A Quiet Year - Fall 2008


As busy as 2007 was, 2008 was not.

Well, there was a little of that senior citizen maintenance stuff: Cataract surgery for faith, Arthroscopic knee surgery for me. Those were only minor nuisances.

There was another ice storm last winter but damage was minimal and we didn't loose power. A few trees fell down out in the woods and a bunch more limbs came down but nothing near the house or driveway.

Overall, we had it pretty easy this year.


A little water over the dam.


The closest we had to excitement occurred this spring. We experienced some very heavy rain. The photo above shows the spillway on our pond during one of the rain storms. The water is about a foot deep at the center of the spillway.

Rainy and wet.


This turned out to be the heaviest rainfall year in quite a while. We usually get about 40 inches of rain each year. This year we have already had over 60 inches. It's not been a problem for us though. We are at the top of a ridge. Other than a little high water in the pond, don't have to worry about flooding. The ground was a little soggy for a while though!



Of course, all that rain meant things were extra lush and green all summer. My mower got a good workout this year.

Faith's quilting area.


Faith has been busy with her quilting. The photo above shows her quilting corner in the basement. She has been producing some very nice quilts. This year some of her local quilting buddies talked her into entering some of her work in a national quilt show. She entered two of her recent quilts and both were selected for a year long tour of national and international quilt shows. Seeing as not many quilters receive the honor of ever having one of their quilts selected like that, having both entries selected is a big complement to Faith's work. You can see those two quilts in the photos below.

"Meet Me At The Fair"


This quilt is based upon the classic Missouri Star design - with Faith's own unique styling .

"Paisley Peacock"


This design originated from a desire to experiment with different but similar shades of fabric. Faith thought they looked good together while on the bolt. I think they look even better assembled into a quilt!



I've shown fall color photos in previous yearly updates. This year I thought I'd show you what it looks like after the trees are through with their fall displays. The leaves fall to the ground. I then have the privilege of moving them off the lawns.

More Leaves


And not just the lawns. Here is the driveway loop. It takes a tank and a half of gas in my industrial strength leaf blower to clear this area.

Leaves in the pond.

The water level in our pond stayed up all year, as you might expect with 60 inches of rain. Naturally, leaves blow into the pond. Fortunately, the volume of leaves that fall in the pond is low compared to its size. We don't expect any problems to created by them. The fish don't seem to mind.

Leaves on a trail.


I also work at keeping leaves off our trails through the woods. This might not make sense at first. After all, the trails are in the woods. Shouldn't leaves be 'natural'?

Well, yes, leaves on trails are natural but I discovered an advantage to keeping them cleared. Moss and lichens grow on the bare trail surface. It's like a green carpet when it is fully developed. You can walk on the trails right after a rain or when the snow is melting without getting muddy. Besides, the trails remain green, even through winter. That adds welcome color to an otherwise bland winter scene.

Leaves off the trail.


The above photo shows the trail after I have blown the leaves off. The moss looks and feels like someone rolled out green indoor/outdoor carpet some time in the past. It thrives through the winter as long as it is not covered with leaves. In the hottest part of summer, if there is no rain for a while, it will turn brown. It turns green again as soon as it rains again.

Our wood pile.


Naturally, with winter coming on, thoughts turn to firewood. I have two main firewood racks next to the road down to the lake behind our property. Each rack is a double row of cord wood, 50 feet long and 5 foot high. They hold about 4 cords each. We burn about 3 1/2 to 4 cords of wood in our woodstove each year.

What you see in the middle of the photo above is the 2008/2009 winter firewood. It is the rack with the black plastic rain shield running along the top. The plastic keeps most of the rain from soaking down through the wood but allows air to flow through the stack to dry the wood. Firewood from our oaks, hickory, and walnut trees requires a minimum of 6 to 8 months to dry the correct 20% moisture level to burn in a woodstove.

Wood for next winter.


The photo above shows you a different view of the firewood. What you see in the foreground is the start of the wood for the 2009/2010 winter. My stacking method is simple. I stack two rows side-by-side. This is not optimum for wood drying but so far that has not been a problem. I drove in steel fence posts to support the ends of the stacks. I have posts at both ends plus posts at the half way point. I strung wire, electric fence wire in this case because it is strong and doesn't corrode, at the top of the posts. That keeps the weight of the wood from bending the posts over. I start by filling half the rack to about waist height. By then the piles are starting to get wobbly. I then lay thin pieces of firewood across the gap between the parallel rows. As I add firewood above that level, its weight locks the two rows together, stabilizing the entire rack. You can actually see where I have done that in the photo above. Notice how the lower half of the pile is darker from weathering than the top half.

The Stump.


A question that comes up every once in a while is: "How do you pick what trees to cut down for firewood?" So far I've not cut down any strong, healthy trees. With as many tress as are on our 45 acres of woods, it is easy to find some that are dead, diseased, lightning struck, or ice storm damaged. In fact, I even leave many standing dead trees alone, unless they might fall on something that we care about. Dead standing trees provide homes for squirrels and other small animals. Insects in the dead trees become food for birds.

There was a nice White Oak between the house and the barn that we left standing after house construction. It died this summer so it had to come out. Its fall radius included the house, the barn, the carport, and a water faucet. Hitting any one of them would have been a real nuisance. I called a tree cutter to take this one down using his bucket truck. Even he was not confident he could fell the tree without hitting anything. This tree is now part of my 2009/2010 firewood stack. You can see the stump in the middle of the photo above. We left the stump tall so I can use it to mount a big farm bell.

Why did the tree die? That's easy to figure out. This tree was subjected to all sorts of torment during barn and house construction. Trenches for water lines were dug near its base. All kinds of heavy construction equipment drove over its roots. Ground level was built up over part of its roots.

Those tree roots were what the tree used to breath and collect water. The ground they were in became packed, smothering them. A healthy Oak, like this one was before construction started, holds enough nutrients to survive for quite a while with damaged roots so that it might have a chance to grow new ones. Some limbs might die back and little new growth will be produced but to most people, the tree will look healthy. Eventually enough roots will grow to save the tree or it will die. In this case, it took 6 years to die. It leafed out nicely in the spring but during one hot week this summer it died.

Fortunately, there are many, many more trees nearby. We will never be short on scenery or firewood.

Anyway, that's how things are going in Missouri. We are loving it here. The four seasons are nice, keeping things from getting boring. The people here are friendly. Its still like we came here on a long vacation and just never bothered to go back. Its hard to complain about a six year long vacation! And we ain't goin' back!