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2014 Growing Season

2014 Growing Season
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  • Post #31 - June 13th, 2014, 10:06 am
    Post #31 - June 13th, 2014, 10:06 am Post #31 - June 13th, 2014, 10:06 am
    Freezer Pig wrote:Image


    I just guffawed at my desk. That is fantastic!
    -Mary
  • Post #32 - June 13th, 2014, 10:13 am
    Post #32 - June 13th, 2014, 10:13 am Post #32 - June 13th, 2014, 10:13 am
    Thanks for a great laugh this morning! Also love the ears on the pig who was eyeballing the camera--they look like angel wings :)
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #33 - June 13th, 2014, 11:37 pm
    Post #33 - June 13th, 2014, 11:37 pm Post #33 - June 13th, 2014, 11:37 pm
    When I was taking pictures yesterday morning, I didn't think to take one of The Col. I knew I had one in our "album" from when I first put him up (this is why the nest box looks so clean in that picture), so I was going back through old files, looking for the picture.

    I ran across these from 2005. If I remember right, it was Labor Day weekend, we hadn't started building the new house yet, but the old farmhouse had already been burned down and cleaned up. We were painting one of the outbuildings, my wife was on the back side and I was on the front. Our dog was laying in the shade, tied to a long tether on the truck hitch. We had a radio playing music, as we were on our second or third day of painting.

    I noticed I was hearing something that sounded like a lamb bleating, but I didn't give it much thought until I noticed it was getting closer. I finally looked over my shoulder and saw this, walking through tha yard, towards us

    Image

    I called my wife and she grabbed the camera out of the truck. The fawn kept walking closer, it walked right up to Denise and would have stood to be petted, if she had tried. She actually backed up from the little guy, not wanting to adopt the little critter by accident.

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    The fawn wandered around for a few minutes, then it suddenly froze and perked up it's ears, it took off like a shot, back across the road into the cornfield that it walked out of. I always figured the mother fell asleep and the fawn wandered off, when she woke up, she called for it and he ran back. We never saw the little guy again, at least not as a fawn.

    Labor Day is pretty late in the year for a fawn to be small enough to have it's spots, I always wondered if the little guy made it through the following winter.

    As it turns out, this isn't too uncommon. The following year, a friend of ours was working on a tractor in his shop, when he turned around and there was a fawn, inside the building, looking at him. He said it walked around sniffing things, before it perked up it's ears and ran into the cornfield around the shop. He didn't have a camera at the time, but I believed his story since this had just happened to us.

    Anyhow, not a current event, but something cool that happened in the backyard, and we luckily had a camera close by.

    Tim
  • Post #34 - June 15th, 2014, 11:04 pm
    Post #34 - June 15th, 2014, 11:04 pm Post #34 - June 15th, 2014, 11:04 pm
    Well, we had a weekend of gardening. I spent the entire day, Saturday, making cages to keep the chickens away from our leafy garden plants. They were destroying the cabbage, brussel sprouts, kolarabi.... pretty much everything that wasnt a melon or a bush type plant.

    If it was up to me, I'm ready for soup........ my wife seems to think fresh eggs are worth the destruction, so they are allowed to live.

    Here is the result of my days labor

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    Image

    I think I made 36 of them total. My hands were so stiff from splicing the wires, I could barely move them when I woke up this morning. I noticed today that a couple of the pepper plants looked like the leaves were stripped, I guess I need a couple more cages, as soon as my joints loosen up...... I'm telling you, it would be easier to get rid of the chickens.....

    This afternoon, I weeded/hoed and rototilled the whole garden. Everything is growing nicely after last weeks inch of rain. They are predicting thunderstorms almost everyday next week. I wanted to get the weeds cleaned up before the next rain takes them out of control.

    While working closely around the plants I noticed the green beans are about to blossom. If this is any indication, we are going to have a big crop. Each of these little nubbins will be a flower and each flower should make a bean. Our pantry is getting empty, we are hoping for a big crop.

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    By the way, my wedding ring doesn't turn my finger green, the grips on the tiller rub black off on my hands..... I did a shoddy job of washing my hands when I grabbed the camera. My hands are never very clean, even after doing a sink full of dishes, I still have grease and dirt in the cracks and crevices..... occupational hazzard I guess. Around here, we are more apt to notice a clean set of hands than a dirty pair anyhow. Welcome to God's Country.......

    We have pickles coming on too. If you've never seen a pickle growing under a blossom, you have now, it's right under the tip of my indes finger.

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    Last picture of the day, the chicks have been getting out almost every day. They will be moved to the coop by next week. After that, they will slowly earn their freedom, running loose around the yard.

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    I think that's it. It's supposed to be hot and humid next week, with storms forecast every day. Hopefully, they won't be too severe, this year is really shaping up to be a good one.

    Pigs in the next update, thanks for following along.

    Tim
  • Post #35 - June 18th, 2014, 9:47 am
    Post #35 - June 18th, 2014, 9:47 am Post #35 - June 18th, 2014, 9:47 am
    It's pushing 85 degrees already this morning, so I quit my outside work early to enjoy some air conditioning. It looks like we might get some rain this afternoon, we can use a little bit, yesterday's heat and wind really dried things out. I'm just hoping, as usual, we get a nice shower and not a heavy thunderstorm.

    First new growth picture of the week..... we plant Canna Lillies along the front of the barn every Spring. They are finally growing.

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    The pigs are doing well. The heat has them relaxing most of the day, right now. They do most of their running around and eating in the mornings and evenings. It doesn't seem to bother this size pig, as much, as when they get closer to market weight.

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    A curious closeup for Jen.

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    The garden continues to grow. I've been lucky with the weather this year, I'm able to keep up with the weeding. If we get a few days of rain, and I'm not able to get back in, we will be overrun. For now, I'm enjoing clean rows and fast hoeing every couple of days.

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    We have a few pickles coming on, that are getting to be a good size. I'll pull these off, so the plant can put energy into the rest of the crop. We won't use them until we have enough to do a canner full, and by that time, these will be too big to use.

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    Found a little Summer Squash this morning too, I can't wait for these and the Zukes to be ready. It doesn't take me long to get tired of the never ending supply, but right now, I'm craving a fresh pan of stir fry.

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    Last picture of the day.... bean field. The sun does shine in Ohio, just not on Wednesdays. The crops are hoping for a little shot of rain too.

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    Thanks for looking,

    Tim
  • Post #36 - June 20th, 2014, 9:06 am
    Post #36 - June 20th, 2014, 9:06 am Post #36 - June 20th, 2014, 9:06 am
    We got another little shot of rain this morning. The dark ground makes things show up better in pictures, so I took a couple of new ones this morning. You can see the cages and the new rows of corn in the background, that's just getting a good start.

    Image

    Image

    Tim
  • Post #37 - June 20th, 2014, 10:23 am
    Post #37 - June 20th, 2014, 10:23 am Post #37 - June 20th, 2014, 10:23 am
    Happy to see the updates, especially the pigs! Been on vacation in farm country myself and came home to a garden full of new developments. LOVE this time of year! Keep your pics coming!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #38 - June 22nd, 2014, 5:20 pm
    Post #38 - June 22nd, 2014, 5:20 pm Post #38 - June 22nd, 2014, 5:20 pm
    How do you keep rabbits away? We have some pepper and cabbage plants that are being chewed away and we have no chickens to blame. BTW your cages are incredible!!!
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #39 - June 22nd, 2014, 7:12 pm
    Post #39 - June 22nd, 2014, 7:12 pm Post #39 - June 22nd, 2014, 7:12 pm
    I'm sure FP will have more info but the only thing I've seen work against rabbits is strong, tightly wired fencing. We had bunny infestation at my community garden last year and no deterrent worked. Physical barriers keeping the little suckers away from the plants is key.
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #40 - June 22nd, 2014, 7:40 pm
    Post #40 - June 22nd, 2014, 7:40 pm Post #40 - June 22nd, 2014, 7:40 pm
    Elfin wrote:How do you keep rabbits away? We have some pepper and cabbage plants that are being chewed away and we have no chickens to blame. BTW your cages are incredible!!!

    A few years ago, I had a terrible squirrel and rabbit problem. They dug up and ate every one of 50+ bulbs I planted. So I spread Plantskydd. No more problems! I've planted 100 or so bulbs the last two years and not a single one has been dug up. You may wish to give it a try. I'm not sure where you live, but the website lists a number of places where it is sold. I've purchased it at Chalet in Wilmette and Gethsemane in Chicago (although they don't always have it). I much prefer using Plantskydd instead of wire or the like.
    I find the pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted, cured meats. (Seinfeld)

    Twitter: brbinchicago
  • Post #41 - June 22nd, 2014, 11:35 pm
    Post #41 - June 22nd, 2014, 11:35 pm Post #41 - June 22nd, 2014, 11:35 pm
    Elfin wrote:......How do you keep rabbits away?.....


    I hesitate to answer this question for two reasons; I'm going to curse us, by saying we've never had a problem, and my solution will make me look like a heartless killer.

    We have really never had a problem with rabbits. We've had a pair living in the yard, ever since we bought this place. They have little ones, we watch them run around and play, eventually, we are down to a pair again and the cycle repeats itself. For some reason, they have never messed with anything of value, like trees, flowers or vegetables.

    Rabbits have a hunting season in Ohio, so if you kill one out of that season, that's poaching. If you think I'm going on the whirld whide web and say I will poach a rabbit...........

    So far, the rabbits coexist with us, so the issue hasn't come up, but if it does...... well......

    I would think these cages would protect plants from rabbits, the wires make a 2" x 4" grid, that should keep rabbits out. I make them so there are little stubs in the ground, so the wind doesn't blow them over (and will keep rabbits from burrowing under).

    I don't think the cages will slow a squirrel down though, they will get between the wires or go over the top of the cage, without even hesitating. Luckily, we don't have squirrels in our yard, they have a season too, so we are back to that whole poaching thing......

    I made 8 more of those cages this afternoon, the hens have started going after the pepper plants, and they will shred the tomatoes as soon as they find the first tomato worm. I think I have about 10 more and the plants will be safe. I made three different sizes of the cages, so I can store them inside each other, for the winter. I don't want to have to make these things every summer.

    The next project is to design a heavy duty tomato climbing cage. I'm tired of the flimsy things you get at the hardware store. I'm going to fire up the torch and welder and design/build the last cage I'll ever need..... film at eleven......

    Tim
  • Post #42 - June 23rd, 2014, 9:15 am
    Post #42 - June 23rd, 2014, 9:15 am Post #42 - June 23rd, 2014, 9:15 am
    Time for a morning update. We got a couple tenths of rain again yesterday morning, so it's still a little wet to be in the garden. The weather has been just about perfect right here. We are getting little shots of rain that keep things damp and growing, but not so much that plants won't put their roots deeper.

    This time of year, if it's too wet, the crops will just soak up the easy water, and won't make much effort to root deeper. When things dry out, like it usualy does in July and August, those plants really get stressed, trying to support a full sized growing top with very little root. If it's too dry, the plant will put all it's energy into putting roots deeper looking for water, but the tops won't grow as much as they should.

    I have a friend that farms about 8 miles east of here, who has barely had rain for over a month. His crops are growing, but they could really use a drink. Another friend farms about the same distance west of here, and he's been getting an inch of rain, everytime I get a quarter. He's right on the verge of too wet. So we are right in the sweet spot, so far this year, I know we are just one thunderstorm away from disaster, but the longer we go, without extremes, the better the crops can take one when it hits.

    I know, I know.... more pictures, less talk. ;o)

    Here we go...

    The new chicks got moved to the Coop Saturday morning, they are adjusting well. It was time I got my shop back. We'll start letting them run loose in another week or so. They are still just a little small for total freedom.

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    The pigs are eating and growing well, I need to call and set up a processing date pretty soon. These will be ready about fair time in this area, and the slaughterhouses fill up fast right around then. It's hard to plan that far out, but if I don't, they'll end up being too big when the time comes.

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    Next up is a couple of garden shots. Everything is really taking off, since I've protected most of it from the hens.

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    New arrival shot of the week..... I noticed Saturday, when I was in the barn, the Swallows seemed to be a little louder and more agitated at me. This morning, I see why

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    This years eggs have hatched. The little guys are still pretty blind. When the camera flashes, they stretch out their necks with their mouths open, looking for the next meal. They can only sense light and dark right now. By the time the camera resets and I can take another picture, they are already settled back down in the nest, so this is all you get to see.

    The bean field is growing fast. It won't be long before it reaches the canopy stage. This is when the plants bush out enough to close the gap betweeen the rows. When that happens, they'll really take off. The moisture won't evaporate as fast and the new weeds will pretty much quit sprouting, since there isn't enough sunshine to keep them going.

    They came through and sprayed the field right after I took the picture. This will kill the weeds that are growing, and hopefully, nature will keep any new ones from coming.

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    The last picture is the field across the road. It's rotated back to corn again. This is the field I took pictures of, all summer, in what turned out to be the Drought of 2012. You got to see it struggle , that year, to stay alive. This is what it should have looked like.

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    Here's a picture from June 19th, 2012. The angle is the same, just a little closer to the field. You can see bare ground between the rows and the corn leaves are rolled up trying to conserve moisture. The color is deeper green this year too. I don't remember the date this field was planted this year, but I'm guess it was about 3 weeks later than '12. Big difference this year....

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    That's it, I'm out of pictures and out of time. More next time.....

    Tim
  • Post #43 - June 26th, 2014, 8:35 am
    Post #43 - June 26th, 2014, 8:35 am Post #43 - June 26th, 2014, 8:35 am
    Quick update......

    Monday afternoon, after the last update, we got hit pretty square, with a thunderstorm. High winds busted up some trees just south of here, but luckily we didn't have any damage. We got an inch of rain in about a half hour. Our ground was already wet, so this saturated it, then laid on top for a few hours.

    Our soil has quite a bit of clay in it, when clay gets saturated and lays water, it kind of turns to pudding.

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    When the rains stop and the sun comes back out, this will bake into a crust as hard as a ceramic tile. Since our plants are up, it's not as big of a deal, but if there are seeds that haven't emerged yet, this would've been the end of them, they would never push through that crust. It's always odd, in the spring, after a big pounding rain, everybody hopes for a couple more rainy days to keep everything moistened up and soft so the seedlings can get out and started.

    Overall, the garden is doing well, i knew the perfect weather couldn't last forever.

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    Our late sweetcorn patch is up and taking off now, you can see the 5 rows in the background. Hopefully, if the weather is right, we will get fresh sweetcorn into the early fall, out of this patch. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

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    Hopefully, we won't get any baking sun for a few more days. If the soil dries slowly, the crust won't be quite so bad. It should be dry enough by Sunday I'll be able to get back in there and till up the weeds that are starting to grow.

    The beans are still growing....

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    The pigs are getting bigger everyday. This is about their fastest growth, other than the first few weeks they are born. They'll put on the next 50 to 75 lbs in about 3 or 4 weeks, before they slow down on their way to a finished weight of 265 lbs.

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    Thanks for looking.....
  • Post #44 - June 26th, 2014, 10:02 am
    Post #44 - June 26th, 2014, 10:02 am Post #44 - June 26th, 2014, 10:02 am
    They're lined up so evenly, they could be a cheerleading squad!

    On a more serious note, this ("This time of year, if it's too wet, the crops will just soak up the easy water, and won't make much effort to root deeper. When things dry out, like it usually does in July and August, those plants really get stressed, trying to support a full sized growing top with very little root. If it's too dry, the plant will put all it's energy into putting roots deeper looking for water, but the tops won't grow as much as they should.") was very interesting to me as a container garden--makes a ton of sense as to why we sometimes have a short season with some of stuff, given that in containers, the wet is wetter and the dry is drier. I really appreciate these little nuggets of info and advice. Keep 'em coming!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #45 - June 30th, 2014, 12:35 am
    Post #45 - June 30th, 2014, 12:35 am Post #45 - June 30th, 2014, 12:35 am
    Late night udate. We spent the weekend in Northern Michigan again. My in-laws celebrated their 60th Anniversary the first part of June, and they had a party this weekend. We went up Friday to set up for the Saturday event.

    As are all good party's in Northern Mi, it was held at their home and everyone brought a dish. 90+ people were there, and the mostly old Czech & Polish family recipes didn't disappoint. We finished the day, with the family sitting around a fire drinking beer, celebrating the succesful party, and the fact it was over.

    We spent this morning (Sunday), cleaning up and dividing up leftover food, and packing up the vehicles for the trip home.

    Got home about 5:00 this afternoon and had peas and black raspberries to pick and freeze. I also managed to get one pass through the garden with the tiller, it was just dry enough to get back in and the weeds were starting to grow. Hopefully, this will put a dent in them.

    I had to make a quick trip to town, after we were back and unloaded, the camera was still in the truck, so I took a few pictures of local fields, a couple miles from home.

    One of our neighbors grows tomatoes..... lot's of tomatoes. There used to be a lot more growers in the area, back in the 70's 80's, but these are one of the few farmers still doing it. This is what tomato production looks like on a large scale;

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    Since the processors will only take so many semi loads in a a day, they spread out planting for about a month, so they always have a steady supply of 'maters come harvest time. This is one of the later fields planted;

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    There is quite a bit of wheat grown in this area. There isn't any close to the house this year, so I snagged a picture on the way out of town.....

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    They wil start harvesting right around the 4th of July this year, depending on the weather. After harvest, the straw that is left over is baled up for livestock bedding. I need to get down and talk to the neighbor, I don't need straw baled this year, but I will offer my labor to him, so he can get his baling done.

    I think that's it, time for bed. I'll have a proper update in a couple of days.

    Tim
  • Post #46 - June 30th, 2014, 8:26 pm
    Post #46 - June 30th, 2014, 8:26 pm Post #46 - June 30th, 2014, 8:26 pm
    LOVE the wheatfield shot in particular. Looks like a J.M.W. Turner painting. Gorgeous! You have such a good eye.
  • Post #47 - July 2nd, 2014, 10:54 pm
    Post #47 - July 2nd, 2014, 10:54 pm Post #47 - July 2nd, 2014, 10:54 pm
    sundevilpeg wrote:LOVE the wheatfield shot in particular. Looks like a J.M.W. Turner painting. Gorgeous! You have such a good eye.


    Thanks, I wish I could take credit for getting the perfect light and perspective in my pictures, but it's pretty much point and shoot. Those last three, were taken out of the passenger side of my truck, while leaning across from the drivers seat. It gave them a different shade than real life, and added that funny reflection on the side. Glad you liked it though.

    Onward and upward......

    The garden continues to thrive, the weather has been great.

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    The peas are just about finished, and the green beans are coming on.

    We've been freezing a sheet pan of peas every other day.

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    I think we have 4 - two pound bags in the freezer, and should get one more bag before they are tapped out. We've been eating them fresh, too. It's been a very good pea year.

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    My wife has been picking black raspberries from the patch for a couple of weeks, she told me tonight they are just about finished. We have quite a few of them in the freezer too.

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    The chicks are doing well, I thinkthey are 7 weeks old today. We'll probably let them run in the yard free, for the first time this weekend. We'll keep a pretty close eye on them the first few times.

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    The pigs are eating feed and gaining weight at a frenzied pace. They are enjoying the cool nights. My last trip through the barn every day usually finds them up, running and playing around, after resting in the heat all afternoon.

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    Last shot of the week, the beans are just taking back off. When they spray for weeds, it always stings the beans a little. It takes them a couple of days to shake it off and start growing again. The rows will be closed in, in another day or two.

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    I think that's it, next post should have some wheat harvest, and maybe some straw baling in it, depends how crazy it gets.....

    Tim
  • Post #48 - July 3rd, 2014, 10:17 am
    Post #48 - July 3rd, 2014, 10:17 am Post #48 - July 3rd, 2014, 10:17 am
    Quick update, found a couple of these in the garden this morning

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    This is what the tassel looks like before it unfurls completly

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    And one last shot, for anybody who's never looked down a corn plant. This is the tassel, just starting to form down in there

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    There's no silk on the plants yet, that should be coming in the next day or two. Hope the weather stays like it is, this is perfect for polinating corn right now, cool and damp.

    Tim
  • Post #49 - July 3rd, 2014, 10:30 am
    Post #49 - July 3rd, 2014, 10:30 am Post #49 - July 3rd, 2014, 10:30 am
    I planted a few kernels of gem corn in pots (companion planted with my peas which will be done soon). Very curious to see if I'll actually get any corn. The great experiment :)
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #50 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:29 pm
    Post #50 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:29 pm Post #50 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:29 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:I planted a few kernels of gem corn in pots (companion planted with my peas which will be done soon). Very curious to see if I'll actually get any corn. The great experiment :)

    Corn does not wind-pollinate well -- usually several adjacent rows are needed to get a decent yield. In my first year of gardening at this house, I planted popcorn and got spotty yields, and lots of corn smut (which, at the time, I had no idea it was actually delicious huitlacoche).

    I've never tried it, but hand pollination should get good results.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #51 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:38 pm
    Post #51 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:38 pm Post #51 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:38 pm
    I have 6 stalks-2 to a pot--will that do anything?
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #52 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:38 pm
    Post #52 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:38 pm Post #52 - July 3rd, 2014, 3:38 pm
    I could feel Tim chuckling as I typed that :)
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #53 - July 6th, 2014, 11:43 pm
    Post #53 - July 6th, 2014, 11:43 pm Post #53 - July 6th, 2014, 11:43 pm
    boudreaulicious wrote:I have 6 stalks-2 to a pot--will that do anything?


    You'll get something, I'm afraid the ears won't be completly filled, but you never know. Put the pots in a triangle, as close as possible. Hope for gentle breezes, not hard winds that blow the pollen clear. Even if you have a crop failure, you only have six plants invested...... next year could be the best crop ever. :lol:

    boudreaulicious wrote:I could feel Tim chuckling as I typed that :)


    I was laughing with you, not at you. I don't know what it's like to live where you do, but I'm guessing you are the closest thing to a farmer your neighbors will ever meet. How many of them have ever seen a corn sprout come through the ground? Do you think anyone within earshot, could tell the difference between a pepper plant and a weed, and would you trust them to pull the right one out by it's roots?

    You have an understanding of freshness that cannot be described. While others talk about how fresh the green beans and peas are at the local Mega Mart, or even the farmers market, you know what it's like to pick it off the vine and eat it within an hour, not many people in your neighborhood, if any, have ever done that.

    Unless you plant 6 stalks of corn next year, hoping for better results, you are learning just like the rest of us. There are things I was raised doing, that are completely wrong now, and there are things that are coming back in fashion. You have to learn what works and what doesn't, and be willing to change and adapt.

    I admire your farming spirit, there are guys at the local coffee shop, who I've told of your balcony operation, they are also impressed.

    You're famous in NW Ohio.......

    Don't let us down.

    Tim
  • Post #54 - July 7th, 2014, 8:55 am
    Post #54 - July 7th, 2014, 8:55 am Post #54 - July 7th, 2014, 8:55 am
    Nature update..... I walked in the barn yesterday afternoon and the last batch of Swallows had just left the nest. They hadn't gone very far, they were sitting on the closest thing they could fly/jump to, working up the courage to venture further away.

    Image

    There are five of them there, four on the wire and one sitting on the board that holds the nest. I went and got my wife, and we stood inside the door and watched them for a half hour, as the parents flew in and out trying to coax them into following them.

    One of the chicks ended up on a beam below the nest. Mom and dad sat down just long enough for a quick rest, chirping at him the whole time.

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    You can see the blur of one of the parents trying to get him to take the leap off the beam. It was only about 10 seconds after this picture, that the little guy worked up the courage to go. A few minutes later, mom & dad were back inside getting the next brave one to jump.

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    We watched long enough to see two leave the barn. Last night after dark, all five were back sitting around the nest, the parents were a couple rafters away, keeping an eye on them. First thing this morning, the barn was empty. The whole family was flying around the barnyard, catching bugs and building strength. It won't be long before they head south again.

    I have been around Swallows my whole life, we had them in the barns when I was growing up, and I was glad to see their nests here, when we bought the place.

    This has been my year for them though.

    This Spring, I was working on a piece of machinery in front of the shop, when all of the sudden, I was surrounded by chirps and squaks I hadn't heard for months. There were 8 pairs of them circling the yard and sitting on the wires. I had just enough time to yell at Denise, and they were gone, flying north. All that afternoon, small flocks were flying through. By that evening, we had a pair roosting in the barn, the next day, there were two more pair, working on new nests.

    Swallows were always something that just appeared, you would walk outside one day and realize they were back for the summer. I never actually saw the migration....... pretty cool.

    I've seen young Swallows sitting around the nest before, but I never took the time to watch them get teased by the parents into flying for the first time.

    It won't be long before they are gone for the year again. We probably won't see them go, we'll just walk out one morning and notice they are gone.

    I don't know if this a sign we lead a dull life or we are getting older and it doesn't take as much to impress us, but it's been kind of a fun year, noticing things about these little bug eaters that we always took for granted.

    Time to stop boring you with Swallow stories.... I need to get my butt back outside and get to work. I need to get the hay mow cleaned up a little bit, We might be putting straw in, the end of the week. More on that later....

    Tim
  • Post #55 - July 7th, 2014, 8:11 pm
    Post #55 - July 7th, 2014, 8:11 pm Post #55 - July 7th, 2014, 8:11 pm
    Freezer Pig wrote:
    You'll get something, I'm afraid the ears won't be completly filled, but you never know. Put the pots in a triangle, as close as possible. Hope for gentle breezes, not hard winds that blow the pollen clear. Even if you have a crop failure, you only have six plants invested...... next year could be the best crop ever. :lol:


    Corn.JPG Corn pots


    A bit hard to see it but that's exactly how I have them situated--the pot with the 2 largest stalks (coincidentally) is in front with the other two directly behind them, all grouped right together. There are peas and beans planted around them in each pot. Who knows...I'll keep you posted. I mostly planted it because a fellow LTHer brought the kernels to the holiday party and I thought they were so pretty (heirloom gem corn if I recall)


    Freezer Pig wrote: I was laughing with you, not at you. I don't know what it's like to live where you do, but I'm guessing you are the closest thing to a farmer your neighbors will ever meet. How many of them have ever seen a corn sprout come through the ground? Do you think anyone within earshot, could tell the difference between a pepper plant and a weed, and would you trust them to pull the right one out by it's roots?

    You have an understanding of freshness that cannot be described. While others talk about how fresh the green beans and peas are at the local Mega Mart, or even the farmers market, you know what it's like to pick it off the vine and eat it within an hour, not many people in your neighborhood, if any, have ever done that.

    Unless you plant 6 stalks of corn next year, hoping for better results, you are learning just like the rest of us. There are things I was raised doing, that are completely wrong now, and there are things that are coming back in fashion. You have to learn what works and what doesn't, and be willing to change and adapt.

    I admire your farming spirit, there are guys at the local coffee shop, who I've told of your balcony operation, they are also impressed.

    You're famous in NW Ohio.......

    Don't let us down.

    Tim


    Can't take credit for being much of a pioneer, other than my location (2nd floor farming may be a bit less common than raised beds in a yard or on a roof top) but I can certainly say that I'm an enthusiast. And I do have the perspective that, like in sports, if I don't win it all this summer, I'll get 'em next year!! And, no matter what, I LOVE the idea of entertaining real farmers in NW Ohio--that definitely made my summer!

    A few more pics...

    Bee pollinating.JPG Bee pollinating

    The bees have finally found us!!

    Trombetta D'Alba.JPG Trombetta D'Alba Squash--best blossoms and great tasting squash.


    Cuke Blossom.JPG Cuke blossom


    cuke.JPG Hanging Cukes


    7-7- haul.JPG Today's haul
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #56 - July 8th, 2014, 10:12 pm
    Post #56 - July 8th, 2014, 10:12 pm Post #56 - July 8th, 2014, 10:12 pm
    More pictures of 2014. The sweetcorn is shooting silk. It won't be long before we are eating fresh corn from the garden.

    Each individual silk will make a kernal of corn, if it's pollinated. Our freezer is gettting empty, we are hoping for a bumper crop.

    Image

    The tassels are maturing. This isn't the best picture, but you can see the pollen hanging off, ready to drop on the silk.

    Image

    Last garden picture is what I believe to be Shishito Peppers. They are supposed to be Jalapeno's, but this plant is an oddball.

    Image

    What do you think boudreaulicious, is this what they look like at this stage??

    The soybean field has reached the canopy stage. For some reason, the end of the field I've been taking pictures of (the headlands), is lagging behind the rest of the field. They look pretty good though, it should be a nice crop.

    Image

    Next stop is the compost pile. My wife plants random things around the edge. Our ground is too heavy to grow good root crops, so she puts garlic, potatoes and carrots in the soft soil around the pile. It works out pretty well. We also end up with a lot of volunteer plants, that grow from the scraps we throw on the pile. She always throws a few sunflower seeds out there, and plants a few extra flower bulbs too, just to ad a little color.

    Image

    We cut the heads off the sunflowers and hang them in a shed until the dead of winter. We'll throw the whole head in the chicken coop, to give the hens something to pick at, when they can't get much to eat outside.

    Image

    Pigs are doing great, we haven't had too much awful hot weather yet, so they are really growing..... and eating......

    Image

    Last picture of the week. I got out the tomato cages and decided I was done with the old light duty, bent up wire ones we got at the hardware store. I decided to build the last cages I would ever need. These are made from 3/8" rebar and welded together. I got three done Saturday afternoon. There was a little learning curve in how to bend the rod and hold it for welding. I think I have the design/engineering part figured out. I should be able to crank them out faster now, when I get to work on them again.

    One of my beefs with the light cages, when you went to remove them, after the toatoes had grown up through, you had to cut the toatoes out. My new heavy cages can be ripped off the old plant and the limbs will give before the cage bends. This will aid in fall garden cleanup.

    Image

    That's all for tonight. If everything goes right and the weather holds, we'll be baling straw Thursday. I was down and talked to the neighbor this evening and that's the plan right now. I really don't need any right now, I still have enough to carry me for another year, but I've learned you better get it while you can. If we have a bad wheat crop, the year I run out of straw, I'll be scrambling for bedding.

    The neighbor always needs more than he can comfortably store, so we usually put a couple hundred bales, of his, in our barn. As soon as he uses up a couple hundred bales out of his barn, he'll come and get it, and be in good shape the rest of the year. One way or the other, it'll be a long day of hard dirty work. By the time we get done, and all the equipment and wagons moved back and forth, it'll be dark.

    I'll try to get some pictures of the big day.

    Tim
  • Post #57 - July 8th, 2014, 10:53 pm
    Post #57 - July 8th, 2014, 10:53 pm Post #57 - July 8th, 2014, 10:53 pm
    Tim,

    I look forward to your updates every day :lol:
    Some of us city folk are not fortunate enough to friends and family who farm so having just a peek into your world means a lot.

    Please keep the updates coming!
  • Post #58 - July 9th, 2014, 6:54 am
    Post #58 - July 9th, 2014, 6:54 am Post #58 - July 9th, 2014, 6:54 am
    Hi Tim,

    They sure look close to a Shishito to me. I pick them when they're about 2.5-3 inches--they are pretty crinkly/ridged and a lighter green than jalapeños. Yours look about ready to try. They aren't very hot (although usually a few in a batch are hotter than the others.
    image.jpg
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #59 - July 12th, 2014, 10:10 pm
    Post #59 - July 12th, 2014, 10:10 pm Post #59 - July 12th, 2014, 10:10 pm
    It's been a few days, I have a mess of pictures.... time to get started.

    We hit the fields Thursday about noon to start baling straw. I guess I'll start out by saying, not everyone bales straw. I'd guess maybe 10% of the wheat grown around here gets the straw baled. The straw is everything that's left after wheat is harvested. Around here, it's used mostly for livestock bedding. Straw is also used for covering new grass when it's seeded and mushroom growing..... lots of other things too, but we won't get into that.

    Whatever you want to use it for, this is what it looks like, in windrows, ready to be baled up.

    Image

    If you ever see hay or straw baled, it comes in three basic forms; Large Rounds - which are roughly 5 or 6 foot around and 5 or 6 ft wide, Large squares - that are about 4 ft x 4ft x 8ft, and Small squares, that are about 18 inches square and 36 inches long. We were baling small squares.

    We started of moving equipment to the field. We were only about a half mile from the neighbors house and a mile from ours, but you need everything in place when you start, so you don't have to run around once you get started.

    Image

    We finally got to the field with the baler and were ready to go. The neighbor farms with modern equipment, pretty much everything you'd see if you went out in the country, but the equipment he uses for baling is older than me. The tractors and baler are all early 60's vintage. They all belonged to his late dad, I think he keeps them around just for the link to the past. He keeps them in good shape, even though they are faded and rusty, they go without a hitch. There is no reason to spend tons of money for equipment that only gets used a few days a year....plus it was his dads...... I understand the feeling.

    Since he's out in the open, no cab, the neighbor installs earplugs before a day of listening to the drone of the tractor.... I wish I was this smart back in the day.....

    Image

    So this is how it works, tha baler runs along and picks up the straw in the windrow, compresses it in to a 40 lb bale , ties the twine in a knot around the bale, and send it up the chute to the guy bucking bales on the wagon (me).

    Image

    Image

    The only thing I have to do, is grab each bale coming up the chute and stack it on the wagon..... timeaftertimeaftertime.... after about 130 bales, you get a break and get to start a fresh wagon.....

    Image

    After a couple of hours, the wagons are full and it's time to head to the barn to empty them, then the adventure starts all over agian....

    Image

    We picked up and put away about 600 bales Thursday, and another 600 Friday. We didn't get done until after 9:30 both nights. It was a long couple of days, but I proved to my almost 50 year old self I still have it in me. I'm glad I didn't have to go three days in a row though, it was getting hard to get out of bed in the morning.

    That's it for tonight, more pictures tomorrow of today's activities. We are in the beginning of the canning phase of the year.

    At least I got to spend most of today in the air conditioned house, even if we were hoveing over a canner in the kitchen, a nice change of pace for my old stiff muscles....

    Tim
  • Post #60 - July 13th, 2014, 3:10 pm
    Post #60 - July 13th, 2014, 3:10 pm Post #60 - July 13th, 2014, 3:10 pm
    Hi,

    Could you give a thumbnail description of the differences between hay and straw? It is my understanding straw is used for bedding and hay for animal feed ... is it the same or something else?

    I recall two years ago, the price of hay really skyrocketed with the drought. Cattle farmers were bringing their animals to feedlots earlier than usual due to the escalating costs.

    Thanks for any clarification.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
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