fabulous farm work

what a glorious gleaming green and glowing day. the world is green and hot with summer, luscious, blooming deliriously. if it’s not just me. but i’m pretty sure it really is everything. hail to the summer!

i took a day off work friday, and called in with an acute attack of farm work. and we got so much done this weekend! friday i planted potatoes in the giant mulch mound by the garden. i have three bins of potatoes near it, and while shovelling mulch into the bin last time, i thought, why do this? why not just plant the mound and get four times as many potatoes? so i got that done. planted the gift-gladiolas around the ritual grounds and hooked the drip system up to them. fixed the leak in the drip system by the barnyard gate, then buried the line. (then fixed a second leak in the same area & reburied the next day, and now it looks like it needs another fix. yay, mercury retrograde in the drip system). then i dug out most of the berm around the yurt, taking the dirt into the barnyard to berm the chicken coop with. the hens have already scattered a third of it, which is a little disconcerting. but at least temporarily, their fence is solid again.

saturday was the family work party. and worked on rabbit hutches through the morning, while and i planted corn, beans & squash in the corn mounds along the west end of the garden. we put in 100 plants of Inca rainbow sweet corn (Seeds of Change). one third the corn mounds are co-planted with lima beans, one third with purple podded pole beans, and the other third with hidatsa red beans. in the alternate mounds, we planted butternut squash, a scallop squash, cantalope (Prescott Fond Blanc from Seed Saver’s Exchange), watermelon, and cucumbers. they are all non-crossing varieties of squash, so should be able to share the beds just fine. in the long east-west beds, we planted okra (Star of David from Seed Saver’s Exchange–yay sacred geometry food), empress green beans, boston beans, edamame, and ground cherries. we left an open bed for tomatoes & basil, more peppers, peruvian ground cherries (now sprouting in the greenhouse), eggplant, and any overflow squash & perennials.

that took all day, more or less. somewhere in there, and had to go run to home depot and get nine kazillion supplies for plumbing in the new well, and assorted sundry projects. i finished the planting, planted the sprouted sunflowers out front along the fenceline, and helped finish digging the Trench of Doom along the back of the pump house, for the well plumbing, which started at the last work day, and had put in several hours on the day before.

sunday we were almost ready to head into our work day when the anticipated wwoofers arrived. i hadn’t blogged about this one, but the background is that i took a call from a wwoofer whom i did not like on the phone. he is a very slow speaker, and i had to repeat simple things several times, and the combination caused me to peg him as stupid. i have a very low tolerance for fools. my first impression in real life did nothing to change that opinion. he showed up with two local friends, one of whom works at Los Poblanos. the friends were great. we organized work teams for the morning, and Alan ended up taking point on the turkey coop roofing project, supervising our three new volunteers and Saint on the rafter-installation and roof wiring, while Rev and I finished putting up the grape arbors around the ritual area:

and Jenny and Tristan worked on rabbit hutches:

and started working on a complex and delicious lunch of egg foo young for ten people.

when Rev and I got the grape trellises done, we joined the turkey coop roofing crew, who were about to finish attaching the branch-rafters over the run, and start on chicken-wiring the whole roof. here is Alan, literally taking point on the roof, while Rev (invisible behind the coop) and i attach a new length of wire to the walls:

the roof is half up:

the roof is wholly up and we are patching the last gaps:

meanwhile, and showed up, and the latter began to plumb in our new well, YAY, while applied herself to the turkey coop crew.

the turkey coop was the day’s stated Big Project, with the goal of moving the ever-larger adolescent turkeys out of the brooder and into their new run at the day’s end. we got it all done, though with everything, it took all day. roofing was done by lunch, and then everybody took a break.

over lunch, however, we had a conference about the wwoofer, with whom most of us had interacted by then. i still didn’t like him, and didn’t trust him with a set of house keys, which we give our wwoofers so they can use the kitchen to feed themselves while we’re out. he had agreed to camp out back like everybody this summer, and then right away asked alan if he could stay in the house. red flag boundary problem! earlier phone conversations had demonstrated the same pattern. he was vague and disconnected all day, did work but didn’t do it very well, and had to be told what to do and how to do it several times before getting the idea. we’re not micromanagers, and we cannot be around all day to supervise a poor worker; we need self-starters who can grasp a basic concept quickly. so we had a mini house meeting about the issue in alan’s room while everybody else ate outside. with the boundary pushing as a warning signal, and in the absence of any stunning positive notes to round out the picture, we decided that we would ask him to leave and rescind our offer to be a host farm for him. after we ate, Alan and i went outside and sat down on either side of him and Alan let him know that we had decided that he’s not a good fit, and that we had a ride back into town (to where he was staying originally) for him right now (in the person of Saint, who was headed back that way). he took it pretty well, and indicated that he had had people tell him this kind of thing before.

after he left, everybody informally checked in on the issue with each other over the course of the afternoon. and pretty much everybody had the same response. he made one person uncomfortable, another thought he was non-functionally high, another hadn’t decided what was going on with him, but was pretty sure he didn’t need to be at our place. everybody concurred that we did the right thing by asserting our boundaries firmly and gently immediately. which felt good. i was grateful for the collective reality check, as i felt that i had compelled the issue, and also that i need to learn better judgement right off—that if i don’t like someone on the phone, it really is okay to tell them that we are all full, no internships open right now. there are plenty of interns calling whom i *do* like on the telephone, and who have their act together. and who have skills, for that matter, though skills are not strictly required; we have plenty of holes that need digging. or undigging, as the case may be.

that being over, we went back to work. Robert & Alan resumed working on the well plumbing; Tristan & Jenny resumed working on the rabbit hutches. Rev and I finished the turkey coop, while Apple pulled nails out of boards in the old barnwood pile (a task i believe our new wwoofer, Matt, planned to make headway on today). there were places where the turkey fence needed patching, and a few small amendments to the coop itself to prevent escapes, and the roosts needed to be built. i threw out my initial half-assed idea about how to do that quickly when Tristan’s stadium-seating idea was met with enthusiasm by Rev, who did 90% of the work for it, while i served as his sous-carpenter (fetching & carrying, finding tools, and holding things).

Robert working on the well:

testing for air leaks. no, really.

Jenny & Tristan working on the hutches:

I picked Tristan’s brain for his turkey roost plan, conveyed that plan to Rev, and then fetched tools, screws, and boards while Rev built the whole thing. which was educational, actually, because he is easy to work with and explained everything aloud to himself as he went, which i found very helpful. i am learning more about how to make things that will stand up by themselves. i could wish i had male cultural encoding on this stuff–that i had learned my way around power tools and wood as a child or adolescent–but failing that, i’ll learn it now and enjoy the doing of it.

here are the roosts:

note the bracing in back that makes it strong enough for any of us to sit on (i kept climbing it to make sure, and Rev sat on it to test), and will enable it to support 18 40-pound turkeys, as the little birds grow up.

that being done, and the fence being patched, we made a group effort to move the baby turkeys (now six weeks old) into their new home. this is far and away the funniest photo from that process:

Tristan climbed into the brooder and caught turkeys, one by one, while Jenny, myself, and Rev ferried the birds out to the coop. had arrived, and he guarded the coop door, making sure nobody made a break for it.

turkeys investigating their new home:

somewhere in there, Robert got the well pump running. we all dashed over to look at it and admire the first glass of new well water:

at the end of the day, J and T had made enormous progress on the rabbit hutches:

for which the rabbits are grateful. or greedy. or something like that.

this shot shows how pretty the ritual area is getting, and includes all three sets of grape trellising:

and here’s a bunch of garden update photos, for the heck of it, while i’m here.

garden overview, northeast corner:


these are the bio experiment plants that rescued. they’d been subjected to drought or nutrient stresses as experimental subjects for an introductory bio class at UNM. they’re in the ground with enough water and compost now, and doing great.

carrots, with volunteer tobacco (front & center-right), lamb’s quarters, wild amaranth, and sunberries:

the pea vines are tall, and they’re setting peas! since they all died last year, this is a major step forward. we are very excited.

and they’re just that pretty:

pea flowers:

squashes in the greenhouse:

and we have a broody hen. or two. here is the prime suspect:

i’ve seen four different hens sitting on those eggs over the last two weeks, but somebody is always sitting on them. that means that some of them should hatch in about 1.5-two weeks. i strongly suspect there are eggs of variable age under there, as i have interrupted two arguments between hens–one trying to get into the coop and lay an egg, one trying to sit on that nest. they argue for hours. BOKOKOK! BRAWWWK! quite a ruckus. i’m getting really good at making hen noises. i think other birds have nest-sat and laid their own eggs in that nest while sitting, and that this is a regular pattern. that, or several of them are broody and all sharing one nest. or both. it’s clear that our production has dropped; we’re down from 12-15 eggs per day to 6-8 eggs per day all of a sudden. have to manage the egg sales differently while this is going on. i hope she hatches a bunch of chicks, though. as soon as that happens, the whole thing is an unqualified success in my book. :)

here are Rev, myself, and Alan on the new well pad (that’s my completely torn up, still-theoretical perennials garden between us and the yurt):

we closed the day by going on an outing to Sweet Tomatoes, where we had a fun group dinner.

what this weekend did not look like, but did feel as good as:

that’s from the day after Beltane. i meant to post it at the time, but then i had computer problems here. note both the cat (who volunteered his fuzzy self up there) and the laptop.

now it’s tuesday, it’s taken me two days to write this. our new wwoofer, Matt, arrived last night, and is camping out back in his truck. i oriented him to the farm this morning, and left him making himself some breakfast when i headed for the bus. nice guy. a good fit. he seemed interested in a passing reference to solstice festivities. he’ll be with us through May, possibly longer depending on if he connects with some friends at the end of the month or not. he planned to pull some nails, and either dig in the dye garden beds, or start filling in the well-effluvia pond (remember that? it worked really, really well. the three-foot-deep stretch across the back completely filled with clay. which is still gooshy underfoot, and which the dog, who is currently shedding like a freaking sheep, still wants to either play in or eat or both). anyhow, now we need to put the dirt back so we have a field and not a weird earthwork there for alan’s & my wedding coming up. in two months from today, as a matter of fact. <small>eep. </small>

i think that might even be everything. life is very good.