In case you're wondering what we're doing with the rest of our spare time, here's an example: one of our potato patches. I took this photo on Sunday afternoon, after I had finished "hilling" the potatoes ... drawing up the soil around the base of the plants as they grow.
I planted this crop over Memorial Day weekend, when Alayne and I had spent all three days of that long weekend preparing seed beds and planting, planting and planting -- over 1,000 feet of potatoes, 144 winter squash, 422 beans, 44 zucchinis, hundreds of carrots, and hundreds of corn seeds. Then, late on Memorial Day night, we had torrential downpours from a severe series of thunderstorms, and we lay in bed wondering if three days worth of work was going to be washed away. The heavy rain kept coming for 24 hours. When it was over, we had lost half the corn, about half the bean crop, and nearly all the zucchinis.
But then we had to see if anything that hadn't been washed away would actually still come up. The weather turned cool and wet for ten days, making it even worse. We nervously waited to find out if the seeds would survive the waterlogged soil and finally sprout.
Amazingly, most did -- starting with the potatoes. When I saw the first green potato shoots poking up through the soil several days later, I was elated. We're experimenting with different varieties to see which work best for this particular farm. Of the potatoes, we planted the following varieties: Green Mountain (the first to come up), Elba, Salem, Katahdin, Kennebec, Red Pontiac, Sangre, German Butterball and Yukon Gold. The common theme here is actually storage -- these are varieties that are "good keepers" and store well over long periods. We have a root cellar to keep them in over the winter.
Even now, we're not done planting. Alayne just finished another round (green beans, zukes, etc.) on Sunday while I was hilling the potatoes and mulching the winter squash. And, of course, more heavy rain arrived yesterday and will pretty much continue through most of this week. After the Memorial Day storm I went to work on adding yet more drainage (we had already done a lot last year) -- ditching and channeling -- around the fields, which has really helped. But we have more drainage to do.
A lot of the crops, like the potatoes and winter squash, are for the carbohydrate portion of the dogs' diet, along with the veggies. Ultimately we want to be able to produce all their food if we can.
Our neighbor Jim, who was born and grew up on the family farm down the road from us, says no one has farmed here in more than 50 years -- and maybe longer -- so we are in the process of bringing this old farm back to life. Now, if only we could control the weather just a wee bit better....