Isn’t it the truth? I go on vacation for a week and spend twice as long getting myself back on regular time. Our Colorado camping trip was wonderful, the dogs are great campers and Ouray is a fun place to hang out for a while. The wildflowers were spectacular. I want to go back for aspencade in the fall.
So we went, came back and went again, to SLC for another Red Butte Garden concert and a big shop. We have relied heavily on friends to house sit and otherwise care for the barnyard creatures. All of R’s work to get the garden watering automated paid off handsomely.
Husbandry and gardening: We are having a hell of a time with the turkeys this year. They rejected their coop in a rainstorm and we moved them into the orchard, only to discover that one had escaped the covered pen and been attacked, probably by a hawk. Since then we’ve lost two more to predators. Probably skunks, as raccoons would have killed wantonly, and the big hawks around here won’t stoop in the trees. So now we are down to nine, with more than three months to go before they are ready for harvest. It’s enough to drive us back to raising chickens. Jersey Giants would be in the freezer already.
We have a skunk trap set right now because R saw them eating our bees. He went out with was out with a flashlight looking for turkeys and saw the skunk shaking the hive to get the bees to come out. No bueno. Then Carson got skunked again (twice since we’ve been back). And there are more skunks at the Bluebird orchard, probably doing the same thing to those hives. Getting rid of them is going to be a project. Until then, I’m laying in more hydrogen peroxide for deskunking, and marshmallows because a friend who knows stuff told me to use them to bait the trap.
Before the end of July, I started seedlings for fall transplanting, and they are doing well. The garden plan for the hoophouse this winter is less than ambitious, but I do want to do some greens under low cover outside, so I started three trays, or about 150 plants.
Now that the garden is in the “growing to make up for lost time” mode, the main task is tying up tomatoes and trellising cucumbers and squash. We have had rain almost every day since mid-July, with cooler daytime temperatures, slowing down tomato ripening but making luxuriant growing conditions. Tomatoes will happen in plenty of time.
R has been mowing for a week in the orchards. It’s like painting the Golden Gate bridge, once he finishes it’s about time to start over, especially with all the rain. This year the trees we planted in 2014 are really putting on the growth. They say that apple trees sleep the first year, creep the second and leap the third. We usually get more than one year of creep before they take off though, more “sleep, creep, weep, leap” because by the third summer, we start to worry. And then they take off in the fourth year.
Food, harvest and preserving: Garlic is our first big crop of the year, and the Red Toch variety I planted last fall finished earlier than any I’ve tried before. I need to weigh it and set aside the seed garlic for fall planting, now that the garlic has dried and been braided up, but we have plenty and I’m thinking of making some pickled garlic.
Until last week, we mostly have been eating zucchinis (Costata Romanesco and Golden Arrow, a really nice yellow summer squash). Now we are getting cucumbers, the kale has rebounded and the green beans are almost ready to pick. R dug up some new potatoes that were nearly full-size. I couldn’t get the red seed potatoes I usually buy along with the Kennebecs that are our staple, so we are trying a new yellow potato, the Daisy Gold. The first ones were delicious. We had them last week with some salmon from the freezer.
I am easing into the food preserving. I started with refrigerator zucchini pickles a couple weeks ago. Yesterday I put a batch of mixed zukes and cukes into a fermenting jar and salted down about a gallon of pickle spears to can up today in a vinegar solution. R is the pickle fiend, we’ll see which ones he likes best.
Energy and conservation: When we moved the turkey poults, we finally unplugged the last heating device of the season. I hate blowing electricity on heat, but baby chicks need a heat lamp. I’m planning to consolidate watering basins for the winter so we can cut down on deicers. Last year we ran four, which is more than I want to pay for. On the other hand, the water bill savings with the new irrigation control has been substantial: the Rachio will pay for itself this summer. That’s a win.
Other projects: With R here now full-time, we have had the time to work through some of the backlog of infrastructure upgrades we’ve wanted to do, and just catch up on things. I stacked firewood, he’s been reorganizing the “warehouse” of spare parts in garage and hoophouse and clearing out so we can upgrade our hoop-sheds. Tools are getting cleaned and put away.
Creativity and recreation: loads of mandolin practice, especially on my 5-string electric. Camping gear is sorted and ready to go as soon as it stops raining for a few days. Can’t complain about rain.
Next week: more same days. The duck pen needs to be cleaned out and composted. Nothing exciting, just enjoying the end of summer.
Seasonal observations: We are seeing the first signs of the changing season, now that we’ve passed the cross-quarter day of Lammas. The rabbitbrush has started to bloom, dotting the roadsides in brilliant hues of chartreuse changing to marigold as the flowers open up. Even more certain signs are the sparrows, flocking up now that they aren’t defending nests. The goldfinches arrived last week to nibble on sunflowers and grass seedheads. Spring brings us the insectivorous warblers hunting the hatches in the succulent soft green leaves; sparrows and finches are birds of the harvest season, gleaning ripeness from the fields and margins. The first flocks, even more than the shorter evenings, is a reminder to savor every chance we have to be outside in the sunshine.