Hunkering Down

Recently I posted about how the cool weather and change of seasons allows us to slow down here on the farm and relax a little.  Well, Mother Nature laughed at me.

The weather has turned cold.  Really cold.  We’re still about a week away from our average first frost date but the last two nights we’ve had freeze warnings.  It’s way too early for that.  The temperature as I type this (at about 5:30 a.m.) is 26.

A little frost this time of year is no big deal.  But a freeze is a whole different ball game.  That prospect of a freeze created a sense of urgency about some things that we’d normally handle more leisurely.

So over the last couple of days, while still doing CSA deliveries and on-farm sales, we had to start up our wood-burning furnace, get up the sweet potatoes, get the garlic and onions planted and covered, get in the last of the tomatoes and okra, harvest all the black beans, disconnect the hoses from the outdoor spigots and put heaters in the pasture waterers.

The garlic all tucked in for winter

The garlic all tucked in for winter

As if all that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, deer hopped the fence around our main fall garden and ate the beets and swiss chard.  Knowing they’d be coming back for everything else, we put down “liquid fence,” tied perfume-soaked rags to the fence, and put up more mannequins.  They hopped into the pea garden as well, but since the peas were almost all gone I just took down the fence so they could get in without jumping the fence (not wanting to encourage their fence-jumping).

A lot of that got done in the dark, but it all got done.

Now the question is how badly our fall vegetables have been damaged.

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14 comments on “Hunkering Down

  1. shoreacres says:

    I haven’t seen tv since leaving my aunt’s, but I happened to turn it on this morning and discovered the cold snap. I’ve had to scrape frost a couple of times, but that’s not unusual. I was nervous about the cold coming farther south and west and getting my plants while I’m gone, but it looks like that won’t happen. Mine are just ornamentals, of course – I hope your edibles aren’t too badly damaged.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. We’re getting ready to leave for the farmer’s market now. I’m not excited about standing in the freezing cold for a few hours, but I suppose that’s a cost of trying to change the world. 😉

      For the first time ever I picked everything yesterday, rather than this morning. I just couldn’t stand the thought of picking in the dark with temps in the 20s. It’s still dark now but when we get back I’ll see how the lettuce did. And we also have the threat of deer invasion every night now. I worry I’m going to go out one morning and find they’ve eaten the gardens during the night.

      Hope you’re enjoying your trip. 🙂

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  2. ladyfi says:

    Here’s hoping your vegetables haven’t been damaged.

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    • Bill says:

      Thanks. It warmed up into the 50s today, so they weren’t exposed to freezing temps for long. I was most worried about the lettuce but it looks OK. The frosty weather will actually improve the flavor of the cooking greens.

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  3. bobraxton says:

    as the hart panteth for the water brooks – so heart longing

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  4. Wow, that sounds like a lot of hard work in a short space of time – exhausting. Hope the damage from deer and frost is minimal. I guess the good news is that once you’re through this transition phase, you’ll be in the slower pace of the off season.

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    • Bill says:

      As far as I can tell the gardens weren’t harmed and the deer have stayed out.
      We did have to do a lot of work in a short period of time, but you’re right–now I can scratch those tasks of my list. I was picking the black beans and wondering how I was going to finish in time when it occurred to me to just yank up the plants roots and all and pick and shell the beans later. So there are a bunch of tubs of black bean plants in my basement that we’ll still need to pick later. But we got them out of the weather. 🙂

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  5. Lynda says:

    Well, at least the deer won’t eat the garlic! Unlike my GEESE who DID! (I was shocked!) Bill, can you use frost blankets? Seems like they would help you in both instances. Or are they cost prohibitive for your application?

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    • Bill says:

      That’s a great thing about garlic. The bugs and wildlife don’t eat it. I had no idea geese would. Sorry.
      Row covers would work but I don’t have any (and wouldn’t need them often). We were going to use sheets to cover the lettuce but we ran out of time. As it turned out the lettuce seems to have made it through ok.

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  6. Planting Potatoes says:

    we can relate….first, our snow and freezing temps lasted past planting season this year so we couldn’t get much planted and what we did plant didn’t have a long growing season as we too have had freezing temps and snow in the forecast. The high fence we put up seems to be keeping out the four legged creatures who believe we plant for them…..we will enjoy the winter season and plant again in the spring and leave it to God!

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    • Bill says:

      It was a crazy growing season here too. Cold and wet in the spring, delaying (or preventing) everything. Then we had unprecedented wildlife damage. The fall has been great but now I’m wondering if we’re in for an exceptionally cold winter. We just take it as it comes. 🙂

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  7. We’ve had a couple of mornings below freezing, but not long enough to do any real damage yet.

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