Thursday, June 14, 2018

Farm Update

This farm is gradually getting back to normal. The volcano eruption caused a bit of disruption due to the ash falls and increased vog, but I've learned to handle it. (I either needed to learn or give up in defeat. Learning was the option I choose.) The main .....and ongoing....... problem has been too much rain combined with too little sun. (As I'm writing this, of course it is raining and cloudy. Gee, what's new?!) This has led to excessive weed regrowth, grass that can't be mowed on schedule and thus overgrowing, garden soil that is often too wet to work, seedlings and crops that rot or mildew. It's been a piss poor year to date. But that's what farming can be like. It's not always a life of sun & roses. 

Although the rain guage is still registering almost daily moisture of some small amount, the ground is actually workable. How about that! No longer mud. We are seldom getting sunshine, but there's enough now to grow most crops, albeit slow growing. I've been sowing a few test plots to determine which crops will grow under the current conditions, and some are doing adequately. So it looks like I'm willing to risk planting again. I've noticed that other farmers in the area are coming to the same conclusion. I've seen them out in their fields, trying to get crops restarted. 

Although the farm has been basically on pause for several months, I'm still getting food for our own table. But I'm not getting enough excess for selling and trading. What's harvestable? 
...Assorted greens -- Okinawan soinach, cholesterol spinach, pipinola and sweet potato tips, chaya, assorted Chinese greens, radish greens, onion tops. 
...Assorted herbs are harvestable for home cooking. 
...Plenty of mamaki and lilikoi leaves for making tea. And plenty of coffee beans stored away. 
...There are still potatoes and sweet potatoes stored in the ground. Plenty. 
...The cherry tomatoes are producing enough for salads several times a week. 
...The onion crop is just coming in, and while there are plenty of onions, they are small. I'm used to hardball to softball sized onions, and these are hardball or smaller. So I'm getting a lot less onions this year. To compensate I will need to grow non-bulbing green onions for the rest of the year. 
...I'm getting a bumper crop of pineapple guavas, I guess due to all the rainfall. Normally I don't bother with them, but since there are insanely plentiful, I've been collecting them for making syrup and adding to my breakfast yogurt (I've been freezing them). We also like them fresh in a mixed salad. 
...The banana trees are producing the best I've ever seen them. Guess they like to extra rain. So we are getting enough bananas for both us and the livestock. 
...Pipinolas are doing really great right now. Plenty for both us and the animals. 
...While the pineapples aren't ready for harvesting, I can see that we should get a nice crop as long as diseases don't get them. Many of the plants are flowering. 
...Papayas are coming in steadily, though not overly abundantly. There's enough for our needs. 
...The taro looks good though I suspect the corms will not make good smooth pa'i'a because of the excess water in the soil. It might be lumpy. I've noticed in past years that my dry land taro does better with steady moisture but not the off and on again deluges. We are not poi eaters but I do eat pa'i'a (pounded taro corm without the water added like when making poi) pounded with herbs. And we also eat some of the leaves and stems occasionally in certain dishes. The rest that we don't eat goes into the chicken and pig food cook pot. 
...The lilikoi is just coming into bloom right now and the vines are loaded with buds. Looks like a good crop coming this year. 

Lots of things are missing. No broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, carrots, peas, beans. The chard, squash, and cucumbers all went moldy. The sweet peppers rotted, though the little hot ones that we don't eat actually are doing ok. The small amount of corn I tried molded in the ear. A total loss. 

In the livestock quarter, things are fine. We have enough eggs and meats. And we have been given assorted cheeses to be "paid" for with future veggies. Gee, I'm in debt. Swore I'd never go into debt again in my life, but here we are.... in cheese debt. 

We're doing fine. I'm cheating by buying a variety of veggies at the local farmers market. But if we had to survive on just what the farm produced or traded for, we could be doing fine. We'd just be seeing less variety on the dinner table. And since that last time I talked about being food independent, we've developed a cheating habit. We now eat Greek yogurt with our daily breakfast. We both feel physically better adding the yogurt to our diet, so I plan to keep it up. We will just plan to produce a bit more eggs or resale veggies to keep the financial balance. The farm is producing our food either by growing it, trading for it, foraging or hunting it, or selling excess and using that money to buy what we don't produce ourselves. 

All in all the farm is progressing. Most of the compost bins are cycling, producing plenty of fertilizer. The chicken flock is definitely producing fertilizer, believe me! Boy, can those birds process food! The young lambs are growing, and the ones I sold have already left the farm. The two piglets are getting bigger and friendlier. I've just spent two days mowing the weeds down in preparation of rototilling the garden beds. I also found and eliminated two yellowjacket nests......ouch! Yes, that's how I located them in the first place. I got a number of stings. 

Now that I'm getting back to farm production, I'll start posting about how I'm doing things here. 

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