Monthly Farm Update: April 2023
As time goes on, my interest in writing these updates wains. As I mentioned in a previous post, CM cut all news from social media and is stunned at how much better he feels. Since there is no new information to get worked up about, there seems to be a lot less to write about as well. I feel the same way, and although there is always something the evils in this world are hyperventilating about, we simply don't give a damn.
The endless sky is falling from the Martensons, Kunstlers, and Zero Hedges out there fade into the background because it is so much more enjoyable getting in shape, planting, or enjoying the sunset with the chickens. At this point, I believe the secret to life is contentment. It's knowing when enough is enough.
Solar well project
Our work on the farm is one step forward and two steps back. Sometimes we win, and many times we do not. The solar well project is a mixed bag but one that is almost complete. When chatting in our podcast interview, Kunstler seemed confident about how easy it is to construct a solar well without ever digging and hooking a solar well system up himself. Experience showed us that it takes more than words to get the job done this month. There is always a giant gulf between talking about something and actually doing it. Americans seem to not understand this.
Despite the wrist and elbow pain, our hand auger is a wonderful tool. We took advantage of the cooler weather to start digging and hit water at 13 feet. Several rocks in the way meant the hole was less vertical than we would have liked it, but in the end, it miraculously worked out perfectly. This was a much-needed pick me up. The digging process took two days to complete. Once we bought the pipes, fitted them together, and got it down in the hole, we poured several bags of gravel down in and then the excavated soil.
Unfortunately, our old solar panels did not work, and the replacement panels did not work either. Our pump is 200 watts, so we need at least a 200-watt panel to do the trick, which is costly. This project will be a huge blessing to us when it is over, but it was more challenging than inexperienced folks would lead us to believe.
I recently published an article about trespassers this month, and it was very therapeutic to get my thoughts out on "paper." So far, it has been very quiet over there, therapeutic, but I am taking advantage of the continued cool weather to clear brush along our property border. As I mentioned in that article, I am transplanting invasive rose bushes every 4-6 feet along our entire 11-acre perimeter to form a hedge eventually. Although the plants are free, this project is going to take some blood and sweat to finish. I know this will not stop a determined person from coming through, but it will discourage folks once these wild roses are mature in 3-5 years. Additionally, I am saving up to purchase field fencing to fence critical areas in order to deflect their ability to walk on the property easily. Since our neighbors are lazy, uninterested, or both, our barriers will help push these unwanted souls onto the neighbor's properties.
Many of my grafts are pushing out growth which is always exciting. For the past three years, the most consistently successful species for me are apple, pear, and cherry grafts. Persimmon, ginkgo, and honey locust are not nearly as successful, and I have yet to get a plum or peach to take. These last two species appear to need consistent warm temps in order to be successful, so I will try again once it is warmer. Below is a list of varieties I added this year...
Apple: Swiss Limbertwig, Blacktwig, Yellow Transparent, Chestnut Crab, Hunge, Ben Davis, Freedom, Pristine, Kids' Orange Red, Abraham, Yellow June, Wolf River, Fall Pippin
Cherry: North Star, Gold
European Pear: Dana, Dutchess, Orient, Plumbee, Ayers, Maxine, Magness, Harrow Delight, Harvest Queen, Deveci, and Clara
Asian Pear: Raja, Tennesui, Tsi Li
For roughly $100, I was able to add 29 new varieties. Many of these are not for sale from popular mail-order nurseries, so grafting them myself saves a ton of money. From what I can see, it appears that I have a success rate of 90%. These will be the species I will focus on for my online nursery when I have enough material to propagate.
Additionally, we added seascape strawberries, several new thornless blackberry varieties, and blueberries too. The goal is to focus on species and varieties of those species that perform the best on-site. Our frost pocket means that many fruit trees will not do well here, so later blooming species are a must. At this time, it appears that berries are the most consistent. We are focusing on them- strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, black raspberries, elderberries, Aronia, and blueberries.
Vegetable garden plans
This year I am scaling the garden back to focus my time on other projects, such as a greenhouse and a new bathroom. I will grow some vegetables but nothing on the scale that I had previously done. I always felt compelled to grow a lot, but it's just not necessary for us at the moment, and it's really taken its toll on me mentally and physically trying to grow so much. Using my time to get the food forests, thorn hedge, and greenhouse done instead are a better use of my time this year. This will enable me to grow a bigger garden next season. Divide and conquer, if you will.