Keith Ferrell's Landlessons

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Calm Before

Is there ice coming?


Enough to knock the power out?

Won't know until the lights go off -- or stay on.

But I've made sure there's plenty of water in jugs and bottles. The lamps and flashlights and book lights are all ready. Plenty of food. A big pot of turkey and rice soup taking shape in my mind in preparation for it taking slow shape in my stock pot starting sometime between midnight and dawn. Propane grill ready if needed.

The radios have new batteries.

The propane fireplaces are doing fine.

Nice stack of books beside my reading chair; some science and other journals to catch up on too.  Plenty of sharpened pencils for continuing to write books of my own. (And my pencil sharpener has a crank handle, and doesn't need electricity any more than the same model sharpener needed it fifty  or a hundred years ago.)

Good sweaters and heavy socks ready for whatever tomorrow brings.

Good flannels and a Hudson Bay blanket ready for the night shift.

Could be sausage and biscuits here sometime before the sun comes up.

Ice storm?

Hope it misses us -- and especially hope it misses those for whom it would be a real and dangerous hardship.

But if not --

Bring it on.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Afternoon of the Fauns

Now that we've had the first real hint that summer will be ending, I've been thinking back over this one, and the spring before it, the things I've done here, grown here, seen here. I've been busy doing them, not writing about them, but I thought I'd take a moment now and then to look back, and share those glances here.

One of the best things I saw this season was a pair of fauns, whom I found in tall grass very close to the house. (Unexpected benefit of not mowing!)

When I came around the corner of the house their mother took off, snorting and shouting with every maternal energy she owned, but the fauns were unmoved both literally and by my presence. The fauns remained in place,  let me get very close to them. They waited there place until I returned with the iPad, then allowied me to record them for a few seconds before I stepped back around the corner to let them find their way to their mother, who had taken up position in the woods near the creek, calling frantically and without cease.

It took them awhile to make their move, and when they did they took a tentative meandering route -- one of them spent some time in the now unoccupied horse stalls. Had it not been for the doe's desperate calls -- and the fauns' smaller, bleated but equally desperate answers -- and the fact that The Yearling imprinted so deeply on me when I was a child, I would have been more tempted to close the stall and keep the faun close for a bit than I was.

Eventually mother and offspring were reunited. I am more than half-convinced that I heard the fauns speak their species' version of "You left us!" to the doe.

I have seen the fauns again, on and off, all through the summer, growing nicely -- thanks in no small part to the smorgasbord  my gardens provide (I don't mind, mostly). They are far more wary now, although they still come closer to the house than most deer.

I am always happy to see them. Someday perhaps they will fall to a hunter elsewhere. I don't permit hunting on my property -- but I do permit myself the thought that someday or or the other of them might bring the next generation by the house on their way, do doubt, to show the new kids the salad bar that I grow as much for them as for me.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gardening in Suspension

Long rainy night, with more rain expected, on and off throughout the day, after a rainy day yesterday. Raining heavily now. My gauge shows just under two inches here since Monday night. Less than the three inches or more that the local TV weather clones predicted..

Still, more rain than we needed (not that we have any say in the matter), and more than enough to slow down work in the garden for a few days.

This isn't a complaint, or isn't intended as one anyway. The weather is what the weather is -- as it always has been. (The climate is something else. The climate is becoming what we have made of it. And that, of course, affects the weather, a fact (sic) that the local weather clones continue to decline to mention.

Where weather is concerned, I have been accurately accused of loving it all -- mild or stormy, clear or cloudy, too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry. And, with the exception of the devastating and often tragic consequences of extreme weather, I do.

Even when it slows down or halts my garden work. I'm no gardening Goldilocks -- I try to work with what I have. And what I have this year is a lot of mud.

Day before yesterday I talked for awhile with my good neighbor Jewell Brown. Central among the many things we discussed was the challenge of farming (for Jewel;) and gardening (for me) when the weather is as wet as it has been here this spring and early summer. No matter how well a garden drains, it can't drain this much rain coming this intensely and constantly.

I mentioned my father's comment that it was far easier to work land that was too dry than too wet, a sentiment that anyone who's sunk a boot -- much less a tire or wagon wheel -- into deep, and deeply supersaturated soil knows all too well. The kind of mud that can pull a boot from your foot while you're trying to pull the boot from the mud.

Jewel nodded his long-time farmer's nod. He's seen it all, and the weather is a far more serious matter for him than for me. He makes his living from the land; I am simply sustained by it.

I have been watching the mud in the garden pretty closely this year. trying to gauge the point at which my garden soil ceased being solid and became instead a suspension, a solution. And not the sort of solution that solves problems, but rather the sort of solution that is one.

That point, which has happened three or four times this year, is rapidly approaching once more. Another inch or so of rain today should do it -- and we're expected to get much more than another inch.

Then it becomes a race as to whether or not the garden dries out enough to be worked before the rains return again.

I suspect that when I step out to the main garden a little later I will discover that this week's race is already lost -- we have more rain on the way.

I will spend some time looking at the mud, the suspension whose only solution is time and dry weather.

"You get a better harvest from too dry than too wet," Jewell said to me before we parted beneath gathering rain clouds.

But you also grow what you can grow in the conditions available to you.

In other words, sometimes when I plant collards, what grows best is colloids.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Berries Coming Along

My favorite early summer challenge -- waiting for the blackberries to be ready for picking . . .

And eating!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday by the Creek

I spent some time this morning beside the creek that flows so gently through beside this farm.

YouTube Video

As always, undiminished after nearly eighteen years, this flow captivates and restores me.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Newest Neighbors

Beautiful babies, beautiful mothers, beautiful little farm, all very well cared-for.
Such good neighbors.


A good cool Saturday, fifteen  degrees or morebelow normal -- the temperature sign in town said 50 at noon. Cloudy but dry.

Garden day!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ready For The Cicadas To Sing

It shouldn't be long now, and I'm ready, both because I love their song and all that it conveys. . .

And because they'll be singing loud enough to drown out the sound of the grass growing -- which I am convinced is louder than the sound of the mower that can't keep up with how fast the grass grows.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Possibilities

Seed catalogs started arriving today.

Which means that some of my favorite reading of the year begins today as well.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, Old Lessons

2013 begins, with all the promise and all the challenge that each new year brings.

I'm looking forward, as always, to learning -- and re-learning -- some of the old lessons that this land has tried so hard to teach me. I am doing so in hopes of really learning the lessons this time.

In so far as anyone ever does.

That, it seems to me, is one of the great gifts of a piece of land and all that comes with it. The chance to learn and to go on learning, the same lessons year after year, and discovering that the lessons, however often learned, and the learning itself, never grow old.

I love this little farm more than I can say. It has taught me so much, and continues to.