Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sometimes It Rains

A lot has been happening here at the farm and I've been really busy. Witness my two sprained ankles and over-extended left knee and elbow. 

The odd weather continues.  We had a wind storm a few days ago that blew away the abnormally warm early Spring and ended my hopes for getting another year out of the film on the high tunnel.  I spent time trying to remove the end panels and main body film from the hoop house frame.  I'll try to salvage what film I can to re-use as low hoop covers.  I removed most of the plastic, but I'll have to take my tool box and big ladder out to the field in order to reach the top of the tunnel ribs to remove all of the plastic that is held in place with bolts and clamps.  The day was really too cold and windy to do much in the field.  I stored the removed plastic in the chicken skid for the time being.  Speaking of the chicken skid, the wind tore the roof tarps to shreds and literally blew off the "man door".  After I removed the tattered tarps,  I inspected the door hinges and found that the twisted steel was actually broken through.  Another durable "made in China" product.

My brother-in-law, John, and sister, Mary, Tom, Eddy and I worked for a couple of days cutting wood for Dad.  (According to my sister, her husband was "in beaver mode", LOL).   We thinned out bad trees on the hay road.  Talk about work!  If you have any desire to get in shape and lose weight, I heartily recommend learning how to cut firewood for a business.  I thought it was going to kill me.  (Tossing log chunks into the trailer behind Dad's tractor, stepping over tree top debris, and dropping split wood pieces on my feet are what have me gimping around).  But, we have three good stacks of hardwood split and piled for Dad already, and probably some time after Memorial Day we plan to go out again and cut him some more.  Because of the harsh forecast for this coming winter we would like to give him at least six good wood stacks.  We are all trying to get a good supply of wood cut for ourselves, too.  John and Mary burn wood for all of their heating needs, too, and they are busy with getting their family's wood supply ready.  Tom and I use wood as a back up to our LP gas heat, so we don't stack as much wood, but I would like to get more wood put up for us, too, because I am not confident about the ready availability of LP gas deliveries because of the state of the economy and the upswing in natural disaster events.  I think everybody should do what they can to prepare for self-sufficiency in these uncertain times. 

My St. Lawrence Nursery order arrived and I planted the two Honeycrisp apple trees and the two pear trees on the west side of the house.  I put the rugosa roses near the LP tank where I had the herb garden last year.  So far the chickens have left them alone -- I didn't think they'd like dealing with those thorns!  I uncovered the rhubarb and blackberries, watered them well and put compost around them.  I built a cold frame with some scrap wood and one of the old windows I got from my sister, Mary, and planted it up with bunching onions, spinach, parsley, and carrots.  I've watered and weeded the garlic in the garden boxes; that is looking fine under the Agribon row cover.

In the basement the seedlings are doing great.  Yesterday I planted several more flats:  cucumbers, summer and winter squashes, pumpkins, sunflowers, hot peppers, okra, collards, and I don't remember what else.  The Brewers Gold hops are growing like crazy (I have them planted in pots until I can get them out to the field), and the Zeus hops are alive and growing, too, although I actually dug them up to inspect the roots to be sure they were alive.  I'll have to keep an eye on that variety.

I've been hauling my compost pile out to the field.  It takes me about three hours to shovel a load into the back of the truck, haul it out to the field, and then dump it.  I can do two truck loads a day before my back and legs give out on me.  I have the big pile half finished and expect to get it all out to the field this week (barring bad weather).  It will be terrific to mix the earthworm castings Lynn and Ira gave me in with the compost.  I'm sure that garden section will do very well this year. 

Today it was snowing and the forecast said we might get between 3" and 5" of snow.  I decided to stay inside and worked on the kerchiefs I want to sell at the farmers market.  They will be pretty when they are finished.  I think I will crochet some lace to edge some of them with.

Special Olympics bowling is going well.  All the young people enjoy the activity very much.  Lara loves bowling with the others, and we are very grateful to The Salvation Army for donating the bowling ramp she uses to our Special Olympics group.  I am getting better at figuring out how to keep score.  Two of our adult volunteers asked me to check on the status of volunteer applications for them so I did that.  Several of our young men have to renew their medical information so I passed out forms for them to give to their parents and then I sent our agency manager an email giving him an  update on everthing.  We have a really nice group of athletes.

Back at home in the broody box my little red hen is still sitting on her clutch which should hatch any time now.  At least I hope so.  If the majority of those eggs aren't fertile, I'm going to dispatch a bunch of worthless roosters.  Well, they are going to get dispatched anyway. 

Speaking of chickens, this is why I've not written much lately.  I've been so blue. I absolutely hate it when I get morbid and circle round what I call "the black pit".  I think depression is so utterly worthless and selfish an emotional state, and I try very hard to be positive.  My personal motto is:  "When Life knocks you down you better get up and get out of the way before you really get stomped on!"  Needless to say I try very hard not to get stomped on.  The long and short of it is that I've run out of money for the farm.  It broke my heart to do it, but I had to cancel the chicken and duck order because while I did have the money to pay for them, I don't have the money for the feed I need.  The flock I have will have to be severely culled.  I will try to get all poultry costs below $100 a month, then reassess the situation.  I won't go in to details, but this has been a most distressing time for me, and I have to say that my perspective on certain things has been profoundly and permanently altered.  My life will never be the same.  But I am a great believer in Providence:  nothing happens without a reason.  And because I believe that, I know there is a purpose to these events in my life and that sooner or later the "why" of it all will become clear to me.  For now, maybe straightening out the fence line in the field and building a gate is more important than raising 100 meat birds.  Maybe moving the garden closer to the house is more important than putting labor intensive crops in the field.  I don't know.  What I do know is that in Life, sometimes it rains.