Sunday, September 30, 2012

Coming around...

Fall is here. It feels early to have yellow and bare trees and it isn't yet October. Close, but not yet. The evenings are cool and the winds are coming around. I forgot how quiet the air has been these past few months.

We are gearing up for the farm party. It is looking like it will be a big time. Based on the rsvp's it could be up near 100 or more. My friend Jeff Finlin was going to play with his band but he got called out of town for that weekend. Being the amazing guy that he is he lined up another band. A 3-piece blues band. It will do just fine, and the gesture was immensely appreciated.

We are finding the ground to be unforgiving right now. Years of no care or irrigation has made it solid. It took J all day yesterday, with the auger and tractor, to dig six fence post holes. The plan was to do the entire perimeter of the new dog pen before next weekend. Not happening.

I had my first shot training yesterday. It was a gun safety class to get beginners comfortable around fire arms. We just came up on the wait list for the local outdoor gun range. I was very happy for the opportunity to have someone explain the basics and the mechanics to me. I think J sometimes gives me more credit than he should. As a result he doesn't always explain new things to my need level (that would be not much brighter than a fencepost on the topic of guns). But alas, I am joining the female ranks of rifle shooters. Today we attended orientation and then went to the range so I could spend some time using my henry repeating action rifle. I must say, being immediately good at something feels kinda good. I may be ready for next years hunting season.

I also went a little nuts on trees this weekend. I love craigs list. I look at the local farm section faithfully. As a result I purchased 10 fruit trees. 2 each of 3 varieties of apples, 2 cherry and 2 reliance peach. One of the apple varieties was from a graft the fellow brought back from Belgium. I liked that it had a story to it. Then I went and purchased 8 windbreak trees. Some will be used as shady trees for various parts of the property and the evergreens will start the western windbreak. I am excited for trees. Not so excited at the state of our ground and the work it will take to plant them. But as the saying goes, the saying I tell myself anyway, nothing worth having comes easy.

I do believe we may also OD from potatoes. They are magnificent and we eat them often. The tomatoes are finally turning red on the vine, which makes them all the more delicious. We have eaten them several times sliced on a small bed of fresh arugula with small slices of fresh mozzarella and a splash of fig balsamic vinegar. Gardens are truly a glorious thing.

Now, time for some reading before another work week begins. Luckily, it's a short one.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ode to a hornworm...

These critters, which I think you could seriously ride, were in abundance in the tomatoes this week. As a result, the chickens were ecstatic for the extra protein. J and I picked them every evening for three days. They are huge!!

The tomatoes are also huge, but still very green. Not so good with the recent dip in nighttime temps. Nearing 40 degrees each night. I am hopeful the paper bag trick works on them. I picked a large bowl full today.

This week was also the preliminary potato and onion harvest. I swear new potatoes are a divine gift. Just cooked with a little butter or for breakfast potatoes in the morning. Five plants gave us more than half of a 5 gallon bucket. I planted 8 rows 25 feet long. We are going to have potatoes for a while. My squash is also finishing up. I love squash. Tonight for a celebration pot luck I made baked stuff squash a la Molly Katzen and her Moosewood treasure of recipes. It's originally a recipe for eggplant, but it is great for those baseball bat size squash that spring up over night.

This month we have plans to finally build the dogs pen and a larger chicken/guinea run. And clean some stuff up around the barn and touch up some painting. We are planning a large farm party to celebrate our first year on the farm. This time last year we were getting ready to close on the farm. So much has happened since then. It continues to amaze me. So, it'll be a big time with a live band and food. Yes, potatoes will be on the menu.

It will also be time to plant garlic, clean the beds, till up a small area for fall/winter greens and start dreaming of next years garden and projects, like that hasn't already started. This is my favorite time of year with the cool air coming in, the apples at the farmers market, and everything orange and harvest yellow. It also makes me miss New England. That is really the place to be in the fall. But, my little piece of the universe will do for second best.

Now, time to ready myself for the party and pop those squash boats in the oven.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Ahhh. I took a much needed breather and met J at his mom's lake house in Lake Anna Virginia. There is nothing like hanging at the lake, reading, being quiet, hanging with good people and eating good food and sleeping in to recharge a person. I always feel so rested after a visit there. Soul rested.

I also come back feeling inspired from my short week away. J, his mom and I went to Monticello to see the recreated gardens of Thomas Jefferson. I am in awe and completely inspired to revision my own garden, which is ironically of similar shape and length. Jefferson's was a 1000 feet long with orchards and a vineyard below.

This year I was overrun with weeds. Horrible thick ones that were a bear to pull and broke my weedwacker several times. We had to mow them with the tractor on at least three occasions. They shadowed out the majority of my seed plantings and tried to choke out the rest.

One of the ideas I took from Monticello was planting clover and other short containable (if there is such a thing) grasses. Between the plowed sections I will leave clover walking paths. These will also benefit by acting as a green mulch and I believe a nitrogen fixer, while adding a touch of grace to the chaos.

J and I have also been planning a farm party. We will be lucky to pull off our grandiose scheme this late in the game, but it is a chance to invite friends and family to celebrate the birth of this farmstead and crazy agrarian dream.

I also bought some seeds from their collection while I was there. Just a couple. Some flowers and a Queen Anne melon. I am always on the hunt for perfect fruits to grow in this arid high desert climate.

I am happy to be home and am filled with anticipation to pick up the dogs in the morning and check on my birds. I have one hen that has been broody for well over a month now. So I will either have some babies to tend to or she will have a harsh reality check being booted from the box. We shall see. For now, while it lasts, I am just content and relaxed in my little slice of heaven.