Category Archives: Mother Nature

Cue the Banjos #2

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I just got back from the spot where the hoop stood.  There was a break in the rain, and I felt brave enough to see the carnage for myself.  It’s funny how you think you are prepared for things sometimes, I saw the images, I knew what I was about to see, but it still didn’t stop the fact of the gravity of the situation washing over me, and me weeping uncontrollably for at least five minutes.  I didn’t realize all of the attachments I had connected to that structure, and it all came out.

This is what I walked up to, snapped the picture, took a deep breath….trying to hold it all in, and sniff…you know the rest.

This is incredibly sad to me.

I knew the wind was strong, but to walk up to this and see the couplers twisted like this, it…..yeah.  WOW!

sniff sniff. : (

Incredible.

This image is of the pipe that anchored the whole ship to the ground, bent up, but the earth augur is still in the ground.

The North side hoop blown and twisted toward the east.

Mother Nature straight up body slammed this hoop!

The chard is still delicious!

I’d like to mention that when I said I cried uncontrollably, it was more like angry weeping, It sucked…it still does, but we must move forward!

Here is the Mothership in happier times! R.I.P.

She grew a lot of food last season, and she will be missed.

I would also like to add here some thanks: Roy, thanks for being here to be a chaperone for the kids, and you forgot the blood soup in the fridge.  Paul Z, thanks for coming over first thing and asking what do you need to do first, much appreciated.  Grace, thanks for taking pictures this morning and having nice hugs.  Cody, thanks for calling and lending your help when we need it…I’m thinking farm aid!

 

 

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My camera is broken, and other randoms

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I feel like I haven’t been updating because I rely heavily on the images I post.  I don’t know why, my teachers in school always thought my writing held its weight on its own, but since my camera has been broken, I’ve been afraid I guess.  No excuse though.  So, I’m writing today to let everyone know what’s been going on round’ here, without pictures.

We had a wonderful volunteer come and go within the last two weeks, Sarah P.  She came to us all the way from the great land of Bentonville Arkansas, perhaps you’ve heard of it.  I don’t even have any pictures of Sarah, so I can tell you that she was blonde, had a lovely personality and smile, and was a hard worker.  I believe she had a nice time, she said it to my face, so I’d like to hope that it’s true.  Sarah, you are missed, thank you so much for your help!

The old birds have been moved to a new coop out in the orchard, to make way for the new birds to go into their old coop…that sounds funny when you say it out loud.  The new birds have out grown their apartment in the greenhouse.  I for one am glad to see them move, and get the greenhouse back.  I just went out to the orchard to see the new digs.  The chickens seem to be really happy, they have a lot of space to roam, and they are doing a great service to those trees by fertilizing them.  My main reason for going was to see my little angel Spaz.  I had heard from one of the brothers that he was a little escape artist.  Hard to believe with 8ft. fences.  I get out there and watch as all of the chickens run to the fence looking for a hand-out.  Hmmmm, no Spaz.  Maybe he’s in the coop I thought, then I look down and see him standing right next to me!  You ARE an escape artist!  I was so happy to see him.  I’m still not sure if he is a him, but nonetheless, he has feather…

UPDATE:  I had to quit writing just then, Paul had just come home and asked if I had tended to the birds in the greenhouse today.  “No” was my reply, usually the door has been opened by Paul.  Well, at that time i was just past three p.m.  I walk over to the greenhouse and walk in as Paul was walking out to a death scene.  There were a lot of birds dead, some almost dead and some very much alive.  It was horrible.  At first I felt very defensive saying that it wasn’t my fault.  I said “you didn’t tell me to open the doors”.  One might ask, Amanda, do you have to be told everything?  Well dear reader, I guess I do.  You see, I hardly ever tend to those birds.  I tend to things like my kids and the WOOF-pack.  I went back into the greenhouse to wrangle the birds that had escaped their enclosure.  I struggled putting them back in their pen.  I went to Paul and asked for help, but none was given.  Oliver said he would help me catch them.  He put on gloves, but I couldn’t let him, it was pretty bad.  I grabbed a big container and started to pull out the dead ones.  I stopped counting at around 15, at that time Paul came and helped me.  I would say at least thirty perished today due to my negligence.  It was absolutely awful, I was traumatized.  I hauled the container to the driveway and asked Paul if I should dig a hole.  He told me to leave them, I had to go to the nursing home to sit with a friend of ours, Ms. Barbara.  When I got to her place, she told me about her day and asked how I was doing.  I told her not so good, and let her know about the birds.  She said “Oh, that’s awful!” and then asked “Did you get crabbed at?”  I said sort of, if you consider the cold silence similar to being crabbed at.  And she said “Well, that’s just like a man.”  Dear reader, Ms. Barbara is 90, has dementia, but in my humble opinion is still sharp.  Then she proceeded to make me feel better, saying that these kinds of things happen, and could happen to anyone.  I told her I understood, but it had just happened, and my defensive feelings had turned to feelings of guilt and shame.  And being a Christian she said “well, just throw it out there to God then”, and she began to pray:”Dear God, bless Amanda and her family and those birds that are with you now Lord…”  I have no idea if birds go to heaven, or if God greeted them today, but when she was finished she looked at me and smiled and said “there, now the only thing to do is go forward with your life”.  I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person, spiritual, maybe, but by no means religious, however what Barbara did for me today was awesome.  I couldn’t have asked for a better friend to get me through what I was feeling.  At that moment, her cell phone rang.  She answered it and said “Oh, is this Paul?”  She looked at me and winked.  “Yes, she’s right here”, she handed me the phone and Paul said to me “Amanda, I just wanted to tell you that I love you, and that every things all right.”  Barbara had brought me up from 10% to about 95%  and Paul calling made me feel absolutely great.  As soon as I hung up the phone with him, Barbara clapped her hands together and said “See!  There’s your happy ending!”  I love that woman.  I still feel terrible for those birds who didn’t have to die, and the ones who remain have now been relocated to their new home in the old coop…whatever that riddle means.

It was so DRY!!! How dry was IT?

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My goodness gracious.  It has been so hot and DRY lately, things are dying all around us.  Lawns are brown, trees are loosing their leaves, the people are wilting themselves.  Team WWOOF is so bored, I can tell.  They spend a lot of time, all day usually, watering.  You see with the CSA, we can’t let things die on us.  Our customers are depending on a crop.  Let me rephrase that.  We could totally let it ALL die and the customer would have to understand, because they signed a piece of paper, and something like drought is part of the liability.  But we’re too nice, and since we have a lot of help and it’s too hot to do much else, we put a hose in their hand.  It’s funny, because as I type this out, it is currently raining.  The rain, which has only been going on for about 20 minutes or so has prompted me to write about the dryness, because I’ve been needing to.  One of our CSA members asked me the other day how things were growing.  I let him know how tough it’s been and how some things are just wilting away.  He totally understood if the bags were empty for the next few weeks.  He shared the story of his garden with me.  He said he and his wife had been gone for three weeks.  Even though they had someone watering it for them, they returned and their garden was dust.  This “heat wave” that the weather man has talked about has lasted for two months now.  It’s more like a heat tsunami!  This wave won’t leave.  I guess my message to you dear reader is respect the fact that there is produce at your grocery store, and there are many, MANY factors that go into its survival.  Uh oh, the rain knew I was talking about it, it just stopped : (

Buzzy Day Today

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Up with the sun, and we got more accomplished before 9:30am than most.  Early this morning, Paul went up to Lowell Arkansas with a new farm friend Butch Wilson, to pick up a bee hive.  Butch and his wife came to the Slow Foods potluck held here about a month ago and noticed that there was a hive at the back of the farm.  Since he and his wife grow a garden, he said that he couldn’t support what we were doing in that way, but would like to help out in another way.  So, Butch and his wife purchased a bee hive for us, to help pollinate the crops.  Thank you Butch, and your wife, I feel bad that I don’t know her name, for your generous contribution!  Also, a few representatives from the CO-OP, Ozark Natural Foods came by to take our picture to go up on the wall in the produce section of the store, and interview us for their newsletter, or possibly their blog?  I’m not sure, I was in and out of the conversation, but we were interviewed about the operation.  Lastly, about 20 highschool/college engineering students came out for a tour of the farm.  Paul and Jonathan took them around, and with their enthusiasm, I’m sure these folks were wowed.  Then it was lunch time.

 

Life is a funny thing

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So the tomato tasting “contest” was more of a tomato tasting “event”, held Sunday at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks.  The Ozark Slow Foods Movement is the group that hosted the event, and they purchased Peron, Chocolate Stripe, Mexico Midget, and Grape Cherry varieties from our farm to put into the tasting.  There were 60 varieties for the public to choose from.  Paul says there were well over 200 people who waltzed through the hall.  I say “waltzed” but they had to put in their time in line, which went out into the parking lot.  Paul and Oliver walked over to the Botanical Gardens, whilst Isaac and I wo-manned the farm stand.  There was a woman who walked by and said: “The Mexico Midgets were delicious!”  I thanked her for the compliment and we talked tomatoes for a bit.  She must have talked to Paul inside the venue because they were not marked as “Ozark Alternatives”.  This woman told me of the ones she was excited to taste and was sorely disappointed, and the ones that surprised her like the Brandywine variety.  It was $5 to enter this event to participate in the tasting.  I wish I could have seen the crowd and the line, I don’t know if I would pay the $5 to taste, I don’t enjoy tomatoes enough to want to taste all of them…shhhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone.  I mean don’t get me wrong, tomatoes are awesome, I like them on a sandwich, I feel no need to explain myself any further.  If you come by my Farmer’s Market stall though, I’ll tell you how good they are!

The same day at the Farmer’s Market, we sold out of all that we brought.  It was a good feeling, I must say.  We had pints of Blackberries, several bunches of flowers, several quarts of tomatoes and a few of Okra.  All of it gone.  The crowd was all jazzed up about the tomato tasting so they were in the mood to buy.

I wore my bonnet at the market that day and at least ten people complimented me on it.  I couldn’t believe it.  Usually I get a “that’s nice”, but really they’re thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Mother Goose.  This day was otherworldly!

I was recognized at a busy restaurant today at lunch, by a complete stranger.  He said: “You look familiar.”  There we were, for what seemed like minutes, me saying nothing.  “Where do I know you from?”

“I don’t know”.  Is my reply.

“But I’ve seen you before”.

I’m shaking my head, I have no idea who this is, not even the slightest inkling.  I’m usually great with remembering faces.  “Do you go to the farmer’s market?” I ask.

“YES!  Yesterday.  You sold me blackberries!”  He says and points at me.  I look down at his little boy, I remembered his face.

“Aaaahh!  Yes.  I did sell you blackberries!”  Ha ha, and I walk away.  It was a very surreal and awkward experience, but flattering at the same time.

Lastly, Paul gets an email from someone who says that he spoke to brothers in a natural foods store in Missouri.  They tell him all about the farm and their experience on the farm.  He’s intrigued, and apparently he has spent time at both Dripping Springs and Foundation Farm.  Hmmmm….I wonder who those brothers could have been.  I don’t know anyone from Ava MO.  Life is sure funny sometimes.

Things I Love, Things I Loathe

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I am quite satisfied with these flowers, these are a cactus variety of zinnia from Baker Creek Seed Co.  The package said “Giant”.  Not quite so sure about that, but the color is really nice.  We’ll put this into the “Love” category.

This too can be put into the “Love” category.  This, another cactus variety of zinnia, called “Bright Jewel Cactus”, seeds from Baker Creek Seed Co.  I’m in love with the color.  Anything orange attracts my eye, but when it’s a beautiful flower, even more so.  With this pack of seeds you get a few colors.  I’ve noticed a few white, a few yellow, some orange and pinks.  I’m satisfied with this mix of seed.  A beautiful mix of color.

This is the pink that comes mixed with the “Bright Jewel” packet.  It’s pretty, more of a salmon pink.

The award for “I love you, I love you, I love you!” goes to the “Righteous Red” zinnia from Seeds of Change.  These seeds had an excellent germination rate and produce hearty, vigorous plants.  The color was very chromatic, no complaints.  Absolutely stunning flowers.

I am also in love with my Celosia, seeds from Seeds of Change.  The germination rate was good and the plants are healthy.

Dum dun dun dun DUM!!!!  It’s that time to talk about the things that make me shudder and ultimately mean a swing and a miss on my part.  These pictures are of a zinnia variety called “Envy”, which is funny, because there is nothing to envy here.  I was so excited to buy these seeds, more than any of my others.  I bought them from Baker Creek Seed Co.  Zinnias should be direct seeded, but can be started in your green house, or indoors.  The risk of starting them early is to not let them get root bound, because they can suffer a transplant shock, which can send double blooms, (refer back to the picture of the Righteous Reds), to turn into singles, which you will see:

Hideous!  This is what the seed company advertised.  In fact, that’s even a terrible picture.  The picture in their catalogue was a lime green like this.  Not what I have here.

The single blooms are not pretty and they fall apart AND they look ugly a whole lot faster than they should.

I only have one plant that produces double blooms, but the color is far from what was advertised.  Let this serve as a warning to stay away from this variety of zinnia.  Notice the brown petals, this flower just bloomed!  Shouldn’t be brown.  Yuck “Envy” zinnia, just yuck.

Things I Love, Things I Loathe

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Bunnys, or deer nibbling off the top of my beans, grrrrrr.

If you want to grow ANY kind of squash in Northwest Arkansas, you have to fight the good fight with these guys, squash bugs.  Organically, there aren’t too many options for you…just don’t grow it.  I’m fighting for these babies here, I’m determined to keep them alive some how.  I don’t have many plants in the ground, so I’m scraping the eggs off of the leaves just to see if my plants can have a fighting chance.

The eggs and a newly hatched baby.

Another squash plant culprit, the stem borer.  Little white moths lay their eggs at the base of the plant and the baby bores into the stem and eats the inside of it, killing your plant.  This day I took a knife and split it open and yanked the grub out.  Fingers crossed the plants still make it.  I’m determined to get a crop.

Calendula and dill.  In case you were wondering, this is a picture of something I love.

Cosmos.  These are called seashell.  The produce this beautiful tubular petal.  I ordered the seeds on a whim, and am very pleased with them.

My sunflowers are my pride and joy!  I LOVE them as if they were my own children.

Except when the deer nibble off the tops!!!!  If anyone has any advice on dear deer solutions, I’m all ears!