Friday, August 31, 2007

Melons and Squash

The plastic garden is now a sea of continuous vines. You do not see the black plastic underneath. I picked one of the smaller round watermelons. It was a red-fleshed variety and very good. There are plenty more where that came from.

I also picked one of the giant banana squashes. It was three feet long and weighed at least 50 pounds. I'm not kidding. We are familiar with the heft of 50 lb. bags of livestock feed, and this sucker was at least that weight. I'll take a picture of the next one I pick.

I cut the banana squash up into six sections and spent some time baking it in the oven. The goal was to check for ripeness and quality of the squash. The moment I cut into the raw squash, I could smell the nice, nutty aroma of the flesh. Baked, it is dense and bright orange. It is now pureed and in individual freezer containers for winter baking. This one squash is probably sufficient for our pumpkin consumption for the coming year -- but there are several more out in the plastic garden and large pumpkins coming on.

If there are local people who'd like to purchase a whole banana squash or sections of one, let me know. I think it's too big to market in stores and I'll need to get another freezer if I don't manage to sell some. Right now, I've got to use up the frozen blackberries for wine to make room for squash. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not complaining.

The chickens are enjoying all the melon rind, baked squash rind, and steamed blackberry waste in addition to their regular rations.

A little more rain last night may have made weeding a possibility again. My work is cut out for me today.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Farm Wisdom

I'm passing on these words of wisdom for others in the same boat:

If you have a resident helpmate of the male persuasion who can't find the bread in the freezer, don't expect that he can properly harvest the cucumbers when you go out of town.

Cucumbers, unlike bread (which is in a see-through plastic bag with the redundant label, "Bread" written on it) blend in with the leaves.

Oh well, 'lots of nice fresh chicken food for the next week or so.

I got back to a slightly storm ravished landscape. It seems there was a "mini hurricane" a couple of days ago. We'd had rain at last, and it was even raining last night as we took care of the livestock.

The cucumbers, squash, melons, and peppers are just developing right and left. The tomatoes are still being ravished. I will create some sort of cages to put over them. Weeds and soil have loosened their death grip on each other. We pulled some weeds and will continue to do so as long as we can. There is rain in the forecast, but the heat and humidity made me sick this morning. I'll be catching up for at least another week.

Ta ta.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

August Update

Well, it's still hot. No rain yet. We will all be glad when some comes.

We cut into our first ripe watermelon. It was one of the yellow-fleshed varieties, weighed over 30 pounds and was sweet and delicious.

Despite having canned MUCH relish, I sold 66 pounds of cucumbers yesterday. That is pretty amazing. Nine pounds of patty pan squash was also sold.

Something is eating all the green tomatoes and is not affected by my portable motion sensor light. I'm wondering if it is birds landing in the middle of the garden early in the morning. Another security problem to solve...

So, that's the scoop for today. Over and out.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dog Days

We've had four sequential days of temperatures of 100 degrees and humidity which must be fairly close to that. I come in from morning chores drenched in sweat. These are the dreadful, dreaded days of high summer.

Yesterday morning, I took my palm pilot out with me at about 6:30 a.m. to take update pictures of the plastic garden. It didn't occur to me that the camera would be all fogged up by the humidity at that early hour.

The pictures, I think, are lovely impressions of these hot, humid days. Although we are uncomfortable, the squash is happy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Water Fowl Most Foul

There are all kinds of ducks: setting (or sitting) ducks are vulnerable because they, like all fowl, go into an "egg trance" which makes them susceptable to predators; lame ducks are also susceptable; dead ducks are the unfortunate result of vulnerability. The subject of today's treatise are dirty ducks.


A series of graduations have been taking place on the farm this week. The half-grown chicks and guinea keets in the floor cage have joined the rest of the chickens in the large chicken house. The chicks and keets in the brooder have been moved to that transition floor cage in the chicken house. Most importantly, the ducklings and goslings have been driven over to the goose house on one of the ponds and are transitioning into that flock.

Naturally, we've had formal ceremonies with music and speeches. All the graduates have been dressed in tiny caps and gowns.

NOT. But, it's a lovely mental picture, isn't it?

Mostly, we all sighed a sigh of relief, especially the chickens, who, each year share their house with small water fowl for a month or two. The ducklings and goslings manage to guzzle all the water and make mud pies in the water containers. Chickens are much neater than water fowl. Ducks dabble. That means they love to sift through mud.

We cannot just put tiny ducklings and goslings out on ponds. The snapping turtles look for little webbed feet and pull them under and eat them. Any eggs hatched out on the ponds are goners. That is why we go through the trouble of keeping ducks and geese in protective custody until they are old enough and large enough to have a fighting chance of survival on the ponds.

There's just one more bunch of buff ducks that need to go out of another poultry house to give relief to the regular residents. The duck house was moved and a temporary fence is going around it in preparation. Another graduation will take place in a day or two.

Water fowl need to learn where "homebase" is so that they will return at night for feed and shelter. Otherwise, the foxes and all the other predators will be looking for nice lunches and dinners.

It's a cruel, cruel world out there. Lucky ducks are those who have a friendly farmer and some accomodating chickens to help them prepare.