Category Archives: General

January Harvest

Back in October and November when we were putting up the hoop house I wasn’t sure what that really meant. Sure, I knew it would extend my growing season. I knew that it was more likely to be successful in allowing me to begin next year’s season early rather than extending last year’s growing season late.

But this morning I went down and lo, nearly all my spinach planted last week is sprouting with terrific germination (the best I’ve ever had from spinach).

Further, I harvested a big bowl of salad greens and several sprouts:

early january harvest

We eat a lot of salad, but I think in the past 8 months or so I have bought one bag of spinach…maybe two.

I’ve also got healthy rosemary, kohlrabi, dill, and turnips. The perpetual spinach chard planted last spring is still going gangbusters.

I think I have watered twice – if that – since November.

That hoop house just might be a good investment after all.

You Just Never Know About People.

I had a friend for 10 years.

He was such a good friend we even welcomed him into our home for Thanksgiving this year. In the past he’d stayed with us on his way through town, but this year we actually enjoyed his company for Thanksgiving itself.

But something in my friend snapped.

For the past few weeks he has, for lack of any better word, stalked me.

It started off innocuously enough – he would make comments he considered ‘flattering’ about my looks. I’m not the kind of girl who enjoys those remarks. I’d much, much rather be known for my intelligence than my hair or my legs or whatever. Greg was a good sport about it and brushed it off, but eventually, after our Thanksgiving visit, I nicely told my friend to cool it.

But he couldn’t.

He got more and more intense – even when I told him in no uncertain terms that he was being offensive and he needed to stop – until the point where I had to block him on Facebook.

Then he – get this – made up a fake Facebook profile and wormed his way into my friends list. Normally I wouldn’t let someone whose name I didn’t recognize be my Facebook friend, but my name has gotten ‘out there’ by virtue of some of my public activities and he did a very good job of making the profile fit the kind of person I might expect to send me a friend request out of the blue. The guy spent a lot of time on this profile. It wasn’t an obvious fake. He invented kids, careers, information about parents and in-laws, the whole nine yards.

It took me about a week to get suspicious enough to think ‘she’ was not just an eccentric. Then, thanks to Google’s reverse image search, I found out that every single photo on this person’s Facebook profile had been stolen from other people on the internet. After that little revelation, I confronted ‘her.’ ‘She’ claimed that yes, that was deceptive, but that ‘she’ really WAS a housewife stuck out in the sticks in rural Missouri, boo-hoo-frickin’-hoo, and while the photos were fake everything else was true.

I’m not all that gullible.

So Greg set to work, and within 5 minutes found out this person had commented on our blog from St. George, Utah.

Not Missouri.

St. George, Utah, is where my former friend sometimes goes on the weekends, and yes, those blog comments were posted on a weekend.

Then we checked our Statcounter logs and realized that he had been searching his name on our blog every single day and reading it over and over, sometimes for hours at a time.

So Greg blocked access to anybody in Nevada (the guy lives in Vegas).

And now the guy’s been reading Google cache versions.

Greg’s asked Google to remove them.

I’ve thought about taking the blog down, at least temporarily, until this is all over. But dammit, why should I have to do that? This blog is up here primarily for us, and for any others who actually find it entertaining. Why should I have to take it down because someone can’t control himself and this seeming obsession with absolutely no basis in reality?

Anyway, this is one reason I haven’t been posting lately.

Sigh.

I’ve never been a big fan of having firearms around, and have especially been opposed to them because we’ve got children in the home, at least one of whom is still too young to fully grasp the gravity of firearms. My feeling is that if you’re keeping a firearm around for protection, it’s not going to do you much good unless it’s loaded and ready to go so you’re not fumbling around with trigger locks and ammunition boxes and the like while someone’s coming through your front door.

Now I’m seriously rethinking this position of opposition. Greg and I have spent significant time talking about how to keep a loaded firearm where I can get to it from a position of fortification within our home.

And it really pisses me off that I have to do that.

But when it comes to my family, make no mistake. I have zero compassion for anything – man, woman, or beast – that tries to harm me or my family. I will not hesitate for one second to kill anything – ANYTHING – I think is a threat.

Know that.

Too Much Time On My Hands.

Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way, we begin our mad rush to Christmas.

For us, that means endless orchestra / Fiddler performances for Laurel, including the next two weekends plus two mid-week performances; Laurel’s ACT test; a work event for Greg; getting the Christmas tree; shopping; and putting up Christmas lights.

Maybe we’ll get to that last one this year, maybe not. Yesterday afternoon I was betting we might not, with all our other obligations and the weather, so I decided to take it upon myself to at least decorate the back deck. It wasn’t too bad in the beginning, but as the afternoon wore on and the wind picked up, it got blustery and cold, cold, cold. I had just about had it. My fingers were frozen, raw, and sore from untangling lights and affixing clips to the deck. My nose was running like a faucet. But then inspiration struck.

I ran downstairs and out the basement door. On my way, I decided I needed to move the chicken coop. As I was moving the pen, I felt something on my leg – a repeated drumming. It didn’t hurt, but it was one heck of a strange sensation. I glanced back – I had my back to the chickens – and I’ll be damned if that rooster Clyde wasn’t attacking me over and over. It was as though he was repeatedly chest-bumping my leg with a few good wing-flaps thrown in for good measure. I gave him a couple of half-hearted, gentle nudges with my foot to discourage him.

Clyde was undeterred.

He continued his insurgency, so I responded with a good sound kick that sent him tumbling across the pen.

My counterstrike addled him just enough to get the pen moved where it needed to be. Clyde recovered quickly, then redoubled his efforts and did his best to attack me through the pen’s fence.

Dummy.

So Clyde may not be long for this world. I have little patience for violence in most circumstances, but I sure as hell will not deal with it from an animal I have cared for since it was a baby.

* * *

After dispensing with our civil war, I continued my quest. About 30 minutes later (or so), it was complete:

festive coop

Ta-DA!

Still Going Strong.

This morning’s harvest from the garden:

morning harvest

I spent the morning re-burying the fig trees, covering the strawberries, and generally winterizing the crops. I can safely say this is the first year I’ve had generous crop harvests this far into November. Yay!

Unveiled!

The plastic arrived
and we got in gear
on one of the windiest
days of the year.

We set to a-cursin’,
a-pullin’, eye-rollin’,
And then Greg observed
that there were some holes in

the plastic, “Oh no!”
(he wasn’t that calm.
He reminded me of
a nuke-u-lar bomb)

I eyed up the holes,
so worried, but – BUT —
most holes were right where
we were going to cut.

We set back to work
spirits lifted, but then,
then came that awful,
that garrulous wind!

It mocked us and stalked us,
It blew without fail!
It transformed that plastic
into a big sail.

We pulled and we tugged,
while that film ran amok!
We fastened, and found we
were in luck—it STUCK.

And that, my dear friends,
was what brought back our cheer
on one of the windiest
days of the year.

_______________________________

Almost-finished product:

hoophouse with plastic

We’re going to do some tucking under of the plastic, some insulating around the bottom of the outsides as needed, make some minor adjustments to the doors, and we should be good to go for the winter. The good news with all that wind is that we found out we’ve got a pretty sturdy structure.

Yesterday morning when it was about 65 degrees, it hit 100 degrees inside the hoop house and I scrambled down to prop the doors open to get more airflow. I don’t think we’re going to have much trouble keeping it warm. We didn’t get the shipment of plastic in time to save my peppers from last week’s freeze, as you can see below, but I should have fall crops for some time. I’ll have to keep it from getting back to 100 or they will suffer. Bother, bother. The broccoli and brussels sprouts are still going strong, along with turnips, lettuce, spinach, and kohlrabi. The rosemary looks great, too.

hoop house insides

Ethan calls it the ‘coop house’ instead of ‘hoop house,’ which is pretty astute considering its future use as a winter home for the chickens. As for the girls (and Clyde), they seem eager to try it out:

chickens waiting for winter vacation

And naturally, what would this household be without a wireless thermometer and hygrometer to keep track of conditions in the hoop house from the warmth of our abode?

thermometer

Let the good times roll!

Framed!

The purlins are painted,
the ground posts are in,
we have to buy plastic,
and then work again.

Farewell to our weekend!
we even skipped lunch
to build up this hoop house.
It cost us a bunch.

But lo, the next year
will carry such bounty
they’ll be talking about it
in Washington county.

But ‘tween now and then,
I’ll tend to the kale,
harvest broccoli and turnips
on such a large scale

I’ll have to leave some
for the hens and for Clyde,
who, after our harvest,
will hunker inside,

for the winter wind blows
mighty cold through their coop.
(It’d be wrong to offer them
warm chicken soup.)

As for this project,
we’ll party when done,
for no matter how simple
it seems when begun,

one finds soon enough
the work’s NO LONGER FUN.

phase one - hoops up, doors framed, purlins in, painted

Eighty-Five.

Yesterday morning we filled the area near our home with a six-year-old boy’s squeals of delight as he launched model rockets into the Sunday morning air.

Sorry, neighbors. Here’s hoping you rise early.

But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about the time we spent after we came home, digging our sweet potatoes out of the garden.

I didn’t plant a big patch of sweet potatoes. I only planted the bare patch you see here:

Post harvest

And a close-up:

close-up

All summer I watched those vines spiral out of control without any clue as to what was going on beneath them. Would we have any potatoes? Would there be but a few scrawny excuses for tubers?

In the last few weeks the deer had found the vines, they had started to yellow, and finally the night before last we had a light frost.

It was time to dig.

I had every intention of digging those sweet potatoes myself, but Greg can’t stand to see me using a shovel. I think he would like to pretend it’s because he’s so chivalrous, but the more likely reason for his labor is that I’m so clumsy with a shovel he can’t bear to watch me more than five minutes without stepping in to do it the ‘right’ way.

As it turns out, It’s a bully good thing (for me) that he did. He dug the potatoes, I hoisted them from the soil and put them in Ethan’s toy dump truck, and the kids were forced under threat of banishment to line them all up along the wall. There are still a sad few there that haven’t fit into the crates:

wall

Ethan and I counted up the spuds. All 85 of them. Eighty-five! From that little patch of soil. Several of them put this one to shame. I don’t know how many pounds were harvested  – we were too sick of it by the time we were done to weigh them  – but they’re sitting contentedly in crates in the bunker, covered with wet towels, curing.

curing tower

You may be wondering what the hell I plan to do with 85 sweet potatoes.

Beats the hell out of me, but after a very disappointing year where tomatoes and green beans were concerned, this was a nice surprise.

And also one more testament to raised garden beds.

Now That’s a Potato.

Today as I was walking past the garden I stopped to check in on our sweet potatoes. My vines have fallen victim to deer in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve been keeping a close eye on them just in case they start to die off. You can see how they’ve overtaken our garden, and how the deer have been sneaking bites at the far end of the bed:

pole beans that didn't produce shit and sweet potatoes

As I inspected the plants, I noticed a real, live sweet potato sticking out of the soil. After some deliberation I decided I had better just go ahead and pull it. Little did I know how much digging it would entail. I rooted around with my hands until I determined there was no chance of bringing it up that way without destroying it. As usual, I had no luck finding my trowel so I resorted to a shovel. In retrospect that is probably a good thing. I’d still be out there otherwise.

sweet tater

This potato is going to feed all four of us tonight. I don’t remember how much I paid for the 12 little sweet potato slips I ordered last spring, but if the rest of the crop is anything akin to this tuber, I’ve no doubt we’ll make up the cost and then some.