Zen speak

I should be content to look at a mountain for what it is, and not as a comment on my life.

- David Ignatow

Opening soon

I need to run to Tyler on Tuesday to get some packaging to hold our fragile blackberries. All the blueberries require for picking and transportation is a cheap bucket and a plastic bag, respectively. Blackberries require more care. It is best to take them home in the container they are picked in. More and more blackberries are ripening every day. You pick them when they are plump and easily pull away from the plant. I ate some tonight with some Florida watermelon. Not the best watermelon, but it'll have to do until our own are ready. What the watermelon lacked in zing the blackberries more than made up for. Not quite as good as blueberries and watermelon, but pretty close.

We will open for pick your own business this week. I will send an email to the mailing list and we will be running some ads in area newspapers. We look forward to meeting our customers for the first time.

This is just to say...

The late frost took out most of our plums this year, but one tree has a few on it... and they are delicious. Plums always make me think of this poem by William Carlos Williams.

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Blackberries in a week

At least that's my guess. Small pockets are ripening here and there. They're tasty. Also a few blueberries in places. The blueberries are ripening quicker on the new plants than the old ones. I guess that's because they came from Mississippi where it was warmer.

Replanted watermelons today. Put drip hose on them immediately since there is no forecast for rain any time the rest of this week. It is very dry here. Dry and hot. I read about some other blueberry farms whose berries ripened several weeks earlier this year. Ripened even before blackberries. That is unusual. Perhaps because of the mild winter and 95 degree weather in April. Strange climactic times we are living in.

Pruning, thinning, and filling in

Pruned the blackberries again today. They are growing fast. They've basically grown into three foot thick hedges. Amber remarked on how neat it was to walk between the rows. Kind of feels like a maze.

Also began thinning the watermelons. Need to have only one plant every six feet for optimum production. Or so I've been told. We dug up some of the extra plants and put them in spots where no plant had come up. My last planting did not do well so I'm going to replant later this week. The first planting is thriving. The plants are beginning to run. Should be flowers soon. And after flowers then little melons. And from little melons to big ones and on and on until that first ripe watermelon gets put in the fridge, chilled to crisp perfection, then cut open, passed around, and eaten in big hunks letting the juice drip all over your face. At least that's how I eat it. Not a bad way to end a hot day.

Saved by the cat

Cat wakes me up at 5:01 am with a gentle slap to the head and a cute and ever so petite meow. Scratch that. There was nothing cute about it. It's a repeat violation that we've learned to live with. This is what happens when you rescue a cat from certain misery and starvation and bring it in to your loving home. Cats, I've learned, are quite selfish. Unfortunately this is one of their redeeming qualities. You feel so privileged when they pay attention to you that you have no choice but to relent and feed them for another day.

I get up and let the cat out. As I close the door I see three flashes of light. At first I think maybe the ordained hour has arrived and begin walking outside to make my peace with the Mother Ship. Then I realize there is no hovering disc overhead and the subtle change in magnetic force that I detected was from an approaching storm, not from my alien friends and their wonderful flying machines. So goes my brain activity at this early hour.

My next reaction is OH HELL. OH HELL as in OH HELL why did I leave all those sacks of concrete in the back of the truck and why didn't I put the tiller up yesterday. OH HELL as in where there's lightning there's rain, where there's rain there's water, where there's water and concrete there are that many more useless sack shaped blobs of rock in the morning. So now it's five in the morning, the cat is outside, the dogs are at the door, and I am in the car driving to the farm.

By this time my mind and body have somewhat realigned themselves. I have three principal tasks: move both trucks into the barn, bring my precious seedless watermelon plants inside, and rescue the tiller from its indefensible position in the garden. I begin with the trucks and am quickly able to translocate them to appropriate shelter. I then move the watermelon seedlings from their position outside the greenhouse to a more protected one inside the greenhouse. Seedless seeds are not cheap. They demand proper care. And lastly I begin the tiller rescue op. At first I decide to leave it where it is and cover it with a tarp, but when I walk out to the garden, tarp in hand, I see that it is on the barn side of the garden. The garden is somewhat uphill of the barn so with the tiller in neutral it is easy to just roll it down to the barn. 5:30 in the morning, thunder in the air, wind kicking up, and me skipping a lark with a tiller down the gentle slope. This is my life.

With my early morning mission accomplished I am able to return to my house. I slump into bed and lie there listening as the storm approaches. The lightning flashes, the sky booms, our stick frame house rattles, and not one drop of rain falls anywhere near Morris County.

Okay, so I lied. It rained like HELL and my concrete was saved. The End.

Garden day

Worked in the garden all day. And I mean ALL day. Kind of hot out there today. Planted the rest of the asparagus. Apparently it arrived on Wednesday, but when you live in the sticks and the UPS guy knows you so well that he just leaves your packages in the barn, sometimes you don't know when something has arrived until you check the online tracking and it says delivered. Then you get to go "discover" it. The asparagus plants arrive as live roots so they are not something you necessarily want drying out in the barn for a few days. No worries. They still appeared to be in decent shape.

Also prepared a seed bed and planted a special surprise for Mother's Day. One of those wait and see gifts that take some time to reveal themselves. The tiller decided to quit halfway through the tilling, so I was able to have a little fun time with spark plugs. The one that was in the tiller was all black and gummed up. Didn't have a spare in the barn so I turned on the electric wire brush and gave it a good scrubbing. Apparently that was good enough and I was able to finish my work.

Some of the seed I planted earlier (beans and corn) did not come up very evenly. So I decided to start over. Pulled up a few stalks of corn and tilled everything else under. By this time it was nearly 8 pm and it was definitely time for a glass of water. Just one glass. Man has to drink from time to time. I'll try and plant tomorrow.

Fun with electric net fence

Moved the weeder geese today. Unfortunately they aren't working out for the blueberries right now. When in a contained area with the plants they have an appetite for the new shoots. I think once the plants are bigger and the geese are unable to reach the new growth they will be more helpful. They're still nice to look at.

We moved the geese next to the goats so that we could attach their fence to the goat fence. This both gives them a larger area and allows us to use just one charger. This also places all our fruit trees in their paddock. No shoots to graze, so no problem. In fact, they'll probably really help to keep the grass down around the trees.

We had to move them several hundred feet, which was actually quite easy. Picked up their fence and then Javier and I just walked behind them, herding them in the direction we wanted. They moved easily. Much easier to maneuver than cows.

Below you can see the two different net fences in action. The 35" goat fence in the back and the 20" critter fence in the front. Be bought our fence from Premier.

Zen speak

You ask why I live in the mountain forest,
and I smile and am silent,
And even my soul remains quiet:
It lives in the other world
Which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom.
The water flows.

- Li Po

Broken arrowhead

Rained on and off all day yesterday. Went out to Rocky Branch with Amber on an arrowhead expedition. Apparently our property was once home to many Native Americans. Back when the lake was still the Rocky Branch (Branch being another word for stream) people found all sorts of pottery and other artifacts. That is all under water now, but when the rest of the ground is turned over, as it is currently, you can still find arrowheads. A friend found six last week. We only found one. It had a broken tip, but it's still probably the coolest thing I've ever found.

Seedless watermelons, etc.

Fixed the fence. All new wire. 39" low tensile with 6 inch spacing. Tuf-Mac brand from McCoy's which is actually just repackaged Oklahoma Steel wire. I much prefer the Stay-Tite high tensile wire. It pulls much tighter and will stay tight. Couldn't pull this fence as tight as I'd like anyway because the brace was just set in concrete yesterday. Didn't want to wrench it out. Ideally I'd let it set for a week before pulling on it.

Planted the rest of the watermelons. I left one row unplanted because I decided at the last minute to order some seedless watermelon seeds. I'll have to start those in peat pots and transplant to the field. The seeds are expensive! Literally over 100 times more than regular watermelon seed. They look yummy though. Crunchy all the way through. I ordered three varieties from Park Seed: Lemon Ice, Everglades, and Orange Sunshine.

Also ordered some asparagus for the home garden. Jersey King, Jersey Giant, and Purple Passion. The Purple Passion is purple, but turns green when cooked.

Pruned the new blackberry canes to 42" per Dr. Clark at University of Arkansas. Sure looks short to me, but we'll see how it works. Maybe the lateral canes will form a bush above the main cane.

We fertilized the blueberries and blackberries last Friday just before it rained. Hard to say if they have greened up yet. The blues were definitely looking nitrogen deficient. Pale green leaves with tiny red dots. Used a bagged 13-13-13 on the blackberries. Made up my own blueberry blend of Ammonium Sulfate, Triple Superphosphate, and K-Mag. Worked out to 10.5-11.5-10.5. Put 1.25 oz on the new blueberries and 2.5 oz on the old ones. K-Mag is some nice stuff. It is a natural deposit mined near Carlsbad, New Mexico. 21% potassium, 11% magnesium, and 21% sulphur and very low in salt. All in the water soluble sulfate form that blueberries love. Read more at their site: http://www.kmag.com. We use K-Mag when we fertilize our pastures too.

Broken Fence

Another dead pine tree fell on the fence by the berries. Same fence I repaired a month ago. Big pine trees die all the time. They get hit by lightning and go byebye. Then they just hang out and rot until they feel the need to crush a fence. I'm going to replace the end brace since it was never set very well and the tree pulled it part way out of the ground. Also will need to replace the wire. It's just too banged up to repair.

Also will be planting the rest of the melons this week. Hopefully by Thursday. Forecast for rain this weekend.

I've had some problems with blackberry canes falling over and breaking. I emailed Dr. John Clark from University of Arkansas and he said I need to top the canes at 35" or 42". Also said a two wire trellis would help, so I might be adding that to my list. Going to try just topping the canes first.