A MISHMASH OF NEWS

March 31, 2012

Saturday

Linda

Its only the last day of March and the daffodils are already dried and withered. We have experienced one morning of frost, but we were prepared and covered all the berry bushes. The only problem is we forgot about the Hydrangea bushes and the newly sprouting leaves got a little burned. I believe they will be fine and recover.

We have extended the garden even more. Now it wraps all the way around the smaller PV array. Sonny and Bill have been busy putting up fencing. I planted about a hundred yellow onions and about thirty red onions. We didn’t plant near enough last year, so hopefully we have enough to graze on through the summer and be able to harvest a good many to put up for the winter. It sounds like a lot of onions, but what survives in a garden is always a gamble. The chickens already got in there and unearthed a couple of bulbs by doing the chicken dance on top of the rows.

We made sure we planted the rows wide enough for the rototiller to pass through. Hopefully this will help keep the weeds under control. We will still have to hand pull the weeds around the plants but we won’t have to kill ourselves weeding the walkways. We barely had the rototiller home and unloaded before Sonny had it out in the garden tilling up between the rows of onions. He did this even though they haven’t popped through the soil yet.

If all goes well we will raise some more pigs this year. Bill and Paula found some piglets for sale in the trader paper. We plan to go check them out tomorrow and if they appear to be healthy we will bring them home. Sonny has been scrambling to get the hog pen ready. We dragged out the feed trough this morning and scrubbed it out. It needs a little repair after the beatings it took from the frat boy’s (last years pigs) wild wing dings.  We still need to make sure the fence is in good order, clean the water trough and set up the water tank. Bill is going to come over tomorrow morning to help get things in order before we all head out on our piglet excursion. I can hardly wait to have my ears drilled through with the shrill, nails across a chalk board, ear deafening squeals of those piglets as they are loaded onto the truck. (thats sarcasm if you weren’t sure). Maybe I’ll take a pair of ear plugs along and save myself a 150 decibel  headache.

We hope to pick up at least three piglets. One for Bill and Paula, one for us, and then we will split the last one. Oh, and if they have another extra one available we will pick one up for Twolynns Farm. I’m definitely gonna need a those ear plugs.

The tomatoes and green peppers we planted in the greenhouse are sprouting up. Its been pretty cool at night so I have been bringing them into the house. They need temps to be at least in the 60’s to get a good start.

Green pepper sprout.

The beginnings of a tomato plant.

These warmer afternoons has had us hankering for a rest on the porch swing. We cleared away the stack of leftover winter wood for the wood stove and hung up the porch swing in its place. We weren’t the first ones to get to lounge on it though. The moment our backs were turned Moby The Immobilizer had taken his place on the slated seat and stretched out full length. Ahh, a mouse snack, a warm sunny afternoon, and a nap. Life is good for a farm cat.

Zzzzzzzzzz

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New Garden Tiller

March 27, 2012

Tuesday
Sonny

We got our new garden tiller today.

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GEARING UP FOR PLANTING

March 12, 2012

Sunday

Linda

Its that time of year again. Time to sweep off the dowdy cobwebs of winter and swing into the season of renewed life. The daffodils are ready to pop open and the trees are just starting to form buds. The farm is recovering from the last flood and is in need of a drastic makeover.

Yesterday morning we ventured outside wearing coats but shed them within an hour. The sun had warmed our blood and drew it up like the sap of a maple tree.

On Saturday Sonny helped Bill plow up his garden for the first time. Its going to be so exciting to watch thier new property turn into a little farm and watch as they become more self sustainable. Bill returned the favor yesterday and came over to help Sonny get our garden plowed.

We planned to extend our garden this year so the first thing they did was remove both ends of the fencing. While they were working on that I started raking up the debris and rocks that washed into the yard. The farm definitely needs a lot of cleanup.

Rake and Stones

 

Sonny still had the scraper blade attached to the tractor. He had been trying to smooth out some of the water damage in the driveway. I could hear the sounds of beating and banging down at the pole barn as he and Bill tried to loosen the pins to remove it. Sometimes its a job to remove one piece of equipment off the tractor and put on another one. With the plow now attached Sonny was now off to plow the garden.

Changing out the scraper blade for the plow.

Sonny plowing.

First Swipe.

 

We extended the garden out toward the house a couple of yards and also plowed another small area up close to the house. We hope to put in more potatoes than last year and I would like to try to grow a few melons as well as our usual array of vegetables.

I called Paula and Nellie to come over and have lunch with us. I made homemade pizza and salad. The day was so beautiful that we set the table up on the porch and enjoyed our lunch outside. Good friends, sunshine, hard work and good food. The simple things in life that make it worth living.

Sap update:

Last week we dropped off 115 gallons of sap to TwoLynn’s Farm. Yesterday we collected another 81 gallons. I would imagine this will be just about the last for the season as it is beginning to warm up.


BOIL THAT SAP

March 4, 2012

Sunday

Linda

Sap, Sap, a bucket of sap.

Boiled to Syrup,

Imagine that!

A few days ago we loaded up eighty-two gallons of sap we had stored in buckets onto the back of our flat bed Ford and carted them over to Twolynn’s Farm. As luck would have it Sandi was in the canning house boiling down syrup to its finished product and putting it into bottles. The evaporator was sitting empty in the sugar shack and Lynn only thought he was going to have a day off from boiling sap. He and Sonny started up the wood fire again and poured the buckets of sap into the evaporator. It wasn’t long before things were rolling again. It would be another long day of feeding the fire and keeping a watchful eye on the temperature gauge.

Sandi and I hung out in the canning house watching syrup bubble and spurt in pots on the stove. This is the finishing process before bottling. The syrup has to get to just the right consistency. Sandi has been doing this for so long that she can watch the temperature of the syrup and the size of the boiling bubbles to know when its just about ready. Then she takes a spoon and does a drip test.

Syrup on the stove.

Simmering syrup.

 

Once the syrup is finished she pours it into the filter tank which contains two to three filters to strain out any sugar sand. The syrup filters down into the bottom of the tank where a spout is located and it can then be poured into bottles. This time she added a cinnamon stick to each bottle before pumping in the syrup to make cinnamon maple syrup. Even the bottle is fancy. That would certainly dress up your breakfast table when you have guests and wait till they taste the syrup. Instant oooos and ahhhs.

Filter tank and bottler.

Pretty bottles of cinnamon maple syrup.

Lynn gave Sonny the run down on the evaporator and Sandi gave me the run down on finishing and bottling. It worked out great. Lynn even took the time to make us a great lunch and it was greatly appreciated.

We should have some more sap to take over in a few days and we should have a gallon waiting for us from the last batch. Sandi puts it up in quart jars and then all we have to do is reheat it to boiling and rebottle in jugs.

Update on the lost garbage can:

We finally found our garbage can that was washed away in the flood. On our way out to town this afternoon we caught sight of it. It had drifted about three quarters of a mile down the creek and ended up down at “Ghost Farm.” We just call it “Ghost Farm” cause no one lives there and its kind of creepy.

Sonny had to pull it out of the creek where it was hung up in debris and full of mud. Its good thing we found it cause trash gets picked up tomorrow.

Our long lost trash can.

 

 


NOAH! WE MAY NEED THE ARK!

March 2, 2012

Linda

Wednesday the skies opened and the rain came. Never in our time here have we seen such racing water overflow the creek banks. People who have lived in this area for over twenty years have commented the same thing and we may have more storms today.

The heavy rains pounded us. The overflowing creeks made new paths and I watched as our trash can floated away, never to be seen again. Bill Guinazzo called to check in on me.

“You doing ok out there?” he asked.

“I’m doin’ fine,” I said. I’d been through flood warnings before and everything looked ok when I checked it a few minutes before. We usually faired ok.

“Has Sonny made it home yet?”

“No,” I said, “but he should be on his way.”

I thanked Bill for his concern and appreciated that my neighbor cared enough  to check in on us. Moments after I got off the phone with Bill the water began to rise. It started to come up to the first step of the porch. We have lattice trim around the bottom of the porch and debris was quickly accumulating against it stopping the flow of the water. I used the broom and kept pushing it aside as best I could. Anytime I stopped for a moment the water would rise again faster each time and was beginning to reach the second step if I didn’t keep pushing away the sticks and leaves.

I thought at one point that if the rain did not let up Ruby and I would have to go to higher ground. It was getting harder and harder to keep the debris away. The chickens were fine hanging out at the pole barn. It sits up a little higher. Water swirled and spiraled, rushing down the hills and gullies. The farm looked like a brown water sea dotted with small islands.

Rising water

While I was holding down the fort here, Sonny was stranded about three and a half miles down the road. The road was flooded and although the rain had stopped it can take hours for the water to recede. The mailbox at the nearest house to him which is abandoned, was completely covered. He watched and waited for three hours for the water to go down . Finally a truck that was waiting on the other side decided to try to go through and was successful.

The daylight was gone now and Sonny was left in the dark. He waited until the water had receded down to about the middle of the mailbox pole and he thought  then that he could make it through to the other side. As he pulled forward the water covered his headlights and the car stalled. He tried to start it but it was futile. Knowing that the water could come in under the door he took his flashlight and checked the floorboard. Sure enough water was leaking in.

He sat there wondering how he was going to get out of this mess as debris passed by him …a palate of work lights, a red gas can, a yellow diesel can, logs and sticks. Apparently someones shed must have washed away. He tried to start the car again and was relieved when it did. Wasting no time he drove out of the water.

It was a worrisome time, but through the whole thing my cousin John and our neighbors all kept a line of communication going. Its nice to know that when things get rough we can all depend on one another.

Sonny finally made it home at about eight o’clock. He wasn’t the only one. There are a lot of stories like ours. School kids were stranded on buses as well as others who were trying to get home from work. The roads are clear now from mudslides, tree trunks and large branches. Its another day, but as of now we are under another flood watch. I think its too late to build an ark.

Greenhouse and islands

Front Yard


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