Allergies are always bad when we first move to a new place, but this year, surrounded by our six plus acres of ungrazed and merrily wind-pollinating grasses, we are really suffering. Elijah helped me disinter the garden hose that was buried beneath all the huge irrigation pipes yesterday and ended up with his eyes literally swollen shut for a while. I stayed out and watered everything and even with the herbs that I take I am still feeling pretty awful. NEXT YEAR all the garden/orchard/whatever-else heavy lifting has to be done before June strikes, and our watering must be automatic! It was a little tricky to keep up before allergy season hit, but now it is really not going well.
Since I last wrote we have put in the second bed of strawberries, some Fall Gold raspberries, three little grape vines, a few tomatoes and some peppers. My husband bought cabbages and eggplants as well, but I haven’t managed to stay outside long enough to finish prepping their bed so I can plant them. Considering everything—spotty watering, weeds trying to reclaim the beds, no fertilizer—they are all hanging in there pretty well. The radishes are really good, the Red Sails and Red Romaine lettuces are gorgeous and the beets and chard have finally decided to pick it up and grow. The peas are holding eachother up this year (weird!) and are putting out their first blossoms. My purple artichokes all came up, but are being really slow, while only one of my green artichokes came up but it is growing well. So far my non-red lettuces have made a pitiful show, the spinach likewise, my carrots REALLY need more and really consistent water and I’m getting ready to declare the Brussels sprouts no-shows. Now if I could just stand to be out there long enough to record my varieties, then this farm journal might really be worth having.
We are working on the fertilizer production. After mulling various animal possibilities, discovering that one of the Navajo-Churro sheep the farmer wanted to sell was an extremely old ewe, and reviewing our budget and the need for outbuildings to overwinter animals, we decided instead to purchase a Holstein steer from our neighbor. He is (mostly) happily grazing down our upper pasture and will be butchered in the fall before the snows hit. He has no name. We tried for a while, but couldn’t agree on anything, and as he is just going to become meat… I would say “poor fellow” but he is living a fantastically bovine life out there—eating, drinking and fertilizing the days away. The only thing he misses are his herd mates when they are grazing at the far end of the neighbor’s pasture. As he is basically a waste product of the dairy industry in this area, things could be much worse for him.
You may recall my rantings over the price of hay back in CA. As we are in peak haying season and rain is supposed to hit this week, farmers all over the valley are advertising hay $2-$3 per bale to anyone who will come and collect it. Good grief! And now we have no place to store it and no animals that will need it… Elijah suggested that we could buy some and build a barn out of it. 🙂