apparently, i let the entire month of June get away without a blog update (or writing any poems, for that matter). whoosh. summer on the farm is always busy, and it doesn’t feel any busier than usual this year, but my attention’s been on other things.
so, the garden!
the corn is coming in nice and tall, as usual. it’s hot out, and the corn mostly does very well with that, though it and we would all appreciate more rain. we put in Inca Rainbow corn again this year; we’ve had the most success with this variety (which is a modern hybrid, but not GMO) for both fresh eating, and drying for polenta.
and our usual giant sunflowers, the original seeds for which came from our friends Andrew & Katie during our first garden season. i have no idea what variety they are; we call them Andrew’s Sunflowers. they’re delicious.
we’ve gotten a lot more careful about how much amaranth we let grow, but we’re keeping a few of these hopi red dye amaranth plants from year to year, for seed. amaranth is a useful cereal grain, and grows very very well here, but it’s prickly, and difficult to thresh, which has greatly inhibited our use of it. if anybody comes up with a simple system for getting the seeds out of the prickles, please share!
tomatoes are setting up and starting to ripen now, too. i have three tomato patches this year, and this morning, found the first of the hornworms. we’ll be on daily hornworm patrol for a while now, until we’ve gotten them all. the turkeys love them.
apricot jam canning will commence soon.
we had a few cherries this year, too, but we ate them. :)
we’re still on curcurbit hiatus pending better control of the massive squash-bug population (tried so far: neem oil, capsacin/ dr bronner’s spray, hand picking, diatomaceous earth, installation of predator species; result: not planting squash for 3 years because NOTHING works against these brutes). but i have a volunteer melon coming up anyway.
Other projects also proceed apace. Rev added cross-bars at new heights to the monkey bars, completing the set. we’re developing quite the playground out there. i’ve been spending some time most evenings doing yoga and working out on the bars in the sunset, enjoying upside-down views of hummingbirds flitting among the fruit trees that edge the ritual ground.
we’re flood irrigating our pasture field. we haven’t seeded it, prefering to see what would come up of its own accord this first season, and then moderate it from there. mostly, that’s amaranth and bindweed. i pull tumbleweeds when i find them.
the big drama of the season has been losing a number of baby chicks (meat birds) to rat predation. we built an awesome new rodent-proof feed cage in the barn, with the result that the rats had less available food sources, and immediately turned to preying on our chicks. it took us a couple weeks to figure out what we were losing them to, and then another day or two to figure out how to get them out of harm’s way; we are now using the still-rabbitless rabbit hutches as chick brooders, since they were already rabbit-proof and the distance between rabbit-proof and rat-proof is pretty small. we had to order new meat chicks. meanwhile, we also got a handful of guinea hen keets:
the white ones are the guineas. aren’t they darling? they are rumored to be very good on insects, and not to scratch or mess up gardens the way chickens & turkeys do. the plan is to let them live in the barnyard, and run them through the garden once a day or so. yes, we know they’re noisy. we really need better pest-control in the garden, though. and we also hear they’re good eating; if they’re not as good on bugs as we want, or if they do more damage than good, or if they’re so noisy that it actually outweighs other concerns, then we’ll eat them. we’ll let y’all know how the experiement pans out.
we are also taking other non-poison rat-removal measures, including this handsome bull snake. he let himself be handled quite a bit before i released him into the leaves behind the chicken coop, where i know the rats to live. moments later, our intern Justin saw a tumult in the leaves, and two rats ran out, clearly fleeing for their lives. a bull snake can eat a rat or two a week, at which rate it will take him a long time to make a big dent in the population, but the fellow at Clark’s Pet Emporium where i got him says that snakes have a deterrent effect; when enough of them are eaten, the rats will move out. we sure hope so.
this was one of the areas that we built wrong the first time, and had to go back and redo. next weekend, we’ll plaster it, and then move on to rebuilding the next stretch. two more patches of rebuilding to go.
i think that gets most of it. we’re deep into summer now. here’s praying for rain.