Sunday, December 14, 2014

MAJOR changes coming very soon...

It only took a few years...  But I finally did it.  I got a hold of my construction contractor, and the old Texas Inn is finally getting a REAL roof job!  Despite the wait, and consiquential deterioration, some benefit has come from the wait...  I have made the decision to make the entire structure my personal workshop, with discrete shops for metalworking, woodworking and automotive maintenance.  Having made this major decision, the old Texas Inn is no longer the Texas Inn...  New Purpose, New Name...

As of now, the Texas Inn is now...

The Arthur Jones Ironworks Blacksmith and Tool Shop

I chose this name in memory and honor of my paternal grandfather, Arthur Wallace Jones, who was a career machinist...  The fact of the matter is that this critical stage of my project would have been impossible without my grandfather's help, as this roof job is my share of of his estate.  As this project would have been impossible without my grandfather's help; I feel it only appropriate to name my shop after him...

Arthur "Casey" Wallace Jones, 1929-2013


The Arthur Jones Ironworks Blacksmith and Tool Shop, Established 2014

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coal Bunker


Well it’s not exactly a bunker, in fact it’s a gaylord from work, one of two given to me by my boss. But it serves my purposes; it will hold coal (and quite a bit of it) and with the skid underneath will keep it dry even if my basement floods again!

I’m somewhat excited about this, as it allows me to finally buy coal in bulk (instead of by the bag, which adds over $8o per ton to the price!).

I may need to “notch” either the front or the side of the gaylord to easily reach the coal once the level gets low (trust me, it’s no fun leaning into one of these), but for the short term I plan in leaving it as-is.


Here is an image of the material tag on the side; the reason I’m posting this is to show that it holds 1,100 pounds of Valox (glass-filled polyester) (and for those of you who don’t know SABIC is the successor to the now defunct General Electric Plastics Division). I’m at least reasonably sure that hard coal is more dense than glass-filled PBT, so as per my experiance only one to one and a half fills should cover this next winter.

It’s not visable in the picture, but I positioned the gaylord directly under one of my basement windows, so I can shovel the coal directly out of my truck into it. It’s not what I planned to use, but it’s a LOT better than what I had until now!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chemical Warfare Pt.4: Weed patch 2

Behold, most likely the weediest part of my entire lawn... And guess what: It's right in my front yard! Just before I posted this I sprayed all the weeds with broadleaf herbicide, so I can overseed it next month.
Just so you know the brown patches are areas that I "rounded up," so I didn't have to trim them. Other than some powdery mildew I don't seem to have a lot of lawn diseases.

Update on Weedy Patch 1:
As promised here is a picture of my first weed patch, minus the weeds. Over the course of the last month I applied Weed-B-Gon and Grub-Ex, then waited. As before this area is mole haven, now more so than before. I get the feeling that since I killed off the grubs the moles are working overtime looking for food...
Today I overseeded this area with Kentucky Bluegrass and fertilized it with 12-12-12. Hopefully I have better luck here than I did in my burn-down patches (which are growing some sort of "weed" grass)

And just a note about consumer herbicides:
Since my initial interest in lawn improvement I've done a lot of research into herbicide... If you have ANY concerns about the enviroment, public safety and/or your budget, DO NOT buy or use consumer broadleaf herbicides! Most, if not all, contain Dicamba, a chemical which by design does NOT break down in soil! This means that it will leach into the water table, and possibly before that "hit" desirable plants!!! Most also contain Mecopop, which is similarly persistant.
If you're reading this and want to kill the broadleaf weeds in your lawn, go to Tractor Supply or a similar agricultural supply store and buy straight 2,4-D acid. It readily breaks down in soil (with an average half-life of 7 days), and unless it comes into contact with your eyes is more or less harmless to humans and most animals. 2,4-D is also less expensive per application than most weedkillers, and makes good economic sense. Just remember that straight 2,4-D is just that, and does NOT contain a surfactant. I add an ounce of Tide per gallon to my 2,4-D mix; it may smell weird but it does seem to help with the absorbtion of the herbicide.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chemical Warfare Pt.3: Weed Patch 1

Well it's done. Today I sprayed the weed patch with broadleaf herbicide. The patch wound up being bigger than I thought (nearly half the size of my garden!). However it went very quickly. I used a mixer-sprayer to spread the herbicide, and in all honesty I think it took longer to clean the sprayer than it did to spray the weeds!
I should be able to overseed the area in about a month. I will be applying grub-killer at about the same time. I'll post again after the herbicide has had it's effect, and show the weedy patch (sans weeds, of course...)
It may sound wierd, but I love the smell of 2,4-D in the morning. To me it smells like... Victory... (just kidding, actually the smell reminds me of the now gone Sand Ridge nursery. Actually the Weed-B-Gon concentrate does not contain 2,4-D but the premix that I used on my thistles does, and it smells JUST like the greenhouse.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chemical Warfare Pt.2

Finally, after two weeks, the results of my burn-down are visable for all to see. I already have my seeds spread, watered-in and (in the case of the second burn-down area) mulched. Here are the results:
Burn-Down area 1:

Burn-Down area 2:

Both patches have been planted with Pennington Kentucky Bluegrass blend (like all grass seed it is mechanically mixed seed, however all of the seed in this perticular blend is varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass). The second area I mulched with partially rotted grass clippings, with less than ideal results. I decided to leave the first area unmulched for now, and hope it works out...

Next problem: Weedy patch 1
This is one of the weediest areas of my entire lawn, and not all of it fits in the picture! Mixed broadleafs dominate this area; and there is virtually no grass here. Between this and the massive mole activity (you can see at least two of the mole-tunnels I water-drilled), as well as the two that I actually saw, I think this area is infested with grubs.
The plan is to spray this entire area with a broadleaf herbicide, overseed with Kentucky Bluegrass, and in the mid-to-late summer treat the area with grubkiller... If I have to mow it anyways I may as well mow GRASS! Not weeds!

More soon, hopefully after my seeds sprout...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Burn-Down: Week 1

As you can see the burn-down is not going quite as well as can be expected... Personally I blame incomplete mixing of the herbicide and poor spraying technique. I believe I have resolved both by the simple addition of red food coloring to the mix. By mixing just enough red color into the Round-Up to make it look like cherry Kool-Aid both the spray itself and the coated plants are far more visable, and by coloring the herbicide it's easier to judge weather it's properly mixed or not. I re-sprayed the remaining green patch earlier today, and will likely seed this area sometime this week...

BTW the burn-down in the other previously pictured area is also going about this badly; I decided not to waste Google's web space by posting a picture of it. I'll post once the results are more dramatic.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Lawn Renovation: BURN IT DOWN!!!

Okay. I hate my lawn. It's official.
Aside from the fact that I have to mow it, it's patchy, weedy, and overall inconsistant. I have "jungle" areas that grow at rediculous rates, near-dead areas that have only a few grass plants, and areas that are practically solid weeds...

This means WAR!

When faced with a problem lawn like this, I feel that I am left with only one option: BURN IT DOWN!!! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! MWA HA HA HA!!!

Er... Sorry about that...

Lawn Renovation part 1: The Burn-Down
In agriculture a burn-down doesn't involve literally igniting anything, rather the use of a broad spectrum non-persistant herbacide, such as Round-Up, to kill all existing plants in preperation for planting. This prevents weeds and non-desirable grasses from outcompeting the desired plants.
All Round-Up that is not absorbed by plants rapidly breaks down into harmless materials, allowing the "burnt" area to be reseeded in as few as three days. Since the existing plants are dead they don't compete for sun and soil nutrients, allowing the new planting to thrive.
I am currently burning down two areas of my lawn, which are pictured below. Next weekend I plan on replanting them...

Part 2: Soil enrichment
I have a strong suspicion that my soil has inconsistant nutrient levels. This is solved by applying fertilizer. Using a handheld broadcast spreader I generously applied triple-12 fertilizer to both of the burn-down areas, and hopefully with the rain predicted over the next few days it'll be thuroughly absorbed into the soil by the time I have seed ready.
Normally fertilizers like this can "burn" plants, due to their high nitrogen content, but considering that I'd already applied Round-Up to the grass I doubt if this is a serious concern...

Part 3: Re-Plant
This will be covered in the next post...

Replanting Area 1: The "pool"
The previous owner of the property had a swimming pool on this portion of my lawn. The grass is very spotty, and my attempted re-planting last year failed miserably. I have higher hopes this year...

Replanting Area 2: The Back Yard
This is one of the poorest areas on my lawn. And yes, it's worse than it appears in this picture. Weeds dominate this patch, and the grasses are scraggly and short. The short part doesn't bother me, but the weeds do...

These are only the first two portions of my lawn that I plan on replacing. Eventually I'd like all of my lawn that I don't plan on putting into production (gardening and home-farming) to be Kentucky Bluegrass, but I plan on doing this peace-meal. These two plots are the experiment, and more likely than not all I'll actually replant this year. I may change my mind, but I have other projects that to me take precedence...

That's all for now. More will be posted over the next week.