Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Nearly October

Hello, all. I promise I have not dropped off the planet. Busy week last week. 'Tis the time of year for pretty fall weeds to bloom on the farm:
Ned has been sick. We thought he'd been snake-bit, but instead he'd scraped his chest on some sharp farm object, developed a bit of an abscess, felt quite puny, visited the vet, been on meds, and nearly recovered. He loathes being on a line instead of free in his field.
Our cayenne pepper plants finally decided they would do something with their lives.

Aren't they pretty? 
And we have a couple other not-so-fiery pepper plants that are performing.

The white peppers and some deep black/purple ones come from those two plants.
Did you see those tomatoes up there? Yep -- we still have a handful coming in! 
We have two plants still bearing:
One is (I think) a Black Plum, and it's large with lots of fruit, but ...
Its fruit rots on the vine. Meh. Not planting that one again.

This other one, however, is doing well. Its fruit is good. Not too shabby for Nearly October! And considering that my first tomato was eaten on June 1st -- four months of tomatoes!
Adam planted sweet peas in the old tomato beds.
He used leftover peas from spring in the bed above, and only two plants came up.
But in the bed below he used new Wando peas from the farm store,
 and they've come up much better.

Our asparagus is doing well for its first few months! 
I love it when things I started in the greenhouse actually succeed.

This is a crazy volunteer gourd plant on an old cucumber trellis.
I'm hoping since these gourds have good ventilation and sun, they will ripen and not rot.
Adam also put in some lettuces and collards for the fall. 
Some are in this long raised bed. You can just begin to see them.
These are in the old hoop bed where lettuces were before.
 I think we'll have some autumn salads!
We've had a bad watermelon year. All of them so far had blossom end rot -- 
low calcium in the soil, we think. These last two look good so far, 
but Ned will probably eat them when he can roam around again.
We also valiantly tried a few more bean plants. We had no success with beans this year. 
But these couple of vines seem to be healthy.
 However, I'm not gettingmy hopes up about actually eating beans from them.
Beans have disappointed me too many times before!
Our two horseradish plants look quite happy.
Adam had some dirt in the back of his truck -- good, compost dirt -- 
and he dumped it out on this piece of plastic. 
A few days later we noted that many little
 squash/cucumber/gourd seedlings arose from it. 
It is too late in the year for you poor little things! We will not let you grow and vine your way around half the yard.
The chickens are good. The bees are good, if not overburdened with honey stores this wet year. The worms got too hot in August (didn't we all?), and their numbers declined sharply. We will replenish our population of worms.
That's it from the farm!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Adam's Latest Creative Genius:

Big raised bed planters, made from old tires!
Four old tires were left on our farm behind the barn. Adam turned them inside out (not an easy feat) -- he had to cut side walls off on the big truck tires. He cut a floral edge on the one above.
And he did a straight edge on the one below.
He set them where we want them in the yard and filled them with dirt from the orchard.
I chose the farm-green color, but when that can of spray paint ran out, he bought some yellow and red.
I have more sedate taste; Adam prefers COLOR!
These are open on the bottom, which is what we want -- not an enclosed planter, but a small raised bed. The impetus for this project was the death of our rosemary bush. (boohoo!!!) The herb garden is a damp area, and the rosemary had inadequate drainage. These small raised beds will allow us to lift a drainage-sensitive plant up, It also provides a good barrier to prevent a plant from spreading. We'll transplant our mint into one of these as well, as it's inclined to take over.

The green plain one will have the new rosemary bush. The floral-edged green one will have a new lemongrass plant by the driveway. The small spotted one will have mint. I think Adam should get used tires from a local repair place and make these to sell at the market, don't you?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Gossamer Ships in Morning Mist

I stepped outside this morning to let the chickens explode from the coop. Then I strolled to the garden to see if anything at all was happening there ... well, anything except the small cantaloupe Ned picked this morning and ate half of for breakfast. Quite a damp, misty morning.
The ground was covered with tiny pocket spiders' webs.
The tall grass in the pasture was even more sparkling with larger webs.

(It wasn't really that big; I was very close.)
But the tiny pocket webs hanging suspended in the short grass -- 
I found myself dazzled by their shapes.
They look like sailing ships on their way somewhere through a grassy sea.
Masts erect, sails spread, bowsprit forward! 
Do you see it?
A craftsman could work days to replicate such a beauty,
but a simple spider makes that in the dark, in hours.
This one's a thicker vessel with multiple masts,
slowly forging its way through heavy seas.
The spider, I suppose, is the captain.
Elsewhere in the garden there is beauty.
This is just a weed climbing and blooming among the dead cucumber vines.
A gourd blossom sparkles in dewy sunlight.
The gourd itself hides among the vines and weeds.
This is what made me go back to the house to retrieve my camera: 
late tomato blossoms, detailed in dew like rime frost.
If I hadn't run, I might have missed it
 if the sun had run faster and dried the pasture,
the webs and the ships and the waves and the rime.
Beauty is fleeting like a smile.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Egg-Layers, Sick Hostas, Mason Jars

My henny-pennies are doing their job! Other chicken ladies say that they have fifteen nesting boxes for 40 hens ... and all the hens use the same two boxes, haha :) Well, I have three hens laying so far. Two nesting boxes (below). And nobody, but NOBODY, cares to share the space. One lays in one box. One lays in the other box ...
And Ethel hunkers down in the dirt between the nesting box and the wall, and deposits her daily egg there. Good grief!
The is Punkin. She's crazy. She's laying about every other day. This is an old ant mound in their chicken yard, but now it's their bath.
Hostas in the front flower beds were an utter failure. I really wanted them to thrive there, but it was clear they would not cooperate. Too Much Sun. So we took them out, poor things.
We moved them to a shade bed on the side of the house.
The one above survived the best. The one below -- argh!
Here's where we put them, near the three hostas that have loved living here:

In their place in the front beds I put lantana and echinacea.
The three healthy hostas had flowered, and the stalks with seed pods were hanging around. Normally I'd cut them off and throw them out. But then I wondered ...
What if I harvested the hosta seeds and started my own hosta plants next year? Does anybody do that? Well, yes! I found a only-slightly-long-winded-and-annoying youtuber who told me how.
Hosta seeds are light-weight, flat, and black. Each pod has about a dozen, I guess.
I'm waiting on some of the green pods to dry, but I already about about 100 seeds. I put them in a half-pint Mason jar with a cloth lid.
It would be lovely to have my own hosta plants to put in the ground here; we have so much shade. And I love hostas.
Just this afternoon a good friend gifted me with many, many canning jars, Ball and Mason.
That's 23 quart jars in beautiful condition that I washed. There are that many again of wide-mouthed pint jars. I'm so excited! I may not need them this year, but I do hope in the future to can lots and lots of green beans and other veggies from our garden. Yippee!!
Today was hot and somewhat miserable outside. 90 degrees :(  But we know that autumn is coming soon, so I'm already burning candles ...
That's a Bath and Body Works "Pumpkin Woods" 3-wick candle, and the one behind is called "Clove and Chestnut." They were 1/2 off, plus a had a coupon for a free one!
I even sprung for a new autumn tablecloth from WalMart. I love pumpkins. The fall farm is looking quiet and comfortable.