Thursday, October 19, 2017

In Chicken News ...

Lately, Bernie has taken to sitting on the orchard fence like he's the boss of the world. He sits there and crows.
Bernie, in mid-crow
And for weeks Punkin has refused to leave the coop. She won't go into the orchard. It's not good for her to have no sunlight or fresh air. She scurries around that dark, spider-webbed coop All Day Long. So today I decided I'd move her in with the new flock (Arthur and his girls). Remember Arthur? (He's bigger now - this is an old photo.)
I scooped Punkin up. She squalled. Bernie squalled. I told him he'd lost one of his girls. I put an unwilling Punkin into the isolation cage, which is inside the new chicken yard where Arthur and his girls live.
They were quite interested in the new arrival.

All these chickens already know each other, but Punkin is such a mean hen, I'm delaying introducing her to these young(ish) ones, until I know they can beat her up. Seriously -- she's a bully.

Also, Adam's been making more leaves.

 


This is the first one, that had too many bubbles.
Now he's added purple veining on top of the green wash.
And we continue to gather and shell pecans, trying to figure out which trees have good nuts and which don't. 
I've had a plant for a VERY long time -- it's a "creeping fig," I found out today. Here's a blog banner photo I took of it about ten years ago.
It's been in that very pot for a decade (at least). I nearly killed it twice for lack of water. Yesterday I saw a creeping fig plant in a doctor's office courtyard, protected and growing with abandon against a brick wall in the warm sun. It looked so happy. I decided to yank mine out of its pot, divide it, repot, and think about where in the yard I could place mine, where it would be protected enough to survive over the winter.
 

The farm is quiet. The dogs are happy. I'm trying to spend more time outside or painting or writing, and less time being irritated at rude people on Facebook. Who needs that?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Curing in Autumn

 Adam is making more leaves. These are smoother, with fewer bubbles. Here's the first big one he did, painted.


 

I suppose he has about 15 leaves of various sizes in various stages of development. They should dry (or cure) slowly over the winter. Above you see a Japanese Magnolia leaf. He embedded a hook in the back.
 He smoothed the back of the big leaf. The two green hostas above will have light green veins.
Our new puppy, Trixie, wants to help sort pecans.

 Some friends have said it's too early for pecans, that they won't be fully developed. But from reading on two state extension websites, if the pecans are dropping naturally (not from wind), and the husks are dry and fully open (or off entirely), then the pecans should be fully developed, after curing. Curing, or drying, should take about 10 days.

 Adam dug all the sweet potatoes. Here they are, drying ... curing ... on our front porch, on wire racks.
 Some are tiny. Some are mammoth.

They also cure about 10 days.
And I have a steady stream of loofahs coming through their process of curing, deseeding, cleaning, bleaching.
Our small 2nd crop of white potatoes are coming along. I wasn't going to sneak a peak, but then one potato was showing already ....
 My Blue Lake green bean plants are looking very bedraggled from bugs, but I got another bag of beans today. I've been blanching and freezing them.
 Here's Adam's new compost pile inside the garden fence. Beyond the fence you see the big field our friend bush-hogged for us. It looks so good! 
 All the grass out there will eventually be raked into this pile too.
I have one remaining cherry tomato plant in the garden that's bearing. It was a volunteer, I think. I thought it was declining, but it seemed to get a second wind!

 

It has lots of blooms and green tomatoes, and plenty of red ones too. I picked a handful of about 20 today.
I'll take that! 
I love how the produce of a small farm changes so much from season to season. Some crops come around a second time (since we have a long growing season). Some come in bursts -- like Adam's leaf-making. He can only do it now, when the leaves are mature. In a couple of weeks, all these leaves will be yellow and dying. And elephant ears won't be big again until mid-summer. I like that we live in a dance-like comradery with these seasonal shifts of nature. I love that at any given time I can have eggs and nuts and beans and peas and tomatoes and herbs from my own plot of earth. That is quite rewarding.

Monday, October 9, 2017

We Are Diggin' Fall!

As I mentioned before, Adam has been push-mowing this big field. The tidy piles look cute, but that tall stuff on the left/top of the photo? That's the chest-high goldenrod weeds he still has to tackle. Thankfully, a friend with a tractor offered to bush-hog the rest of it for us. He came today.
Today I reminded Adam it was time to check sweet potatoes. They've been in the ground since mid-June. Sure enough ...

 

That's only 5 plants' worth. There are many more to dig. Yay!! I love sweet potatoes. I wonder how long it will take me this winter to tire of them? I think I need to find a good sweet potato pie recipe.

For lunch today, I made some avocado dip with a few things off the farm: egg, a few last tomatoes, and beautiful cilantro:
Our self-seeding cilantro is just lovely:
And my newest hen Autumn laid her first egg this morning!
 She's just a teenaged hen, so her first egg is small. It's on the left, below. Next to it is one of Punkin's eggs. Punkin is a year older. Hens' eggs get larger as they grow older; however, they lay less often. Your "jumbo" eggs in the grocery are from older hens.
Adam continues to lay thick mulch on our house beds. It's like putting the plants nighty-night for the winter.
 A wonderful addition to our farm this weekend is this nice extension ladder that we bought from a friend for $50. It's so good to have it; now we can begin to work on our house eaves/roof/leak. 
 We've had no rain in weeks, and everything's quite dry. But the sky is darkening today, and the clouds are billowing, and it feels like rain. My poor mum (from last year) is trying hard to bloom.
 Yesterday afternoon was nice enough outside to sit in the pecan orchard with the dogs. I've been picking up pecans every day. It will be a banner year.
 That's Ned's head. We looked out over the big field and listened for geese. He and Baby wrestled and competed for my hand. They're just playing.
I have a good friend who's a potter. We both sold our wares at the music festival in Oriental on Saturday. She pulled out this exquisite chalice -
She offered it to me as a gift because it had a hairline crack. Wow! I just love it. It looks like fairytales and Tolkien's world and tree nymphs. I put a small candle in it today while I painted.

That's it from the farm. We're still drying loofahs and picking green beans and wondering how the white potatoes will do. But right now, things are pretty good on the farm.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Adam's Labors

 Nearly every day, Adam mows this big field for a few hours. He was unable to scythe it in early summer because of his hand injury. Now the grasses and weeds are thick, so he must push-mow it. He needs it when it's still alive and "wick." This puts the nutrients into the compost. His helpers:
When he mows, the mice and rats scatter in the field. Baby and Ned love to chase and pounce them. You'll see their tails curling stiffly over the grasses, thrashing back and forth in joy as they dig for mice or rats. Adam says he's run over a couple of snakes too - eek!!
 While in Nebraska visiting his mother, Adam learned again how to make "cement" leaves. Gloria has made many of these, and oh-my-goodness, are they beautiful! So Adam made a few upon returning home:
 The small ones above are hosta leaves. He also made a huge elephant ear leaf. 
 

He did this outside on our patio tables, covered in plastic. He got special gloves and made up the masonry mix in a tub.

 

Then he did a planter using a bath towel.
 Yes, that's an upside-down bath towel, hardened with cement. Pretty cool, huh? 
The leaves will lie on the ground over winter, drying very slowly. We'll use them as pavers and ornaments in the yard. If we have leftovers, I'll sell them at the market.
He also saw a lady's brick edging in Nebraska and came home with designs upon our tea bed:

 He's been raking pine straw and spreading it in the shade beds.
(Ooo - that photo was a little tilty!!)
 I'll brag on Adam a little now. He sometimes tells his parishioners that he is a "full-service pastor," and he does mean it. One dear friend in our church needed someone to assemble some shelving that she'd ordered. She brought it to Adam, and he finished the second one today, and we took it to her house. Another elderly man in our congregation has needed extensive help with some financial issues he's facing. Adam's spent many hours at his home, helping him with all of it, organizing, making phone calls. So much of the work of a pastor is, by definition, unnoticed and even confidential. If you think your pastor (especially if he has no staff to help) just sits around all day thinking up a 20 minute sermon, you probably don't know all that he's doing. Some home visits and hospital visits are rather private too. It's a private occupation, in fact, low-key, but always on call. I'm proud of my pastor husband and all he does for people.