Living with the critters

Had to get involved in one of my least favored tasks – fixing the sprinkler system. My system has 3 independent circuits and I noticed that on two of the circuits, the longest circuits, the pressure had dropped so that at the end of the string of sprinklers, there was barely enough pressure to lift the sprinkler head. Since it was on two independent circuits, my logic was that it was something at the pump or worse. But on inspection, looked like plenty of pressure at the pump end. I took on the simpler circuit and found that there was no water at all coming from the last 6 heads. Aha, clogged line. Wrong, turned out to be 6 clogged heads, no line problem at all. So I headed over to the second circuit and found no such luck. The last sprinkler on the string was gushing water out the sides of the sprinkler so I guessed the sprinkler was history. Installed a new one – same problem. So I decided to just let it run and see if I could find a spot along the run that was saturated because the only possibility was a line break somewhere in the 200′ length of buried pipe. Sure enough, I found a spot where water was bubbling to the surface. The actual break was about 4′ from the spot where the water surfaced but once found, easily fixed. Easily if you have all the pieces you need to build a splice. I happen to have it all and within a half hour, oila, fixed. The beauty of dealing with sprinkler systems in Florida compared to my experience in Texas and Utah is that it’s infinitely simpler to dig into the Florida sand. In Texas it was rock hard clay and in Utah it was rocks. A job like this would have taken half a day at least in Utah; an hour here at most.

Today’s harvest was a beautiful cabbage, the first cucumber and first zucchini. I think there are two more cabbages and two cauliflowers but beyond that, all summer stuff. At this point the big garden question mark is going to be the corn. I’ve never done well with corn before which really bugs me because it takes so much space. If it’s not a success this year, it gets scratched off the list forever. I think it’s a big farm crop and not something for us back yard guys. We have plenty of roadside stands loaded with really nice corn so……………….. At this point it’s the challenge that keeps me trying. Did have a setback when one tomato plant was attacked by nematodes and crashed overnight. That’s one out of 12 so I have to assume that I was just a little sloppy with that particular plant in terms of ground prep. It’s also a good reminder to me that the little rascals are always there waiting for me to screw up. I had started thinking that perhaps once you overcame them, they were gone for good. Wrong. I haven’t pulled the plant yet to examine the roots and I guess it’s possible something else happened but it sure looks familiar.

Have another thing to put on my “check once a week” list. I lifted the hood on the Toyota, the car we drive almost every day, to check the oil and found the start of a squirrel nest along with a pile of acorns. It was built right on the engine block just as it was on the Mercury last year. Interestingly, when I removed it the bottom of the nest was blackened by the engine heat. I guess it doesn’t get hot enough to burst into flame but it sure has that potential. So let’s see – in the past month I caught a mouse in a trap in the trunk of the Merc and removed a squirrel nest from the Toyota. I guess these guys are smart enough to vacate before the engine starts, at least I hope so. What a mess that would be.

I was thinking Obama was toast when gas topped $3; burnt toast above $4; burnt toast crumbs above $5. He said he wanted higher prices many times so it’s hard now to back away from it. I guess he can appoint a committee to look into it. In his defense, we’re actually pumping more oil than ever – oh wait, that’s based on new production started 5 years ago when the evil Bush was in charge.

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