July 11, 2004
It's Nightfall at 10:00 AM
It's a Sunday morning and I am writing this on yet another gray, rainy day. It looks like another repeat to Friday, which was a repeat to Tuesday, which was repeat to...you get the idea. The skies have darkened so that the deer and rabbit are out foraging and for a second time in a week, the solar inverters have gone into "sleep mode." It's nightfall at 10 AM.
The weeds and grass certainly seem to be enjoying this weather but I wonder about other wild life and the effects this "summer" is having upon them. During the month of May there were a few Monarch and Swallowtail butterflies around, but lately I haven't seen any. Other insects (less enjoyed) such as deer flies and sweat bees are also next to nonexistent, but the pesky mosquito is having a banner year. They are biting at all times of the day and you risk been carried away by them if you are not careful.
Since January of this year, the La Crosse area has received 27.85 inches of rain. Considering that we will more than likely get a good half inch of rain from the current storm, that will put us over 28 inches, only 5 inches shy of the "normal", ANNUAL total. To top this, La Crosse has not gotten the brunt of the storms. Areas south of us have received much higher amounts.
Because of all the clouds and rain, it is also having an impact on area crops. Looking at the corn and soy bean fields up and down our country road, they are either stunted or drowned out due to standing water in the fields. Last year it was the drought and this year it's too wet and cool. Our tomato plants just set fruit and are growing so slowly that I wonder if we will get any ripe tomatoes before frost.
I have learned though to take full advantage of the few days in which it isn't raining. Saturday I worked feverishly to get wall number 50 completed. This required me to wheel-barrow 20 loads of mortar up the hill in back of the house, across the bridge and in through the upstairs door. It wouldn't have been so bad if the grass wasn't so slippery from all the wet weather! It's too wet to attempt using the Bobcat, so all of the mortar must be carried by wheel barrow.
Speaking of mortar, while going to our local Menards (home improvement center) to buy masonry cement, I discovered that they were changing suppliers. This was not a good thing. Although masonry cement conforms to ASTM standards, you would have to imagine that there could be some color variation depending upon where the cement was produced. Because of this concern, I elected to buy 50 bags all at once. (Normally, I buy 4 to 6 bags at a time and bring it home in our pickup truck.) The pallet of 50 bags was delivered on Thursday, and should (hopefully) stay dry in our pole shed until they are used.
Walls No. 49 and No. 50 make up the 17 foot tall cordwood wall.17 feet of cordwood wall, especially when wet is quite heavy and so far (keep your fingers crossed) there has been no signs of compression/buckling at the bottom of the wall. Actually, the bottom section of the wall has cured quite nicely and is slowly drying out. I wouldn't attempt this all in one week. I took 3 days off in between the first and second floor wall to let the bottom half cure first before any more weight was to be added.
The two walls combined required 8 bags of masonry cement, about 1.5 bags of hydrated lime, about 800 lbs. of sand/clay, about 80 gallons of slurried paper, approximately 440 log-ends and a lot of hours of labor.
With wall number 50 now under my belt, I will probably spend much of this upcoming week cutting and beveling log ends. Depending upon the weather I might start wall number 51, but the way this "summer" is going I'm not so sure about that.
|To go along with the cloudy and gray weather, here's a photograph of a gray tree frog (yes, he/she is really gray) peeking his/her head over the top of the slurry barrel. There's usually one or two of them who love the cool, damp slurry. They blend in with the slurry, so I have to be careful not to scoop them up into the mixer. Their gray color is used to blend in with lichen which is commonly found on tree branches.|