Monday, May 19, 2014

MONDAY FARM AND COUNTRY -- The Garlic and Blackflies

As of today we have succeeded in tilling the garden, planting out potatoes, greens and some peas, mulching most of the blueberries and moved about half of the horse manure to the pile in the north field from the horses' fields below the sheep fold. The garlic has made a great start and the hay mulch should keep the weeds back for a month or so.

As one of my early farming mentors told me about 20 years ago, (has it really been that long, Francie?) most of farming consists of moving things around from one pile to another. It's called nutrient management. I wish I had a tractor but I don't. What you can do with a wheelbarrow and a plank of wood is pretty amazing, add a trailer and a vehicle, in my case a Kia Spectra hatchback, folks, yes I am talking making do, and you are good to go.

Now that it's half way through May, the only way I can work outside is with the full body armor, head and upper body netting, with tight collars at bottom and sleeves to prevent entry for the blackflies which invade at this time of year and swarm around faces and eyes and anything moist and heat giving. Their bites can inflict an amazing dose of toxins given their minuscule size, and the irritant can be so bad that infections develop and blood poisoning ensue. That's how bad they are. One of the confounding things about nature for many folks is the sheer itchiness of being outside in it. Why did God make blackflies and mosquitoes? That's easily one of the key questions to be able to answer for all the doubters in our offspring. For an answer just point to the sky at evening and the swooping blue and white arcs of gravity defying beauty known as swallows. Their aerobatics are more than just pleasurable, although they are surely that as well. It's feeding time for them all spring and summer long, payoff for the long trek up from Central American as they make nests and prepare for breeding. And the moist fields and swamps of New England provide the insect life they count on to live.
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