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L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 922, May 14, 2017

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Summer in Wunderland: Beautiful Weeds
by Jeff Fullerton
born2bewild1962@gmail.com

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise

Dear Editor & Friends

Currently working the upcoming Norseman’s article and another one on some of the colorful characters / curmudgeons I’ve met in the shady and eccentric world of the reptile business. Unfortunately progress is slow because I can use maybe another week or two to span a little more time worthy of a smashing spring edition.

The Curmudgeons I might have been able to pull off tonite at the end of my shift but again I would really be pushing the deadline and myself and probably end up leaving out something that I’d end up regretting later on. So better to work on it another week or two.

While looking through my drafts folder I did happen upon something written several summers ago when the greenhouse and surrounding landscape was much neater and cleaner and the plants were in much better condition than currently after a summer of neglect and then some other issues that made a mess that I’m currently sorting out and trying to put back into some semblance of better order as I learn from mistakes and apply those lessons to taking back my—well: everything.

It definitely looks like a road map to recovery and maybe even title for a future article. I figure this one makes for a good letter to the editor and the readership to enjoy what a beautiful sight it was then and what I hope to restore in the coming months.

Note my old blue Honda Civic that I later in the year traded in for my current maroon one and nicely weeded rock garden outside the greenhouse and fresh new gravel flooring within. My great hope for the year—to catch up again! Also it was my last year as an outlaw turtle keeper as the ones mentioned by name were liberated the following spring when I decided to shift to exotic species.

June 28 2013

Been a busy last few weeks. Got my Hydrofogger working again a couple mornings ago but the C-Fogger is still down. Troubleshooting narrowed the problem down to the L shaped copper tube that conducts water to the hub of the propeller. There is either debris or corrosion clogging the crimped bend in the tube. That one is going to be a tough nut to crack.

Gravel. My trip to get pea gravel at Kingston last week was unsuccessful due to the fact the yard closes 15 minutes before the office. I keep forgetting that. Ended up defaulting to Laurel Nursery where I found the cutest little cactus with pink flowers that was only 3 bucks so I got it. Also got seeds of various perennials including butterfly weed. Then it dawned on me I should check and see if there were any mature specimens available so I checked out in the yard and got 3 which were either in or near bloom! That was my quick fix.

Was tempted by a mature knee high Zamia cycad that would make a nice accent in the greenhouse—but the near 50 dollar price tag put me off a bit. Might be better to just smaller ones if I want more. Have a couple already that are not doing so well—mostly due to neglect and crowding by other plants. Decided to give them more TLC and maybe order a few more which can be had for $10 ea at one place I know in Florida.

After stopping at the farm store up that way my trip was not a total loss after all. Got a much needed bale of pine bedding for the chicken coop and headed home. It was sort of a race against time to beat the cactus blooms before they closed—as they were in response to the setting sun. Did manage to get a somewhat decent pic before they did. The cactus went into the rock garden at the greenhouse and put two butterfly weeds on the shale bank by the driveway and one by the greenhouse.

Been working on weeding a good bit. I am redding up sand beds a little at a time tossing weeds out on the lawn area to dry out and be ground up by the mower. Also did a ruthless thinning of the creeping phlox when I planted the new cactus so the desert garden is looking more like a desert and a rock garden now.

Gave up on incubating chicken eggs in favor of letting the two—and now three—broody hens do the work for me. Someday maybe I will figure out how to regulate it properly to maintain a constant 99.5 degree temperature underneath a sitting hen. For now it will be a reptile incubator. Adrianne was nesting at dusk last Friday eve and I recovered 6 the following morning. Threw out the defunct chicken eggs and using the incubator to house them and Shelly’s clutch now. Probably won’t turn it on as a warm room is sufficient to incubate these eggs. I should order that precision unit now—it is still a few weeks before the critical period for TSD in most Emydine turtles. This first run I will be aiming for females. If I get eggs from Loribelle & Gretchen I will probably aim for males with Gretchen’s clutch since the sire—Willington looks nicer than Bob. The eggs from LB I hope will favor the influence of their mother.

Saturday I got put on call again so I made good use of the time fixing two drawers in the kitchen and cleaning up the horrible mess below the kitchen sink. Took off the rotted tail piece and replaced it with a funnel from the top of a milk jug going into the pipe below the drain and wrapped it with electrical tape to secure. This Jerry rigging is better than trying to avoid using that sink as much as possible and catching the drip with a pan. The resultant overflow totally ruined the particle board false bottom which was crumbling to sawdust. Ripped that out and used the drip pan to carry the material outside and dump it in the flower beds where it will make nice mulch. Replaced it with two pieces of Attic Decking supported on bricks and cut to fit around the plumbing. Was good to go just as it was time to go in for work.

Monday 25th of June

And the good roll continued. Replaced the basement light fixture and decided to take another crack at a run to Kingston for gravel that afternoon. Could have waited for payday but thought it prudent to get it up there and offloaded before the weather turned wet again and soggy conditions made it impossible to get the truck up to the greenhouse site. Almost didn’t do the latter on the account of storms. There were some hefty boomers moving just to the south—close enough to stir up some breezes but missed. All the while I was doing my check book to make sure there would be enough money left in the bank to get to payday. There was and it stayed dry here so I was off. Hit some patches of rain on the way but it was clear at the other end.

Went strait away to the bins to make sure they had #522 which is the yellow tinted quartz pea gravel I use for the walkways in and around the greenhouse. Then before I made the purchase I walked around to eyeball other stuff. Of particular interest—that nice orange concrete sand which looked way better than ever before. Just what I need to top off the sand bed and looks like it has good potential as horticultural sand for potting mixes and rooting cuttings. At $30 a ton it will probably be my next load. The #522 is $70/ton.

Stopped at Laurel N again for weed barrier to put down to keep dirt and the dingy older stuff from working its way back up thru the fresh gravel. Took some before pics of how crummy the old floor looked before putting down the new. There was more than enough to do the job and the leftover portion was just enough to refresh the walkway the entire way around the front to the door on the other side. I even put down a couple baskets in the NW corner which should put an end to tracking any mud around the greenhouse. The whole process took hours and was finished just before sundown.

That was a lucky break to have enough stone to make the outside presentable as well. That on top of getting those drawers and the light fixtures repaired, not to mention solving the sink problem—hard to beat that for a good week. Also planted the seeds—Butterfly Weed, Black-Eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower (AKA Echinacea), Skinner’s Columbine and Canary Climber earlier that day before getting organized to go for gravel.

Got sleepy after a late dinner and that pretty much put the kibosh on the idea I was entertaining to go back up and put a work light on. Am contemplating the installation of interior lighting that can be turned on with the flip of a light switch. Did go back up again later to check with a flashlight and sit in the moonlight. The field is always a wonderful place for that. They were talking about Kecksburg on Tinfoil Theater when I came back in. There is a local man who was an eyewitness to the UFO incident back in the 60s but he was intimidated by the government and is reluctant to talk about it to this day.

Tinfoil has been pretty good lately. A few days ago; the science fiction author Larry Niven was interviewed by one of the stand-in hosts. Kind of a weird coincidence being that Wunderland—one of the pet names I like to call my place derives from the fictional planet in Niven’s “Man-Kizin Wars” universe.

Weather turned wet big time Tuesday, which made me glad I got my gravel when I did. That evening we had a very ominous line of severe weather move thru. The hospital called a Code Yellow Watch and it got dark as night and the rain poured. But there was not so much in the way of lightening or winds and no hail—at least where I was. Just rain. It rained again late in the night going onto morning. There was at least 3 inches in containers left standing outside. And the ponds were well filled.

First load of firewood was delivered the next day. The guy had no trouble backing up the bank despite the rain. It must be more settled and compacted now. Another reason it was good that I got that gravel in there when I did as the way is now blocked until I can get the wood cleared away and stacked.

The day was for the most part sunny and dry. Did a little work on the ponds while feeding the turts. Used the brushes to lift string algae out of the Bantam tub. It was really overgrown.

Was really pleased when I got to the greenhouse. The sight of fresh gravel and less clutter was uplifting to say the least. Set up a tote tub for the young gulf coast box turtles that will soon be going to a new home. I am selling them to a girl who wants them for her son. I hope to replace them eventually with a new batch from my breeders.

Things slowed down at work so I ended up going home early. Took advantage of the opportunity to stop off and check out those blooming yucca plants along the highway a few miles from home. Been wanting to do it for some time but access is limited by a narrow shoulder and traffic which can be dangerous. Was able to double back and park on the opposite shoulder of the 2 lane road and dash across. Took some pics—but forgot to get a good panoramic shot—which I wanted to begin with. Got a few peices of root to start a few plus a piece of the wild rose that was growing there.

Back home I did a little work in the greenhouse processing the new plants and setting up a mini sand bed in a styrofoam container to finish rooting the Britton’s violets and pieces of rose coreopsis collected last week. Finished up just before dark.

This morning another round of heavy rains pretty much put a damper on anything outside. They finally let up but I will soon have to go to work and it is payday so I have to go to the bank and other things.

Long weekend coming up. Was thinking about getting fishing license and going seining but the creeks are swollen big time so I will probably stay close to home and play with my ponds and greenhouse. Like to enjoy that as long as I can.

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