welcome, and thank you for joining me on my farm and studio in southern lancaster county, pennsylvania

Friday, May 29, 2009

the garden

Here is an overview of most of my garden. From left to right you can see the "three sisters" planting of field corn, beans, and melons. You can also see salad greens, sunflowers, potatoes, mustard, tomatoes and peppers (in the red plastic). 

The three sisters is something I've read about but never tried before. You plant the corn first, four to a hill, and when it is 4" tall plant pole beans in between the corn plants. Then in between the corn/bean hills, you plant melons, squash, pumpkins, etc., two to a hill. The idea is that the corn will support the beans as they grow, the beans will add nitrogen to the soil, and the squash will shade the ground to minimize weeds. It's an interesting concept and one which will be fun to watch play out. I've mulched the three sisters heavily in between the hills with cardboard covered up with horse manure/bedding and then topped it off with wood chips from last year. The weeds don't stand a chance (hopefully).
The field corn is from seed saved from last year's planting. It worked out great last year - the animals got some for treats and I got some for corn meal - which was very good, by the way. I encourage you to try your hand at growing it for yourself - but get an heirloom variety so you can save your own seed. 
The beans for three sisters were: Emerite pole bean, your typical french green bean; Chinese Red Noodle bean, an oddball that is supposed to get 18" pods that are bright red; and Vermont Cranberry bean, a nice red spotted bean that's good for drying and using for soups and chili. The melon/squash component consists of Banana melons, Thai Golden melons, a Pepino melon, french "Cinderella" pumpkins (Rouge Vif D'Etampes), lemon cucumbers, a plain old slicing cucumber, and a couple zucchini.

Salad greens, red beets, onions and sunflowers are next to the three sisters. The plan is that the greens will be done by the time the squash becomes rampant, and the sunflowers will be well above it all. I've been eating a LOT of salad lately.

Potatoes: two white varieties and a blue variety. Supposedly the blue one stays that color even through cooking. Should be interesting. This picture was taken last week before mulching was started. At this point, I have about half the potatoes mulched, first laying down a thin layer of newspaper and topping it off with the manure and wood chips.

Mustard: Brown, black, and white. They're looking good, so hopes are high for home made grainy mustard.

Tomatoes: Limony, John Baer, Wapsipinicom, Black Sea Man, Orange Strawberry, Green Zebra, and Mexican Midget - all heirloom varieties.

Peppers: Early Sunsation, Satsuma, Mandarin, Hungarian, Jalapeno, Cayenne, and Lemon Drop.

There is also a row of zinnias and cosmos for cutting, a couple of cotton plants, a few carrots, Danish Ballhead cabbage, peanuts, and a few roselle, a relative of hibiscus from asia. Roselle is what gave the zing to red zinger tea. I wonder if it will be good in a blend with mint.

In what was supposed to be the oats bed, I put in indian corn, broom corn, popcorn, and sweet corn. Just a little of each. The oats were a failure, hardly any germinated, so I 'tilled them under for the sake of the corn contingent.

Next to the corn, the wheat is actually making a comeback! Not a nice, full, dense stand, but hopefully enough to harvest. It is making seed heads now and so really does look like wheat.

So now all the planting is done. More mulching is next on the list and then it will "just" be keeping ahead of the weeds and of course, enjoying the harvest!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

early morning beauty

As seen on a pre-breakfast walk in the woods.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

peep show

Two weeks ago 25 cornish rock crosses arrived via the postal service. Right now they are in the barn until they can safely be put in an outdoor pen during the day. Compared to the bantams, these babies sure can eat and drink! I can see why they are known for their fast growth. According to the hatchery, they could be ready to butcher as early as eight weeks old! To slow down their growth a bit, it's recommended to put their food away at night so they're not eating 24/7. In the video above you can see what it looks like when I give them their food back in the morning. Hungry little buggers!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

taking the leap

It had to happen eventually. Having started eight sculptures in the past couple months yet seemingly unable to finish a single one of them, I finally managed to complete one - and none too soon. The deadline for the Lancaster Museum of Art show was Sunday at 3 p.m. I got it there at 2:30. Would have been earlier in the day and would have been a different piece, but as I was putting the final, and I do mean final, touches on it, I broke it. Snapped a piece right off. Not wasting any time on regrets, I quickly finished the wall sculpture shown above. And as I drove it to the museum, it was still drying.

"Taking the Leap" is about moving forward and taking risks. Growing and changing. And while change sometimes seems dangerous, it often comes with great reward. For those breaking out of their shell, the risk of falling to the ground is outweighed by the reward of soaring.

As for the piece originally planned for the show, I think I'll start over. The idea is a good one and still worth pursuing. Referencing a quote from Winston Churchill, it makes a bit of a political statement which is unusual for me. Generally I stay away from that stuff. At the rate that sculptures are being completed lately it might be ready for next spring's show - if I'm lucky!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

rocky? is that you?

As it turns out, my brother gave me very good advice when he told me I'd never want to put a cat door coming directly into the house. Into the attached garage is fine, but not the house. Steve the cat has quite a penchant for catching small creatures and bringing them into the garage to play with. Alive. He'll play with them until they die. Sometimes he'll eat them and sometimes he'll leave them for me to find and clean up (nice). Most of the time it's voles, sometimes baby rabbits, and once a catbird. The voles and rabbits don't bother me much. The catbird had me pretty irritated since it was one of a pair that was nesting in the tree right outside my bedroom window, and I LIKE catbirds. But this morning really took the cake. There he was, in the garage playing with a baby flying squirrel. Quickly intervening, I deposited Steve in the house and donning a pair of thick leather gloves, caught the little guy and put him in a box for the short trip back into the woods. I wanted to take a picture of him, but didn't want to prolong the torture of confinement longer than absolutely necessary (the photo above is one that I found). Taking him to the base of a very large tree, tipping the box on it's side and opening it up, I released him. He quickly scampered up the tree to safety. Hopefully he's old enough to be on his own or his mother finds him. 

For those of you who have never seen a flying squirrel, they are very small nocturnal creatures that can glide from tree to tree using the webbing between their legs for lift. It's been many years since I've seen one and I'm glad to know they're around. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

some unfinished business

It's been awhile since any new work has been posted here so I wanted to show you why. Above are six sculptures in various stages of completion and I've begun yet another one. And next week I plan to start a commissioned piece. But I'm not stressed or concerned about all the unfinished work because it will all get done in good time. For the most part, the details are worked out and I know where I'm going with them so it's all good. But keep checking back in folks, because surely if enough work gets started, something will also get done.