Sunday, April 22, 2007

This week we've been, despite the very un-Spring like weather, very busy.

We've had a bulldozer out clearing another 4 acres of farm land for growing vegetables on. This is land that had been clear-cut back around 1960 (just before Wenonah's father bought the farm). A piece of land that back in the 1800's was the best farm land in the valley, a place where Eli Hall grew his corn and where, in 1906, while finishing a hard day's work plowing and planting, was on his way back up to the house for dinner, when, while opening the gate, he fell to the ground and suffered a fatal heart attack.

This land is relatively, for our farm, rock free and has over a foot of top soil. Some of the deepest soil on the farm. You can see where the soil from steeper places had washed down and settled on this field.

This last week we also tilled all of our other fields. Tilled them and picked up rocks (each year we make a ritual of picking up tons and tons and tons of rocks. Rocks that just seem to appear from no where. Maybe they grow, who knows.

We also filled the last available space in the greenhouse with more seedlings. Thai basil, fennel, both herb and bulb, more tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, pac choi, broccoli. Black eyed susans, iceburg lettuce, I even planted 250 seeds for a type of edible luffa. Wenonah said that she had never heard of edible luffas before but imagined it was something that Bill O'Reilly was thinking about in his famous misstatement.

Besides that we worked on piping in the upper spring. This is a spring that comes out of the ground several hundred feet higher up than the spring we use for potable water and irrigation. Up until now I haven't tried to develop that spring because it didn't just come out of the ground in one place but came to the surface in a rather large seep. Meaning, it is harder to keep the water clean before I am able to channel it into one location and put it into a pipe.

Anyway, I've now got it piped. collected into a five hundred gallon tank, and laid out a 500 foot pipe running down to the greenhouse. This gives me twice the water pressure I get from the other spring.

We've also been working on fixing the anti-deer fence. Up until several years ago deer were a large problem for us. Each year they ate between $10,000 and $15,000 worth of vegetables a season. Since then we've put up a ten foot high fence of black plastic mess around all of our fields. And while a deer can jump ten feet, they usually don't unless really motivated.

(And speaking of motivation I saw it Wednesday morning. The night before I had left the gate open a foot or two and at 6 am I was up and driving out the driveway when four deer that had slipped in over the night to eat the grass growing around the chicken pasture took flight and ran pell mell toward the gate.

The first one cleared the 5 foot high farm gate.

The second one missed the gate and hit the fence right next to it. hitting the fence at about 7 feet and tumbling to the ground wrapped in black plastic mesh.

The third hesitated for a moment and then changed direction, backtracking toward the gate and not jumping quite high enough, catching his back legs on the top rung of the metal gate. His momentum carried him over the top where he tumbled several times to the road. Got up. Shook himself and then ran into the forest.

Leaving the fourth deer.

This one had waited behind but after the others had disappeared into the forest decided he didn't want to be left behind and took off, running downhill faster than the others had and aimed for a section of fence that stood all the way up to ten feet.

This deer wasn't very large. I don't think it was full grown, maybe only three feet high, but it's leap into the air was perfect and it soared right up over the ten feet (maybe touching a little at the top) and disappeared.

I didn't see it land. There was a thicket of brush on the other side. It is amazing how an animal so small can throw itself so high up in the air).

Which reminds me I have to get out and get to work. Yesterday I was working on the north fence, a large tree had come down and taken out a section of deer fence. I was cutting it up with the chain saw. And it was about the time that I realized the thick vines that surrounded the trees, vines that put out limbs everywhere, limbs that I was rubbing up against. Anyway about the time that I realized I was deep into thick poison ivy vines that the hail started falling.
I took off running, chain saw in one hand, the other disengaging my clothes from the ivy, as fast as I could to the protection of the greenhouse.

I spent the next hour thinning tomato seedlings. someone (me?) had dropped more than one seed into many cups in the flats and it seems they all had germinated. All the time I was listening to the hail beat on the greenhouse and hearing louder and louder thunder explosions and wondering if a metal skinned greenhouse would attract a lightning bolts. One of the many that seemed to be striking all up and down the mountain side.


Leigh Hauter


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