The high tunnel construction started yesterday, thanks to the help from Wes Palmer and Mike Tyree...and Jen Tyree for moral support with me. :) I guess I didn't realize just how HUGE this structure was going to be until it started going up!!! It really is impressive. With three of them working on it for 8 hours straight, it's maybe about half completed. It's a BIG STRUCTURE!!!
It was SO HOT on Saturday, and pretty much miserable, but we have put a big dent in the construction.
Keep your fingers crossed that we'll have it completed for late fall plantings!!
We had cut lettuce this past week for CSA pick ups!! Amazing, in this heat and drought. Dylan's experimentation paid off, as it usually does. We are very happy with the shade houses so far.
Here's a list of everything in last week's CSA share:
Actually, our neighbors are awesome...but they probably do think we're crazy. Especially after what Dylan told me today while we were in the barn doing chores. I seriously laughed out loud and then said, "I have to write a blog about that"...and he rolled his eyes. :)
So Dylan got a puppy last week. He's adorable and Dylan named him "Rain". His reasoning was that it hasn't rained in so long, maybe this puppy will be good luck..or something. But regardless, Rain is adorable and his name suits him perfectly. But we still haven't had any rain.
Anyway, our garden beds are right in front of our house...directly across the road from our neighbors house. They know that we are in desperate need of rain...mainly because we talk about it constantly...and because they live right across the road and haven't had any either.
While we were in the barn today, Dylan turned around and said "Come on Rain!", as he's being trained...and we say that pretty much every two seconds. Dylan turns and looks at me and says, "You know the neighbors probably think we're crazy because I've been out in the gardens all week screaming 'Rain!' and 'Come on, Rain' every few seconds. They probably thought I've lost my mind and am so desperate I'm out there yelling for rain."
Thinking about this from the neighbors point of view, and knowing that they can't see the puppy, and knowing they know us well...I lost it. I'm sure that's what they think. And I don't know if that's funny or just sad. You be the judge. :)
By the way, we had another storm system today/tonight that has completely missed this farm. We're starting to wonder if somebody's out to get us.
We don't have a cow.....don't have the space for it. We do have goats but they don't poop like a cow does. While we will be cleaning out the barns this fall and composting the hay/manure for use on the garden beds, this does not provide enough nutrition for the almost 1.5 acres we have in garden beds. A cow would provide a lot more of nutrition for us but we chose (and are happy with our choice) to go with goats for a variety of reasons.
So I am in this bottleneck of figuring out how to make enough additive material for the garden beds to keep increasing the fertility of our soil. Yes we use cover crops and till under crop residue and put compost on our beds........but that only goes so far.
I came across a very interesting article in Mother Earth News recently about creating "cow manure" artificially (i.e. NOT FROM A COW). http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/1978-07-01/How-To-Make-Cow-Manure-Without-a-Cow.aspx?page=4 You can check out the article for yourself if you like. So if you come to the farm and see black plastic bags baking in the sun you know what experiment I am trying now............
This week's CSA consisted of the following produce:
See you next week!
I told Harmony last night that we needed to dub a new term for this growing season....."Extreme Farming!" I know it sounds as if I am talking about some event at the X games on the order of BMX bikes or skateboarding or bungee jumping.....but no I am just referring to the trials and tribulations of the 2011 growing season.
In one way it is really depressing the way things are playing out this growing season with the COMPLETE lack of moisture and temperatures hot enough to fry an egg, but in another way it allows for some nifty experiments.......
We threw up some shadehouses to test the ability to grow summertime salad greens under shade during the heat of the summer. Anyone who grows lettuce knows that the heat makes it bitter....YUCK! This has been experimented with in Kansas and other places around the country but this was in temperatures hovering around the low to mid 90s. Our greens look amazing so far and it has been one brutal June and early July. If we can grow summer salad greens in these conditions then there is nothing stopping us from growing them in more conducive conditions either.....Experiment 1: SUCCESS......hopefully our CSA customers will see some arugula in pickups for week 12. We had an arugula salad the other night and it was DELICIOUS!!!!
On a different note......never in my farming life have I EVER had a problem with fruit set on cucumbers, melons or squash.......but this season I have seen it firsthand. Beautiful vines of cucumbers are flowering like crazy.......BUT no cucumbers. This is a complicated issue.......a pollination issue for sure, but not the kind we mostly think of. We have bees aplenty......this is usually the problem but is not the problem for us. I did some research and found out that when temperatures are so extreme (as they have been lately) that there is a problem with the pollen tube growth once a flower is pollinated. Also the pollen is usually sticky so that it can adhere to the bee and be moved from one flower to another, but when the humidity is low (like it has been recently because we have no moisture) the pollen loses its stickiness and cannot adhere to the stigma of the flower.......thus no fruit.
We are finally getting some rain (last night and today) so here is hoping that the "Extreme" in "Extreme farming" becomes a little less so!!!!
So the drought is a bummer, but we're trying REALLY HARD to not let it get us down...too much. Even though Dylan informed me last week that we have crops in the ground that have never seen ONE DROP of rain!! That's depressing.....but on the flip side...we're still able to provide our CSA with a great selection of veggies every week. At this point, we're just thankful for that...and hoping for rain in the worst way.
Last week's pick up:
Rain dances this week PLEASE!!!!! :)
One morning last week I was snuggling with all my children in the bed before getting up to start our day of craziness filled with irrigation and farm chores.....they tend to all migrate there in the morning as they wake. At one point I look out the window and see our goat, Betty, in the back yard. NO she is not supposed to be there. :)
I calmly tell Kade to watch the babies for a minute so I could go out and get Betty back in the barn. He looked at me like I was crazy, as he hadn't seen her yet.
I stand up and get shoes on and see 3 of our 5 goats in the back yard. At this point I start to panic. Betty and Praline are pretty tame, but Doughy is not really and I knew she would flee as soon as I approached them. And Dylan was unavailable. And I hadn't had ANY coffee yet.
Regardless...I walked out the back door and started calling the goats down to the barn...hoping they'd follow me. Surprisingly, before long, I had three goats trailing me down to the barn. Doughy bringing up the rear, of course. And very cautious.
At this point, I call Dylan. For what reason I don't know, because I know there was nothing he could do and it would just upset him...and he was teaching. But I had to share this experience with someone. So I call and he answers..and I say, "Dylan...we have a disaster...". I'm sure he thought the house was burning down...or the gardens. But he remained calm and let me tell him what was going on. Then I said, "I have to go deal with this" and hung up. I'm sure I didn't win the "farm partner of the year award" with that phone call...as I called and got him worried then basically hung up on him...but he knows me pretty well so it all ended okay.
I get the goats in the barn..finally...coaxing them with grain. I first made the mistake of trying to get them in through a door and gate they never go through, but finally figured it out.
I called Dylan back on the way back up to the house and told him the goats were safe and I survived.
All is well at 47 Daisies...at least it wasn't the buck that got out. :)
Watermelon in the pick up for the first time this week! Hope everyone enjoyed their first taste of it. We had two varieties, Peace and Orangeglo. The Peace was yellow and the Orangeglo was orange inside. We love melons of any kind in our family, so we are very excited for the watermelon!!!!
This week's pick up:
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )