Planting began last Sat., about when I’d usually be finishing for spring. It was the first time all spring that the soil was dry enough to work, so everything was a sod patch. I hadn’t tilled in the fall, and let the fall weeds be a sort of self-sowing cover crop. If I could have tilled in early May, that might have worked. By the end of the weekend I’d gotten the middle patch done (brassicas and nightshades, incl. potatoes) and the front of the front patch (sweet corn, vine crops). We’d gotten 3/4″ of rain Tues. morning, but the ground was fine to work Weds. afternoon. One small problem: the tiller had been acting strangely. Finally I decided to check the oil…whoop, what oil? filled it up, she’d turn, but no power. [F-word deleted]. Loaded it into the truck, and down to repair. diagnosis: toast. Probably catastrophic ring failure: no compression, oil in the filter, gas in the oil It’s a 12-year old Craftsman/ Replacement would be about as much as repair. Repair guy didn’t have any in stock. So I went off to the Niles mall, and in 3 stores (Sears/Despot/Lowes) there was ONE front tine tiller, a funky Bolens with 1 wheel and a non-adjustable depth bar. Do-cut also had none, but could get from another store by Friday, so I’m doing that. Meanwhile, I’m scrod. I can probably make a seedbed of what I tilled yesterday, though I usually like to make 2 passes. But the back plot is untouched. I’d had fantasies of spring wheat (Ha!) or potatoes in there. I can still do beans or buckwheat this month, and winter wheat after. Tiller rental is $45/day. Hand-digging is impractical. Here’s the deal: I have maybe an hour the rest of the week, and the weekend to get the full-season stuff in…Mon. AM I leave for Pittsburgh for a week. Before 2 weeks from tomorrow, I have to get the Hiram Band music ready, which means scanning and transposing Eb horn parts into F, emptying and refilling folders, and oh, finding some easy old stuff to pad the program with.
So that’s the garden. Then there are matters orchardy. 1 walnut and the pawpaw I ordered didn’t grow. The 4 raspberries I put in next to the strawberries croaked as soon as the rain stopped. A lot of the strawbs did too, and they generally taste kind of shitty. No fruit on the honeyberries, hardly any on the asian pear, spotty on the backyard apple (and very nasty-looking leaves. On the plus side: pear is OK (not as good as last year), 2 cherries are as loaded as trees that young can be, and blueberries look excellent. Grapes made it through the winter, but it will be several years yet before fruit. I’m not seeing honeybees, though there are lots of bumblebees making their home in the barn — in the way, but I don’t dare remove them.
Critters: 1 litter of 5 rabbits, another litter lost because Daddy didn’t do short-arm inspection after sex and put the nest box in with the male. None of the incubated eggs hatched; they were set without reading the book, at one point were at 103 and may have been cooked. We’ll try again, but since the coops have been integrated, we’ll have mongrels instead of New Hampshires. Precious’ kids were lost, but Sissy had 2 boys. Their dehorning didn’t take, but their elastrator treatment seems to have. Thursday was hurt in an accident (neck firmly wedged in a feeder). He’s hanging in there, but not improving…and it’s too hot for a mercy killing. Then there’s William E., our new buck. Some drunk buddy of Jeff Wells wanted to give him up, and Rusty didn’t say no firmly…so he showed up one day while she was gone. About 8 years old, short legs and stocky (Boer?), solid black, horns. Yes, she’s going to breed with him before we kill him…poke holes in the chocolates to see what you’re getting, I guess. We’re getting about a gallon of milk a day between the two. Rusty has just built a cheese press. Buddy continues to be better eating than we’d thought, thanks to riusty’s skill with moist heat cooking methods.
I’ll try to keep this blog up at the CMAA Colloquium, but we’re pretty scheduled, and there’s no Internet in the dorms (most everywhere else though).