From the The Farmer’s Friend at the Bow Little Market, I purchased this old pitchfork. It should come in handy for cleaning the chicken roosts, turning compost, and gathering hay. The only mark on it is “I-D-L Top” stamped on the handle. There are no manufacturer’s mark on the tines
Even though I’m calling it a pitch fork, it may be a dung fork.
Pitchforks typically have only two, three or four tines while dung forks have four or five, other types of fork even up to ten tines with different lengths and spacing depending on purpose (Pitchfork – Wikipedia).
It could also be a straw or silage fork.
The number of tines would mostly depend on personal preference and the job it is being used for. Over the years most forks have been made with two to five tines. The two and three tines forks (the ones most commonly referred to as pitchforks) were used for loose hay, straw, and bundles of grain. In fact they are sometimes referred to as bundle forks. The four and five tine forks are in fact manure forks and were made for that purpose. Other forks of six or more tines have been made for silage, potatoes, beets, etc. Even saw one listed as a compost fork recently (hobartwelders.com).
In any case, the fork is now back at work, helping out at a man and his hoe®.
Chickens are like ground vultures. They will scarf most any corpse they encounter, even a snake. A chicken has found a dead snake and the race is on to find a quiet spot where she can feast on it without being disturbed by the other chickens.
So would a chicken kill a snake? Some chickens do. Chickens are accomplished hunters. If they see something small and moving, they won’t hesitate to nab it with their beak. They can move with astonishing speed. These descendants of dinosaurs are formidable. If you close your eyes when they scream, you can hear a Velociraptor screaming.
Biking to the post office this afternoon I saw that the cows I love were back in the main pasture. After disappearing early this year, I learned that the farmer has cancer and that the cows were at his brother’s place. They returned in June and have been grazing the pasture on the other side of the barn. Today they are back on the main pasture near the road.
I stopped to enjoy them and the calves were curious as to what or who I was. Cows are very aware of their surroundings. You can’t sneak up on a cow. And as peaceful as they seem, cows are very strong and deserve respect. On Monday, a herd of 20 cows in Austria killed a German hiker. Evidently the cows were upset at her dog and rushed her.
Just like a mother hen, a mother cow will do most anything to protect her calves if she feels they are threatened.
Eggs laid within the hour, sweet tomatoes, fresh chard, all the makings for a summer lunch.
On the way back inside, I spot what I thought was some paper by an apple tree, and it turned out to be a very late blooming iris. Iris and apples, not two things you usually think of together.
The apples are a long way from being ripe, but the summer sun is turning them red.
Early morning is the time to make my rounds through the fields, checking on how things are growing. The many flowers make it a wonderful time. Potato flowers tend to close at night. They pop open at first light.
Every day now there are more and more white flower beans in bloom. Their soft, white petals dance gently in the morning breeze. The joy of growing food, is that you get to enjoy the blossoms many fruit and vegetable plants have. Every bean you eat at one time was a beautiful flower. Eat a handful of beans and you’re enjoying the results of a huge bouquet of white, orange, pink, purple, and red flowers. Bean flowers come in so many colors.
With their wide field of vision, mother hens can see most anything that might threaten their chicks. The chicks are very aware they have someone looking out for them. As long as their mother is nearby, they are relaxed and run about freely. If they can’t see or hear her, they panic and chirp frantically until she shows up.
This afternoon, I discovered a kale growing at the edge of a porch. I was about to go to the garden to get some greens. I was drying kale seed pods on the porch last summer. Some of seeds must have fallen onto the ground.
The great thing about kale is that you can snip plenty of leaves and leave the main stem alone. Every week or every other week, the plant will be ready to cut again.
It’s time to harvest the garlic. Imelda and Lucky are there to help, along with a handful of other chickens. It doesn’t take long to pull the hundreds of garlic I planted last fall. It’s a great crop this year, and now I know I can easily handle a crop ten to twenty times the size of this year’s small field. There’s time before lunch to weed and prep the lot for summer-fall cabbage and lettuce. Farming at this scale requires one to use of every square inch and then some.
It will be another four years before I plant garlic in this plot again. By rotating and not planting garlic here again for a number of years, any pests that especially love garlic and started to get established this season, won’t find their favorite food here anymore and they will die off in the intervening years.
- Maintain Healthy Soil with Crop Rotation ~ Mother Earth News
- Glorious Garlic ~ The Canadian Organic Grower
- Time Again to Plant Garlic ~ Barbolian Fields
- Crop Rotation ~ GrowVeg.com
- Do Garden Crops Really Need Rotation? ~ GardensAlive.com
Yes, The Sainted Gardener will keep excellent records, follow a dedicated plan of rotations and allow each bed to go fallow or be enriched by a cover crop of green manure every seven years. Meanwhile, the other 98% of us will stumble along, trying to pay attention and generally having lots of fun in addition to the occasional unwanted adventure.
You’ll never be sorry that you took the time to think things through before planting—especially with tomatoes and root crops—but rotation is just one piece of the puzzle. Think of it as an odds-improver, and not an impediment to outdoor enjoyment.
If you’d like to purchase some fresh garlic, grown without any herbicides or pesticides, feel free to let me know by filling out the form below or by calling 360-202-0386. I’m selling it for $5 a pound.
[contact-form to=’firstname.lastname@example.org’ subject=’Garlic Request’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Garlic Request’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]