Hay is done, Harvest has begun

The hay is baled and awaiting pick up. Just slightly more than half of last year’s cutting, but we had several freezing nights in May and a fairly dry early spring. It is what it is and they have more to add to their winter hay supply for their cattle.

The first fruit from the plum produced about 2 dozen delicious plums. Not enough for jam but I am enjoying them a few at a time. Peaches are almost ready to begin harvest. Blueberries are beginning to ripen and I also pick a handful each time we walk on one of our trails. The first planting of shelling peas was pulled today and a couple quarts of peas frozen for later use as well as enough for dinner tonight with a few new potatoes.

The first tomatoes were brought in today as well, a small cluster heirloom that are delicious.

While harvesting them, I spotted this large hornworm. The chickens thought it and a grub or two were delicious.

There are now two beds that are open, so I will plant a second planting of green beans. The sprouted cucumbers and sunflowers were planted in today. I think a few more will be planted out from seed.

Soon the potatoes will have to be dug, not just sneaking out a couple for dinner. Maybe some bolt resistant greens will go in the other bed.

The chickens have figured out how to escape the run, but since the hay is down, they can again free range.

Hail! Hail! The hay is down.

What a whirlwind last 5 days. Son 2 and family returned from their RV trip and spent about 24 hours with us, including a birthday party for two of their daughters, a “bonfire” (not very big), and a hive inspection. It looks like maybe two hives are queenright, frames shifted to help population and add brood and queen cells to the other two. If they don’t make their own queen, I will have to seek out a local source. We have a huge beekeepers association, and at least a couple of them raise queens for sale.

Later the night they arrived, Son 1 arrived for his delayed birthday weekend and our time with him was wonderful. Lots of good food, hikes and walks, enjoying his presence. He got to kayak with a friend, mountain bike ride all three days, and do some stone masonry work on the patio which is now finished from the house outward. The last 5 or 6 feet still need some leveling and puzzle placing some smaller rocks to finish it out. Then he and I will move the remaining small rocks to the inside edge of the stone wall and we will order soil and mulch to fill the garden. Since Huck’s coop, the old chicken tractor that blew over about a year ago, was sitting on a cedar post raft on flat stones, he disassembled the raft and moved those stones over to fill in spaces. That leave the broken frame to be disassembled, the hardware cloth saved and the rotting wood put in the burn pile once the screws and staples are removed. We don’t want them in the grass where they might end up in a mower or tractor tire.

He was driven to the bus back to the train at 5 this morning, but will return to help his brother make repairs on the roof of the RV next weekend if the materials arrive by then.

The plum tree is producing a small amount of fruit for the first time. The little plums are delicious. I may save the remaining ones as the last ones ripen to make a small batch of plum jam.

When we returned from a late afternoon walk, there were two big tractors with hay mowers taking down the hay. I guess tomorrow they will tedder, rake, and bale it. It isn’t the latest they have done it, but approaching it. I’m glad it is down. I like watching it blow, but once it dries and turns golden, it isn’t long before it falls over and ceases being useful.

Gardening for a loser

As I age, the heat bothers me more and more. We actually run the A/C in summer now, not just relying on the fans. And as I have had my third skin cancer removed this week after having 6 keratosis frozen off last month, I have to wear long sleeves, sunscreen, and a big hat to be outside, so not comfortable when it is in the upper 80’s, so the garden is winning, I’m losing. All of my efforts last year prior to the garden season of putting down cardboard, building boxes, and mulching paths hasn’t helped much. The paths are full of grass and prickly weeds, there are two weeds that seem to love the beds and require lots of weeding. It can only be done first thing in the morning or late in the evening and the weeds are winning. The heat has caused the spinach to bolt, the peas to wilt, and the potato foliage is already dying back. All but two spinach plants were harvested last evening and stripped of useable leaves, the last of the stressed sugar snap peas were picked and shelled as shelly peas as the pods were too tough.

The line trimmer needs to be taken to the paths, the comfrey cut back, the potato bed heavily mulched with straw until they can be dug, the tomatoes and peppers hand weeded.

More cucumbers and sunflowers were started late last week and there were nice shoots in starter pots on the deck table. We had a wicked storm last night that required bringing the umbrella in, flipping the glass top table over, so the shoots were placed on the deck floor, in a sheltered place. When trimming this week, I twice spotted a field mouse under the deck and this morning, half of the new shoots are gnawed off.

The back flower garden that was so much effort last year is a weed fest. The flowers are mostly potted as we aren’t finished back there yet, but the soil surface is full of unwanted growth and since the soil layer is thin over weed mat and cardboard, hoeing it doesn’t work. The deeper section below the retaining wall has enough soil to be fairly easy to hand weed.

The deer are feasting on plants they have never bothered before and the hay is still standing. At least the mowers are back home and local grandson got the yard mowed this week with me getting the parts I don’t want him doing by mowing in the evenings.

At this point, instead of enjoying it, I am frustrated with it. Maybe it is time for old lady beds that are at least knee high and set over a substrate material that will actually block out the weeds. I love the stuff growing in half barrels that are easy to reach and maintain, but not a lot can be grown that way. Once we are really getting food from the garden, my feelings will become more positive, but right now, I’m glad we have a great Farmer’s Market and a grandson who enjoys riding the riding mower for a few bucks every now and then.