Saturday, May 18, 2013

Knee deep in planting

Its been a busy couple of weeks and at the beginning of May we had snow and now we are having some hot days yet relatively cool nights (had frost on the 13th). This time of year we are crazy busy trying to get everything in the ground, trying to judge the weather, and to top it off its grant writing season (a side line not related to the farm) so there isn't much slack time. I also finally finished the Emergency Medical Responder course and am officially certified....and about all schooled out for awhile if you know what I mean.

This has been a period of reflection for me and I think that because I am spending lots of time on one tractor or another I have time to contemplate things. The world seems to be spiraling out of control (is it really or have we just fallen victim to media manipulation?) but for reasons I truly don't understand myself we embarked on this journey exactly at the right time for us to feel largely removed from all of the chaos. I also realise that this is part of aging, if you haven't reached that point in life you will eventually wake up one day and look in the mirror and go.."wow, what the heck happened?". But with age comes a certain amount of wisdom that was lacking in younger years, wisdom to know when to pull back, wisdom to resist certain urges and most importantly for me, wisdom to recognise when something special is happening at the moment it happens. How many of us look back and think "man, I wish I could have just one more conversation with my grandparents or parents", or "I wish I had recognised how great some of the simple pleasures were when they were being enjoyed"? As an example, last night after dinner my beautiful wife and I and my Mother in Law Judy all played a dice game called 10,000. We played for a couple of hours at the kitchen table til it was time for bed and just enjoyed the easy company and natural competitiveness we all share. It was one of those times and I recognised it.....I'm thinking that's worth a head full of white hair and a few liver spots.

So enough rambling:

May 5th ...

May 15th...two days after getting a fairly heavy frost! Old man winter just doesn't want to go quietly but overall the weather has been pretty mild and enjoyable.
This is just a picture of some work on the market garden but the old Dodge is the main focus here. I have had a lot of vehicles over the years but nothing gives me pleasure like an old truck. Its dents, rust spots and wear are strangely pleasing to me like the wrinkles and scars on a favorite uncle.

We paid $1200 for this old truck and originally thought of it as a parts truck but its become my daily driver. All it took was a little minor wrenching and it now runs like a Swiss watch, the AC blows cold, the heater blows hot, and everything works on it. With new trucks starting at 25K and up, the pleasure index of this rig just goes higher every time I drive it! 
I have mentioned before how much we enjoy flowers and this time of year we have lots of colour. We have plantings so that we pretty much get blooms spring through fall but late spring is the most prolific. We now have knockout roses and our vine roses blooming, the Iris' are thriving, and we even have various brilliantly coloured Poppies in full flower.

We have white Iris, dark purple, salmon, yellow, and some variegated colours but the blue are my favorite and I like them planted en-mass like this.
This will be the third year for the orchard we planted and its starting to pay off. Lots of new growth this year and we already have little pears, peaches, plums, and apples forming. We still have plans to double the size of this this year.
Yesterday I spent 6 hours on the Kubota spraying the pasture we are trying to reclaim from the horse damage. You basically just idle along at a very slow pace when doing this so its not too onerous and it was a beautiful day. I saw hawks, wild turkeys, rabbits, a falcon, squirrels, a large yet to be identified brown snake that was coiled on a tree growing in the back pond (its more swamp than pond really), and there were a tonne of deer tracks on a small dirt pile I had left from setting some corner posts. For some reason they seemed to like to stand on that dirt pile. In addition, the slow pace of spraying gives you the opportunity to really observe things and I saw some interesting insect activity and discovered a couple of the places our cows like to bed down under the trees.

The sprayer has an 80" boom with 4 spray nozzles (if you look close in this picture you can see the spray pattern) and the 40 gallon tank has a Sure Flow pump attached that runs off the tractor 12 volt battery. You can use the spray nozzles on the boom or a hand wand and it works great though its a bit small for this amount of land ... it works for us. The horses had eaten all the grass (they pull it out by the roots) and had left about 2 acres of nothing but weeds. There is some grass slowly coming back but we need to get rid of the weeds for it to make it back as viable pasture. In this application I use about a quart and a half (in 40 gallons of water) of 2-4-D Amine and it kills the broad leaf and woody weeds without harming the grass. You don't need a license in this state to apply it but you do have to follow federal law (not that anyone would know out here if you weren't) and most of the regulations are just common sense anyway. I know some are against any pasture spraying and I respect that, we carefully examine each alternative and for us we found spraying makes economic sense and we don't fell bad about it at all.
The next post we will have more of a focus on how the gardens are going...the corn, peas, tomatoes, beets etc. are all coming up!

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