Thursday, July 14, 2011

Garden Update for 14 July 2011

Despite the heat our gardens are going great and we have an abundant harvest. We have had to go through the 13 year Ciccada hatch, an abundance of bag worms, tomatoe horn worms, Japanses beetles, drought, high winds and the nay sayers who have told us what we are doing wont work....glad we dont know what we are doing since it seems that ignorance is working for us! Here are a few photos from just today:

The grapes have gone wild this year and the bananas should produce some dessert bananas...kind of crazy but we are having fun with it.

This is the second patch of corn we planted and its about 2 weeks behind the other patch. This is an experimental patch with three different varieities.

The first patch is already tasseling.

We have harvested most of the cabbage but we still have broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, bush beans and horse radish in this plot.

The sweet peas are just about played out but we have been enjoying the harvest. We will replant later in August.

We have had a huge crop of bell peppers, bush beans and tomatoes this year. Tomorrow we make ketchup and we have so many tomatoes we have been selling the excess. I love tomatoes but we are eating them with breakfast, lunch, and dinner and we have been canning them in all kinds of ways.

We should have a real good crop of sweet corn and next year we plan on planting som field corn for the cattle.

We planted castor beans to keep out unwanted pests from the garden and they are growing well. Do they keep out gophers, deer, moles etc? Who knows but we like how they look.

These are some chinese beans and hot peppers we are growing. We have a bumper crop of Jalepenos, Chinese 5 color peppers, cayene peppers, thai chilis and a few others that are hot enough to melt plastic. Everything is better with peppers.

The rainbow Swiss Chard has finally come on strong along with the egg plant. They really started slow and we thought they wouldnt mature but we are harvesting them and enjoying them as an addition to our table.

We have over 30 sunflowers in various stages of maturity.

We enjoy the color and harvest the seeds for the birds. But we also let the seed heads mature on the stalk and we have lots of birds that land on them and eat the seed right off the seed head.

This was the second harvest today...we got about 5 lbs of cucumbers too that are not pictured here.

This is actually ripe and these tomatoes taste very sweet and like what a tomatoe should taste like.

This heirloom variety of tomatoe is kind of ugly on the outside but when you cut into them they are blood red and meaty with a great flavor.

We have had so many banana peppers I am actually kind of sick of them.

And its that time of year where the Crepe Myrtles are in full bloom...the great blizzard of 2011 (said in jest) didnt harm them too much.

Our upper mellon, pumpkin, squash and gourd patch has taken off after a slow start.

Healthy looking plants and full of blossums

These are gourds we will harvest and dry to make decorative bird houses

We just planted these Missouri Wonder pole beans under some cattle panel arbors we made...should be interesting.

What do you do with all the rocks that grow in the Ozarks...make fence posts of course.

Just another view of the first corn patch.

And on top of it all the blackberries are ripening and tomorrow we go into the heat to pick at the break of dawn. We have 9 prolific blackberry patches around the farm and get way more berries than we could ever use.

The Blackeyed peas and sweet potatoes are looking great as well...they seem to like the heat.

And finally, Hollys crazy lettuce patch just keeps producing. We eat off this every evening (salads are great fresh) and this just keeps growing.

Well...we wont starve.

Busy Week

Like most of the south, midwest and east coast we have been under blistering heat the past couple weeks with no end in sight. The heat is really taking a toll on the crops and animals all over but we have so far managed to reap a good and continuing harvest, the animals are thriving, and we have even sneaked in a few projects here and there. On the work front, the perils of rural farm living were brought home with a couple of first responder calls I have been on. In one a guy was kicked in the face by a horse and may be permanently blinded and in another call today a man was shot in the face (accidentally) with an arrow that lodged in his head and penetrated his skull out the back. If your of a mind prayers or good wishes towards them would I'm sure be appreciated. In both cases we air medevaced them out and I cant say enough for those folks who do that job, its extremely dangerous but they literally can be the difference in a patient living or not because we are so far from a hospital.

We occasionally make a few bucks using our trucks, tractor, and trailers to do jobs for people and now with our stock trailer we have even more opportunities. We do it mainly for the adventure and to meet people but it pays for a few things and we have found that lots of small farmers and homesteaders around here dont have (and cant justify buying) an equipment trailer, stock trailer etc and they just hire out when they need one. So we got our first hire with the stock trailer to haul a 1200lb bull from one farm to another farm about 20 miles away and it involved getting a very angry ticked off bull loaded and then driving on mostly dirt roads and across several pastures to his new home (had to use 4 wheel drive, ford a creek etc). I can confirm that a 1200lb bull moving around and bellowing at his loudest in the stock trailer makes for an interesting ride but it all went well. We also planted a few trees out in front of the farmhouse to replace those we had to cut down, we have been busy harvesting and canning, and we came up with a red neck solution to the heat.

We like pickles and we have had a huge crop of cucumbers so...we make sweet and dill pickles of several varieties. We literally go through about a jar a week in the winter.

I like canning because the whole house smells good and its the culmination of all the hard work in the garden.

Holly and our neighbor Lori at the harvest table....everyone likes our pickles.

Some folks like sweet stuff...we like salty and sour and these pickles fill the bill. The sweet pickles we make are also spicey and though I usually dont like sweet pickles...the ones Holly makes are very good.

And this was one mad bull. It took us a while to get him loaded as he did not want to get in the trailer and he didnt much like the ride either. I stopped at an intersection and you could hear him bellowing and clanging around in the trailer and the people in a small car next to us looked a little freaked out...probably some city folk out for a drive.

This lady was the mother of the man who bought him and she was as nice as could be. We were just letting him out in this picture and she asked in this small voice.."do you think I could pet him?"...umm probably not a good idea right now!

He was hesitant at first as there were a lot of cows in the pasture and he was the only bull...but some of them must have been in estrus as he started slinging snot and snorting and...

The cows cam a running...

and they chased the poor guy all over the place. I think he will be just fine.

And our two bald faced Angus heifers are doing well even in the heat. They stay in the woods most of the day then come out to graze, get a little grain, and water in the early evening.

And we harvested our first crop of potatoes, cured them and put them in the root cellar.

We also planted a couple of maple trees in the front yard to replace the trees we had to take out earlier this year but we planted them far enough away they wont cause any problems with the foundation or be a danger of falling on the house. Digging in the hard packed Ozarks rocky soil was like busting through concrete...glad Chris was around to help.

And we planted this Japanses Maple in front of the french looks pretty good we think.

It was over 100 degrees on this day and we worked for 30 minutes then went in for some water and AC for 15 but we got the job done.

I am often shocked when I see pictures of myself...who is that old guy?  

Its been so darned hot we decided to make a red neck pool out of a stock water trough and it has been great.

Nothing like it to cool off in at the end of the day.

Eve the barn cat is becoming more like the rest of our animals now in that she hangs around when we are doing things. We will often have Rose the farm dog, Bandit, Boo Boo, Whiskers, Eve, Maybelle the calf and the Angus heifers Thelma and Louise all watching our every move.

And finally, we like how the trees turned out, should even provide some good shade in a couple years.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Working the Cattle Ranch

Today we were asked to help work at the ranch again and we got to see the results of our previous efforts with artificial insemination through the miracles of vetinerary ultra was a good day.

The purpose here was to check the cattle we had helped get artificially inseminated a couple months ago to see if they were with calf through an ultra sound examination. Along the way we added insecticidal ear tags (which Chris is afixing here), gave them a Lepto shot (Judy did that), weigh them, and de-worm them (my job along with working one of the gates on the squeeze chute).

Ken the ranch owner worked the head chute and he has been so gracious in showing us the ropes of cattle handling. We have learned a lot from him.

The Vet has to reach up the rectum of the heifer and then inserts an ultra sound probe and you can actualy see the calf fetus, legs, hooves, and everything.

Holly took the pictures and unfortunately (since she is so cute) isnt in any of the pictures but she keeps the records for Ken and tracks the estimated gestation time, shots given, weight, whether the calf is through AI or exposure to a bull, etc...

In addition to working the back gate I de-wormed them...

And Judy gave them the Lepto shot....

We lived in Alaska just over a year ago, none of us had ever worked on a farm or could have dreamed that we would have this opportunity.....its been a strange journey but we are enjoying the ride.

And the Ozarks are just,,,Glorious!!