Foxfeather (foxfeather) wrote,

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The Land - Pt. 2 (of beaucerons and gardens)

Ignoring the rest of the insanity that has been this week, enjoy some pictures:

Rocky, excited on his way to the land. Aka - 80 acre dog park

The drive up to the garden - spring style.
I am going to skip around a little bit and post some images of our current major project - a 6000 sq. ft. garden that we planted this spring, reclaimed from part of an old corn field.

First, a few silly photos of Rocky.

Rocky's first time really crossing the stream by himself - he was on the otherside like 'uh, guys? You forgot somebody!'

Maybe if I sit, this will get fixed. Sitting always works.

After much milling and whining, he decides to walk across.

Oh gods, this is hard! Funny enough he tried to walk exactly where we did - which is easier for people but much harder for puppies. He's so full of observation and mimicry for a dog!

Since we don't have phones out there yet, we have developed a system of communication based on howling - Rocky approves.

Stream in the early spring with the vegetation starting to grow up a bit.

More stream.

Smith, our Vibe, who is massively abused - despite being an anti-off-road vehicle manages to make it across the river and through the weeds and muck more times than not.

So - the garden project. This is the field - a 2.5 acre field used previously for corn cropping. Eventually this field will host our aviaries/bird building and apple orchard as well as the garden.

This is what we had to start with. Old corn stalks and lots and lots of rocks and weeds. We don't have electricity or proper equipment, so we tried to find a way to install and till such a large garden that we wouldn't be able to visit every day (and protect from heavy deer pressure). First big problem was tillage. We had to get rid of the corn, add some fertilizer and organic material, remove rocks and get it ready to plant.

Our solution - a tiny mantis-type front tine tiller about 10 inches wide. Vs 6000 sq foot garden space. It was an interesting learning experience - not one I'm eager to repeat.

I actually tilled most of the garden with it, but Vantid and Mbala took turns with Mbala even working in the pouring rain one day when the sky decided to explode. We had to stop constantly to pry out rocks stuck in the tines. Eventually on our second pass through one of the main components in the transmission (a thick metal screw thing) snapped and the whole thing stopped working. Hopefully we can fix it and sell it and maybe buy an ox. Or teach Rocky to pull a plow. Most likely, next year, I will try the 'one straw' gardening method of no-till.

An idea of the perspective of the tilling project - every 10 inch strip needed to be gone over, pulling and pushing the plow about three times to do a row. Looking back at it I'm really amazed we managed to finish it in a few days time.

We also had to construct a fence, which required digging 25 fence posts out by hand with a post hole digger tool. We made a double layer fence - the outside multiple strand electric fencing run off a solar panel charger and the inner layer an 8 ft. mesh and twine deer barrier fence - the idea being (hoping) that deer don't have good depth perception and would see the multiple layers, come in slowly, get zapped, and avoid the place altogether. So far the fence has been working - despite our lack of experience with electric fencing it's holding about a 6000 volt charge. :) The posts we cut down from dead trees on the property.

Working on the garden is building muscles everywhere. RESULTS.

Of course, right after we planted the beginnings of the garden we had to leave for 12 days out of town and there was no way to get water to the plants. We had hoped that the mild spring would continue with a bit of rain on and off, but instead we had record breaking weather (over 103 degrees one day) and no rain at all. Amazingly, only a few plants died - most made it. These are our incredibly hardy little strawberry plants.

They even gave us our first garden edible, despite all that!

It was incredibly delicious - we split it and it tasted like strawberry pie, baked and hot from the sun.

Also, our first row of corn had appeared!

When we decided to get plants and seeds for the garden, we made a field trip down to Seed Savers farm in Iowa - - they are an amazing nonprofit organization dedicated to saving and storing thousands of varieties of heirloom plants, especially vegetables. Heirloom variety plants represent thousands of years of human effort breeding and cultivating various plants, a heritage that is rapidly being lost in the days of monoculture agriculture and big agribusiness. The sheer variety of amazing vegetables available at this place is incredible! If you need to find over 500 varieties of potatoes or 100 types of exotic garlic... this is your place.

My first flower - a bearded iris. I have always wanted to be able to plant flowers like this; most of our flowers will wait until we build a house and landscape it, but I couldn't resist starting a few that would grow and split for later use!

Vantid went to scope out a wild growing apple tree and came back having lost her virginity to vampires. She couldn't remember anything about it, but she had blood pouring down her neck and a nice pair of fang marks to show for it.

We are gardening organically, and one of the most fun things we are dealing with are bugs. Ticks, deerflies, gnats in every orifice, and many amazing creatures I never knew existed - all of them wanting a bit of our blood. Every inch of the soil is alive with something. We also don't have running water yet, so watering the garden involves moving gallons of water 500ft from the stream by hand.

Oh yes... did I mention the flies?

I love working on the land. :)
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