So Dylan is teaching summer school all day every day for the next two weeks...and we can't get any decent rain...so guess what that means? I'm doing irrigation all day every day until he's finished teaching. At first, I really didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal, considering we use drip irrigation and it seems pretty simple. It is anything but simple.
I go out for the first time this morning at 8 a.m. because there are two beds that didn't get watered last night...turn on the water and set my phone alarm for an hour for the first bed. That bed gets finished just in time...as I'd just finished with getting breakfast, getting the babies dressed, etc. I go out to switch the hose to the second bed and a hose end pops off. Of course, Dylan briefed me on this, but I never thought it'd actually happen, and especially not so soon!!! I have to turn off the water and figure out how to fix the drip irrigation line, as it's flooding water all over the place. After 15 minutes, I finally get it fixed (after many ugly words and then pleading that I get it right...) and head into the house for another hour.
Around 1, I start irrigating the rest of the beds and it is a JOB!! It takes about 15 minutes every time you go out to get the hoses hooked up and wait to see if they blow a hose end off. Eilah's screaming, "it's hot out here!!", Basil's playing in his stroller, and Kade's trying to help me listen for blown hoses. This goes on all day every hour, on the hour. There really isn't much time for anything in between the irrigation as you have about 45 minutes once you get inside until the next round. The whole day consists of changing hoses and waiting for the next hose change. It is exhausting!!! Especially with three kids that also need to be fed and entertained. Not to mention naps....that was kind of a "not possible".
Luckily, Dylan drew me out a very detailed map of the garden beds, including where the hoses fit into the irrigation, etc. This is the only way I could keep up with it all. I have no idea how he does it all the time. Especially considering he usually can't start as early as I did due to his job. It was an eye opener, for sure.
We need rain. In a bad way.
We finally got a little rain this week!! We only got about an inch, but we're trying really hard to stay positive and hope we get some more in the very near future. The constant irrigating is starting to get to us. :(
This week's pick up:
Thank you to all of you who sent out that positive energy to mother nature. The rain is coming down and it is beautiful! I got up at 5am this morning to harvest the carrots for the CSA pickups today and it was rumbling in the distance. I sat down to rinse them off and the rain started coming down.
At first it started as a beautiful soft patter......then a little harder. We haven't received enough to give everything a good long drink yet but the radar looks promising.....and high 80's for temps.......amazing!!!!
Maybe the carrots will taste a little bit sweeter because they were carressed by the soft downpour while being rinsed!!!!!
Life never slows down though.....now that we have some moisture it is back to the grindstone. Whole beds need to be worked, amended with compost and put back into production.
Here is to hoping for a bountiful late June and July!!!
This week's CSA pick up was loaded down with great produce....especially tomatoes!! The CSA consisted of about $25 in tomatoes alone!! Not to mention all the other great produce...and flowers. :)
Here's this week's list:
So it is official......we are currently experiencing the worst drought in history. The drought of 2011 (which actually started way back in July-ish of 2010) is going down in the record books for all kinds of reasons.
Lets start with the barrage of daily high temperature records in June. We registered 104 for the past two days here at 47 Daisies. Since June 1st we have had 12 days over 100 degrees. The weatherman reported a couple of days ago that we only had 20 days over 100 degrees in all of 2010. This crazy record heat is not alone though. Along with the heat we are (and have been for a while) experiencing wind. This is not your nice summer breeze that makes the heat bearable. This is 20-30 mph winds that feel like a blast furnace coming out of the SSW. These winds are relentless and will not let up. On top of the record temps and blast furnace winds we have not received any measurable rain since May 2nd.
So why am I writing a blog about the weather? The weather is what people chat about around the water cooler when they really don't have anything to talk about........but this is different.
These weather conditions create whole crop failures. They also cause damage to crops that still are able to hang on long enough to produce. Whole beds of cantaloupe, for instance, are being sun scalded, and then they rot. The peppers are being sun scalded and of course the tomatoes............Even the okra (which can handle just about anything) is wilting in the heat of the day!!!!
We are hanging in there and making the most of a BAD situation. So ending this depressing blog post is easy............PRAY FOR A BREAK IN THESE MISERABLE WEATHER CONDITIONS!!!!!
I had to put this as the title. My son just rented "Fantastic Mr. Fox" from the Ruston Public Library and this is one of my all time favorite books so this turns out to be a fitting title for this post.
We have a Cub Cadet 1046LTX riding lawn mower which is a workhorse around the farm. The mower participates in all kinds of tasks.....hauling mulch from distant fields to the gardens, bringing in 100s of pounds of veggies to the house, of course mowing, hauling compost, etc. Because of the fact that this trusty mower is (some would say) overworked there is a lot of "fixing" that goes on. In the past two years alone I have spent hours upon hours upon hours fixing the mower. Why do I have to fix it so much? We tend to abuse the mower....riding over stumps, mowing long grass for mulch, mowing over hammers and barbed wire (accidentally of course).
So the latest story begins like this. Harmony's mom was in town so she got a welcome break in which she decided to come out and help me pick up some mulch in one of the mulch fields. Things were going smoothly, I was raking the dried grass clippings into piles and she was loading them into the trusty pull behind wagon and carting them to various garden beds for use as mulch. We got to the last load and she stopped long enough for me to load the last pile of mulch into the wagon. She pressed the gas pedal to drive off with the last load..........and nothing. She just looked at me with a "what the heck is going on" look. I knew immediately what had happened and my heart sank to my dirty crocs!!! I said in a very low, irritated tone........."the drive belt slipped off." She hopped off the tractor and I took the mowing deck off in the middle of the field, crawled under the mower to check it out and sure enough it was the drive belt. Upon inspection the drive belt was severely damaged and twisted around the pulley connected to the drive shaft. I put the belt back on and said to Harmony...."if we drive it like this the belt will snap." But with one last load to get to the gardens I took off on the mower......but didn't even make it two feet. We heard a loud "SNAP" and there went the drive belt..........OH NO!!!!!
So the mulch and the tractor sat in the field for a week (while the grass kept growing) until I could get a replacement belt and tension spring shipped to us from Houston, TX. It finally came yesterday!! Thank goodness because the farm is starting to look like a wild prairie. After harvesting some things for the CSA pickups in the evening, I headed down the hill with my mower fixing tool box in tow. I was determined to get the mower back up and functioning so we could attempt to tame the wild farm again.
I crawled under the mower to remove the pieces of spent drive belt before putting the new one on. Turns out when the belt snapped there was so much force that the pieces wrapped VERY TIGHTLY around the drive shaft itself........Long story short, after a lot of cursing the Dang and Blasted mower I finally got the old belt unraveled from the drive shaft and put the new belt and spring on.
Let the taming begin!!!
Last week's pickup went really well. I think we're starting to get into a rythm and all things regarding the CSA are just moving right along. I can't believe week six is over and week seven is getting ready to begin! I guess time flies when you're having fun!! :)
Week Six pick up included:
I don't know about you but I LOVE the first watermelon of the season. We succession plant watermelon so that we can have multiple crops of them coming out of the beds. The first ones to mature look like they will be "peace." This is a small yellow fleshed watermelon. Not far behind is "Orangeglo." This watermelon is touted as one of the most flavorful and best for you. As the name implies it is an orange fleshed watermelon. Some of the other varieties we have in the ground are "sweet dakota rose", "verona", "Ali baba", "crimson sweet" and "georgia rattlesnake."
The most fun you can have with a watermelon is to pick it straight off the vine.....hold it high over your head......let it fall to the ground.....and let the kids have at it, scooping the still sun warmed flesh into their mouths. It makes for a messy treat but it is a summer time tradition for us at 47 Daisies.......
We have been fighting squash bugs...along with a number of other insects...like crazy in our gardens this year. This is a major issue with natural gardening, especially in the south. Dylan decided to use row covers on our later season squash plants. This is a light weight fabric that is placed over the plants right after planting and completely covers the plants and protects them from insects until they flower. They are then removed in order to allow pollination. Row covers are very common in other parts of the country, but probably have been questioned here due to the heat. Many farmers in the south will use them for frost protection but have yet embraced them for insect protection.
He called around and couldn't find any light enough fabric locally, so ordered the row cover he needed online. He found a very light weight row cover and had it delivered to the farm. Kade has helped him put a few row covers on...but last week I had the pleasure of helping, as my mom was here to help with the babies.
We go out to the gardens and Dylan explains to me how this is going to work. He has this huge roll of gauze like material and says, "Just take the end and walk it down the row...then I'll cut it.". Okay. No big deal. Except that it's windy...and the row is like 75 feet long. It doesn't take long for the wind to catch the material and suddenly it's flying in the air like sailcloth. Dylan's laughing and telling me to hold on. I manage to say, "Could this actually carry us anywhere??!!!". He replies with , "probably". So we finally get the material cut and walk it over the row ...with much struggle (on my end, at least) as the wind is trying to take us to the moon. He then says that we need to cover the edges with dirt so it won't blow away. This also prevents any insects from getting under the row cover and damaging the plants. The soil was 150 degrees, at least..and I had my good jeans on. But I kicked off my flip flops and "dug in", literally. It was extremely difficult, and extremely hot.
We did 4 rows, total that day. And we didn't blow away. This is good.
It has been insanely hot here for the past few days. Uncomfortably so. Dylan heard today that it has NEVER been this hot this early...ever. That's scary. We've been irrigating like crazy and our grass is dying already. If things don't change, it's going to make for a very difficult growing season.
We use drip irrigation, which waters the plants at soil level. This kind of irrigation can be used at any time of the day, unlike overhead watering that is not recommended during the heat of the day. This makes life a little easier, as we can irrigate constantly, but the plants are hurting.
Hopefully the heat will break an we'll be back to somewhat normal. Even the low nineties would be AWESOME right now.
There was a slight breeze tonight around seven and it actually felt cool due to the intense heat. Amazing what perspective will do. :)
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )