Thursday, December 31, 2009

On Apricots


Perusing the growing stack of gardening magazines on my desk, my eye was drawn to the Henry Field's (I know, I KNOW!) catalog which beckoned my imaginative taste buds with the words:

Sugar Pearls Apricot - the most heavenly tasting stone fruit you can eat!
Words don’t do justice to the rich, full-bodied, sweet, golden-honey flavor of Sugar Pearls. These amazing white-fleshed apricots are unlike any fruit we’ve ever tried before, and must be tasted to be believed! The good news is, Sugar Pearls blooms much later than all other apricot varieties—so even if you were too far North to grow apricots before—now’s your chance!
Plant two for increased yields.
Ripens late June to early July.
Zones 4-7.

A semi-dwarf is 36.00.

This is why I have yet to have any fruit trees, though in my mind I have planned and planted, over and over again, the most beautiful orchard you have ever seen. There is lush orchard grass growing beneath every fruit tree imaginable, and several of each variety, two of each of those, of course. It is fenced so I can let the cow or horse, or even the goat or sheep in occasionally, as the mowing needs to be done. There are children sitting, hidden and giggling in the branches of the mulberries and the cherries, there are bushels filled with apples and pears, bushels filled with peaches and nectarines, picnic tables here and there for picnicking with friends, tasting of the delectable.....

.... oops, sorry.

What I have is a little piece of property that is not the best for fruit trees, and a climate that likes to give surprise late hard frosts after balmy and warm spring days; a complete enemy arsenal of fungus, mildews, rots, cankers; a veritable smorgasbord of evil borers, tunnelers, girdlers, and chewers; the epic battle of our archl nemesis, the Japanese Beetles and his larger Kamikaze brother, the June Bug; and not a lot of money to buy trees or do battle to defend them.

Yet... there is that Sugar Pearl....

I did some research, thinking, "Maybe THIS is the ONE!" I found some interesting things.

One, that what I really want to grow is CandyCots, but they are so exclusive you can't buy them; plus, the buds would be killed off with our late frosts, like most all of the varieties tantalizingly waved in front of my eyes.

Two, that they are not an apricot. (Henry Fields, I know, I KNOW!) They are a nectarine.

Three, that they do actually seem to have a good reputation for handling late frosts.

Four, that they are still ridiculously expensive. Even with the 25 dollars off, to get two (always better, no matter what they say) would be 47 dollars plus tax, shipping, and handling. Gosh, that seems like a lot of money when my future here on my land is shaky at best.

If growing apricots interests you, here are a few articles I found.

This one is a good general overview of the cultivars, according to area of the countries.

Here's the lucky guy with the ability to get in on the ground floor with CandyCots.

If you want to see the H.F. ad or order yourself a Sugar Pearl, here ya' go.

The patent on the Sugar Pearl Apricto, which tells the the real story - it's a nectarine!

Still waffling between the long a and the short a on these,



I hope these guys are better than the Farmer's Almanac.


Last year, all the rain that destroyed my garden was not predicted AT ALL by the Farmer's Almanac. I really don't want to work that hard for a failed crop again.

NOAA precipitation forecast for 2010

NOAA temperature forecast for 2010



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wow. I love Eliot Coleman even more!


Eliot Coleman has been my favorite gardening hero for decades. I know very little about him personally however.

Because of this, he has been a victim of a very common, and practically inescapable, human practice of generalizing and association. Yes, I'll say it.

Gardenal Profiling!

He's a casual, laid-back, gardener from the north-east, and I have made my assumptions about him...

"Hmmmmmmmm. Probably a hippy. Probably into hippy type things. Probably a yuppy, and into yuppy type thinking, as well."

I have received a very pleasant slap on the wrist for that presumptuous judgment.

Eliot Coleman - I apologize. You are up yet another step on my ladder of gardeners most admired, maybe even two or three steps.

Read this great letter he wrote to the editor of Grist magazine, debunking the 'eating meat causes global warming' myth.


I am dismayed that so many people have been so easily fooled on the meat eating and climate change issue following the UN report. The culprit is not meat eating but rather the excesses of corporate/industrial agriculture. The UN report shows either great ignorance or possibly the influence of the fossil fuel lobby with the intent of confusing the public. It is obviously to someone’s benefit to make meat eating and livestock raising an easily attacked straw man (with the enthusiastic help of vegetarian groups) in order to cover up the singular contribution of the only new sources of carbon—burning the stored carbon in fossil fuels and to a small extent making cement (both of which release carbon from long term storage)—as the reason for increased greenhouse gasses in the modern era. (Just for ridiculous comparison, human beings, each exhaling about 1kg of CO2 per day, are responsible for 33% more CO2 per year than fossil fuel transportation. Maybe we should get rid of us.)

If I butcher a steer for my food, and that steer has been raised on grass on my farm, I am not responsible for any increased CO2. The pasture-raised animal eating grass in my field is not producing CO2, merely recycling it (short term carbon cycle) as grazing animals (and human beings) have since they evolved. It is not meat eating that is responsible for increased greenhouse gasses; it is the corn/ soybean/ chemical fertilizer/ feedlot/ transportation system under which industrial animals are raised. When I think about the challenge of feeding northern New England, where I live, from our own resources, I cannot imagine being able to do that successfully without ruminant livestock able to convert the pasture grasses into food. It would not be either easy or wise to grow arable crops on the stony and/or hilly land that has served us for so long as productive pasture. By comparison with my grass fed steer, the soybeans cultivated for a vegetarian’s dinner, if done with motorized equipment, are responsible for increased CO2.

But, what about the methane in all that cattle flatulence? Excess flatulence is also a function of an unnatural diet. If cattle flatulence on a natural grazing diet were a problem, heat would have been trapped a 1000 years ago when, for example, there were 70 million buffalo in North America not to mention innumerable deer, antelope, moose, elk, caribou, and so on all eating vegetation and in turn being eaten by native Americans, wolves, mountain lions, etc. Did the methane from their digestion and the nitrous oxide from their manure cause temperatures to rise then? Or could there be other contributing factors today resulting from industrial agriculture, factors that change natural processes, which are not being taken into account? It has long been known that when grasslands are chemically fertilized their productivity is increased but their plant diversity is diminished. A recent study in the journal Rangelands (Vol. 31, #1, pp. 45 - 49) documents how that the diminished diversity from sowing only two or three grasses and legumes in modern pastures results in diminished availability of numerous secondary nutritional compounds, for example tannins from the minor pasture forbs, which are known to greatly reduce methane emissions. Could not the artificial fertilization of pastures greatly increase the NO2 from manure? Might not the increased phosphorus, nowhere near as abundant in natural systems, have modified digestibility? I am sure that future research will document other contributing factors of industrial agricultural practices on animal emissions. The fact is clear. It is not the livestock; it is the way they are raised. But what about clearing the Brazilian rain forest? Well, the bulk of that is for soybeans and if we stopped feeding grain to cattle much of the acreage presently growing grain in the Midwest could become pasture again and we wouldn’t need Brazilian land. (US livestock presently consume 5 times as much grain as the US population does directly.) And long term pasture, like the Great Plains once was, stores an enormous amount of carbon in the soil.

My interest in this subject comes not just because I am a farmer and a meat eater, but also because something seems not to make sense here as if the data from the research has failed to take some other human mediated influence into account. But even more significantly, if we humans were not burning fossil fuels and thus not releasing long-term carbon from storage and if we were not using some 90 megatons of nitrogen fertilizer per year, would we even be discussing this issue?

If those people concerned about rising levels of greenhouse gasses, instead of condemning meat eating, were condemning the enormous output of greenhouse gasses due to fossil fuel and fertilizer use by a greedy and biologically irresponsible agriculture, I would cheer that as a truthful statement even if they weren’t perceptive enough to continue on and mention that the only “new” carbon, the carbon that is responsible for rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, is not biogenic from livestock but rather anthropogenic from our releasing the carbon in long term storage (coal, oil, natural gas.) Targeting livestock as a smoke screen in the climate change controversy is a very mistaken path to take since it results in hiding our inability to deal with the real causes. When people are fooled into ignorantly condemning the straw man of meat eating, who I suspect has been set up for them by the fossil fuel industry, I am appalled by how easily human beings allow themselves to be deluded by their corporate masters.

~~~Eliot Coleman~~

Here's the book I just ordered by him.

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

Steak lover, signing off,



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Manic Busy Season is over.....?

At least the one that is the holiday season, anyhow.

We've had snow a few times.

And strange visitors were coming in from the cold...

Someone has been giving a Clint Eastwood imitation with a blanket I made into a poncho for my dad...

Someone got his head shaved in the wee hours of the morning after a party...

With friends...

...who love posing with Pirouette cookies...

...In support of a friend who is undergoing chemo.

ooooooh.... shiny!

An annual Tacky Party.

An annual Gingerbread House Building Party. I'm not going to hide it. Ours had significant structural problems...

But so did others'...

We had our Christmas Ball. What fun! Caroling at the old Inn...

I better make that night a whole separate post. You've all trudged through my sewing for months, and you deserve better than a single photo of the evening!

So there are a few highlights.

We have been home for the majority of days the last week, and doing homey type things.

Well, sort of. We were gone for 10 hours today on a cleaning job, for which we are very grateful. Despite the season of ho-ho-ho, we still get people wanting money in the mail box-box-box.

We began the month with the mutual decision to not have any gifts this year at all. We were actually sort of looking forward to the novelty of it, and wondering what we were going to do - not doing gifts and not having much in the way of family activities. We were going to see about spending the Christmas holiday doing some sort of service work.

However, the generosity of people in our family and in our church made this Christmas a sudden surprise of shopping for gifts. I am always amazed at how kind and loving people are to us. We were given gift cards to spend on each other, people gave us cash gifts, and we got extra jobs as well - including the one today.

So it was a quiet Christmas, but not so different than we expected. We still wanted to do a day of service on Christmas eve, but it seemed that the wind -

removed a portion of our roof - didn't my dad do an incredible job of covering it for us?

and we spent Christmas Eve instead, waiting for the insurance man to show up, as well as working on the roof,

and Michael being blessed by a gift of a bass amp he'd been needing, including extra gear and a very nice bass as well.

I feel very spoiled, Michael does too. Now he not only has a practice bass that is very nice and can use anywhere, but he also has a very nice bass that will last him a lifetime and be good for even more situations he will come across.

I had to attend a contempt of court hearing against my dh. He was found guilty and ordered to pay support or go to jail, including back pay. He refused to answer questions on the stand three times, "On the grounds I might convict myself." He was also caught not being able to prove many things he said, and took them back when pressed. He submitted false evidence, then said it was a mistake. He at first denied unfaithfulness but, after questioning, admitted to it. The judge was not very sympathetic to him or his lawyer.

The Lord continues to watch over us and take care of us. We shall continue to wait on Him and see where it all goes.

We've been having a lot of adventures, but I needed a blogging break. However, I have noticed we are rapidly approaching the new year.

And you all know what that means! Planning for the coming year's projects! We've already begun making gardening plans.

Have you started already as well?



Friday, November 27, 2009

Sharing a SCOBY


If you have an interest in getting a Kombucha SCOBY, please let me know. I have one to share right now, and others will be ready later. If you missed how to make the tea, I posted tutorials and you can find them by clicking on the tag about Kombucha.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I have been pretty sick all week, but thankfully on Thursday I felt much better. It was one of those colds that turns your voice into something people can't help but laugh about, so I was pleased to be able to add to the holiday festivities in any little way I could.

It was pretty bad...

Today I'm turning my turkey into soup, then taking off for office cleaning and then for a much anticipated game day for the kids.

Thankfulness is a 365 day a year character pursuit.
Here we go!



Saturday, November 21, 2009

A November Wedding


The bride is shy, so pics of the most beautiful woman will not be shown, but I can show you some of the fun we had today.

Here is Michael, escorting Ashlee to the reception at a lovely Inn in old town.

We were the happy participants in posh surroundings.

It was a balmy 63 degree day with lots of sun.

Sportin' Spiffies.

This is also where are going caroling before the Christmas ball.

It was a Catholic wedding, and the priest was from Ghana. What a beautiful accent he had!


Fluted glasses.

I played with the candles in cracked glass while visiting...

Even the bathrooms were gorgeous.

Yeah, I know. But I clean bathrooms for extra income.... They don't look like this. LOL

I loved how the light from the chandeliers played through the glass with which we toasted the bride and groom. (Kat, I'm thinking of you with my perfect grammar.)

so in love are we two
that we don't know what to do
so in love (so in love)
in a world of our own (so in love)
as we walk by the sea together
under stars twinkling high above
so in love are we two
no one else but me and you
so in love (so in love)
so much in love (so in love)
so in love (so in love)
so much in love (so in love)...

A little live music, specially performed for the newlyweds...

My guy...

Let the dancing begin! First the grownups tripped the light fantastic to a selection of disco numbers. They seemed to remember how to shake it quite well. But I did not get there quick enough to photograph them. When they were through, the younger generation took possession of the territory.

Something about dance floors and children...

Jeremy is sitting this one out, but he asked me to dance later.

We are spoiled by having our very own, experienced DJ, IN THE HOUSE! (Ok, I admit, I'm not so good at that.)

My favorite, well one of them anyway, part of the day was when the guys all lined up and danced to "My Girl" for the ladies. Each one of them stepped out and gave a solo dance during the song. Thanks, guys. We LOVED it!

I think they deserved this, don't you?

Taking a breather

While Michael and Kasie step out into a waltz, and a couple of little ones make a game of darting between them every chance they got.

The food was so good, I didn't notice the centerpieces when we were feasting.

Heading up to the rooftop.

I'm beginning to think these boys are in the running to outshine the girls...

Here are a few...

Michael entertained some of the younger ones with his hat.

Nice view from up here.

Michael and Josiah, a little break dancing...

Whoops. That floor doesn't have a lot of give to it...

Time to go...

And make sure Ashlee gets home safely....

A nearly perfect day...

Stopping to smell the roses...

The chariot awaits...

It was great. Somebody ought to get married at least once a month.