Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crazy Quilt Weather

Three days before Christmas we had thunder and snow at the same time?

Was it just a week ago it got down to 2 degrees one night?

And we had about 6" of snow on the ground for weeks?

And then it's been in the 60's?

And now the Border Collies are burrowing under me as I write for fear of the thunder rumbling around us?

Gotta love Kansas weather--or wait five minutes and love DIFFERENT Kansas weather.

This spring-like interlude of unknown brevity between winter storms is a predictably busy time. Catch up on wood cutting...but oops, now it's all wet because it's raining. Pick up junk that the snow had covered. Dump water out of things that hadn't gotten turned over before the snow. Quick, drive t-posts while the ground is thawed!

And most important, run around and look for "green growy things"!

The fall/overwintering garden is exciting! The two beds of spinach throve under the snow, and if I could stay in one place long enough I could pick a salad. The cilantro is also thriving, a continuous surprise. A few chard plants seem to have lived through the first deep open (snowless) freezes, as did a few salad turnips and of course the volunteer purple top turnips. Lettuce under its Lexan tent is green (and red). Onions and carrots also prove hardy once again.

As do rabbits. The onions look like they've been mowed. Sigh. But under the Lexan, the dreadful Lexan where rabbits never went last spring? The lettuce also has been mowed down. So, further refinement of this system is clearly indicated. Close the ends of the Lexan tunnels? Row covers? Chicken wire around the garden?

Or start trapping rabbits?

Or settle for store-bought salad?

Too muddy to do much in the garden, but my new volunteer and I made a good first effort on the annual tomato cage roundup. Now (if not sooner) is the time to get them pulled up, cleaned of last year's vines, straightened out, sorted, stacked, and inventoried. Now is the time because in just a month and a half (how fast that will go!) we'll be hard into the new year of the farm with preparations for Sheep Shearing Day. Now is the time because there are various strongholds of feral cages all over the farm, from various past gardeners, that never got properly rounded up last year or while I was away for two years, that make the farm look messy and create entrapment dangers when the sheep graze those areas.

We're stacking the cages in the chicken pen this year. The idea is that the hawks will have a hard time catching chickens among the cages, and weeds will have a hard time growing around the cages with the chickens scratching around. The thought is to rotate the hens through the garden year by year, letting them scratch up and fertilize each block in turn while keeping young trees from growing among the tomato cages--one of the older stacks will require a pruning saw.

We'll see. Check back in a year or two and see how it worked! In a decade, maybe we'll have the bugs worked out...or the chickens will be eating them! Testing ideas can take a long time on the farm. It's a slow science.

It's also a large art, 12 acres of canvas to layer again and again with the colors of every season, thought and mood.

No comments: