Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Back from the Dead - the January Farm

Hello, friends. I've been pretty quiet here because the past year, farm-wise, has been such a disappointment. Late spring/summer in 2019 gave us such a severe drought, coupled with our absence in June/July, that the farm suffered. Compound that with two hurricanes in two years (Florence and Dorian), and our little place looks rather woeful. It was too easy to shake our heads and walk away from the garden.
But we intend to garden this year, albeit on a smaller scale. Adam removed one of the long raised beds in the veggie garden. He made these beds when he was push-mowing the spaces between them. But now we have a riding mower, and he needed to remove a bed so he could get the wider mower in there.

the metal that lined the bed
Hurricane Dorian flattened a lot of our garden fencing. He's begun that repair.

My elderberry tree, which was a tiny plant last April, looks pretty good! I hope to cut slips off of it this spring and start some of my own. I'd like four more trees this time next year. I want to make elderberry jam.

I still stand and contemplate this big ol' field and wonder what we should do with it. We've pondered a Christmas tree farm, and an RV park, and a few other things. For now, it's just a beautiful field for dogs to run around in.
The fire ants are thriving in parts of the garden. Ugh. I hate them.
Miraculously, it seems that a tiny bit of my lavender has survived! That's a first. I still have no faith that it will keep going if we have a wet spring or summer, which we often do.
It looks pretty DEAD.

But there's a little bit of new growth at the bottom!

And some bits of branches still green too.
Our strawberry bed seems to have a fighting chance of doing well this spring too. We shall hope!
There's not much else to report right now. I'm past due ordering seeds, but this year I'm only ordering my Matt's Wild Cherry tomato seeds (one packet) and probably some sugar snap peas (one packet). We're cutting, way, way back on what we plant in the garden:
*peas
*maybe lettuce, maybe collards
*okra
*strawberries and asparagus we already have
*potatoes

I imagine that will be IT for the garden. So many things just haven't done well over the years, and we personally are inclined to limit ourselves to the plants that thrive here, rather than the ones that present us with failure year after year. The tomatoes will be grown in a huge container near the house. This will give our garden beds a year to kill off any tomato diseases residing in the soil there.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Ent Hall - A Magical Willow Room

Today, while we all messed about with a burn pile in the pasture and watched the dogs play,  Adam started a long-desired project: growing a willow dome room. Here are a few photos from the internet to give you an idea:



Image result for willow dome room

From the inside, looking out:
Image result for willow dome room

Thankfully, we have an old swamp willow tree on our property, and from it we've propagated about twenty young willow trees (plus one lovely weeping willow tree grown from a slip a friend gave us). 
The "mother" willow looks pathetic because
she was hacked of many limbs today.

This is her stump, which fell over years ago.

Our stand of little willow trees

Our one pretty weeping willow tree
In addition, we live in a place damp enough that, if you stick a willow slip in the ground, it will grow into a tree.

Today's work looks like this:

But within a month these sticks will have leafed out, and in a year they will have grown at least 6 feet. We will trim any branched growing the wrong ways, and begin to weave the branches together into the dome. I want seating inside, and maybe candles of some sort, or lanterns.

But in the end, this willow dome is for one purpose: for grandchildren to play in. So we must get a start now!

Friday, November 15, 2019

All Quiet on the Farm

I've not posted anything here for months. It was a difficult year on the farm. We suffered under severe drought conditions during the late spring and well into August. Weather like that will kill off a garden quickly, and we could not afford to water the entire garden. However, we continue to learn about both ourselves and our little farm. Here are a few take-aways from this year:

1. The vegetable garden must be redone to allow Adam to mow it with the riding mower. Weeds take over when paths between the raised beds only allow a push mower. Adam will remove one or two of our long raised beds in the spring.

2. We have too many raised beds in the garden, and we continue to attempt vegetables that don't grow well here. We'll focus on crops that thrive here: okra, sweet potatoes, peas, asparagus, strawberries (we hope).

3. I'm moving all my tomato plants out of the veggie garden next summer. They'll be in large pots in the house lot. I'll only plant Matt's Wild Cherry tomato plants. My tomatoes in the garden got progressively more diseased year to year, and they take up so much space.

4. I will never, ever try lavender again. I gave it my absolute best try, and it all died ... again.

5. Elderberry bushes, however, do quite well! I want more of them.

6. My gourds did well. My herb beds continue to flourish. The willow saplings are doing well too.

Now for some photos of what's been going on.

Henny Penny hatched four chicks in late summer. They're now ten weeks old. I think I have two hens and two roos.



I continue to weave occasionally.
 Adam installed a new water filter in the kitchen.
 I continue to paint many watercolor cards and sell them. Here's a roo.
 Adam vastly improved the chicken run with a supporting pole for the netting and new mulch underfoot.
 He built himself a desk in the house too, for all his writing/editing/podcast/youtube work.
 We had enough figs to make my mother a few jars of preserves in August.
 We had wonderful okra! I planted it late, so it produced after the drought had mostly passed. It did well when nothing else did.
 I continued to knit for autumn.
 Adam and I sold my wares at the farmer's market each week.
 We survived Hurricane Dorian. The north side of our house was splattered with shredded leaves.
 I painted the walls and floor of the guest room.
 Adam pulled out the entire termite-eaten floor in the little building.
 And he put in a new floor after treating/killing all the termites.
 And I painted it.
 Our trees and shrubs are so very confused after two hurricanes in two years. The crabapple tree is now used to blooming in October.
 Molting season has arrived in the chicken coop. Poor Sheena looks awful!
 I picked a few herbs before frost, hoping to make sachets with them.

This is the extent of our sweet potato harvest! So very sad. Adam worked hard, and dug out a very long bed. That's what a drought will do to you.
 I'm saving dried okra pods for next years planting.
 Drying herb leaves in jars. Tarragon flowers also.

 And one last woven scarf.
We are keeping busy, but farming/gardening has been a disappointment this year. We're hoping for better rains in 2020, and healthier crops. It's raining right now! Praise the Lord!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Garden

Adam's been keeping up with the vegetable garden and things are looking good out there! 
My gourd plants are flourishing.

We planted okra this year for the first time, and it's coming up nicely!

These three beds are doing well.

Sweet potatoes:

White potatoes. They're ready to come out.

Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes:

My cherry tomato plants that overwintered on the porch are bearing well:

Our zucchini and cucumber plants are taking off:
I bought some lavender plants this year that are supposed to be hardy in our area, which lavender usually isn't. Our rainy weather just kills most lavender off. See this raised tire bed?
The dead lavender plant is one I bought at Lowe's, an ordinary lavender. It thrived as long as we were in a drought, but as soon as the rain came, it died. It really died.
But the lavender plants that resist our humidity and rain overload? 
All 3 of them look like this -- so healthy!
I've also been drying more mint, lemon balm, and tarragon for my herbal tea.