Friday, July 20, 2018


Confession: the weather this summer has me baffled, befuddled, bewildered, and discombobulated. Day after day of steamy weather has confounded my schedule and required multiple showers. Of the last 20 days, 19 have boasted temperatures of 89+, with "feels like" temperatures hovering near 100. What's a farm-her to do? 

Well, for one thing, I get up and out early. I try to rise by 6:30, down a cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal, throw on a long-sleeved t-shirt, my summer-weight overalls, socks, boots and my straw hat and head out to the garden. It's a bit of a race to beat the wicked hotness that is already brewing.

I take a quick tour through the big garden, harvesting squash and zucchini that have magically multiplied overnight. I step around the giant pumpkin leaves whose vines race forward at an alarming pace, threatening to take over the entire garden. I fill my basket with hot banana peppers and tiny new potatoes; add a shallot or two; pinch the tops off sweet basil and breathe in its anise-like aroma; tie up a tomato plant; harvest a handful of yellow beans, stoop to pull up only the most obvious (and obnoxious) weeds; and then keep going.

Next, I check out the bee garden to see what's bloomed since yesterday. Today it was the beginnings of Ironweed's (Veronia gigantea) brilliant crimson blooms towering above my head. Yesterday, tiny white Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) flowers began to burst open. And tomorrow, I'm placing my bet on the billowing pink inflorescences of Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum). Even at this early hour, bumble bees and butterflies are seeking nectar, hardly staying still long enough for me to capture their forays from flower to flower.

And then, because I know not to delay any longer, I hoist the dreaded weed-wacker down from its perch in the garage, fill it with gas, check the line and head out to weed whip. Ed mows; I whip weeds. Because the dang thing is just too heavy for me to manage for long periods, I tackle just one wooded path, or the ditch and fence at the front entrance, or the orchard/gardens/beehives, or the backyard trees. About the time I finish making the rounds, it is time to start all over. On the days I skip weed whipping, I head to the upper field to pick blackberries or to cut armloads of Coneflowers, Black-eyed Susans, Chicory and Queen Anne's Lace from the fields.

By late morning, I'm beat and ready to come inside for lunch and shower #1. Then perhaps a nap or time in the kitchen to preserve the contents of our harvest; an effort to nourish our souls when the temperatures fall and the nights grow long: blackberry jam, milkweed cordial, herbal teas, roasted tomatoes, pepper butter...

Late-afternoon Ed and I head out to get the mail, walking the 1/2-mile drive and pulling johnson grass (Sorghum halepense) up by its rhysomed roots or the ever-invasive Lespedeza cuneata as we move down the gravel road. We stop every few feet to check on one of the hundreds of trees we have planted over the past 8 years. Does it have a cage around it? Are the weeds trying to overtake it? Does it need some fertilizer or mulch? Does it need watering? We make adjustments and then we move on.

We take the back paths home, cutting through the walnut field, taking the time to prune one or two of the 100 walnut trees planted in a grid or weed around the bases of a row or two. By the time we get back, it's time for shower #2.

It doesn't really cool down in the early evenings like you would think it might. Often, we go out after dinner to putter around the herb garden, raised beds, big garden and bee garden, counting the number of bunnies that pop out of the gardens when we enter them. Then, shower #3. Go to sleep and start all over in the morning.

If this sounds like I'm complaining, I'm not. Yes, I wish our local weatherperson would declare a high of 75 degrees and that every seven days we would get 1.5 inches of rain, but I don't think Mother Nature will grant me those wishes on a consistent basis. I love this life we have created here at Farm Dover. Every day – no matter how hot – offers up new delights/new challenges. I actually think it is good for my brain to get discombobulated from time to time...