Sunday, June 18, 2006

Summer is A-comin' in

The full strawberry moon has come and gone. I made iced tea for the first time this season yesterday -- mainly for the hayers. The first cutting is in the barn: too little too late, but evidently palatable. It is hellishly hot and dry.

We are on Spanish time now, with a siesta in the afternoon to ready us for late days and nights in the barn and garden to take advantage of cooler temperatures. The goats have also adopted this timetable. They snooze in the barn during the hottest part of the day then don't want to come in from the pasture until 9 p.m.

A friend called and mentioned that where he lives, in a very populated part of the county, that a fox is bothering his chickens and that a bobcat has been sighted. How odd, as we have been dealing with a family of foxes and are hoping that OUR bobcat will feast on them. I speculate that it has been abducting cats, as they seem to disappear at a rapid rate. Strangely, kittens appear out of nowhere -- or are perhaps dropped off by city dwellers out on a drive to the country. The two I mentioned in an earlier post have been to all the outbuildings on the farm and seem to have settled on the goat barn loft as their refuge.

Monday, June 12, 2006

What's in my Garden?

Here are some pictures I took yesterday in my vegetable garden. Currently, I'm harvesting kale, chard, snow peas, asparagus, beets, red raspberries... There are blooms on squash, beans, potatoes and tomatoes.

All these healthy-looking vegetables are being raised without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Out Standing in My Field

The other day, someone who had read my last post, "Weeding is Fundamental," asked me why I have so many weeds in my garden.

I'd like to answer that question here.

I'm an organic farmer who has spent years building up the soil in the vegetable garden with good composted manure from the goat barn. The soil is so nice and fertile that weeds compete to get into my garden. Naturally, if vegetable seed and seedlings grow well, so do all sorts of plants whch were not planted by me, but by Mother Nature.

Although I occasionally complain a little about the time it takes to weed, I actually enjoy being able to think while quietly removing the unwanted plants that I call weeds.

My garden is like subtractive sculpture. As I remove the weeds, rows of well-developed vegetables emerge, looking nice and neat. Of course, I can't keep the entire garden neat all at one time. There are parts of the garden waiting to be harvested or weeded, and some parts that look picture perfect. The areas change all summer long.

Weeding is just a fact of life for a farmer like me who does not use herbicides or pesticides. It's okay. If bugs emerge and all is in balance in the garden, they are eaten by eager birds looking for a quick lunch. If I were to use pesticides, the birds would get a stomach ache or worse, and the bugs would proliferate. Early on, I am convinced that the weed plants shade and shelter emerging vegetable seedlings, giving them a good start.

I use five-gallon buckets to collect the pulled weeds, load them onto my "Mule" UTV, which holds nine buckets, and drive them up to the chicken yard, where they're dumped. Some days I dump three loads: 27 buckets. They are all gone through and eaten by the chickens, guineas, geese, etc.

To me, that is a sustainable gardening system.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Weeding is Fundamental

I get up about five a.m., out by six. Weed, weed, weed. Take care of animals. Weed some more. Take a break.

Do more work. Weed in the evening between six p.m. and nine p.m. Take a break. Fall into bed.

Well, folks, there's a picture of farm life during the growing season. Beets, kale, chard, snow peas are all ready for harvest and marketing. They look really good, but if I don't keep weeding, we won't be able to see them at all. Soon, the berries will be ready to harvest during the cooler parts of the day and the weeding will not get done. The weeds will win. Oh, well. They'll get theirs when winter comes!

The goats are all fine. When the little ones herd together, they look like Daisy Mae's puppies: all alike (nearly) white kids with brown heads. I finally got around to publishing the list of names, so far, in the right hand margin. We still need some ideas for "V" names.

There's been a new calf: Iris. She's Sally's baby and is black with some white on her belly.