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Sunday, July 17, 2016

When last we met....

When last we met;
the Garden was struggling.
Daisy was in jail.
July weather thought it was October.
the trees at the station were having to be pampered every two days with the garden house.
the chickens were crazy.

So fast forward to THIS week in July.  We've been hotter than the surface of the sun.  Then, gloriously, we had three days only in the 70s and low 80s.  The garden was much happier in this weather. The heat, even with watering, is tough on the plants.  My poor neighbor has 3 foot tall corn in full tassel. My tomato plants are only half the size of normal, and the tomatoes are splitting in the heat, if they get tomatoes at all.  The cucumber plants are leggy and the fruit develops so quickly and sparsely, it looks as if they'll be no pickles this year, unless I buy pickling cukes. We get a large handful of raspberries every other day from 4 plants, and the grapes are looking well. 

The white onions started falling over this week, a sign they are ready for harvest.  The poor things have endured hail, cold, and blistering heat, so I'm happy they made it this far.  I harvested all the white onions, and they are only half the size of normal.  This is actually fine as it is the perfect size for cooking without having to freeze or dehydrate left over onions.  They are now in their harvest box in the sun to dry their outer skins before I braid them to store.  The yellow and sweet onions are still going gangbusters!

In the empty onion, and soon potato, beds, I will plant with cow peas to add nitrogen back into the soil for next year.

Daisy was tough to break and spent almost a week in chicken jail.  This was immediately followed by Olive spending a three day hitch.  (I'm going to dub this the broody summer.)

After our glorious three day break from the miserable heat and humidity summer will be back upon us with a vengeance.  We are looking towards 7-10 days of 90-100' with a heat index kissing 115'.  Mercy.

Knowing this misery was setting upon us, I pushed up one of my Station projects up to NOW instead of this fall.  The trees on the station, especially the new transplants, are suffering in the heat and the lack of rain.  To combat this problem, I would spend 45 minutes every two nights, with the hose, watering each of the 30 trees in the orchard.  Not only was this a mindless, boring task, but it was HOT!  My plan was to eventually install a drip irrigation system, which would gently water each tree over time, with little evaporation, and best of all, wouldn't cook ME!
One tree hid her apples from me during the post hailstorm picking. 
The don't look too bad either.

So off the hardware store I went.  Drip irrigation can be relatively simple.  Usually used at nurseries or in flower beds, or well planned veg gardens.  An orchard is a large project.  Each of my rows is 150 feet.  I designed it so that it is a giant, elongated, capital E.  With the long connector at the topmost portion of the hill.  This is also where the hose connection is.  When the hose is turned on, water fills the 100 foot laterals and then the small feeder tubes that are snapped into the main truck lines and run to each tree with a small drip head on the end.  The downhill ends all have screw off caps for full water release in the cold months so it doesn't need removed in the winter. It took two additional trips to the store, and spanned two days, but it works brilliantly! (Total cost of supplies, about $130.)

The chickens?  Well, they're still crazy.  I did hear from the little chicks new mommy this week.  Little Doris, the polish pullet, was taken by a hawk this week.  Poor little thing.  Chicken keeping is hard when they make such an impression on us, but we are better for it in the end.
First time we've seen this one near the Station.  It's a golden headed blackbird.  He hung around a few days and left again.

The cattle have come up the hill for a visit.  The next camera shot was of the chicken running up
to the fence to make faces at them.  My chickens LOVE BEEF!

Ethyl being, well, Ethyl.

Until next time ...

Doc here:
Caryl forgot to mention a couple of things she's done to help the chickens beat the heat.  The first is the old standby:  a block of ice with strawberry tops (or other yummies) in it:  cold, rehydrating, and fun!  The other is a loose-weave tarp that she bought and hung off the southwest corner of the run to provide some shade against the afternoon heat.
Andy (on the left) is starting to resemble Zap, except
that Andy is black where Zap was blue

The other recent development is that we finally got our Pollinator Habitat certificate in the mail.  Looks like only four people were faster than us in getting registered.


  1. A good project completed Caryl. Love your chicken stories.

  2. You are having way too much fun, and I just love Ethel!