Category Archives: Work Around the Farm
The idea is to mulch between the plants, using cardboard boxes, in an effort to squelch the ever encroaching weeds. (The little sand piles are just to hold the cardboard down.)
From the east side of the asparagus patch, you can see that, before it got freezing cold, we started piling wood-chip mulch along the sides of the new blueberry rows, in which we hope to plant several hundred more blueberries this spring. We’re just hoping to get a jump on the process of mulching by having some of it done before the young plants arrive.
And this is a picture of the havoc wreaked by the disease outbreak triggered (as we think) by drought stress last summer. This picture is in Zone 1 (the oldest plants on the farm). You can see there is a significant swathe of plants that are gone, cut down to their base. We are hoping some of them will sprout back up again this spring. Zone 2 sustained significant damage as well.
If you’re searching for a project that will both amuse and annoy you, allow me to suggest hand-shearing a pet sheep, without really knowing how. That is, I did print off instructions from the internet for guidance, but there’s nothing like a little experience.
As you can see, everything is in order. Sheep in a (supposedly) helpless position, brother holding it in place, shearers–and bucket of soapy water to clean them–handy, and instruction paper secured to the ground for easy reference.
We started on the belly, but never really finished it since it was too easy to cut her. We proceeded up the neck, around the head, and down her body. Grant actually took to it much more naturally than I did, so he did the tricky parts. At first Karisey (the sheep’s name) protested vehemently. She then decided to be good for a while, (probably just so she wouldn’t get heat exhaustion), then renewed her attempts to escape.
“In case you wondered, this is NOT fun!”
Emerging from her stifling coat.
Free at last! Doesn’t she look so funny! I may try carding some of the wool, just for fun.
Burning to make the grass grow better and greener!
A worker handling hazardous material.
A beautiful March evening.
And, as an end note, the herb seeds from Thyme Garden arrived today. We’ve never ordered from them, but the seeds arrived promptly…we’ll have to see how they grow. The reason I got the seeds from them was because they had an astounding variety of herbs, almost anything we would have wanted.
Daddy and Grant’s latest project has been transforming the area south of the main blueberry patch into a scenic herb garden.
Taking a breather while they survey their work. Notice the delightful sturdily-crafted rustic bridge!
Now you can see where they are, from a different angle.
Another rustic bridge in progress.
As for the herbs, some of them are getting their start in the comfort of our house at this moment. Currently growing herbs are cilantro, dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon, two kinds of parsley, and three kinds of basil.
I recently ordered more herb seeds, including angelica, calendula, rue, fenugreek, sweet marjoram, mullein, sheep sorrel, and creeping thyme for a ground cover.
Today Karise and I were out in the lovely “winter” weather…pruning the blueberry plants. This is a job normally done with snow on the ground (we typically prune during the months of January through March)!
But the Lord has graciously showered us with many gorgeous fall-like days–days of sun and temps around 60 degrees! Today we reveled in full sun, a gentle breeze, and a temperature verging on 70 degrees!!
This has been the best day yet, and I hope there’ll be more to come! It makes the job of pruning much easier and more pleasant.
Purple pruners. Pretty awesome.
Using alcohol to sanitize the pruners between pruning each bush. It helps prevent the spread of disease.
These Florian ratchet-cut pruners are pretty feisty…
Nevertheless, we sometimes have to get out Big Brother for really large branches…
And wrestle with the blueberry bush.
We always welcome your comments! Let us know how your winter has been so far.
A black Lab named Edmond seems mighty interested in the Taste of Home magazine newly arrived by mail.
(These pictures were snapped last winter while I was mulching blueberry rows. Edmond joined me in taking a quick break to look at the mail.)
Here is our latest method for beating the weeds: a weed burner.
Just wave the deadly flame for several seconds over the offending plant, and it supposedly sizzles the life out of it. Death takes place gradually however…results are not immediately obvious.
Warning: Care must be taken not to burn things you do not wish to burn. (Such as a blueberry bush, your irrigation drip-line, or your shoe.) You must use extreme caution around dry mulch or sawdust or you may have a smoldering fire on your hands.
Last Saturday most of our family pitched in for the entire day in an effort to squelch the rapidly sprouting weeds, which rear their ugly heads each spring far too soon for comfort.
Prevention is by far the best method of defeating this somewhat incorrigible enemy of the berry bushes. In years past, partially-composted fine sawdust has been the preventive mulch of choice. Late last year, however, the lumber company deposited something new by accident, and after working with it, we think it could be an improvement on the old stuff. The pros? The new product is much less finely chopped, therefore we hope it will last longer. Also, it will be more resistant to forming a crispy outer crust, which the finer sawdust eventually does and which prevents both precipitation and helpful elements (such as lime or sulfur used in amending soil) from penetrating down to the roots of the blueberry plants.
The only negative aspect to the new product that we have noticed so far is that it is a bit more difficult to handle. Instead of a shovel, we need to use a pitchfork to load and unload. It doesn’t go on quite as smoothly as the sawdust did, therefore it is more tricky to get a thick, even layer on the rows. In my experience, it is necessary to put down a layer at least 6-8 inches thick for good weed prevention.
We were thankful to the Lord for nice weather on Saturday to accomplish quite a lot of work. During the first part of the morning, Karise and I worked at it together…until I got the idea to start taking pictures and then I suppose it was mainly just Karise for awhile.
Then she snapped a few pics of me, as well.
Later on, Grant and Daddy shoveled while I drove. When Karise wasn’t checking on the sheep (latest lamb count: 81), she was inside making what turned out to be a very delicious supper of won-ton soup and stir-fried beef-and-broccoli. (Chefs are just as important on work days as are the ones out in the hot sun! There’s nothing like enjoying an exquisite and delectable sit-down meal after a hard day’s work.)
Here’s an unrelated but very cute picture of our nearly 7-year-old Lab, Mercedes.