Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Great Workout!

 40  five gallon buckets  (avg wt. 12 lbs) of dirt carried up 15 vertical feet to the top of the future green roof.   You do the math.

 Besides being aesthetically pleasing, a green roof can provide numerous environmental, technical and owner benefits,
including saving energy, preventing stormwater runoff, providing wildlife habitat, and creating beautiful spaces and just being kinda cool.

Soon after the tornado that hit our area in may of 2008 I salvaged a good number of large barn beams, 6X6 and larger.  This year I decided to use them before I loose them.  

This was the result.  I've still got to trim out the four vertical posts and install the two ornate iron panels that we got from our friend Steelbelly.  

Here are some shots of the project and a closing shot of the upper garden.  In the background is the hoop house.  Sue has is planted and everything is coming up just great!

Friday, August 19, 2011


The obvious reason to setup, maintain, and stock a beehive is so you can harvest great honey The right time to harvest the honey will be known when taking a look at one super hives and find that the frames are full of honey combs that your bees have covered with wax caps.

The process of honey harvesting and extraction.  These are the tools required:

Honey Harvest
1) beekeepers suite - mesh helmet and folding veil would do it, with some layers of clothes
2) smoker with fuel (dry branches, leaves, etc.) and a lighter
3) frame super - where frames with honey combs will be put for transportation
4) sting resistant gloves
5) hive tool - to move the frames, scrape wax, etc.

Honey Extraction
1) heated knife - to unseal honey cells
2) uncapping fork - to unseal honey cells missed by the heated knife
3) tub for wax/honey
4) extractor! - fancy cylindrical piece of equipment, used to extract honey
5) food-grade bucket - to catch honey out of the extractor
6) sieve - catches wax and impurities as honey is poured from extractor
7) containers - final destination of honey before consumption

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Bottle houses

Bottle houses  for my friends Frank and Rick

"At Cap-Egmont in Prince Edward Island, where he was a lighthouse-keeper, Edouard Arsenault started collecting bottles in 1979.…In the spring of 1980, at the age of 66, he began his construction, a mere hobby yet. As his six-gabled structure was taking form, visitors started coming in. Impressed by his work, they encouraged him to continue and to advertise it as a tourist attraction. And so, in 1981, the first Bottle House was open to the public. From 1980 to the spring of 1984, he cleverly cemented over 25,000 bottles of various shapes, sizes and colours, into three fantasy-like buildings."
More bottle houses:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Big break in the heat so, Beau and I drove up north to Backbone State Park in Delaware County.  Its been over 7 years sense we've hiked along trails winding through old twisted and windblown cedars and up rough, rocky staircases to one of the highest points in northeast Iowa, the "Devil's Backbone" and climbed down the limestone bluffs to reach the upper end of the Maquoketa River.  Backbone lake is an impoundment of the Maquoketa River created by the CCC. Backbone is well known for trout fishing in its cold, clear, quick-flowing stream. Richmond Springs, the source that feeds the stream pumps out over 1500 gallons per minute and is located near the north end of the park.  The water temperature was cool, in the past we would catch a variety of fish such as bluegill, bass, catfish, and trout.

Not that we're competitive but the scoring goes as follows:  a point for the first fish, largest, most species  and most fish.  Each trout is 2 points.  Beau took the lead with a small blue gill.  Soon after that I hooked a nice little smally.  Don't horse him, just play it.  Lost it.   But, we're off to a good start.  two quick fish.  We're going to nail them today.   The stream looked great!  Water quality is excellent with nice holes gouged by recent rains.  We love to wade the stream pitching spinners, jigs and rubber grubs.  I missed another small bluegill then a nice little rainbow trout... landed.  3pts.  All most an hour later and no bites we came across a nice hole with about a dozen trout.  But, their not hungry.  Time to make the climb back up the bluff and Beau pitches his mepps spinner and he hooks into a smally,  landed it.  3 pts.

Tie...  Great day  out on the Maquoketa at Backbone, Iowas first state park. 


 Here's a shot of our fish from the Fishtival

The event kicked off with fish sculptures designed and decorated by area artists who helped raise money for the Bellevue Arts Council. The sculptures had been placed on metal poles and displayed throughout the downtown area. Ours featured a metal fish designed with bottle caps that had been flattened by the train that runs through Bellevue.  A guy can only drink so much beer so we came up a few caps short.  Other fish had pictures and copper material.  Proceeds from the silent auction, will go to the Bellevue Arts Council.

 Saturday’s events include visual art vendors on the riverfront.  Susie and I worked with kids on  children’s art activities.  The kids designed and worked on recycled sculptures,  wine bottles painted with chalkboard paint then decorated with their own art work.

 The Iowa Department of Natural Resources offered boating excursions on the Mississippi River
A chef Jason offered demonstrations on preparing fish Saturday at the Great River Gallery.

And finely, a shot of Beau and Maddi our local mermaid down at the Happy Bean

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Hit the trout stream today and I was happy to see lots of trout of all sizes in the new holes gouged out by the torrential rains that pass through the area last week.  The stream has a totally new look the banks are cleared of weeds and debris, the stream is wider with gravel bars.  First cast I hooked in to a 12 inch brown and snapped the tip of my pole.  Regrouped with a second poll had lots of hits and caught a second brown.  Walking in the trout stream is a great way to beat the heat.