Savage Farming

Sunday, July 30, 2006

My desktop

Here's a screen cap of my desktop. Just thought you might be interested. The background image is of our big greenhouse.

Friday, July 28, 2006

First cantaloupe of the season

My early Old Standard variety melon has yielded up a couple of gems. The aroma filled the cab of my pickup on the way home and just about drove me nuts. I've been keeping the seed from the first melons to ripen in this variety for 3 years now and already we are seeing a markedly earlier harvest. Of course fruit size has gone down a little but the taste is as delicious as the original Old Standard which we still raise as well. So we will be able to open with at least a few ripe melons for the first time ever. Here's a pic:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Designer jeans from designer genes

TCS Daily has a great article about the environmental advantages of genetic engineering. Less pesticides, less ferilizer run-off and sweet blue jeans to boot. Suck on that you anti-GMO activist morons.

100

Still too damn hot for me. 20 minutes out in this stuff and I wanna puke. My greatest excitement right now is that temps might drop for the next 4-5 days, dipping down around 85 on Sunday. Oh, Heaven! please let it be so. I could get so much work done and not feel sick at the end of the day.

1 week from opening. We were going to open on Monday but the heat has slowed down our ability to get things done so much we've had to postpone until Thursday. That'll allow the first field of corn to reach full maturity and since it is small and will sell out fast a few extra days wait will allow the next field to catch up. Eggplant are looking really beautiful and we might even have the first few cantaloupe ripe by next week.

Unfortunately we are also having considerable trouble in our tomatoes. Blossom-end-rot has set in terribly. Normally we have little or no BER. The two contributing factors are lack of calcium and/or interrupted water cycles. We thought we had both these covered but this new field where we planted tomatoes was so calcium deficient that even our usual supplements weren't enough. That and a lack of communication with our landlord led to several weekends where our drip system wasn't running at all, he had shut off the automatic watering cycle to mow his lawn and didn't tell us this was going to be happening. Drip tapes must be run daily especially in loose sandy soils like this new tomato field. So we've lost about 30% of our tomato harvest in that field.

Wishing you all that delightful hair-raising tingley rush of seeing something truly beautiful and unexpected.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another hot one

97 degrees right now and soon I will have to go back out to work whether I want to or not. Got to go put "risers" on our 3 inch pipe at farm #2. The corn is getting so tall we now have to add lengths of pipe to get the sprinklers over them. This also necessitates the driving of steel posts to keep the sprinklers from falling over. Lots of hard work in the muggy heat.

About 1 week out from opening for sales right now. Today I found a nearly ripe watermelon. It was delicious. The tendril was dry, the bottom was yellow and red juice dripped from the cut stem but I could tell from the "thump" that it was still a little under. Glad I picked it though since my niece was here and she really enjoys melons. Also we've been eating corn for 2 days now. A little young but deeelicious!

Uhg, my lower back is really sore. Muscles cramping and sharp stabbing pains pulsing every once in a while when I sit wrong. It'll get worse before it gets better as my muscles adapt to the increasing work load. Soon boxes of corn, squash and melons will be added to the load. Trying to get a line on some muscle relaxants from a friend. I'm very careful about what I take, but occasionally a little pharmaceutical goes a long ways.

Hope life is treating you well.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Heat strain, part 1

I call it heat strain (that might actually be a medical term, I don't know...) instead of heat stroke because it was just a strain. I only got a little sick feeling. 3 hours of mowing up and down tall, humid corn rows under the blazing sun in near 100 degrees will do that to a guy.

Had me like an hour long nap and some noodle salad and now I feel much better. Oh, and a bunch of gatorade.

Good news on the irrigation front. Both this morning and yesterday we found running water in the ditch. We've been able to run several sprinkler settings and the drip system as well as run a little flood irrigation in the watermelon. They love that. I'd like to thank whoever it is living in the 5000-6000 block of Rogue River Hwy. that was kind enough or on vacation or whatever. Hopefully no one had to die for me to get water. That would be a little too ironic. We still run out around 1pm but I'll take anything I can get and thank whatever forces are responsible.

Wishing you a patch of cool grass to wiggle your toes in.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

95 at 9:30

And it is humid too. I can just imagine the corn stretching like a cat after a long nap over at farm #2. Dad and I were out seeing to some irrigation in the late melon field and I was struck by how much they were loving this too. Especially the watermelon. In the dusky twilight their leaves looked like greedy grasping hands reaching to cover all the ground they could. Hoorah for greedy watermelon.

We'll be up several times this night moving the water through its last set in the pumpkins and melons. Hopefully by morning we'll be able to get some water into the grapes too. It reached 106 here today and should be almost the same tomorrow so the irrigation ditch will certainly be dry by noon tomorrow. The people upstream get Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I get the remaining three. How's that for egalitarianism in the 21st century? The rich people with big lawns get 4 days and the small farmer who is just trying to feed people gets three. The first 12 years we worked here we had a full ditch all season plus a month earlier in the year and two weeks later into fall. Now that politician and environmentalists have stuck their noses into the mix the district has been forced to cut back pumping which has made the fearful lawn waterers upstream even more glutinous for water.

Well, to spite it all I'll wish you a happy night and joyful morning.

Friday, July 21, 2006

weatherman not doing so well

Amazing! it is down to 84 degrees here now. Was supposed to be 103 and I believed it, but this cloud cover blew in and cooled things right off. I'm going out to pull some weeds and enjoy the vicissitudes.

Monsoonal moisture

Glah! was it hot, sticky and muggy in that corn field today as we put down fertilizer. My eyes fixed forward on the rows to either side as we rocketed, bumped, jiggered and rolled down the walkway. Steering a garden tractor over rocky, bumpy ground at maximum speed while trying to avoid hitting the corn to either side can be quite a lesson in concentration.

The clouds were building quickly overhead as the sweat burned my eyes. I didn't have time to check the weather until we were done moving irrigation pipe. Then, as we went down for a dip in the river, I noticed it was starting to sprinkle. Wow! clouds everywhere and surprisingly no thunder. Perfect corn growing weather.

The river was cold! Without the sun to take the edge off I quickly got chilled even once I had swam for a while and gotten used to it. Goose bumps burn lots of calories, I hope. The cool of the wild Rogue seems to still be clinging to my skin, either that or it's just the sudden drop in temp. It was 92 when we went back out from break and now it is 89 and still falling.

Hope your day is fine and sweet.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

9th circuits court cancels first amendment

Apparently we no longer have an equal right to free speech anymore. As a historically oppressed minority (dutch menonnite) I must speak out against 9th circuit courts attempt to oppress my minority under the entitlement of "white Christian" although I am white(ish) and menonnites are Christian that does not in any way remove the historical racial discrimination my family faced upon coming to this country. We were forced to abandon our language and many of our customs by the same government which would now reduce our rights even further. Judge Reinhardt has done us all a disservice by generalizing and marginalizing groups of people which he has an utter ignorance of and vicious indifference to.
Hysciene: Gag Order

Waters of rejuvenation

Wow! I just did something I haven't done in a decade and it feels like it took a decade off my age.

I jumped into the very cold, very wild, Rogue River. A few minutes of swimming and a few minutes of back floating was all I could take as my lungs constricted from the icy snow melt. After running the mower up and down rows of corn for several hours, getting sticky sweaty and covered in little specs of grass clippings, corn pollen and weed seeds the silky feeling of wild, cold liquid joy was spectacular.

The farm news update: sweet corn is less than 2 weeks away. We've been picking zucchini and yellow crookneck squash for a couple of days already. There are still a couple of good heads of lettuce from our earlier attempt left and the tomatoes have began turning white here and there, I should bring a couple home to ripen in a sack. A few of our early cantaloupe are getting that grayish cast indicating they are coming along quickly. Also cucumbers and beans are flowering which means about a week until our first mess of green beans and a bit longer until cukes.

Hoping your day is productive, safe and joyful.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot and gettin' hotter

It is the humidity which really gets me especially in the corn fields. Our ditch is dry right now because the people upstream get to water on these days and they can't understand that a lawn can't use 14 inches of water no matter how hot it gets. I understand that they have a right to the water, but I can't help but experience a little bitterness (literally, many of my vegetables become bitter when not watered frequently) about the wasteful manner in which they use it. Sprinklers can be seen sitting in the same location for several days in a row or people like the Byers can have leaky, inefficient irrigation systems which spill much water across the grounds around their property. There are a number of wealthy land owners who are exemplified by the people at 6440 who have 40 sprinklers in their lawn.

Ok, whoops, super irony time. Dad just stuck his head in the door and said the ditch has water back in it, 40 sprinkler dude must have shut his off. Gotta go!

Have a super awesome day while I water my melons (even if you're Q...)

Mowing and going

The first 3 fields of corn are totally silked up now. Pollen falling everywhere and a delightful aroma that just can't be described. I spent several hours beneath the blazing sun mowing the walk ways and enjoying the vicissitudes of labor. I'm not sure what vicissitudes means exactly, never looked it up. Hold on...
vicissitudes: n
One of the sudden or unexpected changes or shifts often encountered in one's life, activities, or surroundings.

Yeah that'll do. Had to keep changing gears and swapping action on the mower.

This morning when we were spraying in the 2nd to the last corn field I was being delighted by the optical dance of dewdrop rainbows. What ephemeral colors can be experienced through such infinitesimal apertures. So bizarre that the same stuff makes up 3/4ths of our bodies and covers most of our planets and yet is fairly rare in its liquid state in this solar system.

Wishing you a fun and interesting day.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunny Sunday

Got out of the fields about 2:30 today. Was 92 then, reached 97 about 4pm, thank goodness we were done. Sunday is a half day this time of year. There's still sprinklers running at farm #2, imagine those rainbows going round and around for hours under the blazing sky. Will drive back over and shut those off in a couple of hours. There is (miraculously ...) still a little water in the ditch up here on the hillside farm. I'm letting it gravity feed into our drip irrigation system; five rows of squash, cukes and tomatoes.

Our pumpkin field is the most exciting thing at the moment, probably the fastest growing field of pumpkins we've ever had. And huge too. The Witch-Kissed pumpkins (trademark and copyright Savage Creek Farms 2006) have made it back for a second year, looks like they'll breed true. They have an upright habit, not vining like most pumpkins and they become huge plants before finally falling over from the weight of their own fruit. This year a few of them have vined out though so we'll see what they crossed with last year and maybe have an even better variety. So long as they are all warty, ugly and cool looking like they were last year I don't much care how they grow. Maybe the rind will mellow out too, not be all rock hard for easier carving. That is a big part of the fun of my farming, getting to discover new things.

Wishing you a day of fun and excitement.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Feeling 'umbled

Here's an aerial pic of our 2nd farming location. I put the letters SCF (for Savage Creek Farms, the name of our little operation by-the-way) in the middle of our top field so you could find the place. There is a slightly dark long oblong next door which is actually our third location, although it is so adjacent we just lump them together. This pic was taken early June which is why everything is brown and tan instead of dark green like it is now. Our selling room is the tiny white square above and to the right of the SCF logo. The blue stripe across the lower middle is the wild Rogue River.


The reason I'm feeling humbled is that the place seems so big when I have to walk across it from corner to corner in the heat of the day but looks so tiny in these images.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Nature and nurture

Dad and I were busy putting down spray in the corn when suddenly above the river appeared two wheeling bald eagles. They were a ways off but there can be no mistaking that flash of white tail and dark wing.

Hot day in the fields again today. Mid 90s when we finally abandoned the press of earth and sky to retreat to barn and home at around 3 oclock. I made the mistake of taking a nap and woke groggy and sandy eyed. Should've driven down to the river and jumped in!

Just done with dinner of sloppy joe's (or is it sloppy joes? possessive or plural?) and will head out shortly to plant the last late planting of cukes. Our first two plantings were the only things to fail this year. Less than half sprouted, no idea why. Probably the heat from the plastic mulch we planted them in, maybe. Heat or fertilizer or bugs or crows or just plain cussedness. It's all out there waiting to defeat the unwary farmer.

Good news. The zinnias are sprouting wonderfully. Looks like they'll at least make before season's end.

Wishing you liberty, purpose and prosperity.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sun and Spray

Slow, painstaking work today. More irrigation which is straight forward and active, and weed control which has taken on a grinding quality.

The sun was hot and the corn grows very well beneath it. There is a color I call "corn dust blue" which is a few shades off green and blue. It can only be seen on corn leaves when viewed at the correct angle. Straight on the leaves look green. But when the hairs on them line up just right they take on a bluish cast. This is an indication of vibrant, healthy growth. The world is full of such little messages, if we take the time to pay attention.

Now I must go rest and perhaps dream of us and other times and other places. Wish the whole world wellness.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Thai-peanut-chow-mein-stir-fry

Mhmmmmmm! Just got through making a batch of Thai-peanut-chow-mein-stir-fry to share with mom and dad. None of my own vegetables yet, unfortunately but still very tasty. I adapted the recipe from a delightful Thai place in Eugene, Or that had a kick butt peanut sauce, first place I ever tried it. I make mine a bit spicier.

Good day of work today. Just weed control and watering, sort of on a nearly routine now. My niece Randi was here this morning and dad had her tying wires in the tomatoes. Glad that got done. I repaired some irrigation pipe and did a little weed eating with the string trimmer. Icky, itchy work.

Darn beetles have moved into my cantaloupe. I thought I had them all controlled but now that the bees are pollenating there isn't much I can do about them. And boy are there loads of bumble bees and honey bees working those flowers. Bodes well for a good harvest if the beetles don't do too much damage.

2 weeks until we start harvesting corn. My neighbors (bless them) have five fig trees the fruit from which we will be selling for them. I love figs. We will probably also have one of the nieces pick blackberries for sale. What a huge blackberry crop we'll have this year! Many tons along the east fence if we could somehow pick them all. Probably due to the huge amount of late rain.

Happy sprinkler rainbows for you!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Lubos does it again

And here is a great article by Lubos Motl all about the culture war going on between soft and hard science (also journalism)

An eye opening article about the IAEA

Hyscience has a quick knee jerk test for ya. About Iranian interference in the International Atomic Enforcement Administration.

Farming Splendor

Here are four images from farm #2. This first one is of our early corn field.

Here's our first tomato field. The green strip down the middle is weeds, the tomatoes are boxed by the large railroad ties which we use to anchor the wires that contain them.

These last two are overviews of the whole field. Strange, I'm sure I took a pic of the melons, wonder where I put them? Oh well, maybe next post.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Another hot, frustrating day.

Got the zinnias planted yesterday so that makes it ok though. Two small sprinklers are running on them right now.

This morning things got off to a great start here at the old farm, lots of water running, 3 mama wild turkeys with their 5 chicks clucking under the biggest apple tree in our orchard. The chicks are too big to be threatened by the cats and they can fly real good but I still keep an eye on Sparky so he doesn't disturb them anymore than possible.

Frustration started when I got to farm #2. Got the water running there good but then when I went to remove sprinkler heads from one line of handline to convert over to the "big gun" sprinkler I had a heck of a time getting the sprinklers out or the plugs back in. Dang if I wasn't trying to change over the line my brother had been using, which has never had the heads removed before. So before I ruined anything else I gave up the job for later. By that time the gasket on our new silt filter had blown out. So I had to disassemble that and accidentally tore the filter big while I was doing so. Found out the fertilizer I put in there had plugged the secondary spin filters which caused the pressure to build up and blow the gasket. Arg! from here on out I'll put the fertilizer in a sock so that it doesn't float loose and get into the secondary filters.

It was getting plenty hot by then, about 90 in the field so I came back to the old farm and moved water and did some other chores here. 95 degrees by the time I got in. So I indulged myself with about an hour nap after which my sister showed up to borrow the tractor so they could mow their pasture and boarders. Glad we got all the planting done so they could reduce some fire danger without crossing purposes.

Just got through eating some of mom's delicious homemade pizza and a beer (gasp! yes I do occasionally have a beer, but almost never two; I know my limit!) and will go shut off water at farm #2 shortly, when I'm legal. 16 ounces of beer= 1 hour until I can drive.

Hope you are all having a lovely day with lots of freedoms and entertaining pursuits.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cool Weather, no blog

The last couple days have been about 82 degrees so we have been scrambling to do just as much as possible while we can leverage the coolness. Might actually almost catch up on the weeding. Pretty much all we did today was weed control except for some work on the big filter for the drip tape.

Watermelon have reached football size, corn is beginning to silk and the third field is beginning to tassle. We planted the last planting of corn yesterday, Finally! Hoorah! The only thing left now is the last planting of zinnias and maybe transplant some zinnia plants I have leftover to the ends of some corn rows for decoration. Will try hard to start getting a few pics up, alhtough I'm not highly motivated because the weeds make stuff so ugly. But all my neighbors and passerbys keep telling me how great it looks, so maybe it's just me.

Gotta go out tonight and spray for beetles on the pumpkins, I think. Either that or the last planting of cantaloupe and watermelon.

Hope life is treating you to popsicles and butterflies.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday America!

God bless this land of liberty and all her people who struggle every day to make the whole world a better place for every man, woman and child lucky enough to be alive on earth today.

Monday, July 03, 2006

96.4

But the wind at farm #2 made it much more comfortable than that. Up here on the hill the air is pretty still and the ground is light colored from drying out thus being between earth and sky is like standing in an oven.

The piggy pig bastards at the top of the irrigation ditch are hogging all the water for their lawns and useless (as in not even being used) pastures today. The fact of the matter is that they are just selfish sh!ts who have some hallucination about cooling off their part of the world by running as many sprinklers as they can. The stupid ditch walker put us on a rotation wherein the rich a$$holes further up the ditch get 4 days out of 7 while we and the rest of the unfortunates at the end only get 3. What passes for his reasoning was that when the people at the top weren't using the water on those 4 days some would be left over for us. But this seldom happens, instead people at the top steal water from us on our 3 days anyways and then the ditch is almost always completely dry during their 4 days. This old farm is so sad when the ditch is empty. Like a dusty old child's swing with one broken rope. Grants Pass Irrigation District, get your stuff together! Or die and get it over with.

Fortunately at farm #2 both of our landlords (2 parcels there) give us access to almost totally unlimited water. Charley and Pete, you rock! The cantaloupe over there
have reached the size of softballs, the watermelons are as big as eggs. The corn is tasselling and the first silk is showing up. Tomatoes are as big as golfballs. With the beginning of harvest still about 4-6 weeks off this shines well for a bumper crop.

Wishing you all a delightful day (except for the Byers and other a-holes at the top of my ditch!)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Power and Innocence

Can't have 'em both. A thought provoking article at TCS Daily: When Superman Shrugs

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Hot Hot, Busy Busy

Spent this morning and early noon time working with dad and bro at our friend Terry Spencer's house putting down some turf. Terry's dad and son-in-law were there too and we had a fine time laughing and working. But bro set the pace so we worked pretty hard and fast. The lawn looked super when we finished but we were about 200 square feet short so we didn't quite get the total gratification of a job well done but we did do a job well. Terry was going to get some more rolls of turf to finish with when we left for home. With such a little bit to do he didn't need our help to do the last bit. It was a nice break from farming although the melons and the weeds in the corn weighed heavy on my mind all morning.

Tomorrow we will be spraying, fertilizing and prepping the last fields for corn and flowers. Zinnias mostly. And of course some more weeding in the early corn fields. Whew! This heat always reduces my enthusiasm for this line of work but the first taste of melon always restores it. Only three weeks (about) until we start picking corn! Now that is a big source of enthusiasm.

Hoping your day is fine and free.