A quick google search for “Farm, Weather, Poem”  turned this up.  A little humor while we float away here.  Evidently, not only is this moisture coming up from Mexico, it is also the “vaporization” of snow.  The snow pack this year was HUGE.  Now that it has gotten suddenly warmer a lot of the snow goes straight from snow to water vapor.  It spins up over the mountains and heads out to pay us a visit.  It really needs to stop.  The rivers are all again reaching flood stage and we are getting way too much rain way too fast.

The Farmer in Wet Weather

Goddess of drizzle,
driving your big
cartloads of mist
across my fields!
Send me some sun
and I’ll sacrifice
my cow — my wife —
my Christianity!

The Roasters Go Outside Tomorrow

The Godzilla birds go out into their coop tomorrow.  My goodness Cornish roasters are borderline freakish.  I cannot believe how fast they grow.  They are 3 weeks old on Saturday and they are close to 1 pound and a half.  We will have chicken in the freezer the weekend after the 4th of July (maybe one FOR the 4th of July!)

Instead of building a permanent coop for them (considering they are only around about once a year and only for 10 weeks) I built one out of straw bales and some of the chicken wire and PVC trellises I have for some of the vining plants like cucumbers.  They will have their own coop door and the run will be divided 1/3 for the roasters and 2/3ds for the layers.

(News Flash:  As I write this a cloud unleashed itself over the farm.  It has hail in it.  Now we watch wait and see if it destroys the garden.  The farmer is very nervous – this storm has a LOT of water in it.  Where the hell is it all coming from!?)

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Things Are Sprouting!

I got the automatic timers and the filters and pressure regulators all hooked up on the three zones for the drip irrigation.  Everything works and there are no leaks!  YAY!  While walking the beds just to see how things were coming along I looked down and noticed that the Amaranth and the Black Beans are pushing up!  Woohoo!  Germination is happening!  I was very concerned about the ability of the plants to be able to push through the surface soil.  The soil here is about 80% sand and 20% clay and it has a great deal of manure worked into it.  However, when it gets wet and then dries it forms a crusty surface.  Evidently beans are mighty mighty!

We pressurized the drip system that Aaron put in on the corn patch and it all works….  tomorrow Corn, Kidney Beans, and Alfalfa are going in over there.  The purpose of the beans and alfalfa is soil building.  The corn is green dent corn.  It will be used for corn meal and chicken feed.

Of course, after having used up most of the bed space, and leaving out the melon plants because they simply wouldn’t germinate…. now they are germinating.  I am going to have to ponder this one.  How do I put them in and where?

Also, if the weather cooperates, its time to put in about 72 Basil plants with the tomatoes and interplant about the same number of Kale.  Lacinato Kale is very good for you and we use a lot of it for juicing.  Tasty in salads.  The Basil helps keep away tomato pests plus I make and freeze boat loads of pesto for pasta and potatoes.

Cautiously optimistic!

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The Final Push Is Over

So long as no more hail comes in and kicks us in the ass, the JAZ Farm garden is virtually planted!  There is still the corn patch to seed but the fancy Earthway Seeder will take care of that in short order.  We used over 4000 feet of drip tape and have water to the half acre garden!  It all WORKS!  Woohoo!

While a bunch of the plants got pretty beat up by the hail storms it all certainly looks to be bouncing back.  Yesterday the eggplant looked kind of pathetic, but with the watering system up and running they have perked back up!  The biggest concern right now is the half row of cherry tomatoes.  Second in line to the beating the peppers took, the cherry tomatoes really got nailed.  They are spindly to begin with so they are pretty susceptible to being damaged.

The big plants (eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos) took a ton of work to get planted.  Zina and Grandma did the planting work and Jon did the trellises.  We dumped a bunch of compost on to one of the beds and seeded in carrots and beets.

Aaron finished up the drips on the corn patch.  Now that all of the drippers are laid, it is apparent that we don’t have enough seed.  We are going to plant seed corn, sunflowers and kidney beans.  For any space that we don’t have seed for we will plant some of the alfalfa seed I ordered.  That way, the beans and the alfalfa will add nitrogen to the soil as well as keep the ground covered so as to avoid simply watering weed seeds.

As long as the weather doesn’t get violent again, all should be good.  We decided we needed to add one more drip line per bed to saturate the surface area better but that is certainly a minor issue.

Now we sit back, wait and watch.  All JAZ Farm eyes will be looking for the little shoots that signal some sense of success.  Fingers crossed……..

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Planting On The High Plains

So yet another thing to be nervous or anxious about.  The drippers are in.  The beds tilled, and two thirds of the garden is planted.  The worry…. “Will it all work?  Will it all grow?  What did I forget?  Oh god don’t let it be a disaster!  Agggghhhhh!!!!”

Chill Farmer Jon.  It has water.  The plants are practically completely planted in composted horse manure.  It is full sun, and the above ground plants are mulched with some pretty serious plastic.  SOMETHING has to grow!

I so appreciate all the help from Zina, Aaron and Grandma!  We got ourselves an assembly line going and the planting, while a challenge, is going great!  Aaron is putting int 37 drip tapes for the corn, beans and sunflowers.  If this all works it will be magnificent.  Of course…. a farmer is a natural born pessimist masquerading as an optimist.  The summer will prove itself… one way or another.

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2 Weeks Old

The meat birds have exploded.  We have 30 of them and they have gone through a 40 pound bag of organic feed in two weeks.  They are pretty much eating machines!

If they keep this up they will need to go out into the coop next weekend.  They will get way too big for the brooder.

We let Basil sniff one yesterday.  So cute, she wanted more than anything to play with it like a dog toy.  After the picture below, she tried to gently mouth it from my hand.  I am not thinking this lab will ever be a flock guardian…. too much bird dog in her.

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Finally…. No Storms

While we are watching a thunderstorm track to our west, it doesn’t have near the power of the storms of the past two days.  In fact, it doesn’t look like we will get any rain from it.  YAY!

This morning Grandma, Aaron and I went out into the muddy garden and laid down the plastic mulch for the beds.  This mulch is the type used by most organic producers.  It keeps the weeds down and retains moisture.  Out here, as we have seen with the storm and wind, it is essential to keep this sandy loam soil covered.  If we don’t, it will simply blow away.  To succeed in gardening out here, the biggest task will be to try to keep the soil covered with either mulch or by planting cover crops.  We aim to do both.  After the growing season is over we will be laying down straw and then anchoring it in place with rolls of burlap.

We are holding the mulch in place with sandbags.  We have some landscaping staples to hold them down as well but it is pretty apparent that they will be practically use-less.  The weight and movability of the sandbags will give us the flexibility to move them around depending on where we cut the holes for the plants themselves.

The drippers for the corn patch arrived today so yet another project is waiting in the wings.  I switched the tiller off of the tractor and put on the middle buster to plow the trenches for the potatoes.  If it stays dry we will be planting 3 50 foot rows of potatoes tomorrow.  If we still have any energy left after that then we are going to figure out our seeding tool and plant 4 rows of beans as well.

So despite this violent weather, planting is starting to get underway.  I have to admit I am rather nervous about this all.  It is a big task and this weather has, understandably, left me full of self-doubt.  Self – doubt makes me anxious.  Everything else that has been built in the past year has gone great.  Now we are to the reason why we started all of this and the new variables of growing out on the plains has made this such a challenge.  It is going to be quite an adventure this summer to see if any of this actually works.  If it doesn’t, well, the JAZ Farm will evolve.

Mulch 1 mulch 2

A SWING and a miss.

The mountains, the moisture and the heat have been spinning up super cells out here the past couple of days.  Yesterday one exploded over our farm.  Today, one developed along the front range and the tornado warnings sent Zina’s entire company into the basement of the building.  Out here we got warnings that yet another storm with vehicle and roof damaging hail was on the way.  This time we got the truck put away and some of the plants inside.   We brought up Radar Cast on the iPad and watched and waited.  Today, the storm headed ENE at a crawl.  Instead of the farm being ground zero, we were on the very southern edge and it missed us completely!  If I had to venture a guess it only missed us by a mile or so.  Hey Kansas!  Watch out!  This is a doozey.  Weather is showing that we should expect these beasties to pop up at least through Saturday.  Hopefully by then things will have dried out some.  Note to self:  Don’t consider trying to plant before Memorial Day weekend – even if they say the last average frost date is Mother’s Day.

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The Definition of Having Your Ass Handed To You

Grandma and I got the entire urban garden planted today.  What a job.  All 24 raised beds are in and ready to grow us some tasty food!  But not to get too big an ego, at the same time a storm super cell developed over the plains today.  On our way out to the farm we came through a fairly intense rain storm.  We got out in front of it but it was hot on our tails.  We had no idea how big this would get.

I have lived in the west for a third of my life.  I have seen just about every imaginable storm Colorado can blind side you with.  This hail storm was one of the most intense things I have ever seen.  The storm exploded over us.  The hail created a complete white out and it sounded for awhile like baseballs were pounding down on our roof.  The ground went white, the wind howled with at least 60 mph gusts.  We couldn’t see out the front windows and it sounded for all intents and purposes that at any second the windows would shatter.  I sat in the kitchen just hoping that it would pass quickly.  We had two vehicles out here and I couldn’t see if they were being dented beyond repair.

One thing was for certain, all 100 plants of 5 different heirloom variety peppers were completely stripped clean of their leaves… practically a total loss.  2 days ago they were absolutely gorgeous plants just hardening off waiting to be planted outside.  We don’t know if any will make it and am probably going to have to buy some seedlings if we are to have any all.

The storm past and I am happy to say that the house, the chickens, and the vehicles are all fine… so are we.  If all we lost was the pepper crop, we are pretty lucky.  To all wondering if the windbreak fences would hold up…. all are standing and doing fine.

Let the peppers be a reminder that we are nothing and nature doesn’t care.  Perseverance is the watchword for famers in climate 2.0.  I don’t usually cuss on this blog, but holy shit this was an intense storm.

We are once again mudded in and need to wait for all to drain.  Hopefully soon we will have our 200 yard drive filled in with recycled asphalt.  What an adventure.

Before:                                                                                        After:

IMG_3341 Dead Peppers



Oh ya…. and this couldn’t be the reason right?