On Clearing Trees and education Hurdles

While it wasn’t on my list of things that have to get done, Emma suggested we start clearing up some junky pine and spruce trees that are in various states of dying along the road in front of the house. The appearence of them certainly doesn’t help the house, and it could actively hurt if a wind storm brings one down.

So we set to work taking down the first one and I nearly killed myself. Even a short, 10-foot pine tree has plenty of weight to it. And when someone gives a sharp tug on a come-along rope, and the tree bounces backwards and begins to come down the opposite direction from where you expected it, all you can do is jump.

I laid out the opposite direction, winding up prone on the ground with a pine tree lying next to me. Needless to say, I was a little gun-shy when it came to the second tree of the day.

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A Daring Return

In one magnificent stroke, I announce my intention to blog more. That’s right … I’ve not been bloggin’ for a bit. Couldn’t you tell? What? Nevermind. That’s not important right now.

What is important is that I’ll be updating folks on what’s going on in the lives of us Timberwyckians. All the ups and downs of trying to be the best father I can be, while juggling being a half-way decent software developer and farmer. Whew. That’s a lot of stuff!

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Math as Puzzle Solving

When I was in something like 5th grade they gave everyone a test. The results of the test placed you in one of two math classes. No descriptions of the classes were given, and the teachers didn’t explain why we had to take the test. But the results were obvious. One class was segregating M&Ms into colors and adding, subtracting and dividing. The other class was learning basic algebra. I was in the dumb kids’ math class. Of course, that’s a narrow-minded way to look at it. And as an adult I can appreciate all the nuanced arguments for tracking students and the unimportance of being “ahead” of anyone when you’re that young. When you’re 10, life looks less like a marathon than a sprint, and it sucks to be left in the dust.
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The Cold Breaks

Anyone who’s ever said “cold is cold” hasn’t spent much time below zero. I’ve spent plenty of time there myself, especially when I was a college student in Wisconsin, but for some reason, as both a farmer and homeowner, this cold snap felt different. Perhaps it was the fact that our car’s blower motor burned out a week before, or maybe it’s just watching the oil level drop precipitously when the degree-day measurment is 60+ (that’s indoor temp minus outdoor temp).

In any case, having to lug water out to the pigs in the pasture was an exercise in keeping warm. While it’s still true that moving around outside keeps the blood going, when the mercury hits -5 or so and the wind chill is worse, your hands go numb pretty quickly, regardless. But the cold snap has passed, for now. We’re finally getting back to our regularly scheduled, maritime moderate winter temperatures. Doing the animal chores with the temps in the 20s I actually built up a sweat. That’s more like it.

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QuerySet Trouble in Django Class-based Views

So in a recent project I had a very strange publishing bug where two models out of more than a dozen or so, were tossing out 404s where a detail page should be. We had just instituted a lot of caching pieces to the project, which turned out to be red-herrings and probably had something to do with how long it took to track down this bug. But for the sake of the internet and anyone else who finds their model’s publish datetimes strangely cached despite their best efforts to get them to show up, here’s some good advice:

Don’t use the “queryset” model attribute for your view class, override the “get_queryset” function.

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Johnny Cache & Management Commands

Discovered a pretty huge caveat to using Johnny Cache to speed up Django ORM queries.

Johnny Cache is a really great library that can speed up Django sites that are slowing down with large joins and complex data models. Django has a built in ORM caching mechanism, but Johnny Cache takes it one step further.

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Snopocalypse Redux

Well, it happened. Kind of wondered if we were all out of snow for the year, as the extended forcast for the past few weeks hinted at flurries or showers but nothing else. Than, wham! A classic Nor’easter comes up an wallops us good.

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There are a great many trials and tribulations to life. Somedays you don’t feel well. Others it seems like nobody, not even your partner, is on the same page with you.

Life throws us curveballs, and anyone who believes that they have their routine down so well that they can’t be interrupted is not being honest with themselves.

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So our humble first attempts at tapping birch trees were a failure this year. That is to say, we only failed for the time being. Seems birch and maple do not keep the same schedules. This is a good thing, as it happens.

After scouring the woods across the road from our house, we finally managed to positively identify one maple by the leaves on the ground. That set a big machine in motion, as we can now tell maples from oaks at a pretty good distance. With nothing impedding our tapping endeavour now, we managed to find a stand of about six maples on our own property and likely plenty more as we throughly investigate our neighbors property with our new found knack for spotting true maples.

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Finnegan Arrives

Well, here it is Friday, March 11 and while we knew at some point we’d have to plant seeds, the snow just looked like it wasn’t going anywhere. Then we have back to back torrential rain storms and, poof, we can see grass again. Of course, being able to see the grass isn’t the only change around here. As you can tell from the title of this post, Finnegan has come to stay for good. Timberwyck Farm does nothing if not keep you on your toes.

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