“Nature’s model is one of supreme, unbridled abundance. It seems ironic, then, to live in an economic system based on lack. When a single ear of corn can yield hundreds of grain-stuffed plants, how puzzling to find that our economy is based on a science of scarcity.”

Toby Hemenway 2005 (Permaculture Activist No. 46)

Fair Share

Posted in permaculture, Plans

Permaculture Homework

I’m taking a class in permaculture through the Cornell Agricultural Extension School and the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute.

It’s called, Permaculture Design: Fundamentals of Ecological Design and I’m really enjoying it! I’ve started what is called a base map of the farm which you can see above. I’ve labeled all the different areas and identified structures and characteristics.

This is my first time back taking classes at a university since I took Statistics classes at the Harvard Extension School back in 2009 or so. Talk about things being super different!

Posted in Fail, Greenhouse, Lessons Learned, Plans

Giving Up (for now)

It’s over. I’m done.

Well for now. I went to bed the other night doing a happy dance because I was convinced I had fixed the greenhouse furnace. Now I’m doing a sad waltz because I did not really fix it. Exhibit:


I did get it up to a balmy 70 degrees in there, but sometime during the night the safety system kicked in and it shut down, dipping to a frigid 28. I suspect there is probably something impeding the oil flow and causing the safety to trigger when there isn’t enough fuel for combustion. Suspect:


This old ass oil filter is probably the main culprit here. Other possibilities are an issue with the actual igniter or the thermostat. But, that is for another time, because I have given up.

I have come to the conclusion that the greenhouse I chose to start in is becoming a poorer and poorer choice. It is in the shade way too much and is giant. I was looking around the other greenhouses and realized that the one that is behind the barn and has the chicken coop in it was warmer even with the door open than the one I was working in. Case closed.

So I moved all the sad plants into the sunroom:


And together we shall be sad until spring.


Posted in Greenhouse, Lessons Learned, Successes

Oil Furnace Roller-Coaster (aka – IT’S ALIVE! part 2)

E and I were away for a week and I had high hopes for the furnace to continue working during this time, especially since the high last Friday here was 23 degrees! Well we came back to this:



Turns out the furnace at some point stopped working and I have been on a whirlwind of ups and down the entire day. Let me walk you through it:

DOWN: The furnace stopped working and it was cold and my plants are SAD!

UP: It seems likely the furnace lasted for a bit since the low recorded by my thermometer was only 28 degrees (the low outside was around 17 degrees). Also, most of my plants (minus that super sad avocado above) seemed to be alright. I suspect the furnace was fine until it ran out of oil sometime during the week I was gone.

DOWN: I’m pretty sure the furnace ran out of oil and I thought I put 5 gallons of diesel in right before we left. This will cost a fortune to heat!

UP: Wait – I go get diesel and my gas can is only 2.5 gallons! Maybe this isn’t as bad as I thought!

DOWN: I put the new 2.5 gallons of diesel in the tank and press the restart. And no heat. The furnace turns on, I can sort of hear a spraying noise, and then the safety kicks in and the whole thing shuts down. Fuck!

UP: I am determined to fix this! While looking up YouTube videos about fixing furnaces I see something about bleeding your furnace if it runs dry. This seems very likely the issue since I’m pretty positive it ran out of oil (diesel is oil minus the red dye). I gather tools and prepare for battle with this fucker:

img_1017.png First I forget that the heater has to be on for this to work and think that maybe there is a total clog somewhere since I have removed the entire bleeder valve and there no oil to be seen… But luckily I remember! Air and oil sputters out. I try to restart…

DOWN: It does not start. I bleed it more. More air and oil. More oil. Now just oil. A steady of oil.


UP: img_1016-2.jpg

Almost 60 degrees now (plus my really janky thermostat which definitely needs to be replaced – that’s for another time though)

And there you have it, my personal emotional roller-coaster courtesy of Siebring HeatMaster Oil Furnaces and Beckett AFG Oil Burners.

Posted in Greenhouse, Lessons Learned, Plans

False Starts

Yeah, yeah – that is not a pretty picture. But it is an important picture. Or, more like, it was an important picture.

I was trying out starting some seeds in the greenhouse in not-quite dead of winter, but in the pretty fricking cold (hello high of 23 degrees!) start of winter. I planted a flat of seeds in an old flat of dead squash babies that were cruelly murdered in the spring of their lifetime by an dead irrigation system battery. I planted some tomatoes and some parthenocarpic squash (which are pretty cool, like baby-Jesus squash they don’t need to be fertilized to grow, or wait maybe that’s Mary – whatever, I’m Jewish). Anyway, these squash are perfect for the greenhouse since they can produce fruit without pollination and the status of bees and other pollinators in the greenhouse is questionable.img_0642

And then a little tiny mouse came along and ate all the seeds before they could even have a chance.


will try again later….

Posted in Exploring, Fun, the MUD, Treasures

Pictures – FROM A DRONE!

Our neighbor stopped over the other day (the one that had extricated the truck from the mud) and asked if he could look around our property because he thought that his RC airplane had gone down somewhere in the back. I helped him look for it for a while and we both emerged plane-less and covered in burrs. Then I remembered I had a friend, or more like an Instagram acquaintance, who took awesome drone pictures of places that seemed to be in our area. I messaged him and asked if he lived close by, and if so would he mind coming over and helping us find our neighbor’s plane. He agreed, and now we have pictures… from a drone.

I really enjoy being able to see the property from the air – it gives me an idea of the lay of the land and see where different parts are.



pretty cool huh?