First flats out

Finally, the first flats are out to the barn under the lights: three tomato flats, three pepper flats. Tomorrow, more flats, this time with the brassicas. A long day of mixing seed starting soil, packing the flats, seeding, covering, watering under the seeds (not on top – avoid damping off!), and hauling to the barn.

Beyond the brassicas – which sounds either like a cool book title or a garage band name – the weekend will be spent doing tons of weeding. A necessary evil as the season creeps up, but not bad for thinking or musing over plot points.

Doing the math

“I was told there would be no math!”

You were misinformed. All that stuff back in high school you’d thought you’d never use becomes quite handy when making plans.

2016 Planning

These particular plans involve mapping out the gardens, figuring up linear foot lengths, and calculating how much of any X can go into Y.

It’s heady stuff, really, although probably only exciting to farming nerds like me.

Still, it’s a useful exercise to know how much room you have. If we (I) planted out on a one plant per foot basis to fill all the linear feet in the rear, front north, and front south gardens (not including the herb garden), we could put in 2992 individual plants. If we ran the plants out on an 18″ basis, we could fit in 2157 individual plants.

Obviously, this is not something we will be doing. Each set of plants has an area it needs that we’ve seen be beneficial to it. Peppers and tomatoes? Eighteen inches. Summer squash and zucchini? They need about three feet, because they are gigantic. Carrots, onions, spinach, and some varieties of lettuce? Six inches.  When you plant, you have to know what kind of space to give something so they don’t crowd each other out fighting for resources and so there is adequate airflow between them, to avoid things like fungus or rot. The spacing also helps with things like worm control, as it makes it more difficult for them to move from one plant to the next without a good deal of effort.

The aim, overall, is to make as efficient use of the available space as possible, and account for both pulling of spent plants (determinate tomatoes, primarily) and rotating where you plant things not just year to year, but from one part of the season to the next, at least here since our season is long. And that, rancherinos, is why you need to be able to do math and strategically plan the things you want to do.

 

The 419 spam will never disappear

A thousand years from now, when we all have implants and can just plug ourselves in, the 419 spammers will likely still be at it.

Most of the time, I just blow right by spam, emptying buckets of it out every hour. Occasionally, though, they are just too funny not to read. This is from “Bank of America Corporate Office Headquarters”:

“Dear esteemed customer ,
make this payment or stop contacting us.”

Um, ok.

“The Management of the Bank of America Corporate Office Headquarters here in 100 N.Tryon St Charlotte,NC 28255 wishes to inform you that after a brief meeting
held by the Bank executives yesterday,the 28 Day of november,2015 at precisely 8 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time(EDT),”

Precisely? Like, how precisely you updated your little spamming script? Because that doesn’t bode well for your credibility.

“we deem it appropriate to intimate you that your funds will be transferred into the United States Treasury Account with the JP Morgan Chase Headquarters at 270 Park Avenue in New York according to the record we got from Africa

I always trust records I get from Africa. They have NEVER been inaccurate or non-factual!

“due to your inability to complete the transaction and your failure to meet up with a minor payment obligation.The actual transfer of your funds($20,500,000.00) into the government account comes up next week.”

A bit snippy for a banker, aren’t we?

“This is in line with the instructions of the USA Treasurer,Mrs.Rosa Gumataotao Rios”

Points for this extra effort at being precise, as Rosie Rios is indeed the Treasurer of the US at this time.

“that all unclaimed funds be paid into the United States Government Treasury Account as unserviceable funds in compliance to section 3 subsection 1(a) of the United States Financial Law enacted in 2001 after an attack on our dear country on September 11,2001.”

Oh, but then you go and blow it in the “precise” arena. I guess the appeal to 9/11 makes up for it, so this one is a wash.

“Find below the profile of the banking institution where your funds will be transferred into following the government directive:, And note to responds to us with below Email (bankofamericannewyork.fake.email.address) @gmail.com
Name of Bank: JP Morgan Chase Headquarters at 270 Park Avenue in New York. JP Morgan Chase Official Bankers for the United States Treasury Department”

Because when I see a gmail address being provided as an official email address of one of the largest banks in the world on a supposed official communication, I know it is totally legit!

 

“Note that if you still wish to receive your funds do get back to us immediately so that we will remove your funds transfer from the list of those transactions to be seized by the United States Government.Also be informed that we need only a DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY SEAL OF TRANSFER(DIST) to complete the wire transfer.The fee to obtain the SEAL was reduced from$600 to $200 and no other fee is involved.”

Who knew diplomatic seals were so affordable? And so easy to obtain by simply wiring money to some far off land?

“You are required to send the fee of $200 by WESTERN UNION or MONEY GRAM to the issuing officer at the bank where your transaction originated as stated below:”

INFORMATION”

 

(Snipped this bullshit referencing the same oh-so-official gmail address and some jackhole in Benin.)

“If we receive the MTCN today,we will transfer your funds ($20,500,000.00) before we close office and the funds will reflect 3 hours after the transfer.We will send you all the transfer documents to enable you start making cash withdrawals from your account same day the funds are transferred.We have waited for so long and we cannot continue to wait.”

Sure you will. How can one not trust this?

 

“Blah, blah, thanks for being a sucker if you agree to do any of these things.”

My summary: go fuck yourself, spammer.

 

I coulda had a V8!

No, not really. I never like V8 when I could handle drinking it, and it isn’t something I miss now that I can’t.

One thing I realized I did not track down during my rampage of seed ordering: Hungarian Boldog paprika seed, since we are down to our last of the paprika powder made from the paprikas I grew two years ago. Boldog, for those of you who do not know this fun fact, is a town in Hungary in a region known for growing spice peppers like this. This variety is a hearty, elongated conical pepper, while another paprika (alma) is squat and slightly flattened. If you are looking to grow paprika peppers so you can dry and grind them yourself, I highly recommend boldog and not alma. They are more robust and easier to work with, even though the seed for them is sometimes difficult to find (and more expensive). Reimer and Fedco both usually carry boldog, and this year is no different.

On another note, if you want to buy some all-natural, organic, free-range (ha!) paprika powder at the end of the season, let me or Gabby​ or Chris​ know. Harvests for this one begin slowly in mid summer and build up from there until it’s an avalanche of them (the cayenne are like this, too). I have it in my mind that this year is going to be a great year for production on the ranch.

 

Your face will get stuck that way

My mother never said that to me (no one ever said that to me, now that I think about it). What is getting stuck, however, is something I decided to do before the new year eve rolled around: hit the treadmill to work on getting back to where I was from a physical standpoint before the drawer full of meds I have to take and before the second round of cancer (fuck you, cancer!). That’s working out rather well, I believe, and at halftime of the Gator Taxslayer Bowl I jumped on and got a walk in. That is session one. There are four games today, so I will make four dates with something, whether it’s walking the treadmill or pulling up more plants to add to the heap I’ve made out on one of the clay areas on the north side of the ranch that still needs more rehab. Whatever it is, it must be physical, since most of my “work” work involves sitting around on my ass doing things, and I really do need to be in shape for spring transplant time so I can make 2016 a much better production year from the gardens than 2015 could ever dream of doing.

Onward.

Let’s do the time warp again

This day, the first day of the new year, has been an odd one. I was up well past the turn of the year, until almost 3 AM. My oldest dog got me up at 4:45 so he could run out and do some business. We all went back to bed, but were up again just before 8 AM. Since then, it’s been nonstop work, either outside (and I’ll have a separate post about that) or inside. No naps, except for the dogs, and it’s about 7:15 in the evening right now but it feels like late evening. Very late evening. Like “this would be a good time to call it a day” evening and go to bed. But it’s far too early for that, and I still have to eat again today as I’ve only had two so far: my usual to start the day, and then this for the new year, as is traditional.

Beans and rice and cornbread

Beans and rice and cornbread, with diced onion and ham. It doesn’t look like much – the soul eating baby could probably eat three of these – but it’s about what I can handle. I managed almost all of it. The leftover, sans onion, went to the dogs. We could all use a little luck for the new year, I think.

 

Starting right

Happy new year, Dear Readers!

We start off our new year by…sowing spinach seeds before the rains come to engulf us. Yes, even before coffee. Often, beginning anything prior to coffee after just a handful of hours of sleep is not a great idea, but at least this process is not terribly complicated.

For the rest of the first new day in the new year, I’ll be doing treadmill walks at halftime in the various bowl games, finalizing my seed selection and ordering from different companies, working (of course), and – drum roll, please – writing.

Here’s to a fine, productive, and prosperous new year.

Improvements

I’m back to hitting the treadmill, but decided to leave off the “working it out” titles on posts, since I wind up including other things in those posts, and you, Dear Reader, should not be fooled into thinking there will be just some boring story about exercise and elect to skip it. Instead, I’ll get to pull you in, unsuspecting, to regale you with tales of my not-terribly-exciting life that (from the looks of the archives) seem to follow a most Groundhog Day-like annual routine. For instance, at this time last year, I was doing the same thing I am doing today and have been doing the past few: getting all the seed information into a spreadsheet to decide what to buy and where to buy it.

Let me just say that 2015 was, from a farming aspect, terrible. Too many sicknesses and other things going on made the year a grind. On the plus side, we have all made it out the other end of the year, waiting to greet 2016 as it slides in and gets it feet under it.

It took Mother Nature a long time to get out of summer mode here. Last week, this week’s forecast looked as if she was just going to drop winter on us like and anvil in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Now, it looks more like fall (or fall-ish, as the case may be).

New year forecast

Since she is treating us so magnanimously, I decided to see if we could get a late year/early year crop in: I put in some carrots and radishes over the weekend, and today added some lettuces to that same row. My intent was to put in spinach as well, but the rains came – welcome rain, as we’d had none for weeks. Even without that rain, some of the radish seed I’d put in was already poking up through the soil, and today’s rain (and the rains to come) will help those along.

For the exercise bit: during the first bowl game today, I went out to check on and feed the bees. During halftime of the second, I hit the treadmill once more. I’m also planning another treadmill session during this last game of the night.

Currently reading:  A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow

 

 

Working it out, Dec 30, 2015

Today’s plan of action: a treadmill session during halftime of each bowl game today!

First round: done. Just under 16 minutes during halftime of the Birmingham Bowl.

Second round: done. Sixteen minutes during halftime of the Belk Bowl.

Third round: done. Seventeen minutes, seventeen seconds during halftime of the Music City Bowl.

Fourth and final round: done. Eleven minutes at the beginning of the Holiday Bowl, as sleep is circling me like a shark, sensing the chum of my yawns. I kind of didn’t feel like doing that last round, but I did it anyway.

Finished reading: Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves. Rating: it was ok. I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5, mainly for the primary characters. The whodunit part I’d only give 2 out of 5, as information the reader would need to figure it out wasn’t given (and it would have taken a wild assed guess based on not much data to make the link that would have made the link to the killer).