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Spring Peas, Flowers and Sores

April 1, 2009

img_0480“Oh man,” Tony commented, as we all groaned while getting up from the dinner table, “it must be spring time.”  The weather allowed us to work outside for most of today.  As the spring days fly by the list of projects and things that need to get done seems to be getting longer.  And even the daily to-dos are hardly achievable before the sun gets low on the horizon and your stomach starts to tell you dinner should be ready.

I for one was groaning more than most at the dinner table.  I spent the morning seeding in the greenhouse and then preparing the hoop house for some planting, then plating some early peas.  I’ve quickly become accustomed to both the solitary nature of life here, where you enjoy the long walk back from a far corner of a field, or the comfort of working with someone and the things you can learn by just listening. 

After

After

img_0470

Before

Fran gave me a thorough lesson in weed identification as we ripped up old dead ones and thwarted the new ones as they attempted to secures some of the most valuable real estate on the farm.  Then we hoed the patch we had cleaned to level it out and loosen the soil, and it was time to plant our peas.

The peas were planted in one-twenty-eights, which are trays with, yep, one hundred and twenty eight little squares.  When the plants get mature enough, and have sufficient root mass to hold a little soil from their square, they are plucked from the tray and thrust into the real world.  In this case it is a pretty cushy “real wold.”  The hoop house provides shelter from the wind, raises the average soil temperature a few degrees and controls the amount of precipitation (sometimes snow) the plants get.  And there are these nifty strings that hang down and are used to encourage cucumbers and tomatoes to grow vertically, rather than staking.

img_0427Then it was time for a little chain sawing.  Tony and I took the horses into the bush to cut up some firewood.  We took down two hemlock trees and cut up a few recent dead falls.  With the wagon loaded and the horses itching to go we headed back to the house for some much needed lunch.  I’ve included below a video of Tony with the horses and the wagon.  At the end of the video Tony says “Woo” which is how he gets the horses to stop, it always astonishes me how well the horses listen (when they want to) and often Tony can drive them soley on voice commands.

img_0439After lunch Tony took me down to the south fields and he showed me how to pull up some electric fencing with their nifty “Reelbarrow.”  (Pictured to the right)  Rigged with a bike chain and sprocket the front wheel winds the galvanized steel wire as you walk along.  Then when you come to a stake, it fits conveniently on the handles.  Genius.  I got far enough away that I could barely see the house and it was time to lug my reelbarrow back and deposit my stakes and wire.

Before the sun was to go down there was one last “short” little project.  Last weekend I wrote about how we removed a large rock from one of the fields.  It also left a large hole behind.  My job, and I chose to accept it, was to pick up bits and pieces of sod and soil that the plowing left around the field.

img_0459Lesson number one: clayey soil that is wet weighs more than you think.  Lesson number two: a wheelbarrow that is too full will fall over one hundred percent of the time.  Lesson number three: let the wheel barrow fall over, you can’t stop it, it is just the natural self emptying process you will have to do anyway.  Lesson number four: momentum is your friend when trying to conquer bumpy, soggy, clayey soil.

By the time I made it up for supper I was exhausted.  I must have looked like some drunken gopher running about with a wheelbarrow picking up pieces of dirt and then running them up to a hole in the ground and dumping them in.  And so, it seems, spring brings more than just crocuses.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2009 7:31 am

    Cool. Here, spring is coming too. At night it’s freezing cold, but during the day we’re reaching 25ºC. And, well, no snow is forecasted, but… you never know. 😉

    • mcquaka permalink
      April 2, 2009 5:28 pm

      Nathan, I egarly await your posts of your experience of living and working on the farm. It is great to get your perspective on the place I grew up. I can’t wait…

  2. Boro permalink
    April 6, 2009 1:43 pm

    How did you horses feel about the chainsaw?

    • Itinerant Farmer permalink*
      April 6, 2009 2:03 pm

      Boro, the horses generally don’t like loud obnoxious noises. Chainsaws are no exception and we make an effort to talk to them, make sure they can see us and keep a good distance when we are going to start up the tractor or a chainsaw.

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