Friday, June 21, 2013

City Kitty Dresses for the Farm

I spent last evening with a group of girlfriends.  We were drinking wine (we polished off about 4 bottles) and eating wonderful food, enjoying the sunset over the mountains.  I was glamorous in my white tunic paired with a floor length black "skirt with a slit up to your butt," as one of them put it.  (I cheerfully replied that my butt did not sag that low, if at all.)  My hair was in a sleek pony tail, and I accessorized with black sandals with gorgeous silver buckles and my favorite hoop earrings.

The topic of spiders came up as we sat outside on the deck.  I shared how, last weekend at the farm, I was weeding along a fence line when a huge spider crawled across my arm.  I'd shrieked and flung him away, and then burst into wild laughter, my husband just shaking his head.  One of my friends HATES spiders, and she couldn't understand how I could be so casual about a huge wolf spider crawling up my arm.
Farm Fashion

I had forgotten to describe my gardening attire.  I described it and watched her eyes get bigger and bigger as I painted the picture.  You see, this is what my son and I look like when we go to the farm, ever since the first weekend, when we found a tick on Daddy, and I got my first sunburn in ages.
My son picking blackberries

Big floppy hats.  I love them.  The sunglasses are 100% blah blah blah, and the sunscreen is SPF 50.  My over-shirt is one my husband's retired work shirts--heavy poplin and oversize to catch the breeze even when buttoned.  The boy's over-shirt (not pictured) is oversize... for now.  Both have been treated with permethrin.  I wear a tank under so when I am under a tree hydrating, I can cool down more quickly.  My cell phone has to be in a safe place so I can receive texts from the husband on the other side of the property.  Long-cuffed leather gloves (goat leather in the palm) are great for weeding, planting, watering, and protecting against spiders crawling up my arm.  The capri-length jeans have also been treated with permethrin, good for up to 40 days.  (The boy picked his almost too-short camo pants for treatment.)  The heavier material also protects against thorns.  Finally, the rainboots to wade through mushy straw and protect against ticks.

Okay, do we look funny?  Oh yes.  Do the big shirt and jeans show off my figure very well?  Not even a little.  But I don't have to spray bug repellent on me now, and I can avoid a lot of sun and thorns, as well as itchy plants.  So far, no mosquitoes, ticks, or poison ivy.

For the record, I didn't plan to have my tank top match the boots.  I promise. And I don't always wear earrings. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Gardening Triumphs and Trials

I love this part of gardening.  You spend 6 hours over the course of a day: watering, working hard, relaxing some, returning to work, hiking around the farm to see the fawn the husband almost runs over with a tractor, come back to the garden to weed the last section, cleaning before you leave, and see that the tiny curl of green that was just breaking through the soft earth has progressed to a stem and a leaf.  And then you come back two days later, and the stem and leaf has turned into three leaves, and you realize that every seed you planted, expecting only about half to actually germinate, has emerged and how can you possibly THIN them out!

Well that is easy.  Wait for the pests to thin the herd a little.

6 hot peppers
After the marathon planting, I mulched.  I use straw.  Yeah, I know it is ugly, but it is easy and it works.  I am a lazy gardener, remember?  If I don't have to weed, I am happy.  We are still waiting on some slow germinating seeds to show, but in the end, we'll use 3 bales to begin the season.  I expect to have to add another layer of straw later on, but for now, I am pleased.  Here's how the hot pepper bed looked after I added straw.  We did wind up using an old bale to fill in the paths.  I didn't know when I planned the garden about the tiny but definitely present slope to the land.  Squishy straw is kinda fun to walk on.  Kinda.

All but two of the squash seeds I planted came up.  I was shocked.  (But, as my country kitty friend pointed out:  "You might still get squash bugs.")  I only mulched between the rows, but soon I'll add between the plants.  The nasturtium seeds are coming up as well, although you cannot see them well in the picture.

AND... we have our first cucumber!  Never mind that it is about as long as my knuckle!  It is cute and looks strangely like an alien pod.  Hmm.  Better check that variety again.  What if it is one of those pods from The Invasion of the Body Snatchers?  I might have a job for them...
Because the mother@$&%$% bunnies got in and thinned the lettuce and ate ONLY my borage.  Wait.  Did I say ate?  Nope.  It only chewed through the thorny stem and left it there.  I will let my dog loose-- she is a verified bunny killer.  And I will string them up so their rotting carcasses will serve as a warning.... Okay, so the borage won't be able to help my tomatoes and squash after all.  I may attempt to replant, but not until we have the bunny issue resolved.
Mutilated Borage

My husband had cleverly set up his game camera in the garden, just to see what was going on.  So, when I discovered the beheaded borage, I was able to look at the images within an hour.  We saw that the bunnies (two of the rotten beasts!) entered from the gate, which already had wire down to the ground, but had a small gap between the two doors.  I thought and thought about how to fix the "leak" without impeding access to the garden for people and equipment.

Here was my solution.
I had a length of chicken wire.  I laid it flat, and added a long metal fencing stake about six inches from the bottom, with the spiky bit facing through the wire.  I wrapped the excess around the ends, and then folded the bottom into an angle.  It rests against the gate from the outside.  The tall wire we hooked into nails that were already there, and then stamped down on the part laying flush (spiky bits down) with the ground.  It won't work for long, but it is a good temporary step.  I hope.