Wow! It’s hard to imagine I’m already running over a month behind on "current" news from where I left off with the "Summer Ketchup" series!
Things have been busy although the type of work has changed since our killing frosts. While I’m still way behind on getting some things done, there seems to be something about autumn mentality that things start slowing down a little with winter approaching and the days getting shorter. You have to be careful on these beautiful cool mornings otherwise it’s easy to slow down a little too much and take a nap! It has been nice to catch up on a little sleep, but things have still been pushing hard enough that a long night’s sleep hasn’t been permitted too much yet. Can’t waste the precious short daylight hours now!
Thank you to each one who has been out to pick up some beautiful produce from the hoop houses! Both hoop houses still have an abundance of produce ready for harvest. For more information check out the "This Week" page on our website: http://www.mitchellfamilyfarm.us/this_week.htm
Now, after a week of unusually warm sunny weather the produce is still beautiful, crisp and sweet, but there are signs that some of the produce won’t keep in the hoop houses as long this year as in other years. Thus we will have an end of season sale while the produce is still at its peak! Be sure to get your order in early as our last sale saw a lot of produce "walking out the door!" Get your friends, family and neighbors together and stock up on beautiful, healthy greens. Being fresh harvested they store extremely well and routinely keep two to three weeks. I’m certain our family will be enjoying a salad for Thanksgiving dinner!
Unfortunately this update will start off with some sad news… Granddad, G-Jean and I loaded up early on Wednesday, September 23rd to go down and pick up some fall peaches from an Oklahoma orchard since we don’t have any trees mature enough to produce fruit yet. We also stopped by to see Granddad’s cousin Lloyd who doesn’t live all that far away from the orchard we were going to.
Just before we took off I said good bye to Mom and Jena but they said Tiny wasn’t feeling good. When we got back home from the trip Mom filled me in on how Tiny was doing… They’d had to take her in to the vet, but they couldn’t tell exactly what was wrong. After a minor surgery Tiny was sent home and she was currently resting. As soon as I stepped in the house though Mom had just checked on Tiny and found that she’d passed away in the few minutes that Mom had come out to greet us home… There won’t ever be a dog to fill in as Jena’s pal like Tiny was, but the two of them sure had a lot of fun together.
Life must move on though and the following day G-Jean and I transplanted some young lettuce plants where grasshoppers had eaten other young transplants off in the hoop house. That evening Dad helped me move Spanky into one of the pigorator bins. Next day, Saturday, September 26th we had an anniversary celebration to go to so with the little time we had Dad, Jena and I started disassembling the old round baler that we finally retired a few years back. Our end goal is to strip the frame down to the axle and make a fore cart to hook the draft horses up to!
September 30th was a special day as Lucy had baby pigs! At first I was kind of disgusted with her for only having one baby, but with a little more time she walked around a lot and then went to her hut, laid down and gave birth to nine more! Now they sure are growing well! There are even a few unusually colored youngin’s with tiger stripes! Below they’re ready to head out from their hut with Mamma Lucy to find some fresh green grass.
There’s nothing quite like motivation to get things done. Since Channel 7’s news reporter was coming out to do an interview on October 3rd, I finally broke down and took time to do some farm clean up the first and second of October that’s been needing done all year. Things just get shoved down the list until they are considered red fire emergencies around here it seems. This year we’ve just about kept jumping from one emergency to the other!
After our big morning with a news reporter (it was our coldest morning of the season up to that point with just a touch of frost some places) on farm, Dad and G-Jean used my horse drawn walking plow with the Kubota (since it’s too big for Belle and Blaze to pull) to plow up the strip for garlic. Dad had hoped to start planting garlic that day, but things didn’t work out as planned and they were just able to plow, disc and harrow the ground.
It was October 7th before I finally got everything ready to plant garlic. Once again I managed to pick the coldest morning of the season and had to harvest all the bell peppers and basil early before they froze that morning! I found that frost didn’t settle on everything, and it was interesting to see where the frost was and wasn’t. By the end of the day we were planting our last variety of garlic in a light rain. We had experimented with using the transplanter’s fingers to plant the garlic, but after a lot of fiddling I finally was tired of playing and just dropped the cloves down into the transplanter’s "shoe" that opens the furrow and then allowed the transplanter to cover the garlic cloves. All told we planted approximately 3,700 row feet of garlic.
Dad and G-Jean plowing with the Kubota.
Since it was already muddy and still raining the following day I did some odd jobs and paper work inside then checked on both hoop house stoves to make sure they were ready to fire up if it got too cold. Later that evening Jena called and said she needed Dad and my help to get the loafing shed propped up as some of the back wall’s boards had given way and allowed the roof to cave in. It was still raining and the rain wasn’t warm, but we were able to get the roof up far enough to keep most of it out of the horses’ way until we could do the actual repair work.
We had CSA the 9th and my goodness was it cold! By that morning we had only received half our monthly flood with our rain gauge setting at 4-1/2". That’s a lot better than it dumping the 8" we’d gotten in August and September. Later that day it finally quit raining and dried off a little so I brought Mom’s plants into back greenhouse. I told her some of those plants liked being outside so much they’d outgrown our greenhouse!
Since we were supposed to get some freezing weather right away I also harvested more green tomatoes, jalapenos and beans. The Lord really blessed us with a very nice pole bean crop this fall and both our purple and green beans were some of our (and maybe the) best, prettiest, beans we’ve ever raised! Our largest picking of pole beans yielded 50 lbs. of delicious, beautiful beans!
Personal investigator on the job! Ever watchful and fully alert Caye is ready for whatever may come her way!
Throughout most of the beginning of October our weather was turbulent with strong winds and it just couldn’t make up its mind what to do. Finally our breeze calmed a little the twelfth and since it was still a little muddy to do other projects Dad and I pulled up the disc cultivator and started working on it. Since then we’ve had a lot of cloudy days with some sunny ones mixed in. A lot of small showers measuring from a countable number of drops per square foot in the dirt to an inch and a quarter have fallen keeping everything very moist/muddy. About the time things start to dry out a little it seems like another storm system moves in and dumps some varying amount of rain on us! However this first week of November has been absolutely gorgeous with sunshine and lows in the 30’s and highs around the mid 60’s to 70!
When I walked out my bedroom door and into the kitchen October 16th there was a delicious aroma in the air and I saw my buddy (Jena) putting the last dipper of gravy over a biscuit for my breakfast! She’d gotten up at 4:00 am. just to make me biscuits and gray for my birthday and wanted to have them ready for me as soon as I walked out my bedroom door…she missed it by about 10 seconds though because she also wanted to have a candle in my "cake" too. For supper Jena had also planned one of my favorite dishes so she spoiled me all day! The following Sunday we celebrated my birthday and boy did G-Jean and Jena have one fancy cake decorated for me!
Guess you’ll have to call me "old man" now…at least that’s the way I looked on my cake…
We debated if the "help wanted" sign meant I needed help harvesting all the produce or selling it!
They’d put so much work into the cake it was hard to bring myself to cut it. There was everything from corn, egg plant, beets, green and purple beans, and carrots to tomatoes, squash, cured and new potatoes. It was simply a work of art!
Saturday was the 17th so Dad was home and he helped me on the disc cultivator again. We decided all the cured hedge poles I had were too crooked to use as a tongue for the cultivator so went to the woods and found one. After peeling and shaping it a little we whittled it down to shape and bolted it onto the tongue bracket Dad had made from steel.
The 18th we woke up to our coldest morning of the fall thus far… It was all the way down to a bone chilling 29 degrees! I’m not acclimated to the cooler weather yet so it seemed pretty cool, but it’s that time of year now.
As a birthday present to both Granddad and I we decided to mutually give each other a birthday present of a fishing trip. We both love to fish, but don’t get to go very often. In fact, if I recall correctly, it’s been right at a year since we last went fishing! It was a lot of fun and we caught about 25 lbs of fish with bass and catfish being most of the weight and a few pan fish thrown in.
Our family had the privilege of having our good friends John and Ramona Crisp take time from their busy schedule and come down for a visit! We had a wonderful time discussing a full gamut of subjects although gardening related items predominated a lot of the conversations (wonder why that’d be?) and as usual, goodbyes had to be said far to soon.
On November 3rd we harvested 85 pounds of greens from the hoop houses and could hardly tell where we’d harvested by the time we stepped back and looked!
With Granddad’s help I’ve been able to clean up all of last year’s tomato vines now. G-Jean has also been hacking away at her flower beds and pretty well has all the old, dead growth trimmed out of them. Some of her morning glories had really taken off and made a terrible mat of vines to clean up.
Loading a roll of tomato vines up.
Recently Granddad and I made spools to roll up each run of t-tape irrigation pipe out in the 400’ part of the garden so I can work the soil when it dries out. That may be a while considering it rained nearly an inch again November 10th! With all the rain our volunteer cover crops are doing extremely good and I’ve been well pleased with how well they’ve covered all the ground.
I have most of the t-tape rolled up and have started mulching all that garlic we planted…it’s up about 3" now! Granddad has helped me spread some of the mulch over our garlic patch too.
Don’t forget to stock up on some delicious farm fresh greens!
May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving if I don’t get an update sent before!
Farmer Josh and the Mitchell Crew
Bloom report: Most plants are done blooming this time of year so the bloom report is closed until next spring’s flowers start appearing! However, there are just a few plants blooming in the back green house so I’ve snuck a few last flower pictures in.