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Friday, October 29, 2010

Fall clean up begins (a little late)

Life on the farm continues, albeit with a few brief interruptions.  There are certain days when you plan ahead, you have your list, all your supplies, and even back up parts and fluid for all the equipment you plan to use.  Everything is ready, you have had a great breakfast, several cups of coffee, the temperature outside is perfect, the sun is shining, and you are all ready to go.  Ring Ring…

Thinking nothing of it you answer the phone.  And there goes that days plans.  Pack a bag, make frantic phone calls to see who can take the dog and care for the birds, especially the brand new little ones which require feeding and watering twice a day.  One the road we go.  Five days later, everyone on the mend, the list has grown longer but the farm is still here.  The birds were well taken care of and even though the dog was mad, she forgave us when she got too many treats and was able to cuddle in bed with us again.

Threat of frost looming, all the remaining tender plants needed to come inside.  My grandmother kept a collection of geraniums which I am told are hundreds of years old.  Each year since being back on the farm, they are carefully exhumed and moved inside to be neglected in the cooler regions of the house.  When they come in, they get watered less regularly until such time as we are watering them only every three to four weeks.  Very little new growth appears, but they stay green and healthy all winter long.  Sometime around Memorial Day, when the soil has warmed sufficiently and the weather people are no longer predicting frost, the flowers come out from their long winters rest to spend their summers basking the sun shine and adding great color to the front flower bed.

The neglect which we had shown the lawn for several weeks became quite obvious while cleaning up the front flower bed.  Thankfully we are getting cooler weather else I would have needed to get the bush hog and borrow the neighbors hay tedder.  In the midst of mowing I came across these strange looking mushrooms – anyone have any idea what kind they are? 

When the lawn was all done, I was gathering all of the stuff that the lawnmower couldn't cut up, along with the hay from the chicken coop and getting ready to take it down to the compost pile when I made a concerning discovery.  Some kind of critter had taken up residence underneath the coop.  It has made holes on two side of the coop and associated tunnels under the ground all around the building. 

I am thinking they are mice, but if you have confirmation on what the tracks could be, I would be interested to know.  Attempts at evicting my new tenants have been futile; including burying their holes, adding more dirt, flooding them out, and putting chicken wire down around the base of the coop.  When we get ready to work on the drainage situation in the pen outside the coop it looks like we will be burying chicken wire all around the perimeter to avoid future squatters from taking up residence.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Beautiful Fall on the Farm

Wonderful Fall Colors 10.3.10
Fog Clearing from the Lake 10.3.10
Getting Bigger

Friday, October 1, 2010

Saving Seeds

Every year there is that one crop which is so successful there is no possible way that you or your family could possibly eat, can or preserve it all.  Two years ago a friend of the family bestowed upon me some huge tomatoes after she had canned sauce, salsa, ketchup, relish, etc. and just couldn’t process any more tomatoes.  These particular fruits were so meaty and delicious; I decided to try my hand at saving the seeds.  To my amazement it worked!  About 60 percent of the seeds that I saved grew. 

Since that first attempt was a success, I tried to save all sorts of seeds last year.  Cucumbers, peppers, squash, pumpkins, corn, and radish were all tried in 2009.  The cucumber seeds became a moldy mess.  The squash and pumpkin seeds saved well; however, only about 15 percent of them grew.  The corn takes two years to dry (or so I read) so we will attempt to plant those in 2011.  The radish seeds did even better than those that were purchased for this spring.  Flowers including calendula, sunflowers and lupines were also successfully saved and propagated.

The adage that you learn something new everyday is no where more true than on the farm.  I am learning this summer/fall on how to save seeds properly.  Tomato seeds need to go through a fermentation process in order to grow successfully.  Pure luck is the description for my previous success at saving tomato seeds.  Squash and pumpkin seeds need to be thoroughly rinsed of the pulp and dried for several weeks.  Pepper seeds are probably the easiest seeds to save. 

Once the seeds are completely dry, I place them in a labeled envelope with the name, species and date.  All the envelopes are stored in alphabetical order in a cool, dark storage room at the farm house.

Goals for seed saving this year include jalapenos, zucchini, blue hubbard and patty pan squash, and of course more tomatoes.  With some practice and a little bit of luck we may not need to buy seeds in coming years.

Are you saving seeds from anything special this year?