Monday, May 26, 2014

Inches Game

"It's an inches game," was what Tim Daughton said to me as we walked from his front lawn back to the small army of volunteers behind his house, "..not miles." It was a working day at Firecracker Farm. He finished his thought with a smile. Inches, not miles. The longview. He was right, of course. He made the comment as we crested the hill towards the dozen friends working on their five-acres of vegetables and pastured chickens. I had just told him how I made humble progress of my sheep fencing issue and was in the process of ripping out and replacing four years of mistakes to the land and the equipment. I explained that I was only repairing and replacing around twenty feet of fence a day and I just broadcast the new pasture seed that morning. I wanted to do more, faster, but didn't get it done. That is when he replied with the aphorism. I smiled when he said it. He was right. Farming is a game set and matched for eternity. Why rush?

That was the attitude at Firecracker. They focus more on vegetables than I do so I was excited to get my hands dirty. I already loaded up my truck with my wheel hoe, seeder, and two good paws to help with their volunteer planting day at their farm. I got down on my hands and knees and set kale into the ground. I watched chickens dance over freshly-tilled earth. I shook hands with good people from their church who drove up from the city of Albany and surrounding urban areas to spend their holiday weekend sweating, tilling, planting and eating smoked ribs around a bonfire afterwards. This is a wonderful way to spend a holiday, at least around here.

I'll close by sharing a few wins and a photo I am ganking from Jon Katz's wonderful blog. I didn't attend the Cambridge Parade Today, but he and Maria did. They took this photo of a gal with her team of oxen in training. I know this girl. She and her family are members of the Washington County Draft Animal Association. She's a proud trainer and it amazes me that in the same state people are boycotting carriage horses in Central Park and parading oxen at the same time. I'm guessing the folks against working draft animals have never worn a pair of muck boots and clean out stalls a day in their lives. If they have, they certainly don't depend on animal power to earn their paychecks and assume humankind never will again. Around here oxen aren't just characters in Oregon Trail reboots. They are engines. We need them to eat food. New York City and New York State are entirely different worlds.

I expanded the kailyard today, doubled it to be accurate. I didn't have a rototiller and did it all with the Earthway Kentucky Wheel Hoe. It had a plow attachment and a harrow and it slit trough the young earth like butter. It took 25% longer than the rototiller but didn't involve noise, gas, muscle strain, or renting outside equipment. I'm darn happy about it. Open to suggestions for partial sun crops besides kale. What would you plant here? Tell me!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend! I hope you got your hands dirty, bellies full, and felt the sting of sun, nettles, or bugs! Summer is here! Raise your cider glasses and take in the glow of fireflies and distance lightning. The celebration has begun!

photo of oxen by Jon Katz of


Blogger Sharon said...

Hi Jenna, You should be able to grow broccoli, cauliflower, etc in a situation with some shade. I grow mine in that situation.

May 26, 2014 at 9:14 PM  
Blogger Vicki Alderman-Watt said...

jerusalem artichoke

May 26, 2014 at 9:46 PM  
Blogger 2 Punk Dogs said...

I'll have to ask my dad about partial shade crops, he's had a huge garden for my whole life. Today I drove over and helped my mom weed and then mowed my MIL's yard. You know it's been a farm day when you lick the GPS suction cup to get it to stick to the glass because your hands are too dirty to lick. My dad has permanently black fingernails from gardening - I'll take that over French nails from the salon any day. :)

May 26, 2014 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger barbsbirds13 said...

Chard. Peas. Potatoes. Spinach. Mint family anything. Oregano. Lettuce.

May 26, 2014 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Kyler and Sylvia said...

This was encouraging.

It IS an inches game… Sylvia and I tore out several inches of three strand barbed wire this past weekend… feels like inches by the scale of it.

To quote from RedGreen, "I'm pulling for ya… we're all in this together…"

May 26, 2014 at 11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I DID get my hands dirty today! I was working in my own inches game. Spent most of the day cutting up my stacks of scrap wood into fireplace friendly size pieces in hops that they would go away. (I'm remodeling a house and have already filled the wood bin with stuff that stacks well. This stuff is partly rotted and full of nails. I have no where to store OR burn it yet) And it DID go away! Awesome. I also prepped some reclamied railroad tie fence posts that I scored. They had bits of old fence boards still attached that I had to beat off and pull a bunch of nails. They are destined to become cribbing for when I jac up my house sometime soon. They I set up a couple more strands of electric fencing in my horse pasture while waiting for the water tanks to fill. A good day spent in the sun!

May 27, 2014 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger renee said...

My garden is really inches work. Like you I am more into animal husbandry. I have lived in Sweden for four years now and am content to be thankful that my horseradish and mint have survived the winter;-)

May 27, 2014 at 1:48 AM  
Blogger aart said...

First plant some more I have no clue, only really know how to grow garlic.

May 27, 2014 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger rachellake said...

Purple pole beans do really well on simple tee-pee trellises and tolerate partial shade. I like to hill summer squash underneath the beans along with nasturtium - a riff on the "three sisters" method. Beets do well in shade, if you like them. Strawberries and herbs would be my last suggestion - they will attract beneficial pollinators and insects.

May 27, 2014 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Where I live in central Illinois, it can be hot till the end of September, making it difficult to get my fall garden going. Last year I experimented successfully with starting rows of radishes and spinach on the north sides of rows of okra, intentionally shading them. It worked. So I think you could try any cool weather crop that strikes your fancy, and the shade could help it last through the hot weather. Leaf crops; lettuce, spinach, mustard, swiss chard. Root crops; radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, salsify. If the root crops work, they are great for storage, letting you eat from your garden through the winter.

May 27, 2014 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

Hi Jenna; you might want to consider planting some amaranth. It's a grain From Mexico that is regaining popularity because it's a complete protein and both the seeds and leaves are edible. The seeds can be dry popped and in Mexico the make little cakes of it with honey and sunflower seeds. You can also make amaranth flour from the ground seeds. It can also be used as an animal feed as well. Brenda

May 27, 2014 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Stoltzfus said...

Bok choi, cilantro, parsley, lettuce, Swiss chard, Tokyo bekana, tatsoi, mustards, arugula, and actually, most greens, especially Asian greens.

May 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger aart said...

I kept thinking about the inches thing all day....I like it, kind of like I sometimes have to get thru just an hour at a time.

May 28, 2014 at 7:11 AM  

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