Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You have to start somewhere

As I mentioned yesterday, tomorrow I will be making our first delivery of plant starts to our client. It’s a small order, yet we don’t really have a lot of stuff that is ready to go, so it works out for the best. The client’s big plant sale will be in about two weeks, and at that time I anticipate a fair amount of our plants will be sold. Fingers crossed.

Left to right: Tray #1, Garlic Chives and Arugula; #2, Salad Burnett and Greek Oregano; #3, French Tarragon; #4, various mustards; #5, various kales.

Although what we are doing this year cannot be considered farming per se, at least on a scale that would pay the a bill or two, we will make enough to keep our farm status for taxes. It makes a huge difference in property taxes, and there is further incentive because if we were to stop farming altogether, the county could come after us for back taxes, and make us pay regular property taxes even for the years that we did farm. Insane, I know. So, we have to show farm income if we want to continue to live here.

And we do want to stay here, at least for a couple more years, or until property values start to go up again. We like living out in the country, and can’t imagine ourselves living in a city ever again. Yet, that day may come. I just hope if it does that we have room for a garden.

I tilled our garden area today while DW weeded our row of garlic. The ground is dry enough and the weather agreeable enough to start planting things like mustard and kale, and even potatoes, if our order of seed potatoes was here. (They are due to arrive in two days, but I’ll have to let them develop some eyes before planting.) Over the course of the next few weeks we will start planting some of the starts from the greenhouse into neat little rows, and rest assured, I will try to document the process for your reading and viewing pleasure, and hopefully even provide a few gardening tips along the way.

As I write this, I become increasingly aware of just how out of shape I have gotten over the winter. I go through this every spring as the chores start to increase in number and difficulty. For instance, today I set for myself the task of cleaning up one of the paddocks in which we used to grow veggies. And like so many tasks about the farm, this one was made harder by past procrastination or exhaustion, or a little of both.

The last things we planted in this particular field were grown primarily though ground cloth, with drip hoses under the cloth. The normal procedure would be to remove the cloth and hoses at the end of the growing season, which didn’t happen. And since that time, grass and weeds have grown to cover the edges of the cloth. It doesn’t take much for this to occur in this mild climate. So, instead of just removing the cloth and hoses, one also removes a lot of overgrowth that has taken root through the cloth. It’s back-breaking work if one does the whole job by hand.

Fortunately, I devised a plan that would involve the tractor doing most of the heavy work. The ground cloth was originally laid down in 125” lengths. All I had to do was pull up about 15” or so on the end, tie it to the tool bar on the back of the tractor, and pull the rest of it up with the tractor. Yet, even yanking up a relatively small portion of the cloth proved to be hard work, especially when having to do it numerous times. My lower back was happy when the chore was done. Now, the cloth lies out in another field, and after the sun has beat on it for a couple weeks to dry out the implanted grasses, I will clean up the cloth and store it.

The hoses will be another matter and for another day. I have about 5,000 feet of hose to pull and roll up. This task must be done by hand. Big fun.

As mentioned above, each spring I have a difficult time because of a comparably sedentary winter. Yet, by the end of each growing season, I could be described as being quite buff, and flexible. And each winter I tell myself that I will stay active so that the adjustment is not so painful. Doesn’t happen. Well, that’s not entirely the case. I did take up Tai Chi this year, yet faltered in making it part of my daily routine. So, now I must start again. Even so, with the little bit of actual heavy farming that will be required, I will probably still have a gut come September.

Or maybe not, for while we are not farming like we used to, I’ll still have to keep the garden free of weeds. Plus, there is another aspect of our property that has been neglected even more than the paddock I am cleaning up, and that is the yard and landscaping around the house. When we were farming 80 hours a week, we didn’t have the time or energy to take care of the front of the property. Over the course of the last five years bushes have died which need to be dug up and removed; flower beds have become overgrown with weeds; trees have grown out over the lawn making it difficult to mow; and, in the shade of those trees the lawn has turned to moss and dirt.

The truth of the matter is we have more property than two people can manage, unless, of course, that is all we want to do with our days, just as the size of our farming operation was too much for us to do without additional help but unable to afford hiring anyone.

And so it begins: the end.


Crash said...

I am afraid to comment. Also, I am loaded to the gills with antihistamines for tree pollen, so I wouldn't make sense anyway.

What the hell, here are some free comments:

Until you do get buff, make sure you take Friendly/Innocent Uncle Jim's Health Mix: Aspirin, red wine, and fish oil. Really. Oregon has great Pinot Noir, but plonk is more quaffable.

However it ends and/or begins, good luck on your path less taken. It is the way to go.

Memphis MOJO said...

Nice pics (as usual).

Interesting about how farming affects your taxes. I had no idea.

Crash said...

bastin, you mention 'winter' as a time when you don't do much outside. I always imagined western Oregon to be warm enough to work outside year round. Not right? Maybe it is too wet?

bastinptc said...

MM - If we're not making money by farming, we're at least saving money with the tax break.

Crash - Yes, Oregon does have some great Pinots. I like red wines but prefer my scotch. I already do the aspirin and fish oil.

As for winter blahs, it is just that. This last winter I had several writing assignments that kept me indoors; yet, even though the air temp is nowhere near as cold as you get, it is a wet cold that gets into one's bones and stays there. I prefer sitting next to my pellet stove, so I suppose it can be that I am just a tad too lazy. And addicted to poker...

joxum said...

"As I write this, I become increasingly aware of just how out of shape I have gotten over the winter."

In Denmark, the farmers would take up gymnastics during winter. It kept them fit and was a great way of meeting females.

Gymnastics is still a big thing here, and they have these huge rallies with thousands of people showing up.


Crash said...

The bastin image only grows greater. I have a touch of the lazolitis myself.