Keepin' Up with LIG
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Well, yesterday was my last day of work for the school year, so beginning today, we can stop trying to squeeze farming into the early morning and evening hours.  We've accomplished a fair amount in the last few months, but there is so much yet to do.  As we delve deeper and deeper into this endeavor, the more apparent it is that working with the land, plants, and animals has many lessons to teach...not only the biological, botanical, and ecological lessons; and not only the social, cultural, and economical lessons of agriculture; but also, and perhaps most importantly, there is a deep spiritual and philosophical thread running through the heart of the act of working the land.  It seems that at every turn we encounter situations that spur us to reach deep for patience, that force us to accept things that cannot be changed, and that strengthen our resolve to make the slow, steady steps toward acquiring the wisdom, skills, and knowledge that come only with season after season and year after year of acquainting ourselves with these things that we've grown so far from.  Not all the lessons are hard, however; the early morning sunrises, the pride in the first tiny green tomatoes, a cold beer to wash down the satisfied exhaustion of a day's work, and the marvel of chicken behavior all serve to re-affirm our faith in the goodness of the world.

A quick summary of what's been going on:

  • Water!  On Monday, our three month saga with Progress Energy finally ended as they installed the meter for our electric service and we were able to turn the valve and run our drip irrigation system for the first time.  Our friend Dane ventured all the way down from Richmond to help us set up the irrigation system this past weekend.  For those unfamiliar, drip irrigation systems run water into hoses that run the length of the vegetable rows.  Water drips out tiny slits in the hose spaced at 12" intervals, delivering water slowly and precisely to the roots of the plants.  With this, we will (hopefully) never again have to get up at 5:00am to fill a water tote and hand water plants!  No pictures yet, but be assured that our plants are exceedingly happy.
  • Vegetables...  The vegetable scene is a mixed bag at the moment.  We have the first round of all of our late summer vegetables in.  Moving and getting everything set up this spring didn't allow us to get the summer crop in as early as we normally would, but thanks to North Carolina's long growing season, we were still able to get some things in the ground to be ready for the end of summer.  The onions and potatoes that we planted earlier in the spring are growing great.  We actually pulled a few red and yellow onions earlier this week and snaked a few red skin potatoes out of the ground today.  Several weeks back, we and our friend Adam (pictured to the left, along with his infectiously exuberant transplanting spirit) transplanted 280 healthy, green, lush tomato plants.  However, today only about 90 remain.  Within days of transplanting, many of the tomatoes wilted and died.  We think that our soil harbors an abundance of the fungi that cause early blight and/or collar rot in tomatoes.  We're trying to cull the ones that look diseased and encourage the ones that still look healthy, so hopefully we'll still have at least a modest tomato harvest.  Some of the peppers and eggplant are doing well, others are not.  Those problems are on me for some seed-starting and greenhouse issues which I will resolve next year.  We have several varieties of beans growing well.  We had poor germination on some of the corn, squash, and cucumbers that we planted, but we're replanting and should have a good stand coming on soon.   
  • Chickens!  The chickens are as happy as can be in their new home.  We were able to finish up the mobile coop last week and they wasted no time in making themselves at home.  I'm sure that everyone has been bubbling over with anticipation at the winner of the "Name Our Mobile Coop" contest.  It's been a hard decision.  I'm not even sure we've officially made one yet.  There were many, many great suggestions, and we whittled the field down to the best three, with those that proposed it in parentheses:  "Cluck Wagon" (our idea, inspired in part by a suggestion from Don Wellons), "Coop de Ville" (Andrew Lang, Dane Anderson), and "Mercedes Henz" (Thomas Taloe).  My immediate joy and laughter at hearing the suggestion of "Mercedes Henz" has kept it as my personal favorite, but the others are certainly worthy as well.  Upon hearing "Mercedes Henz", I also immediately thought of Janis Joplin's acapella "Mercedes Benz", which just about sealed it.  If anyone has a spare Mercedes hood ornament laying around, let us know.  Unless we change our mind before we paint the name on the side of the coop, Thomas, you can claim your prize of a dozen eggs from happy LIG chickens the next time we see you.

Upcoming events in the Let It Grow world:

  • Vegetables - We should have potatoes for sale by early- or mid-July, with tomatoes, beans, and squash soon to follow.  Once we have produce for sale, I will be sending out a weekly email with the availability for that week.  We will take orders and make plans for pick-ups and drop-offs on a case-by-case basis at first.  Once we have a decent amount of things available, we will also be starting a roadside stand at the house.  Depending on supply and demand, we may also show up at one of the small local farmers markets.  
  • Fence-raising - In the not-too-distant future, we will be building a perimeter fence around the farm, in order to keep in our animals and keep out other animals that might find our vegetables and animals as attractive and delicious as we do.  More updates on that soon...

I'm determined to post once a week now that I'm off work for the summer, so you'll hear from me again soon.

Take care,



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Reader Comments (4)

Great post Michael, and great job Michael and Caroline for all you've accomplished. There's nothing quite as satisfaying as "working the land". And "Mercedez Henz" with a nod to Janis Joplin is perfect! Would love to bring Connor out one day to see the chickens..

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Hi Nancy! Thanks for the kind words. That'd be great for you to bring Connor out any time...just call my cell. I'll be around all summer!

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

I enjoyed reading your posts. Good luck with planting and harvesting this year. You've both done an amazing job with establishing your farm.

June 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelinda

I love catching up on the farm news!

June 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren L.

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