The Farm Report: There’s Nothing Like Autumn

Dang, I love this time of year. The daytime high temperatures have dropped into the 70s. The leaves are just starting to wear their fall-fashion colors. There are plenty of good pro and college football games to record and watch at night. The ticks and chiggers are retiring to their winter quarters and won’t return until spring. Soon it will be Chareva’s birthday, then Halloween, then Sara’s birthday, then my birthday, then Thanksgiving.

I slept like a stone on Friday night, then woke up Saturday with an urge to go out and work myself into a state of Dog-Tired Satisfied. So I did.

When we moved to the farm and Chareva took up gardening, we created a fenced-in area in the front pasture. Here are some shots from that project in 2012:

Eventually, Chareva decided she wanted the big garden out back, behind the house. Then she decided she wanted the chickens behind the house. Then came the Big Spring Project of 2015, when we created a single fenced-in area for the chickens and the gardens.

Meanwhile, the abandoned garden in the front pasture became a jungle. We removed some of the fencing and t-posts earlier in the summer, then removed the rest a few weeks ago. But the jungle remained:

This would normally be a job for The Beast, which would tear right through all that mess. Unfortunately, after all my bragging about The Beast’s toughness and reliability, it decided to give me a headache. The headache looks like this:

Darned thing won’t start. When I pull the cord, it comes all the way out and stays all the way out. I can wind it back up – and did several times – but the same thing happens every time. The engine sputters for a second without starting, and the cord just sits there. I opened up the top and fussed with everything that looked fuss-worthy, but nothing made a difference. So I guess it’s time to take The Beast to a repair shop … despite the threat to my status as a Born-Again Tool Guy.

With The Beast out of commission, I whacked down the jungle in the former garden with the brush-cutter attachment on my Weed-Whacker. That certainly provided a better workout than pushing The Beast around. With that step completed, the former garden looked like this:

I didn’t want all those vines just sitting there rotting all winter, so for step two, I ran over the whole mess with the new Cub Cadet mower, a.k.a. The Bear. That reduced the mess to this:

Next on the agenda was the old chicken yard. We’ve tilled it and mowed it, but of course the jungle keeps trying to grow back. So I took the Weed-Whacker in there as well. (I neglected to take an “after” picture, but trust me, the jungle has been whacked.)

Before the Big Spring Project of 2015, we fenced in the new garden out back as a stand-alone project. Now that it’s enclosed within the Big Project, with chicken moats and all, Chareva decided the inner fence isn’t necessary. Any deer or other garden-munching critters that manage to breach the outer fence and nets won’t be deterred by the inner fence. So she took it down. Then she harvested the remaining bounty, which looked like this:

We’ll be eating a lot of peppers in the next few weeks.

The other garden out back is pretty well played out too. Even the okra has stopped growing. If I appear to smiling in the picture below, it’s only to mask the pain of knowing our dinners will longer feature fried okra, baked okra, roasted okra, okra stew or okra surprise.

With the inner fence gone, Chareva asked me to run the tiller over the entire garden to prepare it for cool-weather crops.

I manhandled the bucking-bronco contraption back and forth a few times and dug up plenty of large rocks, along with plenty of weeds.

The roots of those weeds would make good ropes. Chareva was on de-roping duty.

When we were done, the garden was ready for those cool-weather crops — which Chareva and Sara planted on Monday while I was sitting in an office writing software code.

There was one more Saturday chore to tackle. The area in the photo below has been home to goats in one year and hogs in another. Both species did us the favor of keeping the jungle trimmed.

We don’t have any plant-eating tenants living there now, so the jungle has been growing back. After tilling the garden, I took the Weed-Whacker in there and whacked the jungle. (And once again, I neglected to take an “after” picture.)

It was a long day of manual labor, the kind guaranteed to produce a state of Dog-Tired Satisfied. With the weekend work done, we took Alana to Red Lobster so could amaze us, as always, with her appetite for crab legs. (Sara was out of town on a class trip.)

Chareva’s parents joined us as well, since they had something to celebrate: after weeks of looking, they found a house in Franklin that’s perfect for their needs and bought it. They’ll be just a few miles down the road from us, with a view of a pasture. Quite a change from suburban Chicago.

Speaking of houses and such, you may have noticed Sara’s cabin has migrated to an area near the garden. During the long stretch when she doing extra chores to earn “cabin cash,” she had a vision of sitting on the porch, reading a book and drinking iced tea with the dogs curled up at her feet. It was a good vision.

Unfortunately, the dogs didn’t share the vision. They’d much rather bang around inside the cabin, jump on Sara as she’s walking to the cabin, etc. They’re Rottweilers, after all. So after discussing the matter with Chareva, Sara decided she’d enjoy the cabin more if was located near the garden – meaning where the dogs can’t get to it.

The same people who delivered the cabin came by last week to move it.

The view is certainly better from up there. Sara may yet sit on the porch, drinking iced tea and reading a book. Chareva plans to join her while taking a break from gardening and feeding the chickens.

And I’ve already been informed that the next project is to finish and decorate the inside of the cabin.

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24 thoughts on “The Farm Report: There’s Nothing Like Autumn

  1. Dianne

    Y’know, I think “dog-tired satisfied” only results from outside work. When I lived in Oregon and had a huge yard it was easy to achieve that wonderful feeling (and I do mean wonderful even though I ached all over and often got chilled to the bone). But I’ve never, ever gotten that feeling from even the most vigorous and intense housework. Bone-weary, yes, but not dog-tired satisfied. Maybe you have to add fresh air to your efforts. Or maybe that’s just me.

    If you get to missing the okra too much, you can always try the Talk O’ Texas okra pickles, mild or hot.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I think you’re onto something. It’s only outdoor work that provides that mild euphoria.

      Chareva dried some okra earlier in the summer. I suspect it will appear on our dinner plates during the cold months.

      Reply
  2. Dianne

    Y’know, I think “dog-tired satisfied” only results from outside work. When I lived in Oregon and had a huge yard it was easy to achieve that wonderful feeling (and I do mean wonderful even though I ached all over and often got chilled to the bone). But I’ve never, ever gotten that feeling from even the most vigorous and intense housework. Bone-weary, yes, but not dog-tired satisfied. Maybe you have to add fresh air to your efforts. Or maybe that’s just me.

    If you get to missing the okra too much, you can always try the Talk O’ Texas okra pickles, mild or hot.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I think you’re onto something. It’s only outdoor work that provides that mild euphoria.

      Chareva dried some okra earlier in the summer. I suspect it will appear on our dinner plates during the cold months.

      Reply
  3. Dianne

    I never realized until this summer, when my neighbor’s okra vine grew up above the fence between our yards, what beautiful blossoms okra has. Did a little Googling, and found it’s a relative of the hibiscus.

    Reply
  4. Dianne

    I never realized until this summer, when my neighbor’s okra vine grew up above the fence between our yards, what beautiful blossoms okra has. Did a little Googling, and found it’s a relative of the hibiscus.

    Reply
  5. Linda

    Great to see another farm report! I was envying that beautiful weather of yours this past weekend while I was sitting in north Florida waiting to see what Hurricane Matthew would do to my house and garden! Luckily, I only had big oak tree limbs down and nothing on house or garden. Others obviously weren’t so fortunate!

    That article about the deputies raiding an okra patch isn’t the first time it’s happened. It has actually happened here a few years back when an elderly lady reported her neighbor to the police for growing cannabis. Of course that was okra too! Makes me wonder why the cannabis growers don’t plant a particularly thick patch of okra and intersperse with cannabis…

    My okra plants are going to okra heaven this weekend, too! But I’m truly enjoying the okra snacks I made by washing, salting and then dehydrating small pods. Makes for a great salty, low carb snack!

    Reply
    1. Galina L.

      Congrats on safe passing of Matthew! We didn’t sustain any damage as well in our Jacksonville location. I canned soup and a meat stew as a hurricane-preparation task and cooked eggs on a gasoline-fueled one burner for a breakfast during the hurricane. We had to spent some time without electrical energy. People in our city had to remove a lot of falling trees. Now they have to finish all junk snacks they bought in huge amounts in preparation to the hurricane.

      Reply
  6. Linda

    Great to see another farm report! I was envying that beautiful weather of yours this past weekend while I was sitting in north Florida waiting to see what Hurricane Matthew would do to my house and garden! Luckily, I only had big oak tree limbs down and nothing on house or garden. Others obviously weren’t so fortunate!

    That article about the deputies raiding an okra patch isn’t the first time it’s happened. It has actually happened here a few years back when an elderly lady reported her neighbor to the police for growing cannabis. Of course that was okra too! Makes me wonder why the cannabis growers don’t plant a particularly thick patch of okra and intersperse with cannabis…

    My okra plants are going to okra heaven this weekend, too! But I’m truly enjoying the okra snacks I made by washing, salting and then dehydrating small pods. Makes for a great salty, low carb snack!

    Reply
    1. Galina L.

      Congrats on safe passing of Matthew! We didn’t sustain any damage as well in our Jacksonville location. I canned soup and a meat stew as a hurricane-preparation task and cooked eggs on a gasoline-fueled one burner for a breakfast during the hurricane. We had to spent some time without electrical energy. People in our city had to remove a lot of falling trees. Now they have to finish all junk snacks they bought in huge amounts in preparation to the hurricane.

      Reply

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