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Friday, August 27, 2010

Counting of blessings

Risa didn't report to Independence Days this year over at The Chatelaine's Keys -- too much other stuff going on. But here is an end-of-summer update of sorts for 2010.

The garden was possibly our least productive, for the effort going into it, of the last 35 years. This was the result of what we think of as winter extending into mid-June, causing planting delays and crop failures. The soil, in its depths, has never really warmed up, and went, in the suddenly hot weather straight from a cold brown soup to a hard iron-like consistency that resists watering. Flats, in the house, grow tunnel, or potting shed resisted germination as well.

That said, some things did well: sunchokes, lettuce, broccoli, chard, kale, cabbage, favas, peas, comfrey, perennial spices, potatoes (though small), zucchini (oddly enough). Some things did okay: the fifth planting of green beans, the fourth planting of runner beans (very small crop), cucumbers (one of three plantings). A small field of dry beans will make it. Tomatoes eventually established themselves but are very slow to redden, in spite of a hot July and August. Winter squash and corn are almost a complete disaster, eggplants and peppers little better. Spinach, beets, radishes, carrots, parsnips, and turnips all failed.

How the heck do you have a crop failure of radishes?

Figs, cherries, quinces, plums, persimmons, nectarines, peaches, pears, and filberts made no crop. Some of these are young and no crop was expected, but the plums are a sad disappointment. We are gathering apples from half the apple trees and collecting all the blackberries we have time to pick. Blueberries are new but had a good year; however, two of them are dying. One peach and one plum died and were removed; all the other new trees survived. There might not be any canning done this year other than some applesauce. Alternatively, a lot of vegetable leaves have been dehydrated and crumbled; this makes a nutritious add-on to soups, breads, and assorted dishes such as potatoes or pasta, and can be given as gifts in jelly jars.

Kiwis and most of the hops made it through the summer. They are new and very small as yet. The grapes are doing well, as usual -- our steadiest crop.

The Ancona ducks managed to hatch three newbies, who are doing well. If we had penned a duck with a clutch she might have raised many more. We blew out fifty-three goose eggs for psanki. Poultry in general had a good year and eggs were superabundant year-round.

With relatively little to do on the farm, we concentrated more on physical plant.The grow tunnel was taken down in the garden to set up by the barn, but it looks like we will skip a year. We added a room to the house (mudroom, former front porch), set up and furnished the downstairs bedroom for guests, rebuilt the entryway ceiling which was falling in, rebuilt the potting shed, cleaned out the upper barn, and coated (most of, so far) the house roof with white roofing compound. Painting goes on in a desultory fashion. Firewooding has gone well. We got in a generous supply of used building materials, some of which went directly into the mudroom construction. We updated the living room and are no longer too embarassed to have visitors.

Synchronized paddles!

Risa has met a couple of personal goals: she paddled from Eugene to Portland on the Willamette River and started a post-apocalyptic novel (blovel) that is up to twenty-six chapters. She also got up to the wilderness areas twice (hopes to go twice more), made it to the beach once, and has done some volunteering at a state park. Friends came over to watch for the Perseids (mostly we all fell asleep). Risa and Beloved had a short vacation at a mountain cabin, with a day trip to Crater Lake. Fishing went well and there are lots of trout in the freezer. Beloved's job looks like it will be good for another year, barring a spectacular city-budget blowout.

Planned for the next year, "God-willin'-an'-th'-crick-don't-rise": finish the roof, do the same for the barn roofs, rebuild the grow tunnel, pour a floor in half the upper barn (for goats or a small Dexter cow and calf or pigs, depending), develop the second well for irrigation, improve the seed-sprouting arrangements. Move the goumi plants inside the deer fence and plant tea (camellia sinensis). Fix the kitchen sink (bucket brigade at present). Finish insulation under the house. Paddle with Granddaughter. Paddle the river again, with Daughter. Go see family back East, via train. Wipe out Daughter's school debt. Make wine (instead of vinegar; we have plenty now!). Have a little bit of coffee by the fire and count our blessings.

Particularly the coffee and counting of blessings.


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