Monday, May 15, 2023

Everything Breaks! The Farm Report 05-15-2023

 The Farm Report

Everything Breaks!

'Tis the season. Everything either breaks or needs attention. All the outdoor power equipment needs an oil change and lube. My tiller decided it had sore feet, and needed new shoes. Henry Ford got one new rear tire and tube, and a 'newish' front tire and new tube. I got all the bills....

I'm an old guy, but I'm not ready to just haul everything to town for repairs yet. I like doing my own thing. But I'm an old guy - so I don't like to (can't) bend over anymore.  Well, truthfully, I can bend over, I just have a harder time getting back up! What's a guy like me to do? Get a crane with an electric winch to lift said offender up to eye level where we can have a meeting of the minds.

What could possibly go wrong? An 800 pound Gorilla Tiller, and a little tiny cable, and.... So I used my trusty engine lifter to pick up the tiller, then when it was up in the air, I backed Annie's Ranger underneath it. When all was in alignment with the world, I gently put the tiller down on the bed of the Ranger to act as my workbench and away we went. 

I don't know if you've ever tried changing a lawn mower or tiller tire, but let's just say 'the air was blue' and leave it at that. It took me two days (one day per tire) to get it done. No, I didn't start at sunrise and quit at dusk, but I gave it all my back and my vocabulary could stand - and it worked out to one tire per day was the quota.

Once the job was finished, I reversed course and got the tiller up and off the Ranger. As with the 'on' step, I just lifted the tiller up and drove the Ranger out from under it. Then, with Annie's supervision, I gently sat the tiller back on the ground. Job done!

Great news on the Cave Project! Due to great neighbors and pure luck, I was able to get the old cave bermed back up the way it was meant to be. When the cave was built around 1903, this would all have been done with men and horses - and days of time. With one neighbor's equipment and another neighbor's skilled use of same, we got this job done in an hour or so. Wonderful wonderful wonderful!

You already know I'm a machine guy, and I appreciate watching skilled people do their thing. But this was special. Ben was able to actually 'flip' the bucket to spread the soil like you would use a shovel or trowel to shake dirt out over the mound.

When it was all said and done, everything is mounded up and ready for another 120+ years.

I'll get some better pictures as the summer goes on, but this is a distant view of the final result. The vent in the back, remember, is a 4-foot piece of pipe down into the ground. The actual root cellar is about two feet below the grass line you see. So now, everything is at least 3-feet or 4-feet below ground. From top to bottom it is more than 12-feet down. Perfect for food storage, nursery stock overwintering or maybe even a cheese cave! I love aged cheese!!!

Good news/bad news on the hybrid tea roses. I thought they had overwintered in their grow bags. Nope! Only one survived. What happened? Well, I think - I think - what happened is that the root ball froze and thawed in the late winter and spring and that killed the plants. The tops were green and looked healthy, but they never broke dormancy. Next fall, I'll put these new ones down in the cave for their winter's nap.

I use my handy dandy Harbor Freight cement mixer for making potting soil more than anything else - except maybe for peeling potatoes. I make up my grow bag soil by mixing some Pro Mix potting soil (because it has soil microbes in it) with Peat (because it is cheap) and ground wood mulch (because it is even cheaper - WAY cheaper). Then, I add some 'amendments' like plain old fertilizer, some Epsom Salts (for the magnesium - Epsom Salts is a fancy name for magnesium sulfate, and it is easier to say), and some ag lime to keep the pH where we want it. Once everybody is in the hopper, I hit the switch and 'around and around and around she goes' as the saying is.

As a point of reference, this is a sample of the hair root ball that came out of the old rose bags. The entire bag was filled with these little feeder roots! No wonder they did so well last year. I'll treat them better this fall and see if we can't get them over into their second season this time.

"Tim, this is dumb. Everybody can see you set me up and posed me for this shot. Real Texas Heelers don't do roses." Well, no they don't Annie, but I do - and you're part of my show. So, you've gotta just play along and at least act like you like it.

"OK, but oh crap - you caught me with my eyes closed. Retake that shot, Tim and I'll ham it up for you. I'll put my Hollywood Glamor Girl look to work for you."

"How's that for a glam shot modeling the rose project, buddy!?" OK Annie. I get the point. Nobody is going to believe that shot was actually your idea either. But folks, this WAS Annie's idea. She just sat there and held this pose for me while I got the camera out to take the pic. She's a natural ham!

Up at the garden, Mr. Troybilt and his new shoes got to work making a trench for my onions. I dig a nice trench, add fertilizer, etc. and then lay out the new onion plants along the side of the trench.

Once they've all been laid out and spaced, then I use an old fashioned garden rake to pull the nice soft soil up over the roots from one side.

Then, I go over to the other side and pull the whole works back into an upright position. This makes the onions mounded in their own little hill. As the summer wears on, the soil will pull itself away from the onion base and when it is time - the onions know when that time is without ever reading a manual! - they will make bulbs. Big Hamburger Slicer bulbs if I'm lucky.

Sweet potato slips are in, but it ain't time yet. I will keep these slips - Beauregard and Georgia Jets this year - in the greenhouse until the night time temps stay above 60F. Then, I'll make a hill and put 'em out. 

You'll need to Biggiefy this pic, but if you look really closely at the base of the stems, you can see new little dahlia plants taking root from a leaf cutting! I'm enthused. I like flowers in the house and in the garden, too. If you don't like flowers, there's something wrong with ya.

Grow bag radishes from the greenhouse! These are Golden Globes. They taste like any other radish - but Ron says 'they're cuter.' I ate too many all at once, but they were delicious.

Well, after all that work, O.J. and I decided to call it a day. I had a glass of heart medicine and a salad, O.J. found a warm corner on my lap - and we both pretended to watch an old movie. He wasn't really much more interested in it than I was. 

All is well at Oakdale Farm. I hope it is with you, too. And yes, that is a new ear scar for old O.J. He's 20 now, but he is still the king of the heap - and he's been back to working outside at night. A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do, I guess. Tomcats like to fight.


  1. Now you know why I got out of the tire business ans worked on furniture.

    1. I was thinking about you all the while I was cussing and fuming changing those little tires! I really was! Furniture work is lots more fun. Cheers Buddy!

  2. So all the green that we see on top of your rose pots has no root? Roses here took a beating last winter in the ground. We had a mild winter except for a few days of minus something which I think was the culprit.

    1. The rose bags in this post are all new ones. The roses in older posts are the ones that died. The old canes were green-ish all winter long. They just never made it. I really think they were fine while in solid winter dormancy. But, like you say, we had some really nice (too nice) late winter/early spring days - then it went nuts cold again. I think that was the fatal blow.

  3. Chris Jorgenson

  4. I am looking forward to what mechanisation you will be using to get those hefty rose grow bags down into the Cave this fall!

    1. Stay tuned! I've already got that figured out. Partly the old way they did it a century ago, partly a little 'Red Green' invention of my own. It'll make you smile, guaranteed. Cheers.


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