Saturday, June 21, 2008

Plugging away

These photos are from several weeks ago when I was planting beans. Said beans are now about 8 inches tall!

We use a woven polyester fabric in many applications on the farm here, due to our dry climate and high prevalence of weeds. Drip irrigation tape is laid down underneath the fabric, and then seeds or starts are planted in holes.

I was accompanied by the boy and his motorbike that evening. I often plant in the evenings because it is just too hot to do it during the day and I don't wake up early enough to do it in the mornings!

The field behind us is being leased by an organic farming outfit, but these guys are not your small-scale sustainable organic farm. They too use woven polyester fabric, but theirs is laid down by a tractor which rolls it out and buries it as they drive along. Then two guys sit in little chairs that get pulled behind the tractor and drop seeds into holes in the fabric that are punched by a wheel. They have yet to plant their tomato and pepper starts, and I'm curious to see how that goes, because mine all had to be dug in by hand through slits in the fabric.

Every time I see those guys there are three or four of them out there standing around the tractor scratching their heads trying to figure out why it isn't working. It's pretty funny.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Loving the poultry

This year we have added turkeys, geese, and ducks to our poultry lineup and the kids are just loving it. OK, actually we all are. The turkeys are a real treat--they follow us around the pasture like a pack of puppies. They are penned in at night but during the day they have free range so they run around eating their fill of grasshoppers and greens. I love the little "chuff chuff" noise they make.

Here they are in our paddock of winter wheat feasting on bugs.

No bird goes un-hugged around here. Do you think we could market "hugged daily" poultry? Sounds just as good as "cage free" to me.

Yes, there was a birthday

I know it's been almost a month since the boys had a birthday, and we really did celebrate! This year Scotty wanted to do a big steam-up, so Chris' dad agreed to steam up the big tractor. Scotty was so excited and really enthusiastic about helping to get the engine clean and ready. When the big day came the first thing was getting his presents. Scotty got a rechargeable electric motorbike and Chris was so thoughtful that he picked up some paint for Eli so she wouldn't feel left out.

Scotty selected the guests for the party and he invited everyone he thought would love to see the steam engine. Most everyone came, but he did miss his Nino, who was home with a bad knee.

Papa Scott operated the steam hoist which is used to hoist a real mine bucket into a 1:1 scale model of a mine shaft head frame which he built several years ago as a demonstration model. Several guests took a ride down the "mine shaft" which is really only an 8 foot deep hole because we'd hit water if we dug it any deeper.

And of course there would be no birthday celebration without firing off the potato cannon, which was built for last year's Mythbusters party. It's always a hit with the crowd!

Several of the kids and the kids-at-heart went out to the landing zone to look for the spuds after they were launched.

We all had a great time and we thank everyone who came so much for helping to make it such a fun day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I knew someone once who liked to say "the wind is your friend." Well, maybe if I had a wind turbine or a sailboat. But not when I'm trying to grow something.

This has been the hottest, driest, windiest, AND coldest spring I can recall. We lost all of our fruit crop, including grapes and apples. Friends in town where there is plenty of thermal inertia due to all the pavement have abundant crops. But we had several late hard freezes (like, mid-May) that wiped everything out. That was at night. During the day it's been hot and as low as 1% humidity. Anyone in the market for leathery greens? I didn't think so. And the wind has been incessant. Sure, Spring is known to be windy around here but not THIS windy and not THIS long. Today we had gusts of 40mph.

One day a few weeks ago I got so sick of the wind I went out with my camera to complain photographically:

The poor chickens are out in it all day. The little guys must think that Life is Windy for that's all they've ever known.

Stuff routinely gets picked up and blown around the farm. Also knocked down.

Here's a piece of floating row cover that is now about 15 feet up in a tree.

Oh yeah, the wind did stop for a moment this Spring. Here's what we got instead:

Yeah, I'm probably exaggerating a little, and I do know that many areas of the world are experiencing crazy weather patterns right now. At least we're not flooding or having tornadoes (well there was a tornado warning but nothing came of it). But man that wind just blows the life right out of you, and you come inside looking and feeling like this:

Pig portrait

Saturday, June 07, 2008

New look!

After two years I was getting bored of the blog template. So here's something new!