Harvest of the day, and cleaning up

Today was a harvest day, but also a day to do some cleaning. Our season started back in February, so we’ve already had four months of goings-on. For this weekend, it meant pulling the broccoli and cauliflower that did not survive the almost zero transition to mild winter to blazing summer. Those will be restarted in flats and put into a row that has shade cloth over it, along with….

Carrots and cukes

more carrots! Thirteen pounds of carrots pulled and washed today – all that were left in the field. We’ll be shredding these and freezing them in two cup portions, which seems to be the most useful quantity for the produce we can use from the freezer specifically in recipes (soup, carrot cake, etc., in this case).

The cukes were picked during attempts to retrain the vines to trellises instead of believing their only goal in life is to invade other rows and subdue the residents in those rows. There are three varieties of cukes represented there: iznik, homemade pickles, and agnes.

The season is going rather well, even with interruptions by other circumstances.

My hero

The cucumbers, running rampant in he front garden north, got some trellis work today, and the green beans, caught in the tentacles of those cukes, were freed to go about their business.

When I completed multiple levels of trellising on both sides of the cuke runs, I found my hero standing over the dead body of one of his enemies, which he had been stalking for a few days now.

Fearless mole hunter

The common eastern mole, making messes of yards everywhere for eons.

Dead mole

I did not cut it in half with the scissors, no. I just didn’t have any gloves with me during that particular excursion to the garden, and simply used the tool I had to pick him up and toss him over the fence into the ditch area by the road to allow nature’s cleanup crew (vultures, ants, etc.) take care of it.

Necessary things

Not Needful Things – that is, of course, a book by Stephen King doing what he does best. No, “necessary” things. The things that must be done at some point, regardless of how you feel, regardless of all the other things you have on your list of things to do, but not entirely regardless of the weather. Today’s necessary thing: mowing, at least the north and east sides of the property. It’s hot. Very hot. The heat index is 100+F. It’s quite dry. It’s very dusty.

But it’s necessary to get it done. In the same way it’s necessary to check the new bees every day to see if they need to be topped off with feed so they don’t starve. In the same way it was necessary to go out to the chickens twice a day when we had chickens at the ranch.

Today, two hours buzzing around on the tractor earlier, and 3/4 of the mowing is done. Tomorrow I’ll knock out the remainder, which includes the western part of the property and the beeyard (for which I don my suit, and must look quite the spectacle). Then we’ll be done for another week or so, and perhaps by then, the pneumonia will finally be kicked the curb and stop interrupting the flow of my life.

Running amok

As promised, a pic of the front gardens cucumbers, who are far outstripping their colleagues in the rear gardens. This is what happens when you get a raging case of pneumonia that knocks your schedule completely out of sync and keeps you from doing the rather mundane tasks like trellising work to keep pace with certain plants.

Cucumbers, front gardens, 2016

This is actually three rows of sown seed: the two middle rows are a couple of different varieties of cucumbers. The right row is green beans (variety: Provider, which is more reliable and productive than anything we’ve tried). This picture was taken a week or so ago, and does not adequately reflect the way the cukes are planning hostile takeovers of the frame to the left or the asparagus  in the background at this time. It’s something I’m going to try to address this weekend, and hopefully the pneumo, which has been with me for more than a week now instead of the more usual five days, will let me out of its grip.*

*Yes, I know, it’s strange to call pneumonia “the usual” in any way, but this is yet another of the ongoing gifts from cancers I should never have had. Fuck you, cancer.

Into every life

A little rain must fall. Thankfully, that day is today, after another week of zero rain. Just over a quarter inch in less than an hour. Although I’d already watered the rear gardens as part of my todo list, I’ll take it anyway. We are far below the normal levels of rain for this season in our area, so a few more days just like this would be very welcome. Not, I might add, the frog-drowning, five inches of rain in two hours variety. That does no one any good. A nice, steady rain, however, is gold.

This is the first cuke of the season. Last year, we had none at all. Half the seeds did not germinate, the ones that did were anemic at best, and none of those produced any fruit. It was a complete bust. This year, I put cukes again out back, but hedged my bets by putting cukes out front a month later as well. It’s a good thing I did. This little one (it’s specifically for picking gherkin-sized fruit like this, so the size is fine) is from the back gardens. Of those in the rear, just under half made it through from their sowing. I thought, at the time, I sowed cukes in the front gardens, that none of them would flower, much less produce anything. But those that did seem to have gathered their legs under them and are pepping up.

First cuke, 2016

I don’t believe the group out back will do as well as the group out front are doing. I’ll have a comparison picture between the two contestants tomorrow.

Those who cannot do

Tip: if  you cannot secure your mail server from spewing spam to the outside world, despite being given loads of information, log snips, and everything else possible fro ma perspective outside that server, perhaps your organization should find someone else to administer it, as you’re terrible at the job.

Fresh salad

It only took about four months to grow the various participants.

Small salad

It was delicious, according to the person who got to eat that small bounty. The tomatoes are the earliest I’ve ever been able to get at the ranch: sungolds and a variety called 4th of July (meant for northern growers with short summers so they can have their tomatoes by yes, the 4th of July). Here – at least for this year – they have shown themselves to be the absolute earliest of the early varieties I put in, and the sooner the tomatoes start coming, the better, as far as I’m concerned. The lettuce is a straight cos (romaine) variety that I had tossed into a row with potatoes, and the carrots had been hanging around with the kale. Strange neighbors. But tasty vegetables.

Busy bees at the ranch

Things have been a little hectic at the ranch this month: all the plants out of their flats and in the frames, the bee hives have had brood and super boxes added when needed, my sister the hurricane and her family were here for most of the month, the weeds need to be pulled in the worst way, and oh yeah, I got myself a great case of pneumonia. But! Life goes on anyway, and one of my goals for this point forward (June 1, technically) is to post every day.

I jumped off facebook at 11:30 Saturday evening, and have not been back except to post a coupe of items not to my personal page, but to a couple of other actual pages (non-individual). Things are a lot more pleasant off facebook than on it, and it’s nice o be able to type out something long that (some) people will actually read and thoughtfully comment on versus the five second attention span and hit and run commenting, and most of all, the snide, nasty remarks people feel free to lob into your own page comments. Site page comments, for news outlets and whatnot, I see as fair game. They are, after all, media. But insulting the individual page holder – and I mean really insult them, not just the “you’re nuts” sort of thing – is like walking into someone’s house and taking a giant dump on the carpet, then yelling at them about it. I got tired of it, so I left.

This will be better.

This is a frame from a brood box I added to a hive that was running out of space in their first box. A generic brood frame will usually have honey at the upper edges, a band of pollen, and then brood taking up a major chunk of the rest. This hive has a giant store of pollen in the lower box, so what we have in this is a honey band – that’s the white capped stuff running like a rainbow across the top – and then a large area where the queen is laying and the workers are dealing with the eggs/larvae and then capping them off (that’s the yellowish cappings in the photo). You can see the glisten of uncured nectar between the two, as well. This will be honey after the girls cure and cap it.

Nice frame, May 2016