Monday, July 19, 2010

Dodging the Rain

It seems like we do our outside work now around the times it rains.  We've hilled and hoed Tom's potatoes and corn, and we've been working in the field.  We finished cutting the grass inside the field fence, and today Tom started cutting the grass outside the fence along the creek side while I slugged away in the vegetable section rows weeding and thinning.  I actually finished thinning all the carrots and nearly all the herb rows.  The herbs are mostly perennials and small for this first year, but what did grow looks great!  I tried not to look at the green beans, beets, tomatoes and lettuce rows that have been devastated by the deer.  The pumpkin section looks a bit frail from all the standing water, and I don't know if the sunflowers edging that section will recover, but there is plenty of green and the pumpkin vines look like they are ready to run.  Looks like raised beds for that area will be standard issue from now on.  The hops look great, but they are planted in hills and water drains more readily away from them.  We gave Eddy the little push grass mower and he did a good job of cutting the grass around the garden sections.

I took a moment to check out the trees in the fruit orchard.  One Wealthy apple and my favorite apple tree, the Fameuse, will need to be replanted -- both completely dead above their grafts. One of the Golden Spice pears is dead, too.  The two remaining grafted plums are alive, but growing from below the grafts.  I'm considering letting them grow as is since wild plums are tasty, too, albeit smaller than grafted plums.  Three of the four Bali sour cherry trees are completely dead.  That's make nine trees (if I decide to replant the plums) that need replacing.  About 10 hazelnut trees from the original 25 are still alive and looking healthy; that's a good enough number for me.  The Bohemian horseradish is growing well though that row needs some major renovating, and there are a couple of McDonald rhubarb plants  that insist on growing in the row that I originally planted  six years ago.  The gooseberries are hanging on in their row, and the overgrown asparagus bed is decidedly ferny.  I think I will till that perennial section really well and make some new beds.  In them I will transplant the grape vines that are currently on the South side of the house -- Tom keeps running over a couple of them with the lawn mower and it's driving me crazy.  I think I will transplant the hazelnut trees into another row -- I don't like them so close to the fence where they currently are.  That still leaves plenty of room for a row of cultivated elderberry shrubs and maybe some other shrubs.

Talked to Tom about measuring off the big garden section where the corn and potatos currently are into a one acre section and  moving the hops there next year.  Might as well plant them properly in a well defined area with ease of maintenance and the commercial growing plan in mind.  We'll leave the current hops section and the current mixed veggie section along with the high tunnel for the main market garden areas.  I am trying to get into the woods to cut up all the tree tops we have down from making firewood for Dad to use as fence posts for fences around the garden sections.  I would sure like to get that done while the ground is soft from the rain, but I'll get to it somewhere down the line.   The idea looks very nice in my imagination . . . .

I'm so happy that the herbs are growing despite the weeds.  I really did not expect them to do as well as they are.  I think the only herbs I didn't see growing were lemon balm and skullcap.  Even the foxgloves are growing well.  I'm looking forward to weeding the remaining rows to see how everything is growing through the weeds. 

Alot of the winter squash plants look kind of funny.  They are very small -- almost no green and not even big enough to run -- but are getting lots of flowers already.  The cucumbers are the same way.  Don't know if it's because of all the rain or something else.  I hope to post some pictures for you soon.

On another front, we have another fox.  This one is real raggedy looking.  He got one hen yesterday.  The chickens have taken to staying close to the coop.  They have also stopped laying well.  My guess is that they are getting ready to molt.  A couple of them have gone broody on me, too, and are sitting together on top of a clutch of eggs.  They shriek and peck if you go too close to them.  My egg count is down to less than 10 a day now.  That's ok.  I plan to butcher most of these hens before winter and add new chickens next year.  I know the trend is for getting the darkest brown eggs you can get, but I don't like the really dark eggs because I can't see through the shell when I candle them.  I will look for a hen that lays a lighter brown shell that is easy to candle.

The sun shines right before it dips below the trees and it is shining now through a hole in the advancing rain clouds.  Sure we will get more rain tonight.  Well, stay dry and I'll talk to you soon.  Be careful!


  1. why do you candle your eggs?

    Gill in Canada

  2. Hi, Gill! I candle my eggs to try and prevent eggs that may have slightly cracked shells, meat spots or blood in them from getting packed in cartons that go to customers. While I gather my eggs at least twice a day, I usually don't wash them -- washing eggs is required here in Wisconsin -- until I have a basket full or about three days worth. I've found that waiting a while before processing the eggs makes them easier to shell if you like your eggs hardboiled. High temperatures, however, increase the likelihood of embryos in fertile eggs to start growing, and meat spots in eggs tend to increase as hens age, so I like to candle my eggs before packing them into their cartons.