Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   sprouting beech limbs
Saturday, May 20 2023

location: 800 feet west of Woodworth Lake, Fulton County, NY

We had a good morning of coffee and Spelling Bee (this time with the letters written onto a tiny square of cardboard; the panagram was HAIRCUT). Gretchen had brought bagels from New Jersey, and that's always a fun thing to divide along the "equator" and load into a toaster.
Later I started drinking kratom tea and went down to the basement and installed that replacement check valve to reverse last weekend's big error. After doing that, I didn't really have any other projects planned for the cabin this weekend.
At some point this afternoon Gretchen and I were northwest of the cabin admiring all the plants volunteering in the barren landscape of the building site. Usually people spray grass seed in such places in hopes of establishing a lawn, but we've never been lawn people and had wanted to see what plants nature would decide to put there. Once I had the erosion under control, we could wait and see. And, after that first growing season of random plants (starting mostly with Equisetum that must've been in the sand that was brought to the site), we've entered a second growing season. The dominant plant this spring seems to be sweet clover, which dots the building site in lush green clumps. I know from having transplanted it from the walkway area that it has a deep taproot, and that probably explains why it's doing so well. Based on the way the other plants are coming in, water seems to be a limiting resource in the sandy trucked-in soil, and a deep taproot can find water that plants with more superficial roots cannot. The issue of water scarcity also would explain the relatively lushness of plants on the north-facing slope in the back of the building site. The plants there are still dominated by Equisetum, along with colt's foot, and some sort of herbaceous vine. North-facing slopes don't get as much sun as other slopes, so that's bad for photosynthesis. But that's also good for surface moisture, which, when it is the limiting factor for vegetative growth, means that north-facing slopes will be the lushest ones.
Gretchen mentioned something about how all the branches I'd dragged onto the slope to prevent erosion were unsightly (though important) and that we should get rid of them once vegetation is better established. I figured the most unsightly thing about these branches was that they tended to form brambles rising up above the surface. Such brambles did little to stop erosion, so I came through with some shears and snipped all the little branches so they they'd fall down against the surface, where they'd intermesh and form a better matrix to hole the soil in place.
As I did this, I noticed that some beech branches I'd cut from living trees back in the fall were now producing leaves from their buds despite lacking any connection to a root system. I wondered of the branches might turn into trees if stuck in the ground, which is something I remember willow doing back when I was a kid. I know other familiar trees like oaks, walnuts, white ash, and maple are unlikely to do this, but I don't have much experience with beech, so it was an experiment worth conducting. I cut some of the sprouting beech branches into sticks that I could then drive into the ground.
After all this snipping with the shears, my right hand was hurting. I looked at my palm and saw a circular bruise about 1.5 inches across with a narrow red ridge in the center, the place where the shears had pinched my skin a few times.
In pursuit of additional tasks to do at the cabin, I resumed one I'd let languish for more than half a year: the project where I run 240 volts to the top of the hill above the cabin. The idea is to have a place to charge the Chevy Bolt up there in the winter time so I don't have to drive it down the steep leg of driveway down to the cabin, potentially getting it stuck. I'd already managed to bury something like ninety feet of it, but I had something like 120 feet to go. Today I managed to bury an additional fifteen or so feet. I'm not burying it very deeply, but I'm trying to minimize my environmental impact as I do by threading the wire beneath the bigger roots. This leaves those roots intact for whatever trees they are connected to while helping to "lock" the wire down underground. (This is something I've done in the past with outdoor wire and even, in the case of the greenhouse, drainage pipes.)
After doing that work, my hands were even more destroyed, this time by black soil that had gotten under my fingernails and torn it in places. I would've used gloves to protect my hands, but I couldn't find any. Also, I burying cable the way I was doing it required sensitivity to what I was digging so I could preserve roots, and if I had heavy gloves on, that might not be an easy thing.
Gretchen had gone down to the lake earlier today and found it a bit too blustery and cold to spend much time there. I went there myself this evening, barefoot and wearing nothing but shorts and a teeshirt. I even filmed the walk most of the way down there and all of the way back on my camera. I didn't find conditions especially cold down there, but I didn't have much in the way of stuff to work on down there either, so I left even before finishing my beer.
I don't know if it was that beer or what, but my guts started feeling terrible at around 6:00pm, so I decided to climb into bed. I eventually feel asleep. Later I would wake up and come back out, but then my guts started acting up again, forcing me back into bed.

Looking up the trail (in the direction of the cabin) from a little below the cabin this evening. Click to enlarge.

Looking down the trail (in the direction of the dock) from a little below the cabin this evening. Click to enlarge.

Most of the walk down to the lake.

The walk back from the lake. At some point I stepped on a sharp stick with a bare foot and winced but you can't tell.

View across the lake from the dock this evening. Click to enlarge.

Me on the dock this evening.

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