Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Stuff Dreams Are Made of

(written on May 29, 2007)

Every once in a while I have a vivid dream.

I am getting ready to go on a big trip. I’m in process of packing my stuff in preparation for leaving and finishing up a few chores. But things keep on popping up to delay my departure. Something is wrong with the car and has got to be fixed first. The cows are out and rampaging all over the farm and there is no one around to help me get them in. I’m confused and not sure what I should be getting together and I have no idea how to go at it. All I really know is that I was supposed to be there several days ago and I have not even left yet and have no idea when we are going to be able to leave. For some strange reason I don’t even know where we are going or the routes we are going to take to get there! But there is enough of the eternal optimist in me to assure me that I will get it all figured out somehow. Though I am feeling frustrated, I realize that there is a part of me that doesn’t really care because I realize that it must be that way if I am to keep from going completely crazy.

Then there is the “going back to college” version. I have enrolled in a twenty some credit hour course load in one of our nation’s largest universities. I have signed up for a bunch of courses that are way over my head and am faced with piles of thick textbooks to read and term papers to write. I am doing all this while working at an off campus job in order to pay my expenses. I haven’t had time to go to any classes yet and in fact have never met any professors. I don’t even know where on campus the classes are meeting, not to mention knowing my class schedule. I suddenly realize that the semester is half over, I still haven’t been to class yet and I’ve only cracked a few books enough to realize that they are full of undecipherable mathematical problems and deep philosophical ramblings that run way beyond anything I can ever hope to understand. I am not even sure I care about knowing this material, only that I’ve made a commitment and somehow must get over there and pass some tests. But first I must figure out where my dorm is, remember my room number, and find the key. I don’t know how I am going to manage all of this but somehow I am going to because I have to.

Everybody has these kinds of dreams don’t they?

Now perhaps I can write the vegetable farmer’s version. Here goes. I am at the farmers market. There is a bustling crowd of customers and vendors. Several vendors have fresh summer squash and melons and there is even one with ripe tomatoes. There are none of these things on my table as I have only managed to get half of my tomatoes transplanted yet. I’m not even close to having melons or squash as I don’t even know where I will plow the ground to plant them. I am suddenly appalled to realize that this coming Tuesday is another CSA day and there is nothing to put in the boxes as I haven’t gotten around to planting anything yet. It’s not like I’ve been playing around and sleeping. I’ve been quite busy doing all sorts of things that are also important to get done, things like building and repairing the things I must have in order to get the garden stuff done and helping the neighbors with things that they need help with. Maybe this year I might have to settle for harvesting ripe tomatoes from the greenhouse because I couldn’t get them into the garden soon enough. They won’t get as big as they would in the garden because of the crowding in the greenhouse flats. Hey! Why have I been fooling with growing cherry tomatoes? I can just leave some in the greenhouse and save myself the work of transplanting them to the garden. What a great idea! Uh oh! Tomorrow night they are calling for a killing frost and my green beans are just now coming up. The problem is that this is not the last frost of spring—it is the first frost of fall! Where in the world has all the summer gone?! What am I going to do?!

OK. It’s not quite that extreme, but there might be a good explanation why I haven’t dreamed this one yet. It is uncannily close to reality. The fact is that I did have two foot tall tomato plants in my greenhouse before I could get them planted out and this year was the first year ever that I had to put up tomato trellises with posts and the first run of strings before I put in the transplants. Tomorrow is Memorial Day and I have not planted summer squash or green beans yet. If I am lucky and nothing breaks I might get the peppers, eggplants, and pole limas transplanted this coming week. Last week folks all over the county were making hay like crazy and I had no idea when I could get to making mine as I have all this other stuff pushing to be done in front of it. And I am just now realizing that the time is here to get some lettuce plants started in the greenhouse for mid July-August production (people need salad greens to eat with all those tomatoes and cucumbers during those hot weather months) and some cauliflower and broccoli seed started for fall.

Fortunately the fava beans look better than they ever have, the potatoes look good, and I have a nice crop of spring cabbage and broccoli that seem to be quite happy. The tomatoes in one of the high tunnels are hopping and ready for the third string. Most of them have up to three ping pong ball sized fruits on and if I can get the irrigation lines hooked up soon I have a decent chance of picking ripe tomatoes by the end of June. The neighbor is picking some nice strawberries and we will likely be picking peas next week. And that was some really nice lettuce that came out of the high tunnel closest to the house site the last two weeks.

Several days ago Christine and I burnt some midnight oil drawing up house floor plans and elevations. It has been exceedingly hard for me to get this done this spring due to all the other work connected with dealing with the fire aftermath. However this is something I love to do and it feels good to finally have some drawings in hand that help one to visualize what hopefully will eventually be built. Last fall I was engaged in drawing up plans and elevations for the packing shed and pole barn. That building is not yet completed but the packing shed end is mostly done and is already in use. Grounds grading is roughed in and the building is far enough along that the visions of last fall are in focus. I can already see the new house with a Cape Cod style mid section and front porch setting on the now ugly foundation. Seeing first the packing shed and now the new house plans beginning to take shape gives us new hope. Now that is the kind of stuff I wish more dreams were made of.

(addendum: The preceding blog entry was written in late May and edited in mid June. Since that time our lives have proceeded much like the dreams I described and this explains why it is now late July and is only now about to be posted.

Much has happened on the farm since this post was written. We started picking and selling ripe tomatoes by June 30th, a little later than I had originally hoped, but still sneaking just under my goal of having tomatoes before the end of June. Pole beans, okra, summer and winter squash, eggplant, and pepper transplants got into the ground three weeks to a month behind schedule but will have ample time to produce before the return of cold weather. Construction on the new house began on July 2nd and by the 20th it was framed and under tar paper covered roof. It is indeed exciting to see it taking shape day by day.

We are experiencing severe drought conditions and needing to use the drip irrigation extensively. Tomorrow I will tackle the task of setting up more header lines and drip tape on the acre or so of land I will need to set out around 1000 cauliflower, lettuce, and Chinese cabbage plants and seed fall carrots, beets, endive, turnips, arugula, mizuna, etc.

Deer are ravaging the soybeans and the sweet potatoes. I am fighting them by spraying a concoction of concentrated hot pepper extract and Basic H. I'm not sure it is working but I keep doing it if only for spite.

Life is proceeding, a bit difficult, but it is proceeding.