Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Speaking of chicken houses...

Another belated posting…this one from a week ago!   

I have a wise farming friend who encourages regular repetition of the mantra “every season is different” on days when you need to loop something positive around in your mind.  She is very sage indeed, and I’ve been working hard to channel her grounded approach to getting the important stuff done (one way or another), while adapting to any and all trials cropping up on the farm in any given year!  This year the weather seems to be throwing down a real challenge to anyone with one foot in a field, and I’m working hard to stay in the “Yep, I’m ready to do this thing, give me your best” headspace on a daily basis.  But, my, the water just keeps on coming, along with the weeds, and together they’re relentless and hemming this farmer in a little!  

I cannot think of another season where I’ve done so much wheel-hoeing and/or hand-weeding in wet soil (or full out in the rain!) just to try and keep up.  When it’s dry, and your weed pressure is reasonable, and your weeds are small, either of these options can be completely appropriate and efficient ways (alongside of some mechanical tillage) to keep crops cleanly cultivated in a small scale market garden…but when it’s wet, and your weed pressure is wicked, and the weeds not so small, they are slow, not entirely effective, and very definitely inefficient.  However, they are also much more tenable options than compacting the soil with heavier implements (if that’s even a remote possibility) or leaving the weeds to their own devices!    

But, I’m buoyed (haha – sea-faring pun for effect there!) by the veggies’ and poultry’s resilience.  Despite the inches of rain that keep pelting everything on these green acres, they are all a growin’.  The potatoes are looking beautiful – just about in full flower, and threatening to close over the alleys before I can squeeze in their second hilling.  Also, there is not a single Colorado Potato Beetle to be found out there, which means maybe get excited to eat a lot of spuds, everyone!  :O)  After some nail-biting days of hand-weeding against the clock in the allium plot, my fingers are crossed that the leeks and onions can stay ahead of the weeds now.  The parsnips popped up with vigour, the dried beans are (however slowly) getting taller by the day, the squash (along with a lot of weeds – that’s the next major to-do!) are threatening to burst out of their row cover tunnels, and the Brussels sprouts and early cabbage are kindly and patiently holding in their flats in the hobbit house until their plot can get worked once more before they’re planted (hopefully just one week behind schedule?!).  The beloved carrots will be seeded as soon as conditions permit – things are happening, even if it’s at a different pace, and with some different pressure points surrounding them! 

And the poultry!  Everyone moved, ecstatically, out onto pasture last week.  The grass chomping was audible, and the hesitant then curious then excited chirping was rather heartwarming to hear too.   And then, we had a cold, hard (pretty darn unexpected!) severe thunderstorm their first night, which the chickens tolerated like troopers, but that the turkeys did not enjoy at all.  :O(  In a bit of a panic, I brought some sad and soggy turkeys back to the brooder first thing the next morning to recover.  It was touch and go for a while, especially with the smallest hen, which I felt absolutely terrible about.  But thank goodness they bounced back amazingly well!  So they’re recuperating, and with yet more rain, I’m feeling a different sort of re-cooped myself.

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