Mid-April Update, Runaway Spring

The garden before tilling. Some of it was cover cropped with Winter Rye. Some day the crappy old house will be gone.

We didn’t have much of a winter this year.  Spring showed up early, fast and really hot for a while before getting a little normal.  We didn’t have much snow this year and then we had a week in March with high temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  The trees started to leaf out.  We heard that maple sugaring was short and not so good this year.  We started to worry about whether or not the blossoms on our apple trees would survive the occasional nights of frost after they started blooming.  So far, so good, but we’re not out of the woods yet.  I’ve never seen a year like this.  I’d say it’s pretty close to no one alive can remember a year like this.  I recall my dad saying that one year when he was a kid, the trees leafed out in March.  I flat out didn’t believe him.  Now I’ve seen it for myself.  Now I think the year he was talking about was 1934.  He turned 14 years of age that year.   This year, like that year, was another  la niña year.  Right in the middle of the dust bowl in the case of 1934.

I believe our garlic was up in March.  We planted potatoes last weekend.  More than a week ahead of last year.  We could have done it earlier if the seed potatoes had arrived earlier.  And last year it felt like I might have done it too early.  In addition to the garlic planted in the fall we did a spring planting too with garlic that we had left.  We planted too much garlic last year and apparently the obvious remedy for that is to plant even more this year.  We’re going to have to start selling it this year, or at least start giving more of it away.  The one thing that we have resolved to do now is to save our own garlic for planting.  That’s one thing not to pay for anymore.  We also planted more potatoes (and more kinds of potatoes) this year and hope to save our own seed potatoes too.  After difficulty with onions started from seeds getting lost in the weeds last year, we’re starting onions from onion sets this year.  There too, probably many more than we need.

We’ve gotten no closer to naming the farm despite blog comment suggestions, suggestions on our Facebook pages and a few suggestions received via email.  The early warm weather has kept us busy.  Plus we had a quick trip to San Francisco, after which I was sick with a really nasty cold after not being sick at all for two years.  While we were in San Francisco, we had a chance to walk through Golden Gate Park, we spent a day walking around in the Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais State Park.  We had an exceptional dinner at Delfina with friends that up to that point, I’d only known online, but it felt like dinner with old friends and we had another great dinner at Firefly after which both my friend Curt and I proclaimed that we were done with winter food.  Of course I wasn’t quite done with winter food.  We still have one rutabaga and we’re still finishing the very last of the potatoes.  The farmers’ market starts this weekend.  Thank goodness.  We’re totally out of pork and chicken.  We still have some beef, some elk and lots of venison despite eating venison at least once a week, if not twice.  I’m kind of sick of red meat.  Even though it’s really good red meat and I don’t think there is anything wrong with eating venison or grassfed beef often.  I’m just tired of it.

I’ve tried to make some contact with the fire department regarding burning down the house.  There seems to be something wrong with the email addresses listed on line.  I need to phone them.  No one answers the phone at the fire house.  I need to either leave a message or call either the chief or one of the deputy chiefs on one of  their mobiles.  I haven’t decided what to do.  Regardless, we’re not quite ready.  We want to remove all of the electrical wire an all the PVC pipe from the house.

In addition to tilling the garden and planting potatoes, we’ve dug out honeysuckle plants and multiflora rose.  D. hit a couple of the fields where there were significant numbers of the roses.  Then one day we walked toward the back of the property with shovels and made a point of digging them out of the path.  We didn’t get them all, but we have a good start.  We’re also keeping an eye on the weed problems including multiflora rose and wild parsnip where we took out the buckthorn in the fall.  It’s going to take some work, but we’ve already done things we thought we couldn’t do.  We also scared up a coyote that day.  Literally scared it.  Which is good.  I’m glad the coyotes are there.  I’m also glad they fear us.  I’ve also considered whether or not I should be armed if I walk by myself in the more remote areas especially near dawn or dusk.  So far I think not.  I hope I’m not wrong, but I’m not really enthralled by the idea of carrying a rifle or pistol with me most of the time.  I don’t like guns that much.  Sometimes they are necessary tools.  I guess I’d see it differently if I lived in the world of my grandfather, circa 1923, driving a wagon drawn by horses into Regina, Saskatchewan from nowheresville,  and back in a day only to have wolves circling the wagon by dusk.  But he lived in that world and I live in this one.  Coyotes are not wolves and I’m fairly sure they are well-harrassed on all the neighboring farms.

I’ve spent some time looking for shed antlers this spring.  And I’ve come up empty.  I’ve run across two deer skeletons.  One in the thicket down the hill near the creek and another in the woods on our southwest corner.  I have no idea how long those bleached bones have been in either place, but apparently no antlers at the time of death.  I’ve found a few more native plant species in my wanderings.  Blue Cohosh,violets, buttercups,  some kind of fern, and Jack in the Pulpit.  I also see invasives like buckthorn, garlic mustard, multiflora rose, and nettles everywhere I look.

This weekend, we hope to get the onions planted.  And I hope we’ll finish building the Leopold benches that D. cut a couple of weeks ago.  A lot of people would call this a good plan for Earth Day.  I just call it another week at the farm.

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