Savage Farming

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wonderful world of welding

Spent most of the morning moving water and all the rest of the day welding cross braces onto tomato stakes. Should have all 700+ tomatoes staked by Monday or so. Will try to get a pic of the finished field up around then.

Welding is fun and interesting. I am fascinated by the patterns that form in the arc plasma and in the liquid puddle of metal beneath the welding arc. The sound and physical sensations give me the impression of struggle with an angry beast to produce a desired result. The wind would come up behind my back as I was running a bead. As I braced my body against it and covered the shield gas from being blown away with my wind-shadow I got a gripping feeling of fighting some tremendous force, willing it into an intended motion and manifesting something ... specific.

I'm not terribly fascinated by the sensation of a hot blob of slag finding its way through the top of my shoe and between my toes. Yee-ouch!!

Well, gotta go out and drive those stake in now, y'all have a great day.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, brother

I don't know if my brother will see this or not, but it's about as likely as him checking his email today, so I'm wishing him happy birthday here too. I'll by him three bucks worth of something he likes instead of a card next time I see him.

Dad and I spent this afternoon repairing a busted irrigation riser instead of finding Bro' a nice gift. Spent most of the last of my pocket cash on that too.

But a delightful little shower just arrived a few minutes ago to lift my spirits. I know just like dad says, it'll bring up more weeds and make other troubles. But I can't help it, I love rain.

Wishing you all a fine "Brother's Birthday"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Good Wednesday

Got a pretty good start today. Got the corn planted at farm#3, Shawn Smith's place. Threw a handful of mixed sunflower seeds into the seeder which will surprise everyone later, spotting the field with bright golden, yellow and red color.

Then ran into town to pick up a few treats for mom's birthday. Got her a nice little wind chime, unfortunately couldn't find one made in America. She said she didn't want a cake so dad came up with an idea from her childhood: we got donuts and ice cream instead. She was delighted.

Spent the rest of the afternoon welding up new support stakes for the tomato rows. The old wooden stakes we've been using for years have broken down too far. These new units will do a much better job and make it so much easier to tie the wires up. Our method of "controlled sprawl" really works good. Convenient for picking, good support and easy on the plants. Also lends itself to the use of many tools which reduces the need for labor.

Got back to the old farm a little before 5 and took mom and dad out for dinner at Karen's Kitchen, 9001 Rogue River Hwy. Great burgers there, especially crunchy fries which I love.

Tired now, going to bed early tonight so I can beat the birds out in the morning.

Have a super day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Near the peak

Almost to reach the tipping point in our work load. Only three more corn plantings left and about a month out from first corn harvest. Will be switching to the big guns for watering in the corn fields which halves the number of times we move pipe.

Would've had corn planted today, right after fertilizing the second and third plantings but our truck got a flat so we had to change plans to accommodate that. Will plant the third from the last field of corn tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow is mom's birthday so dad and I are going to leave for work early and when we've done with moving pipe etc. bring home a cake and some of the lovely gladiolas which are just now starting to flower at farm#2. I'm thinking of getting her a new wind chime as several of her old ones have broken down a bit. We all love wind chimes here.

Bro just stopped by and we've been shooting the breeze. So nice to get to visit but it doesn't happen terribly often anymore. He dropped off a neat copper and glass hummingbird feeder for mom's birthday gift and gave me a really nice, big straw hat for mine. Take that! ozone hole. His birthday is the day after tomorrow. Three cancers in the same family, what're the odds? 1:1.

Sending you a day of subtle passions and intense mellowness.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Robotic Workers Unite !!

I've been saying it for years: automation is the way to grow in agriculture.
Now Vision Robotics in California is picking up the refrain.
They are preparing robotic systems in order to replace human migrant workers.
Finally!
More details here: Wired Magazine
and here: Vision Robotics

Fortunately my own farming systems won't compete in the same work space.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cool Sunday

What a delight the weather has been today. Hovering around 75 at the hottest with an occasional brisk breeze to keep the sun scald away.

Just (finally!) got the white corn planted. Will put in 2 more plantings before the planting season runs out. That's the story with everything now, like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, the first week of July looms in the distance. Still time to do some cukes, maybe a few more cantaloupes, pumpkins for sure and some winter squash if time allows.

Then it'll be hoe-hoe-hoe until the first week of August and opening. Man! Am I ever looking forward to that first meal of fresh sweet corn.

Hope your day has been pleasant.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Everyday Glory

The setting sun cast a lambent and buttery light across the wooded hills above our farm. It had been a tough day and my body was tired but as I moved the small sprinkler in the interlaken grape row my mind was invigorated by a rush of all the complex and vivid little things which appeared before my wandering eyes.

Grape vines twisting their tendrils in grasping reach of air. Red blackberry thorns like the blood they so often draw. Flickering grey and green cottonwood leaves. Shrubby. verdant. dark and pungent evergreens and junipers. Swifts in flight and jays in silent contemplation. Broken bits of three year old plastic irrigation pipe I still haven't gotten around to disposing of.

Made some good progress working on my sound sculpture today. Almost have the various surf down perfect, really sounds quite a bit like standing on an ocean beach. Working today on some chirps and cheaps and a few buzzes to make up the "small animals" section. Still have to elaborate some control mechanisms although I may just make a demo version that plays in its own esoteric walk.

Joy to you all.

Disconsolate Birthday

Had to look that word up to make sure I was using it right: Disconsolate

Work's been a frustrating struggle all morning. Probably not going to get my birthday wish and to thoroughly spoil today's mood my cousin Galen called with news from Kansas that his mom, my mom's sister, Aunt Pauline, passed away this morning. I can do nothing but remember my aunt and pray for her family's comfort.

41 years I've been on this planet and this mess we call life is more confusing than it was when I was 5. If there's a message in this series of events the author is being quite inscrutable.

I wonder where my lady is today. Alone in her universe as I am in mine, is she beset by similar quandaries? Or does the mirror image of our lives move her gracefully towards a fine day of unruffled pursuits? I hope it is the latter.

Wishing you all comfort and success in this momentary struggle.

The toes of summer

I was so busy that the solstice just slipped by quietly. I usually spend more than a moments effort reflecting on that agriculturally significant date.

It is a cool and lovely morning here in the pacific northwest. One of the wild turkeys was out grazing beneath the bird feeders. Lots of water in the ditch and with the cool weather it might even stay there until tomorrow morning.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reflection deflection

A strange and striking fact was just mentioned to me by my mother.

I will be turning 41 the day after tomorrow.

That is just so hard to believe. Except for the rapid rise in daily aches and pains I still feel like I'm in my twenties.

But it aint true.

Today water is in the ditch, although not as much as should be. A quick drive up Rogue River Hwy. showed a bunch of the upstream A-holes still running sprinklers and soaker hoses all over the place. Mostly they'll shut them off right around 9 or 10, before the ditch-walker can come along and give them grief. A few will continue to steal water, as if they own the world.

Off to work, jiggity-jag. You have a great day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Recovery

Got a minor case of heat stroke yesterday while putting down fertilizer and planting corn. The blazing sun reached out to touch me. But after an early bedtime and a night dreaming of water falls I am feeling much better.

The momma turkey was out with her half grown chicks today. They were mournfully inspecting the mostly dry irrigation ditch. There were still a few puddles so I'm not worried about them yet. Tomorrow is the first day of our watering cycle so all should be well.

Working on getting tomatoes staked this week. They're almost too big already. Some of the fruit is the size of golf balls. Most people don't know that the tomato is actually a berry.

Gotta go plant the next cycle of summer squash.

Happiness.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Proud Granpa

Got these pics from my sister yesterday. May not be important enough to write about for John C. Dvorak but me and my family wanna crow like the morning rooster. You can spot Randi near the middle of the bottom pic walking to get her diploma. You can also see some of Ashland's lovely terrain.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cherry pickin' Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there.

Dad and I started the picking cherries before the birds came along and wiped them out. We got about a 5 gallon bucket 3/4 full of them. Bro stopped by and gave dad an air mattress for floating on the pond. I, being a poor man myself, got him 40 ounces of Budweiser delight. He was kind and shared a glass with me over dinner.

I never had the good fortune to become a father but since the choice was largely out of my hands I feel little in the way of regrets. I recognize the missed opportunity mostly in the abstract. My many friends who are fathers report mixed feelings on the matter but mostly universally say that it is a remarkable experience.

Tomorrow we start back at work in Bro's welding shop to get the second fertilizer spreader finished. Seems a bit odd to be making a piece of complex equipment for farming if this is going to be our last year of big scale farming but the welding experience is worth something if nothing else. Plus it will be a really nice piece of machinery to own.

Wishing you all a strong, supportive and nurturing night.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lovely day for a graduation

It was cloudy when we arrived in the steep city of Ashland which kept the bright morning sun cool and moderate. Band members and gown clad seniors where milling towards the stadium where it was all happening.

Mom, dad and I took a school bus/shuttle from the parking area on Mountain Ave. and arrived at the stadium in a timely fashion. A quick ring-a-ding on the cellphone and we'd found Sis high in the stands.

What a view! Ashland and the Mountain Arena in particular have a stunning view. Rolling hills of brown grass studded with bright green juniper and pine, high distant mountains, thickly wooded nearby mountains and a stark cliff rock outcropping across the valley. Too complex to describe elegantly but elegant in its own right. Like a total idiot I had forgotten my camera.

SOU has a lot of students. After Cassie's high school graduation my mind was incorrectly tuned to the scale of things. But the commencement went smoothly with several memorable speakers. An odd note, at both Randie and Cassie's ceremonies one of the speakers emphasized the importance of taking risks. Of pursuing our goals despite our fears and uncertainties. I never ignore when the universe feels it needs to repeat itself.

Wishing you all a risky, adventurous day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Busy, busy, busy

Tired, tired, tired

Going to my niece Randi's college graduation tomorrow morning. Hoorah! She's got here bachelor's in science for physical therapy (I think! what a terrible uncle I am)

Very hot busy day, going to bed soon.

Peace and joy to all.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ahhhh... water

The ditch is the most full it's been all year. Don't know what the irrigation district did, but it's about time.

That A-hole at 6751 is still running his sprinklers but so long as we get plenty of water I'll be able to resist the temptation to chuck a burning bottle of gasoline against his front porch.

Numerous sprinklers and drip systems are running and I swear I can feel the plants becoming happier.

Mom's new kittens are being quite rambunctious.

Wishing you all a very fine, wet day.

Muddy water morning

It's a little after 6 and mom is still sleeping. I'd like to think it was the prayers, but I have a suspicion she took a whole one of her sleeping pills. Either way, good for her.

Mom and dad went to Glendale Sunday and picked up a couple of kittens from my niece, they're rough housing it up in mom's sowing room. That'll give her something to do when she wakes up.

The water is finally starting to trickle back into the ditch. Dad zipped up the road and saw that there were still about 8 houses watering their gravel and weeds. Unfortunately I can't just take my shot-gun and go knocking on their doors to talk to them about it. Hopefully GPID will send someone down to have a word with them. Some of them will shut down before they go to work this morning but no matter how you slice it they are stealing from us.

Well, gotta go get to work. Y'all have a fine morning.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

not such a good day

Worst news first to make the rest seem less important. Mom got a call from her older sister in Kansas today. Their oldest sister, Pauline, has apparently suffered a brain embolism or stroke and is unresponsive. Tough time for mom tonight; everybody pray that she gets some good sleep despite this, ok?

Lesser worst news, the ditch is still dry after four days of the pigs upstream gulping it all down for their lawns and driveways (you read it right) and on top of that news has come out in the paper that we will be assessed additional billing by the Grants Pass Irrigation District to make up for a short fall due to bad bookkeeping. The amount goes up per acreage, looks like we'll be nailed to the tune of about 350$. Still a month and a half out from cash flow and the universe is tightening the screws.

Sorry to my usual readership for the angst; You folks all have a lovely and serene evening/night/morning or whatever.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Silicon Score

Water running on the corn field smells sweet like malt or molasses. Overhead an osprey wheels and kites, her piercing cry drifts down on a mist laden breeze.

I find it a fascinating coincident that long before the digital age mankind was exploiting silicon for its many useful properties. Today's wonderful find in the realms of magic and manifestations was a delightful little reflection on mankind's dexterity with silicon.




I find about one of these every year or so, getting a nice little collection put together. Not of any archaeological value since they come from tilled fields, but quite a thrill for me every time none-the-less. In the same manner I've put together a good pile of jasper, agate, chalcedony, carnelian, fossilized and agatised fossilized wood plus many other unique example of quarts and silicon.

Beneath the blazing sun and bright blue sky, the earth refulgent gives me tiny gifts for my perseverance.

Have a fine and shiny day.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Class of 2007

We were proud and delighted to attend my niece Cassaundra's graduation last night. The ceremony was (no doubt blessedly to the seniors) short due to some steady showers of rain. Afterwards we went to her mom's parents house for cake and visiting. Cass was radiantly happy at her final escape. "I can't hardly believe I've finally graduated!" she said at one point in the evening. I certainly remember that sensation. She's one tough little gal; rock on Cassie!

Here's the best two pics (all the rest turned out a bit blurry no doubt due to the rain) Cass is the one sitting down ;- |


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Late Spring rains

It's raining, it's pouring.
The old man is out dragging a box-scraper across the corn field.

Well, actually I'm pretty sure he's sitting in the car staying dry and warm between showers.

I was out gathering stakes and cross-pieces for putting up the tomato wires when this thorough and heavy down-pour chased me in.

Wow! It is really a soaker.

Lovely gray and blue and white drifting wings of clouds and blowing squalls. You can see the storm giants treading along the bottom of my watermelon field, looking for things to hit and blow away. They're actually invisible but you can see the rain being pushed before them as they stride across the hills and fields.

Goin' out to clean-up in barn shortly, if I can.

Have fun, the rain will.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Shifting gears

Moved our corn planting up a day in order to accommodate last weeks smaller planting and also in preparation for the upcoming Labor Day field plantings. We try to position one of the succession plantings on either side of Labor Day so we have two fields to pick from if we need to. Big business on Labor Day weekend.

Dad spent a good chunk of the day cultivating the first planting of corn, sort of against my wishes. I would've preferred to give the mini-sprayer we built another chance to do the job, which so far was looking like it worked fine. But the evidence of his senses wasn't enough for dad and so he went puttering into the field with the tractor and sweeps. Cultivated corn tends to lodge and have poor root systems but I couldn't dissuade him from his paranoia towards imminent weed problems so we'll see how that turns out.

Farming isn't always smooth soil surfing, sometimes it can get a little rocky.

A wonderful dust-settler blew in this afternoon. Shot down some of my plans but gave me a nice pause to work on one of my small software project, a sound sculpture I am tentatively calling "Shores of Another Planet" it's a live render of sounds, not just a static loop like an mp3. Pretty tricky, challenging and fun. When I get it working right I'll post a link to a demo for y'all.

Hope everyone has a fun, safe night and day.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Grapes in flower

The grapes fill the air with a sweet, musky perfume that brings me a sense of peace and contentment.

Saturday mornings we spray pre-emergent weeds on last Tuesday's planting of corn. The very first planting of 65 day sugar-enhanced corn has gotten taller than my ankle so we should be good for a mid-July harvest in that field.

I did some soil surfing on the terracer this afternoon while dad was working the settling pond. Not as fun as the full out cultivator run but still cool.

Mom wasn't feeling so hot today so dad and I vetoed Saturday night pizza and went with microwave tv dinners instead. Not the same as the old aluminum tray dinners of the mid-70s by a long shot but still some pretty good chow. I love the 21st century.

Have a great evening.