Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring rains and other updates

We're having some good old Maine spring rains. On and off for the last few weeks, we're getting everything from fog to drizzle to "occasional" showers, to more than "occasional" showers, to what we have right now, a good, old-fashioned downpour.

The rain is good for the garden, assuming that it stops and the sun comes out. And it brought to an end a period of hire forest fire danger. Living in the deep woods like we do, it's never good to have the land dry out that much. We've cleared plenty of "defensible space" around our house these past few years, but there were some sizable wildfires around here at the beginning of last month, and I'm glad they're done now.

Every day I take at least one good walk with the dogs and sometimes two, rain or shine. We get to walk through the deep woods and see the progression of spring through the different tree species. Now only the ash are left to bloom, but since ash are about seventy percent of the trees in our woods, that means that there's still a lot of light penetrating the canopy, and the smaller trees and shrubs take advantage of this hiatus. I notice the wild strawberries and raspberries in particular, probably because they're edible, but there are lots of other plants and a few wildflowers doing well. There's also a lot of sodden ground, so these walks require wellies.

We did see moose tracks in the mud a couple weeks ago, something I should have reported here but forgot. They came within a hundred and fifty yards of the house, then veered off into drier ground and were lost.

In the garden only the spinach and peas are up, but the onions will be next, followed by the potatoes. In the new greenhouse we have fresh greens already, but not in great quantity. I transplanted the first tomatoes into the new greenhouse. I often transplant tomatoes sooner rather than later because the old glass greenhouse gets way too hot on a sunny day, and having the new greenhouse gave me and excuse to do it even sooner. Last frost is probably past, considering that we have humid weather forecast up through the "official" last frost date, but I'll wait a week or two past then to transplant the outside tomatoes.

The sheep are miserable in the rain with their heavy fleeces. Although they don't have any fleece to talk about, the lambs are also unhappy. We need to get those fleeces off as soon as possible, but our shearer hasn't returned our calls. He may have dropped out of the shearing business, which is a blow. If I can't find an alternate shearer, I'll have to buy some tackle and pick up where I left off all those years ago, learning to do to for myself. We do have an old electric shearing machine, but it's not a good one, certainly not good enough to do all these sheep, and so a few hundred dollars of expense and several days of delay waiting for shipping will ensue, if we can't get the regular shearer or a replacement to come. B*&gger.

College is almost done for the season, with graduation and a presidential inauguration on Saturday, followed by a day or two of staff training next week. I am not quite cut loose for the summer, given that I have responsibilities to the wind research program and to some remaining curriculum work, but plans are much smaller for this summer than last. I should be able to enjoy the farm a lot more, and I'm looking forward to it.

Which is good, considering we're already growing by far the largest and most complicated vegetable garden operation we've ever grown. Almost twice the space, a new greenhouse with three times the inside growing space, and Aimee says she wants four pigs, not just three. Only the sheep operation is limited to its traditional size. And, I suppose the chickens. The older chickens are down to seven, two of which Aimee wants me to "soup", but there are some baby chicks coming along in the brooder.

No photos of any of this, I'm afraid. I haven't been in the mood to take pictures since my fourth attempt to buy a cheap second-hand camera online proved futile. The saga of Mick's digital camera's purchases is a long and sad one. Suffice it to say that there are now a total of five digital cameras, four second hand and one new, lying around here, not one of which works properly. Aimee says she wants to get herself a new camera, and if so, I can have her old one, which is a nice one that Judy and I got her for Christmas about four years ago. In the meantime, I borrow it every now and then. But unless your camera is pretty much in your pocket, you don't take that many pictures around a farm.

There's just too much stuff to do.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

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