Thursday, December 24, 2015

Soggy Christmas Eve

I went sloshing out in the field this morning wearing these:
Lots of rain last night, and the ground is saturated.
Adam has yet to get water pipes into some of his trenches, after all this time, because they have never yet been dry enough.
The rows in the winter garden are full again. Those poor greens, how they do soldier on!
It's Christmas Eve and it was 85 degrees this afternoon. Thus is the South! The bees were flying, but we really wish they wouldn't, as there's not much for them to eat right now, but they burn energy (i.e. use up honey stores) when they fly.
Adam's trying hard to get his compost wet. You wouldn't think it would be hard with all this rain, but the rain only seeps in a little ways, and the compost remains dry inside. So he has to turn and turn it.
From the bottom of his first bin you see dark soil beginning to form.
Maggie loves the outdoors. She leapt onto the burn pile happily.
Adam still works on his water system. Here are the pipes he's removed from nearer the house (where it's wetter), to the back of the property where it's drying. A little. Not much.
He got his four barrels up on the backside of the barn. He rebuilt the table on the left and built the one on the right from scratch.
Barn roof water flows into the gutters and into the blue barrels as before.
He put in some PVC lines to direct the rainwater ...
And attached that line to the new black barrels too.
And attached a spigot to one black barrel. A hose attaches there.
He was excited about all our rain last night and went back to the barn first thing this morning to see all the rainwater he'd collected. He'd found an old toilet float in the barn and put it into one of the barrels with its little stick pointing up, so he can easily see when the barrels are full.
He was rather disappointed this morning though. He's accidentally left the spigot open. All that rainwater came into the barrels and right back out again. All in one place. Needless to say, the area below the barrel tables was quite wet this morning.
I think this weed is sorrel. In spots where all else is bare, healthy tufts of this herb thrive anyway.
Adam and Peter have been working on the orchard, and Adam's pulled out lots of grapevine. Here's a stretch of vine that's not yet been pruned and pulled out.
Here's a portion with vines removed but a few scrubby pines and wax myrtles remain.
Here's the front of the orchard where the most clearing has happened. There's little remaining except the pruned grapevine stumps and a line of fruit trees down the middle. We're unsure what they are exactly.
The mass of grapevine Adam's pulled out for me to work with.
Our pecan trees continue to drop nuts, but I think we're done collecting them for this year. It's been so very wet, and they sit in the soggy mud. It doesn't do them good. We'll hope for a dryer fall next year.
Merry Christmas to everyone from our little farm! We'r'e eager to see what the new year will hold for us.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Steaming Earth

Adam is the compost wizard. He loves nothing better than to fork leaves/manure/straw around for a few hours, watering it and watching nature do her magic of making dirt. His compost piles are quite warm these days. See the steam from the heat inside?
Maggie loves to lie on the compost piles for that very reason.
She's a cutie.
His oldest bins are getting rather dry and have ants in them. Nothing wrong with the ants, but it is a gauge for moisture. Compost needs water. This was yesterday. Today he's watering all the compost.
A stray piece of onion from the kitchen found its way into the compost and is now happily growing there.
The big pile has the potato trash can nestled in it, and boy-oh-boy are those taters growing well!
These taters are an experiment to see how it works as a growing method. Adam is pleased.
This past week, one morning we walked around the whole farm (all 3.84 acres - haha!). I'd never walked the far fence line before. Here's a shot of the buildings from the other end of the field. L-R: Anna's little house, the main house, the garage, the bee hives the red bard (barely visible) and the red water container.
Adam's wheat field shines in the morning light. It's recovering a bit from all the rain.

The winter greens garden still hangs in there, although it doesn't grow much. We had more rain this morning, so it's waterlogged again! I imagine we'll get some eating out of it eventually.
That stunning oak tree. I never thought an oak could look so pretty.

The next morning when I went into the field to see Adam, Maggie was holed up under the old horse feed trough. She likes cool, muddy places. Perfect farm dog.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December Blooming

We've had warm, wet weather. Farmer Adam says we've had 19" of rainfall MORE this fall/winter, than normal. And the past few days have given us temperatures in the low 70's. The winter garden, which has barely grown, has suffered, and the wheat and barley field is looking downright peaked, as my mother would say!
The warmth has confused some plants, like this apple tree:

Poor thing. What will it do in spring? I hope just bloom again.
I'm still making wreaths. I sold a medium-sized one at Saturday's farmers' market, and I made a new oval one Sunday afternoon. That's my favorite time to go outside and wrangle vines. It's quite peaceful. I love taking the chaotic disorder of a massive tangle of vines, and turning it into an orderly, contained wreath.
Each one is different.
 I'm looking for something to attach to a wreath, to decorate it, but I don't want plastic or garish. I'd love the itty-bitty pinecones, but we have none of those. Perhaps these gum tree balls?
 Adam has worked so hard on his pecans! After getting them back from the cracker fellow at the Nut House, Adam picked them all. This year's pecans are not great; they are not filled out, and are soft and chewy. He's dried them out some, and they're fine for cooking. He's vacuum sealed some bags, and we'll give them as gifts.
 He's still picking them up from the ground and we'll continue processing.
An oak tree near the house has turned the most lovely russet brown.
The weather is warm, blustery, changeable, and just fabulous to be out in. I picked up pecans today, lugged some logs around, inspected the winter garden and checked out the bees. Enjoy your December wherever you are!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Handy Farm Things, Old and New

I've been at the mercy of the holiday season busyness and haven't posted as I ought. Farm doings are still happening though. Today Adam and I drove out to see about some farm needs. We stopped at a home where the front yard is full of barrels. Adam needs barrels for his watering system.
He bought two of these used pickle barrels. They are safer to use than the blue plastic ones that've been filled with toxic chemicals.
As he was loading them in the truck, a man drove by pulling a trailer laden with three large metal barrels. Two of them were shot through with holes, as they tend to be in the country. He hollered at Adam, "Do you want these?"  "How much?" Adam hollered back. "Free!" We took them.
The man, his wife, and Adam each kick a barrel to the truck.
I think the man's wife was relieved. He'd just been turned down at the dump, and they were hauling them back home.
We'll use the blue ones as burn barrels. One of them had no holes and Adam will sterilize straw in it.
Our next stop was a pretty little farm where they crack pecans.
"The Nut House" -- haha!!
Unfortunately, the signage demonstrated more humor than its grumpy proprietor. But he did agree to crack and shell our little pecans. Adam will pick them up this afternoon.
Several friendly dogs compensated for their owner. I should be nicer -- maybe he'd had a bad morning?
Another useful item Adam recently bought is a vacuum sealer for food.
He'll package the pecans in these and I'll sell them at the farmers' market.
The second item bought new this past week is quite necessary -- a Luggable Loo. Hahaha!!
It's a bucket with a lid and seat designed to be a potty-in-need. Adam will keep it out in the barn (and eventually in a little shed for this purpose), so that when the need arises he won't have to trek back to the house. Plus, it will double as a potty for our sailboat, which is important too.
It's a composting toilet. Straw in the bottom, and straw on top of the poop, actually prevents it from smelling, and it does work.
Elsewhere on the farm, the dogs are loving our clear, warm weather. Maggie is nearly as big as Sandy now.
The bucket of potatoes looks good.
Adam has covered four of his five compost bins.
He's also worked a bit on the barn office. "Office" is a loose term for the only portion of the barn with a door and a concrete floor. He put our old TV back there plus an antenna on the roof. I think he gets about 20 channels! Amazing. He wants to watch just a little football. We haven't had cable since 1989, and haven't had TV reception in our house in about a decade. Poor fella.
Note the grocery buggy, the turkey roaster, our old plastic swimming pool, the leaf blower.
Such a man cave. Plus one big, soft chair.
That's it for now from the farm! If you don't see me here again until after Christmas, it's because we're having fun, doing lots of music and celebrating, and enjoying our vacations from our various schools. Merry Christmas, everyone!