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In the Garden

Last year I did a garden update every month. The weather was uncooperative this year and the garden wasn’t the bright spot it normally is.

IMG_5486Except for the pole beans, the garden has finished production for the year. I plant fall radishes after each section has finished growing it’s vegetable. The radishes suppress weeds and their deep roots loosen the soil for spring tillage.

IMG_5487The Amaryllis bulbs are still growing and one of them is actually blooming, a second plant has a flower stalk too. I’ll let these bulbs grow until the end of September unless frost threatens earlier. They’ll be pulled and allowed to start their ‘rest’ until they are repotted again in November.

The leaves do get beat up some from growing in the garden. I think it helps develop stronger bulbs by growing in the real world for a while.

IMG_5488On the east end of the garden are these beautiful hybrid sunflowers. They have been transformed into  flowering bushes instead of having just 1 seed head like they used to. I had originally planted a whole row of the sunflowers on the left side but whatever ate my tomato plants also ate most of those seedlings. I had used all my seed so I went back to the seed store. They were out of the original variety IMG_5489so I got another type. I think they’re even prettier.

 

 

IMG_5493The bees enjoy them too. There have been bumble bees, honey bees and some wild type of bee that looks like honey bees but are half the size.

I enjoy looking out the west windows of the house and seeing them so bright, colorful and cheery.

IMG_5496The soybeans are nearing the end of their growth. It is hard to imagine, but a month from now, this field will have yellow leaves with some of them turning brown and starting to drop off the stalk. If we have a normal (what’s normal anymore?) fall, they should be harvested in October.

After they are harvested, we’ll no-til winter wheat into the soil.

IMG_5462My flower beds aren’t very colorful anymore. The black-eyes Susans are still smiling but the most brilliant flower this late summer time has been the lily hostas. The early summer rains really made them grow, their flowers are beautiful. When I head out to the barn in the early morning, the scent of their sweet perfume is hanging in the air. It is too dark to see them, but they definitely let you know they are there.

In July we combined the wheat in our bottom field and baled the straw the following week. A combine can’t harvest every single seed grain so there are wheat kernels dropped to the ground. There are 3 wild turkeys who have been grazing the field ever since the combine did it’s job. They were there when we started baling, waddling ahead of the tractor eating the seeds. I would love to get a picture of them for you but I don’t have a telephoto lens on my camera. As I am typing, I am looking out the east window at them. They are determined to glean every loose seed in that field.

As we baled hay this week, the barn swallows gracefully flew and swooped around us; devouring the insects we disturbed. I’d take pictures to show you, but I’m not fast enough to snap one. I don’t know how much longer they will stay in northern Indiana before heading south. My bird book says they winter from Costa Rica to Argentina.

I did manage some sewing time this week, but I’ll share that with you in my next post.

Red Radiance is Quilted!

IMG_5381Sunday evening I finished the quilting on Red Radiance! She needs to be trimmed and have the binding sewn. I not sure how soon that will happen. This picture looks blurry, but if you click on it, the photo that pulls up looks much better.

 

 

The left side triangle border for my Jane is now completed.

 

IMG_5367Left part of border.

 

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Right side of border.

 

IMG_5383The right side border is prepped and I was able to sew 9 triangles the end of last week.  This week has been very busy and I haven’t had time for hand work or piecing.

We’ve been getting constant rain for the last 3 weeks, not everyday but often enough we can’t get in the fields. The problem is now it is time for  the 2nd cutting of hay. We decided to go for it and mowed down a field last Saturday to wet bale and wrap on Monday. Sure enough, it rained late Saturday night or very early Sunday morning. (I heard it raining but I was too sleepy to look at the clock to see what time it was.)

Monday morning we had fog and I couldn’t start raking until around 9 am. It was very overcast and dreary and it looked like it could rain any minute.

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We need to rake the windrows together to make the bales pack better.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5379We custom hire a neighbor to come and bale the field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_5380While he is baling, the Farmer and I pick up the bales. I drive the tractor and wagon and he runs the skidloader. The skidloader has a bale punch with 3 prongs. He stabs it into the bales and lifts it onto the wagon. We can fit 15 bales on the wagon.

 

IMG_5376I pull the wagon to where the bales are going to be wrapped and the Farmer unloads the wagon. He stacks them in a row, ready for the wrapper. In the background you can see bales we wrapped from the 1st cutting in May. We got 70 bales wrapped and this will be fed to the cows next winter.

 

IMG_5372Like I said earlier, we’ve had constant rain and I have been busy sewing on my Jane. I’ve my neglected the garden and it looks like a disaster! See the green beans there next to the garlic? The garlic is fine since it was mulched.

 

 

IMG_5373The broccoli is doing great, they love all the rain, but the potatoes are under attack by potato bugs.

Today was garden clean up day. I pulled weeds, hoed and tilled. It looks a lot better than it did this morning, but she still needs more work. When I’m satisfied, I’ll take updated pictures.

Summer Flowers

I took the pictures of these flowers last summer but never used them in a blog post. I thought they might brighten up our dreary winter gloom.

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September Garden

Where did August go? I can’t believe it is September already! The field radishes are growing in the west part of the garden.

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The potato vines have died down, but I have a thriving crop of fox tail weeds that will need to be pulled before the potatoes can be dug.

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Believe it or not, I am still getting green beans off those pitiful plants. I don’t know if they will keep going until frost. The carrots are growing. I don’t know why they didn’t come up the first time, I replanted in exactly the same location.

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Did you notice, the bottom of the corn stalks are still curved. I don’t know if that will cause a problem with the combining.

The tomatoes are yielding well, all the tomato sandwiches I can eat!

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The field radishes I planted last spring have done their job of suppressing weeds. The cosmos are bright and cheerful too.

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We have had so much rain this year and with the cooler temperatures the corn and soybeans are behind in maturing. This hayfield is doing great. In another week we’ll make 4th cutting of hay from this field. This will mark the end of our haying season.

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I’m still burned out from the weather last winter. Isn’t green a beautiful color? Unfortunately the rains haven’t been widespread. Many farms in eastern Indiana and southern Michigan aren’t lush and green.

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Putting Up Corn

I used to grow sweet corn for my family to eat and to freeze but I don’t anymore. It’s just too easy to go to the neighbors produce stand and buy it there. I recently purchased 2 bushels of sweet corn to freeze.

IMG_4506First the corn needs to be husked, preferably in a nice shady spot.

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I sat a chair on the back of the truck. The Farmer will just sweep the husks off and feed them to the cows.

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Next the corn is blanched in boiling water . . .

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Then cooled quickly in ice water. Ice cream buckets work great for freezing large chunks of ice.

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Drain the corn throughly, then holding the ear of corn in my left hand, I take a very sharp knife in my right hand, and cut the corn off the cob. I wasn’t able to take a picture of myself cutting the corn. You just have to take my word for it. I keep putting the cut corn in a dish pan until it is full, then I fill the freezer boxes.

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The 2 bushels yielded 30 pints and five 3/4-quart boxes of corn. Plenty for the two of us for this winter.

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When There Is No Electricity

I’ve been asked what do we do when there is no electricity? We have to have it. The temperature of the milk in the bulk tank needs to be kept at 38*, we have to be able to pump water for the cattle and the cows have to be milked twice a day. That is why we have a generator. Many people have a generator for their home, but we have a different kind for the farm; we need MORE POWER!

Before you hook up the generator, you need to have your electric box equipped with a shut off lever. If the power comes back on while you are using the generator without shutting off the power line from the road, well, that is not good. You’ve ruined your generator.

The power line comes from the road and hooks into this box. On the back side is a lever that is pulled up to shut off the input from the road.

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The PTO on the tractor turns the shaft of the generator. The electric cord transfers the electric to the box which runs it through the power lines to the barns.

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We don’t use a generator very often. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time we used it.

We ran the generator for 2 days. The farmer started it up at 5 am and ran it until sometime in the afternoon when he would turn it off and refuel the tractor. Then back on until later in the night. We had to turn it off to be able to sleep. The generator hook up is next to the house. Diesel tractors are LOUD! We were thankful the electric was on the evening of the 2nd day.

It was a Dark & Stormy Night

Actually it was dark, and it was night, but it wasn’t stormy, yet. Early last Tuesday morning, the farmer and I were awakened by the howl of the tornado siren. We turned on the TV to find out what was going on. In approximately 20 minutes we were supposed to be hit by strong winds and rain with the possibility of tornado(s?) at the western edge of the system. Yes, it was a tornado warning, not watch.

The farmer went out to the barn to fasten doors and I closed all the windows, then we waited and watched the clock. Sure enough, at 1:05 am the wind roared then we heard a mighty crash! The farmer said, there goes one of the maples. I looked out the window and huge limbs were in the east yard, but a little north I could see something else.

When the wind died down, we looked closer. What we saw was the west barn roof wrapped around a tree. The farmer went outside to see the damage. No trees were down in the driveway, some limbs but nothing that couldn’t be cleaned up quickly. There was nothing we could do at 2 am, so back to bed we went, waiting for daylight so we could really see what it looked like.

This is metal roofing wrapped around a tree.

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The wind just ripped the metal off of the barn. This is the west side. The auger is just fine!

IMG_4318And the east side.

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The farmer called the contractor who has roofed the other barns and told him we had a roofing job for him. He came in the forenoon to see what was involved and said they would start working Wednesday morning. They needed a tele-handler that was being used at another farm that lost two roofs.

Wednesday morning they tore off the rest of the metal roofing. (This is the tele-handler.)

IMG_4371The electric lines to the barns were intact. That’s amazing!

Looking up at the sky from the haymow.

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After they had the old metal off, they repaired the rafters. It made me nervous to watch them walk around up there.

IMG_4378Then they hammered on the 2 X 4’s to attach the new roofing to.

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That was Wednesday’s barn work. In the evening, my friend and her family came and cleaned up the downed tree limbs.

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On Thursday they finished nailing the boards and started attaching the roofing metal. In the early afternoon, 2 spring wagons filled with Old Order Mennonite (not Amish) men came trotting up the driveway. They had finished the roofs on the neighbors’ barns and came to help roof our barn. With their help, the crew was able to complete the roof! No one had to work on the 4th of July.

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And the west side.

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As I went out to the barn Friday morning, my yard looked like this.

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The tree in front had the metal wrapped around it. The big maple in the center is the one the limbs broke off of.

It had been 3 days since the storm hit. The yard was clean up and the barn has a new roof.  The damage could have been so much worse. We are very thankful for our friends and neighbors who came and helped clean up and rebuild.