Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lightning strikes

The initial tilling for making blackeyed pea beds. You can see the string and stakes I used to mark each row.

7/29/09 Wednesday
We had a good rain last night. It was an intense lightning storm along with the rain. This seemed to last all night long so neither of us got a good sleep. At 5:00 this morning we were rudely startled awake when a lightning strike happened very close to the house. Cherie said I woke up yelling. The explosion loud bang probably triggered old memories and instincts. Regardless we were awake. It’s nice and cool out now but when the predicted 96 degrees hits it will be miserably humid with this rain. So I’m not going to write much. I’ve been working on the blackeyed peas beds since Monday.

Note the dark line of dirt on the right. That's the compost placed where a row will be. There are several piles of compost visible that I placed with the tractor's front end loader.

Yesterday got the tractor out and moved as much composted dirt out to the area as I could. I’m putting about three wheelbarrow loads of compost on each row. It looks like the bucket on the end loader holds about six when I can get a full load. Could only do that the first few times I attacked the four foot high pile of compost. Once it got lower it was hard to do as the loader pushed the dirt more than picking it up.

Just a few days ago, like four or so, this was all bare dirt that was freshly disced. Look at the weeds now. If I can turn them into fertilizer that would be cool

I think I’ll experiment a little. From my studies I learned that fresh green vegetation contains a lot of nitrogen. That’s why its good to use in compost as the nitrogen feeds the microorganisms that break down the organic matter. So I’m thinking “Why not just put it straight in the soil? After all nitrogen is fertilizer”. So I’m going to run the mower over the tons of weeds we have with the recent rains and instead of putting it in the compost bins spread it in the hills I’m making for the next batch of peas.

you can see where I used the tractor to scrape weeds off the ground. Unfortunately I can't get into a lot of areas with the big clumsy thing so that will have to be done by hand.

I also have a little of the rye seed left and will plant that thickly on one row. When it gets about eight inches high I’ll till it in. This will delay my being able to plant beans on that row but I’m more worried about learning better ways to grow organically than one row of peas. I’ve got twelve rows in all that I’m working on. That’s going to be real hard on me physically today with the rain. Wet dirt is ten times heavier than dry. Oh it might only be three times heavier or something, don’t care to go out and weigh it, just know it’s going to be a lot more work.

There’s so much to do, always. The peas are loaded with pods that have dried. Each pod is one we didn’t pick when it was ideal so it all represents money lost. Plus by not keeping up with it the dried pods trigger the plants to quit producing and call it a year. You can see how they are dying off. Just one of me isn’t enough to keep up. Cherie gets out and helps weed and pick but it’s hard on her, especially when she spends an eight hour day at her job. That plus the fact that she gets home when the temperature is as hot as it can get.

Speaking of hot I need to get out there while it’s cool. Bye now.

I just came in to rest my back, take a pain pill, and fix breakfast. Didn’t fix any earlier in my rush to get out while it’s still cool. I can often tell when I don’t eat because I get kind of weak.

It takes me an hour to make just one of these rows. That doesn't include tilling or spreading compost, just piling up the dirt. That’s a lot of dirt to move with a hoe. Let’s see, I’ve got twelve rows to make so that equals twelve hours of hard labor. I can’t wait to get a double bottom plow. With one of those I can do this in one pass of the tractor. And it will hurt a whole lot less.

There are of course many things other than farming to do. This hole is where the top of the cesspool, where all our sewage goes, has been exposed through wind and water erosion. It's been here for weeks now and the big rain just made it worse. Fixing it will require my bringing in lots of dirt with the end loader. Unfortunately I can't bring it in close or the tractor will break through the old rotted railroad ties that make the top of the cesspool.

1:38 – It’s two hours since I last came in, when I wrote the previous post. That’s about how long I’m lasting. There’s a nice breeze that helps keep me cool, I’m grateful for that. Using the hoe to make rows is one thing but using the shovel to spread the now wet compost is killing me. Just a whole lot harder on the back. I came in to take a pain pill but realize that I had one just two hours ago so won’t. This is the temptation I have to resist. I know it will make me feel better but I also know the danger that resides in those little white capsules. I sometimes fudge a little bit when I hurt bad, taking one at three hours instead of four, but don’t do it often at all. One thing I maintain is a healthy respect, and even fear, of pain medication. Like alcohol they can be insidious, slowly infiltrating your sense of judgment, sometimes over many years, till you suddenly realize you have a problem. I’ve been there and have no wish to return. It once cost me everything I had. So I’ll lay down in front of the fan, which is on at full blast, till the pain eases up. Then it’s back out to work. I think I’ll pick peas for a while. Need to focus on the dry ones to help keep the plants that are still putting out stay vital. That will take a couple of hours and I can sit down while I do it.

By the way, for all of you local readers, we’ve got three kinds of basil that are going to town. If any of you would like some just let me know. Email me at I’ll be happy to drop some off if you live in Midland or Stanton. For that matter if any of you want to come by and get something I would love the company. I won’t put you to work, honest. Unless you really want to.

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