Thursday, May 28, 2020

Annie Moved Out! The Farm Report 05-29-2020

Annie Moved Out!
The Farm Report

Before I tell you about Annie Oakley moving out, let me show you Sadie's great news! After a long long time trying - for the past several seasons - Sadie finally got herself a turkey from the timber at Oakdale Farm! I don't know who was happier - her Grandpa Ron, her Dad, Sadie herself, or me. Don't let anybody tell you the 'kids of today' are just trouble. Kids are always trouble - it's their job to test the limits and explore new horizons! But today's kids are some of the best ever. Here is one to prove it. Determined, patient, dedicated, and able to smile and put a smile on your face for you too, if you need help. I'm not going to put the 'final' video here, but I've seen it. That bird never knew what happened. Dead shot, no questions, bang! turkey dinner ready for the table. Congratulations, Sadie!

Well! It has been a month since I last posted. Time has just flown by! I'll try keeping this post short(er) but let me tell you it has been an eventful spring month. All the planting and spring work has been happening of course. But also, Annie Oakley decided it was time to move out!

She's still here at the farm, but she declared 'summer rules' one night, and moved out. Moved out of the house that is. As my regular readers know, Annie doesn't like TV, and has been spending 'quiet time' by herself in her shop kennel in the prime time evening hours. I go out and bring her in to her 'inside' kennel when I'm ready to go to bed - usually about 10:30. The other night I went out to get her, and she refused to come in with me. This was a first. I bribe her with a nightly hard boiled egg every night and she loves it. Up until now, it was a race to the door to get inside the house. But that night it was just beautiful outside and Annie didn't want to come in. She is an outdoor dog. I couldn't blame her really. Problem is, she isn't very street smart. One night out and the coyotes would make minced meat pie out of her. I had to get tough to catch her and by the time I did get her corralled, I'd had enough. We were right by the shop door so I pushed her in and wished her luck. I went in to bed. I'd spent about an hour playing 'you can't catch me' with her and I was all done. Next night, it was the same again. She just refused to come in. This time, it was easier to catch her, and I decided she could just stay in the shop kennel again. Well guess what? She prefers it! Annie loves being outdoors, and she apparently likes the freedom of roaming around my shop and the company of my shop cat, 'Miss Kitty' better than O.J. So for now, Annie's permanent summertime APO is 'The Shop.' She still likes to come in with me in the mornings for coffee time and a play before work. We'll see what she decides to do when it gets cold. My bet is she'll still be in the shop. My other dogs lived overnight in the shop. I didn't think I snored or made rude noises in the night, but maybe.... Whatever the reason, she's out. Stay tuned!

Joyce moved these Star of David flowers to the farm when we moved here from Wisconsin. They were thick all over our lawn there. These are surviving, but not as happy as they were in 'Sconie.'

Bud's Red Weigelia are in bloom. So pretty. Thanks for the start, Chris.

The hydroponic strawberry patch has been a learning experience. Beginner's luck is a dangerous trap! My first plants did SOOOOO well. I was enthused!

We used a little horse hair 'softener' brush I have for gold leaf work to pollinate the blossoms.

They set fruit and began to bear these huge - and I will add my personal testimony - delicious berries.

But I wasn't paying attention. See the burnt edges of the leaves? Note to self: This is not good!

And then it just got worse. By the time I came to my senses and realized that my plants were dying, it was almost too late. Actually, it was too late for the other new plants I set out. 

What happened? I quit reading the book before I got to the end. You can look back at the last posting and see a picture of this setup. At the end you'll see that I was using a 5-gallon bucket for the recirculating reservoir to pump water and fertilizer solution to the tubes. Two goofs: One, as the water was being consumed, I added more fertilizer solution. Wrong! The books says it best. Plants drink lots more than they eat! I should have been adding just water. I concentrated the fertilizer so much it burnt the plants. Two, the book says I should have about a half gallon of liquid per plant. With 72 plants in this unit, 5-gallons is NOT enough reserve. Oh, and THREE: I'm supposed to totally change out the water solution every two weeks to one month. Flush and start over. I had been running all these plants out of a 5-gallon bucket for nearly 3 months. The technical term for the toxic buildup in the water is 'plant goo' but whatever you call it, it needs flushed and cleaned. Now I know.

Plants are amazing though. I added a 55-gallon drum for my solution, added an air stone for oxygen, and committed to change out monthly. The strawberries responded well, and now I'm in 'rebuilding' mode. Actually, the strawberries are in rebuilding mode. I'm trapping their new runners and letting them make new plants. The berries (Seascape) are super good and they're supposed to bear until fall.

This is Rex buttercrisp lettuce. It is really good.

Paris Island romain. It is good, too. All hydroponic from a Kratky sweater pan.

Summertime head lettuce in a dutch bucket. The hole is where I add water. There is a wick inside that draws the water up to the plants.

Here is the Summertime lettuce 4 weeks later.

The outdoor strawberries are looking great, too. These are all June bearers. One heavy crop and you're done until next year. Delicious!

There's trouble in the 'tater patch. We've been LIED TO! Remember back when I said I could plant regular store potatoes and they'd grow OK? I've planted store spuds for years. This year, no growth. I dug up some starts, and they were OK, except for no sprouts and no growth. HMMMMM?????? I was VERY careful to pic spuds that said '100% natural - no additives' when I bought them.

So, when my originals didn't grow, I went back and got some more (I'm stubborn if not brilliant). This time, I picked ORGANIC spuds to be sure they hadn't been zapped by the sprout police. As before, I washed them and soaked them and this time, I even put in a little rooting hormone in the soaking water.

And the sprouts died. And the cuttings shriveled up and died. What happened?! Well, according to my reading, even though they were 100% natural, they had been treated chemically to NOT SPROUT! The non-organic ones get zapped by chloroprofam CIPC  to keep them from sprouting. But why didn't the ORGANIC ones sprout? Surely they're not chemically treated. Wrong! Organic spuds are treated with clove oil compounds. Soooooo, none of 'em will grow. 

Want to know why I garden? Fun is the obvious first choice. Having my own pure food to eat and knowing what I'm eating is the second reason! Boy am I mad! The only spuds that did grow were the leftover mummies I found in the bottom of the box in the basement. Lucky I didn't throw them out. I'll have a lot of potatoes, but not as many as I wanted. I planted them to have some to share, and when I planted them, the COVID-19 issue was just peeking over the horizon. But golly! What a disappointment.

Out on the tarp garden things are doing great! The tomatoes in the solar cones and Wall-O-Waters are fantastic. These were planted just 4 weeks ago. Now, the 'maters are sticking out all over the place.

The wind whipped off some of the solar cones, but you can see how it works.

Here's my trick, by the way. I cut the bottoms out of 5-gallon buckets and use that to hold the W-O-W heaters up. Without the bucket, the W-O-W are prone to blow over onto the plants.

I'm also building an 'Iowa' version of a Victorian Lantern Cloche. It is just concrete reinforcing wire bent to fit. The lid is held on with hog rings. Keep it Iowa!

I'm putting egg plant and peppers in these. When the plants are established, I'll remove the plastic.

Four egg plants per lantern.

Four peppers, too.

The Grosbeaks are back! They are so pretty, but so mean! They use their hard/sharp beaks to cut away the nest shells I have out - and then they eat the young ones they find inside!

The tree frogs are out, too. 'Kermit' is usually green, but today he's hiding and grey.

And even though Annie Oakley has moved out of the Oakdale Manor house, she's still on duty here at the farm. Who is happier here? Anything for a Ranger ride with kids! Natalie makes her mind, and she loves it; Bentley wants to ride her like a horse, and she loves that, too. Grandpa just thinks the whole thing is a fun circus - and so do I. All is busy here, but all is well. Be safe and have fun!