Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Lost September: The Farm Report 10-05-2021

 Lost September

The Farm Report

I'm getting to the age where things can get lost in a memory cloud. September was not one of them. It was such a miserable month, I intentionally put it into the trash bin.

A guy has to laugh when he can though. This pic shows a situation that has been making me laugh a little harder every day since it happened. Who would put the coffee creamer in the toilet paper basket next to the biffy in the 'little room' near the front porch? Maybe an Official Old Guy Iowegian Bachealor Farmer like me?

Why am I laughing? Well, one fine day my Officer in Charge of Spit-N-Polish here at Oakdale Manor very carefully, and gently, and tactfully, asked me if I knew anything about the coffee creamer container in my little powder room toilet under the front staircase. 'No,' was my first reaction. Then, as I thought about it, I did remember having one there. Once I explained to her that what was inside that Coffee Creamer container was the hydroponic fertilizer materials I use to water my porch flowers, she seemed relieved. I fill the flower watering can in the sink that is there, add some fertilizer, and go outside to the flower baskets on the porch to deliver the magic elixir of growth. We dropped the subject - "Never mind." 

But over the weeks that have passed, I have come to realize that maybe - just maybe - she thought I might have slipped a notch on a gear somewhere inside the grey cells that live in my noggin's attic. Early dementia? Could he be showing Alzheimer's symptoms? He's starting to lose it! People with dementia do have a history of putting things away in odd places. So the more I think of it, the more it just makes me belly laugh that she thought I had turned the inevitable corner on my way to 'second childhood and mere oblivion' as Shakespeare refers to it. She was so kind and delicate in her approach. I'm still laughing out loud! And it keeps getting funnier and funnier.

"Tim, there isn't anything funny about that whole story. You're embarrassing us. Quit it!"

OK. So September is in the record books, and I'm ready to get back into the firewood. 

While I was away getting a '3 for the price of one' root canal repair on my teeth, the weeds grew around my cut rounds of logs. Maybe that helped me lose track of September, too.

Annie loves to go to the timber, and she's always on the lookout for fun. She actually herds the mice she finds in these logs sometimes. She really does. They are 'deer mice' and they group up together anyway. Still, Annie thinks it is her job to keep 'em all together marching in a pack. She's quick enough to make that happen, too. At least for a little while.

My jib crane is how I get those big heavy rounds back to the splitter and up onto the lift table.

Through the magic of hydraulics, that table raises up level with the splitter beam. All I have to do is pull on a little lever.

Bingo! I also use some homemade-and-handy tools called picaroons to pull the wood where I want it.

When one of those giant oak logs pops in half, but not quite, I use my jib crane to flip the log over and give it another go. No lifting for me, if I can help it!

Annie and I have been going to the timber splitting about every morning now. A Ranger full is about right. I take it back to the shop and put it inside for later - when we need it.

I have been found guilty of hypocrisy. I occasionally say that Texas Heelers and such dogs are not 'lap dogs.' Annie wants to be sure to tell you that I don't always know what I'm talking about. She also thinks there isn't room enough on my lap for everybody who is there.

'Tim, there isn't room for him and me both up here.'

'Tim, there's gotta be some way we can get rid of that cat!' No Annie, there isn't. He was here way before you, and he runs the show - as you know! People who don't have pets are missing a bunch of the fun in life. They are also missing a bunch of the trouble they can cause!

Outside, September (and the whole darned summer for that matter) was not kind to the greenhouse or the garden. Just so you won't think it is always a perfect world out here on the farm. Stuff happens.

Here is a shot of my failed salvia. Yes, that is the salvia for which I paid major big bucks for the seed. My sister says her plants did great. After further review, as they say on TV, I realized that I did probably put too much fertilizer down before I planted them. As I say, stuff happens - sometimes in excess.

After 118 years, we have new steps fitted into the manor. The old ones had never been made correctly, and had been a pain for all that time. I'm thrilled to have the new ones.

I think they look really nice. Plus, I got to meet a really neat guy named Butch Bovier who built them. In his spare time, Butch - who is actually older than I am - builds replicas of Lewis and Clark's river boats. They are called pirogues. He might be building one this winter. He might be building it close to me. I might really enjoy watching all that happen!

The late green beans I planted are about 2 weeks behind the catalog prediction of when the beans should be ready to pick. That is expected since we are losing sunlight hours all the time now. They look great though. I'll be having fresh green beans again soon. Oh Boy!

And other fun in the orchard: This is an apple from one of my two remaining previously unidentified 2009 Mystery Graft trees. I have tasted it (Absolutely Delicious!) and I think I have identified it.

This is the bottom side. It almost looks like a Yellow Delicious. But it isn't (hint!).

It is - drum roll! - a Grimes Golden apple! Grimes Golden is in fact a parent of Yellow Delicious. No wonder they look alike. Grimes fell out of fashion, according to books I read, because even though it is superior in flavor and juiciness, it is slow to bear, and bears fruit unpredictably. True on both counts! So the commercial guys don't like it. I do, however. It is well well well worth the wait. Sweet, snappy, juicy, delicious flavor. All good.

So what is a 2009 Mystery Graft? In 2009, I bench grafted a whole bunch of apple trees in my shop one winter. (I did it sitting on a stool in front of my woodworking bench, hence the name 'bench grafting' - get it?) I used a paint code system to mark the stems of the little trees after I had performed my little whittling surgery so I could tell what was what when I set them out into my garden nursery row. 'White band, white band, red band' was one kind; red band, blue band, orange band, was another kind. I had 8 different kinds I was grafting that day. I carefully wrote down my color combinations on a piece of paper as I worked along.

Well, sometime between then and now, I lost that piece of paper! My color key disappeared. Horrors! So, I made little tree tags for all of them that simply said, 2009 Mystery Graft. I also listed the names of the 8 different possibilities it could be. I had Esopus Spitzenburg, Cornish Gilliflower, Chieftan, Yellow Delicious, Golden Russet, King David, Belle de Boskoop, and of course, Grimes Golden. All this wood came to me through the good wishes of the Arbor Day Orchard's historic preservation orchard. A friend of mine and I were allowed to go in and collect the grafting scion wood ourselves. I am thrilled to have GG in my orchard!

Out to the mailbox one day to get the bills. This soaked package was in there with the other bad news.
 It was dripping wet and smelled of dill and garlic. Oh my!

Oh my, oh my, oh my! Chad and Christina had sent me some of their homemade pickles and the jars didn't make the trip. Dang!

But as I kept digging through the wreckage, I discovered these two little jars of homemade salsa lurking in the safety of the corners surrounded by rotten dill pickles. Unscathed and ready for action! In a poetic sense, they are kinda like me; having been through a bunch of crap this summer and having avoided the real troubles that threatened, we are all primed and ready to move on, full of flavor and zest. Let the good times roll! Here's to a great Fall season ahead.