Sunday, April 19, 2009

April - time to pay my Carbon fixation taxes

The wood chips I used to place around the base of each newly set seedling, is carbon or trimmed & chipped wood from the Austrian Pines we planted years ago.

I love planting trees almost as much as I love building stone walls. Both of these activites do no harm to the environment, ...although they are not high priority economic stimulus items for the current economy.

For the last 20+years in the class room, I have had student planting trees on school grounds every April and this year I continue the April tradition of planting trees here at home, despite having moved out of the field of secondary education. [I hope some my former students remember the "tree planting" lesson.]

Yesterday I finished placing blue, transluscent shields around 50 red oak trees planted last week. They were interspersed among our Austrian Pines, now 20 years old and under attack from the diplodia tip blight fungus. Removal of dead under branches improves air circulation among the pines, but as a precaution we have been transplanting in Norway Spruce, White Spruce, Sugar Maples, American Beech, and this year Red Oak seedlings among the Austrian Pines.

The goal is to insure that this 2.5 acres evolves into a climax forest and over the years continues to "lock up or fixate" atmospheric Carbon into wood.

Recall the formula for photosynthesis:

6CO2+12H2O -light energy & green chlorophyll-> 6O2+6H2O+C6H12O6 .
The C6H12O6 or sugar, you will recall from basic biology, is the raw material from which these plants will produce organic leaves, seeds, branches, trunks ... in short wood. With each tree that grows over the decades, I am removing some of the carbon I put into the atmosphere by my daily activities, thus "paying my Carbon tax".

Have your paid your Carbon taxes yet?

It is not too late.


Monday, April 13, 2009

"Stoning": an Updated View

Stoning ... actually a rather peaceful sound. Listen!

After working 8.5 hours picking field stones with my father driving the tractor & wagon, Steve (my brother) and myself picked & ditched 9 loads of field stones with only a half hour for lunch and a quick nap. Steve later estimated that our efforts removed about 18 tons of stones from a field that will provide a grass/alflafa mix of hay for Steve's Belted Galloway beef cattle for years to come.
Loading x 9

Unloading x 9

Since picking stones is a physical activity, it allows the mind to comtemplate and sometime stray into the abstract. That is how I came to review the act of 'stoning', a retributive act, sanctioned by the laws of Moses and by other stone age "cradles of civilization?".

A quick Google of 'stoning' images shows how uncivilized this activity is TODAY!

I would like to suggest that this traditional destructive stoning could be replaced by a more civilized "picking stones"; a constructive activity that would allow all parties to improve the seed beds for "future crops/civilizations" as well as provide an abundance of inexpensive building material for:

  • access roads

  • wall construction in non-earthquake prone areas

  • the "Genesis 22: Sacrificial Grill"; as mentioned in my previous blog entry

  • stone walls for long term fencing projects

  • Archeology, a secondary benefit of the new stoning concept - Steve, displays evidence of the "iron age" or was that "bronze"?

Finally... the end of a long day of picking and unloading stones, all parties involved in the dispute [the stoners and the potential stoned] would be in unanomous agreement:

"What's for supper?"

...and the traditional stoning concept could be left to the stone ages!

Oh well! ... as sister-in-law Linda says: "You have too much time on your hands!"


Saturday, April 11, 2009

A New Twist on the Outdoor Grill or BBQ

The Genesis:"sacrificial model 22" grill is constructed of simple, common earth materials and fits the budget of any close to the earth family who enjoys outside grilling. This all natural grill uses virtually any scrap biomass fuels which impart a chared, smoky flavor to the meat or sacrifice and is not constricted by clumsy, bottled, propane tanks.*

Note the sheep or "ram in the thicket" is not included in the with the construction of this grill.

*The Grill comes with the full endorsement and life time guarantee by the Abraham, Sarah and especially "little" Issac family.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Human Power:Breakfast Calories move 10 tons

At 9:45 this morning, a truck arrived with 10 tons of crushed limestone to dress up the driveway. "Dave the excavator", dumped 1/3 of the load at the far end of the driveway and the last 2/3s of the load at the driveway's entrance. By 2:30PM, the spreading and leveling were done human power!

...2/3's of the load
...distributed stones
...stones spread and leveled

Here is a little mathematical break down.
The WORK ... to spread and level 10 tons of crushed stone with a shovel, wheel barrow, landscape rake, muscular energy, while leaving the central grass strip uncovered.
  • 2000 lbs/ton x 10 tons = 20,000 lbs divided by 38 wheel barrows loaded by hand = 526 lbs/wheel barrow load.
  • 526lbs/wheel barrow load divided by 45 shovel fulls of stone/wheel barrow load = 12 lbs of crushed stones/shovel full or over 1700 shovel fulls to get the stone loaded.
  • Each wheel barrow had to be pushed and dumped along the drive way.
  • Finally the stones had to be raked and leveled.

The ENERGY to do the WORK ...600 Calories or about 33 Calories utilized for each pound of crushed stone.

  • A bowl of 2/3 cup of oatmeal with milk, yogurt, brown sugar, with homegrown blackwalnuts & rasberries ...200 Calories

  • Two slices of homemade whole grain bread with peanut butter and home picked & preserved blackcap jam ...400 Calories

    1/3 of the load


The stones are spread

"Chendrashaker" expects to sleep well tonight!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Backpacking Again on the Finger Lakes Trail

Tuesday, March 31st
Sue dropped me off south of Dryden, NY at the same spot where the last hike three weeks ago ended and the next four day's backpack would begin. The day started off calm and in the mid 30's. The backpack contained supplies for four full days of hiking out of Tompkin's county, across Cortland, Onondaga and ending in the central eastern part of Madison county ... a constant series of switch backing up and down large hills and across valleys.

The 96 mile backpack route.

Beaver pond activity observed early on Tuesday.
At higher elevations Monday's snow flurries still cling to the trees.
First panoramic view on Tuesday.

View from the top of Greek Peak Sky Center. Triple point - solids, liquids, & gas exist as mid-day temperatures push into the 50's.
Looking back ... 1.5 hours after leaving the top of Greek Peak.
Resting my feet after 19.9 miles of backpacking at the Woodchuck Lean-to, Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday, April 1st
The sky is over caste, with sprinkles most of the day. Today I would drop down into the valley and cross under I-81 and then work my way across the Hoxie Gorge, Baker Schoolhouse, and Taylor Valley State Forests, before setting up my tent in a bivouac area with huge hemlocks and spruce trees for my evening companions. Tired after putting in 26.1 miles today. Overnight, as I relieve myself (...outside of my tent of course), I notice that the skies have cleared ...YES!
Crossing under I-81 at Hoxie Gorge.

Crossing Underwood Hill ... a 360 degree view.

"Soup" break.
In steep sided ravines and at higher elevations on the northeast side of hills, snow packs were common.
As the evening rain fell, it was cramped, but "cozy" as I boil water for a freeze dried meal of beef stroganoff . Not bad!

Thursday, April 2nd
Equipment packed and off by 6:28 this foggy morning. By 9:30 AM the day was sunny and warming up fast as I crossed the Cuyler Hill and Maxon Creek State Forests, before entering the hamlet of Cuyler on NY route 13. Several hot/boring miles of highway were backpacked to arrive at the trail head into the Morgan Hill State Forest. Today's hike was 24.6 miles long and a chance to soak my feet in Hemlock brook while getting water for supper was "Great" ... I could even hear my feet singing!
Morning fog
While sipping a cup of soup, I could hear the thumping of a male ruffed grouse courting a potential mate very close by.
Walked through heavy snow packs in the 50+ degree temperature.
Can you fine the Hemlock Lean to in this picture? ... tonight's five star hotel.
Reading articles from Discover Magazine that I ripped out and stapled together while eating dehydrated Italian Pasta with Beef.

Friday, April 3rd
With headlamp on, I started down the Hemlock gorge trail at 6:09 AM. The sky was over caste and rain was on the way as the winds were swirling the tree tops at higher elevations. I had to cover over 27 miles today to reach the designated pull out point this evening by trekking out of Cortland county, across the southwest corner of Onondaga county and into central eastern Madison county by 6PM. The rain and fourth consecutive physical day had me concerned about the potential to maintain my average speed of 2.3 miles/hour which would be required to reach the pick up point by the agreed upon time. With a brief stop at the deserted Skyline Nature center for a hand full of GORP, I proceeded down and across the Dam on Lake DeRuyter when the rain just poured for over 2+ hours. By the time I reached New Woodstock in Madison county the sun started to shine, only to be followed by more rains as I trudged across the Tioughnioga Wildlife Management Area's to the north side to meet Sue on Irish Hill road. I arrived at 5:37 PM, ready for a break

Tinker Falls drops into the Labrador valley.Hang glider take off point into the Labrador valley below.

Which came first? ... the spruce tree or gravestone in this old cemetery near Shackham Pond?

Trail Walking Commentary

...more trail commentary

The view looking north from the Skyline Visitor Center.

A look back toward the DeRuyter State forest across the hamlet of New Woodstock.

Hope you enjoyed the travelogue!