Monday, November 28, 2016

November on the Farm

 Only a few leaves remain on the grapevines in the orchard. That golden one caught my eye.
 Only the weeds are in bloom now. Our roses are about spent. The camellia buds are full and near bursting. We will see them ruby red in January.
 Most mornings are frosty now on the farm.

Adam has very nearly finished the red metal roof on the little building. He has a bit of caulking to do, that's all. He put some new fencing around my chickens ... again. Escape artists that those hens are! He's growing his compost pile, of course, gathering the cut grasses from the big field. In the photo above, you can see the scythed part of the field, and then in the distance the beige color of the taller grass, not cut yet.
This month he also ripped out and rebuilt the pantry cupboard in the kitchen. We're discussing the continuing project of the house floors -- what to fill the weak parts with, and how to finish them. Simply, I hope. I like simple wood floors.
The pecans that fell after Hurricane Matthew may be the only ones we get this year. I gathered two mesh bags full.
Adam plans to plant little slips of Christmas trees on the property, hoping to cut and sell them down the road. It's cheapest to buy them 1000 at a time. We barely missed the deadline to order them this fall, so it will wait until next fall. They will go in the damper area of the field that isn't suited to farm crops. Pine trees grow here like weeds, and I do not joke!
We are busy, busy with work and the Christmas season, and the farm is quiet. The chickens are producing. The worms are doing very well. The bees are quiet. Ned the guard dog is barking and chasing squirrels, doing his job. And in my mind I'm thinking of the quiet hours I love, fiddling in the spring greenhouse, mere months away.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Visits from Miss Potter and Mr. Grahame

By Sunday afternoon Adam and I are tired from our weekend activities and ready for a good, quiet rest. I strolled through the gate toward the barn after my nap, fed my chickens some old waffles, woke Adam from his nap in from of a football game, and he and I meandered toward the garden.
The garden is 3/4 enclosed, with a gate on the near end. On the way to the garden I noticed something strange messing about the edge of the pool.

 Do you see him yet? He's very green and has long legs.
 A little closer ...
He's a real frog, not a toad (we have lots of toads here) with long, strong legs. When I saw him leaping around the circumference of the pool, I thought he was a weird snake. See his bulging eyes and mucusy skin? Also typical of a frog. But what legs! He sat a long time and remained utterly still while I picked the leaves away from his head and took his photo.
Into the garden, here is Adam's new raised bed!
 The sides are made from the old roofing on Julia's little building.
 He hammered them flat, removing the ridge in the middle, and bending one edge over so it wouldn't be sharp and cut anyone. (His hands were quite sore after this work.)
 This was when he was in the middle of constructing the bed. The metal is in the earth, and the pieces are screwed together at the ends, as you see below:
 It was a lot of work, and that's not the last one -- only the first! He hopes these raised beds will keep weeds out better and will last for many years. This bed, the old tomato bed, is about 50 feet long.
As you can see below, he's generally kept the various shorter beds in the garden in line with each other, so now that the greenhouse is removed, he can extend them and make them into longer beds -- all raised like this first one. All were made with compost last spring.
As I was gazing at dead plants, Adam quietly beckoned me over. "Come see what I found."
 He stood in front of the lettuce/collard bed. What would you expect to find in a bed of greens?
 Do you see them yet? There are two ...
 Baby bunnies! In my lettuce bed! And instead of being like Mrs. McGregor and grabbing my shovel and my pie dish, I was delighted and felt like royalty that these baby bunnies had chosen our lettuce bed to visit!
Aren't they sweet?? And all the farmers and gardeners out there are thinking, "She's clearly a newbie."
We didn't tell Ned.
They stayed quite still while I pulled aside the collard leaves and zoomed in.
So you see, Beatrix Potter visited in the form of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. And Kenneth Grahame visited in the form of Mr. Toad (err, Mr. Frog?) I would write of Rabbit and Mole, but I fear Mole has already been despicably treated by Ned the Black Labrador who dug up a large area under the pecan trees excavating for Mole's extended family. And Ratty is this very minute planning how to infiltrate the chicken coop this evening via his many tunnels and holes there.
Speaking of chickens, I picked some wild strawberries for them. They gobbled them up.
 Ruby Footpecker is my favorite hen, and I don't mind saying so.
 They're still laying well since this is their first year.
 The far end of our pasture is in a rather wild state. Ned bounds through these grasses, and Adam scythes them twice a year.
 The grapevines are nearly naked now. We're unsure what to do with them. They may never bear well because of the limited sunlight they receive. We may start new grapevines elsewhere.
 So long from the quiet farm.
We have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Front Porch Project

 We like our front porch, but we don't use it much. It's very close to a busy 2-lane road. In an 1100-square-foot house, we want to make all the space usable. So Adam is turning the porch into a greenhouse for the winter.
 He painted and nailed some 1x6 boards around the perimeter of the porch.
 To them he'll attach these metal channels with "wiggle wire" inside them -- all along the top edge and the bottom edge of the porch.
 He's ordered a roll of plastic greenhouse sheeting. It will be wrapped around that wiggle wire and pulled tight in the metal channels, enclosing the porch.
And Saturday he installed a screen door. He did the framing:
 It looks really good! When the sheeting arrives, he'll finish the porch. Then I'll have a warm(er) place to put my lemongrass plants and all the other potted items -- ferns and such. We may sit out there too.
We also planted five elaeagnus bushes along the front of the property, between the porch and the road. They grow very fast and form a thick hedge of privacy. We felt it would be a bit more "neighbor friendly" than a tall wooden fence. We want to use our front porch, but it's no fun to be stared at while you sit there. Here's a photo of an elaeagnus hedge just down the road from us:
Yep, that's what we want.
More on the front porch and the new roof later this week ... hopefully!
Update: The wiggle wire and channel strips arrived:
 It goes in very easily and makes the plastic sheeting nice and taut. Adam says he'll use this stuff again. Here's what the first side of the porch looks like:
However -- the truck that was delivering the rest of the red metal roofing was in an accident and all materials were rendered unusable :( So we will have to wait on delivery of the additional roofing for the little building.
AND ... the USPS somehow utterly lost the rest of the wiggle wire and channel strips for the porch, so Adam can only do about half of it. Ugh. If we could just get stuff to our house, he could finish these projects! Still, doesn't that first panel look great? He will trim off the excess sheeting, and it will be done.
This morning I start digging plants out of the herb garden, repotting them, and getting everything ready for the new greenhouse!