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Posts Tagged ‘general’

Another weekend is behind us.  Looking in the rear view mirror, I can say that is was productive and exhausting, with a dash of fun and surprise tossed in for good measure.

The big project for the weekend was fencing.  We are putting in some new pastures in order to get the animals on some good grass before winter.  After discussing it with our landlord, we outlined a plan and started work.  We’re using 4″ x 4″ wire ‘goat fence’ with T posts for the straight runs and log posts for the corners.

I knew all along that driving the T posts into the ground would require some effort, but I seriously under estimated the resistance of the hard baked Georgia clay.  It was like hammering into bricks.  My arms, shoulders and stomach muscles are totally shot; broken down into hamburger.  It will be Wednesday before I am recovered enough to install any more.  Fortunately, I shouldn’t need to do any more of those before the weekend.  We need to put in the corners, but I’m renting an auger for that.  I have no intention of digging a half dozen three foot post holes in this clay with just my shovel and post hole diggers.  There are limits to my stupidity.

Hopefully, by the end if the long Holiday weekend, we’ll have everyone on fresh pasture and can begin the rotational grazing again.  What a relief that will be.

Over the weekend, we had a guest tour our garden here in the burb.  A young mother from a few miles down the road stopped by, with her two wee sons to have a look at what we do, with an eye to starting her own edible suburb next year.  It is always a delight to share possibilities with others.  We had a wonderful time showing them around and talking veggies.

As we strolled through what’s left of the summer garden, we showed here the sweet potato patch and I decided to dig one up to show her how they grow.  I was totally surprised when I stuck my trowel in the soil and pulled out a sweet potato nearly as long as my forearm.  Seriously it was almost a foot long, 3 to four inches around and weighed close to two pounds.  We were stunned.  I reached for another tuber and got the same result.  We sent a bag full of the monster taters home with our guests as a gift.  Some things just have to be shared.

Last night, when we returned home from the farm, B and I dug up a half a dozen or 10 plants and came away with about 40 lbs of sweet potatoes.  Each garden fork full of soil unveiled a new wonder.  If these sweet potatoes are half as good as they look, we are in for a real treat.  We will have plenty to store in the basement and we’ll freeze a few to see how that works.

It’s 6:00 a.m. Monday now and time to do the rabbit chores. My body aches and begs for a nap.  My mind is racing with projects that need doing.  My soul is satisfied in a weekend well spent.  God is good.  My wife rocks.  The work is hard.  The results are worth it.

Rabbits, here I com.

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We’re 5 weeks or so past the solstice and it shows on both ends of the day.  Not so long ago, when I would go out to do my chores just before 6 a.m. it was already light.  On the other end of the day, we could work in the garden until about 9 p.m.  Not so, now.  This morning, I was cleaning rabbit cages by the light of the full moon.  If there had been no moon I would have needed my headlamp.  In the evenings, we pretty much need to be in the house or working by artificial light by 8:30.  Between the shorter days and the now empty raised beds, It is visually obvious that the year is past it’s peak.

On a related note, I’m not sure it will ever cool down.  After a near record cold winter, we are pushing heat records nearly every day.  Looking at the extended forecast I don’t see any relief in sight.  The silver lining is, we are getting rain.  The upside of that is, our yard and pastures are staying nice and green.  The downside is, high temperatures plus rain equals humidity.  And, boy howdy, is it humid this summer!

Last evening I experienced a real kodak moment and I couldn’t get a good photo to save my life.  We were getting ready to leave the farm after the evening chores and head back to the burb.  The sun was setting, gloriously.  The goats finally emerged from the barn and were browsing the fence line.  Butter, the cow was standing under our chestnut tree, chewing her cud.  The chickens were on the other side of the field scratching away and the sheep were gathered around B jostling for position to get their ears scratched.

The entire scene was in my field of vision and it was incredible.  All of the day’s work and stress melted away in that instant.  For several moments, I just sat in the cab of the truck and gawked.   Then. I closed my eyes and thanked our great God for the blessing of sweat.  The beauty and serenity of the moment was the payback for all the effort.  And, oh what a rate of return on the investment!  I am a fortunate man.

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A Few Days Away

B and I are leaving the burb for a few days R and R in Arkansas.  We are going to catch up with B’s sister and one of her brothers, along with some aunties and uncles.  We are leaving E of E in the care of Dan and Molly Lopez.  We are super grateful to them for house and farm sitting for us.  We also appreciate them (unknowingly) allowing me to grab this photo off Molly’s Facebook page.  🙂

See Y’all when we get home.  Happy Fourth of July.  Let Freedom Ring!

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This is our third year having a garden in Georgia.  I have yet to see a honey bee.  Bumble bees, yes, but no honey bees.  Zero.  Nunca.  None.

A simple google search will bring up an abundance of articles, websites and youtube clips, decrying and pondering the rapid disappearance of honey bees in the USA.  In many places up to 30 percent of the population has vanished, in others it is claimed the number is perhaps 70 percent.  I don’t know the actual percentage, but the phenomenon is real.

I remember going out on recess at Clays Mill Elementary School in Lexington, KY when I was a kid and seeing bees everywhere.  We would sit in the clover and catch them.  We would see who could catch the most or hold onto one the longest without getting stung.  Honey bees were as much a part of spring as the flower blossoms themselves.

The disappearance of the honey bee is a complex issue, with as many twists and turns as a horror novel.  Only this story is terrifyingly true.

First, the honey bee is politically incorrect.  The once beloved garden companion and producer of honey is a pariah in many parts of the country because some people are allergic to them.  So they are exterminated in many places.  Granted, no one wants to see a neighbor or classmate rushed to hospital unable to breathe for any reason, but the overall benefits to society (pollination of food crops and honey), counterbalance the risks.  What happens when the bees are gone?  Albert Einstein is famously quoted as saying that if the bee population disappeared, the human race would follow in four years!

Without bees we would be hard pressed to have most fruits, nuts and many vegetables.  Birds, butterflies and the like could never keep up.  For example, both the California almond industry and the Florida citrus industry truck bees in to pollinate their orchards.  You owe that morning orange juice and the nuts in your bowl of cereal to the honey bee.

Viruses and mites, among other things, are decimating the bees.  Buy why?  Bees have been oppressed by both adversaries for millennia, why are they now losing the fight?  I would like to offer a hypothesis that the human commitment to the weed free lawn is a major contributor to weakening the constitution of the North American Honey Bee.

We saturate our lawns and flower beds with chemicals to kill the weeds and grow the flowers.  The harsh chemicals affect more than just the dandelions and crabgrass.  The birds, bees, rabbits and other wildlife are constantly ingesting the toxins.  Can anything good come of that?  Think about it, when the lawn service leaves a location, they put a little flag in the yard in part as a warning for the home owner to take care of their pets and children until the chemicals neutralize.  But who keeps out the bees (or the bunnies for that matter)?

When the exterminator sprays around our houses to eliminate the creepy crawlies, the good insects are also vulnerable.  In our drive to win the ‘yard of the month’, we may inadvertently be killing our future.

B and I cancelled our lawn service over a year ago.  It shows.  We have a lot more weeds and need to mow more often that our neighbors to keep the front lawn looking civilized.  I know some of our neighbors look at our yard in disgust.  It doesn’t look bad, but it’s not as lush as it used to be.  We have planted bee balm and other bee, butterfly and hummingbird attractants, but we are also attracting a whole bunch of weeds.

In my opinion, a handful of chickens and a couple sheep or goats would do just as well as the big expensive lawn services and would provide food for the table as well.  But our Home Owners Association would have a fit.  I guarantee that a few chickens would control the bugs without creating a bio hazard and a goat would work wonders on the weed population.  Together they would provide natural fertilization as well.  But the Beverly Hillbillies are not allowed in our neighborhood.

Conventional farmers contribute to the problem as well, in my opinion, with their tons of pesticides.  They don’t intend harm, it’s a by-product of our industrial farm system and in needs to be fixed.  I know most farmers agree.

The honey bee is nearing endangered status.  The problem can be reversed if we moderate our chemical use.  Let’s welcome the honey bee back into society.  Our very future may depend on it.

Finally, those who can, should set up a box or two and take an active role in regenerating the bee population.  Brittan and I will add bees to our operation next spring.  We will put them out on the farm since the poor creatures are not welcome in the burb.   Home Owners Associations of the world……..REPENT!

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Progress and Routine

Most things are settling into some sort of norm at the moment.  It’s a kind of maintenance mode.  Wake up, read from the Bible, let dogs out, clean rabbit cages, feed rabbits, feed and water chickens, check email and news, shower, dress for work, check on sheep, water if necessary, go to work, come home, eat dinner, settle sheep, move fence every three days, water veggies,  feed the worms, wash hands, drink iced tea, shower, sleep, rinse, repeat.

Such is my routine.  It’s almost a rhythm now.  Brittan’s is different, with household chores, making cheese, bread, laundry soap, cleaning chicken brooder boxes, pasturing the rabbits, bringing greens to chicks, harvesting strawberries, etc. She is quite amazing.

On weekends we take care of the big projects.  Coming attractions include; preparing barn for actual animals, build chicken tractor, build portable shelter for sheep, mow fields, repair perimeter fence, cut low hanging limbs off of trees in small pasture, paint gates.

There is always plenty to do.  And we’re just hobby farmers.  I tip my cowboy hat to those of you who do this full time.  You are true heroes.

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Happy Earth Day!

Apparently this is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  Who knew?  Who cares?  Suddenly, I do.

Until recently, things like Earth Day, slogans like ‘go green’ and their ilk, flew past me as just more noise from the hippie fringe of the far left.  Propaganda.  So I ignored it.

To be sure, it does appear that stewardship of the earth has been championed by an eccentric branch of society with a decidedly liberal bias.  That is unfortunate.  In my opinion, it is the Church who should be raising the standard and leading the way in demonstrating our care for God’s creation.  If I read my Bible correctly, when God created the world, he asked the human race to manage it for Him.  How are we doing?

If my wife asks me to do something, say, take out the trash, or vacuum or put away the dishes and I simply ignore the request because I’m too busy watching TV or reading a magazine or, dare I say it…… surfing the internet, what message have I sent her about the importance of our relationship?

If she gives me a gift she has worked hard on, or paid a high price for and I leave it in the closet, or drop it in the trash, what have I said to her about how I value our relationship?

I don’t buy most of the claptrap I hear from ‘environmentalists’, but I do share their concern for our earth.  The earth is not my ‘mother’.  It is not my ‘brother’.  It is not a living soul.  But care for it is my responsibility.  On this Earth Day, I’m calling out the Church, the Body of Christ.  Look around you.  What are you doing to show God how you feel about the beauty and wonder He has entrusted to you?

My morning Bible reading today included Deuteronomy 10:14, “To the Lord you God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.”  If we love God as much as we claim, and I believe we do, one way we can demonstrate it, is by respecting His created world.

Plant a tree. sniff a flower.  Pick up a piece of litter.  Gawk at the sunset.  Listen to a bird sing.  Follow a mountain stream.  Lay on your back and watch the clouds roll by.  Milk a cow.  Celebrate the earth.  It is a beautiful gift, designed by the Great Architect just for you.

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A Short Vacation

It has been a hive of activity around here the last few days, leaving very little time to update.  We have been mixing planting mix, planting, watering, mowing and I don’t know what all, trying to get ready for our mini vacation.  B and I are headed to Maui.  That’s right, the burb is going tropical.  We’ll be gone until Monday, 19th.  You can look for a report when we get back.  For now………….. ALOHA!

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