Monday, July 30, 2007

I never dreamed of being so popular

Some people have reported having difficulty viewing the geocities page that I made with pictures of the wagon shed; it may say that it has been shut down due to activity and to contact your administrator. The problem is that they site allows only a small amount of downloading per hour, equivalent to about half the pictures on the site. So when everybody goes there at once, the site is overloaded and blocks viewing for the rest of the hour.

Here are some ways to work around it:
1. Go there during off-peak hours, like 2 am when trespassing dirt bikes on Dunn's Hill wake you up. Later in the evening like now, or after a few days when people have lost interest should work, also.
2. Browse the thumbnails and enlarge just the more interesting pictures. This recommendation applies only to readers under 50 with good eyesight.
3. Convince Dad to pay a little bit for our own web site so I don't have to rely on freebies.

Thanks to everyone who has alerted me to the problem, and sorry that you have had trouble accessing the page. I checked the statistics, and it said that 10 people have been turned away today--I'm just suprised and pleased that so many people have taken an interest in our farm. Later this week I'll take off my technical hat and post some updated pictures of the fields.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The taste of summer

We've had our first garden-ripe tomato. There aren't too many yet, but in another couple weeks there will be plenty. It seems late, but this is about the usual time for this region unless they have been forced early by being covered every night in the early spring. We've started to pick the beans also, which is Aunt Christie's speciality, but she has needed help to keep up. On Wednesday mom, dad, and Sue planted the late cabbages and other cole crops to be ready for this fall. Lettuce is the only thing left to plant now, we'll do small plantings until it frosts. Some of our lettuces have not been entirely successful; we had a bunch of buttercrunch that just bolted in the hot weather before we could cut it. Other varieties, though, are doing well, and mom appreciates having something lightweight to harvest and load on and off of the truck.
The farmers markets have been doing well. Here are two pictures from our set-up last week at Beaver. We sure have been busy, and next week mom will need more help.
Aunt Laurie has had a busy first week and has enjoyed showing her customers the wagon shed's facelift. Here's the address for the complete story of the remodeling: Lots of pictures and a little bit of commentary. I did this late last night, so it may be a little bit rough on the edges, but you can get the jist of it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Big surprise

The wagon shed is the oldest building on the farm. The design allowed a wagon or buggy to drive straight through. On one side was a corn crib, and upstairs were grain bins so that you could feed the horses when they came in. Aunt Laurie sets up shop there for three months in the summer, selling the produce at the farm. It was built in 1897, and after 110 years it needed a little remodeling.So we got a crew in to replace a rotting beam and fix the foundations ... and put on new siding to keep the rain out, and the road dirt, and the noise of passing cars. Plus there are doors that will make it easier to close up at night.And a cement floor means that people don't have to walk through mud on rainy days, and we don't have to put down sawdust and boards.Aunt Laurie was in New York since July 1 and had no idea that the wagon shed was getting fixed. So today when she came home, she got a big, one-day-late, birthday surprise. Now she has to get everything set up quick because the store opens tomorrow.

Eventually I will get a separate page posted with all kinds of pictures from the construction. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This Saturday I went to market for the first time this year, in Beaver with mom and Sue. We were busy so I had to relearn adding very quickly. I forgot the camera to take pictures, but here's a list of what was there. Two tables and the benches were filled:
  • hot banana and jalapeƱo peppers
  • slicing cucumbers
  • little trays of pickling cucumbers
  • zucchini, yellow zucchini, yellow squash, and round zucchini
  • basil and sage
  • romaine, batavian, and redleaf lettuce
  • Napa (Chinese) cabbage
  • sweet bell peppers
  • NO corn (dad said it wasn't good enough)
This weekend we dug the garlic, though there has been so much rain recently that we didn't have to dig. We just pulled it up. Besides harvesting crops, mom and dad are still planting. Lettuce is continually being replanted in the places where heads were cut. Dad has been planting corn and a few beans from time to time to keep the supply going through the summer. In the evenings they've been getting the wagon shed sorted out for opening our stand at the farm on Friday. We've gotten about an inch more since the six inches a week and a half ago, but Dad still is running irrigation to keep it growing well, sometimes with fertilizer. The pumpkins have taken off. They make a noticeable stripe of green now, when before they could barely be seen.
Here's a picture of a cool phenomenon that happened after we got that heavy rain. Wherever there was a tiny rock or stick on top of the soil a mesa formed when dirt around the spot was washed away. It looked like a miniature desert landscape.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Getting into the swing of things

Our market table is getting full. Besides the lettuces, cucumbers, and zucchini, Mom took some cabbages to Ambridge market and some bunches of basil. And ... the first corn. There was just 20 dozen, and as dad said, "The best you can say about it is that it's early." It's not the sweetest variety and was grown in some pretty dry weather. Still, much better than anything driven miles across the country.
Here's a sample of some of the sizes and shapes of summer squash that we grow: yellow crookneck and straight neck squash; pale green, dark green, and yellow round zucchini; yellow and green zucchini; and just a couple of a striped Italian variety.
The onions are getting bigger and more visible. Some of the lettuce has bolted, that is, gone to seed, and it looks like tiny Christmas trees.
The melons have spread across the rows; the cucumbers further back haven't spread as far. The tomatoes, on the other hand, have shrunk. Not really, this is the late crop that was just put in this week! On two of the hottest days this summer Mom and Dad put down the plastic and planted them. Sue and Anthony helped with the stakes. Here are the regular tomatoes. Today they worked on adding another row of string to keep them up and off the ground.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

It rained and it poured

It's been pretty dry, and dad had to hook up irrigation and run water on most fields. Thursday it rained enough to make up for what was lacking, but came down so fast that a lot of it just ran off. We got about 6 inches in just a few hours. Downtown Aliquippa was flooded, but we are fortunate to be on top of a hill. Some places got muddy, but nothing catastrophic happened and the plants were not damaged by the heavy rain.
Mom is still going to market three days a week in Coraopolis, Ambridge, and Beaver. She's getting busier, so this Saturday took our neighbor Anthony along to help. There are more than just a few zucchini now. Mom has to pick them every day. It's over 90 degrees today, and with this heat will start them growing like crazy and she'll pick twice a day so that they don't grow to baseball-bat size. Some people like them that big, but the small, tender ones taste better.Things are growing in the barn, too! Several families of barn swallows have already left their nests. Here's one little guy just getting ready to launch himself off the edge, and a mama (or papa) bird incubating a batch of eggs. Besides being adorable and having such friendly chatter, barn swallows are beneficial birds. They skim across the fields catching insects. The things that are almost ready to go are almost too numerous to list. Last week dad pulled out a garlic bulb, but it wasn't quite ready. He picked an ear of corn, but the kernels weren't filled out yet and it was tasteless. There are little green tomatoes on the vine, but they haven't ripened yet. The basil is growing, but the plants are still pretty small. Mom has started picking peppers. On Saturday she had hot peppers, a few white sweet peppers, and some white eggplant along with the lettuce, cukes, and zucchini.