Friday, September 11, 2009

Summer in September

After an unusually cool summer, here we get a stretch of 80 degree weather. Not that I'm complaining or anything. It is a great finish to the growing season. But, we are still low on rain. The streams and lakes continue to shrink. The watering hole we have in one paddock completely dried up. So my dad took his tractor and scraped out the muck and made it a little deeper. We have water in there once again. It is spring fed. Normally, even though it's shallow, the water stays fresh and clear with very little algae and takes a long time to freeze in winter.

We almost got us a milk cow. It was all set, the only thing we had to do was make a shelter for her and a place to do the milking. Last weekend we went to see her for the first time and Kelli tried her hand at milking the cow. The cow is a Jersey named Tiny. She's called Tiny because her two rear teats are very small. I think it's a funny name but, my family wanted to change the name if we got her because they thought it was insulting to the cow. I think it's funny also, that they think it is insulting. I think it is entirely appropriate, but that's just me. ha, ha..... Anyway, after we saw the cow we saw that she had diarrhea and that she was a little on the skinny side. We know milk cows can be bony but, she seemed excessively so. I could be mistaken but, I think the farmer said she had the diarrhea since June when she went out on pasture. That seems like a long time to me. Our animals often get it too when put on pasture but, tighten up in a week or so, not months. So we have been kind of apprehensive about going into winter with a cow that is thin and has diarrhea.

The story on this particular jersey cow is that another family owns her and they keep her at a farm where the farmer takes care of her and does all the milking. They in turn buy the milk from him, from their own cow. This is his payment for boarding and milking the animal. I guess this is one way of getting around regulations. Plus, they don't have the room for her at their place. The reason Tiny is for sale is because the farmer is wanting to simplify his life some and wants to have one less responsibility.

Well, we went to see the family that owns Tiny and they said if we didn't want her then they would just turn her into hamburger. No big deal because they said they need the meat anyway. They also said that the farmer told them that Tiny is getting harder to milk and is getting more and more impatient. So between the health issues and Tiny possibly developing an attitude problem, we decided to hold off on getting a cow at this time. Which is actually a relief because I have no idea when I'll find the time to put up a shelter and build a milking stanchion.

Earlier I wrote a check and had to look at the date on the calender to remember what day it was. I saw that it was 9-11 and had an instant reaction to the date. I knew it was coming up but, when I wrote it I had instant recall of that day as I'm sure so many people do from that infamous day. I won't go into my personal opinions about 9-11-2001 but, it sure turned our world upside down. We have the seemingly never ending "war on terror". Two seemingly never ending wars in two different countries. And an economy that is in total shambles.

I remember exactly what I was doing and where I was on September 11, 2001 when I first heard the news. So this is my little tribute to that day.
But, back to the subject at hand, summer came and went and is back again in September. 80 degrees is in the forecast for the next several days. Amazing! People every where are talking about it. Cool weather when we should have warm weather and now warm weather when we should have cool. It seems like even the weather is upside down these days.
At least with the warm dry weather it makes setting up and taking down the farm stand more enjoyable. Sales slowed down after Labor Day but, people are still coming. We've turned it to self serve, probably for the rest of the season.
Well, that's all for now.
Until Next Time

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

We've added goat milk soap and honey to the road side stand, plus a complete line of Burning Bush maple syrup products.

The soap was made by our friend Kristine. The honey came from our growing partners, a cousin of theirs is a bee keeper.

Our friends the Burnses' have the maple syrup products. They have quite an array of products, maple popcorn, maple pancake mix, maple mustard sauce, maple cream, amongst others, besides the pure maple syrup.

The squash plants are now into their peak.
We've been selling lots of sweet corn. Sold hundreds of dozens by now. Kelli figured out a way to add some more value to it in that she shucked it and is now offering shucked corn. Normally we get $5 a dozen for the corn, the pealed and bagged stuff goes for $3 a half dozen. And it is selling like that. People will pay for the convenience.

We planted tomatoes in the hoop house this year. It seems to have taken forever to get ripe tomatoes but, they are coming ripe now and we are offering them for sale. Corn and tomatoes are two of the biggest requested items.

When Kelli went to that market garden school she learned a new way to trellis tomatoes. It is simply a string hung over a pipe with special trellis clips holding the vines to the strings. It is very impressive to go inside the hoop house and walk down a isle of plants making walls that reach the ceiling. Perhaps you can see the strings in some of these pictures.

We mow the isles with an old time rotary push mower. We bought this thing at a rummage sale years ago and still works like new. I'd bet it is 50 plus years old.
We got the trellis clips and string from
Johnny's Selected Seeds

This will probably be our biggest weekend yet in produce sales. Today we sold out of sweet corn. We started with 40 dozen ears yesterday and it was gone by this afternoon. We located some more good corn that was being sold in Rhinelander so we got 20 more dozen from them to try and finish the long weekend.
We would have been set with corn but, some that we got from our grower in Eagle River wasn't very good. This has been a bad season for us in our area for warm weather crops. There is nothing wrong with the Eagle River corn, it's just that much of it isn't filled out enough yet. So tomorrow Kelli will shuck it and cut off the unripened portions. Fortunately our friend John S. found some more sweet corn from another near by source and we will have an ample supply tomorrow.
We don't make much on the sweet corn but, it is a good draw and people buy other things while they are here for the corn. It is well worth the effort to obtain it. Sweet corn is a very risky crop to grow in our area with such a short season. We just had our first hard frost last Sunday night. Monday morning we had ice in the water buckets. We didn't loose much because we had purchased floating row cover earlier this year and covered most everything with that. However there was about 20 feet of pumpkin plants not covered and they got toasted. My Painted Mountain Corn took the frost alright and it is still going. It's still small but, is still progressing.
We planted that corn along with a number of other crops on a brand new tilled plot. Never gardened in that spot before. Everything there is rather stunted. Never really took off. I suspect the pH or something is off. People in our area put alot of lime in the soil. So it could be that the soil is too acidic. The potatoes did well. Well at least if it hadn't been for the deer eating off the tops. We have potatoes but, not a bumper crop to be sure. Let me put it this way, the potatoes we do have are really, really good. Just not as large a quantity as we'd hoped. Thanks to the deer. I think I'll be hunting this year! Our neighbor said that he hasn't seen deer in a long time. I told him it's because they've all been in our garden!!! He laughed of course!
Kelli's sister is still living with us. She is recovering from her heart attack and other health issues. But, she is slowly but, surely improving thank the Lord. This has been quite a year so far. Lots of un-expected's for sure. We've had a couple of company's interested in buying our garbage business. Been working through that. Things might not work out in that direction. Then I've had two different people approach me about hiring them and well, I broke down and hired one of them, at least for a while anyway. He starts first thing Tuesday morning. Lord knows I could use the help. I've been back to working by myself this summer. And I'm feeling it. I think hauling about 250 tons of garbage and recycling a year now.
Well, I'd better wrap this up. I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend.
Take care and
God Bless.
Until Next Time