Sunday, October 30, 2011

November Gardening Month

November gardening month is almost here. Checking my calendar, I noticed last November was a very busy month in the garden, and it paid off come Spring. Ditto, I think, for this year.

As a prelude, yesterday I finally created a doorstep to the greenhouse, so air doesn't rush through the opening under the sliding doors.
See, under the doors?
And here, a doorstop.
"Oh, vapors," says Virginia, "you're making me dizzy."

Right. What color should I paint it? Porchy gray?

"I heard a racket out back." Virginia's talkative today.

Yes, I diced a hickory, I think, and an ironwood into chunks of future firewood. That's another project for November, should have been done in April or May.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


"Who was that masked girl?" said Virginia.

Liquid Gold

"What's the tower in the middle of that picture?" says Virginia. "It looks like you're drilling for oil."
Not oil. Something even more valuable, considering where Earth is headed.

If you click on the picture, perhaps you can see that the welldriller appears almost suspended in air, its four wheels up and off the ground. After digging 140 feet, the watermen went home to get some more equipment. Maybe they'll finish on Monday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happenings in the Field

I always thought it'd be cool to travel by tunnel.
"I don't think that's deep enough," says Virginia, eyes rolling.

Gotta start somewhere.
Our new water pipeline for feeding animals and campers now lies in the bottom of this ditch.

Here's a view from the corner of our new fence.
And from the center fence that divides the field roughly in half.
Someday maybe we'll stage an Elk Cliff 5K or a donkey pulling a cart around the outside edge.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fall Shopping Spree

"So you've closed down the garden for winter, right?" says Virginia, who seems to be on the mend but doesn't get out much.

Hardly. Would you like to go shopping? How about a salad? Lettuces, spinach and beet greens.
Maybe add some bok choy or chinese cabbage.
Let's toss in a few leaves of kale and broccoli raab (in memory of my friend, Peggy).
Of course, we need carrots, maybe some nips (turnips and parsnips), and dill, too.
Chives, basil and sage add flavor.
Maybe fennel and rosemary.
We almost forgot parsley, radishes and New Zealand spinach.
Adam and I missed an eggplant the other day when Mr. Frost stayed away.  He still hasn't arrived.
For more substance, we might add potatoes, green tomatoes or kohlrabi.
Now, before you go, how about a good cry? We'll dig up and grind some horseradish.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Greenhouse Happenings

Last night, Susan asked what's happening in our greenhouse.

You may remember my tomato grower's post, filed after a friend from Mississippi visited while interning at Polyface Farms, home of Joel Salatin. I've been following his instructions.
"Those aren't tomatoes," Virginia croaks from her sickbed.

Did I say they were? He suggested applying the same rules to cucumbers, so I have. Check out these little guys. Maybe they'll flavor our salads in a couple weeks. Oh, I should mention, their vines have been growing about 2 inches each day.
Here's a tomato plant.
Yes, over to the left, that's basil.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Not so Grumpy Old Men

Back in Ohio for a visit with my mother and sister, my mother fed me to the wolves. On Saturday mornings at 10 she likes to attend a "coffee klatsch" in the dining room of her retirement living center. When she invited me, I said, sure, I'll come with you even though I don't drink coffee. Upon our arrival, she led me to a nearly full table of men. Wondering where she was going to sit, I looked for another chair to bring to the table. Oh no, I'll be over there, she said, pointing at a larger table filled with women (and one man).

Gulp. Well, maybe it'll be okay, I thought, as I identified myself to Russell, one of my mother's double first cousins, the result of two sisters marrying two brothers so as to deprive their offspring of a set of cousins. Slimming down may be a good idea when you come from a heritage as big as mine that includes a set of great-great-great-grandparents (Christian and Maria) who had 16 children and 165 grandchildren. Rumor has it they once appeared in the Guinness Book of World Records for this feat. Imagine having 16 children! Then, imagine each of them averaging more than 10 children! Ouch!

My double first cousin, once removed, was my first boss, actually co-boss because I worked for him and his brother, Gene, on their "truck" farm. No, we didn't grow trucks, we grew strawberries, corn and melons. Gene and Russell probably deserve much of the credit, or blame, for the fact that my wife and I now "farm" (using the word loosely and generously) a few acres.

Before long, one of my college math professors squeezed into our group, helping to keep my armpits dry. What do elderly men talk about? Russell passed around a puzzle he had made several years ago. Like the proverbial ship in a bottle, the question for the day was how he had managed to get the little wooden sculpture into a very small-mouthed medicine bottle. Maybe that's what men of their generation have in common, an interest in puzzles. 

When Russell asked if we kept up with politics, John, the man who chased this once-upon-a-time grade-schooler down after he lit a cherry bomb, said something like "not now." That was the end of that, probably a good thing. We turned to sex -- polygamy in the goat world, to be precise. Perhaps a relatively large group of men, even older ones, can never escape penis envy. One fellow mentioned he'd read about a man who'd answered an ad seeking immigrants to a country that allowed polygamy. The guy discovered he should have done a bit more research, returning home disappointed and poorer. The ad had been placed because women needed men to join harems of 20 husbands. 

"Harems?" Virginia mutters from her bed.

For an interesting few minutes, Google "male harem" if you think I used that term wrong.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is -- LocalMore

Are you upset about big financial institutions and their failure to show any remorse for the way they've been behaving, after taking us to the brink of financial disaster, getting the country to bail them out, then resuming giant salaries and bonuses, messing up mortgage servicing, ignoring the Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act, while watching the unemployment rate rise?

And now, Bank of America, again perched on a cliff -- with what some analysts say includes $200 billion of bad mortgage loans it may need to write off -- announces a $5 monthly fee for debit cards, blaming the "need" to impose the fee on the financial reform bill (Dodd-Frank), the very same bill whose unimplemented provisions were supposed to come down hard on too-big-to-fail institutions.

If you're out there complaining about the big banks, get with the program. Bring your money home, to local financial institutions. Go LocalMore! First, Localvore, now LocalMore! They're FDIC-insured, too, and they're not too-big-to-fail. Retire your Bank of America debit and credit cards. You've got plenty of other options. Bring CEO Moynihan to his knees, like NetFlix chairman Hastings after 1,000,000 customers quit, who had the good sense to admit: "I slid into arrogance based upon past success."

For more, check out my February 10, 2010 blog posting: "Keep $$ Local." You can find it easily by clicking on "Banking" among the list of topics on the right side of this blog.

"Enough, enough," gasps Virginia, still struggling. Her attention span is very short these days.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

All in the Family

Karen's best friends might be her animals, mine my vegetables, depending, of course, on how you define "best friends." Sometimes I think we don't spend enough time defining what we mean.

Both yesterday and today I froze spinach, New Zealand spinach. I planted New Zealand spinach seeds three years ago. No need to replant, maybe ever. If I didn't like it, I might call it a weed. Instead, it's a good friend, gradually taking over the garden bed under the special ash tree. It's a great friend to have because it's the longest standing spinach I've ever known. Unlike the "regular" varieties of spinach, it lasts three seasons, through the heat of summer into the cold of winter.

By the way, Virginia's very sick. In fact, she told me to stop writing this blog for a while. I'm thinking about taking her up on it. I get as many visitors when I don't write as when I do. Two years of blog posts can do that to you. Besides, my handwritten journals say what I want to say, probably better than this.

The latest issue of Time has an article on favorite children. I never gave that much thought until my sister talked about it ten or fifteen years ago. The article mentions a woman who blogged about her favorite child. As you might imagine, she took a lot of heat for it. It's one of those taboos good parents keep to themselves.

I've known people who live for their families. They seem to get together with their parents and siblings whenever they've got spare time. Of course, they live close together. They're so busy with their atomic family they have trouble squeezing in time for friends. At the other end of the spectrum, I've also known people who admit they rarely see their siblings and would never choose them for friends. I suppose most of us fall somewhere in between. 

Many families are like animals and plants. Animals and plants often let you know they like you, at least they seem to, but they don't talk much. That is, they don't mention the pain they suffered when an offspring went through a divorce, or the job they left because, well who knows, they quit, were fired, or laid-off. They avoid discussing why the partner of their gay son or daughter doesn't show up at albeit rare family gatherings or how they felt when their nudist uncle invited them to a club meeting, after discovering he and aunt judith have been living separate for years and finally signed divorce papers. Instead, about all you really know is what they ate for dinner. 

Good friends, the ones I see frequently, talk about those things. Who's family?