Dazzled by the drizzle

More rain today. Not very productive. The P word. Was able to see that all of the melons are coming up now. The Ali Baba, Carolina Cross, and Dixielee were running behind. Took them 11 days to pop out. Had me a little worried, but Ali Baba didn't let me down.

So much cooler now that it was a week ago. Feels like a different season. That's typical Texas weather.

Several projects on the horizon. Moving the goats to their summer brush clearing job. Need to purchase some more goats to put out at Rocky Branch. Corral, fence and water system at Rocky Branch. First the corral. Take soil samples and send to lab. Need to clean up land we had cleared for pasture last year before it reverts to brush. Fencing at both farms. Always fencing. And on the 147th day we rest. Sundays too. And on rainy days we think too much.

A little rain

... never hurts. Had about a 1/2 inch last night. Just enough to make some of the watermelons pop out. They'd just been waiting in that soil oven for a little moisture to set them free. All my garden seeds are out too: beans, corn, cucumbers and Sakata's Sweet melons.

It's raining again as I write this. Rain and thunder. The dogs don't like it, but I do.

Planted peas

Zipper Cream and Texas Pinkeye Purplehull. About 2400 feet worth of each. The peas are planted in the eight blueberry rows that I couldn't get plants for this year. I intend to plant a variety called Austin in these rows next winter. Since I already have irrigation it makes sense to use the space. Also, the extra tillage and the organic matter from the peas will benefit the berries next year. We're all about benefits at Greer Farm. Blueberries, blackberries, watermelons, figs, plums, peas... what else can I grow for you?


If I were a squirrel I would not live by the road.


Unseasonably hot and dry weather. No rain since March. The grass is really starting to show it. Good thing the berries are irrigated. Heat index of 95 yesterday and it felt every bit of it. So much for spring. All signs point to a continuation of last year's drought. That's not good for anyone raising crops or animals, thus it's not good for us. Hopefully we'll have some watermelons to put on ice and cool us off in a few months when it's REALLY hot. Might have to spend August in the pond.

Death and cabbage

I want death to find me planting my cabbages, but caring little for it, and much more for my imperfect garden.

- Michel De Montaigne


Started planting watermelons today. Planted five 240 ft rows of Orangeglo. There are fifteen more rows, but I'm only going to plant a little more than half. I'll plant the rest around April 30. Don't want too many melons at once.

The fellow who's leasing our land at Rocky Branch for melons was kind enough to let me borrow one of his planters. It goes behind the tractor and plants one row at a time. Much, much quicker than planting by hand. Puts out fertilizer at the same time.

Other melons I'll be planting are Jubilee, Sugar Lee, Dixie Lee, and probably a few Sugar Baby. Also planting a variety called Ali Baba that is from Iraq. Supposed to be real tasty. It's a red fleshed melon. And finally for watermelons I'll be planting a handful of Carolina Cross. These have the potential to grow up to 200 lbs. Scary.

The only non-watermelon I'm planting is called Sakata's Sweet. It's an asian melon. If I read the description right it is similar in size and growth to a cucumber with an edible rind.

The geese did fine today. No escapes. Although I did see one snap at one of the berry plants. I'll have to keep an eye on that.

Cows in the pasture and geese in the berries

Cows made it out to Rocky Branch last week. They seem to be enjoying the plethora of fresh green food, although on my visits I've always found them lounging in the shade. Texas is hot in April... and May... and June... December... etc.


Yesterday put the weeder geese out in the berries. Built a little shade shelter for them. We're using our electric net goat fence to hold them in. Didn't work very well the first time since the holes are so big they can squeeze right through (despite being shocked). Found them huddled up by the road instead of in their pen. So we wrapped another roll of electric net around the first one. Guess I'll find out this morning if they decided to stay in or if they wandered through the moonlight in the berries.

Halfway to somewhere

We finished half of the central circle at Rocky Branch. Would have hung all the gates but had another problem with the torch. Enough is done so that we can move the cows out there. This will be the first time our own cows have had a chance to enjoy the pastoral pleasures of the Rocky Branch Grass Ranch. There's a lot of green out there. All we lack is to set up a water trough and string some electric around the barn to keep the cows out of the hay (though I'm not sure why they'd go for the hay). They should be grazing away by tomorrow afternoon.

Don't think I mentioned it before, but we leased almost 25 acres at RB to some watermelon growers. They've got a good section of pasture plowed up. Nothing planted yet, but I'm interested in seeing how they handle that many watermelons. Get some lessons in large scale farming. The land we leased was in need of renovation so this benefits both of us. They get to grow watermelons and we get to have the field plowed and fertilized. It should be cleaned up and leveled in time for us to plant some winter pasture.

Actually I'll be growing my own 1/2 acre of melons in the berry field. Between my little field and the Rocky Branch Melon Ranch there should be more than enough to go around. I developed a real addiction to watermelon and blueberries last year. My Uncle Bear turned me onto that combo. And guess what... we'll be selling both this year. How 'bout that?

Zen speak

The real miracle is not to walk on water or thin air but to walk on earth! - Thich Nhat Hanh

Okay, enough already

You ever have one of those days where you just can't do anything right? Like filling your bowl with cereal and sitting down to eat and only then realizing you forgot the milk, so you get up and pour in the milk, sit back down and then find that you don't have a spoon... That was how my day was. Some higher force was intent upon tucking me back into bed. This is kind of a boring story but I have to tell it in order to be done with it. So kick back, pour your milk, and let's get on with it.

I am not always the most organized person. That being said my goal this morning was simply to go out to Rocky Branch and hang some gates that needed some hanging. In order to do this we had to be able to cut a 3/4 inch hole in a thickwalled 4 inch steel post. Need an acetylene cutting torch to do this. Really not such a big deal... as long as... you have a torch.

Actually, we do have such a torch. And in fact it had just been recently serviced. Doing good so far. Javier and I load the torch in the truck and I get all the other tools that I think we'll need for the day. It's about ten minutes to Rocky Branch. Just long enough to make you gently twitch if you forget something.

So we get there and unload the tank setup, which by the way, with an acetylene tank and an oxygen tank weighs about 180 lbs. I then take the nice shiny recently serviced torch out of the plastic bag that it came back in... and then see that the torch does not have the cutting head. Ah!! Whoops. I forgot that I took the head off when I sent the torch to be serviced. Guess I'll have to run back to the house and get the head from the box in the barn. Darn.

I wasn't that perturbed because believe it or not I forgot a few other things too. So back to the barn we go, find the cutting heads and other forgotten things and thirty minutes later we're back at Rocky Branch. Oh good. We get the cutting head on and then attach the hoses to the torch. Geeez, the threads on the oxygen hose sure are banged up. I guess that's okay. Let's turn on the gas. Wow, I guess that's not okay. Gas hisses out of the oxygen connection. Darn.

After ten minutes of reassuring ourselves that we do know how to screw something together we decide that the problem is indeed the damaged threads. Double darn.

Luckily we have another torch... back in the barn.

By this time we are in need of food. So we stop and pick up some lunch on the way home. Food is good at this emotionally critical juncture. So fed and revived we grab the other torch (after checking the threads) and head back to El Ranch.

This time I am sure we are ready. We have everything. Torch works. I mark the spots on the first post and begin cutting. Hmmm... it's cutting okay, I guess. Can't quite get the flame adjusted properly. It keeps jumping on me. Damn this molten steel sure is warm! Okay, let's stop for a moment and reassess this torch. Everything seems to be adjusted correctly. I just don't understand. "Look!" says Javier, and I follow his finger to the gas gauge it's pointing at. What?? Why is the gauge on zero? Oh my. We don't have any oxygen.

Guess what? Quitting time!! We'll try again tomorrow after I go see the gas man.