Every morning and every evening I go out for a walk to see how the grass and clover are coming along. It’s chiefly in the morning that you notice a difference. The clover got off to a very slow start, but some of it is starting to look like real clover. It’ll be a red-letter day when the first clover blooms. I sowed three kinds of clover — red, white, and Ladino clover. I believe this is red clover.
Archive for May, 2008
I would continue to testify that, awesome though California’s produce is, there are three things grown in the Southeast that California can’t duplicate: Vidalia onions (from Georgia, of course), proper summer tomatoes, and mountain cabbage.
Vidalia onions are showing up in all the stores here. The large ones can be expensive. The medium-size onions are very reasonably priced. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out, but I now understand the source of the soggy onions we had during the winter, both in California and here in the Southeast. The onions are imported from Central America and Peru. I’m guessing that they must be transported on ships with no ventilation, so the outers layers have already started to rot by the time they get here.
I’ll have plenty more on tomatoes this summer. I hope to visit a cabbage patch in Carroll County, Virginia, before too much longer.
The local power company, Energy United, has been clearing trees around the power lines up on Duggins Road. I stopped and had a nice chat with the two supervisors about going as easy on the greenery as possible. They were very nice and didn’t disagree at all. Part of what they’re doing, though, is an infrastructure upgrade. They’re getting ready to replace the old copper and steel overhead wiring with aluminum and steel wiring. They say that the new wiring is stronger, less likely to melt when something falls on it, and has lower electrical resistance.
It’s meant to be pulled by a mule. It takes power from a rear wheel, and, through a shaft and cam, converts the wheel’s motion to reciprocal motion to drive the sickle. This machine was made by B.F. Avery & Sons Co., in case anyone is doing a web search on old machinery.
Abandoned homeplaces are always fascinating. There are lots of them around here, and we take them for granted. But they can’t be common everywhere. I would imagine it takes certain trends and circumstances to create abandoned homesteads, things like cheap land, changing technology, more suburbanized ways of making a living, migration patterns, and so on. In short, not many people want to live that way anymore, and the places aren’t worth keeping up. It’s a shame.
Old houses are a repository of vanishing culture. They’re also a repository of heirloom varieties of flowers, shrubs, and fruit trees. This particular old house, on Stewart Road on the way to Walnut Cove, has two huge growths of roses, one pink, one deep red. The front porch is large and is still there, but it’s been taken by overgrowth.
What I last lived in thunderstorm country (17 years ago), Internet radar didn’t exist. Now you can easily see when rain is approaching, and how much.
After they’ve had time to slurp up some of this rain, I’ll have some photos to show what the rain did for my baby tomatoes, peppers, peas, and beans.
I came across this quote a couple of days ago at survivalblog.com:
There are only two ways to live your life. One as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. — Albert Einstein
I don’t think Einstein was deluded about the all-knowingness of science. I think he understood perfectly well, though he longed to understand, that he didn’t have a clue why grass grows or why roses bloom.
I’ve tried to verify this Einstein quote and see what its context might be, but I’ve not succeeded so far. Einstein was too complex to go around making up aphorisms. If the quote is authentic, there must have been some interesting context.
Mountain View Road, Stokes County, May 23. This is the kind of grass I want — deep, unmowed grass that swallows pickup trucks. Note the color of the sky close to the horizon. That is Carolina blue.
… and still more of Mama’s roses. By the way, the person who has done all the work of gardening on this old place for the past three years, and who has done a just remarkable job, is my sister’s husband, Graham. The older buildings and the homeplace are almost gone, and the land has been divided up, but the land upon which theses roses are growing has been in the family for at least four, if not five, generations. This rose bush, however, is only three years old.
It’s been a constant challenge to get cover crops going on more than an acre laid bare. The overall result is still far from photogenic. The soil was brutally disturbed three times — first for the taking out the pine trees, then again for removing the stumps, and then again for putting in the septic tank. I flung a variety of seeds, at different times, onto different conditions — fescue grass, rye grass, red clover, and white clover. In places I have pretty good cover, but the roots are still shallow, and rain is needed more often than it comes. In the really tough spots where the topsoil was removed — the front ditch and beside the driveway — I’ve watered regularly with a hose. Into the bare spots I poked beans and peas. Anything resembling lushness is weeks or months away, but stuff is growing.
Crops in straight and orderly rows, nicely segregated? Ha! Maybe someday. I poked seeds wherever I thought they might grow. Here we have corn, clover, fescue, and cucumber all in one place. Whether I harvest corn and cucumbers is not my main concern this year. I’ll take anything that has roots and holds the soil. The variety also makes for good experiments. I’ll learn a bit about what wants to grow where.
All these photos were taken yesterday. I let the GPS device pick a route from Mama’s house to my place in Stokes. I told the GPS device to pick a route that led past a particular place along the Yadkin River where I’d remembered seeing an old mill 30 years ago, and I told it to stay off the main roads. What a route! I knew some of the roads, but others were completely new to me. This was an amazingly scenic route that just happened to lead past the places where parts of three movies were filmed: Junebug (Pinnacle, Stokes County), Cabin Fever (Priddy’s General Store, Stokes County), and Leatherheads (Donnaha, Yadkin County). This area is rich in agricultural history. More posts on agricultural history another day. It took me along the foot of Pilot Mountain. The route also led past two old Stokes County resorts — Vade Mecum and Moore’s Springs — and it took me past the entrance to Hanging Rock State Park, not to mention downtown Danbury (the Stokes county seat) and Priddy’s General Store, where I stopped to get a Cheerwine and say hello to Jane Priddy-Charleville, who runs the store. It took me past a winery that I was not previously aware of, about which I’ll post another day.