Sunday, June 28, 2009

Deliciously cool

Finally this week our geothermal system was completed. It was not without some weirdness along the way. First, the boring company came out and dug the trench but our unit wasn't here so the trench stayed open for about a month and a half. Subsequently we had a ton of seeping on that side of our basement which we had never had before because, well, we had a big open pit over there. Unfortunately this was in the brewing room but at least everything is bottled and covered in there. We had made a massive effort to clean it up though and now we have to do it all again because with that water came silt.

Next, the company had to order a special unit without the ability to hook into our water system because our water heater is on the opposite side of the basement so we weren't using it for assisting in heating our water. Mind you I would love to but it just doesn't work. So that was supposedly what the hold up was on getting our unit. It finally came in and they were installing it and asked where the water hook up was. Apparently they just sent a normal unit with the water heating anyway so the company up here has no idea what the hold up was on getting it up here if they weren't building us a special one. Oh well.

Long story short, the hole is filled in, the unit is in, and boy can it blow! We got one that would handle a 2000 sq ft house and ours is around 1600 so we have plenty of capacity should we choose to add on to our house. We're still fiddling with where we'd like the temperature to be but it is nice to have it not be in the 80's or 90's in the house. I can't wait to see how it is in winter compared to the 59-60 degrees we had to keep it at last year. Also, it is so much more efficient and smaller so we've gained at least a few feet in our basement. For comparison, we went from this (an at least 50 year old unit according to our home inspector):

To this:

Ooh shiny! Ooh properly wired! Ooh lack of possibility of carbon monoxide posioning and fires! Ooh ability to heat AND cool! Aah environmentally responsible and energy efficient! I think I'm in love.

In other news, the garden war continues between me and all the critters who want my food. Apparently they don't want corn or potatos which is a very good thing. Our corn is now about three to three and a half feet tall. We're actually beating the farmers around here on height. Of course, ours is sweet corn but I anticipate having a good harvest in another month or so.

As you can also see from the photo, I added a brick border around the critter fencing. This thwarted their efforts for all of a week before they figured out I couldn't continue the bricks around the back and just dug a new hole back there. Stupid hogs. I did, however, have the brilliant idea of using some modular shelving instead of critter fencing for some veggies in another patch thank goodness. They are staying away from these for who knows what reason. Maybe because it resembles a cage? Good thing though because our cucumbers are blooming like crazy and don't seem to mind the confinement.

Under most of those leaves are about five to ten of those yellow blossoms and some already have tiny cucumbers. I hope to at least get a good crop of pickles from these this year. We also managed to save our pepper plants and three broccolis.

The only problem is that the shelving makes it very difficult to weed because we are using the deep bed method which means you can't step on your soil. It lets the roots of plants get deeper and makes digging the patches a breeze each year since you just need to fork them but I can't step inside there. At least there aren't too many of them and they don't seem to be choking out the plants. Overall we won't get a huge harvest this year but we've learned a lot, we got some green manure crops in that will improve the soil and we'll be more prepared for next year-hopefully with a fence.

As a happy surprise, one side of our lawn that had very thorny canes that I suspected were raspberries or blackberries has turned out to be just that. We should get a huge crop of them this year and now that I know what they are I can work on getting them trained nicely and keeping the plants I don't want cleaned out next year. I was afraid to pull anything until I knew what it all was. The perils of buying a house in winter I suppose.

We hope to plant blueberries and some other berry bushes along this line next year but this year I think I'll have enough for some serious jam making. One of our neighbors brought us over a huge container of black raspberries from his bushes and I made a crisp with them last night. He also mows our lawn whenever he is out. There are three retired guys who live in a row down our street and they take turns doing the mowing so we are now part of their circuit. I think they just like driving around on their little mowers but it has been awesome for us since we could only afford a push mower this year. I baked them all some cookies and Josh took them around a few weeks ago. So nice to have good neighbors! We hope to host a block party soon and invite them all over for a cookout.

The pregnancy is going well and I'm now 17 weeks along. Still knitting away on the baby cardigan and next I think I will do some socks with the yarn that my friend Gwen dyed and sent to me. She gave me three sample size yarns but they should be enough for baby socks or at least to stripe with some leftovers I already have. I also need to get working on the squares for the baby blanket swap. I've finished two but I need to knit 14 more by the end of August.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


So we came home today and went out to weed the patch and noticed a few stalks of corn were flopped over. Then we noticed a few cabbage leaves nibbled. Then we saw the extent of the damage. Something dug under the tasty greens fence and ate the tops of our carrots and many other delights. I'm so bummed right now I don't even want to see the garden. We worked so hard to preserve things and I really thought they'd stay out of that patch. They haven't touched it in three freaking months and now suddenly decide to go in. I don't get it. I guess gardening is out until Josh gets a job and we have money for a real fence. So depressing. :(

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adorable Devastation

Recently a family of groundhogs took up residence under our shed. For a while the burrow there was empty. I suspect the racoon that we saw over the winter was living there. It dragged its back end and went foraging around our yard. It probably got hit by a car. Anyway, the groundhogs managed in just a few days to eat 20 of our tomato plants leaving only three with marginal amounts of leaves. I dug them up and moved them to the tasty greens patch as well as planted more seeds. I hope we can still have a late harvest if we can get new seedlings but it makes me mad because we worked so hard on getting those guys to grow in the house. They also nibbled on our cucumber and pepper plants and ate three broccoli plants and all our green beans so we put together a modular shelving unit and put that over the other plants until we can erect another fencing solution like the tasty greens plot. Here's a photo of the couple at work on our cover crop near the tasty greens plot (forgive the blurriness but this was on my highest zoom setting).

In knitting news, I've been pretty busy. I joined a baby blanket square swap. The idea is to knit 16 squares and send 15 of them out and keep one and then other swap mates do the same so we all end up with a blanket but with all different types of yarn and patterns. I think it will make a very neat baby item that will probably be fun to touch and explore. I'm knitting my squares out of Knitpicks new organic cotton yarn. I got two of the colors but the other is on backorder. I'm on my second square and they are nice to work on when I want something mindless. This is the Moss Diamonds pattern from my Harmony Guide which I haven't got to use all that much. It should be fun to try out all the different stitch patterns.

I'm also knitting a baby hoodie in Knitpicks City Tweed yarn. I really love it! It is very soft and nice. The pattern is the Jasper Diamond Hoodie from the new book Vintage Baby Knits. I can't say enough good things about the book. The patterns are great and many call for sock yarn-a great use of my stash of it. The photography is also adorable, though I'm sure my baby will be cuter than all of them. Ravelry link here. I don't have much done yet, but the diamonds are already emerging.

This Saturday Mom and I are going to Knitters Connection and I am very excited to see all the yarn. I had hoped to buy lots of stuff to make baby things but since we still don't know what we are having (other than that it is a human) I may just hold off and purchase at the Wool Gathering in the fall. I'm sure I will find something for me though or something more gender neutral. I love butter yellow and mint green after all.

Next baby appointment at the end of June and then hopefully an ultrasound to follow soon when we can find out the sex. We are so excited about knowing so we can start really planning things out.