Ups and downs

I managed to get 19 tomato plants and 10 bell pepper plants in to the ground in the middle of last week during the one sunny, warm day we had. I also got red and Irish cobbler potatoes planted (have I mentioned what a pain potatoes are to plant? They are. But, the flavor is well worth the effort.)

Then, the weather went to shit. I should have expected it, Mother Nature never seems to want to operate on my schedule and usually has her own ideas. We’ve had rain and temps in the 40s every day since then and more rain predicted for the rest of the week and through the weekend. At least the wet weather this week is supposed to be accompanied by warmer weather rather than these seemingly endless damp, dark, chilly days.

Still have the Yukon gold potatoes and the Beauregard and Georgia Jet sweet potatoes waiting to hit dirt. The onions, romaine and mixed leaf lettuce are looking great. The spinach and carrots, not so great. Right after I planted the spinach and carrot seeds, we got rain, rain, rain, then it got HOT and windy  which made our clay-ey soil dry to an impenetrable crust. Poor little seedlings couldn’t break through. I replanted the spinach and because I spotted a few carrot seedlings, I left them to do what they will. If they don’t pop up this week, something else will go there.

We have chicks! 26 little fluffy peepers are now calling my family room home and we put a second clutch in the incubator last night. Pictures soon.

The fox is back. Little red bastard. He killed at least one of my turkeys this morning, poor thing. In the 15 minutes between finishing my morning chores and leaving for work this morning, that damned fox caught, killed and shredded the turkey. The other turkey couldn’t immediately be found, so he may have gotten that one, too. The fox is now on my hit list and the flock will be confined to the hen house until he’s gone.

I blew the engine in my mower and a little research discovered that it would be cheaper to buy a whole new mower than replace the engine, even with a remanned engine. Ugh. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Why couldn’t this have happened when the grass wasn’t growing out of control? Welcome to the jungle….


That’s not a garden, that’s a rice paddy!

When it rains, it pours.

Literally! The drought of last year is officially over (I think it was officially over last month), but after last week’s torrential downpour, it is decidedly, without a doubt, over.

In less than 24 hours, 4.11 inches of rain poured down on Bramblewood Acres (and the surrounding counties of course). We had flooding. Mega flooding. The water at the lowest end of one of my pastures was nearly halfway up the fence posts and over the driveway.

We lost more of the pond. The runoff from all of the farm fields around us diverts to Bramblewood Acres and right into our pond.

The muskrats (nasty little critters) managed to weaken the spillway section of the pond dam and it collapsed a few years ago so every heavy rain we get, more of the dam erodes and the pond gets shallower.


Image from the Bangor Daily News.

Not only does it get more shallow, but that runoff from all the fields also brings with it tons of soil, which has completely changed the landscape of the pond. We are waiting for it to go dry, because once it does, we will hopefully be able to get some earthmovers in to dredge it, deepen it and repair the dam. I think we should just blow the whole damn dam, but, I think the runoff and erosion issue would be even worse with nowhere for the water to really go once it hits our place. Plus, I kind of like having a pond (when it’s a real pond and not just a shallow mosquito bordello like it is now).

The road to our house is under several feet of water and will most likely be that way for at least another week, maybe two. Fortunately, we can still get home, we just have to take a more roundabout route. Of course, I drive home from work on autopilot and forget the road is flooded until I top the last hill leading into the bottoms and see nothing but water spread out before me. Turn around, add another 20 minutes to my commute, curse my faulty memory.

Despite the rain, my garden isn’t looking too shabby. Onions are coming up like crazy, spinach and lettuce has sprouted, too. Wildflowers are starting to pop through and I’m hoping the asparagus isn’t drowning.  I’m glad I haven’t yet put out the tomatoes and  yet because we’ve had a couple of below-freezing nights. Potatoes are waiting to go in, but, I’m not getting much planting done with the earth more soupy than earthy.

I am, however, contemplating planting rice.

Wild Thang

My daughter is rarely bored out here on the farm. There is always SOMETHING to do to keep her busy, whether it’s stomping through the woods, climbing trees, building forts or hunting for critters, a little curiosity goes a long way. Her favorite season, like mine, is spring, when everything starts waking up and moving around. One of her favorite past-times in the spring is turtle and frog hunting in the pond and creek.

She has never been able to get one of the great big snapping turtles that live in the pond. They are way too fast and disappear beneath the water before she even gets close.

Finally, this weekend she got one and I was pretty sure her head was going to pop right off she was so ecstatic.

Yes, that poor grumpy, algae-covered snapper is in a net. A fishing net. He weighed nearly 20 pounds and was on the extra-cranky side, even for a snapper. Snappers tend to be quite defensive out of the water and can be dangerous and really don’t give a rat’s patootie what they are snapping at when they start striking away. Those beak-like jaws are capable of snapping a finger right off or taking off a big chunk of flesh and when they get something crushed in those jaws, convincing them to let go is rarely successful. For a big turtle that appears to be slow, those jaws are lightning-fast, especially when they are in grumpy-defensive leave-me-alone mode.

This one was especially cranky. I imagine he just woke up from his winter hibernation and was looking forward to a good first meal when Kayleigh snuck up on him and snagged him in the net. I’d probably be kind of grumpy too if someone crammed me in a net and lugged me up the driveway to plunk me on the deck for all to see.

Of course, she had to keep him around until her friend came over and could see him. She was quite proud of her lucky catch.

So, poor Mr. Grumpy Pants got pulled out of the net and put in an unused rabbit cage. As soon as he was in there he started lunging and snapping at the bars and promptly grabbed onto one of them, refused to let go and bent it.

ImageHe was not a happy camper during his short time with us, but, when Kayleigh refused to let me turn Mr. Grumpy Pants into soup, he had to go back to the pond. This time he traveled in style: He took the Wheelbarrow Express back to the pond where he was tipped unceremoniously back into the drink.

Once he was safely back in the pond, I told Kayleigh to leave the big snappers IN the pond because they are too dangerous to be toting around in fishing nets. Unless, of course, she plans to eat one and is bringing it home for the soup pot.

Snappers that size also explain why ducks avoid raising their ducklings on our pond! I’ll bet ducklings don’t live for very long with those huge jaws on the prowl.

I hope he’s a bit smarter about kids with nets and at least got a good meal or two to ease that super-cranky attitude!

Ahhh…life is good. The adventure never ends!