Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Anniversary and the Work Goes On

Tom and I had our 32nd anniversary on the 24th. I can't believe it's been 32 years; seems like yesterday. We didn't do anything special. I mean, after 32 years what do you need to do? I like to think of us as being like Tevye and his wife in Fiddler on a Roof. You just grow old together. It isn't necessary for razzle dazzle. We are just comfortable being together: hogging blankets, snoring, toothpaste splatter all over the bathroom mirror and whatever.

Between Tom's garden and mine, we planted about 600 feet of potatoes. Tom planted Kennebec and Red Norland, and I planted Irish Cobbler and Katahdin. We had a good rain so the spuds are off to a great start. The peas and oats and wheat are coming up now, too. Thank goodness!

Today I hoed the greenhouse and watered everything. I counted the remaining tomatoes and still have 87! I sure didn't think I had that many (and I have 100 more started in the basement). We are supposed to have a hard frost tonight and the next few nights are supposed to be cold, so I added a layer of Agribon over the more tender plants. If it is cloudy tomorrow, I'll put the cabbages and lettuces out in the field.

Eddy and I mowed the field again this afternoon. It only took us about 4 hours. Eddy was funny. He was making all sorts of noise and was very proud of himself going back and forth. It was nice to have his help. I sure am sore and tired. I will give us each a dose of Arnica.

We rented a couple of good movies the other day. Apocolypto, Pan's Labyrinth, and Letters from Iwo Jima. They are all very good. Pan's Labyrinth was NOTHING like what I expected, but what a good story! And Letters from Iwo Jima was SO much better than Flags of Our Fathers. Apocolypto was very different; I almost wish there was another movie that went into the culture more. I really liked it. It reminded me a bit of the old Henry Fonda movie Drums Along the Mohawk where he runs for help followed by three Indian warriors. Well, there's a movie on tonight called Renegade that I want to see, so I'll cut this short tonight.

The moon is going into Scorpio so get out there and plant your gardens!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Trials and Woe is Me

Tom and I and the kids decided to take a run to the Winter Greenhouse day before yesterday and get some shrubs for landscaping the front of the house. We got some orange tinted potentilla, an American Cranberry bush, and some herbs for my herb garden that will be near the house -- the herbs for the Medicine Wheel garden that I will put in the field by the high tunnel will come from Horizon Herbs and I have yet to sit down and decide what I want to get. Anyway, after we returned home I went out to the high tunnel to check on everything and OH MY! most of the tomatoes and at least half of the peppers were severely wilted. I don't know what happened. I don't think it was the cold because the eggplant was untouched, and I don't think it was too hot because the lettuces and cabbage seedlings were untouched. I was able to salvage about 1/4 of the hot peppers, but all of the sweet peppers were done for. I was going to yank all of the tomatoes, but I decided I would try to re-grow them and so I cut each plant back to a live leaf bud where the stem was still strong and we'll see what happens. No early produce for the farmers market again. DRAT! In any event, after I went back to the house I started another hundred tomatoes. Better late than never, I guess, and no use crying over spilt milk!

I'm doing pretty good with the hoeing this year. I have five of the apple trees done and all of the perennial bed -- except for the asparagus; that is going to require a 2-3 day renovation. My dad gave us an old lawn mower that is smaller than the BCS brush mower and easier for me to use to keep the grass cut in the perennial walk sections. I am trying to teach Ed how to use it. For what is left of the grass to cut I will need to use the brush mower as the grass is too tall for the smaller mower. Now you can see how the garden is starting to take shape. It will be a beautiful garden. Ed is a big help to me.

My arthritis is killing me and I've lost 10 pounds already. Thank goodness for Arnica and Hypericum homeopathic remedies! Hopefully I will be able to lose the other 10 pounds before my next doctor's appointment.

My other event was the disappearance of Chardonnet, Lara's rooster. He has simply vanished and I expect that he has gone to chicken heaven. Chardonnet was a mean cuss (he'd always try to spur me from behind), but he was my back up rooster and had a pretty good Dominique form and a nice comb. Lara was disappointed but I told her we would get more chickens next year after I build a bigger coop. I am looking forward to building my own breeding flock. I want to have my flock NPIP certified.

Most of the next batch of seedlings in the basement are looking good. There is Blue Ballet, a small heirloom Hubbard squash, Sugar Loaf Delicata -- not germinating very well, Perkins Long Pod Okra, Mandan Bride corn and Russian sunflowers, Forellynschuss speckled lettuce, Hannah's Choice Melon (not a heirloom but I couldn't resist trying it because my niece is named Hannah), Moon and Stars melon, Charentais melon, and Green Nutmeg melon, Champion Collards (I don't think the collard plants I left in the field over the winter will send up a seed stalk so I'll have to try again this year), Boston Pickling and Lemon Cucumbers, New England Pie Pumpkins (my own seed, yeah!), Big Moon giant pumpkins, a flat of Genovese Basil, Round Mauve eggplant, and I've planted Bill and Linda's eggplant in a separate pot that I have on the south side of the house where it will get the most heat and sun -- don't see it sprouting yet, but I expect it will soon; Golden and Black zucchini, and then, of course, the latest tomatoes and peppers. The apple trees have leafed out but there are no blossoms yet and according to my Dad, there will be one more frost after the apple trees blossom, so I expect at least one more hard frost. The last hard frost last year was June 9th, and I will be watching the weather carefully -- I don't want to repeat my losses of last year!

Today, Tom helped me build a trellis for the five Doyle's Thornless Blackberry plants I bought. I put them behind the house where I could keep a closer eye on them as they are expensive plants. They will fill in and form a wall extending the Wealth Area of the house -- good Feng Shui. Slowly but surely I am filling in the back of the house to disempower the downward slope there -- bad Feng Shui.

Well, I've rambled on long enough tonight so I'll talk to you later.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mothers Day Weekend

Yesterday was very sunny, not a cloud in the sky. The air was much cooler than it has been, but I guess that is normal for now as May 11, 12, and 13 are known as "The Three Chilly Saints" --days where the last of winter makes itself felt. I watched a pair of eagles in a mating flight over the field. I never saw such a thing before. It was beautiful.

I got a lot done. I hoed the rest of the raspberries, currants, and horseradish, and I re-hoed the rhubarb and garlic. I pulled the mulch back from 5 of the apple trees and decided to go ahead and dig up the two pear trees and Knobbed Russet that were on their last legs. I'll order new trees for planting this Fall as I think Fall planting does better here than planting in the Spring. I watered everything in the field. I hope it rains. As Sunday is Mothers Day, I am going to do NOTHING except eat Tom's bar-b-que! Dad is coming. I called Mary, but she is beat from driving down to Madison to pick up young John, and they are all going to Big John's mom's house.

I remembered all the women of my family this morning as I watched Mass on tv -- the "speed" Mass from the Bronx, but still it was church. I also called Aunt Dorothy to wish her a happy Mothers Day. Bill just turned 90 on May 1st, and she and he were going to Teresa's house for brunch.

Happy Mothers Day to you all!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Early days of May

Whew! I got the hazelnut trees planted and Tom planted the blue spruce trees outside the field fence along the marsh side of the snowmobile trail. I've just about got the high tunnel planted with one more row of hot and sweet peppers to put in and another flat of endive. I have about 80 tomato plants I now need to stake. I am so happy that most of the transplants seem to have taken. Let's hope I can keep up with watering everything.

On the 3rd I started cucumbers, summer and winter squash, and melons in the basement. Tomorrow I'll start pumpkins, corn and sunflowers. I like to start the corn inside because if I plant larger plugs the birds have a harder time pulling them up, and the sunflowers don't mature unless you start them inside.

Let's talk about the weird weather. For crying out loud, this weather is weird! Last year our last snowfall was May 15; the year before, it was May 12. This year the last good snow came in March, then quickly vanished, and now it is so dry that we have had 5 forest fires in the area. The ticks are out in force and I'm told that when the ticks are this bad this soon in the year that it will be a dry year. Well, that is in line with global warming forecasts for this area. I expect things to get worse for a couple of years and also expect to see my maple trees start dieing; the yellow birch already are. I plan to plant loads of cherry trees to replace the maples as they are more used to a warmer climate. I think that when we do get rain it will be a deluge -- good thing I have big wetlands around me.

Well, I bit the bullet. I am now officially Swamp Creek Farm, LLC. Now I have to find out what I need to do next to be kosher with Wisconsin law. I am a single member LLC with no employees so I don't think I need a FEIN, and I sell raw, unprocessed food and occasional hand made craft items less than $1000 in value (far, far less!), so I don't think I need a Seller's Permit. I need to find out about this Business Registration Tax -- I don't understand what this is and don't know if I need to register for this. I also need to find out about an SS-4 number: what it is and do I need it. My head starts to spin when I try reading through the different web sites. Need to find out about insurance and getting an accountant, too. Price County Insurance was recommended as an agency friendly to small producers. Maybe they can recommend an accountant.

I received my new farmers market folding table and benches from Agri-Supply. They are really nice! I would buy from Agri-Supply again as their service was very good. A bit heavier than I expected, but the tables are wonderful quality. Also received the 100% biodegradable plastic bags from Brenmar Company. Excellent! They are exactly what I wanted. Chris Walker, the sales rep from Brenmar, sent me a package with a couple of catalogs and I will share them with the Price Direct Group at the next meeting in June. And, I want to thank Bill and Linda Betz for giving me the absolutely beautiful bowl-shaped baskets for displaying my produce and the handle paper bags that will be perfect for my small purchase customers. Thank you to them again for sending the eggplant seeds and more hot pepper seeds. The pepper seedlings from the last seeds sent are doing quite well so far and I will send you back seed from the strongest plant of each variety should I get fruit. Please post a comment or send me an e-mail about the eggplant again: I didn't write down what you told me about where it came from, what it looks like when it is mature, and how to prepare it, and now I don't remember what you said. (BTW, Bill: Tom and I received your latest catalogs and I will put them with the others for display.)

I don't know if I told you all, but I called DATCP about whether or not I needed to have my scale checked and was told that yes, if you sell produce by the pound in Wisconsin, you have to have your scale checked. The very nice lady (I forgot her name already) sent me two lists of scale vendors for northern Wisconsin and the closest one to me was BSI Scales, Inc. in Tomahawk. I sent Randy there my scale and got it back the other day so my scale is ready and legal for market! I'll take the catalogues and info Randy sent me to the Price Direct meeting, too. I know there is a farmers market in Hurley, and I think I will call their market manager and see if they would be interested in having a "scale day" at the Extension Office in Phillips where all local producers can get their scales checked. The more people getting their scales checked would make the costs go down. Also received my new contract from DATCP for applying as a WIC/FMNP vendor at the farmers market in Phillips and sent that back off to Madison. I called Judy Allen, the contact person at DATCP and asked if I could add farmers markets to the contract that I am thinking of adding and was told that NO you should only put down markets you currently sell at. It is always good to call when you aren't sure of procedure. I certainly hate back peddling!

Went to Ashland and learned how to test poultry for pullorum. The state vet was there and taught the class. Now there's a tough old bird -- I wouldn't want to cross him! I was surprised there were so few people at the class. I want to increase my flock and have it NPIP approved; that was my major reason for go to this class. I am so glad I went. I learned a lot. I wish I could order more chicks this year, but I just can't until I get my current projects done. I will need to build a bigger chicken coop anyway.

Finally got the oats, wheat and peas in the ground. How I wish for rain! One good soak is all I need to get the seed growing.

Enough about work. Let's get more personal. I like to meditate in the evenings as it recharges me. Often I listen to Dr. Jeffrey Thompson's Brainwave Suite. I also listen to Wayne Dyer's Getting in the Gap, and Whitley Strieber's Blue Pearl meditation (only available to subscribers of his web site) -- the first time I did that meditation, well, I won't tell you what happened -- it was just too weird and you probably wouldn't believe me! Anyway, I do that meditation whenever I can now. Thanks, Whitley! I also like to read in the evenings. I am reading The Opening of the Way by Isha Schwaller de Lubicz. (I thought it would help me with my reading of R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz' The Temple of Man, which I am having a hard time getting through the math chapter of Volume I). And, I am reading about alchemy and spagyrics; I find the relationship among alchemy, homeopathy, and astrology fascinating. I just love the term Celestial Gardening. I'm hooked. The odd thing is that as I read these books, everything seems so familiar.

Well, it's nearly 7:30 already; I didn't realize I'd been babbling on this long. Talk to you soon!