James Whitelaw

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since Nov 23, 2016
Upstate NY on cusp of zone 5a-5b Sandy Loam
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Recent posts by James Whitelaw

Just wanted to put in a plug for stump fences. Once found all over, they have faded from the landscape. I remember the stump fence on my place as a young child 60 years ago, already decades old then, as a nearly impassible tangled mess full of bugs and varmints. As the years passed the old stumps gradually eroded away, leaving portions of contorted roots drying into interesting twisted shapes reminiscent of driftwood that neighbors would drag off to decorate their front yards. Today nothing is left save for a raised berm where the fence used to be composed of black rich humus.
1 week ago
Haven’t planted rhubarb yet, but wanted to point out that it has a rep for being a good crop in our area in Upstate NY in our silty/sandy loam that is very well drained (obviously). So thinking we’ll drained soil is one factor to success w/ rhubarb.
2 weeks ago

...completely conventional house in a subdivision...working towards doing the early retirement...plan to sell this house in 9-10 years...everything needs to be up to code before we can sell



Wiley, if I were you, I would take the next 10 years and become an casual expert on your local real estate and build as much sweat equity in your home as you can economically. Maximizing the value of your home can be done without spending a lot of money. Good advice above on your furnace and I wouldn’t cheap out on getting it maintained. There is an inherent economy in keeping an otherwise functional furnace working. I’ve never resided in a house with forced air heating, only cast iron radiators and hot water systems growing up. My knowledge on forced air is that there is an art and science to the ductwork and many ills often reside in leaky joints, badly designed ducts or vents. if you decide to replace it eventually, doing so closer to the date you sell might be a consideration as a selling point. You might consider seeking out an experienced house inspector and have that person go over your house as if you were considering buying it. Document and use that advice s a roadmap towards what you will need to do.

...leave the next owners with a producing food forest and a house that is as green as possible without being so "weird" or high-maintenance that they rip it all out and put conventional stuff back



Keeping in mind your over-arching goals, I would be leery of investing a lot of time and expense into shoe-horning a producing food forest into a terribly conventional suburban neighborhood. Just that in 10 years you will want your property to sell quickly and fetch as good a price as the market will bare. Focusing on maximizing your “curb appeal” .

One last word I will leave here, you mention a timeline of 10 years and that reminded me of a new very green heating technology I have posted about previously that harvests sunlight, stores that energy (up to 18 years) and can deliver heated liquid on demand and is being touted as having commercial application within 10 years. I could totally see it being retrofitted to forced air systems.
2 weeks ago
No kids but something that has tempted nieces and nephews upon visits is what we call an Egyptian Egg Sandwich that is basically a fried piece of bread in butter with the center cut out and an egg added.

Another twist is what we call “savory pancakes” that I have heard are also called hoe-cakes. Basically pancake mix with cubed cheese, chopped onions, hot peppers (optional) salt, pepper & oil and some water or milk. They are very thick going into the pan and need to be flipped quickly to prevent burning. Take a bit longer to cook completely through. We do them as a quick pick-up dinner as they take almost no time and easy cleanup.

Otherwise we eat steel cut oatmeal almost every morning with lots of fruit. We buy a 50 lb bag periodically and go through it at a surprising clip.
3 weeks ago
Family cake recipe...

12 lbs very dark molasses sugar
12 lbs Flour
36 lbs seeded raisins
24 lbs Currants
12 lbs sliced citron
10 dozen eggs
2 1/2 quarts molasses
3 bottles sherry wine
3 bottles brandy
6 ounces grated nutmeg
6 ounces cloves
6 ounces of cinnamon
6 ounces of mace
12 teaspoons baking soda
One 12th of this baked slowly in a four quart pan makes a delicious cake
3 weeks ago
My bad, just have water on the brain today. I guess you could thoroughly soak a soil sample with distilled water and strain the result and have that tested. Not sure how scientific that would be, but seems likely at least traces would show up.
1 month ago
Have not used them, but this outfit offers specific testing as well as packages to target a variety of pollutants

Tap Score
1 month ago
IANAL, so take the following w/ a healthy amount of salt; The original poster has apparently moved on...but I wanted to point out that those huge trees that have barbed wire running through their centers are likely border trees and depending on the State law, removing them without the neighbors permission could be a legal violation and some monetary punishment such as stump fees, a fee for the estimated value of each tree removed, could be assessed.

Another mention was on the possibility of losing your property to another if you don’t keep up your fence line. This process is called Adverse Possession and is very much State specific and while exceedingly rare is something property owners should understand. For example you buy a piece of land and discover there is a road that runs over your land being used by a neighbor. Depending on the specifics, if the use of the land was without the landowners permission and the use existed long enough to satisfy the statute, the encroaching neighbor could theoretically claim the land. Sometimes this can be forestalled by a landowner simply giving permission for the use of the road and getting acknowledgement of that permission, the existence of which undercuts the “adverse” part of the equation. Spending an exorbitant amount of money on perimeter fencing seems a waste to me, but the exact circumstance may justify it. To do my perimeter would take almost 9,000 foot of fencing, so that is not happening.
1 month ago
In the mid-Atlantic we rented a cabin on a plot that had many giant fig trees, both the green and purple types, that grew to 14 foot high with prolific production of fruit. Other than the colors, no idea of the specific cultivar, but knowing they were planted prior to the sixties could indicate a traditional type. When lady who rented to us died and the property was sold to the County as a park, we were told to help ourselves to any domestic plantings in the gardens, so I hacked three fig trees out of the gravel roadside where they had established (quite a task) and planted them at the house we purchased. Hoping for a variety we only got the green type. Over the 25 years since we yearly get tremendous production of figs during the season. Only once a few years ago did we experience low enough temperatures that killed back our figs, requiring they be cut back to the ground (gave away all the fig wood).

I was unfamiliar with the closed eye variety, even though we live in the humid Mid-Atlantic (where our figs our as opposed to our farm up north) it is a battle to beat the ants, bees and birds to our share, they ripen so quickly.
1 month ago
In my area there is a 47 acre empty lot of prime farmland for sale, agricultural zoned. about 30 acres cleared pasture, the rest wooded. The asking is $249,000 (a bit over $5,000 per acre. A nearby (to us) 2.43 acre building lot directly on the road, heavily timbered on a slope is on the market for $37,000, or a bit over $15,000 per acre.

For comparison in same area: 27.3 acres, $1,150,000: Turn-key horse farm with 6 bedroom, 5,400 sq.ft. home, located 7 mins to downtown Saratoga Springs. Two barns: 32 stalls, wash stalls, laundry, tack & feed room, spacious lounge & office. Caretaker’s apartment. 80x180 indoor arena, 10 turnouts; several with automated waterers. 2 outdoor arenas: dressage and jumping, round pen area, and 1/2 mi. dirt riding track. Versatile property ideal for rehab/training ctr, boarding operation or private equestrian estate.
2 months ago