Friday, May 28, 2010

Breaking Ground Part Two

A driveway for the new house! The first three pictures were supposed to be a panorama, top would be on the left and bottom on the right, but I don't have the ability to stitch them together.

And a slab! Seth and Jonathan making final adjustments to the staked-out footprint (26' x 32') of our future house.

Less than an hour later: Wade has dug out for the slab.

The view south from the future house

Breaking Ground Part One

We have had a long run of hot, sunny, intermittently steamy days with temperatures up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which irks me mostly because we do not yet have ideal watering systems in place for animals or plants but also because when I moved away from North Carolina I thought, "Well, at least I will get away from the oppressive summer climate." Come to find out that global warming is plotting against me personally.

But truly, things look to me like they will turn out alright. Last summer was incredibly cool and wet, and yet still we had enough food to eat through the winter. If this summer proves to be the opposite, just look out for our killer melon crop and an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash.

Below is a series of photos of the initial day of plowing and disc harrowing in the future vegetable fields. Oai and Minh are buzzing around on the lawn tractor they found in our barn that Oai fixed up.

Four-bottom moldboard plow at work.

Jonathan and Tyler plowing off into the sunset...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Swiftly Speeding Seasons

Welcome, everyone, to a time of pretty cows on pretty pasture!

What else is new? Seth, Tyler and Elsie are taking turns on our two biggest tractors the International--"Big Red"--and the Oliver--"The Green Giant," one with the recently repaired four-bottom plow and the other with the disc harrow. Yesterday, they opened up close to three acres of fresh ground which we will seed into a cover crop of peas, vetch and oats (PVO) as soon as possible. I'm trying to avoid the fumes of gas and fountains of hydraulic and transmission fluids that periodically come spraying out of the tractors and their implements.

Our noble hero Wade of Guy Hanson and Son is here with bulldozer and excavator, having already built a driveway to the future Seth-Anna-little person house. He is now grinding away on a leach field so that someday in the not-so-distant future we may be able to let our dish- and bath-water down the drain instead of dashing it all over the front lawn.

Wildlife sightings:
A pair of Baltimore Orioles (Jonny said they are suckers for citrus fruit, so after I first saw them I put out some oranges that I got from the Belfast Co-Op compost and lo and behold there was the momma bird!).

An old man in a truck stopped by to say he had seen a lynx or a mountain lion in our back field that same day, and that he thought it was 5 or 6 feet nose to tail.

Neighbors shot a wild turkey on our farm and gave us the carcass. Yum!

A pair of ospreys was spotted circling over the barn and checking out the river a couple weeks ago.

Bald eagles hang out around here too. Come see them!

We thought about baiting the feline predator with Mignon the calf, just so we could get a glimpse of it, but decided against it in the end.

Progress in the garden, dark soil after a night of rain.

This non-descript photo tries to show the new driveway, but mostly shows off one of our new topsoil mountains.

I'm signing off, everyone, to go enjoy the last few hours of daylight. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two Weeks (+) in Summary

Spring has been charging forward with a vengeance here at North Branch Farm, and we are soaking it all in! A little over a week ago, Tyler and I spent some time on the barn roof and between our efforts and a couple of other stints around the same time, the north side of the barn is ALMOST completely roofed. There are only twelve more panels to put up (we've done more since the photo I'm posting here was taken).

In the cattywampus photo below, you can see the garden on the north side of the barn and Seth's and my cabin platform behind it. The heavily mulched area in the near left corner of that garden is where we recently put in 350 baby blueberry plants. The plum trees on the far side of the garden are now in full puffball bloom and smell riotous. You can consider this a "before" picture, because on May 10th we're expecting Wade the Heavy Equipment Operator to come and start digging a driveway behind those fruit trees, a foundation for Seth's and my house in front of the platform, and a leach field between the garden and the barn.

Here is the view looking south from the barn roof--Mt Waldo is the looming peak on the left in the background, and in the foreground is a second garden plot we'll be using this year. In the middle are many many acres of beautiful but neglected pasture and hay fields.

Here you can see the detail of the hip of the metal roof, where the shallow upper pitch meets the steeper lower pitch.

The barn as it looked at the end of April:

Gib and Sammy, the 6 1/2" long painted turtle he found sunning itself on Rt 139.

For Lucy: Bleeding hearts on the front walk that I noticed were blooming when I got back from dropping you off at the airport. They haven't quit yet.

"Still Life with Peas"

This is the amazing seeder that I loved and thought I would never own, because the manufacturer stopped making it. Johnny's Selected Seeds is now carrying it again and Seth gave me one as a gift. There is nothing better for seeding medium-to-small patches of greens and many other small-seeded crops, and this was my seeder's maiden voyage.

Looking back at progress in the garden south of the barn on Wednesday, there are peas in the nearest bed, mixed greens in the back left, and spinach, radishes, cilantro, carrots and beets all crammed into the back right bed. More to come soon, I am sure!