when you have a garden. It’s the time to get a reward for all that hard work.

Our garden is in a new location and the soil was “hot”. Not temperature wise, but in the sense that it was too rich. Composed manure takes a long time to break down. It’s sped up by turning the pile frequently. This stuff looks like soil but on closer inspection there is still a lot of straw. The onions, potatoes and squash did not grow at all. The spring was very dry which was more than half the problem. The other half was that we went away for a month in July. The garden turned to a giant weed patch. manure comes with weeds. That’s a fact.

We even got a soil test kit ( the cheapy one) and it told us that the soil had a high pH.  I thought cow sh#t was acidic.  I just have to figure out what to put in the soil to correct the condition.  I think the straw helps with drainage; sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing.

A hand of mulch

A hand full of bark mulch

flower bed with feature rock

a flower garden at last

The flower bed in the front was a blooming success.  I had very little to do with it except to make sure there was a proper irrigation system.  I’m not going to sit by and [have my wife] spend  a lot of money on beautiful perennials just to have them die of thirst.

In the spring I got a load of trees.  I should mention that here since I think I got them after I posted the spring edition blog. I put them in the old garden.  They were fairly beaten up from the ride. It had been a windy day and the trap over the trailer flapped around, breaking and wearing branches off the trees. I think most of them will recover.

A row of little spruce trees

A row of little spruce trees

 

 

 

10 Apr

2015 Spring Edition of the Hepburn Home Page

Blue Jays Are Birds…and a Ball Team

Springtime on the Hepburn homesteadI’m talking about the birds. We got a couple of Blue jays to stick around this year. It’s a first. Every year just before Easter weekend, one, maybe two Blue Jays pass by the feeders. Since we discourage the Magpie’s from using the feeders, Blue Jays don’t find it too easy to get food either. Laurie is in charge of the feeders, so it’s entirely up to her whether or not the Blue Jays will have food suited to them or not. Her only comment when they decided to stick around is “they make quite a noise”.

Springtime on the Hepburn homestead Springtime on the Hepburn homesteadSpringtime on the Hepburn homestead

 

Early Spring

Springtime on the Hepburn homesteadThe feral cats have had it easy too. The snow around here has melted and has, for the most part, been gone for weeks. There are still places where the sun does not penetrate and drifts caused accumulations of snow; those drifts are almost gone, but not quite yet.

Springtime on the Hepburn homestead

Metal Detecting

Springtime on the Hepburn homesteadThe frost is gone from the ground almost everywhere. I even got out for an our last night to do some metal detecting. I was hoping for a horse shoe in the field to the south of us. I did find a buckle. I imagine it was something that belonged to a horse harness. I also found a steal clog that belonged to some machinery. I imagine some farmer years and years ago cursing the machinery that broke down, or the buckle that fell off the harness…as if leaving Scotland  North Carolina was not enough….

“Gob Nab it! Shucks willy’n tarnation! Now I gotta’ goez’n fix this b’fur I can git me field tilled/raked/seeded/swathed/harrowed/plowed/baled/DONE! ”  [farmer slaps hat on leg and marched off to tool shed ]

Springtime on the Hepburn homestead

Tax Time

Well, It’s Done. Like Dinner. I wanted to put a link in here for the tax software that I used: Studio Tax It’s free software but they encourage a donation, which I will be making. I liked the software enough in 2013 that I’ve continued with it. screenshot_studiotax_websiteThe software does not provide many “wizards” for helping you do your taxes but there are some. The reason I chose them is that they support doing business tax forms. Not many of the free tax software packages do business filings. the only support is through email and the closer you get to the filing deadline the longer it takes for a response. The people who support the software make their living preparing tax returns for larger clients. There is a paid version that you can buy which would get you premium support, if that’s what you want.

Oh, and they do NETFILE.  Paper is sooooo outdated.

05 Oct

2010 Fall Edition of the Hepburn Home Page

This Edition of the Home page is going to be heavily laden with treasure, history, exercise and modern technology. They are all tied together in one hobby which I’m now part of.

The horned owl in the picture above is not the same one that has been hanging around out homestead for many nights. The raptor is a juvenile as it’s call is not a mature “hoot” sound. We’ve seen it in the binoculars too. The concern is for our rabbits. They must have stressful nights with that bird around. I’m fairly sure that the owl won’t attempt to grab one of the rabbits, but it must be stressful for the rabbits either way.

Digging is also on the topics list. Some people call it gardening, but it’s really digging. Cultivating is what the upper class of Uptown Wimborne call it. I’m talking about the people feeders that I’m surrounded by.As a “people feeder” I’m not that good. You simply can’t procrastinate planting a garden and expect the plants to grow faster just for your lack of timeliness. This is why all the squash plants had semi formed gourds when a hard frost came the second week of September – right on schedule around here – and turned them to mush. I’m actually going to say that Laurie and I did quite well in the garden. Consider the facts:

  • It was our first garden on this homestead
  • the ground had been treated with weedy manue (we had been warned and accepted the manue regardless)
  • We used seeds from sources we had not established as trustworthy
  • We had to leave the garden untended for 3 weeks in July while we traveled.
  • A local old timer had declared that the soil plot proposed as the garden site was “dead” due to the fact the mobile home sat over it for 30 years.

The garden actually started when the mobile home left. I just can’t seem to find any pictures to show you. Regardless, the mobile home was towed away, and It left us with the perfect spot to plant a garden.  We bordered it with railroad ties and put in a couple of raised beds.  The idea for the raised beds came from a book written by Mel Bartholomew called Square Foot Gardening. I think the raised beds out-preformed the rest of the garden. It’s true that if you can pack the crop close enough together, it chokes out weeds.  With all crop, there is nowhere to step.  with the square foot method the bed would be 2 feet wide, so you don’t need to walk over the crop.

Digging is also a big part of my new hobby.  Metal detecting (MDing)
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Gold! There’s Gold in them thar Hills! Last spring I got my act together and sold my 1982 Honda Passport Scooter. I then took the money and bought a new toy. A metal detector. I’ve always wanted one. At least ever since I took Prospecting School in Vancouver (the course is now one of BCIT’s part time study courses). One of the things I learned was that Metal detectors are good tools for gold prospecting. I choose a detector Manufactured by Minlab .  Minelab make a dual purpose detector for both treasure hunting – or “coin shooting” – and gold prospecting.  The X-Terra 705 has lots of features and I’m still learning how it behaves.  Thankfully there is Youtube.  The internet is full of helpful videos on how to use your detector.  Tips and advice from all kinds of people, not to mention the videos from Minelab.  My favorite detectorist is from Norway, and calls himself Digging Norway.  In Norway, there is a lot more history and the discoveries make the videos more exciting to watch.  Also he has more fun doing the videos with funny narratives and honest observations.

What have I found?  Well, here is a sample of some of the older coins.  Nothing predates 1912,  which is my oldest coin.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.us
By tomhepburn at 2010-05-28
There have been some old coins and a lot of trash.  The coins are usually in poor condition from rotting in the soil for so long.  No gold jewelry… yet! Often you will go out and won’t find anything worth keeping, but it’s no different from going out fishing and not catching any fish. In fact there are many similarities between metal detecting and fishing. Finding the good spots to hunt, knowing how to locate the fish/coin.  There are fishing derbies and MD group hunts.

I took part in one of these group hunts put on by the Calgary Metal Detecting Club.  I was a guest since I don’t have a membership with them, but plan on joining for next year. The hunt was the property of the old railway station for the town of  Bieseker.  Nobody found  real treasures or antiques, mostly junk iron from the rail line tear-up, which was encouraging for me.  I found 3 beer cans.  There were lots of people who gave advice and encouragement.   The only group I have joined so far is the Canadian Metal Detecting Forum.  It seems that many coins are found near the edges of a park or near trees.  When trolling for fish it’s usually near the edge of the lake.

The biggest difference between fishing and metal detecting is this:  There are less and less fish in the sport fishing lakes but there is more and more treasure being lost everywhere.  This is a key reason for me “switching” hobbies.  I haven’t really switched hobbies since I still plan on ice fishing since you can’t really dig the frozen ground for treasure in the winter.  Fishing is a finite sport.

quote…. Basiclly if you want any fish you have to break the Law …. unquote

Look at the sport of fishing.  There are only so many lakes that you can fish in and there are only so many fish in those lakes.  For years the government has had to suplant the native population of sport fish with farmed fish.  Just look at the stocking program for Alberta.  People are over-fishing the lakes.  The pressure on the lakes’ fish is enormous.  fishermen are settling for smaller and smaller fish.  As one fishing friend said to me.  “Well, if you want to catch anything your going to have to fish outside the open seasons”  Basiclly if you want any fish you have to break the law. Poaching is what it’s called.  Use bait when bait is banned.  fish when the season is closed to fishing, etc.  I don’t want to be part of a hobby or sport like that.

Now look at Metal Detecting.  As the population grows, the odds of people loosing coins and jewelry increases.  The amount of places to metal detect is almost endless.  You can buy detectors for underwater or land.  People loose money everywhere and have been loosing it for as long as there has been currency.  For my homestead that means that the oldest coin would be around 1900.  So far my oldest find has been a US 1918 penny.  Metal detecting takes much less effort to engage in: No boat, very little travel and less equipment.  The equipment is more expensive at the outset but I’d say it’s cheaper in the long run.  You don’t need a permit, but you often need permission from land owners.

The biggest hang-up with MDing is the same for any hobby.  Time, or the lack of time to enjoy it.

Links I Like

The Links I like section is in trouble. The service I use for publishing my bookmarks, Xmarks, is going out of business.  Apparently there is no viable business model for what they do.  So, until further notice there will be no Links I Like section. Sorry.