Bad Bugs

GROSS ALERT: I was in the front yard, chatting on the phone, picked a raspberry and was about to toss it into my mouth when I noticed a small spider on my finger. I shooed the spider and was again about to eat the berry when I saw three small bugs {fruit fly-size} on the berry. In my effort to remove the bugs I mooshed the berry a little bit and inside I found tiny little wormies. I freaked out a little, hung up the phone, and googled it. Spotted Wing Drosophila. The article linked with the photo below says they’re a problem “after late-July,” so I’m pretty sure we’ve eaten them since we moved in. I’m shuddering again thinking about it. My only question now is: what should I do with the remaining canes/berries as we prepare for next year? Will the nasty buggers be stopped now that frost is on the way?

I’ll let you know what I find out.

Spotted Wing Drosophila larvae in ripe raspberries

Spotted Wing Drosophila larvae in ripe raspberries

in the garden :: September 28

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Panoramic | I’m standing in the southeast corner of the garden. House is due north.

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From southeast corner looking west-ish.

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From southeast corner looking north.

This is the first weekend we spent any significant time in the garden, so things were looking pretty sad! We’ve been eating gobs and gobs of Sungold Cherry {our all-time family favorite}, slicers and paste tomatoes, plus raspberries, but we’ve been kind of ignoring everything else… So, we had Betty over on Saturday to show us around and help identify weeds/plants. Turns out what I thought was dill is actually fennel, and what I was hoping was some kind of cover crop is really weeds… So I yanked out everything that doesn’t belong, and put together a plan for the winter.

I pulled about half of the basil plants today – they’d gotten so overgrown our last meal with the stuff was just awful.. There seems to be some new growth on a few of the plants, though, so I just hacked them back to see if anything tender comes up. The beans in the last picture are an unidentified white/golden wax bean. They were beyond edible when we moved in, so I’m leaving them there to see if we can harvest seed for next year. The chard has been here all along and even though it’s only rained 3{?} times since we moved in six weeks go, seems to be going strong. I’m hoping to eat up the big leaves this week and maybe throw some kind of blanket on it when the frost comes; just to see what happens. There are two prolific and healthy green pepper plants, but we just aren’t green pepper eaters, so they’re sitting there, looking beautiful. I really should take them to the farmers market or something! Next year we’ll plant some sweet orange peppers…yum… I hacked back the asparagus because it was beginning to turn  yellow, but then felt some anxiety that I had acted too soon. In add to my guilt, Betty said she usually waits till very early spring/late winter to cut it back…The video I found said to cut it in the fall and then cover with 2″ compost and straw, so we’re heading into town tomorrow to pick some up from the co-op. It’s a 30-foot bed of 4-year-old asparagus and it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to buy this place – I have to keep it alive!

I am hoping to use a raised bed hoop house over one bed {the one with black PVC pipe} and plant lettuce, spinach and kale inside. I have Napoli Carrots {Eliot Coleman’s favorite for winter growing} on the way. I ordered garlic sets {our playroom smells SO good} and onion sets to put in when the weather really cools off. Then I’ll broadcast some kind of cover crop over the remaining beds and keep my fingers crossed till spring comes. If we’re very very lucky we’ll have fresh food through the winter! If not, well…. c’est la vie! {OvO}

Feeling empowered

Three years ago, my friend Lynn taught me how to chop wood like a lady at my very first Ladies Homestead Gathering Retreat. And today I did this:

Momma, woodpile & Kep

Momma, woodpile & Kep

It’s a little hard to see with the all that cute puppy in the way, but that’s a pretty good-sized woodpile {at least I like to think so} that I split this morning. Today was the first time I got the chance to work with the axe I bought myself after the retreat, and it went pretty smoothly. The wood was well-seasoned, mostly cedar. There were a few really {really} hard pieces that I couldn’t even nick, so I’m saving those until we borrow a wood splitter. Ultimately, we would like to harvest our entire winter’s worth of wood from our own lot, but I have a feeling this year we will be buying in wood – it’s starting to get chilly up here in the holler and we don’t have much to show for it yet!

If you’re interested in learning more about the Ladies Homestead Gathering, and our upcoming retreat, click here to read more on our website!

It really is a small world…

Long story, but neat {at least I think so}.

Today I called Miss Utility for a power line marking ahead of a satellite TV installation. The customer support rep said BARC Electric would be out between now {10am} and September 18. When we got home from our errands this morning, there was a BARC Electric truck on our road, doing something with the power lines that cut across our property. I leaned my head out the window and asked if they were here to mark the power lines. “No, ma’am, that’s another truck.” Oh, I said, well, there’s this wire that runs near the barn from this line {pointing directly overhead}, it’s green, appears to be grounded, but doesn’t appear to “go” to anything. Do you know what it is? He said he’d come have a look.

A few minutes later this {enormous} power line truck comes up the driveway. Two guys get out and explain that that line by the barn is there to maintain the right of way for the power company, but that there is no power to the wire. Someone before us had power in that barn, and a transformer on that pole, but now nothing. I will have to call the engineers and see about getting it hooked back up. Oh, I said, feeling dejected. I want the line to be nothing so I can pull it down, but also, something, so I can turn the lights on in the future barn… Anyway…

“Do you know how to get into that field over there, the one with the power poles?” Sure, there’s a rock crossing down below that last building – are you going to take that {gigantic} truck over there? “We’ve done it before!” Alright then… But hey, since you’re here…I have another question. There are a few places around the property with wires just sticking up out of the ground. Three places, actually. The lines appear to be dead, but we can’t figure out what they’re for or where they go… Can I just cut them off at the ground? “We can cut them for you, ma’am, if you want us to.” It’s really no problem for me to do it, I just want to make sure it’s okay to cut them. So, they back their {I mean, HUGE} power truck around and head down the driveway. He give me a “You mean, this one?” hand signal from 200 feet away, so I walk on down to see. Yes, those are the ones. “Hey,” the other guy calls out, from 20 feet away, “here’s a bunch coming up right here by the {guest} house!” What?!? {That makes FOUR places} “Ya, and what’s this giant PVC pipe here, by the barn?” Um…. He pulls it up – it’s empty. It’s at least 6 inches across, with a nice big PVC cap on top, and the hole goes at least 18 inches into the ground – but there’s nothing there. No wires and no visible tunnel or anything. Um…? So ya, there are wires like those two sets there, one in the field and another in the barn – any ideas? “They probably tried to run ‘private wire’ {that means, homeowner installed} from the {guest} house to the {“activity”} barn, to avoid putting in a separate meter. Down the hill? Now, I’m not sure about that…” Oh, well, don’t cut them then. I guess I need to do some more research…

Here’s where the story gets good!

I heard the guy ask Caden if our dog {Findlay} was a Border Collie. He told him no, he’s a Scotch Collie. So a little while later the guy asks me. “What kind of dogs are those?” Scotch Collies, I said. “Oh, I used to breed Border Collies.” Really? Do you have sheep? “No, but I used to work with them for a few people. Do these dogs herd like Border Collies?” They do, but you know how Border Collies are always…”on”? These guys are known to have an “off switch,” they are also reliable as homestead guardian dogs. “So, a good all-around dog?” Yes, exactly. In fact, there’s this farm down the road that has sheep and collies, and I’m hoping to get in touch with them about training these guys… “David Clark and his wife Cheryl? Ya, I know them. They’re great people.” Ya, that’s them – do you think they’d help me? “Definitely, I’m sure they’d be very helpful. We’re from over in Bath County and there’s a lady there {insert name here. I’ve already forgotten…Maybe her?} that’s a world renowned herder…” I didn’t know that! Isn’t there a guy in Highland County….what’s his name, Mc-something… “Ya, McCaig, I used to work for him. Man, it’s a small world, isn’t it?” Yes. It sure is. And I am absolutely thrilled to

Mountain Wave Kelsey, dam to our two pups. Herding Instinct Test

Mountain Wave Kelsey, dam to our two pups. Herding Instinct Test