Thursday, April 28, 2016

Buttercups and Clover

We haven't been able to bring ourselves to cut it all ... just yet. Yesterday when temperatures reached 80 degrees, the whole field smelled of flowers.

Plus, of course, it's lovely for the bees. Adam's swarm appears to be doing well. He moved it into the place of one of his strong hives, allowing for wind drift too, and the tiny swarm in the brown nuc box has received thousands of new bees.
And then there's Ned, sweet boy:
Softest ears ever

That pic was taken yesterday morning when Adam was cutting down the dead fruit trees in the orchard.
Now we have FOUR burn piles that we must get rid of, one some day when the wind is low and it's recently rained some but not too much.
Speaking of the orchard, the large apple tree is doing this:
And the mysterious tree that we hope is a peach is doing this:
I that an itty-bitty peach? It's fuzzier than the others. You tell me! But I hope so.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Farm Records: April 21

Today I put 16 tomato plants in the ground in the first long bed. They look happy. It's a wide selection of cherry and regular varieties. A record of the order of tomatoes planted is kept in the farm notebook, back page.

Earlier this week I put the first, largest tomato in a huge pot, a Cherry Chocolate. Some blight spots have appeared on its leaves and on other plants' leaves. I'm picking them off.
Yesterday I put all the cucumber seedlings out in their bed, plus a bigger cucumber, plus our lone squash plant. All these plants had been set outside for several days to grow accustomed to sun and wind.
I successfully started 6 golden wax bean plants and put four of them into a hill today.

 In the remaining bean hills I put blue lake beans directly in the soil, for the third time (!!!), hoping this time it is warm enough at last, and they will survive. They'd better, because I'm now out of blue lake seeds.
Wheat is still growing (among all the weeds and buttercups). Not as vibrant a crop as we'd hoped, but Adam still hopes to get enough straw to grow some mushrooms in the summer.

The honeybees are quite busy. No swarms that we know of. Oops! A few minutes after typing that, Adam picked up a small swarm in the wheat field, of all places!
Scooping them into the box with one gloved hand. He got one sting, on the other hand.

No boxes added recently.
The worms continue to do well.
The new barn cat, Bill, seems to be sticking around. She's free to roam but continues to use her litter box and eat her food. We see her occasionally skirting into various barn bays.
Saw a large mouse in the barn office yesterday.
The green potato tops are coming up again above the mulch we topped the bins with during the last cold snap.
Both beds of peas (English and sugar snap) are doing very well.

Lettuce is finally coming along, but did not germinate as broadly as hoped.

Both garlic and onion beds are doing quite well. Onions are splitting/multiplying now.
Remaining in the greenhouse: lots of tomatoes of various sizes (a couple dozen still needing to be transplanted out of their first cells), four pepper plants, six basil plants.
The fig cuttings did not take. They were zapped by cold even in the greenhouse. Will need to try again.
Adam put up deer fencing around the garden area to keep Ned out. He tends to tromp the beds.

In the house lot, all the plants I've put in are thriving. Doing particularly well are artemesia and hostas. A climbing rose was transplanted from the orchard onto the trellis and has wilted a bit for lack of water. It has been quite dry for the last week.
Highs this week have been in the 70s, lows in the 50s. Rain expected tomorrow. This March our highest temp was 86 and our lowest temp was 32.
 Ned has a good life. Buttercups galore blooming all over the pasture.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Green Monster

Since we've tidied up so much of the farm, one untidy item in the yard that Adam and I have decided we do loathe is The Green Monster.
It's that massive ivy-clad archway you see there. It's just shaggy-looking!
In warmer weather the ivy grows like '70s hair, and gets wild.
Well, today I suggested that Adam begin denuding it.
Lookie there! He hauled away so much ivy.
Some of it was quite thick.
We may move the arch to a different location. It's in surprisingly good repair.
After the farmer's market this morning, I tended to my greenhouse tomatoes. I put the herbs into the herb bed at last: parsley, cilantro, dill, thyme. The basil (of course) must wait; it is so tender.
I hope they transplant well. Parsley in the top right; thyme under the grass top left; cilantro bottom left; 3 dill plants bottom right.
The herb that used to be in that whole area was mint, and we all know how invasive mint is. So I decided to install it in the old feed trough in the pasture.
I think it'll look pretty in there.
My single squash plant has a luscious yellow bloom, alas already closed for the evening in this photo, but you get the idea.
We will probably put tomatoes in the ground in a week, maybe before. We're watching the evening lows quite closely now.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Farm Records

Update: It's 4/16 and we still haven't put any greenhouse plants into the ground. Lows this coming week are around 47 degrees, with a projected low of 43 degrees 4/20. Still waiting. April has been quite windy also.
Adam and I think it's been a cool April, maybe even cooler than March. We had a freeze warning on the night of the 9th. Lows this week will be in the 50s, down into the 40s. We are waiting to put tender plants into the ground. The greenhouse is bursting at the seams.

You can see which tomatoes are older and which are the second plantings.

This is my biggest tomato plant. It's a cherry tomato -- Black from Tula, I think.
 And my thyme seedlings are coming right along. At first I found it daunting to get every thing from seed, but it's been fun.
 Our broccoli is growing at last!
Adam finished digging his second long tomato bed with the dog's help.
By the way, we've decided to call him Ned after all. I prefer Moose, and may still use it someday, but Adam's and Julia's hearts are a bit wounded by using a name so close to Maggie's nickname ('Moo'), so we will opt for Ned. He's such a good dog. Adam is quite pleased with his development as a good farm dog.
 Adam checked his Worm Tea bucket and found a gracious plenty of delectable liquid. The Clampetts might call it "Black Gold" -- haha!
We're also slowly filling up our old swimming pool with rain water. We use this for watering also, so our plants don't have to put up with treated town water.
Four new cucumber plants have germinated in the greenhouse.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Beautiful Orchard

There was a time last fall when the orchard looked like this: a tangled mass of green on the other side of the pasture fence.
We couldn't see through it. We couldn't walk through it. Beau (poor thing) got trapped in there and Adam had to rescue him! It was that thick.
Here's that same stretch of fence, today.
I'm immensely proud of Adam for the brutally hard work of clearing that piece of ground, and of Peter too, who did a lot of heavy clearing when he was home. I helped, but there's only so much a woman over fifty can do in such a mass of vine-and-pine.
After the initial clearing, the vines on the orchard floor were coming back:
Adam couldn't use his scythe in there because the previous owner had put about 25 metal re-bar stakes in the ground to support the wooden sides of the long raised beds. One good wack on a metal stake and the damage to his scythe would have been serious. So ... he push-mowed it.
I helped by going ahead as an emissary to rid the world of branches and wads of vine. Doesn't it look grand?

I just love it. The only sad thing is that almost all of those trees standing nobly down the center line are DEAD. Ah well. You can't have 'em all!
The grape vines, however, are not dead.

Someday, I'd love to put a table and chairs in the orchard to have tea while the apple blossoms are blowing around in April. Please come!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Even Though We Don't Have Chickens ...

Even though we don't have chickens (yet) or goats (yet), we do have an ever-increasing number of animals on the farm. If you read my other blog, you know we acquired a new farm dog this past week, Moose:
Moose is a lab mix with some Great Dane in there too.
And today, we adopted a cat named Bill. Bill is a she. She needed to be rehomed because her owner is moving and needs a good place for Bill to live. We hope she likes it here after she has acclimated to us. She's staying out in Julia's building at first because I'm allergic to cats. Later we hope she'll be happy as a farm/barn cat. If you have any helpful advice about winning over the affections of a cat, or rehoming a cat, or getting a cat to stick around (especially on a farm), please let me know in your comments!
And the worms! Let me not forget the worms, though they be small and quiet. Adam recently "rehomed" them also.
That's our old bathtub that came out during the Great Bathroom Redo. It's in the barn now and is the perfect home for worms. Adam keeps it covered in cardboard and plastic when it's chilly (which it's been). It's set up on blocks:
And it has a plastic tub under the drain hole to catch the moisture that comes from the compost and worms. That liquid is called "worm tea" and is quite desirable to water plants. It's chock full of nutrients plants love. Adam removed a good bucket of it just today. Our worms are doing very well.
The bees are doing great too -- five healthy hives going into summer. Adam will add boxes as needed to encourage honey production.
In the greenhouse, I have 145 tomato plants germinated, from itty-bitty to quite large and ready to go in the ground when it's warm enough ... which it should be next week. My tomato plants, I'm proud to say, are quite beautiful and healthy.
Note to self: do not plant beans when it's cold. We've lost two plantings thus far. They sprout and get zapped. Live and learn. We will wait until it's good and warm. It's tough being a newbie.
Sister-in-law Anne from West Virginia gave me some plants to bring home, and they are all thriving! (Thank you, Anne!) The hosta is sending up many spears, and even the yarrow, which I feared I'd dried out, sprang back to life when I put it in the ground and gave it a good watering.
I've been mowing and mowing, getting the "lawn" under control. The knock-out roses are beginning to bloom, and the wisteria is dripping from the pine trees like pale clusters of grapes. We had a freeze warning last night, but here's hoping that's the last one! That's all from the farm!