Friday, October 26, 2018

Nodding Off: The Farm Report 10-26-2018

Nodding Off:
 The Farm Report 10-26-2018

As we near the end of October and the days get shorter, everything is beginning to nod off. The garden seems like an old man who just sat down in his chair for the evening. When he sat down, he was still full of energy and ideas; but then as the hours waned, he began to drift a little. We went from this picture two weeks ago... this. The buckwheat has been killed by... 

...This! Snow! In the middle of October! We went from no frost to inches of snow and ice cold temps overnight. And I don't mean that figuratively. I mean OVERNIGHT! 

If you're not a gardener, you've never tasted the sweet goodness of fresh broccoli. If you're not a stubborn gardener, you've never tasted the special sweetness of broccoli after a frost. 'Cold?' asks the broccoli? 'We didn't notice it.' My 'sconie' days are showing, but I'm hungry for cheesy beer and  broccoli soup! (That would be 'Wisconsin days' for those not from there.)

The Michigan State University carrot project is still waiting for harvest. I usually try not digging the last of the carrots until just before the ground freezes. Sugar is Mother Nature's anti-freeze, and it makes the late carrots soooo sweet. Carrots like cold weather too.

After all the heat we endured this past summer, it is amazing that I have any strawberry plants at all. But! 'Hope springs eternal!' and I do have a really nice strawberry bed heading into next spring. 

Watermelons don't like cold at all. But the chickens do like cold weather melons. I pop one open for them every day or two. It does cause them some 'problems' which are unspeakable for here. But it is funny to see them poop water! I'm scheduled to have a colonoscopy in a few weeks, so maybe I shouldn't laugh. Karma?

This one little sad rose is all that survived from Joyce's Rose Bed. It had one more little perfect red rose bud growing on it. I was anticipating bringing it to you as a cover shot. 

So then one morning when I was out on my coffee/garden stroll I glanced over at it to see how it was doing. 'THOSE BASTARDS!' I shouted!!! The deer had leaned over the fence and clipped it off like they used scissors - and ate it for desert.  All they left me was the stem.

This pretty much tells all about the season. Time to gather in and close up. 

Sorry, Beth, but the snow took a tole on the muskmelon project. One bucket is still trying, the other is now planted to parsley. If we can't have melon, then we'll have delicious potato soup - with parsley. 

The lettuces inside the greenhouse are thriving! This one is 'Little Gem.' 

This one is 'All Year 'Round' 

This one is a romaine type called 'Little Caesar' 

The roots they grow in the hydroponic sweater pans are amazing. 

Even though it is cold and the season is ending, there is always a place for an afternoon in the sun. They just laid there and soaked up the last of the heat. 

Chickens in the road!

'Big Daddy' has had about all the crap he's going to tolerate from the diva, Silver Henrietta. It has been fun to watch him come into his own as the Sultan of the Flock. He's still being nice, but it won't be long before he takes up his scepter and orb.  This is all that remains of the season's flock: The Two Henriettas and the Remnant Brigade. They spend nights in Super Max High Security Jail. Last night at about 3:00 in the morning, Seth!, there were 5 coyotes running right where they are standing. All is right with the world here at Oakdale Farm, but slowing down. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Weather! The Farm Report: 10-12-2018

Weather - It Keeps the Riffraff Out.
The Farm Report: 10-12-2018

"Other than the streets are quiet, there's really nothing good you can say about a flood." That's according to Mark Twain. Flooded fields are everywhere right now. When you work on a one-time-a-year paycheck plan, it is a big deal. We have had so much rain I wouldn't be surprised to see Noah show up.

Click here to see the pics in Google Photos

Twain is also credited with saying, "Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it."  Although, this one might be like the quote from Yogi Berra, who also said, "I never said a lot of the stuff I said." Others are also credited with the complaining weather gem, including Will Rogers. I was complaining about the weather to a woodworking colleague the other day. I laughed out loud when he said in an email, "It keeps the riffraff out." Why did I laugh? Because those are the exact words my Dad used to say. And they are right.

One week ago today, the high was 92 and I was running the air conditioner. It had been down to 51 the night before. Then, the next day it got down to 41 and I was running the furnace. That is a 51 degree change in one day! Plus, that was right after a 41 degree change the day before! Tomorrow night, we're predicted to have rain and SNOW! So far, I think we've had nearly 6-inches of rain this week. So yes, this weather here does indeed, "Keep the riffraff out." And there was snow in the air when Zoey went out for 'last call.'

I apologize for these obscure pics, but if you look at the top of the pole, you'll see a soaking wet red tailed hawk. He watched me shave the other morning. Seemed mildly interested and never moved for 20 minutes. 

So when it is too miserable to be outside, I go inside to the greenhouse. The Thanksgiving lettuce project is coming along nicely.

The little plants grow roots first, then put on tops. Check back a week ago in the blog and see for yourself how much the roots have grown.  

I'm working on Thanksgiving (or Superbowl) musk melons for my sister. Melons do not like to be transplanted. They want their little roots left alone! So I started the seeds in foam coffee cups. Then, I cut out the bottom. 

With the bottom off, I can just see the roots, so they have not been disturbed yet.
Next, I make a slice down both sides of the cups.

I'm planting these melons in 'Dutch Buckets' so I can move them inside if the weather gets too cold for my heater. So I put the plant, cup and all, in a nice hole in the potting soil. The bottom is gone. Once the cup is in and the soil compacted around it, then I just slip out the sides of the cup. 

Pop! One side is out. 

Bang! The other side is out, and the little plant never knows what happened. Totally undisturbed and in the same soil, it thinks life just got better. 

I 'invented' Dutch Buckets one time. Then, after my brilliance was basking in the sun, I discovered about a million Youtube videos showing the exact same thing. Hmmmfff. But they work. What is a Dutch Bucket? It is simply a bucket with a false bottom. If you look into the hole, at the top you can see the edge of the false bottom. (It is the lid of the bucket cut to fit, and it is sitting on a little flower pot 'stool' inside that is filled with soil and acting as a wick. There is a hole in the middle of the false bottom piece so the soil up top can suck up water from the bucket.) You fill the bottom of the bucket with water and fertilizer. That wicks up to the plants keeping them constantly moist and fed. It works a charm!

Here we go! I have them sitting on bales of hay to keep them up off the cold ground. Melons like heat. Get that, Sis? They like heat. Cold weather melons might be a bridge too far. But 'no risk, no reward' as they say.  And as Fearless Leader DJT says, 'We'll see.' But, no promises.... 

Meanwhile outside, with all the wet weather Zoey and the Two Henriettas are trying to stay dry under the veranda in front of my shop. It was almost like one Henrietta was saying to the other, "You're making tracks all over the place." 

Then, like the gal in the 'bad breath' commercial, it was like the black Henrietta checked and discovered, "Oh no! That's me making all that mess in front of Tim's office door." Zoey already knew it. Other than being wet and miserable, all is well at Oakdale Farm this week. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

October Harvest: The Farm Report 10-5-2018

October Harvest

The Farm Report: 10-05-2018

October! One of my favorite months. I am resolved to show a picture from my shop window the first of each month for a year. I know, it looks a lot like September. But the view changes daily, and this will be fun for me - hopefully without being too boring for you. Even the morning and evening light changes the view. We always felt we knew the prairie artist Grant Wood better for having seen this change in the countryside take place.

Click here to see the pictures in Google Albums

Gone are the days of a team of horses and a wagon for picking the corn. These giant green machines are everywhere, and they make quick work of the harvest. At their cost, they must! of course.

The buckwheat cover crop is now only a few weeks old and my how it grows! 

It will soon be time to till it into the soil and replace it with yet another planting to add even more goodness for next year's gardens. Gardening, like farming, never 'stops' for the year. It just changes focus with the seasons and keeps going. I like that. There is a certain peace one gets from being actively engaged in the cycles of life.

Buckwheat has a special feature - besides growing so fast! - that makes it an excellent cover crop. The stems are hollow. When they are cut and tilled into the soil, the little tubes allow more oxygen to be incorporated into the composting vegetation. The good soil bacteria depend on this. 

Oxygen starved soil allows 'anaerobic' bacteria to grow - and that is bad. The stink from the bottom of the mud pit comes from those little bad boys. We don't like it, and neither do the plants.

What it looks like when you run over the garden hose with the lawn mower.... I'll say no more. 

Didja see'em? 

Look again. On the ground in the gap between the two bushes sits a small covey of quail! Look Close! (Click here to see the pictures better in Google Albums.) As luck would have it, just as I was looking out the window the other day, I actually saw a covey fly from the newly harvested cornfield and glide right up to my backdoor bushes. There were about a dozen of them. It had just started raining, and they were headed for cover. We were gifted a Maynard Reese print of quail in a grassy corn field recently. I remarked then that I actually see scenes just like the one in the painting. Well, I do! But usually not right at my back door. Look again and you'll see my grill sitting there just waiting for 'em to fly on a little farther. Mmmmmmm. Me and O.J. both enjoy our wildlife in multiple ways. :) Have a good week. All is well here at Oakdale Farm.