River Still Hungry

We had another rainy weekend, this time with 4″ of rain in just 18 hours. Here’s what our cellar and our river looked like at the height of it:

The 2nd half is the view from our upper veranda; under normal river flow conditions we cannot see the water at all at this location.

Yesterday I ventured down the road to check on where the river had taken a large chunk of the road in the flooding a couple of week ago. It turns out that while the river did eat more road, the area is still passable (barely!).

The foreground area is newly-placed-by-DOH material. You can see that it is still settling.

Foreground rocks are new, ones in the background were dropped two weeks ago after the first road-eating flood.

Looking at the far end, notice the round impression and the upper left where a barrel was two weeks ago.

Looking back from the far end you can see the scope of the repair work the DOH-boys are doing. For scale, that’s my F150 in the background.

When they are done with the repairs, it’ll look something like this, a section they repaired several years back. It has held up quite well!

Here are some graphs of data from the USGS Cacapon River gauge downstream of us. This recent flood looks to be our largest since Hurricane Isabel in 2003 (the only time our property has flooded since we moved here in 1998).

The river since we moved here in 1998. (Note that the scale is logarithmic so the peaks are somewhat compressed.)

Isabel in September 2003

The past week; note how much higher the river was at the start of this event that it was for Isabel.

Happy Easter 2018!

Have friends and family over this weekend,and today we dyed eggs.

Ready to dye, using good old-fashioned liquid food coloring. We mixed up 10 different colors (though they look pretty similar in here in the cups), with rubber bands, wax crayons, paper towels and a dropper for the creative inner child in all of us.

The finished product — 24 large duck eggs and 4 small chicken eggs.

Addition Progress
(No, it’s not done. Sigh.)

The weather got quite warm earlier this week (Over 80°! In mid-February!) so I took advantage of it to work on the addition baseboard. I am very happy with my shop layout — just open up the overhead door and roll the table saw out onto the lawn.

My baseboard design is an attempt to emulate what’s in the 1835 portion of the house without looking fussy. The jig in the photo above is for cutting the offset at the top of the baseboard where it overlaps the wallboard. This step comes after routing the groove and round-over.

The taper at the bottom makes it easier to fit around the rough concrete that accrued at the edges of floor. The electrical outlets are in the baseboard rather than the wall so they blend in better (white outlet on white baseboard).

End of a productive couple of days:

This sawdust is what’s left from cutting the taper in 13 1×8 poplar boards (8' each) and the offset/overlap notch in 8 of them — enough to complete the loft. Note the outlines of the roller stands and the drip-line from the bow window above the shop door, which lets me open the door for sawdust control even in a light rain. Once the loft closet baseboard is done I can get to wiring my loft network closet and commence with the reconfiguring and repositioning of my various and very sundry computers & routers & wifi/routers & DSL modem & telephone answering base station & UPS & NAS.

I am multitasking by also working on the pocket doors on the main floor. They are hung, but need adjustments, then paint and trim. Pics when they are done. Also, too, still working on the loft bathroom fixtures.

The Once and Future Tomato

What would life be without homegrown tomatoes? Well, not as good as otherwise! Last year was a bad one around here for tomato crops. Ours came in late; enough to eat, but we barely had enough left over to can 7 quarts, and none for frozen pizza/pasta sauce.

I am determined to have a good crop this year. Our frost date is late May, but we were getting into the 80’s in early April, so I went ahead and bought two 4-packs of plants at a local hardware/grocery store. I went with two heirloom beefsteak-style varieties: Mr. Stripey (1800’s, mid-Atlantic, low-acid, colorful red/yellow) and Mortgage Lifter (early 20th Century, West Virginia, big-n-meaty, pink/red).

The weather stayed pretty mild so at the end of April I prepped my tomato beds — two of our five 6′ x 6′ terraced beds. First, I dumped the last of the winter woodstove ashes:

Then I added several tractor bucket loads of goat shed compost on each bed, mixed, and leveled:

Then, for several weeks, the weather, especially at night, turned chilly. It is my understanding that if tomato plants are repeatedly exposed to temps below 50 their yield will suffer the entire season. So I waited. And waited. I bought some peat pots and re-potted the root-bound plants.

Finally, in late May (admittedly, our historical frost date, but weeks and weeks and weeks after prolonged spring/summer temps), I deemed the forecast suitable for transplanting; in the background you can see the goats enjoying the bolted collards that I cleaned out of the nearby beds. I planted 4 plants per 6’x 6′ bed with landscape fabric mulch:

A month later the plants are going gangbusters. I have tied a few plants with baling twine to encourage them to grow through the “tepees” I made with short sections of cattle panels:Tomato-2017-06-19

Sunshine on my laundry makes me happy

I love the smell of laundry when it comes off the line. I know that this has to do with the disinfectant nature of the Sun’s UV rays, but I couldn’t find a more detailed scientific explanation; perhaps my Google-fu skills are a bit lacking?


Last Friday was a very nice Spring day!

Easter Eggs: The Aftermath

The food dye we used to dye our eggs seeped into some of the eggs in a most delightful way.


AfterEaster: hard-boiled eggs aplenty!

Happy Easter 2017


Happy Easter!


We dyed a mix of white and brown eggs

Chilly Spring

On cloud nine? Well, almost. This is our cat Sunny zonked out on our sheepskin bedcover. And, yes, even though it is mid-April, the weather is still pretty chilly, and it has been unusually windy all winter. Spring is slow in coming this year, but

[Continued next picture …]

Chilly Spring [Continued]

… there are some encouraging signs of spring, including these lovely daffodils in the front garden, as seen through the living room window. [Update: This picture is included in the print-on-demand book The View From Your Window.]

First Colors of Spring

Last week our long-awaited Spring arrived, with the forsythia and daffodils blazing forth in all their glory. The pastures have begun to turn green. Can the red of the tulips and the blue of the irises be far behind?

Virginia Bluebells

The Virgina Bluebells have bloomed to carpet the riverbanks, underneath a canopy of Redbuds.

Winter Is Over…

… but the memory lingers. Eric is spending this week cutting and splitting firewood for next winter.