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September 27, 2012 / 74

Down On Tha Farm – catch-up post

Well… yeah. Been busy. But in honor (horror?) of 9/23 being the First Frost of the year (vs the “scheduled” est first frost on Oct 10), I decided to catch y’all up on what has been happening this summer.

Drought – We started the summer a bit dry – but it sometimes is. So no worry. But then week after week, not only no rain – but the HEAT! It got pretty dry up here on the hill! But fortunately we have a pretty good well – and we have over 60 acres of forest to hold the water table up – so we’ve not done too badly.

Last spring we planted over ten new trees in the orchard, including a fig tree, another pair of pear trees, a peach to replace the one that didn’t grow last year and to be the pollination partner for the peach we planted last year, a second persimmon (to replace the one that didn’t grow last year), a couple of Chinese chestnut trees, and some others. As the Spring wore on without rain, I decided that if I wanted any of those new trees to get a start watering was in order. So 4 gallons per tree every two days became the drill… all summer. Why 4 gallons? Because the watering can holds two gallons. ;-D (And after 4 gallons, the water didn’t absorb into the ground so fast – and the ground would still be slightly damp two days later.)

I am happy to say that all but two of the trees made it. One of the two never leafed out – and the other was my fault. It was in a protected area – and I just forgot about it for a week and that was all it took. It turned brown and dried up. (sigh) And one of the trees was snarfed by the cows! But it came back and leafed out again.

Garden – So… did I mention we had a drought this summer? 😮

I was watering the garden too… but it didn’t seem to help. One day – the last day I tried watering the garden – I’d been watering with one of those spray hoses – the ones that have a water pattern like a shower – for an hour and I noticed a bean that had erupted from the ground. I bent over and poked it back into the dirt and discovered that all the water I’d dumped on the ground had only penetrated about a quarter of an inch. So I stopped wasting water.

We have a new plan for next year. We’re hoping to set up water tanks and attach soak-er hoses to them, and cover the hoses with mulch. .. well… that’s the plan.

The sweet potatoes are still growing, early frost and all. They were probably protected by the weeds… (SEE! Weeds CAN be handy things to have around… sometimes.) The white potatoes didn’t even sprout. We did get a few ears of corn… and are saving them to plant next year as a drought hardy variety.

And the cows ate all the strawberry plants… which was okay by me. They were advertised as putting off only two runners per plant per year – and they were putting off 8 to a dozen runners by early summer! I don’t have the time to snip runners all day every day.

Chickens – well… they slacked off during the intense heat. Slackers. ;-D and there was some molting, and now some returning to production… but there are a lot less eggs than before – which is okay since we can’t eat all they lay anyway.

Guineas – now, here’s a funny thing. Early in the Spring, we lost our 5th surviving guinea – leaving us only 4. So we’ve been going along all summer with 4. Then here about a week ago, early one morning, before I let the birds out for the day, there was a guinea walking up the drive snarfing bugs. I just figured that one of them hadn’t got back in the shed before I closed it up the night before. So I let the other birds out – and then there were 5! They hung out together all day, then at dusk I locked up FOUR guineas – the other one went somewhere else. It has been wandering in during the day off and on for a while now. I’m wondering if it will decide to move back in when winter hits. Won’t be much guinea food out there in the snow… or under the ice. (Unless it gets smart and steals the dog food… )

COWS! – Yes. We still have cows. They scraped their funny Groucho fly faces off. And otherwise there’s really nothing much to say – except the rain finally came (7.8″ at one go) and the grass took off so we didn’t have to start feeding them their winter’s alfalfa. But there was still a goodly bit of grass for them before we’d have had to do that.

“Big” Fields/Tractor – FINALLY got all the stuff on the tractor fixed that needed to be fixed – was mowing the 15 acre patch and blew a high pressure hydraulic hose. Got THAT fixed and got some weeds mowed. Last week my wife (Da Boss!) said, “Why not just let the winter snow knock the weeds down and mow in the spring when they start to grow again? Sounded good to me. Save me 15 or 20 gallons of diesel!

Nellie – We buried Nellie, our faithful hard working border collie, up on the top of the hill when she passed. She was nearly 15 and as good a dog as ever there was. She could herd cows, sheep, chickens, deer, hunters, kids and whatever else she took a mind to herd.

So we buried Nellie.

DANG it was HOT that day, but the wife and the kid and I got the hole dug anyway! We took turns digging in the concrete-like loess clay and resting in the shade. We had to use a pickax to break up the dirt. A spade just wouldn’t cut it!

Now that there has been some rain, the coyotes have been trying to dig her up. So now she has a cap of concrete patio bricks on her grave. She never put up with coyotes while she was alive – so I don’t think it would be appropriate for her to have to suffer them now that she’s not able to defend her remains. Yeah… I know. To the coyotes she’s just another dead body that needs to be disposed of (AKA “LUNCH”). And to Nellie – well… she’s gone so probably doesn’t care. But it matters to ME!

We’ve given away several bushels of apples, and a LOT of eggs. We tried the farmer’s market thing – but by the time we drove to a market, we lost money after gas money and feed – so now we just give the surplus eggs to the food pantry. We have the cow shed completed (more or less) and it now holds about 150 bales of good alfalfa hay for our cows this winter. Only one of which will see Spring – the other will see the inside of the freezer. The one should have a calf after the first of the year… providing a mountain lion doesn’t get her or it…

I’m now working on figuring out how to E-publish a little novella I authored on Amazon.com. I’ll let y’all know when I get it done! So there’s more to “The Farm” than just plants and annimules! ;-D

So that’s about it. More later, I guess.

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One Comment

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  1. Anonymous / Oct 1 2012 08:32

    MM, Love hearing about the farm, real life trumps a fairy tale these days.
    Harry Q.

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