An early April farm report
It is too hot, especially for April, so we went ahead today and planted four and a half rows of corn, and half a row of okra. Tomorrow (or perhaps tonight) we’ll plant the jalapeños and hot banana peppers my father-in-law brought back from Southern States.
This reflects his cautious optimism, and his fatalism. We deep fry most of the peppers, and only he and I really enjoy the hot ones. (My wife does, some of the time, depending on how hot they are.) There’s not much better in summer than standing around the fryer with a cheap beer gulping down breaded jalapeños and banana peppers. It is, in fact, about the only time you’ll catch me with a lager in my hands. But normally that’s an August thing.
We should have painted the barn today, but neither my father-in-law nor I have any appetite for that work this week, for whatever reason. The weather holds, we’ll do that next week. When we should be doing something else.
It is too hot, which I suppose makes the global warming deniers feel secure in their plausible deniability, but their security changes nothing. A friend who lives a bit further east than we do says there’s an ag agent on the radio out of Huntington who says this season is three weeks ahead, go on and plant.
I don’t know. What I do know is that last year, and the year before, it was too wet even to get into the garden at this point, much less to plant anything but peas and lettuce. We’ve got that in (and spinach) and a row of potatoes, and a raised bed or two of potatoes (red and blue) and onions, and it doesn’t feel like we’ve really tried yet. Although today feels like we tried, because it’s hot and my hands are red from putting wet seed corn into rows. I’m not sure why they die the corn red, what that chemical does, but it does make it easier to spot the kernels when hoing over the rows. Our tomato seedlings (and the peppers we’ve germinated; that’s my wife’s contribution) grow out on the back porch, and will be ready when they’re ready, but not for a while.
We realize all of this may come to nothing, that we may have to plant all these crops again. But the weather makes no sense, it hasn’t made predictable sense — understanding that we are talking about the weather, but even so — for enough years now that my father-in-law has tossed out the rules with which he was raised, and is improvising.
He also tossed the dead chicken at the far end of the property, where we can see the hawks circling now. Cannibalism is a nasty business. One day I found the black hen (halfbreeds, but they lay nice blue eggs) at the bottom of the pecking order worn red and moist at the laying end, and watched one of the otherwise docile Buff Orpington’s pick at her for a snack. So we caught her and isolated her, but the damage had been done. It’s one thing to know they eat their own eggs now and then.
Around the edges of this we tend to the trees down at the orchard. I watered the ten new apple trees my father-in-law planted last month, though normally we want their roots to sink down deep into the clay, and don’t water them. But the newbies, they need it. Each tree is surrounded by cardboard, with leaves piled on top, which keeps down the weeds and holds in the moisture. When I watered them, each one getting a couple gallons pulled out of the pond and carted around on the four-wheeler, it was almost impossible to tell they’d had a drink as the ground absorbed it so quickly.
This is a weird April. Maybe it will rain on Friday. Maybe.
I spread seed out where the bulldozers did their work clearing for a road down to where we will build our house. Or, rather, where a very patient professional will build our new, smaller, greener, more efficient house. And drive the tractor back and forth trying to blade it smooth. And wait for the rain.
If the bloody stereo on my truck would quit kicking on and off without permission I’d add a word or two about the new Alejandro Escovedo album that’s been playing as I drive back and forth. But I think I need to dig my old speakers out and hook them up to the stereo in here by the computer so I can make it really loud. Then we’ll talk.