“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March 4, 2012

Boy did it rain the other night…the thunder and lightning seemed to go on forever. It stayed over us for so long that it seemed the storm somehow got stuck to our house. The rain just pounded and the thunder shook every window and the lightning snapped and lit up the dark like rapid strobes.

I walked out to the field the morning after and the water was laying everywhere. Everywhere I looked was ponded with water…just a mess.

By the afternoon much of the water had begun to drain back into the earth, and I noticed that the pastures had a new green tint to them. The grass had greened up a bit. It wasn’t the rain that caused it, but the nitrogen that was produced from all the lightning. Lightning energizes the sky and causes nitrogen to combine with oxygen, and that makes nitrate, which is one of the forms of nitrogen that a plant can use. (I am no chemist - my brother is the one with the PhD in that – but I really do know this!) I have seen this greening so many times after a storm that I have pretty much come to expect it, especially in the spring.  It’s one of the ways Natures feeds plants…


I planted turnips back in August right before hurricane Irene hit. Somehow this one survived the beating rain and didn’t get washed away or broken down. It was a strong seedling. A few others survived the hurricane but never really got going, and only produced very small bulbs/ roots. But something told me that this one was special. Something told me not to pull this one. Something said to just let it grow. Here it is, a little over six months old and still growing. The best I can measure her, she is about 9 in diameter and has a 26 inch circumference. I’m just going to let her grow as long as she will. I even named her Irene, after the storm! Only a farmer would have a pet turnip….or maybe just I would.


Way back in January I bought a used greenhouse. I should capitalize USED to describe it! The hoops were twisted, some bent, some broken at the apex; anchors were broken; the plywood front and back was a bit rotted. But the greenhouse had a few good things going for it – a huge shade cloth, four year plastic, an older fan that was in good condition, benches, and thermostats. The other thing it had going for it was that I had time on my hands and I needed something to do.

Friends of mine, my son, his friends, and I traveled thirty miles to Buena with a borrowed trailer and over a few days, disassembled it and hauled it back to the farm in pieces, all of us knowing that it would never go back together the same way that it had come apart. The first week of February I began salvaging the good hoops and other parts and began putting it up – because not all of its pieces could be reused, I settled on putting up half of what was the original. I am happy with that.

It’s almost finished. In another week I hope to have the plastic on and I might even begin growing stuff in there. My real plan though is to use it as a high tunnel in the fall/ winter, planting directly into the soil underneath. With double plastic it should stay warm enough without using a heating system. I am sure this, like everything else I have done here, will be a learning experience that will build upon itself year after year.

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