Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Plow, The Horse, The Pumpkin Patch

Danvers 126 Half Long Carrots, Dwarf Siberian Kale, Parisienee Round Carrots, Deer Tongue and Speckled Trout Lettuce: Those are the five crops I have planted in my kitchen right now. My first little yogurt container of Kale is sprouting and looking healthy. The rest are under a little plastic greenhouse with a heated mat below it. The seeds, the mini house, and the heating mat all cost less than fifty dollars and I will use that greenhouse all spring long to start early seeds. After this bunch of plants are ready to transplant outside they will be under plastic tunnels (tents really) in the earliest outdoor mini-greenhouses. Kale, lettuce, and carrots are hardy creatures. They can handle an early season with a little babying. Soon as they are outside I will start broccoli, parsnips, and peas inside and then move them to the second series of covered houses. By the time the real outdoor planting season starts I will have food already in a position to be eaten and harvested and instead of spending that time sowing peas and lettuce outdoors I can use that time to build the new raised beds, poly tunnels, and put up a series critter fence. I have big plans for the garden this year. Last year was the summer of the horse. This will be the summer of the salad.

And speaking of horses! I got an email from Ejay and Kim. A young farming couple south of me in the Hudson Valley. They have a small CSA and raise mostly vegetables but also some chickens, I believe, for eggs and meat. They were growing and wanting to expand and the time had come to either invest in a team of horses or a tractor. They came to the Farmer's Horse workshop here around Halloween and less then three months later they did it. Their team of Haflingers are being delivered today! I am so happy for them! Haflingers are smaller drafts, the same size as Merlin. They are around 13.2 to 15 hands, but are powerhouses in the saddle or behind a plow. That photo above I found online is very much what Ejay and Kim will be doing this summer.

I also heard from some of the folks who came to this past Summer's Fiddle Camp, and they were still playing. One woman, Trish, has already mastered some Molly Mason and Jay Unger tunes! She didn't know how to hold the darn thing a few months ago and now is polishing up her Ashokan Farewell, Amazing!

Fiddles and horses, both inspired by a day here at Cold Antler. But see folks, it wasn't me or my farm that did any of that. The reason Ejay and Kim will be riding off into the sunset and Trish will be fiddling by a campfire has nothing to do with this blog. (Though I wish I could take credit for it!) It was those three peoples' desire to take active steps toward their goal. Both signed up for beginner's classes. They happened to be my class, but this applies to anyone who is signing up for their local community college's beekeeping class, or master gardening workshop, or deciding this year's vacation will be a dude ranch instead of Disney to see if the husband and kids could wrap their head around horses? You see what I am getting at? You're head only takes you so far without action, and sometimes it is the simple act of doing something small that inspires a bigger thing.

Sometimes it's buying that book about Dairy Goats and having the balls to set it out on your coffee table in your city apartment. That may give you the nerve to look on Craigslist or LocalHarvest for a dairy near you with goats, and email them for a tour. Suddenly, the animals you just read about a few days earlier are in your hands, their smell is in your nose. That just empowers the idea even more and soon when your lease is up you decide to stay with your job, and stay in the city, but move to a neighborhood with a little backyard. The next year you have gardens, a hive of bees, and a large dog run with a pair of Nigerian Goats you named Rufus and Bowser. Your town doesn't allow livestock, but these guys are your pets with collars and name tags. It's the same thinking that allows pot-belly pigs in high rises. That, and asking for permission is never a good idea in my book. Do what you need to do and if the city takes away your chickens and goats then all the more reason to call the local paper and have the idea brought up so those laws can be changed. If people in downtown Portland, Milwaukee, or Brooklyn can have a chicken and a goat. So can you. If the laws say no, then change them. Being meek about your dreams is the same as giving up on them.

Just thinking about Ejay and Kim, this moment, has inspired me. I have plans to brush hog out a flat area at the edge of my property along the road near the pond. I want to plant a serious pumpkin patch, like a quarter-acre. I have a draft horse, a harness, and I bet I could find a plow used on craigslist or an auction. Who wouldn't want a Black Horse plowed heirloom field pumpkin at their doorstep or in a pie this coming Samhain?

You start living with gardens and horses and you can't stop the plans and dreams from popping up in your head. This idea of the CAF Pumpkin patch wasn't even there when I started typing. But while writing about Ejay and Kim, and looking at that picture, I decided it would happen. And it will. Or at least the effort to make it happen will. It could all go terribly wrong, but so what? If the ground is too wet or the deer eat all the pumpkins then perhaps I have the perfect spot to attract deer to hunt or practice archery (or both!). I'm just excited to work hard and try, the real dream is to be out there working with Merlin and hoping for the seeds to sprout. If I get a pumpkin? Shucks. That's just gravy.

This post started talking about carrots in a hot box in my kitchen and ended with a field of pumpkins.

I love this blog. I friggin' love it.

Photo by Cindy C-H, from Flickr


Blogger Patsy said...

We love it too Jenna. Thanks.

January 12, 2013 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger Karen said...


I know you don't want advice, but I'm going to give you some anyway. Most root crops, including carrots, don't like to be transplanted. It is much better to direct seed them.

January 12, 2013 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger barbsbirds13 said...

Your three books also belong on the city dweller's coffee table. And I can hardly wait for your next book.

January 12, 2013 at 1:17 PM  
Blogger missliss40 said...

Ironically, Milwaukee allows chickens, but a rural suburb of that very city just passed an ordinance stating that you can only have chickens on more than 3 acres as long as it is not in a subdivision. But, if we are still renting our current home this spring, we are getting meat rabbits, they are considered pets!

January 12, 2013 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Great post, Jenna. I planted long pie pumpkins last year and plan to plant some this year. I learned about them from you. I was worried they would not do well in the south, but they produced like mad. I canned several dozen jars and froze some. Also had plenty to give to neighbors. This was only two hills. WAY plenty.

I think your idea of planting a patch of heirloom pumpkins is awesome. I will be interested to learn what varieties and how they produced.

From the very wet, warm Phony Farm in Middle TN.

January 12, 2013 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

I wish we were closer (I'm in Canada). I have old farm equipment (plows, etc) that no one will take away. 8(

January 12, 2013 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger KiwiGirl said...

"Do what you need to do and if the city takes away your chickens and goats then all the more reason to call the local paper and have the idea brought up so those laws can be changed." - this would be the surest way I know of to 1) get offside with neighbours (people you really do want on your side, if you go down this path - you have said so yourself on more than one occasion, as I recall) and 2) just the thing to rub your local council/regualtory agency up the wrong way. I'm all for chasing dreams, but that ain't the way to get regs altered/amended - as one who has worked in the regulatory system.

January 12, 2013 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Yes, Kiwi is right. Don't get caught!

January 12, 2013 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Marilyn Noakes said...

Jenna, I love this blog! Just as folks learned in your classes so shall you learn, hopefully from a farmer close by with a one bottom plow that can help you set it all up for your pumpkins. what fun, and the beautiful circle continues.

January 12, 2013 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger Kelsie said...

I have 15 chickens here in the city and am technically not allowed. However, this is the one advantage I see to living in the ghetto. Between the drug deals, the shootings, the robberies, and the domestic disputes, no one really takes notice of a quiet flock of hens hidden in a tree-lined backyard. The city can't even do anything about the actual crime, so I'm not too worried they'll do anything about the chickens, either. And the gas meter reader guy really likes to visit the chickens. :)

January 12, 2013 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Framing Fowl said...

Agreed Kelsie. We had 14 hens and a rooster at our last house. It turned out that the neighbors absolutely loved it. The older people were entertained watching them throughout the day and the younger couples would bring their kids over. You couldn't hear Cedric's crowing in the morning over the barking of dogs. And the dogs would bark at all hours of the day and night.

January 12, 2013 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger barbsbirds13 said...

What/who is your veggie seed source?

January 12, 2013 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Great post. It is fun to grow pumpkins, remember the deer love to eat them. I have a deer fence, and the deer eat anything that ventures into their side. Sharon and Oregon

January 12, 2013 at 6:42 PM  
Blogger E said...

When is your last frost?
It seems very early to start veggie seedlings.

What are you going to do with carrot seedlings?

January 12, 2013 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

This was the perfect post to end my day with! I spent today with two of my very good friends (both with their own farm menageries), making goats milk soap for the first time and cuddling a couple of days-old baby goats. My heart melted and I am another step closer to owning my own milking goats, having solidified in my head that if baby goat spit on my face and hands just made me want them more, then maybe goats are the right direction for me!

January 12, 2013 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Chautauqua said...

Jenna, I welcome you to take credit for my fiddlin' .... you made me believe I could do it, and damn it, I did it! But without you and this blog, I never would have considered playing the fiddle. You, your words, your laughter and your inspiration convinced me that I could fiddle. You said during fiddle camp that it was an easy instrument, sturdy and portable; I thought violins were fragile and hard to play and required hours of toiling with strict foreign masters (nothing that sounded fun!), but you used your bow to poke at Monday, laughed and said "it's easy" .... and, bless you, it is.

January 13, 2013 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

I love it too, thank you!

January 13, 2013 at 12:20 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

I love it too, thank you!

January 13, 2013 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Love this blog too!

January 13, 2013 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

That was awesome! :-) Keep dreaming.

January 14, 2013 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger rabbit said...

Karen where in Canada? What kind of equipment? Cause we're in central Ontario!

January 14, 2013 at 8:45 AM  

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