Saturday, February 8, 2020

OKK Open Air Market

In the past 3 weeks, all my spare time has been devoted to a community service project. You see, I somehow got into the position of being made the market manager for our town's new "farmers market". By the way, since not all the vendors offer farm products, I'm calling this an open air market instead of farmers market, but it's basically the same thing.

The Ace Hardware, who previously allowed the market to set up on their grounds, withdrew the offer. Ace contacted the area's community service non-profit group, O'Ka'u Kakou (OKK for short), who decided to take the market. So the past several weeks has been a mad scramble to assign a manager, design the market, prepare the grounds, do the paperwork, make signs, etc. This turned out to be a lot of time and work. 

The end result made it all worth it. Opening day saw 28 vendors set up, more than the original market. The town's coffee truck was there. A local group provided music. Everyone told me that it felt like a festival and they loved it. 

There were a few glitches that were fixed as the day went on, and the first day revealed a few design flaws. Nothing serious. Just needs a bit of tweaking. 

Wanna try a cup of Ka'u coffee? 

The second day is rapidly approaching. 8 more vendors want to join the fun. I'm looking forward to day 2, and simply hope that it doesn't rain. If you're in the area, you really should stop by. You can enjoy browsing the booths...talking with craftsmen, farmers, artists...sampling the baked goods and lunch fare...getting a drink at the coffee truck. The market will be adding picnic tables, so please take a seat under the shade trees and enjoy the music. Maybe we can convince some more of our talented residents to come out and provide entertainment. Any interested jugglers, mimes, hula dancers, street actors, and others out there?

Numerous flavors of island honey. Free taste testing! 

One of our vegetables ladies. 

Jams made from local Ka'u fruits. 

Fresh baked breads, a local favorite. 

Local grown mushrooms. What a treat! 

What could be better than fresh squeezed orange juice from our own local oranges! 

Fresh Mexican food.

One of the local musicians. They were great! 

Monday, February 3, 2020

No More Tall Banana Trees For Me

I decided to eliminate my really tall banana trees. First of all, they are difficult to tend. As the trunk grows taller, removing dead leaves and killing any banana roller caterpillars becomes impossible. Plus harvesting the bananas becomes dangerous for me. The trunks weight a lot, and I'm not always successful in cutting them down gently. One of these days I can see myself getting hurt while trying to harvest a banana bunch.

The problem that tipped my decision was that the coqui frogs were getting into them. With trees that tall, it was impossible for me to spray the frogs. So these tall bananas have to go. 

With chainsaw in hand, I buzzed the trees down. Cutting the trunks into manageable pieces, I carted off the trunks and leaves to the compost bins. I filled 11 bins!!! Needless to say, I didn't do this all in one day. Nope. It took several days of hard work. 

Digging out the mats would be quite an effort. Rather than doing that, I plan to simply harvest the regrowth for the compost bins. Whenever a banana tree gets too tall, I'll cut it up for biomass. If the whole mat eventually dies, well so be it.

This clump is beside the chicken pen. I also cut down the clump on the far side of the pen too. 

Banana patch along the driveway is regrowing.  

Since deciding to eliminate the tall varieties, I've been making an effort to propagate the dwarf ones. So rather than cutting away unwanted keikis, I've been digging them up and starting new banana patches instead. With the coqui frog invasion, I've shifted to short banana varieties. 

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Hawaiian Landrace Limas

Just harvested my first beans from the Hawaiian landrace lima bean vines. As you may recall, I planted 11 beans in one of the greenhouses. That was way back on July 7th. Some seeds didn't germinate because they were old, so I ended up with 6 robust plants.

Those 6 plants took ever the entire 10' by 20' greenhouse. You talk about being an aggressive vine! I could have been more attentive and trained the vines better, but after harvesting the other limas on the left hand side of the greenhouse, I took the lazy approach and let the Hawaiian limas on the righthand side just cross over the ceiling and take over the lefthand side as well. 

So it took 6 1/2 months before the first pods dried down for harvest. Wow, that's a heck of a long time.

The pods I harvested contained 2 to 3 beans. 

In addition, this variety to big on growing leaves and vine, but very skimpy on producing pods. There's not many pods on these monster sized plants, at least not what one would expect as compared to other lima varieties. 

But the variety is unique. The lima beans are very interesting to look at. Large. Not all that plump. Longer than wide. Beautifully marked with black and white. It's the color and markings that I find intriguing. 

So pretty! 

If I were growing this to be a staple crop, I'd need to grow acres of them because of the poor yield. Other limas are far more productive. But I still like this variety. I think that I'll continue to grow it. It will be a novelty crop, rather than a staple. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Equipment Shed

Life has been busy lately. One of my emergency projects was fixing the equipment shed.

First a little background. Fifteen years ago we cobbled together a simple open shed for temporary use. We needed a place to stash stuff out of the weather. We had cut down a bunch of ohia trees in order to open up an area for the solar panels, so we had all those poles and opted to use them for the roughly built shelter. We figured on using this shed for 2, perhaps 3 years at most, therefore we used the poles green (freshly cut) and didn't bother to debark them. Nor did we set them on a foundation of any sort. They sat right on the ground. 

Then life happened, and we never did anything about making a proper open shed. We continued to use this one. It's absolutely amazing that it lasted 15 years! 

In the last storm which dumped 7 inches of rain and blew some serious windy gusts, several of the upright support poles gave up the ghost and snapped. They were so dry rotted that I'm puzzled that they hadn't broken earlier. Not just little sections here and there, but the entire lower half of all the poles were dry rotted right through. Sitting right in the ground had allowed both moisture and fungus to creep up the poles. 

I took a before photo of the damage in order to show you, but I accidently deleted it. But things looked bad. Just imagine 5 of the poles in the front were snapped off at various heights, plus one in the back corner. The roof never fully collapsed but it sure was a wavy, wonky mess. When I came out one morning and saw the damage, my immediate task was to get the dogs out from under the collapsing roof. They have a 10' x 30' kennel pen there. Next was to remove the equipment that I could. 

Hubby was all for pulling out the remaining poles and bringing the whole mess down. David took a look, checked all the horizontal poles and found them to be sound. He suggested replacing all the upright poles with 4"x4"s, thus saving the structure. I gave him the go ahead to try. 

First task was to brace things so that it didn't totally collapse. Next was to acquire a bunch of 4"x4"s. Then by using two hydraulic jacks, David coaxed the roof up one spot at a time, replacing the upright poles, this time making sure that they rested atop concrete.

Using just two of these jacks, David was able to jack up and support the roof while replacing each upright pole. 

Amazing. He made it look easy and simple. 

So after a day and a half, we now have a repaired open shed which should have many years of life left in it.

With the broken poles replaced, the roof is back in position. 

Friday, January 17, 2020

How Wet Is It?

I met "F" in town at the coffee truck today and she asked if I was getting lots of rain where I am. Rain? Gosh, do I have rain? You betcha!! It's been raining a awful lot for the past five years. And recently it's been wet almost every day. This past couple months have been the worst so far.

Here's a photo to show how wet it's been recently. This pipinola is still on the vine......and it's sprouting! Not only is it sprouting, but it's growing roots too. And this is not the only one doing it. I'd estimate that 50% of the mature pipinolas are sprouting right on the vine. Yup, things are wet here.
Green sprouts and roots while still on the vine. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Guess what just came out of the woods.

I had no idea that a hen has been sitting on a clutch of eggs. Looks like she has 6 chicks. 

Sometimes around here I get surprised. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Cat condo #2 - second work day

Rain moved in before much got accomplished. But there's a bit added to the condo, enough to make me satisfied. Little steps are fine with me.

So, the plywood got put up on the walls. The first two pieces of fencing got nailed in place. Then a steady stream of water fell from the sky, resulting in a mad dash for cover. So I....not some cat....became the first to occupy the first cat condo. I can vouch for the roof being watertight. 

The rain never stopped, though it lessened considerably. But progress on the cat pen halted for the day. It's not that I don't work in the rain....I do!!!....but the hammer tends to slip off the nail and fence staple heads when it's wet. So I opted to go harvest the excess plants from the ponds and gather other material for composting, thus filling another compost bin before calling it quits. Time to move indoors where it's drier. 

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Cat Condo #2

With the first condo almost done, the second is being roughed out. It's basically the same, but a tad different. The roof will be a bit different. The door on the other side. And I plan to paint it differently. Hubby simply didn't want them all looking exactly identical.

Noodles is checking out the new construction. 

Most of the materials for making this condo are new. But I have found a couple used 2x4s and a 4x4 to incorporate into the building. Of course the roof metal is reused. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Cat Condo #1 - Work Day 3

The first cat condo is nearing completion. Corner shelves are up. For interest, there's a log that the cats can climb in order to go through a hole up to the top shelf. I think this is cool, though we shall see what the cats' opinion is the same. I plan to carpet these two shelves.

Looking through the door, you can see the shelves on the right. 

Looking from inside the pen at the two shelves. 

Looking down from above, there's the hole on the top shelf. 

Looking up from below, the hole is right beside the climbing log. 

I also plan to build a long shelf along the opposite wall, more like a cat deck than a shelf. This too will be carpeted. And finally, I plan to paint the condo. Then I'll add cat beds & hide-e holes, assorted toys, cat box, feeding & watering stations, and it's ready for its first resident.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Rainbow - I Just Wanted to Share

Driving up to Volcano (it's the name of a village, and yes it's at the top of Kilaeua Volcano), we could see rain up ahead of us. But the sun was shining full tilt behind us. Hubby noticed that a rainbow was starting to appear. A few more miles and the rainbow became one of the top ten rainbows we've ever seen here in Hawaii. 

I just had to stop the truck and get out for a and about a dozen other tourists. This rainbow was spectacular. A complete double bow and far more evident than the photo I got. And the first bow was super vivid and intense, it just screamed it's colors. With only a cellphone camera, I couldn't get a decent picture. But it was one of those bows that wow you to the max. 

The entire rainbow was a vibrant color. 

A complete double bow! 

Cat Condo #1 - Work Day 2

Got the first condo almost completed, but I ran out of daylight and strength. Both ran out just about the same moment. 

The old metal roofing we took off the house roof is being repurposed for the cat pens. Some of it has bad spots that have to be trimmed off, and there will be times when we need to piecemeal it together. But since it's just small pens, things will work. The idea is to have a dry enclosure. A good coat of paint will make it look nice. 

The lower half of the walls are plywood. This accomplishes a few the cats privacy, provides more stability to the construction, prevents most of the rain from wetting the pen, and acts as a bit of a windbreak. And as a non-intentional benefit, provides me with a canvas to try out my artistic painting skills. 

The upper part of the walls are open for ventilation, daylight, and view -- so that the cats who want open spaces won't feel boxed in. Ventilation is real important. 

Almost there! 

I still need to block up any spaces between the walls and the metal roof. Any gap would invite an escape attempt. 

This condo was built with a combination of new and reused materials. About half the 2x4s are reused. 2 sheets of plywood are too. And the entire roofing metal is reused. And while the four corners are on new concrete pier blocks, the center also floor support is reused block with wood pier. I'll be able to use reuse hardware fit the door, but all the chicken wire is new. This project uses up all my reuse lumber. Happily I won't need to buy any roofing metal. Guess I'll be scrounging around for old lumber once again in order to replenish by stash. 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Cat Condos - Day 1

Now that the dangerous trees have been downed, I'm cleaning up the area, getting ready for making hubby's cat condos. Getting rid of all the trash branches will take months, as I sort through the mess rescuing wood for other projects. The litter will move into the bio trash pits, to eventually become soil for another garden area. 

The larger branches will be recycled into posts and pieces to use for cat jungle gyms. Some will most likely be used in my woodcraft furniture projects. The trunks will get milled into slabs, but that's another adventure. 

One fairly level spot has been cleared, so the first cat condo has been started. This one is going to be a rather simple design. 8' by 8' and straight forward -- a box with a shed roof. Nothing fancy. A plywood floor, plywood wall windbreak all around, metal roof. I'm using chicken wire for fencing, something that young kittens can't squeeze through. 

Basic floor and frame done.,

The feline building inspector. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Once a Month Job List

I don't recall if I mentioned this before, but In order to make sure that certain things get done, we have a "first of the month" job list. 

... Check solar batteries and service as needed. 
... Clean the solar panels. 
... Apply once a month flea control on the cats & dogs. 
... Administer heartworm preventative to the dogs. 
... Deworm the sheep and donkey. 
... Give all the animals a quick exam, looking for early signs of problems. 
... Check condition of catchment water and add amendments as needed. 
... Check the inventory of emergency supplies and replenish as needed.  This includes propane and gasoline. 
... Check the condition of the field fencing. 
... Flush out the raingutter system. 
... Check farm equipment and service as needed. 

And finally......gather up all my work shoes and clean them. 

Lined up drying in the sun. 

There's lots and lots of other tasks that always seem to need doing, but these core jobs are always repeated month after month. Without having a monthly to-do list, I fear we'd never get these done in a timely fashion. I'm way too good at putting things off until tomorrow. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Woodcrafting - The First Shelf

Over the next few months, a lot of weird wood crafted shelves are going to appear in our house. Toying around with some bits of wood scraps, I'm learning that lots of them can be used for making neat things that are far more interesting than firewood..........though when you're really cold, wood looks best when burning. 

Here's a shelf, jazzed up with funky branches I could dangle or hang things from. It's probably overdone with the branches, but it's not a problem. They can always be lopped off later. For now I'm a bit enamored with branches, so they'll stay. 

View from one side. 
View from the other angle.

Yup, those are dinosaurs! I'm a died in the wool dino lover. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

End of Year Rain & Temperature Data

Total rain accumulation:
   2019 - 64.36"
   2018 - 64.35
   2017 - 40.20
   2016 - 52.96

 Number of days when there was an inch of rain or over: 
   2019 - 7
   2018 - 11
   2017 - 6
   2016 - 8

Greatest amount of rain over a 24 hour period measured from 7 am to 7 am :
   2019 - 2.78" 
   2018 - 3.87"
   2017 - 2.10"
   2016 - 3.81"

Number of day with no rain: 
   2019 - 62
   2018 - 72

The longest number of days in a row with no rain : 
   2019 - 4 days 
   2018 - 10 days
   2017 - 10 days
   2016 - 16 days

2019 again proved to be a wet year, wetter than previous years. With so much constant small amounts of rain, hours of no sunshine, and reduced tradewinds, our ground remained wet and often soggy. The soil never dried out. Mosses, molds, lichens, and fungi were more evident. 

This coming year I need to grow veggies again, having used up much of our stored food supply (I had overstocked). So this pattern of wet & rain will have to be dealt with. Rain protection in the form of rain shields or tunnels will have to be considered. I will need to look for varieties that tolerant wet conditions and are more resistant to disease. It should be an interesting coming year.