7.30 am and sweat is dripping, not because I am slaving away, no merely being outside and breathing. Another 10 days of triple digits in the making, quite impressive. So to get out of the heat a quicky note.
Glad to be going to work tonight. I open the door of the hospital and I know I will be in a different universe. For one thing it pays to be there, as opposed to here, and it is coolish as an extra bonus. I will have showered and shaved, my hair washed and be at the very least semi presentable. I will operate sharp tools and equipment that works, as opposed to the blunt brute force tools around here.
Picked up some potting mix in St. L yesterday, quite the adventure. Pablo's job had taken him to a middleschool (which only took an hour to find again) where he had cleaned out the horticulture departments' greenhouse. It had all kinds of bags of potting mix, expensive stuff. Took the van to St.L. , it shifts like a garbage truck, it sputters and idles poorly due to bad gas but it made it, at least to Paab's front door, where it didn't want to start again. But a little whack on the battery terminals and whoppa.
Kayla, Paab and I drove to the school but of course the dumpster was behind a 14 foot fence, and it was locked with a big chain and padlock. You could roll under the fence, but the bales wouldn't fit. Eventually we went to Home Depot and rented a ladder. ( Kayla vetoed the bolt cutter option, which was my fave.). Paab got the bales from the dumpster, I balanced them on my shoulder, on the ladder and dropped them over the fence, trying not to break them and not hit Kayla. Professional dumpster diving. Had the van full and then realized the ladder had to fit in yet. Ripped some bags shoving it in, and now I could use the van as a miniature greenhouse.
The trip home was uneventful, except that little snag where the van didn't want to shift out of first gear.
Enough lolly gagging, going back to getting the electric on the mobile coups. Coups are in place, getting ready to get ready to go to Colorado on Tuesday. It is a frosty 85 degrees there.
Eventually is almost here. Maybe this fall, or otherwise definitely next spring.
I have been doing a little bit of pondering lately. Plenty of time for that because, no matter what else this year, I would like to keep my strawberries. One has to have his priorities.
So these strawberries, they should really take off in the second year; the plants do look very healthy, a lot of runners that is, if you can find them. I know they are called straw berries for a reason, and yes, they were mulched plenty thick, but the weeds came through with a vengenance. And then you look at it and you think they are gone, gone gone, out of the ball park. It will take forever to get those weeded. I try to find ways to do it smart, i.e. with any tool that takes an engine, or makes noise or is dangerous.
And then in the end you resign yourself and just sit down and start, not knowing how long it will take. Watering the row so the weeds can be yanked with root and all. Putting the weeds back in the row and using them as a mulch. And then, inch by inch, foot by foot, you scoot. So, yes I have been pondering, will be pondering some more.
We have lost that ability, to look at a job and just start on it. It is called a monks' job in Dutch, something tedious that can take a long long long time (like copying the bible say). And then I thought about the Belgian Cathedrals, there is one that took 175 years to build, and actually it hasn't been finished properly yet. Jobsecurity for sure, but that is a patience, and a foresight, a determination. (I can just see the laborer come home from work: his wife greeting him and asking how his day was). I am looking at spending a bleep of infinity (120 hours) to weed a few strawberries. It really does work a lot better together, more fun weeding with someone else. Hopefully my friend David from St. Louis will come over to help today. I am keeping the faith that one day he will overcome his fobia of leaving the house and will just will himself in the car and scoot up here. Them cathedrals are not built by one person
However silly that job is, there is something very calming about it. Just keeping at it. Maybe a little dutchness surfacing: a shovel a day keeps the sea away. Another feature is the wine weeding, preferably a cheap bottle of strawberry wine, starting at about 11 in the morning in 95 degree heat. You take a swig (no cup or glass allowed (Wil Farm safety feature) you throw the bottle 20 feet ahead in the row, and by the time you have completely forgotten about it, there is a bottle of wine in the row: happy surprise there! Take a swig and repeat. Aamazing how I keep surprising myself, although for some reason my throwing arm becomes weaker as the bottle becomes empty and the wine warmer. 10 ft, 5, ft, 1 ft. I bet that is how those monks copy their bibles too.
Everything has to be done more efficient, produced faster and what do we have, unemployment on the one hand and shitty jobs on the other. Go figure.
Can I just say something about the weather? Ma complains about Holland, 70 degrees and raining every day... Such weather sounds like an American tourist tourist trap destination. Fourth week of 100 degrees here. I remember that cold front moving in last week, it was only 90 degrees, time to put an extra quilt and a sweater on. Sleep schedule has been a mess with this heat and night shift so here I am at 4 am waiting for it to get light, baking a cake and listening to........ thunder! Not worried, it will blow over.
Oh chicken update: they are stupid, and they kill their own cousins and nephews. Strange animals. Will start using the hennabagoes next week, after I get back from Colorado.
There is another post below the previous one, but it'll be a cold day in July in Missouri before I can figure out how to move it, so scroll down, something about chickens, whodathunked.
On a partial whim I wrote this grant for mobile chicken coups. You know, sometimes after a couple of glasses of wine at night you jot down some ideas and you think they are just brilliantly intelligent, and then the next morning you wake up and you look at your scribbles and you can only think: I am a true genius.
It has been fun so far, and a ravager of time, but then again what else would I do? (Well, come to think of it, I could have hoed some strawberries, trellissed this or the other, started some seeds, tilled some ground, or just plain gone to a bar and make a fool of myself). So people ask me, what are you going to do with the eggs of 250 chickens? Well, DUH, make an omlet of course!
And if there are any eggs left over I could go and demonstrate something, there is always something to demonstrate against in this jah country, but mostly I was thinking selling them wholesale in St. Louis to an organic bakery.
So I will have 250 hens in two coups. I don't want cockrels because they really do not produce anything and just get tough real quick with age. No, Hens produce at least something. But the funny thing is that my main drive is really not the eggs or money or the business aspect of it, no, I am interested in chicken poop and the pok power for killing weeds.
Any farm needs some kind of livestock as the engine that drives soil fertility, and 250 fullgrown chickens weigh about as much as a holsteiner. I know I know, holsteiners give milk, but I could butcher one chicken and have 249 left, whereas 1 holsteiner minus 1 holsteiner is a freezer full and no motor. So more is.... more.
More so, it took a little doing, you get those chicks in the mail, then you have to house them for a bit, draft free, warm and watered, away from animals, including domesticated low intelligence dogs and cats. Then you spend about a paycheck a month on feed and then about 3 weeks of your life on building them coups. And then when the chicks almost burst out of their temporary shelter you have to clip their wings and as an extra I put a twisty tie on half the flock, which I put in one wagon, and the others unmarked in the other coup. Oh by the way, clipping their wings means you clip the feathers on one side , so they can't fly out, it doesnt't hurt the chickens, it only hurts them a little bit when you drop them, they kind of fly real funny, more like a drunk helicopter kind a like.
After I got them in the coups, I put the electric fence around them, and zapped myself a couple of times for good measure, copulate! So those chickens were too small yet or the mash too big. They kind of just walked through the fence, and some of them got shocked a little so they refused to go back in. Besides they are chickens, they have no concept of 'In". They kind of know "under" as in, Hey I am sleeping under the house. Or "close". Anyway, the netting worked as a one way membrame and the chicks ended up under the wagons. So at night I had to scrape em off the grass and put them in the coups. More copulate. Did that two nights and then decided, copulate, I am going to put them in the hightunnel and double fence em. So I did. and that works just fine. I got a coup on either side of the tunnel , new fence which you can pull tight which makes the holes smaller and wrapped this around the whole tunnel. The most expensive chicken coup ever, 8000 bucks in tunnel, 3000 bucks in wagons and netting and that for 250 chicks, go figure. As Tim said: you spent more on your chicken housing than your own. But! But! I have figured this out now, and they are pok powering in the tunnel. Pok power is annihilating the vegetation, crop residue and amping up the fertility in the tunnel. 12 square foot per bird. Before and after fotos'...
But the grand scheme is the painting with chickens! Here's a heart for you.
If you are Dutch, you know this song. If not, don't bother.
Out in the field today, another 104 degree day today. But, as I keep repeating after Vince, it is a dry heat. The greenhouse chickens were out of food for a day, and that was about the end of the world, for them. They get rebellious and take matters in their own beak: the smallest ones can still get through the electric fence, and some of them did, it didn't help that ithe fence wasn't on. But they were appeased easily and followed me right back in when they heard the feed sack. They will run around me like a shoal of fish, or like muslims on the hadj, walking in the same circle around the center of worship. Chicken food aint chicken feed when you pay for it.
So there was a glorious rain today! (only not here) We got about an inch if you stacked up all the drops on an acre. It almost made a noise on the tin roof, but it blew over, still it was a comforting thought that there was a least the possibility of rain.
These chickens are not the smartest, but they beat me in hatching out eggs. Today, I kind of didn't believe in it anymore, there were 8 new chikkies. It cooled off to a frosty 85 degrees tonight so I did put a heat lamp on them. 6 had fallen out of the nesting box and mama can't sit on more eggs and be downstairs. So papa and 15 aunties are sitting on the roosts looking after them. Blek and Dekker are guarding (?) the coup.
Next day update: there is one black chick in the batch, must be black aunt Mimi who snook an egg in Mama Mimi's batch. They are so cute I could eat them.
How the same word can have different meaning, ma was fascinated by that. Some sound the same, spelled differently: leak/leek. (And a leek does make you leak by the way. ) Some are spelled the same but with different meanings, or at least emphasis.
Retreat: back away from battle, contemplation paradise.
Sometimes I forget that I do all this to have fun, a big hobby that can get consuming. Math opened my eyes, not always pleasant to have your errors pointed out, but yep, he is right. You can only start so many new things without neglecting what you started earlier. So he was mad about the flowerbed he put a lot of effort in 3 years ago and which succumbed to lack of attention. Because, well, because there were chickens and dogs and plants and watering and picking and weeding and tractors and laundry and parties and grants and living and women and what have you not. It takes a business plan to do this right, but right then and there, business and plan are two difficult words.
It takes a dedication to do this, in a sense I do have that, slowly but surely working towards something, but eh, what was it again? Eventually, eventually, I will not be able to hide behind the lack of tools and toys because I have them all and then I would have to finally admit: no Pede you are not made for this. But say it aint so!
Like Orval says: I got a picture of it in my mind.
But, the other day I made a potato digging plow out of odds and ends that had been laying in the yard for years. A couple of hours of welding and you know what? I was frigging proud of myself. Something that works, really, it actually does, it will last me the rest of my life and then it will have gone up in value because the metal price will have gone up. It really beats using a pitch fork for a third of a mile. Photo's to follow.
So this week there is electric to the pavilion. It sounded simple: hook up electric. But... you have to cut down trees that are in the way, (so you have to fix the chainsaw), find 150 feet of wire, a fuse box (and then replace parts of the fusebox breakers), find other parts, and more parts, a tree trimmer guy for the tree I can't drop, a guy that has no fear of working on a 20 ft ladder and with electric. Important to have electric there. I read that the right kind of music slows down weeds, and increases work joy, so, music is a must, also, now I can plug in the small refrigerator, the weighing scale and the big walk in cooler (which just needs 2 grand to hook up the compressor). The small fridge is great for inspiration: just a few more thoughts and I can have a beer.
It sounds simple: hook up the electric.
So slowly but surely... Paul Kormann came by and put a new load of gravel on 1st street, the drive through the field. It took some doing and a couple of weeks of slavery at work to pay for it, but it is here, it looks nice, fresh gravel. I gave Paul a check and a few dozen eggs; forgot to sign the check and the eggs were, to put it mildly, past due. He didn't complain about the check, just muttered something about not being able to use the kitchen for a couple of weeks. Not sure what that was all about.
The chicken grant has been a boon for activities and dreams and visions of a vibrant farmette. Pok Power! There are 250 of em. The building of the coups took a little longer than thought (who'da thunked) but their housing is state of the art and can move easily, photos' and update to follow.
Pavillion is about done, tractors fixed, everything with an engine seems to work, road done, chicken coups built, nettings ordered. Hmmm... time to get busy and start weeding them strawberries and shoot for a whopper fall.
So there are some things to sell around here, but I was torn, Karen helped me out with her encouragement and assurance: if you don't feel like going to market, than don't go and don't feel guilty about it. You want people to come to you, and she is right: I want people to come to me. I will have that road side pick your own, chicken chaser fruit farm. ... So... retreat, somewhat, to come back with a vengeance.
Pieter Los, born in Scotland, raised in the Netherlands, lost in the USA. .