Status of the Farm

It’s Tuesday, October 28, and I’m about to go off line for a month or so. I tore the tendon in my right arm and in about three hours a good surgeon is going to reattach it. It will be in a cast for about a month so I don’t know when I’ll be able to type again.

I’m sure this will dismay both of my readers.

Anyway, it’s now past the harvest and well into fall. It seems to me that this is the true yearly cycle. We start planning for the next year around Thanksgiving. We order any new trees or seeds around January and start seeds in February. The first planting happens in April: snow peas and spinach. The true planting is complete by the end of May. Final harvest and handling of the fruit is complete by the end of September. Cleanup happens all through October.

Now is when we take stock.

It was a pretty good year, all told. We planted or replanted a dozen fruit trees. The mulberry was trying to take over the espalier but seems to like its new space. New apples and pears down in the south patch. We used to have an old hickory down there. After it died the mossy area went to grass and we decided to make a small orchard.

It is clear we’re going to have a deer problem. They ate a lot of the new growth. We put fencing around much of it. So we had a control and an experiment. The control is clearly suffering and the experiment (the fenced material) is doing well.

We harvested a lot of peaches but instead of preserving them we ate them either raw or in pastries. We didn’t dry any of them but there is still some left in the freezer. There are liable to be peach pies around Christmas.

We got one Granny Smith apple and one crabapple so this goes down as the worst year ever for apples. We had a huge caterpillar bloom in the spring and I’m convinced they had a special liking or apple blossoms.

We had a general problem with pollination this year. The bumblebees didn’t show up much in the spring and there were few honeybees. We also didn’t see much in the way of native bees. I mean we saw bees but the usual massive hum in May and June was absent. I don’t know if this is reflecting the general bee problem or just something specific to our area. We’re looking into getting a hive.

It was curious how different plants had different responses to this. We had (and are still having) a bumper crop of persimmons. But they have few seeds. The peaches and grapes did well as did the beans and other garden material. No apricots or apples to speak of. We got four whole nectarines. Count ’em. Four.

The deer have left the main gardens alone in the past. Not this year. They left nothing but weeds. They even ate the squash vine. I don’t know what is going on. Over population? Loss of natural forage? We invested in a solar powered electric fence and that stopped them but the damage was done.

The grapes did well. I had a good concord harvest and the Marechal Fochs looked like it was really going to produce well. But then the turkeys got about half the crop. I made about five gallons of wine out of it. The Concords are still  holding down the contents of the freezer. I’ll look into that after my arm heals.

It was a good year for wines. I made a currant and a plum wine. We bottled the Reisling over the summer and I put the final cork in six gallons of Albarino  back in August to make way for the M/F. That was bottled and put in the cellar two weeks ago.

We had an outstanding crop of chestnuts. Maybe twenty pounds. We’ve put them in soup, mostly, and dried the rest.

The garden is still producing a little lettuce. Wendy has set up a late winter garden over on the west side. We’ll see how that turns out. We still have to put up fencing around some of the young trees. And we need to plant two mountain ashes over in the newly cleared area near the power lines. Next year we have to finish clearing it out and put it to use.

But I don’t want to plan right now. Today, it’s enough to watch the leaves fall.

I’ll start planning when Thanksgiving rolls around.




Status of the Farm — 6 Comments

  1. How does one tear a tendon in the arm? I suppose it is too much to hope for a really picturesque and thrilling incident, like fighting Musketeers down a spiral staircase.

  2. Sorry to hear about your arm. I hope it heals quickly and you figure out how to type while it does.

    And I love your farm reports. I am not much of a gardener in practice, but in spirit I love the idea of all of us growing at least some of our food.

    • Yes. Taking stock. I left a note for you before.. I just celebrated by 60th birthday. It cheers me to think of you so busy up inthe northwest. I miss Olympia, the garden my family kept my the sea.
      As I begin what maybe my last music I consider how much it matters to me to let people know what I have not, and to remember what who has shaped the map of my path. How much the little wizard, the true name, your dragons and the one word being spoken have become part of my language.
      Thank you for your blogs. Plum wine sounds wonderful for Christmas.