Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Favorite Spider

As I sat at the end of a row of cherry tomatoes this morning, this is what I saw...

As I looked up though, this is what I saw...

A closer look...

Out of the twenty-five or so large garden spiders I check on everyday this one is my favorite.  She is persistent and predictable.  Despite the fact that I relocate half of her web nearly everyday, every morning I find it once again in my path.  So we go round and round and I move her again into the row of tomatoes I'd prefer be her home.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another Load of Compost

Yesterday Bruce and I ran back to American Composting in Little Rock to pick up another load of compost.  Our trip was extremely uneventful and ended something like this...

Prior to heading out though, Bruce got to the farm a little early and hung out eating watermelon with us while we waited for my mother-in-law to show up to keep an eye on Monster Milan.  I guess I've created a monster-well, a watermelon eating monster anyway and he put on quite the show for Bruce.  

As soon as he heads out the downstairs door lately, the chant begins.  Wada, wada, wada, as he runs from me to the fridge where I keep the watermelon.  Yesterday apparently I did not move fast enough to suit him. Wada, wada, wada soon turned to a desperate wail as he bear-hugged the refrigerator, WADA!!!

Finally, with his belly full it was time to feed the rinds to the goats.  Bruce helped carry the bucket.

I'm not sure who's belly is more full of watermelon these days...Milan or the goats.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Flowers

Better late than never.  I know I say this as each new flower blooms in the spring and in the summer but this is my new favorite flower!  A few years ago I attended a cut flower conference in Memphis where one of the speakers raved about green flowers in general and about this flower in particular.  Limelight hydrangeas.  

Over the last three years I've looked for them at several nurseries and never had any luck finding them.  Nurseries could order them for me.  Or would have them later in the season.  But since I rarely visit these places, I never made it back for them.  

A few weeks ago my mother-in-law mentioned that they had driven by Whitton Farms and seen a row of absolutely beautiful flowers from the road that appeared to be hydrangeas, in full sun.  The next day my friend Jill posted a picture of herself standing next to this row of flowers.  I knew these had to be limelights and it didn't take long for her to confirm it.  By the time I called my mother-in-law to let her know, she already had two of them planted in her garden.  Needless to say, the greenest thing around my place was me-much the color of one of my favorite zinnias-Envy.  

Imagine my surprise then when my in-laws showed up for the Monster's birthday party with Robert's early birthday present in tow...four big limelight hydrangeas!  Happy birthday Robert!!  When my mother-in-law mentioned the nursery had to order twelve of them to get her four, I jumped on the rest.  By the time she called them there were seven left and she dropped them off at the farm yesterday.  

I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of bringing these green beauties to market next year!  Assuming I can keep them alive in pots long enough for the ground to be soft enough to use a shovel to dig a few holes!  Come on rain.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Baling Hay

Par for the course with anything having to do with Bruce, I got a last minute phone call this afternoon wanting to know if I could bale hay, NOW.  I simply ask how high when he says jump.  Robert was barely out of the car to take over Monster duty when I headed to the hayfield.

I fully expected to see these vehicles as I crossed a pasture full of boer goats...

But I would much rather have seen Bruce in a tractor than beside one as I pulled up.

Bruce will cut hay for just about anyone and in the four years that I have baled hay for him it seems like we spend way more time cleaning up pastures that haven't been cut in several years than baling pastures that are clean.  The combination of less than ideal fields and the fact that Bruce uses equipment hard means lots of torn up equipment.  Since I've spent many hours over the last few years waiting on torn up equipment, I was glad this was an easy fix despite the fact that he had to repeat it a few times over the evening.  

Knowing this field wasn't going to be an easy one to work, I was not looking forward to raking.  I really dislike raking hay.  Mostly I blame this on Bruce because the hay rake he made me use for two years had broken hydraulics which was not fun to use in thick, heavy hay where the hay balled up and stuck in the rake repeatedly.  I was happy to see a new rake attached to the old tractor.  I was even happier when Bruce told me I'd be baling and he'd be raking hay.  

So for the next four hours the view in front of me looked like this...

And the view I saw most often looked like this...

Which was actually a little easier to photograph when the sun went down.

And lucky for me I only had to see this view three times...

(Just a sidenote:  past experience has shown me you should never let a dude know you are taking his picture when equipment necessary to make money is broke down or stuck in the mud.)

Finally, Bruce finished raking quite a bit ahead of me so we traded rides and I headed for home.  

Barring anymore breakdowns, I'm thinking he should be leaving the field just as I'm heading to bed.  I've known few people like him.  That man just can't stop working.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Barnhill Orchards

This morning we took a little excursion over to the other side of Cabot to visit my farmer friend, Bob Barnhill, from Barnhill Orchards.  I met Bob last summer when our booths were next to each other at the Hillcrest Farmers Market.  I immediately decided I liked this man and took every opportunity possible to pick his brain about growing vegetables in Arkansas.  It didn't take long for me to find out how competitive he was.  Last year he'd watch as my flower bouquets sold before his zinnia bouquets and then he'd start setting his zinnia bouquets on my table to sell.  This year he showed up with some crazy monster zinnias and told me I'd never be able to grow zinnias like his.  Considering that he has access to synthetic fertilizers that I can't use, he may be right.  But I'll take his challenge.  

Today he took time out of his morning to give me a tour of the main part of his farm and despite the drought riddled conditions, his tour didn't disappoint.  Unfortunately, I was so busy asking questions and listening to his answers that I pretty much forgot the camera in my lap.  I did get one good picture of him in front of the flock of geese that live on his pond.

And a picture of one of his crew picking okra in what I consider to be a massive okra field.

I have to say that despite differences in farming philosophy, I have so much respect for this man and really appreciate him taking time out of his day to visit with me and share some of the knowledge he's worked so hard to learn over the years.  I can only hope to be doing this when I'm his age.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Picking Peas on July 22

Just before dark tonight my mom, Robert and I picked peas.  And while I'm super excited about that, at one time I stood up and thought this is exactly what mom and I were doing exactly two years ago this night.  Which might seem strange for me to remember unless you know that tomorrow is Monster Milan's second birthday and I very distinctly remember picking peas until dark a mere five hours before Milan sent me to the hospital a few weeks earlier than expected.  While my mother-in-law was convinced I was going to have that child in the field and it went easy enough that I'm convinced I could have had that child in the field, we did make it to the hospital and nothing's been the same since.  It's hard to believe it's been two years and I can't imagine what we ever did without him.  Here's my baby the day we brought him home...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Nothing Gold Can Stay

A few days ago I posted this picture.  

Every time I look at it I have this feeling of familiarity like I've forgotten something I used to know.  Tonight we went to the new Spiderman movie and an actor came on screen towards the end of the movie and Robert leaned over and said "It's Ponyboy."  And it was like this flash of lightbulbs went off in my head.  Ponyboy.  The Outsiders.  Robert Frost.  Nothing Gold Can Stay.  And that was it.  Something about this picture brings back that poem.  So I thought I'd share it. 

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

~~Robert Frost

Saturday Sunflowers

Thursday, July 19, 2012


I used to be an artist.  My medium of choice oil and canvas.  Years ago that medium changed to soil.  As our farm evolved over the last few years function began to outweigh form, yet pretty is what continues to make me happy.

I sat down a while ago to photograph a few sunflowers I have in the house with expectations of prettiness to make me happy.  From behind the mechanical extension that still does not feel entirely a part of me though I feel more than slightly melancholic.  The slight downward turn of their heads feels more an ending than a beginning.

A little piece of string helps to lift their heads again.  

If only everything could be fixed by a little piece of string.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Off

I probably should have gone to the Bernice Garden Farmers Market today, but I didn't.  I decided to take the day off.  I did still pick cherry tomatoes and we did get a little planting and irrigation done but otherwise we just hung out.  This afternoon we decided to take Monster Milan to the park at the school.  He was pretty pumped about it.

It was no surprise that his main objective was to climb up on things, I just expected those things to be the actual play equipment.

There was one big kid there who kept making rude gestures at us so I took his picture.  

Oh yeah, that is my husband.  Luckily I had a much less offensive subject to focus my camera on prior to my battery dying way too soon.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Only Good Blister Beetle

I guess I took these pictures during the two weeks when the blister bugs were so bad and I wasn't blogging much.  I meant to post them, forgot about them and just came back across them.  The first picture is one of a batch of tomato plants the blister bugs defoliated in one night which left the tomatoes to sun-scald in a few days of temperatures over a hundred degrees.  These are the tomatoes I showed in the chicken compost earlier in the week.

Prior to pulling the plants though we had to whip up a little organic bomb to keep the bugs from simply moving on down the row into more plants.  As we pulled the plants a few days later, the only thing that took the edge off the loss was what I found underneath the tomato plants.

Piles of dead blister beetles.  Yuck.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


How many hornworms do you see?

The answer to a question I get asked a LOT is "Yes.  I have my share of hornworms."  What do I do about them?  Handpick them and feed them to the chickens.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Everywhere I Turn

Every spring I have trouble with spacing my rows far enough apart.  It has taken several years of wading through plants to convince me to add two feet more than I want to when transplanting seedlings.  From a distance it looks like I did a pretty good job with my cherry tomatoes this spring.  Plenty of room to walk, no wasted space.

Until you factor in my not-so-insignificant rear-end and all of my little friends.

I'm pretty sure that only those that knew me growing up can truly appreciate how far I've come to be able to make it through these rows picking cherry tomatoes.  Next year I better add another two feet.