July 5, 2005

Another three day weekend gone by…the temperatures hovered right around 95 degrees. In spite of allowing myself naps with the air-conditioning on, I’m tired.

The next nests of Royal Palms began hatching, so we had to put the completion of our new brooding pens into high gear. Ken built three 4’x4’x4′ cubes. There is a plywood roof, an open bottom, a plywood back/half door, and three sides of chicken wire. They are covered with a tarp for shade and privacy, filled deep with clean straw, and set up with water and food for mama and chicks. These cages prevent the disasters associated with the chicks being allowed full range of the yard when they are too little.  One hen was already installed over the weekend, and tonight we will transfer the two remaining hens from the Dogloo (an igloo house for dogs. Or turkeys.) to the new cages. We unexpectedly sold all of our nine week old poults last week.

A very great amount of weeding occurred, along with adding organic fertilizers, and watering, and mulching. The trench for the asparagus was finished. The pumpkins and melons are finally planted, and a new soaker hose set up for the circular rose garden. I planted some sunflowers, and more sweet pea seeds were saved. We made a wire basket and planted the cardoon in it, hopefully to foil the rodents. There was much time to consider the many textures of soil. Rich, crumbly, globby, stinky, gooey, concrete, crusty, dusty. It’s all there!

We picked berries. Between the Farmer’s Market and the "mid-week work sale", we had 52 half-pints that were sellable. That doesn’t include the gallons of berries with some kind of blemish, which we keep and freeze for our own use. Those "rejects" can cause trouble. Last night I decided that after hours of toiling in the heat, we were going to enjoy berry smoothies at night. The rejects were tossed into the blender rapid-fire, until I had to stop to save a little room for the ice and ice cream. After pressing the button, the resulting product was purple. Deep, deep purple. Even more purple than the color I painted the fence out front, and that’s pretty darn purple. It tasted very good, but I’ll just say that perhaps the human body is not intended to consume quite that many berries at once. Next time we’ll add some peaches. Or something…. This berry-raising so far has worked out well. I think this year we will earn $400-$600 in berry sales by the time the season ends. The work is very hard, with the prunung-the-vines part yet to come (and who could forget mulching them in a downpour in February?). But at least they really sell. I can grow more tomatoes, but the demand and the price don’t come close to that of the berries. Earning any money with a small property seems to be a function of really hard work and targeting specialty crops that are pricey and have a high demand. With that in mind, we may need to think about planting more cherry trees, regardless of how troublesome they are to grow.

The roses were all deadheaded, the contorted hazelnut staked, and the okra, beans and jelly melon re-seeded. Wasp nest are everywhere, we spray, they sting. We’re way ahead of the wasps but they continue to retain the element of surprise.

Sunday night was busy with the Deep Impact event. Unfortunately, our telescope wasn’t powerful enough to find comet Tempel-1. Or at least that’s my story, since I looked and looked and looked for that comet unsuccessfully. So we watched the NASA channel for all the excitement. The idea that people out there are smart enough to successfully hit an object millions of miles away with something smaller than a dishwasher is pretty stupendous.

I ordered three heirloom tools from Smith and Hawken, and can’t wait for them to come. One is the long-handled version of the hand weeder that I was waxing poetic about last week. Another is a hybrid blade, between a hoe and a plow in appearance. And lastly, a dibbler. I have several small patches of weeds that I’d rather not sit on my butt to weed with the short handled weeder, wonderful though it is. I’ve improved at sharpening tools on the grinder and can regain a knife edge in two or three quick passes.

We still have much to do to catch up, but hopefully we can putter away at that during the weeknights. I tried hard to focus on the harder jobs over the weekend, so there’s smoother sailing!