Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Last Call: The Farm Report 11-25-2023

                    Last Call

                                       The Farm Report

Horseradish! So....I hope this is the last call for this stuff. If you'll remember, I planted some in my garden on purpose last year. Then I dug it all out (I thought....). It came up from little bitty pieces of root that got lost when I plowed the garden last fall. It came up this spring in one of my sweet corn rows and killed out the sweet corn! So, here we go again. This is horseradish root from one year, started from little pencil sized inch-long pieces of root I couldn't rake out. Talk about a plant with attitude!

Waste not, want not, of course. The pan on the left is for my fridge and sandwiches this year. The pan on the right is intentional starters for a new horseradish bed - FAR FAR AWAY from my garden.

Far away like out on the edge of a field WAY far away from the garden.

Our radical hot/wet/dry summer did a number on my carrots this year. I got some but they're nothing to write home about.

I like to wait until the last possible day to dig my Irish potatoes. I think they store through the winter better when I do it this way. Annie Oakley supervises, of course.

This year, neighbor Ron rounded up a pickup load of his grand kids and they all came over to help pick up spuds. I think they had as much fun seeing how far out into the field they could throw a rotten potato as we did watching them have fun at it. Great kids, great help, fun had by all.

Of course, if anybody is digging in the dirt, then Annie thinks she's got the 'go ahead' to dig in the dirt, too.

She doesn't really know what she's digging in the dirt for, but hey, it's just as much fun one way as the other. 

No potato famine here at Oakdale Farm this year! This was the best potato crop I've ever raised. Like tomatoes from the vine, potatoes from 'your own good dirt,' as my mother in law used to say, just taste the best.


Of course, you can't have fun on the farm without some kind of dead carcass to fool around with! Some unlucky motorist smacked this steer-sized deer out on the road. The DNR guys gave the official Okie Dokie, and it showed up behind the truckload of 'tater pickers.' That's my shop and garden WAY off back in the background. Far far away! Why? A year or two ago, we did this same thing. It was so much fun watching the Bald Eagles doing their dinner time thing we wanted to do it again. We have lots of eagles here now. They follow the ducks and geese as they migrate, and some even stay here year around. Well....At 6 O'clock when I went in for the evening, an eagle was already on the carcass. Two days later EVERYTHING was gone except for the rib cage bones. Coyotes we think.

Last call for the Dahlias, too. They've been great all season long, but they don't like freezing. 

After the tops killed off with the cold, it's time to dig the tubers if you want to try saving them over the winter. I do. I'm a label guy, so I put the mini-blind labels right on the tubers with zip ties so I'll know what I've got next spring when it is time to restart them. I gave 'em a shower too.

Then, into this plastic garden tub for the winter in cold (not freezing) storage. The tub has holes in the bottom so no water can stand and rot the tubers.

SCORE! I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, so I got a whole load of power company wood chips. I'll pack the dahlia tubers with these chips for the winter. Otherwise, I usually use peat or straw.

Garden plowed and coming along. I really really like to have everything cleaned off and made ready for spring before I quit for the winter. 

After plowing I drag a harrow or landscape rake over it to smooth things up and drag off any remaining sticks and weed stalks. (My garden is the only spot on the whole farm where we do this. Everything else in the fields is totally no-till.)

Last year, smugly he said, I thought I could just leave my roses in grow bags out for the winter. Wrong! They made it through the winter OK, but when March came along and the bags started thawing out every day and re-freezing every night, the roots couldn't take it - and they died. The half-barrel pans are how I 'sub-irrigated' the bags this year. Definitely the way to go. Roses in full bloom take a LOT of water. In the fabric grow bags, they never get soggy. They love it.

Grow bags are portable. So, after a brutal 'Marine Boot camp' style pruning haircut, it was into the Ranger for a ride to the cold storage area inside. Fingers crossed for a better outcome next spring. I'm optimistic!

While I was cleaning up the rose garden I noticed trouble in 
River City on the greenhouse.

Not only is the 5-year plastic into it's 6th year, the wooden battens I used to hold it on were rotting out, too.

I switched to a new 'Wiggle Wire Channel' system. When I first put up the greenhouse frame, this channel system was so expensive I just couldn't justify it. At the time, the channel and wiggle wires that go with it would have cost as much as the entire greenhouse project. It has become WAY cheaper now. It is the only way to go.

To install it, you just screw the channel tracking down where you want it. Then put new plastic over the top of it, and when you 'wiggle' in the bent spring wire fasteners, the job is done. Easy!!!

That is not a new sidewalk. This is the new plastic sheeting to go over the greenhouse. I decided there was no good reason to take off the old layer, so we just topped it with a second skin. Maybe - just maybe - next spring I'll rig up a blower so I can have an insulating bubble over my greenhouse to help hold in the heat. Maybe....

Step A. Pick a beautiful WIND FREE day and go to work. Finding a wind free day out here is/was the challenge. We did it though. The next day had 25 mph winds.

After the wiggle wires are in, then a good sharp knife or scissors and the trimming makes it look great.

Fall is for smoking meat. Annie says it all. "When can we taste some, Tim?"

This is 'Buckboard Bacon' if you're wondering. It is a cut taken off the end of a pork roast. Then it is cured with a secret recipe of spices and curing salts for a couple of weeks in the fridge. When the big day arrives, into the smoker it goes for most of the day.

Then, after it reaches the 'fully cooked' temperature, I vacuum bag it and seal it up for a few more days in the fridge to let all the smokey goodness penetrate and equalize.

After that, we slice it so it is ready for sandwiches or frying. I cook it in the smoker, so it is good to eat like sandwich meat or ham. It IS good to eat, too.

Vac bag in small quantities; some for the fridge, some for friends, some for the freezer.

SOME for the skillet and my breakfast, too. It is fantastic. Not like ordinary belly bacon, and not like ham, it's in between and delicious. Why haven't I done this before?

More blossoms from the sweet potato slips I saved from the garden a few weeks ago before the 'last call' for the sweet taties before frost. This is fun!

And so it goes. It's about time for 'last call' here at the farm before winter sets in, too. Annie thinks she's a lap dog (well, I guess she is a lap dog, but it's all my lap will tolerate!). We're settled and ready for a slow down. Winter has its place. Annie and I are well. Miss Kitty has company in the shop from 'Ermine' the feral white tomcat with the black tip on his tail. And all is well at Oakdale Farm.

Happy Thanksgiving!