Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Feeding the Hungry

After my ride this evening, I decided to dig up one of the potatoes that looked the most yellowed and tired. I have been hearing a lot about the Late Blight that has been hitting farmers in the North East. Although none of my potatoes look blighted, I am worried about getting them out of the ground. Too early and the potatoes are too small and underdeveloped. Too late and I risk the blight and having them rot in the ground.

The decision on when to harvest was made for me. I picked a plant at the end of a row and gently went searching for the tubers. The first tuber I pulled out of the ground was half eaten. You could very clearly see the mole teeth marks biting into the flesh. Well, there you go. I decided to harvest all the potatoes tonight, lest I lose more of them to the varmint.

Aside from being half eaten, the rest of the potatoes on that plant were of good size. A couple more weeks probably would not have made much difference, but I would have lost more to the hungry rodent. As my hands followed its little burrows around my plants, I knew I had to act now or never.

This year's harvest.

I ended up pulling 30 lbs of potatoes out of the ground. Some of the later planted potatoes were less mature, but I decided to pull them all and count myself lucky. Thirty pounds is far, far off from my goal of 100 lbs of potatoes to last a year, but it's a good first year. I did not suffer through the blight (and my tomatoes look blissfully good right now), I did not have any rot or other pests beside the mole. And the five varieties I planted all did well.

The purples yielded the largest tubers. The deep red were next. The light red were small but prolific. And the German butter potatoes I bought special online yielded nice mid- to small-sized potatoes but only a few per plant. The fingerlings were also quite prolific. So the (hand picked by virgins and rinsed in unicorn tears = $$$) special-order potatoes were the most planted and yielded the least per plant. The other varieties I bought off a farmer at the Spring farmer's market and used for food and seed did the best. There's a good lesson there.

Hardening in the nice, safe, mole-free basement.

That mole ate my purples!

All in all, I am happy with my potato production. I am going to plant twice as much next year from local stock, and try to combat the moles earlier. I am glad I decided to pull a plant to check it tonight, and I am very lucky that the plant I pulled had been eaten, or else the little critter would have gone undetected for a few more weeks until the planned September harvest.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Many Hands Make Light Work

Life on the farm is accelerating now, with more and more veggies coming into maturity. Two good friends came into town and gave us a hand on Sunday and the old say of "Many hands make light work" held true. I had a huge list of things to get done and they were all done by 2 pm!

On Saturday, after the horse show, we went blue berrying again and brought home 10 lbs of berries. We've ordered a pressure canning set online and will wait for it to arrive before we do any more canning, so this batch of berries is destined for blueberry pancakes, cobbler, or flash frozen.

The first beans of the year were sampled by my friends and we harvested the first tomato in the greenhouse. Things are just getting warmed up, we should have more in the coming weeks.

We also dismantled the wee chicklin pen since the flocks have been integrated in the main coop. Not everyone is with the new program and I have to round up errant chickens each night and place them in the coop by hand. Hopefully, they will wise up soon. The wees are still a month or so away from laying, but they look full-sized. We are getting just 6 eggs a day right now, so I can't wait for more pullets to come online and start laying.

We also got a tree down, cleaned up some branches, did more work on the compost piles, weed wacked, and generally got things in order.

Starting next week, I will be out of state for training for my new job. I will spend four weeks away from home, although I get to come home on the weekends.

I am trying to get as much done as I can to ease the burden on my SO in my absence, but it will be most welcome to just be home for the fall. Foxhunting season starts in two weeks. Fall harvest will start soon as well: potatoes, perhaps some corn, squashes, beans, peppers, and eggplants.

Happy times.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Three Weeks

Happy Birthday, Meatballs! They are three weeks old today. And boy, are they growing and decidedly fugly. They are growing well and I am keeping careful records of amount of feed consumed, start to finish, so I can calculate my per pound costs. I am hoping to get a 4.5 lb to 5 lb dressed bird at 10-12 weeks.

So ugly, they are cute? Or maybe just ugly.

Check out the godzilla thick legs, these guys are built to GROW!

Growing so fast, their feathers can't keep up.

New Rooster #1: Parrot

A young Wyandotte pullet.

New Rooster #2: Darthy

In other news, we went to a You Pick Blueberry farm and picked about 10 lbs of blueberries. We flash froze most and canned some. The canning was not very successful, but we learned a lot. We are going back this weekend to get more to freeze and can. We need to perfect canning before those tomatoes are due. Speaking of, those plants have now reached the top of the greenhouse. I have never seen anything like it!

We've also been enjoying our French Heirloom Zucchini, Ronde de Nice. They are so tender and delicate, you could never find them at a conventional market due to losses in shipping. Hobbit the Hamster eats the tops with gusto, but she won't touch the zucchini we get from the local farmer's market. I consider that high praise indeed!