November 28, 2007 – I Never Wait Until the Last Minute ;)

Today was the last “warm” day for a while – in the upper 30’s with 25 mph NW winds – but the next week or so is supposed to be much colder, so one overdue task remains – pulling up all the tomato vines, cages, and stakes – if I wait much longer the ground will be frozen.

Here’s the pile of old vines ready to burn.  You’ll also notice what served as the “turkey tractor” up until last week behind the vines.  All the tomato cages and steel posts are loaded onto the wagon and ready to be pulled to the other garden in the spring.  This beats stacking them on the ground and picking them back up and moving them again in the spring.  It only took me 10 years to figure this one out!  Our tomato cages are substantial – sections of old woven wire fencing bent in a circle, held in place with half a steel fencepost. Â We consider the store tomato cages to be worthless for tomatoes – we use them for bell peppers, but sometimes even the peppers get too big and blow down in a wind.

In addition to moving the tomatoes to different locations each year, we burn the vines to help cut down on disease overwintering.

one year ago…

November 25, 2007 – Last Lambs of the Season

Today the last of the seasonal livestock left the farm today.

The last four lambs were loaded up into the back of the pickup truck (complete with topper to keep them from experiencing winter wind chill).  Over the years, loading livestock has become much easier.  When we began, it seemed like a long ordeal – we’d try to make all kinds of ramps to the back of the truck from the barn, try to slowly entice them into the truck with food.  Eventually, a few would get in the truck, then they’d bolt out, or jump off the ramp and back into the pasture.  Of course, we’d also neglect to tie up the dogs, and they’d enter the fray.  Eventually, after period of disgust, bad language, and time periods of all-too-long nothingness, we’ve found the best way for us is to lure them in the barn with some corn, get two adults, and grab the lambs by the front and back legs and lift them into the back of the truck.  Everyone seems more relaxed, and it is important that the animals, too, are relaxed as anybody who has read animal expert Temple Grandin knows.

It is a bittersweet time of year for us.  We are very aware that the animals on our farm end up on someone’s table, often our own.  We have no doubts that our method of farming allows animals the fresh air, water, natural grass-based diet and space they are accustomed to as a species of animal on this earth.  Very few animals raised for food in the U.S. still have these rights.  We are grateful to the animals for what they provide to us and recognize the sacrifices made so we can eat.

one year ago…

November 24, 2007 – Change of Season

The shorts and straw hats are now packed away and out come the layers of clothes and boots to replace them.

Last Thursday’s snow recedes from the fields as well now that we are in the unofficial season between winter and fall. Shall this season be called “finter” “wall” “fallter” “wintall?” It’s getting too cold to work on some outdoor projects, but not cold enough to make you cringe when stepping outside.

one year ago…

November 19, 2007 – The Turkeys

Success this year.  We raised 10 turkeys this year and all 10 are still alive. They are now living out in the pasture and use an old hay rack for shelter/roosting.  Even at 20+ pounds, they are still strong enough to fly up to the top rail of the hay rack. 

These turkeys seemed particularly happy – one morning we were late getting out to feed them and we were surprised they en masse found a way to get to the back door of the house to announce breakfast was late!

one year ago…

November 18, 2007 – Digging Gladiolas

It’s time to get the gladiola bulbs out of the ground. It’s a little like Christmas or winning the lottery.  Many times you plant one bulb, and get back two, or sometimes even three!

This particular bulb has produced two new bulbs.  The original bulb is on the bottom, barely visible in this photo.  So, you just break apart the new bulbs and throw the old one back to the earth.  And again, the price is right – just a little labor in exchange for a stunning stem.  You can see the ground is a bit dry – after a very wet August and September, we’ve not had rain for a month.

Here’s a bushel basket full of gladiola bulbs, ready for winter storage and the promise of another season.

one year ago…

November 17, 2007 – Doesn’t Get More Old Fashioned Than This

After yesterday’s entry about sustainable enterprises and earning it – I can safely say that moving small amounts of manure from a barn to a garden are sustainable enterprises (however negligibly rewarding they may be).

It is strangely satisfying, though to move the fertilizer with only the labor of your own hands along with with a pitchfork and cart.

It’s a time of year we can directly put it on the garden now that the growing season is over.  This will be a tilled garden in the spring and although there is no financial reward, we will avoid having to purchase outside petroleum-based fertilizers, so I guess there is a reward of sorts.

one year ago…