Merry Christmas To All
The Farm Report
Merry Christmas to all! This will probably be my final Farm Report for the year, so I'll end it up with an activity report, and cheery best wishes from us to you. Earlier on, Annie Oakley and I got the big log splitter polished up and delivered to 'Picnic Point' in the timber ready to split wood again. My Green Door cellar project delayed the wood business so I'm behind - what else is new?
Thanksgiving came and went, and my grand kids (and their parents) came visiting for turkey day. Somehow, Annie convinced my Grand Daughter to drive her around the farm really really fast in the Ranger, and do dangerous driving all the way. They had a ball! However, ahem..., somehow Annie forgot to tell Evie when they were about to smack into something and the tie rod (above) took a turn for the worse. For those who are not mechanics in the readership, this rod should be straight - absolutely straight. Annie ain't sayin' - and I ain't askin'. Fun is fun, and the Ranger is repaired and back on the road again. No need for any questions. If one of my boys had been driving, I would have killed him! Grand Daughters are different though.
In the spring time, around the middle of April here, we hunt Morel mushrooms. These white ones grow in the cool October/November times. I think - I think!? - they are what is called Oyster Mushrooms. The books say they are delicious to eat. I think I am not going to try them though until somebody else who KNOWS! goes first. The timber is full of them. Do I have any readers who can help? Please.
While I was out inspecting mushrooms, Annie and her buddy, Ron, were poking up an old hollow oak tree. Annie was sure - well actually I think they were both sure - that there was something up in there and they were both hoping it would come out to play. No soap....
I love cutting and splitting wood to have on hand to burn and heat my shop and house. Annie is a big fan of the 'going to the timber and cutting' part. She's not so much on the splitting, and she really thinks stacking is the most boring thing in the world - other than watching me type this blog.
After I regained consciousness following a major turkey overload, we got out to the garden to get the garlic planted. Garlic planted in the fall is the best! It grows when you don't think it will, and it will be the first thing up in the spring. You can take a snipper and cut off the little garlic grass sticking out of the snow in March to make the best cottage cheese you've ever tasted. Beats the heck out of chives for me. There's still time, if you haven't. Some of this came from a sack I got at Walmart. No excuses please! Go plant some.
The last of the hydroponic celery has been pulled and packed into the fridge for use later. I will definitely grow celery in the tubes again. It timed out perfectly. As soon as the strawberries said to heck with it when the heat started rising, I pulled the spent plants (by then we were all sick of strawberries anyway) and put in celery - which tolerated the heat and laughed on into the fall chills. Because I was able to leave the roots in their little net pot when I packed them for the fridge, the plants don't know they are dead. In fact, they aren't. So they last a long long time in storage.
Did you say Horseradish?! Dug with the tractor and plow. It is amazing. I'm treating horseradish just like I'm treating the strawberry plants. To me, they are ANNUALS. I pull 'em every year and replant every year. NUTS! to that business of planting and not harvesting for 2 years. PHOEY! Annuals, I say (even if they really are perennials). Remember, I just appear to be patient.
This is a whole wheelbarrow full of horseradish. Annie doesn't like it one bit. Yes, she tried it. No, she isn't going to change her mind. It was a definitive experience.
Fall Plowin' done. For everything else here at Oakdale Farm, we do 'no-till' farming. But for my garden, which becomes a mess by the end of the season, I like to turn it over and get it all smoothed up. I then plant a cover crop to build the soil for the next year. It keeps me off the streets and outa the bars....
Part of the fun is having little Henry Ford 8N and a 2 bottom plow to do it with.
We have a deer herd here that looks like it crossed with some beef cattle at some point. There were 3 deer in a group of 6 or 8 the other morning that looked like big brown steers with antlers. See the scuffs in the snow? That is where Mr. Big raked his antlers to show Mrs. Deer where he had been, and invited her to come to the party. This guy is serious! I just hope he is more Romeo and less Harvey Weinstein. Mother nature has her ways though.
The cool days of fall are great for smoking meat. I have discovered the wonders of 'Double Smoked' bacon. Bacon, by any other name, is God's gift to man. But when you bundle it up, coat it with some black pepper and put it into the smoker for the day, it is a blessing from Heaven and more! Try it if you have the stuff. You'll love it.
I have tried to keep my 'professional life' away from the Farm Reports. I don't know why - I just think Farm Report folks might not enjoy furniture maker's stories so much. Anyway, here is a special rattle I made and sent to my new German AFS Grand Son. I learned to turn balls and rings from the Dean of the Royal Society of Ornamental Hardwood and Ivory Turners himself, Bill Jones. At one point in his life, Bill turned ivory billiard balls. It was done by hand on an ordinary wood lathe. It is a special, special, skill. It is also an applied geometry trick, and Bill showed me how to do it.
When Prince William was born, Bill was commissioned by the Royal Society to make a gift for him. Bill made one of these rattles. The teething ring and the ball are both ivory. Mine are made of a material called Alternative Ivory - which is a man made substitute. It looks and feels exactly like the real thing. It is hard as the real thing, and it is as difficult to turn as the real thing. Bill did so much for the preservation of elephants and discouraged the use of real ivory for ornamental work. He was granted an exemption from the prohibition on trading real ivory so he could use his stock of old ivory, if he wanted. He made a special piece for Joyce on our 25th wedding anniversary.
Bill Jones' ivory rattle is the one in the book - Notes from the Turning Shop. Mine is the one with the wood handle and fitting. Just to keep this in bounds for the Farm Report, the wood is hedge. Osage Orange. Beau d'Ark. I grow it here on the farm. So it has a special attachment to Oakdale Farm. It is a wonderful wood to turn. Sometimes it is now called North American Ebony. It is hard as iron, can hardly float, and is an oily wood that polishes extremely well.
The first time out - I hadn't turned one of these for 15 years - it wasn't quite as perfect as I wanted for my new Grand Son. What to do? Christmas tree ornaments! The balls are hollowed out and they have jingle bells inside. How do I do that? It's a trick, but I can't tell because of Guild Rules....
Another wild turkey bit the dust, too this past spring. More 'Spur-Rings' for a special little gal who hunts 'em in my timber.
So that's about it. Annie obviously enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family. Belly rubs ad infinitum!
O.J. just wants a warm lap and to be left alone while he dreams of catching mice in the weeds.
And Annie Oakley and I are both settled in for a long winter's nap in front of the fire.
All is well at Oakdale Farm. Cheers, and Merry Christmas to all - and to all a good night!