Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

There's a cool old cemetery down Newton Road, just off Wire Hollow. I made my spooky pilgrimage there the other day - maybe I'll get the guts to go tonight and look at it in the moonlight, on this All Hallow's Eve. The oldest stone I could read was from 1857! There were plenty of crumbling markers, covered with moss or fallen down, that were illegible so maybe they are even older. It made me think of how long people have lived and worked in this valley and how lucky I am to be here. There's still plenty of room in Huxley's Cemetery, I'll have to see about reserving a spot.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Catch of the Day

The mother of all radishes, a throwback, one in a thousand occurrence. About 3 pounds, funny & freakish & beautiful beauty heart.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dad's home!

My father went home saturday with a newly implanted 'Defibrillator' or some such. It speeds up his heart a bit, and he was feeling so good, he was trying to get get some more land to expand his garden! Whoo dad! He celebrates his 82 nd birthday on Nov 2, his e-mail is if you want to send him a birthday greeting.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


So while I'm writing about the dump and listening to yet another inch of rain falling on our satsurated farm, my brother calls to tell me my 80 year old father is in ICU. His heart stopped briefly, but luckily he was already in ER and stabilized quickly. We could really use some sunshine here now!

Coal Dump!

We went to Dairyland Powers informational meeting last night. Not very exciting, our local power supplier relies mainly on two old coal burning plants. They decided or were forced to install a scrubber to remove pollution from the exhaust. It involves injecting large amounts of lime into the stack to attract, soak up sulfur, nitrates, mercury, titanium, etc. So when previously they could sell their ash to be mixed with cement, now it is not suitable for that use and they want to creat a new landfill to 'store' it until they find a use for it. They take it out of the air and risk contaminating the ground water with it, not much of an improvement! Unfortunately the place they want to condemn to put it is in the middle of an organic farming community. It is several, probably 5 miles from here, but up-wind and almost up-stream from us and is on and adjacent to other organic farms. They don't have a clue about the strength of the organic customers, but what was more disturbing was when talking to the chief chemist, it was clear he did not know much about chemistry. The whole group did not instill confidence that they knew what they were doing. The driving force for them was clearly in the words 'lowest immediate cost' as far as tipping fees and transporting. We'll keep you posted as we learn more about the 'proposed dump'!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Paranoia - Sleep Destroyer

I didn't sleep at all last night, just thinking about bugs. The evil faux lady bugs came in from the fields last week and they love Richard's wooden house & my log cabin. They were super active while it was warm and then they seemed to disappear once it cooled down. I knew they weren't really gone & that I'd be dealing with them all winter long; I figured they had crawled into the cracks & crevices of my little cabin. Little did I know that they had taken refuge behind ALL my clothes! I have hooks on the wall that jut out far enough to hold several hangers; my walls serve as my closet (you need to get creative in a 10x10 log cabin!). One cool night last week, I needed a hoody that was hanging against the wall. When I moved the clothes to the side to reach what I needed, I was horrified to find a clump of the beetles hiding in the dark behind ALL my clothes! I ran out of suction in my rechargeable hand vacuum and I kept finding more hiding places. They keep crawling out of the woodwork. I can hear them skittering around on the ceiling and in the corners and in the windowsills. And then I think I feel them drop onto me in my bed and then I can't sleep. Woe is me.

Maybe I'll have time for a nap today. It's a foggy, rainy day and I've created the perfect October playlist: Billie Holiday, Nick Drake, Richard Thompson, The Band, Nina Simone & Elliot Smith.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cover crops

We have several fields put to bed for winter. The one pictured is seeded to oats and peas on raised beds. The field was subsoiled after compost was spread. The oat/pea mix will winter kill and in spring, one shallow tillage pass will give us a field that can be planted early to give an early crop of salad, spinach, cilantro and radish.

Soil tests!

Soil tests are back and look surprisingly good! We had fears of fertility washed out with the 26" of rain in August, but appears that despite an observible loss of soil, the fertility stayed put or was actually concentrated. Soil organic matter was up slightly, .1 to .2% on soils ranging from as low as 2.2 to 3.9% organic matter. CEC, Cation Exchange Capacity, the ability of any soil to hold nutrients was up also when compared to last years tests. Most nutrients were slightly up to constant from previous years, except the very water soluble nutrients that seem to require yearly additions, calcium, sulphur, Manganese and boron. The bottom line is that soil mineral needs will be the same as last year, about $10,000 worth of gypsum with traces of manganese and boron, $20,000 worth of compost with our usual addition of kelp and sea minerals to supply the rest of the trace and rare elements needed for healthy plants and healthy people.

Bulldozer progress

Wow, It was so cold, but so much fun! After paying a $3,500 per month lease on a bulldozer for now the second month, I finally got to operate it!! Brian showed me how the controls work and promptly left me on my own. It is very touchy, lots of power and can push piles of dirt!
I went to field #44/64 which lies near the river, but there is two acres of old pasture between the field and the river which was higher than the field which had 6-8 inches of topsoil washed away, so we rotavated the old sod and with the bulldozer pushed soil from the pasture to fill in the washed out field. Sounds simple enough, but requires precise depth control, blade tilt, and blade angle, constantly changing with the highs and lows of the terrain. Pushing dirt from the high spots and letting it flow out evenly into the low spots and then backing as fast as you can control back to the river, stopping just short of the bank overlooking the rushing Bad Axe river and putting the blade down again to start another push to the washed out field. Again and again, the hours slip by, the cold penetrates, but so much more to do, Oh, no, late for lunch! You don't want to miss an Andrea lunch!
After Lunch Brian takes over and makes faster progress than I did. By the end of day tomorrow, it should be done, ready to subsoil. compost and seed to rye. One field done, the easiest one, three more to go, please, please no rain for awhile.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Driftless party

Richard and I went to the benefit party for the Driftless boys on Saturday night. They had an awesome surf band and everybody was dancing in the barn. Potluck, free beer, good times, good company. They were taking donations at the door, had a pie walk (same as a cake walk), and a silent auction. They were also hit very hard by the flood so I hope this party generated some funds for recovery! We had the winning bid on this pecan pie!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Saturday off

Wow! Tomorrow is the first Saturday I will not be going to market in Madison since the 3rd week in April. Andrea and Juan are doing the market. Juan is a very good truck driver and does a great job of back-up: taking things off the truck, stocking up, etc. He is shy about sales because he thinks his English is not good enough, but it is! Andrea will be in charge of set-up, price changes and all the small details that come up. They have alot of good veggies to sell, salad, a new crop of spinach and beautiful cured sweet potatoes. Check out our stand and let me know how they do!
I will be catching up with clothes washing, office cleaning, mail,etc, big joke! The crew is coming tomorrow to dig more sweet potatoes! We'll try out a new digger that Brian modified and try to get the rest out of only slightly muddy conditions before it rains again on Sunday or Monday or whenever, but it just seems to rain before it dries out. We did get one more field seeded to winter cover today!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Name this Veggie!

Chef Andrea just brought me the most beautiful skewer of....