Thursday, July 31, 2008

The heat is on

We got the afternoon off today as a storm rolled in around 2:30. It has been really hot and humid of late, so we were quite happy to take a nap this afternoon and fall asleep to the sound of rain pattering on the roof (a couple of my favorite things together, naps and rain) We only got half an inch, but we'll take it and be happy about it.
The wind came in really strong and all of our amaranth we planted two weeks ago flopped over. Looks like another task to add to Friday's line-up. We were hoping to get a bunch of stuff direct seeded today, but instead I spent the morning cutting zinnias as they sold so well last week. Too often we spend all our time harvesting. Come October, we'll be regretting not getting more plants started right now. (But the nap felt so good!) For lunch today we did a tomato sampler plate with a few varieties so we have a better idea of what to tell customers when they ask about the maters. We had a ton of BEAUTIFUL heirloom tomatoes leftover from Wed. market in Carrboro as well as leftover salad mix, which is basically on par with having peonies leftover on Mother's Day. Ridiculous. Stuart and I both felt disappointed, especially when growing a nice heirloom tomato is not an easy task, nor is showing up with salad mix this time of year. On the other hand, we had a delicious lunch of salad mix and tomatoes. My favorite, you ask? I think I'm a pineapple kind of gal. The brandywine and german johnson we're close seconds. Stuart prefers the cherokee purple.
Early this morning I was hankering for a dip in a pool, dreaming up visions of blue and steady frog-like laps. To our delight, we got a call later in the day to housesit for some friends with a pool all next week. They also have a sauna and a hot-tub. I think I might try more of this dreaming up stuff business. Perhaps next on the list--solar panels and wind turbines for every home and business? An energy independent US? (without needing to drill the OCS)
In any case, looks like life is gonna be rough next week. We are thrilled and are trying to figure out how to spend as little time as possible in the garden while at the same time getting it all done. Our motivation has disappeared somewhere and unfortunately along with that absence comes the presence of weeds. We're talking big weeds too. And you've heard the age old adage for farmers: "One years seed, seven years weeds." Looks like we're in the battle for the long-haul!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A few things I miss....

Well, the good news is that we have a new camera. The bad news is that I don't know how to use it yet. I think I sat on our last camera a few too many times and now the images it creates resemble drunken blurs of light and darkness. So as we have no new photos, I thought I would post a few images from the archives of things that no longer are that I miss.
Such as Stuart's last dog, Sadie. What a joy she was to have around!!! And what character. Both Stuart and I think Clover-rover has some of Sadie in her. When I first met Stuart one of our first outings was to the Eno river (my most favorite spot in Durham). He brought Sadie, and I think she cinched the deal for me. A beautiful man with a beautiful dog? Taking me for a hike? At the Eno river? Is it all a dream? I miss going to the Eno sooooo much. At the last place we lived it was only about 5 miles from where we lived---now, about 25 miles. Stuart proposed at the Eno. And we had all of our break-ups and deep relationship discussions there as well. And yes, even before Stuart entered my life the river was my favorite place to go and walk and unravel all the thoughts swirling around in my head. To go and just be. I really miss it. And Sadie. I think there may be a replacement for the river though. We have a spring on our farm that seems like a really special spot and it, along with our pond runoff, creates a lovely creek that winds around our property. When the farming season calms down I think long walks along this creek and around our property will have some soothing effects.
Another few things I miss? Leftover baked goods and Stuart's mustache! I never thought I would miss either, but it's true. I don't miss baking for market, but I do miss the sometime treats leftover. I don't know if I'll ever eat another scone in my life, but as for some Linzer cookies, oh yeah. These were probably the best thing I baked for market; these and the triple chocolate brownies. Yum! I get my baking fix whenever I mix up some soil mix for starting seed. The process is exactly the same (atleast the mixing part). But instead of cutting butter, I'm cutting rabbit manure. Instead of sugar, bone meal. Etc, etc. And as for Stuart's mustache, I'm not at the point of asking him to grow it back or anything, but it is always good for a laugh.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The night is darkest just before the dawn....

This has been my mood lately---dark, brooding, heavy, intense, stormy, etc. Is it from watching The Dark Knight along with Lust, Caution over the weekend that has thrown me for a loop? (Let it be known these two don't pair well!) Or is it from listening to podcasts about our government's soul being sucked so far into the vortex of greed and corruption that our nation is no longer of and for the people but of and for the money? And the call to drill for oil off our coast? HAVE WE ALL GONE MAD???? Our government condoning usury by bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with our tax money no less? The Iraq war is still going on? Congress and the senate stalling on passing the renewable energy credit bill while in the meantime subsidizing oil and coal companies that destroy our environment and make record profits? Sometimes it's all too much for my simple heart to hold and manage. My mood could also be attributed to one of Wendell Berry's agrarian essays from his collection, The Art of the Commonplace. I just finished "A Native Hill" and it was so beautiful. I haven't read anything with as much depth as this essay holds in some time, and it basically wrenched me apart---in a kind of good way I guess. Enough to make me re-examine my existence and my relationship to nature, to death.
Meanwhile in the fluid daily life I live, small joys abound. The oriental lilies we planted in April are blooming and are glorious. It's unfortunate the Durham crowd is so jaded with lilies. They truly are a spectacular flower. We put about five in a vase that were leftover from Sat. market last weekend and I have been enjoying them immensely. Fragrant, strong, elegant and bold. I could use a few of their characteristics now that I think about it. We gave them to our CSA flower members today and I hope they enjoy them as much as I have. The only downside about the lilies is that they come and go so fast. We'll have to do a few more plantings next year even though their bulbs are expensive.
Another great thing going on at the farm: biological control. This hornworm here has been attacked by a parasitic wasp that laid its larvae inside the worm. The larvae feed internally and then emerge from the body and spin cocoons. The hornworm meets a timely death and can no longer munch on our tomatoes. Lovely, eh?
And of course there are other great things going on at Bluebird Meadows. We have discovered a bird's nest with eggs in one of our tree peonies. What a delight! We have also been spotting a blue heron frequenting our pond. It has finally gotten to the point where the stately bird will no longer fly off when he spots us. Took a while for this to happen. We're trying to come up with a name for him. The great blue heron is Stuart's favorite bird. One graced our wedding during the ceremony, but neither Stuart or I saw it. I've also done a nice drawing of one as a gift for Stuart one year, symbolizing our relationship together.
Another simple pleasure to catch at Bluebird Meadows? Ladybugs getting it on is always a treat. Amazing how fast the male moves. Did I just hear pervert cross your lips? When farming one must enjoy the small things one encounters.......

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Solutions for the Future

If only we could all be as smart and suave as Bond, James Bond. And look as good as this coming out of the shower, gun ready. And fight the forces of evil with such style. (I could go on here....) I heard a great podcast from PRI Living on Earth about solutions for replacing methyl bromide, a dangerous biocide that kills everything in the soil from good bacteria to dangerous pathogens. Kills it all dead. It is very harmful to the environment and the workers who must deal with it. It was supposed to phased out by 2005 but unfortunately is still widely used by conventional farmers as it is a reliable method of clearing out everything alive in the soil before they plant new crops. Stuart and I went to visit his cousin's place on the eastern shore on VA and witnessed some methyl bromide fumigation. This massive John Deere tractor (must have cost in the 100s of thousands of dollars) and about 40 hispanic workers with bandannas around their faces were preparing to plant 120 acres in tomatoes that day (that's right. O-N-E H-U-N-D-R-E-D A-N-D T-W-E-N-T-Y acres). All mechanized of course. Needless to say it was disgusting and after seeing that up close and personal I vowed to never eat another conventional tomato. Have I stuck to that vow? Okay, maybe not, but the knowledge does help, and the consumption has been dwindled down. Anyway, my point being is that in California, scientists have come up with a replacement for the dirty deeds of methyl bromide---clean it all up with some ground up mustard seed! Yep, that's right, mustard seed. The mustard seed contains glucosinulates, the same compound found in horseradish. When the ground up seed meal hits the moisture in the soil, the glucosinulates break down and like your mouth after some wasabi, burns burns burns. Like the dirty biocide but in a much healthier manner, the seedmeal inhibits the growth of pathogens that take out crops like tomatoes and strawberries. Fascinating, eh? Speaking of crops being wiped out, our squash plants are being hit hard by the nasty squash vine borer. See pics of healthy squash and dead squash. They have taken out about 60% of our winter squash crop to date. We had beautiful spaghetti squash that weighed 4-5 lbs per squash that didn't get ripe enough before the borers took their toll. Little suckers. Or are we the big suckers....Our solution???? We heard of this simple remedy and we'll see if it works---wrap some aluminum foil around the base of the plant. All our squash plants now look as if they have on little bracelets; a nice glinty, fresh for summer look. I'm thinking about bejeweling more of our crops for a late July garden glam festival. I have a feeling Stuart is not going to be in on this with me!! I think I'll invite Bowie (hopefully he'll show up in his Labyrinth get-up and maybe even sing one of the songs from the movie! "Dance melon dance...") Bret and Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords (i just think they would fit in so well around here), Bond of course, and I'll keep brainstorming about other invitees.
It's gonna be great.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Your Rocky Spine

So I checked out my ipod's most listened to song. For some reason I can listen to this song over and over and over again. Okay, so the the video is a little weird and makes me want to laugh---just shut your eyes while listening. Although you may want to occasionally check out the lead singer. Quite attractive. I'm not so crazy about their other songs; they're not bad, just nowhere near as good as this one. Rocky Spine reminds me of one my best friends from high school Sarah Garlick and how our friendship's basis and bedrock was our love of the earth. It also makes me think of the book and film Into the Wild.
Here is a shot of the bouquet for Mimi and Papa coming into town this weekend. A little something to elicit a smile. I grew some Cat's Claw this year and initially thought it was awful, but it turns out I love the stuff. Gorgeous in mixed bouquets. Clover-rover here is letting me silently know I should've pinched the celosia on her right. Would've had much better blooms. We're wishing we had more produce right now. All we have coming in are a few cherry tomatoes, basil, cukes, and some beans. LAME. But I guess we should be off to harvest what we do have.....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Anthocyanins anyone?

Can you believe this hairdo on our corn? It looks like this corn tassel got up early today. She's after Clover I think. It's too bad corn has a bad rap. Too many carbs, genetically modified, our government is subsidizing obesity when they subsidize corn, etc. etc. But it is sooooo good! The answer?? Buy locally and naturally grown corn of course. We'll have some in a week or two. Cornetta's hair here probably won't look quite as good then, but she'll be sweet.
You are looking at a nutritional powerhouse here. I just read over their health benefits and it looks like if you eat blueberries when they're in season you can become a superhuman in no time at all. x-ray vision, telekinesis, mind-reading, and an ability to learn jujutsu in a matter of hours are also common side effects of eating these things. I can eat a pint a day myself. My skin is looking a little off these days, but no worries. And isn't Krishna a nice hue of blue?
I recently had a dream where I had telekinetic power. I was training at a school for wizards and I thought to myself, 'Better check and see if this is for real.' Sure enough, I had the power. I've also levitated in dreams before. Too much Harry Potter? Could be. But much fun nevertheless. We are very excited to have some special guests coming to visit this weekend. Stuart's grandparents will be coming to hang out with us at market while we pawn off our goods. His grandfather is 94 I think. I'm going to make them a big arrangement for their hotel room so I'll post a pic of that for everyone. Meanwhile we're thrilled to have grown the PERFECT sunflower. No bug eaten grooves in the center, just the right stage of harvest, leaves in tact....this is a first for us, and I'm not sure what we did to manage this miraculous feat. We have about two hundred ft (our third planting) about to bloom, so we're hoping Durham is feeling some yellow. In fact, we're hoping Durham is feeling all kinds of colors because we have a ton of flowers right now. It feels good. But now, back to cleaning house. yuck.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Beauties of Summer

The lisianthus is finally blooming!!! Elegance has once again returned to the fields. There is still one color that hasn't started opening yet, but so far, wow, they really do make my heart patter and sing. We have a wedding to do this weekend and I can't wait! It might be the best one yet as we have lizzy, gladiolas, sunflowers, celosia, gomphrena, and maybe even our first oriental lilies to work with....oh boy. I'll try very hard to take some pictures and post them. Meanwhile, Stuart and I have discovered a huge nuisance on the farm. A BIG FAT GROUNDHOG!!!! I spotted it gallumping off the field into its safe haven of briers, poison ivy, and rotten wood. It has already eaten 300 ft of soybeans and about 200 ft of green beans. Needless to say, we are worried and are trying to break out all our WMD's. This lovely gun pictured here is kind of but not really a joke of a present from my younger brother Aubrey. His way of being funny. Yep, that is a scope on a 22, and yes, that is Stuart looking very menacing waving to our neighbors. The embarrassing part of it all is that Stuart and I had some trouble hitting a target fifty ft away. Let's hope we can get closer to the groundhog before killing it. I never thought I would be able to shoot anything, much less enjoy the experience. We'll see.
We spent an exhausting day today watching Nadal and Federer battle it out on the court. Damn those fellas can play some tennis! Incredible athleticism. I didn't really watch tennis til' Federer came around. We call him the swan. What a beauty of a man. Too bad he does all those cheesy commercials. Speaking of swans, I think I'll do a rare turn to some poetry as I'm in the mood for something above and beyond the ordinary right now. Here is one of my favorite Rilke poems titled The Swan.

'The misery that through the still-undone
must pass, bound and heavily weighed down,
is like the awkward walking of the swan.

And death, where we no longer comprehend
the very ground on which we daily stand,
is like his anxious letting-himself-go

into the water, soft against his breast,
which now how easily together flows
behind him in a little wake of waves....
while he, infinitely silent, self-possessed,
and ever more mature, is pleased to move
serenely on his majestic way.'
And since I can't stop, and evening is upon is another favorite.


Slowly now the evening changes his garments
held for him by a rim of ancient trees;
you gaze: and the landscape divides and leaves you,
one sinking and one rising towards the sky.

And you are left, to none belonging wholly,
not so dark as a silent house, nor quite
so surely pledged unto eternity
as that which grows to star and climbs the night.

To you is left (unspeakably confused)
your life, gigantic, ripening, full of fears,
so that it, now hemmed in, now grasping all,
is changed in you by turns to stone and stars.