Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Hint of Fall

Temperatures are a little bit cooler.
Humidity is a little lower.
The air feels a tiny bit fresh.
The trees' leaves are brownish.
A few are yellow.
It's not fall yet -- still a month away. But fall's prelude is happening, that vague and indescribable turning of summer's corner. And lo, there is much rejoicing among those who suffer through summer!
 Adam's favorite farm activity is beginning again. It's time to make dirt!!! He's mowing and bagging the grass. Soon he'll be raking leaves and pine straw.
We picked the gourds from the massive plant, and Adam pulled out the vines for compost.
The gourds don't look that great, but then again, this plant was a volunteer and we weren't planning on gourds.
And I picked one little pumpkin and one pretty gourd.

Ned the Farm Dog is still on watch.

 Last night he chewed up Adam's water hoses that runs water from the barrels to the pool. A bit of a mess. Adam says clearly it's time to work on the underground PVC piping for water collection to remove the hose temptation.
Some of our garden plants are on their last breath, like this cucumber vine.
 Or this indeterminate tomato vine which looks a little tired on the bottom but is still growing on the top and putting out fruit.
Another cucumber is younger and more vibrant on the left.
And our pepper plants are doing great on the right.

Our newly planted zucchini and squash plants are looking healthy.
Our bees are quite happy in their location facing the morning sun each day.
 The chickens are delightful.
 Isn't Bernie getting big and handsome? He's a true roo, and pesters his ladies and does his fancy chicken dance side-stepping at them.
 Above, he dances with Punkin.
Below are Ruby and Lucy.
 I was collecting one egg daily, and then one day I collected three! They were laid all over the coop, but always back in the corners where I had to dig through the straw to find them. I asked myself, "Why do they lay back in the corners instead of using those nice, comfy nesting boxes full of straw?" I answered myself, "Silly woman! You've turned the whole coop into one giant nesting box with all that straw on the floor! Rake out the straw and give them a dirt floor like all the other coops you've seen. Put straw only in the nesting boxes, and they'll lay eggs there."
So I did. I raked out the straw. It went into Adam's compost.
Did they use the nesting boxes then? No, of course not. They're chickens.
But I'm back to getting only one egg each day. I think I scared those other two. Punkin laid one of them (because it was blue, and Ameraucanas lay blue eggs) and either Lucy or Ruby laid the other. Poor girls!
We're always tweaking their coop, improving the fencing, etc. The next job is to fix their little coop door. The barn siding is deteriorating because of termites, as you can see on the "threshold." Adam plans to put a new board there and cut a new door in it.

And that brings me to yet another big project that he's in the middle of: termite treatment of all the buildings. We know we have termites because of the damage in the barn, but he wants to prevent them from damaging the house, garage, or out-building, and to stop the damage to the barn. Paying someone else to treat the buildings would cost about $1400-$1500.

So Adam read up on the job, ordered the equipment and chemicals, and is doing the job himself for about $350. It's back-breaking, unpleasant, and a little dangerous, and was really nasty during the bad heat. But he's about halfway done.

Never a dull moment here! He is working on moving Goldie outside more. Julia has returned to school for the fall semester. I'm about to begin working again. Hi-Ho, let's be happy!! Autumn is almost here, my favorite time of year!!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August on the Farm

First of all, if there's anybody who hasn't read my post on my other (personal) blog about Ned and Goldie, here it is. I describe how Goldie IS an escape artist who ran away and returned, and how Ned's chewing is not nearly so bad as a run-away dog! He's a good boy.
Meanwhile, Julia and Goldie have fallen in love.
Last week I took pictures of our pretty cayenne peppers coming along, plus our new zucchini and squash starts, looking good.

I'm out of town this week, and Adam's been working very hard to train Goldie to play outside, in a harness, on a dog run line, while he's out there. She's making progress.
We bought a chest harness (red), but she pulled right out of it. 
So Adam sewed a belly harness addition to it, 
and with tweaking it seems to work.
Adam's been mowing and collecting grass in piles to begin his compost-making work for the autumn. He did that last autumn, and it was one of the many useful things he spent his time on -- really excellent soil for beds. Our horrible hot weather continues and won't end until late September. But the tomato plants, after a time of weary wilting, have recovered somewhat and are growing again and putting out new fruit. Our green beans continue to grow and bloom, but they got such a late start we haven't picked many beans yet. So we started a new batch and put them into an old sweet pea bed last week.
And ... on August 10, we got our first egg from one of our hens!
I'm almost certain it's our bigger Barred Rock, Ethel. She's given one each day. Yippee!!! Breakfast!!!
 I'll be back on the farm soon and will catch you up on all that's happening.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Why I Picked the Cantaloupe

Because I had to rescue it from Ned, our resident cantaloupe picker.
He picked and nibbled on this other, smaller cantaloupe (below) on Saturday. We'd been watching that big cantaloupe (above) for weeks. Waiting. (Adam is a lover of cantaloupe.) So I picked it, probably early.
 Ned chews EVERYTHING. He drags wire mesh out of the barn and mangles it.
 He pulled my bike basket off my my bicycle (which was hanging from a ceiling hook) and ripped it to shreds.
 He sticks his snout into the open end of Adam's big dehydrator and nibbles on the styrofoam.
 He reduced a garden hose to gnawed-on segments all over the yard.
 He chewed up a paint roller and the handle too.
 Oh, and I forgot to take a picture of the canister of liquid nails he got hold of.
He even attacks his own play balls and reduces them to trash.
Then there's the brand new bag of Miracle Gro potting soil he stole off the greenhouse shelf.
 Not to mention the many, many cardboard boxes Adam puts in the compost bins. Ned removes them, shreds them up and scatters them across the pasture.
The one thing I've never seen him chew, which he really ought to chew, is his chair.
It's a big upholstered wooden chair -- perfect for gnawing on.
Many of his chewing victims come from the worm bay in the garage (the far left bay). It had nothing covering the doorway, so Ned helped himself. He would even grab the old veggies Adam put in for the worms to eat, and nibble them down for lunch. (sigh)
 Ned's room is in the middle -- his chair, his food, his water. The door on the left has the worms. The door on the right is full of old lumber, equipment, scary things like snakes and mice. I don't go in there EVER. But I needed another board to put over the worm bay (as you see I did in the photo above). So I looked in the bay on the right right. And I saw this.
A snake. On its back. With its head tangled up fully in some mesh fencing. Ugh. I thought it was dead but then it wigged. I left it for Adam to deal with. Double ugh. I retrieved a big piece of wood, covered the doorway again, and left it to wiggle.
I do worry for my chickens a bit. They're in the enclosure on the left -- see one? They like to flutter up onto the fence or the gate -- see the darker wooden gate with the hook closure? They sit atop it. Today we'll be putting some of that loose black fencing all along the top of the more solid fencing. It's so soft they won't be able to sit on it, but it's high enough they won't be able to fly over. I hope.
Speaking of escape ... today at the pound, Adam and I found our second farm dog! So now Ned has company! Maybe he won't be so bored? Maybe he won't chew so many things?
Meet Marigold, aka "Goldie."
on the ride home
She didn't like it when Adam went out the door.
She pined for him.
Playing with a pound kitty.
Goldie is friendly, playful, maybe 5 years old.
It's good to have Adam back home from his long trip to Louisiana to officiate at his nephew's wedding. He's already mowing and cleaning up after Ned. Ned and Goldie have already escaped the fence once today, through a gate that has always been closed and bolted. Not sure how it got open. We are hoping Goldie is not an escape artist who will adversely influence Ned. That's all he needs!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Little Farm News

This morning when I went to the coop to tend the chickens, I heard a new sound. A rooster sound! A cock-a-doodle-doo sound!! Mr. Bernie is behaving more like a rooster every day, and this morning he had his first vocalization!
Bernie is a handsome Ameraucana,
Adam enjoys watching the chickens erupt from the coop 
each morning when I open their door. 
This morning they chose to perch on the garden chair.
Ethel is my Barred Rock that's facing the camera. 
See how red her face/comb/wattles are?
That means she'll soon begin laying.
Lucy (another Barred Rock below) may be my favorite. Her face is still pink, not red. She's skittish and won't let me touch her feathers, but she'll cautiously let me stroke her beak. And she'll come to me and look at me and get close. Ethel would never do that. She doesn't always hang with the other chickens and seems to march to her own drummer.

This is Punkin, my Ameraucana hen. She's also a little independent. Each morning she stays in the coop last after the others leave and eats the layer pellets peacefully by herself. Chicken Introvert.
In the corner by the chicken yard and the orchard this gourd plant has overrun everything.
It's more than massive. Adam let it grow from the doggies' graves from sentimental feeling because they used to play with the gourds and leave the seeds everywhere. If he'd known how obstructive it would become, he would have yanked it from the ground long ago!
Still, it's producing some large, bright yellow "fruit."
When the plant is dry, and the gourds are too, 
I hope to sell them at the market if anyone's interested.
Humans and dogs have trampled the vines in the middle.
This evening we put squash and zucchini seedlings into the veggie bed
where the lettuce and garlic used to be.
We have such a long growing season that there's time for another planting.
We won't get a frost until mid-November.
A ripe pear came off easily in my hand today. 
We're wondering when they'll be ready.
I'm about done canning fig preserves. The birds and insects are consuming them.
The moisture and heat cause the fruit to become fuzzy like little animals
while hanging on the tree.
The ground is slimy with rotting figs.
I made a final pint and a half today.
I'm sad to say that Adam is leaving in the morning for a long, long drive to Louisiana.
He's going to a family wedding where he will be performing the ceremony as a pastor.
It's a very long way, and he'll drive straight through.
I'm not used to having him gone.
He's renting a car, which we picked up today.
He'd reserved a little econo-box, but they had none left,
so they upgraded him to a nice car at no more cost!
He'll hardly know how to behave :)