Tag Archives: mowing

Sunday musings August 17, 2014

This is the first Sunday in 6 weeks that I could be lazy.  The first Sunday where I didn’t have to arise by 7 a.m. prepare breakfast for Grandson #1 and supervise a math worksheet and a writing assignment then encourage him to practice his guitar and his Kung Fu forms.

I was tired last night.  I drove for 5 hours and once home alone as Hubby was out on his BBH riding, I turned on the Solar Charger that I installed just before leaving to charge the electric fence.  Reluctantly I touched the fence at the farthest point from the charger and nothing.  It is a 12V impulse charger, so I should have felt a zing every few seconds, nothing.  Again I read the manual.  I had attached everything correctly, but I had tried to run the wire in two directions from the charger to give me a better place to put the gate without having to bury the wire in PVC pipe below the gate.  Assuming that to be my problem, I disconnected everything and determined that the gate was just going to have to be where the charger is mounted on a wooden post and rewired the fence in a continuous two strand loop from charger to gate opening.  When I turned the charger back on, still no zing.  In walking around the perimeter, I realized that the wire was touching the welded wire fence of the auxiliary chicken pen and must be grounding itself.  That corrected and the charger on, I did indeed get shocked on both sides of the gate opening.  Now I need a third gate and a second non conductive post to hang the gate for our convenience.  The garden and chicken pens are within an electric force field.  It won’t keep the bunnies out, but it should keep the neighborhood dogs and coyotes out of the chickens and the deer out of the garden.

Once that was complete, a walk around just to enjoy the beautiful afternoon, I discovered …

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The apple and Asian Pear trees are only three years old, so I stripped most of the flowers from them this spring to give them another year to establish.  I left a few flowers on one apple tree and the larger Asian Pear tree and was delighted to find 4 apples (one was badly pecked so I gave it to the chickens) and 8 Asian Pears.  I ate one pear standing right at the unsprayed tree, Tossed the two tiny malformed ones to the chickens.  Our first tree fruit.  The peaches produced small hard peaches that all oozed sap.  I assume they were attacked by something.  I will have to do some research as I won’t use pesticide spray on my fruit, near my vegetable garden and the chickens.

Once I was finally moving this morning, after dog and chicken chores, and enjoying a bowl of homemade granola with coconut milk and a cup of coffee, I hauled the lawn mower out to cut the area inside the electric fence that is not vegetable garden, compost bins or chicken pen and also the grass inside the auxiliary chicken pen as there are no chickens in it right now and the grass was getting quite tall.

Later we must make a Tractor Supply run for dog and chick feed and perhaps to purchase the gate.  I can get our neighbor to help me hang it this week.  As I was mowing the area above my garden, I realized how much slope the yard has between the area that Son #1 and wife had established as the upper garden and where my vegetable garden is with the compost bins in between.  As we are going to remove the compost bins and just leave me a compost pile, I think we will have to terrace that area making a 4 tiered garden as we expand the garden and berry patch back up the slope.  It has been nice having the space this year for the pumpkins, winter squash and sweet potatoes.  It will be nice to have more space for summer squash and cucumbers to spread out, a place to again plant potatoes which we haven’t done in a couple of years and more room to spread out the tomatoes and peppers so they aren’t quite so crowded.  Since I have started using the heavy spoiled hay mulch system this year, there has been much less weeding to do.

Planning continues as our little mountain farm evolves.  Life is an adventure!

 

Olio – June 10, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

Nine years ago today, we received a call from Asheville, NC, a tired, satisfied and obviously in love voice announced that we had our first grandchild, a boy.  It hardly seems possible that he is now 9 years old.  The young man that I visit several times a year to provide day care for when his Mom’s and Dad’s school/work schedules require someone else to step in.  He will be spending 7 weeks with us this summer, in the house where he spent his first few years as they moved here when he was only 9 weeks old to supervise and do all of the stone masonry and finish carpentry in our home and then we all moved into it together for several year.

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Taking a break at the zoo in April.  Happy Birthday, Loakum.

It seems that the teenage pullets think I am the Pied Piper.  Each morning after I open their coop and let them loose in the pen with fresh food and water, at least half of them then follow me back down the run to the gate.  I don’t know if they think there will be a special treat for them if they do or if I’m just Mama as they came to me as tiny chicks and were raised in a brooder in my care until old enough for the coop.

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The garden is starting to brim full of good things to eat and other things to dream about.

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Chard and kale, peas with plumping pods, bushes of raspberries and blueberries slowly ripening in the sun.  Peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and sweet potatoes getting larger with each rain storm and sunny day.  Garlic almost ready to harvest and cure.

Yesterday was a busy afternoon.  After having a skin cancer removed a few years ago, I make an annual visit to the dermatologist for a full body check, that visit was in February, but a few spots appeared that caused me some concern, so a return visit started the afternoon.  Everything is fine.  Once home, Jim and I finally tackled the cleanup of the burn pile from a few weeks ago.  We were concerned that it would start filling with weeds, making the task more onerous than it already was.  Upon burning the wood that was there, we discovered a significant pile of large rocks.  I remember than eldest son had discussed putting the chicken coop there when the garden was much larger than it is now and he hauled that rock in his pick up truck from remnants of building the retaining wall, to use as a foundation for the coop.  With much grunting and groaning, the use of the tractor bucket, we moved the largest flattest of those stone to the culvert on one side of the driveway.

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Where it will be turned into a guardian/warning wall like this one on the other side of the driveway.

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These are to warn folks that there are car and tractor eating holes on either side of the drive that feed and drain the large culvert under the driveway and prevent it from washing down into our garage.

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Once the rocks were removed, several tractor buckets of charcoal, nails and screws that had been in the wood, and rocks too small for the wall were scooped up and dumped where unsuspecting tractor or truck tires haying or hauling hay won’t meet with a flat.  The area was then leveled as well as it could with the edge of the tractor bucket and the surviving rake.  Once eldest and family settle into their own house after degrees are complete, I guess I will have to buy myself a new rake as the surviving one is his that I am storing.  Mine did not survive the burn pile control as it proved to have a plastic fitting.

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On each pass from the burn pile to the culvert, I mowed a swipe through the orchard and back on the return trip.  Once the burn pile cleanup was complete, I just had to finish the job I had started and mowed the yard and orchard as close as I could with the tractor.  After a quick late dinner from the grill and a salad, the lawn mower was hauled out and the finish work around the fruit trees, chicken pen, garden and close to the house was done, just as the sky was darkening with the chickens settling in for the night.  With them closed up for the night, personal cleanup of bodies and laundry and a rest were in order.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.

Mow day

Last night after dinner out and before it got dark, I pushed the mower two swipes around the house and in the corner that I can’t reach with the tractor in preparation for mowing this morning.  The first mowing of the season, I got as close as I could and just did a patch around the house large enough to get to the cars, the chicken coop and garden without walking through knee high grass and I didn’t premow the close strips, so that grass was thick and tall last night, stalling out the mower constantly.

This morning after a trip to the Farmers’ Market for meat and spring greens and turnips, I cranked up the tractor and mowed the area we consider yard in the middle of our 30 acres.  That includes around the garden, the orchard, an area that is too small to hay above the orchard, around the well head and the front, side, and back areas that are regularly mowed.  With last week’s rain, it didn’t look like it had already been mowed once.  The areas around the chicken fence and close around the orchard trees has to be done with the lawn mower or weed whacker and I started on them with the mower and ran out of gas.  Not wanting to go out again, I quit for the day, just before Jim arrived back home from his motorcycle ride.

As soon as I came in to get the watering can to water the newly planted porch and deck pots, I spotted a hummingbird who had already found the red geraniums that I planted yesterday.  Have you ever tried to take a picture of a hummingbird?  You will just have to take my word for it.

It is looking more like spring everyday.  The trees all have a haze of small green leaves, the dogwoods are blooming and beautiful.

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Only another week or two and we should be clear of late frost and more of the garden will be planted.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.

Planting Day, Spring at Last

My first seed start of this year was an epic fail.  First, I got anxious and started them way too early, knowing that I can’t plant any tender plants until at least Mother’s Day, and as usual, I gave them at least 8 weeks head start, knowing from past experience that they would get pale and leggy before planting time.  Second, I planted them and put the grow light and heat mat in a back bedroom, not out where I would see them and remember them.  Third, I planted them just as my 91 year old Dad came to visit, we took a day trip to meet some friends, and I spent a week in Northern Virginia babysitting the eldest grand.  Sure enough, I monitored them until just about the time they sprouted, then promptly forgot they were there, so no grow light, no removal of the moisture cap, no watering.  I remembered them while I was in away and by then it was too late to salvage anything.  The tray had dried out planting cubes and 4 to 6 inch long dry threads of plant stems.  My decision was to just go to the nursery and buy pepper and tomato plants this year.  Today as I was running other errands, I looked at the plants.  They wanted more than $3.50 each for them.  The selection was terrible.  Instead, figuring I still have about 4 weeks before they can go out, I started over at home.

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Started are 8 Jalapeno, 4 Habanero, 4 Anaheim, 4 Cayenne, 4 Bull nose Bell peppers.  Also 8 Hungarian paste, 4 Brandywine, and 4 Heinz canning tomatoes.  In pots, I started ginger, tall basil, and spicy globe basil.

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When the basil sprouts and gets a few inches of size on it, I will transplant some of the seedlings to peat pots and once warm enough, I will put them in the garden, the pots will contain a plant or two and stay on the deck for a quick cutting when I am cooking or making a salad.  The ginger looks pretty in a pot on the deck and it does enlarge the root, so that you can dig part of it for household use.  Unfortunately, the one I started last year stayed outside a bit too long before I brought it in and it didn’t survive.

All of these efforts were set up in spaces where I will see them and remember them this time.

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The grow warmer and light are on the kitchen counter below my daily dishes.  The pots are in the south facing window in the laundry room where we feed the dogs and through which I pass each time I go to deal with chickens or to put garbage or recycling in the containers in the garage.

Also on this beautiful day, I enjoyed lunch with a special friend to celebrate her birthday which was yesterday and then once home, I mowed about a half acre around the house and over to the chickens so that I don’t have to wade through nearly knee high grass that seems to have grown almost overnight.

In checking out my garden, the peas that I planted a few weeks ago are about 2″ tall, but the paths are quickly getting overtaken by weeds.  I think within the next couple of days, I will attack the paths with thick layers of newspaper and a thicker layer of hay.  Most of the beds were heavily mulched with hay over the winter and except for the berry beds, they look pretty good.

The spring and summer garden season is beginning, I love it.

Life is an adventure on our mountain farm.