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Number 976, June 3, 2018

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Norseman’s Diaries: Springtime Reboot
by Jeff Fullerton
born2bewild1962@gmail.com

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

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Saturday—Memorial Day Weekend and I’m short on time as usual and struggling to put together a long overdue Spring Edition after a spring that was long in coming. And I’m struggling with the usual conflict between devoting the time to get it done or the pull of the outdoors and other things in need of doing.

Like routine maintenance of things and the feeding and care of my animals. And some new projects and upgrades that are starting to give hope after a long and hard winter that was stubborn to depart—practically lingering through most of April before it finally gave way to seasonable spring weather that was a short lived transition into something a lot more summer like. Maybe a good thing because it was good weather to get turtles and fish outside and not have issues with long periods of chilly inclement weather or threat of frost and it’s looking like the latter won’t even be an issue this season. So I guess the climate change alarmists can breathe easier when they make their next claim about the hottest year ever!

A far cry from a month ago to where I go back to start the story when it seemed the cold and the snow squalls would never end.

4/22/18—3:30 PM
Happy B’Errf Day!

And a gorgeous day for a reptile show!

My day began much better than yesterday. Woke up around 7 and the light on the frog tank in my room turned on shortly after: a good omen I think. Made a brief excursion around the ponds and did a thorough watering of the greenhouse—which is best done early in the day and then made some coffee to take along for the trip. Stopped off for one of those delicious chorizo & egg on a pretzel bun at Get Go—which I consumed in the parking lot at the fire hall in Youngwood before going in.

It was a good show this time around. The last one was pretty paltry and many of the good vendors were not there. This time they were; including Josh’s Custom Creations. That’s the cage guy who I want to build me a 6 foot long PVC cage for the CBTs that I’ll set up in my basement room back home—or at Uncle Budd’s depending on where I end up keeping my critters next winter. The cost will be somewhat north of $300 but will be worth it to give the flock a spacious indoor habitat they can hibernate in but can also be heated in the spring if the greenhouse is too chilly for them.

At the show my main priorities were superworms and substrate barrier to do something about the frog tank in my bedroom. Ended up getting extra to do both tanks along with two bags of Dendro Hollow’s Vivarium substrate and a starter culture of springtails too. Figured might as well get a cleanup crew established. Eventually want to get pill bugs too. The guy didn’t have them but said you can use the local species if you are careful to make sure they are not exposed to pesticides. Not a problem at my place. All I’ll need to do is trap some by putting down some slices of potato along the foundation of the house or in the greenhouse and pick off the ones that come to feed on them. Better than spending $30 for a few dozen bugs—unless they are the more interesting color morphs.

There were some interesting critters there too. Chameleons and various geckos including Leopard, Day, Crested and a Chinese Cave Gecko. They also had those dwarf Ridge Tail Monitors Ray was into a while back. Too bad he didn’t succeed because the offspring fetch a pretty hefty price!

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$400!

As for my project ; I’m hoping to succeed with the Marsupial Frogs. This is probably my last chance since the average lifespan of tree frogs is about 5 years and I got mine in 2015.

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Started the overhaul of the Vivarium when I got home. Took out everything and put down the substrate barrier—which is just that fine flimsy weed barrier. Took one piece plus part of another which leaves me with plenty to do the other tank. I got extra material so I could just go ahead and get it all done this week. I only wish I had gotten a third bag of substrate because it took two to do the main tank. I’m mulling whether or not to run back to Youngwood before the show ends at 3 but don’t want to waste the time or miles in the event they sell out and there was not much inventory there. I can probably mix up my own from the Eco Earth and pine bark fines I have on hand plus shredded sphagnum moss.

I put down a thin veneer of it on the surface—barely a half inch near the front and a little deeper in the back—building it up around the faux rock pool and the potted anthurium. Then worked in the Pepperomia and Monstera and philodendron and added some bromeliads and a Selaginella from the greenhouse and put down some sphagnum moss on top of that—again building it up around the planters and the back end. Thinking about adding some coconut shells and other hides to encourage the frogs to take refuge under those rather than burrowing so they can be easily found for feeding and health inspection. /p>

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I cut out a circle in the substrate barrier above the drain so I won’t have to tear the setup apart to get at it in the event it gets clogged. Placed the rock pool over that before putting down the substrate and all I have to do is lift that out for access. It was also the perfect spot to introduce the springtails. I dumped most of the charcoal that the culture was in right there so they can colonize the drainage layer and saved a small portion to seed the other tank.

Drainage layer is the expanded clay I put in a couple weeks ago. Dendro Hollow had this white pumice like stuff made from recycled glass that they recommend because it is even lighter that what I went with but it’s way more expensive for doing a large tank and I don’t care for the white color which looks less natural. The earthy tone of the clay spheres looks much nicer and it is still way less heavy than the pea grade aquarium gravel it replaced.

Watering it down and I’ll probably let it sit for another week or so before bringing the frogs back—to give it a chance to settle and I’ll see how well it works in the other setup in the meantime.

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With that accomplished and the return of spring weather it’s already looking like something close to the definition of a perfect day. Need to make some calls and then get outside and see what I can do before I head over to Kecksburg for a party. I have the 20 long that previously housed Chinese Newts out in the sun drying after I sanitized it with some bleach wipes. Going to rinse that out and set it up for the yearling Gulf Coasts that need to come out of the garage. I’m pondering whether to put the two older juvies back out in their pen or start then off indoors or in the greenhouse. Decisions decisions!

4/25/18—11:30 AM

Went in for my tech competency class yesterday only to find out I wrote down the wrong day. It was today—Wednesday not Tuesday so I went back home and flumdidled the day away indoors because it was not conducive to working outside and returned to stay the night in C’ville.

Started out from there again and arrived half an hour early and had breakfast at the cafe before clocking in for the training. I didn’t need to study as hard as I did for the refresher on arrhythmias because the strips were all pretty simple—a V-tac , Atrial Fib—, V-Fib , A fast normal rhythm with a PVC—which is an abnormal beat that occurs every so often—a normal sinus rhythm and the only heart block was Wenkebach which is the easiest. All the other stuff was about glucose meters , urine preg tests , blood draws Foley catheters , patient restrains and a mock scenario with a mannequin in a bed with simulated pulse and other vital signs the instructor can manipulate by remote control and we got a very simple one this time—just a leg swelling that turned out to be a probable blood clot and not a patient that crashes or has stroke symptoms.

Was done in less than two hours and I’m back home again resting and contemplating what to do while I’m here. It’s vacation day five and I really ought to do something to make up for yesterday. There are three major projects staring me in the face—reconfigure the inlet from the filter barrel to the DD system , get the fan mounted in the greenhouse and figure out a support structure for the Land Tub to replace the cement tray enclosure in the greenhouse. Fan is probably the easiest because I have pretty much everything—so I’ll see if I can do that first. I may have to do some shopping for the other projects.

Going to be a busy later in the week with several packages coming including Woodlanders—which has some things that will need planting. I need to order feed for the turts too as what is leftover from last season is getting rancid and I’m using Wardleys and Reptomin now.

This week is turning out to be a washout as far as weather goes. At least it’s not snowing and we’ve had a few good days. More 70 degree days are on the horizon but won’t get here until near the end. My last three days and my trade with Geiger works out nicely because the Tuesday she works for me stretches out vacation at that time giving me maybe one more warm day.

That looks like the ideal time to move the CBTs back permanently—or at least for the season depending on where I end up wintering them next year. If I can get the basement facility running efficiently I might be able to do it here. The key is organization and a stable environment and it I can get that it will be possible to take care of stuff on the fly.

Vacation Day 7 or 8 depending on how you count it.

I sure goes fast and I haven't got as much done as hoped for yet I have done a few significant things. The tech competency training is done and the living room is clean and I cleared leaves off the rock gardens and got most of the turts outside.

Then there was yesterday.

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It was probably the best day of the week so far in regard to the weather. I worked on fashioning an upside down T made from 2x 4s to mount the L bracket for the V-12 on. That project was plagued by snafus. First attempt I made was with the circular saw the previous day but it was a no go because I can't get it to operate. It probably has something to do with the safety feature so I'll probably try finding a more low tech one—if I can. So yesterday I went at it with an even lower tech option—a bow saw to cut off a 15" piece of 2x4. Then cut the remaining section onto two 7" pieces I was going to sandwich onto the lower half of the 15" to make a wide enough base to mount the bracket on. To make a long story short I ended up putting one of the 7"s on the bottom end of the 15" to form a T. That was a much more simple and elegant solution that I arrived at because my first attempt at making pilot holes in one of the 7"s ended because I couldn't get the nail I drove through the board back out.

Nail was too long -and could not get enough leverage with the hammer claw to pull it out. Then I tried drilling. The plug in drill is inoperable until I find or replace the key that tightens down the bits. Like so many things it got lost in the shuffle of Crunch Time last fall. So I had to use the cordless Black & Decker that was low on charge and barely got the job done before it died. And now I have an issue with it—either the charger or the battery is not working anymore. The green indicator light on the charger does not come on so that may be toast. I bought it to Uncle Budd's to plug in for a few hours and it still does not charge the battery. Maybe I'll take it to Bruce's and see if he has a compatible charger and that would determine whether the battery is still good.

As for the project I was able to get enough out of the Black & Decker to drill through both pieces so I could put them together with long wood screws. And I used the holes on the bracket to trace out marks to drill holes for the bolts that will secure the whole thing to the wood. I will have to find two of those—Spotto's here in town looks like a good bet. Will look into getting a key for the old drill too—or see of Uncle Budd has one I could use while I have the assembly down here. Then it should be a simple matter to nail it onto the wood sheathing on the center beam like I did the board with the hook for the C-Fogger.

Other highlight of yesterday was the Woodlanders order that arrived while I was working on the project. I got that stuff planted promptly putting the Iris sanguinea in the ground outside the greenhouse and the Shirley's Compact Itea bush in the Striped Mud pen. Then I have this tiny Asian smilax that I stuffed into a fab pot that will probably go into the CBT setup as a seasonal addition because it is rated to Zone 7. Really cool thing—looks like a miniature greenbrier with leaves about the size of a partridge berry and tiny thorns to match that would fit nicely into the miniature landscape of an outdoor model railroad! Then there is Dischoriste oblongiflora—the Florida Twinflower I had before—along with the Mexican species. It has a low creeping habit much like the namesake from the boreal forests which is not of the same genus or family. Stuffed it into a tiny bonsai pot to go on the ledge above the Florida Boxies but I'll probably divide it up between another pot and put some in the pot with the Live Oak on the opposite end for redundancy.

Spent the evening chilling at my bro's place and watched episode 2 of Lost in Space on Netflix. Going to have to do some shopping for Uncle Budd today and then try to go out my way and work on that project and more stuff as vacation time is slipping away. Still 5 days left counting this one but they do go fast. I'm hoping to get the DD renovated and the CBTs moved in that time frame. Will have to find a quick fix for supporting the 55" long Land Tub enclosure in the greenhouse.

Would like to find something better than plywood but options are limited and time is running out.

4/27/18—10:07 PM

Fairly productive day for a change. Before I started on the fan project I straitened out the garage a little and watered the fig trees sitting outside with water bailed out of a big tote container that filled up over winter.

Fed the Blackbandeds some mosquito larvae that were in a container of rainwater near the garage and brought the two young Gulfs out and put them in a tote container on the patio for a while.

The drilling went well aside from the bit being maybe a size smaller than the bolts and the holes I marked were a little off so it took some reaming to make things fit. The bracket ended up angled to the left which is ok because I want the fan pointed slightly away from the front anyway. Made the decision to study the installation document again and consult with Bruce before I put it up to make sure I do it right.

The wood was from the remaining scraps of the gate Geiger’s old pool deck leftover from the gate project for the pond site. Found it laying around by the upper DD pen. Thought I might want to paint it with Thompson’s Water Seal but that will probably happen later on when I do the turtle pens. I’m thinking I’ll put a steel band around the bottom secured tightly with wood screws.

Next project was the tractor which needed jumpstarting. I opened the hood on the Honda and studied the battery and engine and the owners manual in detail to make sure I did it right as I’ve been hearing that you have to be more careful in jumping new cars because of the electronics of various sensors and chips that can be fried by current.

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I must say it looks really nice in there. Even more impressive than the 2004 Hybrid!

According to the manual and some online research you are supposed to hook the black cable to the black terminal and the

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red to a pointy metal thing that is part of the motor block on the vehicle being jumped. As for the live battery you hook to both terminals like I’ve always done. I’m wondering if I should have been jumping vehicles by hooking the red to the engine block?

Anyway I just did the tractor like before and used a bucket of chicken grit to put weight on the seat. It started and ran without major issue but would not restart after I disconnected. I might need to run a bit longer but at least I know the battery is the issue as suspected. Both the tractor and the truck died this winter. I might try to jump the latter tomorrow. Might try Uncle Budd’s trickle charger if it still work. Part of the problem with the tractor is I can’t disconnect the cables without stopping it. If I could just get it jumped and go strait on to mowing grass that would charge it up without having to run the car for a long time.

Other issue with the tractor is the rear right wheel that keeps going flat. I need to get an inner tube like I did for both front wheels and maybe now would be a good time to take it off and put it in the shop while I’m working on the battery issue. And the weather is turning wet again anyway.

Had two packages coming today but only the small Mock Rock arrived by UPS late in the day while I was heading down from the greenhouse after sizing up the place where I want to hang the fan. It was a small world as the driver not only knows my neighbor who also drives for UPS and also knows my brother because he delivers to the store!

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The new rock is very nice. Riverbed tone like the one covering the barrel. It’s also made of plastic and not fiberglass like the flat one that covers the electrical vault by the pond. I’m a little worried about that one because I’m afraid it might break if someone stands on it. Considering replacing it with a plastic one of similar dimensions and move that one to a spot above the Center Path where I might put a tap in on the line from the Hurricane for topping off the pools in the turtle pens.

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A little off color to the big flat sandstone but not too much and still way better than the rubber bucket I used to cover the splice on the buried cable that serves the turtle pens. In the original plan I was going to route a line from there to the CBT pen but gave up the idea after going with the bird bath containers instead of a water feature with a biological filtration system. So I may eventually put a plug box on a post there or a junction to service another turtle pen complex on that part of perimeter.

The other item—a bonsai pot did not come while I was there. So hopefully tomorrow—though I won’t need it until the Iris japonica “Eco Easter” arrives with the PDN order in early May.

Was a pretty nice day out there. Took some plant pics after setting the faux rock in place. Daffodils are fading fast but now the Summer Snowflake—Leucojum aestivum and creeping phlox are in full bloom and the Great White Trilliums are blooming in the nearby hollow. I want to start moving most of those to the woodland garden inside the perimeter. Will try to start working on that this season.

Transplanted the young Hart’s Tongue Fern from the rock garden to the spot by the falls above the Rosyside Pool under the Arborvitae bush. Pulled off a smaller piece to stick in one of the turtle pens but laid it down and forgot about it. It might be ok until tomorrow because of the rain that stated on the return trip.

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Back in C’ville I’m trying to get motivated to go shopping but it’s getting late and rains have moved in so I might default to tomorrow morning before I head out when my mind should be clearer and before the store gets busy.

Had been looking forward to the 70 degree days that were supposed to start Sunday but they keep getting pushed back and I’m running out of vacation. And to top it off some lows in the 30s with possibility of snowflakes mixed into the rain Saturday night !

4/30/18—1:47 PM

Total failure to launch Sunday. I thought about going home all day but kept putting it off and in the end didn't go. Not that it was good day to be wasted as it was yucky all day. I thought about going home after dinner so I could cover plants in the event of frost—but didn't do that either as I weighed the odds of it getting cold enough to do serious damage vs it being more worth while to wait until Monday and go home for the day. In the end I opted for the latter.

Well this is it. Last day of vacation and final opportunity to maybe get something worthwhile done. It definitely pays to keep track of the time because a week seems like a long time but it always goes fast. Was operating under the assumption today was the official last day and tomorrow was the day Mrs G was working for me—but it was today and I’m working Thursday for her. I looked at my schedule this morning and was shocked to realize that.

On my way I got T straps to finish the fan project and I might look into just getting a replacement battery for the tractor since I stopped by the bank to verify that last Thursday was payday because I was not sure and want to be sure that I have adequate cushion to cover property taxes and remaining bills.

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Still a lingering chill in the air but the sun is powerful enough to make it pleasant outside. Scouted the pond to check things out and activate the watercourse for the day. Some of the turts were active and it probably would have been a great day to bring the CBTs out because they could stay in their outside pen with the weather that is coming. A string of 70 and 90 degree days this week that might even make it good for them to stay out for the season. But better to go it slow and make sure I can get their Land Tub setup into the greenhouse and it would be better to put them out when I have a whole day like this one to keep an eye on them because the worst thing happen to animals when you leave them unsupervised in a new setup. Wednesday might be the day for that as I work 4 hours and can keep an eye on them while I work on a support structure for the tub.

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Got lucky on the frost issue. The Bletilla striata—aka Chinese Ground Orchids look like they made it unscathed. Will have to keep a vigil and some boxes or tubs handy to cover them for up until the middle of May and sometimes even late in the month the threat persists. In 2013 I had to cover stuff on Memorial Day weekend!

5/1/18—3:52 PM

The first of May and some spring weather that was long in coming!

The almost perfect day were it not for so many things in need of doing. At least I got the fan job done. I had two T straps because the only option when I went shopping was to buy a set of two for $7 so I used them both to get my money’s worth and it wouldn’t hurt to have extra strength to support an expensive appliance against gravity. Had to take a break to pay the property taxes and then stopped by to see Bruce because I had an issue with the bolt and nut assembly that holds the fan onto the bracket coming off while I was nailing the T assembly in place beside the Modine. That was a bit worrisome.

He was not home and I found him at his Mom’s place tidying up the garage barn. He said I’d have to tighten down that nut with the plastic inside called a bushing and that should do the trick.

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It worked out more simple than expected and the most difficult part was moving plants around to make room for the optimum placement of the stepladder to get at the assembly and hoist the fan up and hold it in place while I tightened the bolt. Used two wrenches to do that and the process went fairly smooth. I did not have much faith in the design but after I got it done, everything makes sense. The bolt and O-ring assembly allows maximum flexibility to tilt the fan as desired between strait ahead and at a 45 degree angle downward and to swivel in or outward. I thing the ideal aim is about 20 degree and slightly inward to push the air toward the opposite back corner. And it really pushes! Maybe a bit too much as was concern earlier. The ideal fan might be something intermediate between that and the smaller one it is replacing. I will look into a dimmer switch that might lower the speed a little.

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The smaller Versa-Kool fan was a bitch to get down as it took multiple attempts with different tools, scissors, serrated knife and finally tin snips to cut the thick zip ties holding it in place. Working up high is always compounded by gravity which drains the blood out of my arms and makes them tire rapidly. But I got it done and cleaned off most of the grime and cobwebs before repurposing it to replace the pedestal fan on the opposite end which will be repurposed as a house fan—probably to replace the old defunct box fan in the back bedroom. The Versa-Kool was strapped to the support column down low to blow back across the pond. I think later on I can get some kind of L bracket to attach to the column to give it a more professional look and the option to change the angle to up / down in addition to in / out.

The C-Fogger is also back in position and I think it works fine. I’m going to see if I can find an in-line filter to prevent debris from getting in and clogging the line or channels that direct water to the propeller tips.

Shame that took up nearly the entire afternoon as it would have been nice to have finished one of the other projects let alone all of them and have more time to devote to the animals and just enjoyment of things. The day and month ends with both a sense of accomplishment and regret—glad that at least one major project is finished but regret that I couldn’t get it all done during my vacation and weather was a major inhibitor there as the end of April felt more like the end of March and the nice weather I needed finally begins as I return to my real job.

Celebrated at Margaritas. And that was pretty much it. Will try to get the patio tubs ready this week so Ray can send the young Dollar Suns re-establish that species in my collection. This is a good time of year as it is getting warmer and live foods like mosquito larvae are more readily available. I can also start putting out the Redbreasted sunfish and younger Bullheads this week as it will be less shock to go from a chilly basement to warmer waters outdoors.

This is all late too as I usually am doing this stuff by mid April instead of May.

5/5/18

Finally it has come and things are starting to happen.

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Fan successfully mounted and the Land Tub moved to its new and final location in the greenhouse and I managed to not only get the Troybilt running again—I also got rid of some much needed to dispose of junk by putting it out for the annual township collection event yesterday morning. Some old tires and a bunch of defunct fluorescent tube shop lights and the remaining busted up hopper window from the garage that was replaced by glass block several years ago. Among other things—and nearly all of it—excluding the old rusted lawn chair was gone by evening. I assume it was all cherry picked by people who try to go around ahead of the collection effort because I still saw piles of stuff along the road on my way between home and C'ville last night. Hoping there will be a chance for maybe to get a little more stuff out and gone.

I should drag the old TV antenna that fell down in front of the trailer out and try to get rid of it!

Lots of beautiful stuff blooming now. It was another one of those pleasant spring days that gradually turned yucky as the rains in the form of a slow intermittent drizzle moved in through the late afternoon going into the evening. Too bad it is a split weekend because I was on a roll and ran out of time and daylight to get everything done. The DD project still holding for want of a 2” elbow with a male adapter on one end and female on the other. Best bet is Baker’s but did not want to run all that way and chance it being closed early. Will try on Monday

5/9/18 2:30 PM

Another good week hallmarked by maybe another successful breeding of the Andean Marsupial Frogs—Gastrotheca riobambae that awoke me yesterday morning with a lot of chirping and commotion in the vivarium and I found them in amplexus when I checked after the light came on. And later they were well underway with eggs being fertilized and positioned to be pushed into the brood pouch of the female.

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My fingers are crossed that I will have tadpoles soon and look forward to documenting it all in a future article on the pursuit of excellence in husbandry. As for the DD Renovation getting underway—it has already turned into the cluster that I dreaded all along.

Destroyed the 2x4 overhang in the process of getting it off because the nails would not give before the wood did. Luckily I have a couple spares on hand. Then the real fun began trying to get fitting apart and I had to use the vice in the garage to get the leverage. Plus I had to uptight the top of the collapsed work table to make that happen. At least the rough cut boards that make the top are still solid and I can probably keep that and replace the rotted legs with blocks after I get through this project. That will save a lot on having to buy or build a whole new table/ work bench from scratch.

After messing around with the fittings I do not have the right ones to get the job done so I’m going shopping for a shorter nipple and a few other 2” fittings and some poly pipe and just elbow my way to where I want to go.

That will get me to the really difficult part of removing and flipping the end wall so I can bring a nipple pipe level with the rim of the small tub and eliminate the splash that is wasting water in hot dry weather.

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5/10/18—12:39 PM

As predicted the DD project turned out to be an all day affair. After messing around with the fittings I had on hand I went to Baker’s to get a shorter threaded nipple to shorten the reach to the wall of the pen and allow room to elbow down. I had a male 2” elbow barb and needed just a few inches of poly pipe and another elbow with a female adapter to accommodate the discharge pipe which was another nipple fitting. The best he could do was one of those rubber sleeve fittings to go from the threaded nipple coming out of the bulkhead to my male elbow and I would have to go to a short piece of poly pipe and another elbow and something to connect to the second nipple pipe. I took another rubber fitting just in case.

Next stop was Brillhart’s in Scottdale and that was kind of an ordeal due to construction on the upper end of Mt Pleasant. I got there but it was slim pickins there too due to the unconventional nature of my projects. Seems nobody has the kind of fittings I need to plumb my ponds and turtle setups. They didn’t even have 2” polyethylene pipe!

To make a long story short I ended up with this:

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A 6” threaded nipple and rubber sleeve thingy from Baker’s to my 2” male elbow barb to a PVC sleeve connector (for a drop in connection) and 3’ of 2” PVC pipe (which I cut off a couple inches to go into a PVC elbow and then another PVC sleeve with a female adapter to screw in one of my 8” nipples. And ended up with the this:

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And it works fairly well. However the carnage involved in excavating above the wall of the pen so I could flip the 2x12 end piece was terrible. Kind of traumatic. Had to rip up a nice patch of rock cress and lift some well established Heucheras and other plants.

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But I got it done. The flashing ended up on the outside because it was the only way to keep the opening in alignment with the plumbing and the pool. Nailed a leftover piece of flashing over the rough edges of the strips of metal I nailed on to smooth over the opening when I cut out the chunk of wood to accommodate the original discharge pipe. Not the most aesthetically pleasing sight but it will suffice until I can get another roll of brown flashing to cover the whole facade.

Before backfilling I watched the entire length of the plumbing to make sure none of the connections were leaking. Then I dry stacked a combination of bricks and stone to rebuild the access well that I cover with a lid made of a leftover piece of 2x12 covered with ROR and then backfilled and replanted the plants and replaced the mock rock cover.

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Not bad for now. I even repaired the broken end of the 2x4 because the replacement piece I thought I had turned out to be a shorter 33” I use for the side pieces of the lids. Go figure. But it is done and the two turts that populate that end of the duplex were able to return and I’m going to check in the morning to make sure it is still working and not loosing water.

This project pretty much ate up my entire day and I was finished about dusk. Did not get to do much else other than feed the fish I moved out yesterday ave then threw some shrimp pellets to the fish in the main pond. The Bullheads came up almost right away. Want to start beefing those up because breeding season is nigh.

5/26/18—10:30 AM

Leaping ahead to the present as this article has been getting long and the time which has become one of my worst enemies these days is ticking away and I’d like to do something more this day before it’s gone. This week I finished the last major project on my spring to do list as spring—what little we had is nearly finished. It was the upgrade of the Waterland Tub that has become the wintering quarters for the Japanese Pond Turtles in the back corner of the greenhouse. I replaced the bio filter system made from a tote container I tried to make look like a waterfall with a Pro-Line 2000 waterfall box that looks and works much better.

picture!

It was still a lot of work but thankfully nowhere as difficult as the upgrade on the DD duplex. I was actually going to go with a 3000 model which was almost as wide as the Waterland but it had a ridiculously huge opening on the back wall for a ridiculously huge bulkhead that would be require some extra fittings to step down to my small tubing and would have been overkill anyway. I am actually considering that one for when I upgrade the 300 gallon inground pond which would be more appropriate. The smaller unit turned out better for the current application as it has more than enough capacity to filter a small pool of water and leaves room for an Alpina japonica ginger and a Selaginella plant that will fill in nicely around the edges. Further improvements are still pending but at least the major design and positioning of material is complete.

Yesterday was maybe the almost perfect day weather wise and it was the day another order from Plant Delights arrived. It contained an awesome Carex scaposa—similar to the native Seersucker Sedge—C. plantaginea but with pink tassels instead of the usual green or brown in most other sedges. And those were in full bloom and I didn’t have time to bother with pics. The order also contained an interesting strap leaved fern from China and an Asian ginger that was very pricy and a dwarf Agave. All those except the Agave are slated for the Land Tub that will be the Chinese Box Turtle wintering quarters. Most of these are semi hardy and could probably survive a brief freeze out in the greenhouse if the power fails. The Carex may even survive outside here as it is rated to Zone 6b by some sources but I’ll propagate more to put into the ground for testing.

Friday was a very nice day and I spent much of it between the greenhouse and QT with the turts. I lament that I didn’t get the grass cut as planned having run out of day and I pushed myself to feed the new Dollar Sunfishes and the remainder of the Blackbanded Suns some brine shrimp and carried the remaining Agaves and Cacti out to the patio. I could be mistaken but little danger of frost now judging by our weather patterns and the current forecast. But this is late for those plants as I usually have them out much earlier and have to cover them a time or two.

As noted time and time again everything is late this year. Except for frosts—the last major worry that turned out to be for nought was that weekend near the end of April. And that looks like the turning point where it flipped from cold to warm and stormy. I speculated that this could go down as The Year Without a Spring—which is at least better than a year like 1816—The Year Without a Summer of historic fame. I may have made those winter loving Yankees that drive my friend Ray crazy in Wisconsin as I have not heard much from them lately and not a word from Algore for at least a year. I did have a “Mother F-ing Nature moment earlier yesterday evening when I discovered the remaining yellow rhododendron that survived the insult of the deer which also trampled and dented in the hardware cloth lids of some of my turtle pens over the winter—now the new growth is apparently succumbing to the onslaught of insects or a disease. Mother F-ing Nature!

But I digress. Maybe good fodder for a future Errf Day article on the utility of GMO plants as a means to combat emerging diseases that are the bane of forestry and agriculture and horticulture. I know I’d probably get a spiel on the futility and prospect for creating more problems—strangely how that never seems to apply to problems created by government.

As for the day Friday—it ended splendidly with a moonlit night that made it heavenly to walk around the site above the greenhouse one last time. Like a midsummer eve and to think the winter loving Yankees would rather have a frosty night. What on Earth is wrong with those people? Happiness is a warm planet!

And speaking of the pursuit thereof—the rare Alabama ginger from Plant Delights last season did put out a couple of those weird ground hugging blooms that are hallmark of this genus that spans the northern hemisphere. And they actually do look like the snarky description given in the catalog.

picture!

Like Lindsey Lohan’s bloodshot eyes after a three day drunk. Don’t ya think?

A happy Memorial Day weekend to the Readership , Ken & Neil!

[ This was submitted last week, but I was too overwhelmed with computer problems to format it up. Sorry about that, but now here it is—Editor]

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