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Just Beecause

July 20, 2014

The leeks have been captivating the bees and other pollinators.

Bandit leek

Bandit leek





Baaaad Sheep!

July 20, 2014


Cascade Ruby-Gold flint corn

Cascade Ruby-Gold flint corn

My grand experiment this year with corn was growing a portion from transplants.  I know folks who transplant corn with great success, but I never really saw the need, I don’t participate in competitive gardening sports, so I’m not usually in that big of hurry.  But this year, I wanted to try a new flint corn, and I wanted to keep the resulting seed pure.  What to do?  I don’t have that much space that I can isolate (corn is wind-pollinated) so I wanted to stretch the maturity dates so the sweet corn and flint corn would bloom at different times.  Our heat units are such that I have a small window for planting corn and hoping for maturity.

Welcome sweet corn

Welcome sweet corn in the long rows, flint corn in the short rows at the back

Transplanting the corn was a pain for sure, but the plants seemed to tolerate my fumbling quite well.  I waited about three weeks and planted the sweet corn.  All was well in the corn block, until one evening the sheep got out.  As in one sheep.  We had company that night, it was a cool evening and we were chasing the sun.  The staple garden has sun until sunset, so we were basically just sitting in the headland and moving a bit as the sun moved.  We were staring right at the corn.  Nothing amiss.  After our friends left, I went up to close the perches on the nest box, and there was the sheep looking as content as all get out.  Burpp!  I could see the problem, a little wind gust had come through and we heard and saw some things flying around, but thought nothing of it, but a folded up tarp had blown right onto her electric netting.  She saw the opportunity and walked right out over that fence where the tarp was holding the fence down a bit offering an insulated pathway.  I thought nothing of it, I turned off the fence, removed the tarp, held the fence up so the sheep could go under and she was back in.  Done.

The burp?  Three rows of my four transplanted corn rows eaten down in thirty minutes.  I didn’t discover this until the next day when I went to weed said corn.  I was pretty discouraged, not knowing if it would survive the mowing and still be able to tassel and bloom.  You can see in the photo above how much taller the corn on the left is, I guess she decided to leave the corn and move to the grass.

The corn has come out of it, although the shorn plants are about a foot shorter.  I have no idea what the outcome will be come fall.  Hopefully enough to get a taste of the flint corn, and some seed for next year… .

A Brief Respite

July 18, 2014

All the baled hay is in the barn, and it’s time to move on to other things.  One more field to go after the rain passes this next week and then that task will be completely done.

I’m woefully behind on my berry picking… .

And I need to find places for all these fall starts.

Have a great weekend!

Hey Bales

July 18, 2014

EOS_7268 (2)
We’re that much closer to getting Jane’s winter hay in the barn.  Yesterday, I spent some time with a pitchfork checking for green wads of grass hidden in the windrows.  It’s like a game of Memory.  You see those green gobs when you rake, so you try to remember where they are and expose them with the air with a pitchfork. It’s not all a guessing game though, there’s always areas in hay fields that don’t dry as well.  There could be a shady spot, dampness from below, an extra thick stand of grass, or white clover.   Muscle memory takes over and when you stick the pitchfork in the dry hay in a suspected wet spot, you can feel the resistance and heft of the hidden wet grass below.  Mechanical ways around this 30 minute task would be to add tedding to the whole process, or re-rake and turn all the windrows.

By late afternoon the hay was ready to bale.

Round and round he goes.

Check the weight and make adjustments if necessary.


The best sound of summer I think…




Creaming the Crop

July 16, 2014

1-1-hay 1920
Can you ever say enough about hay?  I could write a book about haying.  I know it’s the crop we worry about the most.  Everything, and I mean everything falls to the wayside when it’s time to make hay.  As much as I love this photo of my dad on this loose hay stack there is no way I would attempt this now with so many mouths to feed during the winter.  I just don’t think we could get the volume of hay cured and stored in the weather time frame we are always dealing with.



We’ve progressed a little on the farm since the loose hay days, probably to the 1950’s through the 90’s as far as the hay equipment goes.  The hay?  No matter how you cut it, the green grass has to be cured enough to store.  Some things don’t change.

Right now, I’m worrying about the hay for Jane, the house cow, she works the hardest of the cows, so she gets the best hay we can grow.  Our hay isn’t just grass, as a diverse pasture makes a diverse hay crop.  All that diversity means varying stages of maturity in the plants.  Some of the grass varieties may be may be drier, but the clovers and other forbs take some time to cure.  Joel Salatin calls it a salad bar, and that’s about the best description I can think of.



I am creaming the crop though for the cream maker.  The most clover laden sections of the hayfield will go in Jane’s hay stack, the rest goes to the haybarn for the beef cows.


Last weekend we barely beat the rain, it was falling as we brought the last load to the barn.  So now we wait for this field to cure and hope to beat the predicted rain again.

State of the Garden Mid-July

July 15, 2014

Not much to report in the garden arena.  Same old, same old.

It’s also hard to get a decent shot of either garden in their entirety.  Above the bottom part of the main garden.  Everything from soup to nuts in this one.  Dahlias, garlic, leeks, onions, zucchini, winter squash, cukes, herbs, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatillos, peas, lettuce, beans, carrots, beets, and ???

Main garden from the top of the hill.

Greenhouse 1, same thing here as the main garden, a mix.  This is actually where we plant our first garden each spring.  This space has already seen four successions of salad fixings, and bok choy plus early potatoes, kohlrabi, peas, cabbage, strawberries, kale, onions,beets, beans and carrots.  Right now we’re pulling crops and weeding and getting ready to put fall/winter brassicas in here.

Greenhouse 2, tomatoes, peppers, melons, cukes, onions, and overflow brassicas and salad greens.

Greenhouse 2 from the other end.

And finally the new garden or actually the dryland staple garden.

Potatoes, sweet and flint corn, dry beans, lima beans, winter squash, celeriac, carrots, beets, parsnips and rutabagas.  And weeds!

State of the Pasture Mid-July

July 14, 2014
July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014


I’m still working on finishing this field, when the cows get to the end of the pink I’ll be done here and moving the cows to a different field.

The regrowth for fall is doing well, although slowing down considerably with the hot, dry weather we’ve been having.

So now it’s just graze the stockpile, water, and weed.



And wait for Jane’s baby.  If I was a betting person, I would say Jane is not going to make her end of July due date.  Unless she really gets on the stick and starts bagging up.  This will be her third calf, maybe she’ll surprise me and be on time.


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