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Monday, August 03, 2015

Stories from the Farm - A Very Rainy Summer!

In 2005 Ben and I packed up and moved to our present location just one (country-size) block down the road and a 100 years back in time. This was because we purchased the old yellow 1900's farmhouse with the two tall pine trees at the next intersection - after having lived in a modest 1950's ranch-style home since the early '80's. My husband being a country boy, both properties had some acreage - the one where we live now having 2.77 acres; so in 2009, just a few years after heart-valve replacement surgery, Ben bought a team of draft mules, Kate and Annie. That same summer we added chickens. And of course, the dog and cats go without saying, as most people who live in the country know (country folk don't have to buy their pets - their pets just show up on the door step). So we feel like we live on a little hobby farm, but I never thought to tell some of those country-living stories until I came across an interesting and attractive blog Fresh Eggs Daily.  Lisa, the author of the blog, talks about raising chickens and ducks and using herbs in the nesting areas. She also sends out a weekly email entitled "The Week in Farm Photos."

So I thought, "Hey, there's an idea! Why not add yet another topic to this already over-crowded blog of mine and tell some of our own hobby-farm stories? LOL!

My readers in the Midwest will know how strange this summer has been. Almost like clockwork, everything seemed to go haywire after I turned 65 this spring. I strained my knee doing yard work and experienced complications going off some maintenance meds (luckily at age 65 I also became eligible for Medicare and can now afford medical services!) and the weirdness just went on from there. We have received anywhere from 18 to 28 inches of rain in May, June, and July, according to various sources. =:o This alone did a pretty effective job in keeping me off my leg and out of the yard not to mention keeping the farmers out of the fields to do their spraying and what-have-you. The rivers and creeks have overflowed their banks and remain unusually high for this time of year. And the vegetable gardens have been particularly hard hit by all the rain and lack of sunshine. Personally, I think this all started back in the winter of 2014. The infamous polar vortex of 2014 never quite went away, and as happened last year, summer and winter fought it out til the bitter end to see which would prevail - resulting in two cooler summers (I wore my flannels to bed in July both years) - as well as a very wet one this year with a bumper crop of mosquitoes and flies!

July started off, of course, with the 4th, which seemed unusally quiet this year. Practically right on its heels - or so it seemed, anyway - came the county fair with the Home Show and the Antique Tractor Show and the grand kids showing in 4-H. After that came the Alward-Davis Reunion. Now that's all past and we can focus on the rest of the summer - which seems strangely empty without fruits and vegetables to pick and cook and put up. Some of my flowers have been pretty happy with all the rain, especially the lilies. It's been a great year for transplanting and for planting new flowers - clear up til August! Everything I've stuck in the ground this summer has been generously watered-in by Mother Nature. However, I have never seen such a poor yield from the vegetable garden as we've had this year - and many of our neighbors tell the same story. Fruit and vegetables are sparse and small - our cabbages were about the size of small grapefruits. Our squash, zucchini, and cucumber vines all bear beautiful blossoms, but nary a fruit. Our tomatoes are small and not too abundant - but they do taste great! Even the apples are small - little bite-sized treats for Kate and Annie. We're thankful for the rare neighbors whose gardens somehow managed to prosper in spite of the rain and who took pity on our scraggly little garden and brought us green beans, cucumbers, and corn!

The crops are looking really good in the surrounding fields, however (except for the low spots). As a friend pointed out on Facebook recently, the corn truly is "as high as an elephant's eye!" I worried that the farmers would never be able to get into the fields and get the hay baled - and in that case how would we feed Kate and Annie this winter? But today Ben brought home six large bales and our supplier (a neighboring farmer) anticipates another cutting in September or October. The last few days of the fair and since have been absolutely gorgeous so maybe summer and sunshine have finally won out. Almost. I do like these temperate sunny days in the seventies and low eighties and the cooler nights - many of  which we haven't had to even run a fan, let alone the air conditioner!

Anyway, this post is my way of introducing the topic - so stay tuned for the occasional Story from the Farm!


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