Thursday, July 8, 2010

challenging weather this year

This last winter we had unseasonably warm weather for weeks, which happily coincided with my (too early, in my opinion) lambing, but it all worked out. 

Later, I waited and waited for a good time to plant the garden, but a constant supply of cold rain made that hard.  I finally got my warm weather crops in in late may/early june, and they're progressing slowly.  I thought it was just me, but the various counties in washington state have been declared an agricultural disaster area by the state government. 

It helps that I have the greenhouse; it provides 1/8th of an acre of warm and temperature controlled planting space, and the basil, tomatoes, peppers and watermelons are all growing nicely.   I like the option of the greenhouse to produce crops that I couldn't otherwise grow in my marine-air-cooled farm. 

The animals have taken all of this in stride; my pigs consider anything over 55 degrees a heat wave, and 90 degrees causes them to retreat to their mudhole and lurk there like turtles, emerging only to squabble with each other and eat.  For the little pigs this is just what life is like; being born a few weeks ago means you have no frame of reference on "too hot" or "too cold" -- it just IS. 

Chicken grow out has been slower than usual; in fact, about 1/2 the usual speed for chickens kept outdoors.  The chickens spent most of their food energy keeping themselves warm instead of growing.  Thats one of the challenges about raising animals on pasture -- your results vary by the weather like any other crop. 

I now have a full set of raptors around my property; two red tailed hawks have nested in an adjoining parcel, and a pair of bald eagles have set up shop on a cell phone tower a little north of me.  With nesting birds of prey I've been pleasantly surprised to find as few losses as I have.  

I've been sidelined on tractor work for the last few days because of a broken lifter arm on my 3 point hitch; the parts are due next week, and I'm looking forward to a couple of cleanup projects; mostly to remove metal debris from a couple of acres that need to be cleaned up, some mowing and field prep.  four times this week I've found myself walking towards my tractor thinking "ok, I'll hook up the mower and...oh.  its broken.  ok. "


Chad said...

Hi Bruce. I got a wild hair and planted my garden (lettuce, romaine, mustard and collard greens, spinanach, etc) during that warm snap in January. Turns out I lucked out and have had a thriving garden since about April. Those friends of mine who waited to start theirs until the 'normal' time, all had a crappy start.

Of course, revenge for them was when about a month ago my goat broke in and got stuck all night in the garden and ate and trampled about everything... DOH!

Bruce King said...

I had some pigs get into my watermelon patch last year and eat the whole patch. melons, vines and all. I know exactly how you feel.