Saturday, January 31, 2009

I spy a honey locust!

Just a few days ago we discovered a honey locust (Gleditsia triancanthos) on the property. Initially we thought it was a catalpa tree (that's 'catawba' tree in the south) because that's what our neighbors thought it was, but with a little bit more research, the unmistakable pods it produces helped us peg it as a honey locust.  As you can see with the second photo, the animals love the tree.  They must circumambulate it late night as there is a circular path around the tree.  The pods have a sticky substance that is edible and there are many half chewed up pods scattered all around the tree.  Quail, deer, rabbits, cows, horses, sheep, etc. will all eat the pods.  The seed also used to be eaten in the Deep south and a bread was made by grounding up the entire pod---one third locust flour, two thirds cornmeal.  The tree also has a strange method of self-preservation---it produces some vicious looking thorns around it's trunk.  All in all, a fascinating tree and one we look forward to watching as it moves through the seasons.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who me, couldn't be.....

Some old school pics for everyone's enjoyment. Also, I must share the song, Unlit Hallway--- I can't seem to get enough of it these days.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another VERY COLD week

Our anemones are now sending up blooms right and left.  This one is my current favorite.  We'll have all of two or three bunches to take to market on Sat.  Yes, we are returning to the Farmers' market to sell a very small amount of produce---arugula, radishes, and spinach.  The arugula is coming from the hoophouse and WOW! it is so beautiful and tasty.  We just had an incredible arugula salad with fresh-ground pepper, a dash of salt, lemon juice and some balsamic vinegar.  Our first tasting of our hoophouse goods. 
We have been planning planning planning and ordering what seems like an endless amount of seed for the season.  I think we both feel like this season will be more orderly and less chaotic than the last one.  We've been on this land for a season so we know it that much better, its curves and dips and slopes, cold spots and wet spots, the weeds we're up against.  
It has been so cold this week that we have found ourselves for the most part housebound, which has been very cozy as we have been house/kitty sitting close to our farm.   The owners of the house have a sauna built out of cedarwood with a woodstove to heat it.  We have done a sauna almost every day, sweating buckets and feeling like the luckiest people on earth.  We  think we might forgo building our house and just build a sauna instead.    

Monday, January 19, 2009

First Bloom of 2009

 I strongly feel that this bloom merits a moment of poetic reflection---granted, I gave it about five minutes while Stuart mumbled in the background something about freezing and hurry it up---but just in case the sight of the bloom doesn't move you, hopefully Ammons's poetics will.


I look for the way
things will turn 
out spiralling from a center,
the shape
things will take to come forth in

so that the birch tree white
touched black at branches
will stand out
totally its apparent self:

I look for the forms
things want to come as

from what black wells of possibility,
how a thing will

not the shape on paper--though
that, too---but the 
uninterfering means on paper:

not so much looking for the shape
as being available
to any shape that may be
summoning itself
through me
from the self not mine but ours.

A.R. Ammons (1926-2001)

We'll forgive this NC native poet for attending Wake Forest as an undergrad.  I suppose he would be proud of his team right now.

Freezing at the farm

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ruby and Maxi--Part II: The Owl and Ruby

We have been dogsitting Ruby and Maxi this week.  On Sunday, I happened to look out the window and spied this huge owl perched directly above the fence, casually glancing over at the dogs at play.  This is only my third sighting of an owl ever.  The weird thing is that it was noonish, and they are supposedly nocturnal.  Ruby just pranced and danced around the yard, eagerly licking Clover's mouth whenever she got a chance, oblivious to the fact there was a stalker in her midst.   We have heard this owl before while dogsitting---one night we were woken up by him and some friends partying late night, around 2am.  It sounded like a turkey festival with a laugh-off competition.  They were definitely having good times.  It even made Stuart and I join in the laughing as the noises were so strangely amusing.  Luckily we think Ruby has gotten fierce enough, as you can tell by these pics, to fend for herself.  

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Down time....

We've been having many quiet days of late looking over seed catalogs and discussing what we should grow this coming season.  A few new items on our list that we plan to try out---scallions, escarole, a new dark purple carrot, padron peppers, crocosmia, a couple new asian greens for our CSA, a new red cherry tomato, romanesque cauliflower, and some new kinds of sweet corn.  I'm sure there is more on that list, but that is what comes to mind.  We seem to have trouble with our summer variety.  This past season our winter squash all bit the dust due to the squash vine borer, which wiped out several weeks worth of winter squash for our CSA. 
We're also in the process of writing thank you notes for our Christmas gifts.  Stuart gifted me with some lovely cards from Han Notes for our first year anniversary.  I fell in love with the art they use on their cards when I was out in Portland in September.  Wonder what an original piece costs. 
We've also had time to go to some thrift stores---found this great (albeit frilly) tank top for that rare summer occasion when we leave the farm to do something besides veggies and flowers.  

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Can it be true?

We are going to the farm today to meet the propane fellas who are going to install our tank and fuel line for our greenhouse.  So potentially, we could turn on the greenhouse today!!!  We planted precooled tulips last week in crates and they would much prefer to be in the greenhouse rather than the hoophouse.  We also need to go ahead and start some seed for the season.  It is now time for cool season starts---lettuce, lots of spring flowers, echinacea (that we plan to plant along our southern border near the creek), maybe some collards and kale.  Pictured here are a few things gathered from the field.  We have more than we can eat but not quite enough to be worth going to market.  Our turnips in the field actually look alright, just not big enough for a sale yet.  I would say overall our winter gardening definitely needs work.  Yet it is an improvement over last year.  Except for our onions---our starts got ruined by Clover tramping all in the trays and rummaging for who knows what hidden in the depths of the two inches of soil.  We have some more started, but they won't be as big or as early as last season.  

Sunday, January 4, 2009

There's a bluebird on my shoulder...

In the last house where we started our farm, we had a bluebird that would come to the living room window, attach itself to the screen on the outside, and chirrip and whistle and try as hard as it could to get someone's attention. It was the strangest thing. It did this all spring and summer one year. I would whistle to it as best I could, pretending to myself that it could decipher my off-key notes of curiosity and friendship. Bluebirds were everywhere on this last piece of land, thanks to the thoughtful owners who had put up houses for them. But this one male was particularly special. He would begin the day on a telephone wire that stretched above our kitchen window, all fluffed up with head slightly burrowed, eying the land and its offerings, then he would gracefully dip down onto the grass and peck around for some breakfast---only to return at some point to say hello at the living room window. I had a dream one night that a bluebird and I were whistling back and forth, back and forth, until eventually it landed upon my hands and then it turned into light. Hence the name, Bluebird Meadows.
We're trying to establish a thriving community of our little mascots on the farm. We've put up one house that I found at the thrift store, and we have big plans to spend a day or a half day building maybe twenty or so houses we can put all over the land. I've read the houses need to be on a post (the birds don't like their houses on a tree), two hundred feet apart (for territorial reasons), and facing south, southeast. We have already spied a few bluebirds checking out the nest to see if it fits their taste. We heard from a friend they won't nest in it until mid-March, but we're hoping they have already laid claim.