Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Growing, and busy.

We've been rather busy this last week or two. There was a quick trip up to the property to do a little work, and to check on the status of the herd up there. There was also a certain sometwinnies birthday to plan. This weekend will be fun for them, for sure! Not to mention the preparing the garden for fall planting, and getting the first set of seedlings in the ground. The main garden is still under quarantine though.  *pout*

But, right now I wanted to stop by and tell you about our herd. We've been managing this herd for 8 years now. The first couple years we didn't really know what we were doing. We tried, but our main objective was just to lower the hunting pressure and allow the herd to come back onto the land and get all cozy. The poaching that had gone on before us was intense and I'm pretty sure not even the squirrels came onto the property. Not to mention it was mostly barren with a few pockets of hardwoods. the second year we had the fields planted and all the trees planted and as they grew the herd slowly moved back in. At first only for foraging and the herd was very small. We didn't harvest animals for the first 3-4 years. Then we started noticing the deer were finally staying year round without fail. They visited the same places, and we saw the same deer time and again. But, the bucks - not so much. They are typically travelers anyway and wary. But, as the newer generation of deer matured those bucks tend to hang around more. Other bucks start coming in more because the herd size is growing so the does need mating...all good stuff. Last year the herd was finally large enough to not only meet the demands of our meat requirements, but my brothers and my uncles as well. This year?

Our herd?

 Our herd is growing in leaps and bounds!

The fawns are numerous and we even have a set of twins!

Last years fawns have sized up nicely (top photo all the way right) and this years are beginning to lose their spots and all are healthy and happy.

Along with these shots we had plenty of turkey (some with the turkey and deer at the same time) and other wildlife as well. It feels great to know that we've completely changed this land. The deer that used to be here were very thin and the fawn population by this time of the year was very low if any due to high predator pressure. Turkey were non existent on this property as well. This year? I fully plan on a true turkey Thanksgiving dinner.
And? I. Can't. Wait!
See you soon!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Soil issues.

I eluded to the fact that I would be back to discuss the issues I'm having with getting my green beans to grow. So- here I am. The first batch I sowed I"m pretty sure just got drowned. Nothing more, nothing less. They were about 4" high when we had an entire week of nothing but rain No joke. It was canoe weather. The second batch of beans I sowed managed to climb and grow and stretch and just die one after the other with no real beans produced. The last of the beans ended up with rust pretty badly, but I'm not thinking that is what actually killed the plants. The third succession of beans? This set didn't make it more than 2-3 inches tall. The second set of true leaves before just kind of disappearing.

So, the problem is getting worse over all. I've let the garden get a bit weedy the last few weeks just waiting for the fall season here. I figured a bit drier conditions and more manageable humidity would help whatever was causing the issues. MAN, I could kick my own butt for that! If I hadn't let the beds get weedy and had paid closer attention as the plants were dying off yet again I may have noticed the problem sooner and been able to do something about it. Then again, as long as the soil was wet I may have not seen the problem. I don't really know. What I do know is that now that it has dried out? Oh what a MESS!

THIS is what my garden bed looks like after having weeded and turned it over:
Not only do I have these clumps of white nastiness, but the entire soil seems infiltrated with it!  UGH. Here is a close up of that gross white clump when I broke it open...

So, Uh- Yeah. I have a pretty serious problem here. Everything I've read (and it hasn't been easy to find anything about this particular problem) says I should "replace my potting soil" HAHAHAHAH! Ah, well. That is not an option. What I can find says that the soils was probably TOO high in organic matter and the decomposition process had not completed before adding it. Well, that is a distinct possibility. But, now that I have this problem what do I do? I can't just dig 6-8" of dirt out. How am I going to rehome BAD dirt anyway???
So the only thing I can think is that this is from turning under my crops, and then the excessive amount of rain not allowing it to decompose correctly (bad aerobic/non aerobic balance = gross!)
Nevertheless, I have to endure, and after all I did not spend the last 5 years building this soil just to abandon it and start all over with nasty Florida SAND. (AGAIN)
Not knowing what my options are and not being able to find any real experiences out there I decided it's probably best if I myself put this out here. I have white, gross garden soil. I'm bound and determined to save it, and use it again - successfully!
I have come to the conclusion that this white substance is most likely either a mold or a fungus. Either one should be controlled by one of my favorite mostly organic concoctions. Good old fashioned copper. It of course is going to work better on fungi - but if I can flood the area should also work to dry out any mold.
The most unfortunate thing in all of this? Remember all those worms I had in my soil last year? All of them are gone! I didn't see a single one while I was digging through this mess. Not that I blame them. It just makes me sad. It also makes me realize that if a worm won't hang out here, how could I expect for my plants to grow?
Oh Mother Nature - Why must you spite me?!
Hopefully I'll be back in a week or two with good news.
See you soon!  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Harvest Monday 10.14.13

It's the middle of October and I can't believe it! Welcome back to Harvest Monday. Thanks Daphne for always being such a great hostess. If it wasn't for you we wouldn't all get together to celebrate the harvest that are happening all over the world!

The last few weeks I have lost almost all of my bean plants. I think I also figured out why - but that is another post. I've replanted my green beans (AND my winter squash) 6 different times this year to no avail. All the seeds come up the seedlings look great and then - poof they just disappear into nothingness. Deader than a doornail. It's been frustrating to say the least. At first I chalked it up to our extreme weather. This summer, more than any other we've had enough rain to continually drown out the plants. But, I garden in raised beds and while the rain would still cause issues and allow certain types of plants to die off this amount of destruction was unprecedented. We've had more than 6 months in a row with over 10" of rain each month. You'd think that would be enough to cause the problem after all!

But, I have been able to harvest some beans. The lady peas and black eyes made it through OK, but even those are no starting to succumb to diseases. I can't wait to plant out my fall plants. I sure hope they do better!

This weeks harvest? BEANS... well, southern peas but it is still a bean. 

Don't let the pictures fool you. That is not a plate they are on. This is a very large serving bowl. The first picking was just over a half pound, the second a pound and the third a good 2 pounds. The green ones weigh more because they are not dried, nor will they be dried. They'll be used as snaps in my beans.  For a reference the green beans on the side of the bowl are 6-7" long.
Yes, I also harvest a few handfuls of green beans each time I harvested the southern peas and a couple lemons as well. They continue to trickle in a couple every few days. But, I've only got a few green bean plants that made it so the pickings are slim. I'll probably just throw them in the pot along with the beans and make some cornbread to call it good. Nothing like it!
Unfortunately like the rest of the year has been my harvest is not varied. (Thank goodness for eggs!) I sure hope to cure that with the cooler nighttime temperatures upon us now. Hope all is well in your garden.
See you soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013


Harvest Monday came and went again. I harvested! I did! Rather than sharing my entire harvest I'll share my most interesting one.
My purple sweet potato. SOOOO pretty. So, yummy... so dry! I didn't bake it - I nuked it. BIG mistake! Oh well. It was dry but after adding some butter and smashing some it was still quite yummy.  After doing some research I found out that purple sweet potatoes in general have a tendency to be dry, much less one that only cured for 2 days. The other sweets I've been eating have been dry as well and I can't quite tell if it is the type of spud or if it is the excess rainfall. Fully half of my taters have been split and they are in a (VERY) raised bed. It shouldn't happen to them. Next year I'm going to pay for a few slips to try another type. The Amish Porto Rico has always performed well, but I do like a sweeter, moister potato - and let me tell you I'm LOVING this purple. Look at how vibrant that potato is after cooking! (That's AFTER!)
I'm saving the rest of my harvest(s) for this coming Monday.
October 15th is Stillbirth and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I'm posting this on my page now in honor of the day. I wanted to post it earlier this week but work and other family obligations kept me away.So I decided to hold off. I'm posting it early because I want the awareness out there ahead of the date. Traditionally at 7pm in your time zone a candle is lit in remembrance for all of those that have lost children during pregnancy or in early infancy. 

The grey bear - He's my constant companion. If you haven't read his story, you should. Tatty Teddy's story. I can't remember where I got the first one, but once I read the story I realized that little teddy stole my heart. At times I felt like I WAS that teddy. They are in my home, my office, my car. Hard to find because they are a UK thing - I'm always searching for them here.
So, that's it today. I'll be back Monday.
See you soon!