Weeding the Wild Flowers and Other Stories of Adventure
July is accompanied by an intensity that is unique unto itself. The race is on, it declares. Vehemently. And I am intensely aware of it. June disappeared with reluctance. Some days I write down what I've done throughout the day. For some unknown reason, I tend to stop writing things down at about 11:00 . Where the time goes remans to mystify me. The chickens take up far too much of it, however, they do reward me with eggs all day long. Yesterday were twenty-one eggs from twenty-seven chickens, two of whom are broody meaning there were only twenty-five productive hens. I get two dollars a dozen from a store that I pass every week when I go to town. No extra gas money to deliver them! The price of their grain went up ten cents per dozen eggs this week. I'm not going to raise the wholesale price yet because it is certain to continue to skyrocket over the next few weeks, and I am reluctant to raise my prices every week.
Shelling bean seeds planted three days ago are sprouting before my eyes. Some little dark orange winter squashes planted only a few days ago are also sprouting. The black currants are turning color. The gooseberries are still green, however, there is hope. They shall soon turn alizarin crimson. My ancient bushes mildewed badly last year and I hadn't hopes for their survival, however they are bearing heavily at the moment. Gooseberry fool!! One bush managed to set down a long stem a year or two ago which then rooted! Taking a chance, I pulled it up this morning, found it unattached to its parent with a root ball firmly embedded in the composted manure that I surround them with. I've only learned this year how essential that is. In a three foot radius. I've been applying it, heavily, however, haven't achieved the six foot diameter yet. The currants have been under siege and behave accordingly, punishing me with quiet and remorse. Our dog, Glencora MacCluskie, dug up two in an ambitious attempt to shovel out the manure for me. She is in the habit of digging a hole to China in the composted manure pile. It is an efficient way to loosen it up for me to cart it to the gardens so I let her. I've been putting buckets full around the Josta berries as well as the black and red currents. So, when she noticed the manure around the two mature bushes, she promptly dug it all up again. One bush was completely defoliated. I was heartbroken, it was three years old, and tucked it back into the ground. Lo and behold, a few weeks later new leaves appeared and are continuing to appear.
I've spent more time in the vegetable garden this year than any other in recent memory. And yet, they continue to elude me. I write down a careful record of what is planted when, and on which day the seeds begin to sprout. I've numbered each plot. Drew a schematic in my day book. But because all eighteen of them are in varying sizes, something I didn't want, and some have been extended. Several times, the only way to have a clear picture of what I am doing is to measure them carefully and then draw a schematic in the garden book. Many of the plantations are of beans to dry for the winter. Some seeds, however, have not germinated which also adds to my confusion. Originally I had in mind next ladylike beds of vegetables, rectangular in shape, burdened by stone paths. One year I actually had a real mason lay two cut stone paths, sixty feet long each, the length of the garden. I laid the eight bisecting stone paths. But for some reason I no longer can remember. I created the second half in both triangular and curved shapes. One triangle holds the gooseberries. One quarter round holds the black currants. One long survey now is bordered by dark blue Siberian Iris that has now quadrupled in width. Some magenta colored perennial bachelor buttons have self sowed in one plot. They are thick, green bushes of plants, far more lush than those that have self sown on the lawn or grace the perennial border. I'm leaving them until they bloom and then shall cut them back and replace them with kale, which shall visually take up the same space. They shall rebloom.
July heralds a spectacular day lily display here. In the vegetable garden, of course. That too, started as a narrow border, in an L shape. Very nice. Its shape enables it to be enjoyed from all perspectives. However, I never thought it would spread as widely as it has. I did dig some thinnings and extended a neat row the length of the vegetable garden. It was that second half, the 60 foot long half complete with curves and triangles that afforded me the greatest pleasure this year. The current and gooseberry bushes there were sporting a lush rich green foliage that reminds me of France . Their proportion was perfect in combination, first, with the Siberians, and rose with the emerging day lilies. In the fall they shall continue to give pleasure against the heliopsis, golden six feet tall perennial sunflowers.
Today I prepared a dish using the first of the magenta stemmed chard. It was a sort of pizza rustica, with bacon rather than the salami that I customarily use, ricotta, eggs (thank goodness two or three had a tiny crack), parmesan cheese and chopped baby chard, all in a crust. The men working here were all in appreciation. There was a nettle soup as well and a very crude pear tart.
The adventure of the day, or shall I say the best of all the days, several adventures was dressing my new ram, Burgo Fitzgerald in his marking harness. Jeff Arnold caught him and held onto him by his massive horns while John Hillis dressed him in the leather harness with a green crayon. More arduous and less dramatic was dragging this fine young fellow out to the sheep. Unfortunately for us there were no sheep in sight in the pasture proximate to the backyard. Burgo ran off, deciding that the far corner of the fenced in pastures was the desirable place to be. I'd quite forgotten that he had never been out of his pen where he was raised, or the pen where he has been housed in the carriage house, with the exception of an hour's ride in the back of Jeff's truck. He was frightened of the space. When the ewes were finally encouraged to go to the pasture where his confusion reigned, one ewe stood for trim. He followed her everywhere, would turn his head to look at me, blatt, and then continue to follow the ewe. It will be most interesting to see if any ewes sport a green crayon mark on their back in the morning.
July 1, 2009
We offer our apologies to Sylvias readers regarding the lateness of this months post.
There are more postings in the Farm Stories Archive