Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Mystery of the Missing Sunflower

This is what the most of the sunflowers in the garden look like right now. Beautiful bright yellow being explored be a swarm of big black  happy bees.  They are coming along nicely although not as huge as the ones that grew last year.  If all goes well I should be able to get a couple a bags of seeds out of these, but there is a problem.  The problem, besides me being able to take a properly focused photograph, is that something is eating or in some way destroying the freaking flowers.  Where are they going?  There is not a pile of flowers on the ground around these stems.  At least seven sunflower plants look the same way.  Right at where the flower would meet the stem it simply ends in a frayed mess.  Are they all going to disappear?  The only positive is that I think I could use these for make shift paint brushes for the kids to play with, but there gonna say "Hey Dad, where did the flowers go" and the best answer I got is maybe big foot at them.  Nature would be great if it wasn't for all the bugs and animals and stuff.

Friday, July 23, 2010

making a new chicken feeder

Not much going on around the farm these days except the unbearable heat.  In a few weeks I may try to get some goats, but for now it's just us and the chickens.  They should be getting ready to start laying, but lately they have been knocking over their food or standing on the feeder.  Luci had a great idea for some new feeders and despite the heat I managed to hang around outside long enough to get these made. 
I took some 4" PVC that Luci had picked up at the hardware store and cut out one quarter down the length of the pipe.  A couple screws hold the caps on each end and now the chickens have a new feeder that should keep out the rain. 

The chickens are much happier now that the feeder is long enough for them to all get to it at the same time.  We just noticed a few days ago that we had a rooster in one bunch of hens.  Still deciding what to do about this guy.   We don't want fertilized eggs, but it is tempting to just let things go and see if they make some chicks on their own.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Rambler's Way, The Sustainable Way

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Ramblers Way Farm. All opinions are 100% mine.

The dude that founded the Tom's of Maine Toothpaste has a commitment to quality that I appreciate for a few minutes every morning and evening, but I didn't know that he lived in the country surrounded by sheep.

Rambler's Way Farm produces high-quality sustainable wool apparel . They are having their business reviewed by CleanAir-CoolPlanet - which works with small and corporate businesses to help them develop and implement emissions reductions - to find more ways to cut down on their carbon footprint. In a tough ecomony for businesses, this is a decision that puts the long-term vision of global health square up against the balance sheet.  The idea that whatever resources being consumed now need to be available for a limitless future is concept that is really in its infancy, as most industries are based on the consuming resources at the lowest possible cost while reaping the greatest possible profit.

In fact, most of us live this way, without an eye on the future.  That's why Wal-Mart is so popular.

CleanAir-CoolPlanet is undertaking a review of all the components of Ramblers Way Farm, from sheep grazing in the fields, through the entire process of getting their end product to you (shearing, transportation, scouring, combing, spinning, knitting, sewing, ordering and distribution).
Choosing to support sustainable, energy-efficient, carbon-neutral businesses will allow them to grow and pass on the sustainability model to other businesses.  Rambler's Way Farm is making tough choices, and the more time I spend with the chickens or in the garden learning about agriculture production on my own little farm, the more I see the need to understand how these sustainable businesses can survive. We all know that a petroleum-based economy can't last forever. And really, we need programs and groups like CleanAir-CoolPlanet working in affiliation with households, small businesses, and corporations to figure out how we will survive when the days of cheap oil are over. 

One thing I have learned living in the country is that this type of work is undervalued in America.  Being a shepherd or farmer was left behind as large agribusiness made the family farm obsolete.  This is changing as more and more sustainable businesses are created, but those sustainable businesses are dependent on individuals making the same types of choices. We all have to do what we can now to ensure that our future, and that of our children, is secure.

Here on our little patch of earth, we teach our children to recycle, we drive fuel-efficient cars, and we try to work our farm with very little waste and few chemicals.  We utilize rainfall for watering our garden and orchard.  We use the animals to fertilize, and we feed them from our own garden. We are really big on using found, non-recyclable waste such as old tires to grow things in.  But there's always the question of, can we do more?

Rambler's Way Farm is in the process of answering that question for their business.

sustainable wool apparel

Visit my sponsor: Rambler's Way Farm

Friday, July 9, 2010

Horsing Around

Both girls have spent the week riding horses in the morning.  They have decided this is better than soccer, gymnastics, dance or any other activity we could throw at them. They have had a taste of life in the saddle and they want more.  I have always thought that if we live in the middle of nowhere and have the room then maybe some day the girls could have a horse, but that day is a long way away.  This was a week long horse camp where they ride every and learn about horses from eight to twelve each day.  They learn to groom, feed, ride and I believe even scoop up the horse stuff.  The stable is about ten miles outside of town and does a good job of teaching kids how to ride as well as the responsibility that it takes to care for a horse.  Somerset Stables will start lessons in September and I have a feeling these two will end up going.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pesto season starts today

Every year since we moved here we have grown basil to make pesto,  A food that once upon a time I wouldn't even eat.  I remember the first time I saw  it was at my friend Joe's house and at the time it did not sound good, but since then I have become a big fan.  Seriously big, I'm fat as a house for those who don't know me.  Anyway even when we didn't have the garden there has been containers growing on the front porch.  Being that we are up for saving a buck or two we buy our seeds at the Wal-mart for a a buck.  This year my friend Chris sent me some Basil seeds from Burpee.  They took a little longer to take off, but the pot in the middle is one planted with those seeds and the one's on each side are planted with Wal-mart seeds.  The Burpee seeds were planted a couple weeks after the others in the same soil.  They have have had exactly the same amount of water and sunlight as the others.  The Burpee plant is almost twice the size with larger leaves and a much darker green color.  Of course we haven't had the all important taste test, but I think I can guess how that will turn out.  This has sparked my interest in seed catalogs and I have been looking on-line all week.  I would never have guessed that there purple carrots and all sorts of freakish looking things to grow.  This year we have also grown the garlic for the pesto and bought nuts from a local grower. 

Luci's Pesto Recipe:
Basil, Garlic, Walnuts (we skip the pine nuts), Parmesan Cheese and Olive oil.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The first eggplant in the neglected garden

Working for the census bureau has been taking up my mornings which is the best time to work on the garden because by afternoon it is so unbelievably hot that it is hard to be in the sun for to long. People that came before me must have been a lot tougher because if I had to live here without air conditioning I would loose my mind.  After a just a second in the humidity it feels like shower time. It was hot in Las Vegas, but now I know what people meant when they said at least it is a dry heat.  That is my best advice for moving to the country and gardening, do it somewhere with nice weather.

 The garden is full of weeds and tomatoes.  One of the gardeners I know told me that as soon as I am done with the tomatoes I should use some roundup to cut down on the amount of grass growing in the garden, but I just bring myself to go with the roundup.  I would imagine that the tomatoes might grow better if they were not competing with the grass for water and nutrients, since there are growing anyway I don't plan on changing my weeding habits.  Normally I go around with sharpened hoe and hack down the grass in the rows and then attempt to hand pull what is growing directly at the base on the plants, but with the heat I haven't done as much weed control as possible.  We also have been having a hard time keeping up with processing the tomatoes into sauce  in time.  Next year I think we need to go down to 40 plants.

Among the weeds I found the first eggplant.  About time, I have had my fill of squash so it will be nice to give something else a try.  Last year we didn't grow eggplant so I am not sure what to expect as far as how fast it grows. According to Wikipedia 20 pounds of eggplant has the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette so I need to build a huge drying rack if I am ever gonna a get a smoke out of these things.